Let me share with you some gleanings from the notes I jotted down at Annual Conference:
In the memorial service, the Rev. Tim McClendon spoke of those we remembered as “balcony people.” Joyce Landorf’s term denotes those who raise us up. Who are your balcony people? To whom are you a balcony person?
The Rev. Paul Harmon led us in a Bible Study on “Becoming Disciples God Can Use.” In his overview, he reflected on Luke 9:51-62; 10:1,8-9.
Disciples don’t get even.
Disciples aren’t judgmental.
Disciples don’t punish others for their perceived mistakes.
Disciples do good, not harm.
Disciples are often rejected.
Disciples are often friendless.
Disciples are often alone in this world.
Disciples are about the business of life, not death.
Disciples are not concerned with this place.
Disciples proclaim the kingdom-that’s job one.
Disciples don’t live in the past.
Disciples don’t have to say goodbye.
Disciples always face the kingdom.
In “Becoming Disciples God Can Use with the Poor,” Paul used James Carse’s concept of finite games to understand Jesus’s comment, “You always have the poor with you” Matthew 26:11. We create games or systems in which some can’t win. Almost one in three working US families struggle to meet basic needs. Yet the working poor are indispensable to us. How can God use a disciple to lighten their load? In his song “Come to the Table,” Paul sings “The body and blood of the poor is Christ offered to us.”
In “Becoming Disciples God Can Use with Children,” Paul shared a story from Jim Wallis which asked, “Aren’t they all our children?” “Disciples want to love and care for children. Disciples make the world a better place for children.”
The final session of the Bible Study was “Becoming Disciples God Can Use with Strangers”. Dr. Harmon gave helpful insights to the strained relationships we experience. In each, God can use disciples to turn strangers into neighbors and then turn neighbors into friends.
Bishop Holston, during closing worship, shared about a pastor, filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, who invited others to his church. “If you don’t want to come to my church and join us, at least come and watch me burn.”
May God raise up such disciples in each of our churches.