The connections across the world in the United Methodist Church amaze me. I am not an “institutional” person. I have a free spirit. I find it difficult to follow God when other people are setting the rules; my obedience has to come from a deep and personal relationship. At the same time, I learned at a young age that if I want a deep relationship with the one who created me and Christ who walks with me, I would have to have practices in my life that helped me seek and care for that relationship. The church is the foundation for that journey in my life. It is where I meet up with others who are called to seek and serve together…as the body of Christ. My journey in this relationship quickly spilled out of the walls and into every place I go, but the church has remained the foundation for coming and going. It is a place of common grounding and worship in community.
There are many reasons why people have given up on the church. It is a house of imperfect people. Sometimes terrible things are done “in the name of God”. Everyone who says they are a “disciple” is not, but the title sure seems good. The building and the programs can easily become the focus (rather than the means we use) while the life of really following Christ is going to happen “when we have time”. AND……….
….AND…the church is also full of people who are following God and getting involved in the presence of God on earth. It is full of people like Dan and Rachel who do everything they can to make sure homeless families have a warm place to sleep on cold winter nights. It is full of people who give free air miles so someone can fly to another land for mission. It is full of people who make meals and deliver them to those who are confined to their homes. It is full of people who love without question and follow God with reckless abandon.
When these people cross paths it is powerful because God honors wiling hearts and open spirits. We attended the Annual Conference of the Nacional Metodista Iglesia de Guatemala this week. There I was amazed to see friends and meet new people. It opened my eyes even more to the connection of the body of Christ everywhere we go. The “Methodist” connection provides a common bond of grace, service and love.
This morning we found ourselves in a conversation with a woman named Ruth who is married to a Methodist pastor. We had no idea! She showed us the church where he served for 14 years in the little town where we were. He is now retired and she is teaching women how to make jam and other healthy food products so they can help support their families. It is a mission of empowerment of the local people, local land and local economy. This is an incredible ministry for, by and with women.
The stories of connection are unlimited. We also met with a lady from Maryland today…a United Methodist lay person who has been volunteering her time to help the VIM office of Guatemala with a current website and adding communications that will help everyone connect where resources meet needs and God is guiding. There is a surprise of faithfulness in all of the encounters. Each day reveals more and opens our eyes more to the true faithfulness of God.
Keep your eyes open. Allow your hearts to be changed by the miracles surrounding you today. The Spirit of God is strong upon the earth. Let it be.