My Joy says I should explain Borderlands to my readers. She is right, but an explanation isn’t easy! When Rhoda and I visited College Mennonite Church for the first time, Rhoda chose to go to a class that studied the International Lessons which she was accustomed to. I decided to go to a class with Rhoda’s sister. She warned me that her class was different and tried to interest me in one of the other classes, but I insisted on going with her. She seemed reluctant, but that piqued my interest even more. Her class turned out to be Borderlands.
I learned that Borderlands doesn’t consider itself a class. Borderlands doesn’t have a single designated teacher for each participant teaches. Borderlands doesn’t have a roll call, but it seems that any one missing is missed, and every new person is always welcomed. It doesn’t take an offering or support a particular ministry, yet it is intensely interested in people, the earth, and the universe. Borderlands doesn’t follow a prescribed curriculum, still every one is learning. It may not be a class, but in my eyes Borderlands is classy – it helps make College Mennonite Church be the big tent that it is.
When the first two or three participants arrives in room 110 on Sunday morning, talking begins. As others arrive the group begins to form a circle. Oddly, we sometimes seat ourselves in an old Mennonite fashion with men on one side of the circle and women on the other side. We laugh when that happens, for we are not traditional Mennonites.
Any adult comes to a SS Class with his/her own wisdom. This is especially true of Borderlands. Some of us have had long-time experience in the Mennonite Church. One attended Bob Jones University, was a member of fundamental, evangelical congregations before coming to College Mennonite. Some of us have little formal education, but most of us are degreed. There are PHD’s and MD’s and others skilled in various trades and professions.
In the circle we begin by sharing news, as may be customary for an ordinary class. An unfinished discussion from the preceding Sunday may provide a beginning point for a fruitful discussion. If we seem to be floundering, we do a “one on one” when each one in the circle is given the opportunity to speak for one minute without interruption. This is always interesting and instructive.
In one of the early discussions everyone present was asked to share their first and most recent mental image of God. Some have abandoned all attempts to image God, and only trust science as truth. For me God is as close to me and as pervasive as the air and wind. Wind and breath is air moving. Or to use a biblical term, Spirit(ual).
We sometimes try to define “worship” and “spirituality.” Most of us cling to science because it can be weighed and measured. But spirituality is more difficult. Do you understand why my sister-in- law was reluctant to introduce me to borderlands? She was afraid I would not be up to it. It requires the sturdy faith of an Old Fool.