Orientation 2013

Heather Gentry, Jacob Crouse, Amanda McLearn-Montz. Photo by Marie Benner-Rhoades.

Heather Gentry, Jacob Crouse, Amanda McLearn-Montz. Photo by Marie Benner-Rhoades.

All was quite tranquil at the Brethren offices in Elgin
until early that first of June
when arrived a white van filled with Mss’ers from afar
who’d come to town the previous afternoon.

Lectio Divina – a divine reading –
not the fictional incantation you might think
prepared our minds and hearts each day
for thought, reflection, and key theological links.

Then, around a big table we would attend
sessions packed to the gills
with hermeneutical triangles, 16 pf’s,
Brethren living peacefully, together, without frills,
ethics, logistics, tradition, vocation,
liturgy, worship, and praise,
teaching, leading, and jamming to some scripture
preparing us to go on our ways.

After long days, the food would taste great
at the homes of our gracious hosts.
We’d fellowship cheerily before our daily examen
to discover where God has touched us the most.

From swimming in the hotel pool and playing contact
to singing about rain on a TARDIS,
of all the things we did in just a few days,
saying ‘good-bye’ was the hardest.

This thought inspires hope as we spread across the country
to do the Lord’s will as we may
because it shows the great love in our hearts
that we will share with all we meet
through peace, joy, and grace.

Hourly Prayers for Peace

Brothers and sisters, my apologies for not getting these on the blog in a more timely manner. Below are the first set of hourly prayer updates on this International Day of Prayer for Peace. May the peace of Christ be with you.

8pm EST – As you close the day, pray that the peace that started in these prayers today is only the start, laying the foundation for a peaceful world.

7pm EST – Pray for our mission workers around the world, that they might carry the peace of Christ w/ them, helping build a world of peace.

6pm EST – Pray for the peace of the church-for your church, for your communion, for the body of Christ-that we might walk in the way of Christ.

5pm EST – Pray for all of those who have been impacted by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as by terrorism and the war on terrorism globally.

4pm EST – Pray for the influence of violence on our children and youth. Be an example for them, that they might know another way of living.

3pm EST – In this hour, pray for those who continue to suffer from domestic violence and the violence of sexual exploitation.

2pm EST – As millions are impacted by disaster-man made & natural-pray & act to seek sustainable living w/ God’s creation. http://t.co/BkLNxtt4

1pm EST – As millions go jobless & live in a life of systematic poverty & hunger, pray that we might transform systems of injustice around us.

12pm EST – This hour, say a prayer for #TroyDavis, all of those on death row, & this country that continues to seek vengeance through violence.

11am EST – Pray for #Obama, as he speaks at the UN & meets w/ Israeli and Palestinian leadership. And seek mid-east peace – http://t.co/CTB79IiJ

10am EST – This hour, pray for the peace of your family-whoever that is. Pray that they may find the peace they each need, and peace with one another.

9am EST – Move from the peace within, to extend it to your immediate surroundings. Pray for the peace of the person standing next to you.

8am EST – Start this #IDOPP by seeking your own peace. Begin by praying for the peace you need within. Loving your enemies begins with loving yourself.

What do we do now?

I want to start this by thanking so many of you – for your words of support, whether it be through comments on here, twitter, or facebook. This was an action I only took knowing the church was with me – from leadership in Elgin to local pastors in the Washington, DC area. And to hear from so many of you … it is when we speak with each other, through one another, and together that we have a voice that makes a difference.

It was a powerful experience – to kneel in prayer in the Rotunda of the Capitol building, and pray that the decisions made in that building would reflect the values of the faith that so many hold dear. That the Holy Spirit would fill that place, and move our decision makers to seek to make this world more in accordance with the will of God – and to stand where God stands, caring for the poor and feeding the hungry. And then to be arrested for doing that very thing – with 10 other persons of faith.

Many have asked me whether or not I think the arrests yesterday of 11 people of faith made a difference. There has certainly been a lot of press attention to the actions taken. From the Huffington Post, to the New York Times, to ABC News, and many, many more – the word certainly got out about the actions. Combine that with the attention building around the daily prayer vigils, which continued today, and will continue next week, and it would seem that our country is certainly paying attention to what the church is saying.

But this still leaves the question of whether or not this will shift the debate in Washington – one that seems to only want to ask communities that have no more to give to sacrifice to get our fiscal house in order (which does need to happen). Whether it be the hungry through cuts to SNAP, God’s Creation by stripping funding for the Clean Water Act, or those in poverty around the world by slashing food aid – these seem to be the only communities actually being asked to give.

The reality is the action I took yesterday will only have an impact if it has your backing. Your words of support to me have meant so much – but your Senators and Representatives need to hear them, too. There are so many ways you can weigh in. Send them an email, call their offices in DC, or, and this one would have the most impact, visit their local offices (they are listed on their websites). No matter where you go, the message is that we cannot bring our fiscal house in order as a nation on the backs of the poor and vulnerable around the world. We need to consider increasing revenue and cutting security and military spending, too. The poor and vulnerable have no more to give. Or, just let them know that you are holding them in prayer as they consider what God would have them do.  Check out the NCC Poverty Initiative for more resources. BUT THEY NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU. It is time for all people of faith to speak up, and to take action, and seek to live in a nation that reflects our values. What we spend our money on goes a long way toward determining what those values are.

Unity for Peace Sake

This is a phrase I will be taking home from this place. I have heard it a couple of times, and then got into a couple of good conversations around it yesterday, as we considered the concept of peace among the peoples, and how that plays out in our global community of nations.

For so long, the ecumenical movement has been about making manifest the unity we find in Christ. We have been about unity for, well, unity’s sake. But the question was raised here, what exactly are we seeking to live out our given unity for? And the reminder that we have been given is that it is so that the world will know.

We are called to be one in Christ, to seek our given unity as a Christian community, to offer a different example of life to the world, a different model of community and living with one another. We are called to seek unity for peace’s sake. That we can show to the world what it means like to live “God’s Security Strategy”. That is what is truly at the heart of the ecumenical movement. To be a body seeking to live out our unity so that we are a witness to the world of the vision God has.

And this gets made manifest in a number of different ways that we heard here yesterday. It is made manifest in the church serving as an early warning mechanism in places where violence is beginning – being connected to the community in ways the government just isn’t. It is made manifest through delegations of church leaders speaking to our governments, and laying out the alternative vision of security that we find in Christ.

But it is also in being willing to ask tough questions, like the one I am going to leave you with here. What does relying on the ability to kill millions of others for our security do to our souls?

Lets seek to live out our unity for the sake of peace in our world.

Live from the IEPC

Greetings from Kingston, and the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation! There are 6 Brethren here, gathered with almost 700 of our ecumenical friends from around the world. I will be getting online as often as I can, and offering updates during the week. Today, we recieved a recap of the decade, and a call for work to be done. But what I want to point your attention to today comes from the Just Peace companion – a document given to us to study before we arrived.

In this document, they list 7 commitments all people in a society should make so all can enjoy a good life. There are:

  1. I commit myself to cultivate a personal and family spirituality of love and nonviolence
  2. I commit myself to respect and protect the dignity of human life in all its forms as well as to the care of creation
  3. I commit myself to practice nonviolence in all my family relations, rejecting physical, verbal, and psychological mistreatment
  4. I commit myself, in love toward my neighbor, to resolve conflicts in a nonviolent fashion
  5. I commit myself to build solidarity and to work towards an alternative economy that promotes holisitic and sustainable human development
  6. I commit myself to not carry arms nor participate in militaristic projects
  7. I commit myself to place my gifts, talents, abilities, time and resources at the service of constructing a society of life, justice and peace through nonviolent action

Are you ready to make those commitments? As the journey continues here this week, be sure to follow along – there will be live streaming at www.oikumene.org, and join us in prayer on Sunday, during World Peace Sunday.