Sunday, 3 November 2013

Changing Face of Mennonite Women

 Is Our Religious Practice Too Easy

This Sunday as a result of the Ten Thousand Village Sale the morning service was held downstairs in the children’s Sunday school area.
 The adults rearranged the downstairs space in an attempt to replicate the sanctuary and the children defined its usage.  We  had a choice, force our worship on the children or collaborate with them.  We adapted and in this way our spiritual experience came to co-exist in the same space with their spiritual play.

Did the creator plan this? 
Were we given a glimmer of the struggle Mennonite Churches in Africa and Asia go through?

The space we worshiped in this morning was not our sanctuary and held many obstacles to our normal worship.   

  1. We were downstairs without an elevator.  Members who had mobility challenges had to struggle with physical pain to go up and down the stairs.  
  2. We were without piano, comfortable chairs and our normal amount of personal space.   
  3. The space was also filled with the sounds of ten children, three under the age of one, four under the age of 5, two under the age of 8.  Their quiet play was a distraction that had to be overcome.

There were obstacles to our  worship that had to be overcome.

Was this a glimpse into what young churches starting up in hostile religious environments have to go through?  

Today brought into crisp definition how we do not have to struggle against the environment that we worship in.   

It is very easy to go to church on Sunday.  Sunday in the United States and Canada is for many people a day set aside to attend church.   

There is no prohibition against our going to church it is actually encouraged.  With all of the freedom and encouragement one would think that religious expression would be growing yet it is  in decline.

We learned that the fastest growing Mennonite Churches are in Africa and Asia where congregations meet in secret, in poverty, in communities that are openly hostile to religious expression and where death is a real outcome should you be caught attending church.
 Today the public face of an average Mennonite woman is no longer that of a white woman of German, Dutch or Russian Heritage.  She is racialized, living well below the poverty line.  She walks long distances to get clean drinking water and food for her family and worships at great personal risk and courage.  She lives her faith while I wonder if I am just playing at my faith?

I want to thank the children for allowing us into their spiritual space and providing me a fleeting glance into the challenges that many new and spiritually alive Mennonites live daily in their spiritual pursuit.  

Grandma Snyder
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Elora Gorge Conservation Park

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