Lament for the Separated

hand holding istockphotoThis is the pastoral prayer I gave on Sunday (Father’s Day) in response to current crises along our borders. I offer this as a prayer to share with people of faith everywhere, for truly we should lament the suffering of others, and ask for mercy for the silent ways we unwittingly cause harm. Based on Psalm 130:

Out of the depths we cry to you, O GOD.

God, hear our voice! 

Let your ears be attentive to the voice of our supplications! 

This morning we are celebrating the love that fathers have for their children, and the never-ending love you have for us, your children.

We remember the special times we may have had with fathers in our midst – our earthly fathers and people who have come alongside to serve as role models and guides to us.

  We struggle in our hearts and in our churches to know the truth of what is happening to other fathers and mothers and their children along the borders of our country:  Open our hearts to the voices of the world.

  We confess that too often the church has been little more than a silent witness to evil deeds:    We have prayed without protest, and without action for justice.   As we remain silent, we have been made complicit in the cries of the hurting.     Lord, have mercy upon us. 

We wait for God, our souls waits, and in God’s word we hope;    

In the midst of our lament we may give thanks –    for pastors and laity who have raised courageous voices; for humanitarian groups who have come to the aid of others, for people who continue to bear witness to the Gospel  under intense pressure and fear, for public officials who have challenged unjust policies risking reputation and career. The Gospel witness has not been completely silenced, and we are grateful.   

Our soul waits for God more than those who watch for the morning,  More than those who watch for the morning, we wait. 

Today we call for humility and courage to accept the futility of our current path.   Today we cry out for creativity to seek new paths of peacemaking and hospitality.  

O People, hope in GOD!

May we join protest to prayer, support ministries of compassion, and cast off the fear that has made us feel helpless in the face of injustice. May we return again to the way of Jesus. May heartbreak end and cries be transformed to the harmonies of justice and the melodies of peace. 

For with GOD there is steadfast love, and great power to redeem. 

For this we yearn, for this we pray, and toward this end we rededicate ourselves as children of a loving God who gives food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and welcome to the stranger.

O GOD, redeem your People from all iniquities, as we pray for your kingdom to come on earth as it heaven praying as Jesus taught, saying, “Our Father….”.

 

Be blessed today and always,

Rev. Erin

 

Giving credit where credit is due: To read more about Psalm 130, check it out on Biblegateway.com. Thank you to this website for inspiring my prayer of lament.

Project 365: Day 162 When Family Becomes Friend

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Life comes to us in seasons. In childhood, we are babies, small children, big kids, preteens and teens first. Then we get to be young adults, middle aged adults and so on.

I believe the leap from childhood to adult is one of the more fascinating seasons, probably why I have spent so many years in youth ministry. One of the great joys of youth ministry is that we get to be on the sidelines as these seasons of life change for the youth. It is humbling to watch someone go from high school student to discovering themselves as adults. You can guess, but you might not ever be able to fully predict how youth will turn out. Occasionally I’ve had the great privilege of reconnecting with former youth and they have crossed over to become my adult friends.

It wasn’t in my youth ministry per se, but for about the last 25 years, I’ve loved watching my nieces make this journey too. I am really excited and proud of how they are turning out.
This week I’ve also discovered that family can cross over to become adult friends as well. This is a joy in our new season of family life.

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Project 365: Day 160 First Day of Unofficial Art Camp

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During the last several months, I have discovered a love for creating art and I have a dream of sharing that love with others. The process of creating art can be relaxing, healing, even a way to connect with God. I would love to lead a ministry someday that encourages people to nurture their creativity.

I often use art and creative expression as part of the senior high Bible study I teach. Even though I have more enthusiasm than artistic talent, I don’t let that hold me back. This summer I thought I’d experiment with leading a mini art camp at my house.

How it worked: I invited just enough students (my friends’ kids) to fit around my kitchen table. I researched ideas from Pinterest and my own art classes, picked up supplies, sketched out a lesson plan. Old shirts were purchased from Goodwill to serve as art smocks, a drop cloth was out down, and voila! Art Camp!

Day One was focused on drawing faces and basic art elements. We created art journals and portfolios.

As a class, we came up with the following rules before we started:

1. We are all artists. (We are made in the image if a great Creator and Artist – Claim it!)
2. Be nice to others.
3. Sharing is what we do.
4. Be nice to yourself. (We tend to be our own harshest critics so those negative thoughts were not allowed at Art Camp!)
5. Everything is an experiment.
6. Be careful.

Pretty good rules to live by, don’t you think?

How could you adapt this idea and use it in your ministry? Who can you ask for help?

Here are pictures from Day One of Art Camp:

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Project 365: Day 148 A Letter to My New Teenager

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Today is Trey’s 13th birthday.  I dedicate this post to him.

Dennis Jay Jackson, III, or “Trey” as we have always called him, arrived unexpectedly early on Memorial Day of 2001.  He was not due to arrive for another month, but when I was having some medical issues that day, the doctor on call said to go to the ER “just in case.”  It was a holiday, after all, so my doctor’s office was closed, I’d like to point out it really didn’t feel like anything worthy of an emergency room.

Nevertheless, my husband, Dennis heard the words “emergency room,” and went into full “this is it” mode.  He even made me bring my overnight hospital bag.  He wouldn’t even let me walk from the parking lot, but insisted that I be dropped off at the ER door.  All of this felt like overkill to me, I might add.  

Needless to say, it was quite a surprise a few minutes later to learn that my “issues” were that I was actually in early labor! It turned out our little one wanted to arrive feet first, so this meant I’d be having an emergency surgery and having a baby right away.  Dennis Jay Jackson III was born a short while later at 1:53PM, weighing just 5 pounds, 11 ounces.

Just a few days later we were driving home from Arlington Memorial Hospital with a tiny, but perfectly healthy, baby boy.  Honestly, we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into.  You know, they’ll let you take your baby home from the hospital as long as you have an infant car seat, they don’t even ask if you have any idea how to be a parent!  

Well, for the last 13 years, we’ve been able to figure out a little bit about what it means to be parents.  It’s too early to tell the results, we are far from finished, but I can say I am very proud of how our son is turning out so far.

Trey, you are one of life’s greatest blessings to your dad and I.  We are so very proud of you.  I especially love how you show compassion for others and want to help people.  Your involvement in church youth ministry and especially mission trips warms my heart.  I love that you care so much about what is going on in the world and I really learn a lot through you and your discoveries.  I love when we get to go on runs together. I love your art. I like your character and how you seem to be picking good friends.  I really like you, Trey.  I even like that your feet are now bigger than mine and we look at each other eye to eye already.  

My prayer for you as you officially enter life as a teenager is that you continue to grow in your faith and in your walk with God.  I can already see the plans God has for you unfolding, and it is exciting to be on the sidelines cheering for you as you discover God’s plan for you life.

Happy birthday, son.  We love you.

Project 365: Day 122 My Family is a Meme

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When my high school friend sent me a message today on Facebook about a photo, my first instinct was that it was spam.

“Is this your family?” she asked. She sent this picture:

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“Yes.” I responded.

“I just saw it on a joke website… “And then she put the link. Well, I wasn’t about to click on it because surely it was spam, right?

So I asked her to tell me more about the site, you know, just to make sure it wasn’t an automated conversation. Her response told me that, sure enough, my family is a meme.

The photo itself was either lifted without my permission from my Instagram or this blog post: http://umyouthworker.com/2013/08/28/day-2-of-30-day-youthmin-blog-challenge-where-youd-like-to-be-in-10-years/

I’m not sure how I feel about being included in this list of things that have aged 10 years. I guess I’ve aged better than Britney Spears, and nobody ages better than Pharrell. Since only a tiny percentage of the world’s population will either click on the site or know it’s me, I’m not really that worried about it. It’s annoying. It’s not super flattering.

Should I be concerned, or just glory in the fame?

The same image also showed up here:

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Project 365: Day 93 Art with my Kids

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Taking a cue from their mom, Trey and Kat felt inspired to paint tonight. Soccer practices were called off due to weather so it was a perfect chance to make art.

Here’s what I made:

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The middle school classes are collecting gift cards and my painting will be part of a “Giftcard Tree” for the ACA Auction and Gala Fundraiser.

And a highlight if my day – unexpected lunch date with my BFF at BFF:
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