Year A, Advent to Epiphany, 2019/20:
Waiting and Wondering
Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” In this spirit of expectancy, we seek to connect families in our congregations with God’s ways, celebrating the Kingdom which is already among us and is still coming more fully. Because this year's texts explore questions people have had for God, we focus on questions people still have today. God welcomes our questions. God listens. Wondering questions open up theological activity in even very young minds and this guide encourages them.
Use the resource whenever and however it fits into your home’s routines and life stage realities. If your family has younger children, feel free to simplify, shorten and paraphrase the prayers and pondering thoughts. To use this booklet for daily worship times, repeat the litany for each day of the week, and read the daily scripture recommendations, which have been divided into seven short readings. The prayers and activities in this booklet are adapted from the worship resources in the Fall 2019 Leader magazine.
The Advent at Home series, originally produced by Mennonite Church Canada has been a well received Advent resource for many households since 2002-03. We Since the fall of 2016, this resource has continued to be developed by the Anabaptist Faith Formation Network.
Unsettling the Word:
Biblical Experiments in Decolonization
For generations, the Bible has been employed by settler colonial societies as a weapon to dispossess Indigenous and racialized peoples of their lands, cultures, and spiritualities. Given this devastating legacy, many want nothing to do with it. But is it possible for the exploited and their allies to reclaim the Bible from the dominant powers? Can we make it an instrument for justice in the cause of the oppressed? Even a nonviolent weapon toward decolonization?
In Unsettling the Word, over 60 Indigenous and Settler authors come together to wrestle with the Scriptures, re-reading and re-imagining the ancient text for the sake of reparative futures.
Created by Mennonite Church Canada’s Indigenous-Settler Relations program, Unsettling the Word is intended to nurture courageous conversations with the Bible, our current settler colonial contexts, and the Church’s call to costly peacemaking.
Study Guide by Peter Haresnape now available (download PDF).
Read an article about the book by John Longhurst.
Read an excerpt, Lament on Coast Salish Land, by Céline Chuang in Bearings Online.
Also see reviews by John Bird of the Anglican Journal, Jen Galicinski of Radical Discipleship, David Warkentin of the MB Herald.
Chosen for Sarah Bessey's April 2019 Field Notes Book Club.
Also see the book launch video.
Marcus Briggs-Cloud, Kathy Moorhead Thiessen, Kwok Pui-lan, Christina Conroy, Leah Gazan, Joerg Rieger, Norman Habel, Stan McKay, Rachel and Chris Brnjas, Jennifer Henry, Lori Ransom, Rebecca Voelkel, Peter Haresnape, Robert O. Smith, Susanne Guenther Loewen, Carmen Landsdowne, Cheryl Bear, Joshua Grace, Rarihokwats, Darrin W. Snyder Belousek, Joy De Vito, Tamara Shantz, Marc H. Ellis, Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, Sara Brubacher, Benjamin Hertwig, David Driedger, Pekka Pitkanen, Celine Chuang, Alain Epp Weaver, Musa W. Dube, Katerina Friesen, Anita L. Keith, Derrick Jensen, Roland Boer, Neil Elliott, Daniel Hawk, Randy Woodley, Lisa Martens, Tobin Miller Shearer, Walter Brueggemann, Miguel A. De La Torre, Vivian Ketchum, James W. Perkinson, Sara Anderson, Deanna Zantingh, Peter C. Phan, Sheila Klassen-Wiebe, Bob Haverluck, Mark Bigland-Pritchard, Chris Budden, Ellen F. Davis, Rose Marie Berger, Wes Howard-Brook, Gerald West, Julia M. O'Brien, Dan Epp-Tiessen, Ryan Dueck, Mitzi J. Smith, Sylvia McAdam, Robert Two Bulls, Ched Myers, Jonathan Dyck, Sarah Travis, Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, Kyla Neufeld
Let the Children Come to Me:
Nurturing Anabaptist Faith Within Families
Let the Children Come to Me, a resource for families nurturing faith development of elementary-aged children, is structured around 12 Anabaptist faith practices: Scripture reading, prayer, community, bearing witness, service to one another, worship, nonviolence, steadfast faith, the centrality of Christ, communion, believers baptism, and stewardship.
Each faith practice is developed as a short unit (the equivalent of two page-spreads) and explored through stories from Anabaptist-Mennonite history--one from the sixteenth century and one contemporary, global story. These stories are accompanied by scripture passages, conversation-starters, prayers, and multiple options for family activities.
The book is supported by the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism (ISGA) of Goshen College, through the Bearing Witness Stories Project.
The Authors: Lisa Weaver has over twenty-ﬁve years teaching experience in public elementary schools, adult ESL classes, and various Christian Education settings. Elizabeth Miller is co-director of Mennonite Central Committee Colombia-Ecuador. Tapping into Lisa's expertise as a teacher and Elizabeth's experience with global Anabaptist history, they teamed up to create a family-based faith development resource.
The Designer: Judith Rempel Smucker brings each unit to life with engaging images and designs that invite participation.
Let the Children Come to Me fills an important gap in Anabaptist faith formation resources by holistically blending scripture, historical and current stories, spiritual practices, and hands-on activities in a visually appealing, child-friendly format. It could easily be used by grandparents with visiting grandchildren or by younger leaders club, camp, or Sunday school settings. I will certainly recommend it for use in my congregation." --Elsie Rempel, Faith Formation Consultant; Winnipeg, Canada; Author, Please Pass the Faith: the Art of Spiritual Grandparenting
The God Who Sees:
Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong
Meet people who have fled their homelands.
Hagar. Joseph. Ruth. Jesus.
Here is a riveting story of seeking safety in another land. Here is a gripping journey of loss, alienation, and belonging. In The God Who Sees, immigration advocate Karen González recounts her family’s migration from the instability of Guatemala to making a new life in Los Angeles and the suburbs of south Florida, in the midst of language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and the tremendous pressure to assimilate.
Here, too, is the sweeping epic of immigrants and refugees in Scripture. Abraham, Hagar, Joseph, Ruth: these intrepid heroes of the faith cross borders and seek refuge. As witnesses to God’s liberating power, they name the God they see at work, and they become grafted onto God’s family tree.
Find resources for welcoming immigrants in your community and speaking out about an outdated immigration system. Find the power of Jesus, a refugee Saviour who calls us to become citizens in a country not of this world.
Includes questions for discussion.
"With this stunning debut, Karen González makes her mark as one of the most talented storytellers of faith in a generation. The skill with which she weaves together personal narrative, biblical text, intimate detail, and sociopolitical analysis is as impressive as it is seamless. Every single page of this beautiful, timely book pulses with prophetic truth. It left me changed in all the best ways." - Rachel Held Evans, author of Inspired and Searching for Sunday.
Salt of the Earth:
A Christian Seasons Calendar, 2019-20
This unique calendar tells the story of the Christian year through scripture, liturgical colour, and artwork. The Christian year has its origins in the festivals held in the early centuries of the church's life. These gradually grew into the annual marking of time that Protestant and Roman Catholic churches share today. By focusing on the seasons of the Christian year, this calendar offers an alternate way of remembering, and living in, the story of Jesus Christ.
Please note that this calendar begins on the first day of Advent (December 1, 2019), a month ahead of typical calendars.
You may also be interested in the daily reflections.
Signs of Life:
Resurrecting Hope out of Ordinary Losses
Every day we lose a little bit of something.
Career plans wither. Friendships crumble. Our zeal for Jesus wanes. Whether it's the demise of ideals and expectations, belief in the church, a previously healthy relationship, or our image of ourselves: we all experiences losses.
So does the God of the resurrection have anything to say to our hurts? Was Christ's resurrection a once-and-done thing, or is there hope for healing and restoration now?
In Signs of Life, pastor and writer Stephanie Lobdell leads readers into the grand story of God's saving action and resurrection power. Punctuated with stories of biblical figures such as Sarah, Naaman, Saul, and Anna--who faced ordinary deaths and also God's reviving power --Signs of Life maintains that Jesus' resurrection matters now. In candid and artful prose, Lobdell shares stories of her own depression, loss of confidence, and disillusionment with the church.
Hope isn't cheap, and you can't muscle your way through to joy. There's no sense in pretending everything is fine. Yet through it all, Lobdell says, God breathes life into what seems beyond redemption. Through it all, the resurrection matters.
Includes questions for study/discussion.
Fire by Night:
Finding God in the Pages of the Old Testament
What do we do with the Old Testament? How do we read words written in a world so different from ours, stories so ruthless and so filled with grace?
In Fire by Night, pastor Melissa Florer-Bixler invites readers to marvel at the Old Testament. Page after page, in stories and poems and prophecies, the Hebrew Scripture introduces us to a God who is unwieldy and uncontrollable, common and extraordinary, and who brings both life and death. Using stories from Scripture and from her ministry, Florer-Bixler braids together the text with the sometimes ordinary, sometimes radical grace of God. The same passages that confuse and horrify and baffle us can, if we are paying attention, lure us closer toward God. This God has travelled with people through cloud and fire, by day and by night, since the beginning of time.
The Old Testament is a perplexing book of profound grace, hope, and beauty. It’s a book of fire. To read the Old Testament is to draw close to God’s love, which continues to burn away our expectations and set us ablaze. This God has travelled with people through pillars of cloud and fire, by day and by night, since the days of the exodus.
Accompanying study guide available to download.
“Fire by Night encapsulates Melissa Florer-Bixler’s delight of Scripture, ancient literature, and God. By interweaving assiduous exegesis and personal storytelling, Florer-Bixler invites the reader into relationship with the text, with the voices and experiences of scholars and neighbors, with herself, and most importantly, with God. I found myself challenged as a theologian, inspired as a pastor, and in tears as a person of faith trying to make sense of it all. What makes Fire by Night such an important book is that it speaks to today’s issues without being prescriptive, but by beckoning each of us to take the risk of simply being God’s beloved.” —Theresa S. Thames, associate dean of religious life and the chapel, Princeton University
The Power of Hospitality in an Age of Loneliness
Just come on over.
Many people today feel lonely, isolated, and disconnected from God and others. We crave authentic community, but we have no idea where to start. We’d be glad to cultivate friendships; but honestly, who’s got the time?
In Invited, writer Leslie Verner says real hospitality is not having a Pinterest-perfect table or well-appointed living room. True hospitality is not clean, comfortable, or controlled. It is an invitation to enter a sacred space together with friends and strangers. Through vivid accounts from her life and travels in Uganda, China, and Tajikistan, and stories of visiting congregations in the United States, Verner shares stories of life around the table and how hospitality is at the heart of Christian community. What if we in the West learned about hospitality from people around the globe? What if our homes became laboratories of belonging?
Invited will empower you to open your home, get to know your neighbours, and prioritize people over tasks. Holy hospitality requires more of Jesus and less of us. It leads not only to loving the stranger but to becoming the stranger. Welcome to a new kind of hospitality.
Includes questions for reflection and discussion.
By the Way:
Getting Serious about Following Jesus
What if asking Jesus into our hearts is not the heart of the gospel? What if salvation looks different than we thought?
In By the Way, pastor and author Derek Vreeland reframes everything we’ve been told about Christianity and what it means to follow Jesus. Discipleship isn’t an add-on. Jesus didn’t say, “Go into all the world and get people saved” or “Get people to ask me into their hearts.” Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples.”
Reclaiming discipleship as the heart of the Christian faith means seeing anew the gospel, the cross, the resurrection, transformation, and the community of faith. We learn the ways of Jesus by practicing them, Vreeland says, and in By the Way, he introduces us to the ways of Jesus.
Discipleship means joining God’s joyful mission of reconciliation on earth, not just saving souls for the afterlife. Following Jesus is more like taking a long walk in the woods than sitting in a classroom. Living by the Way takes practice—and that’s the point.
Includes questions for discussion, as well as a morning prayer liturgy.
Peaceful at Heart:
Anabaptist Reflections on Healthy Masculinity
After 5 years of development, Mennonite Men is pleased to provide this important resource to the dialogue on healthy masculinity.
While there are plenty of books by men, for men, on the topic of “Christian masculinity,” these books generally fail to address men’s propensities for violence and the traditional inequity between men and women, often endorsing inequity and sanctioning aggressive behaviour as an appropriate “manly” response to conflict. Peaceful at Heart cuts through this conversation by offering a uniquely Anabaptist Christian perspective on masculinity.
Much has been written describing the characteristics of masculinity and the impacts of patriarchy. Instead, this volume moves the dialogue in the direction of building a vision of discipleship, community and peace as an alternative for men's lives. Rather than supporting patriarchy and nationalism commonly advanced in traditional Christian thought, this volume draws on an Anabaptist perspective of faith which invites men to experience God's call to live at peace and be peacemakers.
The vision of masculinity presented in this book is more peaceful, just, caring, life-giving for men, and more sensitive to women and children than both traditional images of masculinity and the hypermasculine images promoted by contemporary popular culture and wider evangelical Christianity. Peaceful at Heart addresses men and masculinity using Anabaptist theological themes of discipleship, community, and peace.
As a collaborative project by men, for men, this book demonstrates through personal narratives, theological reflection, and practical guidance the importance of collective discernment, accountability, and mutual encouragement regarding how to live as a peaceful man in a violent world.
“Much of the literature written in men’s psychology/spirituality is ensnared in wild/aggressive/warrior/conquer language. Like a beacon of light, this book reveals a vision of peace for men and shows how to embrace a peacefulness within male humanity. . . . Most certainly, this book will be one that I loan to men who are not satisfied with what our cultures are asking of them.” —Doug Klassen, Executive Minister, Mennonite Church Canada
“By bravely, intelligently, and compassionately wrestling with what it means to be a man who loves Jesus, this book invites men to invert their ideas of strength and power, living into deeper connection, sacrifice, and dependence on God. This book is a sorely needed gift for the contemporary church.” —Kristyn Komarnicki, Director of Oriented to Love, Evangelicals for Social Action
“I am grateful for Mennonite Men and their willingness to take on this project. I am also grateful for their commitment to give voice to a diverse group of men and their experienced masculinity from outside the typical white heterosexual narrative of North American society.” —Glen Guyton, Executive Director, Mennonite Church USA
“My hope for this project is that it will not only get men talking but also get women and men talking together. . . . Together we can overcome this toxic reality of masculinity and create healthy norms of masculinity and femininity.” — from the Afterword by Cyneatha Millsaps, Executive Director, Mennonite Women USA
"This book is for men who want to explore alternatives to the dominant but tired and harmful mythological types of men as warriors, kings, or wild ones. Teenage through senior males will be challenged by stories and models of masculinity marked by honesty, interdependence, and faith. Maleness in the twenty-first century is complex, but, as this book demonstrates, it is both possible and life-giving to reconcile with ourselves and with all humanity." —Andy Brubacher Kaethler, Associate Professor, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
From Risk to Resilience:
How Empowering Young Women Can Change Everything
Girls and women are transforming the world. Will the church support them?
Educating women is the most effective way to combat extreme poverty, slash child mortality rates, and build healthy communities. But first a girl must navigate the minefields of childhood and adolescence. Will she get pregnant or finish her education? Will she be trafficked or taught a trade? Will she be abused by authority figures or equipped for leadership?
From Risk to Resilience weaves the stories of young women between the ages of twelve and twenty-one into a tapestry of hope. Author and gender justice advocate Jenny Rae Armstrong illuminates dangers common to women and girls around the world: gender-based violence, child marriage, healthcare gaps, and damaging social attitudes. She also delves into narratives of women in Scripture, examining theologies of oppression that contain and crush women’s potential, and theologies of shalom that lift women up.
Drawing on resources from the gender justice movement and heroes of the Bible, Armstrong offers a stirring call to action, with practical ways that churches and individuals can help girls around the globe thrive.
Questions for discussion available to download.
How to Make Faith Matter for Our Kids
Children and youth will just "catch" the faith of their parents, right?
Not necessarily. Talking with kids about Jesus no longer comes naturally to many Christian parents. In Raising Disciples, Natalie Frisk helps us reconnect faith and parenting, equipping parents to model what following Jesus looks like in daily life. Filled with authenticity, flexibility, humour, and prayer, Frisk outlines how parents can make openings for their children to experience God in their daily lives.
As a curriculum pastor, Frisk calls parents who follow Christ to ask the big questions about the spiritual formation of children and teens. In practical and thoughtful ways, she equips parents to disciple their kids in various stages of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Raising Disciples will awaken parents to the possibility of Jesus-centred parenting and encourage us to engage in the lost art of discipling our own kids.
Everyday Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen
If tradition has a taste, this is it.
Like your grandmother’s beloved recipe file, Hope’s Table brings enticing meals to your family’s table. From the kitchen of Mennonite cook Hope Helmuth comes this mix of more than 150 delectable recipes, stunning food photographs, and stories of strawberry picking, corn day, and Christmas cookie bakes. Traditions of hearth, home, and hospitality run deep, and those values flavour every recipe and story.
Hope’s Table offers simple step-by-step instructions that help you create wholesome dishes with artistic flair. Practical kitchen hints and memories from a Mennonite life garnish the pages. In Hope’s Table, you’ll find recipes sure to become family favourites:
- Mom’s Rolls
- Bacon and Corn Chowder
- Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- Maple-Glazed Pork Chops
- Apple Dumplings
Step into the serene, natural beauty of a Mennonite home. Take a seat at Hope’s table, and you’ll find plenty of reasons to linger.
What Is the Bible and How Do We Understand It?:
The Jesus Way
Reading the Bible is one thing. Understanding how the Bible came to be and how it can guide our faith and life? That's quite another.
Dennis R. Edwards offers a succinct and profound investigation of Scripture. By holding up Jesus as the interpretive key and inviting us to read the Bible with the marginalized, Edwards challenges us to a Christ-centered approach to hermeneutics.
What does it mean to read the Bible with Jesus at the centre? How does Scripture illuminate the work of God in the world? Edwards shines light on contemporary debates about the Bible and calls us to faithful, loving interpretations and applications of the Word of God.
Includes questions for reflection and discussion.
Why Did Jesus Die and What Difference Does It Make?:
The Jesus Way
Why did Jesus die? And how does his death change us and our world? These questions stand at the centre of our faith. But that doesn't mean they are simple or straightforward.
Michele Hershberger helps us peer deeply into the meaning of the cross by sifting through Scripture and the life of Christ. Learn about theological concepts like sin, salvation, and atonement. Find out how Christians across the centuries have thought about Jesus' death. Discover how Jesus' life, crucifixion, and resurrection change everything.
Includes questions for reflection and discussion.
Speaking of God:
An Essential Guide to Christian Thought
Do you ever think you’re forgetting how to talk about God? Or never learned how?
Theology is nothing more—and nothing less—than speaking together about God. Still, a lot of us don’t know where to start.
In Speaking of God, pastor and theologian Anthony Siegrist helps readers recover a basic language around Christian theology. The sweeping epic of Scripture serves as the scaffold for this accessible book. In vivid and even humorous writing, Siegrist introduces us to scholars and pilgrims and traditions that disclose essential truths about God and Jesus Christ, as well as concepts like creation, sin, redemption, the church, and discipleship. By plumbing the works of theologians such as Augustine, Julian of Norwich, Antonia Gonzalez, and Kazoh Kitamori, Siegrist offers readers an introduction to Christian theology throughout the ages, emphasizing common threads of thought and practice across traditions.
Learning to talk about God requires courage and humility; this handbook of Christian theology will help you gain both. Join the deepest, longest conversation in the world.
“Siegrist makes theology come alive. When you finish this book, your mind will be dancing with new words and ideas about faith and God.” - Carol Penner, assistant professor of theological studies at Conrad Grebel University College
Building a Better World in Your Backyard:
Instead of Being Angry at Bad Guys
The list of global problems is massive and overwhelming. When confronted with such significant problems, our first instinct is to tell the bad guys to stop being bad. Of course, doing so would be on a rigged playing field. And for each person that actually does write a letter or confront the bad guys, there might be a thousand people that simply develop an ulcer.
We think the reason we see so many people angry is because they genuinely care. But they seem to get stuck at being angry. Some people spend a hundred hours a week for 20 years being angry and not much changes. We think that if you spend a tiny fraction of that time doing the things mentioned in this book, your global positive impact will be a thousand times greater.
For nearly every global problem there are solutions we can implement in our backyard that, at the same time, save us money and help provide more luxuriant lives. If a few of us do these things and bask in the glow of the opulence and extra cash, others will observe and think “I want extra luxury and money too! Not fair!” So they emulate. And on and on it goes. Then the global problems sorta just dry up and blow away. That’s what this book is all about.
Changing the Conversation about Firearms and Faith
One hundred people die from gun violence every day in the United States. Some fifty children and teens are shot. There are more than 35,000 gun-related deaths in the United States every year. Yet many Christians say gun violence shouldn’t be talked about in church.
In Collateral Damage, pastor and activist James E. Atwood issues an urgent call to action to Christians to work together to stop gun violence. An avid hunter for many years, Atwood enumerates the tragic and far-reaching costs that accrue in a country with more guns than people. Collateral damage includes a generalized fear and loss of trust. Suicides and homicides. Trauma for children in neighborhoods plagued by gun violence and in schools with frequent lockdown drills. A toxic machismo that shapes boys and men in unhealthy ways. Economic costs that exceed $229 billion per year. Atwood also considers the deeper story of racism, inequality, and mass incarceration in which the conversation about gun violence is lodged.
Gun violence has been called the theological emergency of our time. The church has a moral and spiritual obligation to side with life against death. Will we rise to the occasion?
"James Atwood has written a faith-based summons to act in hope, to refuse the collusion of despair, and to take faith seriously enough to make a difference. This book is urgent for all those who care about the future of our society and are ready to act." -- Walter Brueggeman, Professor Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary
"I recommend that congregations who feel hopeless and powerless in confronting gun violence in our society read Collateral Damage together. You will be inspired--and changed." -- Katie Day, Charles A. Schieren Professor Emerita of Church and Society at United Lutheran Seminary in Philadephia
Also see our full worship collection
Also see our full curriculum collection
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Sunday - closed
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