11.10.21 | Advocacy and Action
Second Sunday in Advent: Dec. 5 - Pursuing Peace
Lord, we pray for world peace as we remember those impacted by conflicts in different parts of the world. We pray for mothers who struggle to feed families and look for safe places to lay their babies to sleep when night comes. We pray for those struggling and running away from violence. Gracious God, hear our prayer and, in your love, answer.
Scripture: Luke 3:1-6
In today’s Scripture, we read about the colonial occupation authorities represented by Pilate and the Herodians. This colonial occupation was by violent force. Palestine was under occupation and the colonial control of Rome and its emperor, Caesar.
It was during an oppressive colonial occupation when John the Baptist called people to repentance, baptism, and the forgiveness of sins. John’s message called to all people, those who held the political and religious powers and those who were struggling under the heel of occupation and colonialism. John called them to a way of living that promoted real life. His message was clear: we are preparing the way of the Lord when we make paths straight, when we level the ground for all, and when we smooth the rough ways. Peace can only come when we repair the ways that have become obstacles for people to fully thrive.
Our world is struggling with injustice, systemic racism, political and religious conflicts, and social manipulations. For example, countries like Zimbabwe have been experiencing political and economic conflicts since 2000.
We can join the citizens of Zimbabwe in praying and working for shalom to help to rebuild a better nation that focuses on growing the economy and improving living conditions for many people. Due to the political and economic challenges, there are more than three million Zimbabweans living in the diaspora and many are political and economic refugees. Their basic human needs must be addressed by the church and by nations that receive them. There are paths to be straightened out. Our societies must recognize the different needs that must be met for different people. Every person is precious and all of us can make a difference.
If we are honest in this season, our churches also need some leveling in our structures. We need the smoothing of our rough ways as we journey through understanding our history as a church. The United Methodist Church, as a global church, needs to restructure to reflect its worldwide nature. Through an equitable restructuring, we will be able to make mountains low and enable valleys be filled so that we can be a true global church. This will help us to pursue peace in the world.
As we prepare for the coming of the Lord, we need to work on reforming our own power relations, as well as political and religious structures.
Those struggling under the heals of colonial powers and structures need to receive an awakening that the day of the Lord is nearby. We are all God’s children, and we all need grace and mercy. We are being called to repentance. The Good news is there is forgiveness of sins, and there is baptism.
This Week's Question
What structures in our society and in the church need to be straightened out, what rough ways needs to be smoothed? What has been crooked in our church that needs straightening and what valleys need to be raised and hills lowered?
The Rev. Lloyd Nyarota is an Elder in the Zimbabwe East Conference. He is a missionary spouse on an ecumenical assignment in The United Church of Canada. He is serving a shared ministry appointment at St. John’s United Anglican Church in Manning, Alberta.
The artwork this week was created by Jocelyn, age 8, of Mt. Carmel UMC in Frederick.