PEACE IS HERE!
READING: ISAIAH 9:6
For a child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Peace is not the absence of chaos, but is the knowledge that the presence of Christ is always present with us.
In this second week of Advent, we pause and reflect upon all that is going on around us. Flaming fires, political unrest, and a host of news headlines have left many of us speechless and numb. They have inundated our hearts and minds in such a way that words, actions, and even signs of hope and peace are at times hard to find or speak. However there is always hope and there are always words of peace that we can give and bring. The shalom that the Christ-child brings is the help that we need and the hope that we can give!
So this week as we light the candle of PEACE let us ponder these things in our hearts: Light, the illumination that blocks out the darkness. Light, the shining source of heavenly peace that reminds us that we are people of the Light. Light, the armor that shields us from those dark spaces and places that try to overtake us. Light helps lead the way to PEACE everlasting.
ACTION OF THE WEEK
Where can you be an agent of peace? What spaces and places is God calling you to speak peace, and remind others that the Light has come?
God of Love and Peace we thank you for this Advent season. We honor and give you thanks for being the PEACE in our lives even in the midst of chaos. God as we embark upon this week and this season, help us to be Hope bearers, Love bringers, Peace makers, and Light givers. Help us to expose those dark spaces and places that have kidnapped the promises of PEACE that You bring. Help us to be peacemakers, Amen.
READING: ROMANS 13:11-12
Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
MEDITATION: As we embark on the season of Advent, which is the first season of the Christian Church year, we celebrate with light. Light, the illumination that blocks out the darkness. Light, the shining source of heavenly hope that reminds us that we are people of the Light. Light, the armor that shields us from those dark spaces and places that try to overtake us. Light helps lead the way to HOPE everlasting.
This week, as we celebrate the HOPE that the Christ Child brings, let us not forget that this ancient story still illuminates our hearts today! Let the LIGHT in! Allow the light of Christ to surround you and help you reflect and celebrate the amazing ways that God has kept you even in the midst of difficult moments.
APPLICATION: In the words of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes “Wake up Everybody no more sleepin’ in bed.” It is time for us to WAKE UP and become agents of light in our communities, churches, and core spaces and places. Now is not the time to be silent on issues that impact the world. It’s time to WAKE UP and not only be the light but to share the LIGHT that is the Christ. So, this week how will you WAKE UP? What things will you stop sleeping on? It’s time to wake up from slumber and aid in liberating the masses of those who have been stuck in the darkness for way too long.
God of Love and Light, we thank you for this Advent season. We honor and give you thanks for being the LIGHT in our lives. God as we embark upon this week and this season, help us to be Hope bearers, Love bringers, Peace makers, and Light givers. Help us to expose those dark spaces and places that have kidnapped the promises of HOPE that You bring. God of Light, help us to be your light in this world. Amen.
Rev. Christal Bell
Director of Uplifted. LLC
Three years ago I was asked to serve in a capacity that was completely outside of my comfort zone. I was asked to serve as a teaching ambassador in Guatemala. I did not know what to expect. I did not speak the language. I had no clue what I would find when I arrived. However, three years and over 100 students served later, I absolutely love our mission site in Mixco, Guatemala. Out of all the places that I have served globally, this sacred place speaks to my heart every single time I visit.
During the school year, the church I work for sponsors an ESL learning experience for children and youth. We sponsor this free educational program understanding that the benefits will follow them for a lifetime. The ESL experience has afforded some of the students to not only obtain better employment opportunities, but has also boosted their self- confidence!
It has been a joy and honor to watch these precious little ones, literally grow up in front of my eyes. Every year they are not only speaking better English, but want to fill me in on what has been going on in their lives since the last time we encountered each other. While many think the field of missions deals mostly with the tangible buildings, such as repairing roofs, wheelchair ramps, etc; the heart of missions is really the people! While tangible rebuilds are necessary, it is imperative that one bonds with the community.
I am thankful that God has called me to this sacred beautiful land to serve. I am excited to see what this week holds. I am sure like always, I will encounter the Divine in a new way when I am there. The people, the food, the culture, the land; all remind me of the majesty of God’s creation.
God is amazing! Stay Uplifted.
Dios es asombroso.
In churches and schools alike, there has been a long debate about the most effective styles of teaching and the materials utilized that would be most beneficial to students in their life. While many schools are eliminating music and the arts due to budget cuts, the Church has continued to be a space where children and youth can use their gifts of music and dance to glorify God.
Choral groups, liturgical dance/mime ministries, and other avenues of the arts are inviting students to not only develop and hone in on their skills but also provide them with a connection to the Divine. We can see the fruit of this in many churches where intergenerational ministries thrive and invite all to the table. However, we cannot stop here.
This past year I have seen a huge peak in the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) -based Christian Education materials and curriculum. There are Vacation Bible School curriculums, bible studies, and even apps that focus their teaching styles on teaching the bible in an interactive way.
There are many different ways that churches can incorporate STEM-based learning in their Christian Education departments. There are various books and websites that offer free illustrations to leaders to aid students in learning about the Bible in a more interactive way through experiments and interactive activities.
This summer I was a part of a multi-site Vacation Bible School model that incorporated the STEM model. It was interesting to notate that the retention rate of students was higher than the previous year. Students also invited their friends on the second day once they were able to participate in the first day’s fun experimental activities. To get an idea of a couple of ways that your church can include STEM in their Christian Education Department, check out http://www.madaboutjesus.net/index.html.
Published in the August 2017 Edition of The Christian Recorder.
This week I was blessed to serve as the Mission Service Coordinator for a Christian Children/Youth Conference. While I watched and took photographs of over 200 people from ages 5-70 pack food for children and families they would never meet, I witnessed the packers themselves “getting fed; soul food. The pulse in the air was magnetic and the Spirit in all her glory abided with us.
With each scoop, every sealed bag, taped box, and loud cheer you could literally see all of the participants taking pride in their accomplishments and part they were planning to relieve world hunger.
According to the World Hunger Education Service (the statistical arm of the World Hunger organization) “Approximately 3.1 million children die from hunger each year.”
Organizations like Feed My Starving Children are providing opportunities not only to become educated about the link to world hunger and poverty, but also provide a tangible way for people to help alleviate a systemic problem.
If you would like to help alleviate world hunger, I invite you to play the trivia game on freerice.com. This trivia site game feeds millions of people by providing rice for each answer that is correct.
SOUL-Food Pictures at Feed My Starving Children.
A couple of years ago, I had the honor of traveling to Cuba to learn about the social, religious, and political climate that surrounded the local Seminary. It was here in Cuba, that some of us took a fortress tour. While learning and reflecting upon the history of this massive monument, I couldn’t help but remember ….
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
No matter what you go through or what darts may be fired in your direction, KNOW and recall the times GOD has proven GOD’s mighty power and protection before in your life.
Rest Well Beautiful Ones,
Rest Well, Beautiful Ones!
Don’t let anyone dull your shine. Keep shining bright!