Greetings to you and yours!
As the year approaches its end, I want to take a moment to share some of my thoughts about where we are and where Servants’ Feast ministry is headed. My intent was to get this out Thursday morning, but I’ve been writing and rewriting for nearly three days because reviewing the year turned out to be a dreary affair. Borrowing another’s quip, if the past year had been a fish, I’d have thrown it back. That’s probably not entirely true, but it’s close.
To be perfectly frank, the last year or so felt like I was caught in a pinball machine being bounced here and yon while bells rang “ding, ding, ding!” Change ought to be the word of the year because it seems like everything has changed. Everything, that is, except our God… The one thing that I can say with certainty is that God is faithful. Always. Whatever else is happening and regardless of appearances, God is present and active, working for our blessing even when we think we are lost.
Before looking back, I have to say the obvious: Times, they are a’changin, and that is not bad! We are entering an exciting time for Christians! As we approach our celebration of the Incarnation, we need to grab hold of the ever-present possibility of re-creation in Jesus Christ in every generation. Whether we need to be made anew and afresh, or whether the world around us is waiting to meet the life-giving power of Jesus Christ, God is at work in the world today as surely as He was when the Son was born in Bethlehem. Opportunities to spread the Gospel of life abound, and I will come back to that shortly.
The past year had too much death, beginning with the October 2021 death of Servants’ Feast Board Chair and my long-time friend and mentor, Billy Abraham. Then in January, SFCM Board member and my good friend and encourager, Jim Turley, succumbed to cancer. Just weeks later, Nancy Pinkerton, the energetic and dynamic Kingwood Methodist member and SFCM Board member died unexpectedly. Each of these deaths was personal, but the tragic death of my step-granddaughter in April was devastating to all who knew and loved her, myself included. Sometimes, the heart hurts enough that simply standing up and facing the new day is an act of faith. Thanks be to God that faith does not disappoint. While grief and loss cut deeply, the hope of Resurrection sustains us in sorrow and heals us with joy.
Happily, Stacia Cowan joined the Servants’ Feast Board, bringing with her a strong commitment to the ministry and a willingness to join in prayer and discussion during this season of transition. Stacia is a long-time member of Kingwood Methodist and became interested in Servants’ Feast after participating in the From Called to Sent discipleship catechism for adults.
The division in the UMC consumed a good deal of time and energy throughout the year. A large number of congregations and individual clergy in the Texas area are leaving the United Methodist Church for other denominations, primarily the newly formed Global Methodist Church. The acrimony and residual hurt of the division after years of discord shadow the lives of many deeply committed Methodists.
Invitations to teach gave me the opportunity to organize my thoughts on two topics I hope to address more fully in the near future: first, what it means to be human and second, how Christians are to look at the world with the mind of Christ. Both of these are important topics for our time, and I’m grateful to have had the invitation, as well as the feedback, with the hope that the classes will bear good fruit.
Additional developments in my own life this year included the selling of my home during the summer, precipitating a move. At this time, I am gratefully living with my sister and brother-in-law as I decide my next step. While living with them and having their help, I am blessed to arrange surgeries for arthritic joints. Oh, the joy…! However, pain relief is not to be underestimated, though pretty soon, I fear I will have more metal joints than originals.
I would be dishonest if I told you I know what the coming year will bring. My plans are to continue writing a book on the nature and meaning of Christian marriage through the blog. Podcasts will continue to be an exercise in apologetics – explaining and defending Christian faith. However, as stated above, we are living in a time of rapid change.
Daily, some new change occurs in our world. While I think it’s an exciting time to be bearers of Christ’s salvation in the world, I also think we face significant challenges. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion, in spite of their privileged status in the United States, are increasingly diminished in practice and by law. American culture has moved beyond the privatization of faith to the overt repudiation of all things Christian. Thus, proclaiming the Gospel will become more difficult, and I suspect we will begin to see some form of deterrence or punishment for being people of faith. Already, there is a small but growing sense that Christian belief is a type of neuroses, a rejection of reality for the comfort and security of delusion. The opposite is true. The rejection of the Truth of Jesus Christ leads to neuroses and delusion, for it is confidence in what is false and broken.
The education of our children and grandchildren is already a battleground, and too many of us are not even aware of the war being waged for the minds of our youths. Likewise, it is not an unfair observation that the church is often guilty of chasing after the world in an effort to be relevant and with the hope of being allowed to hold onto our little corner of society. This accommodationism is inevitably found among many in the pews, to the shame of the church for failing to teach the life-giving and empowering truth found in Jesus Christ.
And yet… And yet, “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son… God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” When the world is busy judging Christians and Christian belief, we must remember we are called to love this world and these people, wherever they are and whatever they’ve done. If the Lord is willing to love and save you and me, of course, He is willing to love and save everyone else, too.
As Christians, we need to recover the sense of calling that comes with new birth in Christ. That calling is two-fold: first, that we grow up in our salvation, increasing in the likeness of Christ, and second, that we love the world and the people in it, not in some distant, simplistic manner, but with the love of Christ. As a friend said recently, we should love as God does, which means we see the beauty and not just the flaws. How odd that we Christians who benefit from God’s merciful love are quick to judge and condemn. When we love the hidden dignity instead of counting the flaws, we will know that we are growing in Christ, and we will be vessels of the Incarnate Son. We can become the ones through whom God is able to re-create this generation with the same new life that re-creates us, that re-created our ancestors, that poured forth into the world at Pentecost. To live such a life is worthy of God’s children.
What will the coming year bring? I cannot begin to guess. I know my plans, as shared above. But as the days unfold and changes come, as I – and you, I pray – seek the face of the Lord and hunger to grow in Him and be His voice in this generation, who knows what God will do? It’s an exciting time to be a Christian! I can feel it in my bones.
Together, let us grow with grace. Let’s prepare ourselves to live as children of our Father, as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, filled with the Spirit of God. Let us be the life and love of God in the flesh for this generation. That is my prayer for us all. That is what we will be doing here at Servants’ Feast.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau
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