In the northern hemisphere, Advent comes to us in the darkest time of the year. Christmas is advertised and celebrated as the happiest time of the year, and for some it is just that. But for others, Christmas is indeed the darkest time, where loneliness seems lonelier, when separation feels more separate, and despair calls our name.
At times we have been both inspired and overwhelmed by the parenting books that crowd bookstore and library shelves. We have also found useful advice, and a dauntingly high bar, in countless parenting blogs and social media posts. This abundance of resources is one indication that we live in a society that takes child-rearing very seriously.
"Why should young people from our congregations choose a Christian college or university like Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., or Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg, instead of a public university?” The question posed to me for this piece is often seen as the either-or choice for students, and the obvious starting point
Many U.S. and Canadian Mennonites think of German-speaking Mennonites in Mexico as a backward people in a Wild West country. We read of Mennonites involved in drug trafficking and ask ourselves, “Can this be?”
Unfortunately, it can, and this negative image is reinforced by the conduct of fringe Mexican Mennonites who appear in Canada, some for seasonal employment.
Since I shared my husband’s painful job loss through no fault of his own, I’ve received many emails and other private messages from people who have also experienced difficult endings in their employment. Some have changed churches or denominations, or left ministry all together. Some have been close to suicide and still struggle with depression and anxiety.
Fortune and misfortune can look the same in a world of incomprehensible inequality. Each year, many thousands of Jamaicans apply for coveted temporary jobs on Canadian farms. The lucky applicants will work mostly on fruit farms and greenhouse operations under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). They can stay for up to eight months, but their families must stay at home.
We are a group of pastors from each of the five area churches who have gathered around the current Future Directions Task Force conversations in an effort to understand and respond together. We write as younger pastoral leaders with hopes for many years yet in service to the Mennonite church in Canada, and so with a significant stake in this ongoing process.
About eight years ago, Daniel Pantoja shared the approach he and his wife Joji employed as Mennonite Church Canada Witness Workers in the Philippines: “Toss aside western church culture and rhetoric.” By shaping their approach from a Muslim context, they bridged the gap between perception and Jesus.
Marriage has always been, and continues to be, a perplexing reality for Christians. From the Apostle Paul’s confusing advice to the more recent agonizing over divorce, Christian marriage has been plagued by anxiety and confusion. The conflicts in the church today are only the most recent chapter in millennia of struggle.
The following is an abridged version of a letter sent to the Future Directions Task Force and Mennonite Church Canada leaders that was signed by all 24 Witness workers in light of the Task Force’s concluding report (commonword.ca/go/469).
On behalf of the Future Directions Task Force I express sincere thanks for the thought and time you’ve put into the open letter received last week from Norm Dyck, Mennonite Church Canada’s Witness Council chair.