Text: Galatians 5:1,13-26

Speaker: Joel Miller

This week our nation celebrates its birthday.  There’s fireworks, there’s food, there’s commentary on where we’re at as a country, now 243 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Freedom is a big word for us, from a big idea.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That’s worked out pretty well for white, male, property owners.  The struggle for equal freedoms and opportunities is a major part of the history of our country.

Also this week is the biennial national convention of Mennonite Church USA – in Kansas City this year – in which we exercise our collective freedom-to-be-frugal by having the event during one of the cheapest convention weeks of the year.  But it’s still not cheap.  This year we’ll send 13 people to convention, with strong financial support from the congregation.  Thank you.

Many, many years ago – almost 2000 – the Apostle Paul had freedom on his mind.  It’s a central theme in his epistle, which is a fancy...

Text: 1 Kings 19:1-12

Speakers: Joel Call and Elisa Leahy

Photo: Elisa Leahy


What is a border?

This question was posed to us our first night upon arriving in Tucson, Arizona as we began mentally preparing ourselves to investigate this particular, hot-topic region: the border. About a month ago, Mennonite Central Committee hosted a Borderlands learning tour in the southern Arizona border region with the goal of gaining a better understanding of the many complexities both human and political that reside there. Both Elisa Leahy and I, along with a handful of others, were fortunate enough to attend.

What is a border?
A demarcation; an arbitrary boundary or line used to separate? Perhaps something along those lines?

This is a story I’ve heard. Antonio is a field worker in a small town in Michoacan. A local cartel asks him to work for them, and he declines. One night, the cartel drives by and shoots his family’s house. Their house is built simply out of wood, and Antonio’s wife, Manuela, recounts how easily the bullets pierced their home. So they leave town, take a bus to the border town Agua...

Texts: Psalm 118:19-24; 1 Peter 2:1-10

It was a little over thirteen years ago that this congregation began a discernment process regarding membership.  Some of you remember this well.  Many of you weren’t here 13 years ago. The question at hand was whether the congregation could openly affirm persons for membership regardless of sexual orientation.  It was a thorough process, lasting about 10 months.  It involved study of scripture and church documents and the science of sexuality, listening to faith stories, especially those of gay folks, meeting in small groups.  It was not a new discussion here, but it did result in a first time official vote to be a publicly welcoming congregation.  That was February 2007 – a coming out moment of sorts for the congregation.

Five years ago, without need for much further processing, the congregation voted to clarify that sexual orientation was a non-factor in the hiring of church staff, and that pastors were affirmed to officiate at weddings of opposite and same sex couples.

Yesterday a number of us rode a hay wagon through downtown Columbus anywhere between zero and five miles per hour, with a whole lot of zero at the beginning.  We...

Speaker: Renee Kanagy

Texts: 2nd Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Corinthians 4:1

Preached during the ordination service of Pastor Mark Rupp by his mentoring pastor.  Audio only.

Texts:  Zechariah 3:1-5; John 14:15-26

One day, not so long ago, a woman walked into a grocery store.  While there, she slipped one of the items under her jacket and tried to walk out with it.  It was a frozen chicken, so it was hard to hide.  A security guard spotted her, detained her, and called a police officer.  The officer searched her and found the frozen chicken.  He ordered her to accompany him to the police station.

Lots of people saw this happening.  One reacted differently than the others.  Standing in line to check out, he told the cashier he wanted to buy that very chicken the woman was holding.  He then brought the receipt to the officer, who reluctantly agreed to let the woman go.

If this story sounds familiar, you must be a regular reader of the CMC Lamplighter, our monthly newsletter.  Or at least you read the May edition.  This story was told to Phil Hart, who wrote the article, by Yasir Makki.  Yasir lived and studied in Columbus in the late 90’s and early 2000’s before returning to his home in Sudan.  He now leads a school and church network.  We help support...