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Bishop’s sermon a return to familiar, urgent themes

June 3, 2016

By Erik Alsgaard

Bishop Marcus Matthews preaches at opening worship Thursday evening.
Bishop Marcus Matthews preaches at opening worship Thursday evening.

Bishop Marcus Matthews preached his final sermon as leader of the Baltimore-Washington Conference during opening worship Thursday night, returning to the themes he established when he arrived four years ago: making each church a prayer station; each church bringing one person to Christ; and each church partnering with a school in its ZIP Code.

The bishop, who retires Aug. 31, urged conference members to remember the power that is in prayer.

“Scripture reminds us,” the bishop said, “to ask and it will be given, seek and you will find.”

Bishop Matthews also repeated his calls to bring new people to Christ, saying that if they won’t come to our churches, our churches need to go out and find them.

Liturgical dancers perform to ‘I’ve Got the Power.’
Liturgical dancers perform to ‘I’ve Got the Power.’

“If we are not intentional in creating pathways of bringing people to Christ, we are not being faithful to the Gospel,” the bishop said. Using examples highlighted by the Rev. Tony Love and Vibrant Communities, the bishop said we must move away from merely loving the architecture of our wonderful, old buildings, “and love something more than that.”

 

When was it, the bishop asked, “that you told somebody about how God has been working in your life? How you have been blessed to be a blessing to someone else?”

The third goal, the bishop said, is simply to remember that real church is more than just coming to a building on Sunday morning.

“Most of our churches are in school partnerships,” Bishop Matthews said. “You testify and tell me about what you’re doing at the neighborhood school.”

The bishop’s passionate plea was for churches to remember that many children go to bed each night without someone caring enough about them to read them a bedtime story. They need us, he said, “to give of our time and energy to be a ray of light and hope. How can we open our church doors to people in our communities when they are out of school and need a safe space to fellowship?”

The bishop ended his sermon by showing the urgency of the moment.

“The time to do this is right now,” he said. “You have the power. Keep on loving people in Jesus’ name; keep on tearing down walls that destroy people, and truly, love the hell out of each other.”

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