Tag: Lenten reflection

Mar 31 2010

The many reasons people walk

Easter reflection

There are many reasons people walk. Some walk out of choice, others, out of necessity. Along the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:15-35), we meet two people who walked simply to get away. The one in whom they had placed their hopes had just been executed as a criminal, and now his friends ñ and theirs ñ were hiding in fear. Believing that nothing was left for them in Jerusalem but danger and disappointment, they decided to leave.

On the road, they met a stranger. The temptation to wrap themselves in fear and reject the stranger must have been strong, but instead they invited him along. And, as they continued walking, an amazing thing began to happen. Step by step and mile by mile, these two wounded travelers found restored hope in their encounter with this remarkable new companion.

The stranger was really the resurrected Jesus ñ a fact that the two disciples only discovered at the end of the day when they shared a meal. But once they did, they couldnít get back to Jerusalem fast enough, for such was their desire to share the good news.

In life, sometimes we feel as if we are walking toward something, and sometimes we feel as if we are walking away. But when the dust settles, the reasons we walk arenít nearly as important as the fact that we do, indeed, keep walking. For, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, it is only in the journey that we continue to encounter Christ in traveling companions.

For the next two years, hundreds of sponsors will join CFCA President Bob Hentzen at points along the Walk2gether route from Guatemala to Chile. Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they, too, are discovering a new and glorified face of Christ in the faces of the poor. And, again, like those disciples, they canít wait to take that good news home with them.

As we enter into this beautiful season of Easter, may each of us be blessed with fresh legs and renewed spirits. May we walk as happy wanderers, intent on savoring the blessings of the journey. Whatever sorrows we may be leaving behind, and whatever dreams we may be moving toward, may we always hold onto the joy that comes from knowing that the one who defeated death is our constant traveling companion.

Mar 24 2010

The poverty and potential

Lenten reflection: Holy Week

At CFCA, we often say, ìWe donít see poverty, we see potential.î It is important to emphasize the hope and possibilities that sponsorship brings to a person and to a family.

However, we, of course, do see poverty. We are walking with the most vulnerable people in the world. To say we do not see the poverty would be to deny their reality, their daily struggles. Doing so would mean glossing over the heroism they show us in overcoming those hardships.

One of the gifts of sponsorship is that it gives us a fuller understanding of that reality. Instead of being apart from the dirt, sweat, smells, hunger and indignities that those living in poverty experience on a daily basis, they let us into their lives so that we can more fully understand their reality. We can see Jesus and the poor walking together and witness their suffering.

As Christians, we cannot have Easter without Good Friday. We cannot truly celebrate the light without honestly, boldly facing the darkness. We cannot celebrate potential without seeing the reality of poverty.

As we enter Holy Week beginning this week on Palm Sunday, let us hold close to our hearts those who live every day the dynamic interplay of Good Friday and Easter. Death, life, doubt, hope, loneliness and community: poverty and potential.

Mar 18 2010

‘I am doing something new’

Lenten reflection week 5

ìRemember not the events of the past, ?Ö the things of long ago consider not; ?Ö see, I am doing something new! ?Ö Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? ?Ö In the desert I make a way, ?Ö in the wasteland, rivers.î (Isa. 43:16-20)

This section of Isaiah is where words of comfort and encouragement are given to Godís people. They will be in exile for their sins, but they are not to lose faith. God will restore them. That is the beauty of this passage.

It isnít that we are to forget completely what God has done. But all of those miracles in the past — Abraham and his sons, the freeing of the Israelites, parting of the Red Sea — all of that is nothing compared to what God is going to do! He says things will be bad, terrible, in fact, but, be prepared to watch him work and create and restore the likes of which you have never seen!

That is what makes the work of CFCA so exciting on a daily basis. We get to witness every single day Godís movement forward. Growing, creating, surprising and expanding His kingdom through the work of our sponsors and our sponsored friends. Look at the faces of the sponsored children and think, ìI am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?î

Mar 10 2010

The abundant life of Easter

Lenten reflection week 4

When you hear the word, prodigal, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The answer is probably the parable we hear this week (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32), commonly known as “The Prodigal Son.” In fact, the word is so well-associated with that story that you might have a hard time coming up with another context in which it is used.

For the record, prodigal means wasteful, excessive or lavish. In reference to the Gospel story, it describes an ungrateful child who leaves home, squanders his inheritance on extravagant living and learns the hard way that life back home wasnít so bad after all.

The story, as we all know, ends with the son repenting and being welcomed back into the family by his joyful father. But there is irony in this ending, for the father celebrates his sonís homecoming with some extravagance of his own. He kills the fatted calf and throws one heck of a homecoming party.

So, is the sin of prodigality (yes, it is a word) really the point here? After all, in the scriptures, extravagance is a quality often associated with God himself. Perhaps the real failure of the prodigal son wasnít so much his lifestyle as his lack of appreciation. He didnít appreciate his good fortune because he hadnít earned it, and that is why he made such poor choices in how he spent it.

When sponsors visit CFCA projects, they often comment upon the deep gratitude of sponsored persons. Although these hard-working families have little in terms of material possessions ñ or, perhaps, because of that fact ñ they are filled with genuine appreciation for what sponsors contribute to their lives. As a result they, like the prodigal sonís father, have the wisdom to recognize a true occasion for joy when they see it.

May this season of Lent bring each of us to a sacred place where we can truly enjoy the abundant life of Easter ñ that life which our extravagant God is just aching to share with us.

Mar 3 2010

Sharing the water

Lenten reflection week 3

The fact that she was coming to the well in the noonday sun was a tipoff. The ìrespectableî women of the village all came out in the cool of the morning to draw their water and gossip. So, being one of the more popular subjects of their gossip, this Samaritan woman preferred to come at noon when nobody else was supposed to be around.

Except that day, somebody else was around ñ Jesus. He was sitting right there by the well where she couldnít avoid him. And just when she had decided to quickly get her water and get out of there before anybody saw her alone with this Jewish man (the last thing she needed with her reputation), he had the nerve to ask her for a drink of water!

She could have ignored him. She could have waited for him to leave. She could have turned around and gone home. But there was something about this stranger that compelled her to engage with him in conversation. That choice made all the difference.

What follows in this marvelous story from Johnís Gospel (John 4:5-42) is a tale of living water, of death to the mistakes of the past, and a community transformed through the leadership of its least likely member. And all because one man asked one woman for a drink ñ and because that woman had the courage to push her comfort zone and make a graced connection.

At CFCA, we like to say we see potential instead of poverty. We learned that from Jesus, who always managed to see through the trappings and the labels into the true heart of a person. It really doesnít take any special ability to do that, but it does take faith.

So, whoís asking you for a drink of water today?

Apr 8 2009

A present-day transformation

Lenten reflection: Week 7
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

ìLord, remember not only the men and women of good will but all those of ill will. Do not only remember all the suffering they have subjected us to. Remember the fruits we brought forth thanks to this suffering ñ our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, and generosity, the greatness of heart that all of this inspired. And when they come to judgment, let all these fruits we have born be their reward and their forgiveness.î
-Words scratched on the wall of a concentration camp in Germany

Transformative power: that is what bursts forth out of the tomb on Easter morning. The power of God to change that which was ugly to something beautiful. Changing darkness into light and destroying death to give us the chance for a real life. That is what we celebrate on Easter morning. Somewhere amidst the candy and Easter eggs we find the message that no matter how hard we try to get rid of God, we cannot and that God will transform our lives and our world if we only let God in.

If a woman in India is a widow or comes into a marriage with little dowry, she is seen as a burden and written off as worthless. This is a rather practical consideration for a family living on the edge because she is seen as not contributing to the family and is, instead, just another mouth to feed.

For the thousands of women who participate in CFCA mothers groups, however, they are given the chance to begin small businesses and bring income to the family. They are literally transformed in the eyes of their family members, as well as in their own eyes. They are given a new-found dignity and respect.

There are elderly in our projects who, after a life of hardship and struggle, were slipping away all alone, bereft of help or companionship. But, they are now part of a life-giving CFCA community where they can watch out for each other and care for each other.

And then there are the children. Hundreds of thousands of children that our sponsors have watched over the years transform into confident young adults. Our sponsors have seen the change from the first pictures of the small children, dressed in borrowed clothes, looking much too small for their age. Sponsors have watched them grow, overcome obstacles in their path and reach maturity with the ability and confidence to use their God-given gifts and talents.

Through womenís empowerment in the mothers groups, a childís maturity into adulthood and the companionship of the elderly, we are given the opportunity to watch, in present day, the transformative power of God that burst forth from the tomb on the first Easter morning. It is an amazing thing to watch God in action.

Happy Easter

From all of us at CFCA around the world, we wish you a most blessed and glorious Easter!

Mar 18 2009

Concern for the whole person

Lenten reflection: Week 4p1000566
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

Lent, as we know, is a time of preparation and self-reflection. It is a time set aside to examine our relationship with God and our need for healing in our own lives. Scripture shows us time and again that God is greatly concerned with our wholeness, in mind, body and spirit. In fact, ìwholenessî and ìholinessî come from the same word that means ìcompleteness.î

In 2 Kings, Chapter 4, we hear a strange and wonderful story of Elisha bringing a family back to wellness and wholeness. Like Sarah before her, God promised a Shunammite woman a son in her old age. God kept that promise but years later the young boy died. However, God would not forget his promise and, through Elisha, brought the boy back to life, restoring the faith of the mother.

CFCAís benefits are structured to follow this guideline of concern for the whole person and the family. We do not simply feed children. Nor do we just educate them or see to their medical concerns. We are concerned for the whole person and we walk with them and bring others along to do the same.

Take, for instance, a widow in Guatemala whose son was sponsored through CFCA. The woman was suffering from depression and because of her†illness she was unable to move forward in her life. She was unable even to address the health concerns of her son. He began to have trouble in school, and it was believed to be because of hearing loss.

CFCA was helping this family financially, but it was not until we brought in another CFCA mother to minister to the little boyís mother that changes started happening. It took more than just the CFCA staff to help this woman back to health in mind, body and spirit. It took God working through someone who was not that different from her, to help heal her.

God, as the ultimate and perfect parent, is deeply concerned for the wholeness of each of his†6-billion-plus children. We need only open ourselves to the Spirit and to our fellow travelers through whom the Spirit works.

Reflection questions:
1. Where do you need healing in your life in mind, body or spirit?
2. Who might God be placing in your path who needs the gifts you have to offer for their healing?