December 2017: Anticipation

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.  1 Corinthians 13:11

“Wait with anticipation” is the age-old theme of Advent. As a child I remember waiting with anticipation for Christmas morning when my brother, sister, and I would fly downstairs to piles of bright gifts beneath a spruce covered in glitter and glass ornaments. Sunday School had taught me there was a connection between God’s gift of love in the birth of Jesus and our giving gifts to one another. But in a youngster’s imagination, that meaning became murky—there was always a disconnect between the message of a baby born in a stinky manger (surely it stank as any livestock owner knows) and the glitter of toys.

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November 2017: Safe Roads for All

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We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I traveled from San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, to Managua, Nicaragua by bus. As we arrived at the Salvadoran side of the border with Honduras, a police officer entered the bus to make a check. I was focused on writing in my diary and did not pay attention. I think that made him suspicious and I was asked to dismount the bus for a check. I got off the bus, picked up my suitcase, and went to an office where three policemen started interrogating me about who I was and what I do. I told them that I am a missionary and pastor. Checking my luggage, they found my prayer cards that corroborated what I was saying. After a while, I was released and I left very angry about their rude treatment.

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October 2017: Congo Communion

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And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." Luke 22:19-20

Churches of the Community of Disciples of Christ in the Congo (CDCC) share in communion on the first day of every week. For Congolese Disciples, the fellowship and breaking of bread has cultural and spiritual significance. It is foremost an expression of unity in the faith, recalling a shared experience of baptism. Communion also complements the cultural practice of sharing a meal in community, where each person is offered a fair portion.

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September 2017: Hope and Transformation

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Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in God.
Psalm 31:24

Many tourists share their stories of unparalleled relaxation and breathtakingly beautiful accommodations while visiting the motherland. To them, Cape Town is paradise. Yet scores of South Africans struggle daily from the unaddressed injustices that flow from apartheid. Underneath the city’s glamorous surface are the often-unreported realities of Cape Town citizens who live in unspeakably horrible conditions.

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August 2017: Shifting Our Anchorage

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The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-45

Attending the UCC General Synod and DOC General Assembly this year opened my eyes to the similarities that exist in mission worldwide. The rallying call from pulpits and resolution after resolution aims at the heart of God’s Kingdom. The writer of Matthew’s gospel gives us a definition of the Kingdom of God that resounds in what we do every day. We - like the farmer, the merchant, the fisherman - search daily for things that provide us with a living, a life. And when we find what produces the abundance of life, we shift anchorage, to use a Pacific/Oceania terminology.

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July 2017: Reformation for All

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"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble."    1 Peter 3:8

A few months ago I accompanied international church guests to the Reformed Church in Hungary’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In the city of Debrecen, I was crowded into a large tent surrounded by a mixture of Hungarians and internationals, listening to speakers reflect on being reformed. Speakers from Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Taiwan, Scotland, Lithuania, Germany, Spain, and Greece spoke about how they see the spirit of the reformation shaping their personal lives and the ministry of their church today.

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June 2017: Adventures in Hospitality

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“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

One rainy afternoon, Alberto, the local pastoral intern, and I were Bible sharing with the few youth who came. Suddenly, two strangers walked up to the church door. Greg, a Brazilian, and Joyce, from Malaysia, were traveling all over Southeast Asia. The two traveled light; each with just a small backpack.

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May 2017: ¡Saludos de la República Dominicana!

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For 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

Greetings from the Dominican Republic! Global Ministries’ partner, Servicios Sociales de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID) has been working in the Dominican Republic since 1962. Now with programs and initiatives in Haiti, communities throughout all of Hispaniola benefit from the ministry of SSID. With a team of regional and local leaders, SSID fulfills the biblical call to care for the poorest of the poor. SSID recognizes the need to fulfill God’s desire to care for one another.

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April 2017: Never Enough!

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“There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’:  the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire…” Proverbs 30:15-16

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March 2017: The Right to Housing

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And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

According to a global survey of the affordability of houses in more than 350 cities last year, Hong Kong was the least affordable community to buy a home in the world—a title it has maintained for the past six years. According to the survey, the price of an average flat in Hong Kong is 19 times the city’s annual median income.

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