by Bishop Bob Hoshibata

Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

This year, at Annual Conference from June 11-13, we will hear, consider, and celebrate the ways in which God has blessed each one of us with unique gifts. This message is meant for all of us, whether or not we will be attending the virtual Desert Southwest Conference session. We are uniquely created and endowed by God and we each have opportunities to use our gifts for the glory of God for the transformation of the world.

One of the books on my shelf that was suggested reading for annual conference a few years ago, and one I like to read again and again is a book entitled “The Book of Joy.” It is a chronicle of conversations between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, two great human beings, spiritual leaders, and friends. Much of what is in this book, as you might guess, is about joy. Not just the kind of joy that is connected to a joke or a funny situation. The true joy these two talk about is more than just a feeling. “It is something more profound. . .  joy is a way of approaching the world.” And moreover, “ultimately our greatest joy is when we seek to do good for others.”

Doesn’t doing good for others bring joy to you? Have you ever realized that your gifts, received from God, are meant to be utilized for this very purpose? Some believe, for example, that the gift of being able to raise large sums of money is meant to benefit only that person and her or his family. Others believe and practice the art of generosity. John Wesley has preached this, saying. “Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can” in his sermon entitled, “The Use of Money.”

And there are those who find joy helping those in need, whether it is a physical or spiritual need. Archbishop Tutu speaks of joy being “the reward of seeking to give joy to others. When you show compassion, when you show caring, when you show love to others, do things for others, in a wonderful way you have a deep joy that you can get in no other way. You can’t buy it with money. You can be the richest person on Earth, but if you care only about yourself . . . you will not be happy or joyful. But when you are caring, compassionate, more concerned about the welfare of others than about your own, wonderfully, wonderfully, you suddenly feel a warm glow in your heart, because you have in fact, wiped the tears from the eyes of another.”

When we gather for our Annual Conference, I hope we will experience the joy of our ministry together. Not to benefit only ourselves, but to unselfishly offer our gifts for the people we serve and the communities in which we live and offer ministry, especially in this time of COVID-19. Our mission of making disciples will be served if we act with compassion, not malice. Our task of being a courageous church will become reality as we reach out and care for the marginalized and the poor in spirit. And as we feel the spirit of God inspiring us to love like Jesus, act for justice, and unite our hearts in hope, the joy of serving in the name of Jesus will overflow to touch the hearts of those in our congregations and communities.

I am praying for God’s Spirit to bring true joy to all our hearts!  Come and pray with me!

Bishop Bob

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