Sermon 08/11/2019: Gathered Into One

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Sermon is a poem by Leah Wenger inspired by the 2019 MCUSA convention.

Accompanying images are watercolors by Lois Kauffman inspired by the same convention.

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Unity is hard work, we could blame it on god

It takes grace, it is grace

The church is a mess, thanks BE to God

Into a unity with each other, into THE one

All things gathered in Christ's body

God is gathering everything

No thing is left undone

A unity of diversity

I will let you find me

Give you a future with hope

Gather you from the nations

And let you find me

So now let's grasp this news

Unity from division

Jews and non Jews

Natives and immigrants

With nothing to lose

You are now neighbors

A counter cultural punch

Let's walk with this hunch

This peace poem gathers the far and near*

The far was us in Babylon

The near got to stay home

The far are the wandering strangers

We welcome you home

Far and near

Into one

Let's fit ourselves into this peace loving mitten

Walls come crashing down

Stories are rewritten

The fence is torn

Our souls are reborn

This is transformation

The cross once stood for state terrorism

No one had thought let's make it into earrings

Like an electric chair

This is Costly reconciliation

Images of violence

Into new creation

Bringing the strangers home

While home is still in formation

We're at home with distinctions

Defining ourselves

Proclaiming our missions

To differentiate from others

We are ANABAPTIST Christians

We should be careful

The messy womb of a church

Institutionalized Racism, threatening militarism

Increased and industrialized materialism

Hidden and protected sexism

Light isn't reaching the prism

We're concerned about criticism

Add schism to the -isms

The anabaptist disease

Torn by fear of difference

Fear and forbearance

Our world not gathered

But keeping out


How can we aim to gather

When we can't even sustain

Those that remain

Despite the stain of shameful pain

WE remove those that threaten

Our definition of gain

Scatter, not gather

Slaughtered and slain

Our peace, thought to be

But not really engrained

How else could we explain

Turning a blind eye

To those that are detained

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

How can we as a people fear what we don't know

Instead, love all God’s creatures here below

So that God’s love through us bestow

Can it be that easy?

Love your enemy to let yourself fly free?

No, no this can't be

There will always be those with whom we disagree.

Without getting away from them

We’ll never have unity

Even in peace loving churches

We shut out

You make my point

If only they weren't here

Or they turned to think like me

We'd have nothing in this house but

Blessed Unity

Fear and forbearance

Baring the minimum

God as one who wishes to gather

From the edge of the cosmos

Every inch of matter

Unity is not harmony

Not achieved by agreement

The restless reality of God gathering strangers

Is that harmony utilizes dissonance

The church is a mess

Thanks be to God

Be wary of assuming

That everything is good

When we have won the argument

Weather or not we should

Unity is the starting point

Not the end result

Christ is at the center

Institution is not

So what now?

Where do we go from here?

You can't be a Christian by yourself

You must enter into fellowship

Bring the tensions, disagreements, misgivings

Because that's where Christ transforms things

If you aim at humility

You're likely to miss it

But here's Humility in action

Forget about being humble

Then you'll hit it


Enduring with hope

Three strands of twine make an unbroken rope

We need each other

Patience does not come without suffering

We suffer each other

For the sake of His body

Church hurts

Grace each other as God has graced you

With patience

By grace we have been saved

How far does patience stretch

Well how strong is love

Love stretches

Love stretches to the far and the near

Love bends to those who are already here

Does hope ever end?

With the prodigal son can we hope to mend?

And to whom, our love, do we hope to send?

The shamed father of the prodigal son

Never stops Checking the far horizon

Even when patience runs out

When endurance runs too thin

There is a glimmer of hope

That keeps one checking the horizon


We will be ok

This with confidence I can say

Don't ever stop checking the horizon

Celebrate the great spirit moving

The unity of the spirit is bigger wider deeper

Than any of our institutions

Unity of spirit

Is not unity of denomination

It's much deeper than that

God can use our schisms

For God’s greater mission

Unity in Christ is no longer division

Breaks have led to conversation

Our failure at walking together can be

Used For reconciliation

To make us better at walking

Unity is hard

We could blame it on God

But the mess of the church

Provides opportunity

To transform ourselves

Into a spirit of unity

A spirit of grace

A spirit of hope

That never stops checking the horizon

That works to gather the far and the near

That works to bless those who are already here

The spirit runs

So deep

The church is a mess

Thanks be to God

*(eph 2:11-22)

Our theme music is "Jesus, I believe you're near," composed by Matt Carlson and arranged for strings by Jeremy Nafziger.

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Community Mennonite Church
70 South High Street Harrisonburg, VA