May 12, 2019

When I was a kid, I lived in a neighborhood with a bunch of other boys right around my age. And so all throughout the year, but especially in the summer, my brother and I would often leave home to play with our friends. We might go swimming in Mike’s backyard. We might play the board game RISK at Chuck’s house. We might explore in the woods behind Brian’s house. Or we might play baseball or football in the empty… Read more

May 6, 2019

In 1984, Alberta Billy, an Aboriginal member of the United Church of Canada, or UCC, told the UCC leadership: “It is time you apologize to Native people.” Two years later the General Council of the UCC met to discuss what such an apology might entail, while the Native elders waited outside in a gravel parking lot. Finally, the UCC leaders finished their apology and came out to read it to the elders. It read, Long before my people journeyed to… Read more

May 5, 2019

Yesterday afternoon I returned home from AMBS’s commencement ceremony to learn that writer Rachel Held Evans had died at 37. Even though I knew she was in the hospital with serious medical complications, this news was a punch in the gut. At the height of the blogosphere at the start of the decade, I followed her blog regularly. One of the things I admired about her writing was the way she used her platform to encourage, champion, and celebrate women’s… Read more

May 2, 2019

This past Wednesday, the Institute of Mennonite Studies where I work hosted our annual publication celebration in conjunction with the dean’s office of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. As part of our celebration, I researched the history of the event, going back 37 years to its genesis with then-director and AMBS New Testament professor Willard Swartley, and tracing its development through recently retired IMS director, Mary Schertz, and my immediate predecessor as managing editor, Barbara Nelson Gingerich. Each year for the… Read more

April 25, 2019

Last year the church where I serve as teaching pastor, Keller Park Church (South Bend, Indiana), celebrated its 50th anniversary—or our very own year of Jubilee. To celebrate this occasion, I preached a series on the Jubilee theme as found in the Gospel of Luke (with allusions to Isaiah and Leviticus). Below is the sixth sermon of the series. (While you’re here, check out the other sermons, Revolution, Release, Rest-oration, Remembrance, and Recovery.)   We have been studying how Jesus’s ministry in Luke can be read… Read more

April 19, 2019

In chapter 2 of Fire by Night: Finding God in the Pages of the Old Testament, Mennonite pastor and author Melissa Florer-Bixler writes about encountering a “God of neighbors” in . . . [checks notes] . . . Leviticus? Leviticus isn’t the first place you’d expect a Mennonite pastor to turn for insights on neighborliness, but Florer-Bixler is not here to reinforce your expectations (read: stereotypes). Leviticus is a book about holiness. At sundry times and places throughout Christian history, holiness has been… Read more

April 15, 2019

Palm Sunday is one of those Sundays you look forward to as a kid. The church hands out freshly cut palm branches to wave around. You learn about the meaning of words like “Hosanna” and sing songs that include them. You hear the story of the Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, with crowds cheering. You read Jesus’s clever line about the stones crying out if his disciples keep quiet. Palm branches, donkeys, hosannahs, talking stones. There’s… Read more

April 9, 2019

Melissa Florer-Bixler’s book Fire by Night: Finding God in the Page of the Old Testament is out today from Herald Press! As I mentioned in my introductory post on the book, instead of writing a traditional review, I plan to blog through the book chapter-by-chapter. Pick up a copy ASAP so you can join the discussion! Today we look at chapter 1, “God of Reckoning.” In this chapter, Rev. Florer-Bixler describes her practice of retreating to St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota… Read more

April 8, 2019

In the winter of 1995, a group of homeless families in Philadelphia took a dramatic action. They broke into the abandoned St. Edward’s Catholic Church to seek shelter from the cold. One of the organizers, Liz Theoharis, describes their action this way in her book Always with Us?: We broke the locks, moved in, and posted passages from the Bible on the walls. . . . We hung posters asking, “Why do we worship with a homeless man on Sunday… Read more

April 2, 2019

In the case of the Prodigal Son parable, I’m on Team Big Brother. Across the two millennia that the parable has been preached, Team Big Brother consistently gets a raw deal. For one thing, even though the parable literally begins with the phrase, “A man had two sons,” many tellings forget about the older son entirely. Even one of my all-time favorite songwriters, Keith Green, wrote a song about this parable from the perspective of the younger son—without ever mentioning… Read more

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