World Communion Sunday – October 2, 2016

Refugee camp in Aleppo. Photo by IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation

Refugee camp in Aleppo. Photo by IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation

 

It’s hard for us to imagine what it means to leave your home with only what you can carry or is necessary. It’s hard for us to comprehend not knowing where your next meal will come from for yourself or your family. It’s hard for us to understand bombings and the physical violence of war where we live.

This Sunday’s Love Feast will be part of  our morning worship. With Syria and its suffering so much in the news, we’ll try to make connections as we mark World Communion Sunday.

Join us as we bear witness to people suffering around the world especially remembering those in Syria. We will humbly do a foot washing and offer communion to each other and share food.  Our love feast meal will be a simple Syrian rice dish with sides of yogurt, almonds and dried fruit.

Join us in prayer and love.

University Park Church of the Brethren
4413 Tuckerman St., University Park, Maryland

Morning worship begins at 10:50am

All are welcome!

Heeding God’s Call Memorial to Those Lost to Gun Violence

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Last year, 155 people in our metropolitan area died of gun violence: There were two children who were three years old, a 73-year old man whose life was irrevocably altered many years ago when he was shot, dozens of teens and young adults, and many in the prime years of their lives. Some died by their own hands, some at the hands of others.

We at University Park Church of the Brethren and at Hyattsville Mennonite Church stand with the faith-based efforts of “Heeding God’s Call” –lamenting this loss of life, grieving with those left behind, and calling for change to prevent such tragedies in the future.

We acknowledge that none of us is immune to fierce impulses within or beyond us.

But behind the trigger stand arrayed forces of cultural violence. Recognizing that economic interests, fear, militarism, poverty, and racism are at play, we want not only to mourn the tragedy of gun violence, but to transform it.

The One who calls us to seek the welfare of the city in which we live is here among us. In this place and beyond, many are working to address causes of the crisis.

They tend to the vulnerable.

They advocate for just regulation and accountability.

They invite us to join in stepping forward to act.

Today, we light the peace lamp as a sign of our commitment to be a part of this diverse community of concern and deeds. Let its flame burn steadily.

IMG_5370A Prayer

God of love,

Light a flame of love in our hearts to you,

A flame of love in our families and friends,

A flame of love for our neighbors,

A flame of love for our enemies.

As we gather in your Spirit,

Light a flame of love in our hearts for all,

From the lowliest thing that lives,

To the Name that is highest of all.

Amen.

 

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A Confession

One: God of life,

Our anxieties are too much and our trust is too little.

Falling captive to fear, we build defenses.

Through your grace

All: Turn us and transform us.

One: Removed from violent death, we are often oblivious.

Privileged enough to turn away, we close our eyes.

Through your grace,

All: Turn us and transform us.

One: Busy with our lives, we are distracted.

Ill at ease with confrontation, we remain silent.

Through your grace,

All: Turn us and transform us.

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Behind each of these shirts is not only the person it represents, but the parents, siblings, extended family, friends and neighbors who know the grief of loss.

And behind each is a hand that pulled a trigger for reasons that can, we believe, be avoided.

Behind them is a community broken by this violence, longing for healing.

And in the midst and beyond all of these is the God who yearns for the wholeness of our community and every community on earth.

We’ve heard the names. We see these shirts that remind us of their living, breathing presence in the world. And we protest their loss.

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Follow the link to see the 2015 Memorial list of 155 names (1) that each shirt is labeled with. All were a child of God that was killed by gun violence in 2014 in the Metropolitan DC area.

This post includes excerpts from the service around the setting up of the memorial at the University Park Church of the Brethren.

Peace Sunday – September 21

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We’re joining many others across the country and the world on this day in a focus on the things that make for peace. Come be a part of sharing dreams and visions that may enliven our work!

In the context of a world marked by conflict, we’ll celebrate the call to shalom…
…in worship, as we hear the challenge once again to join in active peacebuilding
…in a short prayer service around the peace pole outside (11:50)
…in a potluck and special art projects following the service (noon)

Bring a salad or dessert, and a sandwich for each person that you’re willing to divide and share. Kids will begin working on a mural project featuring their own art and visions for peace. Adults will be invited to help or to create their own work of art, as we fold cranes together like those that stand as a prayer for peace in Hiroshima, Japan.

ACT & PRAY FOR GREATER IMAGINATION

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Act and pray for greater imagination in responding to violence in the world!
As we listen to Christ’s call to nonviolence, we echo these words from Brethren Peace Ministries:

“While we join American officials in condemning the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons in an attack on its own citizens, we urge the United States to refrain from retaliating militarily.  Any intervention or attack by the United States will do nothing but escalate the violence that is already unconscionable.

Instead, we urge the President and Congress to double down the United States’ diplomatic efforts to achieve a negotiated political solution. Military strikes will do nothing but add another destabilizing element to an already volatile situation. On top of this, the United States must increase its humanitarian assistance as almost two million Syrians, of which one million are children.

 

Flickr Photo by Funkybug