Bearings: Navigating Life-as-Ministry
Giving Up, Giving In, Giving Hope | March 2019

Giving Up, Giving In, Giving Hope

Lent is a tricky season, calling us to consider lots of things we don’t often like to look at—suffering, need, sacrifice, chaos. The contributors to this issue of Bearings surely feel that vibe, refusing thin gestures of “giving up” one trifle or another as a thin symbol of solidarity. But they also refuse to give in, insisting on concrete, creative, community-based expressions of change that are the only meaningful expressions of hope for people and a planet in urgent need. Join Diane Bowers, Jamye Wooten, Jason Hines, artist DeAnne Parks, and, from our archives, Mark Collins for a collection of powerful reflections and inspirations for the Lenten season.

From the Editor

Giving Up, Giving In, Giving Hope

Rethinking How We Do Lent

As we begin the Lenten season in our various ways across the church, Bearings contributors have been mulling what the traditions of the seasons mean in these times—especially the practice of giving up something of significance to experience a wee bit, or at least express, an understanding of the sacrifice to which the season orients us. But like so many things... Read more
Featured Article

What’s in Your Hand?

An Asset-Based Approach to Community Ministry

In 2015, three days after the death of Freddie Gray, I joined forces with a coalition of grassroots activists and concerned citizens with a long track record of working for social justice in Baltimore to form Baltimore United for Change. We didn't wait for any funding — we put our heads, hearts and hands together and began to do the work. When Baltimore City schools... Read more
Featured Article

Playing Chicken with Care for the Earth

Why I Wonder about Wonder-Filled Approaches to Environmental Crisis

On Saturday, members of the congregation gathered to unpack our stuff into a new space. Gathered in the fellowship hall during a break in our activity came the specific and anxious question, “Who is going to make the coffee for hospitality hour after worship?” Embedded in the question was the asker’s intention to no longer be the only one who did it, and concern... Read more

Getting into the Weeds

Separation of Church and State is No Excuse for Separating Communities of Faith from Political Concerns

Because of my academic training and religious history, and because I am a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist, I come to a view of Christian faith and church life that is steeped in questions of religious liberty, the separation of church and state, and the acceptable role of the church in politics. In examining the modern American history of thought on this question,... Read more
Creative Insights

Art Speaks

Finding Spiritual Beauty in Chaos

Artist DeAnne Parks brings scripture and spirituality to visual life through vivid images that enliven religious spaces throughout the Upper Midwest. She shared a selection of her works and insight into her creative process with Bearings. ~Ed. When I begin, I have no plan for the outcome. I create chaos on the canvas, turning it and letting the paint drip.... Read more
From Our Archives

Giving Up for Lent … Or Maybe Not

The sight of my marked forehead on Ash Wednesday brings the inevitable question: “What are you giving up for Lent?” I have a stock answer: Lobster Newburg and healthy thoughts. Truth is, I genuinely struggle each year, knowing that whatever I choose to give up will be short-lived and followed by a guilt chaser. Yes, I am aware that Lent is not just a period... Read more