The headline read, “So long, 2022, let us hope 2023 will be better."  

The headline read, “So long, 2022, let us hope 2023 will be better."  

Every New Year’s it’s the same thing: newspapers, comic pages, and blog posts tend to emphasize the negative as they reflect on the year that was. Lists of the year’s top news events are filled with stories of war, disasters, and crime. New Year’s resolutions focus thoughts on our personal inadequacies. The turning of the calendar is seen as turning toward a future that couldn’t possibly be as bad as what we just went through. It is such a pattern that on January 3 a satirical news website offered that Canadians were already giving up on 2023, choosing to pin their hopes on 2024 instead.

So much of our perception of the year that has passed is affected by our mindset. We see what we expect to see. But as we look back we can also choose what to look for. After a particularly hard year a friend of mine wrote his year-end letter in two parts. The first half described how it had been the worst year of his life. The second half ran parallel to the first, but this time stated how it had been the best year ever. Both perspectives held truth at the same time, even in recounting the same events.

As I reflect back on 2022 I see many aspects that were difficult and challenging. But I also see so many positives—so many ways God’s spirit of healing and hope was present in the world in real and tangible ways:

  • The ebbing of the covid pandemic and relaxing of restrictions allowed MCA’s congregations to reconnect as communities in ways that had not been possible for nearly two years. A highlight for me was the in-person Gathering of our Mennonite Church Canada faith family in Edmonton this past summer, which brought together 225 people from across the country.
  • The calling of pastoral leadership for Foothills, Holyrood, Bethel, and First Mennonite Edmonton; the calling of volunteers and staff both young and old to the ministry at Camp Valaqua; and the calling of many others who gave of their time and gifts in service to congregations and the broader ministries we share.
  • The living out of the 3rd year of MCA’s action plan: Encountering, Embracing, Embodying Christ in the World. Globally, International Witness continues to build the church through relationships in a dozen other countries around the world. This includes pastoral supports and training in Thailand and Ethiopia. MCA has also provided funding for 2 church leaders from South Sudanese refugee camps to attend the Meserete Kristos Seminary in Ethiopia. As congregations reconnect and reset, many are asking about ways to be more present in their local communities outside their walls.
  • Seeing efforts made towards peace and wholeness of relationship in a world torn by division, injustice, and environmental destruction. MCA’s Bridge Building Facilitator is nurturing intercultural and interfaith relationships, while our nationwide church has invested in staff to assist in caring for creation and building relationships with Indigenous people.

As people of faith we long for a future when God’s healing and restoration will be made real for all creation. Yet that hope is built on the way we have seen God at work in the past, even through times of hardship and challenge. We see hope shining through in the highs and lows of the biblical story, we see it in the rich history of the church and MCA congregations, and we see it in our lives in so many ways--even in the year that was.

As we look back, may we recognize the many ways God has been with us, even as we anticipate God’s presence in the future to come!