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by Ginny Hildebrand, East District Lay Leader

Bishop Hoshibata challenged us at the Holy Huddles the past several months to renew our dedication to Bible study. Yes, we learned Bible stories as children and youth. But the study done then is not as deep and probing as adult Bible study. We often forget how much has been discovered by archaeologists, historians, theologians, and humankind to bring more light to our understanding of the Bible we love.

Having recently participated in my pastor’s class to look discerningly at Scriptures on how we treat one another, I get it. Personally, I learned so much about the historical issues that surrounded both Old and New Testament texts, looking side by side at various translations of the same text and the open discussion with other church members. It challenged my thinking on the issue, but more importantly it reminded me to listen and genuinely respect different views. How wonderful that diversity is. It helped me understand that more attention needs to be given to Bible study by me and most likely others across our Conference.

This same thinking applies to our call as Christians. How many of us look back at the time as teens or young adults we heard God’s call to be a Christian, or to take up our mission? As I look back, I will never forget that night on Mission Tour suddenly understanding God’s message to me. But now more than 50 years later, I understand how I had to grow into that call, applying it in the various aspects of my life and the world around me. Truly our God is a living, active, dynamic force in our lives, who like the humans God created, is growing, stretching, creating new calls for us to embrace if only we listen and remain open.

Remember Isaiah 43: 19 “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

Could the Western Jurisdiction work of “a home for all God’s people” be that new call for us? This call to follow may be a new branch of our original call, or it may be stretching us in an entirely new direction. What we know is a true call to follow is divinely inspired. Can we be open to realize God is at work in our Conference and The United Methodist Church? Now we need to follow this “new thing” where God is leading us. How will you follow? Engage? Join in?

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