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.

 

Share the Love // Perfect Love drives out Fear…

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Fear isn’t a subject which gets much of a look in around Christmas, but for many of us, it’s there: Will everything be ready on time? Is it good enough? Will everyone get on? How will we manage to pay for it all? And then there are all the emotions that New Year’s Eve can bring….

Fear comes in many guises: anxiety over jobs, money, status; insecurity in our identity and relationships; fear of being alone; fear of illness and death; fear of future – whatever it may hold. It is foolish to deny or belittle fear, especially when it can seem so prevalent in the world around us, in our own lives and lives of others. But that’s exactly what we do – we try to laugh away our fear, supress it or simply pretend it’s not there. But it is.

If we’re not careful so much of how we behave can be driven by fear of what people will think of us, or what will happen in the future. Fear lies behind consumerism, we buy things not only because they are needed or nice, but to shore up our identity, to make us feel good and others respect or envy us. It also drives many of the other negative characteristics of our society today. It’s not just needing more money to buy more and more things that makes so many of us work so hard, for many that’s also driven by fear of job loss or being considered inadequate at work. And that’s before we get to the impact on fear on our attitudes to strangers, to immigration…

The Christian tradition teaches that perfect love drives out fear. That can specifically be wrong fear of God, a fear of punishment. When we come to understand that God is not a God of punishment – “you did this, you didn’t do that” – but first and foremost a God of love, then a wrong fear of God is corrected. May be that some of us need to hear that, or to hear it afresh today.

But is it also true more widely? Given all the fear we see in the world and in our own lives, how can we say perfect love drives out fear? Is it true?

The first thing to note is that this world is not perfect, yet. Christians believe that Jesus came, lived and died to put an end to sin and death, the things that cut us off from God and each other. But that has not happened, in its entirety, yet. There are very many good reasons to be afraid. But we can also look at the world and say, with confidence, “this is not how it was meant to be” and “this is not how it ends”. Love WILL drive out fear.

But is also useful to remember that love CAN drive out fear, and that can be our lived reality now. That’s not to make light of what can be a very difficult and painful area for many of us – our experience of love in this present world is not complete, and never perfect. But yet, even as I may feel as if I’m one of the most fearful people around, I can still remind myself that, as love is seen in me, it will drive out fear.

In every day there are actions we can take, to choose love and so to banish fear.Why not try to notice today when you are fearful, bring that fear to your attention, write it down. Then ask yourself, how can I seek love – from others, or for others – which can help to counter that fear. Is there an action I need to take to make that a reality?

 

Jane Perry. Thirty-something (just!) dreamer and conspirator. Mum to Jacob (7) and Tom (9), and wife to Will, in Lewes, East Sussex. Everything else, including theology, mission studies and social policy research, in my spare time.

Share the love // Send Boots

hboots2Boots have been on my mind a lot recently. These are mine, they keep my feet warm and toasty and dry.

Simply by virtue of my place of birth I can put on dry warm boots, open my back door and walk safely, whenever and virtually wherever I wish. Last but not least – my family can travel freely across Europe and North America and return whenever they wish so that we can laugh and walk together sharing our stories.

In 2016 that does not apply to everyone, in fact, it does not apply to at least 65 million folk displaced around the world.

My boots have been with me to some unexpected places this year; they’ve been with me on two trips to what was known as the ‘Calais Jungle’.

On my first visit I discovered that a pair of boots was a much sought after item. Shoes were distributed in the camp on Tuesdays which soon became known as Shoesday – imagine people across Europe thinking ‘Monday, Shoesday, Wednesday, Thursday….’!

Here were people who had walked away in one pair of boots, away from hatred, away from war, away from persecution, they should have been walking into the warm embrace of love and sanctuary, they should have experienced a movement of love.

Sadly that was rarely the case.

helenbootsThe volunteers in Calais were the rare exception – they responded with love, they responded to a need, an obvious, desperate need – they moved with love towards the refugees and then stayed alongside them.

On my return to the UK I related my story to an elderly friend…………………

June listened to my story and responded with love ‘I’ll give you Gordon’s boots’ Gordon, her dearly beloved husband died two years ago, she had not got rid of his boots, they held precious memories but now she could let them go. Now somebody else, somebody she will never meet has comfortable, dry feet because of her gift.

As the weather worsens and the plight of the refugees falls off the media agenda could you dig out a pair of stout shoes or boots, could you perhaps go out and buy a brand new pair? Then you could pop in a message of love and support just like this:

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And donate them to one of the many grassroots organisations distributing to the refugees across Europe.

Then this movement of love would be moving practically across the continent helping people to walk towards a future where love prevails.
The slogan chosen by ‘Help Refugees’ for their T shirt is one I am proud to wear as I relish my freedom to roam. It is plain and simple:

Could you……………………….CHOOSE LOVE, SEND BOOTS………..this winter?

For further information click here.

 

Helen Burnett is Curate of St. Luke’s Whyteleafe and St. Peter and St Paul’s Chaldon, Surrey and has a passion for social justice.

 

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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