Share the Love // We Stand With Love

love-handConvergence is a US movement that convenes a growing network of ecumenical faith leaders to work together on a common Progressive Christian agenda that affects the common good. For the last seven months we have been working day and night with partners across the country on the We Stand With Love campaign.

Before our political parties ever even chose their candidates, people of faith, all kinds of faith, were gathering in back rooms and denouncing the hateful and violent rhetoric that was being used to describe so many of us. We were denouncing it and organizing ourselves for a movement grounded in our shared value of love and respect for all people.

The We Stand With Love campaign is a multi-faceted, multi-faith messaging campaign that aims to speak wisdom and unity during and after an election season fraught with tension and hostility. We Stand With Love helps people stand up for love in word, in deed, in symbol, online, in person, and in public. We Stand With Love invites people to “overcome evil with good” by equipping people with courageous, constructive, and creative responses, rooted in love.

This campaign represents every age, every gender, every race, every religion, and every creed.

We are a people who refuse to live in fear. We pledge to love beyond our differences. We replace fear-based politics with love for one another and a promise to protect each other.

This election cycle has brought with it loud messages—messages that are too frequently sowing fear, division and discord, ugly messages that threaten to turn us against rather than toward each other. For the thousands who have already joined the We Stand With Love campaign and the millions represented by our more than 39 organizational partners, we are saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. No matter which political party you represent, hateful violent rhetoric that marginalizes women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, persons who are differently abled, African Americans, Muslims, etc. is simply unacceptable. We will not stand for it and because of our collective faith traditions we are compelled, no, required to speak out in solidarity and act on behalf of our neighbor. We say NO to the hate rhetoric that threatens to divide us and YES to more just and generous ways of living with and loving one another.

To join this movement of love, join us at www.westandwithlove.org

 

Rev. Dr. Lindsay Andreolli-Comstock is Chief Strategy Officer at ConvergenceUS, a founding partner of We Stand With Love. Andreolli-Comstock manages daily operations and a team of volunteers for We Stand With Love.

 

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Share the love // ‘All we need is love’

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It is very easy to love some people! I am sure that statement has bought to mind a whole host of people you love…. But some people are slightly more challenging.

Through the work and ministry of Street Angels we are out and about on the streets of communities late at night (and into the early hour of the morning). We help anyone – young ladies who’s poor choice of footwear mens the require plaster, anti-sceptic gel and flip-flops; those who are lost and wanting directions; those who have become separated from friends or partner; those who are homeless; those coming down from a high and needing a top up of caffeine and sugar.
Some of these people we help are easy to love – they hug you (mind you drunken hugs are not always appreciated), high-five you, thank you time and time again and then take the trouble to tweet and email thanks the following day. Some not so – the young lad who is very demanding, very twitchy, yelling, swearing and with a carrier bag with needles poking out is one memory of someone I found difficult to love.
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Yet Jesus says love everyone! Love them as yourself! Love even your enemies! Love them if they think and behave differently to you. Love them if they are aggressive towards you. Love them whatever!
As people aiming to follow Jesus we have a massive advantage when it comes to love. It is part of our DNA. It is fantastic that time and again the church is the main agency that is there, loving, in almost every area that seeks to dehumanise people. Debt, addiction, nights out gone wrong, loneliness, dementia – the list goes on!
This Advent, Christmas and into 2017 can I encourage you to start and do something very simple – #Do1NiceThing – each and every day commit to doing one nice thing, an act of love, for someone else. On our website – www.do1nicething.org.uk – we have a whole list of ideas. Simple things that could well make the world of difference for others.
Love, love, love – all we need is love! Maybe the Beatles were onto something after all!!!!
Paul Blakey MBE – founder Street Angels, CNI Network and Love Your Streets

Share some love this Christmas

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As you have probably realised by now, we’re not hosting our daily reflections in Advent this year but we are teaming up with Movement of Love, to share some thoughts on sharing the love instead.

‘Movement Of Love’ is a community that was formed this year, for people who want to spread a message of love across our nation, to counteract the growing hate. It is for anyone and everyone who wants to see a difference and bring a more positive atmosphere to their communities, towns and country. We have an opportunity and a desire to speak love and life into our nation from the ground up.

So this year our Advent message is not just ‘Share the Hope’ but ‘Share the Love’! Over the next week or so as we approach Christmas we’ll be posting a few reflections from people about what love means to them. We hope you enjoy them and do go check out Movement of Love on Facebook or Twitter

 

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The hope of real love.

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Picture by Ellie Leach


The Word become flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

As Share The Hope draws to a close for this year, we thought we’d finish with a look back at the reflections from the last few weeks. Some of the stories we’ve read and videos we’ve watched have been heartbreakingly honest, and it has been so inspiring to be allowed a glimpse into people’s lives.

Here’s a few things we want to encourage you to take away from this year’s Share the Hope…

Sharing

As we have seen in the posts, there are many people going through or who have gone through some really tough times, whether that be bereavement, health problems or personal crisis. The world we live in can be a scary, lonely and hurtful place when we face life alone. The idea of the ‘Daily Share’  is to encourage you to play a part in making the world a better place for people, one small action at a time. So we would encourage you to continue doing this throughout the year. You can make up your own daily shares or have a look at sites like random acts of kindness and 40 Acts for ideas!

Hope

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Hope can mean something different to everyone. It can be found in an encouraging word from a friend, a thumbs up from the boss, or even a post on an online advent calendar! We have highlighted in Share the Hope, a few lines from an Emily Dickinson poem as seen in the picture above.

But, how can you keep that hope that never stops? Well, each person that wrote one of this year’s reflections, knows a hope beyond compare, that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus

I’m sure the writers from Share The Hope would agree that they only got through their difficult situations and through normal life because of an experience of, or relationship with, Jesus. Today’s passage from John 1:14 tells us that Jesus, the Son of God, came down from his Father in heaven to be with and like us, he gave up being on his glorious and wonderful throne to be born into a stable and eventually to die, for each of us. Which is a staggering and almost incomprehensible thought. It would be difficult enough to go through that torture and execution for someone who loved you, but to go through it for people like us who constantly reject and mock him? Now that is real love.

And yet, we get the chance to respond to him. In Romans 10:19 in the bible, it says “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised from the dead, you will be saved.” It’s as easy as that! Jesus has his hand eternally stretched out to you; all you have to do is grab it!

So, we’ll leave you with this video, we highlighted it last year, but it’s just so good that we’re using it again. Give it a watch and if you have questions, or want to know more about Jesus, faith or just about hope, do drop us a message…

 

Lastly we wish you a very happy, peaceful and hope-filled Christmas

With love and blessings from The Share the Hope Team

 

Symbols of Hope

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Martin Leach in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Temperatures are checked several times daily.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 

Matthew 2:11-12

 

ebola1Each time I see an ambulance going down the road with a police escort, the driver dressed in face mask and all the protective kit, I take a deep breath and wait for it to pass by. It scares me. And today we learned that the eighth Sierra Leonean doctor has died from Ebola, and that the infection is spreading fastest here in Freetown – literally just outside my door.

This news really gives me the chills. We thought we were doing well: treatment centres being built, medical teams arriving, and people getting the ‘ABC’ message – avoid bodily contact. My bit of the jigsaw is to deploy and manage United Nations Coordination Teams across the country; to solve problems and help link all the activities together. I am doing this mostly from a desk and phone in the National Ebola Centre, so it is a low risk job, but I do also get outside the compound’s guarded walls to visit the field teams. But now with this news I am thinking again about the risks of being here: ebola2Might I get it? Am I always taking all the right precautions? What’s the family thinking back home?

And that’s where the Three Kings come in: like the shepherds, they came and brought to Jesus the very best they could offer. Gold, frankincense and myrrh – rich, costly, and precious symbols of the hope that Jesus brings. I think that the people who are bringing genuinely sacrificial offerings here in Sierra Leone are the thousands of brave people putting their lives at risk working on the front line. Yes, there are some doctors and nurses from abroad, but there are many, many ordinary local people taking part to give their country and people a hope of defeating this horrible disease – the chlorine sprayers, the motorbike riders who carry blood samples for testing, the grave diggers, the people tracing all the infection contacts. They do this at tremendous risk to themselves, since over a hundred health workers have died so far, and with minimal reward.

ebola3I meet many people who bring other sources of hope too – there is a woman pastor who turns up at my office every morning at 8 0’clock with her Bible to pray for those of us involved in the work. Others are looking after the children of Ebola victims – it’s often a double tragedy, losing their parents and being shunned by your community because of the stigma of the disease.

I came to Freetown because I wanted to help in the crisis and had the skills and opportunity to do so. Local people volunteer because they want to give hope to their people and to their country. They are the people bringing the really costly gifts at Christmas time.

 

martin leachMartin Leach

Martin is an aid worker with the Department for International Development, and has been based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, helping with the fight against Ebola. This piece was written at the beginning of December 2014.

 

 

Daily Share

We aren’t all called to go abroad, or into such challenging situations as Martin, but it is good to remember that we can always do something to help those around us. Martin mentions the locals in areas of Sierra Leone, who have been volunteering to help in their own communities, so today we want to challenge you to think about whether you could spare a few hours to volunteer somewhere? Is there a local school, organisation or charity that needs help? If you can’t help regularly perhaps you could do something as one off?

What can you do to give hope to people in your community?

 

 

A Star of Hope

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After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

Matthew 2:9-10

 

One of the brightest stars I’ve ever seen was shining directly above the bedroom of a ten-year-old girl who lived in an ordinary cul-de-sac on the south coast of England.

Five days earlier she’d been walking to school with a friend and never arrived. I was one of the reporters dispatched to the seaside town to cover the story for a national newspaper. As the hours passed it looked increasingly likely the girls had been abducted.

I spent my days hanging around the police station, covering press conferences and waiting for updates. The best case scenario was that they’d run away. The worst case I didn’t want to consider. Sadly, I was well-versed in covering stories of missing children who didn’t return safely. As a rookie reporter I’d spent several days in Reading Crown Court listening to harrowing evidence given by a notorious paedophile about the final hours of a little boy. I knew that the world was not ‘safe’ and that people were literally capable of anything.

By this stage in my career, though, I liked to think that I was a seasoned hack. I was tough, I could cope. But I was also very tired; despondent and dispirited. So maybe it wasn’t such a surprise to find myself sitting in my hotel room one evening, sobbing after covering a press conference with the family.

I certainly wasn’t a Christian at the time and hadn’t ‘been to church’ for years although I did believe in God. But the country was praying for the return of these little girls and I found myself joining them. I prayed a lot over the next few days.

Then rumours started to circulate that they’d been found and I’ll never forget the elation amongst the media pack when we were told the girls were safe. That night we gathered outside that little girl’s house, hoping for a quote from a family member or a glimpse of the child herself. And suddenly there she was in her pyjamas waving at us from her bedroom window. I knew that stories don’t always have happy endings and wondered too what had happened to her in the short time she was being held against her will. But I looked up into the clear sky above that family home and, like the travellers who were seeking Christ, I saw the brightest star and was filled with joy, and hope.

And looking back now 15 years later I can see that this sparked something in my soul that started me on my own personal journey towards a God of love and a new beginning.

 

sarahLothianSarah Lothian

Sarah is a freelance journalist with more than 20 years of experience in print media and television.

 

 

 

 Daily Share

Are you tired today? Maybe a little bit despondent? Sarah talks of feeling like this and yet being filled with joy and hope on seeing a star in the sky. Who are the people in your life that bring you joy and hope? Today, let them know how much they mean to you. Drop them a text or give them a call and in turn you will bring some joy and hope into their lives too.

 

Hope in all Circumstances

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When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
 are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
 who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.

Matthew 2: 3-8

 

Today’s reflection is a video from Andy & Emma Dipper, who are linked with CSW – Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Release International. Watch the video by clicking on the image above.

 

Daily Share

Andy & Emma talked about how those being persecuted gather to pray for others around the world. It’s very easy to get bogged down in our own ‘stuff’, so today we encourage you to think of people across the world who might be living in worse conditions than you or dealing with worse problems than you. 

Can you spare a prayer today for some of them? CSW have a daily prayer list on their website suggesting people and places to pray for, so why not have a look at that for some suggestions.

Prayer is a funny thing, many people find themselves offering a prayer or a thought even when they don’t have a defined faith. So whatever ‘prayer’ means to you today, even if it is just sparing a thought for others, try and spend a few minutes today doing that.