God is at work in human history even if his ways are confusing—this is one lesson of Advent.
The prophet Isaiah said that God, who had made a covenant with Israel, was at work even though the nation had sinned and would enter exile. He who had created the heavens and earth, and gave breath to people, would bring forth his Servant: “My servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1-5). Continue reading Advent: A Promise of Light and Freedom →
A cartoon of years ago pictured a man seated in a pastor’s office. The pastor looked at him and said, “Give up your life of crime. Quit politics.” The Bible is the inspired Word of God; it is also a library of books written across many years in varied cultures, countries, and political contexts—which affects what political lessons we can take from it today. Continue reading The Spider Web of Scripture and Politics→
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Whereas, the Church of _____, is no longer to be used for acts of worship, And whereas the Church building and the land upon which it is erected is about to be/being sold; now, therefore, we, by Divine Permission . . . do declare that the Church of ____ , once duly dedicated and consecrated to the Divine worship of Almighty God, has by virtue of this our sentence, lost said dedication and consecration. (U. S. Anglican rite) Continue reading When can a Rite be Wrong?→
As we plant new churches, naming them, as always, is best done carefully.
For various reasons, the EMC has periodically favoured words such as Gemeinde, EMC, Fellowship, Chapel, and Community. What might we keep in mind as we name congregations today? Continue reading On Naming Churches Today→
On Feb. 18, 1688, four leaders in Germantown, Pennsylvania, signed a petition against slavery and sent it to “the Monthly Meeting at Richard Warrels.” Drawing upon the analysis of J. H. Fretz, the petition had at least seven overlapping arguments: 1) slavery violates the Great Commandment; 2) it violates people’s will by forcing them into slavery); 3) it can involve theft; 4) it separates spouses, causing them to commit adultery; 5) it harms the witness of Quakers by offending some people; 6) slaves had the right to freedom (even to fight for it); and 7) Christians do not have the liberty to enslave. Continue reading A 1688 Protest Against Slavery with a ‘Mennonite-like Conscience’→
In my view, it’s following Christ, discipleship and ethics, practical service, the hands and feet of serving others. As Christians, we care about body and soul, individual and community. As our vision statement says, we seek to advance “Christ’s kingdom culture as we live, reach, gather, and teach.” That’s a challenging statement.
When churches send news it’s our privilege to read of their concerns and actions: for instance, Crestview holds a movie night outreach, Pansy constructs houses in Mexico, Fort Garry helps families who live on a garbage dump near a resort area in Mexico, Portage holds a baptismal service—and these are only four churches from Manitoba. There is much happening with our churches in B.C., Alta., Sask., Ont., and elsewhere in Man.
Walk into any EMC church and we can see, likely on a bulletin board, photos and letters of missionaries being supported. Many of our churches help youth groups and other members to go on short-term work teams and other missions efforts.
This reflects the first stated purpose of the EMC: to “glorify God by building his kingdom.” This is done, according to statements that EMCers adopted, by “proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home and abroad,” “ministering to the spiritual and physical needs of people,” and more (The Constitution, 31).
Christ’s call takes our members far beyond the shores and borders of Canada. Consider the many workers that we send as a conference or as individual churches: missionaries, MDS workers, MCC workers, and many more. Think of the funds, prayers, guidance, practical help, and other forms of support provided by members.
Years ago EMCers affirmed challenging statements, including: “We should do whatever we can to lessen human distress and suffering even at the risk of our own lives. In all relationships we should be peace makers and ministers of reconciliation” (11).
EMCers affirmed another statement: “We believe God owns and sustains his creation. He calls us, God’s people, to be trustworthy stewards of creation. Stewardship is demonstrated in our lifestyles, in our relations with the poor and the disadvantaged, in our view of possessions, in our concern for all of God’s creation and in response to global economic injustice” (15).
Surprised by any of this? Remarks by Wally Doerksen (Good News, Steinbach) about some of this a few years ago caused me to take a fresh look at our constitution. In my view, our vision statement (2013) says what we want to do, advance “Christ’s kingdom culture,” and our constitution (1994, 2017) reveals more of what this includes.
The actions of EMCers show what this means on the ground. On this journey, our thanks go to our Triune God as a patient Teacher who gives us strength (Jer. 9:23-24; Zech. 4:6) in our aims and actions.
At least, that’s my take. Brad Brandt, EMC Board of Missions chair, shares his view of the EMC in this issue. What’s your perspective?
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference