Opinion

How broad is salvation?

'God has never been revealed to me by finding answers, but rather through the gentle holding of possibilities.' (Image by Raheel Shakeel/Pixabay)

Someone told me recently that they had been asked to share their faith journey in a Sunday morning church service. The invitation, however, came with an addendum: “Don’t talk about universalism.”

At the end of that conversation, I reached for my phone dictionary for a definition. “Universalism” is “a theological doctrine that all human beings will eventually be saved.”

The public good in a time of pandemic

'Societal and governmental responses here and around the world show that people and institutions can change quickly.' (Image by Miroslava Chrienova/Pixabay)

The COVID-19 pandemic feels surreal. Streets of our cities are nearly empty, even at rush hour. Kids are home, schools have gone online, and some workers log in from home after many years of regular commutes to an office. And huge numbers of workers have been laid off. 

Mennonite encounters with contemplative prayer

'...dwell with the Spirit of God in silence, just receiving, being open.' (Image by zefe/Pixabay)

Doug Klassen, who now serves as Mennonite Church Canada’s executive minister, confessed to a fellow pastor that he couldn’t pray for more than 10 minutes. “I came to a place where I kept running into myself when I was praying,” Klassen recalls of his early days as a youth pastor.

Old photo

Photo: Mennonite Genealogy Inc. Photo Collection

Photography in generations past was a very deliberate, expensive and intense hobby. Special equipment, such as chemicals, film, lighting and the camera itself, was needed. Photographers often had to develop their own photos, which meant they had to have a dark room.

Thrift shopper, peacebuilder

'I can’t even count how many times our local thrift store has provided exactly what I was looking for.' (Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/mccthrift)

I was walking to church for an event a few weeks back and stopped by our local Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) thrift store for my usual weekly peek and to say hello to the dear ladies who faithfully volunteer their time.

Being the church in risky times

Arli Klassen and Keith Regehr with their children in Maseru circa 1993. (Photo courtesy of Arli Klassen)

As relatively privileged people living in Canada, there aren’t too many times that we think about whether this action or that action might result in our death. Living in these pandemic times, though, reminds me of our years living in southern Africa near the end of official apartheid. We thought often then of whether doing this or that might result in death.

Fear not

(Image by Jasmin Sessler/Pixabay)

I watched in disbelief as people feverishly filled their carts with toilet paper and bolted before someone could steal their treasure. In less than a minute, the toilet paper was gone and the mob dispersed. Except for one lady standing in front of a stack of six packages of toilet paper, protecting it from the envious eyes of those around her.

‘Greater love has no one . . .’

The Rose Cottage, located in the historic ‘plague village’ of Eyam, England, where 250 of the village’s 350 residents died of the Black Plague between 1665 and 1666. (Photo by Michael Beckwith / bit.ly/cclicence2-0)

“Greater love has no one than to lay their life down for their friends,” said Jesus.

That’s an amazing thing for anyone to do. But what about a whole village laying down its life for people it doesn’t even know?

What makes us Mennonite?

Tewodros Beyene, outgoing president of Meserete Kristos Church, washes the feet of his successor, Deselagn Abede. (Photo by Tom Eshleman/LMC)

“Talking about ‘a’ Mennonite identity seems passé,” wrote Marlene Epp in 2018. Still, Epp, a member of a pre-eminent family of Mennonite historians, is more than willing to talk about Mennonite identity. 

Living into a new imagination

‘Can the next generation of leaders see themselves being involved in short-term, issue-specific initiatives to achieve a specific goal or outcome?’ (Image by Free-Photos/Pixabay)

Once upon a time, around 35 years ago, God brought into the world some new people. These people have grown up to love Jesus and follow him with all of their lives. They have also responded to the impulse of the Holy Spirit and God’s call to serve as leaders in the church. Some of them are pastors. Some are people just interested in making a difference in our world in Jesus-shaped ways.

The gift of imagination

(Image by Free-Photos/Pixabay)

I remember the feeling with such clarity: that furious, terrified, sick-to-your-stomach despair one feels when you are numerous pages into writing an academic paper and the computer freezes and you’re unsure if it was saved. Rebooting and reopening the document brings about despair and tears as you discover it’s all gone. Every. Single. Word. 

Climate change as a spiritual crisis

A group of young Mennonites pictured at the climate strike in Winnipeg on Sept. 27, 2019. 'We are shifting and caring more about the climate, and every little and big thing we do helps,' Douglas Kaufman writes. (Canadian Mennonite file photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

When Luke Gascho and Jennifer Schrock of Goshen College’s Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center invited me to help lead efforts to engage Mennonite churches on climate change, it felt like a call from the Spirit. I felt prepared because I had been leading Benton Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind., in creation care for 15 years and had just spent a sabbatical studying ecology and theology.

Structure and identity

Doug Klassen, executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada (left), serves communion to Calvin Quan, moderator of MC Canada, and Lee Dyck, moderator of MC British Columbia, at Assembly 2019 in Abbotsford last July. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

After Gathering 2019 last summer, Doug Klassen, then newly hired as executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada, sat down with me for a chat in the Abbotsford, B.C., airport. Amid the chatter of travellers and loudspeaker announcements, we considered the work ahead for our church. We talked about structure and identity.

God is inclusive, not exclusive!

(Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

There are many changes in Canadian society today that compel us to be trained in “diversity and inclusion.” As Christians, what direction do we find in our own biblical texts? 

When Jesus first returned to his hometown, he read a passage from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” The whole synagogue was impressed, as he claimed to fulfil that vision.

Twilight Auction

Photo: David L. Hunsberger/ Mennonite Archives of Ontario

In this scene from Twilight Auction by John L. Ruth, young Harvard-educated Sam confronts his traditional Mennonite family’s willingness to sell treasured family heirlooms. Doug Millar, left, is the father, and Dale Shantz, holding the vase, plays Sam in this 1969 Conrad Grebel College production.

Making things right

'My son spent much of that evening writing an apology note...' (Image by _Alicja_/Pixabay)

I read the note from my son’s teacher and my heart sank. As the kids unpacked their backpacks and had a snack, I stood still in the kitchen feeling disappointed, sad and perplexed.

Partners in the body of Christ

Participants at the Mennonite World Conference Renewal 2027 event in Costa Rica in 2019 hold hands and pray together. (Photo by Ebenezer Mondez)

Strange, I know, but I like to read financial statements. I remember, in my early 20s, listening to the treasurer in our Toronto congregation explain how to understand financial statements when they were meaningless to me. Since then, I have learned that financial statements show us how we think about our priorities and relationships. Numbers and their labels tell lots of stories.

The snowball effect

'The snowball effect is about momentum...' (Image by Benoit Hamann/Pixabay)

The snowball effect refers to a situation in which something starts off small or insignificant and increases in size or importance at an accelerating rate. Like when you roll a small snowball through wet snow and it accumulates more and more snow until it becomes so large and heavy that you can’t move it anymore.

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