Tuesday, December 31, 2013

for the New Year

Happy new year - God's blessings to you all for 2014!

 New year prayers.004

New year prayers.003

I have a small grain of hope—
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.

I need more.

I break off a fragment
to send you.

Please take
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won't shrink.

Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.

Only so, by division,
will hope increase,

like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source—
clumsy and earth-covered—

of grace.

(For the new year, by Denise Levertov, 1981)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Congratulations to Deaconess Sarah Johnson

Photo: Rejoicing in the consecration of Sarah Johnson as a deaconess of the Lutheran Deaconess Association. We are so proud of you Sarah! Congratulations! 

Sarah was consecrated as a deaconess of the Lutheran Deaconess Association (LDA) in December 2013. Congratulations!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Vale, Nelson Mandela, Madiba.


All around the world people feel the loss of Nelson Mandela.

(Read his speech here that he made from the dock at the opening of his trial on the charge of sabotage, Supreme Court of South Africa, Pretoria, April 20, 1964)

US President Barack Obama
eulogized him as “a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.” Speaking shortly after South African President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela’s death, Obama called the man for so long known as Prisoner 46664 as “one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth. We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again — so it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love, to never discount the difference that one person can make, to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.”

Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has released a prayer for former president Nelson Mandela:

Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world,
in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you.
Go home Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God’s people.
We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper

At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with Nelson Mandela's family, and for the nation of South Africa mourning his loss as 'father of the nation'. His passing will also have a profound impact on diaconal brothers and sisters in South Africa (Methodist Diaconal Order), and in other parts of Africa, for whom Nelson Mandela was an example and inspiration, and  we hold them all in our thoughts and prayers.

Members of DIAKONIA World Federation in Africa
Cameroon - Communauté de l'Emmanuel
Egypt: The Coptic Orthodox Community The Daughters of St. Mary
Kenya: National Deaconess Association of ELCK
Madagascar: Fiaraha Miaima Amim Bavaka MAMRE FJKM Mamre Community
Malawi: Churches of Christ in Malawi
Nigeria: Deaconess Order Methodist Church Nigeria
Rwanda: Communaut√© des Diaconesses “Abaja bakristo” Rubengera
South Africa: The Methodist Diaconal Order
Tanzania: DAYOSIS YA KASKAZINI Ushirika Wa Diaconia Faraja
Tanzania: KARAGWE Diocese Umoja Wa Masister, TumshubireNamarila Mother House E.L.C.T.-HWD
Zambia: Deaconesses of the United Church of Zambia



Independence Day, Finland (December 6th)

Finland is a republic which became independent on December 6th, 1917.

Terttu Pohjolainen (Ev. Lutheran Church of Finland) posted on Facebook DIAKONIA:

"Today is the 96th Independence Day of my country, Finland. In the evening we have two candles in the windows of our homes".

The church celebrated with an ecumenical service in the Dom Church of Helsinki.

The students and war veterans laid a wreath at the Heroes' Memorial at Hietaniemi Cemetery at 17, which was followed by a traditional torchlight march from the cemetery to the Senate Square.

Terttu adds, 'We are so happy to have peace in our country'.
A brief history includes these facts about Finland:  
In 1155, the first missionaries arrived in Finland from Sweden, and Finland became part of the Swedish realm.
In 1809, Sweden surrendered Finland to Russia. The Czar declared Finland a semi-autonomous Grand Duchy with himself as constitutional monarch represented by a governor general.
In 1917, Finland declares independence from Russia on December 6. The new state is first recognized by the Soviet Union, France, Germany and Sweden.
In 1919, the present constitution was adopted and Finland became a republic with a president as head of state.
In 1939-1940, the Soviet Union attacks Finland and the Winter War is fought.
In 1941-1944, fighting between Finnish and Russian forces resumed in the campaign known as the Continuation War. A massive offensive by Soviet forces in summer 1944 forced the Finns to sue for peace. Some territory was ceded to the Soviet Union but Finland was never occupied and preserved its independence and sovereignty.
In 1955, Finland joined the United Nations.
In 1995, Finland became a member of the European Union. 

We join in grateful thanks for the peace that exists in Finland.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dec 3 - International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This celebration, created by the United Nations, seeks to celebrate the over one billion people worldwide living with some kind of disability. Disability is so natural, that this number equals 15% or more of the total population of the world. We don’t celebrate disability, but the ability that is hidden within, and makes uniquely able all of those who live with a disability. Pause to remember those who are as whole in their human identity as everyone else, but can find themselves treated as lesser beings.

A prayer for all God's people
Let us pray for all God’s people. For people who are blind and cannot see, and for those who can see but are blind to people around them.
Lord, in your mercy help us touch each other.

For people who move slowly because of accident, illness, or disability, and for those who move too fast to be aware of the world in which they live.
Lord, in your mercy help us work together.
For people who are deaf and cannot hear, and for those who can hear but who ignore the cries of others
Lord, in your mercy help us respond to each other.

For people who learn slowly, for people who learn in different ways, and for people who learn quickly and easily but often choose ignorance
Lord, in your mercy help us grow in your wisdom.

For people who have chronic illness for which there is no known cure or relief, and for people who live in unholy fear of developing a chronic illness.
Lord, in your mercy help us and heal us.
For families, friends, and caregivers who serve people with disabilities, and for those who feel awkward in their presence
Lord, in your mercy help us see each other with your eyes.

For people who think they are worthless and beyond your love, and for people who think they don’t need your love,
Lord, in your mercy help us accept your love.

For people who feel isolated by their disabilities, and for people who contribute to that sense of isolation
Lord, in your mercy change our lives.

For all the people in your creation, that we may learn to respect each other and learn how to live together in your peace
Lord, in your mercy bind us together.


Kate Chipps, adapted by Ginny Thornburgh

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955, after a long day's work at a Montgomery department store, where she worked as a seamstress, Rosa Parks boarded the bus for home. She took a seat in the first of several rows designated for "colored" passengers. Though the city's bus ordinance did give drivers the authority to assign seats, it didn't specifically give them the authority to demand a passenger to give up a seat to anyone (regardless of color). However, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the custom of requiring black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers, when no other seats were available. If the black passenger protested, the bus driver had the authority to refuse service and could call the police to have them removed. As the bus Rosa was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. He stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row and asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three complied, but Rosa refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, "Why don't you stand up?" to which Rosa replied, "I don't think I should have to stand up." The driver called the police and had her arrested. Later, Rosa recalled that her refusal wasn't because she was physically tired, but that she was tired of giving in.

Her story has inspired many to non-violent ways to seek change.

Walter Brueggeman reflects on this remarkable woman (p.151 Prayers for a Privileged People):

Rosa is dead....but not forgotten!
Rosa is dead....but remembered.
Remembered by us here as a witness to your truth.
Remembered by those who have sat too long at the back of the bus,
and now have moved forward a couple of rows but still have no free ride.
Remembered by
     those accustomed to sitting up front,
     those who have begun repentance that is still unfinished
     those so in control that relinquishment is not easy and mostly done with a grudge.
Rose is dead....but remembered,
     to be retold after and long among us,
     retold because the tale we tell of her is an item in your large story
          of freedom,
          of justice,
          of resurrection,
          of transformation,
          and finally - not too soon - forgiveness.
As we remember Rosa, we recall your big story
     in which we are situated -
     the wonder of the sea miracle,
     the miracle of homecoming from exile,
     the astonishment of Easter emancipation.
We remember the day the hills danced in resurrection and the waters answered in new creation.
We remember.....and so we hope,
for your new miracles so urgently awaited,
miracles of redemption and release,
of still more back-of-the-bus people brought to newness.
We give thanks for Rosa and Martin and Nelson and Desmond
and all those who have trusted your goodness.
Let us walk in Rosa's parade, which is a segment of your Easter parade.
In remembering and in hoping, open us to your new world that is coming soon - even now!