Read Mark 16:19-20
Farewell usually means an end. The last two verses of the Gospel of Mark tell us the story of a farewell. “Jesus was lifted up into heaven!” That is a departing, isn’t it? However, it does not sound as if God’s mission through Jesus came to an end. The Ascension signaled a beginning. The resurrected Christ continues to be with his disciples through the Holy Spirit. His work goes on. He works with those who listen to him, trust him, and follow him. Christ’s words, shared through the ministry of his disciples, are confirmed by signs. Lives are saved, and communities are restored. The world is transformed.
In the Gospel of Mark farewell is a starting point. What about the farewell after General Conference? One thousand delegates will leave Tampa. Probably we leave inspired and also in some aspects disappointed or even wounded. No matter our feelings, we are not on our own. Christ is with us, inviting us to follow him. Focusing on him will renew and equip us. Wherever we go in order to serve the people of Africa, Asia, Europe, or America, Christ is already there. And sisters and brothers in Christ are already there.
The General Conference theme challenges the people called Methodists to “make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world.” This transformation is only possible through Jesus himself in the Holy Spirit. No matter on which continent we live, no matter if we are clergy or lay, no matter if we are full of joy or full of fear, after General Conference Jesus goes ahead of us. Jesus is in us. Jesus works with us. What a promise! Jesus with us! Through him and with him we are enabled to do what we are called to do.
Christ Jesus, what will happen through your Spirit in and through our church? You promise to work with us. Here we are, committed to follow you. Send us out. Amen.
Almighty and Triune God, surround the delegates with your protection. Fill them with your Holy Spirit so they are able to love and minister in the place where you have called. Grant them traveling mercies as they return home.