Editorial

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.

What shall I wear: Sport coat or cardigan?

'That got me thinking about Fred Rogers. Yes, the soft-spoken host of the children’s television program "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood." Wearer of the simple cardigan sweater.' (Image by Mabel Amber/Pixabay)

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.

Going deeper together

'We desire to go deeper in our relationship with God and with our neighbours both inside and outside the church walls.' (Image by congerdesign/Pixabay)

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?

Shaped by our essential book

'What does it mean if we see the Bible as the book above other books?' (Image by StockSnap/Pixabay)

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

Disciples and citizens

'If they had had the chance, how would the diverse disciples have voted in matters affecting their community and their land?' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

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. 

The zucchini principle

(Image by Image by マサコ アーント/Pixabay)

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.”

Digital church

(Image by FotoRieth/Pixabay)

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.

Broad prayers in a time of fear

(Image by Jenny Friedrichs/Pixabay)

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. 

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