On February 3, Brock University hosted its tenth annual Social Justice Forum in the Marilyn Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts in St. Catharines, Ont. Once producing train seats, that repurposed factory now showcases the humanities. A conference dealing with environment, human and labour rights found the renovated venue a fitting place for the 12 workshops.
Sometimes a cautionary moral tale, Driving travels deeply personal, often wrenching theological-doctrinal roads exploring sin and grace. Not content to leave this merely as a chronological narrative of sin, confession, forgiveness and restoration, Bird traverses landscapes of human lostness and eventual forgiveness, inviting readers into his passenger seat on his journeys, both physical and spiritual.
There you have it – a fair sampling of John Terpstra’s latest honest, introspective offerings. Mischief reveals his deep heart and spirit, is well-worth buying and reading alongside Psalms of repentance and confession.
The compelling reason for the changing funding for various missions is that, over decades, Christian Reformed denominational ministry shares have steadily decreased to half or less than what agencies had budgeted for and received. While church members are still generous in wishing to support missions domestically and overseas, domestic office leaders and synods find themselves in a very difficult spot. In today’s personality-driven culture, donors give far less readily to agencies and institutions. Congregations and their members prefer to target their giving to people and places with whom they have personal connections or relationships.
How long can God’s world survive our consumerism? Though we attend worship weekly and pray daily, we often seem to worship what we do to buy the stuff we want. Materialism – the quest for wealth and personal or national security – separates us from different cultures, nations, faiths and even friends and family. We are killing relationships personally, nationally, internationally.
Two long-gnawing questions about Christian Reformed worship converged October 29 at Mountainview CRC in Grimsby, Ontario. On that day the congregation commemorated the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
In early March I led a retreat on “Theologies of Risk and Suffering” with seven Ukrainian pastors outside Kyiv. From remarkably different backgrounds, Alexander Nikolaeev and Robert Shpontak described their work in a free-flowing conversation. Alexander lived for nearly 40 years in Ukraine as part of the U.S.S.R. Robert, a boy when Ukraine declared independence, remembers little of that time. Currently Robert serves as a pastor and teacher in peaceful western Ukraine, while Alexander is a lay pastor near the eastern conflict zone. Thanks to Rev. George de Vuyst for translating.
Earlier this year the governors of Felix Varela Morales high school in Jaguey Grande, Cuba, made a decision inconceivable 40 years ago. They assigned students to research and report on the lives of two Christian leaders from that city of 25,000.
In mid-March, James Dekker led a spiritual retreat in Beatenberg, Switzerland, for missionaries of the Christian Reformed and Reformed Church in America. One afternoon, he had the following conversation with five missionary kids or “MKs.”
Since I attended that service, two significant questions keep ranging through my thoughts: Will these new Christians and the many other refugees continue to find freedom from danger in their new land? Will Christians and churches in Germany and elsewhere – including Canada – not merely evangelize and baptize new Christians, but might those refugees actually ignite a holy fire of renewal in our churches?
In writing that is justifiably called lyrical poetic prose, Terpstra has embraced deeply personal and broad macro themes that are intellectually provocative, while also plumbing emotional and spiritual depths.
It took Cohen’s long-time backup singer, Jennifer Warnes’ often eerie, haunting, sometimes reverential 1986 tribute album, Famous Blue Raincoat to draw me into Cohen’s fold. Even then, though, I remained comfortably on its margins. Then came Ten New Songs in 2001, co-written and produced by Sharon Robinson. That was the first pure Cohen CD I bought – but not till 2004. I was hooked, gaffed, pulled up on deck and captured alive for the next 13 years.