A splendid idea, wouldn’t you agree?

One evening last week I attended a poetry reading. Four local poets read, but it was Joanne Epp’s evening in particular, as she launched her chapbook, “Crossings,” a lovely collection of 17 poems in two sets: reflections on a train trip and on places in Saskatchewan.

            We stay close to the ground
            so the wind will not blow us away. (from “Wild Strawberries”) Continue reading

Blessed are the merciful

I belong to a Mennonite-Catholic dialogue group which meets several times a year. Our assignment for this week’s meeting was a personal reflection on the Beatitudes, broadly, and then more specifically, in choosing one beatitude we were particularly “attracted” to at this point — in not more than seven minutes each! The contributions were varied, and all interesting. This was mine:

I memorized many parts of the Sermon on the Mount as a child, to get a reduction on Bible camp fees. So it seems the Beatitudes have been with me forever, like old markers, like a fence around my life. They’ve been markers for my (Mennonite) understanding of discipleship.

“Selig sind die Barmherzigen” (Blessed are the merciful), inscription over doorway in Berlin

In this reflection, however, I was struck by something else. The opening beatitudes [blessed are the poor, mourning, meek, hungry], at least, seem an expression of holes in the soul. I see need, grief, poverty of whatever kind, hunger. Yes, there’s a happiness expressed, but next to gaping wounds. Continue reading

Walking towards risk

The Mennonite Church Canada annual assembly begins today in Waterloo, Ont. This assembly will continue work on a document on discernment and will also undertake a conversation on human sexuality. The latter will be “a risky and challenging conversation,” in the words of general secretary Willard Metzger in a May 30 Canadian Mennonite article (“Others are watching closely”).

I commend the denomination for taking the risk. The conversation is necessary and important. There was surely pressure to have it, but leaders can often find ways to avoid or postpone potentially divisive discussions. I’m grateful for Metzger’s words:

In MC Canada, our leadership, through deep Scripture study and prayer, has discerned that it is, in fact, the job of the church to walk towards risky and challenging matters with joy and confidence. Assured of God’s Spirit in our midst, discerning difficult topics is the responsibility of the church.

And he is also right when he says  that others will be watching how God’s people respond to the world around them and to one another.