Setsuko Nakamura was 13 years old in 1945, the day American forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, where she lived.
It is now month five for Canadian communities struggling with the COVID-19 crisis. In this time, we’ve heard many pronouncements by health authorities on what members of the public should and should not do to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus. As it spreads, health experts continue to research and learn, experiment and make recommendations.
When the conversation is lagging in social situations, one of my favourite questions to ask is, “What are you reading?” This inquiry often leads to an interesting interchange of ideas and suggestions.
Today, I’ll turn the table and tell you about some things that I’ve been reading. And watching. And listening to. Here are a few things on my content buffet:
Since the middle of March, when church buildings closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, I’ve been visiting many churches. Not in person, of course, but on the internet. Each week I click on the link to a worship service that a Mennonite congregation, or group of congregations, has prepared to share with members of our denomination.
At the end of May and into June, as news outlets reported on demonstrations in cities across North America, we witnessed something more powerful than tear gas hanging in the air.
Mother’s Day is past, and Pentecost and Father’s Day are still ahead. In this in-between time, I’ve been considering the ways in which we describe God. Humans long to know, to understand and to name God. But how can mortal imaginations grasp the Eternal One?
As this issue goes to press, much of Canada is still practising measures to hold COVID-19 at bay. Fatigue has set in; we’re tired of thinking about it, talking about it and praying about it. Yet some things still must be said:
God did not cause this pandemic
More than a month into physical distancing in Canada, and the church seems to be flourishing. Does it seem that way to you?
As I write, my household is entering into our fourth week of physical distancing. Facing the fast-spreading and potentially deadly coronavirus, my spouse and I sit in a comfortable house, with a dependable supply of food and are thankful for good sanitation. We have books, music and movies. We’re still employed, and we’re connecting digitally with a network of family and friends.
Recently seen online: a quote on a black T-shirt: “The church has left the building.”
In early March, the church my husband and I belong to held its annual general meeting. This year there wasn’t a lot of discussion, but Paul, the representative of the finance and stewardship committee, got us all thinking.
“The congregation is the foundational unit and expression of God’s work in the world.” That was a key affirmation in the Future Directions process that led to the 2017 re-organization of Mennonite Church Canada. In this issue’s feature starting on page 4, MC Canada’s executive minister, Doug Klassen, calls for a strengthening of our denomination’s core: the congregations.
I had other plans for this space; this is not the editorial I was intending to write. But, reading over this issue’s proof pages, I saw some unexpected themes emerging.
Several contributors highlight ways in which we humans try to limit the intentions/purposes of our Creator.
In the first days of 2020, our newsfeeds were full: confrontations over a pipeline in western Canada, devastating fires in Australia, an earthquake in Puerto Rico, the death of 176 people whose airplane was shot down and speculations of a possible war in the Middle East.
Over the years, Canadian Mennonite has reported on sexual misconduct within the Mennonite context. As a member of the church press, we have tried to carry out our ongoing commitment to report on such stories with journalistic integrity, respect and sensitivity.
It’s mid-December as I sit down to review the content published by Canadian Mennonite over the past year. Here are a few observations.
I know an intersection with three street signs: Eastglen, Westglen and Northglen. Delivery trucks sometimes end up at the wrong house for failing to notice which Glen they need. Making it worse, Eastglen and Westglen are semi-circles that connect to form one circle. You can turn East and get to West or vice versa.
Recently TV sports personality Don Cherry lost his job for making disparaging comments to “You people,” which viewers and the company that employed him interpreted to apply to newcomers in Canada. The airwaves, newspapers and social media feeds were clogged with opinions about the outspoken commentator’s remarks. His trademark outfit: flashy sport coats.
If you have been paying attention to what the regional churches are up to recently, you may have noticed a common question and a common longing. A question expressed at both regional and nationwide levels: What is God calling Mennonite Church Canada to do, as a church?
The name Arab Christians use for the Bible translates literally as “The Holy Book,” and they often shorten it to “The Book.” Article 4 of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective states: “The Bible is the essential book of the church.” What does it mean if we see the Bible as the book above
A group of men and women travelled the dusty roads, meeting people, eating together, hearing stories, pondering deep sayings, seeing miracles and conversing with their leader.
A woman who was raised in both the Lutheran and Catholic churches is now a member of my congregation. When Shannon described what led her to the Mennonite church, she observed a few differences between how Mennonites and other traditions she knew practise their faith. She said that one difference was that “Mennonites hold on less tightly to their possessions.”
A while back, a friend pondered whether it is possible to have a meaningful experience of church primarily through digital means. I doubt it. But that got me thinking about how much of our congregational experience is lived digitally.
It has become a routine yet still shocking news report: another shooting in a quiet neighbourhood or at a shopping centre, nightclub, school or place of worship. Then come the familiar offers of “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their loved ones. Sadly, there have been too many opportunities to pray these prayers recently.