Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 17, Free

freedom run 2013The thought behind the photo:
My friend Nicole Sallee has a passion to bring awareness and healing to the victims of human trafficking. Her ultimate goal is to build a safe house in central Florida. I am humbled and inspired by her dedication, vision and trust in God to bring it to pass. When I think of freedom, I think of her and the many ways she’s following God’s call to give victims a voice and a future with hope.

Click here to register for The Community Freedom Project’s next event, The Freedom Run. The 5K is a trail race consisting of two laps around the Community UMC DeBary new campus property and the 10K run will be an out and back course along Ft. Florida Road. Both events will be chip timed. The 5K trail run will be part of the Spring Final Mile Grand Prix Series.

Not a runner? Walkers are welcome! Volunteers are also needed the day of the race. Contact the church office to register to volunteer cumc@cumcdebary.org

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 61:1-4 NRSV
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

The December 17, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com 
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 146:5-10, NRSV
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

In a speech at the conclusion of a march from Selma to Montgomery, in Alabama, on March 25, 1965, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior concluded his speech with the following:

I know you are asking today: “How long will it take?” Somebody’s asking: “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed Wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking: “When will wounded Justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?” Somebody’s asking: “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will Justice be crucified, and Truth bear it?”

“Not long” was King’s response, again and again.

In this season of Advent, we are still asking the same question: How long?

Take courage and hope in the promise that God “who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever” is the same God who will deliver all of those things that were promised in the verses above.

How can each one of us be a part of the liberation God is already doing?

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Thank you Rethink Church for a great way to make preparing for Christmas more meaningful. Join me and thousands more in setting aside time to reflect, focus, and literally picture the deep themes of Jesus’ birth.

Click here for more information on Advent Photo-A-Day from Rethink Church.

Click here for a master list of links to my submissions. Lisa <><

Image of Love

Diversity is a Beautiful Thing by Donna Sullivan-Thomson

Image of Love was one of the first songs God ever gave me. It came at a point in my life when I was overwhelmed with how cruel we could be to one another. I believe the first step to real and lasting peace is for us to learn to see all people as human beings, known by God, loved by God, and made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27) Cruelty gains a foothold when another person is objectified, or at the least, seen as less than human. – Lisa <><

When we hear and heed the call to be loved, we can heave a sigh of relief and realize we don’t hold reality together by our efforts; we don’t have to spend ourselves creating and defending a self-image. God has given us our self-image as a free gift; we are created in the image of God, and we are forgiven sinners. God has called us into being; we are not our own creator; and we are not expected to be our own redeemer.
– Gregory S. Clapper, Living Your Heart’s Desire

O Lord, soften and subdue, inspire and thrill, and raise us on to the level of such glorious communion with You that we may catch Your likeness.
– Oswald Chambers

1 John 4:16b NRSV
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image of Love
How can you say I’m not worthy?
How can you say I’m not whole?
I am a child of my Maker
Whose healing can reach every soul.

I am made in the image. My value’s secure.
I am made in the image of God.
I am made in the image of One who is pure.
I am made in the image of Love.
I am made in the image of Love.
Praise be to God. All praise be to God.
I am made in the image of Love.

How can I judge my neighbor?
How can I hate and pass by?
I am a child of my Maker
Their worth I can never deny.

We are made in the image. Our value’s secure.
We are made in the image of God.
We are made in the image of One who is pure.
We are made in the image of Love.
We are made in the image of Love.
Praise be to God. All praise be to God.
We are made in the image of Love.

Sisters and brothers come take a hand.
Together we’ll travel the path.
Breathing and dancing the journey
till we are brought home at the last.

Come let us worship. Come let us sing.
We are made in the image of God.
Let glory and honor and thanks take to wing.
We are made in the image of Love.
We are made in the image of Love.
Praise be to God. All praise be to God.
We are made in the image of Love.
Praise be to God. All praise be to God.
We are made in the image of Love.

© 1999, revised 2009 by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.
Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to music or to have her original tune for this lyric notated.

For more information on the art used in this post, please refer to the copyright information page.

Doing for Others

The Good Samaritan by Dinah Roe Kendall

Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?
Martin Luther King, Jr.

God wants all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul. It is this unconditional and unreserved love for God that leads to the care for our neighbor, not as an activity which distracts us from God or competes with our attention to God, but as an expression of our love for God who reveals himself to us as the God of all people. It is in God that we find our neighbors and discover our responsibility to them. We might even say that only in God does our neighbor become a neighbor rather than an infringement upon our autonomy, and that only in and through God does sevices become possible.- Henri Nouwen, The Living Reminder

We are not commanded (or forbidden) to love our mates, our children, our friends, our country because such affections come naturally to us and are good in themselves, although we may corrupt them. We are commanded to love our neighbor because our ”natural” attitude toward the ”other” is one of either indifference or hostility.
– W. H. Auden

Saint Francis of Assisi took a novice out for a day of preaching the gospel. As they left Assisi, they helped a farmer move his cart; down the road they talked with a merchant and listened to his problems; around noon they shared their meal with a hungry beggar; soon after lunch they prayed with a sick woman; on their way back, they helped a woman carry her heavy load. When they returned to the monastery at dark, the novice commented that the day was gone and they hadn’t preached to anyone. “My son,” Francis responded, “we’ve been sharing the gospel all day long.”
– Derek Maul, 10 Life-Charged Words

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes. ― Fred Rogers

The heart is like a garden.
It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love.
What seeds will you plant there?
– Jack Kornfield

The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.
Eric Hoffer

There comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now. – Wangari Maathai

The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. -Albert Einstein

I have the view… that the human being was not made for pleasure, was not made to gratify the ego, was not made to make money, was not made to have babies: it was made to serve something bigger than oneself. We are built to serve.- Jacob Needleman

The social contract that businesses, organizations in general, have with the world is changing, and unless organizations can demonstrate and explain the social purpose and the social value that they’ve fulfilled, they will fail. They will run into insurmountable obstacles. –David Schmittlein, Dean of MIT Sloan School of Management

It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely. – Leo Buscaglia

Isaiah 58:9b-12 (NRSV)
If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

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For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Quotes: Driving out Darkness

John 12:46 CEB
I have come as a light into the world so that everyone who believes in me won’t live in darkness.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When we realize that we do not have to be clever, powerful or successful in order to be loved, then we can live in truth, come to the light and be led by the Spirit of God.
Jean Vanier, Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John

Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.
– Norman B. Rice

Life has beauty and a joy that transcends all the darkness that surrounds us, that something ineffable lives beyond the ordinary affairs of the day, and that without this mystery our lives would not be worth living.- Kent Nerbern

As the sun illumines not only the heaven and the whole world, shining on both land and sea, but also sends rays through windows and small chinks into the furthest recesses of a house, so the Word, poured out everywhere, behold the smallest actions of our life.
-Clement of Alexandria

Destroy the cave Ignorance, and you destroy the mole Crime…The only social peril is darkness. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Luke 1:78-79 (NRSV)
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

John 1:1-5 (NRSV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

When Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” he was identifying himself with the primal light of creation itself.  This should not surprise us, because as the agent of creation (John 1:3), he was present as the pre-incarnate Logos to bring light and life to the whole of creation (John 1:4, 9).  The Word became flesh to restore light/life by the conquering of darkness/death (John 3:19-21).  Jesus said it plainly: “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).   E. Stanley Jones captured Christianity’s sentiment by writing, “Jesus put a face on God.”  It is the face of light–the face that reveals God’ creative act and God’s redemptive plan.  We know we are in the presence of God when we experience “light”—when we have some form of darkness dispelled in our lives.  Contrary to the notion of some, that God brings “gloom and doom” to life, the Christian revelation, in the face of Jesus Christ, is that God brings “light and life.”
– Steve Harper, Lumen Fidei: Out of Darkness

Click Here for an inspiring message based on John 1:1-5 by Ann Voskamp entitled How to Get Through the Dark Places

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For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.