By: Christa Meland
“Did you know that the Butterball turkey company has a hotline to answer questions about cooking turkeys?” Bishop Ough asked the congregation at the Celebration of Life in Ministry worship service Wednesday night. It does, he told them, and several years ago, a woman called to inquire about cooking a turkey that had been in the freezer for 23 years. The operator told her that it might have been safe it it was kept below 0 degrees the whole time—but even if it was safe to eat, the flavor had probably deteriorated. “Well, that’s what we thought,” the woman said. “We’ll just give it to our church.”
Stories like this one make us a little uneasy because they remind us how often what we give to God is our leftovers, Ough said. “God wants commitment, not compromise…God wants surrender, not sorry excuses.”
Hundreds of Minnesota United Methodists heard this message while gathered to remember friends and colleagues who have died over the past year, honor retiring clergy (who collectively have contributed 409 years of service), and celebrate newly licensed local pastors as well as those being commissioned and ordained. Preaching on Matthew 22:15-22, Ough told attendees: “To give to God the things that are God’s is to give God our lives.” God is not concerned with the legalism of our denomination or whether we give away 10 percent of our paychecks. That’s a good start, but it’s just the beginning. God wants more than that.
“We give, live, serve and pray because an incredibly gracious gift has been given to us in Jesus Christ,” Ough said. “The roots of living generously are in this central truth: We are all stamped with God’s image. We bear Christ’s title…everything we do is in response to what God has done for us.”
He asked those being commissioned and ordained: What will you offer God as you come to this altar tonight? Whose image is stamped on you?
“Come tonight, come to this altar remembering whose image you bear,” Ough said. “Come and let God unleash all the gifts God has given you for kingdom work. Come to carry God’s infinite image into the world.”
Throughout the course of the worship service, these individuals were lifted up in remembrance, recognition, and celebration:
Those Who Have Died
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church