Editorial

Gifts received, gifts given

(Photo by Kira auf der Heide/Unsplash)

As Christmas approaches, many of us are thinking about gifts. The beautifully wrapped packages under the Christmas tree, of course. Also other types of gifts—the kind that we can receive and give at any time of the year. The gifts that require more than a click on a website or a trip to the mall.

One hundred years

100 years of MCC. (Photos courtesy of Mennonite Central Committee)

Throughout this year, readers may have noticed a regular item appearing in the print version of this magazine: historical photos and vignettes highlighting aspects of 100 years of ministry by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). If you are a saver of old magazines, you might want to pull them out and glance through the Et Cetera section of each issue.

Good conversations

‘Maybe we in the church need to imagine ourselves as old friends sitting around the campfire…’ (Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan/Unsplash)

A flurry of online comments on a recent sexual misconduct story, an email from a reader despairing of having meaningful dialogue through letters to the magazine, and my congregation’s first online business meeting—these got me pondering how we, in the church community, struggle to have good conversations.

Before you share

(Photo by Tim Bennett/Unsplash)

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asked Jesus two thousand years ago. Today, as we read the newspaper, watch YouTube and TV news, listen to the radio, and scroll through social media, we confront that same question. In this time of pandemic, social upheaval and political strife, the distinction between truth and falsehood seems especially nebulous. 

Take care

We can and should seek self-care in these uncertain times. (Photo by Miguel Perales/Unsplash)

Recently the worldwide number of souls lost to the COVID-19 virus surpassed 1 million. Visualizing that large number of lives cut short touches one’s own soul. We, the living, mourn and seek to understand. 

Substance over glitz

Jon Lebold seals a Mennonite Central Committee relief kit with the help of his son, Jed Lebold. 'Mennonite agencies like MCC and others have found ways to serve people in critical need for a century,' Tobi Thiessen writes. 'They do it with little glitz but a lot of substance.' (Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/MCCpeace)

While public conversation swirled in July over the details of WE Charity’s speaker fees and all-expenses-paid trips for donors, my church was having a sermon series on Mennonite Central Committee’s 100 years of service in the name Christ.

Together, in song

(Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)

The last time my church sang together was March 8, the second Sunday in Lent. Since then, my singing has consisted of one backyard, physically distant, “Happy Birthday” and my lone voice following the congregation’s pre-recorded music on the screen.  

A COVID-19 commandment

'For the majority of Jesus’ followers today, wearing a mask is an order we can follow.' (Image by Christo Anestev/Pixabay)

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.

Reading, watching, listening: A buffet

Here are some things on my content buffet. (Photo courtesy of freepik.com/elchinjavadov)

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:

Life together online

'I’ve been visiting many churches. Not in person, of course, but on the internet.'

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.

Our fathers

Virginia A. Hostetler encountered this painting of the Holy Family while living in Nazareth years ago. It hangs in St. Joseph's Church. (Photo courtesy of BibleWalks.com)

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? 

Some things that need to be said

‘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.’ (Image by cromaconceptovisual/Pixabay)

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

Beyond ourselves 

'You and I can expand our circle of attention...' (Image by Arek Socha/Pixabay)

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.

Chequebook and calendar

'We pondered the two types of commitment he was calling us to: the chequebook and the calendar.'

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. 

Church stories

Young and old from Arnaud (Man.) Mennonite Church participate in church picnic activities last June. Almost every issue of Canadian Mennonite carries at least one story of a Mennonite Church Canada congregation. (Canadian Mennonite file photo by Rick Friesen)

“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. 

Limits and surprises

‘I’m the kind of person who likes to know what’s ahead on the path, to predict exactly what I can expect and what is expected of me.’ (Image by David Mark/Pixabay)

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.

Cultivating hope

'We can take mini-sabbaticals by stepping away from the computer, the smartphone, the newspaper and TV news. We disconnect, knowing that God is larger than our human efforts.' (Image by Shah Rokh/Pixabay)

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. 

#ICYMI: 2019 in review

'On the road of discipleship, let’s remember: The God we follow invites us to let go of past mistakes, cling to a strong vision and aim for new acts of faithfulness.' (Graphic by Betty Avery)

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.

 

Church publications: Which way to go?

'Recently, three Christian publications have each turned a different direction...' (Image by Pexels/Pixabay)

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.

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