December 16, 2007

Laura Loewen - “Third Advent”

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Laura Loewen from Ebenezer Mennonite Church talked about turning vision into reality. She defined vision as a clear mental portrait of a preferable future (Barner). She quoted George Harma, "The future doesn't just happen, it is created by a vision" (from his book, Turning Vision into Action). In Isaiah 35, the prophet foretells the restoration of the land and God's shalom for humanity. The glory of Lebanon was its cedar trees, so he used that familiar image to inspire hope for the fullness of God's reign. As he looked at the barren land, Isaiah used his imagination to envision the grandeur of God's restored creation that he knew was possible. Laura quoted Jack Suderman of MC Canada who wrote in God's People Now, that "perhaps our church's greatest area of failure is our underdeveloped capacity to imagine what can yet be; the failure to imagine God's power at work; the failure to imagine that Jesus' life, cross, and resurrection actually have cosmic implications." She again quoted Barner, who wrote, "The visionary Christian is one who appreciates the past, lives in the present, but thinks in the future." The cartoon character Friar Tuck says, "To grow oaks, plant acorns, not owls", which Laura expanded on to say that the fruit we see is the direct result of the ideas that were planted some years past. She listed a number of positive seed-planting efforts such as: Mencoles' vision for the poor of Columbia, Jean Vanier's Larsh network of homes for the intellectually disabled; MCC's vision to help the people of North Korea for example; Mother Theresa's vision of dignity and safety for the poor in India; and Martin Luther King's vision of racial harmony and equal opportunity for all. Laura challenged us to ask ourselves, "how are we aligning ourselves with God's purposes?" She also questioned whether the existence of our para-church service organizations has given us an excuse to sit back and let them do the charitable work that we could be involved in. She also asked if we could be so brave as to intentionally set some measurable goals for ourselves and our organizations, so that we'll be able to recognize when our visions become reality! Her closing statement was very inspirational: "We need to imagine what can yet be, and if we cannot yet see the whole picture, lets look for the bits and pieces of goodness that are present -- lets encourage them, and let's celebrate them; let's pray for the grace of courage to take those steps, small as they might be, which will ultimately assist in God's vision for the healing and wholeness of all creation, to become a reality. [KJH]


Passage: Isaiah 35:1-10
Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event: 3rd Advent
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: Laura Loewen
Worship Leader: Don Teichroeb
Song Leader: Rosie Perera
Pianist: Ruth Enns
Usher: Rovin Karuna
Zoom Coordinator:
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