Celebrating Our Saints

By the traditional Christian calendar, today is the feast of All Saints, a day to remember the people whose lives have shaped us and who stewarded and imparted to us the stories of our faith. As Bruce Barkhauer of the Center for Faith and Giving notes, "All Saints Day is, at its core, about legacy and promise - what has been left behind by those who have gone ahead for us to build upon and the 'blessed assurance' of what lies ahead for the faithful." We celebrate on this day the ways in which people live on through the love they have shown. We join on this day with full communion of saints throughout all of history to declare God's goodness and witness to liberation found in Christ Jesus.

One way the saints continue to bear faithful witness is through the endowment fund of Week of Compassion. Named endowments, established to honor and remember loved ones, ensure the continuing ministries of relief and development in North America and around the world.

Rev. Robyn Fickes Bles (Associate Minister, West Des Moines Christian Church) and Jordan Blevins Bles share one story of ongoing generosity and witness through the Week of Compassion endowment.

 

Love Shines On

Milly in her favorite place - holding and being held. Photo credit: Katie Lindgren Photography

Milly in her favorite place - holding and being held. Photo credit: Katie Lindgren Photography

by Rev. Robyn Fickes Bles

I recently read that a star, long after its fiery heart burns out, continues to shine its light throughout the galaxies. Years after what could be described as its bodily essence has dimmed, the star's brilliance is still illuminating the far corners of distant space.

This can also be said for my daughter, Milly. For the 14 months we spent with her she was a brilliant light, fighting to shine in the darkness of a bleak surgical accident and ensuing traumatic brain injury. Her story, her spirit, rallied together people from around the world. Her life's work showcased the work of the church in ways this pastor has never experienced. And when our bright star passed from this world, her light continued to shine in the dark places of our world. So many people continue to speak of how Milly touches their lives, and that is why my husband and I chose to help Milly's spirit keep reaching and impacting others.

With the Wonder Milly Fund through Week of Compassion, Milly's life and brilliant spirit reaches into the far corners of our world; bringing light and hope, life and strength in those times that seem the darkest. Our Milly and the work of Week of Compassion, like those brilliant lights that fill the dark night sky, are the backdrop for our greatest moments of dreaming and hoping. They allow love to shine on.

 

A Prayer for All Saints Day

By each life you seek, generous God, to bless the world - through the tenderness of smiles, hugs, and tears; through the power of stories and relationships; through the sharing of abundant resources. Thank you for the lives that have blessed us. By their example make us to be a blessing for others. With that great cloud of witnesses, we proclaim your goodness and pray to be faithful stewards of our lives and our resources. By the grace of Christ Jesus, Amen.

 

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Update on Louisiana Flooding and Fire in California


As the waters begin to recede in parts of Southern Louisiana, and the damage of this week's floods begins to be revealed, Week of Compassion continues to be in contact with Disciples in the Baton Rouge area. We will continue to provide support as clean-up begins and in long months of recovery ahead. The best way to help now is to give money - it is not glamorous, but cash can be turned quickly into buckets, soap, water, food, blankets, or gas and can help provide necessary resources for clean-up or repairs. If you are within a half-day's driving distance of the floods and interested in volunteering, you can contact VolunteerLouisiana.gov or First Christian Church of Baton Rouge. Please be aware that all volunteers will need to be prepared to arrange their own transportation, lodging, and meals; current housing is prioritized for evacuees and emergency personnel.
 
The Blue Cut Fire continues to burn outside of San Bernardino, CA. Thankfully, improved weather conditions have enabled firefighters to reach 22% containment as of Friday morning, and mandatory evacuations are beginning to lift. The extent of the damage is yet unknown. Week of Compassion will continue to monitor the situation and coordinate with the Pacific Southwest Region and local congregations to provide relief and support the future recovery.

We invite you to keep the people of Louisiana and California in your prayers. Given the severity of these disasters we encourage you to make a special gift to Week of Compassion to support relief and recovery. Below are resources for use in your worship community.

 

Worship Materials

Prayer:

Lord, our God, Creator of the heavens and the earth,
We are painfully aware this morning of the power of your creation.
Water, so often our source of life, has been this week a force of destruction.
Fire, that symbol of your Spirit, has left miles of land scorched and bare.
We admit that today we find it difficult to believe the refrain of Genesis that "it is good," when thousands of our neighbors have fled from their homes.
Yet, we see goodness in the generosity of friends who open their doors to evacuees, in the tireless efforts of first responders and volunteers, in your church offering refuge and respite in the midst of the suffering. Make us to be the bearers of your life and renewal. Empower us by your Spirit to be present to the pain of our neighbors and to bring comfort and hope.
Amen.

With Children:

Talk honestly with children about the floods in Louisiana and the fires in California. Children understand that sometimes bad and scary things happen, so answer their questions as clearly as you can. Help them think through a list of the people, places, and practices that help keep them safe. Remind them that God is always with us, even when we are scared. Emphasize that we can help the people who have been affected by the floods and fires get what they need and find safe places to stay.
 
As images of the destruction in Louisiana and California continue to inundate the news and social media, limit your children's exposure. While you cannot completely shelter them from the news, you can limit the number of disturbing images they see.
 
A great resource is the book The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale by Donna Jo Napoli and Gabi Swiatkowska. This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Parisa, a young girl who finds herself alone in her town after an earthquake. It is a story of resilience and choosing to help (or not) when others are in need.