About 15 years ago, I preached at Lombard Mennonite Church, near Chicago. I had been asked to talk about our Christian response to violence--turning the other check rather than fighting back (Matthew 5:38-42). I told stories about people who took these words of Jesus seriously, deciding to accept suffering rather than hurt someone.<read more>
by Merrill R. Miller
"Otterville" is copyrighted and is not to be reproduced in any form without permission. Contact Merrill Miller at <email@example.com>
by J. Ron Byler
Pere Simone is an 81-year-old Celesian priest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He's been helping children on the street for as long as he's been a priest, over 50 years. From three locations, he runs a school for 120 young boys and girls, ages 10-13.<read more>
Pere says he just goes to the markets and invites children to come to the school. He asks them to turn in their knives and other weapons first. He helps these street children get an education, even though he knows some of them will learn to read just well enough so that they can read license plates to earn money delivering drugs.
Jesus invited all people to the table to eat together. Unfortunately, if the United States today were one large economic table, it would not reflect his example. At our table, we find a growing gap between those with the highest incomes and those with the lowest. This is particularly troubling given Jesus' life example of drawing together individuals separated by the economic injustices of that period.<read more>
Once again, here at the monastery, as throughout the Christian world, we have begun our observance of Lent which feels, even as late in the calendar as it is this year, to have come upon us almost unexpectedly. It always seems to me that the liturgical season that we are most likely to avoid thinking about is Lent and we find ourselves saying things like "Wow, is it that time of year already?" and "Wasn't it just Christmas?" I think this is a defense mechanism because, let's face it; I have met very few people who actually like to observe Lent. To so many, it seems gloomy, terribly old-fashioned and filled with words like wretchedness and sinfulness. Now I ask you: who likes those words?<read more>
The concept underlying this column, Balancing Acts, is that discipleship includes both spiritual and practical aspects. We recognize that our well-being and faithfulness to Jesus Christ as Lord involves worship, devotion, and yieldedness to the Holy Spirit of God; Jesus summarized this aspect of our discipleship in John 15:5 saying, "apart from me you can do nothing."<read more>
Several months ago, I found a hibiscus plant in a dumpster. Half of it was dead, but the other half was perfectly healthy. It had been raining, and as I carried it home, the dripping five-gallon planter was so heavy I thought my arms might fall off.<read more>
It thrived out on the balcony until I brought it inside the night of the first freeze in late fall. Though it took up residence in the sunroom for several months, it limped through the winter. I did, too.
This month's prayer was written by Ken Shenk, a Japanese translator in Findlay, OH.<read more>