Highlight – Let this be clear

Writing of our life together in “Rhoda’s Choices” caused me to ponder  again my journey of faith. My reputation has become so closely attached to  “change” that I’ve decided to look for the things about my faith journey that  have not changed.

Sixty-three years ago I went to Tampa with a secure faith in the  Bible as having the answer to human need. Now I want it to be clear that I have  grown in my knowledge and understanding of the bible, and believe its core  message that the salvation of the world is through Jesus.

If I were beginning a life time of preaching with what I know now, I  would expect to use the bible as the chief source of my sermonizing.  I  would not use the bible as a science or history book; but because of the wisdom  in it, and as the chief source of knowledge of the life of Jesus.

My webmaster has installed a “traffic control” that shows me that the  post, “The Path to Transition” is my most popularly read blog. This suprises me.  I wonder if the readers understand that I am suggesting a transition away from  preaching primarily about the crucifixion of Jesus to preaching the life of  Jesus on earth as the hope of the world.

So let this be clear, if I were to begin a preaching career today,  I would walk into the pulpit with bible in hand, and its core story of Jesus life would be the controlling message of  my sermonizing. And my choice would be a pulpit in a Mennonite  church.

Of course other pulpits are worthy of the gospel.  A brother who  is disgruntled with the Mennonite church was asked why he stayed where he  is.  He exclaimed in response “where would I go?” He explained that he  knows of no church that is more active in its community, more open, or loves  him, and would be more likely to care for him in a crisis than his own Mennonite  Church.

So, let this be clear, the Mennonite Church remains the church of my  choice; not because it is the only true church, but because it is a church that  gives its preachers a rich history and a promising direction into the future  from which to preach Jesus life as hope to the world.

My medical doctor is a native of India and a Hindu by religion.   On my first appointment he asked me many questions about myself, as was to be  expected. When I was about to leave, I said, “you have asked me many questions  about myself but I haven’t asked you anything.” “Sit down,” he said “and ask  me.”

My first question was, “what brought you to Goshen?” He answered that  he was attracted to Goshen because it is a small community and unusually open.

I learned later that he takes his family regularly to Chicago to be  with a larger Hindu Community, sends his children to the Bethany Christian  School operated by Mennonites, and collects guns as a hobby. Through Rhoda’s  illness and passing I have learned to trust him. The nurse practitioner on his  staff is a daughter of a former pastor acquaintance of mine and she is a member of  Community Mennonite Church.

 

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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7 Responses to Highlight – Let this be clear

  1. Myron S. Augsburger says:

    Ah, yes, my brother, the Jesus of history is the Christ of faith, true enough, but don’t forget the resurrection and pentecost. Yes, I want to preach Jesus, and I like the focus of the sermons of Peter at that early stage are a model for us all. But preaching the ‘whole Jesus’ I stand with Paul, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, where I pray to join him in self-giving love, even to death.
    Shalom. Myron

    • Nate Lehman says:

      Martin, I expected you to take up a collection after that sermon of today, here I stand on my Bible, I will not recant. Charles Filmore, Co-founder of Unity School of Christianity at 97 on his deathbed said, “I am ready to have my mind changed about everything.” This after a lifetime of preaching Christian principals from the King James Bible. There is a simple problem (ignorance) when most minsters know for sure what others should believe and are not open to interpretation, not understanding many words have more when one definition. I have little respect for older people who get more narrow and non-accepting of others views. This is the kind of ego minded unforgiving attitude that divides the church and leads to fear and hatred.

      • Nate, I expected better perception of you. I did not say that I would stand on the Bible, but that if I were to begin preaching again I would walk into the pulpit with Bible in hand and sermonize from it on the life of Jesus. There is a difference in what you imply and what I thought I said. Myron Augsburger seems to have heard me more clearly.

        If you heard me say I would never ever change my mind (recant) on any thing, either I failed as a writer or you as a listener. I’m glad you wrote so frankly because it gives us the chance to continue sharing.

        Charles Filmore was wise to speak so on his death bed, because none of us, no matter what we believe or what we think we know, know anything about the future or even if we will have a mind to change.

    • Myron, Thanks for the brotherly reply. I have not forgotten the resurrection and pentecost, though I must confess that those events are becoming less significant to me than the living example Jesus gave us to follow. My hope is that this website might become a place for people of different points of view can talk to one another in love about their differences. That is how you have responded. So I invite you to write at more length, and invite others to respond to you and me. – Martin

  2. Freda Zehr says:

    Martin, your first words in this meditation caught my attention–that you are pondering your faith journey. I feel like I have been doing that for the last half of my life. I am still not sure just where I am in that journey.
    Several years ago our pastor at the church where I was a member had asked me to speak on lay members Sunday morning, on “things about which I have changed my mind”–in reference to my faith.
    Yes, I gave my speech that Sunday, but I keep changing my mind about things and now at seventy seven years of age, I keep re-writing that reflection, and indeed have come to a new faith in these past months since I lost my husband. Sometimes I think I depended on Vernon for answers and now I only have God to lean on. Thanks for your contributions. Freda Zehr

  3. Jackie Hamlett says:

    I find it inspiring and refreshing to read the dialogue here between you and Myron Augusburger! As a graduate of EMU, former student of Willard Swartley, Grant Sotlzfutz, Paul Erb, and Truman Brunk, as well as a fellow pilgrim on this faith journey what you have described here to me is the foundation of a healthy, vibrant church. My frustration is that finding such a church is almost an impossibility. In my experience I have found that some churches emphasize the gospel and the cross to the exclusion of including Jesus’s life here on earth, and how that effects and serves as a model of love, service, commitment, faith, mercy, and grace. Other churches emphasize His life to the exclusion of the cross of Christ. In our faith journey of 62 years now, my husband and I have yet to find such a church along with having a congregation that reflects our diversity. What has helped us many times in our journey is being able to reflect back on the foundation of our faith that was built and strengthened at EMU long ago, along with many people we have met along the way who truly live out their faith in the way they live their lives, their actions, the way they love people, their invovlement in the community, and their desire to help others. The cross of Christ is surely the foundation, the resurrection pointing to hope and victory, and Pentecost affording us the power to live our lives as Jesus lived. We fall short of the mark many times, but always the cross, His love, His blood, mercy, grace, and forgiveness which He extends so graciously lift us up to continue our journey. We are so grateful for the people He has sent into our lives that have made a difference. This dialogue gives us hope!

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