This season of Charge Conferencing has truly been a blessing.
Yes, you read that right!
In the past, the blessing has always been in the completion of all things “charge conference”.
The meetings, the planning, the reports, the budget, the leadership, then a few more meetings.
Getting all of those necessary tasks accomplished,
that was where I used to find my “Woohoo!”
But this year, sharing in what will be 75 charge conferences,
I have been blessed to witness the many wonderful and creative ways
that all of you are standing in the middle.
For each charge conference, when these offerings are available,
I worship with you online, read your Facebook page,
go to your website, read your newsletter, and attend other services such as
weekly devotions, morning or evening prayer times and hymn sings.
After sharing in your communal life through those means,
I read your official charge conference reports.
Since I am new, I want to get to know you as well as I can before I
meet you “face to face” on zoom or voice to voice on a conference call.
And… it has truly been a gift, because you – Fairway District clergy and laity,
you wonderful communities of faith – are standing in the middle.
One of our lectionary texts for this week is from Joshua 3:7-17.
Joshua is leading the Israelites into the promised land and part of the journey
involves crossing the Jordan River at flood stage.
God uses this miracle moment to solidify Joshua’s leadership in the eyes of the people
(and perhaps in his own mind) as well as, to leave no doubt that God is journeying with them
and is able to see them through whatever challenges they may face.
God’s presence is represented in the ark of the covenant carried by the priests.
God commands in verse 8:
“Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant:
‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”
Verses 15 -17 continue the story:
“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away”…
The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.”
The priests who held God’s presence…stood…in the middle.
And because they stood in the middle, all were able to cross on dry ground.
Fairway District family, through the journey of charge conferences it has been wonderful
to experience how you have faithfully held God’s presence
and stood in the middle!
In the middle of a pandemic that continues without a real end in sight.
In the middle of division and realities of injustice that require
uncomfortable yet needed conversations and change.
In the middle of all kinds of losses.
In the middle of all kinds of needs.
Through the flood stage of change and uncertainty,
you have held God’s presence and stood in the middle.
You have carried God’s presence into new ways of worship and outreach
through technology never known or used before.
You have shared God’s presence through preaching and teaching online
and from flatbeds, porches and pavilions.
Despite the physical separation and disconnection of this time,
many of you have found yourselves more connected to the homebound
and those on the fringes of the community.
While some ministries couldn’t safely continue,
you have adapted and walked faithfully into new and needed ministries.
Yes Fairway District, you have carried God’s presence and stood in the middle.
Because of your faithfulness, just like the Israelites,
many have been able to safely cross on the dry ground
of help in the present
and hope for the future.
This journey of charge conferencing has been an honor to travel with you.
Thank you for your faithfulness in holding God’s presence in the midst,
and standing in the middle.
Standing with you and thankful for you,
** This writing was inspired by a devotion written by Elizabeth Canham In Disciplines 2020 Oct. 26 on the same scripture. She asks the question “Who stands in the middle” for us.
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