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For the month of December, members associated with the Outreach & Justice Ministries are honored to bring you these devotions, book suggestions and videos for your spiritual practice this holiday season. On behalf of our team, Happy Christmas and many blessings. ~ Billie K. Fidlin, Director of Outreach & Justice

Just as we are called to study, pray, and worship, we are called to acts of compassion and justice. In works of piety, we grow, and in works of mercy, we live out our love for God in service to our neighbors.

This month’s theme is We are grounded in social action. In addition to publications to be published this month by the Oregon-Idaho Conference, the Desert Southwest Conference Board of Church and Society offers weekly devotions and recommended study books for your use beginning with a video message from Rev. David Summers, Senior Pastor of Paradise Valley United Methodist Church. With permission granted by the content creators, churches of the Desert Southwest Conferences are encouraged to copy and paste the devotionals on the church’s social media, congregational e-mail, newsletter, or website to help spread the message that we are grounded in social action and that the Desert Southwest Conference of The United Methodist Church is a place #WhereLoveLivesUMC.

Weekly Devotions

Select the week to open the item and read the devotional. Churches may copy and paste these devotionals in their own publications online or print pieces.

Devotion for the week of November 30th, 2020

By Gerry Hills, Chairperson, Conference Board of Church & Society

Scripture Reading: Proverbs: 29:7

“The righteous are concerned for the rights of the poor, the wicked does not understand such concern.”

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” ― Nelson Mandela

Both quotes refer to poverty as being a man-made condition as opposed to being part of the natural order. During the next few weeks, we will explore the idea of what does it take to bring God’s love to those in need. I find myself faced with more questions than answers. What does it mean to be poor in 2020 America? How do you experience or interact the effects of poverty? Who benefits from systems that keep people poor? What does being “righteous” look like? The word righteous means to be morally right or justifiable. Jesus’ definition of what is “morally right” includes being concerned for the rights of the poor in our communities. How we treat the most down and out in our society. As people of faith, we often focus a more about righteous living that is inwardly focused. We focus and judge others on individual traits such as honesty, hard work, or faithfulness. Instead a people actively seeking social justice for all God’s people we should be spending our time focused on how our social, political. educational and economic systems trap people in intergenerational cycles of poverty. Greatness is not measured by what we own or accumulate, it is how we care for and fight for the rights of others. How can each of us bring God’s love to those who are hungry, homeless, sick or disenfranchised? What great things can we accomplish together?

Almighty God, may we be courageous servants who both speak out against injustice and show up to do the work of creating justice for all.


Devotion for the week of December 7th, 2020

Gretchen Lopez, Director, The Inn, and Chair of the Desert Southwest Conference Board of Global Ministries

Inspiration: “I seek to always bring God’s love to those in need.”

God’s love is not just for me, it is not just for you. God’s love is for everyone, for all… This is easy to hear and easy to agree with. The challenge comes when it is time to truly act on it.

The Inn, a shelter for asylum seekers has been a place to act out God’s love for all. When the need for this ministry first arose the call felt great, maybe even impossible at times. It was then I truly felt God’s love at work through the church, through his people. Our guests were arriving with many needs. Some such as hunger easily tended to with a warm bowl of soup prepared with love. While other needs were heavier like the need to feel safe, accepted, and truly welcomed. This is where I saw God’s love flow from volunteers as smiles exchanged between them and the weary traveler.

God calls on us to be an example of his love in the world. It is our duty as Christians to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To bring his love to those in need.

Lord, we are here to carry out your love to those in need. Guide us, strengthen us to do your work. Now and always, Amen.


Devotion for the week of December 14, 2020
Helping the homeless

Helping the homeless image by Ed Yourdon from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Helping_the_homeless.jpg

Patricia Magyar, Chaplain, UMOM New Day Center Chair and 2021 Desert Southwest Conference Task Force on Children and Poverty

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4: 8-10

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Don’t ever compromise your high ideals. You need not; you must not.” Virginia Calvin Piper (on the wall at UMOM New Day Center)

The scripture verse tells us to speak up in love. Martin Luther King reminds us that it is misguided to sit silently and not seek to bring God’s love to others. Virginia Piper challenges us to take the high road of our ideals and never compromise.

In 1 Peter, Christ asks us to work hard at loving each other. Just as an athlete works earnestly and fervently to win a race, we are asked to do the same. A follower of Christ must make demonstrating the love of Jesus to others his or her first priority, especially during these times of social unrest and upheaval. Martin Luther King reminds us that sitting on the side lines silently is an act of ignoring the very love that God commands of us.

We are asked to grow in our love for God and others. It is important to pray regularly and reach out to others in need. Our possessions, status and power will mean nothing in God’s Kingdom thus we must invest our time and talents where it will make an eternal difference.

How do we show this unconditional love that God asks of us?

It can be found in the theme of the month: Seek always to bring God’s love to those in need.

1. Seek out those in need, your neighbor, a homeless person, a troubled friend and learn more about them. Listen to them and lend an ear or hand. Begin to understand what it is to be homeless and/or powerless; and then change your behavior toward them accordingly. Open your heart and mind to them. Show acceptance and validation not judgment toward them.

2. Show your love by your actions to those that might not seem lovable: for example, a person in dirty clothes, one that is saying unkind things, one that has different beliefs than you.

3. Give unconditional love and set aside your own desires and instincts, putting selfishness away.

4. Think of someone that you do not like and find God in them to show that love.

5. You observe a situation of a person that needs help with employment and some guidance. They do not dress or look like you. You assume that their attitude portrayed is not receptive to help or mentoring. Thus, you decide to ignore them. Why? How can you change your behavior? Case study:

6. You are in Mexico and serving with a mission team. In the evening you find that your sleeping accommodations will be on the dirt floor with an outhouse in the back. There is no running water but a large bucket of water to clean off quickly. How do you adjust and receive these accommodations from the family graciously and openly showing them the love of God?

7. Write a prayer that helps each of us to be humble, nonjudgmental and to seek justice for all.

“Let us bring the love of God into all of our world every moment of the day.”


Devotion for the week of December 27th

Matthew Woitunski, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

By Billie K. Fidlin, Director of Outreach & Justice

Scripture Reading: Luke 16:19-21

There was a rich man who…lived in luxury every day. At his gate was… Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.

“It’s not enough to simply complain about injustice; the only way to prevent future injustice is to create the society we would like to see, one where we are all equal under the law.”  ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

Two perspectives, written in two very different time periods separated by hundreds and hundreds of years. Yet, we struggle with the same issues. The theme for Where Love Lives for December, GROUNDED IN SOCIAL ACTION, “I seek always to bring God’s love to those in need.”

In Luke we hear the disparity between a person of wealth, and Lazarus, hurting and as written, “longing” to eat the scraps that might come his way. Then we have Rev. Sharpton reminding us that the future can only be better if we create a world where all people are equal. So many aspects to that equality need our prayers and our actions: housing, hunger, jobs with good wages, safety, and for many of us right now, and assurance that the pandemic will soon pass. That no more loved ones will be lost or suffer.

What can we do? How can we make change? The answer can be found in this month’s theme – Seek always to bring God’s love to those in need.

Seek– be active, take initiative, look for someone who can use your helping hand, prayer or listening ear.

Always– just as in prayer, our desire to help those in need should be ongoing, never ending. The poor will always be with us – so too should our desire to help, to give more than scraps from the table.

Bring– there’s our action statement! What can I bring to someone in need? What can I give that person? Is it prayer? Is it food? Is it examining an unjust law and gathering people to change that law? Is it approaching building associations and inquiring as to how we can build more and more and more, affordable housing? Is it writing a prisoner or changing law? What… can I bring as an individual? What… can I bring in community?

God’s Love– it’s a love of Hope. A love blanketed in grace. A love that gently call to us to be God’s people, to one, to all.

Those In Need– and there are many. It may be the poor, it may be the homeless, it may be the hungry. It may be the person in prison. It may be the child that has been trafficked or the woman who has suffered abuse. It may be you, it may be me.

The very first word of the theme is “I”. This calls on each of us to respond in prayer, in action. God will give us strength and direction, the Holy Spirit tapping your shoulder, tugging at your heart, whispering in your ear. The Holy Child has arrived! We celebrate our Savior, and all that was given to us.

Let us celebrate all of God’s children in the very best ways we can, so that tomorrow is welcomed. By one, by all.  Amen.


December Articles

Seeking to Be God’s Light in the World – An Advent Message

The Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church has a vision of becoming a “home for all God’s children, gathered around a table of reconciliation and transformation.” Some have called us disobedient. Others claim that we are prophets for recognizing LGBTQ+ persons as beloved children of God…

… click here to read more

Equipping Leaders for Relational Community Work

Kristina Gonzalez offers this short introduction to the ‘Equipping Leaders for Relational Community Work,’ a three-part webinar series as part of the Western Jurisdiction’s ‘Where Love Lives’ campaign and available now at https://greaternw.org/equipping-leaders/

… click here to read more

Book Study

Good to Great and the Social Sectors – by Jim Collins

In analyzing the factors that create great social enterprises, Collins discovered that the most salient differences exist not between business and the social sector, but between great organizations and mediocre ones. In summary, great social sector organizations, like great businesses, display a “relentless culture of discipline.”

Collins explains 2 key principles, first is the definition of “greatness,” which offers a useful yardstick for any social enterprise. Great organizations (1) offer superior performance relative to their mission, (2) are built for resilience and lasting endurance and (3) offer distinctive impact and capabilities that could not easily be filled by any other institution.

Second, Collins argues that where business is driven by an economic engine, great social enterprises are driven by the three elements of their “resource engine”: money, time and brand. Every enterprise needs to build a sustainable cash flow, but social enterprises also depend on volunteers who will donate their time and expertise. Brand represents an organization’s ability to “cultivate a deep well of emotional goodwill and mindshare of potential supporters.” Social enterprises must carefully cultivate its community and its reputation.

Additional books for your consideration

  1. American Prophets: seven religions radicals and the struggle for social and political justice – by Albert J. Raboteau
  2. What Can I Do? My Path from Climate Despair to Action – by Jane Fonda
  3. Progressive conversations: essays on matters of social justice for critical thinkers – by Roger L. Ray
  4. Overrated: are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world? – by Eugene Chu

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