Last night while we were sleeping a new pope was inaugurated. It reminded me that about sixty years ago I was ordained with much less pomp and ceremony to be a bishop in the Lancaster Mennonite Conference.
Those who witnessed my ordination greeted me with two different responses. Neighbors who were unaware of Mennonite dynamics congratulated me on my promotion. Fellow Mennonites understood that a bishop was required to operate within the rules and regulations of the conference. With tears, they promised to pray for me.
Pope Francis I and I have some things in common. The pope was chosen by his peers, and so was I. I was elected by vote of my fellow ministers in the district. The pope is concerned for the poor and the weak, and so was I. (My Aunt Sadie lived with us in Tampa for a week and advised me that I was spending too much of my time with the “goats” meaning the poor and the uneducated.) To them, Rhoda and I were sister and brother Lehman.
Some years later I was prompted to invite two mormon missionaries into our home in Tampa. They approached me something like this. They said, wouldn’t you like to be sure you were right because you had been taught by the revelation given by twelve apostles. (The mormon church is guided by twelve “apostles.”) No, I said, that doesn’t appeal to me. I have been freed from legalism. I explained what it means to be saved by God’s grace.
When they were excusing themslves they asked me to pray for them. I will pray for you, I countered, only if you pray for me. So, they prayed for me and I prayed for them. We parted in peace.
I am concluding this and will post it on Wednesday evening. This, too, has been a good day. My friend invited me to go with her to a Greecroft Event. This afternnon we heard Dr. Glen Miller lecture on “Planning a good death.” This is important for each of us. We did not have anything to say about how we were born, but we can make significant decisions about our death. Nothing is known about the other side of death, but on this side we may make good preparation for that inevitable event.