MB YOUTH SOARING WITH CONTEMPLATIVE MINISTRY?

This March in California, student participants in MB SOAR Santa Cruz March 22-30 partnered with two MB church congregations to reach the Santa Cruz and San Jose areas. One of these partnerships included inviting the neighbourhood to an Easter “Sneak Peek” event celebrating some new things that Shorelife Community Church[1] offered the community…

“The SOAR participants who work alongside Shorelife will help staff a basketball camp for middle school students, prepare and serve meals to a homeless community—an ongoing ministry of Shorelife—help with manual labor for some projects on the church campus, serve at a local elementary school and help the church prepare for their annual prayer labyrinth and Easter services.[2]
In both locations, prayer will be key, so teams will spend considerable time praying for the communities, the churches and the people. They will also spend time daily in Scripture, small groups and journaling.”

SOAR Santa Cruz Targets California Communities
MB Mission offers new short-term opportunity within the U.S.
http://www.usmb.org/soar-santa-cruz-targets-california-communities

Of all the churches that could have been chosen to ‘partner’ with, why Shorelife Community Church? They have been using prayer labyrinths[3] since 2006 and even before that had a history of contemplative worship, as was described in The Christian Leader, March 2008, page 15, Church incorporates prayer labyrinth into Holy Week:
http://www.usmb.org/Websites/usmb/Images/The%20New%20Old%20Spirituality.pdf.
Beside it on the same page was another article called The New Old Spirituality by Tim Neufeld (then professor of contemporary Christian ministries at Fresno Pacific University and on the pastoral staff at North Fresno MB Church), who wrote:

IMAGINE THIS SCENE. TEENS SILENTLY FORM A LINE in a hallway, patiently waiting late into the night to enter a room in which they will experience an ancient spiritual discipline: contemplative prayer. When they emerge from the prayer room an hour later, many have tears in their eyes, smiles on their faces and peace in their hearts. They have just walked a prayer labyrinth, an interactive 11-station experience in which the participants learn to practice the presence of Christ. Scenes like this are happening again and again in churches, camps and conferences all over North America.
– Church incorporates prayer labyrinth into Holy Week:
http://www.usmb.org/Websites/usmb/Images/The%20New%20Old%20Spirituality.pdf

We don’t have to imagine it anymore. It’s happening. But who would have imagined it would happen in Mennonite Brethren churches and youth outreaches? Especially after all Menno Simons and his early Anabaptist followers suffered to stay true to God’s Holy Word and separate themselves from the unbiblical practices of their time.

The Rev. Daniel Clubb of Shorelife Community Church kneels in a prayer labyrinth set up for contemplation and to observe the Stations of the Cross.

For those who have been deceived into believing that a prayer labyrinth is compatible with Christianity, please read What is a prayer labyrinth? Are prayer labyrinths biblical? at http://www.gotquestions.org/prayer-labyrinth.html.

ENDNOTES:
[1] http://www.shorelifecc.org
[2] ‘Good Friday Prayer Labyrinth’
http://www.shorelifecc.org/event/65171-2013-03-29-good-friday-prayer-labyrinth/
[3] ‘Prayer labyrinth unwinds questions of faith’
http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/california/ci_14813705
Photograph: Dan Coyro/Sentinel
‘Santa Cruz County churches hold Good Friday observations’
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_14806506

Christian Yoga at Mennonite Camp

Two years ago at Camp Squeah, Christian youth learned to walk the labyrinth (see Did these Young Mennonites Walk the Labyrinth?).

This year at Camp Squeah, it was a yoga retreat.

Exploring mind, body and soul connections
Yoga retreat brings spiritual insights

By Amy Dueckman
B.C. Correspondent
HOPE, B.C.

Determination to exercise more, or to improve one’s spiritual life, are on many people’s lists as they begin a new year. Thirty people who met at Camp Squeah from Jan. 11 to 13 found a way to do both through a retreat with the theme of “Breath of God” and the practice of yoga from a Christian perspective.
Angelika Dawson of Abbotsford, B.C., who spearheaded the retreat, had taken up yoga at her local recreation centre over a year ago, to increase her physical flexibility and strength. She loved the meditation and breathing exercises, but wasn’t always comfortable with the secular direction of imagining peace and light, or the distracting music…

Read more here:

http://www.canadianmennonite.org/articles/exploring-mind-body-and-soul-connections

Camp Squeah is owned by the Mennonite Church British Columbia. It is a children’s summer camp, retreat centre and outdoor education facility. Here is their promotion of the recent yoga retreat:

Breath of God – Yoga from a Christian Perspective
January 11-13, 2013

This is a retreat for those seeking to deepen the contemplative dimension of their spiritual life through the practice of yoga and meditation in the Christian tradition. Gentle yoga stretching, yoga poses and breathing exercises are introduced not only as a path for relaxation, rejuvenation and stress reduction but also as a way to open the heart and body to a healing encounter with the transforming spirit of Christ within.

Read in more detail about this here:

‘Christian Yoga Retreat’ at a Christian Camp
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/christian-yoga-retreat-at-a-christian-camp/

Interfaith Compassion?

On the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre under most popular resources we find a new video made for a Junior High-Adult audience called Leap in Faith: Glimpses of Spirituality and Beliefs. 
The video is a production of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery (Winnipeg, MB) directed by Manju Lodha[1] and Ray Dirks[2]…

Discover eight faith traditions, all now common in Canada. 

Watch the entire video or break it into faith chapters with discussion after each. 

Invite representatives of each tradition to take you beyond the introductions found in Leap in Faith. 

Understand differences and discover similarities. 

Share in wishes for peace and compassion for all.
-http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca/MostPopularResources

Here is the trailer:

Peace and compassion
Compassion and peace
Knowing eachother wherever we come from
Bahai, Buddhist, Christian or Muslim
Let’s continue to try to understand
All the different religions of this land
This world abounding in beauty
We should be walking hand in hand.

Very nice people, lovely peaceful song, nice sentiments.

There is a compassion that accepts and understands and walks hand in hand with people of other religions (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), and then there is a greater compassion, the one that loves them enough to tell them the truth (John 3:16-18).

As Carl Teichrib exhorts in An Inside Look at the Global Interfaith Agenda:

“As a follower of Jesus Christ and His exclusive message of salvation, stay alert to how the interfaith movement is shaping your own community and the church. The New Age/interfaith movement recognizes that education at the grassroots level is vital to its global agenda. Already many churches and Christian schools have succumbed to its philosophy of “religious pluralism.” In Jesus own words, “take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matt. 24:4) Likewise, counter the dangers of this philosophy by ingraining God’s truth in yourself and your children.

Consider the exhortation of Deuteronomy 6,”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.””

Footnotes:

[1]Manju Lodah is an Indian-born Winnipeg artist who sustains her Hindu identity with art. See:
Beautiful connections: Art is heart of Indian religion, culture, philosophy and humanity
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/special/ourcityourworld/southAsia/beautiful-connections-145317995.html
Art exhibition set to break through faith barriers
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/our-communities/times/Art-exhibition-set-to-break-through-faith-barriers–138427319.html
[2] Watch: Interfaith Dialogue at CCS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPXlsF0pj7E
Feb 28, 2013: Ray Dirks and Manju Lodha reflect on Interfaith Dialogue as part of the Centre for Christian Studies’ “Second Fridays” series of noon hour discussions held on the second Friday of each month.

CMU’s New President comments on McLaren’s Controversial Visit

Remember when Canadian Mennonite University invited that guy in to speak that could have be perceived as controversial? You know, the Refreshing Winds conference that one CMU Student found very cool but that was so risky?

Well . . . CMU has spoken:

Q: CMU has taken risks by inviting some speakers from different theological traditions who may be perceived as controversial (such as Brian McLaren, a leading figure in the emerging church movement). What’s the payoff that makes that risk worthwhile?

A: “CMU’s mission statement says that we’re moved and transformed by the life and teachings of Jesus. We’re completely convinced that Jesus put himself in conversations and places outside of what the religious world would have embraced around him.”

– Cheryl Pauls, president, Canadian Mennonite University
http://mbherald.com/renaissance-woman-takes-office-in-cmu-castle/

No comment.

Please read Parts 1-5 of Menno-lite’s review on the Refreshing Winds conference at CMU here:

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 1
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-1/

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 2
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-2/

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 3
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-3/

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 4
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-4/

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 5
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-5/

Healing the Gospel or Changing it?

Is Brian McLaren finding a place with the Seventh Day Adventists? Their online Spectrum Journal recently posted his 2009 interview at Point Loma Nazarene University:

Sabbath Sermon: A New Kind of Christian—Brian McLaren
http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2013/02/08/sabbath-sermon-new-kind-christian—brian-mclaren

They are looking forward to a Chattanooga conference with Brian McLaren and believe that he and author Derek Flood are advocating themes of intense relevancy to Adventists. Their review (see ‘Healing the Gospel’— A Review) says that “Healing The Gospel” by Derek Flood (www.therebelgod.com) is a powerful argument for why the penal substitution model is inadequate, and in fact harmful, for understanding the atonement. An author, theologian and regular writer for the Huffington PostFlood is also an author for Jim Wallis’s Sojourners and Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians, where his contribution page includes such titles as God Loves Us F**k-Ups and I Believe in a Rebel God.

Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice, and the Cross is Flood’s new book on the atonement. If the foreword by Brian McLaren is not indication enough of ‘reader beware’, the endorsements on the back cover are – Phyllis Tickle, Michael Hardin and Brad Jersak. Hardin, who visited the sister blog of his one and left comments that were less than polite, partnered with Jersak’s project, Stricken by God, which met with some unfavourable reviews from Bible believing Christians. Phyllis Tickle is a leader in the emerging church and contemplative prayer movement.

Even so, one Christian reviewer of this book in the April 2013 MB Herald issue (see Restoration focus on gospel demands consistency, challenges all perspectives) offers no warnings but rather found Healing the Gospel to be a “relevant guide” that “fits well our MB conviction of the Bible’s authority for faith and life.”

What perilous days these are.

UPDATE:

Brian McLaren has just endorsed Brad Jersak’s latest book called A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel, published by Plain Truth Ministries (www.ptm.org), where Jersak is a senior editor of their CWR blog (Christianity Without Religion). The recommended reading on the Plain Truth Ministries website speaks volumes (www.ptm.org/quad/bookList.htm). Jersak’s book is reviewed and endorsed by Derek Flood, Richard Rohr, William Paul Young, Brian McLaren, Eugene Peterson.

Awaken Your Senses

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14

Last November in the MB Herald was a review for Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God (by J.Brent Bill, Beth A. Booram), a book about about experiencing God through smell, taste, and touch. The MB Herald review tells us that this book draws on scripture and Christian traditions of earlier centuries to invite young and old to become present to God with their five senses with simple contemplative exercises…

One of the “touch” exercises involves the Ignatian practice of entering into a Gospel story where Jesus heals someone through his touch. We are then invited, through our imagination, to feel Jesus touch us in a place where we need healing…

In this section, we are also invited to “come home to ourselves.” The labyrinth is introduced as a means of sensing how God dwells by his Spirit in the deepest place in our hearts, the centre of our being. We can hold that awareness with us as we move out from the place of stillness at the centre, then outward again.

—Daphne Esau Kamphuis, spiritual director, member of Highland Community church
Current Books, MB Herald, November 2012
http://www.mbconf.ca/home/products_and_services/resources/publications/mb_herald/november_2012/crosscurrents/current_books/awaken_your_senses/

Daphne Esau Kamphuis concludes, “I highly recommend Awaken Your Senses to MB readers.”

As author Brent Bill is also a Quaker minister and retreat leader, Awaken Your Senses can also be found at Quaker Books (quakerbooks.org). He has also authored The Sacred Compass: Spiritual Practices for Discernment (foreword by Richard Foster). Beth Booram, a spiritual director and healing prayer practitioner, has also written another book called Wide Open Spaces of God. In an interview with the authors at Read the Spirit, the authors of Awaken Your Senses suggest “feeling with your hands the various textures around you as you engage in prayer. Perhaps corduroy fabric, or felt, or wood, or stone or other textures that might suggest themes in your prayers.” Beth finds her inspiration from authors Parker Palmer, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Keating and J. Philip Newell. (Read the Spirit [readthespirit.com] is an interfatih media network focusing on religion and spirituality which also promotes James Bond and Twilight movie Bible studies, the Hindu light festival of Diwali, and Islam.)

Others promoting the sensual gospel in Awaken Your Senses besides the MB Herald include:

The Mennonite Church Canada
http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca/ResourceView/16/14984

The Lutherans
http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article.cfm?article_id=10630

The United Methodist Church
http://www.unitedmethodistreporter.com/2012/05/exploring-faith-through-the-senses/