Whiter than Snow


Snow Separating Our Neighbor’s House from Our House

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
Break down every idol, cast out every foe—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

I was reminded of the above words by the abundance of snow beautifying our neighborhood.  Really, isn’t it difficult to imagine any thing whiter than snow. The song is no longer popular, possibly because of respect for those of us who cannot change the color of our skin.

The Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA is struggling to find a way to keep the unity of the church.  Another unnamed group met in Hopewell, Ohio to form a network that will have more accountability built into it so it will be whiter than snow and provide a home for congregations that leave Mennonite Church USA because it isn’t whiter than snow.

These groups appear to be motivated by Isaiah 1:18:

Is My Snow Whiter than Your Snow??

Is My Snow Whiter than Your Snow??

Come now, let us argue it out,
says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

Or they may pray Psalm 51:7:

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

This network and the congregations that join it look for a utopia, an imaginary church, conference, or network in which everyone they relate to is perfect, is whiter than snow.

I recently listened to a lecture by Greg Boyd, sponsored by the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Goshen College, and College Mennonite Church.  Boyd presented a utopia of his own in five points.  Ponder them with me:

1.  We should be certain of a faith that is mixed with enough doubt to allow conversation among all those who believe.

2.   We should believe the Bible to be perfect only as it points to Jesus.   What we see and seek to live is what Jesus taught and did.  Any other reading of the Bible is less than perfect.

3.  We should begin the spiritual pilgrimage by learning what Jesus taught and continue by living his way.  We should focus on following Jesus, not on what we believe.

4  When we evangelize others we won’t coerce anyone to believe what we believe, but we will bear witness by living like Jesus lived. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love.”

5.  We will recognize that people are suspicious of churches that bless governments, wars, and politicians.  We are willing to suffer violence, even to death.

Absolute certainties, inerrant Bibles, and perfect packages of beliefs lead to wars, dividing churches and other forms of tribalism.

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 Whiter than Snow

  1. Jewel H. Shenk says:

    Thanks for sharing these words, Martin.

  2. Donald Blosser says:

    Martin — I am proud of you, you heard Greg Boyd, and you got him right. Or did you see the excellent summary statement put out by Bill Swartzentruber. It was really a shame that Boyd was so hard to listen to…what he had to say was simply excellent.
    A comment on the snow — freshly fallen snow is beautifully white…but let us human being tramp around in it, leave our tracks everywhere, shovel it aside to get it out of our way, and then drive over it—-and it ceases to be so pristine and clear. Maybe that is a lesson in living in God’s beautiful creation. As we leave our footprints, shove aside what we don’t like and then just drive around on top of it—all of creation cries OUCH !!!

    • Yes, I saw Bill’s summary and your additions. I should have given you both credit for your work for I benefited from your work. I like your words about snow. I once came to Indiana as snow was freshly falling. Rhoda and I were traveling with a young woman who had only seen dirty snow in New York City. She was seeing fresh snow for the first time and was amazed.

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