Sermons

Ephesians 4:1-7,11-16

Many pastors and preachers have probably at some point heard the quote often cited to Karl Barth that we must preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.  There’s some debate about if Barth actually said that, but in general the notion stands that as people of faith, not just preachers, we all need to be willing to put our faith tradition in conversation with the world around us.  For those of us in the Christian tradition, anything less would be to limit the all-encompassing, holistic nature of the Good News that is meant to permeate all of life and not just prepare us for some ill-defined future existence. 

And I think we in this congregation, no matter who is up here on a Sunday morning, do a decent job of approaching this pulpit with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.  But I’ve often thought that this idea needed an addendum, that we needed a third hand or at least a back pocket.  You see, I believe that truly good preachers need to have a Bible in one hand, the newspaper in the other, and a copy of...

Called In: City
Mark 5:21-43

“Who touched me?”

This summer we are exploring the idea of calling.  More specifically, we are attempting to pay attention to the ways we are being “called in” by focusing on a series of concentric circles leading us ever more inward.  The last three weeks we considered how the “world” was calling to us, how the world calls to others with different faith traditions, and how the Divine is calling to us through the holiness of the other no matter how distant they seem.  We were inspired by Ginny Nussbaum’s de-centering banner that both forced our attention as wide as the cosmos while also pulling us inward. 

Likewise, today we are blessed by a new banner depicting our move toward the next concentric circle, the city.  Created by local artists Shannan and Jason Anderson, this piece utilizes images and figures from our fair city to create the shapes you see here.  Some of these images you might recognize, others may seem vaguely familiar, and still others might seem completely foreign; which, I think is a perfect way to think about how we are called in to our community.  At some point over the next...

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Romans 8:18-25

“The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.  There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”

This is how Psalm 19 begins, with a grand declaration of the ways that the natural world reveals God’s glory and God’s handiwork.  And this happens not just in secret messages here and there for those with the right knowledge or skills to be able to decipher them, but day to day and night to night creation uses “words” in a language all its own to reveal God.

Another common passage of scripture that is called upon when thinking about creation revealing God to humanity is Psalm 148 where all of creation is invited to praise God together.

“Praise God, sun and moon; praise God, all you shining stars!
Praise God, you highest heavens, and  you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for God commanded and they were created.
...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/20180603sermon.mp3

Texts: Mark 2:23-3:6

I’m not sure what to think of the fact that on the final day before a summer Sabbath from church life, the gospel lectionary is about Jesus misbehaving on the Sabbath.  It’s gotta be a sign.  Not so sure yet how it affects our Sabbatical itinerary.  Or maybe this has to do with your Sabbatical itinerary.  We’ll soon find out.

Having a clean, although temporary, break like this feels like a good time to do some reflecting on where we’ve been together.  It’s been five years now, almost exactly, since you called me to Columbus Mennonite.  It’s enough time to have a few stories.

As a continuation of last week’s sermon, this is Called In, Part II.  The idea of calling has a long and rich history.  Calling is something that beckons us in, to what some have simply referred to as the Great Work.  The Great Work lifts us out of our small ego selves and into the collective work of healing and justice and community.  It’s what Jews often call Tikkun Olam, The repair of the world.

Called in” is a phrase we’re borrowing from SURJ, Showing Up for Racial Justice.  It’s a...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/20180527sermon.mp3

Texts: Isaiah 6:1-10, John 3:8

I first heard the phrase “Called in” about two years ago.  It was right here, so hopefully some of you heard it too.  It was during our year-long focus on antiracism and racial justice.  Several of those sermons were in the format of an interview.  I would sit down with someone engaged in this work and do my best Terry Gross or Krista Tippet impression.  This particular Sunday our guest interviewee was Rev. Lane Campbell, one of the pastors at First Unitarian Universalist, just up High Street.  She has been a leader of a group called Showing Up for Racial Justice, SURJ.  Early on in the conversation she mentioned one of the core values of SURJ: “Calling people in, not out.”

It’s a value that acknowledges the difficulty of the work – the courage it takes to confront racism and the many ways our lives have been consciously and unconsciously racialized.  There are opportunities at just about every turn to call people out for their failures and blindness, historical and present day.  For our failures and blindness.

But calling people in.  That’s a different approach.  That’s a different kind of call.  The...

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