On Monday, I returned to work after seven weeks of maternity leave. This was a little bit of a shock to my system. Not only did I have 1,300 unread e-mails in my inbox, but the rhythm of my days changed significantly. I went from spending most of my waking hours focused on caring for the needs of two small children ages two and under, to writing, attending meetings, thinking about the church, and jumping right back into planning for the Mennonite Church USA convention this summer in Kansas City.
In some ways, this was a welcome change. It’s nice to have a reason to change out of yoga pants before 10 a.m., and to exercise a different part of my brain through work that’s focused outside of the house. But, as with any transition, there was also loss and some sadness. I found myself feeling profoundly grateful for the gift of time to be at home and to bond with my family as we began to figure out how we are different now that we were a family of four. That time and space that we shared together was a gift.
In a similar way, I think that the Mennonite Church USA convention could provide a similar “holding space” for those of us who consider ourselves Mennonites. Now some of you may be thinking that convention is far from restful. It’s true: the week is filled to the brim with worship services, seminars, delegate sessions, special dinners, concerts, games, movies, conversations, meals, etc. A person can keep themselves busy from dawn until dusk.
But what I have always found so valuable about the Mennonite Church USA convention–and the reason that I wanted to spend my energy working on planning one–is the opportunity that it offers to catch a glimpse of the diverse network of people who make up Mennonite Church USA. It’s a place to stop, be together and to spend some time figuring out who we are together as a body of Christ, and what it means to live in community with each other. And each time we gather, we’re a different configuration than we were before.
Sometimes it is not always easy to figure out how we fit together in this newly gathered “family” that is always shifting and changing, but that’s part of the reason we need to gather face-to-face and spend some time resting together and, for lack of a less cheesy word, “bonding.” Sometimes it can be easy to simply see the church as some sort of institution that is beyond us, instead of the body of Christ, comprised of very real people who are our brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors. Having this time and space together is, in fact, a gift.
Registration for the KC2015 convention opens today. I hope that you’ll consider joining us in Kansas City as we all strive together to figure out who we are together, and how God is moving in our midst.