Tag Archives: Bruderhof

Witnesses

Second Sunday of Easter (April 7, 2013)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31

This week we hosted two visitors from the Bruderhof — a Christian community that seeks to recapture the model of the first century church. Edith and Kim Ann are volunteers at House of Hope in Bethlehem and are taking a short break in Jordan. While here, they have been assisting Cindy in teaching ESL classes with Iraqis who are awaiting resettlement to the United States.

Kristy Guertin at start of the Dead Sea Marathon, Apr. 5

Kristy Guertin at start of the Dead Sea Marathon, Apr. 5

A prominent member of the Bruderhof community, Josef Ben-Eliezer, who during his life acted and spoke boldly for justice and peace in the Middle East, died March 23.

We also enjoyed visits this week with Michael Greer and Eric Oltman, two friends that we first learned to know during our years at Washington Community Fellowship.

The race began in the rain and fog, but the weather quickly changed as runners wound their way down the mountain and into the Jordan Valley

The race began in the rain and fog, but the weather quickly changed as runners wound their way down the mountain and into the Jordan Valley

On Friday, Kristy Guertin, SALT volunteer at MCC Global Family partner Arab Episcopal School (AES), ran the Dead Sea Marathon, along with her friend and work colleague Lena Gomer. Both completed the 42 km (26.2 mi.) course with great times, finishing in the top 20 in the women’s division. Franziska Kadur, a third volunteer at AES, led the marathon cheering squad, which included Carolyn and Gordon Epp-Fransen, along with Daryl.

Lena and Kristy on rain-soaked road just outside Amman

Lena and Kristy on rain-soaked road just outside Amman

In the region this week:

  • The U.N. announced that it is running out of funds to support Syrian refugees, who now number well over one million across the region.
  • There are now more than 470,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan and humanitarian organizations are predicting that the number in Jordan alone could swell to more than 1.0 million by year end. UNHCR has registered most of the refugees. The high cost of energy – exacerbated by the influx of refugees — is pressing Jordan to look at renewable energy sources.
Za'atari Refugee Camp, home to 150,000 Syrians (Getty Photos)

Za’atari Refugee Camp, home to 150,000 Syrians (Getty Photos)

  • Talks between Iran and Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany resumed, Apr. 5, in Kazakhstan. So far there has been little progress toward agreement over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

The Common Lectionary Readings are about being witnesses.

In the reading from Acts, in spite of being warned by the religious authorities not to teach about Jesus, his disciples speak openly about witnessing his death, resurrection and exultation. “We must obey God rather than any human authority,” they reply when dragged before the angry religious leaders (Acts 5:29).

The views along the hilly Dead Sea Marathon course were stunning

The views along the hilly Dead Sea Marathon course were stunning

The psalmist gives witness to God’s mighty deeds and surpassing greatness (Ps. 150:2).

John, the writer of Revelation, describes Jesus as “the faithful witness” (Rev. 1:5) – the one who showed the world how God desires humanity to live in right relationship with God and one another.

#1 marathon fan and support crew, Franziska Kadur, Kristy and Lena's colleague at Arab Episcopal School

#1 marathon fan and support crew leader, Franziska Kadur, Kristy and Lena’s colleague at AES

The same John says that he has written a Gospel account to give witness to the signs that Jesus did in the presence of the disciples, as well as his resurrection from the dead, “so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.” (John 20:31)

In a world torn by suffering and violence, may our lives, too, bear faithful witness to God’s mighty acts and to God’s plan for a just and peaceful world.

#1 bakerette --granddaughter Sydney has already learned that waiting for the cookies to bake is overrated

#1 bakerette –granddaughter Sydney has already learned that waiting for the cookies to bake is highly overrated

Have you still no faith?

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (June 24, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
II Cor. 6:1-13; Job 38:1-11; Ps. 107; Mark 4:35-41

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and activity. After visiting the three MCC advocacy offices (New York, Washington and Ottawa), we traveled to Alberta to speak in a variety of school and church settings. We also enjoyed interacting with the energetic and visionary MCC Alberta staff.

From Alberta we traveled to the Woodcrest Community in Rifton, New York — part of the Bruderhof communities. There we shared stories about MCC’s Middle East work and had a chance to visit with community members who have traveled to the Middle East during our Jordan years.

Jeremy and brother/best man Holden wait for the ceremony to begin

From New York, we traveled to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, for the June 9th wedding of our son Jeremy to Lyndsay Adams. It was a wonderful family weekend celebration. The bride and groom planned a beautiful ceremony and reception.

Lyndsay Adams and Jeremy Byler, married June 9

From Lewisburg, we flew to Kansas to begin a time with MCC Central States. We visited with pastors, MCC alumni and a local peace group; and spoke in a public forum in Wichita. We were impressed by the level of understanding and interest in Middle East issues. Next we spent a day with MCC New Orleans staff, learning about their challenging work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We then traveled to Meridian, Mississippi to speak in a worship service at Jubilee Mennonite Church – the congregation we were part of for nearly a dozen years in the 1980s and 1990s. What a delightful time to re-connect with so many long-term friends!

Sydney entertains the head table at the wedding reception

We are now spending a few days with Cindy’s mother in Kidron, Ohio, before finishing the last leg of our trip in Goshen, Indiana. We’re looking forward to returning to Amman on July 1.

Cindy’s brother Doug Lehman and fiance Bonnie Steffee; Doug and Bonnie met at Wendy’s in Dalton, Ohio, and still enjoy eating there!

We have been following Middle East news closely as we travel:

The situation in Syria only seems to be heating up, in spite of a U.N.-brokered peace plan. More than 110,000 Syrians are now living in Jordan. Some 22,000 have already registered as refugees with UNHCR. A Syrian air force pilot defected to Jordan on Thursday, June 21, along with his plane. Clashes between Israelis and militants in Gaza have also been on the upswing, with heavy casualties in Gaza.

The Common Lectionary readings for this fourth week after Pentecost are about God’s command over the forces of nature.

In the Old Testament reading, the Lord reminds Job about the God-created limits of the seas: “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out of the womb? – and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped’”? (Job 38:8, 10-11)

The psalmist describes God’s capacity to both stir up storms and calm the seas:

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters;
They saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity;
They reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress;
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. (Ps. 107:23-29)

No fear of water for 7-month-old Sydney

In the Gospel reading, Jesus falls asleep while sailing with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee. A mighty storm swells the waves, which beat against the boat and terrify the disciples. In their fear, they waken Jesus and demand, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Jesus rebukes the wind and says to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” The winds cease and there is dead calm. Jesus then turns to his disciples and says, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41)

We know in our heads that God creates and ultimately contains and controls the forces of nature. And yet, like the disciples of Jesus, we often become fearful in the moment – wondering whether God cares and whether global events are spinning out of control. The One who calms the seas still asks, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Our son Holden’s first “Father’s Day” gift