Our new worship series, which we will begin January 15, will focus on what it might mean to be Mennonite/Anabaptist. I get monthly calls/emails from people asking me this very question, so I figured it was time to explore this question in preaching, and over several weeks.
In preparing for this series, I looked for some kind of Mennonite-related visual or symbol to showcase. This may surprise some considering that Mennonite congregations have held widely divergent attitudes toward the use of visual symbols in worship. Obviously at Rainbow we embrace use of visual arts in worship, as you can see on this page of our website: Visual Arts at Rainbow.
As my search for visuals continued, I remembered the quilted banner that my good friend Sarah Klaassen, pastor of Rock Bridge Christian Church in Columbia, MO, had hanging at her ordination last year (pictured to the right). Thankfully, Sarah (and the church) agreed to loan Rainbow this banner for the next month and a half.
While Sarah chose some of the colors, Bob Regier of North Newton, KS, gets the design credit. This banner is actually part of a liturgical season banner series for another Mennonite Church in KS ,my home church in Hillsboro. See below for a picture of all seven banners.
Here is Bob’s description of this particular banner:
Title: Peace and Service
Perhaps there is no more familiar symbol of service within the Mennonite church than the logo of the Mennonite Central Committee. So I have given this symbol, composed of the cross and dove, a prominent position in the upper third of the banner. There is a circular motion around this symbol that alludes to the orb, or world. This witness through service is not restricted, but extends to the entire world. An olive branch forms the lower part of the circle. This symbol, as you recall, has its origins in the story of Noah and the flood. The dove returning to the ark with this branch has become a symbol of peace, reconciliation, and new life.
The bright curved band at the upper right corner of the banner helps further define the orb and suggests a portion of a rainbow emerging from the darker left side. The rainbow is another symbol of God’s reconciling action after the flood. Reference to this is made in the ninth chapter of Genesis. Placed below the symbols I have mentioned are the basin and towel. The towel sweeps to the very bottom of the banner and forms part of the bottom contour. Rooted in the account of the Passover supper, the towel and basin have become longstanding symbols for humility and service.
Here are all seven of these banners. If you would like fuller descriptions of each one, let me know.
I hope these images, particularly the one called “Peace and Service,” will prod us forward and perhaps evoke new questions and imagination as we consider this question of what it means to be Mennonite/Anabaptist Christian.
And to those who want to keep track of various resources related to this series, click here: On being Mennonite/Anabaptist resource list