15 & Fairness, a hymnble offering

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15 & Fairness, a hymnble offering.
(To the tune of Immortal, Invisible)

Omniscient, impotent, us millennials
With glowing rectangles we scan news portals
In dismay and despair we spend all our days
Then suddenly incredulous that we got a raise!

The wage that is minimal soon shall be tweaked
To lofty fourteen bucks in only six weeks
While buisnessfolk tremble at salary hikes
We’ll spread avocado for Instagram likes.

Great day that is dawning, when all needs be met
By socialist robots and communist tech
We see it, we build it, we shall not demur
But ’til that day dawneth we’ll be on Tumblr.

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Do you want the Good News or the Bad News?

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2017 11 05 Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal

Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News?
Lectionary Texts: Micah 3:5-12 – condemnation of unjust leaders and false prophets
Matthew 23:1-12 – Jesus denounces scribes and the Pharisees and instructs another way.

In the beginning, the universe was created. This has widely been regarded as a bad move and made a lot of people very angry – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

So – do you want the good news, or the bad news? We used to play an improv game called ‘Good News Bad News’. One person would give a piece of Good News, and the next would point out a flaw. Then the first person would try to find a redeeming feature of the flaw. For example:

  • The good news is you won 1 million.
  • The bad news is that it’s a million potatoes.
  • The good news is you run a fast food franchise.
  • The bad news is that you sell pizza.

And so on. It’s fun, because finding fault is fun, and you can be very imaginative in finding the positives or negatives. Of course – it’s all the same piece of news. It’s news, with good and bad perspectives, depending on where you focus. The ‘Good News Bad News’ game models the process of investigating the truth – going deeper, considering other perspectives. Continue reading

The Quiet in the Land: Adult Education

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I was invited to offer the Adult Education before the service at the Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal. I wanted to talk about the role and calling of the Church, having been invited to talk about ‘The Quiet in the Land’ – the concept of living as a separate community with distinct values and norms in nations like Canada. In the group discussion this was tellingly described as being ‘model non-citizens’.

This post includes a brief outline of the workshop as well as some writing I did in preparation, much of which I did not use directly. I’m therefore categorizing this as Notes/Outline.

I began with an introduction to Christian Peacemaker Teams as a response to the call to the Peace Churches to be as committed to peacemaking (preparation, training, funding) as an army is to war. I suggested that it was a way of offering specific Mennonite gifts and perspectives to the world. I talked as well about Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and their restorative justice programmes as another way of interpreting nonviolence to a violent system. Continue reading

Ordinary Time: Forgiveness

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2017 09 17 TUMC Sermon

Ordinary Time: Forgiveness
Psalm 103:1-13 – Thanksgiving for God’s Goodness
Matthew 18:21-35 – the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

You may have seen it in a classroom or office – on faded paper, pinned to a board: “The floggings will continue until morale improves.”

If you’re going to cite a verse to describe the worst that people think of Christianity, you could try the conclusion of this parable.

In anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

Forgiveness is either difficult, or it is unnecessary. Continue reading

Creation Drama Script

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Cahoots June 12 2017
Sunday Extravagation Script

Our worship at Cahoots in 2017 focused on the land we live on, sacred land, holy ground, in this year of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Each morning we presented perspectives on the land and complicated matters of identity, as mostly Christians and mostly Settlers.

For our Sunday morning service, instead of a sermon we decided to do a telling of the Creation Story, as counter-narrative to Canada’s own narrative of its history. Our performance was rough but meaningful, introduced the communion elements, and led into the Passing of the Peace. As it was Trinity Sunday we asked three youth to take on the roles of ‘God’, and help direct the younger children about the work of creation.

I worked on this along with the authors of the blogs Singing Menno and Broken Into Song.

God 1 (Action director and commentary)
God 2 (Narrator of scripture)
God 3 (Voice of God)

[Start off with the big door a bit closed and not a lot of light.]

God 1: Stories tell us who we are. There are many stories about this land. One story says that this land was created 150 years ago. Created by people who came from Europe, and brought civilization. They worked hard and made a wasteland into a place of peace and prosperity.

There are other stories. Indigenous nations have stories. Refugee communities have stories. The animals and the rivers have stories.

Stories tell us who we are. Once upon a time, the people of God were captives in a foreign land. They were slaves. They were told a story about how they were created to be slaves. How the world was an evil, violent place. How the king ruled over them by the will of the gods.

They decided to tell a different story. Continue reading

Pearls before Swine: reclaiming sacred identity

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Pearls Before Swine: reclaiming sacred identity

An outline of a morning reflection time I have offered on a number of CPT delegations to Treaty 3 territory. This was often done on the first morning, both to offer some critical engagement with scripture and our lives, and to set things up for the workshop on Undoing Racism and Colonialism.

Although presented in note form, I also wrote it up as a short reflection for Wretch 2013, which I have included below. Continue reading

Dangerous Liaisons – We might just be moved…

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2017 06 25, TUMC Sermon

Three different rainbow banners at Toronto United Mennonite Church

Banners at TUMC on Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dangerous Liaisons – We might just be moved… – listen to the sermon here
Song of Songs 8: 4-7 – love is as strong as death

Just this last week, at the memorial service for a longtime member of the Student Christian Movement, we sang many of the old Social Gospel hymns from the SCM songbook. At the close of the service the familiar “We shall not, we shall not be moved” sprang up spontaneously.

It’s a great song; a protest classic with Biblical overtones – “like a tree planted by the waters, we shall not be moved”. On the streets it cools people off and helps a group find a sense of unity and purpose. The imagery of the song is firm and resolute. We are firm in our ideals and principles and position, and we shall not be moved. Even while we’re getting dragged away by the police we shall not be moved!

But being firm in your principles is not the only virtue. Our summer preaching series is about times when this song does not apply. Times when “we might just be moved…” Continue reading