Opinion

Dwell in, not on

'Prayer is more like a game of Jenga than releasing a genie.' (Photo by Antony Mayfield/flickr.com)

Scripture encourages us to bring our requests to God in prayer. The problem is when we get attached to our desired outcome, which we usually do, resulting in our joy, peace and contentment becoming dependent on things turning out the way we want them to.

No longer predictable

'Our church family has expanded and, with it, our diversity.' (Image by truthseeker08/Pixabay)

The church we inhabit today is a lot different than the one I grew up in. Whether it was an English congregation or a German one, the worship services tended to have a familiar look and feel. “Mennonite” was somewhat predictable. 

MCC annual meeting

Photo by Charmayne Denlinger Brubaker / Mennonite Heritage Archives.

In 1984, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) held its annual meeting in Richmond, British Columbia. Pictured from left to right are board members Hugo Jantz, Leo Driedger, Henry P. Yoder, Bruce Janzen and Florence Driedger. Money is a form of power. With it, a person or organization can fulfill needs and wants. How does God want us to use this power?

Transformative experiences

'A ragged and stained potholder has hung next to my kitchen stove ever since 1988.' (Photo courtesy of Randy Haluza-DeLay)

A thoroughly ragged and stained potholder has hung next to my kitchen stove ever since 1988. It was stitched together from scraps of cloth by some unknown Pennsylvania Mennonite. In those days, a group of women made potholders for every person who came through Akron, Pa., for a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) orientation before a term of service.

An incessant demand

'I stare at my work wall and pray. It’s plastered with pictures of martyrs and sayings of saints.' (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

“Where are you, Mennonites?”

A colleague and I are in a Winnipeg café discussing the current land struggles of many Indigenous peoples. I listen intently as she speaks of the Unist’ot’en, Muskrat Falls and the Tiny House Warriors. I nod my head in understanding and offer affirming murmurs. But then, halfway through tea, she looks at me impatiently.

Westgate students at rally

(Photo: The Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

In 1968, 115 Westgate Mennonite Collegiate students joined 2,000 members of Students for Educational Equality and Democracy (SEED) for a rally at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg. These students of private and parochial schools were seeking provincial funding, as recommended by a royal commission in Manitoba a decade before.

To the river

'In a short five-minute walk, I was filled with peace as I was enveloped by the beauty of the river and the mountains.' (Photo courtesy of Christina Bartel Barkman)

After the hour-long drive home from my sister’s with my four very energetic kids, I had had enough! Trying to quiet down hyper kids while driving is not an easy feat. Not wanting to yell at them over and over, I gave up and succumbed to their antics, eagerly longing for our driveway. I called my husband and said I would need serious backup upon arrival; I was spent!

Canadian turkey and Salvadoran turkey

'Our congregation’s tradition is to have both Canadian turkey and El Salvadoran turkey, mashed potatoes and rice, gravy and sauce. And tables full of special dishes of vegetables, salads and desserts, from traditions all over the world.' (Image by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)

“The turkey tasted just like my mom’s turkey.” So said Sandra, a recent newcomer to Canada from Colombia. She was part of the First Mennonite Church (Kitchener) annual Christmas dinner. Our congregation’s tradition is to have both Canadian turkey and El Salvadoran turkey, mashed potatoes and rice, gravy and sauce.

Paradoxical faith

(Image by Couleur/Pixabay)

I’ve become aware of various patterns and cycles in my life. One of them is a regular oscillation between two different “kinds” or phases of faith. Sometimes I remain in one phase for years and sometimes I alternate between the two phases multiple times a day.

The first phase is what I call pragmatic faith.

Ted Regehr

Photo: The Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

At the Public Archives in Ottawa in 1968, Ted Regehr, head of the Government Records Section, standing, helps research assistant Ernie Dick locate government files related to Mennonites. The two were assisting historian Frank H. Epp with a monumental history of Mennonites in Canada project.

Hope and optimism

'If God’s birth into the person of Jesus is a beacon of hope, then the light beam is the human beings who are the followers of Jesus. Those human beings are to fill others with hope...' (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

Christmas is the season when we talk about how the birth of the baby Jesus brings hope. Hope implies some sort of betterment to come. So Jesus is our hope. But hope for the future is a crucial question for many people in these days of political polarization, rising global inequality, global ecological degradation and growing issues of mental health.

‘Tell God I say yes’

'I am reminded of the Mary who stands at the foot of the cross in tears...' (Image by Free-Photos/Pixabay)

They come through the church door into the foyer. My limited vision can make out only their forms, but I recognize them, desperate folks who stop by on occasion to check out the food supplies available that day.

Rosengart church

(Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives / Lawrence Klippenstein photo collection)

Mennonites lived in Prussia/Poland for more than 400 years, but our understanding of the Mennonite experience in this area requires further study. This is the former Mennonite church at Rosengart (now Rozgart), near Elbing (now Elblag). Peter Klassen (1930-2019) has worked hard at shedding light on the Mennonite experience in Prussia.

Choosing forgiveness

'Many of us carry deep pain and find forgiveness to be quite impossible. There are hurts that feel like they’ve cut to the very heart of our being.' (Image by mohamed Hassan/Pixabay)

In my work with single, high-risk mothers and women who experience abuse in intimate relationships, many conversations about forgiveness have arisen. I recently shared about choosing the path of forgiveness and I could instantly feel the tension rise. Their bodies shifted, their breath became short, their brows furrowed.

We belong to each other

'Being church together beyond our local congregation has to be more than recognizing someone from school or family gatherings.' (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

It was Sunday morning on a Mennonite Church Canada Joint Council meeting weekend. We divided up into three groups to visit three different congregations and then we regrouped over a late pizza lunch to hear about the visits. 

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