When you live on the west side of the Rocky Mountains and sometimes feel isolated from the rest of the country, what does it mean to be part of our nationwide family of faith?
This summer’s nationwide gathering in Abbotsford promises to bring that connection closer to home for us here in B.C. As Mennonite Church British Columbia hosts MC Canada folks from across the country, MC B.C. people will connect with our brothers and sisters in the faith, and we trust that this will be reciprocated. It will be a time to celebrate the movement of the Spirit of God both locally and around the world as we come together to share and learn.
For many, MC Canada assemblies were like family gatherings. People reconnected with friends and family they might not have seen since the previous year. This is the spirit in which we gather to “ignite the imagination of the church.” We are a family, and even the best, most functional family has members who don’t agree with each other about everything. In fact, even their memories are in different colours! But they are family. The love that brought them into being continues to connect them, and so with us.
God’s love for each of us individually, and as a community, inspires and will be the force that ignites the church’s future. This is not something we dream up; it is a reality to be claimed and to be curious about.
This future requires vision and courage to try new things. We are all aware that the “same old” isn’t the same anymore. As Richard Rohr wrote in his daily meditation several weeks ago, some of us never get past the “cleaning up” stage to the “growing up,” “waking up,” or “showing up” stages. We need our imaginations sharpened and our eyes wide open as we participate in “kingdom come” here on earth as it is in heaven. An awareness of God’s presence is key to total confidence in being beloved and living as the beloved in the community God has placed us.
Think of Moses and the burning bush, or hear the disciples who walked with Jesus to Emmaus say they felt their hearts burning within them as he talked with them, or remember Christmas Eve candlelight services. All are images of igniting something that may start small but then grows. From one candle others are lit, and soon what was a darkened sanctuary is beautifully alight. Everyone participates; no age, gender or race barriers here. Igniting is a group event and, in this case, it takes the whole church.
On Easter Sunday in my home church, there was paska and coffee in the adult Sunday school class. As folks were helping themselves, word of it leaked out into the halls and one young man came into the room to see if he could have some.
“What’s the password?” someone asked.
“Um. . . . He is risen?” he queried quietly.
“Help yourself,” came the reply.
With that, word of both the paska and the password gained momentum, and soon there was a line-up of youth repeating, “He is risen,” and sharing in our paska communion.
When imaginations are ignited, the possibilities are endless. All are welcome to Gathering 2019, to share something so contagious that it cannot be contained but must indeed be shared.
Lee Dyck is moderator of Mennonite Church British Columbia.
Further reading about Gathering 2019:
What to expect at MC Canada's annual general meeting?
Gathering 2019 events
Gathering 2019 is for the whole family
Meet the speaker for Gathering 2019
Welcome to Gathering 2019
Raspberry capital beckons Gathering 2019
Places to visit while at Gathering 2019
Prepare for something new and yet familiar
Come and let your imagination be ignited