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Listen to the unjust judge

Anita Fast

When I first read this passage in Luke’s gospel, in preparation for preaching on it, I thought, “Oh, this is just too easy.” Unlike some stories which leave you scratching your head, this one seems all too straightforward. If even an unjust judge listens to a persistent widow, how much more will God—a just judge—listen to our cries?

For discussion: Listen to the unjust judge

1. In what situations have you prayed for justice or deliverance? Have you ever begun to doubt that you were praying hard enough, or even to doubt the existence of God? How do you keep your faith when there is so much injustice and suffering in the world? Do you find the story of the persistent widow encouraging? Do you find Anita Fast’s interpretation of Luke 18:1-8 convincing?

‘Sounding the Scriptures’

Biblical storyteller John Epp

 

Biblical storyteller John Epp

Biblical storyteller John Epp

Interviewer Ross Muir

Managing editor Ross W. Muir was introduced to biblical storytelling when John Epp, a member of the Network of Biblical Storytellers Canada and Toronto United Mennonite Church, visited First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., last spring. Following that encounter, the two chatted in person and online over the summer and into the fall.

Imagine!

Ray Friesen suggests, ‘If we can imagine a nativity scene in first-century Palestine (pictured), we can possibly imagine it in our 21st-century world.’

Ray Friesen

In Charles Dickens' well-known story, A Christmas Carol, anyone who dares enter the inner sanctum of Ebenezer Scrooge's office with so much as a suggestion of Christmas is greeted with the now famous words: "Bah! Humbug!

Reading list

  • Atonement, Justice and Peace: The Message of the Cross and the Mission of the Church by Darrin Snyder Belousek. Eerdmans, 2012.
  • Instead of Atonement: The Bible’s Salvation Story and our Hope for Wholeness by Ted Grimsrud. Cascade Books, 2013.

Atonement

A statue of the Good Shepherd at the St. Callisto Catacombs, Rome. In the early centuries, Jesus was much more likely to be portrayed as the Good Shepherd than as a crucified Messiah.

The Gero Crucifix in the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral, Germany). In the Middle Ages, Jesus’ suffering on the cross came to the fore, shadowing other images of Jesus as Saviour.

Jesus is pictured on the side of this early Christian sarcophagus in the Vatican Museum turning his back on Moses and the old law, and giving the new law of love to Peter.

How Christ actually provides for our salvation is the theme of many Mennonite books.

Dave Rogalsky is the Eastern Canada correspondent for Canadian Mennonite and pastor of Wilmot Mennonite Church, New Hamburg, Ont.

In the 1990s, when the Mennonite church in Ontario was deciding whether to add Hymnal: A Worship Book to its pews, a dear (now departed) saint approached me, saying, “I hear that they’ve taken out all the blood songs.” The person wondered if this important part of church heritage and theology was going to be left behind.

Uncle Sam goes to jail

Sam and Beulah Martin on their wedding day.

Of memories I have of family members, the one about my Uncle Sam’s arrest on April 19, 1944, and his imprisonment, which became legendary in our community, left an indelible mark. Uncle Sam was born in the U.S. and was 18 months old when the family moved to Duchess [Alta.]. He had been baptized into the Mennonite Church and attended regularly.

‘Let nobody judge them’

An Altona, Man., war memorial bears the names of local Mennonites who served and died during the Second World War.

V. Wiebe of B.C.’s Fraser Valley served with the Canadian forces in the Second World War, earning five medals. According to ‘The Mennonite Menace: Real or Imagined, an online report from a University of the Fraser Valley student, 66 of 99 Mennonites in Yarrow, B.C., served in the Canadian military, either in combatant roles or as part of the medical corps.

V. Wiebe of B.C.’s Fraser Valley served with the Canadian forces in the Second World War, earning five medals.

Like the cenotaphs in Winkler and Altona, the Morden, Man., war memorial also contains Mennonite names.

Of late, many peace-minded Canadians have been decrying the country’s increasing militarization, calling to mind this country’s proud peacekeeping tradition as if it was a defining feature of confederation. Unfortunately, it’s a false memory, as Canada’s peacekeeping forces weren’t formed until 1956. Its military involvements, however, go back nearly to our country’s beginning.

Mennonite Church Canada Peace Audit: a long procession

The General Council Peace Commission of Mennonite World Conference (MWC) requested a response from Mennonite Church Canada to the question, “How is your church doing in its desire to be a Peace Church?” The two key phrases of this request to our church is, “desire to be” and “Peace Church.” “Desire to be” strongly suggests a process, a pursuit and a passion.

Rethinking peace

Arlyn Friesen Epp, director of Mennonite Church Canada’s Resource Centre in Winnipeg, recalls peace lamps being introduced at the 2002 MC Canada assembly in Saskatoon. Congregations were invited to purchase the lamps and pray for peace. Some churches continue to light the peace lamps today.

Osler Mennonite Church photo Osler (Sask.) Mennonite Church took its peace message to the community’s 2012 Canada Day parade. Described as the ‘For Peace Marching Band,’ the group played peace songs on its kazoos, earning a blue ribbon from parade organizers for ‘creativity.’

Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Peace and Justice Group developed a bus campaign in conjunction with MC Canada’s ‘Peace in the public square’ initiative in 2010. For two months that year, messages such as the one pictured above were seen on Saskatoon streets.

‘I think it is important for Mennonite congregations to emphasize that we are a Peace Church because we have committed our lives to Jesus . . ., not because peace is an Anabaptist distinctive that we must preserve at all cost.’ (Esther Epp-Tiessen)

‘The heresy we face today is salvation without discipleship, and if you take salvation seriously you have to take the words of Jesus seriously.’ (Bernie Loeppky)

Evelyn Rempel Petkau

“In the last 15 or 20 years, I have heard only one sermon on peace,” says Bernie Loeppky, a member of Grace Mennonite Church in Winkler, Man., and a member of the Evangelical Anabaptist Fellowship (EAF).

For discussion

1. Have you ever had an experience where you felt unjustly treated and there didn’t seem to be a way to make it right? How did you respond to those feelings of injustice? What happens in the long-term to individuals who struggle with ongoing injustice? How important is it to have past hurts recognized and validated?

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