About mid-September in New York the sky’s blue becomes deeper, crisper. It’s a new back-to-school outfit, a call to pick apples or kick a soccer ball. It’s visible proof that the haze of summer is over.
Though I’ve been out of school for many years, this particular shade of pre-autumn blue still prompts in me an urge to study, to buy a new notebook, to attend lectures, to intentionally learn something new. Luckily for me, I live and work near many colleges and in a city with one of the best public libraries in the world. It’s also the time of year when the new Reading Program list comes out. (I’ve already reserved two books from the list from my local library.)
Here in New York City, the September blue sky also looks especially naked without the Twin Towers marking the skyline. September calls me to prayers for understanding and healing, and for us to be our better selves. What does September mean to you?
This month’s Bible study is a reflection on the Assembly Scripture of Mark 6:30-44, the feeding of the 5,000. “You Feed Them” by Erin M. Hawkins on pages 8-10 reminds us that even the smallest gifts when given to God are multiplied. It complements the conference giving report published on pages 17-18, which at first glance appears to be a dry list of numbers but in reality is two fishes and five loaves that feeds more than 5,000, with leftovers. Giving financial gifts is being in mission. Reports of your giving are actually included in every issue of response—they just more often show up as stories of children fed, women empowered, communities changed for the better.
“A Cornerstone of Mission in Tampa” by Jim West on pages 19-23 tells the story of Cornerstone Family Ministries in Tampa, Florida, a national mission institution supported by your giving. Is there a United Methodist Women national mission institution in your area or conference? Many national mission institutions welcome volunteers. Could your United Methodist Women group visit? Consider joining with other United Methodist Women groups in your district or conference or other groups from your church and have a volunteer day. Many of the institutions also look for donations of specific supplies and resources. Your group can hold a supply drive for a national mission institution near you.
Paul Jeffrey’s “Rebuilding Liberia” tells the story of how United Methodist Women is at work in Liberia, a country still recovering from years of civil war. Read this article and watch the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell, available for purchase as an individual DVD or as part of the set of Women, War and Peace. It’s also available for free viewing online from PBS. This Child Will Be Great, a memoir by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first president of Liberia after the civil war, is part of the 2011 Reading Program and would be a worthy book to study this month. Ms. Johnson Sirleaf is a United Methodist and Africa’s first woman president.
How do you use each issue of response?
May God bless you and the world you are trying to change.