I read the most recent issue of The Mennonite while writing my last blog on community life and a priestly witness. I’m still pondering its impact.
Eldon Hostetter was born an Amish baby, and by unusual circumstances was circumcised and blessed by a Jewish rabbi. He was guided and nurtured by a lenient Amish father and the progressive example of an Amish maternal grandfather. Both lived on the cultural edge of the Amish community. Hostetter is now a 91 year old Mennonite who holds more than 65 US patents for inventions.
The magazine highlighted virtues of community among Native Americans, Filipinos in the Philippines, at funerals, and in the congregation. I found a priestly witnesses in a school classroom, and sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee in far-away places as Gaza, Iraq, Palestine, and Lithuania.
The editorial by Becky Helmuth came close to home. Helmuth manages the magazine’s advertising and subscriptions, and attends the North Goshen Mennonite Church, home to many South and Central American immigrants. The editorial was titled, Welcome the Stranger.
It seems right that the North Goshen Church should welcome strangers from South and Central America. College Mennonite Church has an Hispanic ministry also. What is missing, I think, is a priestly witness to the national government in Washington. By good fortune, the recent blog from the Washington office of the MCC is on the plight of immigrant children. Why should congregations not address the government on this matter? The problem is tied to the question in the last sentence of my last blog which I repeat:
But how can we brother our neighbors and the world by approaching in a priestly way the systemic disaster in Washington without being accused of engaging in partisan politics?.
Some new definitions may be helpful: The word, political, describes an effort to influence people and is not in itself, wrong. Partisan often describes the political activities of one who is a strong supporter of a particular party, cause, or person for personal or selfish reasons, and that is wrong.
The Old Fool is trying to lift the word from it’s negative connections. A Christian is motivated by the values and activities of Jesus, acts consistently with his generosity, not selfishness.
That is, a christian and a church may strongly support Jesus and causes consistent with his purposes in the world, not for personal or selfish motives, nor merely as a Democrat, Republican or Independent.
College Mennonite Church’s new pastor, Gwen Gustafson-Zook has worked with MCC and may help guide our church in a priestly witness. In her opinion piece Cynthia Lapp asks if women cause the church anxiety. Writing for Mennonite leaders, Aaron Kauffman, president of Virginia Mennonite Missions, concludes with a modest proposal:
Let’s treat our non-Christian neighbors the way we do our brothers and sisters in Christ.
How do we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ? That’s the burning question that is disturbing the church, and does the answer keep us from making an authentic and credible witness to the world.
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