As I write this column, the tragic events of Charlottesville, Virginia, are still fresh on the minds of many. Hate-based strife seems to occur more frequently nowadays. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it makes our fight for a more just and loving world ever more pertinent.
Love conquers hate, but achieving that goal requires leaving our comfort zone. The Rev. Carissa Rodgers discusses just that in “Finding Jesus’ Freedom” on pages 8 to 10. In it she says that “at the foundational heart of everything that Jesus did was love.” Delve deeper to understand how Christ’s life and teachings empower us with the freedom “to be agents of love, peace, kindness, justice and mercy …” regardless of what’s occurring in the world. Use the reflection questions in this article to contemplate and discuss ways that you can extend love beyond what you’re accustomed to.
I’m always eager to see the array of books that make our annual Reading Program list. Given the sheer volume of publications debuting in any given year, evaluating and selecting books that are pertinent to our spiritual growth and mission can’t be an easy task for our Reading Program Committee, yet they manage to pick books that are informative and speak to the work we do. Denise-Nicole Stone, a committee member who grew up reading books from our program, expresses her appreciation for it in “Growing Through Reading” on pages 14 to 15. It’s “a clear example of the character and mission of this organization,” she says. “As we journey into worlds and experiences beyond our day-to-day, we have the opportunity to open our minds and discover God in the challenging and unfamiliar.” Refer to “The 2018 United Methodist Women Reading Program” on pages 26 to 33 to see what books are in store for the year ahead.
United Methodist Women Ubuntu Journeys give participants the opportunity to interact with mission partners around the world. In “Ubuntu Journey to Colombia” on pages 16 to 18, Kevin Schaner tells about her recent trip to Colombia where she got to know the women who are making a difference there.
Emma Norton Services, a United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution, is celebrating a century of providing safe housing for women in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. As Christa Meland reports in “100 Years of Service and Advocacy” on pages 20 to 25, shifting its focus to meet the changing needs of its community and the financial and hands-on support from United Methodist Women has made Emma Norton a sustained success. As your group plans for the coming year, commit to donating to or volunteering at one of our mission institutions.
Last June, United Methodist Women members Elizabeth Chun Hye Lee, Jeanne Long and Daryl Junes Joe went before the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., and gave impassioned testimony about the wide-reaching health risks posed by a proposed postponement of natural gas and oil production regulations. Read about it in “Speaking Out for Justice” by Erik Alsgaard on pages 40 to 41.
The birth of Jesus is an enduring testament to God’s love for us. During Advent reflect on the power of that love and all that it can help us to achieve. Have a merry Christmas and a happy and productive New Year.