Opinion

Helping each other follow Jesus

(Photo by Jehyun Sung/Unsplash)

How can we help each other to follow Jesus? I’m sure I’m not alone when I relate that my own journey of discipleship has sometimes felt more like a solo expedition than a corporate adventure. I have longed for more camaraderie on the road, to share with fellow disciples the questions, doubts, struggles, joys and responsibilities that attend the life of following Jesus.

B.C. baptism

(Photo: Der Bote Photograph Collection /Mennonite Heritage Archives)

A baptismal group from 1967 at Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C. Baptism was an important event in the life of an individual and the church, and people dressed for the occasion. Baptism was often done in the spring around the Easter season. Standing in the very back is minister Jake Tilitzky.

‘I shall not be moved’

Henry Louis Gates Jr., host of 'The Black Church,' standing in front of stained glass at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of PBS.org)

Strong, hopeful and resilient. Are those words that describe you today, after a year of pandemic restrictions, with all the predictions of doom in regards to climate change, and ongoing evidence of systemic and individual racism directed against people of many colours in Canada? Are these words that you use to describe church in light of the pandemic, climate change and racism?

Digging into diet

Muscovy ducks dabble in one of their favourite mud puddles in the Wiederkehrs’ barnyard. They are kept for eggs, meat, fly control and because they are fun to have around. (Photo by Theo Wiederkehr)

Homegrown potatoes, carrots, beets, kale and cheese—all important parts of a local winter diet—are stored in the Wiederkehrs’ root cellar. (Photo by Theo Wiederkehr)

My family farms, raising plants and animals on a small scale—40 hens, five cows, two sows—both to feed ourselves and as a source of income.

Called to hear

(Photo by Kimia Zarifi/Unsplash)

I have a selective hearing problem. When I’m at home on a Thursday night, weary from a day’s worth of important religious listening, the certain pleas of a younger family member of mine to discuss the latest plot twist in an all-too-predictable cartoon become easy to ignore.

Herman Walde

(Photo: Canadian Mennonite Bible College Photo Collection / Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Herman Walde stands in front of the sign of First Mennonite Church in Edmonton, where he served as pastor from 1963 to 1966. Historically, as Mennonites became more accepted, their churches began to look like the churches of their neighbours. Later Mennonite churches began posting signs telling people of the church’s name, when services were held and contact information.

A precious gift

(Photo by Harli Marten/Unsplash)

I visited an elderly friend in a small-town hospital. Gaining permission to see “Esther” (all names are pseudonyms) involved a slight untruth, but it was merely a sin of omission, as I simply withheld “retired” when I identified myself as her minister. I slept reasonably well that night.

What does UN ‘peace’ mean?

(Image by Arek Socha/Pixabay)

“Making Peace with Nature” is the peculiar title of a scientific report recently tabled by the United Nations. That’s an attention-getting title for a peace-church eco-geek. My inquiring mind begs to know: How does the UN conceptualize “peace with nature” and how does its version compare with an Anabaptist understanding? 

Matters of life and death

(Photo by Sam Rios/Unsplash)

I waffle a lot when it comes to death. Sometimes I welcome the idea, especially when faith in being united with Christ is high, when the weight of the world and its heartache is great. But other times I fear death, when I realize how quickly life passes by, or when my faith flitters and the reality that, despite all we believe, we don’t truly know what happens next. 

Group photo

(Photo: Gibson Photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Nothing says “occasion” like a panoramic group photograph. Pictured, Sharon Mennonite Church in Guernsey, Sask., commemorates its 50th anniversary in 1955. The congregation consisted primarily of Mennonite settlers from the Waterloo, Ont., region. The special panoramic camera brought from Saskatoon was sharp enough to keep the entire crowd in focus.

Accountability

(Image by slightly_different/Pixabay)

Jean Vanier. Ravi Zacharias. John Howard Yoder. We add to this list in our own Canadian Mennonite church community every year. My Lenten reading in March was from Matthew 23, where Jesus chastises faith leaders who do not practise what they teach and who tie heavy burdens on the shoulders of others.

Cave of emptiness

(Photo by Devon Janse van Rensburg/Unsplash)

I spend at least 30 minutes a day in silent prayer and meditation, but sometimes this isn’t enough. A few times a year I need a fuller and deeper experience of silence. I need solitude.

Paul Tillich says, “Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone, and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”

What would Jesus think about factory farms?

Calves are taken away moments after birth and placed in veal crates. (Animal Equality photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)

Egg-laying hens are confined in battery cages on a factory farm. (Animal Equality photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)

Line of pigs are confined and isolated by metal bars at a factory farm. (Essere Animali photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)

In Genesis 9:3, God says to Noah: “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” But when God declared this, did he have factory farms in mind?

Modern life

(Photo: David L. Hunsberger / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

“The car [is] the child and charm of modernity,” writes sociologist Donald Kraybill. A century ago, this new technology became another dividing line between Mennonites who contested or accepted—even embraced—modern life. This photo of horse sheds outside Elmira Mennonite Church, Ont., in 1955, captures a moment of embrace.

We are now family

'Anne was there from early morning until late afternoon. I made an observation about her obvious devotion to Bill...' (Photo by National Cancer Institute/Unsplash)

Some years ago, the person who shares my life experienced a blip in her physical well-being. This resulted in Holly spending several days in hospital.

Don’t be like Jonah

'Forget the fish! The book of Jonah is a comedic satire against ethnocentrism, nationalism and a narrow-minded exclusivity regarding God.' (Image by CCXpistiavos/Pixabay)

Jonah suddenly became a favourite book of mine after I went to Iraq.

Forget the fish! The book is a comedic satire against ethnocentrism, nationalism and a narrow-minded exclusivity regarding God. In the story, the whiny fellow is sent 900 kilometres to Nineveh, now the site of Mosul, the second-largest city of Iraq. Nineveh was the capital of the reigning superpower at that time.

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