Opinion

Called to hear

(Photo by Kimia Zarifi/Unsplash)

I have a selective hearing problem. When I’m at home on a Thursday night, weary from a day’s worth of important religious listening, the certain pleas of a younger family member of mine to discuss the latest plot twist in an all-too-predictable cartoon become easy to ignore.

Herman Walde

(Photo: Canadian Mennonite Bible College Photo Collection / Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Herman Walde stands in front of the sign of First Mennonite Church in Edmonton, where he served as pastor from 1963 to 1966. Historically, as Mennonites became more accepted, their churches began to look like the churches of their neighbours. Later Mennonite churches began posting signs telling people of the church’s name, when services were held and contact information.

A precious gift

(Photo by Harli Marten/Unsplash)

I visited an elderly friend in a small-town hospital. Gaining permission to see “Esther” (all names are pseudonyms) involved a slight untruth, but it was merely a sin of omission, as I simply withheld “retired” when I identified myself as her minister. I slept reasonably well that night.

What does UN ‘peace’ mean?

(Image by Arek Socha/Pixabay)

“Making Peace with Nature” is the peculiar title of a scientific report recently tabled by the United Nations. That’s an attention-getting title for a peace-church eco-geek. My inquiring mind begs to know: How does the UN conceptualize “peace with nature” and how does its version compare with an Anabaptist understanding? 

Matters of life and death

(Photo by Sam Rios/Unsplash)

I waffle a lot when it comes to death. Sometimes I welcome the idea, especially when faith in being united with Christ is high, when the weight of the world and its heartache is great. But other times I fear death, when I realize how quickly life passes by, or when my faith flitters and the reality that, despite all we believe, we don’t truly know what happens next. 

Group photo

(Photo: Gibson Photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Nothing says “occasion” like a panoramic group photograph. Pictured, Sharon Mennonite Church in Guernsey, Sask., commemorates its 50th anniversary in 1955. The congregation consisted primarily of Mennonite settlers from the Waterloo, Ont., region. The special panoramic camera brought from Saskatoon was sharp enough to keep the entire crowd in focus.

Accountability

(Image by slightly_different/Pixabay)

Jean Vanier. Ravi Zacharias. John Howard Yoder. We add to this list in our own Canadian Mennonite church community every year. My Lenten reading in March was from Matthew 23, where Jesus chastises faith leaders who do not practise what they teach and who tie heavy burdens on the shoulders of others.

Cave of emptiness

(Photo by Devon Janse van Rensburg/Unsplash)

I spend at least 30 minutes a day in silent prayer and meditation, but sometimes this isn’t enough. A few times a year I need a fuller and deeper experience of silence. I need solitude.

Paul Tillich says, “Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone, and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”

What would Jesus think about factory farms?

Calves are taken away moments after birth and placed in veal crates. (Animal Equality photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)

Egg-laying hens are confined in battery cages on a factory farm. (Animal Equality photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)

Line of pigs are confined and isolated by metal bars at a factory farm. (Essere Animali photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)

In Genesis 9:3, God says to Noah: “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” But when God declared this, did he have factory farms in mind?

Modern life

(Photo: David L. Hunsberger / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

“The car [is] the child and charm of modernity,” writes sociologist Donald Kraybill. A century ago, this new technology became another dividing line between Mennonites who contested or accepted—even embraced—modern life. This photo of horse sheds outside Elmira Mennonite Church, Ont., in 1955, captures a moment of embrace.

We are now family

'Anne was there from early morning until late afternoon. I made an observation about her obvious devotion to Bill...' (Photo by National Cancer Institute/Unsplash)

Some years ago, the person who shares my life experienced a blip in her physical well-being. This resulted in Holly spending several days in hospital.

Don’t be like Jonah

'Forget the fish! The book of Jonah is a comedic satire against ethnocentrism, nationalism and a narrow-minded exclusivity regarding God.' (Image by CCXpistiavos/Pixabay)

Jonah suddenly became a favourite book of mine after I went to Iraq.

Forget the fish! The book is a comedic satire against ethnocentrism, nationalism and a narrow-minded exclusivity regarding God. In the story, the whiny fellow is sent 900 kilometres to Nineveh, now the site of Mosul, the second-largest city of Iraq. Nineveh was the capital of the reigning superpower at that time.

Vaccine inequities

(Image by Jeyaratnam Caniceus/Pixabay)

I struggle often with my relative wealth and privilege. Working with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for 20-plus years helped give me something “to do” to address inequities in our world. Working with Mennonite World Conference (MWC) makes me even more aware of the inequities of wealth and privilege, and how we might respond as the church. 

Speculating about berry-filled trees

(Photo by Matt Holmes on Unsplash)

A few years ago I was trekking through a desolate, snow-filled forest, enjoying the spacious tranquility of a crisp winter hike, when I came upon a tree buzzing with activity and life. There were well over a hundred little birds gathered in and around a relatively small tree less than 10 metres ahead of me. It was striking both visually and audibly. Surreal even. 

Pain and potential

(Photo: flickr.com/Jennifer)

After a long period of waiting, we learned in December that a COVID-19 vaccine had been approved and distribution was beginning. We were told that, by the beginning of September, we all should have received the vaccine, and life can begin to return to “normal.”

Epp sisters

(Photo from Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Epp sisters Anna Klaassen (1904-1976) and Maria Nickel (1903-1957) work together on the family farm in Saskatchewan stooking sheaves of grain. Stooking required workers to gather the cut grain into sheaves and then to stand the sheaves upright to help dry the grain before it is threshed. It was back-breaking work.

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