A few weeks ago, I went to the theater and watched the limited-released movie titled Father Stu, it was a great story of calling and redemption. As the movie concluded, and many began to leave the theater, I hung around as the credits ran because oftentimes there is still more to be shared about the characters or even an extended version of the movie; and it was, and I was glad I stayed to see it.
I began reflecting on this understanding of “there is still more” while basking in the excitement of Resurrection Sunday, a few weeks ago, to see the worship experiences online, or see the pictures while scrolling social media, and hearing the stories from lay and clergy about the increased worship attendances on that day. But then the Sunday after Easter, hearing the stories that the excitement of Resurrection Sunday wore off, and for some, it was business as usual. This is when I want to share out loud…there is still more! There is so much more beyond the Resurrection Sunday experience, as great as it was, and the high involvement of those who planned and executed on that day. There is still more, as we are mere weeks away from Pentecost, which is a high and holy time, but there is an assumption that after Resurrection Sunday the church remains dormant until Advent. How can we be those who declare from the mountaintop or the cornfields of Indiana…there is still more to the Gospel Message!
I would suggest that is my same thinking as it relates to the postponed, postponed, postponed 2020 General Conference. Yes, the reality is that the global entity of the United Methodist Church was not able to convene its global meeting in 2020, 2021, or 2022, and we will have to wait until 2024 before another General Conference gathers. However, there is still more to be done for the cause of Jesus Christ, even as United Methodists. The United Methodist Church, through UMCOR, continues to be the humanitarian and development arm, that is on the frontlines assisting in Ukraine and will mobilize when there is a disaster. Or as we approach Aldersgate Day on May 24, to commemorate the day John Wesley was assured of his faith, and for some, it is the day we Encourage the Call for responding to God’s call for greater service within the church. There is still more to being a United Methodist apart from being defined by the ongoing challenges related to the postponed, postponed, postponed 2020 General Conference.
Even if a congregation is in the process of discernment, has planned to disaffiliate, or has made the decision to remain United Methodist, there is still more to be done to connect the Gospel Message to the world. There is still more…, as I am reminded of the exchange that occurs in Matthew 25:41-45, paraphrased from The Message, “I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.” And verse 45 states, “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.”
Friends, there are still people who are seeking to be in authentic community. There are still more people who are longing to encounter the Risen Christ and experience God’s unconditional love. There are still more people who want to be part of the movement of Christ, and they are looking for those who will invite, welcome, and come alongside.
May we not get so caught up in what will occur in 2024, that we miss May 2022, and the ways God is calling us to be present and re-present Christ in our everyday living in being…because there is still more for us to do for God and God’s Kin-dom!
In Service and on Mission,
Rev. Dr. Aleze M. Fulbright
Conference Superintendent serving Central and West Districts