Today's Lectionary Text
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Before General Conference, I knew how I wanted the voting to go. But as I watched the live-stream of General Conference in February, my heart ached with the painful attacks of “this side” verses “that side." I heard accusations of “hate” and “heresy." And it hurt just to listen. What I realized is that we, as United Methodists, are all trying to follow where we believe that God is leading. Each one of us sincerely believes that we are on the side of love, justice, faithfulness, and truth. Yet, we were unable to express these things to one another in love. Regardless of the outcome, we all mourned on that day for the broken body of the United Methodist Church.
A few short weeks later the Great Plains Conference would suffer a widespread and catastrophic natural disaster with flooding over a large portion of our conference. During this time, we have watched the body of Christ come together to support one another with prayers, donations, hugs, and plain old hard work. As I mucked out basements with my brothers and sisters, I realized that as we worked to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world, our differences seemed to be washed away in that muddy water.
I needed that.
I needed to be reminded that we are all trying to shine a light in this dark world.
I needed to be reminded that we are all striving toward the same goal of bringing others to know Christ.
I needed to be reminded that, despite our differences, we are all trying to faithfully carry out God’s purposes for our lives.
As the writer of Hebrews urged the early church, we must “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess." Are we spurring one another on toward good deeds? Have we given up on meeting together? During this time (as in that time), we are being called to encourage one another to move forward in our faith and our work for the Kingdom of God — regardless of whether we do so bound together by one denomination or separately.
May each one of us approach the current struggle with a sincere heart and draw nearer to God through the assurances that we have due to our faith in the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ. There is yet much work to do in His name and for His kingdom, so let’s engage in this work with love, mutual respect, and encouragement.
-Pastor Gina Tyler
Valley Falls and Coal Creek, Kansas, UMC
Prayer for Reflection
God, we come to you on this day with sincere hearts. Lead us to move forward into the future with confidence. Help us to rest in the full assurance that we have due to our faith in Your son, Jesus Christ. We confess, Lord, that we have not encouraged one another during this stressful time. Give us the compassion and strength to do so today, tomorrow, and forever as part of the universal body of Christ in this world. Amen.
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color