Look, a star!
Church Life | Opinion

Look, a star!

“The star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great delight. On coming to the house, they saw the Child with his mother Mary, and they fell down and worshiped him”(Matt. 2: 9-11a). Long…

Zoom church
Church Life | Opinion

Zoom church

Church leaders have written much on “how COVID-19 changes everything.” Yet it seems that the goal of church leaders is that everything should eventually return to normal, despite their protestations to the contrary. The literature suggests that some lasting effects of the pandemic will include more virtual congregations, individualism and (gasp) lower financial offerings. Will…

The Doctrine We Never Discuss
Ministry | Opinion | Theology & Spirituality

The Doctrine We Never Discuss

Do you remember discussions about free will and predestination? About total depravity or limited atonement? Should women hold church office? Should the church bless faithful, covenanted same-sex marriages?  I’ve been involved in discussions on all these topics, and although they’re important, as I get older, I think that there is a doctrine that should take…

Give Me a Break
Industry & Agriculture | Opinion | Theology & Spirituality

Give Me a Break

What does Sabbath mean when we can’t worship together physically because of the dangers to physical health? Do we take a break, essentially “fasting” from celebrating the Sabbath? Are we in “a time of eucharistic fasting, in which we join with the whole communion of saints in longing for the bread of new life and the wine of the age to come,” as the Anglican Church of Canada’s website suggests?

Vocabulary and Birdsong for Children
Creation | Opinion | Youth & Young Adults

Vocabulary and Birdsong for Children

As I write this, our front yard is full of birds. One of my favourites during this late part of April is the white-crowned sparrow, which is making its massive spring migration to the north. My friend Mel Colson says that the male’s mating call is this: poor-Will-peeeeed-his-pants. I wouldn’t forget that mnemonic device soon. (Remember that word to impress your teacher or parents.)

Twicers?
Opinion

Twicers?

It wasn’t that long ago that many Protestant churches had two worship services per Sunday. In those older times your commitment to God was judged – at least partially – on whether you were a once-r or a twice-r. In our family we were twicers. In these days of viral assault on human health, we use telephones and computers to try to worship together in some way or another. On Palm Sunday I heard four sermons!

In Memory of Bert
Opinion

In Memory of Bert

A collective loss. I honour Bert Witvoet for his encouragement both as a writer and editor. He stuck with me when I was very ill with depression. He once took Betsey and me to a sight-seeing tour of the Niagara Peninsula, dropped us off in a drenching downpour at the railing overlooking Niagara Falls, and came back to pick us up . . . eventually. Some honeymoon. Our world is poorer for his absence.

Urban Wildlife II
Opinion

Urban Wildlife II

Last month I wrote with some nostalgia about little rascals mounting expeditions to find some wildlife to hunt in town and finding relatively little (“Urban Wildlife I,” Feb. 24). Part of this dearth of wildlife in town was due to the diligence of local Dutch residents in keeping things neat and tidy. Bushes were trimmed; trees had no lower branches. Shrubs were mostly bridal wreath (spirea) and ground-hugging junipers.

Urban Wildlife I
Opinion

Urban Wildlife I

In the 50s and 60s, town life in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, was pretty sterile as far as wildlife was concerned. There were starlings, feral pigeons (“flying rats”), house sparrows and smaller creatures like lice, bedbugs and fleas. Not to mention mice and rats. One had to go “to the country” to see wildlife. We did have massive flocks of red-winged blackbirds and starlings that appeared each autumn and roosted in the tall elm trees that lined each street. The sight in the morning was messy.

The Pulse of Creation
Opinion

The Pulse of Creation

As a farmer with only four cows and a calf, I find that sitting in the tiny barn while they masticate, belch and chew cud is something that enables me to be aware of many things: especially what might be termed the pulse of creation. Some years ago, my full-time dairy farmer neighbour was getting his cows in for milking at about 5:30 a.m. in mid-winter when he noticed that the northern lights had not simply “pulsed” but formed a dome, from the four corners of the earth, as it were. I happened to be awake and outdoors one mile away and saw the same thing. Later, we both somewhat hesitantly mentioned that thoughts about “second coming” flashed through our minds. In retrospect, I think perhaps we experienced the reality of the presence of our God already here.

What is a Thing?
Opinion

What is a Thing?

It happened long ago, maybe in 1972. Most of the students at Trinity Christian College had gone home for one holiday or another (Christmas?). I stayed at the dorm and was going about my janitorial work-study job of cleaning the lounge. There was an old gentleman, white hair, sitting in the lounge; we struck up a conversation. It was a Seinfeld conversation – a little of this, a little of that, mostly about nothing – for a while.