Since 2003, First Mennonite Church has enjoyed a sister church relationship with El Divino Redentor (EDR), a Lutheran congregation in Bucaramanga, Colombia. This friendship has included delegations traveling back and forth, sharing prayers and photos, and learning about the ministries of EDR in Colombia. On Sunday, October 15th, we live-streamed a joint worship service, with songs, readings, and sermons delivered in English and Spanish.

Pastor Sergio and I preached back-to-back short sermons based on Scripture readings from Philippians 4:4-9 and John 10:11-18 (his is below). At the conclusion of his reflections, Pastor Sergio refers to the Mennonite-Lutheran reconciliation dialogues of 2010, involving both the Lutheran World Federation and the Mennonite World Conference. Following the language developed in this earlier reconciliation process, EDR and First Mennonite Church exchanged words of confession and reception. It was a gracious gift of our friendship that we could manifest this personal expression of a global conversation. The words of Pastor Sergio’s sermon, EDR’s confession, and FMC’s response are printed below, with gratitude to Pastor Sergio Talero, of The Divine Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bucaramanga, Colombia; and to Rafael Luquis, a member of First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana, who provided the English translations.

Sermon, Pastor Sergio Talero (Spanish Language Original):

SERMÓN – REFLEXIÓN PASTORAL ‘La alternativa de Jesús, modelo de pastor, unidos confluimos en él’

 

Nuestra reflexión parte del texto de Juan 10.11-18, Jesús se ha presentado como el modelo de pastor, como el acceso a la vida, la alternativa a la muerte. Su acción pastoral describe la actividad con aquellos que el Padre le ha dado (6.39). No es Jesús un pastor más, es El Modelo, el verdadero, y su función primaria es dar la vida por los suyos (15.13), quien no ama hasta dar la vida no es pastor (21.16).

 

Hay un fuerte antagonismo con el v. 10.10, por esto Jesús viene a dar vida rebosante y para ello se da a sí mismo. Darse es comunicar vida (12.24). La vida solo la comunica el amor, que es don de sí a los demás.

 

El asalariado o mercenario deja ver su relación con los suyos (11-13) como el verdadero pastor con los suyos (14-15) el antagonismo entre el asalariado y el pastor se fundamenta en la motivación, el primero presta su servicio por interés, el segundo lo hace por amor. Ante el peligro el asalariado deja que las ovejas mueran. Jesús tiene un conocimiento personal de cada uno, le llama por su nombre y les saca del recinto (10.4). Del mismo modo declara Jesús que entre él y la comunidad como suma de individuos existe una relación personal de conocimiento profundo e íntimo.

 

La comunidad significa conoce a Jesús que ha dado la vida por sus amigos y les ha comunicado el Espíritu, es decir, conocer su amor (1.16) y es tan profunda esta relación que Jesús compara la relación con los suyos con la que él tiene con su Padre, basada también en la comunión con el Espíritu. La pertenencia a la comunidad de Jesús no es una afiliación externa, se basa en la experiencia. En esto consiste la vida definitiva, en conocer personalmente al Padre y a su enviado Jesús Mesías (17.3). De otra parte Jesús ve el horizonte de su futura comunidad. Su misión no se limita al pueblo judío, se extiende a otros.

 

Este universalismo está en consonancia con la concepción de Juan que desde el prólogo sitúa su evangelio en el contexto de la creación. El amor de Dios que la realiza tiene por término la humanidad entera (1.9; 3.16-17; 4.42; 8.12) los discípulos que vengan de otras procedencias, formarán con los que vengan de Israel, una sola comunidad, ha terminado el privilegio del pueblo elegido. La unidad de todos se verificará por la convergencia en el único pastor, Jesús. La comunidad que es universal, no está encerrada en la institución nacional o confesional o cultural alguna.

 

En la undécima Asamblea de la Federación Luterana Mundial 2010 en Stuttgart la comunidad luterana pidió perdón por la persecución a la comunidad anabautista del siglo XVI, así mismo se pidió perdón por olvidar e ignorar esa persecución durante los siglos siguientes, así como el uso por parte de autores luteranos de calificativos impropios, falaces o hirientes para referirse a personas anabautistas.

 

Nuestro modelo de pastor: Jesús, nos llama por nuestro nombre y es el de hijos e hijas sin distingo alguno. Nos llama a reconocernos como iguales, a pedirnos perdón, a restaurar lo quebrado y a celebrar juntos y juntas la vida que él nos dio alternativamente a la muerte que nos rodea.

Sermon, Pastor Sergio Talero (English Language Translation):

SERMON-PASTORAL REFLECTION “Jesus’ alternative, shepherd’s standard, united we conflux in Him” (Translator’s note: The word pastor in Spanish means both shepherd and pastor, making words play between both meanings).

 

Our reflection comes from the reading of John 10:11-18. Jesus has presented himself as shepherd, as the access to life, the alternative to death. His pastoral/shepherd actions describe the work with who were given to him by the Father. (6:39) Jesus is not just another shepherd, is The Standard, the true one, and his primary function is to give his life for his own. (15:13), the one who is not willing to give his life out of love, is not a shepherd (21:16).

 

There is a strong antagonism within the verse 10:10, that’s why Jesus comes to give life abundantly and that’s why he gives himself. To give yourself is to communicate life. (12:24) Life can only communicate love, that it is a gift in itself to everyone.

 

The hireling or mercenary shows his relation with his own (11-13) just like the true shepherd with his own (14-15) the antagonism between hireling and the shepherd is fundamentally different, the first one gives his services for profit, the second one does it for love. Facing danger, the hireling leaves the sheep behind to die. Jesus knows personally each one of his sheep, he calls them by name and gets them out of the enclosure (10:4) In the same way Jesus declares that between him and the community (as the sum of individuals) exists a personal relationship of deep and intimate knowledge.

 

The community means that it knows Jesus, that having given his life for his friends, and having communicated his Holy Spirit, meaning, to know Jesus’ love, (1:16) and this relationship is so deep, that Jesus compares it with the one He has with his Father. That is based also in the communion with the Spirit. Belonging into Jesus’ community, is based in experience, not in an external affiliation. In this consists definite life, in knowing personally the Father and his envoy Jesus Messiah (17:3). In another way, Jesus sees the horizon of his future community. His mission is not limited to Jewish people, it reaches to others.

 

This universality is consonant with John’s conception, from the prologue, he places his gospel in context of creation. John realizes, that God’s love has the finality to reach the whole human race (1:9, 3:16-17, 4:42, 8:12). The disciples that come from other origins will form, with the ones from Israel, one community, ending the privilege of the chosen people. Everyone’s unity will be verified by the convergence in one shepherd, Jesus. The universal community isn’t exclusive of a national, confessional, or cultural institution.

 

In the Eleventh World Federation Lutheran Assembly of 2010, in Stuttgart, the Lutheran community asked for forgiveness for the persecution to the Anabaptist community of the 1600’s, also we asked forgiveness for forgetting and ignoring this persecution in the following centuries. Also, the use of derogative, fallacious and hurtful terms, used to refer to Anabaptists.

 

Our standard of a shepherd: Jesus, calls us by our name, and it is as sons and daughters, without distinction. He calls us to recognize each other as equals, to ask forgiveness, to restore the brokenness, and to celebrate together the life He has given us, in alternative, to the death that surrounds us.

Confessional Statement of EDR Spoken to FMC (Spanish Language Original)

Iglesia evangélica Luterana El Divino Redentor A LA COMUNIDAD ANABAUTISTA MENONITA “First Mennonite Church”

 

Cómo luteranos y luteranas en Bucaramanga, en la comunidad de El Divino Redentor en este 500 Aniversario de la Reforma iniciada por Martín Lutero en 1517, hacemos nuestras las palabras de la Undécima Asamblea de la Federación Luterana Mundial en Stuttgart Alemania, en donde procuramos seguir acercándonos a la comunión de hijos e hijas de Dios y pedimos perdón por la persecución que la comunidad de seguidores de Lutero y sus compañeros reformadores emprendieron a la comunidad anabautista en el siglo XVI. Así mismo pedimos perdón por el olvido y la invisibilización de esta situación durante los siglos siguientes como el uso por parte de autores-as luteranos-as de calificativos impropios, falaces o hirientes usados para referirse a personas anabautistas.

 

El documento suscrito en algunos apartes dice: “somos dolorosamente conscientes de nuestra propia inadecuación (…) no podemos haber llegado hasta aquí para no ver nuestra propia pecaminosidad. No podemos haber llegado hasta aquí sin reconocer nuestra necesidad de la gracia y el perdón de Dios”.

 

Por su parte el Rev. Danisa Ndlovu de Zimbabue, presidente del Congreso Mundial Menonita obsequió una palangana de madera utilizada en una comunidad menonita que ha mantenido la tradición del lavado de pies, lo hizo con estas palabras: “Se la regalamos como símbolo de nuestro compromiso con un futuro en el que el sello distintivo de las relaciones anabaptista-luteranas sea el amor ilimitado y el servicio infalible”.

 

Agradecemos en este domingo 15 de octubre a la First Mennonite Church por su apoyo, por su amor incondicional para con nosotros en Bucaramanga y especialmente el apoyo a nuestras niñas y niños en el comedor “Semillas de Vida” en Girón, con este Culto Unido, simultáneo vía Internet queremos estrechar relaciones, conocernos un poco más y comprometernos a dejar que el Espíritu Santo de Dios fluya entre nosotros y nosotras, para la Gloria de Dios, Amén

Confessional Statement of EDR Spoken to FMC (English Language Translation)

CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT (Divine Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church) to the ANABAPTIST MENNONITE COMMUNITY ”First Mennonite Church”

 

As Lutherans from Bucaramanga, of the community of El Divino Redentor, in this 500 Reform’s Anniversary, started by Martin Luther in 1517, we make our own, the words of the Eleventh World Lutheran Federation in Stuttgart, Germany, where we procure to keep getting close to the community of God’s sons and daughters, and ask forgiveness for the persecution done by Lutherans and fellow reformers, against the Anabaptist community of the 1600’s, also we asked forgiveness for forgetting and ignoring this persecution in the following centuries. Also, the use of derogative, fallacious and hurtful terms, used by the Lutheran authors to refer to Anabaptists.

 

The subscribed document says in some parts: “…we are painfully conscious of our own inadequacy … we cannot have reached this far without seeing our own sinfulness. We couldn’t have reached this far without recognizing our need of God’s grace and forgiveness”.

 

From your behalf, the Reverend Danisa Ndlovu from Zimbabwe, president of World Mennonite Conference, gave a wooden basin, used by the Mennonite community that has kept the feet washing as a tradition. He gave it with this words: “We give it as a symbol of our commitment to a future, in which the distinct seal of the Anabaptist-Lutheran relations would be one of unlimited love and infallible service”.

 

We thank the First Mennonite Church for its support on this date, October 15, for your unconditional love to us in Bucaramanga, especially in your support to our children’s diner “Semillas de Vida” (Seeds of Life) in Girón. With this joined, simultaneous service, through the internet, we want to tighten the relationship, get to know each other a little bit more, and to commit to let the God’s Holy Spirit to flow between us, for God’s glory, Amen.

Response and Reception of FMC Spoken to EDR (English Language Original)

As your friends and coworkers in God’s Kingdom: Thank you for your heartfelt words. We receive them with humility and in God’s peace.

 

It is our honor to live in the future that Rev. Ndlovu of Mennonite World Conferece described, one marked by “unlimited love and infallible service.” As he said in his address then, “Today, in this place, we together – Lutherans and Mennonites – are fulfilling the rule of Christ.”

 

You, our friends at El Divino Redentor, teach us about the boundless love of God in your commitment to feeding the hungry in your midst. Your confession reminds us that we, too, are in need of God’s grace in all things. To quote Rev. Dr. Larry Miller, another representative of Mennonite World Conference, Our communities “are also in need of healing and forgiveness. In this action between us, for Mennonites also, the promise of release and renewal.”

 

With thankfulness in our hearts we pray for God’s gentle rain of renewal. AMEN.