Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Reflection from Brazil: Doing an excellent job of being church.

The Church of the Brethren in Brazil, though small, is doing an excellent job of being church. Even though this was my second trip to Brazil, it was my first trip focusing on Igreja da Irmandade, the Church of the Brethren. I received a bigger picture of what the Church of the Brethren is doing in Brazil.

The church is doing a very good job at being "radical" in regard to the culture. The push for pacifism and community is very strong. The congregations are small, most of them resembling house churches. This seems to be effective, because everyone has an important role in the church. Without each person, the congregation would not function properly as a church.

The Brethren in Brazil recognize that ministry happens every day, and not simply on Sunday, or during Bible study. The emphasis is on community--on living, loving, learning, laughing, playing, celebrating, and crying as a community. We spent a weekend at the Rio Verde church and with the members there. We worshiped together, but also spent a day full of fun and recreation. Being in community is ministry, and being in ministry is all aspects of life. One must study, worship, reflect, and play. It is a balance that each church community must strive to achieve.

There are two moments that moved me--statements made by Marcos Inhauser, national co-director of Igreja da Irmandade. The first was made during his reflection on John 9:1-7, the story of Jesus healing a blind man. "God does what God wants without our permission," Marcos said. It is a simple statement but at that moment it rang true to my heart and soul. It spoke to me of my life.

The second statement was made as Marcos was reflecting on the story of the Last Supper in Matthew. He said, "All Jesus left us was the table." Simple, profound, powerful, and layered with meaning and metaphor. If Jesus left us the table, then shouldn't we be dining around it, and fellowshiping around it together?

--Haley Goodwin is a student at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

Source: 8/15/2007 Newsline

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