I check my phone.
Nope, nothing. No water breakage yet.
5 minutes later. I check again. Nothing! So I start some work on a Mennonite Church British Columbia Equipper event that I was putting together. 3 minutes later I am checking my phone again!
This other time I was working on a meditation for our baptism Sunday and found myself thinking about what my new baby boy will look like. As my wife puts it “we make beautiful children that don’t look like us.” Will he rock the blonde hair like his brother Asher? Should we name him Manny after the cartoon handy man as Asher strongly suggests?
Our house is saturated with anticipation! We are ready. We are scared. We hope beyond all hope that everything will go smoothly and we will welcome this boy into the world healthy and happy.
I am also becoming aware of my life rhythms and have come to a recognition that I am needing to step away from some things. For the last few months I have had many ideas and half posts that I have just not been able to give the time it rightly deserves.
Although there may be one or two exceptions (book reviews) I am feeling that a slight break from anabaptistly is in order for the next 2 months. I am hoping to explore what a healthy writing rhythm looks like with the new baby, and with new and exciting projects at church. I am happy to keep up my writing over at practicing families, and will dabble in other little and personal writing projects that may or may not see the light of day. Writing will always be significantly formative for me and a staple life-giving practice… I love it!
This will be a time of refreshment, getting to know my new son, trying my thumb at gardening, commuting to work, hanging out in my front yard with my neighbours, heading back to my beloved Winnipeg and reading classic sci-fi novels on my kindle (Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and 2 or 3 Ender Novels written by Orson Scott Card).
Much love & see you back here in mid August!!
What are signs for you that new life rhythms may be needed? How do you go about implementing those changes?
When I feed the poor they call me a saint, when I ask, ‘Why are they poor?’ they call me a communist. – Dom Helder Camara
It is true. In the midst of all our charity we sometimes forget to ask the question, ‘why?’ (for another post on this, click here)
Shalom activists pursue the ‘why?’ question relentlessly. Often times it is messy. Here is are some good words from Noel Moules that move us into the practicalities of being a shalom activist.
Radical political engagement involves devising plans and schemes that confront concentrations of power in societies that stifle spirituality and humanity; strategies, which are creatively imagined and fearlessly executed and beautiful in their outcome.
- Politics for the ‘Shalom Activist’ is spiritual work leading to practical outcomes.
- Politics is about structuring, enabling and empowering community.
- Politics must involve building cultures of shalom.
- Politics requires a ferocious love that endeavours to draw difference into dialogue.
This work is costly. The Quakers call it a ‘Testimony to the Truth’ which leads hem to ‘speak truth to power’. This creative confrontation has its background in the stories of Hebrew prophets who stood before kings and challenged them, exampling the principle: ‘The one who rebukes boldly makes shalom.’
Noel Moules, “Fingerprints of fire… Footsteps of Peace: A Spiritual Manifesto from a Jesus Perspective” page 54.
How can we be creatively practical in our pursuit of shalom?
In partnership with Forge Canada, Noel Moules will be doing 2 sessions at Emmanuel Mennonite Church here in Abbotsford on Monday June 10th. If you are in area be sure to check it out! Click here for more details.
In just under a week, Noel Moules, co-founder of the Anabaptist Network in the U.K. will be joining us in Abbotsford to share 2 days of teaching and fellowship. He wrote a very provocative book last year entitled “Fingerprints of Fire… Footsteps of Peace.” Below is a wonderful excerpt on what subversive table fellowship is, and more importantly he provokes us into thinking what it could look like in our particular time and place. Important words, as it is easy to speak that Jesus shared a meal with prostitutes and other such lowly first century Palestinian folk, and not invite those similarly ostracized by our society to our tables. Myself included.
Needless to say, it is going to be a wonderfully provocative time with Noel Moules here in the Fraser Valley.
Much of his teaching took place during a shared meal; among other things he used its imagery as a picture of the future. He scandalised public opinion by regularly ‘eating with tax collectors and sinners’, shattering social boundaries, affirming access to God without intermediaries and revolutionising the popular ideas of holiness and purity.
One Jewish scholar has noted that this activity above all others is what marked Jesus out from his contemporaries: ‘He took his stand among the pariahs of his world, those despised by the respectable. Sinners were his table companions and the ostracised tax collector and prostitute friends.
To sit at table with someone is an expression of intimacy and fellowship, to invite someone to a meal is to honour them and express trust and acceptance. In this way prostitutes find forgiveness; tax collectors are liberated from their ill-gotten wealth and inspired to distribute it to the poor and the hungry are fed. this is our example.
What would subversive table fellowship in your neighbourhood look like?
Noel Moules, “Fingerprints of Fire… Footsteps of Peace: A Spiritual Manifesto from a Jesus Perspective” page 168.
The Christian world is over saturated with clichés! Overly simplistic statements that are often injected into deeply complex situations. They can be brutal. One such statement, and there are many, is “love the sinner, hate the sin!”
Case and point. The conversation with the LGBTQ community, wherein this ‘cliche’ could carry innocent, if not ignorant, intentions, but horribly ventures into the realm of dehumanization and reveals a posture of judgementalism.
At the risk of quoting the whole book, which is a temptation, I think Andrew Marin gets it right here in his important book “Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community.”
Among gays and lesbians, “love the sinner, hate the sin” is the most disdained phrase in the Christian vocabulary. If behavior equals identity, then hating gay sexual behavior is the same thing as hating the gay person. The most common rebuttal they use to counter that slogan is Jesus’ words regarding judgment in Matthew 7, where he speaks about the plank in our own eye and the speck in our brother’s. “How can Christians pick this one sin and make it greater than all the rest? The Bible also says not to [for example, "eat crab"]. Straight people and yet are still accepted.” As the Barna Group discovered in research commissioned by the Fermi Project, this logic has earned Christians a reputation for being extremely hypocritical and unrightfully judgmental.
The easiest way we can start to change these negative perceptions is to remove “love the sinner, hate the sin” from our vocabulary. Clever catch phrases that try to make Christianity accessible to the masses don’t translate to all different populations. As soon as we drop the notion of loving the sinner and hating the sin, the pressure is then off of us to drag a GLBT person from their current “corrupted state” to our “holy state,” just as the pressure is off of the GLBT person to continually build up their defenses to try to guard against the slogans that hurt them time and again.
Andrew Marin. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (Kindle Locations 457-465). Kindle Edition.
Which clichés, or common multi-use Christian phrases have been used or offered to you in complex situations? Have you ever made the connection that ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ is, or could be judgemental?
Abbotsford just held it’s first Pride parade for the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Questioning) community this past Saturday. In Winnipeg, the Little Flowers community, a group of Jesus followers near and dear to my heart are again apologizing at the Pride parade in Winnipeg this coming summer. Yet, in the messy world of church relationships there is still significant disconnect between the LGBTQ community and the church. It is a disconnect that is, frankly, dehumanizing! The reality is, for anyone open about their sexuality willing to engage the church in any kind of conversation, there are some very real fears which the church will need to quench through a ‘ repentant, grounded in shalom’ hospitality.
The excerpt below, from Andrew Marin’s fantastic book, “Love as an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community” is a must read (seriously, get your hands on it).
Believers are convinced they know what gays and lesbians think, but actually, GLBT people’s real thoughts and fears are totally different. This is exactly where the systemic disconnect begins. There are nine main concepts that both the secular and religious GLBT communities think and fear regarding conservative evangelical Christian churches and people.
1. How can I possibly relate to Christians in a church environment?
2. Will Christians always look at me as just gay?
3. Will I be able to be like everyone else in church activities and groups?
4. Do they think that homosexuality is a special sin? 5. Do they believe that I chose to be like this?
6. Do they think that I’m going to hit on them?
7. Do they think that I’m going to abuse their children?
8. Are they scared that I’m going to infect them with an STD or HIV/AIDS?
9. When will I be rejected and kicked out?
There is a striking belief in the inevitability that one, if not all, of these nine reactions will happen at some point if GLBT people were to involve themselves with Christendom.
Andrew Marin. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (Kindle Locations 291-297). Kindle Edition.
How do you feel when you read these fears and concerns? How could you offer a ‘grounded in shalom’ hospitality in light of these debilitating fears?