What are we drinking?

Lord, give me this water. (John 4:15) Two weeks ago, we had a little water problem in our rural Kansas community. Chalk it up to a water main break under the nursing home and a system-wide pressure drop.  The end result was standing water in the nursing home, elderly whisked to dryer quarters in the dead of night, and our whole community coming under a boil order.  It all seems very dramatic when it’s flashed across the TV screen, but… Read more

4 ways Christians can love the soil on Earth Day

Earth Day is a great time for Christians to show our love for God’s green earth. Of course, the challenge of loving the earth is knowing which part of the earth to love.  There’s so much of it, after all–from continents to calla lilies to cyanobacteria.  And while all of  it is God’s earth and thus worthy of our care and affection, the asthenosphere doesn’t give me the same kind of warm fuzzies as, say, panda cubs. So rather than try… Read more

Jesus is alive and speaking

Easter is a celebration of new life in Jesus.  He’s not dead.  Jesus is alive, risen indeed and going before us into Galilee and Antioch and Rome and Moundridge.  But Easter isn’t just about new life in a general sense.  It’s not about life-force, some zap of life to pizzazz up our dreary existence.  It’s the life of Christ continuing among his church and his people, guiding them, empowering them, speaking to them. In the gospels, we see Jesus’ resurrection… Read more

Fragility and the cross

We interrupt our usual theological musings to bring you pictures of a cute chick. After twenty-one days of incubation, this little guy was waiting for us when we opened the nest box on Sunday morning.  We named him “Little Red.”  You can guess why from the pictures. There were three eggs.  One gave us Little Red and another didn’t hatch at all.  A third went bad, and mama hen broke it and ate the contents.  I’m not sure how a… Read more

God’s brooding work

One of our hens has gone broody.  That means that she has the urgent biological need to sit on eggs.  We don’t have a rooster, so as it is her eggs would never hatch.  But that hasn’t kept her from sitting motionless, all day, on a clutch of eggs.  She plucked her breast feathers out to expose a warm patch of skin and has generally become tetchy and bad company.  She’s broody.  Some friends gave us a couple of eggs fertilized… Read more

On planting onions

My son and I helped our friend Dennis plant onions.  In our minimalist technique, planting onions involved unzipping a long furrow with a rusted and nostalgic hand plow. We then crawled down the row laying the onion starts in the furrows and covered them with a thin layer of crumbly earth.  I helped Dennis start his onions in trays in the greenhouse back in January, and as we planted, my son and I gently tugged squares of onions up from… Read more

Church of the lost

There was a time when I lost my way while driving south of Chicago.  It was in the days before GPS phones, and I took some spaghetti junction intersection and found myself on a rough and tumble street going into who-knows-what rusty suburb.  I was lost. But then–miracle of miracles!–I drove past a church in my own Mennonite tradition.  The thought came and went as fast as the traffic: I should stop and ask for directions at the church.  … Read more

You have what you need

Our friend Dennis discovered an ancient springtooth harrow in a hedgerow.  (It must be a requirement of all Kansas hedgerows that they have at least one worn out implement stashed in beneath the trees.)  Dennis’ springtooth had grown decrepit by long years of abandon.  It was splotched with picturesque lichens and rusted earthen red. And it was just what he needed. You see, Dennis is a retired farmer who runs what he calls the “Sharing Garden.”  It’s a bare-bones operation:… Read more

The strenuous discipline of not praying

Somewhere on the road to Tucumcari, New Mexico, we got behind a semi truck painted with the question “Did you pray today?” on the back door. The sign rounded out its message with the stencil of a man pointing an accusatory finger.  Did you pray today?  You had better pray.  Or else. I wonder how many passing drivers knew what to do in response to this sign.  You see, most of us do not know how to pray.  Anybody who’s ever… Read more

Loving neighbors and dodging rocks

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Shortly after moving in to our apartment in Cuzco, Peru to start a mission term, we set about getting to know our neighbors.  There we were, all nestled together at the back of a little court, brick and cement built up in tight quarters.  We were on the ground floor, and as a bonus, our apartment came with a tiny grass and garden space where our sons played.  It was our refuge from… Read more

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