Annual Conference worship: Christ offers hope for a hurting world, Bishop Fairley says

December 08, 2020
By Alan Wild
The current state of the world is grim and at times can seem hopeless, but Bishop Leonard Fairley called on the people of the Kentucky Annual Conference to remember the hope of Jesus Christ’s coming offers.

In a recorded message offered Tuesday at the start of the virtual 2020 Annual Conference, Fairley reminded them of the promise offered in 1 Peter 1:13: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.”

“The coming of Christ into the world was and is the culmination to which all events are moving,” Fairley said during the 25-minute message, broadcast across the Conference to clergy and lay members watching remotely. His message was titled “Hope That Does Not Disappoint.”

“The timing of Jesus’s first coming was not accidental, incidental, or coincidental. Christ came at the most auspicious moment in history. Jesus came into a world locked in political, social, and economical upheaval – sounds like our world! He came into a world locked in hopeless despair. The world was long, and hoping for God’s ultimate salvation, redemption, and healing.”

The virtual Annual Conference broadcast is originating from the Conference headquarters in Crestwood. This year’s theme is “Know the Hope. Show the Hope.”

GNTV, Conference Communications and technical support staff have constructed a studio to broadcast the proceedings to clergy and lay members across the Conference. It was also offered for the public to view on Facebook Live.

Fairley’s sermon, which was recorded at Centenary UMC in Lexington, focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial unrest in Louisville and elsewhere, and the general sense of oppressiveness afflicting us all during these trying times. But he said Christ’s arrival in a dark world 2,000 years ago can offer us hope out of our darkness today.

“God through the millennia guided the course of history for the perfect timing of the Advent of Jesus Christ upon the Earth,” the bishop said. “Surely, God can guide our lives through their brief journey toward our eternal destiny.”

Fairley added: “How does God choose to enter a world that often appears to be lost in the midst of hopeless despair? Where is hope visible among us? How do we share the hope that is rooted in the Advent of Jesus Christ, and Christ alone?”

God did not create the world with the sin and separation plaguing us, Fairley said. Christ came “speaking words of reconciliation toward those who were alienated from each other and from God with a clear understanding that there never can be true separation,” he added.

It was “through our disobedience, willfully turning away from God,” Fairley said. ‘We in our sinfulness created and continue to create such a foreign thing that was never in the heart of God when God created order out of chaos, and life out of death, light out of darkness.

“It was never in the heart of God when God stooped down and created humankind … from the dust of the Earth that division, despair, injustice, and hopelessness would separate creation.”

The coming of Jesus “restores the wholeness of creation and makes all things new not according to our plans, strategies, or timelines,” Fairley said.

He listed signs of hope available to see for those watching, including the Methodist Children’s Homes, Grace Kids, Dinner Churches and Fresh Expressions springing up across the Conference, Winter Blitz, and emergency flood buckets, among others. He cited the hope Paul found in Galatians 3:28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male nor female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

Furthermore, it wasn’t just Christ’s coming into the world. It was being crucified, then walking out of the tomb after three days. “He seals the deal of God’s hope for the world and all of creation. This, my friends, is the root of the Hope that we know, and the Hope we are called to show,” Fairley said.

The Bishop cautioned that we might miss today’s hope if we aren’t careful. “What if God’s new things, our hope for the future, was already present, but in our desire to control and manipulate its birth, we’ve missed its joy?’

He added: “How can we know the hope and show the hope without justice, love, and peace that are forget in the soul, born from the fires of compassionate agape (love)?”

He wrapped up with the lyrics from the hymn “Come Though Long Expected Jesus.” He ended by reminding the Annual Conference of the promise at the heart of Christianity:

“In the coming of Jesus Christ, we have a love that never be fathomed, a life that will never die, a peace that can never be understood, a joy that can never be overcome, a hope that can never be disappointed, a glory that can never fade, a strength that can never be diminished, a purity that can never be defied, a wisdom that can never be baffled, and resources that can never be exhausted.

“This is our hope – the hope that we are called to know and to show.”

Tuesday’s worshipful work and Sunday’s online sessions of laity and clergy are a streamlined version of the normal in-person three-day Annual Conference normally held in June but delayed six months by the pandemic. 

The public was able to watch Tuesday’s proceedings on the Conference’s Facebook Live feed at Those watching on Facebook could not actively participate in the meeting, however. People did not need a Facebook account to watch.

Recordings of the Facebook videos are available for viewing at any time at the above web address.