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The MCA Communiqué
News & Notes for our Alberta family
November 18, 2020

In this issue

E3 Prayer -- Invitation to Prayer
A Menno Minute
One Good Thing
Calgary Chin Church


AND MORE from our wider faith communities
including an update from International Witness and Indigenous Relations
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E3 = MCA 
Year 1  Christ in life


Our E3 Prayer

Oh God, with the coming of the winter snow,
may I embrace the changing of the seasons as, 
like your creatures, each one holds its own beauty.

 Our commitment to Daily Communal Prayer continues.
New participants are always welcome! 











Caleb Kowalko, Pastor, First Mennonite Calgary

A Menno Minute

“An urgent reality … a state of public health emergency.”  This is how our premier, Jason Kenney, described our situation in Alberta on Tuesday because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is probably not news to anyone that the number of new cases in Alberta has continued to rise dramatically over the last couple weeks. Hospitals are filling up with COVID-19 patients and intensive care units are nearly at full capacity. Many of us have at least been indirectly affected now and perhaps we even know one of the many beloved people who have died due to complications of the virus. The seriousness of this situation has forced the hand of our premier to enact stronger restrictions. “Bleak” is the word that comes to my mind. Things are simply not looking good in Alberta right now.

To many, what makes the situation even harder is the timing of it all; Christmas is one month away. This is normally the time when things begin to really ramp up in preparation for the holidays; excitement escalates and travel plans are being made. Yet so much of the shopping and socializing will not take place this year. The “holiday season” will be zapped of much of its regular jolliness and excitement. To most people, “urgent reality” or “bleak” are words that especially don’t mix well with this time of year.

Yet for many of us Christians who faithfully celebrate the season of Advent, “bleak” is precisely the starting point. Advent begins in an “urgent reality.” There’s a reason we traditionally light a series of candles during this season, and that reason, as Rev. Fleming Rutledge describes, is that, “Advent begins in the dark.” 

Advent is of course, the beginning of the liturgical year. And as such, it echoes the beginnings of God’s creative work that opens out of the nothingness and darkness. Our participation in Advent draws us into the story that God began with the darkness of the void and brought life out of this nothingness. Our participation in Advent loops us back to the despairing cries of the children of Israel as they suffered and toiled in Egypt, before God began the life-giving work of liberating the people from oppression. And our participation in Advent returns us to the miserable Roman occupation over Palestinian Jews over two thousand years ago; the darkened site where God would choose to begin a whole new chapter to God’s story of life, love and liberation.

Our situation right now is indeed bleak. Perhaps not quite as bleak as in other parts of the world, or at other times in our history. And of course, we are not toiling under Egypt or suffering an occupation under Rome. Still, people are getting very sick and many are dying, and our social and collective lives have drawn many into isolation and despair. It’s been a relatively long time now and many of us are asking that question that is very Advent-like: “how much longer?”

So, this season of Advent is a gift to us right now. Not as a way to distract us, fast-forward us through our hardship, or dull this urgent reality with sentimentalities. Advent is a gift to us because we can draw our situation into a wider story of God’s faithfulness, love and deliverance in the midst of distress. Advent allows us to make sense of the bleakness and make productive use of our darkened reality by infusing it meaning.

Our hope is not ultimately in scientists and pharmaceutical companies racing to manufacture a vaccine, though I’m sure many of us would welcome that break-through. Neither is our hope in political legislation to either grant us freedom or enact further restrictions. Rather, our hope is in a God who has been here before. Darkness and nothingness is familiar territory for our God and that knowledge should motivate us to keep awake and stay ready for God’s in-breaking presence. Armed with the story of our God, we can make it through this bleak Advent time and have full faith that, as our premier said, “the end of this terrible time is in sight.”
One Good Thing. Just One Good Thing.

I went to my off-site storage unit yesterday -- to get the box of MCA envelopes, among other things. There were only two other people in the building, other than staff behind their office door. And one of these two people was my friend! We had a chat, face-to-face not texting, not zoom, albeit wearing masks, and that was One Good Thing.
Ruth Bergen Braun, Foothills, MCA Communications.
(Stay tuned -- there are already others watching and waiting to share their One Good Thing.)

Can you help the Calgary Chin Church move into their new building by Christmas?

This summer the Calgary Chin Christian Church purchased their first building. They are eager to move in, but need an additional $36,000 to complete the renovations. In light of the discussion at MCA’s November 7 check-in, the MCA Executive has decided to commit $18,000 from reserves to help with this effort. We invite congregations and individuals to also contribute, with the goal of doubling this amount so that the move can take place. One congregation has already committed $5000, meaning we are well underway to meeting this goal. 

Please visit mcab.ca/giving to donate or mail to Box 1839, Pincher Creek, AB   T0K 1W0  specifying your gift to help with the Chin Church renovations. 

RJC Christmas Program: There Is Still Hope - This online event will be held on Thursday, December 17, 7:30pm (SK CST) at https://rjc.sk.ca/christmas. The program will feature music, art, and other items of hope and celebration by RJC students and staff.

International Witness

 


Mennonite Church Canada calls for prayer for Ethiopia and Eritrea 

Mennonite Church Canada has just under a dozen congregations across Canada with roots in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia is the largest Anabaptist community worldwide with whom we have an intentional, sister-church relationship.  

Ethiopia is experiencing a threefold threat of pandemic, famine and war. Crops are devastated due to a locust infestation and Ethiopia is now in the midst of intense conflict, while in the grip of a global pandemic. Pray for peace and healing in Ethiopia. Pray especially for the children; 42% of the population is below the age of 15. Pray also for the congregations here in Canada in our nationwide community of faith who carry deep concern for Ethiopia and Eritrea and for loved ones. 

MC PIN organizes online meet-and-greet with Bethlehem Bible College 

Meet several college representatives from Bethlehem Bible College through a one-hour Zoom gathering on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m. Bethlehem time (11 a.m. EST). This event is organized by the Mennonite Church Canada Palestine Israel Network. Email mcmfriendsofpalestine@gmail.com to register for this encounter. Keep the people of the Holy Land in your prayers during these tumultuous times. 

Witness workers responding to deadly typhoon 

Pray for strength and wisdom as PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI), together with Witness workers Dann and Joji Pantoj, respond to the disaster of the latest typhoon in the Philippines.  Typhoon Ulysses hit the north island of Luzon leaving an entire city submerged with more than 28,000 family homes under water. The PAR teams of Manila and Kalinga are responding. May God’s love be shown through them to people in need. Read more from the Pantoja’s blog. 

The webpage of resources that Mennonite Church Canada  created for International Witness Day now contains streaming and download links for all of the video resources. 

The introductory videos can also be found on our newly updated International Witness web page. 

Indigenous Settler Relations   

Wrongs to Rights:
How Churches Can Engage the UNDRIP now free through CommonWord 


Over the next few weeks the Government of Canada will likely table legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is huge! According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Declaration is “the framework for reconciliation” for Canadian society. But what exactly is the Declaration? What does it mean for the church? To educate and raise public support, ISR is making Wrongs to Rights available for free through CommonWord. Short articles, poetry, artwork and a study guide make this resource perfect for individual or (online) group reflection. Order through CommonWord (shipping costs apply).

UPDATED: Mennonite Church Canada congregations donate $40,000 to Mennonite World Conference’s COVID-19 relief fund     

Since the spring, our nationwide community of faith we has raised over $40,000 for 
MWC’s Global Church Sharing Fund to help our sister churches around the world who struggle to meet basic needs due to pandemic-response measures in their countries.  Of this total, members of Mennonite Church Alberta have contributed approximately $12,000.  
We reached 80 per cent of our goal to match Mennonite Church Canada’s initial donation of $50,000 in the spring. Thanks to everyone for helping to build up our global body of believers. 

.                                            

CommonWord remains open during increased COVID-19 restrictions 

Staff remain available for congregational resourcing questions and are here to help connect you with Anabaptist and related materials, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m, CDT. Browse our website (www.commonword.ca) to find thousands of free digital resources or to place your online retail or loan order, or contact us (204-594-0527; info@commonword.ca) for assistance.  If you’re in Winnipeg area, we are glad to arrange for curbside pickup. We don’t want you to go without your fair-trade coffee, other local specialty foods or a good book to read! 

Christmas Gift Ideas 





 

  • Stocking stuffers: From chocolate to activity books, recommended reads to Sunday School ideas, there’s a gift for almost everyone. If you require shipping, please place your order before Dec 1. Curbside pick-up available to local residents.  https://www.commonword.ca/Browse/9352 
  • Gift cards: A flexible gift for your avid reader, student and loved one. Gift cards can be redeemed in-store or remotely by phone and used toward any purchase – merchandise, food, book or textbook.  https://www.commonword.ca/Browse/9372 

Advent Resources 

CommonWord has hundreds of resources for congregational worship and study, family and personal reading –https://www.commonword.ca/Browse/2676, including two digital at-home family worship options for Advent-Epiphany: 

  • We Wait for Jesus (www.commonword.ca/go/2189) is a new family resource similar to previous At-Home materials Mennonite Church Canada (now MC USA) has produced since 2002. 

  • Family Activities for Advent-Epiphany (www.commonword.ca/go/2188) are previous years’ At-Home materials reframed into a single Lectionary Cycle B resource. 


Together in Worship has launched 

Visit www.togetherinworship.net for hundreds of free Anabaptist digital worship materials. A partnership with CommonWord, Together in Worship curates words, music, other artistic expressions and teaching resources to support Christian worship. Also a platform for individuals and communities to create and contribute resources.  Bookmark it for the next time you’re planning worship! 

Voices Together products 

Congregations who pre-ordered the Voices Together hymnal and related products from MennoMedia will receive them soon! Individual copies of the pew edition of the hymnal, the Worship Leader’s edition, accompaniment edition, and audio recordings are available to order from CommonWord. T-shirts, masks and tote bags are also available to pre-order.  (We do not expect these to arrive in time for Christmas). www.commonword.ca/go/2199

  

Calendar 

Advent Season – www.commonword.ca/go/2190 

Christmas Season – www.commonword.ca/go/2191 

Christmas Eve – www.commonword.ca/go/2192 

Christmas Day – www.commonword.ca/go/2193 

The Church and the Coronavirus Pandemic

See the MCA website for Phase 2 Reopening information. 

Have a story to tell? Feedback on the MCA Communiqué?
Email communications@mcab.ca
MCA Calendar

December 17, 7:30 p.m. (SK CST)  RJC Christmas Online "There is still Hope"
March 20/21, 2021                           Annual Delegate Sessions -- via ZOOM
     
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