My heart is singing on the peace journey

Reflections on the Winter Peace Retreat
by Monica Haas, Alpha Mennonite Church

img_1988_2.jpgI am a 38-year-old new Christian Mennonite in the beginning of my peace journey. I can’t share big sophisticated words or any biblical theology with you but I can share what my heart is singing that I believe is the essence of our being. When God puts people in my life to help motivate me on my journey, I can’t help but be overjoyed and grateful.

I come from the Roman Catholic religion. After my confirmation, I didn’t attend church on a regular basis or have a relationship with God. My family and community always agreed that war is necessary to protect our freedom. When I was a growing up, I thought it didn’t seem right, yet I didn’t hear other wise. So I dismissed the thought and went on with my life. I thought I was fine as long as I didn’t have to kill anyone with my hands or actually see anyone being killed. It became normal thinking not to question it.

So you can imagine my shock at age 36 when the Lord of Peace revealed to me that I am the Beloved Daughter of God. I was led to a nurturing, healing Mennonite church. It was a huge leap for me considering I had never heard of a Mennonite before this day. I have been hungry for Jesus’ teachings and studying Anabaptist ways ever since.

img_1980_2.jpgI attended the annual Peace Retreat at Spruce Lake to hear Father John Dear speak about active nonviolence, which was music to my ears. Father John is funny, down to earth, and humble. These are the clear messages that I heard as essential for peacemaking: The Sermon on the Mount should not be only read and studied but taken literally and actively. We should engage in intimate prayer with God, form community and become fearless. We should not be afraid to speak up in a passionate manner and tell that we are followers of Jesus and that killing is wrong. Any act of violence on any of God’s children is wrong and it is not Jesus’ way.

Father John made me feel that as brothers and sisters we’re all in this together. We might be from different religions or ethnic backgrounds or at a different place on the peace path, but we are in this world together. As sisters and brothers we are all needed to help with the everyday struggles against violence, even when it’s not so popular. Simple pacifism is not good enough anymore. We need to unite as brothers and sisters for God’s same purpose on the peace journey.

Father John talked about making time to listen to what God wants us to do. We should try to simplify our lives so that we are not so distracted. Between our jobs and accumulating possessions we’re so busy that we get off the path of peace. Gandhi used to meditate an hour in the morning and hour at night. I have been practicing giving my fears to God and asking for so that I am able to listen to what God asks of me.

One of our small group sessions raised this question: Where are you going and how far are you willing to go on your peace journey? My answer is I am willing to follow the Lord wherever he leads me. I used to have my life all planned out, but those days are over. At age 37 I was baptized at Alpha Mennonite Church and it was one of the most life changing experiences I have ever had. That was the day I said, “I am yours Lord; do with me as you please.” Now I live one day at a time, embraced by my kind father God.

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5 thoughts on “My heart is singing on the peace journey

  1. As a member of Monica’s church, it has been a joy and a privilege to see Monica grow in her faith. Her passion for peace is authentic and contagious!

  2. I believe God desires our devotion as well as peace for our world and relationships. I believe Monica seeks after this type of spirituality and am grateful for her example to me and to others.

  3. I attended the peace conference with Monica and although I have read her testimony before it still brings tears to my eyes. I know God is speaking through her and challenging me to follow my Lord and actively work for PEACE.

  4. As the pastor of Alpha Mennonite Church, I can say that we are blessed to have Monica as part of our family. Her desire to follow Christ’s way of peace in life has been both refreshing and challenging of our congregation and to me personally. Her witness to peace and non-violence minister to our congregation and those she knows in a profound and powerful way!

  5. I have known Monica about a year, and it is an honor to know and call her a friend. I am also attend services at Alpha Mennite Church. I am learning so much from everyone and hope in the future to be able to attend a retreat. I like Monica was brought up Catholic and lost my way after comformation, but I am finding a new peace here at home. Bless you Monica for all your thoughts and prayers during my illness. Lucille

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