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Sojourners Verse and Voice – 18 March 2021

Verse of the day   Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2she
Voice of the day 
True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. – Arthur Ashe
Prayer of the day  
O God, we pray that you would cultivate within us a soul that finds joy in our service to others. May we always have eyes that see the needs of our communities and the will to strive to meet them.

Pace e Bene – 2 October 2022

image and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene

“Violence produces only something resembling justice, but it distances people from the possibility of living justly, without violence.”—Leo Tolstoy

Living Out Our Faith – A World Communion Sunday Reflection

The Communion Table at Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado in 2017. Denise created this beautiful offering for World Communion Sunday that year.

This Sunday is both the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost and World Communion Sunday. In the Presbyterian Church (USA) the denomination receives a special offering called the “Peace and Global Witness” offering on World Communion Sunday. This offering, according to the Presbyterian Mission Agency encourages the church to cast off anxiety and fear, discord and division, and embrace our God’s mission of reconciliation to those around the corner and around the world. ( )

The Gospel reading for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost is Luke 17:5-10. Perhaps the most well-known portion of that reading is Jesus’ comment—The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ The Lord replied, If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you (verses 5-6) One might wonder why the apostles asked the Lord to increase their faith. 

In the passages leading up to today’s lesson, Jesus had been teaching the disciples some hard lessons about discipleship and putting God first. It’s no wonder that they were feeling a bit overwhelmed and wanted to make sure they were prepared for the work they were being called to do. His story about the mustard seed Jesus was teaching that it wasn’t about how much faith you have, but rather living your life out of that faith. It reminds me of a quote attributed to Mother Teresa—Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. It’s about how we live our lives each day.

Using the example of a servant or slave, Jesus instructed the disciples that following his commandments to love and forgive wasn’t something special that deserves an award. Living a life of service in his name is an essential part of the calling of a Christ-follower. In the lectionary commentary, Preaching God’s Transforming Justice, Joseph R, Jeter, Jr, says the following about living such a life of service in relationship to World Communion Sunday. 

On World Communion Sunday (the first Sunday in October), congregations across the world partake of Communion. Someone has described the sacred table on this day as 25,000 miles long. In our fragmented world, in which groups often relate with suspicion and violence and even try to destroy one another, the churches of the world coming together to break the loaf and drink the cup is a sign of God’s intention for all people to live together in love, peace, and justice… Worldwide Communion Sunday begins on the other side of the International Date Line, so that the observance starts first on Sunday morning in the churches of the Tonga Islands, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Australia, and so on towards the West during the twenty-four hours of the day… In a time when there is so much disunity, here is an opportunity to witness in a broken world to an unbroken Christian fellowship. (Preaching God’s Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary, Year C, p. 417) ( )

These words especially hit very close to home for me: In our fragmented world, in which groups often relate with suspicion and violence and even try to destroy one another, the churches of the world coming together to break the loaf and drink the cup is a sign of God’s intention for all people to live together in love, peace, and justice. I believe that these words speak to the current national and world environment. Far too often we are so busy erecting barriers and dividing people into “us” versus “them” that we forget what we were created to be and, in whose image, we were created. We cannot love our God unless we love our neighbor, and we cannot fully love our neighbor unless we love ourselves.

Part of the faith community’s responsibility is to build bridges of love, justice, mercy, and peace in a broken world. Until we celebrate the unity that is found in the midst of our diversity, we will not be living out the calling to be disciples and followers of Jesus.

In his Alaskan Journal (p. 308), Thomas Merton wrote about communion, and unity. The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words. It is beyond speech. It is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity, but we discover an old unity. ( )

My prayer for this World Communion Sunday is that we can discover that old unity which is found in the love of God and love of neighbor just as Jesus taught so long ago. Then we will realize that it isn’t about the greatness of our faith or tossing mulberry trees into the ocean but rather it is about living our faith by humbly serving God and one another.

Sabbath – Christine Valters Paintner

“Sabbath is an antidote to the system of anxiety we so often find ourselves trapped in. . . . Sabbath invites us into an experience of time outside of time and in that eternal moment anxiety dissipates and slips away.” 

— Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, Sacred Time: Embracing an Intentional Way of Life

When can you set aside some Sabbath time in your life this week?

Pace e Bene – 30 September 2022

image and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene

“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”—Jeannette Rankin

Sojourners Verse and Voice – 29 September 2022

Verse of the day
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you, but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.

– Matthew 20:25-26

Voice of the day
Yet the mark of power rightly stewarded is that those with power enable everyone around them to flourish.

– Katelyn Beaty, Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church (2022) 

Prayer of the day
Jesus, you did not consider equality with God something to be grasped; may we steward our platforms in ways that empower those around us.

Pace e Bene – 28 September 2022

image and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene

“To replace the old paradigm of war with a new paradigm of waging peace, we must be pioneers who can push the boundaries of human understanding. We must be doctors who can cure the virus of violence. We must be soldiers of peace who can do more than preach to the choir. And we must be artists who will make the world our masterpiece.”—Paul K. Chappell

Discernment – Christine Valters Paintner

“Discernment is essentially a way of listening to our lives and the world around us and responding to the invitations that call us into deeper alignment with our soul’s deep desires and the desires God has for us.” 

— Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred

What invitations do you hear in the world around you?

Pace e Bene – 27 September 2022

image and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene

“Why is it so easy for us to be willing to pick up arms and risk our lives, and so difficult to put down those same weapons and still risk our lives – in the cause of life?”—Ramzi Kysia, a young Muslim-American peace activist

Pace e Bene – 26 September 2022

image and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene

“When we believe in the impossible, it becomes possible, and we can do all kinds of extraordinary things.”—Madeleine L’Engle

Pace e Bene – 25 September 2022

image and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene

“I will not tire of declaring that if we really want an effective end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, repression. All this is what constitutes the primal cause, from which the rest flows naturally.”—Oscar Romero