I’m here this week with Beth Holland from our church and about 800 or so other people. We are called “members,” not delegates, which means the same thing and yet also carries a deeper sense of connection. Like any conference, the MAC will have a speaker, discuss some housekeeping items of the organization, review some new ideas and have time for folks to be recognized, and of course to connect with people you haven’t seen since the last conference.
I’ve been coming to the MAC or conferences like the MAC every year of my life since 1976. I don’t think I’ve missed a single one...really! However, the 2018 Mac is a bit different for me. It’s the first year since I’ve been your pastor that Beth Holland from EPUMC is here instead of Ginger Eddy. It’s the first year in something like 14 years I have not ridden my bike from Minnetonka or Eden Prairie to St. Cloud and back with some cycling buddies who also get to come to the MAC. And at this MAC, my wife Katie is retiring.
One of the things that Katie’s retirement this year means is that I’m also attending as her spouse. So I got to go the retirement dinner, and I will be standing with her on Friday afternoon as she is recognized. I’ve been at a lot of retirements at the MAC. They used to devote an entire evening to it with everyone who was retiring giving a speech. Now let’s just say God’s grace and wisdom has taken over and that has changed; now we get a booklet where everyone gets to write about a page.
Katie and I have always been what is referred to as a “Clergy Couple” at the MAC. We are a married couple who are both clergy. We are not the only clergy couple, but we are certainly one of the first and one of the longest-lasting both in terms of being clergy and unfortunately also in terms of still being a married couple. The attrition rate is very high in both of these areas.
With all this going on, I’m reflecting on the different roles I have while I’m here: I’m a member of the conference, a representative of EPUMC, I have a lot of friends here and now I am spouse/colleague of someone being recognized for 39 and a half years of service. That is a lot to juggle around in your head and heart. And yet it is something all of us do every day.
This week we are hearing a lot of what this conference is calling “Jesus stories.” Jesus stories are moments or incidents when Christ’s presence in your life has been very apparent… They are when Jesus touched your life and transformed whatever you were juggling around in your head and heart. Jesus stories are when you invited Jesus into your life to help.
I’m going to share a couple of my Jesus’ stories this Sunday, and I want to invite you to consider what story you might tell. You see, I believe when we tell these stories and listen to each other when we do…Jesus shows up.
Keep the Faith,