What I took home from Assembly 15
Reflections from two Canadian MBs
To be honest, my motivation for going to Paraguay had more to do with visiting the land of my husband’s birth than attending the Mennonite World Conference. I hasten to add, however, that participating in Assembly 15 gave me some wonderful memories to treasure.
I was totally impressed with all of the youth volunteers, from those who assisted with transportation every morning and evening to the “security guard” at the gate who greeted everyone with a friendly comment and a smile even as he asked to see name tag passes. The servers in the food lines and those who handed out headsets (for translation) were courteous and helpful. I found it noteworthy that except for the chairperson and one other individual, the average age of the organizing committee for conference logistics was 24. God bless all of them!
During one of the sessions, the power suddenly cut out and there we sat in a darkened auditorium wondering what would happen next. Well, we did what Mennonites often seem to do when a crisis occurs – we started singing, thanks to some quick thinking by the worship leader and his team.
I was constantly amazed by the ministry of the worship leaders. By “leaders” I mean everyone who played an instrument, sang, or danced. Not only were they skilled, but they effectively used their gifts to invite the audience into the participation of worship. One of the most powerful moments occurred as we sang “How Great Thou Art,” each in our mother tongue. For me, it was a glimpse of what I imagine heaven is like.
The ministry of genuine Christian service offered by volunteers and worship leaders is the gift I took home from Assembly 15.
One experience I will treasure was the communion service. I have often felt like the Lord’s Supper is celebrated at the close of conferences as a forced confession of unity or simply included without much thought given to its place in the liturgy or even its spiritual significance. So I confess to entering the communion service a skeptic.
Also, it was the ninth worship service of the week and I was feeling overwhelmed by all the content to that point and weary of paying attention through constant translation. I did, however, want to be there. The worship, as in all sessions, was inspiring. The international worship team led by Paul Dueck drew all of us into a spirit of worship as we sang to the One who alone deserves all our praise.
As we were led into the celebration of communion I was overcome by the realization that I was part of a gathering of more than 5,000 Christians from every continent on the globe. Like John, in Revelation, I felt as if I was caught up in the Spirit to experience a foretaste of heaven. With a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, I celebrated the Lord’s Supper, confessing Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
For me the communion celebration was a clear picture that Jesus Christ is building his church and I am privileged to be a part of it. I left the communion service with a greater sense of anticipation of and longing for the day when all the redeemed will gather at the wedding supper of the Lamb. Maranatha!