On the second Sunday of Advent, Bishop Ward invites prayers for Circles of Abundant Grace, gatherings in January across the Annual Conference to discuss the future of The United Methodist Church.
Grace and peace to you in this holy season of Advent.
This beautiful Haitian panel depicts a depicts a lovely scene in Luke 1. Gabriel visited Mary with the startling announcement that she would bear forth the Savior of the world and Mary hastens to the home of Elizabeth in the Judean hills. The two women embrace, the two women about to bear forth John, who will become John the Baptizer, and Jesus, who will become the Christ, into the world. This embrace for us is a beautiful symbol on this second Sunday in Advent, traditionally the Sunday of the peace candle in the Advent wreath.
As we move forward as God’s people, we are called to embrace one another with listening ears, with gracious spirits, and with abundant welcome.
In January, there will be convenings across the Annual Conference. These convenings will be an opportunity for 15 to 20 lay and clergy leaders to have a circle conversation about the future of The United Methodist Church. A commission on The Way Forward has been configured by the Council of Bishops that has begun its work. These circle conversations will be an opportunity to understand the decisions of the General Conference in 2016, the Commission on the Way Forward, and the anticipation of events that will continue to unfold. It will be our opportunity to speak with one another out of our hearts, to listen and to speak well and lovingly together.
So on this second Sunday in Advent, I invite your prayers for these circles of conversation which we are calling Circles of Abundant Grace and to watch for the opportunity to sign up for one of those conversations near you at a convenient time.
Grace and peace to you in this Holy season.