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Prompts for Prayers of Intercession – December 4, 2022

These prompts are provided for worship leaders as they prepare the prayers of intercession for weekly worship. The prompts are prepared by several leaders in the ELCA and reflect current world and national events. You are encouraged to adapt and add other concerns for your local context, including staying informed of events and concerns in your synod.

Intercession prompts:

For rebuilding and recovery work following tornadoes in the southern United States…
For families grieving children killed in a school bombing in northern Afghanistan…
For an end to continued war in Ukraine…
For an end to gun violence in our nation…
For nations and governments in leadership transitions…
For all who are struggling with and recovering from RSV, Covid, and other illnesses…
For strength and stability in marriages and all partnered relationships…

Other notable events and observances:

Francis Xavier, missionary to Asia, died 1552 (December 3)
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3)
John of Damascus, theologian and hymnwriter, died around 749 (December 4)
Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, died around 342 (December 6)
Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, died 397 (December 7)
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7)
Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8)
Human Rights Day (December 10)
Nobel Prize Day (December 10)

Suggested hymns & prayers: 

Prayer for families (ELW, p. 83)
Triune God, whose will it is that humans live in community, bless family life everywhere and fill all homes with respect, joy, laughter, and prayer. Strengthen the commitment of [partners and family members] to one another, that they may mirror your covenant faithfulness; pour out your Spirit on [caregivers], that through them their children may taste your unconditional love; and empower all family members to live in your grace and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship

ACS = All Creation Sings: Evangelical Lutheran Worship Supplement

Additional topical prayers are found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pp. 72–87) and All Creation Sings (pp. 46–55), as well as in other resources provided in print and online at sundaysandseasons.com.

Follow this link to access resources to assist worshiping communities as they respond to the crisis in Eastern Europe. Several prayers are provided that could be used during the prayers of intercession or at other times, in public worship or for devotional use at home or in other settings.

Further assistance for composing prayers of intercession can be found here: Resources for Crafting Prayers of Intercession

Crafted intercessions for every Sunday and festival are provided in the Sundays and Seasons worship planning guide published in-print and online by Augsburg Fortress.

Prayer Ventures, a daily prayer resource, is a guide to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world.

Image from All Creation Sings, © 2020, Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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December 4, 2022–Truly Listening?

Alex Zuber, Harrisonburg, VA

Warm-up Questions

Can you think of a time where you felt like no one heard or understood you?  What did it feel like to be overlooked or even misrepresented?  How did you try to be understood or be noticed?

Truly Listening?

In recent weeks, our country has been rocked once again by gun violence targeting the LGBTQIA+ community.  On the eve of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a lone gunman walked into Club Q—an LGBTQ friendly nightclub in Colorado Springs, CO—and opened fire, killing 5 people and wounding 17 more.  The shooter was subdued by an army veteran and a trans woman who acted with incredible bravery, but not before Daniel Davis Ashton, Raymond Green, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Derrick Rump were added to the litany of those who have died at the hands of anti-LGBTQIA+ violence.

Like the devastating 2016 shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, this act of violence bears an extra measure of cruelty in that it happened at a club which has so often been a place of safety, refuge, and affirmation for a community that faces daily fear and rejection by family, friends, and strangers.  Comfort, love, and community flourished in  Club Q, where the patrons simply wanted to be seen, loved, and valued for who they were made to be.  In this heinous act, a place of sanctuary was violated, and this act should serve as a wake up call to people of faith who have been a part of perpetuating anti-LGBTQIA+ bias for far too long.

As the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community have cried out from the wilderness of pain, sorrow, and fear over these last weeks, it asks the question of the church as a whole… are we truly listening?

Discussion Questions

  • Mass shootings in the United States have become all too frequent in recent years.  Were you aware of this act of violence?  How prevalent has this story been in your circles of conversation and why?
  • What have you heard LGBTQIA+ siblings say in recent weeks about how they are feeling in the wake of this violence?  If you are an LGBTQIA+ person, have you had someone with whom you could share and process your feelings?

Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10

Romans 15:4-13

Matthew 3:1-12

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Matthew 3 bridges the gap between Matthew’s birth narrative of Jesus (which includes Christ’s genealogy, birth, visit from the Magi, flight to Egypt, and the death of the infants of Bethlehem) and the beginning Christ’s public ministry at his baptism.  In this story we see God’s faithfulness through the generations, God’s assuring presence with Joseph, and God’s deliverance through Egypt (again!).  In the midst of this  we also see the cruelty of those with the most power.  Furious that he cannot thwart the coming of a new king, Herod kills the children of Bethlehem.  This is the climate into which John the Baptizer raises his voice in Matthew 3.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” John proclaims from the margins of society.  Wearing camel’s hair and eating locusts and wild honey, John is anything but mainstream and acceptable within Herod’s court.  Heard but misunderstood, John is consigned to the fringe of society with his message of judgement against those who abuse and hope for those who are crushed.  

Like the LGBTQIA+ community, John finds his place and people on the outside, building a movement where he finds others who are suffering under tyranny.  He sternly rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees who come out to see him, calling them a brood of vipers and imploring them to bear fruit worthy of repentance.  These leaders are part of a religious system  that has created circles of insiders and outsiders.  The kingdom of heaven which John proclaims has no such circles.  The kingdom is a gift from God for all people, and John’s fiery words are meant to burn away all the bias and indifference that would allow these religious leaders to see anyone as an outsider to the gifts of God.

Perhaps the baptism of John can wash across the generations with a flood of justice.  Perhaps the fire of Christ can burn away the institutional indifference and disdain which consigns our LGBTQIA+ siblings to a place on the margins.  The way of the Lord which John proclaims is lived by Christ, who calls all people to his way of grace and peace.  But in order to walk this way, we all must bear fruit worthy of repentance.  This is a difficult lesson to hear, because the kingdom of heaven is deeply disruptive to the oppressors, and it is freedom and life to those who have been oppressed.

Advent is a time for waiting, a time when we practice giving space to hear and see the ways that God’s kingdom is moving around us.  John the Baptizer asks of us, “What then will you do when you hear the voice of one crying out in the wilderness?”  For the sake of those being crushed by injustice, for the sake of those who are told they have no place, for the sake of those who have heard that grace does not belong to them… I pray that the Church of Jesus Christ will answer as one, “We will prepare the way of the Lord!”

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever felt challenged rather than comforted by the words of the gospel?  If so, share how that experience changed your perspective.
  • John deals firmly and directly with those he feels are perpetuating injustice. What instruction do you imagine John the Baptist might offer you regarding your own repentance?
  • How might the church better hear and care for the needs of our LGBTQIA+ siblings who may be hurting in the wake of the violence in Colorado Springs?

Activity Suggestions

  • Practice active listening within your small group.  Split into pairs and have a have a one-on-one conversation with your partner about what concerns they have in their life or their community.  Practice “active listening,” where you summarize their statements with “I hear you say…” or “what I think you’re saying is…”.  Do not offer commentary on their reflections, rather ensure that they are being heard and that you are aware of the needs around you.
    • Use your active listening skills and make a point to check in with friends and neighbors in the LGBTQIA+ community to hear how they are feeling. Offer no commentary, but hold space for their feelings and honor their suggestions for what the way forward looks like.
  • Even if  you do not have friends or neighbors that you know of in the LGBTQIA+ community, you can try to understand that community’s  experience.  Organize a small group to study “Dialogues on Sexuality” from Augsburg Fortress.  This study will allow you to explore seven unique perspectives and experiences by reading opinions from leading voices on this topic.

Closing Prayer

Stir up your power Lord Christ and come.  Give us ears to hear the voices like John who cry out from the margins with a word of challenge and hope.  Prepare in our hearts the way of your Son, that all may know the kingdom of heaven has come near, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine 2022

Join us in Sensing Advent: Practicing God’s justice in embodied community

Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine is a four-week virtual pilgrimage from the ELCA’s Peace Not WallsYoung Adult Ministry, Arab and Middle Eastern ministry, and ALAMEH featuring young adult voices from the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

In Palestine and around the world, Advent is a time to prepare for Christmas—not only in our hearts and minds, but in embodied traditions that involve all our senses. Decorations, food, music, and gifts can not only express the rich cultural diversity of the church and connect us to our own histories; these traditions can also invite us to practice the joy, abundance, peace-making, and generosity that is the liberative way of Jesus in the world.

This resource can be used by an individual or in a group setting and is available to everyone, regardless of age.

The full resource includes:

Videos

  • Four 5-minute videos (1 video for each week of Advent focused on a specific theme and Biblical text)

Bible Study

  • Includes the Biblical text and discussion questions for each week of Advent, centering and closing prayers for use in a group gathering

Webinar

  • Dec 12 at 8pm ET: Launch webinar to introduce the series theme & structure. The webinar will feature ALAMEH members Pastor Khader El-Yateem, Pastor Rani Abdulmasih and Muna Tarazi. Sign up to view the webinar live.

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Prompts for Prayers of Intercession – November 27, 2022

These prompts are provided for worship leaders as they prepare the prayers of intercession for weekly worship. The prompts are prepared by several leaders in the ELCA and reflect current world and national events. You are encouraged to adapt and add other concerns for your local context, including staying informed of events and concerns in your synod.

Intercession prompts:

For those mourning loss of life, home, and livelihood in the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Indonesia…
For the loved ones of those killed and for others who were injured in the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs on Saturday night, and for our siblings in the LGBTQIA+ community…
For the ordination and consecration of Bishop Shannon Rogers Duckworth as the 12th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and our full communion partners in the Episcopal Church…
For students, teachers, seminarians, professors, and support and administrative staff preparing for the end of the fall semester…
For an end to the continued war in Ukraine and all places of war and conflict…

Other notable events and observances:

Note: This past Sunday was Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance dating back to 1999 as a day to honor the memory of transgender persons whose lives have been lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. As a church body publicly committed to eradicating gender-based violence (see “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action” [2019]), we deeply regret and apologize for this omission in last week’s prompts for prayers of intercession.

American Indian Heritage Month (November)
Andrew, Apostle (November 30)
Francis Xavier, missionary to Asia, died 1552 (December 3)
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3)
John of Damascus, theologian and hymnwriter, died around 749 (December 4)

Suggested hymns & prayers: 

Prayer for greater understanding and accompaniment of persons with disabilities (ACS p. 52):
Creator God, you made us all in your image. Help us to embrace one another as you do, beloved and blessed; not in need of fixing, but need of authentic welcome. Bring healing where it is desired, affirmation where it is lacking, and awareness to all. Open our hearts to receive the gifts and needs of all people, and to become communities where everyone can find a place. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. (ACS, p. 52)

Hymn suggestion for a time of lament:
When Our World Is Rent by Violence (ACS 1052)

Hymn suggestions for a time of lament, especially appropriate for Advent:
Lost in the Night (ELW 243)
Each Winter As the Year Grows Older (ELW 252)

 

ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship

ACS = All Creation Sings: Evangelical Lutheran Worship Supplement

Additional topical prayers are found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pp. 72–87) and All Creation Sings (pp. 46–55), as well as in other resources provided in print and online at sundaysandseasons.com.

Follow this link to access resources to assist worshiping communities as they respond to the crisis in Eastern Europe. Several prayers are provided that could be used during the prayers of intercession or at other times, in public worship or for devotional use at home or in other settings.

Further assistance for composing prayers of intercession can be found here: Resources for Crafting Prayers of Intercession

Crafted intercessions for every Sunday and festival are provided in the Sundays and Seasons worship planning guide published in-print and online by Augsburg Fortress.

Prayer Ventures, a daily prayer resource, is a guide to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world.

Image from All Creation Sings, © 2020, Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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November 27, 2022–Are You. Awake?

Mary Houck, Decatur, GA

Warm-up Question

  • Name a favorite celebrity or a public figure you admire. How much do you know about them and what they stand for? 
  • Should famous people be held accountable for what they believe personally? For example, can you listen to someone’s music, read their book, or watch them in a movie, even if you know their values are different from yours?

Are You Awake?

Public figures, from social media influencers to celebrities to politicians, talk about how “woke” they are.  The term has developed more layers of meaning in the past few years. For example, in one of the key races of the recent midterm elections it was used as a campaign strategy. A candidate for Senate in Georgia, Herschel Walker, used it as an insult for his opponent, Raphael Warnock. Walker wanted the religious right to vote against Warnock because being “woke” meant he was a radical liberal. Governor DeSantis, just re-elected in Florida, also decried the “woke” agenda during his campaign and even signed the ‘Stop W.O.K.E.’ Act, designed to limit what teachers can say in their classrooms on a variety of topics. But  “woke” didn’t start out that way. 

The term “woke comes out of the civil rights movement of the 20th century, when it was used by black people to encourage each other to be more aware of structural racism and to  join in efforts to combat it. In recent years, it has been used more widely than ever on social media and in the news. 

In 2020, following the death of George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery, and others, there was a national wave of interest in learning more about racism and other social issues. Many people started using the term to identify themselves or others as being part of this movement— as people who cared enough to know the truth about how their society was treating some people unfairly due to their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. 

Unfortunately, many people also continue to resist the idea that there is anything wrong. They see our society as already fair to everyone. They put the blame for inequality on certain individuals or groups, saying they could be more successful if they just tried harder and stopped complaining. Public figures and groups trying to appeal to this mindset have taken up the term “woke” as a way to describe people they don’t like. Journalist Ishena Robinson writes, “To some, woke is now a derisive stand-in for diversity, inclusion, empathy and, yes, Blackness.”

Discussion Questions

  • How would you define what it means to be “woke”? Do you see it as a good or a bad thing?
  • How does it feel when you learn something disturbing about American history or society? How does it feel when you belong to the group being treated unfairly? How does it feel when you belong to the group benefitting from the unfair treatment of others?
  • Does the new information change the way you act, speak, vote, or spend your money? 

First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 2:1-5

Romans 13:11-14

Matthew 24:36-44

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

In Matthew 24, Jesus gives the disciples a variety of warnings and images about the end times and Jesus’ second coming. He repeatedly emphasizes the need to be ready—it could happen today! However, Jesus does not intend for us to live in a constant state of panic. 

Every year during Advent, as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, we also read Bible passages about the next time Jesus will come. We look forward to that time when all creation will be reconciled to God, when all the ways humanity has messed it up won’t matter anymore.

However, we are not meant to just sit around waiting for God to do all the heavy lifting. God invites us to be co-creators—to help make, through our daily actions, words and prayers, the world God intends. Jesus spends lots of time teaching people how to live in community with each other, pay attention to the needs of their neighbors, and question the oppressive systems and inequalities in their society. Obviously, he wants us to create change.  That is a long-term project. 

It is still true, however, that Jesus wants us to be ready at any moment. On any given day, there is something we can do to make God’s kingdom a reality here and now. When we learn about history from a variety of perspectives, when we call people out for bigoted or insensitive jokes, when we listen with open minds and hearts to each other’s stories, we invite Jesus to be present in that moment with us. When we approach our family, friends, and neighbors (not to mention ourselves) with empathy and compassion, when we give to organizations fighting for justice and equity, when we use our voices to create positive change, we invite Jesus to come again.

This kind of awareness/wakefulness (or “woke-ness”) takes practice. We all start with values and perspectives from the families and communities in which we grew up.  Some are good and true—some not so much. It takes work and a lot of listening to be truly awake, as Jesus implores us to be in this passage. None of us get it 100% right all the time. The good news is that every day we get a new chance to wake up (both literally and figuratively). We get a new chance to live as if at any moment, life as we know it will end and something new and beautiful will take its place, something we helped to create. 

Discussion Questions

  • What do you do to feel ready for something? Ready for school in the morning? Ready for a big exam? Ready for a competition (athletic, musical, academic, etc.)? 
  • What about getting ready for Jesus? How is it similar or different? How often do you feel ready?  
  • Sometimes it seems like there are endless problems to learn about.  It can be overwhelming to think about injustice and inequality all the time. We all have to make some choices about which problems we focus on. What issues are especially important to you? Have you done any work in that area? What kinds of things could you do to help?

Activity Suggestions

  • A “Woke” board: get a piece of poster board and make a collage from magazines that represents the issues your group cares about. 
  • Having discussed which issues are important to the members of your group, are there any you all agree on? What could you do as a group to help? 
    • Create a strategy to raise awareness of the issue in your faith community, for example:
      • do a fund-raiser for an organization that does work in that area and tell people about why you chose that recipient
      • Create posters or flyers that can be hung up/ distributed. 
      • Create a presentation and/or skit. Share it in worship or host a special class to which the whole congregation is invited. 
    • Or, find out about an organization that is working on the issue, and create something to thank them for their work (cards, bookmarks, care package, etc.) Chances are high that they are overworked and underpaid (or not paid at all), and this kind of work often leads to burn out and discouragement.  A little encouragement can go a long way! 

Closing Prayer

Gracious God, we look forward to the day when all creation will be reconciled to you. In the meantime, awaken our hearts and minds to the realities and needs of our neighbors. Inspire us with creativity, determination, and endurance as we work to make your kingdom a reality here and now . Amen.

 

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November Updates: U.N. and State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices (sppos) in the ELCA Advocacy Network this month. Full list and map of sppos available.

 

U.N. | ARIZONA | CALIFORNIA | COLORADO  | MINNESOTA | NEW MEXICO | OHIO | PENNSYLVANIA | TEXAS | WASHINGTON | WISCONSIN |

 

U.N.

Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC), United Nations, New York, N.Y. – ELCA.org/lowc

Christine Mangale, Director

Women’s Human Rights Advocacy Training

  • The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in partnership with the World Council of Churches, Finn Church Aid, and Norwegian Church Aid held the Women’s Human Rights Advocacy Training in Geneva from 25-28 October 2022. The training reverted to its in-person format following the relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions. 
  • Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC) Director Christine Mangale joined LWF colleagues in the planning and facilitation of the training. Nearly 40 delegates from faith-based organizations participated in the training. ELCA participants included Witness in Society advocacy staff, Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe staff, and delegates from companion churches in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • The course enhanced participants’ advocacy effectiveness through U.N. mechanisms such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR), Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the Generation Equality Action Coalitions and other local and regional gender justice processes. The training also offered participants networking opportunities and a chance to meet with CEDAW commissioners and Geneva-based government representatives. 
  • A resource, Affirming Women’s Human Rights: Resources for Faith-Based Organizations”,  can be found here. 

Arizona

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona (LAMA) – lamaz.org

Solveig Muus, Director

LAMA Summit. The third annual LAMA Summit featuring Rev. Eugene Cho of Bread for the World was engaging, thought provoking, informative and fun for the nearly 40 clergy, LAMA liaisons and hunger leaders in attendance. The event consisted of opening devotions on 1 Kings 17; an introduction to LAMA and its policy priorities; the keynote address by Rev. Eugene Cho; small group conversations to process Rev. Cho’s address; a lengthy Q & A with Rev. Cho; an update on the new legislative districts; an update on current hunger legislation; a practical demonstration of advocacy; and advocacy practice speaking to legislators.

2023 Policy Priorities. The LAMA Policy Council met in November to review the year, discuss the social and political issues facing Arizona, and agree on what LAMA’s priorities would be for 2023. The council agreed LAMA’s primary focus will be to continue advocacy and education around Hunger in our most vulnerable communities, including partnering with hunger anti-hunger advocates around the state and launching the Arizona Anti-Hunger Alliance. In addition, LAMA will continue its work in Civic Engagement as it relates to our Lutheran heritage of being a publicly engaged church, encouraging participation in all areas of our government. Finally, LAMA will focus on Water, educating ourselves and our network on the complex issues related to water in Arizona.

Civic Engagement. LAMA’s work leading up to the election in support of its Civic Engagement policy priority involved efforts to register voters, encourage participation in the voting process, educating our network about ballot deadlines, ID requirements, polling locations, ballot measures, etc.

 

California

Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California (LOPP-CA) – lutheranpublicpolicyca.org

Regina Banks, Director

Meetings were held between the LOPP-CA office and California congregations during October to discuss the policy office’s positions on the upcoming ballot propositions. It was great to see a large turnout at those events! 

Election day has passed, but votes are still being counted in California and across the country –  and we expect mail-in ballots to continue coming in for a while yet. Currently, ballot propositions 1, 28, and 31 are passing with ‘yes’ votes. These propositions would enshrine the right to reproductive freedom in the California constitution, provide more funding for arts and music education, and uphold a law banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, respectively. The LOPP-CA policy council supported proposition 1 and 31 and took no position on 28, the arts and music education funding. Measures the policy council were against, including two on sports betting regulations, are currently receiving more ‘no’ votes and willould not pass if the results continue in this direction. 

The 27th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) is also taking place from November 6th-18th in Egypt, and Regina Banks is attending on behalf of the ELCA and LOPP-CA. You can find updates from her on our social pages throughout the conference. 

 

Colorado

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado (LAM-CO) – lam-co.org

Peter Severson, Director

COLORADO ELECTION RESULTS: Coloradans voted on 11 statewide ballot measures this election season. We are excited to report that all three measures which we supported have passed! 

  • Proposition FF, Healthy School Meals for All, won with 55% of voters saying Yes! This will ensure that kids in public schools have access to healthy meals regardless of ability to pay. The program takes the place of a federal initiative that provided free meals to all kids through the first two years of the pandemic.

  • Proposition GG, Add Income Tax Table to Ballot Measures, also passed with over 70% of voters saying Yes. This will require ballot titles and fiscal summaries for future measures affecting income tax to include a table showing how people in different income brackets would be affected. 
  • Proposition 123, Dedicate State Income Tax to Affordable Housing, passed very narrowly, on a margin of 51% to 49%. This will dedicate 0.1% of the state’s income tax revenue to specific affordable housing programs. 

 

Minnesota

Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LA-MN) – lutheranadvocacymn.org

Tammy Walhof, Director

ELECTIONS: Narrow poll margin reports proved false as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party took all state offices, held onto the House, and flipped the Senate with a one-seat majority. Margins in several races suggest much ticket-splitting. Secretary of State, Steve Simon, had the largest margin over challenger Kim Crockett (who questioned 2020 election validity). Attorney General Keith Ellison barely prevailed, with votes primarily from urban cores. Governor Walz won by eight points over challenger Dr. Scott Jensen (who questioned COVID mandates).  

NEW MEMBERS: Minnesota House and Senate both lost many veteran lawmakers through retirement, redistricting, and elections. About 35% of both chambers are new.  

NEW LEADERS: Representative Melissa Hortman will remain Speaker of the House, but Representative Lisa Demuth will replace Representative Kurt Daudt as Minority Leader (first time since 2014 someone other than Daudt leads House Republicans). Demuth is anticipated to have a less confrontational leadership style. Representative Jamie Long will be the new House Majority Leader, so we are watching to see who will take over Energy & Climate leadership from Long.  

Both parties will have new leadership in the Senate. Senator Kari Dziedzic will be new Majority Leader, Senator Bobby Joe Champion will be the first person of color to serve as Senate President, and Mark Johnson of East Grand Forks will be Minority Leader (replacing Senator Miller, who chose not to run again after just 1 year as the head of Senate Republicans). Much remains unknown about committee chairs, particularly Agriculture, since most senators from rural Minnesota are Republican. 

 

New Mexico

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry New Mexico (LAM-NM) – lutheranadvocacynm.org

Kurt Rager, Director

A decade of advocacy… 

According to the 2022 Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book that measures 16 indicators of child well-being in the areas of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community, New Mexico once again ranked 50th in the nation. Though the data used does not consider several key state-level policy changes made recently, the challenge for improvement is immense. 

On Election Day, 70% of New Mexico voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution that advocates, including LAM-NM, believe will truly transform the health and well-being of the state’s youngest and set a standard for the rest of the nation to follow. Driving the decade long battle was the belief that every family and individual should have access to an affordable, evidence-based, and high-quality prenatal and cradle-to-career system of care and education. 

Constitutional Amendment #1 will authorize an additional 1.25% to be withdrawn annually from the state’s unique Land Grant Permanent Fund, financed by state oil and gas revenue and interest on the fund’s investments, which is currently valued at $26 billion. If passed by the U.S. Congress, it is estimated that an initial $150 million would be available to early childhood education, and another $100 million for K-12. Among the many proposals being considered, this includes expanding early childhood services like state-wide prenatal care, home visiting, high-quality childcare and pre-kindergarten programs. Other priorities include moving childcare worker average pay to $18 an hour and making permanent the policy change last year that made childcare free for most NM families. 

Over several contentious sessions, LAM-NM worked alongside numerous partner organizations, which together, formed the Invest in Kids, NOW coalition. While joyous about our victory, the coalition will now join with the state on the hard work it will take to create transformational programs for the future. 

 

Ohio

Hunger Network Ohio (HNO) – hungernetwork.org

Deacon Nick Bates, Director

ADVOCACY IN ADVENT: NOV. 29TH 

The Hunger Network and the Ohio Council of Churches are joining together to host Advocacy in Advent: A Lame Duck Lobby Day! We will discuss the important efforts we can take as a state to end hunger in Ohio and transform our criminal justice system to support neighborhoods, families, and communities to regain stability. You can join us by registering here: https://actionnetwork.org/ticketed_events/advocacy-in-advent . 

HUNGER ADVOCACY FELLOW: We are grateful to ELCA World Hunger for supporting a new Hunger Advocacy Fellow position in Ohio who will begin on November 28th.  

ISSUE 1 and ISSUE 2: Sadly, both Issue 1 and Issue 2 passed on election day in Ohio. Issue 1 cements cash bail into Ohio’s constitution. Issue 2 bans non-citizens and, due to a drafting error by the State Legislature, may also end up preventing 17 year olds who will be 18 by the election from registering to vote. “As a person with an early November birthday, this could have disenfranchised me from voting in my first election,” said Deacon Nick Bates, Director of the Hunger Network in Ohio. 

 

Pennsylvania

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Pennsylvania (LAMPa) lutheranadvocacypa.org

Tracey DePasquale, Director

The Pennsylvania Hunger Action Coalition held its annual meeting at Trinity Lutheran Church in Camp Hill to begin establishing priorities for the next session of the General Assembly and new Administration.

In the waning days of the 2022 session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Pennsylvania (LAMPa)  and fellow housing advocates applauded the passage of legislation lifting the cap on the state’s housing trust fund by $20 million.  

The increase, which brought the cap on revenues for the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) Fund to $60 million annually, came on the heels of more than $375 million in American Rescue Plan funding targeted to housing and homelessness in the FY 2022-23 budget. 

Although LAMPa advocates and coalition partners in the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania had pushed for bipartisan legislation that would have raised the PHARE Funding cap to $100 million over three years, the progress is welcome. Read more. 

LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale joined ELCA EcoAmbassador Stephanie Coble Lower at the Susquehanna Summit, an interfaith environmental gathering.

In addition to surveying our network and Pennsylvania ministries about needs, LAMPa began meetings with coalition partners to begin informing our priorities for the next legislative term. LAMPa’s policy council will consider that policy agenda in December.  Trinity Lutheran Church in Camp Hill graciously hosted leadership from the Pennsylvania Hunger Action Coalition as that group shared updates and discussed potential areas for collaboration in fighting hunger in the Commonwealth.

LAMPa participated in planning for a Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod event to honor the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., continued organizing for the Homeless Memorial Blanket Project in Washington, D.C., and attended a regional faith-based environmental summit co-hosted by the Lower Susquehanna Synod. 

 

 

 

Texas

Texas Impact – texasimpact.org

Scott Atnip, Outreach Director

In preparation for the general election, Texas Impact participated in presentations in congregations throughout the state, including our Faith in Democracy Series with events in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Denton. Faith in Democracy events included a faith leader panel discussing why our faith calls for participation in democracy and advocacy efforts, training on Texas Impact’s Election Center tools, and breakout sessions on key public policy issues. Texas Impact also targeted social media ads to encourage voting and supporting the election infrastructure as election workers or poll monitors.
 

Texas Impact’s Weekly Witness podcast is in the midst of a series outlining legislative priorities for the next biennium, including our 200th episode featuring Bishop Michael Rinehart, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, discussing human migration.  

The popular Courts and Ports Program is re-launching with a new Immigration Education and Advocacy Manager, Fabiola (Fabi) Olvera Benitez coordinating trips to the Texas-Mexico border.  

Election results changed little in terms of state leadership, so Texans of faith are preparing for the Texas Legislature to convene in January 2023 in a session that could be very similar to 2021. 

 

Washington

Faith Action Network (FAN) – fanwa.org

Elise DeGooyer, Director

During Food Week of Action in October, the Faith Action Network (FAN)  hosted a Food Policy in WA webinar (linked on our YouTube page) with our coalition partners at Northwest Harvest. We also co-hosted two forums with indigenous writers Sarah Augustine and Mark Charles regarding the ways the Doctrine of Discovery continues to impact native peoples and lands. 

FAN helped organize faith leaders in a press conference in October with Governor Inslee and state legislators announcing protective legislation for reproductive choice and gender affirming care in our state. Here’s the recap of the legislation proposed 

We are in full preparation mode for our hybrid Annual Dinner, Sunday evening, November 20, in Renton, Spokane, and online. Our biggest fundraiser of the year is also a time to come back together in-person after two years and renew our connections and solidarity for justice across the state. 

 

Wisconsin

Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin (LOPPW) loppw.org

The Rev. Cindy Crane, Director

WEDNESDAY NOON LIVE: We interviewed outgoing Republican Senator Kathy Bernier about her views on elections in Wisconsin. Our conversation included the costly Gableman investigation and the Wisconsin Elections Commission. 

ELECTIONS: Governor Evers was re-elected. Michaels, his opponent, claimed he wanted to decertify the 2020 election. How elections are certified made our Secretary of State race unusually contested. At the time of writing this report, the election hasn’t been called. Earlier,  Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin (LOPPW) interviewed Sec. of State La Follette (D) after extremists tried to prevent him from certifying the 2020 election. U.S. Senator Johnson was re-elected for a third term. The 3rd Congressional race was closer than expected. In the end, Derrick Van Orden, known for being present at the Trump rally just before the insurrection, won. After Wisconsin maps recently became more gerrymandered, the party that has the legislative majority won enough seats for a supermajority in the Senate but not the Assembly, which means the governor still has veto power. 

JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM: A few of us from our coalition’s steering committee recently met with staff from the Bucks Basketball Team to discuss their interest in supporting our efforts in returning 17 year-olds to the juvenile justice system 

CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION: LOPPW had its second meeting with staff from Faith in Place and confirmed plans to organize a spring advocacy day. 

YOUTH: Representatives from six synods are working with LOPPW to organize our first high school youth gathering with a focus on advocacy, scheduled for April 14 – 16, 2023. 

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“Who Are You!”

Today’s blog post comes from DeAnna Quietwater Noriega.

A picture of DeAnna Quietwater Noriega and her guide dog from her book "Fifty Years of Walking With Friends"

 

DeAnna Quietwater Noriega is half Apache and a quarter Chippewa. She is the mother of three, two daughters and an adopted blind son. She was the eldest of five children in a close–knit American Indian family. As a result of congenital glaucoma, she became totally blind at the age of eight.

DeAnna was mainstreamed in public schools in Texas, Michigan, and California. She completed a bachelor’s degree in social science and did a year toward a master’s in social work at California State University Stanislaus. While attending college, she taught independent living skills to the blind for the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. She worked as a caseworker in Santa Clara County, California, before joining the United States Peace Corps. DeAnna and her sighted husband met while attending college, and Curtis joined her in the Peace Corps. They worked together to establish a school for blind children in the independent nation of Western Samoa.

Upon her return to the U.S., DeAnna spent the next seven years at home, raising children. During this time, she became active in the American Council of the Blind and in Guide Dog Users, Inc. She taught braille, instructed breastfeeding mothers as a La Leche leader, was a friendly visitor at nursing homes, and worked as a volunteer intake clerk at the welfare office.

DeAnna and her husband opened two Papa Murphy’s pizza franchise stores. She served as operations manager, doing inventory, ordering, supervising staff, and handling the cash register and phone during late afternoons and evenings.

After 14 successful years, they sold the restaurants to move to Colorado, where their two daughters were enrolled in college. DeAnna kept busy working as an instructor of braille and independent living skills with an adult education program in Colorado Springs. She remained active in many organizations of the visually impaired, serving as an officer at local state and national levels. She served as a founding board member of a nonprofit organization that opened a blind center in Colorado Springs. She established The Braille Books to Keep project for blind children in both Oregon and Colorado.

DeAnna has been a guide dog user for over 50 years and has taken an active part in passing legislation protecting service animals.

 

Who Are You!

By DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, an excerpt from Fifty Years of Walking with Friends

My uncle always described us as assimilated traditionalists. Men in our family went in to construction or the military. These were acceptable choices for warriors. Those who worked in construction usually left their families during the months when the building trades had work. They returned home in winter. Military families went with their men when possible and returned to the reservation when they weren’t allowed to go to posts in war zones.

My father was a master sergeant in the army and a full blooded Apache. My mother was born on the Isabella Reservation in Mount Pleasant Michigan. She is Ojibwa. My grand father was a six-foot 8-inch Full blooded Ojibwa who left the reservation to find work. He and my grandmother lost two of their 8 children to malnutrition and disease as toddlers. My mother was their first surviving child. She married my father at age fifteen and followed him to California where I was born when she was seventeen.

When I was four, I was living in Louisiana and had a black baby sitter. I asked her why her skin was such a pretty dark color. She said that god had made her with chocolate. White people were made with vanilla. I asked what flavor I was and she said a ginger snap.

When I was in the first grade living in San Antonio Texas, my teacher went around the room using last names to illustrate emigration. When she came to me, she said “Your ancestors probably came from Mexico.”

I shook my head and replied, “No, I don’t think so, I think we didn’t come from some other country but were always here.” I told her we were native Americans. My classmates asked if my parents wore paint and feathers. In all innocence I answered “Only on Sundays.” My mother wore a hat to Church with feathers on it. She used makeup then too.

When we were away from the reservation, people assumed my mother was Hispanic and tried to speak Spanish to her. My Apache grandparents spoke Spanish. I learned a little as a preschooler. I was lighter skinned than my brothers, favoring my maternal grandmother.  I often confused people who weren’t familiar with my Apache face. I have been mistaken for someone from the Philippines, or asked if I were Caribbean, Samoan, or even Eurasian. Until the flower children began viewing all things Native American as mystical, it wasn’t popular to be thought an Indian. People living near reservations held negative opinions of us, believing we were all alcoholics, came from broken families and obstinately held to beliefs that were little better than ignorant superstitions. Children were placed in schools where they were forbidden to speak their native languages. They were shipped far from home and forced to conform to mainstream religion and cultural beliefs. If we wanted to learn more of our culture, we had to make an effort to seek out elders who would teach us.

This has led to a gradual decline in the numbers of native people who remember who they are. Somethings I have learned by watching the adults in the family are:

Babies and young children are people too. They should receive the love and attention of the family. Native American babies aren’t left to cry but move from loving lap to lap. Small children are encouraged to master tasks to add to the well being of the family because all hands can make contributions.

Elders are to be respected and listened too. They have survived many things and can offer much wisdom.

If you have something and another doesn’t, then share. Gifting your little extra will come back to you someday when you may need it.

You are as the great mystery has made you. Value the gift of life and make the world a better place for having been born in to it.

Don’t fear death, it is just another change like birth. Just because we don’t know what to expect doesn’t mean it won’t be good.

We aren’t superior to our brothers and sisters who walk on four legs or swim in the streams or fly. All living things are equally the children of the maker. That is why we owe them respect if we take their lives to live.

These are the gifts I carry in my heart as I walk the world and they define who I am as much as my dark hair and high cheekbones or the fact that I became totally blind at age eight.

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[New!] LifeLines Fall 2022

ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response have always been intricately connected, but in recent months global events have reminded us again just how vital the work of God through these shared ministries is for communities around the world.

The depth of the humanitarian and refugee crisis in Ukraine and across Europe will require a yearslong response. Incredible generosity to Lutheran Disaster Response in the wake of the Eastern European crisis and to ELCA World Hunger over the last 18 months has enabled us to temporarily expand our work in impacted regions. Because of our donors, we are better-equipped and better-resourced to support our global neighbors as they face great challenges.

As the world yearns for an end to this terrible conflict and its far-reaching consequences, in this issue of “LifeLines” we lift up stories of hope, of new opportunity and of God at work even amid tragedy and instability. We know that the effects of the war in Ukraine are far-reaching, which makes the relationships our church has with local communities around the world so important.

In this issue, you will read about a project of our companion church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in The Gambia. The church is working with women such as Anna, a caretaker of a cashew farm in The Gambia, whose story is shared in this issue, to create new opportunities for food security without reliable imports from Ukraine.

You’ll also read about Rosita in Guatemala, who at just 11 years old made the difficult journey with her father to try to migrate to the United States. In Tacoma, Wash., rapid gentrification is forcing longtime residents out of their neighborhood, but Peace Lutheran Church is seeking justice by enabling those neighbors to afford to stay or return.

We look back at the work made possible by gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response and the efforts of our companions and partners in the five years since the devastating 2017 hurricane season. And we look ahead to the work that remains in response to civil unrest, famine and drought in the Horn of Africa.

The world faces some incredibly complex challenges in the days ahead, but we know that God stirs up wellsprings of hope that inspire generosity and tireless efforts for peace, justice and a future filled with good things. We thank our donors for being a sign of hope through their support of ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response.

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Prompts for Prayers of Intercession – November 20, 2022

These prompts are provided for worship leaders as they prepare the prayers of intercession for weekly worship. The prompts are prepared by several leaders in the ELCA and reflect current world and national events. You are encouraged to adapt and add other concerns for your local context, including staying informed of events and concerns in your synod.

Feedback invited

We would especially value your feedback regarding how these prompts for the prayers of intercession are used in your context by your responding to a brief survey.https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/M6HNQT6

The survey will close on November 23, 2022. Thank you! 

Intercession prompts:

For worship leaders and musicians preparing for Advent and Christmas…
For those traveling this Thanksgiving holiday, those who will spending the holiday alone or with one less place setting this year, and those for whom holiday gatherings bring grief or anxiety…
For those who grow, distribute, sell, and prepare our food, and the land from which it grows…
For those struggling and working to rebuild in the wake of flooding and natural disasters…
For those grieving in the aftermath of the University of Virginia shooting and for an end to gun violence…
For an end to the continued war in Ukraine and all places of war and conflict…

Other notable events and observances:

American Indian Heritage Month (November)
Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday (November 20)
Clement, Bishop of Rome, died around 100 (November 23)
Miguel Agustín Pro, martyr, died 1927 (November 23)
Day of Thanksgiving (USA) (November 24)
Justus Falckner, died 1723; Jehu Jones, died 1852; William Passavant, died 1894; pastors in North America (November 24)
Isaac Watts, hymnwriter, died 1748 (November 25)
Native American Heritage Day (November 25)

Suggested hymns & prayers: 

Prayer for the Day of Thanksgiving: (ELW p. 61)
Almighty God our Father, your generous goodness comes to us new every day. By the work of your Spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness, give thanks for your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Hymn suggestions for the Day of Thanksgiving:
Many and Great, O God (ELW 837)
Now Thank We All Our God (ELW 839, 840)
For the Beauty of the Earth (ELW 879)
Thank You, Lord (ACS 1092)

 

Hymn suggestion for Christ the King, written by Isaac Watts:

Jesus Shall Reign (ELW 434)

ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship

ACS = All Creation Sings: Evangelical Lutheran Worship Supplement

Additional topical prayers are found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pp. 72–87) and All Creation Sings (pp. 46–55), as well as in other resources provided in print and online at sundaysandseasons.com.

Follow this link to access resources to assist worshiping communities as they respond to the crisis in Eastern Europe. Several prayers are provided that could be used during the prayers of intercession or at other times, in public worship or for devotional use at home or in other settings.

Further assistance for composing prayers of intercession can be found here: Resources for Crafting Prayers of Intercession

Crafted intercessions for every Sunday and festival are provided in the Sundays and Seasons worship planning guide published in-print and online by Augsburg Fortress.

Prayer Ventures, a daily prayer resource, is a guide to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world.

Image from All Creation Sings, © 2020, Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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November 20, 2022–Personal Faith Is Political

Janjay Innis, Tucker, GA

Warm-up Questions

  • How do you define politics?
  • Do you believe God can be part of the way we do politics?

Personal Faith Is Political

According to Wikipedia, politics, from the Greek politika (“affairs of the city”), is the set of activities associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. It’s jarring to see such a definition because politics is currently far from what it was intended to be.

At home we see the political parties in the United States determined to tear one another down for the sake of promoting their agendas.  Across the world dictators and greed-stricken leaders, driven by the insatiable thirst for power, disregard the well-being and humanity of their people.  Politics has lost its original meaning. Today, politics has less to do with leaders coming together to figure out how to adequately distribute resources.  It is more about how one side can portray who and what they have power over.

Because many people around the world have only seen and lived through the ugliest political economies, they truly believe that it’s simply the way things ought to be. Thus, when given the chance to lead, they often fall into the very patterns they detest. 

Discussion Questions

  • Where have you seen, heard, or read about bad politics?  good politics
  • Do you believe politics has the capacity to be decent? If so, how?
  • Can and should Christians be involved in politics? Why or why not?
  • Is it possible for Christians to NOT be involved in politics?
  • What responsibility do people of faith have for the tone of political debate?

Christ the King Sunday

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Colossians 1:11-20

Luke 23:33-43

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Many would say faith is deeply personal, and thus has no place in politics. But as the radical feminist Carol Hanisch wrote, “the personal is political.” Jesus, who is the center of our faith, would agree. Everything Jesus did—the disciples he chose; the people he healed, fed, and engaged in dialogue—were acts of redistributing resources and status. Jesus was unapologetic about his politics.  On the cross, he publicly forgives his accusers and executioners, saying, “Father, forgive theme for they know not what they do.”  And he pardons the thief crucified beside him, saying “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

In God’s political economy, which Jesus embodied throughout his life, there are no sides. In God’s political economy, there is no concern with upholding power which draws lines between people. In God’s political economy, the undeserving, the least of these, the poor, and the disenfranchised are forgiven and redeemed.  Jesus moves them from the margins to the center through radical love, hospitality, and inclusion. And though the Romans thought they were mocking him by calling him king, Jesus’ actions, contrary to the way kings of his day ruled, made him a true king. 

Though Jesus is no longer physically with us, we carry on God’s politics when we do as Jesus did, mirroring his life and seeking the reign of God here and now.  Our faith is always deeply political.  It reflects our values—and our values guide our actions in the world. Christ is our King, and in his kingdom there is no hierarchy.  All are welcomed and transformed.

Discussion Questions

  • From the cross Jesus said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do?” Have you been forgiven for something you were guilty of? What was that like?
  • What does it feel like to forgive? Is there power in it?
  • What makes Jesus’s act of forgiving guilty people like his accusers, crucifiers, and the thief controversial? Is there room today to forgive such people?
  • How have you seen the reign of Christ in your community lately?

Activity Suggestions

Hats Race:

Two teams will run a relay to the hats, put a hat on and run back to their team member, who will then run down to the pile of hats for their team and put on another hat. This will continue until all the hats for each team have been put on and everyone is back on their team line. When their team is done, they will all say together JESUS CHRIST IS KING!! Teacher, make sure that there is a CROWN in your pile of “hats” to go along with today’s story!

Jesus and the Superheroes Game:

Download the printable PDF, Who is the real superhero? It contains a chart that your kids can complete to compare Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, to their favorite superheroes.  Have  your kids pick their favorite superheroes and fill out the chart.  Detailed instructions for filling the chart can be found at the website linked to the title of this activity.

Closing Prayer 

Christ, you are the sovereign of all he world, including every element of our lives.  Rule our hearts, that every  value, action, attitude, and choice may be pleasing to you.  Come, Lord Jesus, that your will may indeed be fully done on earth as it is in heaven.

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