At a time when there is so much turmoil in our society and world we need to remember hope. As we learn from our faith in a God who works beyond the mystery and brokenness – there is always hope. Hope for a better day. Hope for a better world where the dignity of all individuals is honored and held with care. In our connection with others through the strands of God’s grace, we can share the warmth of God’s mercy and keep our eyes on the hope of a better world. The following is a powerful prayer written and shared by Rev. Shari Prestemon, our MN Conference Minister:
A PRAYER FOR GRACE & MERCY ON THIS TENDER DAY
All-knowing and ever-loving God, on this day in our nation when so much is at stake for so many, pour your abundant grace upon us:
*On those who step with shaky feet into a spotlight they never wanted, to speak of memories they wish they could forget;
*On those who will listen and question and determine, that they might seek truth with care and compassion and place people before politics;
*On a nation gripped by division, on a democracy vulnerable to decay;
*On all those for whom this moment brings trauma and old wounds ripped open and raw.
O God, have mercy upon each one. May your truth, your justice, your will be known, even and especially amid this turmoil of our own making.
In the name of the Christ who taught us a more excellent way. Amen.
(Written by Rev. Shari Prestemon, Minnesota Conference Minister UCC, 9/27/18)
With our hearts firmly planted in grace, together we can grow hope and work towards a world that reflects the dignity of God’s beautiful creation.
When I spend time with our youth I always come away with hope. Hope for our church, community and world, because they bring such fresh perspective on life and positive attitude about service. At the end of July I had the privilege of being with 16 of our wonderful youth and 4 adults on a mission trip through Urban Immersion in the Minneapolis area. Each day we prayed and shared inspirations, had meaningful conversations and laughed together. We served at various non-profit organizations and were immersed in learning about poverty. The maturity and wisdom our youth showed was amazing. One of the most inspiring things I witnessed over and over by our youth during the week was their ability to take down walls between people, to build relationships rather than separating. Some examples include:
· Our youth interacted with kindness and respect while helping refugees, recovering addicts, homeless individuals and others whose lives are so very different from theirs.
· Our youth initiated conversation with a youth group that arrived mid-week and recruited them for a game of kick ball at a nearby park. While playing kick ball a couple of our youth invited two kids from the neighborhood to join in the game. Seeing the joy on those kids’ faces was wonderful.
· Despite the 7 year age span of our youth, they interacted beautifully and I did not see any youth being left out of social opportunities.
Our youths’ actions inspire the following question: What are we doing to model taking down walls between people? Our world has become so divisive making it all the more important to follow Jesus’ example of connecting people rather distancing them. I pray the seeds sown during this mission trip continue to grow and spread throughout our congregation and into the world beyond.