Editorial

A COVID-19 commandment

'For the majority of Jesus’ followers today, wearing a mask is an order we can follow.' (Image by Christo Anestev/Pixabay)

It is now month five for Canadian communities struggling with the COVID-19 crisis. In this time, we’ve heard many pronouncements by health authorities on what members of the public should and should not do to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus. As it spreads, health experts continue to research and learn, experiment and make recommendations.

Reading, watching, listening: A buffet

Here are some things on my content buffet. (Photo courtesy of freepik.com/elchinjavadov)

When the conversation is lagging in social situations, one of my favourite questions to ask is, “What are you reading?” This inquiry often leads to an interesting interchange of ideas and suggestions. 

Today, I’ll turn the table and tell you about some things that I’ve been reading. And watching. And listening to. Here are a few things on my content buffet:

Life together online

'I’ve been visiting many churches. Not in person, of course, but on the internet.'

Since the middle of March, when church buildings closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, I’ve been visiting many churches. Not in person, of course, but on the internet. Each week I click on the link to a worship service that a Mennonite congregation, or group of congregations, has prepared to share with members of our denomination.

Our fathers

Virginia A. Hostetler encountered this painting of the Holy Family while living in Nazareth years ago. It hangs in St. Joseph's Church. (Photo courtesy of BibleWalks.com)

Mother’s Day is past, and Pentecost and Father’s Day are still ahead. In this in-between time, I’ve been considering the ways in which we describe God. Humans long to know, to understand and to name God. But how can mortal imaginations grasp the Eternal One? 

Some things that need to be said

‘Much of Canada is still practising measures to hold COVID-19 at bay. Fatigue has set in; we’re tired of thinking about it, talking about it and praying about it.’ (Image by cromaconceptovisual/Pixabay)

As this issue goes to press, much of Canada is still practising measures to hold COVID-19 at bay. Fatigue has set in; we’re tired of thinking about it, talking about it and praying about it. Yet some things still must be said:

God did not cause this pandemic

Beyond ourselves 

'You and I can expand our circle of attention...' (Image by Arek Socha/Pixabay)

As I write, my household is entering into our fourth week of physical distancing. Facing the fast-spreading and potentially deadly coronavirus, my spouse and I sit in a comfortable house, with a dependable supply of food and are thankful for good sanitation. We have books, music and movies. We’re still employed, and we’re connecting digitally with a network of family and friends.

Chequebook and calendar

'We pondered the two types of commitment he was calling us to: the chequebook and the calendar.'

In early March, the church my husband and I belong to held its annual general meeting. This year there wasn’t a lot of discussion, but Paul, the representative of the finance and stewardship committee, got us all thinking. 

Structure and identity

Doug Klassen, executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada (left), serves communion to Calvin Quan, moderator of MC Canada, and Lee Dyck, moderator of MC British Columbia, at Assembly 2019 in Abbotsford last July. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

After Gathering 2019 last summer, Doug Klassen, then newly hired as executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada, sat down with me for a chat in the Abbotsford, B.C., airport. Amid the chatter of travellers and loudspeaker announcements, we considered the work ahead for our church. We talked about structure and identity.

Limits and surprises

‘I’m the kind of person who likes to know what’s ahead on the path, to predict exactly what I can expect and what is expected of me.’ (Image by David Mark/Pixabay)

I had other plans for this space; this is not the editorial I was intending to write. But, reading over this issue’s proof pages, I saw some unexpected themes emerging.

Several contributors highlight ways in which we humans try to limit the intentions/purposes of our Creator.

Cultivating hope

'We can take mini-sabbaticals by stepping away from the computer, the smartphone, the newspaper and TV news. We disconnect, knowing that God is larger than our human efforts.' (Image by Shah Rokh/Pixabay)

In the first days of 2020, our newsfeeds were full: confrontations over a pipeline in western Canada, devastating fires in Australia, an earthquake in Puerto Rico, the death of 176 people whose airplane was shot down and speculations of a possible war in the Middle East. 

#ICYMI: 2019 in review

'On the road of discipleship, let’s remember: The God we follow invites us to let go of past mistakes, cling to a strong vision and aim for new acts of faithfulness.' (Graphic by Betty Avery)

It’s mid-December as I sit down to review the content published by Canadian Mennonite over the past year. Here are a few observations.

 

Going deeper together

'We desire to go deeper in our relationship with God and with our neighbours both inside and outside the church walls.' (Image by congerdesign/Pixabay)

If you have been paying attention to what the regional churches are up to recently, you may have noticed a common question and a common longing. A question expressed at both regional and nationwide levels: What is God calling Mennonite Church Canada to do, as a church?

Disciples and citizens

'If they had had the chance, how would the diverse disciples have voted in matters affecting their community and their land?' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

A group of men and women travelled the dusty roads, meeting people, eating together, hearing stories, pondering deep sayings, seeing miracles and conversing with their leader. 

The zucchini principle

(Image by Image by マサコ アーント/Pixabay)

A woman who was raised in both the Lutheran and Catholic churches is now a member of my congregation. When Shannon described what led her to the Mennonite church, she observed a few differences between how Mennonites and other traditions she knew practise their faith. She said that one difference was that “Mennonites hold on less tightly to their possessions.”

Digital church

(Image by FotoRieth/Pixabay)

A while back, a friend pondered whether it is possible to have a meaningful experience of church primarily through digital means. I doubt it. But that got me thinking about how much of our congregational experience is lived digitally.

Broad prayers in a time of fear

(Image by Jenny Friedrichs/Pixabay)

It has become a routine yet still shocking news report: another shooting in a quiet neighbourhood or at a shopping centre, nightclub, school or place of worship. Then come the familiar offers of “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their loved ones. Sadly, there have been too many opportunities to pray these prayers recently. 

The Spirit is moving our body

Katie Doke Sawatzky is communications officer for Mennonite Church Canada.

I knew everything would be okay as soon as the singing started. As I sat at a table positioned behind a small tower of crates half covered in cloth—a makeshift platform for the room’s main projector—I looked up from my detailed program schedule and smiled. Right, this is why we’re here.

What we say online

‘Different people have different opinions on what it means to leave effective comments online. Still, I hope we can all agree that kindness and compassion are the best places to start.’ (Image by rawpixel/Pixabay)

What does it mean to comment well on the internet? What does effectively communicating one’s thoughts on a web article or social media post look like?

As Canadian Mennonite’s online media manager, a job that involves moderating comments on the magazine’s website and facilitating discussion on Facebook and Twitter, I think about these things regularly.

Learning as we go

Ministers talk during a Mennonite Church Canada conference in Saskatoon in 2016. "New things are happening," Virginia A. Hostetler writes. "We’re all learning as we go." (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

Gathering 2019 starts next week. From June 28 to July 1, several hundred attendees from across Canada will meet in Abbotsford, B.C., for the first major event since the re-structuring of the Mennonite Church Canada. Thank you, MC British Columbia, for hosting this gang! 

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