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These last couple weeks we’ve been wearing name tags during in-person worship services.  It’s good to remind each other who we are, or at least what our parents named us.  After living most of my life as the only Joel in the room, I now enjoy being one of several and so sign my tag “Joel M.”      

One of the things about living in Zoom-land for the last two years is that nametags come with the package.  And not just name tags, but often name tags + something else.  Depending on what kind of call I’m on, I may include the name of the church after my name: “Joel Miller, Columbus...

We live, as some have observed, in an attention economy.  Attention, like time, is a limited resource.  Because where we direct our attention impacts what we buy, getting and keeping our attention is a key strategy for those with something to sell.

Attention is also a spiritual resource.  It is essential for being in tune with ourselves and one of the greatest gifts – if not the greatest – we can give another person.  And we can tell, I can tell! when someone is or isn’t being attentive.    

It’s hard to talk about attention without considering the role smart phones play in...

The church camp I grew up going to every summer had a tradition that, in retrospect, was somewhat odd. One of the songs we regularly sang as part of mealtimes or worship services was the folk song “500 Miles.”  I always naively assumed this was just a camp song, and it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized it was more widely known and popularized by Peter, Paul, and Mary

I say this was an odd tradition because it’s not a particularly “church-y” song.  Even so, I think it became so popular with us campers because...

In the late 1700s the Russian leader Catherine the Great issued a decree inviting Europeans to come settle the newly conquered lands of the Russian Empire in present day Ukraine.  German speaking Mennonites answered the call.  They had previously fled persecution in the Netherlands and viewed this as an opportunity to build a self-sufficient community.  As pacifists they were also drawn by promised military exemption. 

Mennonite colonies in Ukraine were built among the Nogais, semi-nomadic pastoralists who trace their lineage back to Genghis Khan.  It was a tense relationship at...

Tomorrow, February 18, is the one-year anniversary of Edith leaving sanctuary.  She lived in our church building for 40 months to avoid deportation.  She has been living with her family in Columbus and now has a work permit.    

Last week a group of us accompanied Edith to an ICE check in (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).  She is under an order of supervision which includes sending ICE a monthly GPS-tagged picture through an app, and coming in person every four months.  It’s a common arrangement for folks without a secure status.  Edith was nervous because her ICE officer had...

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