Watch the video above and read the transcript below.
“Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Sunday’s appointed text is from Nehemiah 8:10. The joy of the Lord is our strength. This verse is the capstone of a wonderful ‘calling’ story.
Nehemiah, far from home, exiled, learns from travelers that Jerusalem and the walls are in ruins. This touches his heart deeply and he wants so very much to be used of God in a mission to repair the walls. He fasts, he prays and then he goes in to the king.
The king had never seen Nehemiah sad before and so he asked, ‘What’s wrong with you? Surely you must be sick.’ Not physically ill, but heartsick. And Nehemiah shared with the king what had happened at home and how he wanted to go repair the walls. And, miraculously, the king was on board quickly, ‘how can I help you?’
Nehemiah returned with the assistance and the help of the king. He returned to this work, first, of prayer, of listening to God and then of opening space for the people of Jerusalem to come and hear what God had placed upon his heart. And when he shared with them all that had happened to him they cried out together, ‘Let us rise up and build.’
They began work on the walls and in fifty-two days the work was miraculously completed even though there were tensions within and trouble from without. And the people from Jerusalem beyond the Jewish communities said, ‘Surely the hand of God is upon them or they could never have accomplished this great work.’
There was a grand celebration culminating in the reading of the word of God. The people wept and Nehemiah said, ‘Do not weep. The joy of the Lord is your strength.’
Nehemiah’s story is one of the powerful stories of ‘call’ in the scripture and we in the North Carolina Conference take very seriously the call of God continuing, resonating in our lives and in our hearts.
Tomorrow a Conference Task Force on Culture of Call will meet for the first time. We’ll think together about ways to engage together so that those of us who are younger and those of us who are more seasoned might be helped to hear God’s clear call in our lives.
From children to youth to young adults, across the spectrum of our age God is calling us afresh day by day. I invite your prayers as we continue to build a culture of call in our Annual Conference.
Among the places to which we are called as God’s people is the mission field. The United Methodist Church is actively seeking, at this very moment, fifty young adults. Young adults who have completed four years of college and who want to make themselves available for mission service.
These young adults will be sent from everywhere to everywhere. From North Carolina to the Ukraine. From Vietnam to the Congo. Among us are many young people who will want to engage this opportunity.
I ask each one of you within the hearing of my voice in this moment to think of a young person who you know has a heart for mission and to encourage them to consider this opportunity to engage the needs of the world.
God’s call continues to come. May we hear it in every place, and may we encourage one another to step forward into the light as Christ beckons us forward.”