God’s heart was the first to break – when one young man decided to pull the trigger and when his victims began to fall. Now a nation is in shock and grief. We are reminded again how fleeting is life and how enduring the patterns of human nature, both for good and for harm. A US Representative known for her openness, kindness, and care; a child at the very budding of her incredible promise; a deacon and pillar of his local congregation putting his own body between his wife and the shooter . . . In all 20 persons dead or wounded by one very broken young man. In times like these people of faith turn to God who made us, who loves us still, and we ask, “Why?”
Reflections from the General Minister and President, Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins.
I had to preach and run – all too common a scenario! But in the hours I was at the Festival of Young Preachers, I was blessed! Over 120 preachers, aged 14-29, gathered to preach for each other over three days. Together with their mentors and sponsors they are answering the challenge in the Apostle Paul’s question, “How will they hear without a preacher?”
Coming from more than 25 (!) denominations, these high school, college and seminary students from more than 25 states represent the church at its core calling: to make known the love of God through Jesus Christ.Read more
My first silent retreat scared me to death. Well, not death, but you know what I mean. I didn’t think I could do it – stay silent for eighteen hours, that is (even though eight of those hours would be spent sleeping.) The occasion was the first gathering of my Bethany Project peer group, pastors from Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. We gathered at historic Bethany, West Virginia.Read more
In my work, I fly a lot. I don’t really like flying. But it is a fact of life. Some people love it. I suppose the pilots do. And the flight attendants, although I once overheard one attendant saying to another, “I hate it when we fly through turbulence.” Those were my thoughts exactly at that moment – I wished she hadn’t verbalized them.Read more
“Disciples of Christ, you’ve got a great name for the 21st century!” These were Diana Butler Bass’ first words to the General Minister and President’s Pastors Conference. Later we knew better what she meant. “Identity is in the prepositions,” she told us. “It’s not just, ‘who are you?’ anymore. It’s ‘who are you in God?'”Read more
Our normal bike route takes my husband and me past a row of flags. They are beautiful. American flags hanging at an angle from mailbox after mailbox. It seems apparent these neighbors have collaborated – or maybe one had a great idea and others followed suit. Those flags remind me how grateful I am to live in this country. I’ve traveled enough to know for sure that I’d never want to call any other place home.Read more
I didn’t know them personally – Glen, Tom, Dan, Thomas, Cheryl, Brian, Karen, Daniela, Mahram, and Ahmed – I’d never had a chance to shake their hands. But as soon as I knew they were “our partners”, it became personal. My grief moved to a new level.
People all around the world die senselessly every day from random and planned violence. But when we know them, they quit being statistics; they become flesh and blood persons. Flesh torn, blood spilled; lives tragically ended.
It became personal for me this week with the murder of 10 Afghanistan aid workers. It turns out these people were our people. Disciples support these ten and others working for International Assistance Mission. We partner with them through Disciples Mission Fund and Global Ministries, and through Week of Compassion. Through our partners at IAM, we are present in Afghanistan. We are offering critical presence, courageous compassion.Read more
The music of the choir – a capella, all male voices, ancient melody, tight harmony – blending in air with the pungency of incense. The walls of the cathedral lush with gold paint and icons. The worshipers standing, heads of women covered, on this Saturday afternoon in Moscow, Russia. My spirit soars with the music.Read more