Kennel-Shank: Staying awake in Gethsemane

Mar 27, 2017 by

The cemeteries where members of my extended families are buried are truly places of repose, surrounded by the fertile fields of Lancaster County, Pa. When I visit their graves, I sense that they are at rest,...

[read more]

Kennel-Shank: Places of sanctuary

Jan 2, 2017 by

Sharing my faith story with the church small group I’m part of, I described myself as a broken-hearted person. One person responded that she’d usually heard people describe themselves as tender-hearted...

[read more]

Kennel-Shank: Limits that free us for delight

Oct 10, 2016 by

Each week we receive an incredible gift, and yet so many of us leave it there, still in its wrapping paper and bow. Or we open it a little bit but then put it back in the box and set it in a corner to collect...

[read more]

Do-gooder’s dilemma

Jul 18, 2016 by

He usually stands at the bottom of the stairs that reach the street from the elevated train. Sometimes he sings; sometimes his spirits are low. He’s cheerful if he had a chance to sleep in a bed the night...

[read more]

Home is belonging, not owning

Apr 25, 2016 by

Ninety-nine Homes has a rare mix in a film: It’s suspenseful, yet deals with complex ethical issues. The drama centers on the lives of people in central Florida a few years after the 2008-09 financial...

[read more]

Not by bread alone

Feb 1, 2016 by

People do not live by bread alone, Jesus tells Satan when he is tempted in the wilderness. Though Jesus “was famished” — or perhaps because of that — he knows in his body that food is not all that we...

[read more]

New life from loss

Dec 21, 2015 by

Blackened trusses stand against the sky above the walls of an old church that burned. I often pass the corner where the church has sat since long before I knew the neighborhood’s name, long before I was...

[read more]

Caring for self is a must

Nov 10, 2015 by

In some circles, the term “self-care” is so overused as to elicit groans. In other places, the most likely response is, “What’s that?” In the hospital where I work as a chaplain, we talk with nurses,...

[read more]

Differences we tolerate

Sep 28, 2015 by

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and State Street attract people from around the world for pleasure shopping. Stores selling designer shoes, trendy clothes, high-end accessories and more line both sides of each...

[read more]

Finding God’s presence within the decay

Aug 17, 2015 by

More than a few people are surprised that I genuinely love working with compost. Sure, it smells bad sometimes and is occasionally slimy when it gets out of balance. But I enjoy being part of creating fresh,...

[read more]

A less popular faith

Jul 6, 2015 by

The largest religious groups in the United States received some difficult news in a recent survey. Mainline Protestant, Catholic and evangelical Christians all dropped in numbers over the past several years,...

[read more]

Challenges of a new home

May 25, 2015 by

My husband and I recently moved into the home we purchased a few months ago. We can envision living here for decades. Once all of the boxes are unpacked and the furniture put in place, we’ll need some time...

[read more]

Our stuff tells our story

Apr 13, 2015 by

Ah, stuff. There’s nothing quite like moving a household to spark thoughts on what it means in our culture and our tradition to have possessions and try to live faithfully with them. Except this time my...

[read more]

Ordained to be reverent

Mar 2, 2015 by

Culminating two years of being a licensed minister, and following eight years of seeing an inkling of a calling to pastoral ministry grow into a deep truth in my life, I was ordained in December. Since then,...

[read more]

A faithful leader engages creation care

Jan 19, 2015 by

In recent months, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Brian Sauder, a fellow credentialed Mennonite minister. Last year he became executive director of Faith in Place, headquartered in Chicago, which...

[read more]

Jury duty

Dec 8, 2014 by

As the judge began her address to the panel of jurors, she said that to serve on a jury is one of the highest civic duties, second only to being in the armed services “defending our country.” That was when...

[read more]

Reducing infant deaths

Oct 27, 2014 by

Singing “Nothing is lost on the breath of God” in church on a recent Sunday, my mind called up the face and tiny body of the stillborn child I blessed most recently. I had read about a church that held a...

[read more]

Choosing smartly

Sep 15, 2014 by

I was a late adopter to having a cellphone. Even my grandfather owned one before I did. It was my last year of college when I figured out that a cellphone plan would be cheaper than calling cards to reach my...

[read more]

Friend of homeless?

Aug 4, 2014 by

A verse of Scripture has been haunting me. I hear it as an indictment of an aspect of my personal life. It was read and preached on during Sunday worship in February. Then I found it in the unifying passage of...

[read more]

My ‘to don’t’ list

Jun 23, 2014 by

April Yamasaki, pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., gave me and other readers of her blog a great idea: an “I don’t do” list, alternatively called a “to don’t do” list. An “I...

[read more]

Competing for a house

May 12, 2014 by

I’m not generally a competitive person. But the capacity for competitiveness is there and sometimes it comes out in surprising moments. Recently it happened when I thought that a house my husband and I are...

[read more]

Vision of abundance

Mar 31, 2014 by

A man stood on a street corner selling magazines produced by an advocacy organization for the homeless — vendors keep part of their sales and build job skills. When a passerby told him she didn’t have $2...

[read more]

Honoring heritage, by any name

Feb 17, 2014 by

Names matter. They mark us as shaped by particular people who chose them or carried them down. A colleague who recently became engaged asked my thoughts about last names. I’ve received such questions for as...

[read more]

Resolve to judge others, and ourselves, less

Jan 6, 2014 by

It caught me by surprise that tears came to my eyes at an otherwise upbeat event around the campaign advocating $15 an hour for people working fast food and low-end retail jobs, rather than the minimum wage...

[read more]