Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Choosing life and hope

Spirit prompted me to reflect on the nature of hope during my final offering of theological reflection at this past weekend’s national justice-making Turn! gathering in Pinawa, Manitoba.

Biblical words that have been turning within during this first leg of Spirit Express journeys include these from Deuteronomy 30:19: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” Choosing life is the essence of hope.

I’m gathering too many stories of people choosing life and hope to keep up with in this blog, so they’ll wait for further writing. But here are a few:

Shortly after some moose hunters and I flagged down the train to get on in Foleyet in northern Ontario, I met Rosamund Hyde at table in the dining car. Turns out she’s a civil engineer who’s chosen to travel by train since 2006, choosing abundant life for the Earth—and for herself, as she says in this article in the June issue of Canadian Consulting Engineer.

As you can see, the article begins with the question about what has made her choose the train, to which she says, “Like other people, I feel called to explore, ‘What is the life abundant?’”

Yes, she’s an active church member, until recently at St. Andrew’s United in Vancouver, and since her recent move to Ontario, she and her family are now active in the Anglican church, not only locally but beyond (the Anglican church is the church in their new community). Rosie chooses life—and hope.

Bruce Faurschou, Executive Secretary of the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, drove me to Pinawa for the TURN! conference and suggested we leave early to meet with the Pinawa Christian Fellowship. I’m so grateful he did!

Since 1963, this shared ministry of Mennonite Church Manitoba, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, The Anglican Church of Canada, and The United Church of Canada has blessed the community with a strong sense of mission and outreach. They contribute to the mission funds of all four of their parent denominations in addition to local and ecumenical projects that they support financially and through service. They worship in the school and have their office in the local business centre. Instead of constructing a church building, they’ve decided to build housing for those who need it. Talk about choosing life and hope! They offer an inspiring model. I’m delighted that their minister, Robert Murray, posted photos and words about our visit together.

With members of Pinawa Christian Fellowship. Photo: Rev. Robert Murray.

With members of Pinawa Christian Fellowship. Photo: Rev. Robert Murray.

The way Milly Malavsky tells it, the people of Trinity United in Winnipeg and Fort Richmond High School—on the other side of the street—used to be engaged in a war over parking. After some incidents of vandalism, they decided to resolve things through mediation. That was the turning point from which Trinity now offers students pancake lunches during exam weeks (when their cafeteria is closed) and the students offered to help Trinity with their big vegetable garden that serves the broader community. Consequently, the Moderator was invited to speak with Ms. Moses’ World Geography class last week! It’s unusual for any religious leader to be invited into a public school class these days, but the relationship between Trinity and Fort Richmond has clearly grown into one of trust—of choosing life and hope.

Earlier in that same day of six events in 10 hours, I met with 101-year-old Gertrude Whetter, who reflects the very essence of life and hope. What a lovely visit we had recalling the significance of CGIT in our lives, and more. (I’m tweeting daily about such events and visits, so please find me on Twitter.)

With Gertrude Whetter. Photo: Milly Malavsky.

With Gertrude Whetter. Photo: Milly Malavsky.

And the Spirit Express is catching the media’s interest by which our stories of life and hope can be more broadly cast. Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press devoted a full page to life and hope.

What’s your story of choosing life and hope these days? I offer this question as a way to reflect and give God thanks. I also ask so that you might share your stories here with me and with one another. I may or may not be able to respond directly, but your stories will be a gift to community, and to me. In the Life, Hope, and Peace of Christ!