To the People of the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, and to the ends of the earth, Fulfilling our charge to “To guard, transmit, teach, and proclaim … the apostolic faith as it is expressed in Scripture and tradition, and … to interpret that faith evangelically and prophetically” (BOD, 2016, ¶ 414.3), the bishops in the Western Jurisdiction will offer messages of faith each week of Lent, with the prayer that God will strengthen the Church for its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
–John 20: 17-18

It was a bad week.  Mounting deadlines, challenging complaints to adjudicate, difficult people to navigate, and work that never seems to end.  I am always optimistic, but this week was somehow different.  As I went to bed one evening that week, I wondered:  “Am I depressed?”  Sleep came, but even my dreams were depressing!

As I awoke the next day, I was worried that I was still depressed, but it was a beautiful day, and after a night’s sleep, for some reason, my spirit was buoyed and open.  Like a dark cloud given way to the in breaking of the sun, my soul was renewed.  I wondered where the depression had gone.  I wondered why I suddenly felt better.  I wondered how this all came about.  All of the problems and challenges were still there, so why didn’t I feel the same as before?

There was no question that I was back to my normal upbeat self, but I couldn’t understand why.  Nothing in my life had changed, except God had worked a new beginning for me.  There was no response for me except to fall to my knees and thank God in prayer for this new spirit created within me.

Perhaps it was just a psychological glitch or a momentary chemical imbalance that created my temporary depression.  Perhaps there is a logical explanation, but dare I make the leap that this can only be attributed to God.  As I have reflected upon on this a lot, I believe the only answer is God.  Nothing else makes sense.  More importantly, I feel deep inside my soul that God is the reason for my renewal.  It is not an intellectual certainty, but a certainty of faith, and faith alone.

As Easter is about to break forth in our lives once again, as we witness the resurrected Jesus that Mary knew in her heart was alive, as we pass through our own Good Fridays of depression, darkness and death, Jesus is risen – He is risen indeed!

PRAYER:  O God, we pray for this resurrected Jesus to enter our lives and the lives of all those who desperately need renewal and new life.  Let us give witness to the Easter Hope.  Let us be the Easter people!  Amen.

– Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Episcopal Area