"Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," – John 1:29

Worship

SEEDS AND TREES

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS LIKE A MUSTARD SEED – MARK 4:30-31

In 1976 Bangladesh was being strangled in the grip of famine. Economics professor Muhammad Yunus visited the village of Jopra, one of the hardest-hit communities. There he met a group of impoverished basket weavers.

 Yunus took $27 out of his own pocket and let it to those forty-two women. With that seed money, the women bought straw to weave baskets and seats for stools. They were able to sell their baskets and stools, repay the load, and develop an ongoing business.
 
That seed of an idea to give “micro-loans” to the poverty-stricken grew into the Grameen (“village”) Bank. These small loans allow the poor to invest in supplies, trade or services to earn their livelihood.
 
Since then, Yunus and the Grameen Bank have granted micro-loans to more than seven million poor people – people who have no collateral and who usually cannot read or write. The repayment rate has been 98 percent. This is not charity; it is an investment in people who have never had an opportunity to live into their potential and experience decent lives.
 
That seed of change grew like the tree of life in Jesus’ parable (Mark 4:31-32). The poorest of the poor have flocked to Yunus and the Grameen Bank for protection and hope. Ninety-six percent of the loans have gone to women, victims of repressive social and economic conditions. The seed money give them wings to fly, a voice to sing, and a safe place to care for their young.

Yunus, “Banker to the Poor,” received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work to eliminate poverty. He has expressed the hope that someday people will go to museums to see what poverty was like. In the coming week, where can we plant the tiny seed of our faith to grow a tree of life for someone else? How much hope could $27 buy?

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Swamped

3rd Sunday after Pentecost

There is a beautiful, simple French prayer that translated into English implores: “Holy God, protect me. The ocean is so big and my boat is so small.”
The world is big and overwhelming. The material possessions we gather around us for protection are clearly inadequate and often add to the problem. We are bombarded by information. We shiver at the word “terrorism,” because we have seen what it can do.

We are accessible to others every minute of the day because of the mobile devices we carry. Finding an escape, finding peace, is becoming more and more challenging. Where is the cushion in the bottom of our boats where we can lay our heads and sleep in full faith of God’s presence and protection?

 

Instead we panic. Then Jesus commends the storm, his disciples, and us: “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39). Suddenly, all around us is “a dead calm.” Well, if there is anything that frightens us more than stormy seas, it is a dead calm. Now what? How am I supposed to sail my little boat with no wind?

We’ve all said it. Someone asks us politely how life is going. We roll our eyes and sigh, ” I’m swamped!” Being swamped is proof that we are important, indispensable. Our time is precious. Our calendars are full. The socially acceptable response to that is a matching eye roll and sigh, “I know what you mean.” The caring response can be, Tell me. What is it that is swamping you?” What is battering your little boat?

We can be that cushion of faith and caring for others. We can say, “Peace, my friend. Be still. God loves and protect you. I am here to bail what with you.”