Where or when is the next Mennonite World Conference? This was the question posed to all of us as Mennonite World Conference (MWC) staff and volunteers at a recent Zoom gathering. Some people quickly figured out it was a trick question. The next MWC assembly will be in Indonesia in July 2022. But MWC is right now, everywhere, all the time!
You are at the centre of every experience you’ve ever had. You’re hard wired to be self-centred. It’s your default setting because, from your relative position, you are the centre of the universe.
To some, rest is a four-letter word. There are a myriad of reasons why people avoid sleep: some restrict it in a counterproductive attempt to increase work output; others devalue sleep for the preference of entertainment; still others are reluctant to acknowledge their limits and they push through when their body signals it’s time to sleep.
To celebrate Manitoba’s 150th birthday, the Trailblazer’s Award was established. Helena Reimer (1905-1993) of Steinbach, Man., was a recipient. Reimer was a nurse, educator, administrator and a pioneer. She was one of the first nurses in Canada selected to participate overseas in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration during the Second World War.
From 1992 to ’95 I worked at Rosthern (Sask.) Junior College as dean in the men’s dormitory. It was my first step away from the farm. I was 40 when I moved there, and the experience was rich and challenging. It was rich in that I was reminded that we are created in the holy image of God, that each one carries that core of goodness that waits to be recognized and affirmed.
Some of us are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and more are on lists, anxiously waiting for supplies to become more robust, and hoping dearly that the end of the pandemic is in sight. Imagine being the Indigenous people of a land where the government doesn’t provide for you to get vaccinated, but it provides for settlers.
It was the first Sunday of Advent and we had lit a single candle in our living room as part of our online worship service. Our Advent wreath was neatly set up on the coffee table, safely away from anything flammable, and our children are old enough to know to be careful with fire.
How can we help each other to follow Jesus? I’m sure I’m not alone when I relate that my own journey of discipleship has sometimes felt more like a solo expedition than a corporate adventure. I have longed for more camaraderie on the road, to share with fellow disciples the questions, doubts, struggles, joys and responsibilities that attend the life of following Jesus.
A baptismal group from 1967 at Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C. Baptism was an important event in the life of an individual and the church, and people dressed for the occasion. Baptism was often done in the spring around the Easter season. Standing in the very back is minister Jake Tilitzky.
Strong, hopeful and resilient. Are those words that describe you today, after a year of pandemic restrictions, with all the predictions of doom in regards to climate change, and ongoing evidence of systemic and individual racism directed against people of many colours in Canada? Are these words that you use to describe church in light of the pandemic, climate change and racism?
It’s been a while since you dared listen to the whispers of your innermost being, calling you to discover who you truly, fully are. That inner voice suggesting there is a power at work within you capable of doing far greater things than you could ever hope for or imagine.
Muscovy ducks dabble in one of their favourite mud puddles in the Wiederkehrs’ barnyard. They are kept for eggs, meat, fly control and because they are fun to have around. (Photo by Theo Wiederkehr)
My family farms, raising plants and animals on a small scale—40 hens, five cows, two sows—both to feed ourselves and as a source of income.
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 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.
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.
“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?
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.
COVID-19 has forced most of us to embrace that most rousing of Anabaptist virtues: simplicity. Our lives have been simplified, stripped down to the essentials. We have gone out only when needed, we have bought only what we must, we have travelled only when there was no other choice.
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.
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.
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.”