Politics is on everyone’s mind these days. It’s almost impossible to avoid, and why would we? As Christians we know we are citizens of another Kingdom, one we will welcome someday in its fullness. But in the meantime we are called to be good citizens here, engaged in caring for our neighbours, our communities and creation.
Our cover article in the Mar/Apr issue of Faith Today provides challenging insights from a handful of different theologians on how our faith should not — and cannot — be separated from our politics. Canadians too easily assume politics is public and faith is private, but this article is a timely reminder to avoid that mistake.
Our interview with Loren Wilkinson presents another facet of citizenship — our call to care for creation. The B.C. poet and theologian, together with his wife Mary-Ruth Wilkinson, has devoted years to opening their home on Galiano Island to students who come to visit, feast together and get their hands dirty in creation’s soil around the island.
If the coming of spring isn’t already getting you thinking about gardening around your church, you probably will be after hearing from Wilkinson — and you’ll be reminded of its spiritual importance.
The Jan/Feb issue of Faith Today didn’t start out to be a church-themed issue, but that is where we ended up.
And why should that surprise us?
For most Canadian Christians, church is a vital part of our lives. It’s where we find community with other believers. It’s where we teach and are taught, love and are loved, forgive and are forgiven, among many other beautiful and challenging things. It’s where we worship God and where we are restored.
Church is also under no small pressure these days, as our cover story written by Canadian scholar and author Lee Beach says. “If it were true that at one time the Church occupied a place near the centre of Canadian culture, this is no longer the case,” he writes.
Yet, being “Church in exile” or on the margins also gives us a chance to reform, and do things differently and better than ever.
“Exile is forcing the Church to re-engage with its biblical identity as a missional people called by God to go into the world to bring a message of hope, and embody that hope,” says Beach.
This is not an exaggeration: When we dreamed up the idea of a Faith Today cover that readers could colour, one of us leaped out of their chair in excitement. And one of us looked wary. Which is closer to your reaction?
Perhaps you’re not quite as excited as we both eventually became, but we hope you’ll take this opportunity to try your hand at adult colouring to see why so many Canadians have become so enthusiastic about it.
Whatever our opinions about colouring as a form of creativity, we all agree people are made in the image of our Creator God. God creates, and surely our desire to create comes from Him and can honour Him.
Admittedly, practising the creative arts is often low on our priority list, maybe in part because we feel intimidated by the thought of being artistic. So we invited Carolyn Arends to help us consider if art might be worth our time. See if you aren’t entirely convinced by her claim that we can be discipled through art!
Her essay suggests some simple ways to exercise our creativity this summer, and you’ll also find several other creativity-related articles throughout this issue.
Another highlight for us was interviewing the provocative Sarah Bessey. This Canadian writer, blogger and speaker is a fresh and emerging voice on the evangelical landscape. We thought it would be fun to speak to her, and it was. Here’s a peek. “I don’t know when in the history of the Church anyone would have cared what some happy-clappy mom from the Prairies would say.”
More and more people do care, actually, and that’s a good thing.
The ideas for these articles emerged from creative editorial brainstorming, but we also get many others pitched to us from trusted writers. That was the case with the profile of Marina Glogovac, CEO of CanadaHelps. We knew almost nothing about this Christian leader until writer Alex Newman heard her make a speech and saw the fit. Thanks for that, Alex.
Excellent writers who know how to write to the style and interests of Faith Today readers – and are available to do so – are rare. This spring we lost one of the best, Debra Fieguth of Kingston, Ont., who died suddenly from a stroke. Please join us in praying for her husband, parents and the many, many others who knew and loved her. We posted a tribute to her at www.faithtoday.ca/Debra.
May God bless all of us this summer with His creativity and His peace.
As we read through the March/April issue of Faith Today one final time before sending it to our printer, authenticity was a theme that jumped out at us.
People here are not interested in pretending it’s easy to be a Christian in today’s world.
Here are a few of our favourite lines:
“I was shocked. How could my friend be teaching college kids to love language, ideas and themselves, and not think she was doing things for God?” From Carolyn Arends, page 19.
“You do feel you are being competed with if . . . a new church moves into town. I think it’s important . . . to go the extra mile and give honour to the people who have been there all along, trying to serve and putting in decades of work.” From our interview with Patti Miller, page 24.
“Many of . . . us spend our lives avoiding the real questions of being, identity and essence, and fall prey to the seductive message of both the culture and our hearts that doing and having are all that matter.” From Rod Wilson’s essay, page 30.
And how’s this for transparency: “But the road is so pitted with frustration – with administration, courts and the criminal element – that many officers become cynical, jaded, burnt out, depressed and even suicidal.” From Alex Newman’s interviews with Christian police officers, page 42.
If you were going to write a letter to the Church, what would you say?
I know I’d have a few complaints and suggestions. Hopefully I would be polite and loving.
I know I would say thank you for all the Church has given me. For how it catapults me into community whether I feel like it or not, for how it comforts and challenges me, for how it forces me to grow by holding a mirror up to my unpleasantness.
I would say thank you for the small groups, for the good friends, for the egg salad and the white bread that is so hard to find anywhere else these days.
The cover story of the Jan/Feb Faith Today is exactly that: a letter to the Church from someone who loves it. Mark Buchanan, well-known and respected Canadian author, past-pastor and now professor of pastoral theology at Ambrose University, took the task very seriously. He says thanks, and then he makes some very solid suggestions to the Church he loves, and also challenges himself (and us!) to higher ground. On a purely superficial level, the spirit of the piece inspired one of our coolest covers ever, in my opinion. Continue reading “Dear Church” and other bits of awesomeness from the latest Faith Today→
Faith Today is one of Canada’s top Christian magazines, but maintaining excellence – on behalf of you, the reader, and of the God we all serve – requires a regular influx of new life.
The beautiful magazine you now hold owes a lot to top-notch designer Janice Van Eck, who reworked and then polished every inch.
The redesign process also included a lot of editorial brainstorming about what elements should stay in Faith Today and what could go. We discussed, we met, we emailed, we called, we clipped and we cut. And we listened. Janice in particular listened carefully to our friendly debates about how Faith Today could be made better.
Church planting these days usually means breaking up some pretty hard Canadian soil. That’s why we thought it would be fascinating to assign writers in three cities to go behind the scenes in very different church plants to see what makes them tick – or grow.
If you live in eastern Canada, a part of the country where we had a tough time matching an available writer with an existing plant, please write to us and tell us about your church plant experience. We’d love to hear.
It was right down to the wire to schedule the interview with Ambassador Andrew Bennett of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. He was travelling the week before our interview and committed to a busy schedule after that, but he graciously made time for us just before our deadline.
As his newly created government position reached its first anniversary, we thought it important to check in to see how the work is going. Religious freedom is something Evangelicals watch carefully, even in Canada – maybe especially in Canada.
Being a Christian can mean embracing weakness rather than strength.
Arranging to interview Dr. J.I. Packer, one of Canada’s most celebrated evangelical scholars, involved phone calls, faxes, more phone calls and another fax or two.
In an age of immediate electronic communication, Packer prefers to do things offline, the less instant way.
Even the writing for which he is so well known (his classic book Knowing God, originally written as a five-year series of articles for The Evangelical Magazine, turned 40 last year) is carefully composed on a manual typewriter.
Although that bit about the typewriter is the least of the many insights Packer shared with Faith Today in this issue’s exclusive interview, it’s still a delightful peek behind the scenes at the work of a wise and unique evangelical influencer.
(By the way, we’re offering a free copy of Packer’s latest book Weakness Is the Way along with every new subscription purchased before the end of February. Pass the word along to anyone you know who may be interested!)