Dear Brothers and sisters, I greet you in the name of the most high creator God, and in the name above all others, Jesus the Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit which dwells in all believers. I bring you a message today of great joy and hope amidst the frustration that we feel and share in. While it is true that all of us are frustrated and feel defeated, there is indeed joy to be had and hope to be found. The good news is that we are still an Easter people! We are still secure in the promise of the Resurrection and still looking with hope toward His appearing. Indeed, come Lord Jesus come. I birng also the good news from the book of Ecclesiastes. “That which has been is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9) This is indeed good news and a joyous comfort to the faithful as what once was in the beginning was paradise and what will be again is paradise once we have all passed into eternity! What a great comfort it is to be secure in the promise of a restored paradise for those who believe.
I bring to you a message of great joy, and also of great promise. Jesus is Lord! What greater promise is there truly? Because Jesus is Lord, all is in His hands and not mine. Because He is Lord, all things will come to pass as He desires and one day we will all be restored to meet in our perfected glory as The Creator intended us. What could be more joyful than the promise that one day we will all surround the throne and be able to worship and praise together not in our current feeble way, but in the perfect light of God. What greater joy than this promise when we are faced with frustrations and struggles, when we do not understand why a thing is, when that which we deeply desire does not happen in our time? What greater joy is there? What greater promise? Jesus is Lord!
I bring you a message of great joy, and promise, but also a confession. I share it with you as indeed, even if we have not met, you are my brothers and sisters in faith and our shared confessions of struggles are a part of the great Christian faith we all share. If a three stranded cord is not easily broken, then how much stronger does it become when each of us adds ourselves to it? I confess to you that my frustration over came me. I felt deeply wounded and hurt. I wept at what was happening to my church. I screamed at the injustice of it all. I wailed why o God have you allowed this to happen to my church? Why have you not restored us to what it is I know that you want us to be? In my meditations I found my answer. I confess that I did not want it or like it.
Brothers and sisters, this is not my church. It is not even your church. This is the church that Christ established, this is the church that the Holy Spirit sustains and nurtures. This is the church that one day, with all other believers, will be presented blameless as the bride to Jesus Christ. This is the church that still proclaims Jesus is Lord! This is true I know because we are all still here! We are all still the body. We are still the hands and feet of Christ to a world gone astray! We are still here. Jesus is still Lord. I confess that I thought of leaving. I, deep in my frustration and agony over not seeing the results that I wanted, was ready to go. Surely there is another denomination more suited. Surely it is time. That said brothers and sisters in faith, the lamp stand is still here and shining brightly! Should I leave, it will remain. Should I leave this church that we love will still be here. It will still be the church that Christ established. It will still be the church that the Holy Spirit sustains and nurtures. It will still be the body, the hands and feet of Christ, yes it will still be presented as blameless with all of the faithful as the Bride to Jesus the Christ. All of that will still be true. What will be different is that cord that we are bound in would be weakened because I was not a part of it. I will be weakened because I am not a part of it. Should I leave, I would hurt this great body of United Methodist believers and I would hurt myself. The church, however, will go on. Should I leave, I have only hurt myself and the body of believers. The church will remain however. I confess to you with a heavy heart that I nearly did.
Then I remembered the promise. The promise that Jesus is Lord! The declaration of the entire body of believers past, present and future. The promise of His return. The promise of Resurrection. The promise of paradise restored! The great promise of Christ as he commissioned the disciples, and us all, to go into the world that He would be with us until the end of the age! What a fool I was to doubt and forget those promises. Brothers and sisters I thank you for your indulgence and for your grace in accepting my confession. I thank you for being a part of that strong cord which binds us together across great distances. I thank you for being faithful. I pray that if you are frustrated and distressed that you will be renewed in the promise. Jesus is Lord! I pray that my confession does not linger, but that the promise, the promise taught you by this United Methodist Church, stays with you forever and ever. I pray that we remain together in this part of the Bride of Christ, frustrating as it often is, until the day that we proclaim together with all of the faithful, JESUS IS LORD! Amen and amen.