Keeping focused in a distracted world: Hold onto the hope of Jesus
February 22, 2022 / By Carmen Vianese, UNY Head of the GC/JC Delegation, UNY Conf. UMW President and Director/Finance Chair GBGM & UMCOR
Given the uncertainty, the continued anxiety, and the conflict that continues not only in society around us, but also within our denomination across the global connection, one would think it would just be easier to walk away from it all. However, as a United Methodist Woman (UMW) who is steeped in the grace offered throughout the sisterhood of UMW, as well as the deep history of justice work, walking away during a time like this is not an option!
Jesus clearly calls us to a higher level of understanding. He modeled acceptance every time he entered into a new place, was greeted by a large group of people, or even when he met a single person face to face.
It was Unconditional.
It was for Everyone.
Through this practice, “Hope” thrived.
In her bible study found in the UMW Response Magazine (Jan/Feb 2022 edition), Jasmine Smothers writes, “When what is can no longer be, the church needs leaders who make room for hope to emerge!” Dear ones, this is what I have come to understand as a leader in UMW, in Global Ministries & UMCOR, and within my home church; the HOPE that Jesus gives through his gift of Grace and Unconditional Love can and will see us through each day, even when those around us pressure us to believe otherwise.
No matter what comes to the denomination called “United Methodist,” the mission work still needs to be done.
The justice work will still need to happen.
The least and the last and the marginalized will still need someone to stand for and with them!
For me, that reality pushes me forward and keeps me focused on the task of sharing Jesus’ message of grace and inclusion with everyone I can. A reality that I live out by intentionally exposing and including those with special needs and abilities and mental illness into worship experiences and small group learning moments that inspire all the senses through textures, pictures, special lighting, safe scents and sounds or vibrations; while ensuring that everyone is not only included but also involved, heard, and valued during their time within the faith community that is created.
I pray that we will find our way through the pressures and the stresses, beyond the nay-sayers and the closed minded, and continue to have HOPE for the possibilities of a church that will completely fulfill the Good News of Jesus.