Perry Yoder beams fresh light on ancient text of Leviticus

October 19, 2017

News release

Perry Yoder beams fresh light on ancient text of Leviticus
Volume 33 in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series rolls out

HARRISONBURG, Va.—In the 33rd volume of the Believers Church Bible Commentary series, Old Testament scholar Perry B. Yoder argues that the oft-neglected book of Leviticus illuminates valuable truths and symbols that appear in the New Testament.

Writing for pastors, laypersons, and scholars alike, Yoder uses recent scholarship “to encounter a gracious and holy God,” as endorser Melissa Florer-Bixler, pastor of Raleigh (N.C.) Mennonite Church, puts it.

Yoder examines the central question of : how God’s people are to live in light of God’s presence just outside their camp. “How do we begin to worship God? Where do we start?” writes Yoder. “Leviticus begins with rituals for pleasing God. This unadorned beginning reminds us that worship begins with God and our relationship to God, and not with ourselves.” The commentary portrays God as gracious, holy, and present. Leviticus, according to Yoder, unfurls critical characteristics of God in relation to humanity. In the commentary, Yoder traverses difficult interpretive territory such as the sacrificial system, purity laws, and priestly instructions.

David Janzen, associate professor of Old Testament at Durham University, says that Yoder’s commentary will help both pastors and laypersons who are “seeking to understand what can seem like a puzzling but fascinating biblical book.”

Gerald Gerbrandt, president emeritus and professor emeritus of Bible at Canadian Mennonite University, writes, “A consummate teacher, [Yoder has] a singular gift for illuminating the biblical text with an eye to how it informs the church today.”

Yoder is professor emeritus of Old Testament at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. His key interests are the Old Testament, particularly the Psalms; ecological responsibility; and peace and justice. He worked as People’s Teacher of the Word, traveling across North America doing Bible teaching, 1975–77; as associate secretary for Peace and Social Concerns for the General Conference Mennonite Church, 1977–78; and taught at Bluffton, Bethel, and Conrad Grebel Colleges before coming to AMBS in 1985. He retired in 2005 but continues to teach Anabaptist Short Courses online.

The Believers Church Bible Commentary series is a cooperative project of the Brethren in Christ Church, Brethren Church, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mennonite Church USA.

The commentary is available for purchase from MennoMedia for $29.99 (paperback) and $23.99 (ebook) from 800‑245‑7894, the MennoMedia webstore at www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources. Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877‑846‑1593), Parasource (800‑263‑2664), and elsewhere.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the author, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540‑908‑3941 or email LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

—Staff release

Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540‑574‑4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org

 

Worship and Song Collection Project Fund-raising Update by Steve Carpenter

MennoMedia, on behalf of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, is working to create a new Mennonite hymnal by 2020. I have been tasked with raising more than $600,000 to pay for the work of a 13-person hymnal committee, a full-time project director, a half-time administrative assistant and other support staff and services. We’re off to a good start.

Bradley Kauffman began work as the Project Director in July 2016 and later that summer 13 others were appointed to serve with him on the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee.

This committee includes persons from both Canada and the US.

The committee has met several times, most recently at Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, Michigan, in early September. (Read a recent report on their work here.) The committee has enjoyed frequent contact and mentorship from Mary Oyer, Rebecca Slough, Kenneth Nafziger, Marilyn Houser Hamm, Marlene Kropf and other veterans of previous hymnal projects beyond the Mennonite Church.

As I meet with individuals, inviting them to support this endeavor financially, I am sometimes asked “Why do we need a new hymnal?” In short, refreshing a worship and song collection once a generation is one of the cycles of a forward-looking church. Hymnals are of a generational moment. They mark a particular threshold showing where the church has been and where the spirit of God may be leading. They hold comfort and nostalgia while leaning earnestly to challenge and prophetic action. As the urgencies of church life and identity shift from generation to generation, worship rhythms respond to this Spirit-movement.

The Mennonite Hymnal (red) was published in 1969.

 

 

 

 

The blue Hymnal: A Worship Book (HWB) was released in 1992.

That is a span of 23 years between the red and blue hymnals, both of which were developed before the digital age. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hymnal: A Worship Book and it will be another three years until a new hymnal is available. A new generation of spirit-led, prophetic church music has been written in the last quarter century. The way the church uses music is also changing. Available electronic formats will help the new collection meet the needs of twenty-first century worshipers. Many of our faith communities are expressing eager anticipation of this forthcoming resource.

The new hymnal will retain durable material from HWB and the two supplements, Sing the Journey (2005) and Sing the Story (2007), while introducing new music and worship resources geared for the 21st century church.

Those who give a gift of at least $500 toward this project, between now and 2019, will have 40 characters (including spaces) in the back of the hymnal to honor a loved one, include a snippet from a hymn or a favorite verse of Scripture. Persons may also include their own names or give anonymously. To date we have raised nearly $370,000 in gifts and faith promises or 61% of the $606,000 goal. Larger gifts entitle the giver to 80 characters. To learn more about giving to support this important project, visit HymnalProject606.com or email me at SteveC@mennomedia.org.

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee, going by the name Resonate Team, has invited congregations to hold a Great Day of Singing on Sunday October 22. Click here to view downloadable music and worship resources available for your congregation to plan worship for that day.

Thank you for your interest in this project. The Mennonite church has a rich tradition of robust congregational singing. A gift to Project 606 will help offer this legacy to the next generation.

Blessings in your work, worship and witness,

Steve Carpenter
Director of Development and Church Relations

Steve Carpenter
Director of Development and Church Relations.

Growing a spiritual garden with new book: Water My Soul

News release

August 9, 2017

Growing a spiritual garden
90-day devotional puts down roots to the love of Christ and service to others

HARRISONBURG, Va.—How does your spiritual garden grow? What do you do to keep your Christian life flourishing? Darla Weaver explores these ideas as she connects gardening to spiritual growth in a new devotional, Water My Soul: 90 Meditations from an Old Order Mennonite (Herald Press, September 2017).

Touching on themes such as humility, contentment, right living and forgiveness, each meditation includes a daily Scripture reading, prayer, and journal prompt or response idea, designed to motivate and strengthen readers.

“As I worked in my ever-expanding gardens, I was amazed how often God used the natural world to open my eyes to new spiritual truths,” Weaver writes.

As an Old Order Mennonite living in southern Ohio, Weaver spends her time gardening, cooking, caring for her family, and living as much as possible off the land. Weaver bares her heart in these 90 devotionals, all drawn from her home-centered life, and encourages readers to root themselves deeply in Christ’s love, and service to others.

Cindy Woodsmall, New York Times bestselling author of Amish fiction says the book is a “lovely collection of real events that whisk the mind to a beautiful way of life, while the insights resonate with the longings from the deepest part of our hearts.” Mary Ann Kinsinger, coauthor of the Adventures of Lily Lapp book series adds, “These devotionals provide glimpses of the presence of God that is all around us if we only open our eyes and see.”

Women especially will relate to these meditations sprinkled with stories from Weaver’s children, marriage, Old Order Mennonite community and wider friends and family.

Darla Weaver’s first book, Many Lighted Windows, was published in 2016, and she has written for Family Life, Ladies Journal, Young Companion, and other magazines for Amish and Old Order Mennonite groups. Before her three children were born she also taught school. Her hobbies are gardening and writing.

Water My Soul is available for $12.99 USD from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894 or MennoMedia.org; in Canada, the book is $15.75 CAD from CommonWord at 877-846-1593 or commonword.ca; or check bookstores and online.

To schedule a phone interview with Darla Weaver, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908-3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.