Newsline Special: General Secretary calls church to prayer and fasting, Office of Ministry coordinates love feast service to be streamed live




God is our refuge and strength

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:1-7).




NEWSLINE SPECIAL
1) The Church of the Brethren is called to a time of prayer and fasting (in English and Spanish)
2) Office of Ministry coordinates love feast service to be streamed live





1) The Church of the Brethren is called to a time of prayer and fasting

By David Steele, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren

Few events have dramatically altered global social, political, and economic realities the way the COVID-19 virus has in just a matter of weeks. To date, over a half a million cases of the virus have been documented around the world. Each country in which the Church of the Brethren has a presence has been affected. In some communities the virus has forced people to shelter at home and in others it has compounded existing needs.

I recognize that this is a time of anxiety and even fear. Yet, as persons of faith in Jesus Christ we know that death no longer holds us captive, for we are people of Christ’s resurrection.

The Psalm reminds us that though the world quakes, seas roar, and the nations rage, God is our refuge and God is our strength (Psalm 46).

I invite us to join together as a church in fasting and prayer each Friday in April. By fasting we seek to gather together spiritually before our ever-present God. We do not seek to make statements to our leaders, nor to be noticed by others, but only to center our hearts in the refuge of God’s peace. By praying we intercede for our communities that compassion may flourish, that health and safety may reign, and that the peace of Christ will surround the world.

May our prayer together be an offering to our God, and through us may God heal the nations.

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Pocos eventos han alterado drásticamente las realidades sociales, políticas y económicas globales de la misma manera que el virus Covid-19 en semanas. Hasta la fecha, se han documentado más de medio millón de casos del virus en todo el mundo. Se ha efectuado cada país en el que la Iglesia de los Hermanos tiene presencia. En algunas comunidades, el virus ha obligado a las personas a refugiarse en sus hogares y en otras ha agravado las necesidades existentes.

Reconozco que este es un momento de ansiedad e incluso miedo. Sin embargo, como personas de fe en Jesucristo, sabemos que la muerte ya no nos mantiene cautivos, porque somos personas de la resurrección de Cristo.

El Salmo nos recuerda que aunque el mundo tiembla, los mares rugen y las naciones se enfurecen, Dios es nuestro refugio y Dios es nuestra fuerza (Salmo 46). Los invito a unirnos como iglesia en ayuno y oración cada viernes de abril. Al ayunar buscamos reunirnos espiritualmente ante nuestro Dios siempre presente. No buscamos hacer declaraciones a nuestros líderes o ser notados por otros, sino solo centrar nuestros corazones en el refugio de la paz de Dios. Al orar, intercedemos por nuestras comunidades para que florezca la compasión, para que reine la salud y la seguridad, y para que la paz de Cristo rodee al mundo.

Que nuestra oración juntos sea una ofrenda a nuestro Dios, y que a través de nosotros Dios sane a las naciones.





2) Office of Ministry coordinates love feast service to be streamed live

Traditional Church of the Brethren home-made communion bread
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Traditional Church of the Brethren home-made communion bread

By Nancy Sollenberger Heishman

The Church of the Brethren’s Office of Ministry is coordinating a love feast service to be streamed live over the Internet next week on Thursday, April 9, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). The impetus for this service, which features leadership from across the Church of the Brethren denomination, arose out of Holy Week worship planning webinars recently offered by the Office of Ministry for ministers.

This service will feature meditations, scriptures, and music. If congregations or individuals wish to participate, they may choose to prepare their own footwashing/handwashing and communion supplies in advance. In addition to being available live, it also will be available as a recording immediately after the service. Connect at www.brethren.org/lovefeast2020 .

Many congregations have either made plans for their own virtual love feast or are planning to delay the service until they can meet in person. Some will choose to join individual congregations that offer worship online or join the Dunker Punks podcast virtual love feast (www.virtuallovefeast.com ) or partner with congregations joining together in virtually celebrating love feast as sister congregations. 

These efforts provide opportunities to reach out invitationally in mission to our communities, joining Christ where he is already at work in our neighborhoods. I trust that our celebrations of love feast, however and whenever they take place, will be a rich expression of our common love for Jesus Christ, our Savior, Lord, Teacher, and Redeemer.

May we all feel the Spirit’s presence as we walk together with Jesus, remembering his journey to the cross and into the tomb and his resurrection on Easter morning.

-- Nancy Sollenberger Heishman is director of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Ministry.


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Contributors to this Newsline Special include David Steele and Nancy Sollenberger Heishman. Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren, serves as editor. Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to cobnews@brethren.org . All submissions are subject to editing. Find the Newsline archive at www.brethren.org/news . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren emails, or make changes to your subscription, at www.brethren.org/intouch .

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