This post is part of Mennonite Church USA’s MennoCon21 #BringThePeace series.
Ana Alicia Hinojosa serves as Immigration Education Coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee. Ana Alicia is currently working on obtaining her Pastoral license to serve as a Co-Pastor at New Life Christian Center in San Benito, Texas, alongside her father, Eduardo “Lalo” Hinojosa. Ana spends her time caring for her 100-year-old grandmother and parents, but when she is able to get a bit of time, she escapes to the beach to soak up some warmth and read a good book or curls up on her sofa to enjoy a good movie. Anna Alicia will speak on “Feel the Peace” during the Thursday evening worship service at MennoCon21.
I remember growing up and singing a certain song in Sunday school: “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding — down in my heart.” It was so easy to sing as a child, but to live it out in real life —that is certainly easier said than done. Peace isn’t something that has been seen in our world, nation, communities, churches or homes in this past year. This is why the song says, “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding — down in my heart to STAY.” It was never supposed to leave us; we weren’t supposed to let it go. This makes the song a little more difficult to sing, now that I am grown and live through these rough and murky waters of life. I can’t help but ask, “Where did the peace go?”
Having grown up in a Hispanic Mennonite church, I have been able to see our worldwide community share their peace with me over a lifetime. But I have also experienced the fullness of our denomination these past few months. I have connected with so much of my Mennonite family and can honestly say that this is what I remember our church being as I grew up. There was no division, no resentment towards one another, even within our own denomination. Rather, there was just the love and peace of God, shared with each other all of the time.
Most mornings now, I close my eyes to pray in the quiet of my mornings. I can still hear the sound, “pssssst … kssssht,” over and over; sounds of an oxygen machine pumping in the background, as it is etched my memory forever. It is difficult to “Feel the Peace” when you are living the worst storm of your family’s life, crying for God’s healing. Right then, I knelt down and cried out, “If only we could touch the hem of his garment,” then COVID-19 would leave our home.
It’s been five weeks now, since we have been in COVID-19 recovery, but I still wake up every morning in fear that one of my parents hasn’t woken up from their night’s sleep. I still wake up in the middle of the night and run to the door of their room to hear their snores and make sure that they are still breathing. COVID-19 took the peace that passes understanding from my heart, my home, but not only there, it took it from our world, nations, churches, schools and homes. How do we get it back?
Or a better question is, did the peace really leave, or have we let it go willingly as Christ followers?
At this summer’s convention, our Thursday worship centers on the theme, “Feel the Peace.” I will be focusing on how peace can serve as a healer; why we need it to restore our society, and our physical and emotional relationships; in addition to exploring the examples shared in Scripture.
In the powerful example Jesus shows in Mark 5:21-43 of healing the woman with a blood affliction, he sends her on her way, healed, saying, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over” (NIV).
Peace is given to us by our God, as we are filled by the Holy Spirit, to receive complete healing. I am praying that we are open to receiving the healing transformation that God has been preparing for us as Christ followers and as Mennonite churches.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog belong to the author and are not intended to represent the views of the MC USA Executive Board or staff.