By: Christa Meland
“Every person who says ‘yes’ to God has a ‘why’ story,” Bishop Bruce R. Ough told the congregation at the Celebration of Life in Ministry worship service Friday afternoon. “Every person who says ‘yes’ to follow Jesus has a ‘why’ story related to their own Holy Spirit-enabled experience of being forgiven, healed, transformed, redeemed, saved, loved without condition or blessed beyond measure.”
Hundreds of Minnesota United Methodists gathered to remember friends and colleagues who have died over the past year, honor retiring clergy, and celebrate newly licensed local pastors, those being commissioned and ordained, and those from other denominations being recognized for the work of an elder.
John 15, Bishop Ough reminded people, is a portion of Jesus’ farewell address to his disciples. He was preparing them for his death, resurrection, and ascension. He was going away. And he knew his mission would be represented by his little handful of disciples. If they fell apart, the cause would be lost—the kingdom movement would come to an end. Jesus wanted to be absolutely clear they knew their why, they knew their identity, they knew their fruit-bearing purpose, they knew they needed to remain united. So he begins teaching them the essential component necessary to maintain their why: “Remain in me, stay united to me, the true vine, and I will remain in you. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will bear much fruit” (John 15:4-5).
This is the antidote to deceiving ourselves that we can do it on our own. Jesus also says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
“Please hear this, please remember this, please hold fast to this: The power and authority of your ‘why’ story is born of allowing Jesus to rule your heart, your ego, your spirit, your preferences, your appetites, and your attitudes,” Ough said. “The power and authority of your holy calling will only be sustained by staying connected to Jesus, unceasingly, in every mountain top experience and every valley of ministry, and you will have both. The power and authority of your mission to bear kingdom fruit will only be visible to a cynical and sin-sick world if you reject the temptations to sit at the right and left hands of power and position, and assume the position of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve, who gave his life so that we might have abundant life.”
Bishop Ough asked those being ordained, commissioned, and recognized as licensed local pastors: “Are you ready to produce grapes? Are you committed to remaining in the true vine?...Come and take the authority and power that comes from making your home in Jesus. Come and say ‘yes’ again in this holy moment to go deep into the very heart of God. Come and embrace your ‘why.’”
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