An update on this Memorial Day weekend…
As many (all?) of you know, I’m a United Methodist pastor, which means round about now ’tis the season for Annual Conference, an yearly gathering (get it, annual… conference…) of clergy and lay persons in our area (for me, East Texas, Brazos Valley, and Houston region). We’ll check in on one another, take some votes, ordain some people, hook up pastors with churches and churches with pastors… all-in-all a pretty raucous occasion! Seriously, it is a good time and an important time as we, at our best, aim to hold ourselves accountable in love to doing ministry well.
I’ll continue what’s become an annual practice of reading Henri Nouwen‘s short classic, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. If you’ve never read it, I urge you to buy it and read it immediately. Then reread it regularly. If you haven’t read it in over a year, let me urge you to pick it back up and give it a fresh reading. I’m all about plenty of leadership books and whatnot. I love Jim Collins, Lovett Weems, Andy Stanley… the whole lot of them. I enjoy learning from business, non-profit, and church leadership guru types. But reading this little text from Nouwen each year during a gathering of leaders from across my region of United Methodism, aiming to “do the work of the church,” has been a remarkably grounding experience. With the controversial constitutional amendments this year, I expect to be wonderfully convicted by brother Nouwen again.
On a non-conference note, I’m now reading A Blueprint for Discipleship, by Kevin Watson, and really enjoying it. I’ll blog it sometime in the next week or so. So far, it is a wonderfully accessible primer on Wesley’s model of ministry for disciple-making. Like Wesley, it is most of all practical, placing biblical and theological foundations as close to living discipleship as they are actually meant to be. More on it in coming days.
I’m also blogging about Annual Conference each day for the conference. I’m so behind technologically (my only “notebook” is my Moleskine journal), I’ll have to post a few thoughts each night and some reflections at the end. Still, fun and interesting.
Finally, I’m preparing to preach this Sunday at my church. It it Pentecost Sunday and Confirmation Sunday for us. We will be receiving professions of faith in Christ and vows of church membership from young people who have spent the better part of the school year learning about the Christian faith and who are now ready to confess their sins, need for Christ, faith in him, and commitment to his church. Pretty thrilling stuff. I’m going with John 20:19-23, which I take to be John’s version of Pentecost. Whether or not you agree with that reading of John here, the focus will be on Jesus’ words and gift to the disciples in vv21-22, which express as much as any text a pentecostal commission and gifting for the church as followers of Jesus:
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”