Wealth

BVOTD 5-28

Proverbs 30:7-9
7 “Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:

8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.

9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD ?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God. (more…)

Bible Reflection – 5/24

Matthew 22:15-22 (NIV)

15Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

18But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

21″Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

(more…)

A Theology of Enough: Speed and the Working Week

I apologise for my long silence. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about “a theology of enough”, pace of living, and sustainability in all areas of our lives. Instead of crafting a beautiful and articulate essay, I thought I’d offer my ramblings and learn from what responses and questions, if any, fellow YAR readers have to offer to the considerations. I think considering the way we pace our lives, and in particular our working lives, is a spiritual discipline, and therefore an important idea to consider – whether for the first time or as a reminder. (more…)

Who, when, and where to talk about Race

Race is such a sticky thing to talk about. I almost don’t want to discus it for fear of looking like “that white woman who likes to hear herself talk.” I may put some people on the spot in this post, and if you don’t like that, I apologize. The questions:

—What’s the racial/ethnic composition here at YAR? I don’t know most of you yet, so maybe you’re not all white Anabaptists.
—For those of you who aren’t white, how should white people talk about racial issues? What’s actually helpful? I feel discouraged when I read or listen to a discussion on race and then realize all the participants are white. If white folks decide how to “fix racism” primarily by themselves, I doubt we’ll find anything lasting. It’s not enough just to talk about treating everyone right—we have to make sure everyone’s participating in the conversation. (more…)

Our Scapegoating Nature

Jesus came, in part, to stop scapegoating. He used his harshest words on religious leaders of his day, who used their status to come down on other people. The Parisees, for instance, blamed the poor and the “sinners” (whomever they deemed as such) for the Roman occupation, while they claimed to be pure. Jesus’ death, furthermore, was the ultimate rejection of scapegoating: rather than let one group be blamed for it, the Bible clearly indicates that we all bear guilt for Jesus’ suffering and death– every last one of us. No one is left out, so there we cannot say, “it was the Romans!” or “it was the Jews!”

But even though Jesus and the subsequent apostles put a stake through the heart of scapegoating, it has taken Christians far longer to catch on. We still do it. Whatever the problem, you can be sure that one Christian group or another (or one secular group or another, for that matter) will find someone else to blame. I do this sometimes, and so do all of us. But we need to begin looking past our scapegoating nature and look first at the “log” that is in our own eye. (more…)

What would you do?

No, this isn’t one those questions intended to corner pacifists. This is a question that I actually have, based on experience I actually experienced, and a question I would actually like to have an answer to, although I understand that a solid answer to what I am pondering is allusive at best.

Here is the scenario: I am a youth pastor, and not too long ago I was at a youth pastor peer meeting with about five other youth pastors. It was a good meeting, refreshing to hear other people’s joys and frustrations that I can relate to. We ended the meeting with a homemade lunch which was really good, but over the lunch the conversation turned towards everyone’s family. One of the younger married youth pastors began telling of how he was just finishing up the adoption process and he and his wife were about to get their first child: a cute little Guatemalan baby, they had pictures, a name and everything. Then one of the other youth pastors chimed in that her sister (or other close relative, I forget exactly) just recently adopted a Guatemalan baby, so needless to say, the table conversation was about Guatemalan adopted babies for at least fifteen minutes. For these fifteen minutes I kept my head down, and didn’t speak. (more…)

Christmas invitation from Oaxaca, Mexico

For the last three weeks I haven’t been blogging as much because I’ve been doing support work for a Christian Peacemaker Teams emergency accompaniment team in Oaxaca, Mexico. The team of two CPT reservists was invited to Oaxaca because of increasing repression by state and federal police of local people who have been protesting to remove their governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (more on why below). The state government has replied by killing more than 15 Oaxacans and 1 American and imprisoning hundreds of Oaxacans on fabricated charges.

This Christmas, we are inviting you, along with your families and churches to write Christmas and New Years cards of support to the families of those who have been imprisoned. Here’s the story of one of the families:

Bernadita Ortiz Bautista, a 40 year old Mixteca Indigenous woman, was arrested along with her son Alejandro (19) and two of her daughters, Rosalva (12) and Beatriz (14). Rosalva and Beatriz saw the police beat their mother. The Mexican authorities held the children for three days (separately from their mother) before releasing them. They are now at home helping to care for five younger brothers and sisters. Their father, Pablo Ortiz, says he is unable to work, because he needs to be home with the children now that the mother is away. Typical of homes in Campimiento, their one room house is only sixteen feet long and thirteen feet wide.

(more…)

Wealth: A Mennonite’s experience in London

Pedestrians on the London Bridge during the evening commute out of the City of London

I’ve always known I’ve had a problem with The Rich. I had a bias against The Rich for a long time. It also took me a while to notice I was one of them. I had expected to have inner conflicts by traveling to “third-world” countries (low life expectancy, low standard of living, low literacy rates, high poverty) and being faced with extreme poverty – not only an opposite lifestyle than I was used to, but also a lifestyle that was in direct relationship with my lifestyle : my demands had caused their poverty.

I’ve also known that Mennonites have appeared to favor missions and outreach to places with high levels of poverty and have had few resources to spend for missions and outreach to the upper echelons of society. I knew for this reason that living in one of the highest affluent areas in London could prove interesting as a missionary. I hadn’t, however, expected inner conflicts and deep moments of pain and sorrow as a result.

Have you tried living in the world’s most expensive city while having a deep theological and personal foundation of identity in walking with and learning from the Poor of the earth? It’s trying and tiring. (more…)