I was chatting with friends about the good old days. We recalled becoming independent adults and making our own decisions. We laughed as we reminisced about the wise decisions as well as the mistakes we’d made, consequences we’d survived and advice from parents that was usually right and sometimes ignored.
I’m not good at faking my way through situations. That goes for Christmas, too. I can’t pretend that the tender mystery of Emmanuel—God with us—somehow rises above the glittery kerfuffle and fills my holiday season with calm and awe. I can’t pretend that the impossibly familiar story pierces my heart anew each year with the “true meaning” of Christmas.
The most unsettling participants in the “Christmas story” are the most biblically literate. Asked by magi where the king of the Jews was to be born, King Herod turns to expert priests and scribes for help. Confidently the clerics reference the answer in the scroll of the prophet Micah: “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet. . .” (Luke 2:5).
Somewhere along our journey with youth ministry I believe many of us took a wrong turn. We headed in a direction that had us increasingly isolating our youths from the life of the congregation. Our youth groups and youth events rarely served to strengthen our relationships with other age groups and with the church’s ongoing work and mission.
The daily bombardment of advertising from radio, billboards, newspapers, the Internet, fliers and TV leaves me discouraged and fatigued. Relentless messages urge me to cling to an insidious mantra, to believe that I will be a better person for using a particular product or service, to believe that advertisers are honest and want the best for me.
On the first Sunday of Advent, many of us will hear the proclamation, “The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Matthew 25:44). Advent worship resources from The Leader have highlighted the words “an unexpected hour” as a theme for this season. We are called to make space to receive God’s presence among us by slowing down and slipping into silence.
Every year at this time I feel some anxiety. I’m talking about Christmas and it has to do with shopping. Well, to be exact, my anxiety has to do with “not” shopping.
For almost a decade I’ve been one of the organizers of a little campaign with the delightful name of, get ready for it: Buy Nothing Christmas.
Up until a few days ago, there were three different kinds of toothpaste in our bathroom, one belonging to each of the three people living in our home. My husband and I have long agreed on different brands; having two kinds seems to be better than complaining about each other’s preferences. The third tube belonged to our son, who was back “at home” for a short time.
I was privileged to participate in the 2010 International Mennonite Pastors Coming Together (IMPaCT) program this year in British Columbia. It proved to be a very valuable experience in learning and building relationships with other pastors from Asian countries. Four Mennonite Church British Columbia pastors hosted four international pastors from China, Macau and the Philippines.
These are golden days on the Prairies as summer melds into autumn. Everywhere the eye gazes, it touches on gold. Fields of grain, cut or standing, are pale gold. The dust of harvest glows rose-golden in the sun’s rays. The yellow-gold of changing leaves adds another hue. And in the ditches, yellow flowers contrast brightly with the dull gold grasses.
A young adult in her last semester of college and considering pastoral ministry takes the initiative to invite each pastor in her community for coffee so that she can learn from their wisdom and experience.
A middle-aged man, well-established in his career, volunteers in a seniors home to test a new call to ministry.
Life insurance considers their jobs more dangerous than munitions workers. Their profession has the second-highest divorce rate. Fifteen hundred of them leave their jobs each month. Their work has a negative impact on their families. If they work less than 50 hours per week, their chances of termination increase by 35 percent. And the list goes on and on. Who are they? Pastors!
For 500 years the Mennonite narrative has been dominated by stories of forced migration, escapes from persecution and the search for a place of refuge—often desperate quests for freedom to practise our faith or chosen lifestyle, and the burning desire to live and raise our children in peace. Ethno-cultural, religious and economic factors were usually fully intertwined.