Friday, February 17, 2017

Amish Reconciliation Dinners: Finding Unity over Food

A while back, Tim and I bought fifteen acres from an Amish friend in Smicksburg, PA. But there was a problem; we needed to use a road (a right of way or easement) through another Amish family’s property… and they didn’t like this. So much so, that when we went down the road to get to our land, there were rakes and pitchforks blocking our entry.

Then an Amish man, we’ll call him 'Eli' instead of his real name, came over on a cussing rant. I’ll admit, I can be feisty at times and wagged a finger, telling him, “I’m going to tell your bishop on you!”
So we went down the road to tell Amish friends what happened. “Who is his bishop?” we asked. Gulp. The Amish man who’d just cussed us out was the bishop. Our friends said, “Jah, you have a bad apple in every bushel. Even Amish have problems.”

After we were able to speak due to shock, we learned that no one, even a bishop, is above being corrected. A few Amish families got together and had the bishop over for a reconciliation dinner. We weren’t invited; they wanted to work on this bishop’s inappropriate behavior on their own.

We waited a few weeks to go up to our land and were met by the bishop with a smile and an extended hand. (No pitchfork in it). He humbly apologized and told us all he was going through as we walked our land. He ended up playing the harmonica for us on his front porch. A real Walton’s moment for me.
We asked our Amish friends about this reconciliation dinner. No details were given except that it was worked out. The Amish intrigue us to know end! It's in the past and worked out. They asked us to report any future problems, but "things were worked out". 

We had to ask, “So problems are solved over food?” Well, there was more than one meal, but yes. One thing I’ve noticed having observed many Amish over thirty years is that they work differences out. And they expect to have problems since they’re human. The Amish are a Christian group who know they have a sin nature that needs fixing here and there. Not working out sin can lead to a ban or shunning, but that's another story. 

“Now the deeds of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” Galatians 5: 19-21

Many see the Amish as beings so pious, it does them no justice. They work hard to maintain the peace and harmony we see when visiting Amish tourist places or shops. Millions from around the world visit Lancaster County to soak in their quaint and charming ways, but most don’t realize the hard work it takes to have their level of unity. (Thousands from around the world read this blog with no access to a Bible, so I’m putting the scriptures in from the World English Bible.)

What we usually see in the Amish is the fruit of the Holy Spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

We’ve never had a problem again with this Amish bishop. I can’t help but wonder that if our country had reconciliations dinners, we wouldn’t be so divided. We are the United States of America. As usual, the Amish give me much to ponder.

I captured this grouping of Amish buggies in Smicksburg.
Most likely not a reconciliation dinner, but folks with cabin fever! Brr. Cold out!