My family does cancer in a big way. In my immediate family of five members, there have been 10 occasions when a doctor told one of us that we have cancer, or that, despite the treatments, the cancer has returned. My wife Esther has had two rounds of breast cancer. Our son Tim, who was born with significant physical and mental disabilities, was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was three.
Canadians are struggling with the heaviness of this winter. The prospect of several more months with physical gathering restrictions is as depressing as the grey skies of southern Ontario in February. As a society, we have started to squabble, point fingers and shift blame.
‘Light,’ by Zoe Fretz, a Grade 8 student at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont., who attends Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, also in Kitchener.
‘It Matters,’ by Jaiden Du Plessis. The Grade 9 student at Menno Simons Christian School, Calgary, says, ‘The world has to work as one voice to show that things matter.’
‘The Light,’ by Rayna Pan. The Grade 8 student at Menno Simons Christian School, Calgary, says, ‘Remember to always look to the light to find hope.’
‘Tree of Hope,’ by Tara Yasemi. The Grade 8 student at Menno Simons Christian School, Calgary, says, ‘Hope is a connection to all these ideas.’
‘Untitled,’ by Emma Martin, a Grade 7 student at Centennial Public School, Waterloo, Ont., who attends Elmira (Ont.) Mennonite Church.
Recently, I read a book that unsettled my sense of hope.
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.
With contentiousness and fracturing in the body of believers, and hostility and injustice all around, these are difficult days for church leaders, who are supposed to provide guidance for people struggling with the trials of the times while at the same time often wrestling with their own challenges.
It was hard to know this Christmas how to hear the familiar story. Every year I look forward to advent, to hearing about Mary and Joseph and the new baby, to reflect again on what this story means for me and my community -- and how I live my life differently because of it.
Sitting with the sadness. The third advent's theme was "Sadness Changes to Gladness." The part that is so hard to swallow, though, is that "changing to gladness" doesn't necessarily mean the sadness goes away. In fact, there are so many reasons to lament and be sad. Broken relationships, war, poverty, destruction of creation, unhealthy patterns of consumption, greed, and violence invade every aspect of our lives in one way or another.