Lectionary Selection: Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)
Prayers for Sri Lanka:
It's Christmas, O Holy One. We give thanks that the season and the day are here. For two thousand years the birth day of Jesus has been a time to remember; celebrate and remember your gifts of love and hope, peace and joy. We remember also what our world is like now; wars, natural disasters, climate change, greed and poverty, food enough for all people but not enough desire to send it where it is needed.
Too many needs unmet, too many tragedies unavoided.
And still this is the season of hope, peace, love and joy.
Perhaps your greatest gift to the world is not giving up on us . . . every year at Christmas your gift comes again and we are refreshed, renewed, and remember hope, peace, love and joy, and we give thanks for your gift. Amen
Mission Stewardship Moment from Sri Lanka:
Sutha and her family were taking a walk in their neighborhood with members of their extended family when a mortar shell landed near their group, killing several members of the family, including her husband. It was in Sri Lanka, during the Tamil rebellion. Suddenly a widow with children to raise and support single handedly, she, along with the many other war widows, faced Sri Lanka's social/cultural belief that a woman's place is in the home - and only in the home.
I met Sutha when I began teaching at the Christian Theological Seminary. She was one of four women in a church leadership program who work in church-run education programs and spend part of each month studying at the seminary, perhaps for ordination. She works with war widows in overcoming social and family problems as they still grieve for their husbands.
Sutha has just finished serving on the Exco, a governing board for the denomination. The board received a letter from one of the clergy, written in harsh opposition to the denominational practice of encouraging women to prepare for lay or ordained service to the church.
The letter quoted the Bible about divorce against one of the women whose husband had abandoned the marriage for another woman. The many progressive council members rejected the letter, and the one ordained woman in the denomination just continues what she was called and prepared to do. She and I have collaborated on a series of workshops about women in the Bible, in history and in the world today - especially in Sri Lanka.
In the meantime Sutha has finished her term on Exco, but I don't think people see her as any less of a church leader - with or without a degree, an elected office or ordination. She is one of many women who, by offering reliable service to their churches, families, communities, places of employment, will provide more evidence than can be ignored for the acknowledgement of women's equality and rights.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Lindley Kinerk and Andy Jepson)
Mission Partners in Sri Lanka:
- Church of the American Ceylon Mission
- Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue (EISD)
- Jaffna College
- National Christian Council of Sri Lanka
- Uduvil Girls College, Jaffna
More information on Sri Lanka: http://www.globalministries.org/sri_lanka
Global Ministries Missionaries in Sri Lanka:
Andy Jepson and Lindley Kinerk serve as Long term volunteers with the Church of the American Ceylon Mission. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.