The Banner

Christmas Trees, Hallelujahs, and Finding Joy in a Broken World

As I walked through the few remaining rows of Christmas trees, I attempted to sort out my feelings. When I was growing up, there were hundreds of acres of trees. These few were all that remained. I should feel something, I told myself. While a little part of me wanted to cry, the emotion that bubble

Conflict: A Bridge to Love

“How could she?”The email from my friend “Miriam” splintered my peace in an instant. Seemingly out of the blue, she confronted me about a Facebook post. It’s understating things to say I was deeply upset and unnerved.Miriam and I met years ago through a mutual friend; she was one of my first friends

Caring for the Least of These Through Foster Care

According to iFoster, a nonprofit in the U.S. whose mission is to “ensure that every child growing up outside of their biological home has the resources and opportunities they need to become successful, independent adults,” there are almost 440,000 children in foster care on any given day—11,000 in

Why Theology Is Such Godly Fun

The world is a better place because very smart people study medicine. I am glad I am not one of them. Doctors need to be ever so educated in the mind-numbing details of human physiology just to diagnose a rash. But what is so fascinating about theology is that it dares to explore the grandest, deepe

The Rise of a Lonely World

One area of social life during the COVID-19 pandemic that might have created as much suffering, pain, loss, and helplessness as premature death is the experience of loneliness. Some scientists even claim that loneliness kills more people than any other known health concerns. Some medical researchers

What Gives You Hope?

Editor’s Note: With sponsorship from Multiplication Network, The Banner’s 2022 Young Adults Writing Contest took place this summer, with 35 young adults submitting essays on the topic “What gives you hope?” This is the second-place winner. You can read the other winning essays here. In a country of

Silvery Blue

Editor’s Note: With sponsorship from Multiplication Network, The Banner’s 2022 Young Adults Writing Contest took place this summer, with 35 young adults submitting essays on the topic “What gives you hope?” This is the first-place winner. You can read the other winning essays here. A periwinkle blur

Floodwaters of Hope

Editor’s Note: With sponsorship from Multiplication Network, The Banner’s 2022 Young Adults Writing Contest took place this summer, with 35 young adults submitting essays on the topic “What gives you hope?” This essay received an honorable mention. You can read the other winning essays here. This su

The Journey of Hope

Editor’s Note: With sponsorship from Multiplication Network, The Banner’s 2022 Young Adults Writing Contest took place this summer, with 35 young adults submitting essays on the topic “What gives you hope?” This is the third-place winner. You can read the other winning essays here. Plastic walking s

A Reunion for Ernie Benally

When he was 13, Ernie Benally almost died. No one, not even the nurses, expected him to live. A rattlesnake bite was almost always fatal.Traditional Navajos once had strong feelings about rattlesnakes, even worshiping them after a fashion, even though (and maybe because) they so deeply feared rattle

Preaching to Promote Conversation

In his latest book, Think Again, Adam Grant defines preaching: “We go into preacher mode when our sacred beliefs are in jeopardy: we deliver sermons to protect and promote our ideals.” While Grant, an organizational psychologist, doesn’t necessarily capture the biblical use of the word “preach,” he

Church, Can We Talk About Hospitality?

“When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders.” —Acts 15:4“Here we go again,” I thought to myself. Sunday morning worship had just concluded at the church I was visiting recently with three of our teenagers. My spouse, a chaplain of discipleship at our lo

Following, Step by Step

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.” —John 12:26I’ve only used a travel agent to plan a vacation once in my life, and it was a delightful experience. But there was something about the itineraries that felt like an awkward fit in the picture of my real life, wh

Controlling Spiraling Toxic Thoughts

Ethan Kross, a world-renowned expert at controlling the conscious mind, found himself sinking into a hole of paranoia after receiving a handwritten letter from an angry individual who had seen him talk about his research on TV. There was nothing controversial about his findings, but the letter write

Fire and Water

On Christmas night, 1971, Alger Park Church caught on fire. A single light bulb illuminating a stained-glass window was left on after the Christmas service. Sometime late in the night, the overheated bulb fell onto a pew and ignited the fabric. The fire quickly spread. Soon the stained-glass window

Church Shopping in a Pandemic

July 2021: Officially time to look for a new church. I was struggling with loneliness and longing for community, and in-person requirements were easing up in Colorado enough to allow me to walk into a church again. But getting to this point was not easy, as my journal clearly reflects from that time

Dying and Rising

This story is based on a true story: Once upon a time there was a girl who grew up in a dysfunctional home. She had been raised by a single parent. As she grew older she saw her mother become addicted to drugs, and as a result she suffered from neglect and was parentified at an early age. She lived

Queens CRC: The Future of a Signature Congregation in Dispute

What will be the next chapter for Queens Christian Reformed Church? Several years into a long-simmering dispute between the signature Christian Reformed ministry in the Jamaica area of New York City and Classis Hudson, the regional body of churches that includes QCRC, there seems no easy answer to t

Seeking Shalom in God’s Mission and Christian Discipleship

Editor’s note: This article is the last in our series, “Seeking Shalom in the Midst of Polarization.” The series, in collaboration with The Colossian Forum, aims to examine the state of polarization in the U.S. and Canada and explore Christian strategies to overcome it. To read more articles in the

Covenantal Communication in a Polarized Culture

Editor’s note: This article is the fourth in our series, “Seeking Shalom in the Midst of Polarization.” The series, in collaboration with The Colossian Forum, aims to examine the state of polarization in the U.S. and Canada and explore Christian strategies to overcome it. To read more articles in th