In the final verses of the Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus gives us the "Great Commission": "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus gives this commission to the disciples while they are worshiping him as the Risen Christ, gathered at his feet with all their hopes, foibles, aspirations, questions, quarrels, and faith. "When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted" (28:17). To these very human disciples, Jesus extends the greatest invitation in the world - to share in Jesus' mission to bring salvation to the world. The very last words of the Gospel make it clear that it is only in the company of Jesus, only in the love given by Jesus, only through the saving presence of Jesus, that disciples and true community are created: "Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (28:20). The life and love of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, become God's gift to us, and through us, to the world. This is grace from beginning to end.
When I look back over the past year at Trinity United Methodist Church, I see many signs of God working to create disciples and true community as we seek to live into our mission to Know God, Be Transformed, and Love. The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the mystery of unity-in-diversity, the paradox of One-in Three, and all life that is godly tends toward that mystery and manifests that love. In the reports that compromise our Charge Conference Booklet (available at the church), you will find many testimonies to the ways in which our congregation is seeking to live out the Great Commission. I want to highlight three.
I see God creating disciples through our worship life together, in community and in faith-forming relationships. Whether through our weekly Children's Chapel time, Youth Worship on Sunday evenings, Wednesday Refresh, or our Sunday morning worship services, people young and old are being brought into a deeper relationship with God and with one another through worship. Our television ministry extends this worshiping community to many people throughout Southeast Texas and into Louisiana.
I see God creating disciples through our growing ministries to children and families. Our Weekday Ministries provides a tremendous blessing to many children and their parents by grounding their daily lives in Christian community and spiritual formation as they grow spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. In addition, through a wide variety of children's ministries, including an outstanding Vacation Bible School, children encounter the love of God and are drawn into a deepening relationship with Christ Jesus.
I see God creating disciples through myriad small groups ministries. Our overarching church-wide goal has been to become more invitational through small groups. Small group resources from spiritual leaders such as Adam Hamilton and James Harnish have provided opportunities for the whole church to engage in spiritual growth and accountable discipleship. Ongoing groups such as Sunday School classes, Bible studies, and prayer groups provide both nurture and challenge for faith development. Disciple Bible Study and short-term studies help us obey Jesus' command to teach persons "to obey everything that I have commanded you." Many small-group opportunities for hands-on missions bless people near and far with the love of Christ expressed in the most practical ways, from Body in Mission projects to feeding the homeless to volunteering in the schools to cooking and counseling at Some Other Place to sharing in an international mission outreach to building wheel-chair ramps. All of these small group ministries can be avenues to become more invitational to persons in the wider community, to help people experience the grace of God through Jesus Christ in the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.
I am deeply privileged to serve this community of faith, and I am especially privileged to serve with great colleagues in ministry, both clergy and lay. Trinity's staff and lay leadership work tirelessly to help us share more faithfully and fruitfully in the Great Commission. As we look forward to the new year, I pray that we will be filled with the Spirit to respond with growing passion and joy to the Master's call: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Grace and peace,
Trinity United Methodist Church
3430 Harrison | Beaumont, TX 77706
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