Proclaim: Rejoice in Christ

Find worship resources for this year's Mission Offering at www.brethren.org/missionoffering .

Find worship resources for this year’s Mission Offering at www.brethren.org/missionoffering .

A theme interpretation written for the 2015 Mission Offering.

Amidst the busyness of life, it’s important to stay focused. Hardships, responsibilities, opportunities, short-comings, and “nay sayers” can all take our attention away from what is most important.

Challenges and obstacles are also a regular part of life for our partners around the globe. Facing daily persecution, violence, and limitations, their efforts to show love to God and neighbor is challenged regularly. Whether completing a project or staying dedicated to a mission, being faithful to what God has called us requires perseverance.

Staying focused in ministry has been a challenge since the very beginning of the church. In Paul’s words to the Philippians, he acknowledged their disappointments and wounds. Having experienced many challenges himself, Paul understood what it meant to come up short of a goal. However, while sitting in jail, Paul recognized the Philippians as a precious gift. In spite of the hardships experienced by Paul and the church of Philippi, Paul reminded them of what is most important: “that Christ is proclaimed in every way” (1:18). Despite the persecutions they had encountered, Paul reminded them not to worry about people and factors beyond their control.

The declaration and power of the gospel is not hindered by the short-coming of humanity. We can choose to obsess about the vain preachers or the peddlers of prosperity, or we can choose to celebrate the places where Jesus is proclaimed in word and action. God alone is able and worthy to judge the minds and hearts of each person. As the body of Christ, our first responsibility is to celebrate in the proclamation of Jesus’ name.

The ministry of Jesus and power of God in the world is not dampened by our failures either. If we ever lose focus or stumble, God’s love and grace remain present. If the good news of Jesus is proclaimed in our words and actions, there is reason for celebration through any season.

While it may seem that our own limitations or external challenges prevent us from celebrating the work of God, we can find comfort and joy each day if the name of Jesus is proclaimed. It is in witnessing this proclamation in every way that we have reason to rejoice in Christ.

Written by Matt DeBall, coordinator of Donor Communications. Find a full order of service written by Ken Gibble for the 2015 Mission Offering (suggested date Sept. 20) at www.brethren.org/missionoffering or support the Church of the Brethren today at www.brethren.org/give .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

Ablaze

Shelley West arm-wrestles fellow Youth Peace Travel Team member Chris Bache at National Youth Conference . Photo by Glenn Riegel

Shelley West arm-wrestles fellow Youth Peace Travel Team
member Chris Bache at National Youth Conference .
Photo by Glenn Riegel

By Shelley West, member of the 2014 Youth Peace Travel Team.

“While our understanding of peace is rooted in scripture and Jesus’ teachings, we think it has many different manifestations in our world today that are worth exploring. Peace is about more than not going off to war or not fighting with your siblings!”

This is a phrase that frequented my introduction of the Youth Peace Travel Team and our work when we faced campers for the first time on jittery Sunday evenings. While our goal was to introduce the five specific perspectives of peace that we would be teaching throughout the week, it was a genuine reminder to ourselves of the variety of unexpected ways that peace showed its face to us all summer long.

Peace was found in the group’s acceptance of my exceptionally poor performance during a camp-wide kickball game at Camp Colorado. Peace was found in the inclusive and enthusiastic clamor surrounding our “Arm Wrestling for Peace” booth at National Youth Conference’s Brethren Block Party. Peace was found as our team struggled up the metaphorical mountain together, but made it to the top and gazed out at the spectacular view.

Peace is found in whatever moment you decide to seek and pursue it. Jesus’ example of peace was radical, but versatile and all-embracing. We, too, are called to this job of uninhibited love-spreading. In each encounter with our siblings in Christ, we have a grand opportunity to look into their eyes, listen to their musings, and verbally affirm that our hearts are open to the sharing of this human experience. Whether with strangers in the neighborhood or parents we’ve never truly gotten to know, this interaction brings a smile to our God’s face and a spark of hope to those who we have stepped outside of our comfort zones to engage.

Let us be active and willing in our approaches to peacemaking—at camp, at home, and around the world. In remembering our global brothers and sisters through fervent prayer, may we be simultaneously empowered to search for peace in our daily lives. May our hearts burn ablaze with a passion to search, to work, to love. Amen.

September 21 is International Day of Peace. It is also the suggested date for the Mission Offering—an opportunity for congregations to support Church of the Brethren partnerships that maintain a peaceful presence all over the world. Visit brethren.org/missionoffering to find out more, and brethren.org/give to support all of these ministries today.

(Read this issue of eBrethren)