Mennonite Heritage Village

The Lesser-Known Counterpart of Advent – Peace and Fear

by Gary Dyck

The theme for this second week of Advent (Christmas) is peace. Once again just like the first theme of hope, if we expect to always be filled with this sentiment and nothing else, we are sure to be let down. Hopefully, this series will encourage those who are overwhelmed by living up to a high standard to appreciate these beautiful Advent themes from the bottom up.

The mixed emotion that goes with peace is fear. Dr. Gordon Neufeld defines fear as an emotion based on alarm that moves us to caution when we are in danger. This built-in alarm keeps us safe in the world and can bring us to a place where we can feel peace again. Peace, just like our general well-being, is not static. We won’t always feel it, but it is something we need to work towards. Alarm helps us do that. After all, it was normal for shepherds in a field at night to feel alarmed when suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared before them, even if that angel says ‘fear not, for I bring you good news’.

As we mature, alarm helps us to develop carefulness, concern, and conscientiousness. Stoicism and a lack of fear should not be mistaken for peace. Many people, including teenagers, have had their natural alarm systems overwhelmed, causing them to tune out. Numbness is not peace. 

It is vital that we take time to accept what alarms us in life and what may cause it in others. To work through it in safe relationships, including supporting our children with care, and not using alarm to control them (ie. threats). Children (and all of us) have enough alarm in this world to deal with. Christmas should be a time where we expect others to not only feel hope and peace, but also doubt and fear. It is a time to feel the complexity of being human. Like so many of the Christmas carols, it should cause us to ponder the current situation of our world and work towards peace.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in the dark street shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

This Christmas I’m excited to announce that the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is giving Steinbach Community Christmas hampers over 400 free season passes for families (a $20,000 value)! Having a safe, historic, and beautiful place to go to regularly can help struggling parents provide calm, positive experiences for their children.

Please consider MHV in your year-end giving. We endeavour to be a place of well-being for our community. Besides our operations, we need to complete our Dirk Willems Peace Garden and trail, maintain 30 plus heritage buildings and monuments, produce a new exhibit every year, and provide robust programming for all ages. Call, visit our website, or mail in your donation today. May we all accept the fears in our lives and find the stability that peace brings.

Upcoming Events (see for the latest info)

  • MHV gift shop and galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday.
  • An Evening with the Authors, December 2, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Darlene Friesen Fehr will read from her new book of poetry and prose, This I Know: Learning from Life Experiences. Bill Massey will read from his memoir, Of Pork & Potatoes. Clint Toews will share from his new book, Behind the Mist: The Beauty of Brokenness in the Things We Cannot See. Admission is free. Proof of vaccination will be required to attend the event. Coffee and dainties will be provided.
  • Winter Day Camp, January 3-5. Kids ages 6-11 can experience the fun of the Mennonite Heritage Village in winter. Enjoy skating, snow-sculpting, crafts, games, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and of course plenty of hot chocolate. Cost is $90 for all three days. Contact Robert Goertzen at or 204-326-9661.