Dear Friend,

Today allows but a quick thought to be shared with you before my paper devours my brain for the billionth day in a row. You see today I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am. I have an amazing church community who supports me, encourages me, engages me… who can ask for more than that? You see since the beginning of my semester here at EMU I’ve been inviting people to come visit Community with me, people who are just getting to know the Harrisonburg church scene, and even those who have previous experience with the Harrisonburg Mennonite community, but not with Community Mennonite (what a weird word combo) in particular. I was thinking about it today and I think the reason I’ve been wanting EVERYONE to come visit Community is because I want others to have the same amazing church life experience that I do. The problem is that Community isn’t right for everyone. If Community was right for everyone than every church would be like Community… and they aren’t. I know, however, that Community is the right place for me. I don’t feel like I should be “shopping around” because Community provides the atmosphere my faith needs. I’m not exactly sure how this jump was made in my mind, but in writing this I am reminded of some thoughts I had previously in the semester.

You see a dear friend of mine and I don’t very often see eye to eye on various topics… if you really want to make distinctions you could very easily make the case that I am much more “liberal” than she is. I would rather, however, look at this difference in the way Shane Hipps outlined at Convention this past Summer, a difference between “Purity” vs. “Justice” (that being said, as a person placed on the “justice” side of things, I personally feel that justice is a part of purity not a separate entity) Within these differences it has, fairly frequently, been pointed out that Community wouldn’t fit her beliefs. This has been hard for me to think about. Why not?

Now this question: Why Not? has been sitting in the back of my mind and I can’t think of a single reason that her beliefs would not fit into Community’s faith community. True, some of her stances on certain may be different from the majority of the people (although, not all people, I might add) but we preach the same gospel and believe the same basic truths that she does, don’t we? As these questions began to haunt me regarding my church and how those who would consider themselves more “Conservative” or “Purity” sides of the spectrums we place ourselves on feel welcomed or comfortable with our message I’ve tried to keep my eyes open. Today for example, as I listened to the sermon, I tried to listen from a different viewpoint. Well, not a different viewpoint so much as listening for parts that might be “out there” for those who think differently than I do. I don’t think I succeeded. For as I listened I heard the word the way I believe it, a word of love.

Love. Is this so radical an idea that people would discriminate between churches because of the way it’s shown? I would hope not. With that hope however, I see a need in myself to drop the bias’ I hold against those who differ from me. Perhaps it is time for me to look inside a little bit.

Love, Mandi Jo

P.S. Continued prayer for my family would be much appreciated. Thank you.