Friday, June 24, 2016

A revolutionary ministry

By Rev. Brenda K. Leigey

The 2016 theme for the Susquehanna Annual Conference, “Alive in Christ Together,” continued as the Annual Conference prepared to celebrate the ordination of one commissioning/provisional deacon, Dilip R. Abayasekara, one ordained deacon elder, Megan Burd-Harris, six commissioning/provisional elders: Audrey M. Brosious, Joshua W. Davinsizer, Rebecca L. Harmon Torres, Jonathan D. Morningstar, Timothy R. Parker, and Stephanie P. Rupert, and two ordained elders, Janet Durrwachter and Brent Stouffer.

The processional hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” united the voices of the Susquehanna Annual Conference at the beginning of the celebration, calling the church to remember Jesus as Lord and celebrate our opportunity to “join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all.”

Bishop Jeremiah J. Park introduced the guest speaker for the ordination service, his colleague and friend, Bishop Ernest Lyght, retired bishop in the United Methodist Church who always challenges the church “to think outside the box.”
Bishop Lyght began by sharing his joy to greet the Annual Conference in the precious, risen Lord, and affirming his admiration of the Susquehanna Conference for our high level of commitment to mission.

Lyght’s message for those being ordained and the Annual Conference was entitled, “A Revolutionary Ministry.” He addressed those to be commissioned and  ordained, those who already answered the call, and the laity. Being encouraged to listen to God’s call, we were invited to reflect on our own journey, for God is constantly calling us, calling us to do something different in some form or fashion. God calls in a variety of ways because God needs us to provide leadership in the church.

There is “no room for shallow water ministry; we need deep water ministry” stated Bishop Ernest Lyght in his Ordination Service address on June 11, 2016.

Bishop Lyght proposed a question: “What kind of leader are you? Spiritual? Administrative?” Then he asked us to consider the dynamic of partnership ministry.

One of Lyght’s favorite characters is the Lone Ranger, because the Lone ranger never really operated alone. He shared a partnership with a friend who nursed him back to health on several occasions – his partner, Tonto. They joined in a partnership with the U.S. Marshalls and local citizens striving together for justice.

There is only one response when God calls. “Yes.” By saying yes, it eliminates a lot of hardship. Saying no can create a lot of indecision. God calls those who God wants to be in the God movement. God will equip you when you say yes for ministry, and grants you authority, because the authenticity of God is that “I Am” calls and sends you.

When God called Joshua, God told Joshua, “I will be with you.” God promised never to leave Joshua alone. There may have been times when Joshua felt alone, but God was always be there. It is the same for us. God is there. God shows up on time. Joshua believed in the partnership with God because it was based on the knowledge, acceptance, and faith in God.

Bishop Lyght reminded us that partnership is about relationships, and sometimes clergy have problems with relationships, but as we are called to be in ministry we are also called to be in partnership.

Three questions were posed to the Annual Conference: “Do you know Jesus?”; “How well do you know Jesus?”; and “Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”

Lyght shared that to know Jesus and to know how well you know Jesus, you must know him as your friend. Friends are people who believe in you, love you, people you can count on and respond to your need. Sharing the words from “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” the bishop emphasized the importance of walking with Jesus as your friend.

When it comes to knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior, Lyght said that many intellectual people can talk about Jesus but do not know him with the heart. We need to know Jesus with head and heart so that we can sing triumphantly, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness …” We must stand with Jesus to move forward in ministry.

The story of Jesus’ encounter with some of his disciples when they were fishing was shared by the bishop to illustrate how we are not to be in the “shallow water ministry, but in deep water ministry.”

In the story, Jesus meddled in the fisherman’s business when as a carpenter he was telling fisherman how to catch fish. Jesus told Peter and the others to push out into the deep water to catch fish. Peter’s simple answer was, “If you say so.”
The catch was so great that the boat began to sink, and the fisherman called to their partners to come and help. We need partners in ministry; we are not to be a loner. The bishop commissioned us not to stand in the shallow water but to go out to where the people are; we are to go out into the deep water.

There is “no room for shallow water ministry; we need deep water ministry” stated Bishop Lyght.

As clergy we are to be in partnership: First with God, second with Jesus, third with the Holy Spirit, and fourth with the laity. For a revolution to be in the church, men and women need to be in partnership with God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and one another.

 Commissioning and ordination followed, as the assembly affirmed those who have said “Yes!” to a life of service through ministry. An offering was taken for the Bishop’s Partners Mission. An altar call and prayer blessed the congregation as this Session of Annual Conference concluded.

The video and transcript of Bishop Lyght’s message will be available at tinyurl.com/susumcac2016

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