Aftermath & Precursor?


The Way it was Once Upon a Time

I began to write this post on Saturday, July 14, the last day of the Convention of the Anabaptist Renewal Circles. The last of its eight commitments is close to what Raymond Martin called “the main thing:” the renewal of outreach mission. Raymond’s most recent comment reported that the convention really focused on renewal of outreach mission. He was there and should know.

The last of the eight published commitments by Circles cheers me. It is a compound commitment. The first half of the commitment is to encourage (provide conditions that will help something to happen) fellowship (to share common interests, goals, experience or views) in the Mennonite church. The second half of the commitment is to welcome (accept or anticipate with delight and eagerness, often because of a felt need) a new move (replacing or supplementing that which already exists) of His Spirit.


Explaining the Main Thing

As I review the commitments made by the Circles it seems there is a consistent desire to focus on the main thing, a renewal of outreach mission.  Ponder the following, perhaps costly, eventualities:

Might a new move of God’s Spirit be welcomed even if it comes as  a more radical love for the Lord and compassion for our neighbors,   even if the more radical love and compassion for our neighbors leads us to welcome lesbian and gay members into our fellowship; even if a new fullness of His grace and truth as we passionately follow Jesus   leads the church to minister to lower class citizens, to those whom the old law deemed to be unclean and outcasts?

The Anabaptist Renewal Circles was already committed to earnestly seek more of the Holy Spirit and His transforming power, and now it welcomes a new move of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit 1s described in Galatians 5 as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. … Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Might a new move of the Holy Spirit use the fruit of the Spirit to remove conceit and unify the Mennonite Church in our pursuit of the main thing?


Love Bonds Generations

The Anabaptist Renewal Circles is committed to rejoice in the holistic witness of Scripture. The Old Fool is not sure what the Circles mean by holistic witness. In the preface to the Kingdom New Testament, N. T. Wright reminds us that Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread and says that we cannot live on yesterday’s bread which is like the interpretations of previous generations. A living faith requires that we do business with God for ourselves; we need to think things through, to struggle and pray and ponder and try things out for ourselves and be open to new possibilities, Might a new move of the Holy Spirit change our evaluation of the scriptures that stand in the way of our doing the main thing?

IMG_0972.jpgThe Anabaptist Renewal Circles is committed to affirm the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective and call the church to faithfulness. Might a new move of the Holy Spirit reveal to the church that we should not use the confession of faith as a strict standard for membership or ordination, and that disputes about such use takes our eyes off the main thing?

The Anabaptist Renewal Circles is committed to joyfully embrace Biblical sexuality as taught by Jesus and His apostles. Might a new move of the Holy Spirit reveal to the church that Biblical sexuality includes sexual activity between any two people who are permanently bonded by mutual love and thus allow us to focus on the main thing?

A Gift from Virginia

A Gift from Virginia

The next to the last commitment by the Circles is to understand our brokenness and in humility seek spiritual renewal. The last commitment is to encourage fellowship in the Mennonite church and welcome a new move of His Spirit. Understanding, brokenness, humble seeking, encouraged fellowship  and a welcomed new move of God’s Spirit are essential components of these last two commitments. Might the realization of these eventualities be the unanticipated aftermath of the convention and the precursor of a joyful focus on the main thing, the renewal of outreach mission?

Recently while in a safe environment a man revealed that years ago his teenage lesbian daughter committed suicide. He spoke bitterly of the “closet” in which he and his daughter were compelled to live by a church that does not understand.

This week I was pleased to read in the the story of a mother, her gay son, and an understanding church. Click here to read it.

Please send this post to friends who might be ready to welcome the eventualities suggested in this post. Introduce them to the Old Fools Website

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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2 Responses to Aftermath & Precursor?

  1. Miriam says:

    I wonder if an “holistic witness” is one that does not indulge in using cherry-picked passages as weapons against others. When I read it, that is what it looks like to me. I like it! I hope that is what is meant.

    I confess that it is beyond my understanding how the bulk of the commitments fit with the two about confession of faith and biblical sexuality. The former…perhaps. The latter seems ever so incongruous. Were I to form a group, I would not want one human behavior (sexuality or something else) to rise to the top of the list as a priority on equal footing with renewal, outreach, fellowship, new move of the Spirit, love for God, compassion for neighbors, fullness of grace and truth, holistic witness of scripture, acknowledgment of brokenness, and humble seeking.

    Nevertheless, there is much in this report that I find encouraging and I thank you for publishing it, Martin. Just because I do not understand doesn’t mean that I don’t have more to learn. On the contrary, obviously. 🙂

    I have one question/suggestion, and it could sound nit-picky, especially if you aren’t fond of grammar and/or don’t know me well. In your sixth paragraph, in the following sentence:

    “Might a new move of the Holy Spirit change our evaluation of the scriptures that stand in the way of our doing the main thing?”

    I would add one little letter, an “s,” to the end of the word “stand.” In so doing, I think the meaning of the sentence would change from scriptures standing in the way to our evaluation standing in the way. It is my belief that scriptures cannot stand in the way of our doing the main thing. My method leaves the sentence too awkward, but you get my drift, I’ll bet. 😉

    We are ever so fallible. Oh, good. What a relief. I’m not God.

    • Thanks, Miriam, for reading so carefully. Sexuality was included, I suppose, because it is the issue disturbing the church at this moment. Hopefully, in the near future it will drop from the list of priorities. You are correct in adding the “s’ for it is the wrong evaluation of particular scriptures that stands in the way of our doing the main thing.

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