Saturday, March 30, 2013

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 46: March 30

Saturday, March 30, 2013: Life 

Romans 6:3-11 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 

We all want to live a long life. The conventional wisdom for doing so is our busy western culture is to carve out time for yourself…to prepare healthy meals, to exercise 30 minutes a day, to spend time calming our minds through prayer or meditation, and to cultivate meaningful relationships. And yet, in recent research, there is one other critical factor of those who lived a long life. Consistently, people had something or someone to live for. When they expended their life on behalf of someone else, it actually added to the quality and length of their own life. 

The United Methodist Church is engaged in a conversation, particularly in the United States, about our future as a denomination. We are spending much time trying to figure out how to save our life as a church and what we need to be doing to be vital congregations. A repeated refrain in many churches is, “how do we get more young families to participate in our churches?” Rarely is the primary starting point for these conversations, “What does the gospel have to offer to these young families.” Rather our focus seems to be we need these young families for the future of our church. What might Jesus have to say to that? 

At the same time, as the United Methodist Church, we have an audacious goal of Imagining No Malaria in Africa, and raising $75 million towards accomplishing it. This effort has energized the people and the churches of the Minnesota Annual Conference. We started out fairly skeptical that we could meet our goal of $1.8 million. Many churches were facing financial crisis. Our membership and attendance have been declining. How could we possibly imagine such a thing? Well, when you start giving away your life for the sake of the gospel, God shows up. To date, we have over $2.6 million in pledges and gifts. And we have wonderful stories of congregations finding new life as they rediscovered what it means to be in mission, and in fact, this is what we exist to do: to save lives. 
So, today, how are you giving your life away for the sake of the gospel? 

Prayer: God, teach us to trust your ways. We don’t have to try to save our lives because you have already done that for us in Jesus Christ. So help us live with joyful abandon, giving, sharing, loving others, and discovering as we do, that we have the privilege of participating in your great mission, and that is what brings life to us and to the world. Amen. 

Rev. Cindy Gregorson, Director of Ministries, Minnesota Conference 

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