First Sunday of Advent: Led in Paths of Light

By Susan Gillies

1stAdventlemurAdvent is a time for spiritual preparation. In Advent we use candles as symbols of the coming of Jesus, the light of the world. We put lights on the Christmas tree, we even line the outside edges of our houses with lights. But instead of a deeply joy-filled attitude of love, the season too often becomes a time of frantic, overdone Christmas-mania.

In Romans 13 we are instructed to care for each other. We are told to wake up from our sleep. “Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires,” (Romans 13:12b-14). The Message ends the passage with “Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

This passage starts OK. It’s easy enough for most of us to turn our noses down at even the idea of drunkenness, debauchery, and licentiousness. But then it has to go on and mention quarrelling and jealousy. Oh, oh. A church I love dearly was nearly shredded to pieces a year ago by quarrelling and jealousy. And it isn’t the only church that has experienced this. Some of us spend more time judging than we do loving. We often ignore the sin in which we are engaged while condemning others. I wish we’d stop getting so angry with people who wish us “Season’s Greetings.” Respond with “Merry Christmas!” with a smile.

We are called to walk in the light. What would it mean if we gave serious thought to moving toward the light of Christ by living like Christ in these days of preparation? What if we set aside any frantic competition of the season? What if we simply operated in a spirit of love, preparing the way of the Lord? There is an old song with this refrain: “How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, Stepping in the light, stepping in the light, How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, Led in paths of light.” I think the idea is captured in words from one of the verses: “Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance, Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love.” This is the way of Advent.

susanpic23Dr. Susan Gillies serves as interim general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA.

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Living into the Beloved Community

Beloved Community Logo

This month I’ve been exploring what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said and wrote about the Beloved Community because our AB Women’s Ministries mission focus for 2015-16 is “See…the Beloved Community: Transformative Relationships.” Dr. King spoke often about agape love that seeks the best for all persons. Such love extends from the source of love: God. In the Bible, the short New Testament book of 1 John (especially chapters 3 and 4) describes agape love. These verses may be familiar to you:

  • God is love. (1 John 4:16)
  • We love because God first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
  • This is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3:11)
  • We know love by this, that [Jesus] laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. (1 John 3:16)
  • Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (1 John 3:18)

It is not enough to simply espouse the words without living out this selfless love in our relationships with others. Dr. King envisioned a Beloved Community and the vision guided his principles for justice without violence. For him, justice is the result of agape love. Similar to the dichotomy of God’s Kingdom on earth being present now but not yet, Dr. King repeatedly urged Americans to live into the vision of being the Beloved Community.

American Baptist Women’s Ministries shares this vision to live into the fullness of Beloved Community. In 2014, our national board sought counsel from our constituency and we learned that while we preached justice for all, in truth we had some work to do to remove barriers that were excluding women and girls from full participation in our ministries. We began our work as a board to design how AB Women’s Ministries will live out our cultural reality into God’s intentional desire. Our cultural reality is that God’s diversity is expressed through the races/ethnicities and cultures of American Baptist women and girls. Our cultural reality is one of multiple generations: young girls, teen-age girls, young adult women, women in their midlife years, and elders. Our cultural reality is that American Baptist women and girls worship in a variety of languages and worship styles. Our challenge is to develop a more beloved community through AB Women’s Ministries. Our call is for transformative relationships—agape love for one another—that seeks the best for all persons.

We’re currently developing tactics to address four strategic themes drawn from what women and girls told us through extensive interviews and opinion surveys.

  • Strengthened Relationships. The result that we are striving for is that women and girls build strong racial/ethnic, cultural, generational, and multi-language relationships, experienced as a beloved community.
  • Inclusive Leadership. The result that we are striving for is that leadership throughout the organization reflects generational, racial/ethnic, and social status realities where everyone’s voice may be heard.
  • Relevant and vital programming/missions. The result that we are striving for is Christ-centered women and girls serving God by living Luke 4:18-19* in radical and relevant acts of mission and ministry.
  • Competent, responsive governance. The result that we are striving for is that women and girls leverage the craft of making quality decisions amid differences, similarities, and related tensions.

Living as the Beloved Community calls for each person to love others because God first loved them, to lay down our individual need to speak and make decisions so that others’ voices and perspectives can also shape ABWM’s ministries, and to love one another through transformational relationships that seek the best for all.

*Luke 4:18-19 provides us inspiration by Jesus’ missional reference to Isaiah 61:1-3— to bring good news to the oppressed, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty and release… to provide for those who mourn and give them a garland instead of ashes, a mantle of praise instead of a faith spirit.

Virginia Holmstrom 2012 smVirginia Holmstrom serves as executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries.

Prayers for Myanmar (Part 2)

by Sandy Hasenauer

13yearoldNum Kasha*, 13 years old, was living in an IDP camp in the Kachin state, when her camp was shelled by the Myanmar army. Num Kasha was in the path of the shell; 20 people around her were killed. She survived, but is paralyzed and her back is covered with burns from neck to foot. She and her mother were living in an apartment owned by the Kachin Baptist Church in Mandalay while Num Kasha received medical treatment. Please pray for Num Kasha and her family, that she is healed.

 


2014-12-15 14.00.43Ding-gai Kasha* has a disabled son, so at age 73 she was still out in the fields watching the cows near her village the day the military attacked. She took her son and fled the village, eventually arriving in Myitkyina at one of the IDP camps. By the time she arrived, she was very sick: she couldn’t stand, see, or hear–she ached all over and struggled with mental confusion. Although she was finally able to walk again several months later, she had no money to go to the hospital. Periodically people give her the equivalent of a dollar or two so that she can buy medicine. “I want you to pray for me,” she asked us. “What I’m suffering, the prayers will help me get well. I can’t eat, and I can’t sleep either.”


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Ding-gai Kasha*, aged 68, heard the guns starting near her village and ran to her pastor’s home. Several other families had arrived there at the same time. When the shooting subsided, they decided to return to their homes. But soon the shooting started again, and she saw people running away; others were driving motorcycles and people were jumping on behind them just to get away. She and her family ran. She has 11 children but she doesn’t know where they all are; they were separated as they fled the village. “Please pray for the families,” she asks. 


 

2014-12-15 13.52.43Ding-gai Kasha* fled when her village was attacked by the Burma military. She had no money and didn’t know where to run. The military burned all the bridges leading to her village, so the villagers had to build bamboo rafts to cross the river. They knew they risked being shot, so they hid in the jungles for weeks on end. Many families had young children, and hiding in the jungle was difficult. Young girls were caught by soldiers and raped. Families were separated and they still don’t know where everyone is. Finally, nearly 5 weeks after fleeing her village, she was able to find her way to a newly-founded IDP camp. Ding-gai Kasha shared that their food rations have been cut recently as NGOs pulled out of supporting the IDP camps. Many children won’t go to school because they’re afraid of being separated from their parents; they are afraid of the dark and have nightmares of running from soldiers. Many men won’t stay in the camps because the Burma military has sometimes attacked camps, killing men and boys. “I give thanks to everyone for the help we’ve been given,” Ding-gai Kasha says. “But everything I owned is now gone.” Please pray for the elders who have lost homes of a lifetime, family members, and everything that may have given them some security in old age. 


IDP stands for “internally displaced person,”or, to put it in more real terms: “a refugee in your own homeland.” People sometimes become internal refugees due to natural disasters, famine, or deep poverty, but they also become refugees in their own homeland due to civil war or persecution. Many people in the U.S. are familiar with the stories of the Karen and Chin refugees, many of whom have now resettled in the U.S. The Kachin people had been living under a cease fire agreement with the Burma military until 2011, so they had not been in the refugee camps on the Thai-Burma Border in large numbers as with the Karen, nor in Malaysia as with the Chin. However, in 2011 the military broke the cease-fire with the Kachin, beginning a period of armed conflict that continues today. (For current news and events from the Kachin State, visit www.kachinlandnews.com.)

It is now estimated that, due to warfare, over 200 Kachin villages have been destroyed since 2011. There are now over 100,000 Kachins living as refugees in their own homeland.

Because so many Kachins are Baptist, the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) has taken primary responsibility for the IDP camps–many are even on the grounds of Baptist churches. The Kachin Baptist Convention has set up an office and staff addressing the needs of their refugee brothers and sisters; the Kachin Baptist Women’s Ministry includes representation from among the IDPs on their leadership team.

There are over 108 IDP camps spread throughout the Kachin State. There is no budget for the education of children; many of the camps have a disproportionate number of children and elders. Men are either in the Kachin Independence Army, or hiding from the military away from the IDP camps, or out trying to find work elsewhere. Elders were, in many cases, separated from their families and village communities while fleeing and are now living in IDP camps with little means to support themselves. When the camps were first set up in 2011 and 2012, the ones nearer to populated areas received support from international NGOs (non-governmental organizations). However, those NGOs have since pulled back support or pulled out altogether. Former financial allowances have severely decreased or stopped; food rationing is tighter; medical care is less available. The Kachin Baptist Convention is stretched to the limit trying to cover the needs of the IDP camps. Although there are cease fire negotiations going on, the Kachin people do not yet feel it’s safe to return home and, in many cases, they have no homes left to return to.

We visited four camps, all within easy reach of Myitkyina, and so all had received some level of support from NGOs early on. Many camps are beyond the reach of foreigners, located in mountainous regions of the Kachin State and surrounded by bad roads, military battles in the area, land mines, and government control of passage–foreigners aren’t allowed in many areas of the Kachin State. These IDP camps have received little or no support from NGOs because NGOs weren’t allowed into those areas. The KBC is doing what it can. AB Women’s Ministries has given the Kachin Baptist Women’s Department a grant from our Women and Girls Mission Fund to help support their work with the IDP camps in the Kachin State.

While viewing this photo gallery that’s just a very tiny representation of the 100,000 people living in 108 camps, please be in prayer that God’s peace and justice may reign in the Kachin State, in Myanmar, and around the world.

*Names changed for safety. Num Kasha means “little girl” in Kachin; Ding-gai Kasha means “older woman.”

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headshot higherresRev. Sandra DeMott Hasenauer serves as associate executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries and is on the ABCUSA Burma Refugees Commission. This is her second trip to Myanmar (Burma), the first being in 1998. She has also visited the refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border, and enjoys the new life of her home church of Lake Avenue Baptist Church in Rochester, New York, as in the last several years it has welcomed over 150 new friends and members originally from Burma.

Vessels: A Spiritual Pilgrimage to the Republic of Georgia

By Deborah Malavé Díaz

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American Baptist women and women from Republic of Georgia

In April of this year, I had the opportunity to go for the second time to the Republic of Georgia; a team of six American Baptist women traveled there on what we have called a “spiritual pilgrimage.” My experience the first time we went in 2014 was marked by a blessed uncertainty as personal circumstances almost prevented me from going. It was an intense pilgrimage marked by the everyday discovery of the Georgian people, history and culture, breathtaking Caucasus Mountains, rivers and the Black Sea. None of these compare to the amazing hospitality we enjoyed throughout our stay. The people of the Republic of Georgia, as an intrinsically religious people, treat their guests as God instructed in the Old Testament: as messengers of God, as angels. So there we were, far from our homes but, unbeknownst to us, received as “angels.” I asked myself, if we are treated as messengers of God, what message are we to deliver? Our journey lead us to discover how over the last 20 years the Georgian Baptist Church, a religious minority under pressure to survive, has been able to build bridges of friendship among other religious groups and the nation—not by preaching and the Gospel, as we Westerners are used to, but by transforming themselves into vessels of service to reach out and help others in need just as Christ did.

20150419_195735On our way to Georgia, I was looking forward to reconnecting with the Baptist and Muslim friends we had met the first time and with whom we had kept in touch by social media. I was excited to meet more Georgian women. I wanted to listen to them, share, laugh, learn, and pray with them. I wanted to see and walk in their shoes. In a society dominated by men, this mission proves at times to be challenging: In a sense, I couldn’t find their shoes, their real shoes.

As I trusted our blessed pilgrimage, we spent time talking to young adult Muslim women, all of them theologian college students; and we stayed overnight with a group of Muslim teenagers where we shared quality time with them. We stayed with Georgian families, spoke to Baptist women from different churches, accompanied the deaconesses of the Baptist St. Nino’s Order as they visited the sick and needy under their care, went to the U.S. Embassy and to the Public Defender Office in Tbilisi, the capital city of the Republic of Georgia.

20150425_142034I found the women’s shoes… but they were too heavy to wear and hard to walk in as I had naively wished at the beginning of this journey. I saw their struggles and experienced just a tiny fraction of it. Each day, Georgian women wake up to raise their children to become better than they are, have beautiful homes and at the same time make ends meet because their economy is in dire circumstances. They live surviving alcoholism, domestic violence, and sexual abuse, navigating a society where women are expected to be hard workers, devoted wives, mothers, and daughters, and to do it all in silence. They all carry the same burden and yet the Baptist and Muslim women we met did all they could to make us feel at home and welcome. Their hearts are a big as the Caucasus Mountains. The way these women love and help others is the unseen key to the ongoing transformation through service and love led by the Baptist Church and the Muslim groups.

20150419_142716On our way back to America, I found myself thankful for each day, the good and bad ones too, for friendships, the hospitality, and the lessons learned. I went back to my initial question: what message did God have us deliver to Georgians? As I reflected on what I had heard, shared, laughed, learned and prayed about with our fellow Georgian brothers and sisters, I discovered that we were not delivering messages from God. We were the ones receiving a message from God: to build bridges of friendship, breaking barriers in new ways, not only by preaching but by transforming ourselves into vessels of service to reach out and help others in need as Christ did.

Deborah Malave DiazDeborah Malavé Díaz is a member of the Primera Iglesia Bautista de Caguas in Peurto Rico. A life-long Baptist, Deborah grew in leadership through Baptist youth boards, camps, and rallies, in Christian theater and singing ministries. She is actively involved in Mujeres Bautistas de Puerto Rico (AB Women’s Ministries of Puerto Rico), having served as MBPR coordinator of Young Adult Women’s Ministries and coordinator of her region’s 2013 and 2014 Annual Assemblies. Deborah is the nominee for AB Women’s Ministries national coordinator of events, 2015-2018; elections are held at the AB Women’s Ministries annual meeting at Women’s Day, June 26, 2015.

6th Sunday of Lent: The Triumphal Entry/La Entrada Triunfal

By Annette Pacheco

Based on Mark 11:1-11.

Palm Sunday Procession, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54312 [retrieved February 24, 2015]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johndonaghy/3415402416/.

Palm Sunday Procession, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://bit.ly/1w86hr7 [retrieved February 24, 2015]. Original source: http://bit.ly/1wkBtcG.

Today we celebrate the day called “Palm Sunday,” the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem one week prior to his crucifixion and death. Why this is called “Palm Sunday?” Because according to the Gospel of John the crowds in Jerusalem came out to greet Jesus carrying palm branches, which they either waved or strewed in his path.

In the ensuing days, Jesus did cleanse the Temple, but he didn’t raise a finger against the Romans. In fact, he didn’t even raise his voice against them. By Friday, enough of the multitude were sufficiently disenchanted with Jesus that the Temple priesthood who had engineered his arrest and delivered him to the Romans on the treasonous charge of claiming to be “King of the Jews” were able to turn them against him. And now they chanted not cries of “Hosanna!” but “Crucify him! Crucify him!” And so to the cross he went, to die as he knew he must.

The crucifixion of Jesus was not an accident that befell him unawares while visiting Jerusalem. Rather Jesus understood and embraced his calling to undergo so excruciating a death. In fact he deliberately provoked the events that would lead to his execution. He understood himself to be the Shepherd-King prophesied by Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9) and openly assumed this role in his provocative triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Throughout the process he displayed his foreknowledge of the events of his passion: the finding of the donkey, the arrangements for his last Passover Supper in the upper room, Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s three-fold denial, the disciples deserting him, his deliverance to the Gentiles, his scourging, humiliation, and execution. He announced all these things in advance. He thereby showed himself to be Lord over history.

Jesus doesn’t always meet our expectations. Jesus was radically different than our expectations. As Zechariah had prophesied he came humbly and bringing peace. The Kingdom of God which he preached and inaugurated was not an earthly, political kingdom, but the rule of God in the hearts of people who know and serve him. But this was not the kingdom which the people expected or wanted, and so they rejected Jesus as their Lord.

In our Christian lives, as we grow older we all encounter situations in which God does not fulfill our expectations. And the temptation in all these situations is to bail out of what the Christian faith teaches and to do things your own way. You give up confidence in Gods’ love for you and no longer trust God. When God doesn’t live up to our expectations, then we reject God and do things the way we think they should be done or dislike God for not giving us what we want. Jesus is Lord. He’s under no obligation to live up to your expectations. Many of us seem to think that if Christ doesn’t fit our expectations, then we’ll just reject him as the crowds in Jerusalem did. But Christ is Lord, and he doesn’t have to fit our expectations of him.

We must tailor our expectations to what God decrees, not try to tailor God to fit our expectations. Christ is Lord, and he knows what is best. If we try to make him fit our expectations, what is acceptable to us, or else we will reject him, then that is the path to self-destruction. We must not be like the people in Jerusalem, who hailed Christ as their king, just so long as he fit their image of what a king should be. Let us rather acknowledge him truly as our King, our Lord, our Sovereign, and receive from his hand whatever he decrees.

La Entrada Triunfal (Marcos 11:1-11)

Hoy celebramos el día llamado Domingo de Ramos, el día de la entrada triunfal de Jesús en Jerusalén una semana antes de su crucifixión y muerte. Si alguno de nosotros se pregunta por qué se le llama Domingo de Ramos, es porque según el evangelio de Juan, la muchedumbre de Jerusalén salió al encuentro de Jesús llevando estas ramas, que movían en el aire y tendían en su camino, según entraba en la ciudad.

En los días siguientes, Jesús sí purificó el templo, pero ni siquiera levantó un dedo contra los romanos, de hecho, ni siquiera levanto la voz contra ellos. Para el viernes, sabiendo que la multitud estaba lo suficientemente desencantada con Jesús, el sacerdocio del templo que había organizado su arresto, y entregado a los romanos bajo los cargos de ser el rey de los judíos, pudo volverlos contra Jesús. Y ahora no dicen gritos de ¡Hosanna!, sino ¡crucificadle!, ¡crucificadle!, y así fue a la cruz, a morir como Él sabía que debía hacer.

La crucifixión de Jesús no fue un accidente que cogió a Jesús desprevenido cuando estaba visitando Jerusalén, sino que Jesús entendió y abrazó su vocación de pasar por una muerte tan insoportable. De hecho, Él deliberadamente provocó los sucesos que conducirían a su ejecución. Él se veía a sí mismo como el rey Pastor profetizado por Zacarías (Zacarías 9:9), y abiertamente asumió ese rol en su provocativa entrada triunfal en la ciudad. Durante todo el proceso, el mostró su presciencia de los eventos de su pasión: el encuentro del asno, los arreglos para su ultima cena de Pascua en la habitación superior, la traición de Judas, las 3 negaciones de Pedro, el abandono de sus discípulos, su entrega a los gentiles, su humillación su ejecución… el anunció todas estas cosas con anticipación. Y por lo tanto, con ello se mostró como Señor de la Historia.

Jesús no siempre cumple con nuestras expectativas. Pero Jesús era radicalmente diferente a sus expectativas. Como Zacarías había profetizado, llegó humilde, y trayendo la paz. El reino de Dios que Él predicó e inauguró no era un reinado político terrenal, sino más bien el gobierno de Dios en los corazones de los hombres y mujeres que le conocen y le sirven. Pero este no era el reinado que la gente quería o esperaba, y así, rechazaron a Jesús como su Señor.

En nuestras vidas cristianas, según crecemos todos encontraremos situaciones en las que Dios no cumple con nuestras expectativas. Y la tentación en todas estas situaciones es “rescatarnos” de lo que enseña la fe cristiana y tratar de hacer las cosas a nuestra propia manera. Guardas rencor y amargura ante las oportunidades perdidas, pierdes la confianza en el amor de Dios por ti y ya no confías en Él. He visto ocurrir este tipo de cosas una vez y otra en las vidas de amigos cristianos. Cuando Dios no cumple nuestras expectativas, apartamos a Dios y hacemos las cosas del modo que creemos que deben hacerse, o nos sentimos resentidos con Él por no darnos lo que pensamos que merecemos. Y en lo que quiero insistir en este momento, Jesús es Señor. Él no tiene obligación alguna de responder a nuestras expectativas, Él es el Señor.

Si Cristo no se ajusta a nuestras expectativas, entonces simplemente le rechazamos, como la multitud en Jerusalén. Pero Cristo es el Señor y no tiene por qué encajar en nuestras expectativas. Debemos ajustar nuestras expectativas a lo que Dios decreta, y no ajustar a Dios a nuestras expectativas. Cristo es el Señor, y Él sabe lo que es mejor. Reconozcamos a Cristo realmente como nuestro Rey, nuestro Señor, nuestro Soberano, y recibamos de su mano, su propósito.

Annette PachecoAnnette Pacheco, from Yauco, Puerto Rico, serves as national treasurer for American Baptist Women’s Ministries. A member of Primera Iglesia Bautista de Yauco, Annette was born in Detroit, Michigan, raised in Puerto Rico, and was married in Boston, Massachusetts; she and her family moved back to Puerto Rico in 1993. She is an active leader in her church, enjoys working with the church’s youth, and has served as treasurer in wider arenas of Baptist work in Puerto Rico.

Being at Home

Contributed by Sundhari Rangiah

I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him: And in his word is my hope. (Psalm 130:5)

Mafa100-mediumOne of the greatest stories ever told never actually happened. It was fiction. But we know that fiction may speak truths in the clearest and most convincing­—and convicting—manner possible. The story is the parable that Jesus told of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). There are many important truths in this parable, but let us meditate on one—that of being at home.

The prodigal son leaves home to go to the big wide world beyond. He does not appreciate that all he is looking for he already has. “We may be Home with the Father, and yet not appreciate that we are really at Home,” observes Henri Nouwen[1], so we choose to leave the presence of the Father, to seek fulfillment and meaning in life elsewhere. As we know, when the prodigal son has spent all his inheritance he thinks of home and says, “I will arise and go home to my Father.” The father, in fact, is waiting longingly and expectantly for the son’s return, and sees his son when he is still a long way off. Soon the prodigal son is restored to the embrace of the father. He is back home: Home—the place of unconditional love, of unconditional forgiveness.

The story of the prodigal son is an amazing image of how God patiently waits to be in deep communion with us. But God allows us our waywardness, our searching in all the places that take us away from being at home in God’s very presence. Our home is where God is, and all our searching and striving is to return to God. “Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee,” (St Augustine). Archbishop Tutu reminds us simply, “We are created by God, like God, for God.”[2]

This is what the Transfiguration means in your life and mine today. The love of God gives us a vision of hope. It transforms and transfigures us as individuals, as the Church, as churches, as nations, and as the world (Tutu). The Story of the prodigal son is not only for wayward sons and daughters, or cynical and self-righteous elder brothers and sisters. It is for us who are leaders in the church, people who are called to serve. Even as well-meaning people of action, how can we turn from all our striving, our activity, our restlessness, and become still? “Be still and know that I am God,” (Ps 46:10); still—in the presence of God; still—in the shelter and shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91).

Being at home is to return to a new childhood (Nouwen)[3], where God’s love is boundless and compassionate and all-protecting. Being at home is to understand again and again what it means to remain in the bosom of God. It is to know that we are home already, and that all our longing and striving for more takes us away from our real home, which is in the security and intimacy of God’s presence. Henri Nouwen says:

Jesus’s whole mission in coming to live among us was to call us home to the truth of our lives. He lives and teaches belonging in the womb of Unchanging Love, in the intimacy of Companioning Presence, in the house of the giver of Life and Breath, in the name of the Compassionate Creator. God’s name is our home, our dwelling place… from this home with the Guiding Spirit we walk out into the world without ever leaving this source of belonging.

(Nouwen, 2009)

“I have calmed and quieted my soul;

Like a weaned child upon its mother’s breast;

Like a child on its other’s breast

is my Soul within me.”

[1] Nouven, Henri J M. 2009. Home Tonight – Further Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

[2] Tutu, Desmond M. 2004. God Has a Dream – A Vision of Hope for our Time. Random House: London.

[3] Nouwen, Henri. 1992. The Return of the Prodigal Son – A Story of Homecoming. Darton, Longman and Todd: London.

 

Sundhari RangiahSundhari Rangia serves as president of the Women’s Department, Baptist Association of South Africa. She and several women traveled from South Africa to attend the 2012 National Women’s Conference sponsored by American Baptist Women’s Ministries. For more information about the Baptist World Alliance Women’s Department, of which AB Women’s Ministries and the Women’s Department of the Baptist Association of South Africa are both a part, visit www.bwawd.org.

Apologies for a brief technical glitch…

There is a post that is scheduled for January 6, 2014, which accidentally “went live” for about a minute and a half today, posted as January 6, 2013. The scheduler hasn’t quite caught up with the impending turn of the calendar. If you subscribe to this blog via email, you may have gotten notification of a new post, but clicking on the link may give you an error message. Please just ignore all that! You’ll see the full post when it’s actually, really-for-true live on January 6, 2014.

I guess we’re just building anticipation…