Brokenness & Renewal

nora2

Sister Nora in the middle

As our family gathered around Rhoda as she breathed her last in the Goshen Hospital, we suggested that Sister Nora, the hospital chaplain, be notified in case she was in the hospital. They paged Sister Nora and to our surprise she drove through the snow at midnight from Elkhart to Goshen Hospital to pray with us.

This week I learned that Sister Nora won the Indiana University Health Values Leadership Award. It was said of her that “she made the hospital a more welcoming and peaceful environment.” That is the way Rhoda and I experienced Sister Nora when either of us was hospitalized. Many physical needs can be eased in a welcoming and peaceful environment.

The Anabaptist Renewal Circles is now in session at the Weaverland Mennonite Church in Lancaster County, Pennyslvania. Months before their assembling they declared their commitment To understand our brokenness and in humility seek spiritual renewal.

crockIt is my hope that those who read this post will join the Circles in this commitment. I pondered the meaning of “brokenness” and recalled the cracked crock that this spring held a blooming petunia plant. By accident the cracked pot was broken. Rachel rescued the blooming petunia by planting it into the soil. But she broke the cracked crock into many little pieces. What was formerly a crock is no longer a crock; it is broken, shattered, rendered useless and discarded. Not every broken thing is useless. Sometimes valued and needed broken items are patched, mended, restored.

The Circles are committed to humbly seek spiritual renewal for themselves and the church.  The fruit of the Spirit is described as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This fruit cultivates a welcoming and peaceful environment that allows healing to occur in and among churches.

scholarWhen I began to think about biblical teaching on same sex attraction and practice, I discovered that scholars were of different opinions. Some scholars claimed that the Bible condemned all same sex attraction, and other scholars argued otherwise. I was cautioned not to fully trust an English translation of the Bible because scholars do not always know the meanings of some Hebrew and Greek words. Even a scholar can only guess at the meaning of some metaphors. Who would imagine that sometimes Jesus might not have meant what he seemed to have said.

I am not trained as a scholar, so I knew that I was not qualified to decide which scholar was right and which scholar was wrong. So, I chose to accept as valid the personal testimonies of deliverance from fear that I heard.  Grace upon grace overrides the law.

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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1 Response to Brokenness & Renewal

  1. Miriam says:

    It seems to me that this is perhaps the best answer to questions in your blog, “Feedback and Feedback,” Martin. You recognize the difficulty in discerning the meaning and intent of ancient passages. You take responsibility for your choice to “accept as valid the personal testimonies of deliverance from fear.” You acknowledge the supremacy of grace.

    By recognizing the difficulty in parsing ancient text, you walk humbly. By listening to others with integrity, you love mercy. By applying grace, you do justice.

    Faith movements, in their origins, have a great deal of passion for breaking out of the mold and setting captives free. Then something happens and they begin to shift their focus more toward getting everything right. Seems a shame. No one can get everything right. In my experience, it is the fastest route to making a more serious mess of things. I’m still learning.

    Much of what happens in church conflicts over sexuality seems to me an attempt to frame things with absolute certainty; to put a period on the sentence, once and for all; to tie that package up all neat and tidy. As Gracie Allen would say, “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”

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