Normally I hearken closely to the words of Jesus. But although he advises that we consider the sparrows of the field, I’d rather pay attention to chickadees.
I have so inextricably linked Psalm 22 to the words of Jesus on the cross that I don’t think I have ever really read the Psalm in its own light before.
A few weeks ago I sent a text to a friend who I hadn’t seen for quite some time. Although we’d been in touch several times throughout the pandemic, we were long overdue for a face-to-face visit. I had no idea that the timing of this text would set my schedule askew for the next few weeks in the way that it did.
My friend has lived through some significant life experiences.
I remember a difficult church meeting at my fiancé’s congregation when I was an active participant in the young adult group. I don’t recall the topic, but I do recall that I did not speak up during the meeting, but just listened.
It’s no secret that there are gaps in our congregational song. In particular, gaps in the kinds of words we have available for moments of crisis, despair and loss. Voices Together sought to speak into this opening, and features many resources that offer new words for these moments.
Some have described history as a series of pendulum swings, oscillating from one extreme to the other, between tyranny and freedom, conservatism and liberalism, progress and tradition. It has also been said, the pendulum always swings too far, meaning when we find ourselves in one extreme, there tends to be an overcorrection that takes us too far in the other direction.
At first I thought cancel culture was a good idea.
The phenomenon, which emerged a handful of years ago, refers to “ending (or attempting to end) an individual’s career or prominence to hold them accountable for immoral behaviour.” That’s according to University of Cambridge psychologist Rob Henderson.
The smell of pancakes on the griddle, the roar of laughter while trying new activities, and the joyful noise of campfire singing are forever etched in my heart.
The Konferenz der Mennoniten in Canada—now Mennonite Church Canada—was formed in 1902. In 1928, the conference started publishing an official Jahrbuch (yearbook) which documented proceedings and decisions at the annual gatherings.
In this new-ish year, I find myself searching out new-ish challenges.
The fellows at the next table were running on and on about refugees. So many false statements! I gritted my teeth as I sipped my coffee that morning. “No!” I wanted to holler, millions of refugees were not going to overrun Canada. Then the fellows changed topics. It got worse. The new topic was climate change.
What keeps you up at night? Do the anxieties of your day taunt you as you lay awake?
Reflecting and reshaping is what I have been witnessing congregations doing in the ministries of formation. Across the board, in ministries that engage adults, youth, seniors and children, people are ready to venture into new territory. There seems to be a desire, perhaps prompted by new realities, to flex muscles that were awakened during the past few years.
Henry Gerbrandt (far right) in Mexico ca. 1947. Henry and Susan Gerbrandt began their mission work with the fledgling Mennonite Pioneer Mission, arriving in northern Mexico on Dec. 21, 1945. Because money was scarce, their first Christmas dinner was macaroni and salt.
“When we gather for worship, we bring all of ourselves, though some experiences or emotions might feel harder to name. Or maybe we feel pressure to keep them tidied away,” explains Alissa Bender when describing her worship resource in Voices Together. Found at #859, “God of Every Place” is an invitation to bring our whole selves to worship, no matter what space we’re in.
Understanding how to pray and work towards unity with all “Christians” has been a struggle for me. How do I seek unity with people who call themselves Christian, but embody attitudes, values, behaviours and beliefs that, in my opinion, are diametrically opposed to the teachings, character and heart of Jesus.
This struggle is by no means new, or unique to me.
Niklaus Mikaelson, Valerie Tulle, Lizzie Saltzman, Stefan Salvatore . . . do you know who these folks are? If not, maybe that’s because they are not from the Mennonite heritage but from a supernatural world featured in the TV series, The Vampire Diaries. These beings are “hybrids,” born out of the cross-breeding of supernatural species such as werewolves and vampires.