Great is the Mystery

On Tuesday from 10-11:00 a.m. the Old Fool joined a group of senior men known as “Samhedrin” A visitor next to me said he was from Florida. I whispered “where.” He whispered, “Sarasota.” What church? I asked. He replied, “I’m Catholic!”  On impulse I responded, “We’ve had problems ever since you kicked us out!”

Simon Barrow

Simon Barrow

Another guest was Simon Barrow, a leader in an Anabaptist movement in Brittan. Their statement of core values is worthy of study. Barrow is also a leader in the Ekklesia think tank that speaks prophetically on public policy.

When asked about his connection with the Church of England, Barrow described it as a bond that’s “indissoluble.” With the help of a thesaurus I understand him to say that the bond among Christians is permanent, unbreakable, everlasting, and eternal. If Barrow is right, attempts by Christians to split are not only painful and obstructive, they are in the long run, futile, even if sincere. This has the ring of good news, though it’s a mystery I don’t understand.

Alice Clymer with Sunday School/Summer Bible School Class

Children at Ida St. Mission

Two stories supply some evidence that the mystery is real. While we lived in Tampa a neighbor Puerto Rican child ran in and out of our home and attended SS and SBS. When still a kid she married a Cuban. She went with him to his home in Cuba. Castro promptly put her husband in jail and she was a lonely alien in a communist land.

Rhoda and I visited her when she came to the US. She said, “I remembered what you taught me so I prayed, and “God’s people” found me and helped me.” God’s people happened to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. Could there be a mysterious indissoluble bond between fundamentalists who use the Bible to teach hell and damnation, and Jehovah’s Witnesses who use the Bible to dispute the existence of an eternal hell?

Rhoda and I were approached by a woman in a crowded department store. I used to be a Mennonite and wore a covering, she said. Then I moved and became Mormon. But, she said, “I am a born again Mormon” and she disappeared in the crowd.

Mormon Missionaries

Mormon Missionaries

When two Mormon missionaries knocked on the door, I said, “come in, I have questions to ask you.” When seated in our living room I told them about the woman who was a “born again. Mormon.” They could not offer an explanation, and then had a question for me:  Would you like to be a part of a group whose bishop’s can tell you what the truth is?  “No,” I said, “I have had experience with that kind of a group.” I told them of God’s grace to me.

“Will you pray for us,” they asked. “No,” I said. “Not unless you pray for me first.” They prayed for me and I prayed for them. We parted as friends, and brothers I think. Is it possible that two Mormon missionaries and I experienced a mysterious indissoluble bond as members of the Body of Christ?

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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4 Responses to Great is the Mystery

  1. Jep says:

    Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

  2. Jep says:

    Well done thou good and faithful servant.

  3. Freda Zehr says:

    Martin, this story is so captivating to me because just yesterday I went to get my hearing tested. The man who did the testing was one of the nicest men I have met. Not sure how we got on the subject of religion, but He told me that he is Johovah Witness, I mentioned the fact that I was raised mennonite and my particular church as well as parents seemed obsessed with warning us about hell. and thus I had a very difficult time learning to think of God as a loving God, I recall my aunt saying to me when I was in first grade and I burned my hand on grease splashing on it, as I sat with my hand in ice water, crying she reminded me of how it feel all over my body if I was “bad”, and then she added, “and there is no ice in Hell”. Needless to say, that little seven year old girl did not well for many nights. How could I love a father figure who had prepared such a punishment. at the end of my examination, the dr. said to me. “What do you think about Hell now”? I looked at him not quite knowing what to say, I finally said, “I don’t believe a loving heavenlly father would plan that” he smiled and said, “I saw that look that crossed your face, you were afraid to say what you really believed”. He then went on to explain what I never know about Jehovah’s Witnesses that they do not believe in Hell. He was so very versed in all the old hebrew language and the way that they came about to make people believe that. I guess I am sticking my neck our here confessing my disbelief on a public forum, but I would love to know how you feel about it Martin.
    With love and respect for you, a fellow searcher of truth. Freda Zehr
    ps, I once threatened to write a book about my upbringing with the title, “There is no ice in hell!” (of course I never really would do that)

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