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 like 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.
while judging what is legal