Editorial

The Spirit is moving our body

Katie Doke Sawatzky is communications officer for Mennonite Church Canada.

I knew everything would be okay as soon as the singing started. As I sat at a table positioned behind a small tower of crates half covered in cloth—a makeshift platform for the room’s main projector—I looked up from my detailed program schedule and smiled. Right, this is why we’re here.

What we say online

‘Different people have different opinions on what it means to leave effective comments online. Still, I hope we can all agree that kindness and compassion are the best places to start.’ (Image by rawpixel/Pixabay)

What does it mean to comment well on the internet? What does effectively communicating one’s thoughts on a web article or social media post look like?

As Canadian Mennonite’s online media manager, a job that involves moderating comments on the magazine’s website and facilitating discussion on Facebook and Twitter, I think about these things regularly.

Learning as we go

Ministers talk during a Mennonite Church Canada conference in Saskatoon in 2016. "New things are happening," Virginia A. Hostetler writes. "We’re all learning as we go." (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

Gathering 2019 starts next week. From June 28 to July 1, several hundred attendees from across Canada will meet in Abbotsford, B.C., for the first major event since the re-structuring of the Mennonite Church Canada. Thank you, MC British Columbia, for hosting this gang! 

Between 'Pure' and Mennonite Heritage Week

'Pure' purports to be “based on true events of the Mennonite mob.” (Photo courtesy Facebook.com/PureWGNA)

On the last week of May, season 2 of the crime show, Pure, started airing on the Super Channel. The show’s promotional material shows women in conservative Mennonite dress wielding rifles and filling packets with cocaine. Men in overalls, plaid shirts and straw hats intimidate a victim.

Motivated by fear

'We were flying from Calgary to Toronto in March... He wasn’t actually asking for my help. He was testing my commitment as a Christian.' (Image by Free-Photos/Pixabay)

Two hours into a conversation that I deeply regretted starting, the man seated next to me said, “Most people on this airplane are probably not Christian. If this flight starts to crash, I will stand up, tell everyone to repent [of their sins], accept Jesus as Lord and be saved. Otherwise, they will spend eternity in hell. Will you help me?”

Holding out the Christ-light 

"I will hold the Christ-light for you / in the night-time of your fear. / I will hold my hand out to you, / speak the peace you long to hear." (Image by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

“We can all have good mental health. It is about having a sense of purpose, strong relationships, feeling connected to our communities, knowing who we are, coping with stress and enjoying life,” says a statement by the Canadian Mental Health Association. 

Costly perfume

“Why did Jesus praise this woman for pouring out the costly perfume when the proceeds of its sale could have helped many poor people in their town?” (Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni/Pixabay)

On April 15, dramatic images of Paris’s burning Notre Dame Cathedral captured worldwide attention. Nearby, local citizens and tourists stood singing and praying in grief. Could it be that this majestic symbol of faith, art and culture was crumbling before our eyes? 

First impressions

'If we “do” welcome well, those first impressions might lead visitors to stick around and become “one of us.”' (Image by StockSnap/Pixabay)

Confession: I once shooed a visitor away from “my” bench at church. (I was saving a spot for my husband.) Fortunately, the visitor stayed and I could apologize for my thoughtless act.

Are we there yet?

‘Sometimes the vision for the trip hasn’t been very clear. Who’s driving this car and where are we going?’ (Photo by Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay)

Do you remember those family car trips? In the front seat, Mom and Dad are navigating, driving and planning for the next pit stop. In the back seats, kids are staking out their individual spaces, trying to stave off boredom and bickering. Everyone is looking forward to the adventure ahead. Someone calls out the question, “Are we there yet?”

Moving beyond ‘climate grief’

'As we seek to love our earthly home and the neighbours God has given us, maybe our task is not as impossible as we think.' (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Last December, unbeknownst to each other, my daughter-in-law and I bought each other bamboo toothbrushes as Christmas presents. Earlier in the year, she had heard me lament the plastic toothbrushes I was regularly contributing to the local landfill. In the larger scheme, those toothbrushes didn’t seem very important, but the long life of those plastic handles was an uncomfortable reality.

Can church be more like camp?

Every winter, I hear a radio advertisement for a back-to-the-woods summer children’s camp in Ontario. The ad closes with the tagline, “You send us your child, and we’ll send you back a new one.” It’s a great slogan. It points out that renewal and transformation occur when people are pulled away from their daily routines to spend time in the great outdoors.

‘Fear not’

In the Advent and Christmas stories, fear is a prelude to God’s bringing new and wonderful things into the human story. (Photo from Pixabay)

In the past few weeks, a theme has emerged in my Advent singing and Scripture reading: fear.

Fear is all around us. A recent book about a fearmongering president is on the bestseller list. Politicians and pundits stoke a public paranoia, using it to boost their own power. Credible scientific reports alert us to the troubling facts surrounding present and future climate change. 

A season of change

Since 1939, Mennonite women in British Columbia have been gathering each spring for a day of spiritual encouragement and fellowship. But this year, as the planned date approached, no location had been determined and no one had stepped up to coordinate the day. Was the tradition dead? One concerned woman took the initiative and secured a speaker, found a meeting place and hired a caterer. 

Stories of generosity

The young couple was living far from home, juggling college studies and part-time work, in preparation for overseas missionary work. Their first child was due and then complications set in. It was a difficult birth, and the hospital bill totalled much more than their meagre budget allowed. When the time came for the new father to take mother and baby home, the hospital authorities balked.

The long path

In a recent adult Sunday school class, a member of my church spoke about her quarter-century journey of relating to Indigenous people. Twenty-five years and still learning, she admitted. Given the centuries of injustice and pain our neighbours have experienced, that doesn’t seem like such a long time.

Seeking a safe home

It is June 20, World Refugee Day. Near the Mexico-U.S. border, thousands of people are waiting. Fleeing conflict and violence in their own countries, they are seeking safety. Reports emerge of refugee children being detained and separated from their parents, who are also locked up. These families are torn apart by a policy of “zero tolerance” for so-called “illegal immigrants.”

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