Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar is the United Methodist bishop for the New England Conference. He oversees the two United Methodist districts in this state, the New Hampshire district and the Tri-State district.
Beloved in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Lately I have been reflecting a lot about what is happening in our church, nation, and world. All kinds of emotions present themselves: fear, anger, frustration, blaming, and the list continues …
Last Sunday, many of us remembered these words of Jesus: “Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:49-50). Jesus also challenged us to be “… salt of the earth … light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14).
As I reflected on the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in the midst of all the emotions that are being expressed in our communities, nation, and world, a question came to my mind: “How does a baptized Christian respond to all of this?”
In my prayerful discernment, the words of two Christians came to my mind, one a challenge and another a prayer.
Words of challenge: “Martin Luther King, Jr. said this: ‘There was a time when the church was very powerful. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But they went on with conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” and had to obey God rather than [human authority]. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.'” (Quoted in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. Zondervan, 2010, p. 408).
Words of prayer: “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days, for the living of these days.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal, lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, serving thee whom we adore, serving thee whom we adore.”
(God of Grace and God of Glory, Hymn 577, The United Methodist Hymnal. Words by Harry Emerson Fosdick).
It is my hope and prayer that we continue to reflect upon our own Christian baptismal calling, asking how we can be God’s agents of change so that with God’s grace and power, people may see the power of salt in each and every one of us. Furthermore, may we shine God’s light, power, and grace in the hurting places of the world around us.
As we join our fellow Christians this coming World Communion Sunday, as we take part in the sacrament instituted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, may our prayer be “God fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we can be thermostats of change in our communities, nation, and world.”
May we continuously pray and sing the hymn of prayer, “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage …” so that people around us see the true marks of Christian discipleship and witness, so that they may glorify God, embrace the love Christ, and be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Have a blessed Autumn!
In Christ’s love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar