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Did you know? Returning to 3D

Posted: February 20 2023 at 09:50 PM
Author: Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Asst. to the Bishop/Dir. of Connectional Ministries

In "The Wizard of Oz", Dorothy lost and wandering in a strange world, has a mantra “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” Home can mean many things. Home is a place. Home can be a feeling of the comfortable or the familiar. Home can be a group or even eating comfort food no matter where we find ourselves.
For United Methodists in Northern Illinois, home is often those places where we gather to reconnect, reenergize and remember that we are in this together. As we turned the calendar to 2023, the Northern Illinois Conference welcomed our new bishop and launched more in-person gatherings than we have held for the last three years. During these first two months of 2023, we have hosted District Leadership Training Events, a hybrid Laity Convocation, five clergy gatherings, and five laity gatherings designed to meet Bishop Dan Schwerin.  Before the month is out, our Order of Elders will also have gathered in person for the first time since 2020, and we will participate in the Installation of Bishop Dan Schwerin. Upwards of 2,000 people will have participated in one event or more related to the Northern Illinois Conference in the first eight weeks of 2023!
For the people called United Methodists, who thrive in connection and celebrate community, “there is no place like home” as we gather beyond our local church and connect in the district, conference, and beyond.
It feels good to be face-to-face, to see in 3 dimensions rather than a little square on the screen. It has been great to laugh and share stories and hear about the adventures of ministry in our congregations and communities. The energy has been wonderful, and joyful. There has been an eagerness to reconnect, learn together, and be one in Christ.
This reconnecting reminds me of the strengths of our Wesleyan heritage. John Wesley understood that we are better together and that personal spiritual disciplines without corporate worship cannot sustain us. That the balance of social and personal holiness is our strength.
There are many troubling things happening in the world. The death toll in Turkey and Syria following an earthquake is staggering. The continued war in Ukraine brings us to our knees in prayer. Rising tensions between governments, spy balloons, and international threats create dis-ease. Churches leaving the United Methodist family over issues of human sexuality continue to be a topic of debate and a focus taking us away from our mission. Verbal warfare and incivility breed unrest. Racial violence breaks our hearts and challenges us to find a different way. As we name the challenges in our world, we might be tempted to join Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” wandering through a fantasy land rather than navigating reality. The yellow brick road sounds safer than the way of the cross.
As we prepare to enter into the Season of Lent, I am grateful for the reconnecting that is going on throughout our conference. Signs of life and hopeful ministry are all around us. In this Lenten Season, may we continue to ground ourselves in faith, listening for God’s voice, and celebrating our spiritual home in community with one another.

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