Sunday, December 29, 2013

Where in the World is God?

Where is the visible God of the Old Testament, mighty and thunderous, and why is He silent now?
Why doesn't He perform miracles?
Why doesn't He answer prayers instantly and emphatically?

Does He care about the needy?
Doesn't God know how the masses would believe on Him if He'd show himself daily, monthly or annually?

These are all questions that run through our minds when we think about God. And to find the answers one must read the Autobiography of God: The Holy Bible.

When God made the first human beings Adam and Eve, He made them immortal and in direct communication with Him. God walked and talked with them; He as their Father and they as His children. But when they sinned by disobedience and ate from the tree of life, God cast them out of Eden. By their actions this perfect communion was lost, for sin cannot survive before the pureness of God.

The world multiplied and there was little communication until Noah, who received the command to build an ark to save a faithful few from the flood. Then, when God decided to claim a nation of people for His own, He directed Abraham to leave the land of his forefathers. At this time God was communicating mostly through dreams and angelic messengers.

 Many years later on Mount Herob, the Voice of God from the burning bush told Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and into the land promised to Abraham and his descendants forever. There was no room left for doubt in anyone's mind about the realness and power of God when He persuaded Pharaoh to let his people go through the 10 plagues. Even Pharaoh's sorcerers and magicians admitted: "This is the finger of God."

And so The LORD led His people out of Egypt with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, through the wilderness for three months, with Moses as His messenger. For 40 years he would be with His people constantly, but out of the 600,000 men that left Egypt, only 2 would enter the Promised Land.

Next came the reigns of the Judges and Kings. Without fail: when they chose to follow the commandments of God they were unbeatable; when they sinned against God their enemies overtook them. Consequences of blessings and curses in those days were black and white. Yet why didn't they follow Him?

At the end of the Old Testament and beginning of the New Testament God entered a new phase. His direct interference with mans doings was now ended; the fire and thunder of his direct revelations and the instant rewards or destructions came to a close. He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to represent Him. He lived 33 years amongst man preaching and teaching them of His Holy ways and plans.

However, they did not believe what he plainly told them. Instead they executed Him in the most excruciatingly painful and humiliating way of their times. Death by crucifixion.

But to their surprise and our salvation Jesus rose from the dead and spent 40 days on earth. He showed himself to be alive to many before He ascended to be with His Father. That was the ending of the 2nd phase, and the beginning of the New Covenant.

The New Covenant: Before Jesus ascended into heaven He instructed his disciples that they should go and not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which was to be the Holy Spirit.

Jesus in John 14:15-17 had promised them "If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."

One may ask; "What is this Holy Spirit?"

The easiest way to explain would be like this; we all have spirits, I have one and you have one. You can't know my thoughts, for you don't have my spirit. Likewise; I can't know your thoughts, for I don't have your spirit. But when God sends us His Spirit, we can know how He wants us to behave, because His Spirit lives in us! That is really special, wouldn't you say?

 And if His Spirit lives in us then we see what the Apostle Paul meant when he said "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

These are wonderful words, but they come with responsibilities, as the parable in Matthew 25 teaches us.

 "For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

 The people will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?"

 He will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

This parable tells us to seek how we can serve Jesus in the people around us every day. This might be our sick neighbour, our elderly parents, the troubled young man at work, the hungry child, the stranger in need, whoever it might be; let God's Spirit in us answer the need in them.

We may not hear God's voice like Moses and the Israelites did in the wilderness of Sinai, with smoke and fire; but we may hear Him in the voice of a friend or even a stranger. We may hear Him in church where His word is preached. For Jesus promised "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

 We may not see the miracles of the Old Testament when manna fell from heaven to feed the children of Israel, or the 5 loaves and 2 fish with which Jesus fed the 5000; but we may see these works of God in hungry countries through people moved to help the needy by His Spirit.

 We may not see our prayers answered as Elijah's was on Mount Carmel, when he challenged the prophets of Baal to call upon their god while he called upon his. God answered by not only consuming Elijah's offering with fire, but also by burning the stones of the altar. When the people of Israel saw this, they fell on their faces; and cried: “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!" In our times, we may get an answer that is not apparent to us now, but in retrospect may be greater and more substantial than we prayed for.

We may not be cured of our afflictions like the man from Lystra, a cripple from birth to whom the Apostle Paul said: "Stand up straight on your feet!" and immediately the man leapt up and walked. For those of us today whose lives are affected by illnesses, we may lead hearts towards Jesus and be touched by others along our journey. The Bible has many comforting words including these; "The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Why do we think the visible presence of God would make a difference in who believes in Him today when history teaches us the opposite? A precious few did believe, but the vast majority ridiculed Him, were indifferent to him, or feared Him more than they loved Him.

 There is a parable that tells us of a rich man who died and awoke in hell, and of Lazarus, a poor man who died and went to heaven. The rich man pleaded with Father Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to testify to his 5 living brethren lest they also come into this place of torment. Father Abraham replied "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."

 Scripture says His Spirit resides on anyone who follows His commandments and accepts Jesus as their Saviour. These will then show the true fruits of the Spirit, which are; love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: all described in Galatians 5:22-23.
 And like a tree, the more fruit it carries, the lower to the ground it bends, contrasting with one with no fruit, standing tall and proud.

So to answer to the question ‘Where in the world is God?’ is quite simple.

God is here with us, just as He always has been. He is as loving, as just, and as real as He ever was. Where His Spirit is, there He is also. If we as partakers of His Spirit follow His commandments to love and care for one another, then we are fulfilling Jesus' words: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you." Then our random acts of kindness would truly be random acts of Jesus.

We who bear His Spirit are God's witnesses to the Earth today. As His spirit works in us, we can truly be as Adam and Eve were before the Fall: Children of God.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Steh, Ephraim, besinne dich. Song from Hutterite "Kleine Gesangbuch"

This is my humble translation of an old German Church song which appears in our Hutterite "Kleine Gesangbuch". This song reiterates God's all-encompassing and unending Grace and Love for us. Love and Grace so great that it surpasses human understanding. Yet we humans can veto it, and oft times do by unbelief, and non-acceptance of Jesus Christ as our personal God and Savoir.  The line that sums up this song goes "I am God without you" telling us in the end, our salvation is up to us and our personal choice, we can take it or leave it.

Stay, Ephraim, don't disbelieve,
Eternal life lies waiting,
My heart breaks for you, child it grieves, 
Do you choose death unending?
Have I not fathered you,
Have I not nourished you,
You have but purest love from me,
O feeble worm, where headest thee?

You haste from Me, I'm calling you
My heart with love is burning,
You rush towards that fiery tomb,
Relentless and not caring.
Mere mortal, concentrate,
Stay still, evaluate,
Have I not made you bona fide?
And you become the Devils bride.

Oh do not think, I am a beast,
That needs blood for survival,
How good, how rewarding will be,
For all who seek my bridal.
Come here, my child, come here,
I am no wolf or bear,
I, I am God, the Purest Love,
What profits me a hand of blood? 

Alas, alas I see my child
Running towards perdition, 
I cry and plead, he is so blind,
There is no recognition.
O Ephraim, stay still,
Don't pursue your free will,
I love you unconditionally,
I'll be there in your greatest need.

And Oh, how much it hurts to see
Your plight, your endless fleeing,
My heart starts breaking, lamenting,
Oh hear my urgent pleading.
Oh feeble, paltry worm,
You haste, a raging storm
To everlasting grief and pain,
Yet could be saved in Jesus' reign. 

As sure as I'm Eternal God,
Don't want your ruin, never.
Please come to Me, misguided soul
I'll grant you Life forever.
The Lamb has ransomed you,
Immerse your sins into
His wounds, which did with crimson seep
Then I will show you mercy deep

See Ephraim, how true I am,
Who better is to Love thee,
Oh, come to me and take my Hand,
How can you disappoint me.
Flee, flee this evil world
That caught you in it's whirl,
Flee, flee far from this Sodom, rouse
And come into your Fathers house.

Once you'll decide to follow me
I'll tear those chains that bind you,
You will repent, I'll set you free
Then Jesus' blood will save you.
Believe in Me, you'll see,
I'll grant you personally
Atonement, Grace, with all My Might
Just do not flee, come to My Light.

If all the pleasures of this earth
Could satisfy your yearning,
I'd grant her in her greatest worth
To you for all eternal.
I am God without you  
But you, I pity you,
What thrills your heart and seems so free
Forsakes you in eternity. 

And what will fill your empty heart
And still your endless searching?
What seems today to be so smart
Won't satisfy eternal,
Lust, riches, pride and gold
Dissipates like wisps of smoke,
So come to me, deluded soul,
For I alone am worth it all.

And oh, how great Salvation is
That waits for you in Heaven,
No death, no pain, no suffering,
No enemy, no devil.
I am your Savoir, God,
Your shield, refuge above,
So Ephraim, come seek, come soon,
This all is waiting here for you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hutterite Myths, Fact or Fiction?

Hutterites Myths debunked by MaryAnn Kirkby (Author of "I Am Hutterite) with input from Paul Wipf and Louie Vetter. 

Myth #1: Hutterites don't pay taxes. 

Fact: This is complete fiction. Far from being tax exempt,  Hutterites pay more taxes than the average citizen and considerably more than neighbouring  farmers. Colonies pay taxes on net income divided among all colony workers over the age of 18. They file taxes with the IRS under the Revenue act 501(d). Taxes are determined by dividing total colony income by the number of residents, then adding deductions. They pay income tax (federal and state), sales tax, school tax, health and education tax, property tax, etc. 

Myth #2: Hutterites collect “welfare” and other social benefits such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc. and get government aid for school lunches on colonies.

Fact:  Hutterites do not collect welfare nor social security and other benefits despite the fact that we pay into them.  Some Hutterite Colonies in Montana do accept food vouchers for school lunches where they are offered and qualify, just like all the other beneficiaries.  And why should they not?  We struggle like everyone else and all we ask is to be treated fairly.  The bottom line is, we pay more and get less than average citizens.    
Myth # 3
Hutterites are thieves.  Hutterite women have to be watched in stores or they might steal a TV or a tricycle under their dress.

Fact: How ludicrous.  This is like saying Italians are members of the Mafia or Black people are gangsters. Hutterite women are not sophisticated enough to steal a bike or a t.v., neither of which are approved items. Notwithstanding the perils of store security and video cameras it would be far too risky to bring these to the colony and next to impossible not to be found out.  
This myth is a blatant case of discrimination.  It does not match up with police reports which instead of corroborating this myth establish that Hutterites have among the lowest crime rate in the county and that includes theft.
 Hutterites follow the commandments in the Bible and stealing is forbidden and there are serious consequences especially for adult members of the community.  I remember only once when I was a young girl that a woman on my colony was caught stealing a package of jujubes from the Woolworth’s store.  Everyone knew about it because she was required to stand throughout the church service and be made an example of.  I remember how she hung her head and how humiliated she was.  It made such an impression on me.  Who would risk that?
The irony of it was that after I left the colony I found to my great surprize that stealing was considered a rite of passage in mainstream society.  The kids at school thought nothing of going to the local drugstore and stealing a candy bar or items of jewelry over the noon hour.  And for the most part there was no consequence unless they got caught.
When it comes up during question period at my public speaking engagements I always ask, “tell me honestly, who here has ever stolen something” and inevitably almost every hand in the room goes up.

Myth #4: Hutterites are trying to buy as much land as they can get their hands on and can outbid almost anyone who purchases it.

Fact: Hutterites are farmers. That's who we are and what we do. To be sustainable and stay ahead of inflation we buy farmland. We will not pay more than the land is worth, to do so would guarantee our extinction. Farmers who live near a Hutterite Colony are guaranteed to get fair market value for their land when they decide to retire and/or  move on to other ventures.

Myth #5: You could stay on Hutterite land from Lewistown to the Canadian border.

Fact: The colonies own about 1,000,000 acres in Montana. According to the 2004 census there are 60 million acres of farmland  in Montana. Comparing the 1,000,000 to 60, 000,000 and the Hutterites immediately fall into their proper perspective. Again according to the 2004 census there were 28000 farmers, 50 of these farms are occupied by Hutterites. Let us be fair and multiply the 50 colonies by 10 so as to make them average farms and we have 500 farms occupied by Hutterites. Again compare the figure of 500 with 28000 and the Hutterites "problem" is viewed in its proper perspective. The 2004 census showed that the farm population in Montana is 70,000 to the Hutterite population of 4000. Take the total acres of farmland in Montana,  60 Million and divide it by the farm population of 70,000, you have 857 acre/person, let’s take the total acres owned by colonies of 1,000,000 and divide it by their population of 4000 and you get 250 acres/person. With these figures in mind, can any fair-minded person say that the colonies are occupying more than their share of farmland of Montana?  In conclusion Hutterites farm 1.67 % of all the farmland in Montana.
Myth #6: Hutterites don’t buy implements and farm equipment locally, so they buy up all the local farmland and then don’t patronize local business.
Fact: When Hutterites buy a piece of farm machinery, they not only get that machine but the service that comes with. Today's machinery is not your grandpa's machinery. Its fully computerized and needs highly trained personnel to troubleshoot and repair. Minimal downtime is critical. So to buy out of the local area would be counterproductive. And as far as patronizing local businesses, why should Hutterites drive out of area to buy? Time and travel cost money in today's word. Hutterites also stay on-farm year round and don't take weeks and months for vacations in exotic destinations. No, they stay at home year round and consequently all their hard earned money gets spent locally and not in some foreign country.

Arguments are being made that if the Hutterites are permitted to expand, it will seriously threaten the family farm and local communities, claiming family farms (some owning in excess of 1000's of acres) can't compete with the colonies.  Hutterites are not in serious competition with anybody who wishes to purchase land. The main competition comes from all farmers who have a surplus of funds for investments. Also Hutterites are no more a threat to smaller communities than those who live in and about these communities and who do their shopping and hairdressing in larger towns and cities. In most cases the Colonies spend far more in local communities than those farmers that they replace. Some of the places that a colony will support within local Communities are, lumber yard, tire shop, fertilizer and chemical, grocery store, insurance, meat shop, drug store, automotive, banking, Lawyers, body shops, Veterinary clinic, Farm equipment and vehicles, grain and livestock dealers, etc.  Just ask around in Lewistown and it is obvious that Hutterites are very important to the economy of  smaller communities.

As far as the businesses in smaller towns disappearing, that's a North American and maybe even a Global phenomena. Amalgamations, buyouts and takeovers are happening at an increasing and alarming rate,  i.e., smaller grocery stores replaced by Walmarts and Superstores, Lumber yards and Hardware stores by Home Depots, Alberta Wheat Pool by Agricore, Agricore by Viterra, Viterra by Glencore. The likes of One Earth Farms. And that it is happening throughout the country, even where there are no Hutterites. At least Western Canada and the Northern States can be thankful they have Hutterites that they can blame...

Another point to take home is this; Hutterites are Primary Producers. They hand raise fresh vegetables of every kind at Farmers Markets. The milk, eggs, beef, chicken, turkey, potatoes, etc that fill the shelves of your local grocery store are more than likely to come from a Hutterite farm. Hutterites have their roots firmly entrenched in the original family farm, where every farm was self-sustainable and existed to supply food and clothing to the rest of the world.

Myth #7: Hutterites aren't allowed to read the Bible or study it on their own.

 Fact: Everyone on a Hutterite Colony receives their own Bible (in High German ) from the Colony upon being baptized.  This is a tradition and usually occurs in your late teens or early twenties. Until then it is expected that you will share your parents Bible.  In our home my father read to us from the Bible every evening.  We were very well versed in Bible stories as are most Hutterites.  My father also recorded all of our births and other important pieces of family history in our family Bible, as did other colony members. Every home has a Bible and families are encouraged to read it daily.
Myth #8: Hutterite land is all owned by Canadian elders, who can take away everything from colonies that “get out of line.”

That’s like saying the Pope owns the property of Catholics in the U.S.   and can take it away from them when they “get out of line.”  

Fact:  Not an acre of American farm land is owned by Canadian Elders.  Every Colony has their own Elders and is an entity unto itself.  They decide what and where to buy according to their means and the financial goings on in each community is decided by the Elders that live there.  Period.  If they however face undue hardship and financial crisis they can and do ask other colonies for help.
Myth #9: Hutterites don't teach their children basic farm safety and so they have a high right of serious or deadly accidents.

Fact: Hutterites value apprenticeship and as such young boys tag along with their fathers, hang around farm equipment, play near augers and sit on tractors at an early age.  There is some truth to the fact that there has been an unnecessarily high incidence of mishaps or even deaths that could have been prevented with the proper amount of precautions on Hutterite Colonies.   A concerted effort is being made to change that.  The same goes for drowning. As a rule Hutterites don’t teach their children to swim.  Last month, here in Montana a father took his young son to the creek to fish.  When the boy fell in the father naturally jumped in to save him but he couldn’t swim either and tragically they both drowned. It devastated that community.

Myth #10: Hutterites have a problem with in-breeding.

Fact: Hutterites have been the subject of many studies in relation to this topic.  In her 1998 study, Geneticist Carole Ober discovered that for the past 100 years Hutterite women have given birth to children with immunity to certain diseases because of an exceptional genetic disposition.
On the common sense front, there is a lot of pressure put on young people not to marry close relatives.  For years Hutterite couples including my own parents had to have government sanctioned blood tests before being allowed to marry.  Marriage to a first cousin is not allowed. Hutterites treasure their children. Incidences of handicapped, autistic or disadvantaged children are lower than the national average because care is taken when considering a suitor.   Publicly, Hutterite blood is prized by blood clinics and the young women are brought to town on a regular basis to give blood.
If there was a systemic problem with inbreeding as suggested, it would manifest in widespread syndromes and diseases and here again, the evidence doesn’t bear it out.
Myth #11: In order to address the (Myth #10) problem of in-breeding, Hutterite invite non-Hutterite men to the colony to impregnate their women. 

Fact: A variation on this myth claims that the women are covered with a sheet during the deed as to not make it "too personal."
Of all the myths about Hutterites, this one is the most ludicrous. You have got to have brain damage to believe it. The notion that we would allow our beautiful young women to be raped by some loser for $50 -$100 because we are “too inbred,”   is the height of insanity.
Think of the sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, (which is virtually non-existent among Hutterites) we would subject our women and men to!
And to all the male studs who claim to have provided this service it is a poor testimony to your manhood that not one of you has wanted access to your so-called children running around Hutterite Colonies.  These claims are patently false.  They were born out of too many drinks at the bar and there exists not a shred of evidence to substantiate a single incidence of this kind.
The way this rumour got started is when disgruntled farmers who felt that the Hutterites were unfairly advantaged started, unbeknownst to the Hutterite community putting ads in local papers saying Hutterites were looking for stud service.  It was malicious and bigoted but it developed a life of its own when the Hutterite community didn’t chose to even dignify it with a response.
Sex outside of marriage is considered a grave sin and a terrible shame on a Hutterite Colony. Incidences of teen pregnancies is very low and far below the national average.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Country Road

Country roads' calling
Share my soul, Serenity
Come...come walk with me.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Inner Workings Of The Hutterite Team.

Everyone works as a team.
Everyone owns the team.
Everyone is the team.

The structure is familiar, with team presidents, coaches and players.

Every position is important. Sure, you have the captains and co-captains, but rookies and role players are every bit as important. Everyone has their specific duty and responsibility on the playing field. No one can win the game by themselves. They have to pass the puck. Total team effort guarantees success.

Personal gain and pride is forfeited for team gain and team pride. Each one of us makes the other stronger. All of us working towards the same goal makes the team stronger. If a member doesn't want to be a team player and doesn't share the same vision or goal, it creates chaos and makes the whole team weaker.

There are also rules. Dress codes. Equipment rules. Game rules and code of conduct. If these rules get broken, there are penalties. Minor infractions yield warnings, stern or otherwise. Major infractions hold more serious consequences. Gross misconduct leads to suspensions and/or demotions. If there is a repeat offender questions have to be asked. Does this player want to be part of the team? If not, they are welcome (and sometimes even encouraged) to leave and take time out to think things over. If at one point he/she wants to rejoin the team, fine, but then they must earnestly show that they can be a contributor again.

But all this team work and effort is in vain and pointless if there isn't a game plan and an end goal in mind. All players need to buy into and share the vision.

If the vision fades and is put on the back burner, the fruit follows. And it's all very visible to the spectators, who see dress codes fall, equipment rules erode and game plans fading and falling apart. The code of conduct gets violated. Team players are no longer team players. They begin looking outside the league for employment for personal gain or fame.

So what is this vision?
Earthly riches and gain?
Popularity and fame?

The earthly goal is to be sustainable. To keep the franchise healthy. This is a cradle to the grave system. The healthy and players in their prime contribute most, providing and caring for the young and old, the injured, disabled and retired.

But there is another and infinitely greater goal that these players strive and yearn for. A goal that provides the fire, will and energy for this sometimes grueling season, motivating each and every player is to put forward his best effort. This goal or crown and also the road there is best described by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

Yes, by the Grace of God, through His only begotten Son Jesus Christ,  be accepted into His Heavenly Hall of Fame.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Account Of A Hutterite Wedding

Amanda and Jonathan's Wedding
by the father of the bride

Long before the June 10th wedding date, my wife Sarah and my daughters Amanda and Lillian are busy preparing for Amanda's upcoming wedding. Making  invitations, discussing whom to invite, designing a cake  and choosing wedding takes a lot more to prepare for a wedding then us menfolk realize.

  As time was getting closer I realized that in only a few short weeks Amanda will have left home. (Genesis 1: 24.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.)  

    It has been a stressful spring with exceptionally dry soil conditions, cool daytime temperatures and frost almost every night.  Now I was caught between dealing with whether we should even spray the crop, wondering if there would be more frost, reseeding decisions, concerned about the lack of pasture and buying hay for the dairy cows.

    There was so much on my mind. I felt like I was neglecting my darling daughter Amanda, and time was running faster than I could imagine. Our little girl had grown into a lady, and had chased her dreams which would now become a certainty.

    Three weeks before Amanda’s wedding on our regular Saturday evening singing, prayer and Bible discussion we realized that this would be our last Heiliger Abend (evening of worship) with Amanda at our home. We reminisced about the good times and the joy of growing as a family and how life goes on. Lead by myself  as the father of the house, we each took turns encouraging her to keep going this torch of family love and adoration, the unconditional Love for God , and not to ever lose sight of  her husband's and family's  salvation. We assured her that we were here if she ever needed us, and that we would love her forever. With a mix of happiness and a few tears, a prayer and many hugs we prepared for Amanda's new journey in life. Praise the Lord!

   The Sunday before the wedding, Amanda's husband-to-be Jonathan went to his Colony’s Minister to put forward his desire to marry Amanda, after which the Minister from that Colony gathered with all his colony's members to discuss and arrange the upcoming wedding celebration. After consulting with the members of his Colony and some counselling and well wishes, the wedding celebration officially begins.

   On Wednesday afternoon Jonathan, his father John and his favourite uncle arrived at our colony where all folks and children await with great excitement. I’m still busy tying loose ends to make sure all is organized until I finally concede that it's time to let go and join in on this moment of happiness.  

   After the blessing of our Church and members we moved to our home with only immediate family and a few invited aunts and uncles, where Jonathan (along with his Dad and uncle) asks for Amanda to be his wife. Lead by me, then followed by Sarah and Amanda's brothers and sister, Jonathan and Amanda are reminded that marriage in the Hutterite Church is a lifelong commitment . There will be good and bad days ahead, but with the help of God, and if they choose to serve Him, they will be blessed. After some counselling and words of advice and encouragement Amanda and Jonathan thanked and hugged all in attendance. With the blessing of God through prayers of hope, and the love of God through our Lord Jesus they take the first step to their new life, the celebration of their engagement begins by serving some refreshments and a light lunch.

   On the next day friends and invited guests were entertained to a fine supper of scrumptious baby back ribs, black tiger shrimp in oyster sauce, wonton soup and fruit salad in the colony kitchen. After supper we went back to our home and visited with family and friends till 8:30. We then gathered again in the kitchen for hulba  to fellowship, lunch and sing songs of spiritual guidance and praise to God. Around 12:30 AM we retired from the community hall as we would get up at 6:00 am and make our way to Amanda's future home at WillowRoad Colony.

   6:30 AM the next morning found me sitting in the rocking chair contemplating that this would be Amanda's last hour on the Colony, with a tear running down my face I sombrely thanked God for all that he has done for our family and I prayed that He would continue to guide Amanda's life. It was like the quiet after the storm from the previous night celebrations, sitting by myself with a refreshed mind and body, when Amanda appeared from her room. I could see that she was emotional, realizing these would be her final minutes in her father's home, she squeezed alongside me on the rocking chair. We both shed tears of good memories and joy, hugging each other.  I assured her that this was all part of God's plan, it was the way it had to be, and we both understood. We just sat there rocking and enjoyed the moment of just being by ourselves, knowing that we will love each other forever.

   Along with 40 members from our Colony we were on our way to WillowRoad Colony, a 4 hour drive. We arrived at noon, where we were met at the road leading to the colony by youngsters on horses; Jonathan and Amanda then rode the final mile with horse and carriage to her new home, where bride and groom along with our immediate family and friends were greeted by a mass of well wishers. After meeting Jonathan's family we had a lunch and visited, meeting old friends and making new ones.

   Saturday evening at 8:00 pm we again met in the kitchen for the main hulba, a celebration of singing hymns, a lunch and visiting that went until 11:00 pm. As one can imagine this is our fourth night and I’m getting played out. Amanda and Jonathan were bushed but they’re enjoying every minute of it.  

   Sunday morning at 9:30 am we proceeded to the Colony Church where Jonathan and Amanda were married. The wedding ceremony involves a sermon about marital commitment and the couple exchange vows binding themselves together until death parts them. The husband and wife agree not to drag each other into sin, or make trouble with the colony if they should fall from their faith. Hutterites marry for life, and do not allow divorce. Newlywed couples do not express marital bliss at the wedding ceremony with exuberation, but with an inner joy and peace knowing that they have dedicated themselves to one another and to God. They do not give rings, since jewellery is forbidden, and Hutterite brides always take their husband's last name.

   We now depart to the newly wedded couple's house where the marriage is celebrated with great jubilation and toasts from family and friends. We ask God to help them keep lit the torch of love that they now share in their hearts, so that by their loving example they may pass on the light of love to their children, and to their children's children forever. 
  A hearty meal of roast duck with shrimp and fine noodle soup, along with many other dishes is served at 1:00 pm. This celebration goes on until late in the afternoon when it is ended with a supper of pizza, and a final song that seals and closes the wedding celebrations of Jonathan and Amanda.

   A final Reading and a Marriage Prayer for Amanda and Jonathan, read by her father:

Greetings of love and peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jonathan and Amanda; Congratulations on this special day and wishing God’s blessing to a new life. When we stop and think to appreciate all the good that God has done for us by sending His Son, and for all that confess and want to live His Holy way and purpose awaits a great joy. When we think of Him, who He is, what He did for us, and what He offers us we have to say, how can we do anything less than worship Him? Let us trust Him and praise Him. 
As one can imagine there is a lot of work that goes into a wedding, the help of the immediate family, the brothers, sisters, moms and dads and finally the blessings of the colony. It’s always nice to thank each other and to know that we are doing a good job; however we must give all praise and glory to God. Without Him we can do nothing.

 Heavenly father we ask you to bless Jonathan and Amanda's marriage, O God, as they begin their journey down the road of life together.

We don't know what lies ahead, for the road turns and bends.

But help them to make the best of whatever comes their way.

Help them to continue to enjoy each other, as they did when they first met.

Help them to realize that nothing, nor no one is perfect, and to look for the good in all things and all people including themselves.

Help them to respect each other's likes and dislikes, opinion and beliefs, 
hopes and dreams and fears even though they may not always understand them.

Help them to learn from each other and to help each other to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Help them to realize that no matter what happens to them, they will hold on to each other, and know that things have a way of working out for the good.

Help them to create for their children a peaceful, stable home of love as a foundation on which they can build their lives.

Life is such joy, all a part of God’s plan. When one-door closes, He opens another one. He always gives us strength for another day. To spend quality time with family and friends is something that all of us cherish. Today we’re strongly blessed by new family members and many new friends. In our prayers, please God bless Jonathan and Amanda, and all our friends with strength, good health and the Holy Spirit and to endure whatever is Your will.

Thank you and may God bless you all!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Hutterite Review Of "American Colony - Meet The Hutterites

 The message from the first episode and limited clips I've seen seems to be this;

   "Hi there World,  we are The Hutterites, a quaint and interesting folk.  We have a unique lifestyle with different customs, traditions, and foods. We have hurts and struggles just like anybody else,  but deep down our goals in life are to have a good time.  We are no angels and neither  do we proclaim to be. We lead our  life the way we do because that's  the way it's always been done.  We are Hutterites  because we always have been. We have a vague idea how we got here, and a vaguer one on where we are heading. We live in the 21st century now. Why should we be held accountable to the elders? Why should anyone tell us what we should and shouldn't  do?"

 Rebellion and disrespect seem to be at forefront in this series. Also very little respect is shown for the Third Commandment in Exodus 20:7 "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."

  Jesus commands his followers in Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

  Well, this light is very dim, some would say extinguished in American Colony.

 The only positive I can find is that young Hutterites  who watch this series can see the fruit of a rebellious and disrespectful attitude, and treat these episodes as a wake up call and a testament of how far we have and can fall.

 And folks, Hutterite (communal) life without Jesus  Christ as the founder,  leader and centerpiece  of our faith  is not sustainable. It is as empty and  meaningless as a rusted out 5 gallon pail.