Teaching Moments with The Rev. Bill Blank from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center
By the Rev. Gina Metze
Rev. Bill Blank opened our eyes to look at how ministry can show God’s love and how God can bring people to places of reconciliation. Conflict is everywhere. What do we do with the conflict? How do we handle the gifts God has given to us when they come into conflict with other’s gifts? Dr. Blank asked, “How do we speak in love when we disagree?” We have the opportunity to minister to the culture that we live in. If we can disagree and still love one another, we can be a light to the world. Ephesians 4: 1-16 was his basis as he presented the keys in understanding our calling and using our gifts to connect.
Concerning “being right,” he stated, “When I know I am the MOST right, I need to understand God’s Grace!”
Rev. Blank focused his discussion on conflict and the need for us to use our gifts to reconcile and to show God’s love to one another. He specifically asked us to discuss how our particular gifts can be used in the midst of conflict.
Dr. Blank used the scripture Matthew 18:15-17 as a basis of approaching conflict. Dr. Blank shared, in humor, a conversation about how congregational conflict is addressed. The person said, “We don’t deal with conflict. We put it under the carpet. So you might imagine, we have lots of lumps under the carpet. It’s sometimes hard to walk around.”
How can we handle conflict and disagreement? We are called again to love one another, even in the midst of misunderstandings. Disagreements are not always a hinderance in ministry, but rather we might look at disagreement as a way God might be at work in new ways. These new ways might open us to see another way of ministry.
The Third Teaching moment was from The Rev. James Henricks
Does this really work? We should be asking – What work does it do? – Dr. Dan Bell
Our work at peacemaking fails because we succeed. Success is something we have to work towards. Our efforts to building peace, but what work are we doing to try to build peace. More just society? Are we living out the calling for poor and oppressed?
Are working to transform our societies? Does the gospel work to ruffle feathers?
We saw places and reports where peacemaking works. The successful things have been fruitful because we have entered into difficult conversations and work. When we fail to succeed, we are still doing the hard work of justice. We shall continue to work and ask, “Is this the work of the Gospel?”