Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
My heart is heavy at the current level of animosity and conflict surrounding the peaceful transfer of power that has been a hallmark of our democracy in the United States of America. This peaceful transfer is what I learned and experienced in my life. On the eve of the inauguration of a new President, your Appointive Cabinet and I share this word of encouragement and hope with you.
Nonetheless, following the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we renew our faith and trust in the strong core of goodness and peacefulness in humankind. Dr. King, in a speech in 1964 on the occasion of his acceptance of the Nobel Prize in Peace, spoke of all the incredible advances in science and technology. Yet, he said, “. . .in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers (and sisters).”[i]
With the Appointive Cabinet, I call us to a time of fervent prayer for our democracy, our nation and the world.
We have received words of possible violence threatening churches and individuals this week. Although no specific details are available, we urge an extra measure of caution and vigilance in our church communities. Any suspicious activity that endangers lives or property should be reported to local authorities and to your District Superintendent immediately.
We 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.
Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, we invite you to join us to pray for and act with peace. I share with passionate hope and faith, a prayer from the previous E-Lumination, which is just as meaningful at this moment as it was then:
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.
Visit us with patience, to quiet our souls. Deliver us from 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.
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,