News and Events

Justice, Ministry, parenting, Published articles

Banner Article: Towards an Anti-Racist Children’s Ministry

My recent article for The Banner looks at a topic I’ve struggled with in my job as Director of Family ministries: the need for, and lack of, diverse visual representation in children’s ministry, particularly as it pertains to Jesus.

For a while, I thought I was doing enough. I thought, “We have racial diversity in our congregation. The children are building relationships with people who are different from themselves. We have stick figures dressed in clothes from around the world painted in our Sunday school hallways. We are talking about love and acceptance and how we are all, in all our unique ways, made in God’s image.”

But then I observed some things that troubled me. I noticed how all the children, regardless of their own ethnicity, chose peach crayons to color their Bible characters.

Read the whole article here.

For other resources, check out this list of Multicultural Christian children’s books from Here We Read. As well, the article “Why We Must Start Talking About Race in Our Children’s Ministries” by Henry Zonio is an important read.

Blog posts, parenting

Waiting to Celebrate

When my first baby was a year and a nine months and no longer a baby, I finally found myself in a choir again. Being back in a cloud of voices, raining down notes together, was healing in a way a didn’t expect. We sang, among other songs, Andrew Carter’s Magnificat, and I could not get through Mary’s lullaby without my voice breaking: “I will love you, I will serve you, make my lullaby magnify, glorify the King of Kings.” Standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow church choristers, reading our music in the warm light of the choir loft, I was back in the early days of the baby’s life, breastfeeding him in the dimly light evenings. In those days, depressed and vulnerable, I would often cry, overwhelmed simultaneously with love for him and fear for what this broken and dark world would hold for him. How can I bring such innocence into such an evil world? Now as I sang almost two years later, I thought of Mary, breastfeeding the tiny Messiah, vulnerable and away from home. When she pondered all these things in her heart, did she feel the darkness of the world pressing against the innocence of the child she was now to care for? Nine months after she sang her triumphant song about his overcoming the darkness in this world, did she fear what this dark world would hold for him?

Advent and Mary and babies make me weepy since birthing my own children.

This year, I am caught off guard by a different artistic expression of Advent: an image by artist Scott Erickson, depicting a naked Mary labouring on a chair. I am undone seeing her face strained in pain, a yellow circle like a halo around her contracting belly. This year there are no choirs to sing in, no carols and lessons, no candlelight services to attend. Just the digital attempts at doing Advent together through scrolling social media feeds. They are frail substitutes. Often I find myself scrolling mindlessly, almost aggressively, trying to find some sliver of connection with others when we are surrounded by distancing. On Sunday mornings, I try to bask in the beauty of the Advent hymns ringing from the livestream of the worship service. But my baby and three-year-old can only sit in front of a computer screen for so long. Eventually we paint ornaments or eat snack while I try to catch snippets of the sermon. Church has become something we cobble together throughout the day.

In the evenings I light our makeshift Advent wreath—a kitschy gold tea light holder and a giant red candle. In the middle of supper the three-year-old breaks out in singing, “For health and strength and daily food, we praise your name, Oh Lord,” then explains, “I just wanted to sing that because we have the candles and I thought we should pray to God since we are celebrating God’s birth.” His dad and I join in the chorus the second time around. So we have a choir after all. After supper we try to carve out a moment in the chaos to read the story of John the Baptist from his children’s Bible. Then he blows out the candles enthusiastically, spraying molten wax on our table. Tomorrow at breakfast I will pick at these spots with my fingernail, shiny reminders of our attempts at home-bound liturgy. Artists, pastors and prophets offer their gifts online while we sit in our chairs, groaning in the pain of a labouring world, waiting to be together, waiting for God to arrive, waiting to be restored, waiting to celebrate. 

parenting, Published articles

Why Does Being Healthy Have to Hurt?

When we follow a Saviour who calls us to turn the other cheek, we can probably, at a bare minimum, cover those cheeks with a mask.

My small, peaceful hometown has been home to a number of anti-lockdown protests in recent months, including a march of 2000 people on November 7th. I wrote a bit about what’s happening there for the Christian Courier, as well as some thoughts on what it means for people of faith to respond to COVID-19.

‘Recently my very attentive three-and-a-half-year-old overheard me booking our flu shots over the phone. As I hung up, he blurted, “Are we all going to get shots?” His memory of the needle is distant, but his imagination of it is powerful. His lip began to quiver as I bent down to talk to him. 

“Yes,” I said, “because it will help us be healthier.” 

With tears in his eyes he said, “But why does being healthy have to hurt?”’ 

You can read more here.

Blog posts, Published articles

Cutting My Teeth as a Spiritual Writer

The Christian Courier is a Canadian Christian newsletter where I began my practice of spiritual writing. In October CC celebrated 75 years of publication. I wrote some of my reflections about writing for them, about starting as a timid columnist, and the gift of working with the late editor, Bert Witvoet as well as the current editor, Angela Reitsma Bick.

You can read that article published in the Christian Courier here.

Blog posts, Published articles

Consent in the Church

I’m a bit behind in posting this, but in September I wrote an article for The Banner entitled “Churches Need Hugs and Consent, and They Can Have Both.” Church is an important source of physical contact for many people. I think we often underestimate how deeply many of us need these points of connection. In my own life, outside of family, the church has been the biggest source of physical affection. However, sometimes that affection is not offered in ways that make people feel safe and comfortable. You can read more of my reflections on this here.