A Trekker Learns Lectio Divina

Trek is a program of Mennonite Brethren Mission and Service International (MBMSI), the global mission agency of Mennonite Brethren churches in Canada. Here is their description of Trek:

Disciples who make disciples

TREK is our most intense short term mission opportunity, designed to help you learn, grow and serve. Our vision is for “Disciples who make disciples.” You will partner with our international missionary teams as they engage in holistic church planting that transforms communities among the least reached. This opportunity is for mature Christians who want to go further in their relationship with God, and broader in their understanding of the global church. If you desire to be real with God, inspired in the company of hard-core believers, serve in overseas missions, and be stretched in exciting and lasting ways, TREK may be the direction for you.

-http://www.mbmsi.org/trek/overview/

Here is how one Trekker is growing and learning a broader understanding (November 2010):

A Trekker’s book list:

Booklist
I have spent a good chunk of time over the past two months of training reading. So to share with you part my TREK journey thus far here is a list of the books I’ve been reading (or will be reading):
Solo, An Uncommon Devotional: The title pretty much speaks for itself; has helped me a lot in meeting God in new ways through Lectio Divina
• Steve Klassen – Studies in the Book of Mark: Steve has been a big part of TREK training by taking us on a journey through Mark, leading us in discipleship lessons, running our silent retreat, and he has a hazlenut orchard that we’ve worked on a couple times.
• Claiborn & Perkins – Follow Me to Freedom: I picked this one up at the suggestion of a friend who has lead me in the past; it has powerful words about radical Godly leadership (just up my alley!)
• Rhodes – …Catholics: This was a random I picked up in hopes to learn a bit more about Catholics, what they believe in, and how I respond (a large majority of Portugal is traditionally Catholic)
http://www.worksinme.com/2010/11/booklist.html

Book #1:
This Trekker is correct. The ancient method of Roman Catholic practice of prayer called Lectio Divina certainly will be learned by reading The Message//REMIX Solo: An Uncommon Devotional by Eugene Peterson, as its description states:

Bask in God’s presence as you read, think, pray, and live his Word! Calling you to the ancient practice of lectio divina, “divine reading” Peterson offers more than 365 devotions featuring selected passages from The Message, reflection questions, prayer suggestions, and life applications. His guided meditations will help you better understand yourself and the God who created you. 304 pages, paperback from NavPress.

Book #2:
This Trekker’s choice of Shane Claiborne’s Follow Me To Freedom doesn’t appear to be required reading for Trekkers, but is still an alarming choice for anyone going into missions. The following (from pages 204, 205) is only one example where this book reveals its ecumenical, emerging church slant:

“We need the fire of the Pentecostals. We need the roots of the Catholics and the Orthodox…we need the politics of the Anabaptists and the Grace of the Quakers…and to celebrate the good and try to reproduce it.
My friend Phyllis Tickle…says that every few hundred years the church needs a rummage sale.”

Book #3:
It’s not a surprise to see Steve Klassen’s book on this Trek book list, since Trekkers spend time at the contemplative Mark Centre for part of their training, where Steve Klassen is the director/founder of the Mennonite Brethren contemplative Mark Centre, where pastors, church leaders and missionaries are taught ancient Roman Catholic contemplative prayer methods.

Book #4:
Ironically, the last book choice for this Trekker on Roman Catholicism by Ron Rhodes does not go together with the views of the other selections at all since it is contrary to their messages, but it just may be the wisest. Hopefully by reading this one, the Trekker will learn to question and counter the falsehoods he is learning in the rest of his Trek reading choices regarding Roman Catholicism.

The question that must be asked, simply because if Menno Simons were here today, he would ask it, is the following.

Is this what all Mennonite Brethren Mission and Service International Trekkers are learning as their understanding of the global church is broadened?

Unfortunately, the answer may be a shocking – yes.

RELATED:

Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why It is a Dangerous Practice
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8368

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WWJB – Where was Jesus Born?


“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
Micah 5:2

On the front cover of the December 2010 MB Herald is a picture of the statue of an angel on a Franciscan chapel in Bethlehem. Inside the magazine is the following description:

Chapel designed by Franciscan monk Antonio Barluzzi at the Roman Catholic site of the Shepherds Fields, Beit Sahour, West Bank.”

Shepherds Field is just outside the town of Beit Sahour, east of Bethlehem, where it is believed that the angel appeared to the shepherds and announced the birth of Jesus.

Luke 2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

What does the birth certificate of Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, say He was born? In Palestine? West Bank? Or in Israel, of the tribe of Judah in the house of David, as the fulfillment of prophecy?

THE city of Bethlehem (or House of Bread) lies within the territory assigned to the tribe of Judah. It lies in the midst of what was a fertile country, about six miles south by west from Jerusalem. The ancient city was beautifully situated on a commanding ridge, 2700 feet above the level of the sea. The hills around it were terraced, and clothed with vines, fig trees, and almonds, and the surrounding valleys yielded luxuriant harvests of grain. Jacob buried Rachel near its gate, and it was the home of Ruth and the birthplace of David, and ” David’s greater son ” the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bible Cities: Bethlehem

According to the Bible, isn’t the name of the land where Bethlehem, the city of David, is situated, Israel? (See 12 Keys To Understanding Israel In The Bible .) We as believers need to be careful not not to join or ad to the politically correct confusion by labeling it anything else.

Related:

Jesus Called it ‘Israel’
http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/07/jesus_called_it_israel.html

Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem, Part 1
http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/grace-to-you/player/jesus-birth-in-bethlehem-part-1-150732.html

“Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem–Part 2”
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/42-23.htm

Messianic Prophecy – Compelling Predictions [and Fulfillment by Jesus Christ]
http://www.allabouttruth.org/messianic-prophecy.htm

Palestine: Its Origin, Composition and Future
http://www.bibleguidance.co.za/Engarticles/Palestine.htm

MB Herald promotes ancient rhythms of monastic prayer

On page 34 of the December 2010 MB Herald is an ad for a book by Arthur Boers called Day by Day These Things We Pray – Uncovering Ancient Rhythms of Prayer (Herald Press 2010). This book is a revision and expansion of an earlier book by Boers called The Rhythm of God’s Grace: Uncovering Morning and Evening Hours of Prayer.

Arthur Paul Boers (D.Min., Northern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of pastoral theology at Tyndale Seminary (Toronto). He is an ordained minister in the Mennonite Church USA and a Benedictine oblate at St. Gregory’s Abbey (Three Rivers, Michigan). [Oblates affiliate themselves with a monastery and vow to live according to monastic priorities].

In this book he writes about the monastic prayer disciplines (fixed hours of prayer, the daily office, etc.) which he first learned of while in university when he found a book in a discard bin by Jesuit priest and activist Daniel Berrigan that made him realize he had much to learn from other traditions.

On the back of Day by Day These Things We Pray is an endorsement by Eugene Peterson, author of the Message, who says “This could well be the most important teaching on prayer you will ever get.” (Peterson has also written the foreword in another book book by Boers, page 9.)

Can we conclude that by his endorsements, the author of the popular paraphrase The Message (which was written by a man, not the Holy Spirit) believes there is nothing wrong with a Mennonite converting to the contemplative spirituality of the Desert Fathers and St. Benedict? Peterson himself is a promoter of contemplative/mystical spirituality as we can see in the evidence of his own writings and endorsements of other contemplative authors so this is no surprise. But why is the MB Herald advertising a book by a Mennonite oblate who practices the Benedictine rules of prayer?

Boers is also an editor of Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book, which is also promoted in the MB Herald on page 34 beside Day by Day These Things We Pray.

Note: While one of the main missions of the MB Herald is to “teach and equip for ministry by reflecting MB theology, values and heritage and by sharing the good news,” they have included a disclaimer in fine print that says “Advertising and inserts should not be considered to carry editorial endorsement.” As this magazine is distributed to the Mennonite flock, the sheep will just have to be discerning enough to know what is spiritually safe and and unsafe. Reader beware.

The Mennonites, Brian McLaren and the Neopagan Gospel Unite

Brian McLaren has written a chapter in a book called The Love: Of the Fifth Spiritual Paradigm, published by The Oracle Institute.

On page two of this book is a Prayer for Mother Earth by Joyce Pace Byrd, a spiritual guide who has a collection of poetry called Poems from the Labyrinth. On page 4 is Sophia and Sustainability by Bernice H. Hill, senior analyst at the C.B. Jung Institute, who writes on page 5: “It is written that Sophia pre-existed God and gave birth to the male godhead.” In chapter ten of The Love, sandwiched between The Metta Sutta: The Buddha’s Teaching on Love by Karen Lang and Why Are There So Many Religions? by Barbara Talley (member of the Bahai Faith which promotes a belief in one continually unfolding religion), is Brian McLaren’s contribution called Good News for All People.

But what exactly is McLaren’s good news for all people? Is it the good news of the gospel, that Christ was our substitute on the cross where He died for our sins and was resurrected so that we might have eternal life through Him?

In the following section McLaren explains why his understanding of the Christian message will be good news even for non-Christians:

Even if only a few would practice this new way, many would benefit. Oppressed people would be free. Poor people would be liberated from poverty. Minorities would be treated with respect. Sinners would be loved, not resented. Industrialists would realize that God cares for sparrows and wildflowers so their industries should respect, not rape, the environment. . . . The kingdom of God would come not everywhere at once, not suddenly, but gradually, like a seed growing in a field, like yeast spreading in a lump of bread dough, like light spreading across the sky at dawn.44

In most matters of historical, theological importance, McLaren is quite doubtful that one can be sure of anything. He considers the Bible to be mostly narrative.45 He concludes that only persons who naively do not realize that their understanding of the Bible comes from Enlightenment foundationalism think that terms such as authority, inerrancy, infallibility, revelation, objective, absolute, and literal are appropriate to justify ones view of the Bible.46 By making the Bible mostly narrative,47 McLaren hopes so save it from yielding a clear theology and create space for his own planetary salvation gospel.

Source- Emergent Delusion
A Critique of Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy

http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue87.htm

Further proof that McLaren’s “good news for all” is another gospel is further evidenced by the mission and beliefs of the publisher of The Love, The Oracle Institute:

The Mission of the Oracle Institute shall be to serve as an Advocate for Enlightenment and a Vanguard for Spiritual Evolution.
-http://theoracleinstitute.org/authorspage

The Oracle Institute was founded in 2004 by Laura George and a group of like-minded souls who believe that the world is on the verge of a major Spiritual Paradigm shift, the likes of which we have not seen since Jesus left the planet. The Oracle founders also believe that we have the ability to co-create with God – and with you – to manifest the future we seek. To us, our collective future depends on earnestly seeking and then holding fast to: Truth, Love, and Light.
-http://theoracleinstitute.org/cms/founders-page

In their description of The Love, The Oracle Institute states:

This international collection of essays, articles, and poetry explores the core message relayed to us by the great prophets: Love is the Way. The narrator of this work is Laurel from The Oracle Institute, who believes that humanity is at the dawn of the New Millennium – the prophesied era of peace and Love which represents the fifth stage of humanity’s collective spiritual evolution (…) the enlightened teachers assembled in The Love also have an urgent warning: We shall not survive this critical juncture of human history nor reach our God-given potential unless we embrace each other, our planet, and the animals which now depend upon us for their survival. Therefore, until a unifying theosophy emerges to end sectarian strife, humanity should adopt the simple yet elusive … religion of Love.
-http://www.bookmasters.com/marktplc/02774.htm

Besides their New Age bent and tolerance of any religion except for Christianity, the symbol of The Oracle Institute (see: theoracleinstitute.org) is the Pentagram.

Many Neopagans, especially Wiccans, use the pentagram as a symbol of their faith similar to the Christian cross or the Jewish Star of David. It is not, however, a universal symbol for Neopaganism, and is rarely used in actual rituals and spells that Pagans and Wiccans actively practice in. It is more of a religious symbolism that is commonly explained by reference to the basic understanding that the five points of the pentagram represent the four elements air, earth, fire, and water with the addition of Spirit as the uppermost point. As a representation of the elements, the pentagram is involved in the Wiccan practice of summoning the elemental spirits of the four directions at the beginning of a ritual.

The outer circle of the “circumscribed” pentagram is sometimes interpreted as binding the elements together or bringing them into united harmony with each other. The Neopagan pentagram is generally displayed with one point up, mostly because of the “inverted” goat’s head pentagram’s association with Satanism; however, within traditional forms of Wicca a pentagram with two points up is associated with the Second Degree Initiation and in this context has no relation to Satanism.

Wiccan and Pagans do not believe in Satan or what Satan traditionally represents. They instead worship gods such as Gaia, The Horned God, and often Norse, Greek, and Egyptian gods.

http://www.thenewageblog.com/pentacle-vs-pentagram/

It’s no surprise that McLaren’s ‘good news’ gospel fits into the pages of a book published by such an organization. In his book Everything Must Change (pp.262-263), Brian McLaren suggested following the global model of Jim Garrison, now the director of Wisdom University, a school of esoteric/occult studies (www.wisdomuniversity.org).

From what he said at Northwest Nazarene University in 2009, it sounds like McLaren’s good news for all people is not about saving lost souls, but saving the earth…

For three days in February this year at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, Brian McLaren, a leader of this movement, redefined Christianity. He said the term “the world” in John 3:16 is not talking about spiritually lost people, but is talking about the Earth. They then showed a film by the Sierra Club.

He says Jesus came to save and die for the Earth? He then said the term “Kingdom of God” is not a spiritual term or a religious term, but it is a political term and that it meant God’s eco-system or God’s global love economy.

Source: Defining The Emergent Church Movement by Nathan Jones

This is not the gospel of the Bible, but this is the direction that McLaren and his new kind of Christianity is headed. Only those whose feet are firmly planted on the Rock (Jesus Christ) and His Word will stand firm while those who compromise and ignore it will continue to slide down the slippery slope of deception.

“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” Matthew 12:30

This should shed some new light on the upcoming Refreshing Winds 2011 conference with Brian McLaren which is being promoted in the December MB Herald. Where is the discernment? Do the Mennonite Brethren leaders know they are promoting a teacher whose ‘gospel’ resonates with neo-pagans and will lead many away from the truth? Shouldn’t the readers of the MB Herald and members or contributors to CMU or the MB Conference of churches be extremely alarmed about this latest promotion? Why are they condoning this teacher who preaches another gospel? Will anyone speak out? Where are the watchmen?

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:13

Note: While one of the main missions of the MB Herald is to “teach and equip for ministry by reflecting MB theology, values and heritage and by sharing the good news,” they have included a disclaimer in fine print that says “Advertising and inserts should not be considered to carry editorial endorsement.” As this magazine is distributed to the Mennonite flock, the sheep will just have to be discerning enough to know what is spiritually safe and unsafe. But are they? Reader beware.

Related:

Brian McLaren Denies the Gospel
http://thinkerup.blogspot.com/2006/06/brian-mclaren-denies-gospel_24.html

Brian McLaren and Mountain building–The 5th Spiritual Paradigm…
http://livingjourney.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/brian-mclaren-and-mountain-buildingthe-5th-spiritual-paradigm/

Naked Bridge Builder comes to Canadian Christian University
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/naked-bridge-builder-comes-to-winnipeg/

Update:

Refreshing Winds
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/refreshing-winds/

*Also find Refreshing Winds review Parts 1-5 HERE.

*NEW (May 2011):

Connecting the “Dots” on Brian McLaren
http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/uncategorized/connecting-the-dots-on-brian-mclaren

UPDATE: ***NEW*** (July, 2011)

Surprise, Surprise…Brian Mclaren Aligns (openly) with New Age Leaders
http://www.ericbarger.com/mclaren.NA.htm

Brian McLaren Finally Comes Out of the Closet as a New Ager
http://solasisters.blogspot.com/2011/07/brian-mclaren-finally-comes-out-of.html

*** UPDATE:

Brian McLaren Leads Commitment Ceremony At Son’s Same-Sex Wedding

McLaren family wedding ceremony included “traditional Christian elements.”
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2012/09/brian_mclaren_l.html

MB Herald Promotes Brian McLaren

As we shine the spot light on page 22 of the MB Herald (December 2010 issue), we find a half page ad promoting the following:

Refreshing Winds 2011
A Biennial Conference on Worship & Music at Canadian Mennonite University
Here in This Place: Worship in Context
Feb 3-5, 2011
with Brian McLaren & Steve Bell

Emerging church leader Brian McLaren will be speaking on Naked Spirituality, which is the title of his next soon to be released book (Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words). There is already praise for this book coming from McLaren’s fellow false teachers:

“Wise, easy to read, and practical.”
— Fr. Richard Rohr, author of The Naked Now
“A rich, brilliant and important book: wonderfully readable and personal, filled with insight and wisdom, it invites us into practices that can transform our lives.”
— Marcus J. Borg, author of Speaking Christian
Source: Harper Collins Publishers

Marcus Borg, called by some an enemy of Jesus and the cross, believes that Jesus and Buddha were equals and that Christianity is a way. Richard Rohr, Roman Catholic priest and universalist, believes that Jesus and Buddha offer parallel paths to the awakening of God’s presence. At a conference callled Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening, Rohr taught the equality of Buddha with Christ and the indwelling of God in all things.

These are the false teachers who praise Brian McLaren for his wisdom and his teachings, for all to see. How much more obvious must this deception get before the church wakes up? While it’s too bad that musician Steve Bell is following the wolf pack, it is even worse that the MB Herald is promoting Brian McLaren in conjunction with CMU, to their ABSOLUTE UNREPENTANT SHAME before Jesus Christ and His Word which warns the church about false teachers and heresy.

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 2:1

And what does Brian McLaren teach?

“…what does Brian McLaren actually teach? Some pretty disturbing things! You can go to the first and second articles that list a series of quotes from him. In them you will see how troubling Brian McLaren’s teachings really are. Among the quotes, he states things like Christianity is a little true, that perhaps our understanding of Christianity is wrong, that masculine pronouns used to describe God should be avoided, that we probably haven’t got the gospel right yet, that understanding nothing is good, that Gandhi followed the way of Christ, that being saved is not being saved from God’s damnation, that we haven’t got the homosexuality issue right, and that systematic theology is a practice in arrogance.”
Who is Brian McLaren?
http://carm.org/brian-mclaren

Every person will have to answer for themselves before God. MB leaders included. LORD HAVE MERCY!

Note: While one of the main missions of the MB Herald is to “teach and equip for ministry by reflecting MB theology, values and heritage and by sharing the good news,” they have included a disclaimer in fine print that says “Advertising and inserts should not be considered to carry editorial endorsement.” As this magazine is distributed to the Mennonite flock, the sheep will just have to be discerning enough to know what is spiritually safe and and unsafe. Reader beware.

Also see:

A list of quotes to make you cringe — with comments
http://carm.org/emerging-list-quotes-make-you-cringe

Brian McLaren Quotes, ‘Bible’ to ‘Homosexuality’
http://carm.org/brian-mclaren-quotes-bible-homosexuality

Brian McLaren Quotes, ‘Ignorance is bliss’ to ‘Theology’
http://carm.org/brian-mclaren-quotes-ignorance-bliss-theology

Brian McLaren: A Prime Example Of Diaprax!
by Sandy Simpson
http://www.letusreason.org/Emerge3.htm

WHO IS RICHARD ROHR?
http://apprising.org/2008/05/10/who-is-richard-rohr/

Who is Marcus Borg?
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b62.html

MARCUS BORG: JESUS AND BUDDHA WERE EQUALS AND CHRISTIANITY IS A WAY
http://apprising.org/2007/12/07/marcus-borg-jesus-and-buddha-were-equals-and-christianity-is-a-way/

Marcus Borg
Member of the Heretical Jesus Seminar And the author and promoter of “The God We Never Knew”

http://www.crossroad.to/Excerpts/books/unholy-alliances/borg/never-knew.htm

*ADDED NOTE:
McLaren has also spoken at The Center for Spiritual Development in Portland, Oregon, a center where yoga, sufism, reiki and other New Age concepts are taught. In June of 2006 McLaren shared the platform with Marcus Borg at the center.

A traditional Calendar of Christmas – for Mennonites or Catholics?

On page 7 of the December 2010 MB Herald is ‘A traditional Calendar of Christmas‘ which is a list of Advent fasts, feasts and traditions, some of which most Mennonites have never needed to know about – until now.

One such tradition is called Quadragesima of Saint Philip (the nativity season of fasting and prayer to draw closer to God) of Byzantine Rite Christians on November 15th.

Another one on the calendar list is St. Andrew’s Day on November 30th. Here is some interesting info on this patron saint of Scotland and the traditions surrounding this day:

Like most important saints, Andrew was not left in his tomb to rest in peace. According to St. Jerome, Andrew’s remains were taken from Patras to Constantinople in the fourth century by order of the Roman emperor Constantine an, according to tradition, a few body parts were taken by St. Rule to Scotland before they made it to Constantinople. These relics were held in St. Andrew’s Cathedral, but were likely destroyed in the Scottish Reformation. In 1208, St. Andrew’s remains were moved from Constantinople to the Church of Sant’ Andrea in Amalfi, Italy. In the 15th century, Andrew’s head was brought to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
In 1879, the Archbishop of Amalfi sent Andrew’s shoulder blade to the reestablished Catholic community in Scotland. In September 1964, Pope Paul VI returned Andrew’s head to Patras as a gesture of goodwill to the Christians in Greece. In 1969, when Gordon Gray was in Rome to be appointed the first Scottish Cardinal since the Reformation, he was given some relics of St. Andrew with the words, “Saint Peter gives you his brother.” These are now displayed in a reliquary in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh.
Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Russia and Scotland, as well as fishermen, singers, unmarried women, and would-be mothers.

http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/holidays/st_andrews_day.htm

In some parts of Europe a superstitious belief exists of magic the night before St. Andrew’s that may reveal a young woman’s future husband to her. Related customs include the pouring of hot lead into water in order to divine the future husband’s profession depending on the shape of the resulting piece. In some areas, young women would drink wine and perform a spell, called Andreasgebet (Saint Andrew’s prayer), while kicking a straw bed in the nude. This was how to magically attract her future husband [SOURCE].

Another feast the MB Herald promotes is St. Barbara’s Day (December 4th). Saint Barbara was a mythological martyr whose legend cannot be confirmed. As the legend goes, she was carefully guarded by her pagan father who kept her locked in a tower in order to protect her from the world. When she secretly became a Christian, he drew his sword to slay her but her prayers opened the tower wall, miraculously transporting Barabara to a mountain gorge. One shepherd protected her from her father, but another who betrayed her was turned to stone, his sheep into locusts. After being dragged away and tortured, every morning her wounds were miraculously healed and fire wouldn’t burn her. Finally she was condemned to beheading by her father who was then struck by lightning. Barbara’s tomb became the site of miracles. On her feast day, unmarried members of the family are to go out into the orchard and cut twigs from the cherry trees. The one who picked the cherry twig that blossoms on Christmas Day can expect to get married next, and is considered to be “Mary’s favorite.”. St. Barabara is one of the most popular saints of the Catholic Church.

Other feasts the MB Herald promotes on this calendar are St. Nicholas’ Day and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a uniquely Catholic feast, on December 8th. Of no small matter is the fact that the doctrine of the immaculate conception is not taught in the Bible.

Then there is St. Lucia’s Day on December 13th. Saint Lucy was a martyr who supposedly couldn’t be picked up by the guards who came to take her away because she was so filled with the Holy Spirit that she was “stiff and heavy as a mountain.” Even when they hitched her to a team of oxen they could not budge her. Finally, after implanting a dagger through her throat they say she prophesied against her persecutor. Unfounded and even absent in the many narratives and traditions is the story of Lucia’s torture by eye-gouging. This is why paintings are seen of her holding a plate with two eyeballs. Speaking of body parts, Lucy’s are kept to this day as relics by Roman Catholics; her head lies beneath a silver mask on a pillow (see here) at her church, the Church of Saints Geremia. [Also read Santa Lucia of the gondoliers brought home to Sicily after a millennium.] Today there are all kinds of traditions, celebrations and even prayers to St. Lucy, the symbol of light.

Another traditional feast day called St. Thomas’ Day, listed by the MB Herald for December 13th, has technically been changed and is now celebrated on July 3rd, but previously…

In some parts of central Europe ancient customs of “driving demons away are practiced on the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle (December 21) and during the following nights (Rough Nights), with much noise, cracking of whips, ringing of hand bells, and parades of figures in horrible masks.
In a Christianized version of this custom farmers will walk through the buildings and around the farmyard, accompanied by a son or one of the farm hands. They carry incense and holy water, which they sprinkle around as they walk. Meanwhile, the rest of the family and servants are gathered in the living room reciting the rosary. This rite is to sanctify and bless the whole farm in preparation for Christmas, to keep all evil spirits away on the festive days, and to obtain God’s special protection for the coming year.
— Handbook of Christian Feast and Customs, ©1952.

The MB Herald also lists St. Sylvester’s Day, a day when the Roman Catholic Church honors St. Sylvester (Pope Sylvester), a Roman Christian who became pope in 314 and continued in that role (during the reign of Constantine) until his death in 335. His feast day falls on December 31 and is celebrated in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland [SOURCE]. The relics of Pope St Sylvester were exhumed and re-enshrined beneath the high altar of the church dedicated to him, San Silvestro. On his feast day, Catholics gain a plenary indulgence by reciting the Te Deum [SOURCE].

There is something odd about seeing this calendar in the MB Herald. If the Mennonites consider Christmas to be about the birth of Jesus (supposedly ‘the reason for the season’) why is it that the MB Herald is encouraging Mennonites to remember these days and traditions that are dedicated to the dead and surrounded by undocumented legend, superstition, and relic worship? Are there any Mennonites, besides the MB Herald contributors, who would even want to start practicing these traditions, none of which have anything to do with Jesus?

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 4:4

NOTE:

On page 6 of the December MB Herald we read: “The tradition of making an Advent wreath is sometimes attributed to Martin Luther.” However, some sources suggest that the circular Advent Wreath and its candles are actually pre-Christian, a Pagan practice absorbed into Christian observances like many Pagan rites as Christian conversion spread across Europe. [Source: Pagan Origin, Use of the Advent Wreath: Christmas, Winter Solstice Symbolize Need for Spiritual Light] Read also about the Wheel of the Year.

Regardless of the controversy which surrounds so many Christmas traditions (such as the wreath and the Christmas tree which have their roots in paganism, requiring discernment, maturity and personal conviction to deal with) what about the origin of all the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church? [See: What is the origin of the Catholic Church?] Isn’t this a prime example of Christianity compromised with tradition and pagan religion that we should avoid? Why does the MB Herald continue to encourage such compromise with Roman Catholicism and the very traditions that Menno Simons condemned? Are these “traditional calendar” events also considered part of the Mennonite rites of worship which was the theme in the last MB Herald issue? Do the Mennonites realize that they are slowly returning to the church that Menno Simons left?

See also:

Do some Christmas traditions have pagan origins?
http://www.gotquestions.org/Christmas-traditions.html