From a week in the Southwest I returned to a church trying to understand the metaphor of “grafting in” as it relates to church growth and extension. The Bible uses the metaphor to describe the attachment of the new growth bud of believing Gentiles into the old Jewish root of Abrahamic faith, thus making One New Church.
As I moved from Midwest to Southwest I became aware of the grafting that has been going on in America. Its obious that the blending of genetics is turning America the color brown. Trump and his followers do not like, nor do they appreciate the blending of colors, religions, languages, and cuisines that has made America a land of opportunity.
Doubling down on personal faith, I suggest that our personal faiths are filled with beliefs of many hues. I sensed this while living and conversing with my cousin and his wife, and listening and worshipping with their daughter, the pastor of the Unity Spiritual Center of the Mohave Valley. The hues of belief seem to me to be as varied and beautiful as the colors of the rainbow. The hues I perceived in Mohave came from a blend of Christian, Buddhist, Native American, and new thought perspectives. When combined the rainbow colors become light.
Now back to the College Church and grafting. My father and brother were both skilled grafters. They valued a sharp knife, a tested and tried root system and a bud taken from a tree known to bear good fruit. The historic tap root for Mennonites of the German/Swiss stock runs down to the Anabaptists and the Swiss brethren.
I recall a meeting of Mennonite Church leaders with Lyle Schaller during which we were reminding each other of the value of our Anabaptist heritage. Schaller urged that we should not fail to go beyond the Anabaptists to Jesus as the source of our faith and practice. But sadly, this strong tap root if left alone yields the sour fruit of divisiveness, exclusiveness and other negatives.
The grafting of new cultures is required for us to bear good fruit. Not being forgetful of old values, but welcoming new people, new ideas, new tastes, new praxis.