Thursday, August 02, 2007

the example of anabaptists

the theme of the UNOH conference was "fools for a revolution" with jesus, of course, being our model fool. i attended one session led by stuart murray williams on the foolishness of the anabaptists. he told the story of a well-knonw hero of the faith, dirk wellems (see his story) who was a 16th century reformer immortalized for saving his captor, only to be burned at the stake. a model for a non-violent response of a jesus follower. stuart explained that dirk's response was one of reflex; he didn't have time to deliberate the ethics of the situation. it was an emergency and dirk returned to save his pursuer without second thought. it cost him his life. non-violence is a central commitment of the anabaptists.

the most compelling part of the session, however, was a question stuart posed after sharing dirk willems story. he asked us "what reflexes are cultivated in your community?" he explained that this question is not based on core values, mission statements or beliefs, but an impulse without thought. it gave me pause. the group spent the rest of the time discussing this question and i sat quietly, thinking about communality. what are our reflexes? certainly over the years god's work and our choices are producing spontaneous actions characterized by the kingdom. i thought about hospitality and generosity as two reflexes, instincts as it were, working in our midst. it is a good question worth our consideration.



lisa g said...

I appreciated reading this post last night. First because I was able to really be thankful for my husband this week as he found himself in a shocking, difficult, and potentially dangerous situation and exhibited the kind of reflex mentioned here. He was able to remain calm and steady, not even raising his voice even after having someone take a swing at him. I'm honored to be married to this man.

It is also helpful for me to think about this in light of our current opportunity for the next door house. We have been contacted about a probably illegal Honduran family that is in need of a place to stay for 3-4 months with their young child who is in real need of a stable home and medical care. My reflex says of course we take them in, evidence of the way our community has shaped my values of hospitality and generosity. But then as we deliberate the ethics, it gets a bit stickier. It is my first up close and personal interaction with illegal immigrant issues. Sometimes its hard for me to tell what is a reflex versus what is my naivety.

Thanks for this food for thought Sherry. I'm glad you all are meeting and learning from so many people and I have been thankful for all the wisdom from afar.

heidi said...

Funny that you replied to this post Lisa, because the first thing I thought about when I read it was the two of you this week and then my own struggle with "kingdom reflexes" (hopefully) and naivete as you say.