What are the significant stories in this issue? When I asked this question in the office, the answer came back: “They’re all significant.” This, our Christmas issue, is chock-full of stories to pay attention to—with our prayers and actions.
Two international stories stand out—some good news and some heart-breaking news.
Our Anabaptist sisters and brothers in Ethiopia find their numbers growing, and with that growth comes the challenge of supporting the demands for leadership training and witness. They’re busy teaching discipleship and sharing the gospel in their land. They have a vision to do even more.
Senior writer Will Braun filed an update on our Anabaptist brothers and sisters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who have a very different reality. Since August 2016, about 1.4 million people from the Kasai region have fled ethnic and political violence in their home area. An estimated 5,000 Mennonites are among those forced from their homes. Some have even been killed by local militias. Representatives from local Mennonite bodies are distributing aid and attempting to offer hope in a bleak situation. International Mennonite organizations are supporting emergency food distributions. Our donations and prayers are needed.
In the Young Voices section, writers Aaron Epp and Rachel Bergen remind us that sexual abuse continues to fester in our world and in the church. As revelations are made, we are recognizing issues of power and privilege, and are forced to confront hard truths about ourselves and our society. What changes are required of us? Might the new year bring new habits and healthier relationships?
The ongoing letters about the Maple View insert show that we in the church are still figuring out how to carry on constructive discussion around sexuality and gender identity. Here, too, issues of power and privilege play a part. We are invited to truly listen to each other. Can we pay attention to the pain our sisters and brothers experience? Can we forge new, respectful ways of being Christ’s body together, in spite of our differences?
While the dialogue around sexuality needs to continue and mature, the time has come to give space to other topics. Any letters about the Maple View insert received after Dec. 31 will not appear in print but will be posted online, in accordance with our letters policy. We are considering what content to publish in the future that will lead to fruitful conversation on a topic that obviously matters greatly to some readers.
On a joyful note, our pages contain stories of Mennonites reaching out across cultures in their own communities. In spite of the hateful messages coming from certain quarters of North American society, Mennonites are stepping beyond familiar territory to build trust and connections with their Muslim neighbours. This is surely important news. (See “Breaking bread together” and “Two friends, two faiths.”)
As Canadian Mennonite staff and board, we commit ourselves to telling the stories of Mennonites in Canada and beyond. We do it to inform you, to inspire and to foster dialogue about the things of importance. We value you, our readers, as conversation partners on matters that matter.
Whether explicitly or not, our content points to the work of God in individuals, in the church and in the world. The hymn reminds us: “There’s not a place where we can flee but God is present there.” And, where God is present, joy also alights.
In these Advent and Christmas seasons, we celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Most Significant One. Feature writer Ryan Dueck reminds us: Christ’s coming was a “catastrophe of good”! I invite you to grasp hold of that joy and find your place in God’s reign of good. Pray with us that that divine peace will be spread over this troubled planet. Now that’s significant!
We are continuing our three-week holiday publication cycle. Our next issue will be dated Jan. 1, 2018. After that, we will return to our regular two-week publishing schedule.