Dorothy Nickel Friesen is a retired pastor and area conference minister. She currently volunteers as a grant writer for nonprofit organizations, serves as a consultant […]
David and Leann Augsburger are two semi-retired people who co-lead a home base church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care, and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.
This week we are reading, talking about, re-reading, and sharing:
1. “The Sun, the Moon and Truth”: John Sharp’s poignant column on the death—may we say the martyrdom-of his son MJ who died in the Democratic Republic of Congo has occupied our thoughts since its appearance in the June 5 issue of Mennonite World Review. There is an African proverb, “the hardest blow of the fight falls on the one who steps between.” So it was. As peacemaker and reconciler of the estranged, MJ is a living model of what Anabaptists hold dear. They also know that the price may be more dear. For us as disciples, as Christ walks with us daily, MJ is a Christ-figure in our memories. If you read John’s words, his soul will touch yours.
2. Miriam Sieber Lind and Panic Pot de Crème: Thirty years ago at home of Miriam and Millard Lind in Goshen, Indiana, we were celebrating a special moment in the life of Dirk, their 15 year old son who had developmental delays. He had just told a lie, his very first. Until then his concrete honesty had been utterly without guile. “In the land of Dirk there is no sin,” Miriam said. Now he had reached the normal moral threshold of any seven year old and surprise, he lied, blushed and then hung his head. The whole family cheered. “Now you are a sinner just like us,” they exclaimed. And Miriam served Panic Pot de Crème for everyone. Lately we have been making Miriam’s magic for our guests, no lie. It’s a simple recipe: Break a large egg in the blender, add 1 tsp of vanilla, a dash or two of salt, 2 Tbs of sugar and then pour in a cup of the best chocolate chips you can find. It must be done in this order in order to grind it all into a chocolate sludge. Blend for a minute, then pour in ¾ cup of scalding bubbling hot milk from the microwave and blend for another minute. Pour into small glasses. Chill an hour, two or overnight. Top with real whipped cream. It is TRUTH on the tongue.
3. “My Family’s Slave”: The cover article in the June issue of The Alantic has sparked some very painful conversations about human dignity, freedom, class privilege and human bondage. Alex Tizon reveals a family secret, sharing the story of Lola who was given as a gift from his grandfather to his mother, after which she was brought to the United States where she toiled unpaid in the home for 56 years as a slave. Read it to reexamine what is possible in the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries, when people of privilege and power usurp everything from a fellow human being. You will be surprised at things you hear yourself say to others when you put the paper down.
4. Frederick Buechner’s sermons, poems, novels, theological works: “Do you know anything about a writer named Boookner?” “Yes, Frederick Buechner, the theologian?” “That’s the one,” says our host, an astrophysicist who lives in a different world than most of our acquaintances. I give Buechner an enthusiastic endorsement. He continues, “I just read a sermon by him, it was wonderful.” I nod strong agreement and go on to recommend An Alphabet of Grace, Telling the Truth, Listening to Your life, The Magnificent Defeat as an entree to his catalog of t30 books, then mention his blog and his notes on Twitter. Read Buechner and you will find that Buechner reads you.
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