Recently, the World Methodist Evangelism staff met for a time of connection, relationship-building, and vision casting. As our team has expanded and grown, we look forward to new ways of living out our mission to equip church leaders in the Wesleyan Methodist family to share their faith effectively.
Technology allows flexibility for our team to work, with our Associate Director of Education and Leadership Development Dr. Rob Haynes living in Alabama, our Associate Director of Community and Creative Development Elizabeth Glass Turner located in Ohio, Executive Assistant Shirley Dominick coordinating from Indiana, and our new Director of Development Bonnie Hollabaugh working from Tennessee. We are able to join in weekly video conference calls together, seeing each other’s faces, hearing each other’s voices, and utilizing email and phone apps to stay connected daily.
Yet there is something irreplaceable about face to face meetings. In these contexts, we are able to stand circled in prayer, eating together, laughing together, and continuing to learn how God has wired each of us uniquely for the work at hand. In those moments, the concept of embrace is embodied: we open our arms, wait, close our arms, and release.
It can be tempting in an era in which many of us spend chunks of time online to think that a social media post stating our beliefs is sufficient as a way of sharing our faith, or that cleaning out the back of the hall closet for donations is an ample expression of generosity. Yet Christ calls us to be his hands, his feet to those around us in a very physical, tangible way: to be ready to embrace others, not just mentally or emotionally, but to be prepared to physically embrace living, breathing people, who are flawed, or hurting, or growing, or obeying God’s call as best they can.
Many resources have been published recently on the value of physical proximity and neighboring in our living out of the Christian faith. As we continue to live into digital existence, we stay rooted as communities of Christ followers who give and learn together. People who follow Christ are people who value creation and who value embodiedness, because Jesus took on flesh in the Incarnation, redeeming physical life and raising it from the power of death. As we share communion in congregations around the world, we remember this truth: that we depend on the Body of Christ, broken for us. We taste bread and grape and we know that our senses are speaking to us of God’s love.
Joining together in fellowship, in physical presence, allows our senses to whisper that among a group of particular people, we belong. We have entered each other’s presence, we have embraced each other as people being shaped more and more into the likeness of Jesus, and we received grace.