by Barbie Fischer, firstname.lastname@example.org
It was only a few short days ago that 57 members of Franconia Mennonite Conference returned from MC USA convention in Kansas City. This was a convention unlike all others, pain was clearly written across many faces. As Mennonite World Review reported in their article MC USA convention: Sharing pain, seeing Jesus on July 7th, “It might have been the pain of exclusion due to sexual orientation. Or of feeling the church has agreed to tolerate sin. It might have been the pain of sexual abuse. Or of concern for the future of a church sharply divided on how to relate to sexual minorities.”
There was also pain regarding the lack of resolutions put forward prior to convention to stand with our brothers and sisters of color, especially in the wake of church burnings, and the shooting at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. The pain was also present as delegates recognized the loss of life that would continue in Palestine and Israel as the resolution regarding standing with Palestinian Christians was tabled for two years. That pain led to the drafting and approval of a resolution on Saturday to stand with MCUSA partners for peace in Israel and Palestine. With all of this pain, the question remains, where do we go from here?
The theme of this year’s convention was “On the Way.” Throughout the week speakers in worship services and delegate sessions spoke on the Emmaus road story in Luke 24. The story begins with the finding of the empty tomb, where the crucified Christ was laid. This news is reported to the apostles before two leave for a trip to the town of Emmaus. Along this journey they encounter Jesus, although they do not know it is him at first. As they talk of all that has happened they miss that Christ is in their midst. They recognize Jesus only when they begin to break bread. As the men return to Jerusalem and Jesus appears before the disciples they still doubt. Christ bears the wounds of the cross, revealing the pain he endured. The pain that led to this moment and now has made it possible for his ascension into heaven, which is where this chapter ends.
This is not the end of the story, rather the beginning of a new chapter. Pain is not always a bad thing. Christ’s pain led to the salvation of God’s children. What happens with the pain endured? Christ’s pain led him to God’s side as he ascended into heaven.
As Franconia Mennonite Conference moves forward and continues into this new chapter, may the conversations not be so all consuming that the sight of Christ among us is lost. May the pain felt by sisters and brothers be acknowledged as Christ acknowledged his and may this pain draw us closer to God as Christ’s did him.