Love Thy Neighbour
The summer months are here though you may not have noticed because of the cooler than normal weather. As a kid I always loved the summer months when school was out and I was free to roam the neighborhood, play games with neighborhood friends, go on vacation, and generally be a bum. Those days are gone. Now, when I think of summer I usually think about Annual Conference. Yep, every June since I was in my twenties, I have attended the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church. This year was the 241st conference. Over dinner one night me and a friend were discussing the changes we had noticed. Most folks, especially clergy, no longer dress up. When I started all the male clergy wore suits and ties. No more. Sadly, most of the ministers I grew close to have passed away or retired. Few retirees come to conference. The ones that do are getting older and grayer. However, not all change is bad. Yes, we have sustained the loss of churches to disaffiliation, but we are growing closer under the banner of unity and love for one another as the denomination continues to iron out how to go forward. The theme for this conference was “United in One in Mission.” What does that mean? It means that we who continue to practice our faith in the United Methodist Church can feel confident that Christ’s Holy Spirit is alive and well in our local churches. Does this mean that that we all agree on every matter of doctrine, ethics, church polity? No. But when has the church in its two-thousand-year history been unified in doctrine, ethics, and church polity and practice? Has not the Spirit found its way into the churches where there were different opinions and yet those churches still were able to share the Gospel to the lost, feed the hungry, offer hope to the victims of abuse, war, poverty? As we move forward, I hope that we can seek a greater unity of love in the Spirit of Christ. We may not be able to agree with all the others in the church. But we can grow in love for one another as Christ has called us to do. May God bless the United Methodist Church, the Virginia Conference, and South Hill UMC as together we minister to a broken and sinful world with the assurance that God’s Holy Spirit is alive in us and with us.
Peace, Pastor Charles