The reason is the future of the church, our continued faithfulness to our mission, the health and vitality of the body of Christ in the world. Specifically, the future of the United Methodist Church as we work through our policy differences about marriage and ordination of people who are gay.
Our bishops are inviting us to do three things, beginning on June 3 this year -
1) Engage in a weekly Wesleyan 24-hour fast from Thursday after dinner to Friday mid-afternoon. Those who have health situations causing food fasts to be unadvisable might consider fasting from social media, emails or another daily activity.
2) Pause and pray for our church’s mission and way forward daily for four minutes from 2:23 through 2:26 am or pm in their own time zone OR at another time. This is because the Special Session of General Conference will be held February 23 through February 26, 2019.
3) Pray using a weekly prayer calendar that will be posted on the UMCPrays.org website from June 2, 2018 through the end of February 2019. The calendar will list a unique cluster of names each week. The names will balance USA bishops and delegates with Central Conference bishops and delegates. It will also include General Secretaries, Commission on a Way Forward members, the Commission of the General Conference and the staff of the General Conference.
So I am going to attempt the 24-hour fast each week, although when I've tried fasting in the past it has not been as meaningful to me as I know it is for others. Nevertheless, I am going to give it another go.
And I have my alarm already set for 2:23 every afternoon, and when it goes off I will pause and pray on the spot. If you are with me at 2:23 and I seem to kind of "zone out" for a while, you'll know why.
And I'll make a point to visit UMCPrays.org each day to pray by name for those who are listed there.
I am hopeful and excited to tap into the power of so many people joining in prayer together. The power of God's Holy Spirit is at work in the world, and all I want to do is access it, to touch it, so that I can cooperate with what God is up to. I honestly do not know how the General Conference conversations are going to to, much less how it will turn out. Nobody does. And yet, I am hopeful.
Because see I believe in resurrection, and so I am not afraid. There is a force beyond our understanding, a "grace too powerful to name," a life that is abundant and eternal and transcendent. I am making a choice to rejoice, and embrace the grace and peace and truth and justice and love that is made known to me in my Lord and Savior and Teacher and Friend, Christ Jesus of Nazareth.
So, will you please pray with me?