The Advent season is upon us! We each get to journey through the fields, across the meadows, following the Christmas star to the coming Christ. The first Sunday is focused on hope and our anticipation for what is about to take place. Hope moves us forward with an understanding the world is about to change with the coming of Jesus. It symbolically tells us that we too can change into who we hope and want to be in this world. We are not stuck in this life we have but have the ability to become something different and alive with hope. In this four week journey to the manger may we ponder what will be born within us. What new creation will come to light inside of us when we come across the face of the Christ child? May the miraculous presence of God be among you this Christmas as the living hope touches our heart and souls.
Enjoy this video of "A Living Hope" which represents the start of our journey to the Christ child this advent season.
Merry Christmas! May you move forward with hope this week!
What do you find hope in this Christmas season?
My wife and I were able to vacation to Iceland a few years ago. We learned about the country, the people, their origins, and of course the food. One interesting thing we learned was the Icelands use of names. They do not use family names but only go by their first names. What would be called their last name is made up of their fathers or mothers first name with the addition of (son) or (daughter). Hence a persons name could be Jon Magnusson indicating Jon's fathers name was Magnus. If another person has the same name then they would add their paternal grandfather's name as well. I enjoyed hearing how the country had kept this tradition throughout the years which formed part of the overall country's culture. I know last names in the US are often passed down and hold significant meaning for our heritage and to have a different perspective was good. This interesting tradition got me thinking about the importance of names in particular the scripture Isaiah 43:1.
"I have called you by name, you are mine."
There is a comfort in someone using your first name. It's personal, down to earth, and lacks the formalities of tradition. To me, friends and loved ones use that name showing authenticity and genuineness. They know and understand who I am deep within behind the niceties of life. Deep relationships are built knowing who the other person is and calling them by their name. It is in that name where identity is known and created. The identity we have formed through the contexts of life that we have found ourselves in. Somewhere there is a true self who if we searched for each one of us can find that is already known by the divine.
As indicated in the scripture above God calls each of us by name and calls us God's own. We are God's beloved children. Just as the stars in the sky we are God's creation and expression of life. How precious it is to think that God knows my name, sees my inner self, and knows who I truly am through all the guilt, shame, and facades present. It is in this personal, genuine calling that I am known and loved for all that I am and can be, without judgement. What a special thought to have? To know no matter what I do there is a God that continues to uphold the love of creation beholding the people of this world.
We are never alone! God is there and will always be there with you. That's the message today. If you are struggling with something, feel alone, rejected, or outcast, know there is a Jesus that is constantly standing with you saying, "you are mine". Love surpasses understanding and even if we cannot conceptualize it, God's love is there. All it takes is your belief!
Please reach out to me or another christian organization if you would like to talk, pray, or whatever you need at this time.
To reiterate this message check out this incredible song by David Haas titled, "You Are Mine."
May you hear that voice calling you by name saying "You are mine, you are loved, you are not alone."
Thank you to all those following along. We appreciate your support and kindness for this continued ministry.
This week look in the mirror and tell yourself, "You are loved."
Election Day is almost here! Some people are excited about what the future holds while others are ready for advertisements and random text messages to cease. Soon enough it will all be over and we will move forward with those we have chosen to represent us.
I see voting as a civic duty. Its sharing your opinion on who you think can attack the relevant issues taking place both locally and nationally. Voting has become a mechanism for people to make change. It is where the collective voice is heard not just mine individually. Sometimes my voice will be with the majority while others it may not. Despite the outcomes it is in the act of voting that is important because it deliberately declares I have a voice and it will be counted.
How does this all relate to Christianity? Jesus wanted everyones voice to be heard. He overthrew the systems in place to turn everything upside down. He understood the discrimination and injustice and wanted to end it. Jesus healed the unclean, worked on the Sabbath, and spoke with woman and those outcast. He did this because he loved them, wanted them to be in relationship with God, and for them to have basic rights. Their voice mattered to him and he wanted the best for them. Today when so much matters on the resources available, economy, etc. voting matters. It gives people a voice and is a mechanism for change in this world. To me it seems like something Jesus would have advocated for.
Let's look closer at few things regarding voting.
Preventing individuals from voting has been happening since the beginning of the country. It was originally only white males that could vote unless you lived in New Jersey. New Jersey allowed single woman to vote up until 1807 when the state restricted their right to match the rest of the country. African Americans were unable to vote until 1870. And women who had campaigned for 70 years finally were given the right in 1920. You can read more about this in Erin Geiger Smith's new book "Thank You for Voting" which talks about the history and current dynamics of voting in America. One interesting fact is that voting is on Tuesday because of farmers schedule back in the 1700's.
Today allowing individuals to vote has become a political game. This comes with closing down polling stations so people have to stand in long line for hours at a time. Creating additional registration requirements or deadlines for people to access their right to vote. Moving polling stations outside of town so those without transportation are unable to vote. This strategy impacts the poor and impoverished by creating more difficulty for them to vote. Dodge City did this in 2018 which received national news. My point is Jesus fought for the poor and when we continue to create divisions to prevent people from acting on a constitutional right then I think we are not living up to our ideals.
Early Voting/ Mail In
Early voting or mail in ballots have been done state wide in Oregon since 1996 for all elections. They saw an increase in voting percentage meaning more people get to have a voice in what is happening. Washington moved to do this in 2011. Utah and Colorado started using mail in voting in 2013. The accessibility also saw an increase in voter percentage. In today's busy world and election day being on a working Tuesday, it only makes sense to give people additional options to fulfill their constitutional right.
For those worried about voter fraud with mail in ballots check out this New York City of Law report. You can also check out heritage.org and look at the numbers. It's not saying it doesn't happen its saying the number is so insignificant that it has no impact. Most voter fraud comes from clerical errors. Kansas, Kris Kobach only prosecuted 4 cases of voter fraud after indicating it was a major problem. Obviously we all want safe elections. We have been having elections for some time and I believe we do this well. In the middle of a pandemic we need to look at all options to keep people safe but we should be doing this anyways just to increase peoples rights.
The whole point of all this is for you to go out and vote and advocate for others to vote! If you really believe in the constitution and that everyone should have a right as equal people to have a say then get out and vote. Get your friends, neighbors, and anyone you can to fulfill their civic duty either by mail or in person.
This week advocate for others to vote!
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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