Complaining About Restrictions?
by Bethany Matejka. Birch River, Man.
I have heard quite a few people, many of whom are Christians, complaining about the restrictions being put on us because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am not here to discuss the necessity or effectiveness of any of those measures. I am also not here to draw a comparison between the Manitoban or Canadian government and the Roman government of New Testament times. Continue reading Letters June 2020
So, Who Are We?
by Agatha Rempel, Steinbach, Man.
I am replying to Mervin Dueck’s article about being a Conscientious Objector in our world (Jan. 2020). I, too, have concerns about how our people will be able to use the 1873 document. Continue reading Letters April 2020
Concerned About Gender Stereotyping
Heidi Dirks, Winnipeg, Man.
Thank you to Terry Smith for his reporting on this year’s EMC Ministerial Day [July]. I am, however, concerned about the content presented on this day. I am concerned about the gender stereotypes apparently presented as fact, and how these stereotypes limit both men and women. I am also concerned that a supposed “feminization” of the church is blamed for declining attendance for men. Most churches have a group of women who have faithfully served God for many years, often in roles behind the scenes. Some women have felt called to leadership positions but were limited in their service due to their gender. It is not helpful to blame women currently in the church for the men who do not attend, or to measure “success” by male/female ratios. Churches should be places where all people feel welcome and can hear the good news of Jesus, and where they can serve God with the gifts He has given them.
Who is the Church?
by Tim Sawatzky, MacGregor, Man.
Thank you, Layton Friesen, for your May 2019 article “Without the Church, You’re on Your Own.” Many years ago I asked myself, “What is the church?” and the nagging question was, “Who is the church?” What is the church generally refers to a building, denomination or organization. Are we as individuals not the church, if we believe Jesus is the Son of God, died for us, forgiving our sins and rose back to life?
Continue reading Letters August 2019
Church Unattractive if Disharmony is Obvious
by Ron Penner, Winnipeg, Man.
The latest edition of The Messenger included a fine article written by the Board of Church Ministries regarding the importance of conference unity in spite of differences of perspective on some church practices [A Note About a Note, May]. What was useful was their reminder to us that “some groups and individuals have not felt welcome” when churches are preoccupied with disputes and disagreements under the guise of Christian orthodoxy. The significant decline in church attendance in North America is attributed by many as a sign that the church is unattractive if disharmony is obvious. Thank you, BCM, for your insights. I am looking forward to your further contributions.
Great Issue in January
by Gordon Dyck, Steinbach, Man.
Congratulations on the last Messenger [Jan.]. Front to back, great issue. I was so inspired by Arden Thiessen’s article that I read The Messenger from cover to cover. I went back to reread Arden’s article and like his accuser found a singular expression that could be misinterpreted. Arden used the word “once” in reference to making a mistake. I know I couldn’t make the claim of once I made a mistake. It struck me as a point of irony that even in our defense we can be misunderstood in a different manner, and the cycle continues. Great job, Arden included, and I will say that more than once. Continue reading Letters April 2019
by Ray Hill, MacGregor, Man.
Thank you, Adam Harris, for broaching the subject of loving one’s neighbour, regardless of who he is [Go And Do Likewise, Jan. 2019]. Part of our mandate as non-resisters is to reduce the suffering of others. So, yes, there is room for exceptional acts of kindness.
Unfortunately, many see Jesus’ command only in terms of exceptional acts of kindness illustrated by the photo accompanying the column of a man helping a lady start her car (or is it the other way around?). Jesus’ love is illustrated differently with his disciples—investment of his life in others and risk which sometimes backfires. Love means doing the ordinary, like taking time on the street to chat with a neighbour not from our “circle,” visiting others at their home or inviting them to ours, or taking out the garbage for a disabled neighbour so she can stay in her home another year. For some this is a no-brainer; for others, it needs to be stated plainly.
Unexceptional acts are relatively high in cost (my precious time!) and offer no glory but we are often surprised by what we do receive—returned human warmth that is beyond price. Jesus said to cast your bread on the waters and it will return after a time.
by Wally Doerksen, Steinbach, Man.
In the March 2018 issue of The Messenger, Irene Ascough writes an article called Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Church. It seems to focus mostly on the benefits of mental health and that it is easier to stay healthy than to treat or look after people who are not well. While the church is a potentially positive place for mental well being, it also fosters a culture of shame and expectation (if we could be what we should be) and “sinlessness” that is not conducive to mental health. This is a great area of potential growth for the church to change those kinds of attitudes.
What a mental health seminar/workshop needs is teaching about skills and tools that help people from the pits that they are already in and a safe environment in which to tell their stories. Research shows that stories make up about half of the effective ways in which to live and cope with mental illness. People with mental illness are not inferior people; they are not their “disease,” but people who for various reasons have encountered things that have overwhelmed them. Just like some physical diseases for which there are no cures, mental illness is not necessarily solved by being “cured,” but individuals can have productive lives by learning to cope and recover from their situations.
I have lived with depression for over twenty years and have learned a lot about this and continue to learn. I am always willing to share from my experience.
I hope also that the upcoming mental health session will deal with the recovery part of the process that teaches people how to get there.
by Gordon Dyck, Steinbach, Man.
Jesus came in obedience to Earth. Jesus did his ministry in obedience. Jesus went to the cross in obedience. Jesus was lifted from the grace and seated at the right hand of God in response to His obedience.
I was recently challenged to perform random acts of kindness as a measure of God’s goodness to us, His children. It was fun and personally rewarding. Then I was asked to do a specific act of obedience. It was not fun and somewhat painful.
I felt like the Pharisee who, upon reflecting on his own performance, was pleased that he was not like the sinner who was cut to the quick with his inadequacy to face God’s glory. As an altruistic Pharisee I was confident in my abilities. As a sinner saved by grace asked to obey a command of God, I could only trust in God’s wisdom, in God’s strength, and in God’s purpose.
I pray that my obedience extends to random acts of kindness, but that it always starts with God’s Word. If I had a New Year’s resolution it would be for obedience. If every day is the first day of the rest of my life, then today and tomorrow, and the day after that, are all new days for a new year of grace ahead.
Thanks be to God, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Respect, Yes, But More Than Silence is Needed
Responding to “Silence Needed in the Sanctuary” by Jake K. Friesen (Sept. 2017).
Over the years the culture of church has changed. Some churches have stayed in the ways of the past, and others have adapted to the culture of society. The proper way to worship has been hotly debated in the late past, and now more concerns are coming up from respectable people from churches everywhere. I believe that the church is a place to worship Jesus, and have community with all the members. If your pastor knows you well enough to crack a joke, I’d say that is good sign that there is community.
However, I also believe that our society is losing that ability to commit to a belief. In the past, members of churches were wholly committed to their church and all the members in it. The newer churches are so focused on including and adapting to everyone’s needs that they forget about the “devout and sanctified” part of church, which I do believe is a problem. So maybe we do need to have a bit more respect for why we’re there, but if there is only silence in the church, where are the people?
– Suzanna Hopcraft, Winnipeg, Man.