When the people gather

July 27, 2011 | Viewpoints | Number 15
Willard Metzger |

The gathering of God’s People is critically important for faith from an Anabaptist perspective. For Anabaptists, the community of faith is a unique and critical environment for experiencing the presence of God’s Spirit.

Popular Christianity prioritizes the individual’s relationship with God. In this mindset, it is the responsibility of the individual to adequately secure the desired direction of God through private prayer and reflection. The direction can also be tested with a few trusted friends.

When the people gather God is present. Anabaptists prioritize the community of faith as the necessary context for discerning the direction of the Spirit of God. While God also relates to us as individuals, it is in the context of the gathered community of faith where God is best manifested. We hear the voice of God through one another, corporate worship and discernment.

When the people gather God’s love is present. Community is not only a place where the presence of God is realized, it is also a time when God’s love is evidenced. It is in the gathered community of faith where God’s desired outcome is visible. How the People of God relate to one another and discern difficult matters together reflects the character of God’s kingdom. The example of such a gathering serves as an attractive invitation.

This is why our Assemblies are such an important exercise as Mennonite Church Canada. Each week, these gatherings occur in congregational worship and study. In addition some congregations gather from time to time as larger clusters for joint worship services. Area Churches will meet to discern and worship in a larger forum. And finally Area Churches and congregations join together in a national gathering to worship and discern together. These are all important times for the body of Christ. Each gathering is the environment where God directs and leads the church.

From Waterloo to Vancouver—Ontario to British Columbia—the Church convenes to experience and express the presence of God. We experience the presence of God in our midst and express the presence of God to one another.

When the people gather good things happen. For in the gathering is a fresh opportunity to practice and receive God’s love.

Willard Metzger is General Secretary of Mennonite Church Canada.

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