Text: Luke 21:5-19

Speaker: Joel Miller

In Luke chapter 21 Jesus and his companions are walking the temple grounds in Jerusalem.  The whole complex is an engineering marvel, a feat of mind and muscle.  Some are awestruck by its beauty.  They comment on the massive stones, dressed and stacked; the attention to detail; the overwhelming sense of power and permanence such structures evoke.  Jesus, who was never very good at going with the flow of conversations, interjects: “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

These startling comments suddenly take center stage.  “Teacher,” they ask, “when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place.”

After looking back for the last two weeks – first with All Saints/All Souls remembrance of Anabaptist history, then with Rabbi Jessica Shimberg reflecting in a similar way on Jewish history – invoking memory and lineage and tradition, we seem to be doing a 180.  Having been told that the present order will soon collapse, we are suddenly turned toward the future.  With the disciples, we want to know the timeline. ...

Guest preacher: Rabbi Jessica Shimberg

This week, I had the blessing of reading Joel’s sermon from last Sunday and, in observance of All Souls Day, his reference to The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians. As an American Jew in my 50s, my formative experience of Christians — as one of the only Jewish children in Upper Arlington in the 1970s and early ‘80s — didn’t allow me to see the nuanced variety of Christian experience. In my personal story, to be Christian was to be part of the dominant majority — safe, secure, culturally very dominant. Through my many experiences of exclusion (though none of them “bloody,” thank God!) and as the victim of antisemitic language and mythology, I was the stranger despite my citizenship and that of my parents and my grandparents as people born in the United States.

The opportunity Joel’s sermon provided to learn about Menno Simons and the persecution of the early Anabaptists/Mennonites at the hands of other Christians within central Europe was a window for me into, as Joel put it, “one of the central teachings of Menno and Anabaptists of his kind. That to be Christian is to embrace the...

Texts: Exodus 22:21-23; Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:33-34;  Matthew 5:1-10   

Speaker: Joel Miller 

The picture on the front of the bulletin is one of about 100 images made from etchings, included within the Martyrs Mirror.  For the uninitiated, this book is a 17th century compilation by a Dutch author.  Its full title is The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians. Subtitle: Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, their Savior, From the Time of Christ to the Year AD 1660.  They just don’t make book titles like they used to.  The author was a Mennonite, a group taking its name from Dutch Anabaptist leader Menno Simons.  The Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians is a reference to one of the central teachings of Menno and Anabaptists of his kind.  That to be Christian is to embrace the nonviolent – or, as they would say, nonresistant – way of Jesus – the peacefulness spoken of in the Beatitudes –  thus giving up any claims to defend oneself with violence.  The large majority of the Martyrs Mirror focuses on the 16th century, when the early Anabaptists/Mennonites, the defenseless...

This is Part 4 of a 4 week series on Healthy Sexuality

Week 1: Our bodies – God’s image

Week 2: (Pro)Creative intimacy

Week 3: Healthy sex: Drawing the line(s)


Texts: John 17, 1 John 4, Revelation 21,22

Speaker: Joel Miller

There’s a beautiful scene in the movie “The Motorcycle Diaries.”  It takes place in a small hut of a leper colony in Peru, along the banks of the Amazon River.  The film is about the young Che Guevara in his early twenties when he was a medical student, before he became a revolutionary.  The story is based on the journal he kept on this trek he and his friend took up through South America.  One of the dynamics of the film is that the more he encounters the people of the land, their struggles, the more impassioned he becomes on their behalf.  This scene is a tender moment after he has been informed that a young woman, Silvia, is refusing to get a surgery that would save her life.  He finds Sylvia in the small hut, sits beside her bed, and begins talking with her.  She tells him that life is too much pain and she wants to...

This is Part 3 of a 4 week series on Healthy Sexuality

Week 1: Our bodies – God’s image

Week 2: (Pro)Creative intimacy

Week 4: Sexuality and spirituality: When all is one

Texts: Songs of Songs, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Speaker: Joel Miller

GK Chesterton once wrote: “Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.” (1)

In the fine print of a pastor’s job description, so fine it cannot be seen by the naked eye but is surely there, is the expectation that, should the pastor ever be asked privately or need to comment publicly about sex, that the pastor steer the conversation toward lines.  Lines that differentiate the good from the bad.  Lines that should not be crossed.

I don’t know if that’s part of the CMC pastor’s job description.  Maybe some of you will let me know after this sermon!  Either way, I’m going to take the bait.  As long as I can talk about lines the way GK Chesterton does: “Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.”

In other words, what makes healthy sexuality healthy as opposed to unhealthy?

If you’re already starting to get a bit nervous, now might be a...