Readers write: January 19, 2015 issue

January 14, 2015 | Viewpoints | Number 2

Mennonites share their faith through their lives

Re: “Sharing the faith” column by Willard Metzger, Sept. 29, 2014, page 7.

This warmed my heart and reminded me of a conversation and a Scripture text that has helped me over the years.

When I was younger in the faith and learning to hear God speak through the Bible’s words proclaimed during the sermons on a Sunday, it was puzzling to me that an a older brother, who had been walking with the Lord for a longer time than I, thought that the gospel was not being proclaimed. In this brother’s view, it was not the gospel unless it’s “fire and brimstone” preaching followed by an altar call.

Talking with him helped me to learn that I need to make my primary focus the words that are being proclaimed, rather than focussing on the speaker and his particular style of preaching. Worship can bear good fruit if I work at shifting my focus to what God is saying or trying to say to me. Style or method can take the life out of things. This “fire and brimstone” approach lends itself toward the “getting-in-your-face” kind of evangelism that I never understood, nor do I respond well to.

I don’t understand the claim that Christian Mennonites don’t share their faith. They share it all the time and every day, in how they live in their families, with their neighbours and how they go about their work.

The text that helps me is I Peter 3:15-16: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that . . . those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Will I wait patiently, trusting in the redemptive power of God’s Word for myself and others? Like the psalmist, I stray like a lost sheep and hope to be sought out by the Lord. Although I have not forgotten his commands, I have not always followed them. Just ask my neighbour.

George W. Goertzen, New Westminster, B.C.
George W. Goertzen is a member of Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, B.C.

Pentecostal pastor has the message of salvation—not MCC or Joe Clark

Re: “MCC Manitoba stands with Buffalo Gals,” Dec. 15, 2014, page 22.

Senior writer Will Braun has been disingenuous in his definition of the traditional act and meaning of smudging, as well as of the traditional Christian belief about other religions and cultures. There are two distinct religions in the world: one that is authored by, acceptable and pleasing to God, and one that is not.

No amount of consensus-building or big-name endorsement will render shamanism and demonism acceptable to Christ or his Spirit-filled followers.

As an aboriginal descendent, I say that Pastor Scott Bullerwell of Immanuel Pentecostal Church in Winnipeg has well stated the Christian position and nothing was ever more attractive to marginalized people throughout the ages than the freedom from the slavery to sin and Satan that is offered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is a truth that transcends all cultures, and, yes, it is absolutely exclusively through Jesus Christ, in whom is eternal life, and without whom there is no hope of forgiveness and peace with God here or in the afterlife.

I believe the Buffalo Gals who claim to be Christian may well be able to “do all things through Christ who strengthens” and may also “possess a peace that surpasses all understanding” by trusting and relying on Christ’s finished work, confessing their sin and repenting of ancient pagan practices.

In the end, Mennonite Central Committee and Joe Clark are not the authority, but the Pentecostal church acted consistently with the position of traditional Christianity. Nothing is more loving and inclusive than being obedient to God’s Word and the words of his Son, Jesus Christ, and inviting all to enter into that hope also.

Dan Ricard (online comment)

Standing with the Buffalo Gals was the right thing to do

Re: “MCC Manitoba stands with Buffalo Gals,” Dec. 15, 2014, page 22.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry after reading this article of our Mennonite leaders supporting the Buffalo Gals in their wish to hold a smudging ceremony in a Winnipeg church.

The officials of the Pentecostal church blocked an aboriginal smudging ceremony in their church and the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba organizers had the courage to cancel the event.

I enjoy irony and I suspect that these officials have a Christmas tree in their church, exchange Christmas gifts and sing the carol, “We, Three Kings.” On our holiest day, Easter Sunday, they probably allow their grandchildren to run around with brightly coloured eggs exhorting the blessings from a mythical bunny. In spite of the hypocrisy of these pagan events, a smudging ceremony is pushing things too far for them!

When I participate in an aboriginal smudging, I remember my own baptism and experience the joy of being “cleansed.” I feel refreshed.

However, there are dangers! While attending a national conference in a major hotel, the smudging ceremony tripped the smoke alarm and all 25 floors were evacuated onto the Toronto streets! I both laugh and cry.

Good on our MCC Manitoba leaders.

Doug Durst, Regina

Are our words faced ‘towards God’?

Re: “The power of words” and other articles in the Dec. 15, 2014, issue.

Whether Canadian Mennonite, my favourite public radio program or the church I frequent, when a guest fills in for the regular editor, host or preacher, more often than not I experience a breath of fresh air over and above the valued accustomed programming.

Beginning with the guest editorial, “The power of words,” by Les Klassen Hamm on page 2, the issue is a fine representation of my experience. Clearly the words we choose affect what we feel and think about what we touch, see and hear! At the very moment we experience something, how we consciously or subconsciously choose to name and make sense of what we experience nudges our orientation either away from, or towards, what is godly.

Towards this end, I underline and support the final sentence in Helmut Lemke’s letter to the editor (“Controversial articles and letters are better than platitudes and clichés,’ ” page 11). May Canadian Mennonite “continue to challenge us [with friction-causing articles] that we may mature and grow in our faith and attitude.”

The next letter by Don Procter (“MCC has broken trust ‘too often,’ ” page 13), lamenting the sudden loss of his contract with Mennonite Central Committee Ontario, makes me conclude that many of our church institutions are transitioning from a bottom-up service structure to that of a not-for-profit, incorporated, top-down, limited-liability, corporate power structure—as favoured by mammon.

Hamm’s thoughts on the power of words provide testamentary witness whether our words are faced “towards God” or not.

Eduard Hiebert, St. Francois Xavier, Man.

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