By Mary Nitzsche, Associate Executive Minister
I began last year, 2017, with an openness to the “new thing” God may have for me without any idea of what that might be (other than becoming a grandmother for the first time!). Shortly into the new year, I was asked to consider a “new thing”—serving in a conference role. As many of you are aware, I accepted this “new thing” and began serving as Associate Executive Minister of Franconia Conference July 1. This transition meant leaving congregational ministry to re-enter a conference ministry role. While having served in conference ministry work previously in Ohio Mennonite Conference for 12 years and volunteering on various Franconia Mennonite Conference committees and the Board over the past eight years, I am continuing to discover “new things” God has for me.
After six months in my new role and at the beginning of a new year, I commit again to an openness for God’s “new thing.” Jesus invites me, invites all of us committed to following him, into a deeper relationship, understanding, and living each year of our life. There is never a season of life that is to remain stagnant. Jesus is our model, teacher, and guide.
Inspired by a Sunday morning discussion at Perkasie Mennonite Church last summer, I read through the gospel of Luke noting what Jesus saw, heard, touched, and where Jesus went, what he said, and what he did. As I reflect on the notes I took, Jesus’ experiences, words, and actions inspire movement. He was open to entering into places devout Jews would not go and seeing opportunities for ministry wherever he went; to engaging with people considered “unclean,” seeing their potential and inviting them to follow; to using earthy images in his storytelling to teach timeless truths and inspire action; to challenging the religious leaders’ and disciples’ interpretation of the law, pointing them to new understandings, and inviting them to sacrificially live out these principles; to observing those in need of healing regardless of their status, extending a word or touch of healing, and inviting them to experience wholeness through a relationship with him.
In a culture and environment of change, Jesus promised his disciples and promises us that the very Spirit that raised him from the dead is accessible to us. During 2018, as we are called into new places — to interact with a variety of people we typically choose to ignore or avoid, to read, interpret and live scriptural principles that reveal God’s true intentions for this time, and to offer healing and wholeness in situations of suffering, injustice, or loss, may the Spirit of Jesus inspire and empower us to engage the “new things” prepared for us as individuals, congregations, and in our conference this year.