Peace with Justice Sunday

May 26, 2002

Scripture passages taken from the Lectionary readings of the day:
Call to Worship Psalm 8, Page 743
The United Methodist Hymnal
Opening HymnFor the Healing of the Nations
Gospel TextMatthew 28:16-20

Today's gospel passage from the Lectionary recites a commission to take the gospel throughout the world. The Church today seeks to be an international community Below is the first hand account of two young adult missionaries just returning to the United States from their assignment abroad. As they continue to serve the Church from within the United States during the next 16 months, they bring to us words of hope and faith from around the world.

I was sent to Senegal, West Africa to share Christ's love. I fear that often when we think of white missionaries in Africa, we think of a mission to convert heathens. Not only did I find no heathens to convert, I found faithful welcoming people who allowed me to live my faith alongside them living theirs.

Senegal is 95 percent Muslim. I went not to teach but to learn, not to witness but to listen, not to change but to be changed. I worked alongside women and girls trying to find ways to sustain their families. I observed as women cooked from scratch, washed all the clothes by hand and repeatedly cleaned houses that constantly gathered dust and sand. Their stories were of the difficulties in their lives but also the joy. I heard the mosques' call to prayer from my bedroom window and watched as my neighbors prayed five times a day. I learned languages that were unfamiliar to me, and I was welcomed in by people who appreciated that I took the time to listen.

What does it mean to be sent out by Christ to make disciples? For me it was a chance to share my understanding of Christ's love just by my presence and a time for me to gain a greater understanding of our vast world.

--Sylvia Stern

I spent the last 14 months working in Bethlehem, Palestine as a United Methodist missionary. It wasn't easy. There are things that I have seen that I would never wish upon anyone, lessons I have learned that I wish could have been learned without so much pain. But it didn't happen that way.

In Palestine, I saw children who were shot at on their way to school. I saw Christians who were not allowed to go to worship in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday, the holiest day in our Christian calendar. I saw Muslims who were not allowed to pray in their mosque in Jerusalem and instead prayed at the feet of young Israeli soldiers pointing guns in their faces. I saw grieving parents, sisters, and brothers of Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones to terrorism at the hands of the others.

I've shed many tears and smiled many smiles with friends who refuse to give up hope in a brighter future. As a Christian, it is my responsibility to work for peace and justice for all of God's children. At this time of such difficulty, I'm reminded of the words of a Palestinian friend who liked to remind me, "Even in the acute darkness, the dawn is coming!"

-- Teddy Crum

Response to the Word (Litany of Commitment)
Adapted from the Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but thine
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
and now, 0 glorious and blessed God,
Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer,
thou are mine, and I am thine. so be it.
And the covenant that I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen

Closing Hymn: God of Love and God of Power #578

Benediction    II Corinthians 13:11-13

--from Christian Social Action, March-April 2002

For further information about United Methodist Peace with Justice Sunday, see UM General Board of Church and Society Peace with Justice program.
For other Peace Sunday resources, see Peace and Justice resource page.