Living in faithful hope – Chronicles commentary published

BCBC_1-2Chronicles2February 10, 2016

News release

Living in faithful hope
Chronicles Believers Church Bible Commentary released

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—Readers might skip over 1 & 2 Chronicles on their way to better-known biblical books. If they do, August H. Konkel thinks they are making a mistake.

Konkel, professor of Old Testament at McMaster Divinity School, is the author of 1 & 2 Chronicles, the 30th volume in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series.

Chronicles offers a lot to today’s church, Konkel believes. “The main theme of Chronicles is hope,” he says. “If we are faithful to our calling, then the hope God gave to David and his people is realized.”

The Chronicler wrote a history that starts with creation and carries the story of his own people up to his current time. Writing at the time of the Persian Empire, after Israel’s return from Babylonian exile, the Chronicler offered encouragement to the people of his small nation.

The writer has “a vision of the nation that is apart from the state,” says Konkel. He notes that the Chronicler four times uses the term “the kingdom of God.” Chronicles provides a starting place to understand the New Testament meaning of the kingdom of God, says Konkel. This understanding of the kingdom is elaborated by Jesus and Paul in the New Testament.

As in all volumes of the Believers Church Bible Commentary series, 1 & 2 Chronicles includes tools such as sections on “The Text in the Biblical Context” and “The Text in the Life of the Church.” Here Konkel connects the Chronicler’s stories of faith and exile, of struggling to rebuild, to the life of believers past, present, and future. “This story should inspire us to be faithful to the calling God has given us,” he says.

Konkel_AugustHKonkel relates the story of his own Mennonite Brethren grandparents, Ukrainian refugees in Canada who were defrauded by their land agent and who lost multiple children while farming in Saskatchewan. “Their faith was their strength, carrying on through tragedy,” he says. In the commentary, he looks at key Anabaptist figures of the Reformation. The story of faithfulness in struggle has many applications across the international church today. “It parallels us, who we are, the road ahead; this is the calling we need to be faithful to,” says Konkel.

Each Believers Church Bible Commentary includes a variety of theme essays. The 1 & 2 Chronicles commentary looks at how the Chronicler treated warfare in his account. Konkel addresses how and why we write history, and suggests the purpose is not so much what happened in the past as how the past has affected our situation today.

Other essays examine how ancient authors worked to compose biblical books, the idea of promise to David, and how Chronicles relates to other Old Testament books, such as Ezra and Nehemiah.

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

In addition to teaching at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, Konkel is president emeritus of Providence University College and Theological Seminary in Otterburne, Manitoba. He also was instructor in Old Testament at Providence and has served as a pastor. He is the author of commentaries on Job and on 1 & 2 Kings in other commentary series.

1 & 2 Chronicles is available in paperback for $29.99 USD from Herald Press at 800-245-7894 or www.HeraldPress.org, as well as at bookstores.

Ardell Stauffer

High resolution photo available.

For more information on this press release:
Melodie Davis
News manager
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org

 

An Astounding Reversal: Anabaptism’s Gifts

By Melissa Miller

One of the greatest blessings I count is to have grown up in a Christian Anabaptist family. My father was a Church of the Brethren pastor, who served congregations in Pennsylvania and Maryland. In the late 19th century, my mother’s ancestors founded the church of my childhood, Raven Run Church of the Brethren, nestled up against a wooded Pennsylvania hill beside a little run of a creek. From both my parents, and from the churches we attended, I learned the way of Jesus, of peace, of community and service.

After studying at Eastern Mennonite College (now University) where I met my husband, I relocated to Ontario and made a home with Mennonites. That second Anabaptist church family is where I remain today, another blessing in my life. All that to say: I am an Anabaptist through and through, with a world view and values system imbibed at my parents’ table and chosen as a young adult. The Anabaptist lens by which to understand God and Christian faith continues to make sense to me.dirk willems

What a humble joy then to encounter these words in a current historical account of the Reformation. Author Thomas Cahill writes, “The Anabaptists … became in time the Mennonites, the Bruderhof, the Quakers. Though universally despised in the early modern period, persecuted, and often drowned by both Catholics and Protestants, their main reforms … (including) a heightened sense of community, compassion for the poor, prison reform, elimination of the death penalty, refusal to take up arms, (and) peacemaking – are now ideals of almost all their former persecutors … From a historical point of view, this is an astounding reversal.” (Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World; Publisher, Nan A. Talese, 2013, p. 306.)

Heretics bookWe may quibble with Cahill’s pairing of Anabaptists (a term originally meaning re-baptized) and Quakers (who do not practice baptism), but the deep appreciation he expresses for previously scorned and persecuted radical reformers is compelling. It is encouragement for MennoMedia to pursue its mission to “create resources for living Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective”. We have inherited the vision that the radical reformers birthed through struggle and blood. Then, as now, it is a vision the world desperately needs. May we be true to our calling to live out and speak of the vision of following Jesus in peace, simplicity, justice and community.

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Where does your own call and vision as a Christian come from? We’d love to hear!

Resources related to “call” can be found here.

MennoMedia copublishes it’s well known and loved children curricula series with the Church of the Brethren, currently Shine: Living in God’s Light, used by various Anabaptist or Anabaptist-leaning groups.

MelissaMillerPorchSwingEditedMelissa Miller lives in Winnipeg, pastors Springstein Mennonite Church, and is secretary of the MennoMedia board.

 

Chocolate éclairs and new curriculum

Guest post from Rose Stutzman, Shine Project Director.

When my older children were in high school, they loved to bake. When someone mentioned chocolate éclairs, I warned them that it would be too hard to do. The next evening my son Dan was in charge of supper. At the end of the meal he said he’d bring in the dessert. His siblings looked like they’d been up to something. They had made chocolate éclairs. It had taken all of them working together and they got rave reviews from their surprised parents.

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I hope you have had many similar experiences of teamwork and having something turn out so well that others notice and enjoy it. For me, that would be Shine On: A Story Bible and its Spanish counterpart Resplandece: Historias de la biblia para niños. I’m pleased to have been a part of the team from MennoMedia and Brethren Press that made these amazing Bible storybooks available to children.

ResplandeceFrom the start we on the Shine curriculum team wondered if it would be possible. How were we going to create a Bible storybook and have the first quarter of the new Shine Sunday school curriculum out on time? It was a huge task to write and gather Bible stories for all three years of a children’s curriculum and have it ready with the first quarter of curriculum. This project involved editors, consultants, designers, artists, copyeditors, proofreaders, translators, and people to attend to details like printing specifications and the library of congress numbers. Like the chocolate éclairs it took teamwork.

It has been like the éclairs in another way. The “rave reviews” are coming in. One Mennonite pastor said, “We’ll be buying each child in the congregation a copy. I can imagine that when the children grow up to be camp counselors they will read the stories to younger kids.”

One woman shared Shine On with a friend in Fort Bragg. The friend wrote back,

Oh, how much I love the “Shine Bible”—such a great resource and just so “right on” for kids.  Don’t you wish they could have explained some of the Bible (like they did) when we were young?  They relate everything to the child’s own experiences.

Shine On remains authentic to the text and includes a broad range of Bible texts. It seems to cross denominational  boundaries. A bishop in the Amish church asked me how Shine On was different than other story Bibles. I explained our peacemaking emphasis and told him that it included the story of Amos and the Prayer of Agur. He took a look and bought a copy. His daughter, who teaches at an Amish school, bought one too. In a quite different denominational setting, Shine On was recommended by the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary. You can read the full review here.

The best stories come from the children who are already encountering Shine On. Isabela discovered Resplandece at her Spanish-speaking grandpa’s house. She was delighted, “My other grandpa has it too, but in English.” Now Isabela can enjoy the story Bible with both sets of grandparents and in both of her languages.

Sophia discovered Shine On when she came for vacation at her “adoptive” grandmother’s house. Sophia wrote to us.

I like the book because it has the “Connect” sections and the “Explore” sections ,which ask you questions and get you thinking. I also like that there are so many different authors and illustrations. I like the pictures. I like that every story is only one page long. The authors do a good job of making the stories easy for kids to understand.

 

Sophia Shine Bible

Sophia reading Shine On. Photo by Marty Lehman.

Here are a few other endorsements that we have received:

I really like the children’s Bible. Now more than ever the need to educate parents and get them talking about faith with their children is crucial. Shine On: A Story Bible is one of the best and most accessible ways to get parents doing this. I’m recommending it to churches even if they don’t get the curriculum. —Amy Cook, Missioner for Education, Formation & Discipleship, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

 

These illustrations (drawn by a rich variety of artists) are already replacing those I remember from childhood. Even Leviticus (pages 56–57) comes alive! This is what the Bible looks like. This is what God’s Word looks like. It will unlock these stories for children and adults. These are the illustrations and stories that I would love for children and parents to share for life. —Frank Ramirez, Pastor at Union Center Church of the Brethren

 

Shine On has even gotten to children in Nigeria via Church of the Brethren staff visiting there. I love imagining the hope that these Bible stories might bring in Nigeria and many other parts of the world.

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Daughters of a leader in Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) hold their copy of Shine On. Photo by Markus Gamache.

Primary, Middler, and Multiage Bible stories come from Shine On each week for all three years of the Shine curriculum. Shine On is also a wonderful Bible storybook for churches, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to gift to children. We hope that every child will have a Shine On Bible at home.

To order Shine On, visit www.ShineCurriculum.com or call MennoMedia at 1-800-245-7895. In Canada call 1-800-631-6535.

Rose Stutzman, Shine Project Director

P.S. Make sure to check out the new Shine curriculum training videos on our YouTube channel!