Author Archives: Kim Reisman

Crisis of Calling

By Rev. Dr. Kimberly Reisman

In 1996, WME launched the Order of the FLAME, an annual gathering for young clergy. The goal of the Order was to instill the DNA of evangelism into young clergy leaders. Our prayer was that these young leaders would recognize that evangelism is not a separate or specialized emphasis, but a foundational element in all aspects of ministry. The name is telling – it is the Order of the FLAME, which stands for Faithful Leaders as Mission Evangelists. The heart of the mission of the FLAME to equip young clergy to be mission evangelists in their own communities, encouraging them to see themselves as appointed not just to an individual congregation, but to their entire community.

I had the opportunity to attend the first Order of the FLAME gathering in 1996. At the time I had three young children and was appointed as a less than full time associate pastor with minimal responsibilities. Because the FLAME is an invitational gathering of young clergy who have shown promising gifts for leadership, there were many talented young clergy at that first gathering, as there are at every gathering of the FLAME. I too, had been invited; and yet, I felt very out of place, so much so that as the days progressed, it became somewhat of a “crisis of calling” for me. What was I doing? Why was I even there?

Of course, I also received a great deal of encouragement and insight during those days and the teaching was outstanding. Even so, by the last day of the gathering, I was quite discouraged, thinking that if this was the direction God was calling me, I definitely didn’t have enough gifts or talents to follow. In my mind, I must have misunderstood my call to ministry completely.

The final worship service of the FLAME gathering occurred in the midst of this crisis of calling. Now that I have served numerous years in ministry, I have witnessed and experienced many amazing things as the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts of people; but at this point in my life, what I experienced was a first. It was a deeply moving time of worship for everyone present yet it holds very special meaning for me.

After the sermon we were invited to stand and pray aloud as a body. As the prayers swirled around me, I felt the immediate urge to leave the room. There was no way God could use me the way he was obviously using those around me. I decided to leave right then, when no one would notice.

Just as I was turning to leave, I felt “hands” on my shoulders pushing me firmly back down in my seat and holding me there. As I sat unable to get up, on the other side of the room a man who was then a stranger, but who has now become a dear friend began speaking in a loud voice. Oddly, No one else in the room seemed to be aware of what he was doing, and I couldn’t really understand what he was saying. But as he spoke, I heard a voice as clear as crystal in my own head:

Yes, Kim. You may not have all the gifts and talents. I know you don’t have all the ability. But none of that matters. You will do what you are able, and I will do the rest. I am your source of power and strength. It is not you who is working; it is me, working through you. Trust me.

Looking back on my ministry, this watershed moment at the Order of the FLAME was the beginning of a theme that has continued to mark my spiritual journey – trust. I have come to understand that it’s ok not to have all the gifts necessary to accomplish the tasks that God places before me, as long as I trust God. I do what I am able, and trust God to do the rest.

I credit my Order of the FLAME experience for redirecting my trajectory of ministry and instilling in me the trust necessary to follow Jesus and lead others to him. Over and over God has shown that he will provide exactly what I need – whether by teaching me a new skill or placing someone in my path who has the gifts and talents and that I do not. And over and over he has given me signs of his faithfulness – as I have traveled, as I have learned and taught, as I have led.

In leading WME and continuing to nurture and grow the FLAME community, my desire for the next generation of leaders is that they will discover (or rediscover) who the source of their power and strength really is. That they will realize that God is the one doing the real work and if they trust him and do what they are able, God will do the rest.

What To Watch For~April 2021

WME is involved in a variety of ministries
and welcomes your prayers for these upcoming events.


Thursday Facebook Live – Prayer Time ~
8am (Eastern time)

April 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2021

Join us for morning prayer each Thursday on Facebook Live.

Led by Kim Reisman, this brief time of guided prayer brings together WME’s global Prayer and Fasting Community as well as many others to pray for our world and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.facebook.com/worldmethodistevangelism

 


WME podcast connecting the faith within us to the world around us.

Tune in for engaging interviews, discussions, and teaching on a wide variety of issues.

RFRW is available on most podcast platforms, YouTube and on the WME website.

 

 


Order of the FLAME – 25th Celebration

October 4-8, 2021

Join Order of the FLAME members and spouses for the 25th Anniversary Celebration event at Epworth By the Sea. Early bird registration is available through August 1.

REGISTER HERE

This year’s reunion gathering will be a time of renewal, restoration and recreation. A virtual option is available to those unavailable to attend in person.


UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL SEMINARS

Russia (June) — virtual
Argentina (July) — virtual
Ecuador (Aug)
New Zealand (Sept)
Romania (Oct)
India (Nov)

Our international seminars provide laity and clergy in the Wesleyan Methodist family the opportunity to explore the nature and practice of evangelism in a cross-cultural environment. We believe these transformative experiences are critical to building bridges across both geography and tradition, and to promoting preaching, teaching, and witnessing grounded uncompromisingly in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For more information about these particular events contact us at Info@worldmethodist.org

Prayer and Fasting ~ April 2021

Annuals or Perennials ~ the flash or the long haul?

Kimberly Reisman

Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 15:16-20 (The Message)

If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection because they’re already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.

I’m a gardener. I love digging and planting – beds and pots and hanging baskets, all overflowing with flowers and green leaves. Along with the actual work in the dirt, is the preparation, going to the nursery to look for the plants and flowers, deciding which ones will go with which, which pots to use, which flowers will thrive best in which beds.

In my part of the world, another decision is whether to choose annuals or perennials. Annuals are the ones that are only good for a single season because they can’t take the Indiana cold. Annuals are usually extremely vibrant. Many of them have bright, showy colors and big, flashy blooms. They can really spice up a garden in a hurry. Perennials are the ones that come back year after year. They’re pretty too; but they tend to be more subtle – not as much flash, but dependable for beauty over the long haul.

In my neighborhood, many gardens are filled completely with magnificent annuals. It’s a joy to drive by these houses and see the tremendous color. My flowerbeds, on the other hand, tend to be filled with perennials – Shasta daisies, black-eyed Susans, spiderwort, phlox, and daylilies. Long haul flowers that provide me with pleasure year after year; dependable beauties whose green leaves I eagerly await each spring – consistently pleasing, growing larger and fuller with each passing season. Sure, I love annuals; but I save them for my pots and hanging baskets. I want the flash, my garden needs the spice, but it’s the long-haul stuff that sustains me.

When I begin the process of mapping out my garden and I’m faced with the decision of whether to plant an annual or a perennial, I’m reminded of human relationships. It seems our relationships are at their best when they’re filled with lots of perennials – those things that provide beauty over the long haul. Sure, we need flash and spice and color. It’s absolutely essential. But that can’t sustain us for much more than a season. As the summer wears on, colors fade, no matter how much we water – and the first big frost can be a killer.

Our relationships need the foundation that perennials bring. We may add the extra color to enhance the beauty of the things that are lasting; but when the color fades, or the frost comes, we know that beauty remains, however, hidden it may seem. We know that it will return again and that when it does it will be bigger and stronger, fuller and more mature.

It’s true of our relationships and it’s true of our faith. It isn’t the flash that sustains us as we follow in the Jesus way. Paul is right. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. What sustains is the presence of the Holy Spirit that attests to the truth that Christ has been raised. It’s the ongoing awareness of God’s abiding presence, the deep assurance of God’s unconditional love and mercy – those perennial things that provide beauty and fullness even after the hardest winter.

Of course, we need vibrant color in our faith lives – mountaintop experiences, transformative moments of clarity, intense encounters with the divine. But that’s the added spice, the spark that can ignite us but not necessarily sustain us over the winters of our lives.

Sharing our faith requires perennial beauty as well. The Holy Spirit can definitely work like the annual in a garden – adding vibrant color and huge blossoms to enhance the beauty and impact. The Holy Spirit works through experiences where faith is proclaimed boldly and clearly, with drama and intensity. And yet, many times it’s the long-haul relationships that provide the most fertile ground for the Holy Spirit’s work. Those relationships of mutuality, where hopes and dreams are shared, where experiences of faith can be expressed; it’s in those relationships that the Holy Spirit can work in the most powerful, life-transforming ways for the long haul.

It’s still too early in Indiana to begin my gardening projects. It may still freeze or snow so it’s too soon to begin digging and planting. But I’m already thinking about the beautiful flowers that I’ll add to my garden – a few solid perennials to add more permanence to my flowerbeds, some wonderfully brilliant annuals to brighten up a gray day. And once again I’m realizing that it’s the combination of annuals and perennials that make a garden so wonderfully pleasing. It’s my willingness and commitment to include both that makes the whole thing striking.

As the month of April unfolds and we bask in the joy of Easter, I pray that you will allow that joy to add the flash of color you need to enliven your walk with Jesus. I pray as well, that as you continue your journey of prayer and fasting, the truth of the resurrection would not be simply a “little inspiration,” but would take deep root in your heart – deep enough to provide the strength and permanence necessary for the long-haul journey of following Jesus.

Join us on Facebook Live Thursday mornings at 8:00am (EST)
for a brief time of Scripture reading and prayer.

Prayer and Fasting ~ March 2021

Fully Human

By Rev. Dr. Kimberly Reisman

Scripture focus: Matthew 16:24-25

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  (NLT)

[separator]

The apostle Peter is one of my favorite people in the Bible. He reminds me of me. Following Jesus is not always easy for me and from the very beginning, Peter seems to have experienced a similar sense of struggling as he sought to follow.

Peter was a searcher with a good heart. He stumbles but tries his very best to follow. He’s always open to growing in his relationship with Jesus, even if that growth involves some pain. Peter was full of emotion, giving himself completely to Jesus at one moment, but then fearfully retreating from Jesus the next.

Read Matthew 16:13-16. What does Peter proclaim about Jesus? Now read Matthew 16:21-22. How does Peter respond now?

Peter was genuine in all of his interactions with Jesus. He boldly declared his belief that Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 16:16), and then immediately questioned and chastised Jesus for talking about the suffering that lay on the horizon (Matthew 16:22). That last bit may have been bumbling and inappropriate, but it was genuine. Peter genuinely offered Jesus his entire being – the good and the bad. 

We read about these contrasts between the good and bad sides of Peter throughout the gospels. He simply didn’t always know what it meant to follow Jesus.

When he witnessed the astonishing event of Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah on the mountain, all he could think to do was to offer to build shrines, places for each of them to live. (Matthew 17:1-11, Mark 9:2-9, Luke 9:28-36). When he sees Jesus walking on the water, he boldly climbs out of the boat, seemingly full of confident faith, yet when the wind and waves appear too much, he flounders in fear. (Matthew 14:22-33)

Washing another person’s feet was a common way of expressing hospitality and servanthood in the first century. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet on the night he was arrested. (John 13:1-9). When it was Peter’s turn, he felt completely unworthy and so he declined. And yet, when Jesus responded that it was necessary in order for Peter to be a part of him, Peter’s love poured forth: “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:9, NRSV)

Peter genuinely desired to follow Jesus, even if he didn’t always know exactly what that meant; and he was willing to offer his entire self, even his shortcomings.

 The question for each of us is, how willing are we to offer our entire selves to God – including our shortcomings?

Peter was willing to offer Jesus his entire self – shortcomings and all – because intuitively he knew that Jesus had created safe space between them. His intuition was correct. Jesus had created safe space, because Jesus understood Peter. Jesus knew how truly human Peter was. He knew that deep down in his heart Peter desired to follow him, even though Peter’s understanding and capabilities were dramatically limited.

Jesus knew Peter well enough to call him the rock upon which he would build his church (Matthew 16;17-19); yet also knew him well enough to predict accurately that before the rooster crowed twice, Peter would deny three times that he even knew him at all (Mark 14:26-31).

We are all like Peter. We too are truly human, with all of the frailties and limitations that brings. And just as he understood Peter, Jesus also understands us. Jesus knows that there are times when we want to follow; yet there are other times when we choose to shy away. But Jesus’ call to Peter was to follow, not at a distance—not in the shadows, afraid of what might happen next—but to move into the light and follow boldly, whatever came his way.

This is Jesus’ call to us as well. Jesus knows how limited our resources are. He knows that life is full of choices, temptations, complex situations where we become confused and frightened. Yet he desires our faith to be real and authentic, and thus he calls us to follow him anyway, closely and not at a distance. 

We are in the midst of Lent, working our way toward the week of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. As you fast and pray, reflect on the idea of a “safe space” between you and God. Do you sense the safety of that space? If not, I pray you will use your time of prayer to bring that experience honestly before God, opening yourself to the movement of the Holy Spirit in response to your need.

During this next month, use your time of prayer and fasting to become more aware of the ways in which Jesus may be calling you to step out of the boat. And then step out in courage, knowing that Jesus understands that you are fully human, with all the frailties and limitations (but also with all the creativity and boldness) that brings.

Join us on Facebook Live Thursday mornings at 8:00am (EST)
for a brief time of Scripture reading and prayer.

 

What To Watch For~March 2021

WME is involved in a variety of ministries
and welcomes your prayers for these upcoming events.


Thursday Facebook Live – Prayer Time ~
8am (Eastern time)

March 4, 11, 18, and 25 2021

Join us for morning prayer each Thursday on Facebook Live.

Led by Kim Reisman, this brief time of guided prayer brings together WME’s global Prayer

and Fasting Community as well as many others to pray for our world and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.facebook.com/worldmethodistevangelism

 


WME podcast connecting the faith within us to the world around us.

Tune in for engaging interviews, discussions, and teaching on a wide variety of issues. RFRW is available on most podcast platforms, YouTube and on the WME website.

You do not want to miss this next series:
A Generation of Skeptics with Eric Huffman, Paulo Lopez and Jeremy Steele

 


Order of the FLAME – 25th Celebration

October 4-8, 2021

Join Order of the FLAME members and spouses for the 25th Anniversary Celebration event at Epworth By the Sea. Early bird registration is available through August 1.

REGISTER HERE

This year’s reunion gathering will be a time of renewal, restoration and recreation.

 


UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL SEMINARS

Russia (June)
Ecuador (Aug)
New Zealand (Sept)
Romania (Oct)
India (Nov)

Our international seminars provide laity and clergy in the Wesleyan Methodist family the opportunity to explore the nature and practice of evangelism in a cross-cultural environment. We believe these transformative experiences are critical to building bridges across both geography and tradition, and to promoting preaching, teaching, and witnessing grounded uncompromisingly in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

WME works in cooperation with church leadership and educational institutions in the area where the seminar is to be held in order to provide robust training for all, lay leadership as well as clergy. Seminars are generally held in the local languages and focus on educating, resourcing, connecting, and mobilizing people in the region to do evangelism and missions in their local contexts. These gatherings can be regional or international in scope and provide an arena for the World Methodist family to meet together for sharing, learning and preparing for evangelism.

For more information about these particular events contact us at Info@worldmethodist.org

Following Side by Side

By Rev. Dr. Kimberly Reisman

On this Ash Wednesday, I’m reflecting on Luke 9:23 – If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

Living the Jesus way is never easy. Shallow, surface following – following at a distance – may not pose much of a challenge for many of us. It may be easier, but that kind of following seldom leads to the deep and authentic faith that God desires for each of us. That kind of faith can be costly, challenging, even frightening.

Jesus understands our difficulty. He never said it would be easy to follow him; in fact, he warned us about the challenges when he described what it takes to be his follower. Rather than inviting us to something shallow, Jesus invites us to experience real, authentic faith – meaningful faith – by following, not at a distance, but by his side. He carries his cross, and we carry ours. 

This is a strong word about how we are to follow. We are to follow in the same way that Jesus leads. We abandon selfish ambition in favor of service in the Jesus way. As Jesus gave of himself, we give of ourselves. We reach out to others just as he reached out to others. As Jesus loved, so do we love. As Jesus sacrificed himself for us, so do we sacrifice ourselves for others. We follow by picking up the cross. Jesus’ cross becomes our cross; his love becomes our love; his sacrifice becomes our sacrifice

We may be inclined to take the easier route of following Jesus at a safe distance, but that’s not where change tends to happen. On the other hand, when we realize that real faith requires us to follow Jesus side by side rather than at a distance, our lives are transformed. It isn’t that difficulty suddenly disappears; it’s that power suddenly appears.

We don’t usually read the book of Acts on Ash Wednesday, but I encourage you to read a bit from the first two chapters. Remind yourself of what Jesus promises us in Chapter 1:8 and what happens in Chapter 2:1-4. Reflect on the way in which Peter is transformed from Jesus denier to Jesus proclaimer in verses 14-36.

We’re beginning a season when we often focus on sacrifice and giving things up. A time when Jesus’ word to us about carrying our cross rings loud in our ears. And obviously this whole shouldering our cross thing can be challenging. Yet, when we take that risk and pick up that cross, we are promised the power necessary to meet the challenge. The power of the Spirit of Jesus permeates us, giving us not only strength but boldness.

As you begin your Lenten journey, I pray that God would pour out his Holy Spirit upon you, empowering you to take up your cross and follow Jesus. I pray that both the strength and the boldness of Jesus would be yours so that as others look at you, they see a disciple of Jesus, following not at a distance, but side by side.

 

What To Watch For~February 2021

WME is involved in a variety of ministries and welcomes your prayers for these upcoming events:

Thursday Facebook Live – Prayer Time ~ 8am (Eastern time)

February 4, 11, 18, and 25 2021

Join us for morning prayer each Thursday on Facebook Live.

Led by Kim Reisman, this brief time of guided prayer brings together WME’s global Prayer

and Fasting Community as well as many others to pray for our world and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.facebook.com/worldmethodistevangelism

 

 


WME podcast connecting the faith within us to the world around us.

Tune in for engaging interviews, discussions, and teaching on a wide variety of issues. RFRW is available on most podcast platforms, YouTube and on the WME website.

 

 


 

Order of the FLAME – 25th Celebration

October 4-8, 2021

Join Order of the FLAME members and spouses for the 25th Anniversary Celebration event at Epworth By the Sea. Early bird registration is available through August 1.

REGISTER HERE

This year’s reunion gathering will be a time of renewal, restoration and recreation.

Prayer and Fasting ~ February 2021

How Close Will You Get?

By Rev. Dr. Kimberly Reisman

Scripture Focus: Matthew 26:47-58

Following Jesus, truly following him, is never easy. There are risks, unexpected twists and turns, surprises and events that we never dreamed could happen. There are moments when following seems meaningful, full of excitement and joy. However, there are other times, times of difficulty, even danger, when we become discouraged and afraid, and things don’t seem to be turning out at all the way we thought they would.

Faith – real faith, authentic faith – involves a daily process of choosing. In the midst of all those unexpected twists and turns, in the midst of the meaningful and in the midst of the difficulty, a faith that is authentic requires a daily choice. How will I follow Jesus today?

The Light of the Fire

Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end.

Matthew 26:58 (NLT)

One of the wonderful things about human beings is our ability to think in metaphors. We don’t just have the ability to think that way; we have a need to think that way. We need metaphors to help us get a handle on unseen realities – spiritual truths that are almost impossible to understand any other way.

The story of Peter in the courtyard serves as a metaphor for me. It’s an image that helps me better understand the challenge of living the Jesus way. Following Jesus is about choosing, again and again, how we are going to follow and the story of Peter in the courtyard points to that challenge.

If you read Matthew 26:55-56 you’ll see that the disciples have just spent the evening sharing the Passover Seder with Jesus. Afterwards, they all go to the garden for prayer. While they are there, Judas arrives with the temple guards and betrays Jesus with a kiss. This scene is meaningful for me because it vividly illustrates the challenge of following Jesus. When things get difficult, I’m frequently tempted to abandon the whole thing and run. And that’s exactly what the disciples did on this night. They all deserted him and fled. 

Except Peter. Somehow, even though he ran from the garden, Peter decided not to run too far. Instead, he followed at a distance, waiting to see what would happen. (Matthew 26:58) I can understand that too. There are many times when I’m more comfortable holding back a bit, staying at a safe distance, waiting to see how things will unfold.

Luke 22:54-56 gives us another perspective on the scene. Again, Peter follows at a distance, waiting with others around the fire in the courtyard. He’s holding back, staying safe until he knows how things are going to turn out.

Here is the crucial element of the metaphor of Peter in the courtyard. Though Peter followed at a distance, eventually he is recognized, and it is the light of the fire that allows others to identify him as a follower of Jesus. Getting close to a fire can be risky. It’s easy to get burned and that’s what happens to Peter. He gets close to the fire, people recognize him, and in the intensity of the fire he denies he ever knew Jesus.

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17. During this season, I pray that your continued practice of prayer and fasting will lead you to experience real, authentic faith, the kind that requires that we stand close to the fire, not off in the shadows or at a distance.

As you reflect on our Scripture focus for February, recall the last week of Jesus’ life. We are like the people who greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. We must choose how close we will get to him. Remember, during that week the authorities and the public watched his every move. The questions that faced his followers then, face us today: Will we hang in there with him? Will we be loud about our hosannas, or will we wait and watch? Will we wave our palm branches with gusto, or will we simply hold them uneasily? Will we go with Jesus to the garden? Will we stay awake with him while he prays and wrestles with the terror of his impending future? Or, like the one who betrayed him, will we choose to sell him out for money, or power, or political agendas?

How close to the fire will we get as we stand in the courtyard? 

During this month of prayer and fasting, reflect on the kind of choices are you facing as you seek to follow Jesus. What hurdles have you encountered recently? What confirmations have you received that you are on the right track? Offer up these reflections to God during your time of prayer and be confident that God will always accompany you as you take the risk of exploring an authentic faith.

 

Join us on Facebook Live Thursday mornings at 8:00am (EST)
for a brief time of Scripture reading and prayer.

 

50 years of Faith-Sharing

By Rev. Dr. Kimberly Reisman

This is a milestone year for World Methodist Evangelism! 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of WME and we are enthusiastically planning to celebrate throughout the year.

Since 1971, when the World Methodist Council established WME, our vision has been that Christ followers within the global Wesleyan Methodist family would become agents of transformation by sharing the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit. In pursuit of that vision we continue to equip and encourage Christ followers around the world to share their faith in the context of today’s realities. It is an honor and privilege to be able to bring together the over 80 different denominations in over 134 countries around the task of multiplying the witnesses for Jesus Christ.

The World Methodist Council continues to play a significant role in our work, and we are deeply grateful. As an affiliate of the Council we are blessed to be able to offer equipping ministries to the global Wesleyan family. Whether it be through the Order of the FLAME (Faithful Leaders as Mission Evangelists), international evangelism seminars, Connecting Congregations, faith-sharing resources like the Faith-Sharing New Testament and Embrace: Showing and Sharing the Love of Jesus, God has used WME to strengthen the witness of Christ followers during these 50 years.

I would like to invite you to join us as we celebrate during 2021. You may have stories to tell about your experiences with WME. We would love for you to share those! You may also want to host an Embrace training event (live, hybrid, or fully virtual) for your area. Embrace has impacted Christ followers worldwide, empowering them to go deeper into their own faith experience in order to better show and share the love of Jesus in their own circles of influence.

We would be grateful if you would spread the word about the milestone we are celebrating. We are planning a variety of teaching opportunities as well as producing an updated anniversary edition of the Faith Sharing New Testament, which contains vital information about the Christian faith and guidelines for showing and sharing the love of Jesus. Your support and participation, as well as the participation of the laity and clergy in your area, will greatly enhance our celebration.

Thank you for all you have done over these 50 years to further the work of World Methodist Evangelism. I’m looking forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration and partnership with the World Methodist Council as we continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace,

Kimberly D. Reisman
Executive Director
World Methodist Evangelism

A Response to the Assault on the Capitol of the United States

A Response to the Assault on the Capitol of the United States
January 11, 2021
By Rev. Dr. Kimberly Reisman

Each Thursday morning, at 8:00am (eastern time), I lead the Wesleyan Methodist family across the globe in a time of prayer on Facebook Live. We focus on the needs of our world and on the continuing COVID crisis. The events at the US Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, made our Thursday morning prayer time the next day particularly difficult, yet deeply meaningful as people all over the world joined in prayers for the United States.

Like many others I was horrified by what I saw unfold. It was frightening. It was ugly. Like many others around the world, it was something I never dreamed I would see happen in the United States – especially given that it was incited and encouraged by a sitting president. The stark contrast between the response of the police and military to this event, and the response of the police and military to the protests for racial justice in June continues to weigh heavily on me. My concern for the heart and soul of my country continues to grow with each photo and video I see and each social media post I read, because they offer dramatic evidence of how radicalized American politics has become, and how opposed to the democratic values of our republic many people actually are.

Christian faith was born in the midst of political turmoil. Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and resurrection, all took place in the midst of political struggle. Christians all over the world and throughout the centuries have lived out their faith in the midst of civil unrest, oppression, and persecution. We should never be surprised that as followers of Jesus, we are called to live out our faith in the midst of political turmoil.

And yet, living out our faith in the midst of political turmoil is not the same as what we saw last week where people proclaiming to be Christians aligned themselves with political ideology, lifted the banner of violence and hate, and attempted to hide their overarching commitment to nationalism behind the name of Jesus.

The fact that the assault on the US Capitol occurred on January 6 – the Christian Holy Day of Epiphany – is telling. Epiphany marks the arrival of the wise men to worship the Christ child. It is a day of revelation. For the magi, it revealed both the power of God and the power of empire. In the Christ child, they recognized that God was doing something miraculous and world-changing and they fell down and worshipped. In Herod, they recognized that the jealous desire for power is dangerous and deadly, so they went home by another way.

As we seek to follow Jesus, especially at this particular moment, what will we allow the events of Epiphany 2021 (and all that led up to it) to reveal to us about the power of God and the power of empire? Are we willing to see the sin and the danger of mistaking the one for the other? Will we fall down and worship when it would be better to return home by another way?

In our social media fueled world of outrage, vitriol, and divisive sound bites, it is imperative that we Christians remember that Jesus came not to provide an echo of culture (any culture), but an alternative to it. His mission was not division but reconciliation. Reconciling humans to each other and the entire world to God. If we are not part of that process of reconciliation, if our words and our actions tear down rather than build up, if we raise the placards of our political ideologies rather than shouldering the cross of Christ, then our faith will have become a dark shadow of itself and we will have mistakenly put our hope in a nation rather than in God, whose promise is that his kingdom will come to all the nations of the earth.

The days ahead will not be easy. Our divisions are deep and the chasm that separates many of us is wide. So, I am following the guidance of the prophet Joel:

The Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time!
Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief; instead tear your hearts.”
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful.
He is not easily angered.
He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you.
Joel 2:12-13

And this is my prayer for all of us:

Wake us up O God, that we might return to you with all our hearts. Forgive us for placing our trust in powers that are not able to bear the weight of that trust – our wealth and privilege, our elected officials, our military might. Cleanse us from the pride that moves us to focus on the speck in the eye of our neighbor while ignoring the log in our own. Pour out your righteousness upon us and guard our words and our thoughts so that rather than contributing to incivility and insult, we might be instruments of peace and agents of reconciliation. We stand before you in this moment, declaring with the Psalmist that “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7) Keep us firm in that trust that we would be what you have called us to be: salt and light for our hurting world. AMEN.