1. Avoid technology.
2. Connect with loved ones.
3. Nurture your health.
4. Get outside.
5. Avoid commerce.
6. Light candles.
7. Drink wine.
8. Eat bread.
9. Find silence.
10. Give back.
Leaders in the United Church of Christ are lauding passage of major health care reform following a vote of the U.S. House of Representatives on March 21.
"We thank the members of the House of Representatives for their courage, vision, and leadership in making a wise decision and voting on what is best for people living in the United States," said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, the UCC's general minister and president, who was in Washington, D.C., attending the UCC-supported Ecumenical Advocacy Days when the House gave its approval to historic health care reform. "The passing of this bill moves us closer to the realm of God, a realm where mercy, compassion and love for all reigns on earth."
Black said members across the UCC are rejoicing that "the House put millions of individuals, children and families ahead of politics and egos and voted to help end the suffering of those without health insurance and to end the discriminatory practices of health insurance companies."
The Rev. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, said, "After nearly a decade of struggling for a new health care system, this historic vote moves us closer to realizing the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health, as proclaimed by President Franklin Roosevelt's 1943 declaration 'Freedom from Want.'"
"While we recognize that the bill is far from perfect, we know that it was necessary to pass this bill as a first step in moving our great country forward in guaranteeing that health care is a basic right," Jaramillo said.
Remembering the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s oft-quoted sentiment, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman," Barbara Baylor, the UCC's minister for health care justice, said, "This day will go down in history as the first time that we can dare to believe that perhaps the injustice in health care will not remain the most shocking and inhuman."
"The United Church of Christ will continue to speak prophetically that health care is not only a basic human right but a human need that includes everyone," Baylor said. "We will continue to work with the faith community and the Administration to make sure that the bill is perfected and our health care system is inclusive, accessible, affordable and accountable or everyone."
These cloistered nuns wear traditional habits and headdresses. They chant the divine office eight hours daily with thirteen other Poor Clare sisters in the monastery’s chapel, uplifted by the candlelit glow of thirteenth-century Franciscan ritual. They pray for the nation, the president, and all people in need; they also respond to scores of prayer requests weekly. But only a few priests who come in to say Mass get to see them. People who attend chapel services can hear the nuns’ ethereal voices, but their bodies are always hidden, as is their wish. “We come here to live in obscurity and die in obscurity, and usually we do not know the effect our lives and prayers have upon people,” says Mother Therese, who moved here as a novice more than twenty-five years ago. The sisters are so humble as they grapple with my questions, they’ve already thanked me for setting their minds to humility, insisting I’ve taught them something about it in the process.
So I’m not sure what to expect as their slender fingers slide my way the piece of paper on which is typed the reading on humility by Saint John Climacus. We are seated in the same parlor, separated by a fine-mesh screened partition through which I can see them for the purposes of this rare conversation.
I read aloud from what they’ve given me: “‘Humility is constant forgetfulness of one’s achievements.’ Oh yes, that’s good....”
“‘Humility is the disposition of a contrite soul and the abdication of one’s own will,’” I read on, adding, “Oh, that’s lovely too.”
“Yes, but he is saying that humility is more than these things,” offers Sister Christiana. “You will see when you get to the end.”
I skim to the bottom of the page and read back to them: “Humility is a grace in the soul with a name known only to those who have had experience of it.”
The three of us then utter little gasps you’d ordinarily reserve for fireworks. “It is indescribable wealth, a name and a gift from God.” At this, the nuns seem to indicate, “Oh yes, that’s it,” and I stop reading to look into their delighted faces for a second.
My thirteen-year-old son cannot define humility, but he can approximate what being humble means. “That’s like when you don’t brag about a good thing that has happened because you don’t want other people to feel bad,” he says. What happens to the good thing then? I ask. “Well, you can still enjoy it and think about it,” he says, “but you just keep it inside of yourself.”
No, honey, it’s harder than that. Humility means you stop labeling the things that happen to you as either good or bad. Your life’s assignment is to greet your fellow men with the assumption that they have a good thing inside them that you are curious to discover, no matter who they are. Your narrative, your history, travels with you, but you have stopped worrying about your rank. “Each person is unique,” the sisters like to say. “There is no comparison.” Humility is the great equalizer. Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, try viewing poverty as a privilege, as the Poor Clares do.
The Lord finds joy in his people,
He honors the lowly.
—The Liturgy of the Hours
To understand humility and fathom its riches, we must turn the world as we know it on its axis.
Phil Gulley at Portage United Church of Christ (PUCC), Portage MI April 9 & 10, 2010
As a part of its ACE (Adult Christian Education) program, Portage United Church of Christ welcomes Quaker pastor and author Phil Gulley back to our area.
The author of If Grace is True and If God is Love will discuss his new book, If the Church were Christian: Rediscovering the Value of Jesus, published by Harper Collins on February 2, 2010.
Gulley will review this latest book and answer questions from 7-9 p.m. on Friday evening, April 9, and continue on Saturday morning, April 10 from 9-11:30 a.m.. Each session will address different aspects of the book.
The chapter titles from If the Church were Christian are:
PUCC is located at 2731 West Milham Road, one half mile west of Oakland Drive, in Portage, MI 49024. http://www.portageucc.org/
Greetings from PRiHZ (Project Ramp in Holland Zeeland)!
Spring is here! The ground is thawing and for those of us at PRiHZ, that means we’re gearing up for another season of building wheelchair ramps for financially-struggling, disabled individuals in our community. This has been our mission since we started in 2004.
In January, I sent a letter to your church to see if there would be any interest in partnering with us to provide the finances and/or volunteer labor to make a wheelchair ramp a reality for one individual in our community. Attached is a copy of that original letter, so please take some time to look it over and see if this is something in which your church would like to be involved.
If this is an area in which your church finds God calling you, but you have some further questions or need more information, please feel free to call me at (616)396-5326 ext. 101, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and God Bless!
Information & Referral Specialist
Disability Network Lakeshore
426 Century Lane
Holland, MI 49423
T: 616-396-5326 ext. 101
There are MORE people with disabilities than you think. MORE kinds of disabilities. And MORE opportunities to partner.
Disability Network is changing lives, communities, and perceptions.
When we work together, we can do MORE THAN YOU THINK.