From One Preacher to Another

Zach Lehman learning the skills of the game

Zach Lehman learning the skills of the game

This morning our preacher used a game metaphor in his sermon.  He noted that many games have rectangular playing fields. Players and ball must stay within the rectangular lines.Baseball is an exception to the general rule.  The lines run from home base out to and beyond first and third bases.  A ball hit between those two long diverging lines is fair. If it goes over the fence it is an automatic home run. I told him that this morning he had hit a home run.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me

In yesterday’s blog I attempted to lift out the truth in the myth in Genesis 4.  I read recently that calling something the truth tends to end a conversation.  By my use of the word truth I do not mean to end a conversation, not even within myself.  I hope that whatever conversation there is  it will be friendly.  Back to the blog, I mentioned the possibility that Jehovah’s  regard for Abel’s sacrifice  may have begun the notion that God’s  anger can be satisfied only with a blood sacrifice.  I said that this notion continued through the Bible to the crucifixion of Jesus and on through the Catholic mass and the protestant communion service.

This being the first Sunday of lent our church had a communion service.  So  this evening I feel a need to continue thoughts on the notion of the need for a blood sacrifice in order for our sins to be be forgiven. I must confess to you now that I consider the need for a blood sacrifice for sin to be an unfounded notion, not a solid truth.   

So what do I believe?  I believe that every Christian church service and  every preacher’s sermon should have  three explicit elements.  One is an invitation to decide to be a disciple of Jesus.  This may be  a costly decision. In the days of Jesus it meant different things to different people, and so it is today.  We ought not judge each other.  It is enough to know that God loved the world before Jesus died.

The Old Fool's bumper sticker

The Old Fool’s bumper sticker

Second, the service and the sermon of the church should point to  living like Jesus to be the way to be salt and light to the world.  This is the way of salvation of the people and of the earth.  Mennonite Church USA is helping us to understand that we are connected to all peoples and the earth.  Jesus was the savior before he died.  Third, the service and the sermon of the church should carry an invitation to suffer as Jesus suffered.  Jesus was not crucified for his sins.  Even Pontius Pilate recognized that Jesus had done no wrong.  Jesus was crucified because he was a good man and challenged both religious and civil authorities.    

So the church should prepare its members for civil disobedience and for nonviolent resistance. Latino Churches illustrate this today.  They welcome undocumented workers and are prepared to suffer for it.


About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 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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5 Responses to From One Preacher to Another

  1. Daryl Hartzler says:

    Mr. Lehman,
    Greetings! I’ve enjoyed your blogs.
    In reading the last two posts it appears to me that in a matter of a couple days your position on the need for blood sacrifice has changed. Is this correct? I’m thinking specifically of the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ (the earlier sacrifices I’ve understood to be a foreshadowing of Christ). Is it now your understanding the need for the shedding of Christ’s blood is an unfounded notation rather than a solid truth? I want to be sure I’m understanding you correctly. –God Bless!

    • Dear Daryl,

      You are mistaken only that the change of position took place only in a matter of a couple of days. It was a longer process than you suggest. If you haven’t done so already I suggest that you read my fantasy sermon post on the black ribbon under the banner on my website. I hope to expand on the topic in future posts. Are you a Hartzler that grew up in Homestead, Florida?

      • Daryl Hartzler says:

        Mr. Lehman,
        David and Kathleen Hartzler are my parents. I have many fond memories of your periodic visits to Homestead Mennonite Church and messages you brought.

        I was looking at your post from Feb 17 which included:
        “The Old Fool sees this as the beginning of the notion that a blood offering was needed for the expiation for sin. This notion continued through the Old Testament to the crucifixion of Jesus and is perpetuated in the Catholic mass and protestant communion services to this day.”

        I didn’t pick up in that post that your understanding is different from the Catholic and Protestant churches so I was surprised to see what appeared to be a reversal in the next post.

        • I am not surprised that you are the Daryl who is the son of David and Kathleen Hartzler. I just needed you to tell me so I could be sure.

          As I heard you, you are surprized that I have a different view of the need for a blood sacrifice to satisfy the anger of God against our sin and to obtain forgiveness. J. Denny Weaver is a Mennonite theologian who has written a book titled “The Nonviolent Atonement. Though I have not read the book, I have had conversations with Mennonite pastors who have appreciated it. If you google J. Denny Weaver you will see his biograpyh, advertizements for his book and evaluations that critique it.

          Hang in there with me for I may write posts related to your questions.

          Thank, you. I wish you well.

          • Daryl Hartzler says:

            It seems to me you may have read a good bit into my surprise. I was surprised about what I thought was a reversal in back-to-back posts. But in re-reading the first post (myth) I see that you didn’t actually say you agree with the Catholic & Protestant church; you just made a connection to Genesis. I didn’t mention surprise about your position on “the need for a blood sacrifice to satisfy the anger of God against our sin and to obtain forgiveness”. Thanks for saying what you heard so that I could clarify.

            “Angry God” is not really part of my thinking and I wouldn’t have assumed it to be part of yours. –God Bless

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