Soul Food - A Guest Appearance & Words for Advent

 A Guest Appearance & Words for Advent
by Bishop Dan Schwerin

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
(Isaiah 11:1-2)

Grace and peace to you, Wisconsin Conference! Bishop Jung asked me to sit in his chair to offer my pen to this version of Soul Food as we engage transition in this office with eyes for Advent.
Advent is the season in which we watch for arrivals and newness. God’s newness is a gift that comes from God’s character to bless with abundance. Here Isaiah promises those whose land is in deep darkness, that a shoot shall spring forth, and like any branch, we will be able to see the wind, the ruach of God rest on that branch. This branch will show the breeze blowing with the things of God.
As I transition from my role as the Assistant to Bishop Jung, I am deeply grateful for the things of God I have seen from this window—more than I can name. I see daily the things of God in our conference staff. Whether we are working on your phone call, or charge conference processes or apportionments or E-News, the Boy Scouts bankruptcy, a lawsuit, or disaffiliation, each person here is deeply faithful, strongly gifted, and offer a servant’s spirit for the good of the whole. When a church’s actions suggest we are all in this together—this is the spirit of wisdom and understanding.
I am excited by the collaboration of the Anti-Racism Task Force, the Connectional Table, the Bishop’s Task Force, and the cabinet. Each of these has a hand on the plow to increase racial justice and radical inclusion in our life together. We are caring for disaffiliation with grace and fairness, and our conference staff is looking for ways to grow ministry even now by offering watering holes to those left behind by their church’s leaving. God’s newness is at hand. This is the spirit of counsel and might.
Lastly, I want to thank you, each disciple of Jesus in the Wisconsin Conference UMC. At 17, I heard a call to the ministry from the second pew on the right in the Concord UMC. It was overwhelming. I walked back to the farm arguing with God before offering my yes. You have revealed to me that ministry is a hard life but a profoundly good life. You have received my ministry and the apologies that have been required of my practice. I am humbled by your faithfulness. This is the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.
Keep your eyes open for Advent. Finish the apportionments strongly. Keep in prayer. This conference is a jewel. Please pray for Julie and I as we go to serve the Chicago area. Know that I will be praying for you—and watching for newness…
for their evening
of horseshoes
the old cow path
Dan Schwerin, Bishop
Chicago Area UMC