Monday, March 28, 2016

A Call to Prayer from Pakistan

Many members and congregations in our Presbytery are connected with the Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan and know their remarkable spiritual leader Veeda Javaid. Now, sadly, in response to the recent, horrific terrorist attack this call to pray comes to us. Please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in Pakistan and for everyone touched by this evil. Please pray for peace in the name of our Risen Lord!

A special message from Veda Gill, Executive Director, Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan

March 28, 2016

Dear Friends,

March 27, 2016 was a day of celebration for Christians in Pakistan. We were celebrating the Resurrection Day and also celebrating that it was a peaceful day for Christians. We celebrated Easter with a Sunrise Service and then a worship service at 10:30 AM .The churches were all jam packed. The State provided us with police security. We were all so thankful to God for His safety...until it was 6.30 PM.

My family and I were at our home when this tragedy occurred. Our house was packed with my husband’s 4 sisters, their husbands, and some of their children who had come from America to attend a wedding when we heard a big blast. This blast was only a 5-minute walk from our place. This is the place where Javaid and I usually go for a walk whenever time permits us. This is the place where I took my granddaughter every other day when they were in Pakistan for Christmas. This park attracts children because it has many different kinds of swings as well as many varieties of birds and animals. This is the park where poor Christians and Muslims come to celebrate as many rides are free. On Easter and Christmas we see a lot of Christians there.

The blast injured nearly 300 young parents and killed 72 young parents and children who were there for the joy of the rides. The lush green park was all covered with blood and dust.                  

A Pakistan Taliban splinter group (by telephone from an undisclosed location) claimed responsibility for this deadly suicide attack, saying, "We carried out this Lahore attack as Christians are our target." Punjab Chief Minister announced three days of mourning.

This is a difficult time for us all. Many of our Christian brothers and sisters have lost their near and dear ones. A Christian family came with 5 children and three died in the blast. My immediate family is safe but this incident has really shaken us. We strongly believe that there is a day to die. We are not going to die of fear every day. Life goes on with HOPE, TRUST, AND FAITH IN THE LORD.

Please pray for Pakistan and also for Christians in Pakistan. 


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thank you, Ann Weems!

Presbyterian News service announced the death of Ann Weems. She left behind this unpublished poem as one last gift, which the New Service shared in their obituary:

When You Hear of My Demise
by Ann Weems

When you hear of my demise
Don’t believe a word of it! 
Our God is the God of the living 
And I am living still! 
If it were not so 
He would have told us! 

Don’t believe a word of it! 
And whatever you do 
Please please please 
Don’t eulogize me! 

Gather instead for worship! 
To celebrate God 
Who gives each of us Life Abundant! 

Turn mourning into morning 
Turn tears into laughter! 
Turn sadness into joy! 
Turn somberness into celebration! 

Remembering that Jesus is 
The way, the truth, the life. 
Gather to celebrate life with scripture and prayer 
With jazz band with choirs, with pipers with dancing 

Follow with faithfulness the life you have been given! 

I left this earth in Alleluias 
Dancing with the angels of life 
Among the stars of God.


A gruesome terrorist attack during Holy Week feels especially evil. I pray:

God of grace and peace,
we pray for the city of Brussels
and the people of Belgium.
Help and heal the wounded,
receive the dying into your embrace,
and comfort those who mourn.
Strengthen rescue and relief workers
who protect and provide for others
in the midst of crisis and chaos. 
Give leaders the wisdom and determination
to understand the causes of hatred
and prevent it from gaining force.
Put an end to all violence and war,
and restrain the impulse
to use injustice to seek justice. 
Continue to pour out your mercy
upon the victims of violence in Bangladesh;
Istanbul, Turkey; Peshawar, Pakistan;
and all the places we forget or ignore. 
Surround us all with your grace
and bring peace to our weary world.
This we pray in Jesus’ name.
Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Heath Rada
Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014)
Tony De La Rosa
Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book Review: Walter Brueggemann. Chosen? Reading the Bible Amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Walter Brueggemann. Chosen?

In preparation for my participation on the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program's 'Mosaic of Peace' study tour to Israel and Palestine this April, we have been provided with a reading list. Brueggemann's small book is at the top of the list. With all his experience as a teacher in the church and with his vast expertise as a student of the Bible, Brueggemann helps me to name something that is crucially important. This point is crucially important for our general and overall understanding of the Bible. This point is specifically vital when we ponder the complex issues of the Middle East. Simply put, we cannot and should not make a direct, unquestioned link between then and now. We must respect the interpretive distance. We cannot simply transfer and connect convictions about the biblical Israel with the modern state of Israel. Doing so is a misuse of the Bible.

In Brueggemann's words:

"It will not do for Christian readers of the Bible to reduce the Bible to an ideological prop for the state of Israel, as though support for Israel were a final outcome of biblical testimony." 

And also . . .

"It is my hope that the Christian community in the United States will cease to appeal to the Bible as a direct support for the state of Israel and will have the courage to deal with the political realities without being cowed by accusations of anti-Semitism."   

I look forward to visiting the Holy Land for the first time. I seek to travel with an open heart, an open mind and a deep commitment to prayer.