The message of Jesus is ‘superior and important’
Re: “Reaching out requires letting in,” June 24, page 13.
Troy Watson’s column talks about “[t]his barrier is about our subtle . . . sense of superiority” in reaching out to people.
First, I think this misses an important command given by Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. Christians respond to this directive not because they feel superior to non-believers, but because the message they are to share is superior and important. This message is found in such passages as John 3:16-17, John 14:6, I Peter 1:18-21, I John 1:7-9, and Proverbs 11:30.
Second, for a modern thought on reaching out, I encourage reading The Heavenly Man, the remarkable true story of Brother Yun, a Chinese Christian.
Third, I am thankful for the Christian martyrs who have lived and shared the message of Christ down through the ages.
I agree with Watson that we need to be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we share the good news of Jesus Christ.
—Paul Jantzi, Milverton, Ont.
Hymnal committee explains changes to ‘revered hymn’
Re: “Voices Together should restore the words of revered hymn” letter, June 24, page 9.
Peter Voth writes about the words to the song “This Is My Father’s World” and wonders why the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee working on the forthcoming Voices Together hymnal would change the words.
As the committee considers each song for possible inclusion in Voices Together, the process involves an analysis of the original text to study the songwriter’s own words. In addition, the committee reviews other hymnals to see what versions have been published elsewhere.
In the summer issue of Leader magazine, the committee is testing out a number of songs and worship resources for possible inclusion in Voices Together. The version of the Maltbie Babcock song found in that Leader sampler draws heavily on a version published in 1996 in Voices United, a United Church of Canada hymnal.
The committee also wrestled with the title of the song, now titled “This Is God’s Wondrous World.” Rich hymns that use father language for God will remain in Voices Together. In this song, the committee noted that the father metaphor is not developed and therefore was not integral to a song that is mostly about God as creator. When a gendered metaphor for God is developed in a song—how God is like a father—the committee has seen this as a reason to retain gendered language. In this instance, the committee noted that the song focuses most on God’s presence in creation rather than familial relationships.
We concur with Voth that this is a deep and lovely poem, and in this testing phase of assembling a new denominational collection we want to continue to hear feedback from congregations and individuals, at Mennomedia@voicestogetherhymnal.org.
—Amy Gingerich and Bradley Kauffman, Newton, Kan.
Amy Gingerich is MennoMedia’s executive director and Bradley Kauffman is Voices Together’s general editor.