Show and tell
"Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age" -Matthew 28:19a, 20
By BISHOP ROBERT E. HAYES JR.
One ritual my children enjoyed when they were in school was something called "show and tell." This was a frequent event that had everything to do with displaying something of interest that caused some kids to drool with envy and created jealousy in others.
My children always tried to impress their classmates, so much so that anything not nailed down in the house might end up on exhibit before the entire student body.
I could always anticipate the day this rite would take place, because I could see it in the eyes of my children. They got so excited as they roamed the house, looking for "impressive stuff."
And I laid awake those nights, trying to figure out what they planned to "borrow" from our house. I feared a teacher would call me and begin a conversation with these words: "Rev. Hayes, did you know your son and daughter brought...?"
I think you get my drift.
I bring my memories to your attention because, in just a few days, it will be show-and-tell time for Oklahoma Conference: May 28-June 1. Our annual ritual of showing and telling the world what we've done with the gifts given to us by God will be on display, and what an exciting time it will be!
It's called the 2006 Annual Conference, and it will showcase our lives as United Methodists. We will tell the stories of where we've been, where we are, and where we're going.
Just as in my children, the excitement of our yearly gathering can be seen in my eyes and, as I did before, I often lie awake at night, anxiously awaiting our time in the spotlight.
"You are the light of the world..."
This year, our theme for the annual conference is "Making disciples that make a difference." The scripture text is from Matthew 5:14-16, and urges us to "let our lights shine so others may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven."
This emphasis on making disciples is not only the mission of The United Methodist Church. It is our reason for being. Thus, we will begin this 39th annual session with an invitation to prayer and Christian conferencing by setting aside special time to discuss what it means to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
That conversation will set the tone of the conference, and it will propel us into a week of praise and celebration.
A highlight of the annual conference will be our official observance of the 50th anniversary of full clergy rights for women in The United Methodist Church. Throughout the week, we will be blessed in morning devotions led by women. And on Tuesday evening, the celebration rises to another level with worship dedicating this significant event in the life of our Church.
Also of significance during the annual conference will be a homecoming for two of our native sons who left Oklahoma to serve as bishops in the wider church.
There are many in Oklahoma Conference who remember these two giants of our denomination, Bishop John Russell and Bishop William "Bill" Oden.
Together, these two distinguished clergymen touched countless thousands of lives, and lifted us, our Conference, and our church to a higher plane.
I am honored to welcome them back as we celebrate their accomplishments in ministry.
Come expectant: The preaching that week will be outstanding!
Bishop James Swanson Sr., from the Holston Conference, will kick off the four days of festivities. He'll preach at Tulsa's Asbury United Methodist Church on Sunday evening.
In following days, at Tulsa's Boston Avenue UMC, gifted preaching will be heard from Rev. Joy Moore of Asbury Theological Seminary and Rev. Jessica Moffatt Seay of Oklahoma Conference, as well as from Bishop Russell and Bishop Oden.
Come and see
The Gospel of John (1:46) records that, after Philip learned of Jesus, he ran to Nathanael and invited him to "come and see" the One for whom they had been searching.
I want the people of Oklahoma Conference to "come and see" what has taken place in the life of our Conference across the past year.
I want everyone to "come and see" how we've used the gifts God bestowed upon us and how we strive to be good stewards of God's mercies.
I want the people called United Methodists to "come and see" for themselves how the power of the Holy Spirit can use even us to build the Kingdom.
It's show-and-tell time, and I can't wait to share with you what God has done!