Summary: The Amish have demonstrated that faith and practice may be consistent in the face of horrific personal suffering and loss.
Title: What are the Amish thinking?
Thesis: The Amish believe that following Christ works as both faith and practice in the midst of very personal suffering.
We were all stunned when we learned that Roger Morrison had taken hostages student hostages at the Platte Valley High School near Bailey, Colorado. It was heartbreaking to hear of the death of Emily Keyes before t he siege ended.
The Keyes family has demonstrated remarkable grace in the face of their huge loss and have chosen to take the higher ground. They are refusing to dwell on the horrific deed done or the person of Roger Morrison. They have elected to put a positive spin on what was in essence, a random act of violence, by asking that those who knew and loved Emily, remember and honor her by doing random acts of kindness.
However, we were even more stunned when we learned last Monday, that Charles Carl Roberts IV had copycatted the crime in one-room West Nickel Mines Amish School near Georgetown, PA, where he took the lives of five students before taking his own.
I think one of the reasons that I am taken by this story is the utter paradox that that something like this would happen in an Amish community… that is not to say that Amish communities are perfect little places with no dirty little secrets. Nevertheless, they are known for attempting to, according to an MSN news clip on October 6, 2006, “follow the way of Jesus by living in community, separate from society which they believe is filled with vanity, fraud and violence. Their desire is walk in humility before God and the world.”
Violence in an Amish community is a shocking occurrence.
Another reason this is such a compelling story is the utter paradox of the manner in which the Amish choose to respond to those who do violence to them and those they love.
Forgiveness is a rule of life in an Amish community.
The MSN news report cited earlier, which was based on an interview with a student of Amish life, who had lived in an Amish community for over twenty years stated, “The Amish have a deep love for each other and a deep desire to make sure the community forgives [Charles Carl Roberts IV].”
On page 2A of the Thursday, October 5 Denver Post, there were two news stories. The one from the Associated Press was titled, Amish seek, give comfort after killings. The other from the Albany, N.Y. Union Times was titled, Forgiveness, pacifism are core tenets in community.
Paul Grondahl, reporter for the Albany Times Union asked the million dollar question, “How can the notion of forgiveness be considered while viewing news photos of body bags being carried out of the one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania?”
What are the Amish thinking?
Are the Amish folks different from you and me? The Amish funerals are conducted in German and focus on God, not on commemorating the dead. There is no singing, but ministers read hymns and passages from the bible and an Amish prayer book.
Do Amish families grieve as we grieve? The families of the little girls
endure the same deep grief as anyone outside their community grieve. They embrace each other and the weep as uncontrollably as anyone outside their community.
Do the Amish ever question what has happened in their lives? The Amish are just like you and me. They will always wonder how something like this could have happened to their children and to them. They will heal but this incident will affect the entirety of their lives.
What kind of questions do the Amish ask?
The Amish are asking, “What does God require of us? What would please the Lord?” And, they are listening to the Word of God in Micah 6:8, “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”
The Amish take the bible seriously.
• They believe what it says and practice their understanding of God’s Word.
• They are devout followers of Jesus Christ.
• They understand that they are sinners and that Christ died for the sins of all sinners.
• They believe that God forgives and gives eternal salvation to those who repent of their sins and invite Jesus Christ into their lives.
• They believe that this life is to be lived as a life of faith in God’s sovereignty and obedience to the teaching of Jesus Christ.
• They believe that one day Jesus Christ will return and establish a visible Kingdom, which will be characterized by peace.
But more pointedly, what are the Amish thinking in regard to this horrific tragedy?
They are thinking the words of Matthew 5:38-48 need to be practiced in their community and before the watching eyes of the world. And they do just that…