Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reflections for a Summer Day

Since I am having a day off in the Sun with my family at the pool, I thought I post this in light of the previous downer post. Something positive for a Summer day:

Reflections for summertime

Summer is a great season to take that well deserved 'time-off'. Without intention and planning, even the relatively slower summer schedule will fill up with a variety of commitments, meetings, study groups, and worship services. Before we know it, our calendars can be overflowing and the idea of any kind of significant time off seems unrealistic.

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time."~John Lubbock

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken." ~James Dent

"Sabbath God, in this season of long days and long daylight, we are grateful to be alive. Give us the wisdom to pause from our hectic routines and enjoy the simple things of this time of year. Let us live easily for a time, putting away watches and looking away from clocks, ignoring all the things that need to be moved, fixed or cleaned. Let us lose ourselves in the bounty of the earth you created. May this be a time of rest, refreshment and renewal. May we be calm enough and quiet enough to perceive your presence. Let us not fill all our time with endless activity."
~Based on a prayer composed by Ted Loder in his book, My Heart in My Mouth

Summer reflections provided by The Rev. Sharon L. Vandegrift, M.Div, PCC
Professional Certified Coach, International Coach Federation
Endorsed Life Coach, United Methodist Church

from United Methodist Endorsing Agency
Hey add your thoughts for a Summer day.
Maybe I'll have a few while at the pool or maybe not....

The Cycle of Poverty

This came to me today from Inward/Outward email, a project of The Church of the Saviour.

The different aspects of poverty form together into a cycle of destruction and dependence that winds itself down upon and around a person. That's the cycle of poverty.... Not enough food when young so that he can't think straight. No hope of education or personal development or family so she gets pregnant before she's fifteen. No education, poor jobs. Poor jobs, poor pay. Poor pay, bad housing and food. Bad housing and food, poor health. Poor health, poor performance on the job, less pay. A cycle, but at its center a captive, a mind so busy responding to the day-to-day needs that it has no time to think about the future or about those spiritual realities which give meaning to life.

Source: A Quiet Revolution, John Perkins

That feels discourging and hopeless. Does one just give into the cyle? How does one get out of the cycle? Is it government's responsibility to break the cycle? Is it the church's? Is it ours?

We have been forever at trying different means to break the cycle and seem to be able to do it for some people and not for others. Do we too give up? And do we just instead turn a blind eye or do we just do handouts?

For a long time those Christians who worked at doing something about it were mocked for just practicing a "Social Gospel". And so it appeared that there was a turn away from practicing social justice and to more of getting everybody "Saved". Now there seems to be a turn back the other way, but trying to hold both in the balance. Can we hold both in the balance and break the cycle of poverty? What do the scriptures tell us? What does the Holy Spirit tell us? What does God tell us?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

human trafficking blacklist

The Obama administration on Monday nearly doubled the number of countries that may face U.S. sanctions for not doing enough to combat human trafficking, calling on those and other nations to get serious and take tough steps to eradicate the lucrative illicit practice.

In its annual Trafficking in Persons report, the State Department identified 23 nations as failing to meet minimum international standards to curb the scourge, which claims mainly women and children as victims. That's up from 13 in 2010. Another 41 countries were placed on a "watch list" that could lead to sanctions unless their records improve. Here is the full article from the AP

This list includes good old USA. Yes, we too have to look at ourselves and no longer turn a blind eye to what may be going on under our own noses. The United States of America is principally a transit and destination country for trafficking in persons. At the same time there are cases of human trafficking that have been reported in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and some U.S. territories. Victims of human trafficking can be children or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, male or female. According to U.S. government estimates, thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked to the United States for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. An unknown number of U.S. citizens and legal residents are trafficked within the country primarily for sexual servitude and, to a lesser extent, forced labor.

The State Department estimates that as many as 27 million men, women and children are living in such bondage around the worlds. Sadly China was given a waiver. And that is not good, because it is beginning to become uncovered just how many babies have been stolen to go up for adoption. One wonders how many kids have been stolen to go into the world of modern day slavery. And then you have to wonder what might have happened to young women since they are treated as less than men.

Human trafficking is "the illegal and involuntary smuggling of a person across borders, often for the purposes of forced labor," according to Julie Clawson in "Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices."

“Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16) In 1 Timothy 1:9-10 the New Testament also condemns those who would traffic in the lives of human beings comparing them to adulterers and perverts. Matthew 18, Jesus hates those who abuse a child. We are our Brother's Keeper and Should care what happens to them. If we remain silent on the issues, who will speak for us, if the nation turns it's Back on them? Report it If you know the who, where and when!

Deuteronomy 10:17-18
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (ESV)

Psalm 68:5-6
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. (ESV)

Job 31:16-23
“If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,
or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
or have eaten my morsel alone,
and the fatherless has not eaten of it
(for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father,
and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow,
if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
or the needy without covering,
if his body has not blessed me,
and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep,
if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
because I saw my help in the gate,
then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,
and let my arm be broken from its socket.
For I was in terror of calamity from God,
and I could not have faced his majesty. (ESV)

This is what the LORD says:
For three sins of Israel,
even for four, I will not turn back {my wrath}.
They sell the righteous for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals.
They trample on the heads of the poor
as upon the dust of the ground
and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
and so profane my holy name. (Amos 2:6-7, NIV)

Want to know more, pray more, and do more about this?

Go to STOP THE TRAFFIK's website


Check out Christie Caine's A21, which is about abolishing injustice in the 21st century. I heard Christie speak at the Willow Creek Summit in 2010 about her calling and working to eradicate this problem of human trafficking. One of the things on this website that is offered is 21 ways to help eliminate human trafficking.

Don't turn a blind eye, help be the change that God calls us to be.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Prayer for Proper 8A/Ordinary 13A/Pentecost +2

Loving God,
We come this morning first thanking you
for all the many blessings you have sent our way.
We thank you for your steadfast love that endures forever.
We want to tell you how often we feel so like Abraham
that we are being tried and tested.
We often feel like the Psalmist and wonder how long this testing is going to last.
We often wonder how long we will be in pain.
How long will this sadness last?
How long must we suffer?
Will we be able to go on with life when it feels like it has lasted forever?
Lord we call on you for your stead fast love to take us out of our pits,
We call on you for your mercy to reach out to those who need your healing touch.
We call on your faithfulness for all who are struggling with their faith..
We call on your care for those who are less fortunate to be the Lord who provides for their needs.

We call on you for the healing of the nations.
We pray for those in North Dakota who are dealing with major flooding. We pray for those whose homes destroyed or damaged by volcanic eruption in Chile and Ethiopia;
We lift up to you the violence and terror in the Middle East;
We pray for the people of Greece that there may be relief from economic straits they are in.
We cry out for those who are entrapped in modern day slavery that may be set free.
We pray for all who are still recovering from Spring storms.
We continue to pray for the jobless that they may find meaningful work.
We offer up to you the homeless of the world, especially the children, may there be homes and improvement in their wellbeing.

God of hospitality, may we remember that you welcomed us so that we too would welcome others into our churches, that we share with them the cup of cold water.
May we remember that as we welcome others we welcome you.

We pray all this in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

cross posted at revgalblogpals

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Second Cooler movie

As a followup to the earlier post on the new immigration law, I wanted to make you all aware of a movie that begins to address some questions about immigrants coming to America and can lead to a better understanding to then address the situation. To provide a context for understanding the surge of migrants into the United States looking for work in the last 20 years, the Rev. Dr. Ellin Jimmerson, a minister to the community from Weatherly Heights Baptist Church, screened a half-hour version of her new documentary, "The Second Cooler / La Segunda Nevera," narrated by Martin Sheen. Jimmerson's 16-year-old daughter, Leigh Anna, and her boyfriend, Tad Mattle, 19, died in an April 17, 2009, crash with a drunk driver. The driver was also an undocumented immigrant, but Jimmerson continued her documentary and advocacy for immigrants.

The title refers to a second cooler that the morgue in Tucson had to install to house the thousands of bodies found in the desert. More than 5,000 people have died attempting to cross the border since 1997, when official records began being kept. Both officials and immigrants estimate thousands more in inaccessible reaches of the desert.

The premise of The Second Cooler is that Arizona is the new Alabama, the epicenter of an intense struggle for migrant justice. Shot primarily in Alabama, Arizona, and northern Mexico, the film's purpose is to bring basic immigration issues into focus. Those issues include the impact of free trade agreements on migration, the lack of a legal way for poor Latin Americans to come to the United States, the inherent abuses of the guest worker program, the fact that many migrants are indigenous people, anti-immigrant politics, the reality of thousands of migrant deaths at the border, and an escalating ideology of the border.

The Second Cooler differs from every other documentary to date on the subject. It raises a well-focused question: “Who benefits?” It has interviews with 25 illegal migrants, including three children under the age of 12. It follows several of them throughout the film. In addition, it includes interviews with 55 professionals, including historians, lawyers, clergy, labor union organizers, politicians, a Border Patrol agent, human rights advocates, and others who untangle the threads of a complicated issue. When a viewer reaches the end of The Second Cooler, he or she will understand why 12 million migrants are here illegally and will be able to offer an informed answer to the question, “Who benefits?”

The Second Cooler has an original score, original songs, and uses murals and other visual art extensively. It is sub-titled in English and Spanish throughout.
The grim film brought one ironic chuckle from the packed room. That was when one of the film's subtitles blazed on the screen: "Arizona, the new Alabama?"

It was produced by the Huntsville Immigration Initiative, LLC, a 501c3 IRS charity, through a cooperative agreement with the Interfaith Mission Service, Inc.

Image from Immigration Impact Website

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Alabama’s Tough Illegal Immigration Law

Last week on June 9th, Alabama Governor signed into effect the new law, HB-5, that is considered the toughest state law yet outlawing illegal immigrants. It allows police to arrest anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant if they're stopped for any other reason. It also requires public schools to determine students' immigration status and makes it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride. Alabama employers are now required to determine if any new worker is in the country legally. bars illegal immigrants from enrolling in or attending college; prohibits them from applying for or soliciting work; and makes it illegal to rent them property.

The new law, known as the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, goes into effect on September 1st. Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center agree. The groups say they plan to challenge it. In an depressed economy it would be costly for the state to enforce and defend the provisions of the law.

One of the sponsors, Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale said the legislation would create jobs and put unemployed Alabama residents back to work. Oh really?
Lets focus on the real place the jobs went for working Alabamians, the jobs went overseas.(And that’s a whole other post.) The jobs were not taken by the illegal immigrants.

Leaders of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church have all criticized the law as running counter to the Bible's teaching about loving others.

The Methodist bishop for south Alabama, Paul W. Leeland, joined North Alabama Bishop William H. Willimon on Wednesday in issuing a statement against the new law. You can read the letter written to Governor Robert Bentley, Senator Scott Beason, and Representative Micky Hammon:

It has spit the state, the communities, and the churches. I don’t think this bill will answer the question of jobs or what to do about illegal immigrants.

I grew up in Florida where the majority of the work to harvest the citrus was done by so called illegal immigrants. They were the very ones who did the back breaking, poor paying work on the farms. When the season was over they would move onto the next area of work that was being harvested. I didn’t envy them and I don’t envy them now. I don't like how we treat illegal immigrants like they are either slaves or criminals.

“You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exodus 22:21)

"I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." -- Matthew 25:35

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wal-Mart wins Supreme Court sex-bias ruling

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court threw out on Monday a massive class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the biggest ever such case, in a major victory for the world's largest retailer and for big business in general.
The justices ruled that more than 1 million female employees nationwide could not proceed together in the lawsuit seeking billions of dollars and accusing Wal-Mart of paying women less and giving them fewer promotions.
The Supreme Court agreed with Wal-Mart, the largest private U.S. employer, that the class-action certification violated federal rules for such lawsuits.

The ruling was cheered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group as the most important class action case in more than a decade but denounced by women's groups.
It represented a major victory for Wal-Mart.

What have we gone backwards? Say what? I thought we had made progress in these areas.

The article goes on to say that litigation is not over, but Lawyers for the plaintiffs acknowledged the ruling raised substantial hurdles to bring such challenges forward but warned that Wal-Mart may regret this route because it could lead to lengthier litigation in many more courtrooms.

Well, I don't shop Wal-Mart much anymore and with this ruling, I think I'll just stop shopping all together. Wal-Mart may find they have just alienated one of their biggest shopping froups; women. And if more women, who happen to do the shopping also stopped, it would have an effect on Wal-Mart. I would not want to work for Wal-Mart.
There are tricks they pull on employees like the hours they work or don't work. They got a bottom line to keep Sam's kids in their high living they have and their investors. But they are no longer the company that Sam started or meant it to be.

book review for RevGalBookPals on In the Bleak Midwinter

Over at RevGalBlogPals I did review of the book; In the Bleak Midwinter (1st in the Claire Ferguson series) written by Julie Spencer-Fleming. I am posting it here on my blog as well. The title is taken from the hymn by Christina Rossetti (1830–1894), In the Bleak Midwinter. Here are the first lines;

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

I stumbled on this book while recovering from Arthroscopic surgery. It was an easy read for my unfocused mind. Claire Ferguson is a newly ordained priest in her first appointment. She is a second career clergy after serving in the military as a Helicopter pilot. The book describes her as a square peg in a round hole of her new congregation. How many of us felt that way going to serve our first church, Second church or Third Church?

The book begins in the cold of winter with a newborn infant left on the doorstep of the church. But until the baby’s parents can be found and contacted, everyone’s in limbo. This leads to a search for the baby’s mother. It also leads to the bringing together of Claire with the town’s police chief, Russ Van Alstyne. There is a quick development of a friendship that has some elements of attraction in it. It also leads to gossip among the church members and the town people. She seems oblivious to the gossip or the impact it could have on her ministry. I wondered when we have found ourselves in similar situations?

She joins the Police Chief in a search for the baby’s mother, which leads them into the secrets of the town, the family, and more deaths. (I won’t give away all the plot. The box that contained the baby and his blankets also had a note asking that the baby be named Cody and given to a pair of childless lawyers, Geoff and Karen Burns, parishioners at St. Alban’s who have been desperate to adopt a child. But the baby is placed with a foster family instead. The couple then try to enlist Clare to help them get the baby.

Finding the abandoned baby sparks Clare to begin a mission project to help unwed mothers, but her enthusiasm is rebuffed by the senior warden of the socially conservative church vestry, a retired army colonel. How many times have we run into this in churches we have served?

One of Clare’s weaknesses is that she is impulsive and jumps in feet first without thinking. This gets her into trouble. The other is she has a strong need to help other people. But you also get a picture of Clare’s dedication, her leading worship, and her praying. We can even read about Clare’s call to ministry

The last part of the book I thought was over done, but may have been that way to show some of her former military skills.

The cast of characters are well developed and enjoyable to get to know. The settings of the Adirondacks and the little town are well described. It has many twists and turns along with keeping the killer undisclosed for some time. There are moments in this book where spirituality comes into play but not in a preachy sort of way. Russ is an agnostic which Clare handles thoughtfully without over powering him with religion.

I think it is a good read and I look forward to reading the others in the series. If you are looking for a good book to read this summer, this book may just be it. After all it is a hot summer and this book is set in the winter.

Julia Spencer-Fleming, the author, was herself an army brat born at Plattsburgh Air Force Base. She says of these books: “Millers Kill is an amalgam of the towns and villages that I knew as a child. My family settled in the Adirondack Piedmont in the 1720s and I spent a lot of time tramping those hills . . . eavesdropping on the small-town gossip. . . . That part of New York, where poor farms and Saratoga money and the mountains all come together, has always held a bone-deep fascination for me.” Spencer-Fleming now lives in Maine with her husband and three children.

The series, now seven books long, has titles taken from hymns and psalms. Here are the titles for the rest of the books in the series:

A Fountain Filled with Blood (Clare Fergusson Series #2)
Out of the Deep I Cry (Clare Fergusson Series #3)
To Darkness and to Death (Clare Fergusson Series #4)
All Mortal Flesh (Clare Fergusson Series #5)
I Shall Not Want (Clare Fergusson Series #6)
One Was a Soldier (Clare Fergusson Series #7)

It can be found at

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Prayer for Trinity Sunday

Oh God who created the world,
You are still at work in this world creating.
Your handiwork is shown everywhere in this world.
Every time there is a newborn we see your creating work

Your keep showing us your created children your fatherhood.
Your fatherhood is so different then our earthly fathers.
It is neither too harsh nor too soft.
It is neither too much nor too little.
It is neither too stiff nor too malleable.
Our earthly fathers try to love us the best they can given how they were loved.
Often they fail us, often they are quite capable.
Some of us miss our fathers terribly and some of us have had to put up boundaries with our fathers who were abusive.
Some of us have been abandoned, deserted or left by our fathers.
But you have always been our Father who loved us without fail.

You loved us so much that you sent your son into this world
To spend time with us,
To teach us, to show us your love,
To heal us, to save us,
To give us joy, and to give us your peace.

His death and resurrection made way for the Holy Spirit
Who keeps your creating work happening.
Your Holy Spirit keeps us knowing you are with us always.
Knowing that you love us, we pray for those who feel unloved.
Knowing that you heal us, we pray for those who need to be healed.
Knowing that you save us, we pray for those needing to be made whole.
Knowing that you give us joy, we pray for those whose lives are joyless.
Knowing that you give us your peace, we pray for those who live in war zones.

We pray all this in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Prayer for Pentecost Sunday

We are excited to be celebrating the church’s birthday today.
However, we are not sure what it would be like
if the Holy Spirit blew through our churches again as it did on the day of Pentecost.
In fact we not so sure we want that to happen again in our church.
It scares us this power of the Holy Spirit, and
yet we know that without the Holy Spirit
we are unable to accomplish the vision you have for your Kingdom of God.
We need your Holy Spirit.
It is after all your church.
So we pray;
come Holy Spirit come,
pour out your power into us your people and your church.
We do want to be your body of Christ in this world
that is often hurting, hungry and cynical.

We want to bring the good news to the poor, heal the broken-hearted, preach deliverance to captives, bring recovery of sight to the blind and set at liberty all that are bruised.
We want to be your body of Christ by praying for all who suffer, are poor, despairing, burdened, blind and battered.
So we pray for them right now and
claim the power of your Holy Spirit to do your will in this world.
We pray for your power of healing for those who are physically sick, for those who are emotionally ill, for those who are mentally ailing, for those who are money sick, for those who are spiritually unwell and for the world that is sick.
We pray for the healing of your creation,
and the renewal of the face of the land.
We pray for those who are thirsty,
that they would drink from your fountain of living waters and
never thirst again.

Thank you for hearing our prayers in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Prayer for Sunday 7A

Oh God, who is always available to hear our prayer,
We come to you with the needs of our lives,
The desires of our hearts,
And the hunger of our souls.
Father of orphans,
There are orphans all around the world
That need your tender love,
your arms of love to enfold them,
and your voice of care to sooth them.

Protector of Widows,
There are widows all around us,
Keep them safe from harm,
Provide them communities of friends
When they are lonely,
And Care for them when they are sick or grieving.

God of desolate,
Provide homes of warmth and comfort for them.
Provide sustenance for them.
Provide a means of making a living.

God of the prisoners,
Set them free of all that binds them.
Renew their lives.

God of the anxious,
Receive their worry that they cast on your.
Give them a sense of calmness
And trust in you.

God of all who suffer,
Restore their lives,
Support them in their time of trials,
Strengthen their resolve,
And Refresh their weary hearts.

Lord pour your holy spirit in our lives
That we too may devote ourselves
To prayer, to you, to those in need and to each other.
In the name of the Father, son and the Holy Spirit,