January 13, 2018
Royal Lane Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. Learn More »
1. Be respectful of one another and each other’s experiences and stories. We want this space to be a welcoming and safe environment for all who would like to participate. We want to encourage collaboration, community, and dialogue. We understand that even amongst people who are working toward the same goals, disagreements may arise at times. We don’t want to discourage those feelings, but at the same time, we want everyone to feel respected and everyone to have the opportunity to be heard.
1a. We want to encourage a culture of "calling in" instead of "calling out."
1b. We want to promote intersectionality as a way to fully hear each other and support the reality that our struggles may look different around the same issue.
1c. We want people to be aware of individual privilege and to check themselves when appropriate. Here are some guidelines around being aware of oneself, knowing when to share, and knowing when to listen.
2. If posting materials for group members to read or view, please make sure that what you post is accurate, from a reliable source, and as unbiased as possible.
3. If telling a story, sharing an experience, or responding to someone else, please use “I” statements so as not to assume things about others or use exclusive language.
4. Try to keep things positive as much as possible. For example, if posting about something that has negative implications, accompany it with an action you plan to do and would like to see others in the group do as well. Or post a prayer, liturgy, song, chant, etc. that’s providing you with inspiration during tough times. Overall, we’d like people to post about what they’re doing to resist in their own communities to inspire actions on a larger scale.
5. Engage! The hope for this group is to be a community where ideas and actions are shared. Also a community that lifts each other up and lifts up the organizing and resistance work being done around the world. We definitely encourage participation in order for that to work.
Use these postcards to write to your Senators and Representatives and let them know your concerns as people of faith. These print 4 to a page.
1. Give your name, city, and zip/postal code, and say "I don't need a response." That way, they can quickly confirm you are a constituent, and that they can tally you down without taking the time to input you into a response database.
2. PLEASE ONLY CALL YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIVES! Your tally will not be marked down unless you can rattle off a city and zip from the state, or are calling from an in-state area code. I know you really want to give Mitch McConnell your opinion, but your call will be ignored unless you can provide a zip from Kentucky. And don't try to make this up; I could often tell who was lying before I even picked up the phone from the caller ID. Exceptions to this are things like Paul Ryan's ACA poll.
3. State the issue, state your position. "I am opposed to a ban on Muslims entering the US." "I support background checks for gun purchases." "I am in favor of the Affordable Care Act." That's it. That's all we write down so we can get a tally of who is in favor, who is against. It doesn't matter WHY you hold that opinion. The more people calling, the less detail they write down. Help them out by being simple and direct.
4. Please be nice! The people answering the phones already had the hardest job and some of the lowest pay as well, and since the recent elections now their jobs have become absolute murder, with nonstop calls for 9 hours every day. Thank them for their hard work answering the phones, because without them our representatives could not represent us.
What does this sound like?
"Hi, my name is Mark, I'm a constituent from Seattle, zip code 98***, I don't need a response. I am opposed to any ban on Muslims entering the United States and I encourage the Senator to please oppose implementation of any such ban. Thanks for your hard work answering the phones!"
This is how I wish every caller had phrased their message. It makes it easier for the people answering the phones and takes less time and emotion than a long script. I know that you want to say why, but keeping it short and sweet helps the office answer more calls per hour, meaning more people get heard. The bigger the tally, the more powerful our voice.
A. Accompaniment to deportation hearings
B. Joining/forming a Sanctuary-in-the-Streets network to show up when arrests are pending
C. Providing Know-Your-Rights printed materials in several languages in the church building
D. Attending and providing “Bystander Trainings” and other educational forums (often provided by PICO-related organizations or Jewish Voice for Peace)
E. Working with justice organizations that are working on immigrant rights and Sanctuary practices (e.g. Cosecha)
F. Cultivating and participating in a network with other congregations in your city and beyond that are practicing Sanctuary together
G. Discerning ways of physically providing Sanctuary in your church building
Reader 1: Mary knew the weariness of the journey; to Bethlehem, to Egypt, back to Nazareth. She knew the weariness, the fear, the longing for home. To Mary, we entrust the mothers, the fathers, the children who are the holy families of today, migrating in hope, in fear, in longing for peace, for something like home. We ask mercy for all migrants and for our communities who are challenged to welcome them, and to give them hope for a new life.
Reader 2: In 2003, the Bishops of the United States and Mexico agreed to four principles to guide the Church's view of immigration in a document entitled "Strangers No More: Together on a Journey of Hope." Let us pray for people and nations caught in the tangle of immigration issues.
(All: Lord hear our prayer.)
Reader 3: First, people have the right to find opportunities in their homelands. We pray for people living in places where they cannot find work for themselves and for their families. God, help us to work together to raise the standards of living for those in need. We pray to the Lord.
(All: Lord hear our prayer.)
Reader 4: Second, people have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families. Help us to be a welcoming nation. We pray to the Lord.
(All: Lord hear our prayer.)
Reader 5: Third, refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection. God of mercy, may those that work to assist refugees have the resources they need to do their work. We pray to the Lord.
(All: Lord hear our prayer.)
Reader 6: Fourth, the human dignity and right of undocumented migrants should be respected. Help us to treat each person as a brother or sister in God's family. We pray to the Lord.
(All: Lord hear our prayer.)
For whom and for what else shall we pray?
Group 1: Our journey through life is long and hard. We cannot make this trip alone. We must walk together on the journey.
Group 2: You promised to send us a helper, your Spirit. Help us to see your Spirit in those you send to journey with us.
Group 1: In the refugee family, seeking safety from violence (ALL: Let us see your Spirit). In the migrant worker, bringing food to our table (ALL: Let us see your Spirit).
Group 2: In the asylum-seeker, seeking justice for themselves and their family (ALL: Let us see your Spirit). In the unaccompanied child, traveling in a dangerous world (ALL: Let us see your Spirit).
Group 1: Teach us to recognize that as we walk with each other. You are present. Teach us to welcome not only the strangers in our midst but the gifts they bring as well.
Group 2: The invitation to conversation, communion, and solidarity: This is the help you have sent. We are not alone. Together on the journey, and for this we give you thanks.
I give you my hands - to do your work.
I give you my feet - to go your way.
I give you my eyes - to see as you do.
I give you my tongue - to speak your words.
I give you my mind - that you may think in me.
I give you my spirit - that you may pray in me.
Above all, I give you my heart - that you may love, in me God, and all humankind.
I love you my whole self - that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Jesus, who live and work and pray in me.
from Mindi Welton-Mitchell
Here are some quick things you can do in response to Betsy DeVos' confirmation. I'm planning on writing up something more formally, but I tweeted this out a little while ago. Every one of you can join a local PTA. You can also help form a PTA. They are the largest child advocacy organization in the US.
1. Join your local PTA. They are the largest child advocacy organization in the country.
2. If your PTA does not have a legislative chair, volunteer to be one. The Legislative Chair's duties are to inform local PTA of legislation
3. Attend school board meetings. Learn what the issues are in your school district. Advocate for resources.
4. Learn who your local legislators are and call or email to set up a meeting to introduce yourself. Let them know you are a concerned voter
5. Bring legislative issues back to your local PTA. Educate parents, teachers, staff, and students on what is going on.
6. Launch letter writing or call-in campaigns on issues. Make your legislators work! Organize rallies when necessary.
7. Translate your materials into other languages. Reach out to folks of different ethnic groups & invite them into leadership & advocacy.
8. Organize with legislative chairs from other PTA's in your district, and if you are at a Council level, with other councils. Get involved.
9. This is how we form Dumbledore's Army. This is how we resist. This is how we make sure that all of our students are advocated for.
10. If your school doesn't have a PTA, form one. If disabled students are not recognized/included, form a Special Needs PTA. We did.
11. There are Homeschooling PTA's, Deaf/Hard of Hearing PTA's, Japanese language PTA's, etc. All u need is willingness to advocate for students.
by Stacey Simpson Duke
For the refugee families who passed every part of the vetting process, sold all they had, and stood at the airport, ticket in hand, only to be told they could not come here after all, we pray to the Lord.
- Lord, hear our prayer.
For the children orphaned by a war we helped create, waiting to come here to the foster parents who are waiting for them, only to be told they cannot come here after all, we pray to the Lord.
- Lord, hear our prayer.
For those fleeing violence and persecution, caught in the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time, for whom we represented harbor and hope, who now see those hopes smashed, we pray to the Lord.
-Lord, hear our prayer.
For legal residents, traveling abroad, including students home on winter break, who now find themselves locked out, we pray to the Lord.
- Lord, hear our prayer.
For our own complicity in violence, for our refusal to be more than bystanders, for our willingness to let fear weigh more than fact and to let cowardice overcome our compassion, we confess, and beg your mercy. You told us and you taught us, but we have turned away. "I was a stranger and you did not welcome me." It is true. We have turned away, and our love has failed. Have mercy on us, O God, according to your steadfast love. Create in us new hearts, and put a new and right spirit in us. Deliver us from bloodshed, and save us from our own hatred. Save the world from our hatred and our fear.
The night is dark. May our fears of the darkness - of the world and of our nation and of our own lives - rest in you, and wake to hope.
by Amy Butler (posted in Peaceful Resistance by LeDayne McLeese Polaski)
All gracious and compassionate God,
Who watches over the rise and fall of nations,
Whose faithfulness outlasts empires,
Whose love is mightier than the strongest army,
And whose power exceeds that of earthly rulers:
We know that our hearts are too prone to wander away from your best dreams for our lives and communities.
You command us to love each other. But we celebrate demeaning language and laud the destructive wielding of power.
You name the poor blessed. We prefer to call them lazy, parasite, other.
You tell us to welcome the stranger as we were once strangers. Instead, we vilify our neighbors and build walls.
You urge us to use our freedom to free others. To our great shame, we gleefully use the guise of religion to discriminate and exclude.
Break open our hardened hearts with the grief of your broken heart.
Grant us the courage of vulnerability over the cowardice of pride-filled power.
Turn our fear of oppression into a fear of not loving boldly and courageously enough.
And lead us forward in ever-reconciling courage, claiming the world-changing power of love.
from Rev. Sandi John
Breathe in through your nose as you count to 4.
Hold your breath for the count of 7.
Breathe out through your mouth with your tongue behind your front upper teeth to the count of 8.
Do this 4 times.
If you get dizzy or can’t hold these counts, do 3,5, and 6. Just be sure to breathe out twice as long as you breathe in.
This will lower the level of the stress chemical cortisol in your body. Then you will be able to engage your heart, mind, and soul.
Repeat to yourself, “I am loved. I am safe right now.” Or another calming phrase of your choosing as you breathe.
As a companion to breathing with the outbreath twice as long as the inbreath, begin to move your body in any patterned rhythmic way: rock, sway, walk, drum, gently squeeze alternate arms or hands. Begin gently, just 30 seconds to a minute. Work up to 5 minutes and make 30 minutes a day your goal. Any patterned rhythmic motion of the body begins to lower the stress chemical cortisol and balance the brain. Go ahead: dance, run, bounce, do jumping jacks, try some yoga or tai chi, or more sedately tap your feet or your fingers! Be creative! Keep breathing and moving!
OK you are breathing and moving! Your cortisol is down so your brain can function to love, resist, pray, and create. Your body also needs plenty of water. Drink lots of plain old pure water. Yes, I can appreciate not wanting to drink up before a march, wondering if you’ll be able to get to a port-a-potty! But otherwise, drunk up!!
Move in rhythm!
Remember: You are loved.
"The discussion about sanctuary cities has me thinking about something that I wanted to share with you. First of all, what it means to be a sanctuary city is primarily that the community has made a declaration that local police personnel will not assist with Federal immigration efforts. They can still come in and do what they do, but they will not be assisted by local law enforcement. It is a gesture meant to foster an inclusive community, and encourage undocumented residents not to fear reaching out to police for help when needed.
But here is the point I want to make. Why wait for your town to make an official proclamation? What undocumented families in your town need more are sanctuary neighbors, as in friends, people who they trust and feel comfortable reaching out to for help if they don't know where to go, or don't feel safe going there alone.
My suggestion, in these very turbulent times, is start doing what you can to build relationships with immigrants who are part of your daily life. Let them know you are aware that these may be troubling times for them and their families, and they aren't alone. Whether they are documented, undocumented, or their family is of mixed status, they are probably feeling pretty vulnerable and concerned right now, just as we are.
If you don't already have such relationships, I have some suggestions. If you have a favorite restaurant you frequent often, you probably see the same bussers and waitstaff week after week. If you don't know their names, ask. Ask about their families, where they are from, build a friendship. As you get to know them let them know you are concerned by the things happening now, and ask them how their opinion. Start being aware of other immigrants in your life. Who cuts your grass? Shovels your snow? Washes your car? Waits with their kids at the same bus stop you do? Worships at your church, plays at the same park your family does, or shops at your grocery store? Befriend, build trust, repeat.
While you're doing this, think about how you can provide sanctuary to these new friends and their families if stuff starts getting ugly around here. If there are rumors of raids and people are afraid to go out, can you drop off groceries and diapers? Can you help provide safe transportation in an emergency? Can you help fund airline tickets for people who might decide to go home, or help them get passports for their American citizen children? Would you be willing to hold power of attorney for their kids, for an emergency if there is every a big raid and both mom and dad are detained at the same time?
It is great that so many people are talking about immigration, and what is fair and reasonable, but please don't forget that talking to immigrants about their experience and their fears and their needs is just as important." -Hunterdon (NJ) Anti-Racism Coalition
The last several weeks have been difficult ones for me, as I have struggled to stay informed with all the many appointments, policy changes, and executive orders taking place within our new presidential administration. I have had sleepless nights as I ponder on the chipping away of our civil liberties, particularly for our Muslim and immigrant brothers and sisters. I have tossed and turned thinking about the future of our country’s water and air quality as projects like the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, which we had imagined were on hold, are set to surge forward. My stomach has churned as thoughts fill my head of our beleaguered democracy, compromised by corruption, greed, and dishonesty. But in the dark of the night, I have heard the voice of God. However our situation on earth may look, God cannot be defiled. Surely, God is manifested in our hands and feet, but She is not limited by them. Had I known the outcome of our election, I would have prayed more through the process. I have made a commitment not only to act in ways which I feel led to care for my neighbors and to bolster our democracy, but also to pray and seek God’s face in the midst of these trials. God has reminded me that She is above our earthly systems. God may work through them, but is not limited by them in the same ways that we are. Although he may want us to believe it, do I really believe our new president is more powerful than God? Don’t I think God knows and sees our struggle, and will act? I confess to feeling like the future all depends on me, and I confess to feeling anger and resentment towards neighbors who either seem oblivious to the danger I perceive our country to be in, or who willingly voted us into this maelstrom of confusion. I don’t claim to have overcome these, but I confess that God has spoken words of correction and comfort into my life in the midst of them.
Either I trust God, or I don’t. I pray for strength to try. Please pray with me these words from Isaiah 40-41.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I have found challenge and comfort in these words from Jesus: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
May God give us courage to act in faith and love in these days of struggle.
Dear Needham High School Students:
Welcome back from February break! As you return to classes this week, allow me to share something I have been thinking about recently.
In the last several days and weeks there has been a lot of news about stopping people from certain Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S., deporting an increased number of undocumented immigrants, and halting Federal support for transgender student rights in the nation’s schools.
While these actions may not directly affect each Needham student or community member, collectively these actions and pronouncements impact us all by sending a message that an individual is not welcome or wanted. And when any one individual is humiliated or demeaned, our entire sense of community, inclusion, and respect is fractured and makes us all vulnerable and less safe. And that is simply unacceptable.
At a time when it seems easy to target and marginalize certain people, I want to share a personal story.
As a young boy I once accompanied my dad to work in downtown Chicago. He had a lot to do, but he said I could go with him as long as I didn’t bother him or get in the way. My father, a very serious, conservative, and busy executive, never slowed down and was always walking and working fast. So to be able to spend some time with him taking the train into the city; clinging to his side as we rushed down a packed sidewalk; observing the hustle and bustle of a colorful and chaotic urban scene dwarfed by skyscrapers… well, that was pretty thrilling to a little kid like me!
As we careened down the sidewalk toward his building, my dad suddenly halted in mid-step, causing me to stumble, and I observed him lean into a tattered beggar who was propped against a wall with his thin and dirty hand extended. Dad whispered something into the man’s ears and pressed a bill into his fingers.
Before I knew what was happening, my father grabbed my hand, practically yanked me off my feet and then we were on our way, darting between taxis, cops, and delivery trucks on our way to his office.
I was shocked my dad talked to a stranger and gave him money! My dad, who was serious, short on words, and self reliant—a man who brought us up to take care of ourselves, be wary of strangers, and mind one’s own business—my busy dad paused on his way to work and engaged, however briefly, a man down on his luck. I was amazed! He didn’t talk about it; we went to his office, and I had a great day with my dad.
Later that evening on my way to bed and still wondering about the encounter with the stranger, I approached dad with his head buried in the newspaper and asked him what he said to the man, how much money did he give him, and why did he even do that? Wasn’t he scared, I asked? My father put down the newspaper, looked me straight in the eye, paused, and then simply said, “Everyone matters.”
It took me a long time to completely realize what Dad meant that day. Eventually I understood the many lessons my parents offered me and my siblings about caring for others, being a good citizen and neighbor, and recognizing that all of us are connected and all are a meaningful part of the broader community—no matter who we are—because everyone matters. My father never told me what he whispered to that stranger, but it really didn’t matter because his simple action impressed upon me the human need to be respected and included.
I want transgender students, students and their families whose immigrant status is unclear, or any student who feels marginalized and targeted because of skin color, religious belief, disability, or gender identity to know that the Needham Public Schools has your back, and we are here to support you. We will not condone discrimination and if you or a classmate ever feels the need to ask for help, I encourage you to talk to your teachers and administrators.
A Federal order designed to keep certain immigrant groups out of the country or the dismantling of Federal protections for transgender youth impact real people and are clearly at odds with Needham’s core values of community, respect, and tolerance. While Federal officials may roll back certain protections, the Needham Public Schools will uphold our values and abide by Massachusetts laws which provide additional and greater protections to ensure all of Needham’s youth—not just some—can attend school and access an education in an inclusive and safe environment. The recent actions taken at the Federal level will have no impact on how we continue to support transgender students.
We will support you and your families because we believe in you and know that our school community is enriched by the contribution of each extraordinary young person. We also know that even if only one of us is hurting, if only one of us feels unsafe, all of us have a responsibility to stand up and take care.
Because we know and we believe… Everyone Matters.
I look forward to seeing you around school in the days and weeks ahead.
Superintendent of Schools
Hi sisters and brothers! I just wanted to share a spot of encouragement. I have a feeling many of you may be having similar experiences.
I work in a secular non-profit. Most of my coworkers and I have been there for 8-10+ years, and we have become extremely close. I am the only unabashed "Jesus freak" in a generally non-religious group. They are the most compassionate, generous, feisty bleeding-heart fellow pilgrims you can imagine.
Since 45 first landed his party's nomination, my friends and I have been arm-in-arm in acts of peaceful resistance and love. My participation has increasingly made them all EXTREMELY curious about Jesus. It seems my friends have gotten just enough "toxic Christianity" from tweets and soundbites that they've been inoculated against anything that smacks of religion.
Just by (very imperfectly) following Jesus' commands to care for the vulnerable, and specifically by speaking against injustice by the current administration, I find myself messing up their pigeonholes and paradigms. Having come to associate Christianity with the Franklin Grahams of the world, my friends are perplexed and intrigued as to how a passionate follower of Jesus could be fighting for peace and justice for immigrants, refugees, the environment etc.
It's been a delicious opportunity to share Matthew 25, unpack the implications of the parable of the Good Samaritan, and generally to share that my convictions aren't in spite of my faith, but in direct obedience to the Lord.
Whether they completely realize it yet or not, several of my friends are clearly falling in love with a Jesus they never heard about before. (Admittedly, I'm completely bumbling my way through being His representative, and I make myself cringe with my missteps daily, but fortunately He seems to like working through weird and broken vessels.)
This is truly a season of letting our lights shine and being mirrors to the beauty of our Lord's love. The truth of grace can truly stand out against the ugly antithesis. The Spirit is up to holy mischief through and among us. Be encouraged!
These are my remarks at today's Heal the Land service, a prayer service at the site of our city's last homicide.
The University of Sioux Falls observed genocide awareness week this week. It was student led and the centerpiece was called the Tunnel of Oppression.
On Wednesday this week, I was joined to two college students, to make our way from one small room to the next, 10 rooms in all, called the Tunnel of Oppression. (They were the music practice rooms, maybe 6’ x 10’. (Each room called attention to a single genocide event. There were rooms for Native Americans, Slavery, Bosnia, South Sudan, and of course the Holocaust.
Near the end of the Tunnel was the Syria room. We were already somber; we had been through 7 rooms already. The walls of the Syria room were plastered with pictures and news clips. Starting at our immediate left was 20 year old news of using poison gas on the Syrian people. I thought, “That’s today’s news!” (Skipping ahead—at the end, just before we exited was the whole news article, the current news of poison gas being used on Syrian children”.)
Continuing in the Syria room—at the end of the room, opposite the door, was a big map and a male student, dressed in a black suit and tie. He could have been the Director of the CIA. He was an actor in the project.
Syria was at the center of the map. There was Iran and Iraq and Turkey. There was Saudi Arabia. The presidents of the countries were stuck on the map like pawns-- they could be moved around. The United States was represented on the map by our president. The actor pondered the map, and the room was silent.
Soon, in the small space, the actor was in our way for moving around the corner. At that moment he spoke up authoritatively, speaking directly to the student in front of me. He summarized the role of all the players on the map, and concluded: “We have two choices. We can send in a CIA project and bomb ISIS off the face of the earth, or we can just walk away. What do we do?”
Then it was my turn. “We have two choices. We can send in a CIA project and bomb ISIS off the face of the earth, or we can just walk away. What do we do?” I meekly said, “good job” so he wouldn’t have to break character. He boomed back, “I need an answer, we have 3 seconds!”. He was in my face!
That was Wednesday. Obviously I’ve pondered that Tunnel ever since. I now know what I wish I had said. I wish I had answered just as authoritatively, “You’ve given me two impossible choices. There are more choices between these two extremes. Gather your best people, work together, work around the clock, and have three reasonable choices on my desk Wednesday morning.”
This lent, I am been reading devotionals based on Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech called “Beyond Vietnam”. Wednesday, this week, was the 50 year anniversary of that speech. (That’s the day I was in the Tunnel of Oppression.)
In his speech, Dr. King said,
These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man [and woman] of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his [or her] convictions, but we must all protest.
Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing.
. . .
We will be marching . . . without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.
"Hosanna, O God! We lift our voices in praise to the one who comes to lead us from the darkness and into the light. We praise your holy name, and on this Palm Sunday, invite you into this house of worship.
On this day, as we begin our own journey towards the Cross, we ask that your Spirit come. Come and break our hearts this Palm Sunday. As we remember the one who came on the back of a donkey, a symbol of peace, remind us of Jesus' words. Remind us to love our enemies, even when it is easier to hate them. Give us the courage to stand in peace, showing the other cheek. Especially when it is easier to crouch in rage against those who hurt the innocent.
Enter our hearts this Palm Sunday, when we begin reading the last week of Jesus' life. Remind us of the one who said, "Blessed are the peacemakers," and "Those who live by the sword, will die by the sword." Come, Holy Spirit, come and fill us with the power of a love that conquers death and despair. Lift the Body of Christ to its feet so that it stand for your Gospel. Take our hearts, O God, and set them on fire.
Dear God, Beloved Spirit, Divine Mother
On this day I ask You to grant this request:
May I know who I am and what I am,
every moment of every day.
May I be a catalyst for light and love,
and bring inspiration to those whose eyes I meet.
May I have the strength to stand tall in the face of conflict
and the courage to speak my voice, even when I am scared.
May I have the humility to follow my heart
and the passion to live my Soul's desires.
May I seek to know the highest truth
and dismiss the gravitational pull of my lower self.
May I embrace and love the totality of myself, in darkness
as well as my light.
May I be brave enough to hear my heart,
to let it soften so that I may gracefully choose faith over fear.
Today is my day to surrender anything that stands between
the sacredness of my humanity and my divinity.
May I be drenched in my Holiness
and engulfed by Your love.
May all else melt away.
And so it is!
A horrific act of violence was inflicted on the people of New York City. In times like this, our nation looks to its leaders for comfort and guidance -- none of those leaders more so than the President of the United States. Unfortunately, President Trump and his allies are using Tuesday’s attack to divide Americans, trumpet bigoted policies, demonize immigrants and Muslims, and erode our justice system. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even called it a “religious war.”
We are standing up to this bullying and this disgusting use of a national tragedy as cover to write bigotry into law and criminalize an entire religion.
Let’s be clear: what happened yesterday is not about religion. Violence isn’t owned by any one faith or political ideology – this is made clear by attacks like Charlottesville, the congressional baseball shooting, and the Charleston church shooting. Any ideology can be used as an excuse for deranged behavior. Sayfullo Saipov does not represent Muslims any more than the Ku Klux Klan represents Christians.
President Trump and Senator Graham are suggesting that the suspect should be treated as an enemy combatant and sent to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, outside our criminal justice system. The President is also calling for an end to the diversity visa program and renewing his calls to pervert our national security screening to discriminate against Muslims. That is unacceptable.
We cannot allow fear to displace our shared values and the fundamental rights and freedoms we stand for as a nation. President Trump would have us capitulate to fear. We will not.
Now, more than ever, we must stand together as one diverse and unified nation.
Thank you for standing with us.
Last night, the administration terminated the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Nicaragua, effective January 5, 2019. The administration also was unable to decide whether to extend TPS for Honduras, resulting in an automatic six-month extension until July 5, 2018. DHS signaled the possibility that the TPS designation for Honduras might also be terminated at the end of the six-month automatic extension. This decision illustrates the administration’s prioritization of anti-immigrant sentiment over an honest assessment of in-country conditions. It also shows the cruelty and inhumanity of DHS to force TPS holders to live with greater uncertainty and fear.
It is critical this decision is met with a swift and powerful response by our elected leaders and community members. Our Senators and Representatives need to hear that their constituents stand with TPS holders and call on Congress to ensure TPS holders are protected from deportation. Take 6 minutes to call your Members of Congress (2 minutes per Member) right now and make your voice heard!
Urge Your Members of Congress to Support TPS Holders and #SaveTPS!
Please call 3x for your 2 Senators and 1 Representative
Sample Script: “I’m your constituent from [City, State]. As a person of faith and a constituent, I stand in solidarity with my immigrant neighbors, support Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and strongly condemn the administration’s termination of TPS for Nicaragua and am concerned that TPS will only be extended for six-months given the administration's lack of action. TPS is designed to protect people from being returned to harm and is extended based on country conditions. More than 300,000 of our neighbors are TPS holders from these countries, who contribute billions of dollars to our economy. Nearly 273,000 U.S.-citizen children have a parent with TPS. Tearing apart families and devastating communities is immoral and wrong. I urge [the Senator or Representative] to do everything they can to ensure that the administration reinstates TPS for Nicaragua; extends TPS for Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti for at least another 18 months; and supports legislation that would ensure stability for TPS recipients who have lived here for many years, would face extreme hardship if deported, or are otherwise eligible for permanent residence."
DHS has yet to reach a decision on TPS for Haiti or El Salvador. Violence, weak institutions, and a lack of human rights protections in Central America, as well as food, housing, and public health crises in Haiti persist. As people of faith, we have an urgent call to stand with TPS holders and tell the administration to do everything they can to see TPS protections extended and pass a permanent legislative solution.
Here is what Bread for the World says about the tax cut proposal:
Call (800-826-3688) your members of Congress and urge them to reject H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This bill provides massive tax cuts that will be paid for by cuts to low-income programs and the safety net.
from BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz Partner Congregation pastor Laura Mayo (Covenant Church, Houston, TX)
"I received an email this morning from Houston Matters (local NPR show) asking if Covenant Church planned to increase security. I responded:
'We want everyone at Covenant Church to feel welcome and safe, but increasing security will not achieve this aim. The problem we face is gun violence. Gun violence is a uniquely American epidemic. Since 1968, 1.5 million people have been killed by guns in America, which is more than all of the wars in American history combined. Assault-style rifles are being used to slaughter people: Aurora: AR-15, Orlando: Sig Sauer MCX, Las Vegas: AR-15, Santa Monica Community College: AR-15, Sandy Hook: AR-15, Umpqua Community College: AR-15, San Bernardino: AR-15, Sutherland Springs: AR-15. We must change. I do not mean change the level of security at houses of worship, I mean change the way we view guns, violence, and terror. The ability of civilians to own guns designed to inflict maximum casualties is not worth 1.5 million dead people over 50 years.
At Covenant Church, we seek to follow in the peaceful ways of Jesus. In the last week of Jesus’ life, he marched into Jerusalem, the seat of religious and imperial power, knowing he faced execution. As he journeyed toward Jerusalem, he stopped to weep over the city and cry, 'If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace' (Luke 19). Can we recognize the things that make for peace? Sensible gun laws, background checks, keeping military style weapons away from people with histories of violence, at the very least, surely these are things that will make for peace. It is not pro-life to pretend that nothing can be done while innocent people are slaughtered in houses of worship, in dance clubs, schools, and movie theaters. Faith without works is dead. Are we willing to do more than offer thoughts and prayers? Are we willing to act?
I believe God uses each of us to answer prayers. God uses us. We are the answer to our thoughts and prayers. Our actions are answers. Our actions are prayers. We pray with our calls for change, we pray with our votes, we pray with our refusal to let such violence become the norm. I keep thinking of the words of Teresa of Avila: 'Christ has no body but ours, no hands, no feet on earth but ours; ours are the eyes with which Christ looks compassion on this world, ours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good.''"
Click here for a video of the group singing We Are Called by David Haas.