Weeping for the Oppressed

Black-Mother-Crying

Psalm 10[a]

Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
    who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
    he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
    in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
His ways are always prosperous;
    your laws are rejected by[b] him;
    he sneers at all his enemies.
He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
    He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

His mouth is full of lies and threats;
    trouble and evil are under his tongue.
He lies in wait near the villages;
    from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
    like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
    he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
    they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
    he covers his face and never sees.”

12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
    Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
    Why does he say to himself,
    “He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
    call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
    that would not otherwise be found out.

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
    the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that mere earthly mortals
    will never again strike terror.

If I had my life to live over…

end_of_life_doula

By Erna Bombeck

Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything.

My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.

Erma Bombeck, Eat Less Cottage Cheese and More Ice Cream: Thoughts on Life from Erma Bombeck

 

A Blessing For Absence  

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A few days ago, my wife and I received a greeting card from a friend, Mary Docter. Inside the greeting card, was an insert from the book To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue. The message describes the beauty about Absence. The message is so appropriate for the quarantine and social distance times in which we live today. Be blessed.

May you know that absence is alive with hidden presence,
that nothing is ever lost or forgotten.


May the absences in your life grow full of eternal echo.


May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere,
where the presences that have left you dwell.


May you be generous in your embrace of loss.


May the sore well of grief turn into a seamless flow of presence.


May your compassion reach out to the ones we never hear from.


May you have the courage to speak for the excluded ones.


May you become the gracious and passionate subject of your own life.


May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words or false belonging.


May you be embraced by God in whom dawn and twilight are one.


May your longing inhabit it’s dreams within the Great Belonging.

`
from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue

Quiet

MEET THE HELPERS: LEARNING HOW TO CHANGE COURSE AND PASTOR ON

Chapel

Published here: https://caringmagazine.org/meet-the-helpers-learning-how-to-change-course-and-pastor-on/

While chapels and pews are empty at the moment due to social distancing restrictions, Salvation Army corps across the West are holding online worship services to support emotional and spiritual needs. Pastoring during COVID-19 is more than creating an online message, however, and we caught up with Pasadena Tabernacle Corps (California) Officer Captain Terry Masango to learn more about how his service has shifted in the midst of COVID-19. 

What has it been like for you in this pandemic?Firstly, I would say we’ve never experienced anything like this before, and for me it’s been difficult. It’s been the ride of my life. Particularly at the beginning, things were changing so fast. We were watching the news, listening to the local government, the federal government, but also The Salvation Army. We were looking for information; we were listening for how we are to adapt to what’s going on.

So, it’s been like flying—the best example I can give you is flying—at 30,000 feet, with a plane that has holes, and you’re trying to patch the holes while it’s flying, while making sure that everyone is safe—the staff, trying to make sure people don’t lose their jobs, but also that we have enough food, enough resources to serve people that are coming and also trying to take care of my family and myself, my own health. All of that has been a challenge.

What are the most pressing needs you are seeing now on the frontlines of service?

We have seen a 75 percent increase in the number of people seeking our services. Most of them are new families, whose breadwinners have either recently lost their jobs or are on furlough. So, most of our pressing needs are monetary donations that help us purchase the specific foods in the quantities that we need. Second, non-perishable food donations and frozen goods.

Frozen goods, like pizza, vegetables, fruits, meals, burritos and fish are in demand. Non-perishable goods, including pasta, rice, quinoa, lentils, peas, beans, flour, sugar, crackers, snack bars, chips, pretzels, cookies, nuts, tea, coffee, canned beans, vegetables, meat, noodles, soups, stews and tuna are also appreciated. Other items that are helpful, include baby food, formula, condiments, hygiene kits and socks.

How do you handle the emotional stress load of COVID-19? What do you say to those who might be afraid?

To handle the emotional stress, we must accept firstly that we are all struggling, we are all trying to comprehend what’s happening; it’s like the ground under us is shaking and everyone is trying to survive. So personally, how I’ve been able to handle the pressure is through prayer; I’ve been praying a lot, praying for myself, praying for my family and everything around us.

And then, the second thing is Carpe Diem, to seize the day. There are two ways we can handle the pressure: We can sit and just say, “Oh, the world is horrible, we are struggling!” or we can seize the day and do something about it. So, for those who are at home, I would encourage them: find some things to do. And for me, keeping my routine and coming to work regularly has been great. I recently preached on this idea and three ways to handle emotional stress:

1. Seize the day

Instead of complaining, do something.  Enjoy some quality rest. Cook some healthy and delicious meals at home. Clean the house. Rearrange furniture. Get a pet for companionship. Pick up gardening and plant your own basil, tomatoes and flowers. Read books. Binge watch one or two TV shows or watch a movie. Exercise in and around the house—or walk around the neighborhood. Read God’s Word, pray and worship.

2. Create 

Take up a new hobby, and have fun. You can bring out your inner artist and try your hand at drawing or painting. How about you start a journal or a blog? You have it in you to write. Listen to a new podcast or start your own podcast. Join Tik-Tok or just learn to sing and dance. Dust off the instrument and practice that piece of music or learn a new instrument. Start knitting or crocheting.

3. Connect

Check on others.The third way I’m handling emotional stress is by connecting; connecting with God and connecting with people. To connect with God, I continue to read the Bible and to pray. To connect with people, I remain in-touch with them.

Some ways to connect include prayer. Pray for people and with people, on the phone or online. Call two different people a day, or connect with them on social media. Use FaceTime and Zoom to video chat with others. Talk with your mentor, coach or therapist. Adopt a senior and write to them. Tune in on Sundays for live-streaming worship services, and join prayer, Bible Study and fellowship groups online.

What was it like to transition to leading a congregation online, and how is it going?

Transitioning to online was weird and difficult. First, to record ourselves was difficult, but I am grateful for Director of Multimedia Ministries Josh Cowing, and I’m grateful for people in the corps who are willing to participate. Josh has been able to help me record people and show that on Sundays, but for me, the awkward part has been preaching to an empty congregation. That’s been weird, because there’s no one sitting there while you are preaching, but you are hoping that somebody, somewhere is watching.

We’ve tried to minister to the congregation through other means. I’ve been sending a lot of detailed emails. We’ve been doing videos that we’ve been sending out on Facebook and also via email. We’ve been calling and writing to a lot of people in the corps. We’ve had some Zoom meetings, whether it’s Bible studies, or women’s programs, or Corps Council, we’ve used Zoom to help us.

So how is it going? Even though it’s awkward, I think it’s been going well. We are actually reaching out to more people than just people from Pasadena. We’re having people watch us from Europe and Africa; we have someone from Fiji who comments on our Facebook posts. So, we are reaching a wider audience than just Pasadena.

How are you different today than you were a year ago?

I’m different today in terms of planning. There’s a Scripture that says, “Many are the plans of a man, but God’s purpose prevails.” A year ago, I was all about planning and scheduling things, and we were in our regular church routine, but today I am different—that I am learning that God does things his way. Instead of inviting God to our plans, we are adjusting to his plans. So, I’ve changed in that I’ve become sensitive to what God is doing.

And I’ve also changed in the idea of compassion, rather than just routine. I’m intentionally spending time at the food bank where I’m interacting with people who actually have no idea who I am. So, they say whatever they want, they push my buttons, but I’m learning to be compassionate.

How has your faith helped you and impacted how you served in the crisis?

As Salvation Army people, we say we are “saved to serve,” so my faith is helping me, knowing that my calling goes beyond my personal needs. My calling is to serve and help others. My faith compels me to help those who are in need, particularly at this time.

The love of God oozes out of our every pore to touch others. We are the hands and feet of Jesus on earth, and this crisis has really challenged us as Christians to show the world who we are; and who we are is we are loving, compassionate people, who express God’s love through service.

Can you share a story of recovery, kindness or selflessness you’ve witnessed?

There are many stories, many, many things that I’ve seen happen. From a corporate level, organizations and businesses have been bringing donations, including the Rotary Club who said, “What can we do to help?” There are three volunteers I want to talk about. There is a lady called Socorro from Pasadena Unified School District who is at the food bank every day, sweating but carrying boxes, moving things. Her story has impacted me, because she goes over and above the call of duty to serve.

The other two are Jaime and Leo, they are graduates of the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) who are at the food bank every day as well. They are there lifting, pushing things. People who are receiving the food, probably will never see them, never know them. They are at the back just serving. Most people want to serve at the front, where people can applaud; they get “Thank you, you’ve done well.” These gentlemen are hidden in the back, just pushing and moving things around.

Our Social Services staff is working so hard. There’s a fear that they could contract something, but they seem at peace. They’re just here to serve. That has touched me, and I’m really blessed to see that.


Do Good: 

  • If you’d like to make a monetary donation, please click here to make a gift.
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  • For information about volunteering, please visit volunteer.usawest.org.
  • To learn more about how to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts, please click here.

HOW TO DEAL WITH COVID-19 LONELINESS

Gardening

  1. CARPE DIEM (Seize the Day)
  • Enjoy some quality sleep/rest.
  • Cook some healthy and delicious meals at home.
  • Clean the house. Clean the garage or the pesky cabinet, which has become everyone’s junk yard.
  • Rearrange furniture. Refresh the look of your home.
  • Get a pet. Pets are great for companionship. They keep you busy.
  • Pick up gardening. Plant your own basil, tomatoes and flowers.
  • Read books. You know that pile of books on your shelf you have been wanting to read. Now is the time.
  • Movie. You heard rave reviews about a movie but you just never had the chance to watch it.
  • Go ahead spoil yourself. Binge watch one or two TV shows. I recently watch all 8 seasons of Monk. I absolutely loved it.
  • Exercise. Walk around the neighborhood. Exercise in and around the house.
  • Read God’s Word, pray, worship.
  • Seize the day. Instead of complaining, do something.

 Blog

2. CREATE. Take up a new hobby

  • How about you start a journal or a blog? You have it in you to write. Go ahead and write a book, a song, or a poem. If ever there was a time, the time is now!
  • Listen to a new podcast or start your own podcast.
  • Join Tik-Tok or just learn to sing and dance.
  • Talking about singing – compose and record a song. How about Karaoke?
  • Purchase and play new board games. You could try video games, puzzle or the Rubik’s Cube.
  • Dust of the instrument and practice that piece. Learn a new instrument.
  • Purchase the kits and start knitting or crocheting.
  • You can try your hand at drawing or painting. Bring out the inner artist in you.
  • Have fun.

 Connect

3. CONNECT. Check on others

  • Prayer. Pray for people. Pray with people on the phone or online.
  • Phone calls. Call two different people a day.  
  • Social media. Contact two different people on Social media each day.
  • FaceTime, Zoom, etc. Contact two people a day on a video call.
  • Check in on each other… relatives, friends, neighbors
  • Adopt a senior. Write and send letters or cards to seniors or to your church members.
  • Participate in a friend’s drive by birthday celebration.
  • Online. Tune in on Sundays for live-streaming, join prayer, Bible Study and fellowship groups online.
  • Talk with your mentor, coach or therapist.
  • Plan quality Family – Zoom calls.
  • Play family Games, record family movies, chalk art outside.
  • Sleepover living room pitch a tent, make it fun.

Zoom

Covid-19 and Change

Live Stream - May 3

Introduction

We are living in unprecedented, peculiar times – times of uncertainty, untold anxieties and change. Change is everywhere. Change happens all the time. Some have said, the only constant is change. Everyone, all organizations, all countries are experiencing the effects of change. External and internal factors exert pressure on the individuals and organization to change. As we have encountered this Global Pandemic called COVID-19 or Coronavirus, I can say without a doubt, “we’ve never done it this way before!”  A year ago, or even 6 months ago, none of us would have guessed that a significant portion of the world would be on “stay at home” orders. Schools, businesses, churches and various organizations have adapted through starting new and cutting-edge ways to survive. Online learning has become the norm, Zoom meetings are the new buss words, and churches are contending with holding online worship services. Change is upon us. To remain viable, schools, churches and other organizations must adapt to remain viable, and must stay ahead of the curve in their response to anticipated changes.

Determine of an Organization’s Readiness to Accept Change

Like the impact of Covid-19, various external and internal factors can destroy an organization unless the organization is ready and willing to embrace change. Some external factors which negatively affect organizations are pandemics, competitive business environment, political environment, the economic environment, business laws and regulations, cultural shifts, changing customer preferences, and technological advancements. Some internal factors which cause organizations to change are employee illnesses, employee demands, cost of doing business, wages and salaries increases, organizational culture and structure, lack of vision and strategic planning, the need for growth and development. To prepare for change, organizations and churches must restructure and reinvent themselves to avoid decline (Wischnevsky, 2004).

Competitive Business Environment

The organization’s competitors might outperform the organization, claiming a larger market share. The organization’s market share losses have a direct negative impact on profitability. The organization must adjust the sails or be swept away into oblivion. Without the adjustment to change, the dire situation continues. Change of the business plan, pricing structures, or the introduction of new, competitive products helps the organization regain its competitive advantage. In an organization like The Salvation Army, restructuring of the all the internal structures will ensure the organization’s viability.

Political Environment

Organizations struggle to survive in harsh, hostile political environments. Government laws and regulations like higher taxes cut into the organization’s profitability. Some government laws dictate price points or restrict the harvesting of raw materials in certain areas. When faced with a changing political landscape, the organizational leadership must change its strategy, raise prices, or move the organization to other business friendly climates. During this pandemic, we have heard much from local and national politicians. It remains to be seen how much of the political discourse will impact The Salvation Army positively.

Demography

Most societies these days experience demographic and cultural shifts. Cultural changes mean cultural shifts in preferences of certain goods, products and services. Organizational leadership must study and understand demographic shifts so as to supply products the customers want. For example, restaurants and grocery stores in areas experiencing an influx of Hispanic families must adjust their menus to reflect Hispanic meal choices. Failure to adjust to the customers’ preference could lead to the demise of the businesses. In The Salvation Army, we are stronger and richer for having embraced the demographic changes which have influenced our worship styles, language in worship, and general organizational culture.

Technology

The Covid-19 social distancing rules have made it necessary to conduct daily business online. As I mentioned earlier, online learning, Zoom meetings and live streaming of worship services have become the norm. Kudos to our society for the prompt adaptation to technology. I don’t know how long the pandemic and the restrictions will last, but all organizations contend with ever-changing technological innovations and gadgets, or they face extinction. Computers, social media, smartphones, and the internet have tremendously changed the business landscape, and they continue to do so. The Salvation Army, too, must embrace and morph together with these technological advances lest they stay in the stone age.

Vision and Strategy

Setting of a new vision and strategy prompts changes within the organization. The organizational leadership could set a vision and strategy encompassing an internal structural adjustment to increase productivity and improve efficiency (Wischnevsky, 2004). When this is all over, will we return to our old, normal ways? I hope we choose to continue on this path. Let us make online Live Streaming of Sunday Services the new street corner open air meeting. Let us have a strategy which discards or rather, add on to the victories of yester year by creating a compelling, bold vision for the future. A future which is at home with technology. A future where churches, schools, businesses all embrace and utilize technology to advance their mission.

Buy in from critical stakeholders

To determine if the organization is structurally ready to support change, the leadership must solicit and establish buy in and support from critical stakeholders. Stakeholders are any groups or individuals who have an interest in the organization. Lack of support from critical stakeholders leads to a disastrous change effort. Critical stakeholders are the influencers and decision-makers. Their support mobilizes the doubters and critics. The Salvation Army leadership, at all levels, will have to engage all stakeholders for an ambitious, technological change.

Trained and effective communicators and strong message

Successful change efforts rely on clear, effective communication of the need for change. Communication is key. To determine if the organization is structurally ready to support change, the leadership must establish the existence of an effective change communication strategy.

Financial and other resources

Change costs money. A new budget item line supporting change must be added onto the budget. Organizations must put their money where their mouth is. A belief in change is evidenced by financial support rendered.

Conclusion

In an ever-changing environment, stagnant organizations risk extinction.  In a fast-changing, Covid-19 ravaged society, change must happen promptly and decidedly. To remain relevant, viable, and profitable, organizations must continuously reinvent themselves, adjusting their sails to the vibrant winds of change. We are living in unprecedented, peculiar times – times of uncertainty, untold anxieties and change. Change is everywhere. Yet, the bold, the adaptive will survive and thrive. My prayer is that our Salvation Army, which was here 155 years ago, will be here for another 155 years as it changes and adjusts to the winds of change.

Chapel

 

References

Curado, C. (2006). Organisational learning and organisational design. The Learning Organization, 13(1),25-48.

Wischnevsky, J. D. (2004). Change as the winds change: The impact of organizational transformation on firm survival in a shifting environment. Organizational Analysis, 12(4), 361–377

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