Thursday, June 18, 2020

World Council of Churches Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Tanzania and Kenya

The WCC Ecumenical Prayer Cycle focusses on Tanzania and Kenya, 21-27th June.
(Our day of prayer for DIAKONIA is on the 26th of each month)

There is a Deaconess Association in Kenya, part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. And there are 4 associations in Tanzania, all connected with the Lutheran Church in Tanzania. As part of your prayers, consider writing or emailing to say you're praying for their association and their ministry. Let's stay connected in our prayers and ministry.
(Really interesting to find out more about the Associations. Still scouting around for some more. I hope you enjoy reading, learning - and then praying for our sisters and brothers in Kenya and Tanzania). 
Please click on the link for more information, and prayers, on this post. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Prayers for Zambia

The World Council of Churches Ecumenical Prayer Cycle this week (June 14-20) includes Zambia, where there is a DIAKONIA member association - Deaconesses of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ).

The UCZ is the largest Protestant church in Zambia with coverage of all the ten provinces of the country The church formed in 1965 as a result of the union of 5 churches including the Church of Central Africa, Rhodesia (a mission work of the Church of Scotland). The Deaconesses of the UCZ are a vibrant group of women serving their communities through community development and practical support. In April 2018, 3 more Diaconal workers were Commissioned at the Diakonia Centre in Kabwe. In total there are about 50 UCZ Deaconesses.

The context for ministry is challenging. General Secretary of the United Church of Zambia, Rev Dr Peggy Kabonde, said in a statement in 2019 that she observed with serious concern the levels of animosity and violence in the country. The Church urged all Zambians to embrace unity, tolerance and patriotism as critical values and virtues for co-existence. She emphasised that violence and attitudes that promotes tension and divisions should not be condoned at any cost. The church urged the general public to unity and to grab every opportunity that promotes peace and unity for the well-being of Zambia. Nevertheless, this year 2020 has seen fresh violence, with ritual killings, gassing and mob violence resulting in the loss of innocent lives. The UCZ has condemned this in the strongest terms.

Human trafficking and modern day slavery is an issue in Zambia that is dehumanizing, commodifying and stripping of a person’s God-given human dignity. The UCZ has called on religious and political leaders to take appropriate measures to protect vulnerable groups in Zambia whether they were a source, in transit or have reached their destination.
Deaconess Mable Sichali

Sunday, June 7, 2020

New Deacons in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

New deacons have been ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, on June 5 & 6. Because of current public health circumstances due to COVID19, the ordinations have taken place in a new way this year. The Liturgy of the Word portion of the ordination service, including presentation of the ordinands and sermon by Bishop Alan M. Gates, was conducted as an online gathering via Zoom on Friday, June 5 at 7 p.m. The examination and laying on of hands for the ordinands took place at separate events at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston on Saturday, June 6.  Only the primary participants were able to be present in person, to accommodate physical distancing protocols.  Family members, friends, sponsors and the wider diocesan community watched via live webcast.

Of the nine ordained, four were ordained to the diaconate: Marilee Comerford (Trinity Church, Marshfield); Valerie Cowart (All Saints’ Church, Chelmsford); James Thomas (St. John’s Church, Sandwich); and Natalie Thomas (St. Christopher’s Church, Chatham). (The other five were ordained to the transitional Diaconate, a step towards priesthood, in separate online services).

Those ordained to the diaconate chose to be ordained together, serving as each other's supporters, a wonderful affirmation of their sense of community and belonging in the diaconate.

Blessings to Marilee, Valerie, James and Natalie on their ordination.

newly ordained Deacon Natalie Thomas

Natalie's morning prayer on the day of her ordination (published on her Facebook page)
God, make me worthy of the ministry you have entrusted to me.
I want to stand in the gap – a reminder of injustice, suffering, and pain in the church and a sign of love, endurance, and promise in the world.
I want to love the gap.
I want to remember that church and world are more wrapped up than we ever know.
I want to love the things that are uncomfortable,
help me make my home in the questions that aren’t easily answered.
Help me to push myself and the people who seek to follow you to be discontent
with what feels good enough and to push on towards your way of wholeness.
Help me to remain, to remain steady for those who cannot feel you in the moment.
Help me to remember that you show up to all of us in our own ways
and in our own time and all I am called to do, is love.
Help me to forgive, over and over and over again,
to remember that I get to choose what I hold on to and what I release.
Help me to believe in who you have called me to be.
Help me to run your race with all you have given me,
please God give me glimpses of you along the way.
Help me to stay grounded in your truth – remind me that I am dependent on your love
and without your guidance and your word, the word, as my light and lamp, I will falter.
Hold me when I don’t think I’m held.
Keep me humble, aware that I never know the full picture,
remind me that you are bigger than any of us can understand,
keep my ears open to year ever active truth.
Anger me and embolden me when our world doesn’t look like what you imagined for us –
stir up in me a longing for equity, justice,
and liberation that cannot be diminished by worldly comforts
May I go to places where I can be among those who know your way,
the way of exclusion and suffering.
Remind me that you lived your life among those the world deemed sick –
help me do the same.
May this ministry transform and challenge me.
Every. Single. Day.
Most of all, may I always remember that this is not my path to carve out, you have gone ahead, Holy Spirit, Miriam, Mary, Sarah, Hagar, Bathsheba, Mary Magdalene, Sedonia, Phoebe, Elaine, Dorothy, Annette, Sojourner, Rosa, Barbara, Pat, Esther … the Spirit has gone ahead and I am never ever ever alone on this path.

It's a prayer that we can all pray!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Serving all

Serving all
When it comes to serving,
we all choose who it will be, Jesus;
 Some people are easy to serve:
those we love,
those who love us,
those who are like us,
those who show us their appreciation.
But, others make serving really hard:
those we dislike and fear,
those who attack or fear us,
those who are different.
those who seem to just take and give nothing back.
But, in all of our picking and choosing,
you ask a very difficult thing of us, Jesus –
you ask us to be servants of all.
How are we to do this?
How do we serve the weak, the poor, the neglected,
and the strong, the wealthy, the pampered?
How do we serve the broken, the victims, the denied,
and the breaker, the perpetrator, the denier?
How do we possibly serve all?
However it may be, Jesus,
keep us from using our fear or confusion
as an excuse not to serve;
and help us just to make serving
the most natural response we have to anyone.
And may our service join with that of others,
to gently change our world into a place
where all serve
and all are served. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Thursday, June 4, 2020

This is not a moment, this is a movement

On the tragic death of George Floyd, and the subsequent global protests....

Amid the riots of 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?” The question confronting us today may be not only what America has failed to hear, but what has the world failed to hear?

A time for confession, lament, repentance, reconciliation and resolve.....

Black Lives Matter
Your love encompasses all people.
To you all lives matter,
For all life matters,
And the way that we live life matters,
But at this time,
When the light of truth shines on particular injustice,
And draws our attention to the inequity of racial prejudice and discrimination,
We unite in solidarity to declare that black lives matter.
We proclaim this not at the exclusion of the lives or value of other groups of people,
But, because we seek to address this serious and unresolved issue,
Which is one of the many problems in society,
We intentionally single out those who have faced and continue to face
the effects of entrenched and longstanding racism.
We acknowledge hurt
We understand anger.
We feel frustration.
We grieve for the loss and suffering.
We stand alongside.
We kneel in solidarity .
We reject violence.
We reject persecution.
We reject empty words and promises.
In this time of trouble,
We call for peace,
But we call for change.
We call for justice, not revenge.
We call for action and transformation,
Of attitudes and behaviour,
And strategies which seek to address the core of the problem,
Rather than Band Aid fixes to placate the crowd.
In this we need your help and guidance
For, in our flawed humanity, there is some hope,
But equal failure,
So, only in your wisdom will we find a way forward.
As Christ, you lived compassion and taught is the way.
As Spirit, you work for reconciliation and healing.
Be with us now,
And with all people.
Soften hearts that are hard.
Strengthen wills that are weak.
Change minds that are set
Reshape anger into positive action,
That we might end racial injustice,
And in doing so, create space to address other issues.
This we kneel to pray.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Uniting Church in Australia, June 2020)

“I used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ in a social media post earlier this week. As happens each time I use the phrase, someone asks, ‘Why not just say “all lives matter?”’ Here is my quick response: When one of my four kids got hurt, it didn’t seem to make sense to say to them, ‘All my kids matter.’ In that moment, I embraced them and said, ‘You matter. Your pain matters. Your healing and return to health matters.’ That doesn’t diminish my love for my other kids. It expands my capacity to love as I live with another person’s pain.
Jesus did the same thing in his ministry. He didn’t say, ‘all people matter.’ He went to those who were hurting, who’d been denied a place at the table, who had been cast out of community and said ‘You Matter.’ Samaritans matter. Women matter. Tax collectors matter. Lepers matter. Did that mean he loved other people less? By no means. His life and ministry expanded the vision and capacity of his followers to love as they broke down the religious and cultural walls that had long divided people.”
(Source: Kai Nilsen, circulating on Facebook)

Video of thousands of protestors singing 'Lean on Me' by the late Bill Withers, in Washington.
Also this video of the same event with the crowd singing on its own.