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Gathering plenary 2 – Sarah Whyte

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Don’t ever grow up

“It’s adults who build walls; it’s children who knock them down.”

Oh, grow up. Put on your big boy pants. Expressions we use to encourage each other to take responsibility for the hard stuff.  

But in this morning’s plenary session, Sarah Whyte, pastor of home groups at WMB in Waterloo, Ont., reminded our gathering that the hard stuff of building unity in the church requires us to become like children.

Sarah Whyte PHOTO: Tony Schellenberg

“We can’t ‘adult’ our way into the Kingdom,” said Whyte.

We often try to “manage our way out of our brokenness,” but according to the morning’s text from Ephesians 2, “God does both the making and the saving.” (The Message).

No one likes getting emails that don’t relate to us; we hit delete. Similarly, said Whyte, Paul isn’t going to write to a church about things that don’t relate to them: the fact that he’s writing the Ephesians about unity indicates it was a struggle.

And no wonder: the church in Ephesus was doing something new and unprecedented: working together as Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free.

Mennonite Brethren come from different contexts and perspectives. But the problem with letting those differences grow into walls is that we can no longer see the person on the other side.

“Let’s be honest: we’re not having a national convention on unity because we’re nailing it,” said Whyte. “We need to refocus.”

“Before we enter into three days of business – ‘adulting’ for the conference,” Whyte gave delegates and guests a moment to reflect and repent of our dividing walls and “grown-up” attitudes.

Listing the things we may have brought with us – theological arrogance, unwillingness to listen, personal agendas – she invited us to come around the table as children postured to learn.

We make our plans, said Whyte, and then, “God scoops us up like a dad and says: Watch what we can do if I’m in charge.”

[Angeline is the copy editor for the Canadian Conference of MB Churches and a member of Crossroads MB Church in Winnipeg.

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