It is over. Just before 6:00 PM last Friday, Bishop B. Michael Watson gave the benediction and the 145th Session of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church was adjourned.
During the week we adopted a budget, received reports of many wonderful ministries, passed resolutions, experienced dynamic worship, heard stirring testimonies, elected delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference, and enjoyed great fellowship. The last agenda item was the "Sending Forth."
After reading the clergy appointments Bishop Watson closed with these words:
"The world desperately needs to be transformed because it is broken and troubled. Our gloriously exciting role as the church is to offer Christ's mission and ministry through spiritual and humanitarian care to all people regardless of their human condition. There is no greater hope for peace and healing throughout the world than for all people to become disciples of the Prince of Peace, the Great Physician, to accept God's redeeming and reconciling love for themselves and to share that wondrously divine love with each other every day."
On Tuesday evening Bishop Alfred L. Norris spoke to the 45 persons who were commissioned or ordained for full-time Christian ministry in the United Methodist Church. In his sermon he reminded them and more than 2,000 in attendance that "People are precious." That phrase was heard repeatedly throughout the week.
I don't think the two bishops collaborated on their remarks but they certainly fit together.
As a child I learned a little song in Sunday School.
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
The words are so simple and so true. They remind us that God's love is for everyone. The core of the Gospel is that "God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life." Geographic location or ethnicity. Rich or poor. Young or old. Political or philosophical position. Gender or social status. None of these or any other factor disqualifies us from being loved by God.
God loves us. No matter who we are. No matter where we are or what we have done. God loves us and God wants us to accept that love and share it with others.
Our task is not to change people but to share "God's redeeming and reconciling love" with them. Remember that people are precious. God loves each one and everyone. Let us be faithful in sharing that love with everyone everywhere.
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," June 20, 2011. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]