Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Risk Something New to Live, Love and Share Zion by Brittany Mangelson

I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new faith home when I found Community of Christ. My faith in God and church was crumbling, but I was trying to find something to hold on to. I walked into Red Cliffe on a warm June morning and encountered God in a new, life-giving way. Over the next several months I continued to discern where God was calling me. Community of Christ has so many special points of history, theology and culture and I fell in love with all of it rather quickly. I was fascinated to hear of the church’s journey over the last several decades that took the us to unfamiliar and uncharted places. I fell in love with the members of my congregation who had been living in area that can be challenging for those who don’t fit the religious mold. These people had persisted for years answering God’s call to live out their discipleship in our little corner of Christianity. I learned how the church came together in faithful disagreement, still holding each other when times were hard and hearts were breaking. I learned what grace looked like and realized that no matter how much I tried to talk my new community or God out of it, there was a place for me here.

My family joined Community of Christ just over 6 months from when I first came to reunion. It was a radical transformation that still has lingering effects today. When I joined, I knew Community of Christ was a safe place to explore my personal theology and a place where I was loved and welcomed in just as I am. I also realized this was a church I could feel comfortable raising my kids in. I was excited to teach my children the Enduring Principles and Mission Initiatives and to help them come to know what exactly Christ’s mission is. It’s an excitement that still radiates in my home.

Community of Christ, we have such a rich feast to share. Our table is open and our circle is drawn wide and we have much to offer the world. I have been transformed by our little church and there are many, many others who are searching for the love we have to share and for God we worship. Sometimes I fear that we look at our small congregations or our websites or whatever other insecurity we’re feeling and we forget what we do have. We have a group of sisters and brothers in Christ who are striving for Zion here and now. Just think about that for a minute!

Some of the women in our Mission Center experienced the reality of Zion recently at a women’s retreat. I almost didn’t let myself participate in this moment because of my own fear and insecurities. However, thanks to the blessings of community I was once again love and welcomed in, just as I am. We came together at the end of a meaningful discussion and participated in the sacrament of administration. The Spirit overflowed as women were administered to by women for the first time in their lives. I saw their expressions, held their hands and I saw what Zion looks like. I suspect those who were there still carry a tender spot in their heart for that evening. It is these sacred experiences, experiences that I cannot put into words, that makes this journey worth it. When we take a risk and step outside of ourselves, even a little, God can work in and through us in ways we cannot imagine. It is difficult, messy and sometimes we feel like we have nothing to offer the world, but if we invite our neighbor to the table, our neighbor will come.

Community of Christ, we have such a rich feast to share. We’ve done this over and over again and opening our table to new possibilities has blessed the church time after time. As we read in our newest section of the Doctrine and Covenants Section 165, “Beloved Community of Christ, do not just speak and sing of Zion. Live, love and share as Zion: those who strive to be visibly one in Christ, among whom there are no poor or oppressed.”

I’ll be forever grateful I decided to risk something new on that warm June morning and I’ll be Living, Loving, and Sharing Zion for the rest of my life. 

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