April 02 – Palm Sunday Special Appeals

UMCOR response to Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria
UMCOR response to Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

A Moment for Mission

“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress. … But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand.” —Psalm 31:9a, 14-15a, NRSVUE

The news stories and images stun us. A newborn baby, delivered beneath the rubble of her collapsed home in Jinderis, Syria. Seven-year-old Mariam gently stroking her younger brother’s head for 36 hours as they await rescue. Families rescued alive after several days.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey on Feb. 6, 2023. It was the most powerful earthquake recorded since 1939. In the hours that followed, at least 78 aftershocks were reported, followed by a second earthquake of 7.5 magnitude. Thousands were killed, and the death toll continues to rise. 

The earthquake also heavily impacted northwest Syria, where 4.1 million people depend on humanitarian assistance. Most are women and children. As the latest disaster struck, Syrian communities already faced an ongoing cholera outbreak and extreme winter weather events, including heavy rain and snow. The humanitarian response was overstretched due to the devastation and cold weather. 

The United Methodist Committee on Relief released an initial solidarity grant to a long-standing humanitarian partner, International Blue Crescent (IBC), which has offices in Turkey. The grant will provide tents, heaters, blankets, warm clothes, ready-to-eat meals and basic first-aid kits.

In IBC offices, people filled the halls as they sought shelter, warmth and a hot meal. With the devastating damage to roads, transport and infrastructure, IBC received hundreds of families in its Kilis Community Center.

You can help by giving to relief and recovery efforts for this and other international disasters by donating to Advance # 982450 here. Every penny of every gift goes to the designated ministry, as other funds cover administrative costs.

Global Ministries is the international mission, humanitarian relief and development organization of The United Methodist Church. It works with partners and churches in more than 115 countries. Global Ministries connects congregations, conferences, other organizations and individuals to extend their mission outreach by sending missionaries, supporting evangelism and church revitalization, providing humanitarian relief led by UMCOR and improving the health of communities and individuals around the world.

Adapted from “UMCOR Response to Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria,” Susan Clark, Global Ministries, Feb. 7, 2023

Children’s Story
Did you receive a palm branch as you came into church today? Maybe you waved a palm branch as you joined other children, youth and adults in a joyful parade through the church. Today – the Sunday before Easter—is Palm Sunday. It all began when people traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover festival had heard that Jesus was coming. Waving palm branches, they welcomed him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” (John 12:13, NRSVUE).

That happy day was the start of what we call “Holy Week.” Three days later, Judas was not a good friend to Jesus. On Maundy Thursday, Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples, and on Good Friday, Jesus died on Calvary.

But the story has a happy ending—or beginning—as Jesus rose from the grave on Easter!

That reminds me of what happens when our church—The United Methodist Church—does when something happens like a big storm or a fire. For example, when a tornado makes houses fall down, the United Methodist Committee on Relief gives those people hope. UMCOR helps these people as fast as it can to make sure they have food and a place to stay while their home gets fixed. It’s kind of like a resurrection-, giving them a new start!

When you huddle in your basement during a storm warning, it is easy to be scared and think bad things. But as the writer of Psalms said, “My times are in your hand” (31:15, NRSVUE). That means, even when bad or scary things happen, God is with us. Like a mother hen, God wraps loving arms around us and makes us feel safe.

That’s exciting, isn’t it? We can help, too, by feeding hungry people, making care kits for people who are unhoused, volunteering at school and church and a thousand other ways. And as we reach out to others, we offer new life to our neighbors and friends. 

Let’s talk about this:

Why do we celebrate Palm Sunday?

How do we help people at home and around the world who need our help?

What is your favorite way to help people?

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, troubles often overwhelm us. We are so small, and the world’s problems so big. Teach us to reach out with your love and respond to those who hurt. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Palm/Passion Sunday — This Is the Day Holy God, sovereign over power and pain, glorious triumph and deep disappointment, we enter this Holy Week bringing our tithes and offerings to your altar and leaving them here in the hope you will use them to make the world a more loving and compassionate place. We are reminded through the scripture that you sent two of your disciples out to make the world ready for your coming: “Go into the village…find the donkey…tell them the lord has need.” Remind us that your kingdom breaks into the world not as a spectacle for us to witness but as a parade where we are called to make a working contribution. We pray in the name of the one who comes not just for the parade, but for the cross at the end of it. Amen. (Matthew 21:1-11)

Newsletter Nugget
In a week’s time, the happy shouts of “Hosanna!” that greeted Jesus on Palm Sunday turned to the sorrow of his betrayal, arrest and death. But his resurrection on Easter meant eternal life for everyone who believes in him.

Life can change in the blink of an eye. A restful night can turn into a disaster as the ground shakes, the rain falls and the winds blow.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief responds to disasters at home and around the world. In 2021-22, UMCOR offered help and hope to communities grappling with global COVID-19 and war, as well as cyclones, drought, earthquakes, fires, flooding, landslides, tsunamis, typhoons and volcanoes.

Tropical Storm Nalgae in the Philippines, for example, made landfall in October 2022. More than 4 million people were affected across the country. UMCOR awarded solidarity grants to support immediate relief efforts of disaster-management offices in the Manila, Davao and Baguio Episcopal areas.

Health emergencies, as well as conflict, unrest and war continue. Somewhere in the world, every single day, natural disasters force people to rebuild lives and livelihoods. You can help by giving to relief and recovery efforts by donating to Advance # 982450 here. Your generosity changes lives.

Adapted from “2021-22 Disaster Response,” Global Ministries, Feb. 9, 2023

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