I once knew a young child for whom change was extremely difficult. Whether the change came as a surprise or whether the child anticipated the happy results of an expected change, it was hard to move from “here” to “there.” Change can be difficult for people of all ages.
As we assembled this issue of the magazine, change emerged as a recurring theme. I counted at least 25 uses of the word, along with the concept of transition elsewhere in this issue.
There’s the poignant lament on p. 13 about how the traditional model of Sunday school has waned for one congregation. An Alberta congregation recently explored the theme, “Finding God in uncertain times” (p. 24). An article on p. 20 reports on changes in language and practices at a Mennonite university. On page 11, columnist Randy Haluza-DeLay calls for transformation —change—in the world systems that are causing the climate crisis we face.
A change in leadership of this magazine is on the horizon. I will retire from my role as executive editor of Canadian Mennonite at the end of October. This planned change comes as I envision a new life chapter with more time for family, volunteering and individual editing projects. I look forward to less pressure from the bi-weekly deadlines, but I will miss the dedicated CM team and CM’s many faithful readers. You can read about my successor on p. 35.
Change, whether at the personal, congregational, institutional, or global level, can be good, but we also struggle with the uncertainty about the future. Consider the people of Israel, travelling in the harsh wilderness, away from slavery and toward a promised land. Moses reminded them often of the blessings ahead, and yet, they often got stuck in the present challenges. God fed the people with miraculous food from heaven. And yet, they complained, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at” (Numbers 11:4-6). In this midst of this enormous transition, they allowed the hardships to obscure the presence of God and the promise of a fruitful future.
In the column on p. 9, pastor Bill Christieson writes that it matters what stories we tell ourselves about how the world works. As we face transitions, Bill invites us to choose “a narrative of hope.” He writes, “In a time of change the church has the potential to be both a place of stability and a catalyst for change in the direction of the gospel.”
Repeatedly, the biblical story shows that, as the people of God confront change, we can cling to the unchangeable nature of a loving God. A favourite hymn says, “Great is thy faithfulness. . . . Thou changest not/ thy compassions, they fail not. / As thou hast been / thou forever wilt be” (Voices Together, no. 419).
For the world, the church and this magazine’s new executive editor, I pray for wisdom and stamina in the changes ahead. Great is God’s faithfulness.
Speaking of change, I’m pleased to welcome Barry Bergen to the Canadian Mennonite team, with the assignment to report from the Leamington and Windsor areas. Barry attends Faith Mennonite Church and is a schoolteacher. He wrote occasionally for the magazine in the past. Read "It’s a ‘God thing,’" one of the two pieces he wrote for our Sept. 19 print issue.
Join CM online
October 5 is the date for CM’s second online event, and you are invited to join. The Zoom conversation will be about reconciliation with Indigenous neighbours, and three guests will address the question, “What steps are you taking in your context to further reconciliation?” Register at canadianmennonite.org/events.
Seeking Christmas art
For the past several years, artwork created by Mennonite students has graced the pages of CM’s Christmas issue. Once again, we’re inviting elementary and high school students in Mennonite schools and congregations to submit original art on the theme, “The Christmas story.” We will consider this art for publication in the Nov. 28 issue. If possible, please send high-resolution digital versions of the art. Paper submissions are also welcome, but all submissions should arrive by the Nov. 10 deadline and are to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please invite the young artists you know to share their art.