Texts: Leviticus 19:18,34; March 8:34-37; Galatians 2:19-20

Speaker: Joel Miller

After four months, we’re at the end of this theme.  That’s a long theme.  We’ve been listening for how we’re Called In to different parts of life.  Called in to the World.  To our City.  How we’re called in to this Congregation and how this congregation calls us in.

And, Self.  Called to be our deepest, truest selves.  Which is another way of talking about how the Spirit wakens us to our participation in the life of God.  Which is love.  Which is life leading to more life.  We’ve got these spheres, these widening circles, where self is both the smallest one, and the one that can transcend all the others.

Thomas Merton calls this “the most important of all voyages.”

This is what he wrote:

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous. ( “The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century”, p.11.)

Thomas Merton talks...

Texts: Jeremiah 29:1-7; Revelation 21: 9-14, 22-25

It’s been observed that the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city.

If you want to get a little more technical, the Bible begins in the formless and void, and ends with a warning that if anyone changes any of the words in the book of Revelation that God will bring on them the plagues so vividly described within.

But if we’re willing to treat the first chapter of Genesis as something of an introduction, and if we’re willing to bracket the very end of Revelation as a bit of first century copyright language, theologically aggressive as it may be…and if we set aside that rather than being like a single book, the Bible is more like a library of books, representing a tradition that evolves over a period of several thousand years, now bound together under one cover that we might consider how we carry forward this evolving tradition in our time…If we can go with those parameters, then the Bible does indeed begin in a garden, and end in a city.

From garden to city does make for an intriguing narrative arc.

The garden, of course,...

Mark 3:7-15; 19b-22; 31-35

 It’s the first week of Sabbatical, the morning of the first Wednesday of June.  Our family is up and out of bed.  The energy level is well above average for this time of day.  School is out, my email auto-reply is on, our bags are packed up, and we’re about to be off.  Our flight to Guatemala departs in just a few hours.  Among the many things on the pre-departure checklist was putting a hold on newspaper delivery, starting…tomorrow.  Might as well have something to read at the airport.

On our way out, I grab the paper off the front porch and open it for a sneak peek.  I’m not expecting much worth dwelling on.  But there on the front page of the Dispatch was something to dwell on:  A large image with the heading “Too much to bear.”  It was a picture of a grieving mother, in, of all places, Guatemala.  The caption noted that her name was Lilian Hernandez, and that 36 of her extended family members were presumed dead after the eruption of the Fuego volcano three days prior.

We’d known that the Volcan de Fuego, the Volcano of Fire as...

Mark 12:28-34

Throughout the summer, we have been exploring the theme “Called In.”  We have been hearing about lots of different ways that God calls all of us to be responsive and responsible to the world around us, to speak Good News in places of despair, and to bring healing and hope to all the places that need them, which, if we really think about it, is everywhere.  Our exploration of the theme has been focused on the idea of “calling” and listening for the voice of God calling us in to join this work of creating and recreating a new kind of world. 

And to give a little more structure to this theme, we’ve been focusing on these concentric circles that started with our call in to the world, then the city, the congregation, and finally, now, to the self.  As we’ve gone on throughout the summer, we’ve described these different sub-themes in many different ways.  I’ve heard them described as concentric circles, as phases, chapters, or stages.   Somewhere along the way I started leaning toward calling them movements to help remind us of their connection to each other and the ways they overlap and are always leading us...

Romans 12:1-2; John 8:32 & 14:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17

Speaker: Julie Hart

I love the Mennonite church and joined it almost 30 years ago because of its strong commitment to peace, justice and following Jesus.  But, I have been a professor at a Catholic University for the last 12 years where our motto is “Contemplate Truth & share with others the fruits of your contemplation.”  I am puzzled that this focus on Truth is not emphasized much in the Mennonite Church.  Many Catholics talk about Truth as internally written on our hearts, as a piece of God planted in all of us at birth as offspring of God.  I wish the Mennonite church could have helped me understand this aspect of Truth more fully.  Gratefully, this emphasis on an internal truth at my Catholic university has led me to understand myself and my research with veterans in a deeper way.  I call this Truth our moral identity- our innate sense of right and wrong.

Following ten years of research interviewing 114 pro war veterans who over time transformed into passionate antiwar activists, I realized that the bible, from the prophets to Jesus & Paul and later theologians like Thomas Aquinas,...