How can children learn about hospitality?

AugSeptOct2013 205How does an Anabaptist publisher like MennoMedia go about offering the best in faith formation to children at the earliest ages?

It begins with focusing on an idea like Christian hospitality. How do we convey that concept to young children?

I learned a lot about hospitality the day I met Tina. Tina lived in a squatter community along the beach in the Philippines. My friend Mary took me to Tina’s house, which was a piece of blue tarp stretched between two small wooden houses. Underneath the tarp, Tina had created her home. A wooden bench served as both her table and seating area, and when a mat was rolled on top of it the bench became a bed. Continue reading

“Bind them as a sign on your hand …” MennoMedia Board chair goes literal

In early September, I preached a sermon in my congregation on Deuteronomy 6:4-9. That scripture was chosen to kick-off a series on core Anabaptist scriptures.

A parallel Sunday School class is using MennoMedia’s Bible study guide, Dig In: 13 Scriptures to Help Us Know the Way. The Deuteronomy scripture includes commands from God to keep God’s words constantly before us, even tied onto our bodies and written on our houses. In the spirit of those instructions, I tied a ribbon around my wrist during the sermon. I told the congregation I was going to wear this verse, and add the remaining scriptures as I preached on them this fall. And I have done so.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInitially, I liked the tangible connection between me and God’s word. I liked seeing the ribbons as I went about my daily routines, recalling the scripture and meditating upon it. Such a visible prompt calls me back to my Christian faith, to my baptismal vows, and to my intentions to follow Jesus. This is especially helpful when I’ve strayed off the path, and I’m thinking or acting in unchristian ways.

As the ribbons multiplied, however, I got a little bothered by them. They get in the way! They slow me down. They don’t always match my clothes. They’re a bit fussy. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 slipped off my wrist into the washing machine, emerging wrinkled and dripping but intact at the end of the cycle. Romans 12:9-21 disappeared completely and had to be replaced.) To simplify, I capped the bracelets at four, with multiple texts on each one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what’s the point of “digging in” to core Anabaptist scriptures? First off, it provides a base from which to explain biblical interpretation from an Anabaptist perspective. Each family of Christianity has a unique understanding of Jesus, a particular shade of meaning about his gifts to the world. Focusing on these scriptures helps to ground ourselves in an Anabaptist understanding of Jesus.

Secondly, God’s word does get in the way, or it should! There is wisdom in the Deuteronomy counsel to have an intimate and embodied relationship with God’s word. God’s word, for all its complexities and puzzles, does help us to find our way, in a confusing, over-stimulated and unholy world. Like traffic lights or GPS voice commands, God’s word warns us of dangers and orients our spiritual direction. The Bible offers true signposts, guiding us we walk in the way of Jesus.

MennoMedia’s mission is to provide resources for living Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective. Dig In is one small but significant way we are acting on that mission.

mmiller

Melissa Miller, MennoMedia Board chair

***

How do you stay connected to God’s word as you go about your daily routine? Any practices, such as Melissa’s, that you’ve tried in order to “write them on your doorpost”? P1030367Jewelry? Special T-shirts? Other? We’d love to hear your experiences or see your photos. Send to melodied@mennomedia.org

***

MennoMedia has just announced Dig In in Spanish, as ¡A Escarbar!. See more here.Or to purchase, go here.

Dig In includes video interviews with persons across the U.S. and Canada telling about their experiences/thoughts around the various scriptures. See more about Dig In and find a link to one video, here.

I Love My Job!

For the past 19 months, I have served as MennoMedia’s Director of Development. My responsibilities include church and donor relations with a current emphasis on raising the $400,000 needed in seed funds to develop the next generation of Anabaptist Sunday School curriculum—Shine. We are making progress on that goal, having raised the initial $110,000 in gifts and pledges, but much remains to be done. You can visit the Shine website here and check out the exciting new Shine Story Bible.

ShineLogoTo reach this goal, I worked together with MennoMedia’s CEO and Board to develop a strategy. We decided I should visit the 50 U.S. churches and 33 Canadian congregations that are the top users of the current Gather ‘Round Sunday school curriculum, and ask them to help supply the needed funds for the new curriculum. Following my recent trip to Oregon I have completed that task, to a reasonable extent, having visited 47 of the top 50 congregations in the U.S. and 21 of the top 33 in Canada. The other congregations either declined a visit or are too widely scattered to justify a trip. As you know, it is a long and difficult process to make it into a congregation’s budget but I am hopeful that my visits, and the strength of this appeal, will bear fruit as congregations process my request.

Many people are timid and therefore reluctant to ask for money. They imagine they would hate my line of work. I, on the other hand, love it. Being an extrovert, with a strong belief in MennoMedia’s mission “to engage and shape church and society with resources for living the Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective,” I have found the job both challenging and rewarding. I have learned a lot about the Mennonite Church in both the U.S. and Canada. I have traveled to new places and met fascinating people. My wife, Chris, who is a nurse with a flexible schedule, has accompanied me on several trips. (Of course, we always pay for our personal expenses during such trips.)

Chris recently went to Oregon with me. I was able to do my work in five days and we spent a late September weekend at Crater Lake National Park. What a beautiful place. The park received eight inches of snow two days before we arrived. However, on the day we arrived, the weather was beautiful. The lake was a deep blue and I could see Mt. Shasta, a 14,151 foot summit 100 miles away in California. Wow! The next day was rainy and foggy and we couldn’t see the lake from the lodge just 900 feet away.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Photo by Chris Carpenter

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Photo by Chris Carpenter

Immediately upon my return from Oregon, I headed off to Lancaster to attend Everence’s biennial development conference, Creating Lasting Legacies. There I met others engaged in fundraising, was inspired by those more experienced in the field, and learned much about estate planning. It reminded me of a quote I recently read in The Canadian Mennonite by Lori Guenther Reesor, a professional fundraiser and co-pastor of the Mississauga Mennonite Fellowship in Ontario. She said, “Fundraising is the joyful and holy task of telling people about the garden and inviting them to water it.”

sb10062327r-001I feel that way about my work. It is both joyful and holy. I incorporate prayer into most visits and feel like I both give and receive a blessing everywhere I go. I pray you too may experience the holy joy of giving as you practice faithful stewardship in response to the abundance God has given you.

SteveC

 

Steve Carpenter
Director of Development