In last Sunday’s service, College Mennonite Church joined other churches who celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit by song, story, art, and sermon. The whole service with all its components can be viewed and heard by clicking here.
The Acts of the Apostles reports that the Holy Spirit came with the sound of a mighty wind and the appearance of flames of fire. The Apostolic testimony was heard in many languages so everyone understood the message. About three thousand people were baptized and formed an ideal community that held everything in common. There were no needy persons among them.
A couple who were a part of this new community sold some property and kept part of the proceeds for themselves. They brought what remained to Peter and acted as if they were giving the whole amount. Peter told them they were lying to the Holy Spirit, not to Peter but to God. The conspiring couple fell dead and were buried that day. This sudden judgment worries me.
Ten years ago a Mennonite Assembly in Atlanta featured the story of the Welcome Table at the Mennonite House in down town Atlanta. It was the first integrated Mennonite VS unit with Vincent Harding as its leader. President Jimmie Carter gave the opening address but Harding declined an invitation to speak to the Assembly. I do not know why Harding declined to speak to us. Perhaps he knew he could not be as gracious as he would like to have been. He left the Mennonite Church in 1967 because of our lack of opposition to the Vietnam War. How many activists have we lost because our actions are not consistent with our history, mottoes, words, words, words?
See the following tribute to Harding by the Mennonite Church especially the comments that follow, by clicking here. Krista Tippitt used her program “On Being” on the National Public Radio to make Vincent Harding’s witness available to us. If you have never heard Harding speak, turn on your sound and click here.
What I do remember about the Atlanta Assembly worries me. The theme of the Assembly proclaimed an invitation for everyone to come to the “Welcome Table.” But the invitation was tantamount to a lie. For there were gays and lesbians present who knew they were not welcome at the Mennonite “Welcome table.”
In a side room I went to a meeting of gays and lesbians who were not welcome and unable to participate fully as members. The principle speaker was a daughter of Willis Breckbill. Willis (Bill) asked that it be said in his memorial service in Waterford Mennonite Church that he understood that the Mennonite Church “was concerned about many things that don’t matter.”
Doesn’t integrity matter? If we say publicly that all are welcome at the table, but deny some invitees to sit at the table, do we not misrepresent ourselves? At what point does a false advertising become a lie, a lie to the Holy Spirit, to God?
My concern and prayer for the Anabaptist Renewal Circles and for Christians everywhere is that we may experience new integrity by receiving more of the Holy Spirit and his transforming power.
There is a Marion Mennonite Church in Shipshewanna, Indiana. It’s website tells me all that I know about it. But that is enough, if true.