I remember a conversation with my mom when I was a child.
“Why is there a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but no Children’s Day?” I asked.
My mom’s answer was rather predictable, “Every day is Children’s Day!”
Across Canada, on Oct. 24, we celebrated Mennonite Church Canada’s International Witness Sunday. This was a joyful acknowledgement of the partners and programs we support in our global family of faith. As I reflect on taking this one Sunday a year to focus on these relationships, a similar question comes to my mind: Should this be a once-a-year event? How do we daily view ourselves as a church?
Core to Anabaptist teaching is the focus on community as the centre of our lives. The congregation is the locus of our worship, teaching and service. We live faith together, not as individuals. There is strength and a rootedness that come from that. But is this the extent of the coming kingdom that we long for and pray for?
I recently received confirmation that I will be attending the Global Mission Fellowship gathering at Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Assembly in Indonesia next July. Having never attended an MWC gathering before, I am excited to meet with our global faith family, gathering with people representing 2.13 million baptized believers in 86 countries.
In a 2017 interview with Will Braun for Canadian Mennonite, César García, MWC’s general secretary, stressed the importance of being a church of many nations: “Our Anabaptist ecclesiology emphasizes the local congregation till the point of losing a biblical view of God’s vision: ‘A multicultural global community made up from people from every nation.’ That is everywhere in the Scripture. . . .
“An alternative community to the political powers of today requires a transnational, cross-cultural, global community that lives out the Christian values of interdependency, love and equality. That kind of community is the only way of showing the world that it is possible to overcome nationalisms and ethnocentrisms.”
This biblical vision is, indeed, everywhere in the Scripture. One of my favourite examples is in Isaiah 2, describing the nations streaming to the mountain of the Lord’s Temple, many peoples together, beating their swords into ploughshares.
This is the vision of who we are and what we are doing as we worship and serve in our local congregations. Our prayers join with those of an Ethiopian mother praying for peace in her land, a Colombian youth crying to God for justice, a Chinese grandfather blessing his children and praying that they will be faithful, a Chin family praying as they flee their homes in Myanmar looking for safety. Their songs of praise join with ours to glorify God together.
Every day is a day that we are part of a global family of faith, sharing resources and building relationships, as we long for the coming fulfilment of God’s vision.
Jeanette Hanson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is director of International Witness for MC Canada.