Opinion

The beautiful chaos of kids at church

Church can be a beautiful way to be still and meet with the Lord, but it can also be a place where kids are fighting, stealing way too many cookies and running laps through the sanctuary, Christina Bartel Barkman writes. (Courtesy of Pixabay)

As a mother of four little ones, I find church can be pretty chaotic. For six years while living in Manila, our Filipino church gathered in our home while my kids played around the family room.

Worship as an act of loving God

'When we come together to collectively recognize and respond to God’s presence in our midst, something happens that we don’t experience on our own,' Troy Watson writes. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada)

I’ve run into a number of people who are “spiritual but not religious,” who have recently started attending church. They told me they skip the opening worship and just show up to hear the message. When I asked why, one person said, “The music doesn’t resonate with me or the world I live in. It often hinders my ability to connect with God, to be honest.”

Deepening our walk with each other

'Throughout the biblical story there is a direct correlation between our love of God and our call to love each other,' Ryan Siemens writes. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

During this past year, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan has focused on the theme of “Deepening our walk with Christ,” in the hope of increasing our openness to encounters with God’s presence in our lives. This theme grew out of an awareness that, if we desire to live well in this day of great turmoil and uncertainty, we need to come back to the One who calms the storm and brings us peace.

Chesley Lake accordion

Photo: David L. Hunsberger / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

An accordionist serenades a literary society meeting at Chesley Lake Camp in Ontario, in 1949. Chesley Lake was the first Mennonite church camp in Ontario and one of the first in Canada. Literary societies were common in Ontario Mennonite churches at the time, as social outlets and avenues for artistic expression.

‘Conversation Circles’ offer encouragement, hope

MW Manitoba committee members Larissa Pahl, left, and Elsie Wiebe were active participants in the Conversation Circles last fall. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Giesbrecht)

Last fall, ignited by curiosity about what we would hear if we invited women to share their experiences of life within Mennonite Church Manitoba congregations, Mennonite Women Manitoba decided to host two Conversation Circles, one in Winnipeg and the other in southern Manitoba.

The love it held

“How could one space, one building, one yard, one mountainview, hold so much love, truth, forgiveness and conviction?”—Christina Bartel Barkman

When we pulled up the steep driveway of my grandparents’ old house, I was overcome with tears of nostalgia and tears of loss for the love that this space once held.

Can we talk about MAID?

“I wondered if pacifist Christians, who hold a strong commitment to preserving life, had the capacity to consider the possible merits, even mercy, in assisting someone to die. I wondered about how a theology of suffering, redemptive suffering even, so basic to Christianity, would inform the choices we make.”—Melissa Miller

In June 2016, the government of Canada enacted legislation that enabled eligible adults to seek medical assistance in dying (MAID). At the time, I followed some of the debate with many questions and a mixture of hope and dread. My questions included the incongruity of lodging the matter with healthcare professionals, who are committed to saving and serving life.

Sharing life with your tribe

“As we grow spiritually, the tribe we share life with continues to grow. Ultimately, we discover our tribe is humanity. We eventually experience our interconnectedness with all people and creation.” —Troy Watson

In 2013, I embarked on an ancestral pilgrimage to Scotland. The first site I visited was Lochmaben Castle, where, according to my Aunt Faye’s genealogical research, one of our ancestors was born. 

Bergey

Photo: Doug Millar / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Why do you travel? For fun, to learn, to connect? All three combined for Dorothy, Lorna and Gertrude Bergey as they joined a Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario bus tour to Pennsylvania in May 1983. Here, they stand in front of the Pennsylvania home of European emigrant Hans Ulrich Bergey in Salford. In 1897, Pennsylvanian David H.

Revisiting a third way

J. Lawrence Burkholder’s experiences as a relief worker in China in 1947 caused him to think about the nature of power. His dissertation, “The problem of social responsibility from the perspective of the Mennonite church,” was completed in 1958 but not published at the time because it challenged Mennonite teachings.

The daily phone-call prayer

Melissa Miller: “Each day I call my mother. Over time, I came to see that my prayer practice was found in the daily phone calls.”

Over the course of our lives, we likely offer many prayers in a variety of ways. Some are formal, memorized prayers said for specific occasions. A family table grace recited before meals. The comforting words of Psalm 23. The Lord’s Prayer spoken as one body during worship.

A ‘village’ in our home

Christina Barkman: “While it is certainly nice to sometimes have a quiet home—like these long winter evenings when the kids are all finally asleep and I can cuddle up with a good book—I love welcoming friends, family and a little extra chaos into my home.”

When our family lived in the Philippines from 2012 to 2018, we hosted our Peace Church community in our home every weekend and opened our doors to countless friends throughout the week.

The clarity of divine call

Troy Watson: “The clarity of divine call deeply and profoundly liberates us. It unleashes us to make a difference in the world without feeling we are responsible to solve all of the world’s problems.”

I believe every human being has a divine call. This divine call is more explicit than the generic “call to ministry” associated with the clergy. It’s a specific expectation God has given each person to fulfill.

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