The theme for this year’s Texas Annual Conference, reflecting the idea of Extravagant Generosity, immediately calls to mind U2’s anthemic “With or Without You.” Without a doubt, it was one of the best annual conferences I’ve been a part of. The highlight was Tuesday night’s service in which my wonderful wife Christie was ordained as an Elder in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church!
Our own Bishop Janice Riggle Huie delivered the sermon entitled “Give It All Away,” drawing liberally upon the Christ Hymn in Philippians 2, excerpts from John Wesley’s journals as well as Charles Wesley’s hymns, and her own personal experience as a young clergyperson in Southwest Texas. Throughout her most excellent sermon, she repeatedly asked, “Will you give it all away?” After Bishop Huie asked this question for the third or fourth time, we heard a little voice float down from the balcony above, with perfect timing, “NO! NOT ME!”
Yes, that was our almost-5-year-old protesting the idea that he (or perhaps his mother) would be giving anything away. Despite his usual penchant for anything church, he was drawing the line at this. And as funny as he was, he also reminded me that the personal sacrifices required in ministry are substantial and persistent. We lie to ourselves if we think they will insignificant.
In the British Methodist “Ordination of Presbyters” liturgy, after the lengthy list of responsibilities that Elders are called to discharge, there is a beautiful reminder of this costly discipleship.
This ministry will make great demands upon you and upon those close to you, yet in all this, the Holy Spirit will sustain you by his grace…May God who has called you to this ministry give you grace and power to do his will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And may we too recognize the cost of following Jesus in ministry as well as the wealth of grace given for those who answer the call.