Glimpses of Healing and Hope

Several of our staff members attended an all-day conference on racial justice this week. We found the following resource from the Catalyst leadership conference in 2016 to be especially eye-opening. 

 

Race and the Church

 

We hope you will find it helpful in some way as well.

 

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by Pastor Dave Sutter
 
I’ve been driving Kern Road/CR 28 between South Bend and Goshen a fair amount during the last few weeks for various reasons.  Has anyone else noticed the rusty brown, black wooly bear caterpillars crossing the road? Watch the pavement for dark moving spots. Some hot days I see lots of them -- like a wooly bear invasion. The fact that you can see them move at all when the car is moving so fast is amazing. 



I wonder where they’re going and why. Why are they so determined to cross the road? Why would they take such a risk? Don’t they know there are giant cars (and tractors) with rubber tires traveling this road -- some at speeds of 50, 60 (probably even 70) miles an hour? They could be crushed. Some probably are.
 
I went to the internet. It seems in late summer. wooly bear caterpillar eggs hatch. Now is the time of year when they move to find a prime place for winter (preferably under a rock or log). When the weather warms in spring, they spin a cocoon and eventually transform into an Isabella Tiger Moth. The wooly bear is one of the most recognized of caterpillars because of its fuzzy appearance.   


 
Semi-scientific studies were done in the 40-50s on these caterpillars. Some still say you can predict the harshness of an upcoming winter by the length of their brown segment. There are still fall festivals in the US hosted to “predict” the upcoming winter according to the stripes -- kind of like how Punxsutawney Phil predicts the end of winter in PA. More recent studies are showing there really may be a link between the wooly’s brown segment and a winter’s harshness but the correlation is more likely to be a statement of the harshness of the past winter than the upcoming one.   
 
So I did learn something but I still don’t know why they need to cross the road. Can’t they find a quality log without the danger of crossing the road? Maybe they sense this particular phase of life is going to be short and they want to see and do as much as possible while they can. Following their instincts, they are preparing for the next life phase, and they are ready and willing to live a little dangerously!  
 
I find myself identifying a bit more now with the sense of life’s brevity. This summer I celebrated both my sixtieth birthday and 30 years as one of a number of pastors in Kern Road’s history. I’m starting to feel life is shorter than it used to be. It’s hard to believe how quickly these years have passed and how much change has occurred in that time in my life and in our congregation, community, and world. I know I’m sounding really old now. 

But I’m pleased to say that as I think about our congregation, I can think of a number of times along the way that we have taken some risks. We have not always chosen to go the way of other congregations or the culture, and we have crossed some roads that have opened ourselves to be transformed into something new. It would be my hope that we can retain some of that spirit of risk and adventure especially if it helps us to live our witness to the love of God in the world as lived by Jesus Christ. That would need to be the impetus, the purpose.    
 
September and the months of the fall are an exciting time of year in our congregation. We settle into a more regular routine after a more scattered summer. We often welcome new attenders as we are this year.  We make samosas and bring our coins to participate in the Relief Sale. There’s a church retreat coming up in November. Exciting new formation opportunities for all ages are on the horizon. Youth Advocate breakfasts return. A new worship series began last Sunday. Area groups meet. Most everyone is around as our families and young adults are back from summer and our retirees have not left us for the winter. What are the new risks we should take?
 
As members of Christ’s body, I give thanks for the seasons of life, for reminders in creation of the cycles of life, of risks taken and hardships endured. As we enter the fall of the year, I invite you to join me and the wooly bear caterpillar: not afraid to leave life as we have known it behind, willing to take risks of faith in an unknown future, crossing new roads to discover new habits(ats) and new life phases with expectations of joyful transformation and opportunities to participate in greater witness to the risen Christ.
 
I’m still amazed at how distinctly one can see those little rusty brown and black caterpillars moving across the road in such a rapidly moving vehicle. This gives me hope that one congregation’s witness to our Creator can be seen and make a difference even in a fast-paced, complex, often harsh, and unjust world.  
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by Danile Martens

 

And did you get what you wanted from your life even so?

 

I did.

 

And what was it you wanted?

 

To feel myself Beloved in the Earth.

 

To know myself Beloved.

from Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

 

It is the evening of a satisfying working day, harvesting, weeding, and watering.  I picked blueberries. I was surprised by a couple of quarts of the first green beans ready for picking that I hadn’t noticed before.  Abby dispatched a groundhog that was investigating the area around my garden! I made a delicious meal from our own wealth of produce: beef, onions, the green beans, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes.  I rode bike on the eight mile loop, then sat outside under the mackerel sky, at first reading about soil,  then just watching the sky as the light faded and John and Murray finished stacking the lumber made today from culled ash trees.

And now, absolute contentment.

I watch the swallows wheel and soar around the barn catching last insects, and the dogs wrestle and then rest, heads erect, Blue with one foot precisely behind the other, Abby scanning the farm. I am one with the blue sky, the grass and the borders of trees.  I am one with the Japanese beetles (which I drown in a bucket) that eat my roses and peach tree foliage, and with the flock of fluttering white butterflies, and with their larva that eat my cabbages which I defend with BT.  I am the phoebe, and the bluebird on the electric wire, and the destructive bittersweet vine, and the gorgeous trumpet flower vine, and the sweet smelling nicotiana.

And this status comes to me by my attention and care for all these things, my acceptance of labor, rest and quiet.  Someday I will become one, not only in spirit and by my love, but physically, when my body nurtures the earth that has nurtured me, held in a new form in this Beloved and loving Earth.

 

This originally appeared on https://restorationfarm15.wordpress.com

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Our co-pastors, Dave & Janice Sutter, have served the KRMC community for 30 years this month, and we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate this milestone than with a party! We hosted a hog roast on the church grounds with plenty of yummy potluck sides and desserts, music, singing, fellowship, laughter & fun! After the meal, we went inside to participate in a hymnsing and program highlighting all of the wonderful contributions and memories Dave & Janice have made with us as a congregation. 

We look forward to seeing how God continues to bless them and us as we move forward into our 31st year with them at the helm.

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After several years of hard work by many people within the congregation, including those on our Sign Task Force, our new sign is now complete and installed ion the front lawn of the church. It was installed at the end of June with the digital display fully functional by mid-July. We're excited to see how this new sign works to help identify us and share our vision and events with the local community and anyone else driving by the church.


 

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by Pastor Janice Sutter

No, I’m not talking about your graduation from high school or the sentiment on a wedding card, even though that may apply.
 
I’m talking about baptism into the body of Christ! So whether you are contemplating baptism, been baptized a long time ago or are somewhere in between, here are some things to consider.

  • You don‘t have to be perfect to be baptized. Far from it. God loves you just the way you are. In fact, God created you that way! God wants you to come the way you are.  
 
  • You are aware, even in some small way, that God’s Holy Spirit is at work in you, transforming you, empowering you to be more Christ-like. Baptism marks that you are beginning to notice this. As you continue on the Christian journey, you want this to happen more and more.
 
  • You are aware that there are things that block your connection with God and with others, typically called sin. You notice these things and offer them to God, to be forgiven and healed, and then to walk in newness of life. This is something that happens many, many repeated times in the life of a Christian. Baptism imitates Jesus’ dying, being buried, and rising again. In baptism, we show our desire to die to the ways of sin and be raised to new life.
 
  • In baptism, a believer becomes part of the worldwide body of Christ, and joins a particular local expression of the worldwide body, like the people at Kern Road Mennonite Church. Like any church, we are not perfect, and we don’t expect you to be perfect. Still, together we try to encourage one another as we follow Christ.
 
  • There are three parties at work in baptism.  Baptism celebrates God reaching out and loving you, and you responding to God’s love by taking action and being baptized, and the church affirming the faith of the believer and testifying to the work of God’s grace.
 
As we celebrate the baptism of three in our midst in the next few weeks, think about your own journey of faith. How is the Spirit at work transforming you? How are you tending your life of faith? How will you welcome and encourage these new believers?
 
Baptism begins a journey toward a personally owned and vital Christian faith. It recognizes that our faith is both a very personal inner experience and also something that is lived in the company of others for the good of God’s world.
 
This article originally appeared in the August Kernels monthly newsletter.
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by Associate Pastor Jen Shenk


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
~2 Corinthians 3:17


The Fourth of July has come and gone. It’s often a day for outdoor barbeques, taking off from work, family gatherings, parades, getting together with friends, fireworks displays, and reflecting on freedom.

As Mennonites who follow Jesus, what does freedom mean in our context? More importantly, does freedom look the same for all of us who are American citizens? For those of us who can climb corporate ladders, have access to good schools, be immune from racial profiling, live in safe neighborhoods-- this is freedom that I’m guessing we take for granted.

Recently there were rallies held across the country to protest unfair immigration laws. The crowd chanted, “Families Belong Together!” in between countless stories of persecution and injustice. A reporter asked one of the protesters, “What’s the point in going to something like this? Do you really think you’re going to change anything by attending this rally?” (I had to admit that I had wondered the same thing deep down myself.) The person replied, “Sir, I don’t come to these events to change my country. I come to these events so my country doesn’t change me.”

As I continue to reflect on what that person said, I think it’s the essence of true freedom. Being truly free in Christ means we have a different starting point and a different view than what our culture does. We know that our independence isn’t reliant on a government and cannot be bought or paid for. When we are led by the Holy Spirit, we are free to act and behave as Jesus did-- independent of cultural or political expectations. We can abide in God’s Spirit and be led by love. 

Independence. Freedom. May we remain grounded in our true, unchangeable identity as children of God. Let us use our freedom in Christ to set others free. 

 

Note: This originally appeared in the July 2018 edition of Kernels.

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by Adam Thada

 

The original Poor People's Campaign was organized in 1968 by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when "mule trains" of poor people from around the country converged to D.C. and set up an encampment. They demanded that the concern of poor folk would be addressed. This was tied directly to three linked evils that MLK identified: racism, poverty, and the war economy.

 

The modern campaign is a re-inauguration of the original vision. The "Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival" is co-chaired by Rev. Dr. William Barber (Disciples of Christ) and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharris (Presbyterian Church USA). The rally in D.C. this weekend was the culmination of 40 days of rallies and direct action at state capitals. The Indiana team had been meeting weekly in Indianapolis, at the Capitol building, Monument Circle, and the Governor's mansion. At each rally we heard from Hoosiers who had been impacted by racism, poverty, war, and ecological devastation. Following the speeches (and songs led by our "theomusicologist") a subset of trained moral witnesses committed civil disobedience to draw attention to the demands of the Poor People's Campaign. Those of us who were able stood vigil outside the county jail waiting for their release.

 

I work for the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ (a Catholic order of women religious) who have been sending people to the rallies. I travelled with a group from the Indiana Poor People's Campaign to D.C. to join 40 other state chapters from across the country. We shared stories, music, and testimony on the National Mall and then marched together to the Capitol building to deliver our demands. The testimonies were so powerful that we were often left silent and tear-filled.

 

I travelled with a young South Bend man who was arrested at the Indiana Capitol building earlier in the campaign. He set off to D.C. in our carpool as Jesus said to -- with no food or money and completely broke. The loaves were multiplied for him, and together we made it. His stories of resilience and hope in the face of homelessness, chronic poverty, and racism left me speechless. We returned to South Bend Sunday night and drove by the new statue of MLK downtown. As we passed, he noted, "They found money to put up a fancy statue of Dr. King but they didn't address the suffering of our people down the street." That left my mind spinning.

 

Anyway, we are trying to build a movement, not a moment. There will be many ways to help. I have friends who are dealing with chronic illness and can barely make it through the day, let alone travel, but they feel that they are aligned with the Poor People's Campaign as well. 

 

Addendum: a dozen faith leaders were arrested at the Capitol Tuesday. Photo and statement at https://www.facebook.com/304443552992102/posts/1342614335841680/

 

Links:
https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/history/ 

https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/demands/

https://www.facebook.com/IndianaPPC/

https://www.facebook.com/anewppc/

https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/poor-people-s-campaign-rally-ends-vows-keep-organizing-and-protesting

 

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