"Go" Itinerant Methodists
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country,
your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“Go” the Lord said to Abram and leave your home, your country and pretty much all you have ever known. According to verse 4, just like that “Abram went, as the LORD had told him.” He traveled on a journey to a land he had never seen and had no idea where it was. Quite frankly, I can’t believe Abram went or that his wife Sarai agreed to let him uproot them. But, he and Sarai did go. God changed their names to Abraham and Sarah and made Abraham the father of many nations and Sarah the mother of kings.
For United Methodist elders, this time of year is fraught with anxiety over the possibility of hearing that word “go” from the Bishop. Clergy in the United Methodist Church serve as itinerant ministers. “Itinerant” literally means, “to travel from place to place.” Ministers are appointed one year at a time by the bishop of their annual conference. This form of deploying pastors has a long and rich history in our denomination that dates back to John Wesley and the Circuit Riders. Presently, most ministers are re-appointed to the same church for multiple years, but there was a time when ministers never stayed more than one year at a particular church or circuit.
All ordained elders in the United Methodist Church take an oath and promise to “go where we are sent.” From then on, we go where we are sent within the geographical bounds of our annual conference, often relocating to a land and a church we have never seen and sometimes have no idea where it is. Quite frankly, I can’t believe so many of us go and that our spouses consent, but we do and they come along. As scary as it is, there is an implicit faith that God is at work in and through the appointive system. After all, God is the One who started it.
We may wonder at Abraham and Sarah’s faith. They left their home and family and became itinerant nomads who were obedient to God’s call. However, ALL Christians are itinerants. Faithful disciples promise to go where we are sent. And we are seldom told the details about route and destination. In the spirit of Father Abraham, we step out on faith to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who gave us the Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations… baptizing them… and teaching them…” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Prayer: Dear God, where and who do YOU want me to go today? Help me have the faith to release control of my life to go where you send me. In Christ’s name. Amen.
In His Word,
Reverend Dee Dee