By: Christa Meland
“If we are to obey Jesus’ command, if we are to accept Jesus’ Great Commission, if we are to follow Jesus’ pattern for making disciples, then we need to go where Jesus went,” Bishop Bruce R. Ough told General Conference attendees in the closing worship service. “We need to go where the wounds are and proclaim there is healing for every wound—every wound, every sin, every brokenness!”
The closing address came Friday afternoon following two weeks of worship, celebrations, legislation, discussions, and fellowship. It was the final message to the 864 delegates and thousands of visitors who gathered in Portland from across the globe to discern God’s vision and make decisions that impact the denomination’s future.
“My charge to you as we prepare to leave is this: ‘Go, therefore…!’ Go to where the wounds are because that is where Jesus went and that is what Jesus did,” Ough said.
Over the past 11 days in Portland with Jesus and each other, we have rejoiced at times and wept at times, he said. We have experienced moments of joyful unity and we have experienced the pain of our disunity.
As we prepare to leave Portland, where are we to go? Ough asked. Where are we to go as we return to our home communities all across this globe?
We’re called to go where the wounds are because that is where Jesus went and that is what Jesus did, he said.
• When the Roman centurion, an enemy, pleaded for his servant to be healed—Jesus went to where the wounds were.
• When the disciples were paralyzed by fear on the raging sea—Jesus awoke and went to where the wounds were.
• When the Samaritan woman yearned for the living water—Jesus went to where the wounds were.
• When Lazarus lay dead in the tomb—Jesus went to where the wounds were.
• When the Sanhedrin and the Empire colluded to kill him—Jesus walked right into the center of the woundedness and sin of all humankind and gave up his life to save us.
“Now, dear friends, we are being sent as Jesus’ witnesses to follow him to where the wounds are and do as he did,” Ough said. “This will not be easy. Yet, we know it is the faithful way. We do not go alone. We have each other and our great connection. Best of all, God is with us.”
Go to those in and beyond our churches who have been damaged or disenfranchised by the actions or inactions of this General Conference, he said. Go to those who live in poverty. Go to those who are sin sick or filled with despair. Go to those who are despised or hated or feared because of their race, tribe, language, or faith. Go to where the wounds of bigotry and prejudice are. Go to where the wounds of injustice are.
We go prepared and clear about our mission—to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, Ough said. We have been given the keys to the kingdom. We have been given authority to make disciples, to baptize and teach. We have been promised Jesus’ abiding, empowering, guiding presence—to the end of the age.
“Dear friends, do not doubt,” Ough said. “Do not be paralyzed with fear. Do not allow cynicism to claim your soul. Hold fast to the faith...Take courage from one another’s faithfulness. Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Remember we are one body through the cross.”
Ough concluded his sermon by urging attendees to pray unceasingly for the Holy Spirit to breakthrough and revive our great United Methodist movement.
“For the sake of Christ and all of God’s children and the creation itself, go home—go to all the nations. Go, therefore…!”
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church