Blogs

Error message

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in load_weighted_ads() (line 1115 of /home/canadia/public_html/sites/all/modules/weighted_ads/weighted_ads.module).

Individual vs. person

Sometimes I think the church struggles with the tension between its individual members and its task of being a communal body. In a socio-economic context such as ours, where individual choice is paramount, different branches of the Christian church have tried to address this tension in different ways.

Within the more evangelical traditions, the tendency is to make faith as specific to individuals as possible: it’s about Jesus as my personal saviour who died for me and a “brand” of Christianity that’s tailor-made for my individual lifestyle and needs.

Abigail, the peacemaker

“David and Abigail” by 16th-century painter Guido Reni (Wikimedia Commons)

This week I was reminded of a biblical figure who is often overlooked: Abigail (or, as my Bible disappointingly calls her, “the wife of Nabal”!). Her story is found in I Samuel 25. I find it intriguing as a woman and as a Mennonite pacifist, because Abigail is, arguably and perhaps unexpectedly, a master peacemaker, someone who prevents a lot of needless bloodshed through her wise and well-timed words and actions.

Ally or accomplice: What does the Lord require of us?

There is a popular language arising in the church when it comes to justice work, that of “being an ally.” It means to align yourself with whoever your “other” is, so to love your neighbour and serve the Lord. But what happens when words are not enough, and when having only words of an ally can make injustice? What happens when being an ally is not enough?

Christ as Christa

The icon of Sophia (Wisdom) by Eileen McGuckin (Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier this year I was invited to give a lecture on feminist Christology to a class of undergraduate students. Now feminist Christology is something very dear to me, even though a lot of people’s eyes glaze over with incomprehension when I say those words! Briefly put, it’s about who Jesus Christ is in women’s experience.

Portraits of Justice

Hello my friends of faith and curiosity!

I happy to announce that the project I have been curating for quite some time is ready for launching! Huzzah!

As a part of the Beautiful People Moments Project I am launching, I have curated a series called Portraits of Justice. The project involved interviewing and photographing 20+ people living in different countries around the world, asking about justice and church in each context.

All those featured will include quotes that came from three simple enquiries:

I can't breathe

The logo of the #ReclaimHolyWeek campaign, organized by Holy Week of Resistance www.holyweekofresistance.net

After a recent experience in New York comes this reflection on racism and the social context of our faith.

I can't breathe. At this moment, this is one of the most politically charged statements you can say in the United States. It drudges up a social context where racism and state brutality are killing innocent people.  It evokes a memory that causes resistance to injustice. It is a call to action. It is conviction.

The peace of resurrection

The resurrection as a peaceful response to violence. (16th-century engraving by Jean Tisserand, from Wikimedia Commons)

Here we are, a couple of weeks post-Easter, and I’m still thinking about the resurrection. Have you ever considered the resurrection as symbolic of peace and nonviolence? And don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this—it’s not just another instance of the Mennonite tendency to reduce everything to either Jesus or peace!

Guns into rainbows

So my son, who is almost two years old, has a set of wooden building blocks—you know, the kind with the letters of the alphabet on them, along with pictures of things that start with each letter. Instead of the usual “A” is for “apple” and “B” is for “ball,” however, these blocks are a little more off-beat (a.k.a., “hipster”). For example, “K” is for “kazoo,” “V” is for “vinyl,” with a picture of an LP record, and, one of my personal favourites, “Y” is for “yard sale”! A dear friend of mine gave them to us as a baby-warming present, and I find most of them really amusing.

A baby

Big Sister welcomes the new family member.

He came one week and one day early. He came quickly, so quickly that his dad and midwife almost missed his grand arrival. “He’s here,” the nurse yelled while everyone else was still trying to get ready.

Yes, he is here. My sweet, perfect son is finally here and he has forever changed my world making it an infinitely better place.

Unforgettable days in Chile and Uruguay

A typical Latin American welcome or parting kiss. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Young pastors are responding to the call to ministry. Boris and his wife are in a poor mining town in Chile. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

In each country I was treated to fellowship meals featuring local foods. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Church planters hold hands in support of each other after a workshop in Montevideo, Uruguay. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

A lot has happened since I last wrote. The ten days in Chile were especially unforgettable!

Chile, with seven climate sub-types, is 4,300 km (2,670 miles) long and 350 km (220 miles) wide.  I was almost down to Antarctica! Chile leads Latin American nations in rankings of human development, income per capita, globalization, transparency, and state of peace. The country has a female president.

Five reflections in South America

C. Paul and Hildi Amstutz serve in chaplaincy and spiritual formation ministries in Asuncion, Paraguay. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

A South America Mennonite Brethren church building in Asuncion, Paraguay (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Palmer and his wife Ardys enjoy the view and the moisture from Iguazu Falls. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Jairo Roa, his wife Alecia Almeida and their daughter Malena give a friendly greeting. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Ardys and I have been able to spend ten wonderful days together first in Asuncion, then at the world-famous Iguazu Falls and now in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ardys is now on her way back to Canada; I leave on Thursday for ten days of ministry in Chile. Weather has been in the 80's with an occasional tropical rain. 

While I do not pose to be an authority, let me share five reflections from my contacts here in South America.

Reflection # 1: Admirable mission work 

A simple prayer

God, our Mother and our Father,
Jesus Christ, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, our Comforter.

We offer our gratitude, for you are with us.
You are familiar without struggles and joys, and still you draw near to us.
You are Holy.

We offer you gratitude for your sustaining love,
For the relationships made and being made,
For our daily bread,
For the material we need to continue everyday,
For how you renew our spirit when we struggle

On sin

It’s become clear to me from a lot of the conversations occurring within Canadian Mennonite, especially in the letters to the editor, that as Mennonites, we’re not of one mind when it comes to sin. Now sin, generally, isn’t a terribly popular topic of conversation, even among church-going types. It tends to remind us of guilt trips and church splits—not things to talk about in polite company!

News from Paraguay

Paraguayan pastors and church workers arrive by truck to attend a four-day workshop. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

What is an Anabaptist Christian? These workshop participants are eager to know. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

The Nivaclé people love to sing! (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Palmer learns to know his Paraguayan hosts. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Everywhere I go I extend greetings from my church, family and friends. There is always an enthusiastic response saying that I should convey greetings back to you. Greetings!

Good fellowship in Brazil

Youth are engaged in graffiti evangelism. Note that Jesus is going to church in a boat on a skateboard with a Bible in one hand and a spray can in the other! (Photo by Palmer Becker)

Manioc is a staple food that Brazilians eat in many different forms. (Photo by Palmer Becker)

While Brazil's population is very mixed, the people of Curitiba are primarily of European backgrounds. (Photo by Palmer Becker)

Brazilian students were vigorously engaged in the study of such questions as, "What is Christianity?" "How do we interpret the Scriptures?" "What is essential for community? and "How do we work at reconciliation in the church and in the world?" (Photo by Palmer Becker)

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, both in land mass and population. The densely forested Amazon Valley, which includes up to 69 Indian tribes, makes up a large portion of this very interesting country of mixed peoples. According to government reports, 55 percent of the Brazilian people have some African blood. This is due to Brazil having slavery until 1889 and the owners having many children from their slaves, who they treated as mistresses.

The name game

I’m now in my ninth month of pregnancy, which is hardly the beautiful and magical time magazines and mommy-blogs would lead one to believe that it is. Pregnancy is difficult, magical—yes—but difficult. Part of me feels like the magic slowly wanes with every pregnancy I put my body through, and those not-so-delightful pregnancy symptoms only seem to multiple with every additional child.

Except “nesting.” I have yet to experience the symptom of “nesting,” which, I’ve been told, is a mother’s strong desire to prepare the home for the arrival of Baby.

Greetings from Bolivia

Lizette, co-director of MCC, was an excellent translator.  (Photo by Linda Shelly)

MCC volunteers and staff took part in a quarterly, two-day fellowship and planning retreat. They are a spirited group! (Photo by Cesar Flores)

We met repeatedly in groups of three to process and apply what we were learning. (Photo by Linda Shelly)

Bolivia, named after its first president, Bolivar, is about 4,500 miles south and one time zone east of Kitchener. It is a beautiful country with lots of tropical foliage, including 1,200 species of fern and 1,400 species of birds. This land-locked country is south of the equator, which means that we need to look north to see the sun. In the distance are 6,000 meter (21,000 feet) mountains that settle down into the Amazon Basin. Weather is warm, with a tropical downpour every day or two.

Remembering . . .

Every week my grandma sends every member of her family an email update on her weekly events and the happenings of the entire family’s whereabouts. She’s been providing these factual outlines on everyone’s comings and goings for close to a decade now—skipping only when her computer acts up or a family gathering provides opportunity to catch up in person. In many ways, it is these weekly emails that keep our family connected despite our vast distance of locations, ages, and interests.

Love—the greatest obstacle

Having gone public with my New Year’s resolutions this year, it was inevitable that I would be asked the dreaded follow-up question: “How are your resolutions going?”

While I’m tickled that people actually read this blog, I dread the question because ALL of my well-intentioned resolutions have been epic fails. I haven’t just fallen off the wagon once or twice—many of my goals failed to even see the light of day.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

On theological writing

It’s interesting being a Mennonite and an academic. Sometimes I find my Anabaptist-Mennonite sensibilities grating against the norms of academia: my “priesthood of all believers” mentality against intellectual elitism, my discipleship/faith-without-works-is-dead mentality against the divorcing of theory from practice, and especially, my appreciation for the “plain sense” and the poetry of Scripture (in the vernacular!) against the inaccessibility of academic language.

"You lost me"? Young adults in/and/of the church

A 17th-century Dutch church. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier this month, I was one of many who gathered in the new Marpeck Commons building at Canadian Mennonite University to hear from a panel of “young adults” on their age group and the church. [1] Judging by the size of the audience (they had to go get extra chairs!), and a feature article on a similar topic in the Feb. 16, 2015 issue of Canadian Mennonite, [2] this is an issue that many churches are currently profoundly concerned and anxious about.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - blogs