By Marco Güete, Leadership Minister
On a trip this year to walk the Camino de Santiago, a network of ancient pilgrimage routes in Spain, someone said to my wife, Sandra, and me: “Be prepared, you are going to a town that is an oven with hellish heat.” We were worried about the heat that awaited us. After six hours and 23 km walking on almost flat terrain, we arrived at Hornillos del Camino, a city in the north of Spain.
To our surprise, the weather was not hot; rather, it was a bit cold. It was the month of May. We slept in Hornillos one night. When people have not been to a place, they imagine things. In this case, because of the name Hornillos (meaning kilns), the person thought the city would be as hot as an oven. The reality is that the name of the city came from the many pottery kilns in the ninth century. Today those kilns do not exist.
As we continued our walk, my wife and I thought we would reach a town below sea level. But it was not like that. The town was in a valley on the side of a mountain. We discovered that we had to go up and then down the mountain to follow a path to the next town, Castrojeriz, which was 19 km away. We climbed and climbed at a slow pace to conserve our energy. The summit seemed unattainable, but finally after a long time, we reached the top of the mountain.
The landscape in front of us was otherworldly, almost divine, maddeningly beautiful. There are no words to describe it. My wife could not contain herself. Very excitedly she began to praise God out loud, sang hymns of worship, and danced as we went back down the mountain. Some walkers were motivated by her joy. To see the splendor of God’s creation, we had to suffer going up the mountain, burn energy, sweat, and overcome any discouragement.
The church is similar to an unknown place to which we plan a trip. Before going, we imagine and dream, but when we arrive at the place, we find things differently.
The conferences and institutions of the Mennonite Church are like this. They are not what they were in the past, nor will they be in the future what they are today. God is constantly doing new things by transforming and renewing the old. God also transforms his church, and his church is us. What we imagine about the church disappears when we discover new things and implement changes. And sometimes, like my wife, we cannot contain ourselves when we see what God has done.
Marco Güete is the Leadership Minister for Florida for Mosaic Conference.