SOUTHERN HILLS DISTRICT
Stumbling Toward Holy Living
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:12-13, NIV)
In his book, The Road to Character, David Brooks encourages readers like me to build deeper character, what the Bible calls “holy” living, and what John Wesley emphasized in teaching about sanctification. Rev. Clayton Coffey loaned this book to me after I told him I liked hearing David Brooks speak at a Continuing Education event. I recently heard a sermon from Roger Morrow about Holy Living which went along with this character-building focus which the Holy Spirit has led me to consider lately.
Consider Brooks’ words from The Road to Character (New York: Random House, 2015, pp. 268-269) “We are all stumblers, and the beauty and meaning of life are in the stumbling --- in recognizing the stumbling and trying to become more graceful as the years go by … the stumbler faces her imperfect nature, her mistakes and weaknesses, with unvarnished honesty … She is sometimes ashamed of the perversities in her nature --- the selfishness, the self-deceit, the occasional desire to put lower loves above higher ones. But humility offers self-understanding … The stumbler is made whole by this struggle. Each weakness becomes a campaign that organizes and gives meaning to life and makes you a better person. We lean on each other as we struggle against sin. We depend upon each other for the forgiveness of sin. The stumbler has an outstretched arm, ready to receive and offer care.”
Our United Methodist Church, and each congregation in it, may seem to be stumbling at times, but are seeking to be “made whole by this struggle” with life. Our path toward sanctification as individuals and as a group is not smooth. The news media has reported one of many plans to be considered at General Conference as though it has already become church law. Only the General Conference speaks for our denomination and we can help one another check church news and helpful resources on our East Ohio Conference website: www.eocumc.com.
Noticing we are on a bumpy road in a time of transition leads me to look at myself and others with honest humility and to lean more deeply on God’s everlasting arms of mercy. That’s how I want to approach conversations about how we wait faithfully to see whether our General Conference in 2020 will be a turning point heralding new changes. Our democratic process of electing delegates, with equal numbers of lay and clergy, to make decisions about our Church every 4 years always calls us to prayer and patience. We are standing in the need of forgiveness again as we stumble toward God’s call for our lives together. I want to prepare my own heart for possible changes ahead. If I stumble or others stumble, we might still be learning and growing more holy in this process, by the grace of God.
Gratefully seeking more Grace each day,
Rev. Gail Angel, District Superintendent
Southern Hills District:
Rev. Gail Angel
641 Steubenville Ave.
Cambridge, OH 43725
Phone: (740) 255-5691
Fax: (740) 255-5693
Monday through Thursday
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
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