By Woody Woodrick
FORT WORTH, Texas – At closing of the 2008 General Conference, delegates and other participants need to wait and watch so they can receive the ascended spirit of God.
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Episcopal Area delivered that message in her sermon on May 2, the final day of the gathering at the Fort Worth Convention Center. "God bless you as you go," she said. "How glorious it is to be a witness to the way God will be in the world beyond this place."
Ward urged the delegates as they returned to their homes to focus less on the decisions made and more on the things they learned. "We learned much about God," she said.
"Christ reigns in every place. Christ reigns over all that we are and over everything that we do. In this General Conference-ending day, we know that Christ is with us."
Joining Ward in the worship service were the Festival Choir from Christ United Methodist Church from Sugar Land, Texas, including soloist Barbara Johnson Tucker; the St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Choir of Dallas; choir of Tongans from across the nation, and jazz pianist Eugene Lowry of Texas.
Ward based her sermon on Acts 1:6-11, where the disciples gathered with the risen Christ. However, He told them to wait for the time when God restores His kingdom – that it was not for them to know the time of His coming. Christ then ascended into heaven.
Ward acknowledged that many people, especially those at a meeting such as General Conference, have a difficult time waiting and not knowing. "This was an invitation to wait, to remember there are things we are not to know," she said. "It was an invitation to receive the spirit, to be a witness."
Ward shared the story of how United Methodists affected by Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana were asked to bring shards of broken items to be part of a cross or handed out to delegates to the General Conference. A woman came to Heritage United Methodist Church in D'Iberville, Miss., with a bent spoon. She said she had held onto it for more than two years, not knowing why.
"‘Since the storm I have kept this bent spoon,' the woman had said. ‘For some reason, I have not been able to throw this spoon away. Until now. I'm ready to let it go; let it go to someone at the General Conference.'
"God is powerfully with us. Christ ascends. The Spirit comes," Ward said. "So, this day, let go. Wait. Watch. Receive."