Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
Here are five things worth paying attention to this week. These are designed to expose you to a perspective you may not normally come across in your daily lives.
1. Money, money, money. A number of my favorite local nonprofits have been sharing how far behind budget they are this year. For many of them, there isn’t the same loyalty to church institutions as there was in prior generations. There are so many good organizations sharing God’s shalom and seeking to bring peace to our broken world. Consider an extra financial donation as the calendar year draws to a close.
2. Being aware of God’s children around you. Here in Kansas, we just saw our first snowfall of the season. In the midst of the flurries, our church family gathered for Wednesday night supper and activities. On their way to church, the family who shared my table noticed a man who was experiencing homelessness under a bridge. After quickly eating, one of the parents packed up some chili and took the man a warm meal. What if we always kept our eyes open for the lost, broken and hurting children of God in our communities, and worked together to meet those needs, to heal those wounds? The wounded worship with us, walk down our sidewalks, send their children to school with ours and long for God’s healing touch. May we all be more aware and ready to act.
3. A season of thanks. November is here, and Thanksgiving is coming. After a rough season in our family, we’re challenging our extended families to join us in a season of thanks. Each day from now until Thanksgiving, we’re naming one thing we are thankful for by writing it on a paper leaf and adding it to a fall scene on our refrigerator. I hope that by taking time each day to talk about the blessings in our lives, we will recognize God’s grace and love for us. Could you join us in naming something you’re thankful for each day?
4. A good read. I’ve been reading some new-to-me authors that have helped me explore unfamiliar history and issues through fiction. Then Sings my Soul by Amy K. Sorrells blends challenges of dementia and memories of genocide in eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century, while No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky deals with the poor in 1908 London and the children (some orphaned, others not) sent on ships to Canada to “better lives,” which sometimes were anything but better. Finally, I come back to Amy Sorrells and her book Before I Saw You, which deals with heroin addition. These compelling stories have opened my eyes to some tough realities.
5. Preparing for a new year. One month from today (Dec. 1), will be the first Sunday of Advent, which is also the first day of the new liturgical year. This might be a good time to consider something new. What sort of preparation for the coming Christ might you consider in your own life this Advent season? Personally, I hope to return to a more regular practice of daily devotions, something that has been a considerable challenge since becoming a parent. There are so many intriguing Advent devotionals out there for individuals and groups. I’m planning to use a favorite that I’ve used before, The Greatest Gift: Unwrappng the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp. There is also a family version that I hope to use when our daughter is a bit older. Check your local bookstore for great options.
Jennie Wintermote is a full-time mother and part-time librarian for the Western District Conference Resource Library in North Newton, Kansas. She is a member of First Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas.
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