Temporarily Anabaptist: The Reconciliation Epiphany
Ask people who know anything about Mennonites, and the two things they mention are clothing and pacifism.
I started as the Interim Pastor at Boulder Mennonite Church on June 12th, and I haven't seen any bonnets, or clothes without zippers or buttons. But not a day goes by without a conversation or some reading in which nonviolence is mentioned. It's in the water in Mennonite churches, and always on the minds of Mennonite Christians. And mine now, as well.
One day this past week, I had an epiphany. For virtually my whole ministerial career, I've been wrestling with, “Why share my faith in Jesus with others if I don't believe in hell?” (Yes, questions like this are what keep clergy types like me up at night.)
Because people who know the United Church of Christ know that many of us are not so sure there IS a hell—and even if we do, we don't use it to scare people into believing in God.
People at church have been happy to recommend things as part of my remedial Anabaptist education, so I was reading, “Are You an Anabaptist?”, a publication on core beliefs from the Mennonite General Conference—and in the section on Forgiveness and Reconciliation, I had the epiphany.
The three key points in the document are:
Jesus is the center of our faith.
Community is the center of our lives.
Reconciliation is the center of our work.
There it was. Point #3.
In a world where violence and injustice dominate the news, and where brokenness characterizes our relationships, why take Jesus to heart? Why share my distinctively Christian faith in a world where there are so many religions and belief systems?
It has nothing to do with where you or I are going, in terms of an afterlife. I'm convinced that we don't need a hell in the afterlife, because we do a pretty good job of making our own hell on earth.
And reconciliation is the solution to that hell on earth.
I will be writing more about reconciliation in future posts. But it's enough today for me to say that reconciliation is what makes faith relevant, to all of us.