It is finished! No, I am not quoting Jesus, but stating that the 149th Session of the North Georgia Annual Conference is complete.
What a highly-charged, emotionally-moving, and life-changing week! Meetings, worship, business, debate, elections, and much more were crammed into a short 4-day period. It is my prayer that we did that which honors our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I'm so proud of the Atlanta Emory District. We were represented well in all areas, and our representation was an example of grace and love. Thank you. Thank each one of you who represented us with such a wonderful sweet spirit.
In the midst of our conferencing, our sisters and brothers in Charleston, South Carolina suffered a great tragedy. A gunman held hostage a Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting at Emmanuel AME. He killed 9 people and walked out, leaving others injured to tell the story.
For sure this put all our work in a different perspective. This action called forth the deep, deep love and concern we have for our sisters and brothers. Yes, it called forth some anger, but our spiritual leader, Bishop B. Michael Watson, helped bring it all to a place of trusting in God and of allowing the Holy Spirit to use us in a variety of ways to show our support and our pain.
I don't get it, my friends. I don't get why people can not love people, why we can't all embrace each other and allow the differences to draw us together instead of apart. I don't understand hate that is so deep that one would take the life of another. I don't want to feel my heart so heavy or so full of sadness. I want to the world to drink Coca-cola and sing together as one, but ...
As clergy we know it takes more than a Coke and a hope. It takes making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It takes preaching the Word week after week, praying that the work of our heart and the filling of the Holy Spirit make it to the hearts of those we are blessed to serve. It takes education in Sunday school, small groups, at committee meetings, and any other gathering for learning. It takes trusting the Holy Spirit to work on all of us and our being open to that movement.
It also takes us personally being in conversation with Christ. We must enrich our devotional lives, we must pray deeper, we must seek God's face more, and we must get involved.
I'm not sure how to be involved, but I'm open and willing to try whatever God directs. I do know that all lives matter to God, and those lives must matter to me as God's servant.
I encourage you to pray, to preach, to serve, and to try. I know the road is long, and there is much to do, but God who has called you and me will not leave us alone nor to our own devices. God is still God, and so we will fight evil with good, and the victory will be God's.
I love you, my sisters and brothers, and I pray this week you will know God loves you, too.