This Prayer for Peace was written and offered by Evangelist David Brock inthe November 28, 2021, Community Connections online worshipon our first Sunday of Advent (HOPE). It was offered as aPrayer for Peace and Hope for those who struggle during the holidays.
These are holy days, God. This is a sacred time and season. But that does not always mean it is a happy time, or a joy-filled time or a peaceful time, as you well know.
Death of loved ones happens even on Thanksgiving; a mother dies in childbirth on Christmas Eve. Divorces are finalized during this season when we long for joy, hope, love and peace. A baby is born in a manger, yes, and wise men and shepherds and angels herald the birth, but somewhere a child hurts during advent—of malaria, of mistreatment, or struggles with mental or physical debilities. Someone has lost their job and there is no feast. Someone is so alienated from family that there is no invitation to share the feast. Not one.
Life continues with all its risks and unpredictability, God, even in this sacred season. The Christian calendar year is finished. A new year Christian year begins with the desire for the birth, the return of the one who we call Messiah and Savior and Teacher and Emmanuel. Hope springs in this winter season. Come thou long expected Jesus, come and set us free– All of us. The rich and the poor. The happy and sad. All of us.
God, we understandably want our days to end in reconciliation, in an embrace, in a solution to the conflicts of living—like in a Hallmark movie. Of course we want that and I think you understand. Of course we want snowflakes falling freshly and presents under the tree, and a table groaning under the weight of a feast. Who wouldn’t want that and why not? Happy Holidays and a Merry Season to us; the merriest of all.
But, we pray tonight for those who mourn and weep at Christmas. These may not be holidays for them in the traditional sense. But these are holy days, sacred days; these are especially their days. These are days to declare: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
May all those people, God, especially those people (maybe right here and right now in this service) know that this is their season. This is the season when mourning may or may not lead to dancing, but this is the season of your strength for their weakness. It is the season when our pains are carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.. This is the season when you say to those conflicted or bereaved: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God.”
This is your holy season. These are holy days because they are your days. These are the days when the lonely and those that mourn are comforted. In Jesus name, Amen.
Beginning Sunday, July 25, our Online Worships will be moving to the evening. “Foyer” Greetings will be at 6:15 PM (Pacific), followed by worship at 6:45 PM (Pacific). We look forward to welcoming Australia Mission Centre President Ben Smith as the speaker to help us kick-off the Sunday Evening worships. This decision was made with the anticipation that with vaccinations increasing, new COVID-19 numbers will be decreasing, and therefore we will likely be having congregation apply to reopen this summer. Rather than waiting to make a last minute decision to change the worship time in the midst of reopening’s, we chose a summer date to make the switch so that we could plan ahead with scheduling. Our online worships have proven to be an invaluable New Expression of Community in our Mission Center during this pandemic. We also understand that they will be an invaluable expression of community beyond the pandemic as well. They help connect us throughout the Mission Center and to World Church. Our hope in providing these evening worships include:
After all congregations have reopened, we will reassess how often we have online worships. Either way, they will continue!
Faith and Formation (which meets online on Wednesday evenings) has been viewing presentations by religious leaders, scholars and philosophers of various faiths and denominations to expand our personal and communal theological understandings. At the end of every week, we ask the important question: “What about this presentation was compatible or incompatible with Community of Christ theology?” Unfortunately, I cannot share with you the amazing discussions we had after watching the videos. But maybe you could also glean important lessons from these videos.
The videos we viewed in September 2020:
September 16: Lesley Hazleton “On Reading the Koran” & Alaa Murabit “What My Religion Really Says about Women“
September 23: Jonathan Merritt “The Death and Resurrection of Sacred Speech“
September 30: Brent Strawn “The Greatest Story Never Told: Re-Thinking the Bible as Poetry“
Join us Wednesdays* at 7pm (PT).
*The first Wednesday of the month is prayer service.
The videos we viewed in August 2020:
August 12: Balpreet Kaur “The Power of Kindness“
August 19: Kwame Appiah “Is Religion Good or Bad“
August 26: Alain de Botton “Atheism 2.0“
The videos we viewed in July 2020:
July 15: Diana Butler Bass “Jesus the Ingrate: The Subversive Power of Gratitude“
July 22: Rob Bell “An Introduction to Joy“
July 29: Hillary McBride “Body or Spirit: Why We are Both and Why That Matters“
Our Online Worships are the 2nd and 4th Sunday evenings, beginning with “Foyer” Time at 6:15 PM (PT). “Foyer” Greetings is an opportunity to say hello, make sure you’re connected properly, and prepare for worship. The worship will begin at 6:45 PM (PT) and end around 7:45 PM (PT) with “Parking Lot” Goodbyes. “Parking Lot” is a time for announcements to be shared by Mission Center Leadership with an opportunity to say goodbye to one another at the end of our online worship. More Info.
To connect to our online worships, click here: https://zoom.us/j/841448115?pwd=WDFQTzdIYWpPM0p1MWJyTlF0aHZDZz09To listen in to the online worships, dial 1-669-900-6833 (Meeting ID: 841 448 115 / Password: 043423)
The videos we started with:
Peter Enns “Reimagining an Ancient God“
Amy-Jill Levine “Life After Death: Jesus, Judaism and Justice“
Lauren Winner “Magnolia Trees and Cardigan Sweaters: Unexpected Metaphors for God“
Shane Claiborne “Resurrecting Church“
Tony Campolo “Birthday Party“