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Week 5




Monday, March 22


Read:  John 14:15  "If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you.


Consider:  Jesus demonstrates his love for us with his life, and he calls us to do the same, to open ourselves to the other, to live in such a way that others might live as well.  This is what it means to love -- reaching out, weeping over, lifting up, struggling for, being with, caring, bearing, holding, suffering, loving.  Jesus loves you, will you love him to?  How? 


Pray:  For those who have helped the food bank network here distribute over 22 million pounds of food to feed the hungry. 


Action:  Give 22 cents to feed hungry children, one penny for each million pounds of food distributed, one penny for each million meals. 


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Tuesday, March 23


Read: John 15:12-15  This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you.  This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.  You are my friends when you do the things I command you.  I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father.


Consider:  In the scheme of things, Jesus journeys with those who are of low account, the fishermen, the tax-collector, the zealot, those on the fringes of society, those whom the world dismisses, or overlooks, or simply takes for granted.  They are the ones who do the menial jobs of our culture, the cooks, cleaning women, the janitors and garbage collectors.  Jesus travels with them, gives his life for them, and then, calls them friend.  Who are your friends?  How might you be a friend to Jesus? 


Pray:  For Mr. Almeida who shares his only sandwich with a friend waiting in line with him to find work. 


Action:  Make an offering of 14 cents, it won’t buy a sandwich, but at the food bank, it will buy a pound of food. 


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Wednesday, March 24


Read:  Psalms 126:1-6  A pilgrim song. It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when GOD returned Zion's exiles. We laughed, we sang, we couldn't believe our good fortune. We were the talk of the nations-- "GOD was wonderful to them!" GOD was wonderful to us; we are one happy people. And now, GOD, do it again-- bring rains to our drought-stricken lives So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.


Consider:  For so many of our poor neighbors, drought is not a passing season, drought is a life circumstance, a constant reality that always makes life a struggle.  Drought is the reality of education systems which relegate the poor to the bottom line.  Drought is a place where lives become a statistic.  Drought is another empty promise.  Drought is never having enough of anything but heartache and more poverty.  How can we be the rain?  How do we help God to do it again? 


Pray:  For those who walk in CROP Walks each year so that others may eat.


Action:  Give two bits for the rain, 25 cents to paint a rainbow. 


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Thursday, March 25


Read:  Luke 2:5-7  He went with Mary, his fiancÚ, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.


Consider:  A poor infant lying in a food trough, born to peasant parents in a place they did not call home.  The savior of the world comes as powerlessness.  Aside from our accomplishments, aside from how we have “made it,” there in the darkness of night when we know the truth, when we know our own mortality, we too might find that little powerless Jesus that dwells in each of us.  It is that Jesus, who connects us with the brokenness of the world, with those who stand in lines, with those for whom there is no bed, with those who are handed life with few options, few choices.  How will you love this infant, how will you love those who stand in line?  Can you embrace that powerless little Christ in you? 


Pray:  For those who stand in line to receive food baskets to feed their families during the holiday seasons. 


Action:  Provide a gift of 12 cents, so that others might eat during the days of Christmas. 


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Friday, March 26


Read:  1 Peter 1:17   You call out to God for help and he helps--he's a good Father that way. But don't forget, he's also a responsible Father, and won't let you get by with sloppy living. Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.


Consider:  The journey of the poor is often a journey of feet on dirt.  Even here in this nation of abundance, in a place where almost everyone rides, the poor continue to walk.  Broken cars, too expensive insurance, high fuel prices.  The poor know what it means to be constantly connected with the mud and the muck, the filth of the gutter, and the refuse of the street.  Jesus walked too and he continues to call us to this walk of incarnation, proclaiming life on earth as it is in heaven.  What journey do we choose?  How can we walk with those who have no choice but to walk? 


Pray:  For Miss Emily who walks to the grocery each afternoon to see which perishables have been marked down. 


Action:  Make a gift of 35 cents, seven nickels, one for each day that Miss Emily walks. 


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Saturday, March 27


Read:  Job 24:2-7, 22-24  There are people out there getting by with murder-- stealing and lying and cheating. They rip off the poor and exploit the unfortunate, Push the helpless into the ditch, bully the weak so that they fear for their lives. The poor, like stray dogs and cats, scavenge for food in back alleys. They sort through the garbage of the rich, eke out survival on handouts. Homeless, they shiver through cold nights on the street; they've no place to lay their heads.


However much they strut and flex their muscles, there's nothing to them. They're hollow. They may have an illusion of security, but God has his eye on them. They may get their brief successes, but then it's over, nothing to show for it. Like yesterday's newspaper, they're used to wrap up the garbage.


Consider:  Free enterprise, the right to make money, the ability to offer almost any product if there are those willing enough, or ignorant enough, or desperate enough to buy it, make all you can – buyer beware – this is the mantra of a market system that does not consider Kingdom economics.   In our society there is a whole industry that preys on the poor, the desperate, and the disenfranchised.   The market for auto loans to high-risk borrowers have become crowded with Wall Street companies eager to reap profits from loans with interest rates of 25% or more.  Rent-to-own stores sell TVs and furniture on weekly and monthly installment plans at prices that equal interest rates of 100, 200, even 300 percent.  Trade schools and banks have earned billions by peddling the dream of good jobs to high-school dropouts.  They take advantage of easy access to federal student-loan money by running or financing sham schools that do little to educate and leave students with ruined credit and big loan debt.  Banks have left poor and struggling neighborhoods mirroring the actions of main-line religious denominations.  As the adage goes, it’s costly to be poor.  Yet, in God’s realm, in the really-real, justice IS.  The question is this, where do we align ourselves?  What can you and your church do to work for justice? 


Pray:  For Mr. Harris who goes to bed very early to keep warm.  No bank would loan him funds to repair his home but a credit company would.  His roof doesn’t leak, but now he pays excessive interest rates leaving him no funds for heat.   


Action:  Make an offering of 27 cents, a typical interest rate for poor folks.


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