Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lessons From the Amish Murders

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"Shoot me and leave the other ones loose".

These were the reported words of 13-year-old Marian Fisher to the milk truck driver named Carl Roberts, who had entered the Amish schoolhouse a little over a week ago.

Emma Mae Zook, only twenty years of age herself, had already been the teacher for three years. She fled to call for help, along with some of the other students, mostly boys. Ten girls remained captive with the man we call "deranged". His intentions were not honorable.

Five of the girls died by his gun, before he "turned the gun on himself", as the all-too-frequent news report comment goes.

Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12;
Naomi Rose Ebersole, 7;
Mary Liz and Lena Miller, sisters 8 and 7 years old;
Marian Fisher, the brave 13-year-old who understood sacrifice.

But if the sacrificial attitude of Marian touched the world, the attitude of her friends and family stunned them. The attitude was forgiveness. Of a magnitude that we don't see often, even in the "religious". Of a magnitude that didn't just forgive the murderer, but embraced the murderer's family.

What we learn from them, they learned from Jesus.

1. Simplicity
2. Sacrifice
3. Forgiveness
4. Community
5. Gelassenheit. This term they use means “surrenderedness” to God and to one another. “The goal of Gelassenheit is a subdued, humble person who discovers fulfillment in the community.” (Donald Kraybill, The Riddle of Amish Culture)

I haven't spoken favorably about the Amish view of Scripture. They have sometimes drastic tendencies toward legalism, and sometimes harsh dealings with their own in their "shunnings".

But I never stop being amazed at God's working through us flawed creatures. Even in a culture that I don't normally associate the word "Grace" with, there is God's Grace anyway, calling "Follow me, as I follow Christ."

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