Ohio West Area
The United Methodist Church
Bruce Ough, Resident Bishop
32 Wesley Boulevard
Worthington, Ohio 43085-3585
August 24, 2011
To: Participants in Sing a New Song Convocation
Dear Friends in Christ:
I am pleased to greet you in the name and spirit of Jesus, and to join in welcoming each of you to Ohio. I regret Char and I are not able to be with you in person, however, we are with you through the power of prayer and the unity of the Holy Spirit.
“Sing a New Song” – what a great banner for a convocation of Believers gathered to pray and work for a fully inclusive church. Isaiah knew what he was talking about when he told his people exiled in Babylon to “sing to the Lord a new song.” (Isaiah 42:10) He was speaking to a refugee people forced into slavery. He was speaking to a people beaten down by the ruthless separation of families, worn down by despair, broken down by tragedy and death, and put down for who they were. He was speaking to a people who had lost hope. Today, Isaiah is speaking to us – to you gathered in Huron, Ohio. He is saying, “sing to the Lord a new song.”
It is difficult to sing a new song when you are oppressed and beaten, exhausted and confused. It is difficult to sing a new song when you are excluded, or live in fear or are forced to endure judgment, ridicule, bigotry, hatred, isolation. It is difficult to sing a new song when the church you love does not love you in return. It is difficult to sing a new song when your eyes are filled with the tears of sorrow and grief. It is difficult to sing a new song when justice is thwarted and joy is trampled.
As you gather for worship, prayer, fellowship, revival and work, I encourage you to remember why Isaiah urged his people to “sing to the Lord a new song.” He did so because God is in the business of bringing captives home. Because God is in the business of healing the people’s wounds. Because God is in the business of wiping away the tears of grief. Because God is in the business of justice and peace. Because God is in the business of restoring the disenfranchised.
I urge you to not grow weary and do not forget that even though the healing may lie ahead of us, it is already a settled fact in the mind of God. God has already decided to heal the nations, to restore peace, to bring justice, to make the last first, to create shalom, to include all at the banquet table. The reason for striking up a “new song” is because God is already at work in Christ Jesus to usher in the new creation. The reason to sing a new song is because God has already promised to deliver us, the church and all of creation from our brokenness and falling short of the glory of God. The only appropriate response to God’s promise, made absolutely clear to us in Jesus’ resurrection, is to “sing to the Lord a new song.” The manifestation of God’s glorious kingdom reality awakens the heart and voice to sing. A new thing demands a new song. Resurrection demands a new song.
I invite you to sing to the Lord a new song while you are gathered in Huron, Ohio. God is not done with us yet. God is not done with the United Methodist Church yet. God is not done reconciling all persons to God and to one another. The new thing, the new creation, the new hope lies ahead of us. Keep singing the new song. And, may a choir of angels – departed and present – sing with you.
Have a blessed convocation.
In Christ’s extravagant love,
Bishop Bruce R. Ough
West Ohio Conference