WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
December 20, 2016
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:
*Are You the One?
Are You the One?
by Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)
Contrary to the idea that the “Church” is vanishing, I believe that evangelism plays a key role in church planting and church growth, they both contribute to the revitalization of the church.
I have come across people that are open to having conversations about Jesus as long as such conversation does not happen in a church building. Consequently, third places are becoming a good place for such conversations.
Engaging people in conversations at local coffee shops, laundromat, parks, community events, local market places and so on, builds rapport and trust. Such conversations are key for connecting and building relationships, creating the conditions to share one’s Jesus story through personal experiences; just like when Jesus responded to John the Baptist’s emissaries.
It is interesting and intriguing to see the interaction between John, the disciples and Jesus as described in Matthew 11.
The reader finds John the Baptist pondering over Jesus’ messianic identity and power; was he the One who will set the captives free? The reader is also challenged to reflect upon Jesus’ answer.
On one hand, John was confined to an underground dungeon, hopeless and isolated. Probably he was expecting the Messiah to deliver him. Thus, he sent his disciples with a question addressed to Jesus, “Are you he who is to come, or, are we to wait for another?
The reason that motivated John to send his disciples to ask Jesus that question might not be very clear. Two possibilities come to mind: For the sake of his disciples or his own.
The truth is, that both John and his disciples needed to be confronted with a factual proof.
Locked in that dungeon, John was desperately needing reassurance that indeed Jesus was the Messiah, evidences versus arguments.
Then the gospel writer moves us to Jesus’ response. It contains two main principles: experiencing God’s power, and hearing the word of the good news! These two actions are to be taken as one unit.
It is not about an intellectual debate, but an experience of his transformational power. Jesus moves from a potential emotional attraction to a deeper comprehension of his salvation message and to a relationship with God.
The proof that Jesus presents pointed at the concrete facts. The sick, the suffering, the poor and the blind were experiencing the power of God in fresh and new ways and they were presented with the good news of salvation. It was about a holistic healing, the body, the mind, and the soul. In other words, they experienced evangelism in the flesh.
Now, we need to make room to the possibility that maybe John was expecting another type of answer and action, perhaps a different approach from Jesus. Maybe he was expecting the wrath of God upon those who put him in prison. One thing is for sure, instead of wrath and destruction, Jesus responded with mercy and grace and love.
All these demonstrations of God’s power were another way to answer John’ question: Go back and tell John that God’s love is real, that the Kingdom of God is at hand and tell him that my credentials show that I am the ONE.
People saw in John a man who spoke the truth with no apology. They saw a servant who spoke God’s word with boldness. However, even the least of the kingdom of heaven was greater than he. In Jesus, God lives now amid us mortals and eternity defeated time, something new and different came into the world.
The prophets were courageous and their message was powerful, but with Jesus emerged something greater, people could experience transformation. Consequently, for us as a community of believers, it is important to share Jesus’ story, God’s story. Our ministry is not about ourselves, it is about Jesus. It is not about any church, it is about the kingdom of God.
We are called people to God’s mission, to announce and denounce and to serve.
Jan 1 – Pray for all WDC congregations during this coming year, that God may empower us 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.
Jan 8 – Pray for WDC staff as they meet for a retreat this week at Camp Mennoscah.
Jan 15 – Give thanks for chaplains in WDC, who minister with hospital patients, residents of retirement centers, college students, domestic violence victims, and others seeking God’s healing and hope.
Jan 22 – Pray for junior high youth gathering next weekend for “Know Jesus”, a retreat sponsored by the joint WDC and South Central Conference Youth Ministry Committee, hosted at Hesston College.
Jan 29 – Pray for God’s joy and wisdom to be with Caleb Yoder as he is installed today as pastor at Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church.
- Save the Date! The 2017 WDC Annual Assembly will be held August 4-6 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Arlington DFW South, in Arlington, TX. Information about Annual Assembly is posted as it becomes available at: https://mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/#2017annualAssembly.
- Invitation for stories: Rooted and Built Up in Christ (Colossians 2:6-7), will be the WDC theme for 2017, selected by the Executive Board to celebrate WDC’s 125th anniversary year. As a way to kick off the year, the first issue of the WDC newsletter Garden in 2017 will plant some “seeds” by featuring several short stories from WDC congregations. Does your congregation have a creative idea to share, or have you recently been present for an interesting experience in witness, worship, faith formation or community building in another congregation? If so, please send in a 100-word story or description to the WDC office at firstname.lastname@example.org, by January 18, for consideration for the Feb/Mar issue of Garden.
- Shalom Mennonite Church, Newton, will hold a Longest Night Service on December 21, at 7 pm. All are invited to join us as we recognize the darkness in our lives and offer hope to one another through lighting candles. Join us as we remember, sing, and pray on the longest night of the year.
- The WDC Office and Conference Resource Library are closed beginning December 23 through January 2. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Mennonite Church Announcements
- In this season of Christmas, Mennonite Church USA invites you to remember all those around the world working on behalf of the church for peace and justice to make the light and love of Jesus Christ real for all those seeking hope.
- Sunday, January 8 – Register now for Hesston College’s 2017 Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series conference, Feb. 17 to 19, with a bonus STAR-Lite training event on Monday, Feb. 20. The conference theme, When the Unthinkable Happens, will address a congregational and community response of dealing with trauma in its many forms. Register and see a full weekend schedule online at hesston.edu/avds. Registration discounts are available for members of sponsor congregations and groups of two or more from the same church or organization.
- Yard signs (image attached) with a neighborly welcome message written in Spanish, English and Arabic, are available (suggested donation $10) at Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (email@example.com; 316-284-5217) in North Newton. This sign originated at Immanuel Mennonite Church, in Harrisonburg, VA.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620