Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 28: Cats and Dogs Can Be Friends!

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  - 2 Corinthians 12:3-5

Have you ever seen a perfect picture of a cat and a dog? 

They look so cute, right?! Can you think of a reason why people would love seeing a cat and a dog who are happy to be next to each other?  I can think of one: it is because commonly, cats and dogs do not get along well.  One of the  reasons why cats and dogs do not get along well is because they are different.  They have so many differences, including that they eat different foods and react differently to people, and even compete for their attention.  It is similar with humans, we are different in many ways, but this does not mean that we can not be friendly to each other.  When we are friendly we share the peace and love of God.  It does not matter how different someone might be from you, we need to respect each other's differences and by doing this we promote peace, and we show love for one another.  2 Corinthians 12: 3-5 says that we can help our world be a better world if we use God’s love to get rid of what is bad, and that God’s love is stronger than anything.  So, it is possible for cats and dogs to be friendly to each other,  and it is possible for you to love, respect and be friendly with people you know are different from you.  

Dear God, help me respect other’s differences and be friendly even to people who might not have things in common with me.  Help me love and respect each person for who they are because I want to live and share your peace. In Christ’s precious name, Amen.

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Nancy Cordova-Molina
attends Casa de Oracion Christian Church in San Diego California.  She is completing a M.A in Peace and Justice Studies, and uses music to share a positive message of love, peace and justice. (www.nancycordova.com; www.facebook.com/nancycordovaofficial )
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Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit  disciplesjustice4children.org and docfamiliesandchildren.org. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27: Trust in God


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” - Philippians 4:13
Often, even as a child of Christ, I find myself doubting the things that I do. As I come to crossroads in my life where I feel I am challenged sometimes I get scared that I can’t conquer the obstacles in front of me. Currently as I apply for colleges late into the night while also writing papers and completing assignments I’m at one of those crossroads. The town I go to school in, Kinston, is ranked number three for violence in North Carolina. With all the bad going on here many people have doubts that anything good can come out of Kinston. Though, by going to church and feeling the holy spirit move within me my candle has been lit to bring something good out of here and to be something for Kinston to be proud of.
Often you may feel like you can’t do something, but remember that your Father will always be there for you.
Five years ago I wasn’t a member of a church or attending church regularly. Then, a wonderful youth minister Jamie Haddock came into my life and told me that the Lord can and will always provide for me if I just let him in. After a few years of becoming extremely active in my youth group and church I was baptized and became a Disciple of Christ. Now I have gone from being a person who just went to church “sometimes” to being a member of RCYW and GYC. I’ve met and taken pictures with the General Minister of the church and I’ve never been happier than I am now with Christ in my life.


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Jessica Braxton is a senior at Lenoir County Early College in Kinston, North Carolina. She is a member of the General Youth Coucil, Regional Cabinet of Youth Work, and president of her local Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.
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Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit  disciplesjustice4children.org and docfamiliesandchildren.org. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26: God's Protection


We are all Columbine. My first thought that day was for the mothers who didn’t get a chance to kiss and hug their children as they left for school. And then I wondered, did I kiss my husband, one of the teachers, as he left for work that morning

Violence can happen anywhere. Many of us in the Columbine area now make sure we hug and kiss our children and spouses as they leave each day for school and when they return home in the afternoon. No matter what the day holds, God is our refuge and our love for family and community sends us forward with love, and welcomes us home with gratitude. 

We can’t prevent what is going to happen, but we can be strong each day knowing that God loves us, our family loves us and we are blessed abundantly. Sharing love with each other and with community will end the violence, we hope.

Thank you God for protecting us when there is trouble and for blessing us with family and community that loves us abundantly.  Amen.

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Rev. Marcia Meier
lives and serves churches and communities in the Central Rocky Mountain Region.  She has been married to Steve for 33 years and is mother to 2 boys in their 20's.
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Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit  disciplesjustice4children.org and docfamiliesandchildren.org. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25: Making New Friends


Luke19:1-10 - Why Doesn’t Anybody Pay Attention to ME?
Zacchaeus had a reputation in Jericho as a bully. He may have been small in size, but he made up for it in meanness. At least, that’s what everybody said.
Then Jesus came to Jericho, and he noticed Zacchaeus sitting in a tree all by himself. Jesus stopped and talked to him, and even went home to his house. Nobody else in Jericho was happy about that – except Zacchaeus!
It turns out that Zacchaeus never felt right about how badly he treated others, but it took somebody who would notice him to get him to change. Jesus got to know him better and after that Zacchaeus was practically a brand new person. Right away he began to treat his neighbors better.
Maybe you know someone like Zacchaeus, someone who has been really mean to others but inside feels really bad about it. Or maybe that person, in fact, is you. Do you really want to stay lonely, or would you rather make a new friend?
Light a candle to remind yourself that it’s important to make new friends.
Adults: Turning a person away from violence can begin with spending a few minutes together, listening without judging, and giving them a chance to start again. Zacchaeus got that chance from Jesus.
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Bill Jacobs
is Transitional lnterim Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Medford, Oregon. He loves it when church people try to make new friends of different ages and backgrounds, just in the same way that Jesus did.
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Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit  disciplesjustice4children.org and docfamiliesandchildren.org. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

September 24: A "Little" Praise


“God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult."
-
Psalm 46:1-3
 
In conversation with my mentor one Sunday afternoon, we were discussing the free spirited nature displayed by my two year old daughter Amaris just earlier in the day. We talked about how comfortable Amaris has become with sitting through and enduring the length of Sunday morning worship services. Dr. Harris brought it to my attention that he was amazed at how Amaris appears to be freely enjoying herself in worship now. It was not long ago when we were discussing how she was reluctant to even leave the pew where we sit each week. That's not the case now! This little lady is leaving her mark Sunday after Sunday, and everyone notices it. It's not the little pieces of paper she leaves torn in the sanctuary floor, that causes people to shake their heads. It's not the residue of whatever snack she enjoyed that morning, that makes the custodian cringe when he is cleaning up after us. However, it's the dancing in her feet, the clapping of her little hands, and the shouts of joy, "Amen...Hallelujah," without provocation, that comes out of her mouth whenever she gets "HAPPY!"
 
While her mother and I are shackled in fear by what our previous situation could have been in the past week, Amaris somehow at two years old, has the ability to see and feel beyond the anxiety that is thick and very much present within us, and still praise God in her own "little" way. Little way, yes! At two she's by far the smallest praiser in the place. Ha! But little praise, of course not! Even though she is the smallest, somehow she makes it a point to be known as the biggest praiser.
 
How: I believe Amaris sees and hears something bigger than the problem(s) that her mother and I face daily. I don't guess I could really speak for her. But maybe she truly knows that God is her "refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Hmmmmmm! If this is for certain, than yes, she knows that with God there is a safe place. So when she notices something that appears to not sit right with us, through our expressions or verbal tones; because she sees God, she is able to praise big and fill our spaces with joy and laughter. And through it all, she understands that we are there to embrace her with our love, even when, to us, it seems as though the earth is changing and our mountains in life are shaking all around us.
 
God, give us the courage to look beyond the broken places in our life, and cause us to see you working on something that is bigger than what we face. In your love, Amen!!!
 
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Antonio Redd is the Young Adult President for the National Convocation, and is a member of the Young Adult Commission. He the husband to a lovely wife, Erica, and they are enjoying life with their two year old daughter, Amaris.
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Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit  disciplesjustice4children.org and docfamiliesandchildren.org. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23: Looking for the Lighthouse


If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

- Psalm 139:11-12
As I reflected on these two verses from Psalm 139 I was reminded of the many times I have said, “You are safe, here in this place” to children and adults alike throughout my years in ministry. I hope it has always been true.
It does not always make sense to us that God could be bright as day even in the darkest of times. How can we find a safe place in the midst of violence or hurt, especially when we are hurt by those who should care for us the most? How can we trust that God can find us even in the darkest of places? The image of a lighthouse comes to mind. Most often, if you aren’t an avid sailor, you notice them more for their beauty against the backdrop of a blue sky. But a lighthouse is most beauty and helpful in the midst of violent wind and rain, guiding a ship back to the safe harbor.


We don’t often recognize our need for a safe “harbor” until we notice even the smallest speck of light piercing the darkness. When you find yourself in the darkness of violence and all the hurt and pain that comes with it, it can be difficult to see the light of a safe harbor. I promise you it’s there, if you are hurting look for the lighthouse, in pastors, teachers, friends, or relatives who the hold light of Christ out like a beacon. Look for the “lighthouse” someone who means it when they say, “You are safe.”

Lord of light, help me see your light in others especially when the darkness is overwhelming. Amen.
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Rev. Andrea Brownlee is the Senior Pastor as First Christian Church in Perry Iowa. She has been serving in congregational ministry for 12 years and has served churches in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Iowa.
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Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit  disciplesjustice4children.org and docfamiliesandchildren.org. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September 22: You Are Safe


 



God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
- Psalm 46:1-3 

When I was a little girl, a very long time ago, we played a game called "War" in the woods next to our school at recess.  The object of the game was to capture or “kill” all of the kids on the opposing team. I often volunteered to be in charge of guarding the prisoners.  Amid all the noise and confusion of the game, I sat peacefully on a log, knowing that I would be safe from capture or harm in that place.  Whenever a classmate was captured and placed in my care, I could assure them saying, “Don’t worry. You are safe here.”  Today when I am afraid, I seek that place within myself that feels like that clearing, that place where God resides inside me.  For God is truly my refuge and my strength. God is always with me, in times of peace and in times of trouble.  And when God is with me, I need not fear.  

Dear God, let me be with you always, for when I am with you, I am safe. 


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Maria Tafoya
is Senior Pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Selma, California.
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Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit  disciplesjustice4children.org and docfamiliesandchildren.org.