Opinion

Grace, guilt and CO2

(Gary Campbell-Hall on Flickr.com / Creative Commons 2.0)

1. Grace
There is more grace in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

That does not let anyone off the hook; it promises that we can face the grim fate of the Earth and the compromises of our lives without being utterly overwhelmed. (And it means I can break bread with sisters and brothers who do not believe there is a hook that anyone needs to be let off of.)

Reflection on Ukraine

(Photo by Tina Hartung/Unsplash)

The horrific images from Ukraine jolt me from my comfort and I reflect on air-raid sirens, bunkers, explosions, refugees, civilian and military casualties.

Historical connections to the region seem to draw my curiosity closer. Ukraine is part of my family lore.

MWC Kansas banners

(Photo: Commission on Education of the General Conference Mennonite Church)

The variety of banners at the 1978 Mennonite World Conference assembly in Wichita, Kan., is a representation of the diversity of people at the assembly, with 9,500 people registered from 44 counties, including Canada.

Meetinghouses

East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pa. (Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/EastChestnutStreet)

I spent my high-school years in a congregation that was proud of our basketball hoops. Greenbelt Baptist Church decided to use public schools for worship and Sunday school, homes for Bible study, and a community centre for weekly youth events. This was a very intentional way of being visible and connected to the local community.

Christ in you

(Photo by Fa Barboza/Unsplash)

At the heart of the Christ path is a radical notion that our true identity is found in Christ. Paul says it is no longer he who lives, but Christ who lives in him. He says our true identity, our true self, is “Christ in you.” What does this mean?

Listen, debate, decide

(Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

In a few months Garry Janzen, the executive minister of Mennonite Church B.C. will retire. He’s served MC B.C. for 14 years in that role.

When he informed MC B.C. leadership about his upcoming retirement, we gathered to create a hiring process.

How will we discern God’s will for a future candidate?

Ukraine immigrant

(Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

What would you carry if you emigrated to another country? Twenty-three-year-old Anna Neufeld wore this locket in 1917 when her fiancé, Cornelius Tiessen, left, and brother Peter, both pictured in their Red Cross uniforms, served on medical trains during the First World War. Anna lived near present-day Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, now site of another war. Anna would marry Cornelius in 1918.

Becoming the enemy you hate

(Photo by Andre Hunter/Unsplash)

The story of Israel warns us of how easily we can become the very thing we hate.

The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, oppressed by Pharaoh and forced into slave labour to perpetuate the greatness of the kingdom. They suffered under oppression and longed to be freed from it. God heard their cry and set them free.

A difficulty for all of us

(Photo by Kyle Glenn/Unsplash)

War seems close to home for many of us when it hits Ukraine. My paternal grandparents (and my husband’s) fled Crimea as refugees nearly 100 years ago, getting married in Kitchener, Ont., and then moving to Manitoba. Conversations are being triggered in my family and in our congregation on the multi-generational impacts of those traumas.

Mend our beating heart

Michael Wilms (left), pictured in 2015 with his wife, Caitlin, at the Chortitza Mädchenschule (secondary school for girls) in the village of Chortitza. (Photo courtesy of Michael Wilms)

My grandfather, Harry Giesbrecht, referred to the country, language and people of Ukraine as his “beating heart.” The many trips back “home” breathed life into his aging lungs. The cool water of the Dnieper, the pothole-riddled roads near Lichtenau, Molochansk and Nikopol, and the patriotic anthems transformed my 80-year-old grandfather into a young man.

Life can be real

(Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen/Unsplash)

“Life can be real / on a snowmobile,” croons Canadian music legend Stompin’ Tom Connors in one of his many songs about Canadian life and culture. As someone who occasionally dabbles in songwriting myself, I have often had a chuckle when I hear that line with a bit of forced rhyme. What does “life can be real” mean anyway?

Kitchener MWC Assembly

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

Mennonite Publishing House occupies a corner in the Kitchener (Ont.) Auditorium with its bookstand at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in 1962. Three women in the foreground gravitate towards the parenting books and the bestselling Mennonite Community Cookbook, while two men browse titles related to missions.

‘Make your tents large’

(Photo by Cindy Chen/Unsplash)

In my federal voting life, I have voted only for the Liberal party.

When I suggested that as the opening sentence for my next Canadian Mennonite column, my two eldest granddaughters, 17 and 20, immediately began guessing at the percentage of readership that would immediately condemn me to the lake of fire.

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