Bishop’s March 1 message

March 1, 2019

Beloved in Christ:

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of God’s call: “Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast …” —  Joel 2:16

In other words, gather everyone.

“A 2016 study from the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute found that 39 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 29) are ‘religious unaffiliated.’ That has nearly quadrupled since 1986, when only 10 percent of young adults identified that way.” (USA Today, Feb. 28, 2019)

Though there are many reasons for the increase in the number of young adults who are staying away from the church, J.J. Warren, who many of you likely saw speaking so passionately on the floor of General Conference, traveled with me with on a Mission of Peace journey years ago. I think his words give insight into what young people in the church are seeking:

“For me and the younger generation that is the church now among you, and who want to be the church together with you for the future as well, we desire a church that seeks the justice of God.” (If interested, please see here for a video of J.J. Warren’s full speech)

Let us begin our Lenten journey, earnest in our desire to be God’s prayer, to gather all the children of God, and to surrender ourselves to be transformed through love.

Let us take time to write in our Lenten journals each day, to compose our own prayers for justice, and to examine how our actions give witness to God’s justice.

Let us pray that we will become what the prophet Joel calls, an “assembly of God,” and a community that is the Sermon on the Mount.

As a conference may we pray this prayer together every day during Lent:

remind me again today that
you are Love;
that Loving is always expressed in action
not beliefs.

Remind me again today
that your love was made visible
in creation,
in Jesus,
in the Church, the body of Christ.

Remind me again today
that it is through love, not
right vs wrong,
good vs evil, that
we are saved.

Remind me again today that you
gather us all,
love us all,
sanctify us all,
call us all, 
to be one —
in Christ,
with each other,
in ministry to
all the world.

Prema and I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Lenten season.

in Christ’s love,

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar