Lectionary Selection: Isaiah 65: 17-25
Prayers for Costa Rica:
Incredibly Creative God,
Your beauty and power is evident all around us. We see your thumbprint on the faces that sit near us in worship and your footprint in the neighborhoods in which we live. The prophet Isaiah pleaded with his audience to look for your presence in all areas of life - in family, in brokenness in joy and in nature. Looking with the eyes of Isaiah for a new heaven and earth we can see the new reality for the children of the working poor in Costa Rica, where many have fled their familial lands to the cities only to struggle to find adequate food, education and a safe loving touch. Your reality gives us hope - ushered in by Fundacion de Misiones Mi Tia-Bethel in San Jose and the Cloud Forest School of Monteverde. Continue to empower those caregivers, staff and teachers who seek wholeness for children broken by poverty and neglect, empowerment for women cast aside and oppressed, liberation for those imprisoned by addiction, education for a population at risk and healing for the swaths of earth and creation found barren and scathed by greed and abuse.
God we cannot rightly address you about our marginalized women, sexualized and underserved children, our propensity to cast off the disabled and addicted without observing some of the roots of our ongoing struggle. With violence and environmental destruction as an ever present reality we are beginning to believe that retaliation, first strikes, targeted assassinations and methodical theft of timber, gold, fruit from trees and seas are normal ways of keeping our security at all costs and fueling a global economy that is speeding blindly into our future. It is only with your creative sight and through your powerful grace that we can address both the roots of our current crisis and the impacts.
Inspire us to be a people of delight and joy to see beauty and grace and to expect resurrection every moment of every day. May we open our eyes to your beautiful work and may we move our bodies to join in that work. Lord help us to participate. May we be empty tomb people walking forth with open eyes, hopeful hearts and tired muscles. Amen
Mission Stewardship Moment from Costa Rica: Seeds of Grace
The first grade class was walking down one of the many paths on the 106 acre campus at the Cloud Forest School. Passing between grassy fields and countless tropical trees of varying heights, Milton, the environmental stewardship professor, shared bits of manna to the students as they walked. He pointed his machete toward the neighboring field and shared that this whole area was once a mighty forest with trees tall and strong. People came and used axe and chainsaw to clear the land creating a very hot place in the dry months and muddy area in the wet months. Lost were the homes of the coati, monkey, toucanette, bell bird and motmot. Like so many other places in our country and world this place had no trees. He then pulled from his pocket a handful of seeds, a variety the first graders had collected from another part of campus: ficus, mahogany, and two of the 30 species of avocado represented in Monteverde. He asked the class, “how many of you have gathered these kinds of seeds, planted seeds or transplanted young trees into the earth?” All of the children raised their hands. Milton smiled and said “it was children like you who planted these many years ago” and pointed to the side of the trail that had young, but strong looking trees. Vivian, the student aid, added, “Yes, it was thirteen years ago because my class planted these. I think I planted this very tree” and she touched one of them with care.
It takes a very long time to heal a forest just as it takes a long time to raise a child or heal a broken relationship. The tree can grow with a seed, with compassion, with education and tenacity. We can learn from Milton, Vivian and a group of wild first graders that even those places that seem irredeemable can be replanted with the seeds of generosity and grace. May it be so in your lives and in our church starting today. Starting now. You hold them in your hands and in your heart, the seeds of grace. How will you use them?
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Rebecca & Scott Hardin-Nieri)
Mission Partners in Costa Rica:
- Asociacion Centro Materno Infantil "Mi Tia"
- Departamento Ecumenico de Investigaciones (DEI)
- Iglesia Evangelica Presbiteriana Costarricense (IEPC)
- Iglesia Luterana Costarricense (ILCO)
- Universidad Biblica Latino Americana
More information on Costa Rica: http://globalministries.org/lac/countries/costa-rica/
Global Ministries Missionary in Costa Rica:
Rebecca Hardin-Nieri, a member of Heart of the Rockies Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Ft. Collins, Colorado, serves as a volunteer with el Centro Educacion de Creativia (www.cloudforestschool.org) and is a critical presence with the Monteverde Friends Meeting in Monteverde, Costa Rica.
Scott Hardin-Nieri, a member of Heart of the Rockies Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Ft. Collins, Colorado, serves as a volunteer with the Quaker Community at the Monteverde Friends Meeting and el Centro Educacion de Creativia (www.cloudforestschool.org) in Monteverde, Costa Rica.
Read the latest newsletter from the Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana in Costa Rica.Read more
Iglesia Evangelica Presbiteriana CostarricenseRead more
The Latin American Biblical University (UBL) has one of the largest seminary campuses in the world - spanning two continents. Based in San Jose, Costa Rica, its program of theological education is carried out in 19 Centers in 14 countries. It is widely recognized as a leading center for theological education in Latin America and the Caribbean, preparing pastors and lay leaders for the growing Christian communities engaged in witness and service throughout the region.Read more
Partners Universidad Biblica Latino Americana Iglesia Evangelica Presbiteriana Costarricense (IEPC) (formerly Fraternidad de Iglesias Evang├⌐licas Costarricenses (FIEC)) Asociacion Centro Materno Infantil "Mi Tia" Departamento Ecumenico de Investigaciones (DEI) Iglesia Luterana Costarricense (ILCO)Read more
What a privilege it is to be a part of this wonderful community for a couple of months, lending a hand in the library. Just what have I been doing? In the beginning, I was helping Head Librarian Alvaro Perez Guzman to pull together an Internet Data Base on theological subjects for professors and students. More recently I have been helping with organization of the archives, a task that has been waiting for rescue for some time. While archives work would be dull for most people, I personally find it interesting since I happen to love the study of history - and this work is enabling me to learn a great deal about UBL's rich history. (I am also an organizer by nature.) There are other great benefits in being here. The university is set in a beautiful tropical garden, which showcases the most well known trees, shrubs and flowers of Costa Rica. How could I not love this, especially when I think of what my fellow Minnesotans are experiencing right now - winter, to be precise, and the annual struggle through snowdrifts to get just about anywhere! It has been a great extra boon to be able to trade English language skills for Spanish language skills with members of this outstanding group of theology students from all over Central and South America. How could one not live in hope when living among such a wonderful staff and students who will continue to return to their own communities throughout Central and South America year after year to share the ever-renewing good news of God's transforming work? The UBL is a treasure of an institution, a place of learning - but also a place of peace and hope and love. Ruth Jones Ruth Jones served as a Short-term Volunteer with the Library of the Latin American Biblical University, San Jose, Costa Rica. Ruth's responsibilities included data entry, shelf-reading, and retrospective conversion.Read more