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Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18).

In 1988 a small New York town was devastated by a bus accident that took the lives of twenty-six of their children. Understandably, the whole town was wounded and deeply grieved.

In July of 1996, TWA Flight 800 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off New York’s Long Island, killing all 230 persons aboard. Television news reporters visited the small New York town three weeks after the Flight 800 tragedy to interview the people. “What advice can you give?” they were asked. “Just hold on,” some said. “It will get better,” others reflected. Words of encouragement came from each person as they conveyed messages of hope to families and friends of the Flight 800 victims. They knew what the families were going through. They prayed for them.

Sometimes, all we can do is hold on and pray. Sometimes we help others to hold on and bear their burdens with them. We pray and supplicate, asking humbly and earnestly in their stead. Jesus often prayed on behalf of others. His most earnest and humble supplication as he hung on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing,” is the Great Prayer of Supplication, and beyond our comprehension. How could Jesus love us so completely? Yet, Jesus asks us to forgive one another, to love one another as he loves us, to grieve with those who grieve, to rejoice with those who rejoice. As the faithful, we are called to bear one another’s burdens, and we are called to intercessory prayer for others.

Some days we may be overwhelmed by the great numbers of friends and family members who need our prayers. But we know that the power of prayer changes things. Our faith in Christ changes things. As we persevere in our faith journeys, there are those who need us. Words of encouragement and hope can become reality in healing, overcoming grief, and enabling others in their obedience to Christ.

From “Walking Side by Side: Devotions for Pilgrims” by Joanna Bultemeier and Cherie Jones, Upper Room Books: 1998
Living with a Single Eye

Question: What would John Wesley think about a church and a nation being tested by profound division?

John Wesley would remind United Methodists of the central importance of our personal decision to “live with a single eye”. Wesley began this practice during his days at Oxford University when he, with a small group of like-minded Christian believers, sought to order his life after the example of Jesus—living so that every aspect of his life was focused on giving glory and honor to God. “Living with a single eye” was John Wesley’s highest priority.

This emphasis for all of his personal and ministry decisions was the reason he and his friends were ridiculed on Oxford’s campus and sarcastically referred to as “Methodists”.

Throughout his life, Wesley advocated for the benefits of living with intentional method and loving God in all things. He believed that a person who lived without faith was like “an unbridled horse without course in a field wandering around expending much energy to no apparent purpose.”

John Wesley wrote many pamphlets on the subject of “living with a single eye” that were published in his lifetime, but still have relevancy today. They covered topics of speech, dress, finances, use of time, and social action on issues of public consequence. Wesley challenged his readers—and us today—to consider all the practical ways we may each order life so that every aspect of our living is done in gratitude to God for the gift of life. Wesley was certain that we can live a different life when we live each day with eternity in mind.

In a letter to a colleague, written in 1734, Wesley wrote, “Let us agree what religion is. I take religion to be, not the bare saying over so many prayers, morning and evening, in public or in private; not anything superadded now and then to a careless and worldly life: but a constant ruling habit of soul, a renewal of our minds in the image of God, a recovery of the divine likeness, a still-increasing conformity of heart and life to the pattern of our most holy Redeemer.”

Later in life, Wesley wrote a letter to his group of itinerant preachers in 1769. It stressed the importance of holy focus. “I take it for granted that our unity cannot be preserved by any means between those who have not a single eye. Those who aim at anything but the glory of God and the salvation of men, who desire or seek any earthly thing, whether honor, profit, or ease, cannot continue in our service.”

Taken from The Lesson of John Wesley, by Glenn Wagner, The United Methodist Men Quarterly, Winter, 2020-21

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The Attack on the Capital
The scenes that unfolded in our nation’s capital on Wednesday are troubling on many levels. Images that we never could have imagined happening were on news and media outlets as they documented the chaos and violence wrought by the crowds that gathered. These images captured for us all a clear picture of a broken and disunified nation and the sin of white privilege, as well as the horrific results of disinformation and conspiracy theories promulgated by the president and many others, publicly and through social media. We want to say this is not America, yet what we have witnessed in recent years, and most particularly in these last weeks, compels us to acknowledge that, in fact, this is America.

Jesus said, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called children of God,” (Matthew 5:9). Peacemaking begins with individual and corporate confession and asking hard questions with the goal of transformation. Let us examine and compare the events of the spring and summer, in the way people of color protesting peacefully were treated, as opposed to the treatment of white rioters who assaulted the Capitol, the center of our nation’s government. White privilege and white supremacy, undergirded by conspiracy theories, erode the fiber of the true good in our country and in the world. This is not the America that we want to be or the foundational value that we believe America can be.

In response, as the Cabinet of The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, we acknowledge that this is a watershed moment for us all—as disciples of Jesus Christ and as citizens of the United States of America. We have learned from history that people of faith do not always speak out quickly when there is evidence of wrongdoing and abuse of national power. Therefore, in this instance, we wish to point toward what we are doing and will continue to do to live more faithfully and seek a more just world:

  • Intentionally engage white clergy and laity in acknowledging the reality that “whiteness” is a cultural reality in America’s foundation and has been an oppressive force in our history and culture for over 400 years.
  • Recognize and acknowledge the reality of white supremacy and white privilege as a part of our American history and culture and of our United Methodist Church history and culture.
  • Invite white people to acknowledge all the ways we are complicit with white supremacy, that we exalt our white privilege, and by default perpetuate harm to people of color. 
  • Acknowledge the need for white people to repent of our misuse of our power and privileges and begin the work of dismantling racism and building a just and equitable kingdom of God.
  • Walk alongside minority communities to understand more deeply their pain and the injustices present in our society and in our institutions.
  • Pray for our leaders and for those charged with our safety and protection, especially during this time of transition.
  • Pray for the incoming administration, including the preparation for the Inauguration on January 20.

One of the phrases that Bishop Carter has repeated over and over, both in written and in spoken word, that rings true in our ears is this: “Antiracism is discipleship. Antiracism is sanctification. Antiracism and our baptismal promises.” “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19

Grace and Peace,
Florida Conference Appointive Cabinet