Reservations are often hidden from sight; the real injustices suffered by neighbors so close to home are often hard to see. Justice demands that Americans act to defend everybody’s right to water. The right of the Navajo to water access at home is one that all Americans need to work much harder to defend. The Navajo Water Project is a small step toward defending that right, but we have a very long way to go.
2. What’s a suburban church to do?
Brian Fikkert calls suburban churches to play a crucial backstage role in addressing local poverty, supporting those in urban areas who take center stage. I’m not sure it’s a message many suburban church leaders will want to hear, but what he says here desperately needs to be said:
Key things that suburban churches can offer in such partnerships include: prayer, financial support, words of encouragement to staff, providing jobs to residents of the community, serving on a board, linking community members to their social networks, and sometimes providing teams of mentors. Most of these are roles that are less visible, requiring large doses of servanthood and “dying to self.” But these roles are highly strategic… However, suburban churches need to be acutely aware of the power dynamics present in such partnerships. “Suggestions” from wealthy churches can pressure less wealthy partners to pursue strategies that may not be healthy. It is crucial to listen and submit in our partnerships. This doesn’t mean that suburban churches can’t ask hard questions. But it does mean that those conversations need to happen in the context of a long-term, trusting relationship in which the front-line ministry knows that the suburban church respects their opinions.
3. Eugene Peterson on relational vitality
Somewhere or other this week I stumbled upon a 2002 interview with Peterson in Congregations magazine. The conversation focuses largely on pastoral and congregational life, and this insight in particular stood out:
I don’t think pastors “burn out” because they work too hard. People who work hard often do so because they’re good at what they’re doing and they enjoy doing it. I think burnout comes from working with no relational gratification. Relationships become laborious and draining. Pastors can lose touch with relational vitality when their relationships are driven by programmatic necessity. When this happens, pastors can lose the context for love, hope, faith, touch, and a kind of mutual vulnerability. In the midst of the congregation, pastors become lonely and feel isolated—and that isolation can be deadly to the pastoral life. Those are the conditions in which inappropriate intimacies flourish.
4. Henri Nouwen on the art of retreat
Thanks to David Dark for pointing me to this audio clip of the Dutch priest and author, speaking at a retreat at Laity Lodge in 1980. I’ve always wondered what he sounded like.
[Image via www.navajowaterproject.org]