Letting Our Little Lights Shine While Getting to Heaven on Roller Skates  

By Mary Ann Weber

Do you look for itsy-bitsy spiders when you pass by drain spouts? Do you notice the wheels on a bus going ’round and ’round? Whenever you pass by a water fountain, do you remember that God’s love is deep and wide? Do you know better, now, what it means to be a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N?91992981

I’ve been thinking a lot about children’s music recently because MennoMedia uses music in many of our curriculum pieces for young people. As an example, go to the Shine: Living in God’s Light Sunday school curriculum website, https://shinecurriculum.com/music/, and check out the free downloads offered each quarter.

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We want music that is catchy, memorable, and creative. We want music that reflects that people all over the world love God, and that God loves people all over the world. We want music that acknowledges the community of faith, and music that guides children to form their own faith. We want music with substance, and we want to feature a variety of musical styles. It seems like a tall order, right?

There’s no doubt that music helps to shape us. Think about one of your favorite songs from childhood. Most likely, you still remember the lyrics and the melody. Maybe you even find yourself humming it on occasion. How did the song help to form you? What did you learn from the song?

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I’m fascinated by the messages in some of the songs I learned when young and can still relate to some of them. Yes, Jesus loves me. But some songs no longer resonate with my understanding of a life of faith. No, not every moment is a happy one since Jesus set me free. And I wonder about the substance of a song that tells us we’ll roll right by the pearly gates if we try to get to heaven on roller skates.

I’m grateful for songs that continue to inspire throughout my life. For example, when I travel or watch the news, I’m glad that the whole world is in God’s hands. I’m thankful that the world is filled with people who let their little lights shine everywhere they go. And it’s a comfort to know that God’s banner over me (and the whole world) is love.

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This is why children’s songs are running through my head. Let’s give children songs that encourage them to love God and follow Jesus. Let’s give them good songs that will help them grow into the people God wants them to be. Let’s give them music that will help them love themselves, their neighbors, and those across the world. Let’s raise our voices and sing!

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For other music products for children, check here.

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Mary Ann Weber
MennoMedia Managing editor

I Love My Job!

For the past 19 months, I have served as MennoMedia’s Director of Development. My responsibilities include church and donor relations with a current emphasis on raising the $400,000 needed in seed funds to develop the next generation of Anabaptist Sunday School curriculum—Shine. We are making progress on that goal, having raised the initial $110,000 in gifts and pledges, but much remains to be done. You can visit the Shine website here and check out the exciting new Shine Story Bible.

ShineLogoTo reach this goal, I worked together with MennoMedia’s CEO and Board to develop a strategy. We decided I should visit the 50 U.S. churches and 33 Canadian congregations that are the top users of the current Gather ‘Round Sunday school curriculum, and ask them to help supply the needed funds for the new curriculum. Following my recent trip to Oregon I have completed that task, to a reasonable extent, having visited 47 of the top 50 congregations in the U.S. and 21 of the top 33 in Canada. The other congregations either declined a visit or are too widely scattered to justify a trip. As you know, it is a long and difficult process to make it into a congregation’s budget but I am hopeful that my visits, and the strength of this appeal, will bear fruit as congregations process my request.

Many people are timid and therefore reluctant to ask for money. They imagine they would hate my line of work. I, on the other hand, love it. Being an extrovert, with a strong belief in MennoMedia’s mission “to engage and shape church and society with resources for living the Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective,” I have found the job both challenging and rewarding. I have learned a lot about the Mennonite Church in both the U.S. and Canada. I have traveled to new places and met fascinating people. My wife, Chris, who is a nurse with a flexible schedule, has accompanied me on several trips. (Of course, we always pay for our personal expenses during such trips.)

Chris recently went to Oregon with me. I was able to do my work in five days and we spent a late September weekend at Crater Lake National Park. What a beautiful place. The park received eight inches of snow two days before we arrived. However, on the day we arrived, the weather was beautiful. The lake was a deep blue and I could see Mt. Shasta, a 14,151 foot summit 100 miles away in California. Wow! The next day was rainy and foggy and we couldn’t see the lake from the lodge just 900 feet away.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Photo by Chris Carpenter

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Photo by Chris Carpenter

Immediately upon my return from Oregon, I headed off to Lancaster to attend Everence’s biennial development conference, Creating Lasting Legacies. There I met others engaged in fundraising, was inspired by those more experienced in the field, and learned much about estate planning. It reminded me of a quote I recently read in The Canadian Mennonite by Lori Guenther Reesor, a professional fundraiser and co-pastor of the Mississauga Mennonite Fellowship in Ontario. She said, “Fundraising is the joyful and holy task of telling people about the garden and inviting them to water it.”

sb10062327r-001I feel that way about my work. It is both joyful and holy. I incorporate prayer into most visits and feel like I both give and receive a blessing everywhere I go. I pray you too may experience the holy joy of giving as you practice faithful stewardship in response to the abundance God has given you.

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Steve Carpenter
Director of Development