Supporting service with a pew dollarsSupporting Service service with a pew dollarsBy Travis Duerksen


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Opening My Eyes: Youth Venture Civil Rights Trip 2021Civil Rights Learning Tour My Eyes: Youth Venture Civil Rights Trip 2021By Michelle Ramirez
Students in Burkina Faso write African church historyLOGOS University in Burkina Faso write African church historyBy Anicka Fast
Becoming human to each otherCivil Rights tour human to each otherBy Joe Sawatzky
Running with epilepsyBlessing in disguise with epilepsyBy Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
Reflecting on Mandela Day evokes a sense of grace unto justiceMandela Day reflection on Mandela Day evokes a sense of grace unto justiceBy Joe Sawatzky
Living out commitment to peaceMennoCon21 Impressions out commitment to peaceBy Faith Bell




Roosting, or flying free?,-or-flying-free?Roosting, or flying free?By Laurie Oswald Robinson <p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">When our foster daughter, Symphony, was in our care for two and a half years, I often said this to her during the tumultuous twos: "Symphony, we pick and choose how we are going to do handle things." </span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">To my shock, one day as I was melting down from a bad hair moment, she said, "Mommy, you know we choose and pick."</span></p><p>Well, I didn't know whether to laugh because she switched around the words, or cry because she had hit the nail on the head: <br></p><p><strong><em>I could choose my attitude, and pick a new way to be.</em></strong> </p><p>So, too, Glen Guyton, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, in his convention finale message, called us out: we can choose to let our dove, the symbol that graces our Anabaptist documents, fly free into a Holy-Spirit led future; or, we can let that dove roost on past practices and present struggles. </p><p>He boldly proclaimed my favorite line of convention messages: "Our documents won't save us, they really won't. What will save us is a renewed focus on the lordship of Jesus Christ" and the modeling his sacrificial love toward one another. <br></p><p>We can choose to roost; or, we can pick a new attitude that leads to a new way of being the healing and hope of Christ in God. </p><p>We <strong><em>can roost or we can choose to </em></strong>embrace Jesus who is enough and big enough to free our souls that tend to clutch control and power, hold onto unhealed wounds, and hide idolatries of unbroken sin patterns. </p><p>We <strong><em>can be paralyzed or pick a new mode of movement:</em></strong> to launch off our agenda-laden and earthbound stages into the skies of our call to live out peace, justice and reconciliation within the infinity of God's grace. </p><p>As Glen flew across the stage in a lighted cape, I didn't know whether I should laugh, or cry. In that whimsical, wacky, and wonderful moment, our brother in Christ was modeling what it means to pick and choose Jesus above ourselves: to embrace Jesus as the eternal source of our freedom and our flight, rather than fickle illusions that risking change brings disaster. </p><p>His serious sermonizing taking flight into the playful unexpected symbolized, for me, that there is something much more dangerous than choosing transformation: choosing to chain the dove rather than to fly free, and high. <br></p>
Befriending those babies those babiesBy Laurie Oswald Robinson <p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">After listening to Safwat Marzouk unpack the Exodus 1-2 story about how Pharoah's daughter rescued Baby Moses from the Nile, I am rethinking the phrase, "random acts of kindness."</span></p><p>Safwat's perspective on her rescue of Moses was that it was anything but randomly and mundanely hidden, albeit compassionate. Her choice was subversively radical and a snub to the most powerful person in Egypt, indeed, her very own father, likely the most influential male in her life. Hers was not a random act, but a resistant one; a revolutionary one, and it reversed the trajectory of fear of the "other" (i.e. Egyptians and Israelite) into an embrace. </p><p>How many times in daily life do we see "babies" floating down the river of our day and turn our head the other way? </p><p>One does not need to be a revolutionary to enter the flow of what God is doing in the daily grind: </p><ul><li>settling a conflict with someone who thinks totally opposite than we do on an important topic – listening to, rather than loathing, the other;<br></li><li>withholding judgment on someone we feel is too conservative, too progressive, or just too – fill in the blank;</li><li>seeing ourselves as above the struggles of friends and family who we think brought their troubles upon themselves;</li><li>celebrating a co-worker whose gifts are being recognized when ours own go unnoticed;<br></li><li>and embracing, rather than shaming, ourselves when personal weaknesses arise. </li><li><br></li></ul><p>How many times do we revert to indifference regarding the issues in our immediate neighborhood because it is far away from the marches for justice we see on our smartphones and other digital devices. We can't go march in a city far away, so we raid the fridge for another munchie before surfing more You Tube. </p><p>I often shy away from the edge of the daily river so that I won't catch the sight of a reed basket holding someone different than myself. Or hear the cries of someone who is suffering and marginalized. Or witness the impotence of someone with power who is vastly lonely because mutuality is too vulnerable. Or fail to see the silent wound I inflicted on someone by spurning a heart offering me risky, naked authenticity.</p><p>The question is not whether God's river is flowing throughout our seemingly random, daily lives; but rather: are we willing to defy the tyrannies that would hinder us from radical and revolutionary acts of getting wet, no matter how tiny, or tremendous? <br></p>
Entering the eye of the storm by touching the hem of his garment the eye of the storm by touching the hem of his garmentBy Laurie Oswald Robinson <p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Ana Hinojosa, speaker for evening worship July 8, shared how the storms of COVID-19 raged throughout her family, as her father almost died from virus complications. And yet, in a woman-touching-the-hem of Jesus experience (Mark 5), after seven days in the hospital with all his vital organs failing, he left the hospital and is alive today.</span></p><p>From my perspective, the story was not about the <em>amount</em> of her family's faith; rather, it was about the <em>unlimited</em> power of Jesus in whom they placed their faith. Also, it was not about the life or death of her father, but rather, the life of Jesus who offers healing and hope differently in different situations.<br></p><p><img src="" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4>Image by Laurie Oswald Robinson.<br></h4><p><span style="background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;">Most importantly, Jesus did not wait to hear the woman qualify her pain. Nor did he quantify the level of her trust before his overflowing power and grace met her trembling fingers, daring to reach out in an act of faith. She reached out, he reached back. Trust from her hand, tenderness from his.</span><br></p><p>Eighteen months into the pandemic, waves and winds still buffet many lives in many lands; and there has been the "flow of blood" in grieving families. Still yet, Mark 5 invites us to struggle through the hurricane of our doubts or outcomes that differ from Ana's. As we do, we reach up and out to touch the fringe of his healing cloak. He waits to wrap us up in its folds of peace and to carry us through the pain into the eye of the storm. <br></p>
Transforming voicelessness into sharing voices together voicelessness into sharing voices togetherBy Laurie Oswald Robinson <p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Safwat Marzouk's </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">morning Bible study July 8 on the story of Joseph and his brothers makes me think of </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Voices Together</em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">. For years, planners and creators of the new Mennonite hymnal and worship resource listened to the stories, songs, and hearts of a diversity of people. This helped them to create a tapestry of narratives in song and prayer that speak to the diverse realities reflected in their lives. As the introduction described, they strove to </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">"assemble a collection where worshippers find themselves and their stories honored and expressed."</span></p><p>In reflecting on Genesis 45 and 50, Safwat described how the Joseph story reveals how moral transformation deeply links reconciliation to justice. He believes that important steps towards moral transformation include thinking of oneself  no longer in the center of power, but willing to develop empathy – or walking a mile in the others' shoes. That includes listening to the other narrate his or her story according to their perspective. </p><p>For example, in traveling to Egypt to seek food during a famine, the brothers found themselves in the powerless position. When Joseph revealed that he was their brother that they sold into slavery, they feared a retributive justice – this was happening to them because of what they did to Joseph. But as Joseph narrated the story according to his perspective, they realized the raw evil that was behind their act of violence against him and their deception to their father. But he also reminded them that even though they meant it for evil, God would bring good from it. </p><p>To reconcile with Joseph, they would have to hear his telling of the story, and then put things right in their relationship in context of that perspective. God's good amid evil unfolds when: there is liberation in the telling of the truth, liberation in the listening of the truth, liberation in the breaking of the cycle of violence by not waging retribution but also not settling for a surface peace. </p><p>There was no way to restore Joseph's blood-stained coat of many colors. But there was a way to cover each other with the justice-infused reconciliation by the sharing of voices and the empathetic listening of those voices. <br></p>
Breathing in the expanse of God in the expanse of GodBy Laurie Oswald Robinson<p>I imagined the expansive prairie night sky as Dr. Meghan Good gave the sermon July 7. She opened her message on "Jesus is the Peace" by describing this: space is rapidly expanding as planets, galaxies and stars move away from each other faster than the speed of light. As a result, eventually, people standing in the middle of a wide wheat field will look up and see only darkness.</p><p>She used this metaphor to discuss how she is noticing how human beings seem to be on the same trajectory of spreading further and further apart. She said our hope in this scenario is that what God has planned for the climax of all time is to bring all things together in Christ (Ephesians 1:10).</p><p>In the harrowing, violent times we are living, it is the person of Jesus who will provide the powerful gravitational pull towards healing and wholeness in our reconciliation work. Jesus is pivotal to that peacemaking, because Jesus IS the peace that brings us together in the work, provides the presence in that work, and empowers the peace that the work is meant to evoke.</p><p>She encourages us to be as sure of God as we are of doing good. To understand how inseparable peace is to Jesus.</p><p>Paul's hope in Ephesians and ours, whether on home computers in Kansas or Pennsylvania or Oregon, or near the Cincinnati stage, is that in Christ, God is reversing the great cosmic scattering and reconciling all things to God's self. Before bed, go outside wherever you are to gaze at the night sky, or the city scape. Breathe in the expanse, view the stars or the flashing billboards. And remember that Jesus is drawing us together to offer the light and heat of his healing and hope, not the blaze of our own fires that will eventually burn out.<br></p><p><br></p>
Lamenting, repenting, and naming,-repenting,-and-namingLamenting, repenting, and namingBy Laurie Oswald Robinson<p>When was the last time you remember someone portraying God as a divine warrior who is like a woman giving birth to something new?</p><p>Or, the last time you remember being encouraged to offer up your pain, rather than praise, to God in prayer?</p><p>If you are anything like me, a pastor or speaker may have come close a time or two, but it has been so rare that I cannot remember it.</p><p>That is precisely why Safwat Marzouk's Bible study on "Shalom Justice Amidst Pandemic and Racism" (based on Psalm 74 and Isaiah 59) was a refreshing blast of passionate relief. Finally, someone was giving me permission to lament, to repent, to name the bad in the world and myself, naked before God, unashamedly pleading for God to do something – in the world AND in me.</p><p>He helped me to see that without naming the bad, I cannot claim the good, either. That before the peace, there is pain; before the wonder, there is the wound; before the reconciliation and healing and hope, there is the division and despondency evoked by all the -isms in my own soul.</p><p>He reminded us that Psalms encourages us to lament our way into love; to repent our way into reconciliation. To know that God's covenant with us is forged by humble readiness to join God in God's work, not to forge our own ego-driven agendas.</p><p>Thank you, Safwat, for the holy permission to be a people who trust that God is not scared off by our cries but draws ever closer as we cooperate in the divine-human covenant-keeping. It is not a pristine desire to be immediately perfect and well-formed in that relationship. Rather, it is the openness to enter the messy birthing process of being born anew from God's womb.<br></p><p> <br> </p> <br>



Supporting service with a pew dollars service with a pew dollarsBy Travis DuerksenGP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Opening My Eyes: Youth Venture Civil Rights Trip 2021 My Eyes: Youth Venture Civil Rights Trip 2021By Michelle RamirezGP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Students in Burkina Faso write African church history in Burkina Faso write African church historyBy Anicka FastGP0|#024ac062-71a9-4b18-9ee6-bca9c86be075;L0|#0024ac062-71a9-4b18-9ee6-bca9c86be075|Burkina Faso;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#4d0e08ea-d1a0-4141-9eba-431183992152;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Becoming human to each other human to each otherBy Joe SawatzkyGP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Running with epilepsy with epilepsyBy Lynda Hollinger-JanzenGP0|#934efcfc-8004-48aa-b785-aff862d28dbd;L0|#0934efcfc-8004-48aa-b785-aff862d28dbd|Ecuador;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#e2a61412-b024-41d7-adeb-1c4e0b790c03;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Reflecting on Mandela Day evokes a sense of grace unto justice on Mandela Day evokes a sense of grace unto justiceBy Joe Sawatzky
Living out commitment to peace out commitment to peaceBy Faith BellGP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Roosting, or flying free?,-or-flying-free?Roosting, or flying free?By Laurie Oswald Robinson GP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Befriending those babies those babiesBy Laurie Oswald Robinson GP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Entering the eye of the storm by touching the hem of his garment the eye of the storm by touching the hem of his garmentBy Laurie Oswald Robinson GP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf