Readers write: March 15, 2021 issue

March 10, 2021 | Opinion | Volume 25 Issue 6
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

History and generosity ‘should count for something’
“MCC centralizing relief warehouse in New Hamburg,” Feb. 1, page 14.

It was reported—as a “no-big-deal” item—that the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) warehouse in Plum Coulee, Man., will move to New Hamburg, Ont. I live in Plum Coulee, a town of about 1,000 people, and it is a big deal here. Yes, it is the loss of one job, but not just the loss of one job. There will also be 20 to 30 regular volunteers who will lose the opportunity to support MCC, as well as up to 300 volunteers for special projects.

Over time we have lost quite a number of businesses to amalgamation and, without exception, those new entities built expensive new buildings and filled them with expensive help elsewhere, and always with less service and efficiency. I am quite sure that you will find no place in Ontario where you can operate as cheaply as in Plum Coulee.

The local Altona and Winkler MCC thrift stores were the first MCC thrift stores and they have contributed millions of dollars over the years for MCC projects. MCC has a lot of support here in cash and volunteers. That should count for something!
—Brian Derksen, Plum Coulee, Man.


Ecstasy shouldn’t be the main criterion for endorsing popular hymns
A hymn by any other number,” Feb. 15, page 4.

Two thoughts regarding “Praise God from Whom.”

First, a general plea, that when we announce a hymn to be sung, we use a complete phrase, or the first line in full. This, and many other hymns, may be known to the “insiders” by short mnemonic titles, but during worship the congregants—and the lyricist as well—deserve more dignified names for the compositions.

Second, I cringe when uninformed song leaders label “606” as “The Mennonite Hymn.”

And I cringed again when this song appeared yet again in the new hymnal. The following two biblical references come to mind:

  • “Do not be quick to speak, and do not be hasty in your heart to utter a word before God. After all, God is in heaven and you are on earth. So let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2, New International Version).
  • “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7, New Living Translation).

I imagine that Jesus also warned his listeners about heedlessly shouting at the tops of their voices when singing, although I can see where some song leaders in the early church saw to it that this advice was quietly withdrawn from the biblical canon.

It could be said, of course, that a well-liked hymn with repetitious words reflects the influence of God’s Holy Spirit on passionate believers. And, I suppose, likewise, the universal employment of stunning stained glass in church architecture must somehow signify that it has a divine purpose.

Perhaps our over-the-top ecstasy shouldn’t be the main criterion for endorsing a popular hymn.
—Karl Dick (online comment)

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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