Opinion

Bethel moments

'Wonder and awe are held in an open palm, where they can be considered but never grasped tightly.' (Image by Radoan Tanvir/Pixabay)

A story in Genesis 28 describes the patriarch Jacob stopping for the night while on a journey. His sleep includes a dream of a visit from God. In the morning, Jacob awakes and offers the profound observation, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I didn’t know it! This is none other than the house of God!”

As a result of that experience, Jacob names the spot “Bethel.”

Learning from Quakers

(Photo by Gift Habeshaw/Unsplash)

Because of my Christian friends I’m taking a hiatus from social media. One has repeatedly posted a meme of Jesus with an AK-47 assault rifle. I tried hard to explain in detail why I thought this was horrible. What I mean, of course, is that we argued.

A spiritual disruption

'For the first few months of 2020, I’d developed a pretty regular routine of reading my Bible, journalling and praying...' (Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash)

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God” (Hosea 14:1).

In this final chapter of Hosea, God bids the Israelites return to God and acknowledge their waywardness, but also to be assured they will find compassion and fruitfulness in God.

White Mennonite static

Photo © istock.com/llyast

The Mennonite church has the opportunity to become a dependable partner in the work of dismantling racism.

The church as a whole has a record of racism—both overt and covert—that has been attested to by generations of Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) community members both within and outside the church.

Practising prayer with the Psalms

'I have been praying one psalm a day, and it hasn't been a smooth road for me...' (Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash)

My kids are old enough to start playing ball, and weekly practices and physically distanced games are a regular part of the Barkman routine. In high school, I was a catcher, and Christina played third base, so we want our kids to grow into confident athletes. That means they are learning to practice. Continuous repetitions teach my kids how it feels to throw and hit a ball.

Musings of a CM board member

Since I was a young boy, I’ve been fascinated by words, stories and ideas.

So when I heard that I had an opportunity to be a regional representative for Alberta on the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service (CMPS) board of directors, which acts in an advisory capacity for the direction of the Canadian Mennonite periodical, I took them up on it.

Potluck faith

'Every household contributes to the plentiful potluck lunch.' (Photo by Spencer Davis/Unsplash)

Every year around this time, the congregation I belong to makes plans for Gathering Sunday. After a summer of sparser attendance at worship services, our gathering on the first Sunday after Labour Day is always a celebration, a reunion for those of us who vacationed outside the area and for those who stayed put during the summer.

‘The long wait’

‘Unless we are taken quickly in some senseless tragedy or sudden illness, those who are dying and those who accompany the dying enter into ‘the long wait.’’ (Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez/Unsplash)

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: A time to born and a time to die . . . .” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2).

Volleyball game

Photo: Lorne W. Friesen / Conference of Mennonites in Canada Photo Collection

The Conference of Mennonites in Canada annual session was held in July 1975, in Swift Current, Sask. Hot weather put participants’ “cool” to the test. The assembly was not only about business but also about relationships and, as such, there was time for work and play, including a game of volleyball, pictured.

Why ‘third way’?

‘What does ‘third way’ mean and how does it relate to my family?’ (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

I’ve been asked recently why my column is called “Third Way Family.” The question has prompted me to share my reasoning behind choosing this title and what it means to me. 

The role of the church today?

People and their churches are responding to the physical and emotional needs around them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

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.

Antifragile church

(Photo by Andrew Seaman/Unsplash)

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. 

Worship is what I need

Josh Wallace is Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s interim church engagement minister.

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’m thinking about sparrows

'I am thinking about sparrows today...' (Image by Oldiefan/Pixabay)

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

Photo: The Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

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.

Why I’m not a Canadian

'We all have to travel on some nation’s passport...' (Image by Pam Patterson/Pixabay)

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.) 

A living metaphor

'Oh that my life might be less concerned about my own image...' (Image by Med Ahabchane/Pixabay)

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.

I am my brother’s keeper

“The way of Jesus sounds very much like embracing a social contract. He is called ‘the Man for others.’ Early Christians were known by how they loved one another.” (Pixabay photo by Caniceus)

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.

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