Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Scripture
Luke 9:51-56

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.
Devotional
A good friend told me this week that her son participated in a protest in support of Black Lives Matter. There were others there, protesting against his group. The whole scene had become more than he could handle, so he started to leave. As he walked away he saw a sign that said “The 1619 Project is Fake History!” The sight of that sign made him angry, so he picked it up and ripped it apart, and threw it in the trash can. The makers of the sign saw him do this and called a police officer over and demanded that he be arrested on the spot.

The officer brought my friend’s son over to his squad car. He ran his identification and the two had a conversation. He didn’t really want to get arrested over a sign, and the officer didn’t seem very interested in arresting him for this act of defiance, but the crowd insisted that he was “violent” and had destroyed their property. Ultimately, the police officer let him go after having a conversation with him about how actions can incite violence and expressing a desire to keep everyone safe.

Ripping up a sign hardly seems violent, but actions do communicate messages. Violence begets violence. An angry mob could really have hurt my friend’s son, but the officer had the good sense to remove him from the situation, make a show of running his identification and having a stern conversation with him. The officer broke a cycle that could easily have become violent. He gave my friend’s son a chance to talk, to express his fury in words. 

The disciples wanted to incite violence against the Samaritans for not welcoming Jesus, as Elijah once did. Jesus is not Elijah. Things have evolved since Elijah responded with violence. The Son of Man will break this cycle of violence by giving his life and forgiving his tormentors. He will not cause turmoil. He will not respond with violence.

My friend’s son was glad to not be arrested over some ripped up posterboard. The experience also solidified his resolve to approach his opposition peacefully. His actions, even if they were interpreted as “violent,” accomplished more than bodily harm ever could have. He had much to think about after this encounter. Perhaps those that argued for his arrest did, too.

We are a resurrection people. This means that our lives are ours only insofar as they seek the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is built on forgiveness, not violence. As troubling as our world is, and as hard as our lives have become, we are called to respond with love and forgiveness.
Prayer
God of the resurrection, remind us that our lives are finite and our world is imperfect, but your kingdom is eternal and you reign in peace. Help us to emulate the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Amen
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at: agape@westfieldpc.org.
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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