A Message worth Declaring

A Message worth Declaring

There were a few scratches on paper and a bunch of thoughts whirling in my brain about what might I share in this Menno Minute, duly promised to Ruth Bergen Braun our hard working ever communicating communications coordinator. I had teased her a bit after she repositioned me at the end of the line following all the Conference-type Menno Minutes which would be written by our ample number of on-site participants! I had opted for virtual non-delegate participation.

We Declare. Truth be told I was apprehensive about that theme for the 2022 Mennonite Church Canada gathering – slightly cynical I suppose, not uncharacteristic of this retired preacher who spends too much time thinking about many things. What’s to declare by us colonialist middle to upper class Mennonites living the good life in Canada, churches closing left, right and center just like the others all around us.  Also my expectation of this Canadian gathering was likely colored by underwhelming reports of Mennonite World Conference Assembly July 5-10, just completed in Indonesia (see Canadian Mennonite, July 25 issue).

So, my decision to register for the virtual was probably kind of a personal reality check. This no longer a conference of congregations as had been for many years, but a new-fangled conference of conferences, why not be realistic and experience at a distance? True to expectations, and probably thanks to my low tech abilities, I was disappointed in the virtual, especially Pheedloop, the chosen software for this event. I regretted not having registered for in-person. 

Nonetheless, here is my turnaround! Surprise surprise! Virtual disappointments notwithstanding, I encountered several stellar services, enough to rediscover once again, we have so much to declare! Here is my testimony of virtual redemption.

Sunday’s worship July 31, was filled with the winds of Holy Spirit possibilities especially with the best song leading I have ever witnessed. Overstated perhaps, but my need for active worshipping was so met by a living presentation of what is available in our new Voices Together. Further, the sermon by Doug Klassen, our Executive Minister, based on Luke 15 “Losing and Finding,” was heartfelt inspiration. Said he in a simple straight forward manner, “The spiritual path is a journey of losing and finding. … I deeply yearn for us to be fueled by the seeing, the hearing, the touching, and the gazing upon. Instead of reading about Jesus, and praying to Jesus way off somewhere, we must recover a way of seeing and hearing Jesus who is still very much alive and present in his church.” Yes. Amen!

And then the following Sunday I listened to a sermon in one of our Calgary churches, “Be Still and Know”, preached with cheer and confidence by one of our lay leaders. Also on similar topic, it was a lived demonstration of what also was attempted at the Gathering. So very important it is for us, each one of us sitting in pews or chairs or visiting or teaching or praying or tithing. Our ongoing faith is not dependent on fancy theological explanations, but must be empowered by our stillness in Presence of Almighty God! Here is a message, and it is worth declaring – in many and varied ways by now in many cultures. It is a message more than words uttered in church or in conference, fully experienced even by worshippers with torn pants (as reported by Anna-Lisa Salo, one of our in person reporters), not ready made and agreed to at the 2022 Gathering, but living in and among the people. May our heads and hearts be open to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.