by Dan King
Pastor, Beech Mennonite Church
Thanks to my church Beech for allowing me (and 14 others) to attend the unforgettable MWC in PA. Here were my top 3 things I loved most about MWC.
Singing praises to God in many languages, in an arena with 7,000 plus, gave us a very real foretaste of John’s vision of “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” singing in a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb!” The range and quality of music was exceptional, from Native American chanting with drumbeat to ethereal Oriental tunes to full-throated African repetition and dance. From Latin America, the rousing “Todo Poderoso” (All Powerful) became a favorite of many. And etched permanently on my memory is the three-octave range of Nohemy Garcia, of Spain. As she sang her own composition “Despertad” (Wake up, people of God) smart phone lights began flickering, serendipitously and in rhythm, until the entire arena was a sea of lights, pointing in hope to a future day of worldwide peace.
Speakers also represented a wide range of ages and nationalities. The Word of God was proclaimed in gripping story, disarming humor, and humbling conviction. I was particularly moved by the courage of the young adult preachers, calling the church to confess our pride, hypocrisy, and lethargy and to become more fully engaged with the challenging work of building Christ’s Kingdom here on earth.
Initially, notes in the program booklet on “Ecumenical Greetings” did not catch my attention. But as each representative from other faith traditions (Catholic, Lutheran, Friends, Seventh-Day Adventists, etc) brought greetings from their respective body, two major truths became clear. First, we as Anabaptist Mennonites are held in high regard by other denominations for our commitment to peacemaking, justice, community, and simplicity. Second, there is a sense that, after hundreds of years of division and strife, the Spirit of God is slowly bringing the worldwide church together. Nowhere is this more evident than in recent Mennonite/Lutheran events of reconciliation. In Paraguay 2009, we heard a Lutheran official ask our forgiveness for the way Lutherans persecuted Anabaptists during the Reformation. In our Thursday evening worship time in PA, Martin Junge, from Lutheran World Federation, told the story of a designated Mennonite leader attending their national meeting in 2010 to affirm our forgiveness. A year later MWC sent the Lutherans a love gift of financial aid for their fund for Somolia refugees.
In all three areas – worship, speakers, and reconciliation – there was no doubt as to the unifying factor: Jesus Christ. Truly those of us fortunate to attend MWC 2015 have witnessed a foretaste of Paul’s vision in Ephesians 1, when, “according to the mystery of God’s will, all things in heaven and on earth will be brought together under one head, even Christ.”
See you in Indonesia 2021!