Bryn Smallwood Garcia
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Emily C. Heath
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Kenneth L. Samuel
It's much easier to pose questions than it is to really listen and respect the answers given.Read more
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Emily C. Heath
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Think. Act. Be.
Next week marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to honor and elevate the many accomplishments of African Americans – individuals who thought boldly, acted differently, and had the courage to be themselves in the face of any and all adversity. The month of February also includes the start of the Lenten season (Feb. 22), when Christians from around the world prepare themselves for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and a time when many commit to giving up selected distractions from their relationship with God — a time for you to think boldly, act differently, and be you.
In order to embrace these two important celebrations, the UCC national setting will be theming its communications throughout the month of February, providing daily and weekly reminders to recognize and honor those who have served before us and to challenge us to think, act, and be in today's world. The UCC will be coordinating this message throughout its communications, including Keeping You e-Posted (KYeP) weekly newsletters, Stillspeaking daily devotionals, the website, social media sites, and more.
Additionally, the Stillspeaking Writers' Group has compiled a brand new resource for this year's Lenten season. Titled, "Give It Up! Lenten Devotionals 2012," this 56-page devotional offers inspiration, humor, and unexpected insights for each day of Lent. "Give It Up" invites readers to rethink the Lenten themes of sacrifice, repentance and renewal in new and unexpected ways.
"The devotionals center on actions or ideas that we don't normally associate with Lent," said Ann Poston, UCC director of Publishing, Identity and Communication. "They are about the new life people can have by giving up things like worrying, or judging others, or underestimating yourself. We're hoping the book will help make Lent a deeper experience for people this year."
"Give It Up!" can be ordered from UCC Resources online or toll free by calling 800-537-3394.
At the UCC Church House in Cleveland, there also is a host of special events to honor Black History Month. During its weekly Wednesday noon services at the Amistad Chapel (located at 700 Prospect Avenue E. in downtown Cleveland), the public is invited to join an exciting line-up of speakers. These services will feature the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president (Feb. 1); the Rev. Paul Hobson Sadler Sr., pastor of Mt. Zion Congregational UCC in Cleveland (Feb. 8); U.S. Federal Judge Denise Page Hood (Feb. 15); and the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago (Feb. 29).
"The diversity of African-American leaders we celebrate during Black History Month, including those who will lead worship services in the UCC Church House each Wednesday in February, possess extraordinarily different backgrounds and senses of place," said Kimberly Whitney, UCC minister for community life. "From the arts, local- and regional-community building, interfaith and global perspectives, their faith supports each tenet of 'Think. Act. Be.' "
First Sunday of Lent
On this Racial Justice Sunday we confess
that the sin of racial hatred and prejudice
distorts your divine plan for our human lives:
You created us in divine likeness, diverse and beautiful:
In every person, every race is your image.
But too often we fail to recognize your image in all:
You created us in divine freedom, to be free:
In every decision, every choice is your possibility of justice.
But too often we fail to choose to advocate for your justice for all:
You created us for divine abundance, to tend and share:
In every garden, every social structure is your seed of community.
But too often we fail to create that community which includes all,
and gives to all equal access to your abundant life:
Open our eyes to distinguish good from evil
Open our hearts to desire good over evil
Strengthen our wills to choose good over evil,
So that we may create among us your beloved community.
Words of Assurance
Hear the good news: God's gift of grace in Jesus Christ forgives us and sets us free to live full human lives in community. We may go forth confident of the grace to see with new eyes beyond racial prejudice; to imagine with renewed fervor justice and mercy for all, and to create with a new will a community where all are given access to God's abundant life.
Thanks be to God!
based on Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Prayer of Confession for Racial Justice Sunday was written by the Rev. Susan A. Blain, Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation, Worship and Education Ministry Team, Local Church Ministries.
Copyright 2008 Local Church Ministries, Worship and Education Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.