A Moderator’s Journey Forward

This post is part of our Joureny Forward series. We’ve invited folks from across Mennonite Church USA to reflect on our Journey Forward and consider how they’ve seen Renewed Commitments at work in their lives, their congregation or community. If you’d like to contribute to this series by highlighting stories that bring our shared values to life, email JenniferC@MennoniteUSA.org

David Boshart is moderator of Mennonite Church USA.

I am looking forward to MennoCon19 to see where the Journey Forward has brought us from Orlando to Kansas City. The Renewed Commitments that came out of the Future Church Summit are a gift to us. In these words, we find a statement of faith. It is not comprehensive or intended to articulate the hard boundaries of a creed. It’s a statement about what is important in our common life in this moment.

As I reflect on the Renewed Commitments as Moderator for MC USA, I am captivated by the second sentence:

“We yearn to know and share in the mystery of God’s unending love.”

I know this yearning and I trust this yearning is present in all our hearts.

Yearning to know and share in the mystery of God’s unending love would, in itself, be enough for our journey until Jesus returns.

In her poem, A Permeable Life, Carrie Newcomer writes:

I want to leave room in my heart

 for the unexpected,

for the mistake that becomes knowing,

for knowing that becomes wonder,

for wonder that makes everything porous,

allowing in and out

all available light.

An impermeable life

is full to the edges,

but only to the edges.

It is a limited thing.

Like the pause at the center

of the breath,

neither releasing or inviting,

with no hollow spaces

for longing and possibility.

It’s the hollow spaces for longing that make the difference between yearning to know and share God’s unending love and a heart that is merely dutiful. Having hollow places to yearn for God’s love makes it possible to discern the difference between God’s loving forgiveness and grace, and my desire to simply be let off the hook for my inadequacies.

Apart from knowing the mystery of God’s unending love within myself, I can’t will myself or trust myself to have the right motivations about all the other renewed commitments.

Thomas Merton offers a prayer that speaks to me as a leader:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing…”

The journey from here until Jesus returns is a marathon that cannot be run at a sprinter’s pace, no matter how virtuous our aspirations. So I wonder, to what extent does all the good there is to do about our commitments leave us “full to the edges, but only to the edges”? How can the Journey Forward form us with permeable lives where the mystery of God’s unending love moves in and out?

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All congregations are invited to use Journey Forward’s “Pathways” study guide. Find it and all Journey Forward updates here.

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