Text: Hebrews 11:1-16 

Speaker: Joel Miller                

Wendell Berry, farmer, poet, turned 85 this past week.  He once wrote: “Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years.”  These words come at the end of his Mad Farmer Liberation Front Manifesto in which he chastises the many other things in which humanity has placed its faith: the quick profit, mindless consumption, the generals and politicos.  At 85 and counting, Wendell Berry is living a full life.  But according to his own math — 1000 years to form two inches of humus – the full stretch of his life, so far, is only enough time for .17 inches of that richest of soils to accumulate in the healthiest of forests.  Barely visible to the human eye.  Which of course is his point about the nature of faith.

In chapter 11 of the letter to the Hebrews faith is at the forefront of the author’s mind.  Having just finished writing about the importance of provoking each other to love and good deeds and staying in the habit of meeting together, the author ends chapter...

Text: Luke 12:13-21

Speaker: Scott Litwiller

Jesus has gathered with his disciples and as we learn in the passage before this text, a great crowd has gathered and they so often do when Jesus comes to town. Jesus must have had a frustrating interaction with the Pharisees because he tells his disciples in private to beware of their hypocrisy. He continues talking to the disciples and reminds them that God’s eye is even on the sparrows. Do not be afraid, are you not more important and valuable than the sparrows?

This intimate moment and time of teaching is interrupted by a sibling rivalry. A man yells out from the crowd at Jesus and asks him to tell his brother to share his portion of the inheritance. In these times a father’s estate was divided by the number of his male children PLUS one. The eldest child received two portions of the estate while all the others received only one.

This was the tradition and in a society that gave importance to the lineage it made sense that the eldest who would carry on the name would have the responsibility to maintain the bulk of the estate and grow it and...

Texts: John 20:19-23; Ephesians 4:1-6

The final event of the Kansas City convention, Saturday mid-morning, was a worship service.  As was the case throughout the week, there was lots of singing, led by a full band.  Most of the 3000 convention participants were still present.  The final speaker was Glen Guyton.  He’s been the Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA for just over a year – the first African American to hold that position.  When Glen came out to speak, most of the band members left the stage, but some stayed at their instruments.  This smaller band then broke out with a bass-driven opening I recognized right away from having come of age in the 90’s.  It was the unmistakable sound of the grunge band Nirvana, and their song “Come as you are.”  This was surprising, but then Glen grabbed the microphone and in a voice that surely had Kurt Cobain smiling from his grave, and perhaps slightly confused given the setting, Glen proceeded to sing most of the song with the band in full grunge mode:

Come as you are, as you were
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a

Texts: Genesis 1:31, 2:7, 15; Romans 8:19-23

Speaker: Linda Mercadante

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Text: John 20:19-23

Speaker: Mark Rup


I don’t think I ever truly learned how to breathe until last year during my sabbatical.  Sure, I’ve been regularly taking in air for more than thirty-three years at this point, and sure, I was a music major with a focus on voice in college where I learned the importance of “proper” breathing technique. 

But all that time, I was mostly taking breath for granted or submitting it to my will as a tool, as a means to an end. 

During my sabbatical, though, one of the things I did was begin practicing yoga, which has, over time, opened me to recognizing the beauty and power of breath.  I had explored yoga before this, but never in a regular, sustained way.  I decided that I wanted to use my sabbatical to really commit to this practice because, as someone whose personality tends to live in a constant struggle between the head and the heart, I saw it as a way of finding balance not just in the literal, physical sense but in a deeply spiritual sense as well.  And so, with all sorts of time on my hands, it became an almost daily...