Today we are at Annual Conference… that place where United Methodist Clergy and Laity delegates get together each year to discuss the business of the Annual Conference. This afternoon we were in the clergy session – where only clergy are allowed in and we discuss the changes of categories of ministers… i.e. being commissioned or ordained, status changes like going on disability or leaving the conference or leaving the ministry. Now the retirees have gone through a mound of paperwork and meetings with the conference in order to retire.
Today we made our way through all the other status changes and came to that point where we were going to deal with the elders who will be retiring this year. In front of me is a list of some 33 ministers retiring. I quickly scan this document and came to the “M” section only to find there is no Martin listed – Stephen or otherwise.
Ever had one of those big old green frogs in your throat? He was jumping around in there all over the place. The vice-chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry is reading the names… goes right on by where my name was supposed to be and did not stop to insert the missing name. I finally get Kim Ingram’s attention (conference secretary – my boss) and whisper “My name is not listed.” Her jaw drops, the Bishop is talking about all the great work these retiring ministers have done, and she leans over saying: “Bishop, we left a name off the list.” His reply was an ecclesiastical “What? Who?” Kim read my name… not full name like everyone else got… she just said “Steve Martin.” I am so glad that I got my name read out loud before the vote… someone is already appointed to Pine Grove… and I plan to become a fisher of fish real soon.
Have you ever had your name left off a list of some importance? I want us all to remember that there is a list where our name will never be left off, and that is a list of the children of God. God loves you with a love that will never abandon, forsake or fail. God will always be with you in every moment.
Dear Lord, thank you for loving us with an always love that covers every sin, every moment, and every person in and through Jesus. Amen
Grace and Peace