On this first day (well, second day now) of July I greet you in the name of Jesus who lives and walks among us. I give thanks for your ministry and for the ministry of your congregation in the community where you are located. May you continue finding meaningful ways to engage with the community, your corner of the world God loves. I was present at First Mennonite Church in Middlebury, Ind. on Sunday for Derrick Ramer’s installation service. It was good to hear some of the ways they are engaging their community and to experience their joy in worship.
As we gathered last month for Annual Sessions the theme “Broken . . . Beloved” seemed to be a God-thing. How could planners know how relevant it would be as we gathered? We sadly said goodbye to a significant congregation, and met leaders from several congregations talking about joining Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. We engaged in serious conversation about what it means for Jesus to be Lord over our conflicts. From worship to the pastor appreciation meal to the worshipful works sessions, we were reminded that we are both broken and beloved, beloved and broken.
Such a “broken . . . beloved” reality also seems to connect well with the principle of bringing our transforming selves, which I’ve been reflecting on about this year. The only thing we have to offer is our transforming self. Not our perfected self. Not our finished self. But our transforming self, engaging with God and opening to Christ’s transforming work.
I had one of those significant moments during our gathering that happen by the grace of God. I realized I wasn’t progressing the way I might want in the area of intercultural transformation. It should not come as a surprise that this is one of the priorities out of the Purposeful Plan with which I strongly resonate. In my opening sermon, as an example of being broken, I shared how not wanting to look stupid became a barrier for me in learning Spanish while in Guatemala last fall. One cannot learn another language without the experience of feeling stupid. Then it hit me that the same dynamic might be at work with intercultural transformation – I want to be further along than I am. I swallowed my pride and took steps that evening to ask for help.
Are others having similar experiences at the growing edges of faith: recognizing resistance, embracing the adventure, and bringing our transforming selves to the table? Staff are glad to hear your stories and support your journey.
PS – we had quite a storm in north central Indiana Monday night. Our household is still without electricity, as are about 5,000 other customers in Goshen. But we are well. I hope you are all safe. Please let us know in the office of any storm needs and if there are ways your sisters and brothers in IN-MI Conference can help.
Daniel Z. Miller
IN-MI Mennonite Conference
109 E Clinton St, Suite 100
Goshen, IN 46528
Office: 574 534-4006; 800 288-8486
Fax: 574 533-5676