Greetings to Provisional Elders, Full Elders, Provisional Deacons, Full Deacons, Local Pastors who are preparing for their first Course of Study class, Local Pastors who have completed Course of Study, Associate Members, those who are serving in retirement, and those who are serving while working in another career. July 1 marks the beginning of a new appointment year. It doesn’t matter if this is a continuing appointment or a new one, or the last year before you consider retiring and seeking other ways to answer God’s call. This year is full of possibilities for planting seeds, cultivating the soil and possibly reaping the harvest of mission and ministry goals set by you or your predecessor.
I invite you to pray over Hymn #383 in our United Methodist Hymnal: This Is a Day of New Beginnings. The song celebrates the promise and hopes that each day may bring. The song also calls each of us, as servant leaders to have faith in our Lord and Savior who is with us on our journey.
When I was on vacation, I spent some time in Disney Springs, where all the souvenir shops are located. As I walked through the plaza, I noticed that far too many people were glued to their phones, watching whatever was unfolding on the screen in their hands. They were so focused on looking down that they missed all the people around them. Dozens of little girls dressed as their favorite princess, wide eyed children who were fascinated by the Lego dragons, and a group of people who got splashed by a giant Lilo statue, because they didn’t realize he was spraying water on anyone who walked by the World of Disney Store.
I believe one of the tasks before us is to engage with people directly. I’m not discouraging us from taking advantage of what our phones can offer through email, texts, tweets and photos. That is only the beginning of how we can interact with one another. But once we meet, whether it’s in a coffee shop, restaurant or fellowship time at church, let’s set our devices aside and just talk about what’s going on in our lives, what we are wrestling with, worrying about, accomplishing and planning. Let’s create new ways of connecting with each other, even if we do it the old fashioned way, by just striking up a conversation. May God bless you as this appointment year begins. And Amen.