Opinion

Maria Kroeker

(Photo: Peter Kroeker Photo Collection)

In 1893, Maria Kroeker married Johann Neufeld in Reinland, Man. The couple moved to Lost River, Sask. in 1911. Then, in 1926, when the Saskatchewan government insisted that Mennonite children attend government schools, Maria and Johann moved their 11 children to Paraguay, where they helped establish the village of Bergthal.

Makin’ space

(Unsplash photo by Ambitious Creative Co.-Rick Barrett)

My youngest son, Cai, has developed a passion for working out, so for Christmas he asked for a home gym. More specifically, an Olympic barbell, bumper plate weights, an adjustable bench and a power rack. It was pretty expensive, so he offered to pay for half, and said, “You can use it too, Dad! It would be something we could do together.”

Apocalypse, peace, identity

Sofia Samatar speaks at Goshen College on Sept. 30, 2022. (Goshen College photo by Julian Gonzalez)

When Sofia Samatar took an American literature class at Goshen (Ind.) College more than 20 years ago, she wrote a paper about Walt Whitman, who is sometimes called the “good grey poet.” Among the thousands of student papers I read, this one stands out.

Actively watching

(Pixabay photo by PublicDomainPictures)

“I spy with my little eye, something . . . .” Most of you probably know the game. It’s one that has become a fun and important little ritual for me and my three-year-old daughter while I drive her and her sister to daycare in the mornings before work.

Vernon Ratzlaff in Eqypt

(Photo: Linda Herr, MCC photo collection)

Vern Ratzlaff, centre, worked much of his life within Mennonite institutions in western Canada and internationally, serving as a church pastor, Bible school teacher and radio preacher. From 1982 to 1987, Vern and his wife Helen served as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) country representatives in Egypt.

Christmas delight?

(Photo by Mariana B./Unsplash)

Christmas is a difficult season for many people, myself included. As a Christian, I “should” be celebrating the birth of Jesus. The angels sing of “great joy” as the lowly and the mighty come to bend the knee at the crude bedside of the baby. The Incarnation is what makes Christianity profoundly different from all other religions.

Soil lover

(Photo by Glen Carrie/Unsplash)

As I read through the accounts of the kings in the Bible, Uzziah’s story doesn’t strike me as being overly unique. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, at least for a while. Eventually, his own power and pride did him in. He overstepped, and it cost him.

Kazakhstan

(Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

There is a lot to take in on this photomontage of the Mennonite Brethren Church Choir from Badamsha, Kazakhstan—in Soviet parlance, a “closed city”—in 1971.

Who is my Samaritan?

(Image by falco/Pixabay)

In a conversation with an educated religious scholar, Jesus agreed that the most important thing is to love God and love one’s neighbour as oneself. Then the scholar asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” In typical Jesus fashion, instead of answering directly, he told a story: the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Pain, longing, hope and joy

Virginia musicians Christopher and Maria Clymer Kurtz wrote ‘Solemn Stillness, Weary Streets,’ No. 276 in Voices Together. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Clymer Kurtz)

On a Monday in the fall of 2014, Christopher Clymer Kurtz was supposed to be teaching middle-school English, but was distracted with an idea for a song. On Tuesday of that week, he worked out a melody. On Friday, his spouse Maria dove into older Christmas songs, like “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “Joy to the World,” gleaning ideas for the text.

Indonesian peacemaking

Sufi Islamic dancers participate in a July 6 Mennonite World Conference assembly worship service at Congdut GITJ Jepara, a Mennonite church in Central Java. (Mennonite World Conference photo)

I am frequently asked, “What was it like to be in Indonesia for the Mennonite World Conference [MWC] assembly?” There are many possible answers, but today I want to focus on learning from our Indonesian Anabaptist sisters and brothers on how and why they build strong invitational relationships with their Muslim neighbours.

Fun, smart and committed

(Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/Oslermennonitechurch)

One of my farmers annually invites me for a combine ride to educate this city slicker on “Ag 101.” It’s a thrill to watch the header of the harvesting machine munch through swaths, hawks diving behind us for mice. He’s a captive audience for my complaints and occasionally hits a badger hole on purpose. Good thing I have a seat belt! Generally it’s a cushy ride.

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