Sunday, July 5, 2009

Signs of the Spirit

Sunday at Conference is bound to be special - the reception into full Connexion of our ordinands is something profoundly moving. It is a link with our past, when not all of Mr Wesley's helpers were ordained, and to a time when 'virtual' ordination was the norm - ie a minister was ordained by virtue of what they did, not by the imposition of hands..
Being received into full Connexion is something that can only be done by the full representative body of the Connexion, it is the continuation of the deacon's or presbyter's covenant relationship with the Church which began at their baptism and was confirmed at their membership. It is not the start of their journey - neither is it the end, but it is a powerful signpost of the full demands of the covenant we have ALL entered into - namely to love our neighbour as ourselves.
The Conference worship, in which the reception into full Connexion is set, was this year beautifully crafted by Micky Youngston, a very gifted and able minister who really should consider applying for the post of head of Christian Communications, Evangelism and advocacy cluster. For me however, what made the service a work of the Holy spirit was not the excellent liturgy, or the beautiful solo voices used to such good effect, it wasn't the choice of hymns or the readings.. it was the way in which God spoke through the faith and movement of two deliberately unobtrusive, almost invisible people who signed the service for the deaf and hard of hearing. No liturgical dance has ever spoken to me so powerfully as when these two women signed the hymns that we sung. Suddenly words took on an expression, a meaning which I had never 'heard voiced' before, For the first time, I found it possible to believe that if I ever did loose the power of speech, i would still be able to learn how to communicate the truth, beauty and power of the gospel in a way that people could be moved to joy, to tears, to love the Lord.
At one point I actually wanted to stop up my ears, so that I could hear them more fully.
If any one of those received into full connexion today is able to speak to those who are deaf to the Lord with the same power and conviction of God's grace as those two signers did to me today, then the Church really is in safe as well as Spiritually expressive hands.
Thank you ladies, for such a powerful living parable of the signs of the SPIRIT at the Methodist Conference.

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