Glimpses of Healing and Hope

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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by Danile Martens

Spring has been a long time coming.  I have had seedlings waiting since mid March to harden off and plant.  The woods wildflowers have been in a holding pattern for weeks now and are finally in full flower.  I have never seen so many trout lilies in our woods as we have this year.  The grass has been slow but some warmth and a mild rain have waked it up.  We have had a full complement of new calves for sometime already, including a surprise very small calf that the blind heifer, that keeps a good distance from the rest of the stock, surprised us with a week ago. How did she ever get bred?

The waiting matches my spirit, who am in waiting to see where my recently lost hearing will end up. Waiting is a reminder that life is mostly not under our control, that we live by faith in natural systems and laws, in the good will and care of other people, and by trust in a Mystery we call by many names: Nature, Love, God, Life, a trust that there is meaning somehow in our lives.

Do we make meaning out of what happens to us?  Is that our work as conscious beings?  Perhaps there is a template, much like natural law, that life is organized around, but that plays out in personal ways for us, offering the chance of transformation from individuals into members of the beloved community.

Nature seems to verify such patterning.  This spring, for instance, looks a lot like springs I remember growing up, cooler, later, more temperamental.  Yet the pattern is familiar each year whether it plays out like this late cool spring, or like the spring of 2014,  when unseasonal warmth in mid- March brought everything into bloom early and then crushed all with freezing temperatures in April.  The outlines are well known and give guidance.  It will not be wise to plant out tomatoes  when it is 75 degrees for a week in March.  The variation in specific details means that we will have to use a certain amount of creativity to respond even as we trust the outworking of the pattern overall.  We can probably trust the last frost date for the area even if it is cold until the end of April.  The season will look overall like the pattern.

Enter the uncertainties of climate change and the further uncertainties of when those climatic changes will have effect.  Other patterns will then come into play: natural law will work itself out on a larger scale and overwhelm the seasonal patterns.  What then?  Ultimately the broadest earthly patterns will work themselves out for the benefit of the whole, not for the felt need of any particular member.  Willingly or not, when the chips are down for the planet, we will play whatever role is good for the whole, in return for having assumed the planet would do that for our agenda these hundreds of years.

This might feel like doom, but in the long run, the real long run, which is our eternal home in God, this is change, which goes on in every time and place.

This originally appeared on the Restoration Farm blog at restorationfarm15.wordpress.com. Reprinted with permission.
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If you've been following along in our journey as we continue to partner with our sister congregation in DR Congo, Bondeko Mennonite Church, you'll likely remember that our church raised enough money for their church to buy a lot for their new school. Nancy Myers, our church representative as well as a member of Africa Inter Mennonite Mission, shared this update with us during our last congregational meeting: 

When she last visited Kinshasa, in late March 2018, they hosted a formal reception with speeches, songs, and a feast with her as the guest of honor to celebrate receiving the funds for the new school lot. During the reception, Bondeko's pastor, Pastor Francois Tshidimu, announced the name of the new school: Menno Simons Academy.

The church faced many challenges even after receiving the funds. When they approached the owner of the lot next to the church to purchase it from him, he said he was no longer interested in selling. The church instead bought a lot down the street for their new school. The original lot they had planned on purchasing had existing buildings for them to renovate while the new lot does not -- requiring more money and more manual labor than they had planned on. Their second challenge was with the government. They had always planned on their school being a public one but the government stopped issuing permits for new public schools several months ago. Menno Simons Academy will have to (temporarily) become a private school, which will mean charging tuition and paying the teachers, until the public school permit process opens back up. 

Through it all, the congregation of Bondeko Mennonite Church has had faith in God and in His plans. They are determined to succeed, and so we know they will! They plan on opening the first floor of the new school with the first few grades in 2019.

Pastor Francois shared a few pictures of the groundbreaking with us that we will share here with our readers, too. 

 

 

As always, Bondeko Mennonite and KRMC would ask for your continued thoughts and prayers as we journey together.

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