So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
ALL PEOPLE will know when we love one another.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7-12
His love is perfected in us when we love one another.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:18-21
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. We are to love one another!
Naomi Tutu Nontombi, an Episcopal priest, is able to look into the words and wisdom of Amos to see a way of being, of living out Christianity
“…it is about how they are to live as a people in the world. They are meant to model a new way of being in community and to show that worshipping God is about every aspect of their lives.Worship of God is . . . all about how we treat our neighbor, how we deal with the less fortunate, what we do to or for the widow and orphan, and how we treat the stranger in our midst. Amos tries . . . to make it clear to God’s people that the God who created and loves them, expects that their belief in God will challenge them to live lives that mirror God’s love. . . .”
LGBTQIA/gay/queer community – Rather than condemnation, they are to be loved too.
Immigrant communities – Each immigrant is seeking a better way to live. Our families were immigrants once too, seeking a better life, no matter how many generations we must go back to find those family members.
African-American community – Created in God’s image are many skin tones. Most were brought here to the USA as slaves. This fact does not make them any less of a beautiful human being than any one else.
Jewish-American community – Those practicing the Jewish religion have been created in God’s image as well. They are called the Children of God, by God Himself.
Asian community – God created a diverse array of human beings. The Asian community is part of the beautiful creation of God.
Women – Women, created by God, have a brain and an ability to make decisions. May we be allowed!
Diversity is who and what God created. Just look all around you at the glories of the natural world. It is filled with diversity. He made men and women diverse, as well, and beautiful! All people!
Love one another!
The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus, 1883
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Welcome all. Love all!
We can do this. God gave us His Word to orchestrate the beautiful dance He desired of us.
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life, please help me to love in my small way what You love infinitely and every where. I thank You that I can offer a prayer and that it will be enough, because every thing and every one is connected; nothing stands alone in Your world, God. To pray for one part is to pray for the whole. And I do. Help me each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because I know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. I offer my prayer together with Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. John 16:20
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
I believe Your Word, LORD because You speak to my heart. I doubt because I am human.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. Psalm 31:9
The United States of America has been home for my entire 74 years on this earth.
I love this country. It has been a place where I hold memories filled with love and joy, loss, and struggles. The USA has been my home, such a wonderful home to and for me.
Yet, there is so much now…on this very day…for a number of years…that I no longer recognize as ‘part and parcel’ of the United States (‘with part meaning “a portion” and parcel “something integral with a whole’ *). There are parts of this country that no longer fit with the whole of the country I have always known as home.
I recognize most of the natural landscape although even some of that is filled with burned forests, lakes so low that one can no longer swim or sail in them. Waterfalls have less flowing down the sides of mountains, and more animals are becoming extinct.
Yet, I can see God’s changeless beauty in His handiwork in the likes of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Oregon coastline, and many other places such as these.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Psalm 19:1
And there are kindhearted people around me, too. Some are strangers to me but they hold a door open while I walk through, smiling behind a masked face. Some are people I do know who call to check on me, just to say ‘hi.’ Some are family who calls for a weekly conversation. New friends in my new city have invited me to go with them to an outdoor art show, and then again to a “Chocolate Walk.” Joy, kindness, peace, love flowed around and through us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Yet, there is so much anger, animosity, hatred, and fear in our country and the world today.
My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me. Jeremiah 8:18
Desires to commit violence against others for reasons I cannot comprehend: the amount of the pigment melanin in one’s skin, one’s religious beliefs, political bent or absolute, even a look someone gives another. So many cruel reasons for hatred and violence. Trials are being held all around the country as I type. Three men with very little melanin in their skin shot an unharmed jogger who happened to have a lot of melanin because they suspected him of being a thief. A white boy went to a Bible study with a gun and shot nine parishioners who all were Black after studying and praying with them.
How can this be?
We all have a degree of melanin in our skin, hair, eyes: “a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye in people and animals. It is responsible for tanning of skin exposed to sunlight.”**
Violence against one another with American flags on January 6, 2020, killing and maiming. Threatening many with death and harm. A continuing threat of hatred and anger is perpetuating in so many arenas.
Why is there so much hatred fueling these fires?
The USA is a Democracy. The people have a say in the way the country is governed. When the United States became an independent nation, the Continental Congress set up the Constitution and the way of governance. It still stands today. Yet, voting integrity is threatened because many did not like the outcome of recent elections so they have decided to rig the elections so that they will win. Our democracy is being threatened by those who fear loss. They threaten those who are in positions to secure the elections…threats at their home’s doorsteps, at their cars after work, on the walkways as they do their jobs. One political party against the other party, higher-ranking members of government stripping other members of their committee assignments, people calling one another liars and traitors, using vitriolic language…and the list goes on and on. Some are attempting to do their jobs. Others do not! Divisiveness is overbearing to me!
What is happening?
We may not have a Democracy for long, I fear myself.
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Psalm 13:2
I grieve these losses to my precious country. I watch in plain sight things being taken, stolen, threatened, stabbed again and again. It is not only lives being lost but the underlying whole of the United States of America…on the verge of being lost.
Grief overpowers me at times.
This nation has been built by the hands and on the backs of immigrants. I come from people who immigrated from Scotland, Ireland, England, Italy, Germany, Holland, and maybe even other countries. They worked hard to make this nation what it has been. Some of each batch of immigrants did indeed harm the next nation of immigrants by belittling their culture, making fun of their lack of language to communicate, maybe even their skin color, making assimilation hard for each new incoming group. But we are a nation of immigrants. How can we turn people away with violence and family separation when our very own relatives came here for a better life. Some of my relatives came because of religious persecution in their home country. Others came because of famine in their home country. Others immigrated for work, for masonry/bricklaying jobs in the big cities being built…all for a better life.
We come from these people. We could not call America home if they had not come before us.
Yet, I hold onto God for He is hope. He is joy.
Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? Job 4:6
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:11
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. Psalm 62:5
My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! Psalm 119:25-32
“Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace.” – Charles Spurgeon
“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”– C.S. Lewis
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice thesethings, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
“…when You enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:2) Yes, Lord, please enlarge my heart. Calm my soul. Fill me with love. May Your love overflow to others as we pass it on to the next. I want to shine Your light in this dark and ever-darkening world. I desire Your joy to spread across the path that You have laid before me. Your hope and joy are two things I lose myself. Fill me up to overflowing because we all need hope in these torrential times. Let me not be angry nor fueled by hatred. Take any frustration from me with those I do not understand. There is so very much I do not understand, LORD. Draw me in and teach me Your ways that I will know You so well that even when I misunderstand or just don’t get another’s ways, Your ways will penetrate so deeply that I can shine Your beautiful light into this country I call home, into this world upon which I live. Grant to me Your peace and Your grace and Your mercy, Your hope and Your joy, O LORD. In the Name of Jesus, Your Son, I pray. Amen.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Bricklayers in Chicago/Wrigley Field @ Horsch Gallery. (My Grandpa was a bricklayer in Chicago and loved the Cubs. Grandpa was born in 1891 so he could very well have been a part of this. The man in the dark overalls with his back to the photographer looks a lot like him!?? His father immigrated from Italy in the mid-1800s and was a bricklayer.)
My maternal great grandfather sought refuge in this country, searching for work, an income. My paternal great, great, great grandfather sought refuge in this country to escape religious persecution.
Today, many seek refuge in this United States of America due to fear of violence, gangs, drug cartels, dictators, and so much more.
Inside the lower pedestal of The Statue of Liberty is this sonnet by Emma Lazarus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This poem was written as a donation for an auction of art and literary works conducted by the “Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty” to raise money for the pedestal’s construction. “Bartholdi’s gigantic effigy was originally intended as a monument to the principles of international republicanism, but ‘The New Colossus’ reinvented the statue’s purpose, turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world.”. The swarms of immigrants knocking on the Eastern shore of this United States quickly turned the statue into a welcoming-harbor greeter.
So I write this with a heavy heart which I have held for years, more so, these past four years. I have seen pictures of migrants, refugees, young, old, with all range of skin shade pigmentation standing, crying, grasping, yelling, crawling, swimming, climbing, and drowning to get into this country. Babies and children of all ages torn from parents’ arms. Four years later, we have 628 children (now) whose parents cannot be found (although just this past week of December 1, 2020, knowledge of phone numbers has been brought to our attention). Even though, my heart breaks. Tears roll down my face as I type these words.
This is not the America that my grandparents sought those many years ago.
Yes, we have had problems throughout our history. We have lived with segregation, racial injustice, the KKK. Women have had to fight for the right to vote, for equal pay, for the ability to obtain a job that once only men held. We had the Civil War…the South against the North. We have taken land and rights from Indigent Peoples. Yes, this nation is far from perfect.
My great, great grandfather was Italian. He was not liked by the immigrants who came before the Italians. I have Irish immigrants and Scottish immigrants as my kin. They were not liked by their predecessors. It seemed like each group wanted to close the gates, not allowing anyone else in to this country. (This still happens as people move from state to state or area to area, desiring to close the gate once they have found a beautiful place.).
Yet, my mother grew up in Chicago at the turn of the last century in a neighborhood made up of Italians, Irish, Russians, Polish, Jewish, Catholics, Protestants. They loved one another. My grandmother even raised the 6 Bates girls who became orphans when both Russian parents died. Grandma was Irish/English/German. Mama loved to help a widow and her daughter make dinner because the food was Jewish, something different from her own fare. During the Depression, if a family could afford to make bread or soup or both, they would share with those who did not have enough. It was the way it was on Mama’s block of immigrants.
The United States of America seems not to be the UNITED states in some substantial aspects. We are broken.
That melanin of the skin is so distinguishable, not only by black and brown and white, but red and blue, bigot and humanitarian, racist/supremacist and equalitarian/humanitarian, and on and on!
Upon looking up the antonyms of several words, I found “bigot” to mean “one who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” Words of opposite definition of “bigot” include: liberal, moderate, conservative, middle-of-the-road, militant. Does that not cover just about all of us? So how can we all come from various and unique backgrounds and be a united people? The real question is…how can we NOT?
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
I want to love unconditionally. That is hard. But I want to.
I desire to be united with my brothers and sisters, my neighbors, my church family. Speaking out about concerns and issues can bring unrequested wrath from people I love. I do not handle that well. AT ALL!
God has called us to love.
By His Word, God leads us in the ways in which He wants us to walk. Again and again! …
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:31-40
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
“To keep oneself unstained from the world” … “to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”… oh, I need Your help, Father. Please hold me still, guarding the words of my mouth, whether verbally or through the written word. I am sorry for words I have uttered recently that drew unexpected words from others. Forgive me, LORD, even though they were words I am feeling. I need to not be drawn into these worldly concerns. Your ways are infinitely better, LORD. Infinitely. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10
…learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Isaiah 1:17
Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Father God, I am sorry for those times and situations when I betrayed You because I did not love, did not give, did not do unto You for I did not do unto the least of those in need. I am truly sorry. As I walk through life for the remainder of my days, please guide my steps, my words, and my actions…that I would be obedient to Your call. I know through my mother’s own stories of our relatives that times were not always easy being a stranger in a strange land. I also know through my mother’s voice that people did learn to get along, to love one another, to wrap their arms around everyone no matter the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their temperament. She taught me and my sisters to love as You teach us. I pray for this nation and this world. I pray for the emigrants who have left their home country and are desiring to enter a new country, possibly the USA. I pray, that one day soon, the opportunity, the gates, will be opened to them. I pray for the DACA children/adults who were brought into the USA innocently with a parent and have known only the United States as their home. I pray for those 628 children who are still in custody in the United States whose parents cannot be found. You know where every single one is. Please unite those precious children with their parents, LORD. They are lambs who need the Shepherd to reunite them with those who bore them. I pray for everyone who is running away from a scary, violent situation who need a new home. Father, You know each one of them around the world. I ask You to guide us as a people to wrap our arms around them. I pray all in the Name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
 The New Colossus – Lehman, David, ed. (2006). The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Oxford University Press. p. 184. OCLC62697134
 Sutherland, Cara A (2003), The Statue of Liberty: The Museum of the City of New York, Barnes & Noble, p. 77, ISBN0-7607-3890-4, auction of art and literary work; Mark Twain also contributed.
 Auster, Paul (2005), “NYC = USA”, Collected Prose: Autobiographical Writings, True Stories, Critical Essays, Prefaces, and Collaborations with Artists, Picador, p. 508, ISBN0-312-42468-X.