Yogi Berra said once “It’s Déjà vu all over again.” I sort of hope not. A lot has happened in the last 3 years. In 2008 I was honored to be South Carolina’s nominee for bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. It was a great privilege, the delegation was whole-heartedly behind me, and I came in second to a great nominee. I wondered like most of us do as to why such and such happened, but now 3 years later things make more sense, and feel so very differently.
I’m not suggesting at all that things go a certain way in an “It was meant to be” kind of way. I am no predestinarian. However, I do believe in God’s providence. Providentially I can look back over the last 3 years and count merciful reasons why I wasn’t elected bishop. Our family has had 2 births, 2 deaths, 2 graduations, 3 hospitalizations, and 1 ordination. The two births were Narcie and Mike’s Evy and Josh and Karen’s Kaela. The 2 deaths were the sudden losses of Cindy’s Mom and my brother, Carlee. The 2 graduations were Caleb and Karen. The 3 hospitalizations were Cindy’s saga this year with a series of surgeries, and, of course, the June 11, 2010 brain tumor surgery for Narcie. Please keep praying for her. The 1 ordination was Josh as an Elder in the UMC yesterday. It’s been a busy couple of years.
Now perhaps the real providential reason I wasn’t elected 3 years ago was because I needed to grow some more and I still do for that matter. But here we are again and the South Carolina Annual Conference has spoken again. I was first-elected clergy again, amazingly, and I am so grateful for all those who have prayed for me and given their support. Yesterday afternoon the delegation unanimously endorsed me as their Episcopal nominee for 2012. It will be another long year, but things already feel so much better.
The primary reason this feels so different now is the groundswell of the Spirit. It hasn’t just felt like the delegation is behind me, but the whole Annual Conference. It’s a “we” thing and everyone is on the team. Jesus’ Spirit of Pentecost is alive and well and I am grateful. Maybe 3 years ago it was more of a personal call still. Now I feel it in my bones as an ecclesiastical call. It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus and the church.
This Annual Conference is our family home. Narcie, Josh, and I are full members of the conference and feel that community in such a rich way. I want to say “Thanks!” to every one of you. Thanks for being with us through all the peaks and valleys. This is our journey together. The Scriptural theme of what we’ve been through is clear:
Ecclesiastes 3: A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil?
10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I trust in the providence of God no matter what.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmYOc2iZozU – The Summons