Followers

Friday, November 22, 2019

Ecumenical prayer cycle - Indonesia and Philippines

This week's ecumenical prayer cycle (World Council of Churches) includes a focus on Indonesia and the Philippines (17-23 Nov). We remember our diaconal sisters in the Philippines and in Indonesia, and hold them in prayer.

We are thankful for:
* the vital witness of churches in this region
* the diversity of ethnicities, cultures and religious beliefs, and especially those in Indonesia who have built bridges between them
* those who protest exploitative mining, deforestation and other environmental damage.
(did you know that deforestation is the greatest risk factor for orang-utans, and that suitable habitat for them has declined in Indonesia and Malaysia by 80% in the last 20 years)
* those who have resisted bravely and worked for human rights, justice, peace and reconciliation, especially the National Council of Churches in the Philippines
(note: recently the Duterte Government in the Philippines named the National Council of Churches in the Philippines as a front for local communist terror groups. The government action has been widely condemned by Christian leaders globally including the Uniting Church in Australia, with the heads of the Christian Conference of Asia and the World Council of Churches speaking out against the listing.  In a statement by the Episcopal Church, Bishop Rex Reyes said “The trail blazing efforts of the NCCP for peace and justice in this country is an open book. 1 am proud to say that among the councils of churches worldwide the NCCP is yet reckoned as a vibrant, enduring, leading and recognised ecumenical formation. This is so because the NCCP sees its life and work from the perspective of the vulnerable, oppressed and marginalised.” He went on to highlight corruption in high places and said: “There is nothing wrong when Christians point out that there is so much corruption… What is wrong, if not downright subversive, is when a mindset that kills, persecutes and name calls suppresses those who espouse principled dissent and activism. One should know how principled dissent and activism have made this world more peaceful and just. … What is right is standing up for human rights, justice and peace. I stand with the NCCP.”

We pray for:
* governments in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste, that they will eradicate corruption, establish justice and peace, and work effectively for the wellbeing of all their people
* victims of violence, torture, drug and human trafficking, and human rights violations, that those responsible might be held accountable
* all those affected by earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters, and for the rebuilding of communities afterwards
* ecumenical and interfaith cooperation to bring justice, peace and sustainability to these lands.


Saturday, November 16, 2019

DIAKONIA World Executive - meeting in Neuendettelsau

The DIAKONIA World Executive is currently meeting in Neuendettelsau, Germany, for its annual meeting. As well, DRAE have changed their domicile from Switzerland to Germany.


On Thursday night, the Executive was invited to Heilsbronn, and the old monastery (500 years old) and the Cistercian Church, where 3 singers led us around a candle lit church, explaining the history and offering music at each point.

In the monastery chapel
chapel
The 3 singers in the Cistercian Church 
Candlelit church
On Thursday the Executive Committee wore the Thursdays in Black badges.
Marianne Uri Overland, DRAE President

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Gwen Sayler

Held in the loving embrace of God
Today we received this very sad and unexpected news about Gwen Sayler's passing. Gwen will be known by those in the DIAKONIA World Federation who attended the Chicago Assembly where she led the Bible Studies. Please uphold our friends in the Lutheran Diaconal Association, who will be in such grief and shock.


A message from Deaconess Lisa Scherzer Polito
In sure and certain hope of the resurrection
It is with great sadness that I tell you of the death of our beloved sister Gwen Sayler.  This morning she left Jan Janzow's after the Centennial weekend.  She stopped at a McDonald's near Madison, WI, and was staggering as she was leaving and an ambulance was called.  There was still a faint heart-beat but they were not able to resuscitate her.
Gwen was consecrated as a deaconess in 1971 in the Valparaiso Lutheran deaconess community, and was ordained in the ELCA in 1982. She lived in Americas masterpiece on the Mississippi, metro Dubuque, Iowa.  Tonight I'm with Louise Williams, Karen Melang and Phyllis Kersten.  We are remembering, laughing and crying together.
Deaconess Lisa Scherzer Polito
Executive Director
Lutheran Diaconal Association

A message from Louise Williams (to the Wartburg Theological College community where Gwen served as a Distinguished Professor of Hebrew Bible)

From: Office of the President <OfficeofthePresident@wartburgseminary.edu>
Sent: Monday, November 11, 2019 6:50 PM

Dear Wartburg Community,

We have sad and unexpected news to share.  This afternoon, we received news of the death of our beloved colleague, teacher, and friend, The Rev. Dr. Gwen Sayler.

In this time of grief, we draw near to God who is the source of all life and hope. And we draw near to one another as we grieve, remember, celebrate, and hold fast to the resurrection promise. Please hold Gwen’s family and all who grieve her loss in your prayers, as we hold the whole Wartburg Theological College Community in prayer this night.

We will release a public statement as we know more information about arrangements.  If you have questions or concerns, please contact the President’s Office.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of all mercy and the God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our sorrows so that we can comfort others in their sorrows with the consolation we ourselves have received from God”
Evangelical Lutheran Worship

God’s peace be with you,

The Rev. Louise Johnson                                       The Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan
President                                                                  Academic Dean

E Louise Williams
Part-time Adjunct Instructor of Theology, Valparaiso University
Executive Director Emeritus, Lutheran Deaconess Association
Former President, DIAKONIA World Federation of Diaconal Associations and Communities


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Congratulations Kristi!

Congratulations to the Rev. Deacon Kristi Neal, who received the Distinguished Diocesan Service Award at Convention Nov 2019! Kristi is in a ministry placement at St James Episcopal Church, Black Mountain, NC. You can hear a recent sermon here or read one here.
(Original post on Episcopal Diocese of WNC - Western North Carolina Facebook page)



Saturday, November 9, 2019

Fires in Australia, California....

Devastating bushfires are impacting communities in Queensland and New South Wales in Australia. There are also huge wildfires in California. In the European summer, Northern Spain faced its largest forest fires in two decades as the heat wave across much of Europe wreaked havoc. The lack of rain, and the escalating temperatures, mean things are tinder dry. Whether deliberately lit, or a result of lightning strikes, fires are exhausting firefighters and volunteers struggling to bring the fires under control.
The multiple fires in New South Wales (Australia) can be seen from space. The Rural Fire Service in NSW said firefighters were in "uncharted territory" and at the peak of the crisis, a record 17 blazes burned simultaneously at emergency level. More than 50 other blazes across NSW remain out of control.The property loss is substantial, with house after house in some places burnt to the ground.
Mid-Coast Council Mayor David West said, “I’m looking out of my office window and all I see is what I’m assuming people in London saw during the Second World War — it’s a horrible, horrible sight".
Climate change, or climate acceleration, is playing a part in the dramatic increase in fires, and needs to be addressed by global leaders. Recently, 11,000 scientists endorsed a global 'climate emergency' declaration, based on an analysis of more than 40 years of data on measures such as population, surface temperature, carbon emissions and deforestation.

New South Wales fires seen from space
Our prayers are with families and communities, the fire fighters and emergency workers, for those living with the reality of property loss.

What cannot be said will be wept (a quote attributed to Sappho)
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record? (Psalm 56: 8)
O God, when words fail
hear our weeping.
Hear our weeping,
treasure our tears,
answer our cry. Amen.
(Source: Rev Gal Blog Pals website)

When Human Voices Cannot Sing
1. When human voices cannot sing
and human hearts are breaking,
we bring our grief to you, O God
who knows our inner aching.

2. Set free our spirits from all fear –
the cloud of dark unknowing,
and let the light, the Christ-light show
the pathway of our going.
(Words: Shirley Murray,  (*v 3&4 omitted); tune: St Columba 8.7.8.7)

We pray for those affected – for courage, strength, patience, resilience and hope, to face the days and weeks and months ahead, even when the story no longer has media attention.
We give thanks for firefighters and emergency service personnel, police officers and ambulance officers, who work together to fight the wildfire and support residents.
We pray for those who must undertake the grim search for those who have died...
We pray for those who have lost homes when this fire took all in its path - homes of the rich and famous, and ordinary people who have invested their savings into their homes.
In amongst the grief, anger, loss and confusion, and unspeakable sorrow, we give thanks that so many people of goodwill are offering practical support in this time of great need.
We give thanks that the God we know in Jesus Christ journeys with us and remains with us all the days of our life, even through the dark valleys and times of sorrow and lament. Amen.
(Rev Cathie Lambert, 2011, adapted)

A Prayer for all those affected by the bush fires in New South Wales and Queensland.
Loving God, our hearts are joined with the trials and sufferings of all affected by the bush fires. Protect those in the path of danger. Open the pathway of evacuation. Help loved ones to find one another in the chaos. Provide assistance to those who need help. Where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Ease the fears of all and make your presence known in the stillness of your peace.
O God, we commend to your loving keeping, all who work to bring rescue and relief, especially the firefighters, police, paramedics, medical personnel, and volunteers, – all who are helping. Give them courage in danger, skill in difficulty, and compassion in service. Sustain them with bodily strength and calmness of mind that they may perform their work to the well-being of those in need so that lives may be saved and communities restored.
Loving Lord, we come to you trusting in your mercy and knowing that your steadfast love endures forever. Comfort those who have been harmed or displaced by this disaster. Grant them your strength to meet the days ahead. Allow them to experience your peace, and grant them hope to face the future. Move in those who are able to give aid, that we may be your hands and heart on the earth.

Prayer adapted from Lutheran Disaster Response, Upstate NY

the view from the kitchen sink

fires advancing on a nursing home

the beach.... Port Macquarie

the sky turns orange
God, we know that you kindle
hearts and not bush,
and that you walk with us
into the deepest fires
as you did in the long-ago Bible story
of the three faithful ones,

This day we ask for your grace,
your courage, and your strength
to surround all those
who are fighting the bush fires
in New South Wales and Queensland.

Give comfort
to those who grieve loss of life.
Give hope of rebuilding
to those whose farms are destroyed,
and homes are demolished.
Give ease of fear
for children whose schools
have burned or closed for danger.
Hold in tenderness
those who count the losses
of more than three hundred koalas.

In dry bush and high wind, O Holy One,
whisper your word of peace.
Amen.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

DOTAC gathering, Aug 14-20 2019

The DOTAC (DIAKONIA of the Americas and the Caribbean) gathering takes place in Vancouver from August 14-20th. Please remember them in your prayers, and the Regional President Diaconal Minister Ted Dodd, and Vice President Jan Cherry as they and the DOTAC Board offer leadership.

Sandy is writing up her reflections on her ‘travel blog’ if you’re interested in following along. Also photos are being posted on the DOTAC Facebook page.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

The DIAKONIA Asia Pacific (DAP) regional assembly is ready to welcome Deacons and Deaconesses from the region, including New Zealand, Australia (Anglican Deacons and Uniting Church Deacons), deaconesses from Indonesia, India, Philippines, and the deaconesses from the host country, Fiji. It begins formally on Monday 8th and finishes on Friday 12th July.
We will be staying at the Wailoaloa Beach Resort, Nadi, a comfortable budget venue located only 3 km from Nadi International Airport and Nadi Town. And a swimming pool and gym, which will be wonderful. There's also a free afternoon for exploring Nadi Town.
t will be great to meet the Fijian Deaconesses of the Methodist Church, and those from DAP who are able to attend. And some of us involved in preparing for the DIAKONIA World Assembly in Darwin in 2021 will be putting our heads down to do some more planning work.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Climate change

This morning at the DRAE Assembly we are focused on Global Climate change. This is no mere theoretical discussion. Very mindful that in Chennai, India’s sixth largest city, millions of people are running out of water. The reservoirs that have traditionally supplied Chennai are nearly all dry, leaving the city suffering from an acute water shortage. Water is being brought in to Chennai neighborhoods in trucks. Every day, hundreds of thousands of residents have no choice but to stand in line for hours in soaring summer temperatures, filling dozens of cans and plastic containers.
With supplies strictly rationed, many wealthier families have taken to relying on expensive private water tankers. Although the municipal body has worked to prioritize low income households, residents who book government water tankers could still wait up to a month.
Droughts in India are an annual problem but this year’s water shortage has coincided with a fatal nationwide heatwave. Only a quarter of Indian households have drinking water at home, and about 200,000 people die each year from inadequate supply or water contamination.
We pray for our diaconal sisters in India - for their families, and the communities in which they serve.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Resilience:God's Mission in Difficult Times

"Missional Voices" national gathering was held 13th-15th June in New Orleans. The theme was 'Resilience: God's Mission in Difficult Times'. There are so many conferences addressing this kind of theme, and it's great for Deacons and Deaconesses to contribute to the conversation.
There were 5 Deacons attending this particular meeting from the Association for Episcopal Deacons: Elaine Gant Clements (Louisiana), Lois Rayner Maberry (Western Louisiana), Brenda Gilbert (Western NC) L Sue Von Rautenkranz (Washington), and Maureen Hagen (Oregon).
Downloads of some of the presentations can be found on this page (scroll down). 

DRAE Assembly

The DRAE (DIAKONIA Region Africa Europe) Assembly is to take place in Scotland, 19th to 24th June. The theme is 'For such a time as this' (Esther 4.14). The venue is the Queen Margaret University, Musselburg, Edinburgh. John Bell has been invited to present on the theme.
It is wonderful that 185 participants from 16 countries have registered.
Prayers for the DRAE ExCo, and the planners and hosts for the DRAE Assembly.
Edinburgh castle
A prayer by the Church of Scotland Diaconate in the last hours before the Assembly begins.
Let us pray for guidance & wisdom:
Lord Jesus, you came to serve,
not to be served,
form within us your generous spirit;
Fill us with your love,
that we may love the Father
as you love him.
Fill us with your compassion,
that we may see our brothers and sisters
as you see them.
Fill us with your courage,
that we may give our lives in service to the Church
as you gave your life for all your children.
Fill us with that Spirit
which will make us
preachers of your Word,
ministers of service ,
servants of your Bride,
friends of the poor,
and a voice of the forgotten.
Transform us through your Holy Spirit
so that we may transform the world into
your Kingdom of justice and faith.
Amen.
Fr. Benedict D. O'Cinnsealaigh
(Adapted)

Friday, January 25, 2019

Palestine and Israel - Veneable Dr Pamela Nesbit's visit

I am enjoying seeing Pamela Nesbit's photos on Facebook with her visit to Israel and Palestine as part of a peacemaking pilgrimage with the Lombard Mennonite Peace Fellowship. The Venerable Dr Pamela Nesbit is the Archdeacon Emerita of the Diocese of Pennsylvania and Vice-President of DOTAC.

I love this photo of Pamela celebrating communion wtih Fr Michael Fincher at the Ecce Home church in Jerusalem.


She writes about her experience in Jerusalem: "This is such a small city, with many people coming home here to be close to their God. Across the differences in face and feature and clothing and head covering you see people with so many expressions of faith and languages in which to express them. The one thing we all have in common is passion. All this religious and ethnic passion squeezed into one sacred place feels like a teapot on the boil. Here, more than any place I have ever been, it seems clear to me that humankind has a choice. We can either embrace our tribal differences and hate and destroy one another. Or we can see and love all these differences as expressions of our essential oneness and love one another. Here in this beautiful city there is no other way. I am inexpressibly grateful for having been able see Jerusalem. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem".

While it is a very long time since I have been to Israel and Palestine, I am deeply connected through the EAPPI program - Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel, a program of the World Council of Churches. At the end of January 2019 I will spend a few days as part of the national training team for the next group of EAPPI volunteers in Australia.

Sabeel 'Wave of Prayer' for 24th January 2019
The Great March of Return continued on Friday, the 18th of January. Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) reported that 45 children have been killed in Gaza since March 30th.
Lord, we pray for a breakthrough in the peace talks and an end to this pitiless siege of Gaza. Comfort those families who have lost children and cast your protecting grace over all children in Gaza. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
Riyad al-Malki, the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Palestinian Authority, stated that this year Palestine will assume the presidency of the Group of 77 and China, to negotiate development issues in the U.N. Palestine has been a non-member observer state in the U.N. since 2012. It intends to re-submit its application for full membership of the U.N. at the end of this year’s mandate.
Dear Lord, we pray for strength and steadfastness for those working in organisations like the U.N., who devote their lives to challenging injustice and oppression. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
Students have been returning to school after their mid-year vacation. Many pupils in the occupied territories face obstacles to their access to education. Some students experience abuse from Israeli settlers on their way to and from school, others face delays at checkpoints, while others are subjected to frequent searches on their school bus journeys.
Lord, we pray for the students as they go back to school, that they would continue to value their education. For those who face further difficulties, may they find the determination to complete their studies and use their qualifications to help their local communities. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
Human Rights Watch criticised the Palestinian Authority for restricting online freedom of speech and arresting dissidents.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that when you came into the world, we received your grace and truth, (John 1:17). Help us to stand firm and challenge the suppression of truth by those in authority. Lord in your mercy…hear our prayers.
On Sunday, the 13th of January, a group of Israeli settlers destroyed nearly a thousand tree saplings in Burqa, west of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. The saplings were being cultivated to transform the land around Burqa into a nature reserve.
Lord, we pray that these frequent acts of vandalism by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank would cease. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
This week Kumi Now focuses on the work of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, (PASSIA) and Israel’s violations of international law in East Jerusalem. The Kumi Now action asks you to write to your local politicians, challenging them to hold the Israeli government to account for the human rights abuses it perpetrates on Palestinians.
Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, you will establish your kingdom with justice and righteousness, (Isaiah 9:6-7). Help us to pray in faith for those who seek to address injustice and to speak truth to those who govern us. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
We join with the World Council of Churches in their prayers for the countries of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.






Friday, January 11, 2019

Whole and Reconciled: Gospel, Church, and Mission in a Fractured World

Whole and Reconciled : Gospel, Church, and Mission in a Fractured World
By (author) Al Tizon
Foreward by Ruth Padilla deBorst, Afterword by Ronald J. Sider
Releaased October 2018

The ministry of reconciliation is the new whole in holistic ministry. It must be if the Christian mission is to remain relevant in our increasingly fractured world. This book offers a fresh treatment of holistic ministry that takes the role of reconciliation seriously, rethinking the meaning of the gospel, the nature of the church, and the practice of mission in light of globalization, post-Christendom, and postcolonialism. It also includes theological and practical resources for effectively engaging in evangelism, compassion and justice, and reconciliation ministries.

Chapters topics include:
Globalisation:Mission in a reconfigured world
Post-Christendom:De-centered church and multi-directional mission
Post-Colonialism: Post-colonial mission or bust
Gospel of the Kingdom: The Reconciliation of all Things
Church of the Trinity: Community, Diversity and Reconciliation
Spirituality of Mission: The Church in the Power of the Spirit
Reconciliation and the Great Commission: Peacemaking as Mission

In an interview with Christine Sine, on Godspace, the author Al Tizon says:
"The reality of the increasing fragmentation of the world via racism, ethnocentrism, nationalism, tribalism, religiously-motivated violence, as well as senseless violence made me reflect much on the renewed need to see peace and reconciliation as central to the gospel. And the question that inspired the writing was, “Is the church at all in position to bear witness to the good news of peace and reconciliation in Christ in a fragmented and fragmenting world?” I know it is called to be peacemakers and reconcilers, but is it in a position to be so? If not, what must we do to realign ourselves in the Spirit to become what we have been called to be?"

"Peacemaking cannot be relegated to the periphery. It cannot just be the task of pacifist Christians. It cannot be seen as the domain of only those on the left, vegan, Birkenstock fringe. Kingdom peacemaking must be front and center for the whole church as it lives out the Great Commission in the world".

On the decentering of the church, he says:
"The church of the center, that is, a church that shares in the dominant power structure of society, is what is called Christendom. Part of what it means to be living in a post-Christendom world is that the church has been involuntarily pushed out of the center. As such, it has lost its privileged position and has found itself on the margins of society, bereft of the power to inform and shape as it once had. What I’m describing, however, is only the Euro- or white church; churches of color and churches that have emerged from traditionally missionary-receiving countries have never “enjoyed” the center. Black and brown churches have always been on the margins. In a post-Christendom age black, brown, and white churches are all on the margins together, giving us the opportunity to be truly the global mosaic of God’s people serving the poor, proclaiming good news to the lost, and speaking truth to power".

On peacemaking:
"Peacemaking is a non-negotiable of the gospel; it always has been. Our fragmented and fragmenting world simply helps us to see the truth of that. The first step in practicing or making peace in the world is to root out the prejudice, hatred, and violence in our own hearts. As I developed in the book, before reconciliation is a theology, a missiology, or a strategy, it is first and foremost a spirituality. People whose hearts are becoming whole and reconciled in Christ can alone be agents of Christ’s peace and reconciliation in the world. So, practically, let us be a people cultivating hearts of peace as an absolutely necessary step to becoming global peacemakers. Secondly, let us be a people who demonstrate that the peace of Christ works, that it can break down walls between women and men; rich and poor; this tribe and that tribe; and black, brown and white peoples. Let us strive in the Spirit to be the all-tribes-and-nations church today as a signpost of what Revelation 7 depicts in God’s future. Efforts toward a multi-ethnic, multi-tribal, multi-national church demonstrate to the world that peace and reconciliation are possible. Beyond these, I outline six principles in ch. 11 - a heart of peace; the power of relationship; vulnerable dialogue; healing through repentance, forgiveness, and lament; the work of justice; and a commitment to nonviolence - that I believe need to be operational for peace to have a chance in any given conflict. This is peacemaking as mission".

Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Year - welcome to 2019

God the eternal rock is with us,
From year’s beginning to its end,
In hard times and in good,
God is with us from year’s beginning to its end.
God almighty is faithful,
Present in each day and every moment,
Drawing close in every act and deed,
God is faithful through all eternity.
God is trustworthy,
Yesterday, today and forever,
Sustaining, enlivening, making all things new,
God the eternal rock is with us this day and evermore.
(Source: Ray Simpson, from ‘Celtic Blessings’)

Let us continue to uphold each other in the joys and sorrows, celebrations and disappointments. In all things, God is with us, sustaining and empowering us to share in God's ministry and mission in the world.