Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. Martin Luther King Jr.
Meditation: My teenage girls come home from school sometimes bruised emotionally, sometimes even physically. Somebody bumped into them. Somebody pushed them. A group of friends excluded them. Some teenagers are even bullied, threatened physically or beaten. A space “free from violence and hate” is a rare experience. Additionally children often do not experience their home as a place of refuge. Bickering, fighting, arguing and ongoing conflict are part of many children’s and teenagers’ experience of adult behavior. And now even the language of our president is filled with profanity, aggression and enemy speech. As aware parents we try to make our children feel safe, show them respect and teach them respect. We believe this will determine how they will respond to the violence they encounter. When my daughter came home today bruised physically and emotionally, instead of going to the feeling of hate, she was able to express the more vulnerable feelings of anger and sadness. She was upset that those she trusted betrayed her trust. I told her “I am glad you know that this behavior was wrong and that you deserve better.”
Prayer: Gracious God, we cannot protect our children from every harm. We cannot prevent them from encountering injustice. However, as we ground ourselves in you, we can let them experience safety, love and respect as a way of responding to experiences of injustice and feelings of hate. God, help us to not commit internal violence. Help our spirit to refuse to hate and help us teach our children not to allow the poison of hate to enter their bodies, minds and spirits. Amen
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Quote: This entire adventure in Iraq has been based on propaganda and manipulation. Eighty-seven billion dollars is too much to pay for the continuation of a war based on falsehoods. The Emperor has no clothes.” U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd in a Senate Hearing speech October, 2003.
Meditation: “The Emperor has not clothes”: This expression is used to express when many people believe something that is not true. Based on Sufi wisdom, Hans Christian Andersen tells the tale in his “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, the story this expression derives from. In it there existed an Emperor who loved wearing fine clothes and spent all of his people’s money on them. He had a different set for each hour and was, without doubt, the finest dressed man in the land. One day, the Russian government (“two swindlers”) claiming to be weavers entered the Emperor’s city and proclaimed they were capable of making the finest, lightest, most magnificent cloth the world has ever seen. So extraordinary was this cloth, it was invisible to anyone who was incompetent or stupid. Hearing of the weaver’s amazing “talent”, the foolish Emperor thought he could use such cloth to weed out immigrants, the press and the legal system (“undesirables in his city”). He paid the Russian government (“swindlers”) an enormous sum and they set out to “create” the clothes; knowing they would only need go through the motions. The Emperor sent several Republican business men and women (“advisors”) to gage their progress and all the business people (“advisors”) reported the cloth magnificent, not wanting to appear unworthy for seeing nothing at all; the cloth didn’t exist!
Finally the clothes were “finished”, Putin (“the swindler”) already having counted the gold and jewels he had received. A procession was arranged to show off the Emperor’s new clothes and the entire “Grand Old Party” (GOP) (“City”) gathered in the center to view them. Having been “dressed” by the Russian government and adored by his business people, who all remarked how wonderful he looked, and how light the cloth appeared on him, he appeared before his people.
The GOP and the right wing press, having heard of the weaver’s abilities and the cloth’s fictitious properties, were amazed and offered thunderous applause to the now beaming Emperor. None of them were willing to admit that they hadn’t seen a thing; for if anyone did, then they were either stupid or unfit for the job they held. Never before had the Emperor’s clothes been such a success. While the city people expressed admiration at their Emperor’s new “invisible” clothes, many people’s Spirit around the world (“a small boy”) cried out… “But the Emperor has no clothes!”
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:23
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Desmond Tutu
Meditation: When things do not turn out the way we wanted or prayed for, we feel like being left in the dark. When evil seems to win and darkness seems to overtake light, we feel discouraged and even question where God is in everything. How can God allow for destructive forces to take over? Why is God not intervening? Why is suffering allowed to exist?
I always wondered why God’s own son had to die on the cross. God’s own flesh and blood! God’s voice and carrier of God’s Spirit – dead, killed by those who felt threatened by his revolutionary message and embodiment of love and justice. And yet, Jesus was resurrected. That which was supposed to be shut up, defamed, mocked and killed did not stay in the grave, but returned more powerful than before.
Prayer: God, we prayed for social justice and for the forces of equality and protection of the poor and the disadvantaged to win. We prayed for the powerful who rule based on money, status and influence to be kept in check by the majority of the people. It did not happen.
God, in the midst of this defeat and death, we see the light of a resurrecting power. The injustice that is happening now every day in front of our eyes will not be the end of the story. Your Spirit that protects the poor, the vulnerable and the needy will return in a more powerful way than before. Help us to see Your light in the darkness. Amen
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Revenge, lust, ambition, pride, and self-will are too often exalted as the gods of man’s idolatry; while holiness, peace, contentment, and humility are viewed as unworthy of a serious thought. Charles Spurgeon
Meditation: Many of us are worried and distressed. Many of us feel helpless watching the news. We hear of small companies having to let go of 4 of their 7 workers, as they don’t have all the paper work they need. Those former workers start living in fear and stress just as the small business owners have to pick up the labor formerly done by those let go, and they worry now how to be able to afford keeping their small business running. The idolatry and ideology of our new president only serves large companies and corporations and his own business empire. It feeds the idolatry of revenge, nationalistic pride and the lust to inflict pain while crushing minority individuals and small businesses.
Prayer: God of history, how can we learn from the past? How can it be that all around the world nationalistic oppression raises its ugly head once again? God, we are afraid for history to repeat itself. With our anxiety we come to you to find refuge in your presence and in your promises during this time of distress. You are the voice that challenges false gods and confronts them. You reveal the worthlessness of idols that crush the vulnerable. You said that we “will know them by their fruits”… Protect our minds, hearts and our future from the poisoning fruits of idols. And when we are weary, help us seek our strength in you. Amen
Jeremiah 16:19 Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good.”
Anytime you deny the acknowledgement of God you are undermining the entire basis for which our country exists. Roy Moore
Meditation: The outcry of the people in town hall meetings is giving voice to the voiceless. This country is a country of immigrants. This country was built claiming religious freedom, indivisibility, justice and freedom for all. All those who are being deported, those banned from using the bathroom that matches their chosen gender identity, all those not allowed to re-enter this country and those who are losing their insurance in the coming months cannot be heard. But the voices that publicly acknowledge that all of this is against God’s will and against the ethics of our constitution are loud. The law might permit what is happening as it is being bent. But that that does not make it just, fair or ethical. It is definitely a violation against the essence of who we as Americans are. Thank you to all who cry out on behalf of our brothers and sisters!
Prayer: God of justice, transform our outcries from pure rage to clear words. Help us find powerful words that match the pain of those treated unjustly. We are witnessing the birth of an “indivisible movement”. We are in labor pain and having birth anxiety. At the same time the power of your creative Spirit is finding voice and becomes visible. Thank you for the roaring of the people who stand up for you and for those you want to protect. Amen
Luke 12:8 I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.
Americans need to understand the significance of having their civil liberties dismantled. It doesn’t just affect terrorists and foreigners, it affects us all. Bianca Jagger
Meditation: If the freedom of press is labeled “fake news” and the press itself portrait as “the enemy” of the president, then it affects us all. If our neighbors live in fear of being deported and their children are afraid coming home from school and their parents are gone, then it affects us all. If judges are being discredited as “so called” judges and if the executive attacks the legislative and undermines it, it affects us all. If any traffic stop can lead to families being ripped apart and a “foreigner” handcuffed and thrown in jail just based on a traffic violation and then deported back to the presumed “home land” that the person has not seen for 25 years, it affects us all.
Prayer: God, protector of the widows, orphans and foreigners and of all who are vulnerable as not protected by certain papers or by certain status, you see the oppression that it going on that some call “just enforcing the law”. You know that those blaming foreigners for being terrorists fear the loss of their own privileges and spread paranoia as a means of dismantling basic civil liberties. Many foreigners are Christians or believers of faiths based on a just and merciful God. Your love does not label foreigners. Your people are indivisible. Injustice done to some of us is injustice done to all of us. God, how do we protect your people?
Malachi 3:5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.
I regret not having had more time with my kids when they were growing up. Tina Turner
Meditation: I remember how busy my parents were when the four of us children were growing up. A parsonage can be a very hectic place. And we weren’t trouble makers, so they often did not take the time to notice what we were going through as teenagers. And time flew…Later on in her seventies, looking back, my mother said that those years had been the happiest of her life.
Today my 13-year-old twin daughters thanked me for driving them and their friends around on my day off. I enjoy my role as parent of teenagers despite the prejudice that society has against teenagers as being “difficult”. I give the girls space while being available, I pay attention without intruding. I am fascinated watching them prepare to live their own life. It is exciting to see them start practicing all the things they will need to learn to live on their own. At the same time I am mindful that looking back these years will likely be titled “the happiest years of my life”. And so, I might as well know it now. I might as well savor every moment and not miss the here and now. As time flies…
Prayer: Parent God, I am deeply grateful for the privilege of being a parent of teenagers. Thank you that I learned from the generation before me that nothing should get in the way and that nothing is more important than quality time with my growing children. Thank you for allowing me to savor these days and years with them still living at home. Amen
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring. Isaiah 44:3
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. Corrie Ten Boom
Meditation: Cornelia “Corrie” ten Boom was born in Haarlem, Netherlands, in 1892, and grew up in a devout Christian family. During World War II, she and her family harbored hundreds of Jews to protect them from arrest by Nazi authorities. The estimated number of Jews rescued by the ten Boom family is 800. Betrayed by a fellow Dutch citizen, the entire family was imprisoned. Corrie survived and started a worldwide ministry and later told her story in a book entitled “The Hiding Place”, which was also made into a movie with the same title.
Prayer: God, we give thanks for Corrie ten Boom and her family. Often we are afraid of our unknown future and we start worrying. Given her story, her invitation to trust You as the one we know is powerful. In prayer we find a place for our fear. And so we pray and commit our future into your hands. Amen
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:5+7
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Mother Theresa
Meditation: I heard on NPR about a village in France where refugees are hovering at the border, trying to cross over further into Europe. The border patrol has prevented them from crossing, and the French people have been told neither to help nor feed these refugees, or they would be arrested. However, the region has a long history of helping refugees. Their grandparents, fathers and mothers were hiding Jews from the Nazis. Civil disobedience has been part of this villagers’ history. And so, every day, they prepare food for the refugees who wait at the border, hoping against reality that they would be allowed to pass. And although the French people can only do so little, they do it. They even risk being arrested. They go out every day with food they prepared and continue the legacy of feeding and sheltering those who flee from regimes that uproot and persecute them. When later in the day I also hear the news that in our city Mexican immigrants are no longer sending their children to public school out of fear of being arrested, and when I see a video of an undocumented Hispanic mother with four American born children seeking refuge in a church, I wonder: “How do we support these refugees who live next door to us?”
Prayer: God of refuge, we pray for all mothers and fathers who are fleeing and for all children who are afraid. We pray for refugee families in Europe, in Syria and Afghanistan. And now in sudden and absurd ways we are needing to pray also for immigrant families here in the US. God, wake the US up and stop the wicked talk, stop the finger pointing and stop the powerful from putting unbearable burdens on families. Wake us up! Wake me up and help me see how I can feed or help just one person today who needs my support. Amen
Then you shall call, and the Lord shall answer; you shall cry, and He shall say, Here I am. If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall rise in obscurity, and your darkness shall become as the noonday.
By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination. Christopher Columbus
Meditation: I am telling my daughter: “Please, focus. Don’t get distracted”! This is easier said than done for a thirteen year old preparing for a test the next day. “Prevail, don’t give up” and you will be able to reach your goal. An important life lesson. On a larger scale, we adults need to hear this as well: “Remain focused. Don’t get distracted by the number of chaotic news messages that overwhelm and confuse you. Be patient, be determined, don’t get side tracked by taking your eyes off the center of your life”. As Christians this center is the person Jesus Christ who embodied justice and love. Telling ourselves to remain focused and prevail is much easier than actually doing so, especially when we feel horrified with the chaos we are bombarded with on a daily and even hourly basis. “Remain undeterred” sounds easier said than done when even after only four weeks of craziness most of us already feel extremely tired and scattered. We feel emotionally overwhelmed and get easily distracted. We wonder as we stare at the prospect of several more years like this: “How will we, how will our country and the world at large make it?”
Prayer: Jesus, we feel terrified and wonder how to make it through. Fill us with your Spirit of courage. Help us to proclaim and live Your values, which include hospitality and mercy, especially towards those who are vulnerable. Help us prevail. Help us protest and demand facts. Help us be persistent and demand justice for all. Enable us to keep our eyes on You while overcoming all distractions. Empower us through your Spirit to resist all forces of insanity and oppression. When we grow weary, connect us with each other. Do not allow anybody to get isolated. Help us to continue to do and believe in good. Amen
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9