The United Methodist Church of Enfield
Sunday, March 07, 2021
Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.

 

 

Following is the monthly column from Bishop Devadhar of the New England Annual Conference...

March 1, 2021

Beloved in Christ: 

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

Our lives, priorities, and perspectives have changed drastically over the last year due to COVID-19. More than 2.5 million lives have been lost; a half million in the United States alone. Children are missing out on education and small businesses have been stressed to the breaking point. May we also remember to pray for all people throughout our world who are grieving loved ones.  
 
In the midst of this heartbreaking tragedy, we are grateful to all the frontline workers: medical professionals and staff, researchers working on vaccines, and courageous and innovative leaders and administrators who are helping us navigate this nightmare. 

As we look back at the past year, one of the things we have emphasized as a faith community here in the New England Conference is practicing one of the Wesleyan means of grace – PRAYER.  March 22, marks one year of writing daily 
COVID-19 prayers related to the lectionary readings for the following Sunday. We are thankful to everyone – NEAC clergy and laity and seminary faculty, staff and students – who contributed these penetrating, moving, inspiring, and challenging prayers.  

Prayer was the bedrock of Jesus' earthly ministry. No wonder, the disciples who lived and worked with Jesus asked him, "Lord, teach us to pray …" (Luke 11:1). This great prayer Jesus composed does not name Jesus and is still today a universal prayer, one that may be prayed by people of all faiths. 

Prayer played a vital role in the lives of Church parents, reformers, evangelists, and missionaries through the centuries. As we look at some of them and their risk-taking ministries and missions, we see they led for the glory of God, filled with the love of Christ and moved by the Holy Spirit. We may wonder how they did what they did, but a closer look at their personal lives shows that they were prayerful people of deep faith.  

As I have said time and again in different contexts, one of those persons who carried out daring risk-taking ministries and whose ministry and mission were embraced by people of all faiths was St.Teresa of Calcutta.
 
I had the privilege, along with others from the United States, of visiting the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity, headquarters of her organization in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, meeting with her, participating in the chapel service with her, and working as a volunteer in her home for a few hours. One thing was very clear: Mother Teresa was a person of deep prayer. Her prayer life was a ray of hope to those who witnessed her ministry and mission in action.  Her willingness to touch a person with leprosy or pick up a person who was dying on the street did not go unnoticed. News reporters, not necessarily Christians, recognized her as the "Saint of the Gutters." All that she did happened only because of her utter dependence on God through prayer and prayerful action.  
 
Friends, as we look at the lives of Martin Luther, John and Charles Wesley, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bishop Leontine Kelly, Archbishop Óscar Romero, and others, we recognize they were indeed people of deep prayer! 

Being deeply rooted in God through prayer also enabled them to rise and fly with passion to do the liberating work of God among the marginalized, victimized, powerless, and voiceless. Their lives remind us, as disciples of Jesus Christ, that our prayers are truly meaningful only when we are willing to act on the words we utter in our day-to-day lives as Christians… 
  
Beloved in Christ, as we continue our journey through this Lenten season and approach Holy Week, may we never forget Jesus' utter dependence on prayer and demonstration of faith using the words of his own prayer, even as he called for the forgiveness of his enemies as he was dying on the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).  May God grant us the grace and power to look at our own lives and to call for a self-examination of our prayer lives. 

  • What priority do we place on prayer in our own lives? How much time do we spend communicating with God during the day? 
  • Where in our priorities does family prayer fall? How often do we pray together as a family? 
  • What priority do we give to prayer as we gather together for meetings through Zoom, conference call or in person? Do we start and close our meetings with meaningful, relevant prayer? 

Prayer is one of the means of grace and a part of our Methodist DNA! May we celebrate it! May we say and/or write our own prayers with an intended action plan for our own spiritual growth and benefit to others. May our prayer be: 

O Holy and Powerful God, our Creator, 
in this holy season we sing prayerfully 
Isaac Watts’ hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,  
on which the prince of Glory died ...” 
May our prayerful survey of the cross 
lead us to passionate action of not just surveying,  
but feeling the weight of the cross on our shoulders  
through our self-giving love, suffering for the sake of others,  
and forgiveness and reconciliation ... 
May we be constantly nudged by the Holy Spirit to do so! 
In the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen. 

 
In Christ's love, 

 
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar