Faith & Life Gatherings Report
The Zoom screens at the Faith & Life Gatherings on February 23 and 24, 2022 were comprised of a beautiful mosaic of different cultures and sentiments. There was a lot of reading as we prepared to discuss the current Mennonite Church USA resolutions before us. Some of the content was heavy, and I thought, “As we continue to journey through this life and sit at these tables, there will be other resolutions to consider, maybe lighter or heavier, but this is kingdom work.”
I sat in appreciation of the conversations that were being formed by pressing and hammering away at our faith and worldviews on accessibility for those with disabilities, repentance and transformation, justice, and membership guidelines. We heard stories that touched our hearts from those who have been at the table with these issues for some time. There were affirmations, concerns, and discussions on how our ministries would be impacted by the possibilities these resolutions presented, or the lack thereof. No one stayed silent; good, bad, or indifferent voices were heard.
This was a difficult gathering space for some. It challenged many of us to envision how much we could be stretched in order to live out our faith. Our Anabaptist values challenge us to live a life of love, peacemaking, and reconciliation. We are called to be at the table to see that injustice is being overcome by good, to be of a mindset that moral authority is more than political power, and that loving, sacrificial service is the highest expression of faithfulness to Christ. Every day is an opportunity to live into God’s purpose for humanity.
The question was asked by a participant, “Are we moving toward Jesus, or are we walking away from Jesus?” It was a question to pause and consider.
As I pondered the question, Psalm 8:3-4 was screaming at me, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (NRSV) God is constantly walking towards us, pursuing us so that we might experience His love. He pursues the rich and the poor, the wholehearted and the brokenhearted, and He has called us the do the same. Let us not walk away but rather remain at the table, doing the hard work that exemplifies whom we are as Kingdom people.
Our meeting was productive with lots of affirmations and acknowledgments of the work being forged. People lamented and mourned the losses and harms that have been experienced during this process, and it is not over.
A new birth is taking place in our faith communities and throughout the world. The work feels like a tug-of-war. There is uncertainty, pushing, and pulling. This will continue until all of the complex pieces fit into place. That fit can only be comfortable when the lion is able to lay down with the lamb in peace. A true picture of God’s kingdom!
This work is a marathon, not a sprint, lest we trip and fall. There was rich conversation that came out of the small groups. But this reflection does not express it all. So come to the table and remember, the race is not given to the swift or the strong, but to the ones who endure to the end.
Peace and blessing as we continue to sit at the table and engage one another in meaningful kingdom work.