As Christians, we are in another in-between time in the life of the church. We have celebrated Easter and are in the 50-day waiting period until Pentecost. Lent is the beginning, but Easter is not the end. Easter is only midway to Pentecost. Pentecost is our birthday as Christians.
On Easter, Jesus was raised from the dead and received a new body, a new existence. The disciples of Jesus, both women and men, were discovering what that meant through the empty tomb and through His appearance in the upper room, on the room to Emmaus, by Lake Galilee and His ascension. Their realization came at Pentecost with dancing flames, one of the signs of The United Methodist Church. Pentecost is the birth of the church with the coming of the promised Comforter - God's Holy Spirit, realized by Jesus and now realized by the disciples - from 12 to 120 to 3,000 and today to millions.
I liken this season of Easter to a waiting room, any waiting room. The place where we anticipate what is coming. When I am ill, that waiting room is at the doctor's office where I anticipate being well again. When I travel, that waiting room is the airport gate area where I anticipate the event to which I am traveling or the family members I will soon see again.
Sometimes that waiting room is joyous, like when I waited for the birth of my sons. Sometimes that waiting room is extremely sad, like when I waited for the funerals of my parents.
Eastertide is our spiritual waiting room. We wait in faith and anticipate what God has in store for us.
For Hoosier United Methodists we are in several waiting rooms right now. We are waiting for the coming of General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, at the end of this month. These ten days every four years determine the forward movement of our church. The leaders of this General Conference have made careful plans to make this a joyous conferencing together, yet there will always be contention for we are human.
Whether or not this will be a Pentecost experience will depend on the delegates of the General Conference, and if they are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Or, will they be more intent on preserving an institution and their own desires? As we wait, let us pray for our North Indiana Conference and South Indiana Conference delegates - for their physical strength, for their spiritual discernment and for their openness to the leading of God's spirit in the life of the church.
We are waiting for the coming of our own annual conference sessions later this spring at West Lafayette and Bloomington. Immediately before us is a report by the Imagine Indiana Design Team. The report proposes to bring our two annual conferences into unity with each other. The plan makes monumental changes in structure and function for a new Indiana Conference in order to bring resources closer to our congregations and bring our congregations and pastors closer to each other. (See Web cast.)
Whether or not this plan is approved, God's spirit already moves between our two conferences, uniting us in mission and witness with a new growing reality. Hopefully, we wait to see what God is planning for us as we live into the Spirit of Christ for this century. We must have a change of heart to regain the Spirit of Christ in our communities who know less and less of Christ and His church. To live out Pentecost, we must risk the experience of Pentecost.
Waiting rooms are not necessarily easy places to be. They come with anxieties, fears, anticipations, as well as hope, reconciliation and redemption. They are places to live into new realities. They are places were God's presence is made know as we anticipate a door opening and a voice calling our name.
Daniel R. Gangler