Rebuke as Generous Invitation

In his book titled “The Beginning and the End of Religion,” Nicholas Lash invites us to look upon the world. “Summon up quietly,” he says, “with such clear-sighted courage as you can, all the cumulative evidence- from the depths of each one’s psyche to the centre of our politics; from the arbitrary and sporadic barbarism of our wars and cities to the well-oiled structures of rapacity and greed we call world trade- which suggests that the answer to the question is: ‘there is indeed, only power; and violence is master of us all’.”1

Perhaps violence really is what makes the world go ‘round. Surely, the events of the past week make it difficult to argue otherwise. Moreover, at first glance, today’s readings from Scripture don’t seem to be much help. Read more

Being Church: Reflections on How to Live as the People of God

Ragan Sutterfield reviews John Alexander’s book for the Englewood Review of Books:

“The job of the church, the most significant work we have to do, is to love one another, celebrate and welcome one another’s gifts, and be Christ’s body in the world. Of course we all know that most churches are nothing like this…Why is it so hard for us to be church?”

Read the full review.

Choose Wisely; Remember Well

Thanks to a campaign organized by Mennonite pastors, there’s reason for those of us in the United States to look forward to November 6 as something more than the official end of a nasty and dispiriting secular political cycle: whatever you choose to do on Election Day in the US, take time to consciously celebrate the unifying communion of and in the Body of Christ. Among the goals of this Election Day Communion Campaign is “…to build unity in Christ despite theological, political, and denominational differences.” Read more

There is No They

Author and blogger J.R. Daniel Kirk brings this helpful reminder to the church:

When you are part of a church, especially in leadership (but not only then), there is no “they” who will or will not do something.

In those moments when what needs to be done butts up against the policy, or when what they’ve done embarrasses us, deferring to “them” is not going to convince the person in front of you that you are not part of that “them.” That person will only be convinced that you are different when you act, when you do what is right.

Read the full post.

Our Weak God

From a recent sermon preached by EP endorser Matt Morin, in keeping with our Slow Church theme . . . .

Mark 6:1-13; 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Milwaukee Mennonite Church
July 8, 2012

The scene in today’s gospel passage begins with Jesus entering the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. According to Mark, this is not the first time that Jesus has attempted to teach in the synagogue. In Mark 1, Jesus does so, but his teaching is interrupted by a demonic spirit. In Mark 3, Jesus’s actions in the synagogue anger some of his rivals, who in turn begin plotting ways to kill him. And, as you just heard in today’s scripture reading, Jesus’s third attempt to teach in the synagogue is met with scorn by members of his own hometown.

So, three times, Jesus enters the synagogue to teach, and three times, he is met with some resistance or rejection: first from evil spirits, then from his political adversaries, and finally from his own people.

It is clear, then, that the synagogue is not going to be the site where the good news is received and shared. In fact, this is the final time in Mark’s gospel that Jesus will enter a synagogue at all. Following this final rejection, he begins a new strategy for sharing the good news.

We’ll take a closer look at that strategy in a moment, but first let us give greater attention to the rejection Jesus experienced in Nazareth. “Where did this man get all this,” the people ask in verse two. “What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Isn’t this the carpenter? And they took offense at him.”

It is odd that the people would reject Jesus because he spoke with wisdom and worked deeds of power. We would understand if the passage said, “What is this man blabbering about? Why is he going on and on about nothing? He hasn’t done anything, he hasn’t said anything…. BOORRRING.”

To read the rest click here.