CHRISTMAS 2010: The Rhyming of Hope & History
Jesus, this song you wrote
The words are sticking in my throat
Peace on Earth
Hear it every Christmas time
But hope and history won’t rhyme
So what’s it worth?
This peace on Earth
Peace on Earth
Peace on Earth
Peace on Earth
–Bono of U2
Dear Trinity Family,
On January 12, 2010 a catastrophic earthquake of 7.0 M hit near the town of Léogâne, Haiti, only 16 miles from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Approximately three million people were directly affected by the quake. Of those three million, an estimated 230,000 people died, 300,000 were injured, and 1 million made homeless. The Haitian government estimates that about 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial structures collapsed or were badly damaged. One of those commercial buildings was the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, and in the lobby of the hotel at the time of the quake was my dear friend, Clint Rabb, who died from injuries after being trapped in the rubble for three days. With all that has happened in the world in the months since, it is hard to believe that the Haiti earthquake was less than a year ago.
Why am I writing about the Haiti earthquake and, for goodness sakes, what does that have to do with Christmas? Everything.
Rev. Clint Rabb worked for the United Methodist Committee on Relief and had just arrived at the Hotel Montana to meet with UN medical representatives to investigate ways the United Methodist Church can be more proactive with medical supplies and relief in Haiti. Clint was at the epicenter of the crisis before the earthquake hit. He was there because the money each local church pays toward Apportionments to the larger UMC makes justice a ministry priority, not just in Haiti, but in Darfur, Sierra Leone, Texas border towns, and many other places around the world. Before Clint worked for the general church in New York, he was a pastor here in Austin and a clergy member of the Southwest Texas Conference. Clint was one of a dozen or so male colleagues with whom I get together every year to spend a week backpacking in West Texas. The bond between us all is strong. His loss continues to shake me.
After hearing news of the earthquake in January, Trinity responded with an outpouring of generosity. On the following two Sundays you gave a total of $3,100 for Haitian relief in addition to the regular offerings to support our operations. You have responded in like fashion with every major crisis no matter how stretched you are personally and regardless of the economy.
This has been a year of stretching in many ways, especially in the support of our “More Room At The Table” capital campaign, to which we committed over $250,000 in just under eight months. This commitment has helped make even more ministry possible by expanding our church living space and by moving to a more visible location. However, I need you to do one more thing. I need you to dig down even deeper and give an extra $2000 or $1000 or $500 or $100 to Trinity to help pay 100% of our apportionments, the monies that ensure that the United Methodist Church will continue to engage in important justice work and compassionate ministries throughout the world in our name, by the end of the year. Your gifts will not be wasted or squandered. Through Apportionments, you will help fund and support:
- AIDS relief in Africa;
- Work to increase the minimum wage;
- Comprehensive immigration reform legislation;
- Lobbying to provide fair wages and just working conditions for farm workers and others who labor on the social and economic margins of society;
- Implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals and debt cancellation for poor countries;
- Community-based efforts to eliminate human trafficking and other forms of economic bondage; and
- The Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, LA that provides buckets, healthcare kits (like the ones we sent to Haiti), food, and advocacy counseling for victims of hurricanes.
These are just a few of the thousands of ministries you support through Apportionment giving.
Please send in your gift as soon a possible so our Finance Team can know how to plan for the weeks ahead. You may also drop off your special Christmas gift in the Christmas Eve services offering. Help me rhyme hope and history as we make a difference in the lives and livelihood of those less fortunate than ourselves and, in our own small way, bring Peace on earth.
P.S. You will find Christmas Offering envelopes at Trinity!