What really counts

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I really enjoyed church service today.  This is the second weekend in a row I’ve gone with this group.  Church in any particular district is normally held bi-weekly, the two consecutive Sundays in this case being due to a special situation.

Many Amish are conscious of the differences that exist among their own people.  I spent some time discussing this with church members today.

Very often lately, both in Lancaster and in Holmes County, I find I’m hearing members’ concern with some of their group sticking fast to ‘tradition over truth’–or paraphrasing what I heard from one today, ‘some of them are so concerned with being Amish that they’re missing the point’.

The point being Christ’s gift of salvation.  Many feel it doesn’t depend on how wide your hat’s brim is or who exactly you associate with, but rather the strength of your faith–and acting in accordance with it.

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Maybe this is the kind of talk I hear since lately I’m spending more time with the more mainstream-to-progressive Amish.  This particular group is of the New Order.

As the only Englishman at service I make for sort of a beginner’s level Where’s Waldo puzzle, but despite that they are a great bunch who’ve really made me feel at home (even preaching half the service in English).  For that I am genuinely grateful.

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    6 Comments

    1. Matthew

      The comments made by some of the Amish you write about are interesting.

      You could think about the ordnung in Amish society as being highly similar to the rules in a monastic order. They were put in place to keep order and prevent pride in members. This, I think, is a good thing. The danger, however, can occur when the truths of that exterior dress are not interiorly lived out. At that point, the man shows himself to be not much less than a hypocrite for the exterior provisions are no longer a reflection of the man’s soul.

      The Amish mustn’t throw away the baby with the bath water, however. Rather, they need to rediscover and accept the reasons for their ordnungs, and focus on the hearts of erring members who would use it as a source of pride rather than a source of submission, humility, meekness, and order.

    2. Emma

      Unfortunately it is such in the human nature to be proud to be member of a particular group (Thank God I’m Amish!). But some we’ll be proud of not being member of a certain group… (Thank God I’m not an Amish… I know the Truth!!)
      The danger of hypocrisy are everywhere….
      I think the New Order tend to be quite “evangelical” in its approach.

      Great blog as always.

    3. Dave Carrig

      I’m curious to know how you are able to attend church with the Amish. I always thought that the Amish were a bit “closed” when it came to “outsiders” and attendence at their churces. Are you able to go because you have friendships within the community?

    4. Good points Matthew, many of us could use a dose of humility. I’m interviewing some pretty big business owners right now and many seem to be acutely aware of the danger of getting a big ego.

      Emma you said it best…thanks for reading…you’re right the New Order is a bit more that way, though hardly anything compared to some other fundamentalists I’ve encountered!

    5. How often do Amish have English visitors at church?

      Friendships definitely help but an outsider at church is not as infrequent an occurence as I originally thought (speaking generally here I’m not as confident about how it would be with ultraconservative groups)–when I go I always ask how often non-Amish attend at each church and the answers have varied from once or twice a year to every few months…not every time, but not that rare I suppose.

      The New Order seem to be the most accomodating when it comes to delivering part of the message in English (weird feeling when you’re the only guy and the preacher switches–it’s as if he’s suddenly talking just to you!) but one ‘regular Old Order’ friend whose father is bishop had said they try to prepare part of the sermon to be in English if they know in advance.

      You should try to go if you get the chance, I just sort of humbly brought it up the first time–the family was a bit amused at first that I’d like to go then they sort of suddenly got excited about the idea…

    6. Dave Carrig

      AA – I definately would like to go – but don’t know any Amish well enough to ask.

      If the opportunity ever presents itself – I would definately go. Here’s hopin – one day….