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Re:view: Count your blessings

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Thirteen people have occupied the driver’s seat at the MB Herald. Each person brought a unique perspective and a distinct voice to a particular time in the life of the magazine and the Canadian MB Conference. To celebrate our 50th year in print, “Re:View” welcomes back each of those men and women to reflect on their experience in the editor’s chair.—Eds

“Count your blessings, name them one by one.” Years ago, we sang this old gospel song with gusto.

What is a blessing? What do we mean when we thank God for the things he provides? Are the blessings we count the food on our tables each day, the warm homes we sleep in, the wonderful country we live in, and the freedom we enjoy?

In Scripture, blessing is used in a number of ways. For instance, the psalms exhort us to “bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1 KJV), while the Beatitudes call people blessed when they live in harmony with the principles listed there (Matthew 5:3–12).

I count it a blessing to have worked in conference or church offices most of my life. I began working at the Canadian MB Conference offices in 1984. It was my privilege to work in a number of different departments, and in the late 1980s, I began as an administrative assistant with the MB Herald. Later, I became managing editor, and in 2003, was invited to become interim editor.

The many godly men and women I worked with enriched my life and were an example to me.  I watched them wrestle with questions of theology, disciplinary issues, financial problems.

Lessons and Examples

Being part of the discussions on the revision of the Confession of Faith was humbling and inspiring. The leaders sought the Lord’s help in prayer and discernment, and came to decisions they felt were the right ones. They then guided the conference in that direction. It may not always have been the best decision, but more often than not, it led the churches to a deeper understanding of God and the church’s mission.

And it was not just the leaders of the conference who were an example and a blessing to me; the staff I interacted with was special. The coffee discussions, the social events we planned and attended, like baby showers for young parents, were encouraging to growing faith. There existed a deep concern for the welfare of each individual in our everyday activities. Weekly devotions were often a highlight of this concern.

It was a privilege to attend many provincial, national, and international conventions. Watching a newly elected moderator remove his shoes as he assumed office, illustrating that he was standing on holy ground, was a powerful example of godly leadership. Learning to know men and women of God, hearing them speak and preach, and then watching them live that out, was truly enriching.

One extra-special convention was the Mennonite World Conference in Zimbabwe in 2003. To meet Anabaptist Christians from many countries and hear their stories built up my faith. I will never forget sitting in the assembly hall, watching Zimbabwean men and women walk across the fields to come to the Sunday morning service. Seeing their faithfulness in the face of poverty was challenging.

Of course, not everything about working in the conference was positive; I would be remiss if I would insist it was. However, even the things that were not necessarily positive were, in retrospect, often a blessing.

So yes, these are blessings. I have been privileged, and I am grateful to God for the opportunities I have had.

–Susan Brandt – After more than a decade in administrative roles, then managing editor of the MB Herald, Susan Brandt was interim editor from 2003–2005. She is now retired and enjoys travelling, reading, gardening, and spending time with her six grandchildren. She and her husband Gilbert attend River East MB Church, Winnipeg.

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