WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
December 18, 2018
A weekly communication for WDC Churches and Pastors
WDC Executive Board, Commission, Committee and Task Force members
Any content may be used in bulletins and newsletters and
forwarded to congregational leaders and members.
WDC Sprouts is also available at: www.mennowdc.org (Publications)
IN THIS ISSUE:
*Let it be with me according to your word
Let it be with me according to your word
by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
Note: This Sprouts article is the final in a series of three articles, one on each of the sections of Renewed Commitments, the core-values document of Journey Forward. Journey Forward is Mennonite Church USA’s churchwide renewal process of engaging in scripture, storytelling and sharing how God is at work in the lives of people and congregations across MC USA. To read my earlier articles, see http://mennowdc.org/wdc-sprouts-september-25-2018/ and http://mennowdc.org/wdc-sprouts-november-27-2018/
The third section of Renewed Commitments is “Experience transformation: The Holy Spirit dwells in and among us, transforming us to reflect God’s love. Through worship the Spirit gathers the body of Christ, where our diversity reveals God’s beauty. The Spirit empowers our communities to embody the grace, joy and peace of the gospel.”
This third commitment reminds me of Luke’s account of the angel Gabriel’s response to young Mary, when she wonders how it is that she will become the mother of a baby named Jesus? Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God…” Mary responds, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:35, 38)
What a powerful model of transformation by the Holy Spirit who dwells in and among us to reflect God’s love! In accepting the work of God’s Spirit in her life, Mary does not merely agree to do something for God, she consents to be something for God – to become an embodiment of God’s presence and power in the world. As an expression of this transformation, Mary worships: She sings for joy and proclaims God’s ways of goodness and justice: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..! The Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is God’s name… God has shown strength… has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty…” (Luke 1:46-47, 49, 51-53).
I believe this is what happens in our when we offer ourselves and our diverse gifts to God, both as individuals and as the corporate church.
In worship, we encounter God’s Word, inviting us to receive and to be instruments of God’s healing and hope, and we relinquish control and release ourselves to God. When we worship together as the body of Christ, God not only transforms us but also uses us to transform the world – to set things right and restore justice and a wholistic peace.
Here in Western District Conference, I am struck by the wide diversity of worship among our congregations, and the range of different kinds of music, visual symbols, gathering spaces, preaching styles, ways to involve people of different generations, and connect faith to current issues in the world. How beautiful, that God’s Word is made flesh in every cultural context in unique and relevant ways!
Too often worship is viewed as something we do, or as a performance we attend on Sunday morning as consumers of religious goods and services (which we then evaluate according to our personal preferences, needs and opinions.) As an alternative, the commitment to“Experience transformation” invites us to enter worship together as a way of being with God and becoming the embodiment of God’s grace, joy and peace. In worship we release ourselves to God’s work and will in our lives, saying “Yes, let it be with me – with us -according to your word.” As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us also commit ourselves to be “Christ-bearers.” May we be yielded to God’s gentle presence and powerful possibilities, ready to proclaim what God has done and will yet do!
Jan 6 – Pray for WDC
staff as they gather for an annual staff retreat this week.
Jan 13 – Pray for interim and transitional pastors guiding WDC congregations during times of change, visioning, and preparation for future leadership.
Jan 20 – Give thanks for the diversity of cultural contexts and languages in which WDC congregations worship each week.
Jan 27 – Pray for WDC’s Resource Commission meeting this week, as they promote faith formation resources for people of all ages and help congregations connect to God’s mission in the world.
1. Western District Conference year-end snapshot: Last January, over 130 people gathered to launch WDC’s Year of Evangelism and learn authentic ways to share the Jesus story in our own contexts. It was energizing to hear stories of relationships healed, community needs met, and spiritual lives transformed by love lived out through Jesus’ friends. The Year of Evangelism is just one way your gifts to WDC empower congregations to witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ, dwell in just and loving relationships, and connect to God’s mission in the world! As we work together to meet WDC’s budget goal for the year, we request your donations online at www.mennowdc.org or sent to WDC at PO Box 306, North Newton, KS 67117. Thank you for planting these seeds of hope!
2. Note that this will be the last issue of WDC Sprouts until the new year. The next issue will be on January 8, 2019.
3. Five Times Harder will perform a holiday concert at First Mennonite Church of Hillsboro, KS on December 30 at 4:00 pm. They will perform a variety of Christmas music in styles ranging from classical to bluegrass to folk. No admission charge. Tom Harder is pastor at First Mennonite Church, Hillsboro, KS, and Lois Harder is Bridge Pastor at Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, Goessel, KS.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
1. Winter Wonderland Worship on Dec. 28 from 3-6pm! Join us for songs from evening worship at summer youth camps (praise and worship songs) at Camp Mennoscah in the Dining Hall. Enjoy classic “Sunday” camp sandwiches, hot chocolate, time by the campfire/fireplace, and the warmth that comes from being surrounded by friends at camp! Also, TP the Christmas tree! We’ll metaphorically TP our Christmas Tree with your donations of toilet paper or paper towels. Cash or checks for 4-square/gaga balls are welcome, too. RSVP to 620-297-3290 or firstname.lastname@example.org by December 26 so we know how many sandwiches to fix–and tell us about any food allergies!
2. Hello, future summer staffers! You can apply for a summer staff position at Camp Mennoscah at campmennoscah.org under Summer Youth Camps. Do it now! Positions are music, crafts, nature, lifeguard, office, and grounds/maintenance. Applications will be accepted until all positions are filled; we’ll start interviewing in January! Contact us at 620-297-3290 or email@example.com with questions. We can’t wait to talk to you about being on summer staff!
3. Camp Mennoscah is now accepting applicants for a quarter-time (10 hours/week) custodial position. The position starts January 2, 2019, and will remain open until filled. Contact Olivia at 620-297-3290 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Mennonite church announcements
1. Pastors’ Financial Assistance grant: Everence has been awarded a second $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment to address financial needs of pastors. Similar to the previous grant, this program will provide direct financial assistance grants to pastors to help alleviate debt burdens such as education, medical and credit card debt. (Grants will be available to pastors who have not previously received direct financial assistance grants as part of the program). The grant will also assist pastors with financial planning subsidies toward the cost of a first-year Everence comprehensive financial plan, and support educational events on topics such as retirement planning, debt reduction, financial planning, clergy taxes, etc. Applications and related information will be made available in January 2019. For background, see https://www.everence.com/everence-articles/congregational-articles/pastor-resources/20181212-everence-received-1-million-lilly-endowment-grant-to-assist-pastors
2. WDC congregations and members – Remember to share your feedback for the Mennonite Church USA Journey Forward process by the due-date of December 31! Use the online survey at http://mennoniteusa.org/journey-forward/.