This year, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan has been “deepening our walk with one another” as part of a three-year initiative to call us to deeper life with Christ, ourselves and our neighbours.
In a report prepared by the regional church’s reference group, there is a quote by Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
So what is our deep gladness as MC Saskatchewan? At the recent national mission consultation in Calgary, a group of us from Saskatchewan identified that hospitality could be our gift from the Holy Spirit. We genuinely love to be together. In our work projects, our fundraising efforts together, and anything else we do, we find wholeness and a deeper understanding of Christ because we have done these tasks together.
This is a love story, people. As a parent, there is a moment when your child stands before you after having breathed out those weighty words, “Mom/Dad, I’ve got something to show you.” He dips his head down, not to check on what mysterious treasure is emerging from a curiously soggy jean pocket, but to check his own heart for the courage to bring forward that “treasure.” This is the vulnerability that I hope we share with one another in our lives together as believers.
This call to deepen our walk with one another calls for the kind of courage we may not possess in and of ourselves. Deepening my walk with a brother or sister who may rub me the wrong way requires a momentous amount of vulnerability. But, because we know that we have a place in Christ (Romans 8:15), and that we are loved (I John 3:1), commissioned (Matthew 28:18-20), and blessed with the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17), we have all we need and are uniquely equipped to deepen relationships with our brothers and sisters.
In helping our neighbours, we are able to activate that great Mennonite superpower of service. Get out and do! Go forth and serve! Carry out acts and live lives full of social justice. These are all good things.
We can operate in our heads more easily here, and that is safe. But it is that place where our deep gift of hospitality to welcome the other and the world’s deep need for a place to belong with purpose and meaning can intersect and make a space for God’s presence here on Earth.
This is the place where vulnerability and love—that kind of love that calls us to take our gifts out of the soggy pockets of our lives—begin to allow for God to rule and reign in us. We sit in our meetings, Bible studies and coffee times, and hope against hope that we will learn to love each other a little more deeply. This is not just the work of MC Saskatchewan, it is the work of all of us who need to find our people and our place in God’s kingdom.
This is our love story. We want to live with transparent hope and incandescent grace, making way for the intersection of God’s great gift of hospitality to us and the deep need of the people around us to encounter true acceptance. Accepted for hidden treasures and soggy-jean lives, we welcome all.
Andrea Enns-Gooding is pastor of Zoar Mennonite Church, Waldheim, and a member of the MC Saskatchewan Council.