Date published: December 20, 2010
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Laughter can be the best medicine
AS I READ Canadian Mennonite, I find it informative and inspirational. Sometimes we Mennonites take differences of conviction and opinion too seriously, so maybe some humour and laughter can act as a tonic in relationships. Sharing some humour in everyday struggles can be bonding and beneficial to our mental health. For example:
* At a morning service in her village in Ukraine, the minister read a text where Paul says, "I am writing this letter and send greetings to all churches." On impulse, a lady in the congregation responded, "Reverend Funk, would you also send Paul our greetings."
* A young minister's first message fell short of expectation. His kind, loving wife tried to give comfort by saying, "But honey, you were waving your arms and pounding the pulpit. What more do they want!"
* A family coming home from a church service passed a farmer with two combines. The little girl said, "Look Mommy, that man has two concubines!"
* My grandmother would say, "Of course God speaks German! Here in my Luther Bible it says, 'Und Gott sprach, "Adam, 'wo bist du?"' ("And God said. Adam, where are you?'")
There is a time to laugh and a time to cry. If you can't laugh, cry yourself to sleep and you will feel better in the morning.
JACOB J. UNGER, BOISSEVAIN, MAN.
Better to move forward with new hymnal, than go back in the past
RE: "RETURN TO Mennonite Hymnary instead of publishing new hymnal" letter, Nov. 15, page 10.
If this letter is any valid clue, it would appear that many Mennonites in Canada need more information when it comes to new/old hymnals. If we go back to the days of the Mennonite Hymnary, many Mennonites in Eastern Canada will be totally lost.
In numerous Mennonite churches in Eastern Canada, the Hymnary was never used. While the General Conference Mennonites were singing their praises from the Mennonite Hymnary (or some German hymnal), the rest of us were praising the Lord from either the Church Hymnal or the Church and Sunday School Hymnal. We graduated from those hymnals to the Mennonite Hymnal and then to Hymnal: A Worship Book. So if we were to use the Mennonite Hymnary, it would be a new hymnal for us.
We might as well move on to whatever is prepared for us in the next phase of music in the Mennonite church by an appointed committee of experts. We need to be aware that a new hymnal will not be a Canadian hymnal only, but one that is North American in its usage. This was true of hymnals of the past as well.
I do share the concern about throwing out the older hymns and going completely for contemporary styles of music, which might only last a few decades before our culture is on some new musical bandwagon.
I appreciate many of the hymns we sang in the past. But I am not prepared to go back and completely resurrect the past. The good old days did have their flaws.
KENNETH CRESSMAN, NEW HAMBURG, ONT.
* Mentorship with a difference
WHEN I HAVE the opportunity for conversation with pastors, I like to ask, "What is the biggest need in your congregation in the area of harnessing human capacity?" In a recent conversation, the answer given was quick and emphatic: "Mentorship."
This creative pastor saw mentorship as a way to harness the human capacity of different generations. The mentorship plan he was working out focused on roles within the church. In the area of worship, for example, his experiment was to identify a young person with interest or potential aptitude. That youth would be partnered with an older person who had experience in worship-leading roles, who would coach and support the young person in trying out the role.
This is a simple plan, but what an effective way it is to harness gifts! I wonder if this is what farmers used to do when they would put a young work horse in a team with an older, experienced horse. Think of the advantages of a system like this over more usual ways of inserting a new person into a new role:
* IT IS PERSONAL. Instead of only reading a job description to provide information, this process engages the feeling part of the brain by putting the learner in touch with a caring person.
* IT IS EXPRESSIVE. The older person has an opportunity to communicate the passion he has for the activity, which can lead to a deep response in the youth.
* IT IS SUPPORTIVE. The younger person has someone to ask about problems and challenges in the role. Obvious gaps can be filled in ways that prevent embarrassment.
* IT MAKES USE OF SKILLS. Often older people have developed the skills of listening and empathizing, which can be put to good use in a one-on-one working relationship.
* IT SUPPORTS FRIENDSHIP. A positive by-product of the mentoring relationship is that people become friends across generations, perhaps gaining greater insight into each other's culture.
Another way of looking at mentorship is that it recovers the role of the elder, which we may have lost in recent times. Older people are given a positive way to contribute at the same time as they begin the welldeserved process of stepping back.
What are some other roles where mentorship could be well used? Could one mentor young church board members, deacons, teachers or preachers?
BOB WIEBE, WINNIPEG, MAN.
Bob Wiebe is president of Enliven! Consulting whose motto is "Helping harness human capacity."