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Who Is Our Neighbor?

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I see things from my office here at PPC.

I see things I didn’t expect to see from my window. 

I see our neighbors.  I see us.

I see Valencia High School students strolling through our campus on their way home from sports practice or school.  I see families and couples walk by the office looking for help from Camino Immigration.

I see ordinary people of PPC and Solidarity working together for the Kingdom of God right here in our neighborhood. 

During VBS I saw awesome, adult volunteers shepherding their flock of kids around the campus and cheering them on when they needed help or were upset.  Some of these volunteers have brought tears to my eyes watching them love these children, some of whom they have never met before.

I have watched the Summer interns, Luke, Aleen, Maria & AJ become friends, planning, working, learning and playing together. I have watched these interns learn what it means to be true leaders, getting a glimpse of Kingdom building.  They are learning to do great things in our neighborhood.

I have watched the high school cohorts arrive back on campus so tired, but energized after working with the Solidarity Summer program in our neighborhood.

I have watched the Solidarity Merge Teen group frolic on our grass as our PPC folks finish cooking their Monday BBQ dinner.  They are comfortable here.

I have watched excited children attending VBS and our summer camps gleefully learning about God, science and gardening alongside children they have never met before.

This summer, as well as last, we are collaborating with Solidarity, serving and ministering to the local, neighborhood kids, teens and youth, alongside our own PPC kids. We hired two interns from PPC and two from the Solidarity Community and our teen cohorts also represent both entities. 

I don’t see these people as Solidarity people or PPC people anymore  These people are Kingdom of God  people.  They are our neighbors and  are woven into the community of Placentia and this place that we call church.

I also see, everyday, the painting on the wall by Karin Zaldaña-Moran from my desk. Come in to the office to see it! To me, this painting represents the intersecting lives of the children, youth and adults in our local neighborhood and church.  We are different but we are woven together, as God intended, with no barriers.  I see the people in the white light of the picture melting together and intersecting, overcoming the black space that was once an empty canvas.  Our church is now a part of the canvas of the neighborhood. 

We are now truly neighbors.

God is good.  All the time.

 

Posted by Barbara Balent with

Being a Peacemaker

“Being a peacemaker means my prayer becomes visible in concrete action.”  -Father John Dear

For much of the past year, I have felt God leading me deeper into what it means to be a peacemaker in our community, and more specifically what peacemaking looks like in the world of children’s ministry. A year ago, I had the opportunity to participate in an Immigrants’ Journey Immersion Trip to the San Diego/Tijuana border under the leadership of Jon Huckins of The Global Immersion Project. The focus of this experience was “everyday peacemaking” through the lens of immigration. (To hear more about that experience, please click here.) Then in February of this year, I attended a conference at the University of San Diego titled “Revolution of the Heart: The Counter-Cultural Spirituality of Henri Nouwen.”

Henri Nouwen was a beloved Catholic Priest, professor, theologian, author and peacemaker with a heart for social justice. He had very profound relationships with many people throughout his life, one of them being Father John Dear, a priest, author and social activist. Father John Dear was one of the speakers at the Revolution of the Heart conference, and what he shared aligned beautifully with Henri Nouwen’s practices of peacemaking. That is, there are three spiritual movements in the revolution of the heart regarding peacemaking. First is the Inner Revolution of the Heart, which begins with prayer. We must allow God to disarm us as we pray, followed by us having mercy on ourselves, so that we can go forward as public peacemakers. The second spiritual movement is the Public Life of the Heart, which involves revolutionary nonviolence. The third spiritual movement is Working for a New Culture of the Heart. This is the Kingdom of God here on earth.

In other words, peacemaking involves prayerfully stepping outside of our own safety and comfort, often at the most inconvenient times. Shane Claiborne, a prominent peacemaker and social justice advocate, was another speaker at the Revolution of the Heart conference. He pointed out that we can’t anticipate the interruptions that require peace. A quick peek at the life of Jesus makes that quite clear… the good Samaritan… running out of wine at a wedding… Jairus’ daughter needing healing… Shane said, “The Spirit moves in the interruptions, and we often have no room for the interruptions.”

Friends, let us begin by praying for open eyes, ears and hearts so that we may recognize these interruptions as opportunities for peacemaking, whether it be in our world, nation, community, work environment, family, church. Through our prayers, we will be centered in the holy will of God, and not just in our own feelings of anger or fear. Out of our prayers, may God move us to action.

Mindy Plick

Posted by Mindy Plick with

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