Christmas

Churches work together to serve curbside Christmas dinner

Trisha Robinson, left, executive director of the Wilmot Family Resource Centre, New Hamburg, Ont., stands next to Santa and Mrs. Claus outside Steinmann Mennonite Church in Baden, where 137 free curbside Christmas dinners were distributed. At least 10 community churches joined in the effort to bring some Christmas cheer to people in the community who were alone for Christmas. (The Wilmot Post photo by Nigel Gordijk)

On Christmas Day, 137 free turkey dinners were served up for people who needed some Christmas cheer in the Wilmot and Wellesley townships of Waterloo Region.

‘Meet you at the manger’

Participants gather outside Yarrow United Mennonite Church in rural B.C. to re-enact the Christmas story on Christmas morning. (Screenshot by Ross W. Muir)

In the early morning of Dec. 25, 2020, still dark and with snow on the ground, a small group of people gathered in front of Yarrow United Mennonite Church to re-enact the first Christmas.

The weirdness of Christmas 2020

Jack Skellington, the main character in the 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas, asks some great questions. (Photo by Christin Noelle/Unsplash)

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.” Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

A movie seemingly made for Christmas 2020 appeared almost 30 years ago—a creepy little stop-motion musical, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Was it a Christmas movie, a Halloween movie, or both? This year, I feel like I’m trying to prepare for Christmas in a rather ghastly Halloween world.  

COVID creativity: Cards, buns and wreaths

Erika Pappas of Edmonton Mennonite Church is amazed at what can be done with a few dollars at the Dollar Store. (Photo by Erika Pappas)

Brenda Tiessen-Wiens and Trevor Wiens display their very first Advent wreath so they can participate in community worship. (Photo by Brenda Tiessen-Wiens)

Kate and Bob Janzen create an Advent wreath from barn boards and barbed wire. (Photo by Kate Janzen)

Hanna Martens displays her living wreath made from moss, pinecones and succulents from the forest. (Photo by Hanna Martens)

Carole Neufeldt creates an Advent wreath using items from around the house. (Photo by Carole Neufeldt)

An Advent wreath at Trinity Mennonite Church in DeWinton, Alta. (Photo by Laura Wiebe)

An Advent wreath created by Rose Goertzen for the altar at Bergthal Mennonite Church in Didsbury, Alta. (Photo by Anna-Lisa Salo)

Karen Mierau and LaVerna Elliot have been best friends for more than 10 years and they live a 10-minute walk apart. Having created a pandemic bubble, they collaborated on their Advent wreath.

Like most of the country, Alberta is experiencing, its second wave of novel coronavirus. As of early December, as many as 1,800 Albertans were contracting COVID-19 every day. With the Christmas season approaching, every church had to look at past traditions and ask whether to try to alter them in some way or to cancel activities altogether. 

Gifts received, gifts given

(Photo by Kira auf der Heide/Unsplash)

As Christmas approaches, many of us are thinking about gifts. The beautifully wrapped packages under the Christmas tree, of course. Also other types of gifts—the kind that we can receive and give at any time of the year. The gifts that require more than a click on a website or a trip to the mall.

Christmas pudding a long-time tradition

Ethel Draper copied her mother’s Christmas pudding recipe into her scrapbook of recipes. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Ethel Draper at age 20. (Photo courtesy of Barb Draper)

For many of us, sitting around the table with extended family is a very important part of our Christmas celebration. In my family of origin, the traditional menu included turkey and dressing, while dessert was always iced sugar cookies and fruit salad with cubes of red and green Jell-O. I’m sure each family has its own well-worn food customs.

Getting into the Christmas spirit across Canada

The Menno Simons Christian School Junior-high band, conducted by Christina Carpenter, performs at a seniors lunch at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary on Nov. 28. (Photo by Mackenzie Miller)

In keeping with the season, Canadian Mennonite has wrapped up four Christmas events—from Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia—into one package for your festive reading.

 

Waiting in the dark

(Image by Dale Forbes/Pixabay)

waiting in the dark

this season and place
tilted away from the sun
provides generous hours
of darkness

darkness may harbour
breathtaking fear
endless dread of unknowns
aching hearts

darkness may host
healing rest
lovemaking
visitations in dreams

babies grow strong
in dark wombs
turnips and beet roots
stretch and fatten

in dark earth
darkness provides
a poignant canvas for
constellations ablaze
meteor showers
lunar rhythms

An Anabaptist does Advent

'One of the ways we can expand the table and experience community with the wider Church is by following the rhythms of the church calendar.' (Image by cocoparisienne/Pixabay)

I don’t recall talking about Advent in the church in which I grew up, an Anabaptist church with a conservative evangelical bent. Certainly we didn’t mention Lent. And those other church days, with names like “Epiphany” and “Trinity Sunday” and “Feast of Christ the King”? Those weren’t even in my universe.

Goshen College’s annual online Advent devotions to start Nov. 25

GOSHEN, Ind. — Goshen College will offer annual online weekday devotions to help believers make time and space in their hearts and minds to reflect during the season of Advent. Beginning Nov. 25, the week before the first Sunday of Advent, and culminating on Christmas Day, Goshen College students, faculty and staff will provide weekday reflections based on the lectionary Scripture passages.

Experiencing Christmas by lamplight

Oil lamps light the sanctuary of the little church as guests arrive to experience ‘Christmas by lamplight.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Guests arriving for ‘Christmas by lamplight’ at the Mennonite Heritage Museum’s church building in Rosthern, Sask. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Guests enjoy singing carols, listening to stories, drinking hot chocolate and eating peppernuts at the Mennonite Heritage Museum’s ‘Christmas by Lamplight.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Organist Barb Wolfe accompanies the carol singing on the church’s pump organ. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Old-fashioned oil lamps graced each windowsill in the tiny sanctuary, their steady flames bathing the room in warm light as people filed into the pews. The people came to experience “Christmas by lamplight.”

‘Fear not’

In the Advent and Christmas stories, fear is a prelude to God’s bringing new and wonderful things into the human story. (Photo from Pixabay)

In the past few weeks, a theme has emerged in my Advent singing and Scripture reading: fear.

Fear is all around us. A recent book about a fearmongering president is on the bestseller list. Politicians and pundits stoke a public paranoia, using it to boost their own power. Credible scientific reports alert us to the troubling facts surrounding present and future climate change. 

Christmas rush

Mel’s ‘Martha,’ left, enjoys Christmas cookies with her daughter Madison and her mother, Wendy Desmarais. Mel is trying to find a time and a place to be both Mary and Martha. (Photo courtesy of Mel Harms)

Mel’s ‘Mary’ pays close attention to the words of Jesus. (Photo courtesy of Mel Harms)

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. Everyone is so joyful! We get excited for tree decorating, Christmas shopping, starting our Christmas baking while playing Christmas carols in the background, and preparing for the many gatherings that are soon to follow.

Christmas: Let it be, let it go

As we celebrate Christmas, it may be helpful to sort out what is worth releasing for the enjoyment of the season and what is worth keeping, or even adding. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

A nativity scene is a reminder of the coming of the Christ Child, the reason for Christmas celebrations. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Amy Dueckman is pictured with her Christmas tree and musical decorations. (Photo courtesy of Amy Dueckman)

When Jill (a pseudonym) turns her calendar to December, she’ll read a message she wrote to herself a year ago: “Be intentional all through the month to not put pressure on myself and to avoid the stress of the holidays.” 

A most excellent Christmas

Remembering a Christmas homemade gift exchange: ‘I presented my brother Thomas with a jar filled with 150 encouraging notes.’ (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘My brother gave me a pillow inspired by my favourite movie, Ghostbusters, that he sewed himself.’ (Photo by Aaron Epp)

The author, dressed as Santa Claus in 2006. (Photo by Timothy Dyck)

I love Christmas. The tree, the lights, the music, the food, gathering with family and friends, special church services. I look forward to all of it. 

I still go with my siblings to the mall so that we can have our picture taken with Santa, and I’ve even dressed up as the jolly old elf a time or two (or three) myself.

Receiving is important

Ryan Siemens

The tale “The Christmas Guest,” as told by Johnny Cash on his album Christmas with Johnny Cash, is a fable about an old man, Conrad, who receives a message from an angel that the Lord will appear to him on Christmas Eve. Conrad readies his place, expectant for Jesus to knock at his door. But throughout the night, Jesus doesn’t appear as expected.

Anabaptist Christians celebrate Christmas around the world

To celebrate Christmas, members of Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia churches act out Bible stories in the style of wayang orang. (Photo courtesy of berita GKMI)

Jantine Huisman, as a child, poses with Christmas decorations. (Photo courtesy of Jantine Huisman)

Christian communities around the world celebrate Christmas, yet each culture has its own traditions. Here, Anabaptist brothers and sisters from different regions share how they celebrate Christmas.

Significant tidings

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.

God with us with God

‘The Flight into Egypt,’ an icon from the late 15th century, currently housed in the Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece.

So I end with the question Ed asked me: ‘Are you ready for Christmas? (Photo sourced from ©istock.com/Manuel Faba Ortega)

Ryan Dueck

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

The question came from Ed, a cheerful clerk at Save-On-Foods, as I was picking up some milk.

What kind of response was he seeking? Was he asking if I had I finished all my Christmas shopping? If so, the answer would be, yes, mostly, meager though my efforts are.

Political nativity

Christmas in Sicily (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

At Christmas time families journey to meet other family members. There is a Christmas tree up in the corner, and some twinkly lights afloat somewhere. Somewhere in the corner there is someone like me, wincing to the sound of so-called Christmas “music” (cough ... noise!), and a grandma or maybe grandpa has just pulled out something warm and baked from the oven. And, most likely, somewhere in a prominent position, on your mantle or even your lawn, you’ve set out the nativity scene.

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