It is spring! Trees and flowers are celebrating the arrival of this new season. We see new leaves and flowers everywhere. May the grace and blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you in this season of hope.
This month, we will continue our Lenten journey of reflection on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. But this is not the end of our journey. God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. The power of sin and death was defeated, and the tomb of despair and fear was broken and opened to new life. Christ is risen! Yes, Jesus Christ our Lord is risen, indeed!! Hallelujah!
In this Lenten month, we will have the 2016 Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer on March 5. This will be our fourth convocation on prayer. In this convocation, we want to equip the clergy and laity to move into a deeper prayer life and transform our churches by opening ourselves to God and seeking God’s will in our mission and ministries. We also want to spread the culture of deeper prayer in our churches. I am deeply grateful to those team members who planned and prepared this convocation and to all who will participate in it.
This year we invited Dr. Frederick Schmidt to be our plenary speaker. He is teaching at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary as the Ruben Job Professor of Spiritual Formation. Many of you may know that the late Bishop Ruben Job was one of our great spiritual leaders in the United Methodist Church and challenged and awakened us to the importance of a deeper spiritual life. Garrett-Evangelical Seminary founded this professorship in honor of Bishop Job’s ministry. Dr. Schmidt was chosen as the first professor to fill this important position. We are very excited about having him with us on March 5th. Please, not only join this event, but also spread this news and encourage others to participate in this convocation. This is my first invitation.
Another invitation is to the Conference-wide Day of Prayer/24-hour Prayer Vigil for General Conference (GC). We used to have our Conference-Wide Day of Prayer for a church renewal around May 24, Aldersgate Day, but this year we set April 10 as our day of prayer. We want to pray before General Conference in May and respond to the call for a 24-hour Prayer Vigil for GC from the Council of Bishops. I am very happy that each annual conference chose or was assigned one day for prayer for our upcoming GC. This prayer movement will last for 131 days, from Jan. 1 to May 10, the opening day of GC. The entire United Methodist Church (UMC) in the world has 131 Annual Conferences.Our beloved UMC is facing serious challenges. While our church has been declining and becoming an aging church, the world, our mission field, is changing rapidly. We are also struggling and being divided over the issue of human sexuality. We see and hear warning signs for the future of our denomination,
I believe this is the time to pray, the time to humbly seek the will and guidance of the risen Lord.
Please pray that only the Holy Spirit will lead and guide our GC. Pray for all delegates to lay down their agendas and open their hearts and minds to the head of our church, Jesus Christ. Pray for God to give them humility, wisdom and depth of spiritual vitality to discern our Lord’s will and follow it. Fill their hearts with love for our churches that their decisions may build up our churches.
Without seeking God’s help and guidance, I think our upcoming GC will face many difficulties, frustrations and disappointments. Many people are worried about the future of our UMC. Now is the time to covert these worries and fears into prayer and trust in God. Do we really believe in the power of Prayer? Do we have an assurance of God’s answer to our prayers?
So, this is my second invitation. I invite you to join our day of prayer on April 10. Each district will soon develop a 24-hour Prayer Vigil for GC. I invite you to join this prayer movement. Please choose a time and devote some time to praying for a renewal and revival of our churches, especially for the upcoming GC. Let us seek signs that prayer is making differences! Prayer can bring a new future in our churches.
I am grateful for your consideration of these invitations. May our Good Shepherd continue to lead all our journeys.
Young Jin Cho