I am listening these days to stories of how people and their churches are responding to the physical and emotional needs around them due to COVID-19. Every congregation is finding ways to help those around them who need food, assistance with their rent, connecting digitally or some other kind of accompaniment.
The past few months have awakened us to our fragility as individuals, communities and nation states. We’ve observed the fragility of our health-care system, food-supply chain, economies, global trade, international relations, institutional accountability. It seems that everything in our world is fragile, including ourselves.
When H.S. Bender came out with The Anabaptist Vision in the 1940s, he offered a Mennonite theology that was different from the evangelical fundamentalism widely accepted in the church at the time.
During a Zoom call a month or so ago, a pastor friend mused, “Is worship all we have left?” Our virtual meet-up—all folks involved in congregational leadership—had been sharing various strategies we had tried to carry on with Sunday morning worship services.
I am thinking about sparrows today, about how many of them there are, and yet how little I notice them until they stop for a quick perch on the railing of my deck and I find myself wishing that they were some other variety of backyard bird, perhaps something with just a little more colour—like a wren or a goldfinch or an oriole. Even a chickadee or a nuthatch will do.
Public school teachers Samuel B. Nafziger, Dick Neufeld, Sara (Lehn) Harder, Martin Goerzen, Grace Harder, John C. Harder and C. Boldt, are pictured in the most northerly Mennonite farm community in the world, at Fort Vermilion, Alta,. in 1958.
I am an immigrant. After serving with Mennonite Central Committee in Canada, I chose to stay in this amazing country. The Canadian way was closer to the “thousand points of light” to which one of the leaders of my left-behind country called his own people. (I’ll leave you to guess what country.)
It’s outlandish really, what God asks Hosea to do. To think that someone known for his holiness and intimate relationship with the divine would take up residence with a woman everyone knew was promiscuous.
Many years ago now—I’m getting a bit long in the tooth—I took what I thought would be a bird course in my second year at what was then known as Waterloo College. It turned out to be anything but, and I remember more from that course than from any other in my seven years of university education. It was a course on political philosophy.
Len Bechtel, front, is pictured with a portable saw he and other conscientious objectors (COs) designed near Vancouver during the Second World War. As oil supplies dwindled due to the war, this group of workers with mechanical aptitude in the Alternative Service program were pulled aside from forestry work to help supply Vancouverites with wood for the winter.
I was in Whistler, B.C., last week with my husband and kids, and we joined a Black Lives Matter protest in the village. My eight-year-old reminded us that we used to do this often when we lived in Manila in the Philippines.
When I preach I often reference verses in the Bible that talk about God’s intention that all nations, languages and tribes are called to worship God through Jesus. The Book of Acts is the story of the Jewish disciples relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and learning that the new church is relevant to a world much bigger than they ever imagined.
I was 7 when Rushi (a pseudonym) and his family moved into our neighbourhood. They were the first people of colour to move into the community, and nobody rolled out the welcome mat for them.
Following current physical-distance guidelines, the fifth annual Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation was held in various parts of British Columbia over the final weekend of May.
Although we walked apart, we did so in solidarity with our First Nations brothers and sisters whose families have been affected by the residential school system for many generations.
‘Expect the unexpected’
When asked a few months ago what advice they would give about aging, a group of seniors responded, “Expect the unexpected.” That advice is relevant to all of us this spring!
As we emerge from our cocoons of self-isolation, what revelations will inform us as we move through the stages of our collective pandemic response?
In 2001, evangelist George Brunk II, left, reflected on his 65-year-long ministry. Brunk’s style of revival meetings disrupted Mennonite communities. In a public talk at Conrad Grebel College he recalled, “At a time when Mennonite preachers stood still behind the pulpit, I would wander across the stage, carrying the microphone . . .
Probably no father should risk writing a Father’s Day column. Obviously, one’s family is the first to say “Dad’s not perfect.” I hope I’ve been good enough. Parenting is a lesson in grace.
I’m reading through the Chronicles of Narnia with my girls at bedtime. We recently finished Prince Caspian and then watched the movie. Narnia has definitely influenced my Scripture reading lately.