November 23, 2020
Nov. 23, 2020
Beloved in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we approach Thanksgiving in this year of the pandemic and its consequences, political unrest and increased natural disasters, it may appear that there are fewer things for which to be thankful.
We rejoice that a vaccination for COVID-19 is around the corner. At the same time our prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones to the virus, all those who are currently infected, and all those who cannot join loved ones for Thanksgiving due to the situation we are in as a nation and world. Our thoughts and prayers are also with those whose lives have been altered through pain and challenge, directly or indirectly, by the virus.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected by natural disasters and calamities, both in
the United States and other parts of the world. Yet we are thankful for United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and all the relief efforts through UMCOR.
In the midst of pain and suffering, we hear Jesus’ words in this past Sunday's gospel passage, “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:31-46).
Reading this passage closely, even in the midst of all our challenges and pain, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, providing space for the homeless, clothing the naked and shivering, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and doing any other works of mercy are the primary responsibilities of a follower of Jesus Christ. The founder of Methodism, Rev. John Wesley said, "Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”
Friends, as we celebrate Thanksgiving and prepare to celebrate Christmas in keeping with pandemic mitigation efforts, may we also take time to pause and reflect on Matthew 25:31-46. Let us not forget that there are persons struggling with life and its challenges in many of our New England Conference churches, in our local communities, and across the globe.
I always remind myself that participating in worldwide missions is not taxing or burdensome, but a privilege as we fulfill the mandate of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Needless to say, I am proud of all of you for your continued participation in the worldwide ministries of our Church and how you responded to the special needs emerging out of the COVID-19 crisis this year, particularly through your generous participation in the Zarephath Emergency Relief Fund.
May I prayerfully request that we continue to do what Christ expects of us in relation to this Sunday's gospel passage. As we strive to fulfill 100% participation in connectional missions through mission shares, may we not forget additional responsibilities to help the poor, hungry, homeless, sick, and marginalized in our churches and communities.
Therefore, may I prayerfully request all who are able to give more to donate generously to your local churches by clearly labeling it "Special Mission 2020.” May I also request all pastors and local church leaders to split whatever monies come in for "Special Mission 2020" 50/50 between your church’s local missions for those who in need and your shared ministries and mission to reach 100% of your mission shares. If you receive more than you need to pay your mission shares, you may either pay more than 100% or retain it to help the poor and needy in your local churches and communities.
Some of you may sacrifice things, such as an extra cup of coffee or a meal, now through December 31 and divert your savings to "Special Mission 2020." Those who are in Extension Ministries or not a part of any local church may mail your check directly to the New England Annual Conference. Your contributions will be divided equally between the worldwide mission shares and the Zarephath fund.
Thank you in advance for your consideration! I believe if we all give what we can to help others, we will indeed find many reasons to be thankful this year.
May you all have a blessed and prayerful Thanksgiving!
In Christ's love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar