Our church Christmas tree made of books. The baskets at the side are for mitts and hats to be donated to charities who distribute clothing to needy people.
Last spring, Lorraine one of the creative and talented women who decorates our church building for the various seasons asked me if I knew where she could get some old books. I am the church librarian and I told her each year I weed our library collection pulling books off the shelves that are no longer being taken out by patrons to make room for new ones. She asked me to save the books I was withdrawing from circulation. In church last Sunday I saw the reason why!
The very talented Lorraine with the tree she created.
Lorraine has taken all those old books and turned them into a beautiful Christmas tree for our church foyer. She has thoughtfully arranged children’s books near the bottom of the tree and included a manger scene.
The tree is outside the door of the church library and it has already drawn any number of new readers into the library because they have questions about the tree. We celebrate Christmas because of a very special story. How appropriate to recognize the season with a tree full of stories.
A Flood of Books
Children’s Christmas Books – The Classics
I am the librarian at my church. The Sunday before we left for Portugal I was in the library chatting with a couple I had never met before. They were leaving on a trip and wanted some books to take along. As we visited I found out that Ann and Ernie were headed for Portugal and discovered they would be in the Algarve area at the exactly the same time as we would. We exchanged e-mails and so a few days ago we invited them to drive from their rented place in Albuferia to ours in Praia da Luz and join us for dinner.
When they arrived we first went for a walk along the beach. As we walked and visited we found out we had many things in common besides attending the same church. Ann had volunteered at the Winnipeg Art Gallery for a number of years just before I became a guide there. As a couple they had traveled to many of the same places we had. Ernie and Dave shared a common long time friendship with a man in Philadelphia, and Ann and I were both currently reading the same book- Night Train to Lisbon. It was sunny out and quite nice and we took some photos of the interesting color variations in the rocks along the beach.
An archeologist has unearthed ruins of an ancient Roman aqueduct and bath house at this site along the waterfront that date back to around the 4th century
As we headed back to our place we checked out some Roman ruins along the sidewalk and then much to our delight spotted a pod of dolphins near the shore. We stopped to watch them leaping and breaching before heading home for supper. I had made spaghetti and salad. We had fresh bread from the bakery around the corner and Ann and Ernie had brought a bottle of wine so we had a delightful meal together talking about our families, travels, past jobs and retirement endeavors. Among other things we discovered Ann and Ernie love ball room dancing.
Kind of interesting that we had to come all the way to Portugal to get to know some people from our church in Winnipeg.
Saying Hello to People
Fascinating Conversation in a Tiny Wine Shop in Lisbon
A Church and a Bar on Every Corner
If you are looking for some great entertainment in the next few days you need look no further than our family.
Tomorrow night the male choir my husband Dave sings in will be presenting an evening of wonderful music at Bethel Mennonite Church. Dave will be playing his harmonica for one of the numbers and I’ve been invited to be the narrator sharing personal family stories and readings from the Biblical narrative. It is the last performance by the choir with their current director the amazing Shirley Bestvater. She is retiring after tomorrow night and so the choir will be pulling out all the stops in her honor. You don’t want to miss it.
Then on Sunday afternoon our talented daughter-in-law Alisa will be performing with the Winnipeg Singers at Westminster Church. They will be reviving the music from their very popular CD Swingle Bells. The choir along with our daughter-in-law traveled to Europe this summer where they were the first place winners in a prestigious international choir competition in Florence, Italy. We will be at their Sunday Christmas concert with bells on. Why don’t you join us?
Last night we attended the Winnipeg performance of Shakespeare’s Richard II called Am I Not King? at the West End Cultural Centre. What a moving piece of musical theatre that was! You can read more about it here. And yes here is another shameless bit of family promotion…. our son Bucky and his band Royal Canoe are performing all the original music in this production. They are just terrific. The show runs till Sunday and you want to be sure to take in this unique production.
So there it is. The Driedger family is providing plenty of options for your entertainment pleasure this coming weekend. Hope to see you!
Music to Soothe the Soul
Fun Evening in Toronto
The Daily Bonnet Just Made Us Famous
A Handel Meat Pie
Filed under Family, Music
Sam and Alex are on a hunger strike at their church. Both teenage girls have attended Dove Mennonite since they were born. One Sunday they remain after the service and ‘occupy’ the sanctuary vowing not to leave or eat again till the congregation’s directors allow members of the LGBTQ community to fully participate in congregational life. That’s the starting point of This Will Lead to Dancing, a drama by the Theatre of the Beat Company. It was presented at Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg for three nights last week. The play shows the audience how families and individuals have been impacted by the church’s refusal to accept members of the LGBTQ community. We hear from Henry, the church janitor, who tells a moving story about his son who died from AIDS. Henry rejected his son when he announced his homosexuality and now is remorseful about that decision. At the time, several decades before, he felt he needed to choose between his own faith and accepting his son.
We discover Sam, one of the play’s main characters is gay. She finally admits this to her church pastor. The pastor’s whole attitude changes once the issue takes on a personal face. This isn’t some stranger asking to be fully welcomed, but an active member of the congregation who has been part of the church family since childhood. The pastor is hopeful the church board will make a decision to be inclusive but they do not. We meet Sam’s parents. Although they love and support their daughter they wish she’d kept her sexuality a secret and not ‘come out’ to the church community. They are wise enough to realize the heartache that will result for their daughter. They know how important her faith is to her, and they realize the church will no longer be able to embrace her fully now that she has shared her secret. A local television station interviews Sam and Alex. Soon the story about their hunger strike goes viral, drawing national attention. The evening I saw the play I came home to a breaking story in the American media about the plans of the Lancaster Conference to withdraw its 175 churches from Mennonite Church USA over the homosexuality question. In March of 2015 the national magazine The Atlantic Monthly ran a cover story called Gay and Mennonite describing how the issue of accepting LGBTQ people is dividing and damaging the Mennonite church.
The play addresses this too, suggesting that divisiveness over the issue may eventually destroy the Mennonite church but from its ashes will emerge a new church whose closed door will transform into a table around which everyone can share communion and serve God together. Perhaps the most humorous and tender moments of the play emerge when Sam, weak from hunger, has a dream where Menno Simons, the founder of the Mennonite Church visits her. Menno is bewildered about the homosexuality question. The word homosexuality isn’t even in the Bible. We find out that’s because the word was first used in a 1946 English translation of scripture. Menno also wonders why a church governing body is dictating what people must believe. That isn’t the Anabaptist way.
The play ends with Menno and Sam dancing together. They stumble and trip and hurt each other at first, but eventually they learn how to move together in harmony as they dance and sing the hymn We are People of God’s Peace. It is a beautiful metaphor for the hope that someday people will be able to be honest and open about both their sexuality and their spirituality without having to leave the Mennonite Church.
Letter From the Mother of A Gay Son
Some Mennonites But Not All of Them