I regret that I have not written about Marks’ and my visit to the Amish Sunday service, as I realized that I am not the Christian I propose to be.
Matthew 5:39 (KJV)
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
This is a hard lesson for us in these days when evil is so prevalent in our society, to ‘turn ones’ cheek’ …
We showed up that Sunday morning, 8:30 at the prescribed time. We were told that the services were “public” but did not know what to expect as we drove up to the wood framed church surrounded by horses and buggies. It reminded me of a scene out of ‘Little House on the Prairie’. Our vehicle was the only one in the parking area. At that point Mark and I became hesitant and then appeared a very kind bearded fellow asking us if we were there for services. We said we were and he showed us to a steep staircase. I had Mark retrieve my cane from the Jeep, as there was no way that I was making that incline without it. The man then suggested we take the other entrance on the other side of the church. This was more conducive of my disability, as there was only one step.
When we came into the building, the singing stopped and all eyes were upon us, young and old. Although the song could have been over, nervously I took off my outer coat and hung it on a hook. It appeared that the majority of clothing hooks were labeled with names, as they knew who to expect for their services. At this point I felt we were where intruding on their special world, one of which they have guarded from the outside world of today.
Mark and I were seated together in the women’s section, although he on the outside isle next to the men. As we were seated they started singing again. I did not recognize the song, but picked up a hymnal. The words were in German with an English translation. I started reading the words and tears came to my eyes. It had been 47 years since I stepped foot into a church, I was ashamed of myself.
The first Brother, as they called him, started speaking of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians’
As the final Brother took his place he asked that we bow on our knees and pray. This was difficult from me, as since my accident I have had a hard time getting on my knees. I was glad to have Mark at my side to help me get up from the, painful, kneeled position.
The third Brother seemed to me to be the elder. He welcomed us, as did the others before they began their sermon. He spoke of how difficult it was for Christ to come to this sinful world, but he loved his children so much he had no choice. He spoke of the Glory of Peacemaking as it shall produce two winners. He spoke of the ‘salt of the Earth’ as it shall it preserve things. He spoke of how the man with the college degree was not as ‘educated’ as the man with the 8th grade education, as the man with the degree will stop learning because he believes he is smart; but it is the man with the 8th grade education that keeps on learning. He finally spoke of ‘turning ones cheek’ after one has been slapped.
I found a lot of wisdom in these sermons!
In the finality of the sermon, it was asked for the Brothers to confirm the sermons spoken. Witnesses from the congregation confirmed that what the Brothers taught was true and correct. At this point it reminded me of my Granny Ruth when she spoke in tongues; as there was always an interpreter who would tell us the meaning of what, to some, sounded as ‘gibberish’ and then another that would confirm that the interpreter was correct. Granny Ruth was the ‘salt of the Earth’ as her memory has helped me preserve my Christian heritage.
Once the interpretation was completed they started singing. From behind me a woman touched my shoulder and handed me a different hymnal. This song I did recognize. The singing was interesting as there were no instruments, just their unique rhythm of their love for Christ. It was an experience Mark and I will never forget. It was also, what we believe to be, an intrusion on their very private life. As we were driving down the gravel road on the way home, we remarked how thankful we were that we attended and they were so gracious.
I did not realize, until Mark and I were speaking of the experience over breakfast, later that morning, how ‘turning ones cheek’ pertained to me, as it has always been an issue with me to not allow someone to disrespect me or my ideals. Well, still a lot of work I have to accomplish, but at least I know the path I must travel.