From April to May of this year, several Mennonites, and individuals of various spiritual and personal persuasions, marched from Kitchener to Ottawa to raise awareness and draw attention to the well-being of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Among them was Brad Leitch, who you might recall from our viewing of Reserve 107, also back in May. Brad chronicled and produced a short film to tell the story of this Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. And you can check it out for free below!
As we move into Week 2 of our current series Every Creature Singing, here is a talk given by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe recently at Canadian Mennonite University. Katherine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University who is particularly known for her efforts to educate Christians on issues such as climate change. In this talk, Katharine outlines some of the ideas that we will look at this upcoming Sunday; namely, how climate change and other environmental crises disproportionately affect the poor and the powerless. How do followers of Jesus respond to the stories and the science that Katharine presents here?
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This Sunday, we switch gears to return to a familiar topic for those of us at The First Mennonite Church: the relationship between our environment and our faith. For many of us at The First Mennonite, it is important that conversations about nature and our faith do not become a novelty item. It’s important that our conversations do not become one-off moments where we pat ourselves on the back for having the right theology, but then quickly forget about them two or three years down the road; and we never really change.
So starting this Sunday, we’re going to take a look at a recent publication by Mennonite Creation Care Network and writer Jennifer Halteman Schrock called Every Creature Singing: Embracing the Good News for the Planet Earth. Over the course of this series, we will discuss biblical and theological ideas about environmentalism and faith; learn about our local Niagara ecology or watershed, and explore both spiritual and household practices for connecting with and stewarding all creation around us.
Let me kick things off for us by sharing a story from author Peter Rollins, whose Atheism for Lent series was a focus for us leading into Easter. In this story, Peter describes a world where spiritual animals come to the animals of the physical world not so they can save the physical world, but so they can be saved by the physical world. Peter’s suggestion is that we learn how to love and how to extend grace and compassion not through the abstract idealism of spirituality, but through the earthy struggles and challenges of all nature and creation around us. We learn about the true nature of life through the reality of all nature and creation around us.
Check out this podcast from Mennonite Church Canada’s Church Matters where Dan Dyck interviews Kathleen Vitt and Henry Neufeld on their participation in the upcoming Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, organized by Mennonite Church Canada and Christian Peacemakers Team. From April 23 – May 15, pilgrims will walk from Kitchener to Ottawa in support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; educating people and building awareness of this conversation.
It’s a little while back, so many of you may not recall this; but one of the first sermons I delivered at The First Mennonite Church discussed Miroslav Volf’s book The End of Memory. At the time, we were discussing the question of “How do we remember rightly on the occasion of Remembrance Day?” If you’d like to check it out, you can find it on our Sermons page under the title of How Do We Remember on Nov. 8, 2015.
You might understand then why I was particularly impressed and inspired by a recent declaration made by the faculty of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary called Commitment to Right Remembering.
This declaration was clearly made in light of recent American political actions surrounding the issues of immigration and refugees; and I was particularly inspired by both their stance and their commitment to demonstrating how they are attempting to not just uphold these values in theory, but also in practice. Check it out for yourself and see what you think!
I’m celebrating International Women’s Day today by doing two things:
Expressing profound gratitude for how the image of God is expressed fully, completely, and collectively through women.
Remembering women who impact my own faith and understanding of God, such as Nadia Bolz-Weber. I love how Nadia challenges my pre-conceptions and ideas; and inspires me to a bolder, more adventurous faith into messiness and grace.
This coming Sunday at the First Mennonite Church, we’ll be talking about how Heaven isn’t just a place we get to. It’s a place that also comes down to earth. But for you music enthusiasts, why don’t I let the folks from Gungor, accompanied by singer/songwriter Israel Houghton, tell you about it?
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