Despite the recognition of New Year’s Day, we are still in the wonderful season of Christmas. I love that we have 12 days to celebrate are and are not stuck with merely one day to intentionally ponder the richness of “the Word become flesh.” Actually, if left to me, I might prefer to go back to the 40-day celebration ending on Candlemas! It is my prayer for each of you that God’s Spirit speaks to your heart of the deep love of God demonstrated in the gift of God’s Son to us.
Right before Christmas, I became aware of a local need. With the prospect of further water shut-offs in Detroit, St Peter’s Episcopal Church, Detroit, put out a call for bottled water:
In the past two years, Detroit elected officials have rapidly increased water rates and shut-off water to tens of thousands of homes in the city. That’s right: no running water. These families were at least $150 behind on their water bills. These aren’t folks with cable and smartphones, digging their heels in to stiff the city. These are folks trying to survive. 40% of the city lives below the poverty level and many of these long-time residents of Detroit are not bringing in any income. Many of them are children, elderly or sick. 18 months ago, more than 10,000 gallons of water donations came flooding in from Canada, West Virginia and Chicago, among many other places. However, that water has run out and we have nothing left to donate to families in need.
We The People of Detroit, a grassroots non-profit, has been facilitating a water hotline and making 30-40 gallon emergency water deliveries all over the city. On Monday, the hotline received 52 calls from residents in desperate conditions!
IT’S TIME TO ACT!
The People’s Water Board is proclaiming December 27th as Keep the Water Flowing Sunday. We’re asking faith communities all over Metro Detroit to invite their members to purchase or donate bottled water for this cause. Donated water will be delivered by We The People of Detroit volunteers to families in need.
All donated water can be delivered to:
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Detroit (across from the old Tiger Stadium), 1950 Trumbull, Detroit, Michigan. Please call ahead to Lindsay Airey (949-293-8267) or Tommy Airey (949-842-9503) to arrange a time when you can drop off water at the church.
Our own diocesan Disaster Preparedness and Response Coordinator, the Rev. Deacon Glenn Morrison, suggested that we respond by donating bottled water at each of our Christmas Eve services. I don’t know the outcome of this drive at this point but I do know that the call came out a bit late for our congregation. And, I also know that a one-time donation will not be sufficient to meet the need. I contacted Tommy Airey, who initiated the request, and know that he is willing to visit our congregations to explain the situation and need for water and how we might continue to reach out to those in need. Perhaps, you’d like to make every 3rd Sunday a Water Collection Sunday. Perhaps, you are able to pick up and deliver water from our more distant congregations and deliver them to St Peter’s. Perhaps you have another idea for getting involved! Let us know!
Before I close for this week, I want to share a couple of links to stories about recently resettled Syrian refugees. The resettlement effort is still a crucial part of our work for God’s mission. The Washington Post wrote of a family resettled in Kentucky in this article:
The UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) posts stories about Syrians in America –
Episcopal Migration Ministries posted on Facebook: “For more than 75 years, The Episcopal Church has welcomed and supported refugees in the United States. During Epiphany, bulletin inserts and lesson plans are offered to help your church learn more about refugee resettlement and how you can join this life-saving and life-giving ministry.” You can find the bulletin inserts for each Sunday in January 2016 here – http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/bulletin-inserts/
With a new year, we think of resolutions that we make to improve our lives and experiences in some way. My resolution for 2016 is to be as informed as I can be on the issues that impact the lives of my “neighbors” whether they live in my community, my diocese or my world and then to take action to be Christ’s hands and feet and voice wherever I can. Please join me!
Let us pray –
Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.
We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.
In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.
In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.
In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.
And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:33).
We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.
Bring our divided nation together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).
As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.
And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come. Amen.
(Billy Graham’s New Year’s Prayer, Saturday Evening Post, 2008)
~ The Rev. Deacon Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee