The header is a sign of my wish for Spring to come.  

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Exploring and Subscribing to the OLD FOOL’S website

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The Old Fool welcomes you

Recent posts and comments, archives of past posts, and categories of the posts are listed on the right of the opening page. If you ever wonder how my posts are written, click here.

Bookmark www.oldmennonfools.com or   Click here to subscribe to receive email notice of new posts. Email addresses are not sold or shared.   

To better know me, go to my life and the longer articles named on the black ribbon above. Browse, comment and question as you wish. We journey on together in the pilgrimage of life and faith.

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Toward the Light

On ascension Sunday, Pastor Phil Waite reflected on his six years of pastoral ministry of College Mennonite.  You may hear this part of his sermon by going to the website and scrolling for an hour into the service.  Click here to hear.  Phil reported that during those  six years, 153 members of the congregation have passed on.

A new family is welcomed to the church

Most of those who passed on were raised in a mono-cultural community that prompted them to regular church attendance and generous giving.

The younger replacements are not as committed as their elders were to regular attendance nor to giving as generously to the church. 

After the service I told Phil that in my life I have faced toward the light.  Phil hugged me and said, “I know”. A snippet of I John 2:8 has long guided me.  The writer of the first epistle ascribed to John reminded his readers of the new commandment that is my motto, and sets the stage for my life’s direction when he declared that “the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining”.

I’ve turned my back to the darkness of strife between nations and tribes, and divisiveness in the church.  I focus on the horizon where the light is already shining; of a world at peace and plenty;  a world in which the petitions in the Lord’s prayer are fully answered;  a world in which God’s name is hallowed, a world to which the Kingdom has come, a world in which the will of god is done on earth as in heaven; where everyone is given daily bread; where all debts are forgiven; a world bereft of greed

When my daughter and I went to Bob Evans for a meal recently I saw a glimpse of the diverse community in which we live.   Seated across the aisle from us were a pleasant, white-skinned,  young brunette. A small, red-haired boy sat next to her. Across from these two was a  girl with a purple scarf wrapped around her head that hid her hair and accented her beautiful face. I assumed she was Muslim. Siting next to her was an African American male.  The happy mingling of cultures and colors reminded me of the diverse community which feeds the church now and even more in the future.

let the darkness go
focus on that before  you
the True Light shines now 

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Catching Up

My cousin, Grace Lehman Burkholder

My computer has been in the shop for clean up and  so I have been using my iphone to contact friends. One friend that I called was Grace Lehman Burkholder, a first cousin who is four years younger than I am. She had sent me a letter by snail mail. Our childhood homes were less than a half mile apart, so we shared many childhood memories. I also talked with Ruth Lehman who is Grace’s oldest brother’s widow. Ruth is also near my age. Now that we have shared telephone numbers we will talk to each other more frequently.

Grace wrote her letter to tell me that our first cousin, Lehman Martin, had died and been buried on the same day of another first cousin’s burial. Lehman’s mother was my father’s sister, and like me was given his mother’s maiden name as his first name. Though we were about the same age we had few contacts through the years.

Below is a picture that may have meaning for the Lehman family.

L. to R: I am setting on the lap of Aunt Lizzie Martin, my mother’s oldest sister,next is my brother, John, then our mother, Ruth, next is my Aunt Susan who was my father’s youngest sister and the mother of  Lehman Martin. On the far right is my father, J. Irvin, who is holding my cousin Aldus Lehman. The picture was taken on the lawn of my grandfather, David B. Lehman”s home. .

Lehman had more conservative influences than I, and was a bishop and church planter in a conservative branch of the Anabaptist movement. He lived for a while in southern Indiana and died in Tennesee. He was a writer who contributed to a devotional booklet titled, “Beside the Still Waters.” Grace read a few rich excerpts to me and I hope to be able to find this booklet on line.

This morning I learned that another first cousin, Emmett Lehman, died at age 82.  He was a lawyer and he and his wife had sons and daughters with advanced degrees.  He was very proud of them.  In retirement he wrote letters to the Lancaster newspaper, written with the precision of a lawyer. He complained when the editors asked to publish  simplified versions of his letters. He didn’t want anyone to tamper with his original wording.

Mary Bew

Also, during this time without my computer I called Robert and Mary Bew who live at Sunnyside Retirement Community in Sarasota.  It so happened that they were in the midst of reading My Spiritual Pilgrimage  as posted on my website.  When they finished reading Mary wrote this evaluation and  sent it to me:

D: for decisive and daring. Daring, not foolhardy , but thoughtfully courageous.

Bob and I were with you as Sarasotans in Florida in the 80s. We were invited to attend a Sunday morning with Grace Mennonite fellowship, a new group, meeting at the Sarasota Christian school.

We became part of this congregation, which needed counsel. I remember my relief when you came to give us that counsel.

Grace Fellowship sent many for discipleship with Youth with a Mission.  Grace was one of the founding churches to establish Resurrection House, a day resource center for the homeless.

Feel free to share this bit of our shared history.
Thanks for sharing parts of your faith journey.

 

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Shaped by Civilian Public Service

The current series of services at College Mennonite Church are based on Alan Kreider’s thoughts about the way  “patient perseverance ” shaped the first Christians. These services revived memories  of serendipitous events that helped prepare me for service.

Dorm at Grottos CPS Camp, first one on left was mine. I never could do a neat cot

Selective Service  determined that on January 5, 1947 I would enter Civilian Public Service  in the CPS Camp #4, Grottos, Virginia.  From there  I was within easy telephone calling distance from Rhoda who was a student at Eastern Mennonite College. So I called her by phone every morning before going  out on assignment.

Assignments were related to soil conservation.  We tore down old fences and put in new ones to allow contour farming.  The law required a square hole of a prescribed depth exactly on the spot determined by the surveyors. Some holes had to be “dug” through limestone rock with chisel and sledge hammer. I’m sure these menial tasks helped to shape me.

Troup train from Virginia to California

In the fall of 1945 the government moved COs to the west coast to fight forest fires.  I volunteered for fire tower duty.  I took with me my Bible and the church hymnal. My Bible reading focused on the doctrinal section of Paul’s epistle to the Romans.  Though the law of God is perfect, it cannot save anyone because no human can keep it, being ruled as we all are by the law of sin and death.  However, the law of life in Christ Jesus will set us free from the law of sin and death. These insights prepared me to understand Paul when he wrote to the Corinthians, “all things are lawful for me” and repeating it three times.

Mountt Tom Lookout Tower. the highest mountain on which I served.  I needed to prepare my meals with a pressure cooker.

I sang through the hymnal and daily sang such songs as “Teach me oh Lord thy way of Truth”. After leaving the towers I learned that the lyric was written by Edith Witmer  and set to music by Walter Yoder, both Goshen College professors. The prayer of this uniquely Mennonite hymn certainly shaped me for service to come.  Think of me as a young 21 year old as you search the words:

 

Teach me thy truth O mighty One
From sin, O make me free
Prepare my life to fill its place
in service Lord for thee.

Accept my talents, great or small
Choose thou the path for me
Where I shall labor joyously
In service Lord for thee

Help me to show thy glorious way
That leads in hope to thee
Till other souls their joy shall find
In service Lord for thee.

 

Grant me thy grace for every task
until thy face I see
Then ever new shall be that joy
In service Lord for thee.

You will find a You Tube version of another hymn that I sang almost daily by clicking here. (Be sure to turn y0ur computer sound on,) You may listen to it and feel the prayers that shaped me.

My next assignment was to the camp in Gulfport, Mississippi. While there the following poetry attributed to Job, an impoverished, painfully sick, forsaken and defensive old man banished to  the community dump, enraptured me. His words were:

Job and wife

Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
For I know that my redeemer liveth,
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though after my skin worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.

The phrase “For I know” are Job’s words, not mine. By now you know me well enough to know that I do not claim to know. I may wish for something to be true. If my wish is strong, the wish may evolve into a belief. If a belief becomes strongly enough I may consider it to be worthy of action. If I act as if it were true, I do so by faith.  But, I delude myself if I allow my wishes to evolve into something that I think I know.

You too remember
the events that shaped your life
now grateful for passed

 

 

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