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A Bible meant to be read with your ears

Superlatives for the KJV, as it’s known, abound: ‘The greatest work of prose ever written in English,’ ‘The most beautiful book in the world,’ ‘The most important book in English religion and culture,’ one of the ‘books of the millennium.’

Given a choice between the absolute accuracy of the translation or the elegance and beauty of the language, the translators unfailingly chose elegance and beauty.

Have you heard the Bible recently? Not read it, but listened to it—heard the words of Scripture, not just seen them on the page. 

Christmas in Nazareth

Hinke Loewen-Rudgers, second from left, poses with the Arab Christian family that took her in as their daughter. From left to right: Rajaa, Andera and Eman.

“I felt a very intense homesickness and wanted to go home [to Manitoba] for Christmas. Christmas is a very important holiday to me.”

It was Christmas 2010 and Hinke Loewen-Rudgers had been in Nazareth since October 2008, working through the Witness program of Mennonite Church Canada.

Thirty years of A Christmas Carol

'We began reading it out loud to each other in 1981, and have done so every year since, finding more gems to think about each time.' (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Annemarie Rogalsky prepares to read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol again from the now ragged paperback bought in 1981. (Photo courtesy of Dave Rogalsky)

Thirty years ago this Christmas, my wife Annemarie and I began a Christmas tradition we’ve continued year after year, with variations.

For discussion

1. Why might the idea of learning from other faiths make us uncomfortable or fearful? What are the risks and benefits of honest dialogue with other faiths? What are the faith groups in your community with whom you could build relationships?



Learning from diverse faiths

A group of Muslim men gather for prayer at a mosque in Israel/Palestine. Palmer Becker wonders if Mennonites, through their example and witness, might eventually help both male and female Muslim believers to pray and worship side by side.

An instructor at the Kitchener, Ont., LDS church explains the consequences of trying to follow both the way of the world and the way of the Lord to a group of high school students who meet each weekday morning for 45 minutes of ‘seminary’ instruction over the course of four years. Do Mennonites have church communities where we might convene our you

Palmer Becker

In our increasingly multicultural and multi-faith society, can we learn from belief systems other than our own? I believe so, and offer what I have learned from two faiths—Mormonism and Islam—that have very diverse beliefs from each other and also from my own Mennonite faith. This has called for risk-taking, relationship-building and honest self-reflection.

The alternative method of God

Andrew Suderman, right, preaches at Harvest Time Ministries, a church located in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa, with Pastor Ntapo handling translation duties. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Suderman)

Throughout the Bible, God embodies--and challenges us to embody--a method that challenges the assumption that success, power and influence are gained by focusing on us. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Suderman)

Andrew Suderman

One thing that I find so inspiring in South Africa is the countless people who participate in miraculous activities as they strive to make their communities better.

For discussion

1. Professional hockey is known for fighting and violence. Should this deter Mennonites from being avid hockey fans? Is hard hitting and fighting an essential part of the game? Is violence okay if it’s allowed in the rules of the game? Is this what David Driedger means by structured violence?



New logo a distraction to talking about peace and violence

It is nothing new to say that Winnipeg and southern Manitoba boasts an abnormally high concentration of Mennonites, although I suppose the Mennonites don’t boast. And given our historical and ongoing tension with how to respond to issues of peace and violence, it was also no surprise that more than a few eyebrows were raised at the unveiling of the Winnipeg Jets’ new logo.

For discussion

1. Ralph Lebold says that “the congregation is the central reality for gathered Christians.” Do you agree? What are some ways that people from your congregation engage meaningfully with each other? Why do we often resist being open about our questions, finances, mental and emotional struggles?



Strange and wonderful paths

Ralph Lebold, left, and Jim Lapp at the Purdue ’87 Mennonite Church assembly.

Ralph Lebold and Florence Driedger moderate the joint Mennonite Church/General Conference assembly at Normal ’89.

After 50 years in ministry I have discovered that there is a significant interplay between the divine and human when it comes to physical and emotional healing. All healing is a work of God’s grace, including medical, psychological and social interventions, whether the caregivers acknowledge it or not.



For discussion

1. How are the songs and music chosen in your congregation? How much thought is given to the words when songs are chosen? Do you agree that we focus on the style of music more than the words we sing? What might help us focus on the words?



Paying attention to the words we sing

With words on the big screens, thousands of Canadian and American youths join in spirited singing at the 2005 youth convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Christine Longhurst

"Let me write the songs of a nation. I don’t care who writes its laws.”



This statement attributed to 17th-century Scottish politician Andrew Fletcher about countries also applies to the church. Christians have long recognized the power of music to shape what we believe about God and the life of faith.



Heeding the call

César García, at the podium, greets the Sung-Chiang Mennonite congregation in Taipei, Taiwan, in May. To his right are outgoing MWC general secretary Larry Miller, and Joshua Chang, Sung-Chiang pastor and former MWC general council delegate. (Photo by Byron Rempel-Burkholder)

Pictured from left to right are MWC general secretary-elect César García, his daughters María and Paula, and wife Sandra Báez. (Photo by Tangie Sheets)

Members of the Mennonite World Conference executive committee, MWC general council commissions, and Young Anabaptists Committee pray for César García, kneeling, following his appointment as general secretary-elect at their 2011 meetings in Taipei, Taiwan, in May. (Photo by Byron Rempel-Burkholder)

As one amateur Mennonite historian likes to point out, the only real Mennonite name is Menno Simons.

Quilt art depicts Mennonite-Aboriginal interaction

Encounters along the Grand by Judy Gascho-Jutzi hung in the assembly worship space.

A fibre art depiction of the interaction between early Mennonite settlers and Aboriginal people in the Grand River valley was on display at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly July 4-8. “My vision was to create a pictorial slice of history,” said Judy Gascho-Jutzi, the artist.



“This is not the end!”

Willard Metzger, MC Canada General Secretary, takes part in Friday night’s worship, at MC Canada’s Annual Church Gathering in Waterloo, July 8.

“We are the church!” cheered Willard Metzger, general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, inviting progressively younger age groups to join with him in an ever-louder cheer.



Is the end near?

Loren Johns

Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, together with Tyndale House Publishers, have unleashed a behemoth industry on the world, Christian and otherwise. The original twelve volumes of the Left Behind Series have sold over 63 million copies in over a hundred languages.

For discussion

1. Does your church have ways to connect personally with the individuals it helps? How important is this personal contact? Have you ever experienced awkward moments while providing help to someone? What aspect of the exchange was most awkward?



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