Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prayer for the Roanoke City Council Meeting

December 19, 2011

Our God, as we pause at the beginning of yet another regular council meeting, we are fully aware of the time of year it is. Our personal and civic schedules have been filled with many "special" things, from Dickens of a Christmas to Angel Trees; from Advent and Hanukkah services to the Homeless Persons Memorial Service; from the Good Neighbors Fund to the Salvation Army bell ringers. We are grateful to live in such a place where each of these things is possible, and adds their own contribution to the character of this city.

Help us to take advantage of the opportunity that these special events and this special time gives to us; the chance to examine our own living, and the choices we make. In the midst of the regular events of life: our jobs, our family time, and even this council meeting here today, help us to slow down and consider how it is we are doing unto others as we would have them do to us, and how well we are doing at loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Guide us and direct us into your ways. We ask your blessing on this city; this City Council and the employees and citizens they serve, and each one of us.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent letter to the denomination

Sisters and Brothers,

The following letter comes from the 2012 Annual Conference Officers. Thank you for your prayers for our church, and your continued work in "Continuing the Work of Jesus."

Advent 2011

If we have love, disagreement will do us no harm.
If we do not have love, agreement will do us no good.
--Kurtis Friend Naylor

To our sisters and brothers in the Church of the Brethren:

The items of business at Annual Conference earlier this year addressed significant matters of life and faith, and our passionate discussions showed that we take those matters seriously.

Vigorous debate is not necessarily cause for concern, but within our discussions there were clearly times when our tone and attitudes toward one another crossed a line. In those moments, it was painful to see that our debate sounded no different from the way society in general debates controversial matters—where sides are taken, accusations are made, threats are received. One church member received a death threat. Another member was told, “I wish you would go to hell.” And many individuals spent their time identifying with their particular sub-group rather than with the church as a whole.

As officers of Annual Conference, we long for our discussions in the Church of the Brethren to be markedly different from that of the world. If those who are not disciples of Jesus were to observe us at our most difficult moments, would they be able to see—through our words, our tone, and our actions—how much we love and respect one another?

And so we offer a challenge. We urge each of us to take a step back from our current disagreements and examine whether our own attitudes and actions reflect the transformation we have come to know through the Holy Spirit. Specifically, we encourage members to consider taking the following actions before the 2012 Annual Conference in St. Louis:

· If we have spoken ill of anyone or in any way failed to build up the church through our spoken words, our social media, or even by our thoughts, that we make an effort to be reconciled again in Christ Jesus our Lord, in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-20.
· That we devote ourselves to study and prayer around the 2012 Annual Conference theme, Continuing the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together, and theme verses Matthew 28:19-20.

Finally, it is our hope that we would all hold one another in prayer as we seek to Continue the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together.

Grace and peace to you,

Tim Harvey, Moderator
Bob Krouse, Moderator-Elect
Fred Swartz, Secretary