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Brandi Friesen Thorpe's blog

Bethlehem experiences

Tear gas containers litter the gardens near the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank. Palestinians know that every Friday they can expect tear gas to be lobbed into the refugee camps outside of Bethlehem. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Apr 11, 2016

‘How you experience holy is different than you expect it to be.’ -Rev. Carrie Ballenger Smith

After a year of travel, seeking faith and justice on four continents, there are lessons that I am still unpacking. Between the busy schedules of church, master’s thesis work, travel and work with the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), it takes a moment of pause to catch up with my experiences. And so, I pause. I look back to remember.

Holy Saturday

Sunset in Bethlehem (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Apr 09, 2016

Holy Saturday,
The place for bleakness, twisted mourning, black.
I like this day, today,
How it holds permission to wallow and be in the dark,
To wander in the twisted depths.

Political nativity

Christmas in Sicily (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Dec 26, 2015

At Christmas time families journey to meet other family members. There is a Christmas tree up in the corner, and some twinkly lights afloat somewhere. Somewhere in the corner there is someone like me, wincing to the sound of so-called Christmas “music” (cough ... noise!), and a grandma or maybe grandpa has just pulled out something warm and baked from the oven. And, most likely, somewhere in a prominent position, on your mantle or even your lawn, you’ve set out the nativity scene.

Living on the corner: In the wake of terror in Paris/Beirut/Baghdad

Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Nov 18, 2015

Once again, we have lived through a moment that will continue to define our century. The wake of the triad of terror that has happened in the last days in Paris and Beirut and Baghdad will create rhetoric similar to 9/11, the attacks in New York and Washington. Our mindsets and attitudes will bend, our politics and apologies will twist, all to address this day.

Creating collective psalms of praise

Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Nov 17, 2015

Recently at my church here in central Winnipeg, we have been navigating a sermon series on the Psalms. My small group, some ten or so very diverse people at various stages in their adult-esque lives, have also been journeying through various types of psalms by engaging in a plethora of approaches and activities.

Participating in holy history

Settler and indigenous participants shake hands during the Reconciliation Walk at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission events held in Ottawa, in June 2015. The five-kilometre walk included about 10,000 people. Members of the Student Christian Movement (SCM, also known as WSCF), Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Central Committee, and Christian Peacemaker Teams were present during this walk, as were representatives from many other church denominations and justice-oriented organizations, and individual citizens.  (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Sep 23, 2015

I’ve been on the road three of the last six months, in no particular order. As I return home and begin to reflect on the encounters and experiences that I’ve had, my heart returns to settle on my experience at the closing events for the Truth and Reconciliation ceremonies (TRC).

I attended these ceremonies in Ottawa as part of the regional assembly for the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) of North America, joining young adults from across Canada and the United States.

Small-town suicide

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Sep 12, 2015

I wrote this story two years ago, and since then another suicide has occurred and been mourned, in a neighbouring community. That man I did know. To remember both of these men who left behind wives, children, even grandchildren, today I publish it. Let’s learn how to handle mental illness in the church in a way that embraces rather than isolates.

It is with a heavy heart that I write today, and even now I debated sharing this. I do so because I believe that the story I am about to share is one with a lesson that we, the Mennonite church, need to learn.

In the face of in/difference

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Aug 27, 2015

As I write this I am flying over the ocean, returning from an international ecumenical gathering in the north of Italy. People from across the world were there, including some from countries I had never met people from. Places like Myanmar. Places like Senegal. And places like Germany, Italy, U.S.A, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Iraq, Chile, Sweden, China, India, Lebanon, Korea, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Russia, Nepal, and so many more.

Italian adventures in inter-religious dialogue

The Italian Alps, near the Agape Ecumenical Center in Prali, Italy. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Aug 17, 2015

I have spent the last week in the beautiful Alps of Italy, at the Agape Ecumenical Center, gathering with an international community to delve into interreligious dialogue. I am the only Canadian and the only Mennonite. But considering how often this happens when I travel abroad, I have stopped being surprised by this.

Ally or accomplice: What does the Lord require of us?

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | May 28, 2015

There is a popular language arising in the church when it comes to justice work, that of “being an ally.” It means to align yourself with whoever your “other” is, so to love your neighbour and serve the Lord. But what happens when words are not enough, and when having only words of an ally can make injustice? What happens when being an ally is not enough?

Portraits of Justice

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | May 04, 2015

Hello my friends of faith and curiosity!

I happy to announce that the project I have been curating for quite some time is ready for launching! Huzzah!

As a part of the Beautiful People Moments Project I am launching, I have curated a series called Portraits of Justice. The project involved interviewing and photographing 20+ people living in different countries around the world, asking about justice and church in each context.

All those featured will include quotes that came from three simple enquiries:

I can't breathe

The logo of the #ReclaimHolyWeek campaign, organized by Holy Week of Resistance www.holyweekofresistance.net

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Apr 24, 2015

After a recent experience in New York comes this reflection on racism and the social context of our faith.

I can't breathe. At this moment, this is one of the most politically charged statements you can say in the United States. It drudges up a social context where racism and state brutality are killing innocent people.  It evokes a memory that causes resistance to injustice. It is a call to action. It is conviction.

Revelations of stones: Reflections on Palm Sunday scriptures

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Mar 31, 2015

Luke 19: 28-44

Verse 40:  “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (NIV)

I wish you a happy celebration of this Holy Week, and most recently, happy Palm Sunday!

A simple prayer

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Mar 31, 2015 | 5 comments

God, our Mother and our Father,
Jesus Christ, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, our Comforter.

We offer our gratitude, for you are with us.
You are familiar without struggles and joys, and still you draw near to us.
You are Holy.

We offer you gratitude for your sustaining love,
For the relationships made and being made,
For our daily bread,
For the material we need to continue everyday,
For how you renew our spirit when we struggle