Be UMC: A Renewed Connection


It’s essential to have a familiar, comfortable place to go when times are hard. It’s also good to keep in mind that it’s what you do when you are there that matters. 

Rev. Candace Lewis spoke on this theme, based on the scripture of John 21: 1-14, during her learning time on Sunday morning at Annual Conference Session. She told how Peter – who had seen Jesus walk on water, feed 5,000, heal people and tell of the kingdom to come – had returned to fishing when Jesus wasn’t there. 

“I’m not here to criticize or judge him,” she said. “Fishing felt safe and comfortable to him.” 

She named some of the things we have been through lately, which include a pandemic, racial injustice, an insurrection and disaffiliations.

“That doesn’t even account for what’s going on in your personal life. It doesn’t account for your loss, grief, disappointment, changes, transitions,” she said. “The good news is that you are still here in light of that. We thank God for that.” 

She asked people to share with others at their table what their familiar, or safe space, is and who can inhabit that space with them. 

“You don’t have to go looking for Jesus; Jesus is looking for you,” Lewis said. “Miracles happen in that place of familiarity. Hope is renewed.”

She said Jesus doesn’t show up empty-handed, but instead he comes packed. He comes with inspiration, insight and instruction, Lewis said. Our role is to pause long enough in our familiar place to recognize Jesus. Peter didn’t. It took John pointing him out. 

Lewis acknowledged that we live in a season in which people won’t naturally invest in church as they did in the past. 

Next generations won’t automatically come, but they still need to be fed, cared for and nurtured. 

“We’re called to serve in this age,” she said. “We’re called to reclaim our shared core values.”