Sermons

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/20200119sermon.mp3

The first half of the audio is a historical reading of Mennonite Central Committee, and three members briefly telling of the MCC service experiences.  The sermon begins around the 17 minute mark.

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

Speaker: Joel Miller

Back in 2004, I had the opportunity to attend the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain.  Along with being happy to just be there, I was especially interested in how these different philosophies and religions would find common ground.  I attended seminars with titles like: “Middle East stories: The significance of the Holy Land in our Sacred Texts,” “A Buddhist-Christian dialogue on responses to environmental violence,” “Interreligious dialogue and non-negotiable dogmas.”  In between seminars there was plenty of time for random conversations with whoever I found sitting or walking next to me, most of them not Christian or American.

One of the things I remember most, now 16 years later, had nothing to do with theological dialogue.  It related to something we all had in common: We all had to eat.  There were plenty of options.  One of them was in a large tent by the conference center.  Every day of the Parliament members...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/20200119sermon.mp3

The first half of the audio is a historical reading of Mennonite Central Committee, and three members briefly telling of the MCC service experiences.  The sermon begins around the 17 minute mark.

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

Speaker: Joel Miller

Back in 2004, I had the opportunity to attend the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain.  Along with being happy to just be there, I was especially interested in how these different philosophies and religions would find common ground.  I attended seminars with titles like: “Middle East stories: The significance of the Holy Land in our Sacred Texts,” “A Buddhist-Christian dialogue on responses to environmental violence,” “Interreligious dialogue and non-negotiable dogmas.”  In between seminars there was plenty of time for random conversations with whoever I found sitting or walking next to me, most of them not Christian or American.

One of the things I remember most, now 16 years later, had nothing to do with theological dialogue.  It related to something we all had in common: We all had to eat.  There were plenty of options.  One of them was in a large tent by the conference center.  Every day of the Parliament members...

Texts: Isaiah 42:1-9; Matthew 3:13-17

Speaker: Mark Rupp

I want to start this morning with an excerpt from a poem called “Traditional Values Worldview” by the spoken word artist named Levi the Poet.  In the first half of the poem, we enter the story of a young woman traveling with her father, a sea captain.  She meets a young man on one of their island stops, and here we pick up as the young woman and this new friend head off looking for adventure:

~~~

[You can read and listen to the full poem HERE.  The excerpt during the sermon began about halfway through the poem at the line: "The boy and I met a mystic...".]

~~~

The story of Jesus’ baptism is a bit confounding for those of us who may have grown up with a theology of baptism sunk so deeply into the notion of washing away sin that we have forgotten where the surface really is or what it means to fill our lungs to the brink of overflowing.  Those of us who broke forth from the waters gasping toward a forgiveness that could finally make us good,

enough,

we echo that voice from the wilderness...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/010520sermon.mp3

Text: John 1:1-5; 10-18

Speaker: Joel Miller

Over the years I’ve taught a number of youth catechism Sunday school courses.  We talk about the big ideas of Christian faith.  Words and concepts that get used all the time in church, which can benefit from more focused attention.  Little things like “God,” “Jesus,” “Creation,” “Bible,” “Church,” “Prayer.”  You get the idea.

One of my favorite exercises is when we focus on Jesus.  I ask them to imagine themselves in the place of the gospel writers.  What those writers had to work with was a collection of stories and sayings and memories, some written down, some passed on through word of mouth.  They’re trying to draw a picture of who Jesus was, and who he is for the people reading and hearing their gospel account, now several generations removed from Jesus’ life.

Now, here’s the question:  Where do you start?  Where does this story begin?  What do you say in chapter 1 that introduces the story you need to tell, sets it on the trajectory it needs to go?  How do you introduce Jesus?

The youth split up into four groups, each one reading through the first chapter of one...

Text: Luke 2:8-20

Speaker: Joel Miller

This is the season of darkness.

As a sometimes biker to church during the work week I’ve been aware of the increasing difficulty of getting back home in the evening before the darkness arrives.  A strong headlight, blinking taillight, and reflective jacket gets added to the list of equipment necessary for safe travel.  Not to mention a coat, cap, and multiple layers of gloves.  The early onset darkness does make for a less crowded Olentangy Trail at 5:30pm.

The night from which we all just awoke held the longest darkness of the year.  The winter solstice.

Less daylight can have real effects on our bodies.  Cases of depression increase in the winter months.  In general, energy levels run lower.  It makes one consider that our animal cousins might be on to something with the whole hibernation thing.  They get to both eat a lot of food at the end of the growing season and sleep through the cold and dark season.  Trees pull their energy stores down into the ground where their roots hold the reserves, keeping vigil in the dark.

I recently saw a drawing with a vertical cross section of a winter...

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