I took a number of history courses at a Mennonite college a number of years ago. I had learned Lutheran history (or at least legend); it was now time to learn the Anabaptist story. I was shocked at what I learned. How my ancestors had done such atrocious things in the name of God to the ancestors of the Mennonites who went to school with me. I was amazed that a common Mennonite wedding gift was Martyrs Mirror, a chronicle of the martyrdom of Anabaptists throughout history.
But even more amazing is that even with this story of pain and death and violence, that is not what I witnessed in the day-to-day life of the Mennonites who lived in my community. Instead of holding past sins against their neighbours, they lived out the gospel they read in the Sermon on the Mount. They became salt and light, a witness to love even in the midst of great pain and persecution.
When The Lutheran World Federation apologized a number of years ago for the terrible things we did to Anabaptists in Jesus’ name, there was no shame. There was confession, and there was foot washing-forgiveness. That is grace.
Grieving God, may we remember so that we don't repeat the past. Amen. — BM