Two of my favorite hymns are about Joy. The words to ‘Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee’ (#89 in the UM Hymnal) were written in 1907 by Henry Van Dyke, a Presbyterian clergyperson and scholar. Rev. Van Dyke was reportedly inspired by the beauty of the Berkshire Mountains during a visit to Massachusetts. The world was a troubled place in 1907, with the events leading to World War I already in motion, but Rev. Van Dyke’s words remind us that God’s joy is a gift even in the midst of trouble.
We are a connectional church. I heard that phrase over and over during my seminary years at Duke Divinity School. We are a connectional church. We are not isolated local churches who wave hello to one another once a year at Annual Conference. We are connected.
Twenty-nine churches, plus extension ministries and community partners, and lots of wonderful people. That is the South District. From metropolitan Tucson to mountain towns like Kearny and Duncan and border communities like Nogales and Douglas, our churches and people are in ministry all throughout Southern Arizona. Together we feed the hungry, clothe the needy, care for the sick, provide hospitality to immigrants, and share God’s vision of justice for all people with our communities and the world.
A year ago our church buildings were empty, but on Pentecost we will gather together in thanksgiving, and the Holy Spirit will fill our hearts as we thank and praise God together for the harvest of God’s goodness.