Who Knew? - Devotions for the Wisconsin Annual Conference
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4)
On Thursday, March 5, 2020, I was with a group from Wisconsin, leaving Bethlehem, on our way to Jordan. We were on a pilgrimage in the Holy Land.
During the long bus ride, I received several text messages from colleagues in Wisconsin asking if we were okay. I responded to each text letting people know that we were doing well. Our trip was going smoothly. People were fine. The journey was Holy and moving (as it has been every time I have been there).
It wasn’t until we arrived in our hotel in Jordan, that we heard the news that just that morning, the City of Bethlehem was being shut down because of an outbreak from COVID-19. That helped to explain the multiple texts I received. From that point on, for the rest of our trip, we ended up being a couple of days ahead of reported cases of COVID-19.
I was very grateful to return to the United States on Monday, March 9. My schedule upon return was filled with Cabinet Meetings, as we were all coming to grips with this strange, new, highly contagious disease that has come to disrupt our world.
Looking back over the last seven months, I had no idea how much our world would change. We have been refocusing on what it means to be the church. We have had to learn new skills. We have seen systematic racism exposed. We have had to postpone General Conference, Jurisdictional Conference and Annual Conference.
In the midst of the changes and uncertainty, I am grateful for the Psalmist who reminds us that we do not walk alone. May we learn to lean on the great Shepherd who can restore our souls. May our lives (our words and actions) reflect the One to whom we belong.
Prayer: Loving God, draw near to us. Give us the courage to face the challenges of this day. Teach us to live with kindness, and hope and honesty in a political season that is marked by division and meanness. Be with our Annual Conference as we prepare to meet virtually in a couple of weeks. May our gathering be a reflection of you. In the hope Jesus offers us, Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.