“I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.” -Psalm132: 17b
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” -John 1: 1-5.
Lamps will be a symbol seen throughout our annual conference this year. The lamp is a symbol of enduring and unbroken succession. Lamps denote faith and wisdom, the faith and wisdom that come from the Lord alone.
Many years ago, I went on a mission of peace to the eastern block of Europe. As a part of that experience I made a presentation in a Church in Germany about peace.
That congregation gave me a candle, a peace candle, that I was to take back to my congregation as a reminder to pray for peace among the nations, and specifically to remind our congregations – one in Germany and one in the United States – of our connection with one another and that we had a Christian responsibility to build relationships with each other, learn about each other, and to pray for each other as part of our commitment to building peace around the world.
This year I went back to Germany. As I entered into one congregation after another, I saw the same candle sitting on the altar or communion table. I came to find out that at the annual conference in Germany, each congregation was given the same candle and each congregation was asked to place this candle on their altar or communion table and use it as a part of their commitment to praying for and with each congregation in the annual conference in every worship service. The candles bound the churches of the German conference together in prayer and hope for their future mission and ministry throughout the world.
What a powerful witness for being one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world. What a powerful witness this could be for the congregations of the West Virginia Conference in the midst of these anxious times we are in as The United Methodist Church.
West Virginia Conference, Christ is among us in these anxious times. Christ came into this world to bring life, and his life is the light of all people, our light, and the light of all people. And, no power of darkness will overcome the light and life of Christ.
Each of us individually and as a congregation are called to prepare the way, to shine the light for our anointed one, Jesus Christ. As a symbol of our commitment to the enduring and unbroken succession of Christ, and our dedication to seek the faith and wisdom that come from Christ, and because we need to remember that we are connected in the ministry of Christ and need one another’s prayers to amplify the light that Christ brings, each of the West Virginia Churches will receive the gift of an oil lamp following the Saturday evening prayer service.
The same oil lamp is being given to each church. I am asking that each congregation place this lamp on their altar or communion table as a call to prayer and as a reminder that we are connected and that we need one another in the West Virginia Conference and around the world to advance the mission and ministry of Christ.
We are better together in sharing the light, hope, and life of Christ than we are separately.
May God bless the lights of these lamps as a reminder that we can trust in the presence of Christ to bring life, hope, light to all people and that we are called to bear testimony and witness to the light and love of Christ in the living of these days.
May these lamps also remind us of our connection with each other every time we gather for worship, and that we have a Christian responsibility to build relationships with each other, learn about each other, and to pray for each other as part of our commitment to building peace around the world.
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