After a year focusing on WPA Chic, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi told Conference United Methodist Women gathered for their annual meeting that it’s time to Dress for Hope!
“Unfortunately the feeling of hope is scarce in our culture today,” she said. “We are in the midst of a despair epidemic. It’s an epidemic of pessimism...all the opposites of hope. The good news is that, I believe, women of faith have the antidote to hopelessness!
“There’s something about the way that God made women to make us uniquely designed to bring hope into the world. ...maybe because we can bring life into the world that we can bring hope.”
She pointed to several biblical examples of women who brought hope:
The Samaritan woman, who was despised and not trusted, but In the midst of that hopelessness, “God used Jesus to break through, the woman heard and received hope and she took that hope back to her people. She didn’t have complete hope, but it only takes a little bit of hope to break through,” the Bishop said.
Deborah gave hope to the Hebrew people who feared the Canaanites. “Because she had a little bit of hope, the King kept her with them to keep hope alive and a rag-tag Hebrew people went against a mighty force. She is hailed as the mother of Israel, I believe in part because she bore hope.
The three women at Jesus’ tomb. “At a time when the others had lost all hope, they saw an empty tomb and then they went running to tell the disciples. Mary Magdalene hung around and Jesus chose to reveal himself to her..a woman. God chose that woman to bear that message to the world,” the Bishop pointed out.
“From the beginning there were troubles, fights, fear and forces that have been trying to make us hopeless..to counteract the hope that is Jesus the Christ,” Bishop Moore-Koikoi said.
There are places where folks in the Methodist movement are in physical danger... Data in the U.S. was used to predict a death tsunami, she said. Today we are struggling with questions related to homosexuality.
“Is God’s grace sufficient even for this?” she asked. “It seems as if some of us are not quite sure.
“We have been wrong about so many things so many times...God could have said, “No more!” But God said, ‘Come even closer. Let me figure out a way’...In the midst of a lot of the messiness and division, God said, “Come even closer.’”
The only way we can be alive is if we trust in God, she said.
“We are experiencing the pain of diversity in our denomination. It is not the first time. I pray it is not the last time,” the Bishop said. “On this issue somebody is right and somebody is wrong. God didn’t talk about splitting. God offered Space for Grace.
“God can work through the sanctifying stuff. The Commission on the Way Forward is trying to create a space for grace where we can rely on the power of God,” she said.“If we are able to let God do work with us….and in the other.. and allow them to be wrong without questioning their commitment to Jesus Christ. If we don’t do that, we will have harmed each other. We will not have experienced the blessings of diversity.
Noting that the women gathered for the UMW meeting were the most diverse group she has yet encountered in our Conference, she said, “God is going to work that stuff out. I believe Jesus was speaking the truth when he said the gates of hell will not prevail against the church”
The Bishop asked the women to “keep that hope alive because, as a denomination if we are yet alive, we need to keep nurturing, praying, giving and hoping.”