Racial Justice Resources

Lenten 2020 devotional focuses on ‘becoming a beloved community’

Presbyterians Today shares the stories of emerging Matthew 25 communities

by Donna Frischknecht Jackson, Presbyterians Today | Special to Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Presbyterians Today invites you to experience the power of God working in community with its newest devotional, “Becoming a Beloved Community: A Matthew 25 Journey to the Cross.”

The devotional begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, and concludes on Easter Sunday, April 12. Every day, a Scripture reading, short reflection and closing prayer tell the powerful story of how God’s love in action is changing lives. Also featured in the devotional are ancient and modern mosaics depicting the life of Jesus. Readers are invited to pause and ponder the reflection question that accompanies each picture. The mosaics underscore how each person’s action, gift, prayer and desire for a better world are necessary — and beautiful — pieces in the picture of God’s kingdom here on Earth.

“Beloved Community” is a term that was first coined by 20th-century American philosopher Josiah Royce. However, it was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who popularized it, using “beloved community” often in speeches and sermons to illustrate God’s kingdom as truly a kin-dom. For King, a beloved community was not an idealized utopia, but rather an attainable society based on justice, equal opportunity for all and selfless love of one another. In his eyes, a community became “beloved” when every human in that community had his or her basic needs met.

The devotional itself is a reflection of a beloved community, featuring varied stories from ordained ministers, chaplains, lay pastors and ruling elders. These men and women, from different walks of life, belong to the Presbytery of the Pacific, which has begun a three-year process of anti-racism work, says the Rev. Heidi Worthen Gamble, mission catalyst.

“We are proud to be one of the most diverse presbyteries in the PC(USA), which makes our discussions very rich and complex. We also embrace that we are an immigrant presbytery and have been deeply engaged in the ecumenical Matthew 25 movement in Southern California, developing a faith-rooted voice for justice on immigration,” Gamble said. “When I was approached by Presbyterians Today with the idea of featuring a few pastors from Pacific Presbytery to write a Lenten devotional on beloved community and Matthew 25, I saw it as a great opportunity.”

What Gamble didn’t foresee was the excitement in participating in the devotional.

“The response was overwhelming,” she said. “It is with great joy that Pacific Presbytery shares with you 19 writers reflecting on what it means to become the beloved community.”

The Rev. Paul Kang is one of the writers who participated in the Lenten devotional.

A solo pastor of Korean Presbyterian Hosanna Church in Los Angeles, Kang wrote, “I was excited that the Lenten Devotional 2020 invited me, whose English is a second language, to share the love, justice and peace of the beloved community.”

For the Rev. Neema Cyrus-Franklin, the stated clerk and communications director for the Presbytery of the Pacific, writing for Presbyterians Today’s 2020 Lenten devotional was an opportunity “to grow together as the beloved community” by “facing our fears, prejudices and our flawed understandings, so that in Christ, wrongs may be righted, hearts may be changed and we might live together in peace.”

Order your devotional today and be part of becoming a beloved community this Lenten season. Call 800-533-4371 and ask for 17116-19-008, or go to pcusa.org/pt-lent.

Donna Frischknecht Jackson is editor of Presbyterians Today.


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