Wenger Followup

Wenger-ChesterThe story of Chester Wenger and his loss of ministerial credentials for marrying his gay son and partner is easily found by using any of the  internet’s search engines.  If you have not yet read the story you may read the local Lancaster newspaper report by clicking here.

You may also enjoy Sunday morning’s service at CMC by clicking here. The service was unrelated to Wenger, but it contained powerful stories of its own with scriptures to ponder. I overheard two men discuss the surprise ending to the story. The first said, I nearly cried. The second replied, I did cry and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

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Proud as a Peacock

The story-telling preacher introduced “hubris,” a word rich in meaning but seldom used today. Hubris describes an action done out of excessive pride or self-confidence and that brings me back to the Apostle Paul and Chester Wenger as he follows Paul’s example.

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Wenger at 95 in his vineyard

When Paul listed the assets that could give him confidence in the flesh he said they were dung to him.  When Chester Wenger listed his assets in the context of Philippians 3 and he treated them like so much manure.  He felt that it was Jesus who wanted him to sign the document that married his gay son and his partner.Past ministries were nothing to him if they kept him from following Jesus all the way.

To read Chester’s own words about his and the Lord’s vineyard click here.

Anyone who believes the written word must attend also to the Living Word.  The written word reveals that the Living Word said clearly, judge not lest you be judged.  In spite of such clarity, whenever Wenger’s story  is reported it is followed by glad, sad or angry judgement-filled comments.

Some comments deride Wenger as a heretic. Others elevate Wenger’s letter to the level of an inspired writing.  Are either Wenger’s critics or his admirers guilty of hubris, i.e., guilty of arrogance, excessive pride or self-confidence? Or are both guilty?

I have been told that hubris in Greek tragedies offended the gods and led to punishment by a nemesis.  Hubris is too common among Mennonites. Perhaps perpetual splitting over matters that do not matter is our nemesis, not too much love, not too much grace, not worldliness. Hubris must be repented of, or our nemesis of splitting will destroy us.

The destruction of the Mennonite church and it’s witness for the way of Jesus would be a Mennonite tragedy, not a Greek tragedy.  Can we not repent, rise up and follow Jesus

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A new day is coming

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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