Wind Chimes: 4 Dec 2012

Good morning

As a new day dawns the chimes sound in greeting and joy. What do you hear?

Preparing for a guest

In this Advent season we prepare outwardly for Christmas: we hang lights and put up decorations, we bake goodies and wrap gifts. How will you prepare inwardly? The coming of Christ means that God will be incarnate: embodied, lovingly present, in the flesh in your life. Christ is coming into your life, into your heart, in a new way. Advent is a time to prepare a way for that to happen. God enters our lives without our planning or arranging; yet there are ways we can open the doors, and as the carol says of Jesus, “prepare him room.”

Imagine that Jesus were actually coming to live with you. What would you want to do to prepare? READ the rest of the “Prepare the way” meditation on Unfolding Light

Links to online Advent Calendars

Each of these has a different approach. Find one that helps you “prepare the way.”

Trinity Wall Street Online Advent Calendar

Busted Halo Online Advent Calendar

CREDO Online Advent Calendar

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God help us to be …

God help us to be honest
so our children will learn honesty.
Help us to be kind
so our children will learn kindness.
Help us to be faithful
so our children will learn faith.
Help us to love
so our children will be loving.

Marian Wright Edelman in
Guide My Feet, (1995).

“Black Friday” began the “Shopping Season” and retailers are relentless in keeping us focused on buying often and buying more. “#GivingTuesday” (11/27/12) was an invitation to give and use our “buying power” in a way that benefits others for more than just a day.

I intend to keep that invitation in front of us throughout the “Shopping Season.” I believe  that It is always the right time to be generous. If you haven’t participated in “#GivingTuesday” how about today? ~dan

Today’s give-a-gift-to-help-others idea:

  • Children’s Defense Fund — “a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for nearly 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children.”

Looking for other give-a-gift-to-help-others ideas?
Go first to Charity Navigator for those ideas
and for an evaluation of how your dollars will be spent

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Photo: Nao Sakaki on Indian Country Today Media Network

Christmas Day: Children’s Defense Fund

Children’s Defense Fund

Jesus entered this world as helpless, defenseless, and dependent as you and me and every child ever born. He was born in a stable and his bed was a food trough for animals. From that humble beginning, he escaped the death visited upon other children by a paranoid tyrant (Herod) and with the protection and nurture of his parents and their village was able to grow to adulthood—and he changed the world. All children, if we understand Jesus, are beloved by God and as God’s children have a dignity that calls forth our best efforts to protect, defend, educate, feed, and nurture them into adulthood.

Quote . . .The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for over 35 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. We champion policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education and a moral and spiritual foundation. Supported by foundation and corporate grants and individual donations, CDF advocates nationwide on behalf of children to ensure children are always a priority. (About Children’s Defense Fund web page)

Mission Statement

The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

CDF provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown.

Children’s Defense Fund Home Page

The Twelve Days of Christmas Calendar in one place
About the Online Christmas Calendar

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For further reflection

What follows is the latest blog post by Marian Wright Edelman. She tells the story of one girl, Britany Lewis, who has “beaten the odds” of poverty, neglect, and abuse and will now go on to college. After telling Britany’s story  she wonders “… how many more of America’s 16.4 million poor children will never beat the odds stacked against them and grow up to reach their full potential the way [Britany] has? How many millions of Britanys have we already lost? How many poor babies were born today who will never win any awards and whose names we’ll never know—but who will instead grow up hungry, homeless, poorly educated, and unloved on the outskirts of the American dream?” Listen to this story and these questions while remembering the birth of Jesus in these Twelve Days of Christmas. ~dan rondeau

Remembering a poor baby by Marian Wright Edelman

When Britany Lewis was born, no trumpets and glad tidings or even balloons and baby showers greeted her arrival. She was just another poor baby. Britany never knew her father, and for the first six years of her life lived in virtual squalor with five siblings and a mother addicted to drugs who eventually went to prison. Britany barely remembers her, though there are some details of her early childhood that do stand out—like the maggots everywhere in their run-down house, even in the refrigerator.

When Britany was six, her then nineteen-year-old sister was awarded custody of her young siblings. But her sister was hardly prepared to be a parent or provider for her younger sisters and brothers, and the family was forced to live for over a year in a two-door Honda Prelude. The deplorable living conditions and lack of parental guidance caused Britany to miss an entire year of school. No one cared enough to notice or do anything about it. Her sister also began a destructive pattern of physical abuse toward Britany that would last for several years. Once, she dealt a devastating blow that forced Britany to miss two days of school while she nursed a black eye. Britany remembers that the physical pain paled in comparison to the disappointment of tarnishing the perfect attendance record she’d built up and determinedly maintained for several years in a row in the midst of the chaos at home. By then, school had become a refuge.

While millions of children have found safe harbor with relatives, Britany did not until she was 16. Her sister kicked her out and left her then in the care of her grandparents. In this current home Brittany has finally found the love, support, and guidance she needs and deserves. Despite the abandonment, homelessness, and physical abuse that permeated her childhood, Britany managed to stand tall against the odds that constantly threatened to destroy her dreams. Now a high school senior, she has a 3.94 GPA and is, according to her guidance counselor, “a proven force” on her high school campus. Britany serves as Associated Student Body President and is a vigilant community leader in programs such as the Youth Commission-City of Lancaster, California and the Teen Builders Community Service Club. Selected as a “Future Leader” by the Valley Press Newspaper, Brittany believes “I overcame the things from my past because I refuse to let them hold me back. My plan is to continue to do my best in school and help others along the way.”

Britany is now also one of the newest winners of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Beat the Odds® awards program, which recognizes outstanding high school students who have overcome incredible adversity to excel in school and display incredible self-determination and a drive toward achievement through the common thread of hard work, academic excellence, and service to their communities. On December 1, celebrities and child advocates joined CDF’s California office at an awards gala honoring Britany and four other extraordinary high school students from the Los Angeles area. Each of them will receive a $10,000 college scholarship and support services including rigorous SAT prep, one-on-one college counseling, state-wide college tours, internship opportunities, educational and life-skills workshops, and guidance and mentoring throughout the high school and college years.

I am so proud of Britany Lewis and the other youths recognized in Beat the Oddsawards programs in eight cities this year. But how many more of America’s 16.4 million poor children will never beat the odds stacked against them and grow up to reach their full potential the way she has? How many millions of Britanys have we already lost? How many poor babies were born today who will never win any awards and whose names we’ll never know—but who will instead grow up hungry, homeless, poorly educated, and unloved on the outskirts of the American dream?

In the afterglow of Christmas when Christians celebrate the birth of the most famous poor baby in history—the miracle of the incarnation and the belief that God actually came to live among us as a poor, homeless child—I hope we can honor this holy baby in our lives today by raising a mighty voice for justice and protection for all the poor babies and children made in God’s image still left behind in poverty and hopelessness.

Originally posted on 12/21/11 on The Huffington Post by Marian Wright Edelman
Meet and hear Britany: Britany Lewis: 2011 CDF-CaliforniaBeat the Odds® Scholarship Recipient

A challenge to “step up”

In the Sunday Morning Forum we share different ways that we, singly and collectively, have become doers of the word. We recognize God is calling us to be better witnesses of God’s love as we serve. We look for encouragement and inspiration by sharing resources and stories. Here is an inspiring story and a challenging question for each of us who take seriously the Great Commandment and who seek to imitate Christ by serving others as Christ did.

 

A YouTube video prepared by Children’s Defense Fund

Let us know how you are “Steppin’ up,” leave a comment. Share how you are an advocate, for the love of God and neighbor, for those who are the most vulnerable.

For further reflection

  • Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
  • Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

And, we respond, “I will with God’s help.” (Baptismal Covenant used in the Episcopal Church)