1. Who in your congregation takes a leadership role in interpreting the Bible? How do they acquire that role? What happens if anyone challenges their interpretation? Who has been most influential in the development of your personal understanding of the Bible?
1. Bruce Hiebert says we will make better ethical decisions if our brains are filled with biblical images. Do you find his arguments convincing? Have we been doing a good job of immersing ourselves in the biblical stories? Have we been filling our minds with too many non-biblical images?
1. Tom Yoder Neufeld says that teaching and learning are acts of faith, especially when it comes to sacred texts such as the Bible (page 6). What learning or teaching experiences have stretched or deepened your faith? Are there settings that are more effective than a traditional classroom? What factors encourage or hinder us from being eager to learn?
1. How has your community been impacted by the drive for economic development? What has your community lost through development and what has it gained? How are decisions made about when and where development will happen? Is there a role for the church in these decisions?
Clouds hang over the Haisla community of Kitamaat Village, just across Douglas Channel from the proposed site of the Northern Gateway supertanker terminal.
I never expected that Enbridge—the Calgary-based pipeline company best known for its contentious Northern Gateway proposal and a nasty spill from one of its U.S. lines in 2010—would push its way so far into my life.
1. Wendy and Phil Reimer describe some instances when God intervened in the lives of Christians. Can you think of similar experiences that you or other Christians have had? Why might they be difficult to talk about?
In my earliest recollection Jacob Janzen was 60-something. He was not the oldest person I knew and rather undistinguished. He came walking tiredly up the sidewalk to the house in his rubber boots and a kepi—the sort of hat factory workers wore in the 60s, not quite a ball cap, but billed with a pill-box sort of shape.
1. What are some of your warm “waiting for Christmas” memories? What is it about Advent and Christmas family traditions that make them so special? Do you have negative memories mixed with the nostalgia? What role does gift-giving play in Christmas nostalgia?
1. Do you consider yourself as a rational being or more of an emotional being? Do you find others reacting more rationally or more emotionally? In what ways has the Mennonite Church tended to appeal to our heads rather than our hearts? Has this been changing?
After many hours of methodical and systematic doubting of all that he held certain, seventeenth-century French philosopher Rene Descartes came to an astounding conclusion: the only thing that he could know for certain, beyond any reasonable doubt, was that he was a thinking creature.
1. Carol Penner says, “sinning against our neighbours once removed just doesn’t feel so bad.” Do you agree? Who might be a “neighbour once removed”? What might be some examples of sinning against such a neighbour? What is it about injuring someone close at hand that is abhorrent?
When I was little, I remember my dad explaining our relatives to us: “She’s my cousin, twice removed.” It’s an expression that talks about a relationship that is a bit more distant. Today I want to talk about our neighbours, once removed. Why is it easier to hurt people when they are removed from us? What does it mean to be a Christian when so many of our neighbours are once removed?
1. What do you find most amazing about the story of the Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia? Does the Mennonite Church in North America have any comparable stories? What is appealing about a charismatic church?
As Fanosie Legesse and Steve Brnjas were driving through a small village in rural Ethiopia, their car slowed to pass through a narrow street when suddenly a boy darted into the car’s path, and was hit. His body flew and landed a few feet away. The driver stopped, though hesitantly, sensing there might be trouble. The passengers got out to see how they could help. It didn’t look good.