Nearly every time, I see a news story about the Mennonite Church in a non-Mennonite publication, there is a picture of plain clothed person, often driving a buggy. For instance (as I mentioned elsewhere), a recent article in the Jerusalem Post about MCUSA’s resolution on seeking peace in Israel in Palestine was accompanied by this single photo:
It always causes me to chuckle. This looks nothing like the Mennonite church I populate, and it does seem that I find myself often explaining that I am allowed to shave my beard (though I generally don’t), and Mariann does not have to wear a head covering. And, yes! I can drive a car (though it would be better if I biked more). At the convention which passed the aforementioned resolution, literally no one looked like that picture (and there was only one plain clothed man there).
Mennonites, of the MCUSA variety, have largely moved into the world. They do not define their distinctiveness in the same ways, but, nevertheless, we also learned at the Future Church Summit that this value of non-conformity, being weird as some put it, is an important part of how we view ourselves and what we want to be. So how do we do that?
This Sunday, Judy took on the task of considering the values of non-conformity and simplicity, leading us through different ways that this value has manifested itself through Anabaptist history and her own story growing up in a Mennonite household, with a mother, for instance, who dressed in plain clothes.
We were left contemplating what it means to be a little weird, to not conform to the patterns of this age, to not give into the patterns of domination, violence, greed, and exploitation (something we always need to be reconsidering and critically engaging ourselves about). Also, how do we be different, succeeding in not conforming to the powers of this age, while also not being legalistic and not developing an “us and them” mentality? These are values that should direct us as Mennonites, but they are also values that we are re-inventing and re-imagining in our world.
Judy left us with these questions to consider. Think about them as you listen to the sermon and as you meditate personally and in community this week.
- What does it mean for us now as a Mennonite-Anabaptist community to be non-conformed? To live simply?
- How can we as a community support each other in transforming our minds and living out our “odd/weird” values?
For convenience sake, there is also a podcast available. You can find that here.