This is an opportunity to pray with the Lord and Journey with Refugees during Holy Week.
The ‘Way of the Cross’ is a stations of the cross series allowing you to follow Jesus on his journey to the cross and the Resurrection, whilst praying for refugees around scripture, followed by a reflection, and culminates with a prayer to say together. These reflections were written by the Jesuit Refugee Service UK. They are designed to help your prayer during Holy Week.
Each has been kindly voiced by Omolola and Gabriel, refugee friends of JRS UK, recorded safely during COVID restrictions during Lent 2021.d the world. Each station begins with a piece from sc
Click on ‘The Way of the Cross’ to go to the PRAY AS YOU GO site and experience the stations. Blessed Holy Week.
An Inspirational Year End Story By Yvonne Jones Lembo
“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”…When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. “ Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11 (NRSV)
The story of the wise men or Magi is one of my favorite Christmas-Epiphany scripture passages. I imagine how their scholarly research turned into a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to a faraway land in search of the Christ Child. They didn’t set out willy nilly. They prepared extensively. They assembled their gifts. They made a plan. And then they followed their dream to the home of the Holy Family, where they bowed in worship before young Jesus . Even with all their wisdom, how could they have realized the danger Jesus and his family faced? Even with all their planning, how could they have known that their gifts would arrive at just the right time – when Jesus’ family needed them most? In God’s great wisdom, the Wise Men’s generosity would help Jesus and his family escape persecution in their homeland and build a new life as refugees in the land of Egypt.
Modern scholarship informs us that there could have been more than 3 Wise Men. Holy imagination allows us to envision ourselves among them, joining them on their joyful, just-in-time journey of generosity.
During this Christmas holiday and year-end season, we can make generous plans to support our congregations, our Synod and other ELCA ministries that extend a helping hand to those who, like young Jesus and his family, find themselves in a time of great danger, great change and great need. As your Regional Gift Planner, I’m delighted to join you on your generosity journey to help you follow your dreams and create a gift that honors Christ and leaves lasting impact far beyond anything you could imagine! Give me a call or send me an e-mail and let’s get started! It’s not too late to create a gift that will make a difference even before the end of this year and hear my special holiday greeting for 2020:
Contact me: Yvonne Jones Lembo, Regional Gift Planner, ELCA Foundation
Watch Night is a jubilant African American service on New Year’s Eve. While New Year’s Day is a secular holiday, historic events have forever instilled sacred significance into the African American celebration of the New Year.
On Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation, declaring that one hundred days later, Jan. 1, 1863, slaves would be free in those states rebelling against the Union in the Civil War. On December 31, 1862, also known as “Freedom’s Eve,” large groups of African Americans, along with white abolitionists, gathered in meeting halls and churches across the county to watch for news that the President had formally enacted the Emancipation Proclamation. More than 140 years later, African American Christians continue to gather in churches on New Year’s Eve to thank God for the blessings of the Old Year and to seek God’s favor for the New Year.
Our synod has several congregations that celebrate Watch Night including People’s Community, Loch Raven; St. John’s, Pimlico; Faith, North Avenue and Holy Trinity, Laurel. As we review and consider the many issues and actions that have “enslaved” us during this year, perhaps a Watch Service would be an appropriate way to end 2020 and welcome 2021.
On November 21st our Delaware-Maryland Synod Council participated in Racial Justice training focused on understanding racism in ourselves, the country and the Lutheran Church; understanding our role as leaders in our Synod to help end racism; plus exploring resources and potential action steps to move the Synod towards being anti-racist. It was a jam backed three hours of establishing common language and definitions, exploring national data and history on race, learning about church and Lutheran history in fighting and promoting racism. Throughout the training, council and staff had the opportunity to meet in small groups and share our own experiences of racism or white privilege as well as discuss steps the council could take to move our Synod toward authentic diversity.
One of the many valuable resources was the ELCA Strategy for Authentic Diversity that sets out a strategic plan of actions that calls for work in Healing Action, Structural Accountability, Theological Education and Leadership, and Ecumenical and Interreligious Partnerships. Our council will be reading this document and discerning the ways it can inform and inspire us to set up steps that will lead us to authentic diversity in our future. As we closed our time together, we talked about how valuable the training was in enlightening us, urging us to be vulnerable, and considering how racism and white fragility shape our selves, our congregations, our systems and nation. John Auger, our Synod VP, said this: “The recent Council and Staff racial justice training is a start on a journey within our Council leaders to a new and better place in our Synod and beyond. The training opened our eyes to the many issues that we need to help resolve and make positive progress on, each day, week, month and year, as we work to bring love and dignity to all God’s children.” Not easy conversations but faith filled conversations, calling us into the way of Christ Jesus to seek justice, community, and love.
A bit more about our Synod’s Racial Justice Ministry Team: The Racial Justice Ministry Team seeks to raise awareness about racism and to support congregations who are ready to take actions towards dismantling racism. Over the Summer the team offered a variety of Listen & Learn About Racism sessions, partnered with CLAIM on a series of book studies called Critical Conversations exploring books by Ijeoma Oluo, Ibram X. Kendi and Pastor Lenny Duncan. In October, the team started hosting a movie-a-month, where they facilitate a faith-based discussion about a movie that delves into a racial justice issue or story. We will be watching “Do The Right Thing” in December. To get detailed information about participating in a movie discussion, click here to sign up for the Racial Justice Events and Activities mailing list. The team has also produced a Yard Sign that says “Think, Pray and Act to End Racism”. The signs have an option to include your Congregation’s logo in addition to the Synod logo. Click here to see a sample and place an order. To access even more resources and information check out the Racial Justice Ministry Team webpage.
Our MountainService days have been well attended and we have made 4 quilts and 24 Health kits for Lutheran World Relief so far. This gathering is a controlled number of participants, and we wear masks and use distancing as we work. It has been a safe and fun way to serve others.
A few smaller retreat groups and several Scout troops have come for their retreats. Again, we ask that all honor our policies for masks and distancing, self-monitoring before arrival, and we have had no incidents. Everyone has appreciated their time at MLR and have happily followed our guidelines. We operate at 50% capacity, following the state of MD guidance. Our food service plan keeps everyone well fed and safe, too. We will host a one-day Confirmation retreat on Nov. 21, including online and on-site folks and pastors.
We have been honored to serve as the site for two ordinations and two confirmation services, with a third planned in November. The chapel is large enough that groups of up to 40 people can spread out safely to worship and enjoy the majestic view.
In October, we successfully hosted a Family Camp fall overnight, gathering the families who would have attended Family Camp. It was a joy to be together safely, and we look forward to next summer when the friendships continue to grow.
Our virtual Walkathon and Cookie Run events were very successful, thanks to our community of supporters. I think people really appreciated the opportunity to participate virtually for the 5K, and we had a group of 40 on-site for the Walkathon, which was done safely and with great enthusiasm to be together on the Ridge.
Our first ever online Giving Thanks Auction will take place Nov. 19-22 with a Facebook Live wrap up celebration Nov. 22 at 6:30 pm. We are gathering donations from local artisans and businesses and have MLR packages and handcrafted items as well. We feel this will be fun and successful as a new fundraiser and community building event. Learn more here: https://www.mar-lu-ridge.org/2020/08/25/giving-thanks-auction-november-16-22/
Then in December, we will host our Advent Family Gathering for a limited number of registrants on Dec. 6, some more retreats and rentals, and our year-end appeal will be sent to congregations, alumni and donors. It is a joy to still be in community and look forward to continuing our work in 2021.
This prayer practice comes from the Rev. Brenda Smith, ELCA Spiritual Renewal Team Leader. She believes too many of us are struggling with lament as a result of all that is happening in these times. As Dr. Phil says, one of Brenda’s mentors, “You have to name what you are going through, in order to work on making it better.” So let us focus is on naming the lament and then reflecting on God’s presence and love while praying.
1. Get a notebook or writing pad that will be used only for this prayer practice.
2. As you feel called during the week, write down something that is causing you deep pain. It can be something from your personal life or events that are happening in the world.
3. Read a Psalm that is relevant to what you are feeling. a. If it is personal struggle, the following psalms might be helpful: Psalm 13; Psalm 25; Psalm 31:1-5 and 9-16; Psalm 86: 1-4 and 14-17 b. If your pain (lament) is related to all of the challenges we are facing in today’s world, the following psalms might be helpful: Psalm 44; Psalm 60; Psalm 74; Psalm 85.
4. Then read a psalm that reminds you of God’s love and presence. The following psalms might be helpful: Psalm 100; Psalm 103; Psalm 117; Psalm 139.
5. Write down a prayer that comes to your heart; or pray silently; or pray aloud your prayer.
6. Close with the Lord’s Prayer, either silently or aloud.