Resources in Response to Las Vegas Tragedy

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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Bishop’s Easterling’s Statement Following the Shooting in Las Vegas

October 2, 2017

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:17

Beloved of God,

Today we awoke to the news of what is being called the worst mass shooting in modern American history. Yet, these words sound all too familiar. They sound familiar because we heard them after the shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Florida. We heard them after the shooting in San Bernardino, California. We heard them after the unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school. We heard them yet again after bullets rang out at Virginia Tech. We keep hearing them.

And yet, may we never grow numb to the senseless loss of life.

We search for the words to articulate our grief and disbelief. In reality, there simply are no words. Families are shattered and loved ones sit dazed in mourning and anger. A city attempts to come to grips with how a man aimed his weapon at complete strangers and repeatedly pulled the trigger. A nation wonders how we will collectively heal from another horrific mass casualty.

Although we may feel helpless right now, as people of faith we know that prayers are powerful and effective. Therefore, we pray.

We pray: for all those who have learned, and will learn of the death of their loved ones; for those fighting for their lives right now; for first responders who attend to the dying, the suffering, and the bodies of those who have drawn their last breath; for the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who will work tirelessly and selflessly to save lives; for the family of the gunmen who must bear the wrath of acts they did not commit;
for those who cannot muster the faith to pray.

And, as we pray, may we remember that prayer is more than words. Prayer is also action. When we have the opportunity, may we act in concert with our prayers.

Your servant in Christ,
Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling

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Sighs too deep for words – Bishop Peggy Johnson

Sighs too deep for words

There is a line in the musical Hamilton that says “I’ve imagined my death so many times that it seems like a memory.”

The senseless slaughter of innocent lives in Las Vegas this week (which left 59 dead so far and over 500 injured) once again thrusts us into an unimaginable image of what it would be like to be in the midst of a mass shooting.  Sadly, it is happening so often in this country, it is beginning to seem like a memory or a repetitive bad dream.

We must pray at this time.  Pray for the families of the victims and the family of the perpetrator.  Pray for those who have been injured and their loved ones.  Pray for all the people who witnessed this scene of terror first-hand, who have nightmares or even survivors’ guilt.

Pray for the first-responders and the people who wish they could have been there to help or hold the hand of a loved one in their last minutes of life.  Pray for all the counselors, pastors, teachers, and parents who are trying to help people get through this tragedy.

When we don’t have the words, we call on the Holy Spirit’s aid. Romans 8:26 says, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”

We also need to search our hearts for something we can do. Mass shootings will continue in this country as long as we have a culture of violence and hatred. We as a church need to be teaching people ways of solving problems peaceably.

We can learn how to recognize signs of alienation and desperation in some persons described as “lone wolf” types. And we can reach out to them in healing ways so that perhaps some tragedies can be prevented. We can promote the inclusion of more mental health services that can be available to all and lessen the stigma that prevents people from getting the help they need.

May we live to see the day when such senseless killings are a past and not present memory in this world of ours.

 

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Prayer Today

I have been reading My Spiritual Journey by The Dalai Lama and have found lots of inspiration and challenge from this spiritual leader and Buddhist monk.  Meditating on his writing is helping me to increase my capacity for the practice of compassion for others and myself.

Here is a prayer offered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

I pray for a more loving human family.  Even when I meet a stranger each time I have the same feeling:  “He is another member of my human family.”  Such an attitude deepens my affection and respect for all beings.
May this natural loving-kindness become my small contribution to world peace!
I pray for a world that is more friendly, more loving, and for a better understanding among the human family, on this planet.
That is the appeal I make from the bottom of my heart to all those who hate suffering and cherish lasting happiness.

Will you join me in this prayer and to a commitment to increase our practice of compassion?

Peace,
Stacey

P.S.  This prayer was part of our Centering Moment today at the Senior Leadership Team meeting.  Please feel free to share it with those around you – including colleagues and the young people with whom we work.  Blessings!

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Rosh Hashanah

At sunset yesterday, Wednesday, September 20, our Jewish friends will begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and conclude on the evening of Friday, September 22.  The year will be 5778.

Here is a traditional greeting to offer: L’shana tovah u’metukah – “For a good and sweet year.” 

This is pronounced l’shah-NAH toe-VAH ooh-meh-too-KAH (oo as in food).

Please join me in wishing everyone who is celebrating a very happy new year!

L’shana tovah u’metukah!

This is a great opportunity for all of us to celebrate the good things of the past year and look forward to a new beginning with God’s blessing.

I want to share with you a brief video for the celebration. Last year a group of people from different communities around the world recorded a special blessing song for Rosh Hashanah. The video was done by 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center. This is the link to the video: I hope you enjoy it.

 

https://youtu.be/sHlLYhYNbc0

Hope and Peace to all – Rev. Stacey

 

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Follow Me and I’ll Make You Fishers of Men

Scripture Reference: Matthew Chapter 4: Verses 18-20
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of galilee, he saw two brothers-Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew-throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come follow me, and I will show you how to be fishers of men.” And they left their nets at once and followed him.

Simon and Andrew probably thought this was where they were supposed to be in life. They probably thought this was what they were meant to do for a living. That maybe they reached their potential and this was all they would do and be in life. However, Jesus comes along with an offer they couldn’t refuse. He tells them to “follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” In other words, you think what you’re doing now is good, but if you follow me I can show you greatness. They were content catching fish. Jesus called them to change lives.

There are levels in our lives that God wants to take us too. Levels that include amazing opportunities and blessings. Levels that include helping others and having a positive impact in a negative world. Simon and Andrew would not have tapped into the greatness of God if they weren’t willing to follow Jesus. Jesus is telling us today that He can do great things in our lives and takes us to heights that we never imagined, if we’re willing to follow Him. If we’re willing to leave “our nets” and follow Him, He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, more than we should ever ask or think, according to the power that lies in us!

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Inspiration for the New School Year 2017 – 2018

Artwork by Strawbridge Student

A Back-to-School Message from Mr. Shawn Elbert, Baltimore Spiritual Life Coordinator  

At the start of a new school year, we feel a sense of excitement. After having time off in the summer to relax and rejuvenate, we approach the upcoming school year with a renewed sense of purpose, determination, and eagerness to teach. We look at our empty classroom and school as a blank canvas and we imagine what we can create in the minds of our students. We know each year will have its share of ups and downs, successes and failures; however, each opportunity is a chance to learn. A chance to challenge ourselves. A chance to step up to the plate.

I was recently watching the Little League World Series and thought about my days playing baseball. I remembered the times watching from the dugout with my teammates as the opposing pitcher would “warm-up” on the mound. We wanted to see how fast he threw the ball. If he was throwing slow and controlled, we all chomped at the bit to get a chance to bat. If he was throwing some “heat” with a lot of movement in the ball, some of us (including myself) would be hesitant to stand in the batter’s box to face him. We didn’t know what to expect. If I wasn’t confident I could hit the ball, I would often stand further away from the plate. It made me feel safer in the batter’s box. Our coach would encourage us to be disciplined batters, not to be afraid, and to step up to the plate. We may not have known what pitch he was going to throw and how fast he would throw it, but we wouldn’t have a chance to hit it if we weren’t ready for the challenge… if we didn’t step up to the plate.

This school year will undoubtedly present its share of challenges. We may have many things “thrown at us” that we haven’t seen before. It may be a challenging curriculum, challenging behaviors, or a sense of not having enough time to complete lessons. It may feel overwhelming and the task may feel daunting. The good news is we were built to accept the challenge. There is something inside of us that helps us to step up to the plate.

So this year I encourage each one of us to accept the challenge before us. Maybe we want to be the best teacher, student aide, behavior staff, or social worker we can be this year. Maybe it’s to be the best parent, spouse, sibling, or friend we can be. Whatever the challenge is, let’s all remember that with God ALL things are possible! If we believe, keep the faith, and help one another, there is no limit to what we can do.

But first, we have to step up to the plate!

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Empathy

A message from Reverend Stacey, BCC Chaplain and Director of Church and Community Engagement.

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself. – Mohsin Hamid

“Empathy will guide our programming and culture at all levels. We recognize that without empathy we cannot understand what type of care and encouragement to provide. A supportive work and program environment means possessing a desire to know and understand others.” (BCC Core Value Statement)

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It refers to the ability to relate to another person’s pain vicariously as if one has experienced that pain themselves. Empathy is different from sympathy because you put yourself in another person’s “shoes.”

Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.
-Daniel H. Pink

You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself. -John Steinbeck

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant? -Henry David Thoreau

While we are striving to respond with empathy to others around us, we must also be kind to ourselves and feed our own spirits.

I want to interject a bit of humor here with this anonymous quote on empathy: Before you criticize someone … you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

Scriptures in the Judeo-Christian tradition call us to love our neighbors as our selves. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught that our neighbor is anyone in need.

We work together as a BCC team to make a positive impact in our communities on behalf of children, youth and families.

Here is an inspirational word from Christian scriptures: So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already. -1 Thessalonians 5:11

Our small acts of positive living are making a difference! Always remember, you are not alone.

 

 

This was originally part of our 40 Days of Positive Actions activity, sponsored by BCC Spiritual Life Team.

 

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Be Kind

A message from Reverend Stacey, BCC Chaplain and Director of Church and Community Engagement.

Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deed are the fruits.
-19th century rhyme

Our focus this week is on being kind to ourselves as well as to others.

I am reminded of this quote from the Dalai Lama:
“Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.”

We need to practice being kind at all times.  Small acts of kindness make all the difference in our lives and in the lives of others. 

In one of our houses in Baltimore, the youth are writing in on their “40 Days of Positive Actions” calendar the specific actions that they are taking each day. One example was that a youth shared a snack with another.  It is inspiring to learn how our young people are making this practice meaningful in their daily lives.  Thank you to all of our staff who are encouraging positive actions and modeling them.

There are many scriptures that make clear God’s desire for us to be kind to one another.  God’s own kindness is our example.

Here are some verses from the Bible to illustrate:

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom God loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
-Colossians 3:12-13 (New Living Translation)

Be kind and loving to each other.
-Ephesians 4:32

The Lord has told you what goodness is.  This is what God wants from you:  Be fair to other people.  Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God.
-Micah 6:8

Let us encourage one another to be kind to ourselves and to be kind to one another.  We all deserve more kindness in our lives as well as the joy of showing kindness!

Hope we have a great week!
Rev. Stacey

And always remember:

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
-Aesop

 

 

This was originally part of our 40 Days of Positive Actions activity, sponsored by BCC Spiritual Life Team.

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