Number 24

How ‘The Commitment’ came to be

"The Commitment" by Lynda Toews, 2014

The artist invited members of her church to pose for a photo that would be the basis for the artwork.

Photos of animals were used to create the nativity scene.

It all began in January 2014. My husband Gary and I started to research conventional nativity art and arrived at a new vision. We decided to focus attention on the very humble and usually invisible Joseph.

From then, the painting took three months to create, beginning with buying old sheets from Mennonite Central Committee for sewing some first-century costumes.

Three meditations on Christmas mysteries

That Jesus is thus a union of divine and mortal signals an ancient truth that underlies all worship: from creation onward, in love’s deep sacrifice, God’s outstretched eternal finger touches the outstretched finger of the mortal Adam. (Credit:

What many hero stories fail to show is the cost of redemption for all the bit players in the story, all those ordinary people who attempt to get on with life, often oblivious to the grand narratives in the making. (Credit:

While gifts sometimes do fill a material need—the poverty-stricken student accepts with gratitude a food voucher or a decent blanket—at their truest, gifts are part of the self that is offered to another self. (Credit:

Edna Alison Froese

A gathering of strangers

An uneasy transition

This is my seventh year living in Canada. My transition from Japan to Canada wasn’t easy, since I love my country and my family. I especially love the church where I became a believer, Atago Mennonite, in Miyazaki. I still have a heart that one day my entire family will come to know Jesus.

Movember is the new Christmas

I have a goatee. I’ve had it for a while and, as my wife reminds me, my kids can’t even remember me without it. I can barely remember me without it. So, given that I’m already stubbled, it’s pretty hard to get excited about Movember.

November has become the month—other than hockey playoff time—when men grow facial hair to make a statement.

What statement? Good question.

A deeper view of bread

When I was a child, my mother used to bake buns every Saturday. It seemed to me that she would make hundreds of them. She baked so that on Sunday we could have faspa. There was something sacred about faspa. Something about that light meal contributed to my concept of sabbath. In my mind, I made a connection to the divine when I smelled fresh baking.

RJC envisions a bigger, better school

Rosthern Junior College student council representatives Kelsey Dueck, left, Kylee Kosokowsky, Joseph Hachachena, Kelsi Siemens and Brandon Janzen hold up a $5,000 cheque to kick off the school’s five-year ‘Do more. Be more’ fundraising campaign.

“Do more. Be more.” These words sound a little like the mantra of a motivational speaker. They are, in fact, the name given to a new five-year strategic fundraising plan for Rosthern Junior College (RJC). The plan includes the ambitious goal of raising  $1.5 million to be allocated toward three clearly defined strategies:

CMU opens Marpeck Commons

An external view of the new Marpeck Commons at Canadian Mennonite University.

Librarian Vic Froese, left, Terry Schellenberg, Arlyn Friesen-Epp and Dave Bergen are pictured in the new library at Canadian Mennonite University’s Marpeck Commons.

A new pedestrian bridge links CMU’s north and south campuses.

For the past year-and-a-half, residents of Winnipeg have watched as Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) built a pedestrian bridge linking its north and south campuses over a busy thoroughfare. On Nov. 29, as CMU was preparing to open the doors for the public to view the new facility, the excitement was palpable.

More viewpoints: Smudging

To celebrate its 50th anniversary Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba planned an event to be held on Nov. 15, 2014, at the Immanuel Pentecostal Church in Winnipeg, a venue MCC was renting for the large event. But days before, MCC cancelled the event based on objections the congregation’s leadership had to an indigenous smudging ceremony that was to be held on church grounds.

MCC Manitoba stands with Buffalo Gals

‘It seems to me that a generosity of spirit is at the heart of both Christian and Canadian aboriginal beliefs, so there should be a strong mutual interest in demonstrating mutual respect.’--Former prime minister Joe Clark (Photo by Will Braun)

Ron Janzen

The landmark event was intended, in part, to promote reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. That goal will likely be achieved to a far greater extent than organizers ever imagined, but the path will be circuitous and theologically bumpy.

Peace brings local community together

Participants pause by the Morden, Man., cenotaph to offer prayers concerning civil justice during their Peace Prayer Walk on Nov. 9. Michael Pahl, who came up with the idea for the walk, is pictured facing the camera with white papers in his hand. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pahl)

“Regardless of our perspectives on ‘just war’ and pacifism, as Christians we are all united in our desire for peace and justice in our community and around the world,” says Michael Pahl of his idea to hold an annual Peace Prayer Walk in Morden, Man., last year.

No time to give up on Planet Earth

After travelling through a wormhole, Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway) lands on a potentially habitable planet in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. (Paramount Pictures photo)

“We’re not meant to save the world; we’re meant to leave it.” So says the protagonist of Interstellar, a grand science fiction epic from Christopher Nolan. One of Hollywood’s best ‘blockbuster’ directors (Inception, the Dark Knight trilogy), he has created the best film to come out of Hollywood this year. It may also be the most dangerous.

‘Portraits of perseverance’

Aden Bauman sits at his home work bench after retiring from 46 years of running a watch repair business. His photo and story are part of the ‘Portraits of perseverance’ project by Karl Kessler and Sunshine Chen. (Credit: Karl Kessler)

Photographer Karl Kessler of Erb Street Mennonite Church, Waterloo, Ont., stands in the City of Waterloo Museum at the Conestoga Mall, where his and Sunshine Chen’s ‘Portraits of Perseverance’ are on display until Jan. 30. (Credit: Dave Rogalsky)

Karl Kessler and Sunshine Chen openly admit to being inspired by Harvey Wang’s New York, a 1990 book of photographic “portraits of men and women in vanishing jobs and professions.”

A Bible meant to be read with your ears

Superlatives for the KJV, as it’s known, abound: ‘The greatest work of prose ever written in English,’ ‘The most beautiful book in the world,’ ‘The most important book in English religion and culture,’ one of the ‘books of the millennium.’

Given a choice between the absolute accuracy of the translation or the elegance and beauty of the language, the translators unfailingly chose elegance and beauty.

Have you heard the Bible recently? Not read it, but listened to it—heard the words of Scripture, not just seen them on the page. 

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