Rev. Miriam Slejko

Author's details

Name: Rev. Miriam Slejko
Date registered: August 4, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: Reconciling the Picture of Anne Smedinghoff — April 10, 2013
  2. Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: To Him Who is Able … — February 7, 2013
  3. Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: God’s Love Song — November 21, 2012
  4. Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: Altars Under the Sky! — September 26, 2012
  5. Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: Baptism by Fire – What We Can Do — July 18, 2012

Author's posts listings

Apr 10 2013

Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: Reconciling the Picture of Anne Smedinghoff

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Miriam Slejko

Anne Smedinghoff

Anne Smedinghoff, 25, died in a bomb attack Saturday while delivering donated books to a new school in Zabul Province.

(Rev. Miriam Slejko / April 8, 2013) As I unfolded this morning’s paper the disturbing headline “Targeted Killing Comes to Define War on Terror” pushed me further into the paper.  Turning the pages I paused at the picture of a beautifully  vibrant young woman. Trying to reconcile the picture of Anne Smedinghoff with the headline, “U.S. Diplomat Killed on Afghan Mission She Coveted”, I read her story.

Following graduation from Johns Hopkins University three years ago Anne joined the Foreign Service.  She moved to Kabul in July 2012. Living inside the embassy compound she was safe, but frustrated.

“Family and friends said Anne Smedinghoff had chafed at the restrictions that American diplomats can face in Afghanistan, where the excitement and passion for Foreign Service are often dampened by lives circumscribed by blast walls and checkpoints and fortified compounds.” (NY Times – 4-8-13)

For Ms. Smedinghoff, the Foreign Service was a calling, her parents, Tom and Mary Beth Smedinghoff, said in a statement.  “She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people and was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help to make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war,” they said. “We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved, and that she was serving her country by helping to make a positive difference in the world.”

Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement on Sunday held up Ms. Smedinghoff.  “A brave American was determined to brighten the light of learning through books written in the native tongue of the students that she had never met, but whom she felt compelled to help. … And she was met by cowardly terrorists determined to bring darkness and death to total strangers.”  Attempting to avoid the controversial and perplexing policies of our government promoted in bold headlines this morning’s paper, I found the story of one woman’s unvarnished passion for peace with justice.

Targeted killing is not a new concept.  Unmanned drones are a new tool for a practice as old as the cross. The killing of unnamed and distant human beings is no less abhorrent than the killing of one committed young woman who was called to help students, she never met, have a future.

As uncomfortable as I am with the politics of war I cannot avoid my responsibility to learn, assess and address the policies of my government.  “The church is called to exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs”  that are not.  (Social Principle of the United Methodist Church 2009-2012)

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Feb 07 2013

Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: To Him Who is Able …

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Miriam SlejkoChinese New YearRev. Miriam Slejko / February 7, 2013
When a small group of Trinity members began imagining an outreach to non-English speakers in the aftermath of the September 11th attack, I doubt they envisioned a group of 30 Asian men and women hosting a Chinese New Year celebration at Trinity!  But that’s exactly what our staff was invited to share last Tuesday.

The invitation arrived with two class members visiting our staff meeting and, using perfect English, inviting all of us to celebrate the New Year with them at lunch.

Just like the Trinity members who envisioned an English language class in 2001, none of us imagined the party these students planned.  Homemade specialties from all parts of China were on display covering three tables and tempting us with sweet aromas and colorful presentations.  Thirty members of the two classes stood to welcome us while a group of singers, accompanied by one of their members playing the violin sang to us both in Chinese and English.

Chinese New YearBefore eating, we joined hands in a circle that stretched from one side of the Atrium to the other and praised God for our community of hope and blessing for the New Year.

Holding those happy images in my mind, I remembered the blessing from Ephesians, glory “to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or conceive by the power which is at work among us.”

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Nov 21 2012

Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: God’s Love Song

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Miriam SlejkoGod's Love SongRev. Miriam Slejko / November 21, 2012
Last Sunday we sang a love song as three precious little girls were baptized.  Grace, Emily and Jenna were presented by their parents to receive the sacrament of Baptism. As a congregation we acknowledged our part in God’s act of grace as we sang God Claims You. To each of these children of promise we sang,

We are here to say this day that we will help you on the way…Grace, Emily, Jenna God claims you, God helps you, protects you and loves you too.”

Baptism is an expression of God’s love for the world, and the gift of God’s grace available to every person. As baptized people of God, we respond with praise and thanksgiving, praying that God’s will be done in our own lives.

Whether we are baptized as infants, brought by our parents, or baptized as adults, drawn by God’s love, baptism confirms our place in God’s kingdom. Through baptism we acknowledge that through God’s loving purposes we have been given life and the opportunity to share in God’s activity in the world.

So in this love song we sing to our newly baptized children we express our promise of faithfulness.  We promise that we will be a loving, faithful and forgiving community. As a community we will look forward to seeing these children grow in faith and trust in God and in service to others as they come to know and understand the way of life Jesus taught.

The God of the universe sings over us, too. Every day, every moment.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

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Sep 26 2012

Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: Altars Under the Sky!

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Miriam SlejkoAltars Under the Sky book coverRev. Miriam Slejko / September 26, 2012
On a beautiful, blue-sky Sunday morning while vacationing with friends in the mountains, the question of where to worship arose.  Eight of my former classmates had gathered at my home for our annual reunion – we enjoyed the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and all the wonder of her steep, gray climbs punctuated by the singing Ten Mile Creek beside the path.

Jesus often worshipped outdoors, going up on a mountain to pray, teaching from a boat on the lake shore, and constantly using nature as the basis for the parables. He did not neglect worshiping in the synagogue, “as his custom was”, but found in the open something which evoked worship and brought God nearer to him.

As we considered various options for worship, one of my classmates suggested we create our own worship experience. Everyone quickly agreed. I went to a bookcase where I keep my devotional resources, guided by an unseen hand, selected a book I could not remember having seen before.  Altars Under the Sky, devotional readings for outdoor days, was written by Dorothy Wells Pease in 1955.  The scripture, poems and reflections are arranged for a variety of outdoor settings – the first being the mountains.

Bench QuoteAfter quickly marking passages for our outdoor worship, we set out for a creek-side bank where we could sit in the bright September sunshine and reflect on the great joy our mountain scape provided. As we walked along the path a green grassy area opened beside us and a bench beside the path invited us to stop and sit.  As we came closer to the bench we read the inscription:

“Kick back, enjoy the mountains, smell the pine trees,
listen to the river, celebrate life, say a prayer. Be at peace.”

In memory of Chuck Elliott
“A local at last”

… and we did!

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Jul 18 2012

Trinity United Methodist Church | Blog: Baptism by Fire – What We Can Do

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Miriam SlejkoRev. Miriam Slejko / July 18, 2012
Last night in my neighborhood the rain began tapping on the roof and running down the windowpanes.  I came out onto the porch to look and feel the cool wind and rain on my face. The fish in our pond seemed to be enjoying the ripples on the surface of the water. The stones in the path by the door were shiny with water and tree branches above moved as the great currents of air rolled down from the foothills.

Baptism by Fire ImageIt has been less than a month since fires roared into Waldo Canyon sweeping away homes, lives and vegetation. What the fires didn’t consume flying embers and falling ash destroyed and changed a landscape.

Today, I called Rev. Dave Hiester at Wilson United Methodist Church, Colorado Springs.  He began his appointment there on June 24, he and his family were evacuated four days after moving in. Instead of preaching his first sermon at Wilson, he shared the pulpit with Rev. Randy Jessen from First United Methodist Church, Colorado Springs on July 1.  That afternoon, he was counseling evacuated families.

The fire came within 15 yards of Wilson UMC. Across the street a house burnt to the ground from flying embers. An assessment of the church shows no smoke, ash or ember damage. The human damage is another story.  Dave says, “We’re making relational inroads….” Trying to reach so many in the community who are traumatized is the task at hand. Wilson’s congregation is planning a grief workshop for children next month. The healing is beginning. Below, Dave leads the congregation in the first service following the fire.

Baptism by Fire Photo

Dave says he and Wilson’s congregation are “humbly thankful to God and accept the challenge of ministry in such a time as this.”

Dave is grateful for Trinity’s outpouring of prayer and relief funds. Our personal participation will be needed later after the rubble is cleared.

Continued prayers and contributions are needed now. Gratitude is the gift Dave shares with us and with so many who experienced this baptism by fire.

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