Empty Does Not Mean Over: Jerusalem and Babylon

Each week Pastor Sarah blogs on the Scripture for Sunday's upcoming sermon. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!

Sunday's Scripture ~ Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14.

Andrew and I attended graduate school at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. We wed in December 2006 between the semesters of our senior year at Florida Southern College, and then packed up our first apartment to head for the big city.

Newsflash: Sarah left Polk County.

(It's okay...I came back 34 months later...much to Andrew's chagrin!)

Atlanta was our first big adventure as a married couple. And we fell more in love with one another as we fell into that big adventure. We hold Atlanta and our experiences at Emory so dearly in our hearts that Joshua has Emory as one of his middle names - signifying our first big adventure together to our greatest adventure together ever.

One of my favorite places to visit in Atlanta is the Civil Rights Museum - the history, the hurt, and most importantly, the hope witnessed there are life changing.

The last item visitors see before exiting is this quilt.

In the center is a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Quotes from other global peace leaders surround Eleanor's words as hands hued to represent all God's people in this global village that we share reach towards one another to cultivate God's circle of peace that is meant to be inclusive and unbroken.

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist. – Ghandi

Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others. – Rosa Parks

No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow – Alice Walker

Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character – Margaret Chase Smith

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace – Jimi Hendrix

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere – Martin Luther King, Jr.

These women and men offered themselves as peacemakers in the neighborhood. They used their God-given and God-shaped gifts to serve for justice and to help bring about God’s incredible shalom - God's incredible peace.

Their bold witnesses are examples and encouragement for us that we, too, would employ our God-given and God-shaped gifts to live and cultivate peace. This time may look bleak, but our future depends on the neighborhood’s welfare.

So our God invites us to shine his love and light brightly. Our God invites us to care, to stand up, to speak out, to cry with, to cry for, to sow, to nurture, and to share peace with the gifts God gives us abundantly.

How are your actions communicating and cultivating peace? Where are you in need of peace? To what activity - be it service, stillness, or speech - is God calling you to so that you can experience peace? Share your answers with a friend.

I look forward to worshipping with you on Sunday.

Prayer: "Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends. May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends. In all your living and through your loving, Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom."* Amen.

*"Shalom To You," The United Methodist Hymnal 666.

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