Tag Archives: Rejoice Devotionals

Connecting with Rejoice

rejoiceThis week a series of reflections I wrote are featured in Rejoice a publication of Menno Media.  The first one was scheduled to be read yesterday, July 9.  I was surprised when I woke up in to find a note on Facebook Messenger from a former college classmate. He had read my words that morning, found them interesting, and was sure he remembered me.  He wondered what years I had attended college in Winnipeg and if they coincided with his attendance.  Turns out they did! Both my husband and I remembered the man who now lives in Indiana. 

rejoice 2018I really enjoy writing for Rejoice.  I’ve done it for some twenty years now. There are lots of reasons it’s been a good experience for me, but my favorite part is still connecting, or as in this case reconnecting, with people who are my readers and hearing their ideas and opinions. It is especially affirming to discover that what I’ve written resonates with my audience.  That’s the goal whenever we write something for public consumption and its gratifying when that goal is realized. 

You can download or buy the Summer 2018 edition of Rejoice here. 

Other posts……

This Week in Rejoice

Eighteen Years of Rejoice

 

 

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A Week in Rejoice

My reflections are published in the Rejoice devotional series this week.  I’ve related my own personal experiences to a variety of assigned Scripture passages. I’ve included stories about …..sydney opera housemy visit to the Sydney Opera House

marylou's grade one class on hopi reserveour year on the Hopi Indian Reservation marylou dave grad icsbeing the commencement speaker at a high school graduation ceremony chicken soup reboot your lifewriting for the Chicken Soup booksdorothy marie peters 1my Mom

grandma and grandpa on trainmy grandparents’ honeymoon trip and Norman Rockwell’s painting The Gossips which was on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2012. 

You can download the devotionals on the Menno Media site. 

Other posts……..

My Grandparents’ Honeymoon

 Lessons From the Sydney Opera House

Norman Rockwell

 

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Inspirational Teachers, Out of Control Generosity and Enriching Art

rejoice devotionals fall 2013My series of meditations are in the Rejoice devotional readings book this week. You can download the full book here. 

My assigned scripture passages for the week days were from Exodus 35-40 and on the weekend a little more variety with passages from Colossians, Jeremiah and Psalm 46.

I wrote about Inspirational Teachers, Out of Control Generousity, Enriching Art and Enduring Joy among other things. 

I have been writing for Rejoice for many years and appreciate the new things I learn as I explore my assigned Scriptures as well as the responses I get from people who have read my thoughts. 

Here is yesterday’s reflection as a sample of what my devotional writing is all about.

Wednesday November 20

Enriching Art

Then they brought to the tabernacle……………the hangings of the court…  Exodus 39: 33a and 40a

Read: Exodus 39: 32-43

Reflect:

Aunt Vi

Aunt Vi

My 90-year-old aunt Viola Schmidt recently published her autobiography. It included a section about her service to her congregation First Mennonite in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. One page featured photos of a series of large vibrantly colored felt hangings she’d made to display in the sanctuary during the advent season. They told the story of Jesus’ birth.

Grace Mennonite Quilt by Linda Klassen

Grace Mennonite Quilt by Linda Klassen

When my home congregation, Grace Mennonite in Steinbach, Manitoba celebrated our 50th anniversary, Linda Klassen, a gifted quilter created a huge wall hanging that visually depicted the story of our church family. Each colorful and intricately stitched section symbolized something important in the life and history of Grace Mennonite.

At the fall 2012 delegate gathering of Mennonite Church Manitoba a hanging in multiple shades of green was unveiled. Designed and quilted by Val Pankratz, the focus of the banner was the Mennonite Church olive branch and dove symbol. The background and border featured a myriad of intertwined branches and leaves outlined with thousands and thousands of tiny perfect stitches.

In Exodus 39 the Israelites donate hangings for the tent of meeting. In our present day many talented people also use their gifts to create hangings that add meaning and an important visual element to our worship spaces. These hangings help bring to life our history, our beliefs and the Biblical stories on which our faith is founded.

Respond: Thank you God for the way visual art can enrich our worship experience. Thank you for the gifted people who create that art.

Last year I reflected on my long association with the Rejoice publication. You can read about that in this blog post.

Eighteen Years of Rejoice Devotionals

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Remembering Our Faults

Last week a series of devotionals I had written for the Rejoice magazine were published. Most of them were about the story of Joseph’s imprisonment and eventual release from jail in Genesis 41.

Joseph interprets the dreams of a fellow prisoner who was a cupbearer for the Pharaoh.   Joseph requests the cupbearer remember him after his prison release. Unfortunately he forgets about Joseph for two years. It isn’t till the Pharoah is looking for someone to interpret his dreams that Joseph springs to mind and the cupbearer recalls his promise to try to help Joseph.  Penitent about his neglect of Joseph he says in Genesis 41:9 “I remember my faults today.” Then he quickly facilitates Joseph’s release from prison. 

The cupbearer reminded me of some of my experiences in Germany last Christmas. It is clear many people in that country are still living with the reality of “remembering faults” from World War II. 

     Alma, a friendly, talkative woman in her early forties was our Nuremberg city tour guide. She apologized so abjectly and so often on behalf of her country, I felt sorry for her. As this warm and lively woman showed us the places where Nazi war criminals had been tried and hung, her penitent and self deprecating comments demonstrated the burden ‘remembering the faults’ of parents and grandparents has placed on a subsequent generation in Germany. 

In the city of Frankfurt the ‘remembering faults’ took on a more concrete form of apology. Artist Gunter Demnig has created ‘stumbling stones’, gold stones engraved with Holocaust victims names. These replace the regular sidewalk stone outside the last known residences of Holocaust victims. Demnig hopes pedestrians will ‘stumble’ over the gold stones, look down, read the Holocaust victims’ names and remember them. It’s his way of ‘remembering the faults’ of his country and apologizing.

In the city of Mainz artist Marc Chagall has created a series of stained glass windows in St. Stephens’ church.  Depicting scenes from the Old Testament Chagall made them after World War II to help Jews and Christians ‘remember the faults’ of the Holocaust but also to remember what they have in common and work at reconciliation. 

Remembering our faults and successes can be both a positive and negative thing. I reflected on that in my book review of Noah’s Compass a couple of days ago. After reading it my sister Kaaren suggested I listen to a TED talk by Daniel Kahneman in which he expands on the riddle of experience and memory. It is worth checking out and provides some interesting insights into how memory and happiness are linked. 

Another post about memory………..

The Constructed Mennonite

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Eighteen Years of Rejoice Devotionals

This week the winter Rejoice Devotional booklet came out. It contains seven pieces of mine, a week’s worth of meditations. Currently Rejoice is published jointly by Kindred Productions and MennoMedia.  My reflections in this issue are based primarily on passages from the book of Genesis.

I have been writing for the Rejoice devotional series for eighteen years now. I didn’t realize it was that long till I was unpacking after the move into this new home and in the process assembled all my old publications of Rejoice in one place.  During those eighteen years Rejoice has had three different editors– Katie Funk Wiebe, Philip Wiebe and Byron Rempel-Burkholder.
Why have I kept writing for Rejoice for so long? There are lots of reasons. First of all it is good spiritual discipline for me. It’s hard to make time for reading and studying the Bible and writing my annual Rejoice reflections forces me to do so. I am assigned a section of Scripture and my meditations have to be drawn from there. It motivates me to study that passage in-depth. I read it over and over and do research. I look at commentaries and think about ways those passages connect to my own life and my own faith journey and how they might connect to the lives of my readers. 

I also like the variety. I am assigned passages from so many different books of the Bible. Over the years I’ve written for Rejoice I’ve had to dive into Zechariah and Hosea, Jeremiah and Ephesians and some 30 other books of the Bible. I am assigned different weeks of the year. Sometimes I’m writing meditations for the summer, other times for Christmas or Easter or autumn. Truth be told I also like the fact that what I’ve written is read by so many people. I can’t even count how many times I’ve introduced myself to someone new in a church setting and they’ll say, “Oh, you write for Rejoice don’t you?” As I flip through the eighteen devotional booklets and read a smattering of the 125 pieces,  I also realize writing the meditations has in a way provided a kind of history of my family’s life, since often my reflections included stories about my children, my grandparents, my parents, my husband and other relatives. 

 

Writing for Rejoice has been excellent training for me as a writer. First of all there is a very strict word limit and you simply can’t exceed it. I always start by just writing my meditation and not worrying at all about the word count. Once it is finished I start to cut. I often need to eliminate half the words I’ve written, sometimes even more. But I can do it! I once took a writing workshop from Canadian author Fredelle Maynard and she said non- fiction writing should be as “bare as a bone and clean as a whistle.”  My Rejoice writing has forced me to get down to basics and cut out the fluff and the unnecessary stuff .  My last editor Byron Rempel-Burkholder has challenged me to change my writing focus and has sometimes asked me to completely rewrite pieces. This has been a good learning experience for me as a writer as well.

What next? I’m not sure. Byron Rempel-Burkholder is stepping down as the Rejoice editor so I don’t know if the new editor will still want me as a writer.  At one point I started a blog using my Rejoice devotional style called Reflections of a Pilgrim. Some of the pieces on it were my old Rejoice devotionals, but many were new pieces I wrote using the Rejoice meditation pattern to connect Scripture to my travel experiences. I’m not traveling as much anymore and other writing tasks have since taken the place of that blog. Perhaps it is something I need to revisit. 

Whatever the future holds with regards to Rejoice I am very glad I’ve had the opportunity to write for the publication for so many years. It has richly blessed me as a person, a writer and a follower of Jesus Christ. 

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