Dear Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
Greetings in the name of Jesus our Hope and Salvation!
On Easter Sunday joyful music and liturgy proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ, risen. That Good News of Jesus’ resurrection is central to our understanding of who we are as United Methodist Christians, and global citizens. So even after Easter Sunday is over we are called to live our lives freed from the fear of evil and death as Easter people renewed by our faith, living boldly in the shadow of an empty cross. Our world urgently needs to hear and experience the message of resurrection hope now more than ever. Terrorism, racism, violence, war, and discrimination continue to diminish our sisters and brothers in the human family. In faith, we seek reassurance that out of despair can come the hope made known in Jesus Christ, risen.
An unbridled proliferation of violence stains our communities. There is no simple solution to this madness. Many things contribute to this epidemic of terrorism, mass shootings, suicides, accidental deaths, drug-related addictions, domestic conflict, unattended mental illness, and unbridled anger. I pray for a rebirth of hope in transformative actions to turn the tide and reduce this growing scourge.
In the human family overt acts of blatant racism as well as hatred against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning communities continue to plague us. I pray for acceptance for all God’s children regardless of how they look, what they wear, how they worship, and whom they love. I pray for an end to laws that discriminate against those who come in peace seeking safety and refuge.
Our world, precious gift of God, fragile and endangered because of human greed and neglect needs our care. Creation groans at the abuse it has endured. I am praying that out of the spirit of deep appreciation for God’s created world there can be repentance for our neglect and abuse of creation, and strong efforts that will bring renewal and resurrection.
Much of the hope that can be realized emerges out of our faithful response to the generous and abundant love of God in Jesus Christ, risen. To fully embrace that love is to understand that we have an indispensable role in bringing new life and new hope. We are the very persons whom God calls to do the work of ushering in hope for a better world. That is our job as Christ followers! The words of an old hymn come to mind to remind us of this:
“When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Jesus’ touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.”
(J.M.C. Crum, 1928, The United Methodist Hymnal, #311)
I give thanks for the faithful witness of our laity and pastors who preach and practice what it means to stand boldly in places of injustice, violence, and oppression. I pray for strength and courage for you as you change lives and transform communities because of your good work and ministry. I am grateful that because of you, God’s love is made known in the name of Jesus Christ, risen!
Please pray with me!
God, source of all life and love: We pray as people whom you have already given the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Give us courage to be proclaimers of that message of your love and your hope to a world which is reeling from the ills of violence, prejudice, fear, pain and sorrow. Give us a resurrection faith to practice what we preach: that you love us as you love all persons, that you rejoice when we heed your call and you forgive us when we turn away from you. Give strength to your people that we might never languish in our efforts to bring about a resurrection of hope in our world in the name of Jesus Christ, risen! Amen!