In early December, The Globe and Mail reported that the number of Canadians making charitable donations has dropped, the average age of donors has risen to 53, and the total amount donated to charity has fallen in the last two years. Shortly after this, it ran a series on the future of faith in Canada, concluding that Canada is quickly becoming a secular nation.
Many of us like being rich. Moreover, many of us, myself included, like to be seen as being rich. And this, it seems, is contrary to the gospel of Jesus, who preached “woe to the rich,” and “blessed are the poor.” He also warned of leaders in “flowing robes” who liked to sit in places of honour (Luke 20:46).
Human ingenuity cranks out things that are windows into the heart of the age. Our technological dreamworks become tools of convenience, toys of amusement, gadgets of annoyance, and objects of idolatry. Since Babel, every epoch has had its technological metaphor. The great tower of Genesis 11 betrayed humanity’s cultural self-understanding.
As a Mennonite, peace is a part of my everyday vocabulary.
I know it is a good thing—Jesus is the Prince of Peace after all—and I know that peace is found in right relationships, justice and grace. But what does peace look like, exactly?
This fall, a controversial exhibition in Winnipeg, Man., grabbed my attention. After weeks of plodding mindlessly past graphic advertisements with bold letters announcing “Bodies: The exhibition,” I belatedly clued in to the fact that the bodies in the exhibition were in fact very real, formerly live bodies.
I was chatting with friends about the good old days. We recalled becoming independent adults and making our own decisions. We laughed as we reminisced about the wise decisions as well as the mistakes we’d made, consequences we’d survived and advice from parents that was usually right and sometimes ignored.
I’m not good at faking my way through situations. That goes for Christmas, too. I can’t pretend that the tender mystery of Emmanuel—God with us—somehow rises above the glittery kerfuffle and fills my holiday season with calm and awe. I can’t pretend that the impossibly familiar story pierces my heart anew each year with the “true meaning” of Christmas.
The most unsettling participants in the “Christmas story” are the most biblically literate. Asked by magi where the king of the Jews was to be born, King Herod turns to expert priests and scribes for help. Confidently the clerics reference the answer in the scroll of the prophet Micah: “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet. . .” (Luke 2:5).
Somewhere along our journey with youth ministry I believe many of us took a wrong turn. We headed in a direction that had us increasingly isolating our youths from the life of the congregation. Our youth groups and youth events rarely served to strengthen our relationships with other age groups and with the church’s ongoing work and mission.
The daily bombardment of advertising from radio, billboards, newspapers, the Internet, fliers and TV leaves me discouraged and fatigued. Relentless messages urge me to cling to an insidious mantra, to believe that I will be a better person for using a particular product or service, to believe that advertisers are honest and want the best for me.
On the first Sunday of Advent, many of us will hear the proclamation, “The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Matthew 25:44). Advent worship resources from The Leader have highlighted the words “an unexpected hour” as a theme for this season. We are called to make space to receive God’s presence among us by slowing down and slipping into silence.
Every year at this time I feel some anxiety. I’m talking about Christmas and it has to do with shopping. Well, to be exact, my anxiety has to do with “not” shopping.
For almost a decade I’ve been one of the organizers of a little campaign with the delightful name of, get ready for it: Buy Nothing Christmas.
Up until a few days ago, there were three different kinds of toothpaste in our bathroom, one belonging to each of the three people living in our home. My husband and I have long agreed on different brands; having two kinds seems to be better than complaining about each other’s preferences. The third tube belonged to our son, who was back “at home” for a short time.
I was privileged to participate in the 2010 International Mennonite Pastors Coming Together (IMPaCT) program this year in British Columbia. It proved to be a very valuable experience in learning and building relationships with other pastors from Asian countries. Four Mennonite Church British Columbia pastors hosted four international pastors from China, Macau and the Philippines.
These are golden days on the Prairies as summer melds into autumn. Everywhere the eye gazes, it touches on gold. Fields of grain, cut or standing, are pale gold. The dust of harvest glows rose-golden in the sun’s rays. The yellow-gold of changing leaves adds another hue. And in the ditches, yellow flowers contrast brightly with the dull gold grasses.