Tag Archives: Marty Kolb-Wyckoff

Rachel’s God-Moment

An Advent monologue written for use in worship at Methacton Mennonite Church by Marty Kolb-Wykoff.  Members of the congregation have been taking turns sharing their “God-moments” during Sunday worship.  This monologue imagines a special moment many years ago when one woman encountered God in a truly remarkable way.

My God-moment happened a very long time ago.  And while you may not be very familiar with me, you certainly know of my daughter, who figures prominently in my story.  My daughter’s name was Mary, the Mary who gave birth to Jesus.  Yes, that Mary.

It happened when Mary was just a young girl.  Mary was not like lots of other girls; yes, she had friends and she enjoyed playing with them when she wasn’t helping me.  But she also liked to be by herself.  She loved to watch the birds and was good at recognizing them by their songs.  She was also fascinated by flowers, especially wild flowers.  She would go for walks and come home with beautiful bouquets of wild flowers.

It was one afternoon after she had been gone for awhile on one of her walks that she came back pensive and thoughtful.  She said very little during the evening meal.  I could tell she was thinking about something.

After the meal was cleaned up, she asked if I could go outside by her favorite tree; she wanted to tell me what happened that afternoon.

We sat down and the first thing she said was that she had seen and talked with an angel.   I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t, for I could tell this was all very serious to her.  So, I said nothing.

She went on to tell me how she was sitting under a tree, watching a bird build a nest, when she heard a voice say, “You are highly favored; the Lord is with you.”

Mary told me how startled, troubled, and even fearful she felt by this sudden intrusion into her afternoon.  But he assured her that he was an angel from God and she had nothing to fear.

But that was just the beginning; he told her that she would have a baby who would be called the Son of God.  It was to happen through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The story is still not over.  The angel gave Mary a sign; he told her that our relative Elizabeth, an old lady who lives in Judea with her husband Zechariah, is six months pregnant.  He ended the conversation by assuring Mary that with God nothing is impossible.

I had no idea how to respond.  What was one to make of this?  We are just simple folks from Nazareth.  Finally, I said, “Let’s go to bed and we can talk tomorrow.”

In the middle of the night I awoke with a start.  I realized I, too, had just had an angel visitation.  He said to me as clearly as I am talking to you:  With God nothing is impossible.

At that moment I knew in the depths of my being that Mary’s imagination had not gotten the best of her.  What I didn’t know was how our lives were about to be forever changed.

Living in grace and difference

Marking 25 years of credentialing women in Franconia Conference

by Emily Ralph, Salford

My most vivid memory from the fall of 1987 was sitting in a circle with my preschool classmates taking turns shaking a jar of cream an impossibly long time until it became—wonder of wonders!—butter.  There isn’t much drama when you’re four: arguments over who plays with who on the playground, the boredom of lying wide awake on the mat during naptime, joy at seeing Mom again at the end of the day.

Marty Kolb-Wyckoff
Marty Kolb-Wyckoff was the first woman licensed in Franconia Conference. Photo by Andrew Huth.

While I was building with blocks and coloring pictures in that Ohio preschool, history was in the making 400 miles away.

Delegates from Franconia Conference had spent several years in conversation and discernment, listening, talking, and praying about the question of women in leadership.  That fall, without much fanfare, delegates voted to allow congregations to request credentialing for female leaders.  In fact, the decision was made so quietly and gently that the newsletter announcement a few months later only took up three inches of column space.

This past Assembly marked the 25th anniversary of this decision.  I am still in awe sometimes that this happened in my lifetime.  As a licensed pastor in Franconia Conference, I think about how different my life would be now if that decision hadn’t been made.  I am so grateful to those leaders who wrestled with a difficult issue and came to a graceful and gracious decision together.

That’s the beauty of the “women in leadership” conversation that Franconia Conference had in the 1980s—it was conducted with love and respect for the diversity of opinion within our conference.  Unlike some other conferences, Franconia didn’t lose a single church when that decision was made.  And this gives me incredible hope.

Twenty-five years later, we’re still having difficult conversations and there will be new difficult conversations twenty-five years from now.  But the Spirit of unity, the Spirit of love, not fear—that is, the Spirit of Jesus—is with us today, just as that same Spirit was with conference leaders twenty-five years ago.  This Spirit allows us to find unity not just despite our differences but as we acknowledge and celebrate our differences.

Logan, Emily, and Cadi
Emily with her nephew and niece–how will they reflect on today’s conversations in 25 years?

I don’t know what the future holds; I don’t know what decisions we will be making in the coming years.  But somewhere nearby, there are little boys and girls swinging, and building Lego castles, and maybe even shaking jars of cream into butter who will someday reflect on our conversations—may they be inspired by our devotion, our integrity, our perseverance, and most of all, our love for one another.