May 21 2023 – Peace with Justice Sunday (Intro)

A Moment for Mission

“Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” — Philippians 4:9, NRSVUE[A1] [A2] 

The Bridges Alliance of Johnson County (Indiana) strives to support policies and initiatives that promote systemic economic justice and sustainable self-development. Through localized programming, the nonprofit organization collaborates with churches, agencies, local residents and businesses to alleviate poverty in Johnson County.

BAJC received a Peace with Justice Sunday grant from the General Board of Church and Society to support its “Surviving to Thriving” initiative.

When COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into the original program design, the alliance switched to a combination of in-person and virtual classes. Church and Society concurred that learning to shift goals for optimal efficacy was an important lesson of the pandemic.

“Surviving to Thriving” drew fewer people than planned, so BAJC tailored individual attention to participants and fostered lasting connection and cohesion between cohorts. The group partnered with a local career-services training facility, Central 9, to offer “More Than Ready” job-readiness training. In 2021, the program was supported by a network of 39 active community volunteers who will remain accessible resources.

Participants completed a detailed life assessment, measuring stability in 10 categories: food security, physical well-being, mental well-being, emotional well-being, work, finances, legal, child care, power and autonomy, and purpose. At class completion, 90% of responses indicated participants had experienced an increase or remained stable in these categories.

One participant shared her experience. “Poverty,” said Laura Segundo, “is a multifaceted issue that isn’t just about money or working harder. Working harder doesn’t get me out of poverty. When Bridges said they would help me build intentional friendships, I knew it was for me.

“The program works exactly like it is supposed to,” Segundo added. “I feel more enriched. I feel like I am making friends for a lifetime, not to mention [having] a job opportunity, which is life changing.”

United Methodists support ministries like Bridges Alliance of Johnson County. Through a special offering on Peace with Justice Sunday, we witness to God’s demand for a faithful, just, disarmed and secure world.

Note: Church and Society is not currently accepting Peace with Justice grant applications. When the next cycle begins, an announcement will be posted.

Adapted from “Peace with Justice in Franklin, Indiana,” Quinn Wonderling, Jan. 31, 2022

Children’s Story
Have you ever read the book “Five Minutes’ Peace” by Jill Murphy? It’s the story of Mrs. Large, a mama elephant with three energetic and demanding baby elephants. All she wants is five minutes of peace. She goes upstairs for a relaxing bath, but her babies follow her.

First, Lester asks to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on his recorder. Then Laura wants to read a page of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Finally, the littlest elephant comes in with a handful of toys. He wants to climb into the tub. His brother and sister climb in, too.

Poor Mrs. Large! She loves her babies so much, but she just needs a little quiet time for herself.

The kind of peace Mrs. Large wants is for it to be quiet. It’s like when a grownup says, “CAN’T I HAVE A LITTLE PEACE AND QUIET AROUND HERE?”

Sometimes people talk about peace as the opposite of war. It’s much more than that, and it is different things to different people. Peace means getting along with others, whether they’re your best friend or the person who likes to tease you. Or even someone you’ve never met. Peace means not having to worry about fighting or being bullied. And it means discovering ways to show you care about the kid who is left out in your class, the parent who worries about feeding their family or the older adult who no longer can do the things they once could do.

A long time ago, Paul—one of Jesus’s followers—wrote to the church in a place called Philippi. He wanted to tell the people that God was always with them. “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me,” Paul said, “and the God of peace will be with you.”

Let’s talk about this:

  • What is peace?
  • How can we live peacefully with others?
  • What are some ways that you show peace to your family and friends?

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, remind us often of what your Son, Jesus, taught us about living in peace. When chaos and discord surround us, show us how to be peacemakers. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Seventh Sunday of Easter God of wisdom and guidance, steer us, we pray, through our anxious times. The gifts we bring this day are a small part of all we have received. We push back our inclination to be more generous because of our anxiety about the economy. We hold back on sharing our faith and advocating for compassion and justice out of anxiety about the division in our world and in our neighborhood. We hold back on inviting neighbors to church out of anxiety about how they might view the church right now. Remind us that it is Jesus we offer to the world, not us. Help us to cast the anxiety on Jesus, for the one the tomb could not hold can carry our anxiety with ease. In the name of Jesus, who broke the hold of death once and for all. Amen. (1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11)

Newsletter Nugget
Next week is Peace with Justice Sunday. Every year, on the First Sunday after Pentecost, United Methodists celebrate this day by collecting a special offering. Administered by the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), the offering benefits peace with justice ministries in the annual conference and around the world.

A portion of our gifts supports the work of GBCS. The agency awards grants to ministries that do vital peace with justice work in many places around the world. GBCS distributes three different grants available to United Methodist congregations and organizations. The grants support ethnic/minority local church ministries, as well as programs related to the denomination’s Human Relations Day and Peace with Justice Sunday. The board connects with conferences, agencies and other networks to educate, equip and mobilize actions in support of economic, health and gender justice.

Peace with Justice Sunday is a faithful expression of shalom in the Bible. It calls the church to strengthen its capacity to advocate publicly in communities and nations throughout the world. It aims to make shalom visible and active in people’s lives and communities. When we celebrate Peace with Justice Sunday, we witness to God’s demand for a faithful, just, disarmed and secure world.

 [A1]QUERY: We usually have not quoted from Catholic Bibles. OK here?

 [A2]I’m confused. I used NRSV. Is NRSVUE a Catholic Bible?

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