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Expanding the reconciliation tent

A ‘specimen’ of the $5 bill to honour decorated Indigenous Canadian war veteran Tommy Prince. (Image courtesy of Tom Kmiec)

Don Plett, a Conservative senator, is working to help get decorated Indigenous Canadian war veteran Tommy Prince onto a new $5 bill. (Don Plett Facebook page photo)

Tommy Prince, right, is pictured with a brother at Buckingham Palace, London, England, where he was awarded two gallantry medals. (Library and Archives Canada photo (public domain))

Although I’m a pacifist who has never voted Conservative, I support the Conservative-led campaign to put a war hero’s face on the $5 bill.

Copyright matters

Musician Darryl Neustadter Barg is MC Manitoba’s director of communications and CMU’s media production coordinator. He is pictured leading worship with Bruno Cavalca at the 2019 MC Canada assembly in Abbotsford, B.C. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

Bryan Moyer Suderman is a Mennonite singer/songwriter. (Photo by Julie Moyer Suderman)

An example of how to properly acknowledge a song by naming the creator, arranger and publishing company, and providing a statement of permission from the licensing company (complete with licence number). Taken at an Edmonton First Mennonite Church online service on July 26. (Screenshot by Joanne De Jong)

Life is funny. When something breaks down in the church, whether an oven or an elevator, we fix it. And if we can’t fix it, we buy a new one. We understand that physical property must be paid for.

Selling generosity

(Mennopix Digital Art by Ross W. Muir)

‘Jesus, can you spare a dime?’ (Mennopix Digital Art by Ross W. Muir)

When I am asked what I do for a living, I often say, “I show people how much fun it is to give their money away.” That elicits a better conversation than if I tell them I manage a registered, charitable, donor-advised foundation.

Hooked on volunteering

Marion Regier, left, and Rachel Wallace tie quilts together at MCC’s Great Winter Warm Up in Rosthern, Sask, in January 2020. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Meaningful volunteer experiences help build community. Sarah Warkentin, left, Jessica Rorison and daughter Nyah, Vicky Stucky and Janet Regier tie a quilt at MCC’s Great Winter Warm Up in Rosthern in January 2020. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Hertha Friesen and Edna Sagrott tie quilts together at MCC’s Great Winter Warm Up in Rosthern in January 2020. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Vicky Stucky and Leo Schulz fry rollkuchen at the MCC Saskatchewan Relief Sale held in Saskatoon in June 2019. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Volunteers Sheila Harder, left, Eileen Flath and Hariette Melin sort through fresh produce at Rosthern’s Good Neighbours Food Centre in May 2018. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Eileen Klassen Hamm recalls how, as a young adult, she considered a Mennonite Voluntary Service term to be a good and natural thing to do.

In a perfect storm

‘The Lord Answering Job Out of the Whirlwind,’ part of a series of paintings on the Book of Job by William Blake, 1805-06, commissioned by Thomas Butts. (Public Domain)

‘Job’s Comforters’ turn into his accusers. Watercolour paintings were created by William Blake in 1805-06 for a series on the Book of Job commissioned by Thomas Butts. (Public Domain)

‘Job Rebuked by his Friends.' Watercolour paintings were created by William Blake in 1805-06 for a series on the Book of Job commissioned by Thomas Butts. (Public Domain)

Years ago, I saw a movie about a fishing crew caught at sea when two storms and a hurricane converged to create a “perfect storm.” I have been reminded of this as widespread protest after the death of yet another African-American man in the custody of white police officers crashed into an already devastating novel-coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.

The twilight of Mennonite radio

Frank H. Epp was the first radio director for the Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba and led the Abundant Life radio program. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario / The Canadian Mennonite)

Southern Manitoba Broadcasting Company opened the CFAM radio station in Altona, Man. in 1957. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario / The Canadian Mennonite)

Dorothea Kampen hosted Frohe Botschaft from 2001 to 2020. (Photo courtesy of Dorothea Kampen)

Elmer Hildebrand, CEO of Golden West Broadcasting, was influential in Mennonite involvement in Manitoba radio. (Photo courtesy of Golden West Broadcasting)

Moses Falco, pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, is starting a new podcast with two pastors from across Canada. (Photo courtesy of Moses Falco)

Manitoba’s airwaves are full of Mennonite radio. I began to notice this last year when I started hosting a radio program for Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), where I also work. 

A beautiful tapestry of yellow

The gospel of dandelions makes a lot of sense. In this gospel, a wild and stubborn counterculture thrives in a world of domesticated lawns. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

“In this gospel, a wild and stubborn counterculture thrives in a world of domesticated lawns.” (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

In 2013, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada celebrated its 25th anniversary, taking for the celebration this theme of seeds and the parable of the sower. My congregation received a lovely commemorative “In every seed, a promise” banner.

I have a problem with dandelions. Late spring is high season for dandelions, when those bright-yellow blooms make their presence in yards and fields abundantly clear. Within a month or two, the flowers will be gone and the dandelion leaves will blend pretty well into the rest of the grass. Fresh from a good mowing, our lawn will look nice enough through the summer. 

Open to us a door

‘. . . that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ . . .’ (Colossians 4:3) (Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

When Hymnal: A Worship Book came out in 1992, “What is This Place” was chosen to be the lead hymn in the collection. The first line describes the church building as “Only a house, the earth its floor, walls and a roof . . . , windows for light, an open door.” But when the people enter, “. . . it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here . . . .” 

Anxiety

People coping with fear and anxiety swing back and forth between responses as the situation, and perceptions of it, change. We panic. We grasp for assurances and control. We deny. We try to understand. (photo © istock.com/wildpixel)

As the effects of COVID-19 grow, I am observing a variety of emotional reactions in myself and others. COVID-19 touches everyone’s life. If it isn’t personal illness or loss, we contend with separation, loneliness, deep uncertainty, inconvenient grocery shopping and accessing services that used to be readily available. Children are at home, incomes are at risk.

Encounters with the church in Cuba

Bishop Luis Hernandez baptizes a member of a Brethren in Christ house church in El Cafetal, Cuba. (Photo by Jack Suderman)

Irene Suderman, centre with the blue scarf, a co-leader of the learning tour with her husband Jack, is pictured with tour members at a Brethren in Christ house church in Cuba. (Photo by Jack Suderman)

Sixteen Anabaptist Christians from Canada and the United States came to Cuba from Jan. 12 to 16 to learn about the church there. I was one of them.

Well rooted, well winged

I have the growing conviction that the canon provides us not only roots, but also wings. Not only is it important to be ‘well-rooted’; it is equally important to be ‘well-winged.’ (Photo: © istock.com/ananaline)

For most of us, the biblical canon with its 66 “books” has always been a given, inherited from the past, our parents and churches. We have not concerned ourselves very much with it, even though we may have heard that the Catholic version of the Bible has more “books” in it than the Protestant version. 

Love in the time of COVID-19

3d Rendering of the Corona Virus In Red Background - Microbiology And Virology Concept (Photo taken from istock.com/RomoloTavani)

Thursday, as I sat down to a board meeting for the Micah Mission, a restorative justice organization in Saskatoon, I got the news that the Juno Awards show was being cancelled in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. For months I’d been hearing the Junos hyped on CBC Radio 2 and seeing advertisements on billboards around town, where the shows were to be broadcast from.

Out of holy weakness, mysterious power arises

'Love’s as hard as nails,' C.S. Lewis wrote. 'Love is nails: / Blunt, thick, hammered through / The medial nerves of One / Who, having made us, knew / The thing He had done, / Seeing (what all that is) / Our cross, and His.' (Graphic by Betty Avery)

I could not have predicted the responses I got when I asked 15 Mennonite Church Canada pastors—all women—how they would explain the meaning of the cross and resurrection to a 12-year-old. 

Who was I that I could hinder God?

‘Vision of Cornelius the Centurion,’ by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621-1674). In the collection of the Walters Art Museum. (wikimedia commons photo (public domain))

‘Peter’s Vision,’ from Charles Foster’s The Story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, 1873. (wikimedia commons photo (public domain))

The Book of Acts is the record of what happened to Jesus’ followers when their universe exploded, when the Holy Spirit, the embracing presence of God, came upon them. Their world was turned upside down. Jesus’ friends were baffled by the wildness of God’s new presence: The Spirit kept going ahead of them; they couldn’t hold the Spirit fast. 

Learning to live with technology

Zac Schellenberg, a teacher at Rosthern Junior College, uses his cell phone to take a picture of students taking selfies. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

Increasingly, students are required to use their cell phones for classroom work. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

The anonymity of the internet can make it easier to engage in bullying behaviour online. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

While screen time can be isolating, it can also be used to build community, as when students study together. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

In many schools the internet has replaced the library as a major source of information. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

In many schools the internet has replaced the library as a major source of information. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

The internet and the myriad technologies that have accompanied its rise to media supremacy have transformed the way people communicate. For better or worse they have also transformed education.

Encountering the gifts of a global church

A Mennonite World Conference delegation made church visits in India in December 2018. (Photo: Henk Stenvers / Mennonite World Conference)

Laston Bissani Mitambo, an evangelist who has planted many churches in the Palombe District in Malawi and in the Zambezia Province of Mozambique, prays for the communion bread. (Photo courtesy of Laston Bissani)

A Central American cohort of Anabaptist women theologians, members of the MTAL Movement of Anabaptist Women doing Theology in Latin America, meets in Honduras in 2018. (MTAL photo)

The world is getting smaller. Peoples, places and cultures that in the past existed in distant lands may today be just around the corner. Here in North America, because of migration, many neighbourhoods have become mosaics of people of a variety of skin colours, languages and cultures. Some of the newcomers are Christians and they exemplify what most of the Christian world looks like.

Empower children . . . end poverty

Unlike their elders, who have more years behind than ahead, children and youth have the benefit of unlimited possibilities for their life. (Photo taken from povertyinstitute.ca)

‘Christ holds up children as a model for people to look to if we want to envision the kingdom of God . . . . This is a remarkable role reversal; typically adults try to find role models for children, not the other way around,’ writes Derek Cook. (Photo © istock.com/lmgorthand)

homelesshub.ca/gallery/bad-worse-child-poverty-rates-canada (Infographic created by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives based on 2006 Canadian census data.)

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Fittingly, the theme of the 2019 Universal Children’s Day, held on Nov. 20, was “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty.” 

Proclaiming Immanuel

‘Angel announcing: Jesus is here,’ by Elizabeth Cressman, a Grade 3 student who attends Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont.

‘Jesus here and now,’ by Sean Lane, a Grade 4 student who attends Crystal City (Man.) Mennonite Church.

‘Nativity scene,’ by Colin Lane, a Grade 6 student who attends Crystal City (Man.) Mennonite Church.

I was eight years old. That year, the Sunday school Christmas pageant was going to be a no-fuss event. All the kids were going to stand up in a line, each of us reciting a memorized verse from Luke’s Christmas story. 

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” 

That was my line. I was disappointed! 

‘Taste and see that stuff is good’

Capitalizing on the way that society is currently unplugging itself from traditional forms of religion, the mall is an example of a cultural institution that has successfully read the religious market and opened a new outlet for selling and consuming transcendence. (Mennopix photos by Ross W. Muir)

The mall’s clean, bright, inviting and vaulted interior architecture make it easy for us to forget about the outside world. (Mennopix photos by Ross W. Muir)

“If the training of desire towards an ultimate object of love is the final and most important telltale sign of religion, then worship at the mall is about training worshippers to long for the good life: a life of perpetual youth, beauty, wealth and independence.” (Mennopix photos by Ross W. Muir)

The human struggle has always been—and always will be—between worshiping the God who made us or worshiping a god that we have to make for ourselves. Secularism is a myth because there is no such thing as not worshipping.

The world in colour

‘Face painting phantasm’ (mennopix Digital art by Ross W. Muir)

If the Bible is a story, it is also something more: It’s a book that dares to make an authoritative claim on life. Between the poems and proverbs and parables, a portrait is taking shape of who God is and what exactly God desires. The Bible suggests that to learn to walk with God and love the things that God loves is to begin to live in sync with the world’s true design.

Faithful practices on a dying planet

‘Bring out your dead,’ by Edmund Evans, circa 1864. This coloured wood engraving pictures a medieval street scene with a town crier and a two-wheeled cart making the rounds and collecting the bodies of plague victims; a few people have gathered around a small fire for warmth. (wikimedia.org photo (public domain))

Over the last few months, the reality of the climate crisis we are in the midst of has started to strike me in a new and terrible way. As the best-case scenarios for our planet grow more dire and the possibility of achieving even these scenarios grows more remote, it has started to dawn on me that the church is not only faced with the task of working to stop the destruction of our planet.

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