Rich and Sharon Scheenstra
“Margin” refers to an edge or border. Originally it referred to the edge of the sea.
The gospel writer Matthew tells us that after John the Baptist (as marginal a person as you’ll find) was imprisoned, Jesus withdrew to make a home in the “Galilee of the Gentiles,” “the way by the sea,” where, according to the ancient prophet, “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and on those who sit in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Is there something about living in the margins, the borderlands, that makes awakening more possible? Whether we're religious conservatives or liberals, Democrats or Republicans, Christians or Muslims, Jews or Hindus, we quickly assume it is the other that needs awakening. But if we learn anything from Jesus at all it’s that the need for awakening is both universal and ongoing.
In August 2021 Rich retired from his most recent pastorate. Throughout our adult lives both of us (Rich and Sharon) have lived and served with people and churches in what could be called the margins. That’s where we’ve felt at home. We’ve been loved and taught by friends who are homeless, addicted, abused, insecure and co-dependent, mentally ill or impaired – all of us spiritual misfits in some way. We’re grateful for our years and experiences in parachurch ministries, a house church, suburban churches and urban churches. Our experiences have enriched us, as well as left us with many questions.
The state of the church and of society in general make some of our questions feel especially urgent. We’d like to explore some of those questions on this website. Sometimes we’ll address them directly, but mostly they’re likely to bubble up during a reflection on a scripture passage or some event happening in our personal lives or in the world. As students of Jesus, it feels important that we be willing to allow the boundaries of our understanding, faith and love to be continually stretched. A true disciple never stops learning.
Jesus said that, unlike foxes and birds, he had nowhere to lay his head. That was true physically and metaphorically. The things he did and said kept his students off balance. He disabused them of the notion that they’d ever “arrive.”
We’d like you to “muse” and ponder with us. We’ll need your questions and thoughts. We don’t need you to agree! We want the freedom ourselves to disagree with what we wrote or said or sang a year ago or in yesterday’s post. This is a website for people who don’t have anything to prove, and who would like a chance to explain what they’re wondering or what they think they might be glimpsing.
What’s beautiful about margins is the space.