Lessons and Carols

Lessons and Carols
Hosted by Brandenburg Concert and Florence Church

Continuing the work of Jesus, simply, peacefully, JOYFULLY, together.

We worship at 9:30 am on Sunday.
Sunday School begins at 11 am.
Potluck is the first Sunday of the month.

17975 Centreville-Constantine Road, Constantine, MI 49042

florence.brethren.mennonite@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Pursue the work of God" by Cisca Ibanda



Cisca Ibanda serves on the Executive Committee of Mennonite World Conference. She was able to spend several days visiting with Florence while on a tour across the United States. Suzanne traveled with Cisca to an MCC gathering in Ghana where they became good friends. Nina met Cisca in Paraguay while at the MWC Assembly.



"As it says in Jeremiah, God called you while you were in the womb....God says, in John, "You did not choose me, I chose you."...God starts a work and makes a foundation and is the owner of the work. What kind of work? To share the love of God, to be a new person....Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We need God's energy and power to do His work.

"In John 15 it says we will do MORE than the work of Jesus. But we must humble ourselves. We cannot be the arm and say "I will not feed you." In Africa we say, "One finger cannot wash your face. You need your five fingers to wash your face." When we do the work of God, people will ask how we do it. Even in great loss, we will have great joy. It is very good work and very hard work at the same time. There are 1.7 million Mennonite peacemakers as part of Mennonite World Conference. Right now we have many crises in the world -- economic, climate, food -- but we can change all this. We are the body of Christ!"




Saturday afternoon tea at the home of Suzanne Lind. (left to right: Nancy Myers (Michiana Friends of Congo -- Community Mennonite, Chicago), Cisca Ibanda, Nina Lanctot, Christine Nofsinger holding Amari Lind, Kathy Fenton-Miller, Vicky Smucker (Michiana Friends of Congo -- Kern Road Mennonite), Suzanne Lind.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Put on Christ: A Seamless Garment"


Reflections on Matthew 5:13-37 on Sunday 13 February 2011

In Egypt's liberation, where did the prayer end and the politics begin?

In Jesus' New Way, where does the law end and New Life begin?

Is it not one seamless garment, even as the robe Jesus wore to his death?

In 1983, Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago coined the term "A Seamless Garment of Life." This Catholic ethic connected with a single thread advocacy for the sanctity of life "from womb to tomb." It means, that we side with the God of Life, preserving life and dignity of all people.

Jesus was leading those on the mountain on an arduous journey. He had invited them to look into the valley of the shadow of death and face poverty of spirit, brokenheartedness, loss of power and the deep hunger for change. Then he led them steeply up through mercy, clarity, solidarity and the willingness to suffer in service of what is right.

The mountain top shout was SALT! LIGHT!

This city on a hill would be seen far and wide.

But the law of the city, of the new community, would be rooted deep within and not only seen in behavior. On the other side of the mountain were all the complexities of real life, and the knots of conflict and temptation that can create a sticky web of entrapment.

How was the new community to break through the brittleness of the law to the New Law of Love?

Choose Emotional Life!
In extremes we can become a danger to ourselves or to others.
Life can be taken by murder or by suicide.
Anger carries this danger.
We stand as one body for the life of each and everybody.
To choose life is to neither fight nor flee, but to find the middle ground where neither victim nor offender loses face, loses life.

Choose Sexual Life!
If beauty or the buff body is there for the taking, why would we hold back?
Jesus says, stealing a glance, a titilation, is still stealing.
The life of sexual intimacy belongs to the owner of each one's body
and to those bodies are lovingly joined in covenant.
If you have not joined the covenant of love,
end false gratification before it begins.

Choose Covenantal Life!
Vows for life will be tested. To honor our partner holds them in the highest regard. The bond created by God to procreate Life cannot be passed along without tearing the soul from its heart. Longsuffering and joying bonds of love create life. Divorce is only a means of grace when this bond becomes a strangle hold toward death.

Choose Committed Life!
Our word is our pledge. Only, in reality, by the grace of God will any promise be kept.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money." Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that." James 4:13-15


So say it simply. Yes. No. Or, "If the Lord wills." All other props -- "knock on wood," "cross my heart and hope to die," "on my mother's grave" -- are a sham of a power play. Only ONE who has the power to affirm or alter our plans.

Now is the moment for you to wake from sleep.
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers;
the night is far gone, the day is near.
Let us then lay aside the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us live honorably as in the day,
not in reveling and drunkenness,
not in debauchery and licentiousness,
not in quarreling and jealousy.
Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Romans 13:11-14


Cardinal Bernardin in the 1980's made great inroads in uniting the strong poles of Catholic activists -- those moved to end war and those charged to stop abortion. In our time, the stretch of the embrace of the church widens to include the threat we all create daily to the life of the poor and the planet. How shall we hear his words now?

I am convinced there is an "open moment" before us on the agenda of life issues. It is a significant opportunity for the Church to demonstrate the strength of a sustained moral vision. I submit that a clear witness to a consistent ethic of life will allow us to grasp the opportunity of this "open moment" and serve both the sacredness of every human life and the God of Life who is the origin and support of our common humanity.


from A Consistent Ethic of Life: Continuing the Dialogue
The William Wade Lecture Series; St. Louis University

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin
March 11, 1984

"Woven Together: Salt and Light"


Reflections on Matthew 5:1-14 from Sunday 6 February 2011

Jesus turns the Ten Commandments upside down.
Rather than starting at the top, with God,
he issues blessings beginning at the bottom --
for the poor, the mourning, the powerless and the put down.

All our humble human hungers are blessed
with the promise of provision for paupers
with hands outstretched.

Jesus rubs salt into the wounds of our mortality,
making them raw and clean,
so that we can hurt, and heal.

And so that we can become light.



The second set of blessings are the ones we bring
as we own our earthy saltiness,
our blood, sweat and tears.

Then we can give mercy,
for we have tasted it.
Then we can see with the clear eyes of the heart,
for in this way, we have been seen.
Then we can extend the hand of peace,
for we have been lifted up and embraced by God.
Then we courageously and joyfully
risk body, soul, mind and spirit
for love,
for we have feasted our whole beings
at Christ's table
and at God's.


Thus we have been woven together,
salt and light,
into the fabric of universe,
into which all things are interwoven.

J. Philip Newell writes in Christ of the Celts(ix,x)
The growing consciousness is that life is interwoven, that reality is a web of interrelated influences, and that what we do to a part we do to the whole. So who is Christ for us now?...He is leading us not into a separation from the world and the rest of humanity, but into a renewed relationship with the Ground of Life, the One from whom all things come.



It is a delicate fabric that glistens,
like crystals of snow in sunlight,
like crystals of salt seen up close.
Miracles, all.

Florence theme 2011: "Woven Together..."


Our annual board retreat took place at The Hermitage on Saturday, January 29. The creative and prayerful leadership of David and Naomi Wenger made the day a joy as well as a deep deliberation on the year gone by and the year ahead.

"The Little Way" and "Woven Together" were both evocative themes for us after an intense year of much sorrow and loss, coming and going, and sabbatical.

I think of Christ as the warp and woof of our weaving:

In him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:17



LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD


SNOWFLAKES NAMING OUR GRATITUDE TO GOD


TESTING VISION IN TRIADS


This board retreat was the last benefit from the Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant we received. A full report on the grant and its use is available by contacting Nina Lanctot at florence.brethren.mennonite@gmail.com


TRANSFIGURATION CHAPEL AT THE HERMITAGE AND THE WEAVING OF HOPE WE CREATED