A Challenge from Our Bishop

God still speaks!

A prayer challenge from Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball to the
West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
excerpted from Bishop Steiner Ball’s sermon on 10/13/12

“West Virginia and Garrett County members of the West Virginia Conference I am challenging you to join me in intentionally building that God connection. While most of us have morning or evening daily devotions, I am inviting you into something different.

Every day at or around noon we either think about or take a lunch break.  So here is my challenge:  Join me at lunch time in conversation/prayer with God.

Ask these two questions:

Where have I seen Christ at work in the last 24 hours and in what ways can I or the church partner with or support that work?

In the last 24 hours where has God been at work and I missed it, walked right by, failed to hear God’s voice, failed to turn aside?

And end that prayer time by asking God to give you the eyes of Christ, the ears of Christ, and the courage of Christ to risk faithful acts and actions in this world.

If you have 15 minutes for lunch – whether you eat or not – try to stop and pray on these things for at least 1 to 2 minutes.  If you have 30 minutes – then try at least 2 to 3 minutes, if you have an hour, try to pray on these things for 5 to 6 minutes. Prayer is powerful and to practice this communally will put each of us and our congregation more in touch with God’s will and action, and we will be better able to hear God’s voice.”

God still speaks!

This is a challenge I intend to take up from our Bishop!  Will you join me?? 

Mt. Hope v. Princeton???

Tonight I am taking part in the weekly Southern West Virginia tradition of “Friday Night Lights.”  It is a home game for the Princeton Senior High School Tigers and they will be playing Oak Hill High School.  Now, why would I title a post about Mt. Hope, when the opponent is Oak Hill.  Well, the truth of the matter is that my Alma Mater, Mt. Hope High School, is no more.  😦

MHHS

Class of 1983!!

Yesterday, I was thinking about this upcoming game and I happened to be driving by the old hometown, so I drove through for the thirty second tour.  I saw my old home – doesn’t appear that anyone is living there these days and saw many of the routes I would have walked around this little town in Fayette County.  I even took time to drive up to the old school which amazingly looked a lot like this picture, except that now the school is home to people who are working on the new Summit Bechtel Reserve – a project of the Boy Scouts of America.

All this reminiscing got me thinking about growing up in that small town and what it truly meant to me.  While there, I was the middle son of three boys.  My younger brother, Kevin, works for the Wirt County School system as a Technology Integration Specialist, after working many years there as the Wirt County Band Director.  It has always amazed me that Kevin went on to lead the Wirt Tiger Band for so many years after being a part of the small band at MHHS.  (Band was something that all three of the Sears boys had in common in high school and now I live in a town that has one of the premier High School Bands in WV!)  Jack, my older brother, works for the Boy Scouts of America in Jacksonville, Fl. (Go figure, another link to this tiny high school that is no more…)

And then there is me – the middle child and the one who went on to yet another area of service – pastoral ministry.  Some may say that I chose this particular path because my birth order.  I know that it is more than that – I have certainly been called to serve in this way but I know my experience as a middle child often weighs heavy on the way that I lead as pastor.  (Middle kids tend to be peacemakers or brokers of deals between parties. Because I know this about myself, I have a tendency to “correct” it by leading more directly through conflict situations along with the help of my great coach.)  Although, I must admit…it is always hard to break those old habits!

It is always fun for me to discover “systems” things about my colleagues and partners in ministry and wonder how things from their past work into their present and our future. Daily, I am learning new things about the great people I work with at First Princeton UMC and I can hardly wait to learn about our new Episcopal leader and all the gifts that she will bring to our Conference – who knows, maybe she has a closed high school in her past or brothers and sisters that have impacted her!

Kevin, Scott, and Jack

Kevin, Scott and Jack in 1983!

My brothers have a wonderful and positive influence on me in my ministry.  And even though the three of us no longer have a High School that we can call home, tonight, as I cheer for the Tigers of PSHS, I will be watching for glimpses on those old Mt. Hope Mustangs in the opposing team.