He’s our resident ranter, our pigpen pundit. Canadian Mennonite writer Will Braun rants around the barn on his southern Manitoba farmyard. This time he’s got opinions on how Mennonites talk about their generosity. (See the video below. Then scroll down more and check out more rants.)
The gift-giving season is upon us, and with it comes Christmas shopping for our loved ones. We all know people who will be running around the mall five minutes before closing time on Dec. 24, looking for that spontaneous token to tuck under the tree. Then there are those meticulous planners who have every gift listed in a spreadsheet and finished their shopping way back in October.
We are daily awash in choices and opportunities, and many of us are affluent enough to be able to choose among many options. Many of us make many choices even before we get out the door in the morning. Our stomachs are full, we live in fine houses, our income and assets have grown, our retirement funds are increasing, and our possessions keep multiplying.
The young couple was living far from home, juggling college studies and part-time work, in preparation for overseas missionary work. Their first child was due and then complications set in. It was a difficult birth, and the hospital bill totalled much more than their meagre budget allowed. When the time came for the new father to take mother and baby home, the hospital authorities balked.
I am so glad that summer is on the horizon. Spending time outdoors was a huge part of my childhood. My family shared many weekends at a small one-room cabin on a river, fishing, swimming, canoeing and just enjoying the beauty around us. We would watch the beavers make their way up and down the river, hope to see a deer come out at dusk for a drink, and listen to the wolves howl at night.
Lately, I have had several conversations with people about downsizing or simplifying their estates. Some talk about rearranging their financial affairs to make life easier for their executors someday. Others face the physically and emotionally demanding task of moving from the homes they have lived in for many years to smaller, more manageable accommodations.
In the early years of our marriage, my wife Sharon and I often sat through our pastor’s annual sermon on tithing consumed by the feeling that we should do more. A serious discussion always followed, but with monthly bills, a mortgage, car payments, and school fees for our daughter, it was difficult to find the means.
Tim Sauer is known as the “pie man” because every now and then he shows up at places like the thrift shop or House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont., with a pie for volunteers or staff. His gifts of pie are meant to bring a message of encouragement, to say, “You’re doing important work.”
Tim Sauer, who is known as the “pie man,” bakes at least 200 pies a year that he gives away to encourage volunteers and those who work in church-related organizations. This is his recipe for rhubarb pie, a favourite of John Neufeld, executive-director of House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont.
The Gospel According to Food, a play written and performed by members of Pleasant Point Mennonite Church, encourages the audience to re-examine their relationship with food. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
The bread and the cup graced the communion table at Nutana Park Mennonite Church during MC Saskatchewan’s recent annual delegate sessions, along with jars of preserves and a basket of corn reflecting the event’s theme: ‘Extending the table: Enough for all.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Nutana Park Mennonite Church delegates, from left to right, Brent Gunther, Susanne Guenther Loewen, Mat Rouleau and Gordon Peters, discussed proposed changes to the structure of MC Canada. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
“Extending the table: Enough for all.” That was the theme chosen for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions this year, and as delegates and guests broke bread together, literally and metaphorically, they found there was indeed enough for all.
The 2014-15 CMU Student Council on Tuition Freedom Day, an annual celebration recognizing the generosity of donors, churches and the Manitoba government in supporting education at CMU. (Photo courtesy of CMU)
Tuition Freedom Day is celebrated with speeches, balloons, pizza and fellowship. (Photo courtesy of CMU)
A group of students leads singing at the 2014 Tuition Freedom Day on Nov. 24. (Photo courtesy of CMU)
For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of being activities vice-president on the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) Student Council. Along with all the elections, blood donor clinics and fun social events I’ve planned, I have also organized a very special day that is close to my heart: Tuition Freedom Day.
Jesus said, “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:2-4).