Tuesday, April 23, 2024

An Intercultural Prayer for General Conference

The following prayer was written by Dr. David W. Scott, blogmaster for UM & Global, on the opening of The United Methodist Church's General Conference in 2024.

Triune God, united yet diverse, we thank you for the gift of varied human cultures. We know that you created cultural diversity (Genesis 11), you included it in the very beginning of your church (Acts 2), and it is part of your eschatological vision for your heavenly, redeemed people (Revelation 7). We thank you for the ways in which the multiplicity of human cultures and perspectives help us to understand the multiplicity of ways in which you shower your love and your grace upon the world. We praise you for your creative spirit at work in the human desire to express truth and beauty regardless of background.

Yet we know that cultural diversity is not always an easy gift for us to accept. Give us then the other gifts that will help us better receive your blessing of cultural diversity and will keep us going in the direction of one another, even when we encounter difficulties and conflicts. Give us the gifts of listening, of understanding, of patience, of perseverance, of wisdom, of discretion. Give us most of all the gift of on-going sanctification so that we may be drawn ever closer to one another in holy love. We know that you through your sanctifying grace desire us to come to understand you better and to understand one another better so that we might better understand you.

May these gifts abound especially during this time of General Conference. We know that it can be difficult to discuss, debate, disagree, and discern even with those who look and think as we do. It requires that much more of us to engage in your work of holy conferencing across cultural differences. But we know that when we engage in such work interculturally, it holds out the potential for special blessings from you - special outpourings of your grace, special insight into how you work in the world, and a special opportunity to witness to the wideness of your redeeming grace. We pray that you may help us to run with perseverance this race so that we might win the prize.

And when this General Conference is over, we ask one more boon of you - that you may give us the space to tend to the work of building your intercultural church outside the pressure cooker of General Conference. Give us the opportunity to eat with one another around the boodle fight and the potluck table, to discuss under the palaver tree and in the seminar classroom, to worship together with the sounds of spirituals and organ music, to travel together by train and tuktuk, and through it all to learn from one another, to laugh with one another, and to love one another more.

Incarnate God, we thank you that you meet us where we are and walk with us on our journeys. May we feel your presence in all of us, now and always. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, David. General Conference is a beautiful reminder of the diversity of the UMC.