There is some relief, even joy, as I write this message to our California-Pacific Conference. You see, I am not writing in the midst of the latest world catastrophe, responding to some act of mindless violence, or grieving over the latest injustice. It seems like much of my recent correspondence to you has been in reaction to a tragedy or horrific event.
On the contrary, I am writing simply to say thank you, and to share my deep gratitude in the midst of this season of Thanksgiving. Like you, I have so much to be thankful for: a loving family, good friends, a passionate vocation, and the feeling that I am making a difference in our challenging world. Most of all, I am thankful for my faith, and the God who gives me everything – absolutely everything in the gift of life itself. Each moment that we are alive, we share in this gift of life from God who provides it merely because God loves us that much. We do not deserve this gift, but it is given anyway simply because God cares about us as God’s creatures.
So, my message is just to convey this deep thanksgiving in my heart and to remind you to thank God for all that is given us. I hope and pray that I do not have to write my next message asking for prayers over the latest tragedy, even though this is not within our control. Those messages are inevitable because life is fragile and uncertain. And yet, there is something truly joyous about being able to share with you a simple thanksgiving for the gift of life. Let us be reminded that we should always start with such gratitude, even in the midst of a world with pain and suffering.
Thanks be to God, always and everywhere!
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop
The United Methodist Church