Honoring God Is Loving And Serving AllRev. Raafat L. Zaki
1 Corinthians 4:1-2
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.Reflection: Faithfulness is measured not only by our commitment to God, but also by our service to one another. Love and service are intertwined concepts: We serve whom we love, and we love whom we serve. With the unconditional blessings of life and sacrificial love of God revealed in Jesus Christ, our love and service to one another are in fact love and service to God, in whose image all humanity is created.
As a necessary corollary, dehumanization and discrimination against any human being are offenses against God the creator. Just as Genesis calls us stewards of God’s creation, the Apostle Paul writes that we have been entrusted as stewards of the gospel and God’s mysteries. When we buy into and perpetuate systems built on racism and xenophobia, we show ourselves to be untrustworthy stewards and betray the gospel of Jesus Christ.
False religiosity and pride mislead us to compromise or distort our stewardship. They cause us to ostracize, harm, control, or manipulate others. Sometimes we assume racial, ethnic, or cultural superiority. These are the times when Christ calls us to repent. The Holy Spirit is ever reminding us that no one has exclusive rights to God’s mysteries or promises. No one person, race, culture, or ethnicity could ever claim a monopoly on God’s blessings.
Action: Take some time today for self-examination. How does your racial identity affect the way you treat others? In what ways do you intentionally or unintentionally perpetuate racist systems or buy into false homogenizing concepts like whiteness? Allow yourself to confess, repent, and ask for the Spirit’s help to live as a faithful steward and servant.
Prayer: Holy God — Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of all creation — forgive us when we fear the unknown and meet strangers with hate. Forgive our sinful pride and prejudices, forgive our racism and xenophobia. We humbly repent and turn back to you. Help us, Creator God, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Help us to love our enemies, to befriend the stranger, and to show hospitality to the outcast. Amen.
First published by the Presbyterian Mission Agency, A Season of Peace, September 21, 2019 | presbyterianmission.org
Just peacemaking: painfully and patientlyRev. Raafat L. Zaki
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”Reflection: Suffering and injustice are human realities from which Christians falsely believe they are exempt as a benefit of their faith. At the center of the Gospel is the saving grace revealed on the cross and at the empty tomb. Jesus’ last documented prayer before he died was: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus’ crucifixion was an act of both religious persecution and political execution targeting an innocent man. Yet Jesus did not waver, even when he felt God had abandoned him.
As Christ’s disciples, we are called to demonstrate Jesus’ love and teachings practically and concretely in our daily lives. Like Jesus, we will suffer the consequences. We may encounter betrayal and opposition from within, from family, from society, and even from the church community. Still we serve faithfully, responding with love and patience.
God calls us to seek righteousness. This is a lifetime journey, and we are works in process. We are called to be patient as we labor for the truth to be revealed. As Jesus told his disciples before heading to the cross, “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)
Action: Take time today to consider where you face opposition and negative consequences on your Christian journey. Identify three spiritual practices to help you build patience and overcome discouragement.
Prayer: Creator God, thank you for creating me in your hold image. Thank you for calling me to follow Jesus. Thank you for being present in my life. Thank you for your promise never to forsake me, even when I feel alone and forgotten. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for loving me unconditionally. Amen.
First published by the Presbyterian Mission Agency, A Season of Peace, September 7, 2019 | presbyterianmission.org
SYNOD OF THE COVENANT
August 8, 2019
We mourn the tragic loss of life, injury, and hatred. We mourn the rise in violence and mass shootings, in particular the 250th mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4, 2019. We mourn the abuse of weapons of war and destruction in our cities and escalating violence in our communities. We pray for healing and wholeness for the victims and their families. We urge our members, congregations, and councils to serve in unity to help restore our broken world and demonstrate solidarity, compassion, and genuine love.
WE MOURN with deep sorrow the loss of life.
WE MOURN with disbelief the violence, the hatred, the inhumanity.
WE MOURN the violence, the hostility, the bigotry.
WE MOURN the intolerance, the prejudice, the indifference.
WE MOURN the injustice, the darkness, the emptiness.
WE MOURN because life is precious, invaluable, irreplaceable.
WE MOURN because life is a divine gift, a divine grace, a divine blessing.
WE MOURN because humanity is so fragile, so unique, so dear.
WE MOURN the escalation in gun-violence, the upsurge in mass-shootings, the rise in homicide, fratricide, and suicide. The deliberate and premeditated murder and extermination of life, and the intentional infliction of harm and injury, pain and suffering, on innocent victims, our families, our neighbors, and our communities.
WE MOURN the growing insanity of mass-shootings, and the senseless hatred of family, neighbors, and strangers, and the unjustifiable use of force and violence. The deplorable failure to deal with anger and the catastrophic inability to see humanity in us and in them. The insanity of disrupting the peace and the disastrous violation of life.
WE MOURN the gun-violence and mass-shootings, including the 250th mass shooting in 2019, the death of nine and injury of 29 in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4, 2019. We mourn the use of weapons of war in our streets and destruction in our cities and violence in our communities. We mourn the unjustifiable escalation of violence anywhere and everywhere.
WE MOURN wars and endless military interventions around the world. We mourn training US and other nationals to kill and slaughter human beings; the manufacturing of weapons and machineries to exterminate innocent people of all ages, ethnicities, and cultures. We mourn funding and gloating over military campaigns.
WE PRAY and SERVE for healing and wholeness for the victims and their families. We urge people of faith, congregations, and councils to serve in unity to help restore our broken world and demonstrate solidarity, compassion, and genuine love.
SYNOD OF THE COVENANT: A JUST-PEACE CHURCH
“We, the Synod of the Covenant, in partnership with our presbyteries, congregations, the General Assembly, and other faith communions, are called and sent by God to be a living, active, and inclusive witness to the love of Christ.”
Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call — Approved by the 219th General Assembly (2010)
Resolution on Violence, Religion, and Terrorism — Approved by the 216th General Assembly (2004)
Newsletter – September 27, 2018
Newsletter – September 21, 2018
Synod of the Covenant Response to item 05-01 in 2018
Open Letter Re: Action of the 223rd General Assembly on Establishing an Administrative Commission of the Synod of the Covenant