Maren pic old map

iCLT News Jesus, be the center

June 1, 2023
by Maren Tyedmers Hange
Minister of Spiritual Formation and Soulcare

Jesus, be the center.

Recently I was creating treasure maps with the youth. If Jesus is the treasure, or center, what has helped you find the treasure? What people or places, scriptures or songs have led you toward Jesus? What paths have you taken? What deserts and bogs have you encountered? Who has journeyed with you? It was a fun, messy and playful way to look at our faith journeys and tap into a sense of wonder and joy.

What does walking toward Jesus, the center, look like in your life or congregation? Who is the Jesus that you put at the center? Where do we let Jesus create us in His image and where have we given into the temptation to create Jesus in our image? The Sing The Story Hymnal Supplement contains the song Jesus, be the center…my source, my light, my hope, my song, my vision, my path, my guide, fire in my heart, wind in the sails, the reason that I live. Which of those speak to you at the moment? Which of these helps us to put Jesus at the center of our conversations and decision sat VMC?

Jesus was the center of the disciples’ life for three long or short years. The disciples trusted Jesus. Yet, when that center appeared to crumble to an end at the cross, they fell apart. They were lost and left an empty shell.  Judas had betrayed Jesus and them all, two were walking home to Emmaus, two went to the tomb on account of the women, some were gathered upstairs in a locked room, and Thomas had gone off who knows where, and eventually some went back to fishing.

Jesus had told the disciples to wait after his ascension because he was sending them the Paracletes, an advocate, helper, comforter…the Holy Spirit. At the threshold of Pentecost, how are you waiting and listening for the gift of the Holy Spirit? How are you actively waiting for the Holy Spirit to descend in the mess of Virginia Mennonite Conference? Do we trust Jesus to send us the gift of the Holy Spirit as well to bring understanding into our differences? Jesus told them in the power of the resurrection to wait…

“To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life.
It is living with the conviction that God molds us
according to God’s love and not according to our fear.
The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment,
expecting that new things will happen to us,
new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction.
That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”

     ~Henri J.M. Nouwen in Finding My Way Home