I memorized Philippians 4:4-9 more than 20 years ago when I was on bed rest during my pregnancy with my son Aaron. I had lost three babies before him—and one after him—so pregnancy for me was an obvious cause for anxiety.
Alcohol has become ubiquitous in Canada, so much so that on April 5 even Starbucks began serving beer and wine in three of its Toronto outlets.
About eight years ago, Daniel Pantoja shared the approach he and his wife Joji employed as Mennonite Church Canada Witness Workers in the Philippines: “Toss aside western church culture and rhetoric.” By shaping their approach from a Muslim context, they bridged the gap between perception and Jesus.
Marriage has always been, and continues to be, a perplexing reality for Christians. From the Apostle Paul’s confusing advice to the more recent agonizing over divorce, Christian marriage has been plagued by anxiety and confusion. The conflicts in the church today are only the most recent chapter in millennia of struggle.
Excerpted and translated from a sermon preached at Niagara United Mennonite Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., on April 26, 2015. It is based on chapter 21 of the Gospel of John, the well-known story of the disciples back in Galilee shortly after Easter.
Lent is a 40-day season on the church calendar that brings the story of Jesus into the nitty-gritty of community life. It brings the story into everyone’s own particular time and place.
A year ago, when a colleague and I spent an intense two days in the beautiful Fraser Valley of B.C. with the writing team for our Leader magazine, I met this passage again as part of the 2016 lectionary texts for Lent.
In a time when western society is rapidly altering its image of marriage and government institutions have legally recognized same-sex marriage, the church is pressed to decide: Shall we follow suit?
The following is an abridged version of a letter sent to the Future Directions Task Force and Mennonite Church Canada leaders that was signed by all 24 Witness workers in light of the Task Force’s concluding report (commonword.ca/go/469).
On behalf of the Future Directions Task Force I express sincere thanks for the thought and time you’ve put into the open letter received last week from Norm Dyck, Mennonite Church Canada’s Witness Council chair.
Today, our community of Anabaptist-related churches spans the globe, incorporating people from many different cultural, ethnic and political backgrounds. We are, without a doubt, a diverse community. Whenever we gather, we enjoy this diversity and feel enriched.
I was driving from Calgary out to Rosemary, Alta., to attend Bill and Bob Janzen’s mom’s funeral. As I drove I recalled hearing of times when everyone lived in large homes in long rows in Russian villages, each on five-acre plots. The farming was done all around the village and the Mennonites became very prosperous.
I still think of myself as a shepherd. Every day, actually every night, I’m out there. I look for the lost, the wanderers and the weary, and I bring them home. It’s a living. At times, it’s easy; they know the way and I just help them along. Other times, it’s dark and cold, and I worry about predators in the shadows. My lost ones might—or might not—be in good shape.
It seems like every second time I open my computer these days I come across the latest instance of what is becoming a very familiar—and obnoxious—brand of writing: the “five reasons for . . .” genre.
Why should I care for the environment? A lot of Christians today are asking that question. I mean, we know it’s probably the right thing to do, but what’s a Christ-centred perspective on the matter?
What does a transformative, earth-honouring Christianity look like at ground level and lived out in daily action? Reforms of personal habits—such as recycling, eating locally and shopping responsibly—are important steps.
When I was a small child, my parents took our family on assignment to Chile as church workers. In a country which at that time had no Anabaptist-Mennonite churches, our ties to the Mennonite community took other forms. Among these, my parents’ use of Doris Janzen Longacre’s More-with-Less Cookbook was perhaps the most tangible.
While in the West Bank city of Hebron, Hannah Doerksen, left, Naomi Peters and Jenny Sawatzsky were approached by local students. The Canadians are students at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg. (Photo by Ramon Rempel)
During a recent trip to the Middle East, Ramon Rempel’s students met many people, learned about their lives and deepened their knowledge of the world. (Photo by Ramon Rempel)
Not long ago I returned from a trip to the Middle East, where I led a group of ten students from Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute (MBCI) in Winnipeg through many parts of Palestine, Israel and Jordan. We met many people, stayed in local homes, saw many sights of biblical and recent significance, and I trust the world of my students grew a little wider and deeper than it was before.
(The following article discusses a difficult topic in story form. All characters are fictional, although the events referred to are based on an amalgamation of true experiences.)
She went to her pastor for advice, not sex.
Another woman accepted her pastor’s invitation to chair a committee he oversaw, not an invitation to be sexually preyed upon.
Debora Prabu, from Indonesia, sings during one of the nine worship services at Mennonite World Conference Assembly, held July 21 to 26, 2015. She was part of the 17-person international music ensemble led by Marcy Hostetler, of the U.S.A. Each day they focussed on music from one of the continents.
Morning and evening worship services featured songs from various cultures and countries. Many people found the music inspiring. (Photo by Jim Cheng)
More than 250 friendship groups allowed MWC assembly participants to become friends with believers from around the world. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)
Martin Junge, executive secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, was among the guests from other world churches who addressed the assembly. He said he was “amazed and humbled by the gift of reconciliation and forgiveness” in the Anabaptist-Lutheran dialogue. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)
A group of five from Kenya sang on Thursday evening. Of the choir of 30, only these five received visas to come to the U.S. For a report from the visa task force, go to canadianmennonite.org/mwc-2015-visas (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)
The assembly was a “green” event with strong encouragement to compost as much as possible. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)
In his friendship group at the Mennonite World Conference assembly, Francis Ojwang found that getting to know fellow believers from distant places brought an unexpected blessing.