From dog to God

In a previous post I told of our dog Teddy who went with us to Mennonite Church assemblies. Perhaps there are other dogs that go to Mennonite Church Assemblies with their masters, but I do not know of any.  By the word of Jesus alone I am assured that Jesus is always present at assemblies, but I doubt that he is always pleased.  When the delegates to the Philadelphia assembly began to debate LGBTQ issues, I was not a delegate so I was free to get up and leave the meeting. I opined that Jesus like me was not listed as a delegate so he likely in sorrow and disgust may have left the assembly before me.

After leaving the assembly I followed word of mouth directions to the basement of an African American church where LGBTQ people rejected by Mennonites had gathered with friends and relatives to encourage one another, and to worship.  The sound of congregational singing made me feel at home, immediately.

I was surprised to meet a certain fellow pastor and his wife.  I asked why they were there, and they told me of their gay son who was active in a non-Mennonite church on the west coast.  I knew their son’s grandfather as a man of unusual grace. When he asked about his grandson on the west coast and learned of his grandson’s gayness, the old gentleman was silent for a moment, and then admitted quietly: I must learn more about grace. It was a happy moment.  I do not know where my dog Teddy was. but I do believe  that Jesus was present in this meeting of the LGBTQ and their sympathizers.

These days I am reading reports of The Summit in Orlando. I sense a unanimous desire that recurs in the themes.  Everyone believes that Jesus should be and is the center of church life.  Somewhere I read that Jesus should be at the center of the church, and that the boundary or the church should be permeable.  This would make the church a powerful attraction and easily accessed.

Franciscan Father Richard Rohr notes that Jesus did not invite the people of his day to worship him.  But often he invited disciples to a new life style. His invitation was, “follow me”.  So, will the Jesus be worshiped by Mennonites in ways not wished for, or be followed to life, to death and to life, which makes all the difference. Jesus may wish to move from the church’s center to the forefront of a pilgrim church that fulfills its mission in the world.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 91 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the “Old Fool” moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.

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3 Responses to From dog to God

  1. Rev. Randall Spaulding says:

    Brother Martin, thank you for your post. Jesus calls us to follow him, you act like he acted, to welcome as he welcomed, to look beyond one’s preconceptions, prejudices and cultural barriers to see oneself (read: myself!) in the Other. I really am not concerned about worshiping Jesus, but my whole being longs to be like him and act like him! It’s unacceptable that LGBTQ folk are still meeting in basements and not allowed at the table that is set and prepared for straight, cisgender folk only.

    • The assembly I described was several years ago. The climate is changing slowly and I understand that the most recent assembly and the summit that followed were much more open for gays, lesbians and their supporters. Our congregation, College Mennonite Church recently adopted a welcoming position. A gay brother was recently placed on one of our Commissions.

      • At s meeting of our Samhedrim yesterday I learned that an organization such as MCC is losing support because it will not disavow MCUSA. So I must underscore yesterday’s use of the words “climate is changing slowly.” So telling stories of God’s grace must continue to be told boldly. I think of you highly and continue to look at your name listed as chair of the committees that produced Sing the Story and Sing the Journey when we sing from those books almost every Sunday at CMC.

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