Life is a Sweet Jubilee
Holy Saturday Prayer

God of life,

The body has been laid to rest.

The stone is in place.

The garden is silent.

In this time of in between,

  I sense a current of anticipation

  Lightly vibrating through the earth.

Help me to be watchful

    Faithfully waiting for what is to come.

The promise of new life …

     Of rebirth.

Not yet …

     But joy will come in the morning!

atrainticketaway:

marfmellow:

To All the Little Black Girls With Big Names (Dedicated to Quvenzhane’ Wallis)

A Good Friday Prayer

God of mercy,

I give you thanks for your child who became a living sacrifice.

I pray for the courage to be present in this day of sadness.

I cannot begin to comprehend the pain and brutality inflicted

     on our beloved Jesus.

I think about his final hours in agony,

     the grief of those gathered around him at the foot of the cross,

     and the fear of those of his friends who had fled.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a reminder of

     the most ugly and hateful parts of humanity.

As Jesus took all the world’s sin and pain

     into his hands and feet

     as the nails were driven into them,

 He still interceded

     asking for forgiveness

     for those who had tormented him.

I ask for your forgiveness

     for the ways that I continue to inflict pain

     on that which is holy to you.

I pray that in this day of prayer, mourning, and repentance  

     you might help me to know

     how to stand at the foot of the cross

     in ways that bring justice and mercy into your world.

Help me to offer a word of hope to those who might despair.

In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen

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Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.

John 19:26-27: Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother.

Matthew 27:46: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

John 19:28: I am thirsty.

John 19:30: It is… finished.

Luke 23:46: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

This image is from a window in the Kagawa Memorial Center, Kobe, Japan. Toyohiko Kagawa was a Christian activist who lived and ministered with the poor in Kobe, Japan in the early 1900’s.

Time to Repent: For Earth’s Sake

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As a self-identified tree hugger, one of my favorite hymns is How Great Thou Art!:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!

I love being out in nature and enjoying God’s creation. 

  • Watching the sun rise over the ocean,
  • walking barefoot in a field,
  • taking in the panoramic view at the top of a mountain,
  • listening to the rushing flow of a waterfall,
  • tasting the sweetness of a just picked strawberry

… these are awe inspiring to me. In these moments, I wonder how people can doubt there is a God when they experience the divine pleasure that is found in creation.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Garden of Gethsemane. In the place where Jesus is believed to have gone to pray before his arrest, stand olive trees with roots that are more than 2,300 years old. With branches full of olives these trees are grounded in the land and stand as a silent witness to all that has happened and continues to happen in Jerusalem even as they offer a simple presence of grace and peace. 

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 In contrast, in other parts of the Holy Land, I saw entire fields of olive trees that have been cut down by settlers who are trying to drive the Palestinian people off land that legally belongs to Palestinians. Seeing tree after tree cut down to a stump was so disheartening to me and devastating to the people who have now lost their livelihoods.

It breaks my heart how people abuse and destroy God’s creation – killing these living and life sustaining parts of our eco-system as a weapon against others.

And earlier this month, I read a terrifying article about a new climate change report. According to National Geographic,

“The world is not ready for the impacts of climate change, including more extreme weather and the likelihood that populated parts of the planet could be rendered uninhabitable, says the planet’s leading body of climate scientists in a major new UN report.”

The information doesn’t come as a huge surprise but the concreteness and immediacy of what we are doing to the earth is startling. This report will - I hope - serve as a wake-up call.  

We as humans have created a situation that not only is destroying God’s creation but also is threatening our own supplies of food and water. Our level of consumption and excess is directly impacting the ability of the earth to regenerate and nourish those who inhabit it.

Having received this report and understanding the implications, as people of faith, we are now responsible for turning it around.

In our work at the United Methodist Committee on Relief, we see the effects of this crisis in the increased number and severity of natural disasters, in the mass migration of people who are in search of food, and in conflicts that rise up among people fighting over limited natural resources.

Many people in the New York City area have experienced (and many still are experiencing) the impact first hand as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy came through our neighborhoods … and while the government’s billion dollar flood walls might add a layer of protection, they do not address the underlying destruction of God’s earth or prevent anymore super storms.

The extent of damage to the world is so enormous it might leave us feeling, in the words of Augustine of Hippo,

“The times are bad! The times are troublesome!”

Thankfully, he doesn’t leave it at that. St. Augustine goes on to remind us,

“But we are our times. Let us live well and our times will be good. Such as we are, such are our times.”

And while we are well into this season of Lent and perhaps are relieved to see an end in sight for our Lenten disciplines, it might be be wise to interpret this climate change report as a call to repent – not only for 40 days but to examine our very lifestyles for the long term both individually and as a church.

  • Instead of just trying to remember to recycle, what it would look like if we reduced the overall amount of waste we produce?
  • The question is no longer paper or plastic shopping bags but asking how can we purchase less to put in those reusable canvas bags.
  • Let’s not wonder if we can afford to buy organic produce. Why not figure out how to plant a community garden or invest in a community supported agriculture farm share? 

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As we become more intentional about living simply so that others may simply live, we release our attachment to that which is unnecessary. When we break our habits of coveting more “stuff,” we have an opportunity to deepen relationships with each other and with God.

Taking the focus off “things” helps to clarify what is truly important in our lives. We can begin to reconnect with the earth in new ways, appreciating these amazing resources that are entrusted to our care.

We are a faith community committed to justice. We recognize that we are connected to each other, to God, and to the earth. How can we make significant changes to live simply, share our excess with sisters and brothers, and take concrete and consistent steps to help nurse God’s creation back to good health?

Won’t it be a beautiful day when we are in a position to sing from Isaiah 55:12

For you shall go out in joy,
 and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
 shall burst into song,
 and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

May it be so. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

A Meditation by Melissa Hinnen, Church of the Village: April 2, 2014

 

Learning to Shout HOSANNA!

It felt so good on Sunday to process through the streets of New York City, waving our fair trade eco-palms, with my beautifully diverse and enthusiastic Church of the Village congregation. It was a witness that is much more public than many United Methodists or most New Yorkers are used to. I think progressive Christians are often sensitive about being perceived as imposing our beliefs on people. But also I think we might feel that public witness is often left to the crazy guy on the church corner waving his Bible and yelling about salvation and damnation.

A very bright  friend mentioned to me once that she “let it slip” to her boss something that her pastor had said. She was fearful that her boss would think that she was less intelligent or would have less respect for her because she is a church goer.

There is discomfort in our increasingly secular society – at least in New York City, about saying we are part of a faith community – let alone being able to express our faith. The Church has gotten a reputation for being judgmental, exclusive, and irrelevant. 

“I like your Christ,

I do not like your Christians.

Your Christians are so unlike your

Christ.”


― Mahatma Gandhi

While many progressive Christians are part of a movement to be more Christ-like, we don’t always have language to talk about Christianity in ways that are comfortable or fit a 21st century culture. As a result, we can become guarded and defensive or begin to compartmentalize our walk with God and our walk in the secular world.

Coming from that context, I was moved last week when a young Pakistani Christian couple came to visit our Board of Global Ministries meeting. In Pakistan, it can be dangerous and even illegal to practice Christianity. In September, a suicide bomber attacked the All Saints Church in Peshawar Pakistan. Among the dead were this couple’s two young children and the wife’s mother. Yet the couple’s faith is so strong that they still offer a testimony of God’s goodness and find comfort in knowing that their loved ones quite literally died for their relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

In this holy week we remember the ways that the disciples fell short by falling asleep in the garden and even denied friendship with Jesus. When we hide our faith rather than sharing the joy of our relationship with God and with each other through our Christ centered community, are we are acting like Peter who promised to stand by Jesus but ended up denying he even knew him?

The good news is that Peter who often seemed to miss the point of Jesus’ messages and then even denied Jesus three times, went on to be instrumental in the development of the early Church. Wherever we are in our journey, however we might stall; it is never too late to find new ways to boldly speak about our faith.

When we know who we are and whose we are, we can confidently grow in the embrace of God’s love and grace. When we minister with those who are living in poverty, care for God’s creation, fight to change unjust systems, and pray with those who are sick - in the name of Jesus Christ - we offer an invitation to others as we reclaim a faith tradition that is not always perceived as loving or life affirming.

In what ways during this Holy week can we share the Good News in a language and context that moves people to share their hosannas and extend an invitation to others to enter into God’s grace?