A Word from Teresa – 9/7/18

Earlier this summer, my family celebrated my sister’s wedding at the State Capitol. It was a small, lovely service. After the reception, my siblings, our spouses and our children walked around downtown to soak up just a bit more time together. At one point my daughter and I were several steps behind everyone else when we passed a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. I rushed by, holding my daughter’s hand and pulling a bit so that we could quickly catch up with everyone. After we passed by, Clare said, “Mom, you weren’t very nice to that man.” I stopped in my tracks. “You’re right”, I said, “What do you think we should do?” She looked at her bag of cookies from the reception and said, “We could give this to him?” I said, “That sounds good.” We turned back and Clare offered the man the cookies, which he readily received. As we walked away, Clare said, “You know, mom, it’s not about the cookies. It’s about treating people like they matter.” As any parent knows, it’s humbling to have your own words come out of your child’s mouth. Even more so for them to pick up on the fact that you don’t always practice what you preach.

I know I’m not the only person who has been convicted by the things her kid has said. 

Over the summer, I spent time looking back at old journals. I came across some notes I’d jotted down at the last Jurisdictional Conference. The last morning of the conference, Bishop Schnase met with the delegation for an informal breakfast. The night before we had heard he would be assigned to Rio Texas Conference and this was an opportunity for him to share and begin casting vision. Among the words he spoke were these: “We need to be about crossing borders.” 

In life, we encounter a great number of borders – both literal and figurative. Clare helped me cross a border to engage the homeless man we saw. At other times, we might cross a border by engaging in conversation with people who do not have our same values or theological perspective. Many of our congregations are engaged in border-crossing ministries as they connect with the changing mission field around their churches. When we consider borders, my heart is also drawn to the many persons who have crossed the border along the Rio Grande Valley in search of safety and a better life. 

Last week, Bishop Schnase and the cabinet met in McAllen. Part of our time together was spent hearing the testimonies of our own Rev. Robert Lopez and Rev. Laura Merrill. They shared about their experiences along the border. Days earlier, these two colleagues had led worship at the Tornillo detention center. They were quick to say that the invitation to be there was a privilege, and of course heart-breaking. They described the powerful experience of being asked to lead worship, only to find that the young people embodied the very spirit of the word liturgy – which means “the work of the people.” As we visited together, we shared a desire for future visits to the McAllen area. As District Superintendent of El Valle, Rev. Lopez is committed to arranging these opportunities for groups throughout the conference who are interested in learning more and being in prayer. While a trip from the Austin area is not yet scheduled, feel free to reach out to me if you are interested in such an opportunity.

I am grateful for the ways you follow Jesus in crossing borders. As you well know, the crisis along our south Texas border is complex. I have much to learn. I think back to the homeless man I quickly passed on the streets. I confess at times it’s a metaphor for how I live my life. On any given day, it is easier to avoid people who make me uncomfortable and to ignore news that is painful. I need God to strengthen me for the journey of crossing borders. I need to remember that being uncomfortable is often what leads to my own transformation. Perhaps we all need children to lead us and show us the way.

Be encouraged,

teresa 

It is at the margin that we fulfill the mission of the church. – Bishop Schnase

There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried. – Oscar Romero

 Staying Posted about Teresa’s out of town travel:

The Leadership Institute at Church of The Resurrection takes place later this month. With my Fall schedule, I’ll unfortunately not be able to make it to Kansas City for this event. I attended years ago and know this will be a rich time of learning for all who go. Let me know if you and/or folks from your church are planning to attend!

September 12-15: In Chicago for Commission on the Status and Role of Women’s Fall Board Meeting

October 4-5: In Oklahoma City for South Central Jurisdictional Meeting

October 11-13: In San Antonio for Do No Harm Conference

November 7-9: In Dallas for Texas Methodist Foundation event for District Superintendents in South Central Jurisdiction