But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
This issue of response calls us to sustain God’s creation—which includes ourselves. When was the last time you allowed yourself to be awed by something you didn’t understand? When was the last time you said farewell and went up to the mountain and prayed (Mark 6:46)? If your answer is, “Too long,” change that this month.
Deaconess Pat Hoerth’s Bible study “Tending Mind, Body, Heart and Earth” calls us to wonder at all of God’s creation, from the stars to the mustard seed to our own imaginations. Before reading this study, read about the creation and formation of stars. science.nasa.gov/astrophysics, bbc.co.uk/science/space and space.com are some places you can start. “We are made of starstuff,” Astronomer Carl Sagan wrote in his book Cosmos. Ms. Hoerth in her Bible study tells too of a world that is connected, formed of the same elements. Read this month’s Bible study on a clear night, and when finished reading go stare up at the sky for a while.
Intentional time with God is essential for us to know why, how and where we need to put faith, hope and love into action. Retreats are a great way to do this necessary soulwork. Jesus often physically removed himself from the everyday to pray. Have you hosted a retreat before? “Planning Great Retreats” by J. Ann Craig will help you organize a successful retreat for your United Methodist Women group. “Be Just. Be Green” and “Toss It? No Way!” offer additional ways you can sustain earth, your belongings, your community.
Though payday loans are illegal in New York, every day on my walk home I pass phone card vendors, check cashers, tax return services offering refund anticipation loans and rent-to-own centers. Prepaid phone cards often come with hidden fees, as does check cashing. Tax refund loans and rental centers charge high interest fees. My neighborhood has a large population of immigrants and elderly and is majority African American.
Does your community offer such services? If yes, what are the demographics of your neighborhood? (If no, ask yourself the same.) Have you ever found yourself using one of these services? There’s a reason such lending is called “predatory.” Richard Lord talks about such practices in “End Predatory Lending.” He shares how United Methodist Women members in Virginia are helping raise awareness of these practices, justly helping those who need help and working to outlaw such “emergency” loans.
As always, this issue tells the story of your Mission Giving, your mission. “Living With the Dead in Manila” by Paul Jeffrey shares how United Methodist Women is reaching out to a community in the Philippines living in a Manila cemetery, and Princess Zarla J. Raguindin in “The Gift of Education” shares what a United Methodist Women scholarship has meant for her life (and the life of others). Read these stories and learn about the lives you’ve changed.