By Jeff Finley
During the General Conference 2011 worship celebration Friday, Bishop David Roller turned to the troubled people of the Old Testament to point out our modern problems, and he revealed the wholeness available through the savior of the New Testament.
Starting with the dysfunctional relationships of Rachel, Leah, Jacob and their extended family and then going through their descendants, Roller continued to point out fractures in their family tree.
“This is the stuff of cable TV shows. You can almost hear in the background, ‘Jerry, Jerry, Jerry,” said Roller in an apparent reference to “The Jerry Springer Show.”
Roller’s reference to the talk show was one of multiple humorous moments in his address to General Conference 2011. After one stretch of rapid-fire delivery, the audience laughed as the bishop said: “Translators, my apologies.”
But Roller had a serious message to share with the diverse delegation assembled in the Voller Athletic Center at Roberts Wesleyan College and the international audience watching the streaming video online.
“Ultimately, each of our personal stories shares this same plot. It’s a plot of distance, of division, of near and far, of longing and regret. They are narratives of competition, of jealousy, of distrust, sometimes even of hatred,” Roller said.
“You’re nostalgic for something that never was, and yet you hoped it would be,” Roller added. “We are not whole.”
But Roller offered a message of God-given hope that even beats the Army’s former slogan.
“His better slogan is: Be all that you had hoped you could be,” Roller said.
The bishop quoted lyrics from singer Natalie Imbruglia’s 1997 hit “Torn” to illustrate the human condition: “I’m all out of faith. This is how I feel. I’m cold and I am shamed lying naked on the floor. Illusion never changed into something real. I’m wide-awake, and I can see the perfect sky is torn. You’re a little late. I’m already torn.”
But the Father used the Son to change our story and make us whole.
“He was torn so Natalie doesn’t have to be torn,” Roller said. “He was torn to heal our tear, to weave our torn fabric into something new and beautiful and useful.”
Bishop Matt Thomas said Roller’s message resonated with people.
“I think many of us understand what it is to be fractured,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, most of us understand what it’s like to have wholeness brought to that which is fractured.