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Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace!

I write this on the day of Epiphany, the day we celebrate the arrival of the magi to worship Jesus. We celebrate the realization, or the epiphany, that the Messiah has come into the world, a message from God that God’s love is a precious gift for all. I write this on a day when the democratic process of electing our leadership is being completed in the state of Georgia and is being challenged in the halls of Congress. I write this on a day when we should be celebrating our history and our legacy as a nation that believes in the peaceful transfer of power as well as the right to free expression.

This is also a day when there is rancor, destruction and violence in the streets of our nation’s capital and the Capitol building. There are demonstrations in places in our conference where there is likewise anger, frustration, and distrust. We are called to a time of de-escalation of violence. Christ calls us to temper our anger or frustration with good works to benefit others. God asks us to work to make our communities, our nation, and our world, places where peace is proclaimed.

So much is yet ahead of us:  the continuing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic; the availability of the vaccines; the safety of our first-responders, front-line workers, educators and students; the recovery of our fragile economy; and the dismantling and eliminating racism and its lingering harm.

I call upon you to join me in prayer for our nation and the world. I call upon you to join me in prayer for our democracy. I call upon you to pray for peace, for reconciliation, and for hope. As faithful United Methodists, we have a responsibility to share the good news that through Christ, we have the assurance that God is always with us. So, with the words of Paul:

“ . . .  we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. . . So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4: 16,18, NIV)

Will you join me in praying this prayer:

Eternal God, our Creator, we give heartfelt thanks for the world in which you have placed us. We turn to you as we watch our nation wrought by deep divide over the process of election that draws to a close. Endow our nation with a spirit of reconciliation and peace, that we might emerge from these difficult, contentious moments, into a spirit of light and love made known to us in your son, Jesus Christ.

We ask you to visit us with patience, to quiet our souls. Deliver us from the threatening violence in our streets, wipe away the malice of suspicion of others in our hearts, keep our eyes focused on the vision you give us of the Kin-dom where lion and lamb live together.

As Bishop Ruben P. Job has encouraged us to do no harm, to do good, and to stay in love with you, may we also determine every day that our lives will always be invested in the effort to bring healing instead of hurt; wholeness instead of division; and harmony with the ways of Jesus rather than with the ways of the world.[i]

As we proclaim our faith in you and our love for Christ, let your Spirit reside in our hearts and grant us peace for this time, we pray, in the name of our Shepherd, Jesus, AMEN.

In Christ’s love,
Bishop Bob

[i] Bishop Ruben P. Job, 40 Days with Wesley, 2017, Abingdon Press
Photo Attribution: MARELBU, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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