Feature

A prayer for impossible peace

Emergency response personnel in the Sheikh Radwan area north of Gaza City on October 23, 2023. Photo by Mohammed Zaanoun/ActiveStills.

The gulf appears impossible to bridge. 

As bombs continue to fall onto Gaza and rockets somehow continue to fly out of Gaza, a conflict nearly as old as time and as entrenched as the Jordan River spirals to depths unthinkable. To listen to people on either side is to hear vastly different narratives about the same reality. 

Jewish perspectives

Gustavo Zentner and Richard Marceau. Supplied photos.

An interview with Gustavo Zentner
By Will Braun

Gustavo Zentner will never forget visiting areas attacked by Hamas.

“We walked into the homes where you can still smell the smell of burned flesh,” he recalled. “That smell will always accompany me.”

Lord, hear our prayer

Photo: mstudio For Pexels

We asked people who wrote for Canadian Mennonite in 2023 to share their wish and prayer for the church in 2024. 

I’m easily afraid. So is the church. I pray that we will listen for, and joyfully embrace, Christ’s “fear not, I’m here” in 2024. 
– Dora Dueck, Tsawwassen, B.C.

Scar of Bethlehem

The ruins of Al Zahra, south of Gaza City, after Israeli airstrikes. (Photo by Mohammed Zaanoun/Active Stills)

A child reacts during an Israeli military raid on Balata refugee camp near Nablus, West Bank, on November 9. (Photo by Wahaj Bani Moufleh/Active Stills)

At the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis, Gaza, a child carries the body of his brother, killed by an Israeli bombardment in southern Gaza on November 21. (Photo by Mohammed Zaanoun/Active Stills)

What will Christmas be like in Bethlehem this year? What can we learn about the birth of Christ from those who live where he was born and where he lived?

Called to the work of the church

Selenna Wolfe (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-wiebe)

Kennedy Froese (left) and Valerie Alipova (right). (Supplied photos)

It might seem unlikely that young women would be drawn to church leadership and feel compelled to enter pastoral ministry. As young people, they are part of an underrepresented demographic in the church, one that is leaving organized religion in increasing numbers. As women, they have been barred for generations from leadership roles in the church and turned away from the pulpit.

Holy moments in the midst of grief

(Photo by Aaron Epp)

The "memory tree" at Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

There’s one church service that Fran Giesbrecht makes a special point not to miss: Eternity Sunday.

Observed at his Winnipeg church on the last Sunday before Advent, Eternity Sunday provides opportunity for Giesbrecht and others at Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship to commemorate members of their community who have died.

Memory carrier

Nelson Groh was a Mennonite killed in the Second World War. (Photos by A.S. Compton)

This bear was among Nelson Groh’s personal effects, returned to his family after his death.

Nelson Groh’s personal effects, returned after he died in the Second World War.

“Sir,” said the man, “you and your family can be very proud of your son.”

The Beatitudes: Testing a biblical antidote to division

Protesters rally in Washington D.C. We altered the placard, which originally read, “Thoughts & prayers don’t save lives / Gun reform will.” (Photo by Lorie Shaull, Used as per creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0. adapted by Betty Avery)

(Image adaptation by Betty Avery)

(Flickr photo by Tony Webster, Adapted by Betty Avery (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/))

When conservative Christians in the southern U.S. were agitating to erect monuments with the 10 commandments on them in front of courthouses, I heard someone suggest that they put up the Beatitudes instead.

The idea stuck with me, as did the reaction of my Trump-loving, warm-hearted neighbour when I floated the idea by her. She loved it.

Stepping overboard

Curtis Wiens leads a forest church service the first Sunday of every month at Shekinah Retreat Centre. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Aberdeen Mennonite Church at Trinity Place. (Gameo photo by Bert Friesen)

Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg. (Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship Photo)

Florence Driedger turns to look out the window before she replies to my question. “Well, we never know from one year to the next who and how many . . . whether we’ll still be functioning. We think we will be, but you never know.”

Humans and Humus

The Wiederkehr family applying compost to a dry corn breeding experiment. (Supplied photo)

The woodworking shop. (Photo by Will Braun)

On a hundred hilly acres near Mildmay, Ontario, the Wiederkehr family is quietly pushing the limits of human energy, spiritual integrity and disconnection from the consumerist web. The following is the first in a series of bi-monthly dispatches from their family.

Broken to serve

The glass sculpture titled, Imperative Change, is made from upcycled glass by Steinbach, Manitoba artist George Klassen. (Photo by George Klassen)

Henri Nouwen in 1996. (Photo by Kevin F. Dwyer, used by permission of the Henri J.M. Nouwen Archives at the University of St. Michael's College)

This glass fountain is made from upcycled glass by Steinbach, Manitoba artist George Klassen. (Photo by George Klassen)

Arthur Boers (Photo by Helen E. Grose)

In my mid-30s, two decades after the last time my father beat me, and two years after he died, I broke glass twice in one week. Once, for the first time in my life, in anger.

In the current of wavering defiance

(Flickr photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture)

(CM file photo by Elaine Binnema)

(Photo by Josiah Neufeld)

I want to know how to pray. It’s December 2021. Advent. A season of waiting. Everything is waiting. Waiting for the pandemic to be over. Waiting for our leaders to start acting like we’re in a climate emergency. Waiting for our hemisphere to tilt back into the light. We are hunkered down for our second COVID Christmas, separated from what we need most: each other.

Commerce, church and belonging

Milo Shantz pictured with a turkey in the late 1950s. Shantz and his brother Ross started a highly successful turkey business. (Photo courtesy of Marcus Shantz)

Diorama of a barn-raising at the St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway, a tourist attraction in St. Jacobs. (Photo by Dean Holtz)

Milo Shantz, left, and his son Marcus, pictured in 2004. (Photo courtesy of Marcus Shantz)

Zacchaeus being called down from the sycamore tree by Jesus. (istock photo by benoitb)

I was delivering a sermon on the story of Zacchaeus last October when I realized that when I talked about Zacchaeus, I was actually thinking about, and picturing, my father.

Though not short in stature, my father, like Zacchaeus, was a man whose occupation was often controversial in his community. My father, Milo Shantz, who died in 2009, was a businessman.

Dispatches from the front lines

Ross W. Muir, with camera bag in tow, among a Grade 1 class at the Unyama IDP Camp in northern Uganda, 2004. (Photo by Michael Oruni)

Students look out from holes in the bamboo walls of their school at the Unyama Internally Displaced Persons Camp in northern Uganda, in 2004. (Photo by Ross W. Muir)

Members of the Meetinghouse editors and publishers group pose for a photo at Morrow Gospel Church, Winnipeg, during their 2009 meeting. Pictured from left to right, back row: Wally Kroeker, MEDA Marketplace; Ross W. Muir, Canadian Mennonite; Dora Dueck, MB Herald interim; and Terry Smith, The Messenger; and front row: Paul Schrag, Mennonite Weekly Review, at the time; Gordon Houser, The Mennonite; Rebecca Roman, The Messenger; Lil Goertzen, The Recorder; and Karla Braun, MB Herald, at the time. (Meetinghouse photo)

On his second birthday, Ross points to a typo in the local newspaper, and his future career path is set in stone. (Photo by Eunice Muir)

I’m basing the form of this final missive on the last book I read, Dispatches—a harrowing and sometimes hilarious memoir by Michael Herr, who covered the insanity of the Vietnam War for Esquire magazine during two years in the late 1960s. (How insane is it that Esquire thought it needed a war correspondent in the first place?)

An assumption of grace

A painting of Christopher Columbus planting his flag in the “New World,” by American artist Louis Prang. (L. Prang & Co., Boston, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Dave Scott poses with Brandon Burley, mayor of Morden, Man., left, and Cameron Friesen, MLA for Morden-Winkler, at a public event in Morden last summer. (Photo by Robyn Wiebe, courtesy of PembinaValleyOnline.com.)

Harry Lafond addresses the Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Saskatoon in 2016. (CM file photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Les Dysart on Southern Indian Lake in northern Manitoba. (Photo by Will Braun)

After the Vatican’s recent repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, I spent two hours speaking with three Indigenous people about the 500-year-old church doctrine that is as much the bedrock of Canada as the Canadian Shield.

Crossing guard of hope

Michel Monette and Lyne Renaud. (Photo by Michel Monette)

Michel Monette, right, and Lyne Renaud, left having supper at a crack house. (Photo by Michel Monette)

Sunday morning at Hochma church, a non-traditional church plant in Montreal. (Photo by Michel Monette)

Lyne Renaud and Michel Monette share their vision for a church in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area of Montreal at the 2016 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual church gathering. (CM file photo)

When I was first called to church planting work in 2004, I prayed and sought God’s will. I also read Ray Bakke’s book, Hope for the City. It invited me back to the city. The book extols God’s love for the city and invites Christians to abandon the suburbs and come back to the city.

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