Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Storm of Hope

Sorry no post yesterday--this was because of two reasons:

1. It was a long day. We had orientation for three hours in the morning, followed by a quick lunch and then worship rehearsal (an event that we sat through in its entirety, only to be told at the last minute by our supervisors exactly what we needed to do). Then, we had a few hours off to explore the convention center and get to know the lay of the land. Worship began at 6:00, which meant we were in place at 4:30, and we finally got dinner last night at 8:45. Thanks to the nice folks at Panera, we were allowed in at the last minute, before the restaurant closed, and they let us stay around after they locked the doors. That was great, because of reason #2.

2. There was a HUGE storm in Fort Worth last night! When we first arrived in Ft. Worth, I marveled at the very large storm drains, thinking, "Wow, everything in texas really is bigger!" Now I know why. This was not just a storm, it was a driving rain, pouring down deluge, what the old folks used to call a "gully warsher." Bob and I both got soaked--and I even had an umbrella!

All of this was nothing compared to the awesome opening worship last night. The theme of the conference, "A Future With Hope," provided the setting. As worshippers entered the arena, they were invited to dip their hands in baptismal fonts and asked to "remember your baptism and be thankful." (This was my job) I was interested at how this simple action forced people to slow down, breathe, and begin worship in a different mindset than they may have had when they arrived. The music was tremendous--there is nothing like General Conference music to inspire you! We heard music from Africa, Asia, the United States, and even a Charles Wesley hymn or two.

Bishop Janice Huie was the preacher. She spoke in her sermon of how the word "hope" has lost its muscle in today's world--people speak of hope as if it is a mere wish or desire, rather than faith in the unseen blessings of God. She called this former kind of hope a "marshmallow hope," that easily melts and changes shape under pressure or heat. But the hope that we have as Christians, and as United Methodists, is that God is a great God who has plans for us--plans that may not come to fruition until we are all long gone, but plans that will carry on the Church and the work of Christ more many, many, more years to come.

When we got back to our hotel last night, we found the storm had knocked out our electricity--thus, no blogging. But, it was a great day, filled with reminders of the Holy Spirit's presence in our Church, and with true Hope for the future.

Today begins the marathon of sessions, speeches, and standing around (for me), but I can't wait to get started.

Check out videos and live streaming coverage of the conference at the website here.

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