Excited about the richness of liturgy
Re MB Rites of Worship (November). I just received my MB Herald and, before even getting to sit down and enjoy it, I wanted to tell you how excited I am about this issue’s focus. There is so much richness in liturgy and, at 32-years-old, I do not see many of my peers appreciating such things. I respect that different people have many different ways of approaching worship, but I sometimes fear what might soon be lost. Thank you so much for exploring this!
Disappointed by loss of Anabaptist values
Re “From Education to Encounter” (November). In this article is a quote, “we are seeing an embracing of mainstream North American evangelicalism and an abdication of Anabaptist values and thought.” I have been expressing this same sentiment for years, and I think it is obvious in all areas of church life, from music to study group materials – much to my disappointment.
Cowboy church creates community
Re “It’s Sunday: The Four Rs of Worshippers Gathered” (November). I was especially moved by Paul Woodburn’s article. My wife and I started a cowboy church service at our church as an outreach to non-Christians and to people who have been hurt by churches in the past. We are now approaching our seventh year of services. We do a service the last Sunday evening of the month. Our music is country gospel with priority given to hymns.
We founded the service on, as Woodburn writes, “a community where people feel accepted and safe enough to offer their best, even when their best doesn’t measure up.” We have invited people who would never be asked to participate in a morning service to sing, read poetry, and play instruments. The blessings have been amazing.
We average 80–100 people per service. We often get people who will drive three hours one-way to join us. We have people from other churches who bring their non-Christian friends to the cowboy church service, saying, they “don’t feel comfortable bringing them to [their] own morning worship service.”
We hear from many people how the service encourages them spiritually – they arrived feeling broken and lonely, but left feeling filled with hope. Some have even started to attend morning worship again.
We’ve had people tell us that there’s no worship at cowboy church because we use country music. We’ve had people tell us contemporary music is way more worshipful than any other kind. We’ve been criticized many times for the people we’ve had participate in our service. What keeps us going are articles like this. They remind me of what Jesus said in Matthew 16:18: “and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it.”
Real Truth. Something the Herald and its writers are a part of. Thank you.
Intersection and Crosscurrents provide insight
My heart feels the pathos in the question, “Don’t you wish it were true?” (Intersection, November). My mind went in a different direction than did James Toews’. True, Jesus told Peter to put away his sword, but if we go to the end of Revelation we see Jesus the ultimate swordsman. (You don’t want to be on the wrong end of that one either.) To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, Jesus isn’t safe, but he’s good and just and will set things right better than the gunslinger people think they want.
I have a long-time love affair with The Chronicles of Narnia. I got the symbolism of the lion and lamb and the world’s end but the Dawn Treader as a symbol of the church? (“Treading the Dawn,” Crosscurrents, August). That’s whole different wrinkle for me. I’m glad I happened on this little gem.
What about Remembrance Day?
I was disappointed when I read the November issue of the Herald. There was no mention of Remembrance Day, no prayer for the thousands of men and women still far away from home in the Middle East. When did the MB belief in nonviolent resistance turn into forgetting those people who laid down their lives for others?
While I strongly believe in seeking nonviolent resolution first, I believe the MB stance on pacifism can and should be examined. I wish we could, at the very least, talk about differing interpretations of Scripture, instead of either ignoring other perspectives altogether, or dismissing them as unscriptural or flatly sinful.
Disagreeing with the reasons behind war is one thing, but I believe there should be no question of whether to remember and thereby honour the sacrifices and selflessness of the men and women on the battlefield. Frankly, I’m always deeply ashamed when I see few – if any – poppies in our church.
By choosing not to observe Remembrance Day, we are not only disregarding past sacrifices, we are also leaving the PTSD-ridden veterans of today’s war in the dark. Why not reach out with the gospel to soldiers coming home, and soldiers still overseas? By allowing no discussion on war, we are shutting the door on ministry opportunities to people who may be in desperate need of the peace only the Holy Spirit can give them, as well as showing our lack of gratitude for the freedom we enjoy.
Let’s practice discernment in worship
Re MB rites of worship (November). A great challenge for the church today is finding ways to remain relevant and meet the needs of those who come through its doors.
I applaud the MB church for its continued exploration of how to do this. I recognize that there is value in learning ways of worshipping and interacting with God from other faith traditions.
At the same time, I encourage the MB church to review those practices and tenets of interpretation of faith which are at the core of MB identity, for it is these practices which make us truly unique.