Bishop Fairley’s statement before General Conference
In light of all the tension surrounding us at this time, I share this explanation of the lowercase “gods” in the opening quote. The lowercase use is to distinguish all the gods that we place before the one true God.
“There is a tendency for us to flee from the wild silence and wild dark, to pack up our gods and hunker down behind city walls, to turn the gods into idols, to kowtow before them and approach their precincts only in the official robes of office. And when we are in the temples, then who will hear the voice crying in the wilderness? Who will hear the reed shaken by the wind?” – Chet Raymo, The Soul of the Night
“But I have calmed and quieted my soul....” Psalm 131:2. This is the word I encourage you let rest deep in your hearts as we prepare for the special called session of General Conference in St. Louis in just a few short days. I share this out of deep desire that we would not flee from the wild silence or the wild dark. It is my prayer that we can let go of all that has been written (there has been much ink spilled) or spoken about the special called session and spend some time embracing this wilderness place, this darkness, so that in the silence we might indeed hear “the voice crying in the wilderness” and “the reed shaken by the wind” of our apparent impasse. I ask you to join me in praying that each delegation, and every United Methodist will indeed leave room for the Holy Spirit to speak into our silence, and into our “wild dark.”
As we allow God through Jesus Christ to speak, I pray we would “cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7. “Be not afraid” is a message that we read repeatedly in the scripture. I pray that we will hear God’s inviting us, time and time again, to let go of our worries and fears. We have a choice about whether we will be anxious.
Somewhere in the midst of all of the fears and anxiety, somewhere in the midst of our agendas, the voice of Jesus Christ longs to be heard. I go to St. Louis knowing God in Christ Jesus will meet us there. My prayer is that every delegate and every delegation will arrive in the knowledge that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. ... Be still, and know that I am God!” – Psalm 46:1-3, 10. May we indeed take this time prior to our arrival in St. Louis and prior to the decisions we must make to calm and quiet our souls.
May we, like St. John of the Cross, wrestle with the silence and darkness until we find some joy and peace as the darkness yields truth and light. The light is coming, has come, and will come, and the darkness will be no more. We pray together that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, will guide us in St. Louis.
“Lord, we pray for the unity of your Church. Help us to see ourselves as rays from the one sun, branches of a single tree, and streams flowing from one river. May we remain united to you and to each other, because you are our common source of life; and may we send out your light and pour forth your flowing streams over all the earth, drawing our inspiration and joy from you.” – After St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200-258)
Bishop Leonard Fairley
As a member of the Council of Bishops, as we prepare to preside at General Conference 2019, I share this letter from the Council, as well as our covenant for presiding.