Oh Mary don’t you weep.

On Sunday morning I went to the church service and read in the  bulletin that the pastor was going to preach on “The Power of God’s Word”. Now  what were we to hear, I wondered.  A dissertation on the written or the  living word?  I hoped for the latter.

The pastor walked forward with Bible in hand.  He stood in front  of the pulpit, as is his custom, read Exodus 15:19-21 & John 11:43-44 with  slight comment, laid the bible on the pulpit behind him, as is his custom, and  began to talk to us. He imagined the life of a slave working all day in the  field under sun and lash, and coming home to his wife to learn that his children  were to be sold and forced to leave them.

Then the pastor did what is not his custom.  He began to sing in  his soft tenor voice a verse of the Negro Spiritual, “Oh Mary don’t you weep”. When he came to the refrain the congregation joined him softly.  He sang a  second, third, and fourth verse, each time adding the refrain and each time the  congregation joined plaintively in the refrain:  Oh Mary,  don’t you weep, don’t you mourn/ Oh Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you  mourn/Pharoah’s army got drownded/Oh Mary, don’t you weep.

The pastor went on to tell us that such biblical stories and songs  helped give southern slaves enough strength and hope to resist oppression;  produce Martin Luther King and the  civil rights movement; and ultimately elect the first African president.  (Inclusion of reference to Barak Obama is mine, I think.)

During the Christian Education Hour that followed the sermon, the  pastor joined a small group of Creation Care Givers who met outdoors to share  how and when they have experienced God through the beauty and the fierceness of  nature.

Our pastor gave me a glimpse of the kind of pastor I would like to be  if I were allowed to begin a preaching ministry again, with what I know now.


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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