I can best write about my hopes and dreams for the future of the church by reflecting on the past. During the last 29 years of pastoral ministry I have experienced growth, turmoil, grace, struggle, surprise, conflict and peace in the church. To each one of those words I can attach stories of God breaking into my life, and into the corporate life of the body of Christ.
When I think back to my early experience of Bible stories, I recall that King Solomon was “good,” he enjoyed God’s favour. Sure, Solomon had riches and power, but he had immense wisdom, which put him in the good books . . . or so I thought.
Looking back to my church roots, it makes sense that I would inherit such a view of so-called benevolent dictators.
The story of Esther is stunning in its providential beauty and hope. Despite God never being named, the book bearing a Jewish Persian Queen’s Gentile name—a wonderful twist of biblical irony—is received as Scripture, as God’s very speech. Esther is God doing sign language. God writes himself out of the story, but not out of history. The I AM receives no cameo.
Story, photo stir up personal memories
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).
This passage connects well with a series of recent experiences.
On Aug. 13, 2010, after one month in the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alta., my dad died of mesotheliomameso, cancer of the outer lining of the lung. Although Dad had experienced shortness of breath for the past year, it never stopped him from maintaining a busy social and family life. He even attended a Calgary Stampede breakfast the day he entered the hospital.
Celebrate the ‘kitchenhood of all believers’
Re: “East paska together and be glad,” Feb. 21, page 10.
The church that I attend invites all ethnicities. We share our stories. Even though the potluck tables are still heavily Russian-Ukraine-oriented, this is changing as our own cultural fabric evolves. This is how it should be.
Indeed the body does not consist of one member, but of many (I Corinthians 12:14).
Mennonite Church Canada has identified the challenge of growing leaders for the church as one of our main priorities. To find out what kind of leadership development is needed in a world that continues to grow more diverse and complex, we’re engaging in conversations across the church.
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.