The lessons for today remind us of the difference between pride and humility. The Amish have two words for this that emerge as central to their faith community. Hochmut is rejection of pride and vanity. Damut is humility and submission to God. They follow the Bible very closely and literally on these doctrines. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble,” we read in James, chapter 4, verses 1-10. James further writes, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” Perhaps we have no quarrel with humbling ourselves before the Lord, but Jesus says we should also humble ourselves before each other. That gets more difficult for most of us but is exactly what the Amish try to do.
Seeking to be first is greatly frowned upon by the Amish. And they greatly eschew jealousy, adultery and covetness. Nor will they participate in any wars or violence. They seek to serve each other in grace filled community life where they greatly value the contributions of children. They include children in all aspects of their daily lives as much as possible. The Amish keep their lives simple and uncomplicated so as to more easily socialize children to interact with adults as they learn to contribute to the community. They believe that this way of life enables them to better receive God in their lives. They don’t seek earthly passions. They seek to live in peace with each other and with God.
The Psalm for today acknowledges that all humans have cares, and the Amish are no exception. But they cast their cares upon the Lord where they find grace rather than seek the comforts of this world as distractions. They live in the world, but they are not of the world. And while most of us do not find the material simplicity of the Amish at all attractive, it would be far easier for us to live without our possessions than it would be for us to do away with our pride. The main reason why we can’t be Amish is not because we are not willing to give up our cars, but because we are not willing to give up pride and vanity. We can’t be Amish because we can’t humble ourselves before God enough to serve our fellow man to the extent that we would do away with war and conflicts.
But the challenge to us is not whether or not we need to be Amish to receive the Lord. The Amish will also acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers. They are very humble about how they live out their faith. What challenges me most in these reflections is how can we create a society in which we serve one another and can focus on what is good for children. After studying the Amish as an anthropologist, thinking as a social scientist about the world in which we live, and reflecting on the readings today as a Christian, it seems to me that if we were to think about children first, we could create a society in which we would more fully experience God in our midst. I wonder if pride is the problem here that keeps us from engaging seriously in such conversations. I pray today that we can humble ourselves to do God’s work in the world and give thanks for the grace we will certainly receive when we do so.