26
Aug
09

wind of God

I am a member of an online discussion group of Mennonites lending their voices and efforts toward  positive change in  denominational polity. Acceptance of LGBT persons (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-genders) into full membership is one of those issues, and its time has come. We are not the only denomination dealing with this possibly last great hurdle of Christendom. As a peace and justice church we must see the social justice aspect of this issue and lead affirmatively. I am convinced that once we exercise compassion and inclusiveness instead of the exclusiveness that fear brings, many souls will grow in Christ’s love and the denomination will grow stronger and deeper for it.

My own painful experience being my starting point, I admit to feeling hopeless as I hear the many voices, both erudite and modest continually chiming in denominational ears that appear to be deaf. Many voices, many brilliant minds lending themselves to the  acappella choir of ardent souls performing for so few listeners. I am not a brilliant mind, but I know beautiful simplicity when I see or hear it. Yesterday I read this post from Martin Lehman who calls himself TheOldFool. Is it because he takes Jesus words seriously to heart in a world that knows Him not? If so, he is anything but a fool. His essay gave me hope again and I share it with you here:

I joined the MennoDiscussion group and found my way to the discussion of why the Mennonite Church should receive people of same sex orientation.  I call myself  TheOldFool and tried to say some helpful things. I was asked to engage in the debate. The debaters are well skilled in the art, and present tough propositions.  I went to bed in a bit of despair, as I wasn’t sure I was up to it.

I often enjoy waking time, and it was then that it came to me that a debate could not be won, so I entered the discussion as follows:

It seems that literalistic thinkers and biblicists are bent on winning an argument that will exclude same sex persons from the kingdom of God. They use logic to determine the ways of God. They’re smart people, and somewhat proud.

They must, however, be born again and become as little children if they themselves are to enter the Kingdom. They must be taught again the elementary things of God, such as love, grace and peace. They are certain that God has accepted them in spite of their sins. Now they must learn to accept others as God accepted them.

Jesus described the Spirit as an unseen WIND which blows where it wills. We hear the wind’s sound and see evidence of its presence. Literalistic thinkers are blind to the work of the Spirit in bringing glbt persons into the Kingdom. The gentle blowing of God has brought gays and lesbians to faith. They believed, and rely on the finished work of Christ to save them. For years they kept in the closet. Though pained by the secrecy imposed on them, the fire of the Spirit lit them and they served in our churches and worked in our institutions. If outed, they fled to urban areas where they found others of like faith.

Literalistic thinkers would bind God by ancient words written on paper. But God will not be so bound. The record is that God often repented of words spoken in haste, or in anger. God is free to use Hosea as an illustration of his love and grace. Hard-hearted literalistic thinkers use the words written by Paul to denigrate saints. Those harsh words do not describe our brothers and sisters who happen to be attracted to persons of the same sex. I have heard them protest, but that was not my experience.

So, for more than 25 years I have been listening to the testimonies of same sex believers, some who abstained from sexual activity, and some in same sex partnerships. I have observed the moving of the WIND of God as it gathers power sufficient to overwhelm those who deny the extent of God’s grace. Arguments based on literal reading of the Bible once justified slavery. Changes in society and in the church swept those arguments away. So shall it be again.

Martin Lehman, August 25, 2009

 

YHWH .75x2.611

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4 Responses to “wind of God”


  1. 1 Linda
    August 26, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Martin Lehman’s statement is both elegant and wise.

  2. 2 Laurie
    August 26, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Right after I read your post, I read Thom M. Shuman’s blog entry (Lectionary Liturgies) for this week. I enjoy reading his worship liturgies, and sometimes borrow his language. I was struck by the call to worship, copied below. I love this image of the voice, which I imagine being carried on the WIND:

    Listen! God, our beloved Creator, whispers to us:
    echoes of grace sound in our hearts, hope resonates in our souls.
    Listen! Christ, our Beloved friend, calls to us:
    faithfulness is the life he shares, generous service is the path we will follow.
    Listen, the Holy Spirit, our beloved Peace, transforms us:
    the voice of our Beloved sound through all creation, welcoming all into the household of God.

    • 3 Naomi
      August 27, 2009 at 3:39 pm

      Thank you for contributing this beautiful piece. I checked out the blog site. I especially like the words, “household of God.” at the end.

  3. 4 Bettina
    August 27, 2009 at 12:54 am

    I can’t help but wonder what things would have been like if Martin had been in our midst at church on 5/31/09, and if he had given voice to his profound words. I also wonder if I would have appreciated his words as much then as I do now. While I am pretty certain that his words would not have been lost on me back then, I find them to be prophetic and hopeful in a way that I can only understand as I do now. Perhaps now that I have found a new home – a new dwelling place for my spirit – a new home that gives me hope too, now I understand.


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