We Invite You to God’s Chosen Fast
Matthew 25 Initiative
Anglican Relief and
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free…
to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn”
of the Trinity Mission
Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church
Posted on: Thursday, February 15, 2018
“Is not this the fast that I choose… to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
There are few burdens so heavy and so difficult to explain as the loss of a child before he or she ever takes a breath. Yet, one in four women will suffer a known miscarriage or stillbirth.
Six years ago, James and Stephanie Robledo were excitedly making space in their home and hearts for a new baby, when misgivings sent them to their doctor for a checkup. They remember the blur of faint hope, fear, and confusion until the doctor soberly announced, “You’ve lost the baby.”
Anyone who has heard those words knows the momentary inability to make sense of them, or to receive other well-meaning comments like, “These things happen,” or “You can try again.” As James and Stephanie were sharing their pain with another couple, they began wondering aloud: What could offer real comfort? What could begin to loosen the straps of the yoke and free families from the oppression of unexpressed grief?
From those conversations, they joined together in David’s Hope Pregnancy Loss Ministry. David’s Hope began by helping families acknowledge that in a miscarriage, parents have suffered the loss of a life and of a particular hope. Through the gift of “memory boxes,” which contain a Certificate of Life along with small gifts, the ministry provides tools to make concrete the often unnamed and unarticulated hope that has been cut short. Like a fear that has been named and lost its terror, this concretizing of grief is a way to begin healing.
Through the boxes, David’s Hope has become known for understanding this unique loss and connecting families with the One who knows and heals every hurt. When they could be enjoying entertainment or relaxing on a weekend, these Redeemer parishioners pour out their lives, time, and resources to provide counseling, visit hospitals, conduct memorials, and share wisdom with pastors who feel inadequate to comfort their grieving parishioners. They are living the fast, undoing the straps of the yoke.
Posted on: Monday, February 19, 2018
Every month, a team of volunteers from St. Andrew’s Anglican Church serves up a home cooked meal to the guests of the Ronald McDonald House at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, AK. The team cooks and serves under the oversight of Jan, who recently retired from owning and operating her own catering business. Jan left a successful real estate career to follow her dream of sharing her love of cooking by catering events. Her food became a fixture in Anchorage’s corporate and sports communities, and she freely shared the fruit of her talents with her church family. When the time came to retire, she knew she wasn’t done cooking. When she learned that the hospital was looking for groups to host dinners, she jumped at the opportunity. She recruited volunteers from her church and started planning menus. She coordinates the preparation of each meal with the same eye for quality and her guests’ satisfaction that she gave to functions that served thousands. It’s a welcome change of pace for families at the hospital. They come from all over Alaska, from larger towns in Southeast to tiny villages in the Interior and Arctic. Some have children who are receiving care in the pediatric unit. Many are expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies who have to spend their entire third-trimester at the hospital. Some have their husbands and older children with them while others are alone. Needless to say, it can make for a boring and lonely three months. Each evening of a catered meal, conversation, and games goes by a little faster. They also leave knowing that there are followers of Jesus in Anchorage who love them and want to spend the evening with them. But the greater blessing falls on Jan and her crew who leave knowing the freedom that giving of their time brings. By using the differing gifts God has given them (Romans 12:6), they are sharing the joy and fellowship that comes with the building up of God’s kingdom with their neighbors from across Alaska, one meal at a time.
Thirst for Justice
Second Week of Lent[Art credit: P. Solomon Raj, Thirst for Justice, 2001. Batik, 88 1/2″ × 59″.] Dr. P. Solomon Raj is a Lutheran theologian and artist who advocates for cultural contextualization in missions and worship as well as for the upliftment of Dalits, the “untouchables” of India. Both commitments are exemplified in his batik (dyed cloth artwork for hanging) Thirst for Justice, commissioned in 2001 by Bread for the World. Its dominant feature is the cool blue water that flows down from the hand of God—a reference to Amos 5:24: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” A man in white stands at the center of the composition, pointing to a flaming wheel that represents God’s coming judgment on all those who oppress society’s most vulnerable, represented in part in the surrounding scenes. Women carrying heavy baskets on their heads (symbolic of deeper, less visible burdens their gender bears), a man pulling a rickshaw for a measly wage, refugees seeking asylum, a prisoner in chains—these are among the people whose suffering Jesus, clothed in red, enters into. And humanity is not alone in its suffering; the world of nature cries out too. At the top left a factory belches out pollutants, creating black veins of greenhouse gases in the sky, contributing to global warming. The trees in the top left wither and die, and the cattle hang their heads in weariness. Raj further contextualizes Amos’s prophecy to his native India by borrowing a symbolic image from the Bhagavad Gita: the upside-down tree. Extending from sky to ground, it is an admonishment to be rooted in God above and to bear fruits of mercy on the earth. Through Amos, God speaks harsh words to his people, telling them that because they “trample on the poor” and “turn aside the needy,” he despises all their religious songs and rituals; they are empty to him. Thirst for Justice echoes this prophetic warning, urging us to consider how we might be contributing to others’ suffering, either directly or indirectly, and so failing to uphold the laws of God. Do we truly thirst for justice? Does its mighty stream course through our veins and spill over into all our interactions? Or are we among the neglectful from whom God turns his face away? To view more of Raj’s artworks and to read his writings on art and theology, visit http://www.solomon-raj.com. The Art Spotlights have been selected by Victoria Emily Jones, who blogs at ArtandTheology.org, seeking to connect Christians to the rich visual, literary, and musical artworks of the church’s past and present. She is currently working on a chapter for the forthcoming book Neo-Calvinism and the Visual Arts, and has just released a Stations of the Cross audio tour of works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Follow her on Twitter @artandtheology.
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