Sacred moments

Picture of a place mat

There were many sacred moments during the public sessions of the Minority Ministries Council reunion:  quiet,  applauding, hugging, singing, memory, and moments of prayer.  One had to be there to take it all in.

College Mennonite Church has its recent sacred moments.  For months we had pondered if we should publicly own  ourselves as an open community.  Some of our sons and daughters and their parents had been deeply hurt by past rejections. Could we dare to own up to a public welcoming practice? The statement proposed by the church’s board read,

“We believe that all individuals are created in God’s image, and all people, regardless of age, gender, race, citizenship status, abilities, or sexual orientation, are welcome as full participants in the life of our congregation.”

It is understood that the statement will inform and represent our collective practice of welcoming people into our congregational life.  Slightly more than 90 percent of voters affirmed the statement. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that we hold  diverse beliefs on many matters.  The decision was received  in respectful silence.  I believe that both our agreements and our many diversities are sacred.

However, since the decision I listened to an interview by Krista Tippit of Layli Long Soldier    who is a writer, a mother, a citizen of the U.S. and of the Oglala Lakota Nation.  Krista introduced Layli by writing that a single voice can be a window into a whole world.   The topic of the interview was “The Freedom of Real Apologies.” The interview opened a window of understanding for me, and I now feel deeply that our work as a congregation is unfinished.

Layli Long Soldier

Unfinished, because the reality is that our statement contains no apology to the people hurt by the congregation’s rejection.  I like the statement. I admire the leadership that proposed it, and the process that produced its overwhelming approval. My new understanding and belief is  that those who felt rejected should be sought out and should receive a real apology.

What makes an apology real?  Real apology is embedded in the biblical concept of repentance.  Those who repent are filled with such devastating sorrow that they cannot reject again. We will not be free till we have extended a real apology to the ones whom we have hurt in the past.

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you know who has power in a congregation, conference or MCUSA!

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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4 Responses to Sacred moments

  1. So well said.! Than you for sharing your heart. I have followed the CMC’s process over the years and am so grateful for the what has been shared. With you and all who have felt the desire and need for true repentance and apology I seek to be open and in touch with any and all who I have been less than truely , sincerely repentant and less than tuely welcominging !

  2. Nate Lehman says:

    Would it be great if every church in the land could agree to accept every human being as brother and sister in oneness and humility and see them as created by God. Always remember, “I am not a body, I am free. I am as God created me.” Nate

  3. Miriam Showalter says:

    Oh, how the truth speaks!

  4. carroll lehman says:

    Cousin Martin, you always inspire me with your writings–so open, thoughtful and honest. Should I live as long as you, I hope to have that vision and openness.

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