Letters January-March 2021

According to September 2020 Issue, Are We Evangelical?

by Gordon Dyck, Steinbach, Man.

Do I see people, including myself, as part of a group, or as an individual needing Christ as Saviour?

Do I take the sins of many as mine, or ask for my own forgiveness?

Do I blame the sins of others on one of their group, or do I look in the eyes of my neighbour?

The church is called to follow Christ. Christ calls us to glory, to eternal life, to joy without ceasing. The Great Commission is our template. I am called by grace, to fulfill responsibilities as a child of God. All the other opportunities to do positive things in the world are in addition to, not a substitute for, calling the lost to the shepherd. Not merely an advocate for social change, but an advocate for a change of heart, I have a higher calling in the name of Christ.

A young man, rude and impatient with the nurses, lay next to an older saint. The old man, fresh from surgery, went out of his way to heap praise and thankfulness on the nurses. Within two days, the young man imitated his elder, his neighbour.
Would that we all would bring the aroma of Christ into the world around us, one neighbour at a time.

Responding to “A Time to Laugh…” (November 2020 Issue)

by Agatha Rempel, Steinbach, Man.

Mennonites don’t have a sense of humour?! No, Low German humour does not translate well into English. I, too, was raised in a home where laughter was very much frowned upon. Could it have been that the parents were concerned over the type of fun rather than laughing itself?

What is satire? The dictionary says, 1) a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn; 2) trenchant wit, irony or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly. What does the Bible say? “Blessed is the one who does not walk step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” (Psalm 1:1–2).

And in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Is satire edifying? Does satire uplift or tear down? Is satire encouraging someone? Is satire truth? Even if it is true, was it a put-down or ridicule?

There is fun and there is fun. Have you heard of the saying, “Yeah, it’s fun until someone gets hurt”? In some situations the trick was to stop the hilarity before someone got hurt.Good clean fun is something that everyone enjoys.

Variety Valued in September 2020 Issue

by Dan Friesen, Landmark, Man.

I value variety. The September 2020 issue of The Messenger is a great example of variety. A few examples of appreciated articles include Darryl Klassen modelling mask compassion; Kevin Wiebe working through shame and seeing ourselves as Jesus does; Layton Friesen reflecting and practicing good habits; Heidi Dirks urging introspection (and inferring gratefulness); accounts of God continuing to work around the world and yet specific geographic locales; tributes to servants of Jesus, Paul and Lois Thiessen, having given 35 years to the Siamou people; Karla Hein blending her gifts of forgetting and writing with commendations to remember; and Harold Penner poignantly relating grape pruning to personal busyness and money business. Thank you, The Messenger, for diversity of thought, while encouraging Christian unity and harmony!

Which Traditions Are Central?

by Lesley Fast, Baarn, Netherlands

In his column about Christian practice (“A Christian Does Christian Things,” Sep 2020), Conference Pastor Layton Friesen reminds us, without using the term, of what the Church has understood to be Holy Tradition. He lists and describes a number of practices, anecdotally from his life as well as practices many of us know more generally.

Some of the practices are more central to being Christian, we sense, than others. The difference between sharing a hymn book and taking the Lord’s Supper is not that the latter is Christian and the former is not; the difference is between tradition with a small “t” and Holy Tradition.

I thank Friesen for his exhortation to ascesis, struggling to do Christian practices; we are not only interiorly Christian, but physically, bodily Christian. The column led me to recall his Convention 2019 messages about singing the creed regularly and about Scripture interpretation by the Rule of Faith. I feel we need to hear more clearly how we are deciding between lower-case “t” traditions that are good and upper case “T,” Holy Tradition.

How are we doing with the Convention 2019 exhortations to “sing” the creed regularly in our gatherings and to interpret and preach the Scriptures with the Apostles and St. Irenaeus according to the Rule of Faith? Are we together seeking to align ourselves with what the Church has given us?

How do we fare with this question in relation to how we conduct the Lord’s Supper, how we baptize and ordain people? Are we perhaps tempted to understand these holy practices the way we take the sharing-a-hymbook practice, that we should adapt them in accordance with the times and the cultures we are in?

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