A “great multitude...from all tribes and peoples and languages” worship around the throne of God (Revelation 7). That vision aptly describes Mennonite World Conference. But it stands against a backdrop of disaster that feels too familiar today. Unable to rescue the world, saints cry, “Salvation belongs to God...and to the Lamb!”
Parts of our world have seen disaster in recent years – Ebola, hurricanes, civil war, religious persecution. Now creation groans under COVID-19. We cancel meetings, wear masks, meet by Zoom – and pray. In Revelation 8, angels carry prayers of saints caught in chaos into God’s presence. Our prayers, too!
Will COVID-19 remind us of our need of God?
- Plagues of Egypt belatedly softened Pharaoh’s heart.
- Amos (chapter 4) laments that a series of plagues did not turn Israel to God.
- John of Revelation (9:20, 21) expected that global plagues would turn humanity to God, but they did not.
Coronavirus can highlight our need for each other and awaken hunger for justice. The poor disproportionately suffer in this pandemic because of fewer financial and medical resources. Now is a time for Anabaptists to share with sisters and brothers in need.
At ancient Corinth, more wealthy church members ate plenty at communion while poor members (arriving late?) went hungry. Some became “weak and ill” and died. Those with resources brought judgement upon themselves because they acted “without discerning the body” (1 Corinthians 11).
An often-cited Old Testament prophecy tells of God’s Spirit breaking through a terrible locust plague to bring salvation. Joel says that plague would culminate in God pouring out the Spirit: “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. [The elderly] will dream, [the young] will have visions” (Joel 2).
Ever renewing the church, may God’s Spirit blow afresh through MWC as COVID-19 passes!
—J. Nelson Kraybill is president of MWC (2015–2021). He lives in Indiana, USA.
This article first appeared in Courier/Correo/Courrier October 2020.
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