Thursday, October 3, 2013

Communion with the World

Our text for this Sunday is Nehemiah 1:1-11, which you can read here:

Recently, I have begun getting the bulk of my daily news from the BBC website rather than from an American website such as CNN, USA Today, or the Washington Post. Why, you ask? Well, what I appreciate about the BBC is their commitment to covering world news. American websites, it seems, often focus only on what is happening right in front of us--government shutdowns, pop culture happenings, etc. But on the BBC site I learn about world things I might not know about otherwise. Today, I learned these things:

At least 130 African migrants have died and many more are missing after a boat carrying them to Europe sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. Most of those on board were from Eritrea and Somalia, and the boat was believed to have sailed from Libya.
In Ecuador, a judge has ordered the arrest of three army and police officers in the nation's first trial involving alleged crimes against humanity.
India's army says its troops have been fighting Pakistan-backed armed militants in Indian-administered Kashmir for more than a week.
In Myanmar, at least five Muslims were killed by Buddhist mobs in the Burmese state of Rakhine on Tuesday. Reports say terrified Muslims are hiding in fear of their lives. The renewed violence comes as President Thein Sein visits Rakhine.
Tanzania is one of Africa's biggest gold producers but according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), many thousands of children, some as young as eight, are risking their health by working in the country's small-scale gold mines, inhaling mercury fumes while extracting gold from the ore.
It's a great big world we live in. It can be overwhelming to think about. But World Communion Sunday--which is celebrated across the globe this week--is a chance to remember our deep connections to one another, to feel the pain of brothers and sisters we may never know but who are known intimately by God, to acknowledge that we cannot ignore one another when we have been joined as Christ's body, as family.
How can we truly live in communion with one another? As we come to the table with our broken, hurting world, Nehemiah's prayer from chapter 1 might be an apt one for us to consider as a model for how we connect with the condition of our world:
When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments; let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants...We have offended you deeply, failing to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.” They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.

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