Tonya Keim Bartel works with Convention Planning for Mennonite Church USA. When not at work, she wrangles three ornery kids and eight cranky chickens! If you want to read more by Tonya, visit her blog, Serendipity.
… I rake the leaves into a pile, then shout ready, set, go and run to jump into them with my preschool daughter …
… I watch as the car in front of me pulls to a stop and hands a brown bag lunch and bottle of water to the vagabond at the side of the road …
… A friend wordlessly and without fanfare stops by my house to take the trash can to the curb every Wednesday just because he knows the gesture will make my life that much better …
… Another friend collects 800 hygiene kits for refugees by humbling herself enough to ask friends for handouts simply because her heart broke when she learned of their plight …
Love is a verb.
For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son.
And that Son walked, talked, healed, preached, befriended, and touched the greatest and the least of these. Jesus was born to show all of creation that we are truly beloved of God. We measly little humans, in all our chaos and clutter, are deeply loved and adored by our Creator God. Every one of us. And isn’t it pure miracle that we are born with the innate ability to love? When we express that love as action, that’s when heaven and earth meet. That’s when we experience true worship and friendship and the love that can only be called that Great Big Jesus Love that fills us up to full brim.
That is what convention 2017 in Orlando is being planned for. We are already brainstorming ways to create spaces for youth, children and adults to get active in love. We are digging deep into scripture to discern where and how Jesus teaches us to love. We are walking the streets and convention center in Orlando searching for places God is calling us to express His love. We are listening to our beloved church as she identifies what resourcing and events we need in order to better serve one another and the world.
Will you join us? In these next 18 months, be mindful of ways you can literally act out the love of Jesus. Start with the next 18 minutes.
Who needs a text reminding them that they are beautiful?
How is God showing up for you right this minute? Can you feel just how loved you are?
What stirs your soul to action? What are you passionate about today? Start your list of how to get involved. Write it down.
Who needs a favor in your family? Whose load will you make a little lighter today?
Our whole church family has been saddened by the tragic early death of Hal Shrader on October 20th. Partly because he was a vagabond himself, a uniquely open witness to the being transformed by a loving Jesus. But also because Hal embodied love. He acted it. In adult worship at Kansas City 2015, Hal told the story of literally standing beside misunderstood protestors and Muslim worshipers and encouraging understanding and reconciliation. He told of bringing a neighborhood friend into his home for no other reason than because Hal understood it to be his call to be love without reservation. Hal’s love in action was born out of a deep understanding that he himself was a beloved and chosen child of God. He wanted nothing more than spread that love wide and make it multiply. Action without reservation. What a testament.
The memory of Hal reminds us that we have but one short life. And while it is peppered with sadness and chaos, it is also brimming with the love of Jesus. It is our great privilege to everyday seize the opportunity to put that love into action in the smallest and greatest of ways.