As Kathy and I traveled the California roadways, we often thought of you. Traveling from Carmel to Yosemite through the central valley we saw the crops of strawberries, artichokes, and other produce much like the fields of South Georgia. As our weather became the talk of the nation, we watched from afar as people prepared. We heard the stories of gas, bread, and water being “sold out’ at the stores.
To the South Georgia Conference:
We in South Georgia know the lasting impact of kind words, good deeds, of prayers made on our behalf. Even if we had not had three disaster events in our Annual Conference within the past year, the South Georgia Conference would want to reach out in every way to our brothers and sisters in the Houston area. But those recent disasters have made us even more determined to respond with support in very tangible ways.
We know how much it meant to us for individuals, churches, and annual conferences to come to our aid. Now we have the opportunity to stand side by side as United Methodists in ministry to all those in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
I would like to encourage the local churches of South Georgia to set Sunday, September 10 as a day to receive a special offering for disaster relief in Texas and to involve the congregation in making cleaning and/or hygiene kits for use in the long weeks and months of recovery.
Thank you, South Georgia United Methodists, for the ways in which you continue to be Alive Together in Christ.
Bishop, South Georgia Conference
I like words. I like to play with them even though I’m not a big fan of puzzles or games with words. Words are powerful. The adage we teach our children suggests objects hurt us more, but words inflict pain where medicine cannot reach. Hearts are bruised and broken by words.
Taken out of context words can confuse and frustrate. Aimed correctly, they will shatter mythologies we hold dear. With a certain spin, with only half truths, words turn people against each other.
Words also heal. They can be a salve to our hearts. To hear words of acceptance, of respect, of being valued bring waves of encouragement.
A current song in the Christian genre’, and one we often sing in Ocilla, is Chris Tomlin’s “Good, Good Father.” In it, Tomlin describes a complexity often missed by Christian artists and writers, theologians and preachers, parents and teachers. Tomlin gives us both a fundamental look at the meaning of “relationship,” and a clear statement of the perfection of God.
I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like
But I've heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you're pleased
And that I'm never alone
You're a good, good father
It's who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are
And I'm loved by you
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am*
While sitting at a fast food restaurant, I discover their internet connection isn’t working properly. I need that connection to get some work done. It’s not too busy, so I walked to the counter and spoke to a young employee at the cash register, “I wonder if you knew your internet is down.” The reply I received seemed typical of our times, “I just got here.”
The response made me think of us, the church of Jesus Christ. When a visitor finds their way into our building, how are they received? If they ask a question, how do we respond? If they notice something out of kilter, something we’re so accustomed to we’ve stopped paying attention, and mention it, what is our attitude? Do we get defensive? If they ask for some information, perhaps directions, do we know how to answer?