Watercolor painting by Maren Hange of a frog on a branch.

Holding all things

May 7, 2024
by Maren Tyedmers Hange
Minister of Formation and Soul Care

We began our all day Faith & Life Commission meeting last week with some rich sharing prompted  by Ervin Stutzman question what “Bible character inspires us to live faithfully for God”. Our sharing reflected some of the wealth of faithful people in scripture. For the past number of years I have looked to Jacob’s wrestling all night with God and not to give up. It was good to gather with our brothers and sisters at Mountain View Mennonite Church in Hickory, NC for worship the following day and to get a taste for life in Christ in that place.

It made for a full weekend as I attended the Scoper lecture at University of Virginia that brought a number of famous people to Charlottesville (none of whom I had heard of) around the theme of Know better: Deepening the Bonds of Communal Life. Truth be told I went to hear the music by The Porter’s Gate. After the lecture by David Brooks I ended up meeting a film producer at table conversations over pie.

Nicholas Ma produced Won’t You be My Neighbor about Mr. Rogers and just finished Leap of Faith – a documentary following twelve pastors in Grand Rapids that is trying to prove that Colossians 1:17 is possible. It will premiere in September 2024. I can’t wait to see it.

“[Jesus] himself is before all things, and in [Jesus] all things hold together” Colossians 1:17

Part of me thinks that seeing others deeply and being deeply seen are basic pastoral care, spiritual direction or listening skills. But as our polarized country and the church indicates, it might not be such a basic skill but a muscle that has become weak. There are many people in Virginia Mennonite Conference who have not felt seen and do not feel seen. It has been frustrating and intriguing to ponder how we in VMC see each other and do not see each other. It reminds me of the story of the blind man in John 9 or the scriptures where God hardened their hearts.

Before I came to the USA through MCC’s IVEP program, I finished a 3-year apprenticeship as a Technical Mechanical Engineering designer. Instead of becoming a Mechanical Engineer, that year at a retreat center in Michigan changed my path and I became a pastor.

For years I have pondered this “wasted” experience. What did those years add to my ministry? Why had I not entered an apprenticeship in a German bakery? The amazing cakes and breads I could be producing… Over time I have come to realize that my engineering design training taught me to see, to see what is below the surface. I could look at an engine, or some other mechanical piece and produce a drawing of what the engine looks like cut open in a variety of ways.

Now as an artist I continue to learn to see. Who do you see? Who is invisible to you? I wonder if we can’t see each other, can we really see Jesus?


Original artwork by Maren Tyedmers Hange

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