Friday, June 24, 2016
Commentary: A glimpse of heaven on earth: a first-timer’s Annual Conference experience
One of my favorite songs is “Glory to the King,” by Peter Fuller. Describing heaven for his departed grandmother, Fuller sings, “one sound … one light… one glorious sight!” Those words almost perfectly describe the 2016 Susquehanna Annual Conference.
Walking into the laity session in Hitchcock Auditorium at Messiah College, the energy and excitement exuded from the 700-plus vessels of the Holy Spirit gathered there. As we lifted our voices in worship, and heard various reports, there were no age, gender, or geographical boundaries between us … we were united in Christ and as United Methodists.
As the numbers doubled for sessions and services, so did the presence and flow of the Holy Spirit. We were, for those three days, “better together.” The connectivity spilled over into fellowship before and after group gatherings.
Conversations about how God is working and moving all across the Susquehanna Conference and in each person’s life were encouraging. Each person I met, and with whom I talked, warmly invited me into his or her life, however briefly. It didn’t matter whether we hadn’t met until then … we were family now.
The ordination service was particularly moving; sharing in the delight and testimony of those being commissioned and ordained, and even those who sensed the whisper of the Lord for the alter call to ministry, was joyous and heartwarming. But my most memorable conference experience was meeting, talking with, listening to, and worshipping with Bishop Park. His preaching left me breathless, his humility encouraged my heart, his enthusiasm and energy in worship ignited my spirit. I was awed, made fully aware of God’s presence and work in this man for our conference, the United Methodist Church, and His kingdom.
I anticipate heaven looking a lot like Conference. Suffice it to say, my first Annual Conference will NOT be my last.