To God’s beloved people at John Wesley:
The end of May and the beginning of June are an important time of year for us United Methodists. This is Annual Conference season, the time when regional gatherings of United Methodists around our country and around the world meet together to worship and praise God, celebrate and give thanks for our ministries together, and do some of the important business of the church (think passing budgets and creating administrative policies). Our own Baltimore-Washington Conference will meet in Baltimore just after Memorial Day weekend.
It’s been traditional, since the days of the Wesley brothers and the early Methodists in America, for each annual conference session to open with the singing of a particular hymn, “And Are We Yet Alive.”
And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give for his almighty grace!
What troubles have we seen, what mighty conflicts past,
fightings without, and fears within, since we assembled last!
Yet out of all the Lord hath brought us by his love;
and still he doth his help afford, and hides our life above.
I love this hymn, because it reminds us that over the course of a year we’ve each seen a lot: joys and sorrows, triumphs and challenges. And yet, whatever the year we’ve had, God has brought us through it to gather together again. Out of our diverse experiences, we come together to be united, and to serve the God who calls us to be the church together.
I hope that you feel a bit of this same spirit each Sunday as we gather together for worship. Regardless of the week each one of us has had, we know that on Sundays we will gather together and see each other’s faces. We’ll give glory and thanks to God, and remember together that God is with us no matter what. Then we’ll go back into the world to live our daily lives, knowing that we’ll gather together again the next week. What a gift, to have a community like this.
Grace and peace to you,