Several years ago, a fellow pastor sighed in resignation as we talked about the approach of Advent, a pastor’s workload equivalent to an accountant’s tax season. “I don’t like preaching through Christmas,” he said.
Among other shifting sands in the Mennonite world is how we view our relationship to the state, moving from a stance of a nonviolent witness but not participation, to one of entering its ranks to influence policies for its betterment in the areas of justice, creation care and peacemaking. We are becoming participants, not only witnesses.
Several months ago, our editor heard complaints from someone who wanted Canadian Mennonite to stop carrying letters to the editor because letters often cause too much friction.
Mainstream Mennonites tend to be doers. We have been taught to work hard and take satisfaction from getting things done, whether that is fixing up houses through Mennonite Disaster Service or sending relief kits and food aid through Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to places where people are destitute. We like to feel that our hard work is getting results.
In a chapter on “Sabbath” in her book An Altar to the World, Barbara Brown Taylor confesses to “holy envy” of how the Jews practise the Sabbath, beginning with a proper Friday evening Shabbat service and the lighting of two candles, one for each of the Sabbath commandments in Torah, both of which cal
It is almost a cliché to say that the church is in the middle of mind-numbing changes, nearing a revolutionary scale. Anglican Bishop Mark Dyer calls the situation a “giant rummage sale,” as we take a look at all our old stuff and sell what we don’t need.
“We would benefit more if our leaders were leading more and following less,” lamented one reader in reflecting on the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) discussions at Assembly 2014 this past July. “It is very difficult to guide a scattering herd of sheep from the rear.”
We, in North America, watch helplessly as the human carnage continues in Gaza. The continuing struggle for control of a tiny piece of land on the Mediterranean Sea—a narrow, densely populated, coastal strip 40 kilometres long and a few kilometres wide—has held our attention for a month now.
Words, words, words—millions of them filled the Loewen Auditorium during the four days of Assembly at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, earlier this month. Conversations, greetings, drama, spirited singing and good humour made this another inspirational gathering for delegates to the biennial event of Mennonite Church Canada.
By the time this editorial sees the light of print and the Internet, some 500 delegates attending our national assembly in Winnipeg will have discerned, debated, parsed and probably tired of the theme for the event: Wild Hope, faith for an unknown season.
They sat in rapt attention, taking in every word from the 80-year-olds sitting in front of them. The usual restlessness was gone. The children took in every word.
Once in a great while along comes a classic literary work that gets our attention like no other, not necessarily intended or viewed at the time of its publication, but touching our minds and spirits as a rallying point in our continuing Anabaptist story.
Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, has been invited to comment on the complexities of the relationship between Canadian Mennonite and the denomination, in part as a response to Dick Benner’s three-part series of editorials published in September/October, 2013, a series explaining the history, governance and future of this publication.
“All politics is local,” is one of the enduring lines of political wisdom uttered by the salty, outspoken U.S. congressman from Massachusetts, the late Tip O’Neill, nearly three decades ago—a line that seems to be gaining momentum in the 21st century. And it applies to more than politics.
It’s been called the greatest human rights issue of our time. Or if that sounds too secular for Anabaptist Mennonites, let’s translate it to say it is the most pressing justice issue of our time.
The timing of Mennonite Church Canada’s current segment on human sexuality couldn’t have been better.
They are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults, less religious—while claiming to be spiritual— less likely to have served in the military and are on track to become the most educated generation in North American history.
Programmers and volunteers of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) across the country happily got word of a reversal of a federal government decision to cut funding that helps keep sexual offenders from reoffending.
His passion for creation care was palatable, his enthusiasm infectious, his words direct but searing the silence. His stature was not imposing, his voice not booming and bouncing off the walls, but as he spoke his words not only reached beyond the abstractions that sometimes cloud things “environmental,” but his spirit touched ours with an almost magical resonance.
A letter writer in this issue questions the practice of yoga and doing labyrinths and other types of what she calls “non-biblical meditation and prayer.”
“Are these practices of the Bible?” Angela Harder asks rhetorically. “Did Jesus teach us to do these things?
Bone-chilling blizzards, record-breaking deep freezes, ferocious winds, devastating floods, ice storms downing trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without heat and light.
What will the issues be for Canadians in 2014, my American friend asked me over the Christmas break. A good but difficult question, I said to myself—a query worth sharing with my faith community for the coming year. So here goes:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to [all] on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14) will be read and re-read in our places of worship this Advent season as well as sung with gusto, sometimes glibly, to the words of Henry Longfellow: “I heard the bells on Christmas Day.”
It’s Remembrance Day as I write this. To say that Canadian Mennonites are conflicted on this day is an understatement.