Certainly, there can be value in acknowledging when we've done something well. But every occasion seems to be a celebration lately and it's starting to make me feel uncomfortable.
Thus, Dick Benner's comments in the Canadian Mennonite on the proceedings at Mennonite World Conference jumped out at me.
Katherine Johnson, assistant general secretary for the Lutheran World Federation, represented 68 million Lutherans worldwide. She claimed that while Lutherans were “proud of their theological distinctives,” they would not be “celebrating” their 500th birthday in 2017 due to the divisiveness of the Reformation. Their goal is to help shape the church for the 21st century, she said.
A thought for Mennonite Brethren who are gearing up to celebrate 150 years in January.
Our theological distinctives include some morsels of truth we may have understood better than others, but they are still far from beginning to comprehend Truth. There is much to be affirmed in denominations, and I do believe the Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith is worth standing behind, but what are we celebrating in these 150 years? Do we not also have much to be ashamed of?
What might a clear-eyed, unflinching gaze at our past reveal to contrite hearts?
How can we use this landmark to enter the future not with self-congratulation, but with humble repentance and a willingness to sacrifice for the One we love?
Celebration is good, I suppose, and I'd generally concur that self-flagellation is bad, but is there perhaps a middle ground we might tread to more accurately follow in the footsteps of Jesus?