“My heart goes out to all those impacted by this senseless act of violence. When tragedies like the Las Vegas massacre occur, the political and religious barriers that too often divide us break down and we come together to mourn as Americans. This moment presents all of us with the opportunity to be there for one another as we try to come to terms with what happened yesterday. As our nation mourns, I hope we continue in the spirit of inclusion, as we are all impacted by this terrible tragedy.”
When I began to read, I started by going through the Psalms. An elderly gentleman paused to listen, and then requested if I could read aloud his favorite, Psalm 91. As I read it, he also began to softly quote the verses by heart, praising God and saying “hallelujah” before thanking me and walking on.
Later, a local pastor from the District Church in Colombia Heights came to read. We met a couple visiting from Louisiana. The wife was a furloughed federal employee with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It was interesting to hear her point of view working first-hand with immigrants in a deportation capacity. She said as a Christian, it is sometimes very difficult to find a balance between desiring to deport violent criminals, and also wanting to keep hardworking, law-abiding immigrant families together. She and her husband thanked all who were participating in the Faithful Filibuster for keeping Christ present during the government shutdown.
As the next speaker from Salvation Army was reading, several teens participating in a rally at the Supreme Court came to ask about what we were doing. After explaining the filibuster’s mission, a young boy thanked us, shook hands, and said “God bless you.”
It is in times and tragedies like those that happened in Boston that our call to pray for our enemies is most difficult. May we be faithful to pray for them despite our circumstances.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy on me, a sinner. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, on all of us, sinners.
Father, we don't know who was behind the tragedies in Boston, but we do know that they were human. And we know we are to pray for our enemies.
In Jesus we see humanities true identity as ones who are to be agents of life, not death. Jesus, as first of New Creation, invites all humanity to reflect and participate in New Creation.
Editor's Note: Sojourners offices, which are based in Washington, D.C., will be closed due to the weather. We pray for the safety of our staff, neighbors, and all those affected by this storm.
God, we pray for all those along the East Coast in the path of Hurricane Sandy. Grant safety to all, including the first responders. We pray for all those who will lose electricity and whose homes may be been damaged. But we pray especially for those who have no homes and no shelters in times such as these. We ask that your hand would protect them and keep them safe. May our paths cross with theirs so that we might have an opportunity to love and serve them. Amen.
"O Lord of LIght" by the Innocence Mission
Chuck Colson, the evangelical leader and founder of Prison Fellowship, is in critical condition after undergoing surgery following a brain hemorrhage on Friday.
According to The Christian Post:
"Colson is listed in critical condition at this point but has shown some early signs of potential for recovery," said Michelle Farmer, Colson's spokesperson.
The 80-year-old Colson fell ill while addressing a conference in the Washington, D.C. area over the weekend. He underwent surgery on Saturday morning to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain. Earlier this week, an update on Colson's Facebook page showed that he did not have a stroke and was resting comfortably.
Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, who has been on a writing sabbatical since January, offered his prayers for his friend and brother in Christ: "I am in my last days of sabbatical and heard about the critical condition of Chuck Colson. I want to offer my prayers for Chuck and his wife Patty, hoping for his speedy healing and recovery."
A former advisor to President Nixon, Colson was convicted and served seven months in prison in connection with the Watergate scandal. He became a Christian shortly before his time in prison, and since his release has worked with prisoners and ex-prisoners through Prison Fellowship, which calls itself “the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families,” with a presence in 113 countries.
Sojourners offers its thoughts and prayers to Chuck, his family, the organization he has been at the center of for so many years, and all affected at this difficult time. We pray that God’s healing hand would be on Chuck and that his peace would be upon all of those who know and care about our brother in Christ.
The “E Word” in Christianity is a funny thing.
In one respect, Evangelicals are self-identified, and therefore, self-defined. On the other, popular culture (particularly media) lays its own meaning on what it means to be Evangelical. In the latter context, the word inevitably translates to “Conservative Christian.”
But I think this definition isn’t fair. What’s more, it’s not accurate.
I’m a self-proclaimed “word nerd,” so I tend to turn to etymology for help. The root meaning of “evangelical,” at least as a paraphrase, means “to tell the good news.”
Sufficiently vague, right? Depends on who you ask.
*Warning: SANTA SECRETS AHEAD. Shoo the children.*
In rough economic times such as these, we try extra hard to get the kids in our lives a little something special for Christmas. We may have to tighten our belt to the “painful” notch, but it’s worth it for the face you get in return for the Tickle Me Elmo, or the ZuZu pet, or whatever it is this year.
But what about Santa? Does he have a budget? He certainly has a belt, but does it get tightened in harsh (let’s not say LEAN) times? Maybe Santa could stand to lose a few…
Well, according to Fred Honerkamp, Old Saint Knick understands your finances.
"I have no interest in megachurches with jocular millionaire pastors," Ebert writes. "I think what happens in them is sociopolitical, not spiritual. I believe the prosperity gospel tries to pass through the eye of the needle. I believe it is easier for a Republican to pass through the eye of a needle than for a camel to get into heaven. I have no patience for churches that evangelize aggressively.
"I have no interest in being instructed in what I must do to be saved. I prefer vertical prayers, directed up toward heaven, rather than horizontal prayers, directed sideways toward me," he continued. "If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must regard their beliefs with the same respect our own deserve."
Yesterday afternoon I found out that ABC news plans to dedicate it programming today to "Hunger at Home: Crisis in America." It precipitated my writing of this post which I had planned to add as a later addition to a series on tools for prayer.
One important item in our prayer toolkit is knowledge of our hurting world. Not knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but knowledge that equips us to respond. Becoming aware of the needs in our world can lead us into a deeper understanding of the ache in God's heart for our hurting friends and neighbors. It can also connect us to our own self-centered indifference that often makes us complacent when God wants us to be involved. And it can stimulate us to respond to situations that we once felt indifferent to.
- Our prayers extend to the people of Norway. Lord, have mercy.
- The New York Times said it best. Today's weather "felt more like being licked by a big, swampy monster."
- Who wrote what? Rep. West vs. Jane Austen.
- These awesome folks turned Carmageddon into a dinner party.
You don't need a ton of proof to know that more and more churches are struggling to survive. It seems churches that are in this predicament have one of two options: revive or die. There are a lot of books, seminars, and workshops given on how to go about reviving a church. However, there is not one cookie cutter, full-proof, and effective strategy in reviving a church. Having said that, it doesn't mean that it is impossible. There are many examples of struggling churches that have successfully revived the congregation, increased the health of the church, and expanded their ministry.