Advent message from the Bishop

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
During my spiritual pilgrimages to Taizé, one of the many songs we sang which continues to give me inspiration and offers me hope is Magnificat anima mea Dominum (My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord).
Concerning this song, William Barclay wrote, “There’s a loveliness in the Magnificat but in that loveliness, there’s dynamite.”  Barclay is indeed right when he says, “in that loveliness there’s dynamite!”
When the Magnificat is being sung by thousands of people from a global community – all the children of God from all backgrounds and cultures – and when the words of the Magnificat are placed into action by these children of God, it creates a spiritual dynamite no nation or power has ever produced in human history. As paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in The Message:
And Mary said,
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.
Luke 1:46-55
Magnificat makes it very clear that the values and the powers of the world are turned in opposite directions, and the values of the Reign of God can be established everywhere. A skeptic may ask, “Is it possible or is it fantasy?”  Of course the world would keep asking those questions, but it should not stop the disciples of Jesus Christ from singing the Magnificat and making an earnest attempt to not only sing it, but live it through our lives and actions.
Just this week I was at a meeting when a pastor in one of the United Methodist Churches in another Annual Conference shared this powerful email from a leading attorney. Though the names have been changed to protect confidentiality, these are the exact words from the email:
“I just wanted to express my thanks for whoever wrote the little newsletter note in the article shown in the attached photo. I assume Rose and Sally made this kind gesture, and I wanted to let their ‘boss’ know what an incredible blessing they are to me and my family.
It was just three years ago that I was sitting in your office as a committed agnostic and challenging you to explain how a rational mind can have faith.  A stack of Lee Strobel and C.S. Lewis books later, along with three years of God using a program of the church to change me, that same guy is now playing some small part in helping Rose and Sally build up God’s armor around the little hearts of the children in our congregation. It started with your patient counsel and grew over the course of three years of your inspired Sunday messages.
It may sound silly but the idea that someone saw fit to thank me has moved me deeply and made me reflect on how much God has done in my life since that day I met with you. So I just wanted to shoot you a note to say thank you. I know you will just give the credit to God so I will just do the same.  Have a great week and I will see you Sunday.”
This powerful story shared by an attorney with his pastor is not an isolated story.  There are stories like this happening all around the world. Our God is a God of impossible possibilities if we allow God to take control of our minds and hearts, and use it appropriately as we listen to the Holy Spirit speak to us as we articulate our thoughts and actions.
As we continue to light the Advent candles in our churches and homes, may we continue to sing, Magnificat anima mea Dominum, not only in this Advent season but all through the year.
May we also take time to internalize the words of the Magnificat and make our best efforts to practice it through our deeds and actions, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us, lead us, and nudge us.
May we also reflect upon all our frustrations and disappointments as human beings, as Christians, and as United Methodists, and think how the Magnificat can give us a new hope and a new vision. As the angel shuttled between Mary and Joseph to convince them individually to accept God’s plan for humanity through their participation in it, God can help us, too, through the power of the Holy Spirit and through angels who may appear to us and speak to us if we allow that to happen.
May God shower blessings and gifts upon us as we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas in this Advent season.
In Christ’s Love,
Bishop Suda Devadhar

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