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The Sermon on the Mount: living it out in mind and heart

The Sermon on the Mount is the thorn in our side and the rainbow in our sky, discomforting and comforting by turn, but always calling us beyond our perspective to a more joyous and loving existence.

I was down in Mississippi, at a small African-American church. My parents were volunteering there with a ministry that had many different programs going. They had a farm, a clinic, a law office, a school, sports activities for the youth of the community, a resale shop, among other worthy endeavors.

Pushing back with colour

On April 18, Karen and Andrew Suderman and at least 18 others protest recent eruptions of xenophobia by wrapping about 100 trees in the downtown core of Pietermaritzburg with yellow fabric and a statement from South Africa’s Freedom Charter: ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it.’ (Photo courtesy of Karen and Andrew Suderman)

As a colourful protest against xenophobia unfolded in downtown Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, people living in the neighbourhood come out and help wrap trees in yellow fabric to symbolize friendship, warmth, welcoming, joy and hope, and to fasten posters of inclusion to the fabric. (Photo by Andrew Suderman)

What do you do in the face of hatred, a hatred so immense that it drives people to pillage, beat and even kill others? What do you do when that hatred is simultaneously “out there” and in your own backyard? How do you show love, kindness and hospitality in rejection and defiance of such wanton violence?

An urgent search for water in Mozambique

Doga Jose washes clothes with water drawn from the well drilled in 2014 in Ndoro, Caia District. (Photo: Matthew Sawatzky, for Mennonite Central Committee)

Patches of green dot the landscape surrounding the sand dam at Matambo. The dam supplies families with fresh water for irrigation, for washing and for animals. (Photo: Matthew Sawatzky, for Mennonite Central Committee)

Lydia Pensar of Mozambique waters her garden by flinging water from a jug. Sand dams result in not only water, but also food. Built in 2013, the dam supplies 54 families with fresh water for irrigation and other uses. (Photo: Matthew Sawatzky, for Mennonite Central Committee)

Six men grasp the long metal handle of the drill and walk slowly in a circle. They lean into the task, using body weight to drive the shaft of the drill into the dry soil of Mozambique’s Caia District.

Out of control

“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.

Facing history with courage

Indigenous students and their families arrive by plane for a Mennonite-run Bible school at Stormer Lake in northwestern Ontario in 1981. (Photo by Martin Frey)

Children from indigenous communities in northern Manitoba are pictured with their teacher at a summer camp in Loon Straits, Man., in the 1950s. (Photo by Edwin Brandt, courtesy of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

A resident of the Beardy’s & Okemasis Willow Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan reads a thank-you letter from MCC Canada for his donation of $5 in 1968. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Henry Berg, third from left, and indigenous men build a chapel at Cross Lake, Man., sometime in the 1950s. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

The Niagara Iroquois Dance Group performs in the chapel of Conrad Grebel College as part of ‘Tandi: Symposium on Native Peoples,’ held Jan. 20 to 22, 1976. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

“History,” wrote American poet Maya Angelou more than 20 years ago, “despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

The joy of pizza

My wife Rachel and I wanted to start practising radical hospitality, but we live in a cosy basement apartment. It would be so much easier if we had our own house with lots of common space. But we felt Jesus was calling us to open up our doors with the room we did have.

Pulling the curtain of hope over fear

David Siebert, left; Josie Winterfeld, outreach worker at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont.; Dylan Siebert and Annemarie Rogalsky enjoy table fellowship at 50 Kent during Awakening Hope, an evening of 'inspiring each other on the path of Christian discipleship and community living' on Feb. 20, 2014. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Chris Brnjas and Jessica Reesor-Rempel

Mennonite churches are afraid. In fact, Christian denominations all over Canada are afraid. We have felt this, seen it and experienced it. Sometimes this fear leads denominations to do reckless things. Sometimes it reaches the point of despair. Why so much fear?

For discussion: An ‘experiment’ in sexuality gone wrong

1. What has changed since the 1970s and ’80s that conversations about sexual misconduct and sexual abuse are so much more prevalent these days? Does sexual violence happen more now, or are we just more ready to talk about it? Does a sexualized culture make sexual violence more prevalent? Are we less apt to silence or blame victims than formerly?

With aching hearts

Some readers have called for a moratorium on reports about John Howard Yoder’s past misdeeds. We acknowledge that continued attention to this issue has caused pain to Yoder’s family, friends and colleagues, as well as to the women who suffered because of his actions.

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