slow and long-term work

Posted by on Jun 14, 2016

(written yesterday, June 13, 2016. Spanish version below.) (escrito ayer, 13 de Junio, 2016. Mira abajo para la versión en Español.) Late last night I got back from a rich weekend in Goshen, Indiana with hispanic leaders and pastors from across Mennonite Church USA (and I was one of 4 participants from Canada). My role was to lead a series of sessions on “learning to read the Bible with Jesus.” Yesterday I did not go online, did not read/hear news, and our drive home was full of joking and laughter and reflection and sharing (and taking turns sleeping). When I went online this morning, I read the news about the massacre in Orlando, targeting LGBTQ people. I feel sick. But it’s not about the way I feel. Today I re-commit to the slow and long-term work of doing what I can to help build communities of faith that are peaceable and loving in the way of Jesus. In my case that includes helping communities to work at learning to use and interpret Scripture in the way of Jesus. About 12 years ago I wrote a song that I want to sing for/with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters today. In hope and faith that these words are true and being experienced, perhaps in small ways, even now; grieving where they are not and where they may sound empty and false; and in faith and stubborn hope that we might learn to live into the truth of these words more fully. “You’re not alone, we are one body You’re not alone, we stand with you You’re not alone, your time of suffering Is our suffering too And I know the day is coming When we will be rejoicing anew.” A noche volví de un fin de semana maravilloso en Goshen, Indiana con pastores y lideres hispanos de la Iglesia Menonita EEUU (yo era uno de cuatro que veníamos desde Canadá). Mi rol en el evento fue dar liderazgo a cuatro sesiones con el tema Aprendiendo a Leer La Biblia Con Jesús. Ayer no fui online, no ví o escuché noticias, y nuestro viaje a la casa fue llena de chistes y risa y reflección y compartir (y de dormir también, en turnos). Esta mañana, cuando conecté al internet, leí las noticias del masacre en Orlando, contra miembros de la comunidad LGBTQ. ¡Que horror! Me siento enfermo. Pero mis sentimientos no son los importantes. Hoy me comprometo de nuevo con el trabajo lento y largo de hacer lo que puedo para ayudar a construir comunidades de fe que son pacíficas y amantes en la manera de Jesús. En mi caso esto incluye ayudando a comunidades a explorar y aprender a utilizar e interpretar la Biblia en la manera de Jesús. Hace 12 años, mas o menos, escribí una canción que hoy quiere cantar para y con mis hermanas y hermanos de la...

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a big year

Posted by on Jan 15, 2016

2016 is shaping up to be a big year for SmallTall Ministries.

I’ll be teaching in three countries in the next few weeks… Today we did the final tweaks to the audio master of the new CD that will be coming out very soon…I have been named an instructor in the new Anabaptist Learning Workshop, and a Teaching Associate with the AMBS Church Leadership Center…

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reading isaiah

Posted by on Nov 18, 2015

I wasn’t here
when the news came
of bombs and shots and
concert-goers on the blood-red floor.
Where was I?

In a cabin
in the woods
with grade 12 students
imagining the future
dreaming of the future
preparing for the future.

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a messy Bible

Posted by on Oct 8, 2015

I had an “aha” moment when reading this article, regarding why I seem to relate to the Bible differently than so many people that I know. I can honestly not remember a time when I thought (or “was led to believe,” as the article says) that the Bible is “neat, tidy and consistent.” From my very earliest memories, I remember experiencing that the Bible was (and is) deeply contested – that honest, sincere, passionate Jesus-following people understood (and understand) texts in different ways, and passionately disagree with each other. From getting into trouble with my grade 1 teacher to innumerable and often heated family mealtime discussions; from watching my friends’ parents go into my dad’s office to express concern about the things he was teaching at the seminary, to relating to dear friends who were (and are) conservative evangelicals, liberationist catholics, divergent-and-disagreeing Mennonites… Throughout my growing-up years I experienced the Bible as deeply contested space, and my faith has been (and continues to be) forged in the crucible of vigorous dialogue and debate, especially between committed, caring and passionate Christians who deeply disagree with each other. That’s where I have lived, and continue to live, my life. And that’s how I’ve come to have such a passion and love for Scripture. Not because it is “neat, tidy and consistent” (I have never known it to be that), but because it is messy and complex and rich and challenging and generative and confusing and contested and always-revealing-more. My experience is not one of having to grapple with being in a “wilderness” of doubt because of the loss of an earlier experience/assumption that the Bible is “neat, tidy and consistent.” I guess I’ve never known anything but this “wilderness” (if that’s what it is). I find the “wilderness” of the Bible as contested space to be a rich, fertile and life-giving (as well as dangerous) place. Braun’s article describes “elderly people who have deep-seated questions about Scripture and are glad for a space in which to explore them.” Reading the article makes me realize that what these “elderly people” are discovering is something that I have been blessed to experience my whole life – a space (in fact, many spaces) to explore such “deep-seated questions.” In fact, my experience has been (and continues to be) that Scripture itself provides and is such a “space” for wrestling with challenging questions together. I think of this as normal. But maybe I shouldn’t – maybe my experience is more unique (even weird?) than I realize. Anyway – today’s “aha” moment renews my passion and conviction to do all I can to help generate, curate, and moderate such “spaces” for others. This is a big part of how I have come – and keep coming – to faith. I hope you can find such spaces...

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