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Read: Matthew 18:1-4 At about the
same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, "Who gets the highest rank in
God's kingdom?" For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the
middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless
you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to
get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and
elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom.
A two-year-old squeals with delight and
leaps from the sofa into the waiting arms of his father. A young girl grins as
she drops an egg into the mixing bowl, shell and all, believing in the end,
there will be a cake. A child laughs over the beauty of a rainbow. It is
enough that it hangs in the sky. Can you be a child? Can you be a child who
believes in the impossible, knowing that because you believe, it will be true?
Will you believe that transformation is possible, in your life, by your life?
Will you believe in love, and make it so?
For the children at Vacation
Bible School who collected pennies to feed their hungry neighbors.
Make an offering of 50 cents, one dime for each day of VBS, one dime a day to
feed your hungry neighbor.
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Read: Matthew 18:5-7 What's more, when
you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me. "But if
you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust,
you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the
lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these
God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't
have to make it worse--and it's doomsday to you if you do.
Children are always the most
vulnerable. Throughout the world, they bear the sins of the angry, the
powerful, the proud. Everyday they suffer the horrors of war, famine,
homelessness, abuse, and neglect. They are the recipients of untold
violations. Here, in the wealthiest nation on earth, hungry children pay the
cost of our apathy. In our midst, their hunger is an indictment on our
obedience and confronts the authenticity of our faith. The church is called to
respond, and so is our government. What can you do to make your laws more
responsive to hungry children? What can you do to make your church more
For those under 18 who make up 50% of the people served by the food bank
Give a gift to God of 18 cents, a penny for the ages of every poor child
receiving food through the food bank network.
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Read: Deuteronomy 15:10-11 Give
freely and spontaneously. Don't have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters
like this triggers GOD, your God's, blessing in everything you do, all your work
and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I
command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in
trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.
Hands are unique. In them there lies
violence or generosity, hatred or love, a giving over or a taking away. Hands
are the extension of our hearts, conveying into the world that which is of our
deepest nature. What will be the work of your hands? Will they be open to your
poor neighbor, the one who remains all around you, or will your hands construct
walls around your life in order to keep the other out
out there, apart from
your existence? In a congruent life, the hands that fold in prayer are also the
hands that embrace the pain of the world. What can your hands do to embrace
this one named Jesus?
For Teresa who would choose something to eat over a new toy because she is
The cheapest toys are only a few cents,
and yet they can do nothing to fill an empty stomach. Make a gift of 25 cents
so that a child might eat.
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Read: Psalms 119:4-7 You, GOD,
prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. Oh, that my
steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; Then I'd never have any
regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. I thank you for speaking
straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
our walk, we are a witness to Gods love. Yet, so many around us never hear
this word of truth, never learn of the transforming love of God for them. It is
easy to point to them as if it is their sin, their failure, their refusal to
hear. Yet for many, and maybe most, they do not hear because our words seem so
empty. Gods church speaks of love and nations march to war. Gods church
speaks of love and governments do not respond to the most vulnerable. Gods
church speaks of love and the elderly die alone. Gods church speaks of love
and children go hungry. Perhaps, they dont fully hear, because we dont fully
love. How will you convey Gods love into the world, in words, yes, but also,
and more importantly, in actions?
For Rashed who has a hard time concentrating at school because he has not had
Provide a gift of 50 cents, one dime
for each school day so that a teenager doesnt go without breakfast.
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Read: Isaiah 58:1-12 "Shout! A
full-throated shout! Hold nothing back--a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people
what's wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! They're
busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances
they're a nation of right-living people-- law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask
me, 'What's the right thing to do?' and love having me on their side. But they
also complain, 'Why do we fast and you don't look our way? Why do we humble
ourselves and you don't even notice?' "Well, here's why: "The bottom line on
your 'fast days' is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast,
but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do won't get your prayers off the ground. Do you think
this is the kind of fast day I'm after: a day to show off humility? To put on a
pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a
fast day that I, GOD, would like? "This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to
break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free
the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing
your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting
clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this
and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your
righteousness will pave your way. The GOD of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, GOD will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say,
'Here I am.' "If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit
gossiping about other people's sins, If you are generous with the hungry and
start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in
the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show
you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places-- firm
muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring
that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can
fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community
often we play at religion. How seldom we live at our faith. How will your
worship convey the love of God? How will you make the community livable again?
For Suzanne who pretends she is on a diet because she is too embarrassed to let
her high school friends know she has no money for lunch.
Make a gift to God of twenty cents, a
penny for a month of school days of Suzannes embarrassment.
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Micah 6:6-8 How can I stand up
before GOD and show proper respect to the high God? Should I bring an armload of
offerings topped off with yearling calves? Would GOD be impressed with thousands
of rams, with buckets and barrels of olive oil? Would he be moved if I
sacrificed my firstborn child, my precious baby, to cancel my sin? But he's
already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men
and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be
compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously--
take God seriously.
is easy to believe that our songs, our liturgy, our communal prayers, and our
gathering together as a connected people somehow favor God, somehow do
something that in someway builds the Kingdom. We are never really sure how that
might be, but we do it anyway, as much out of habit as any other motivator. And
it is good! It is a critical way that our faith is informed as a people of God,
this gathering together in the temple, in here
BUT ONLY if our gathering, our
songs, our prayers are connected with our response into the world, out there.
If this thing that we do on Sundays has no connection with the way we pour our
collective lives onto and through the pain of the world, then our act of
gathering only becomes another way we barricade ourselves away from Jesus who
comes to us in the lives of the least. What can you do so that your
gatherings, your worship, touches the face of God in here and out there?
For churches that have programs in
place to help feed the hungry.
Give a gift to God of 35 cents, a
nickel for every day of the week that our worship should transform our lives and
the life of the world.
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