Growing up in the Mennonite Church, I have always been excited for what convention has in store. In January, I began my role as registrar for Convention Planning for Mennonite Church USA. I feel so grateful to have the chance to now be on the other side, helping to plan for it!
There is something special, something especially meaningful about so many people coming together. People coming from all walks and stages of life, from different places in their spiritual journeys. We come together because we are searching for God, and we want to connect with friends, family and the larger community. We are excited to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves.
One of my favorite conventions was at Nashville in 2001. I had just graduated from high school and went with our youth group of around 15 people. There was something distinctive, something different there. There was a sense of everyone coming together and showing love to each other. I remember raising my glow ball high in the air and having a surreal understanding in that moment that God loved me so much. And then I looked around at everyone else and realized that God loves each person there just as much. Convention can have a way of reminding you what is most important and beautiful about life.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
The convention theme in Orlando 2017 is Love is a verb. This idea is so vital to who we are as Christians and as Mennonites, living out our call to love others with our actions. Our world likes to tell us that this life is all about ourselves, but Christ calls us to something different.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:12
In thinking about love and how important it is, the song They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love, keeps playing in my head. It is a song that we all have sung and it carries much meaning. It was written in 1968 by Peter R. Scholtes in Chicago. And though it is an older song, its lyrics still inspire us to be better and do better. We’re encouraged to live out our lives in love.
Hearing the song again has made me think about my own life and maybe it does for you too. Do the people around us know that we are Christians by the way we act? Are we showing our love to those we meet? Or are we too busy getting from one place to the other to be aware of those around us. Does the checkout person at the grocery store feel our love? Does the person on the other side of the phone feel our love? Do people in our congregation feel our love? How about our family, do they feel our love?
Maybe it is time that we try to be more intentional about showing our love to those we come in contact with.
What if when we started each morning we asked God to show us someone we could show love to during our day. How much greater could our witness be if we took the time to be intentional. People are hurting all around us. We could help make someone’s day a little brighter if we could focus more on helping those around us.
What if over this next year leading up to convention we all made an effort to really live this Love is a verb theme? How wonderful would it be to be able to come to convention and share the rich stories! I am excited to hear them! I can’t wait to see you in Orlando next year!