Executive Actions


“Executed” bees gathered from my back patio

Rambling through A Fantasy Sermon reminded me to take a look at An Ode to a Fool that is also  posted on my website.  The Ode describes the traditional role of the fool in a court  of a king in these words:

A court’s stale air required a fool
who by his knavery could cause lords and ladies to laugh and lighten the face of the King with a smile.

At times the fool, the lowliest, but wisest of them all,
by jest spoke truth unspoken by others
for fear of decapitation l
ike John the Baptist.

The word “decapitation” caught my eye and reminded me of a story, a myth no doubt, but written in all four of the Gospels as though it were a real event. The story is filled with meaning.  Those arresting Jesus were confronted by Peter, a disciple of Jesus known through out the Gospels for his impulsive behavior.

Unwilling to accept his Master’s weakness and enraged by the impending disaster, Peter assaulted Malchus, a servant of the high priest. Intending with one swipe of his sword, I believe, to decapitate the man. Fearing for his life, Malchus turned and ducked so the sword merely sliced his right ear. Jesus sternly told Peter to put his sword back in its sheath where it belonged.  Then Jesus touched the wound suffered by Malchus and made the ear whole again.  To read the story as written in John’s gospel, click here.

I was reminded of this gospel story when I read of the interaction between Isaac Villegas, pastor of the Chapel Hill Mennonite Church in South Carolina and the Executive Board of the Mennonite Church USA. Click here and here to read for yourself.

The Executive Board is trusted to execute plans and policies fixed by the delegates to the general assembly of MCUSA.  Also, the Executive Board seems empowered to execute (carry out a church sanctioned punishment) of any person who is in a responsible position and yet acts in ways that are at variance with church positions.

This Old Fool notes that denominational and conference leadership gives a Moses-like attention to detail about what is clean and unclean.  But the Old Fool believes that leadership should pay close attention to another characteristic of Moses. He was an effective intercessor for his people when were at variance.

If I were an unseen phantom and could sit in the vacant chair of Isaac Villegas at the next meeting of the Executive Board, I would try to find a way to commend its members for their careful adherence to the rules meant to guide them. I would also urge them to execute just as faithfully the delegates resolution on forbearance that would guide them to refusing to accept the Villegas resignation.  In the spirit of forbearance I believe I could hear the chair entertain a motion to accept the resignation and hear her declare, the motion fails for lack of a second.

It is true that I grieve over fallen bees, but I grieve more over a church that fails to own its tendency to be hierarchical, exclusive, divisive, and hypocritical and so fails to be the people God intended it to be.  Executive forbearance may prove to be the simple antidote to these weaknesses.

Forbearance strengthens
while judging what is legal
fosters weakness 

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 Executive Actions

  1. Jep says:

    Hmmmmmm…..you may be onto something.

  2. Thanks so much Martin for sharing this and I hope and pray that many will read and ponder what you have shared! It is express so well what I also see and observe. Keep sharing my good brother in the Lord. It was so good to meet personally your “Joy” this week at EP. I can see why she has become “your joy” and may the good Lord give you many good years more together before you “join the hosts of saints that have gone on before” Love you both and am inspired by the “Old Fool who ” who is still able and willing to share in sites that challenge.! My the Creator bless you both this day and as many days as he gives you!!!

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