About a week after New Year’s Day 2014, my friend Keith asked me what resolutions I’d made. Keith is an insightful, non-conformist “Red Letter Christian” in his mid twenties. I looked at him suspiciously, assuming he’d look down on this mainstream practice. Most non-conformists I know roll their eyes at the passé ritual of setting New Year’s resolutions. He couldn’t be serious.
Volume 20 Issue 1
The year was 587 BC. Our spiritual ancestors, the Israelites, were deported to Babylon, where they felt like refugees in a foreign land. Their place of worship, the temple, had been destroyed. They sat by the rivers of Babylon. . .and wept. (Psalm 137:1). They were dispirited and tempted to think Yahweh had deserted them.
I was driving from Calgary out to Rosemary, Alta., to attend Bill and Bob Janzen’s mom’s funeral. As I drove I recalled hearing of times when everyone lived in large homes in long rows in Russian villages, each on five-acre plots. The farming was done all around the village and the Mennonites became very prosperous.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” we’ve often heard. Does it also take a village to grow old? I wondered after a phone call with a friend who is a generation older than me. We talked of her move from independent living into a small seniors’ apartment, and the pleasures and challenges she is experiencing there.
Most of us are not very good at receiving compliments. A friend had just delivered a fine sermon, so I gave him a heartfelt compliment. His deflective, “humble” response was to give all credit to God. I replied, “I could swear I saw your lips moving!”
Second World War conscientious objectors (COs) were often sent to provincial parks for manual labour, as part of their alternative service assignments. This photo, taken between 1941-45, depicts Mennonite men getting dressed in their winter clothes around the warmth of a wood stove. Smoke from the stove, with laundry hanging from the rafters, can be seen in the background.
Most Canadian Mennonites have not experienced war first-hand or had their pacifist beliefs tested, but the stories of those who have are an important part of the peace narrative. To address this, the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan hosted an afternoon of storytelling at Bethany Manor in Saskatoon on Nov. 15, 2015, to which 140 people came.
Childhood is all about the endless possibilities, the dreams that will come true if you wish hard enough.
Erin Wiebe’s childhood was no different in those ways. She knew if she wished hard enough, the dream of her outside appearance matching the way she saw herself would become a reality. Every night, Erin says she wished she would wake up a girl.