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‘Keeping Our Eyes on God’: Preparing for Annual Conference through Bible study

By Paul Mundey

Traditionally the moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference calls the church to Bible study and prayer as we anticipate Annual Conference. This year is no exception, but with an added plus: the availability in mid-February of 13 Bible studies focused on the themes of the proposed compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren (www.brethren.org/ac/compelling-vision).

Available now are two sample lessons from the Bible studies, in both English and Spanish, at www.brethren.org/ac/compelling-vision/bible-studies.

This year’s Annual Conference will be an empowering resourcing event. At its heart will be intentional, prayerful engagement with the proposed compelling vision as we seek the mind of Christ, living into the Conference theme “God’s Adventurous Future.” Excellent preparation for this spiritual engagement will be participation by your congregation in the 13 compelling vision Bible studies.

We live in a season of pandemic and polarization; people are experiencing much unrest and confusion in their context. However, an emphasis on “Jesus in the Neighborhood,” our compelling vision banner theme, will help resource and center, contributing to a renewed perspective on God and hope.

Recently, I rediscovered 2 Chronicles 20:12: “[O God] we [feel] powerless against this great multitude [of realities] coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” The speaker is King Jehoshaphat of Judah, and the great multitude in his case was the powerful threesome of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites. Up against such forces, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast and gathered the people together–great and small, male and female–to seek the Lord. As they did so, their eyes were indeed on God. Just then, Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, heard from God and prophesied. He said a lot, but the gist is found in 2 Chronicles 20:15: “Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s.” In turn, Jehoshaphat and the people took courage, praised and magnified God, and went forth to meet the challenge before them.

For me, Bible study and prayer are prime tools to assist as I strive to keep my eyes on God and God’s accompaniment, when a multitude is before me. Thus, I am excited that Annual Conference delegates, participants, and other people from our congregations will soon have access to a new Bible study resource for the Church of the Brethren.

As we anticipate the 2021 Annual Conference, a great multitude of challenges are indeed before us–not Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, but schism, political unrest, and racism, among others. Given such challenges, we need to “eye” something that will lead us forward. I am confident that the compelling vision Bible studies will do just that as they point us to God in Christ, and the challenge of the proposed vision to “develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.”

— Paul Mundey is moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and a member of the Compelling Vision Working Group.

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