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

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The Old Fool welcomes you

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Let me be clear

While riding on my scooter and enjoying the green grass of spring I came on twigs from the last spring. They were broken, brown branches and dry, a bit of history from which we may  learn.

Let it be clear that I agree with the Apostle  Paul when he wrote,  “For what we (Paul, Timothy and Titus) preach is not ourselves (mere humanness)  but Jesus Christ as Lord, (Savior, redeemer and High Priest}  and ourselves (made of the same stuff as you are) as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”   2 Cor. 4:5

The pixie preacher on the second Sunday of Eastertide gave me more hope

A friend commented to me after my last post about moving from doubt to hope and joy that he and his wife  have long learned to love people without celebrating their sin, or ours. I replied that I do not see how my post could be interpreted to mean that I celebrate anyone’s sin. No more than the prodigal’s father could be understood to celebrate his son’s sin when he threw a feast on his son’s return. I was celebrating the evidence that CMC’s statement had been healing as was intended.

This exchange reminded me of a serindipitus  moment as I entered the first evening banquet at the Minorities Ministries Council reunion.  I was immediately recognized by one of the elders who exclaimed so all could hear — the bishop, the bishop is here.  Let me touch him to see if he is real, not a ghost.  He proceeded to exclaim over my halo. I was embarrassed.

After we were seated the master of ceremonies whispered in my ear that she would call on me to pray a short prayer.  I told her I didn’t know how to pray long prayers.  Assured of my consent, she announced the prayer before I had time to formulate even a short one

One quilt out of many patches

The prayer was something like this:  We are gathered here as sinners, with halos.  We are here as one and we come as one to the One who is One.

Then I prayed a blessing on the food before us and for the hands that  prepared it.  The meal was sumptuous. The hands must have been brown, black, red, yellow and white that gathered, processed, and delivered the food prepared for our consuming.

We are connected
all with halos from the One
the God of all grace  

AM I CLEAR
THAT WE SHOULD NOT, OUGHT NOT, CAN NOT
DISCONNECT?

 

 

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Church, Faith, Family, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Out of Doubt to Joyful Hope

The way out of winter

My post on Sacred Moments and the need for real apologies to those hurt by the church brought three comments to me. All three came to me personally and thus are off the record.  Here is a brief summary of each comment.

Summary No. 1:  This responder had the temerity to disagree with me, and I like her. She believes a corporate apology could not be meaningful because each person has a mind and a opinion that is unique. She said that an apology may help the church feel better but since 9% of us disagree with the statement an apology would be meaningless, Actions speak louder than words, always, she said. We should just treat everyone kindly and personally apologize if you know you hurt someone.

Sign of Spring along the way

Summary of comment No. 2:  The church’s statement includes a lot of good things, but it stays away from tough matters like marital relationships.  The leaders say that marriage of same sex persons is an optional choice, thus it did not fit in with the “given realities” of birth, national origin, age, etc., on the list. The statement seems an attempt to say something without having the courage to actually say it. Unfortunately, the statement includes two levels: full participants and members. The responder shared the statement with some lesbian friends and they immediately saw it as being too weak to be meaningful.

Summary of third comment:  This third responder observes that the gift of prophecy is not needed to hypothesize the results of the CMC process.  The few who are strongly opposed and cannot adjust to the majority’s thinking will be marginalized and will soon move on to other churches.

These comments put a burden on me that I carried to the Palm Sunday service. Though the theme of this service was Restoration of Hope, the moving message could not lift the burden of these responses.  I encourage you to click here and scroll 45 minutes into the service to hear the sermon.

The way to Hope and joy

Still burdened, I rose from my seat and turned toward the exit.  What I saw lifted my burden and gave me hope. I saw parents whom I knew to have a lesbian daughter who felt rejected by the church.  As I approached them I was introduced to a lesbian couple who introduced themselves to me as husband and wife.

My burden was lifted, my hope was restored as I cried literal tears of joy as I welcomed the couple with hugs.

doubtful questioning
despairing my hope renewed
joyful hope  and  peace 

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Which prophet have you not stoned

John Powell among the Elders

The Minority Ministries Council of the Mennonite Church that was active in the 1960’s and 70’s recently reconvened at Greencroft.  In those same decades I was an administrator in the Southeast Mennonite churches, so I felt at home among them. John Powell was among them then and now.

John Powell was a young African American activist. He became so discouraged with the Mennonite Church that he  abandoned it.  After a time he returned and now serves as a conference minister for small Mennonite churches scattered in the northern regions of the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference.

On the first Sunday of lent,  Powell preached to the College Mennonite Church from Ezekiel 37. In the context of a valley of dry bones, Powell found hope for restoration to life and effectiveness for today’s church.  The  prophet Ezekiel prophesied as instructed, and the bones connected, flesh, sinew and skin covered them, but the bodies were just corpses until the prophet called for the wind.  The bodies breathed and came to life as one great army.

I remember a sermon I preached to a discouraged church on Ezekiel’s vision.  As I remember I said that if the bones of  a church were well connected (organized), had gifted people with money (sinews, flesh and skin) such a church would not be alive till it was given breath by the wind (Spirit).

“MJ” among friends in the Congo

The civilized world is noting the story of Michael “MJ” Sharp while we mourn his death in the Congo. The more I learn about “MJ” the more I think of him as a remarkable young prophetic “fool” for peace who offered his life as a martyr for the restoration of neighborly relationships in a troubled region of the Congo.  “MJ” and his colleagues refused to believe that the situation was hopeless like dry bones, very dry bones.

My daughter introduced me to another young prophet. He is a resident of Lancaster, Pa., a descendant of the first ordained bishop of the Mennonite Churches in Tanzania and a graduate of EMU.   He was described as a poet, playwright, want-to-be-novelist, lover of the arts, world traveler, husband, father and candidate to be Lancaster’s mayor.  He is an Anabaptist and Mennonite and is committed to a service-driven life.

Candidate Ressler and family

Kevin Ressler was on his way to deliver a sermon in a chapel service at EMU when he heard news that confirmed the death of “MJ.” Sharp. He discarded his prepared sermon to dwell in a fresh way on the story of dry bones in Ezekiel 37.  He remembered his friend, “MJ” and engaged issues of injustice and how we are called to be involved in our neighbors’ plight.  You may hear a podcast of the chapel service by clicking here. Worship and be challenged by a second sermon on Ezekiel’s vision.

Relevant sermons
from Ezekiel thirty seven
read hear come to life

 

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Church, Homosexuality, Uncategorized | 4 Comments