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Week 6

 

 

 

Monday, March 29

 

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.

 

Consider:  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? 

 

Pray:  For the children at Vacation Bible School who collected pennies to feed their hungry neighbors. 

 

Action:  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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Tuesday, March 30

 

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.

 

Consider: 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 responsive? 

 

Pray:  For those under 18 who make up 50% of the people served by the food bank network.

 

Action:  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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Wednesday, March 31

 

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.

 

Consider: 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? 

 

Pray:  For Teresa who would choose something to eat over a new toy because she is hungry. 

 

Action:  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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Thursday, April 1

 

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.

 

Consider:   In our walk, we are a witness to God’s 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.  God’s church speaks of love and nations march to war.  God’s church speaks of love and governments do not respond to the most vulnerable.  God’s church speaks of love and the elderly die alone.  God’s church speaks of love and children go hungry.  Perhaps, they don’t fully hear, because we don’t fully love.  How will you convey God’s love into the world, in words, yes, but also, and more importantly, in actions? 

 

Pray:  For Rashed who has a hard time concentrating at school because he has not had breakfast.

 

Action:  Provide a gift of 50 cents, one dime for each school day so that a teenager doesn’t go without breakfast. 

 

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Friday, April 2

 

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 livable again.

 

Consider:  How 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? 

 

Pray:  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. 

 

Action:  Make a gift to God of twenty cents, a penny for a month of school days of Suzanne’s embarrassment. 

 

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Saturday, April 3

 

Read:  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.

 

Consider:  It 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?” 

  

Pray:  For churches that have programs in place to help feed the hungry.

 

Action: 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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