Editorial

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Beyond ourselves 

'You and I can expand our circle of attention...' (Image by Arek Socha/Pixabay)

As I write, my household is entering into our fourth week of physical distancing. Facing the fast-spreading and potentially deadly coronavirus, my spouse and I sit in a comfortable house, with a dependable supply of food and are thankful for good sanitation. We have books, music and movies. We’re still employed, and we’re connecting digitally with a network of family and friends.

Chequebook and calendar

'We pondered the two types of commitment he was calling us to: the chequebook and the calendar.'

In early March, the church my husband and I belong to held its annual general meeting. This year there wasn’t a lot of discussion, but Paul, the representative of the finance and stewardship committee, got us all thinking. 

Church stories

Young and old from Arnaud (Man.) Mennonite Church participate in church picnic activities last June. Almost every issue of Canadian Mennonite carries at least one story of a Mennonite Church Canada congregation. (Canadian Mennonite file photo by Rick Friesen)

“The congregation is the foundational unit and expression of God’s work in the world.” That was a key affirmation in the Future Directions process that led to the 2017 re-organization of Mennonite Church Canada. In this issue’s feature starting on page 4, MC Canada’s executive minister, Doug Klassen, calls for a strengthening of our denomination’s core: the congregations. 

Limits and surprises

‘I’m the kind of person who likes to know what’s ahead on the path, to predict exactly what I can expect and what is expected of me.’ (Image by David Mark/Pixabay)

I had other plans for this space; this is not the editorial I was intending to write. But, reading over this issue’s proof pages, I saw some unexpected themes emerging.

Several contributors highlight ways in which we humans try to limit the intentions/purposes of our Creator.

Cultivating hope

'We can take mini-sabbaticals by stepping away from the computer, the smartphone, the newspaper and TV news. We disconnect, knowing that God is larger than our human efforts.' (Image by Shah Rokh/Pixabay)

In the first days of 2020, our newsfeeds were full: confrontations over a pipeline in western Canada, devastating fires in Australia, an earthquake in Puerto Rico, the death of 176 people whose airplane was shot down and speculations of a possible war in the Middle East. 

#ICYMI: 2019 in review

'On the road of discipleship, let’s remember: The God we follow invites us to let go of past mistakes, cling to a strong vision and aim for new acts of faithfulness.' (Graphic by Betty Avery)

It’s mid-December as I sit down to review the content published by Canadian Mennonite over the past year. Here are a few observations.

 

Church publications: Which way to go?

'Recently, three Christian publications have each turned a different direction...' (Image by Pexels/Pixabay)

I know an intersection with three street signs: Eastglen, Westglen and Northglen. Delivery trucks sometimes end up at the wrong house for failing to notice which Glen they need. Making it worse, Eastglen and Westglen are semi-circles that connect to form one circle. You can turn East and get to West or vice versa.

What shall I wear: Sport coat or cardigan?

'That got me thinking about Fred Rogers. Yes, the soft-spoken host of the children’s television program "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood." Wearer of the simple cardigan sweater.' (Image by Mabel Amber/Pixabay)

Recently TV sports personality Don Cherry lost his job for making disparaging comments to “You people,” which viewers and the company that employed him interpreted to apply to newcomers in Canada. The airwaves, newspapers and social media feeds were clogged with opinions about the outspoken commentator’s remarks. His trademark outfit: flashy sport coats.

Going deeper together

'We desire to go deeper in our relationship with God and with our neighbours both inside and outside the church walls.' (Image by congerdesign/Pixabay)

If you have been paying attention to what the regional churches are up to recently, you may have noticed a common question and a common longing. A question expressed at both regional and nationwide levels: What is God calling Mennonite Church Canada to do, as a church?

Shaped by our essential book

'What does it mean if we see the Bible as the book above other books?' (Image by StockSnap/Pixabay)

The name Arab Christians use for the Bible translates literally as “The Holy Book,” and they often shorten it to “The Book.” Article 4 of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective states: “The Bible is the essential book of the church.” What does it mean if we see the Bible as the book above

Disciples and citizens

'If they had had the chance, how would the diverse disciples have voted in matters affecting their community and their land?' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

A group of men and women travelled the dusty roads, meeting people, eating together, hearing stories, pondering deep sayings, seeing miracles and conversing with their leader. 

The zucchini principle

(Image by Image by マサコ アーント/Pixabay)

A woman who was raised in both the Lutheran and Catholic churches is now a member of my congregation. When Shannon described what led her to the Mennonite church, she observed a few differences between how Mennonites and other traditions she knew practise their faith. She said that one difference was that “Mennonites hold on less tightly to their possessions.”

Digital church

(Image by FotoRieth/Pixabay)

A while back, a friend pondered whether it is possible to have a meaningful experience of church primarily through digital means. I doubt it. But that got me thinking about how much of our congregational experience is lived digitally.

Broad prayers in a time of fear

(Image by Jenny Friedrichs/Pixabay)

It has become a routine yet still shocking news report: another shooting in a quiet neighbourhood or at a shopping centre, nightclub, school or place of worship. Then come the familiar offers of “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their loved ones. Sadly, there have been too many opportunities to pray these prayers recently. 

The Spirit is moving our body

Katie Doke Sawatzky is communications officer for Mennonite Church Canada.

I knew everything would be okay as soon as the singing started. As I sat at a table positioned behind a small tower of crates half covered in cloth—a makeshift platform for the room’s main projector—I looked up from my detailed program schedule and smiled. Right, this is why we’re here.

What we say online

‘Different people have different opinions on what it means to leave effective comments online. Still, I hope we can all agree that kindness and compassion are the best places to start.’ (Image by rawpixel/Pixabay)

What does it mean to comment well on the internet? What does effectively communicating one’s thoughts on a web article or social media post look like?

As Canadian Mennonite’s online media manager, a job that involves moderating comments on the magazine’s website and facilitating discussion on Facebook and Twitter, I think about these things regularly.

Learning as we go

Ministers talk during a Mennonite Church Canada conference in Saskatoon in 2016. "New things are happening," Virginia A. Hostetler writes. "We’re all learning as we go." (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

Gathering 2019 starts next week. From June 28 to July 1, several hundred attendees from across Canada will meet in Abbotsford, B.C., for the first major event since the re-structuring of the Mennonite Church Canada. Thank you, MC British Columbia, for hosting this gang! 

Between 'Pure' and Mennonite Heritage Week

'Pure' purports to be “based on true events of the Mennonite mob.” (Photo courtesy Facebook.com/PureWGNA)

On the last week of May, season 2 of the crime show, Pure, started airing on the Super Channel. The show’s promotional material shows women in conservative Mennonite dress wielding rifles and filling packets with cocaine. Men in overalls, plaid shirts and straw hats intimidate a victim.

Motivated by fear

'We were flying from Calgary to Toronto in March... He wasn’t actually asking for my help. He was testing my commitment as a Christian.' (Image by Free-Photos/Pixabay)

Two hours into a conversation that I deeply regretted starting, the man seated next to me said, “Most people on this airplane are probably not Christian. If this flight starts to crash, I will stand up, tell everyone to repent [of their sins], accept Jesus as Lord and be saved. Otherwise, they will spend eternity in hell. Will you help me?”

Holding out the Christ-light 

"I will hold the Christ-light for you / in the night-time of your fear. / I will hold my hand out to you, / speak the peace you long to hear." (Image by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

“We can all have good mental health. It is about having a sense of purpose, strong relationships, feeling connected to our communities, knowing who we are, coping with stress and enjoying life,” says a statement by the Canadian Mental Health Association. 

Costly perfume

“Why did Jesus praise this woman for pouring out the costly perfume when the proceeds of its sale could have helped many poor people in their town?” (Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni/Pixabay)

On April 15, dramatic images of Paris’s burning Notre Dame Cathedral captured worldwide attention. Nearby, local citizens and tourists stood singing and praying in grief. Could it be that this majestic symbol of faith, art and culture was crumbling before our eyes? 

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