Texts: Genesis 1:1-13; 1:26-2:3; John 3:14-21

Long, long ago, before you and me – before people – before animals, plants and bacteria, before the earth, and stars, before anything.  When the universe was just an unrehearsed verse in the mind of God, all was dark and unformed.  Only a breath from the Creator swept across the void.

The breath gathered into a shape, a word.  That word was “light,” and when it was spoken, there it was – light.  And the Creator saw that the light was good.  The light was separated from the darkness, and thus began the dance of night and day, evening and morning.

The generation of light was assigned to the stars, and with it the power of creating the full range of elements.   Stars were born and stars died, and in their death they seeded the expanding order with these elemental gifts out of which the rest of creation would be formed.

The Creator spoke again.  Rocks clustered and crashed and formed a planet, a dome with waters above and below, sky and seas, and dry land.  And the Creator saw that this was good.  To the land and sea was given the...

Texts: John 2:13-22; Exodus 20:1-17

I want to start off this morning by telling you a story.  It’s a story that happened about six years ago, and before I can tell it, I feel like I need to give a disclaimer: when you hear the story, some of you are going to laugh, some of you are going to cringe, and some of you are going to do both but feel bad about it. 

Before I moved to Columbus, I spent three years as part of Mennonite Voluntary Service where I volunteered full time for the Boys and Girls Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.  During my third year I was promoted (as much as a volunteer can be promoted), and I was put in charge of an entire afterschool site where I oversaw a staff of 11 adults and around 100 Kindergarten through sixth grade students every afternoon. 

It was a very sink-or-swim kind of situation and I still have regular nightmares about standing in front of a gym full of unruly elementary school kids trying to get their attention.  I tell you this to build sympathy about how stressful the job could be.  Remember that.  And if it helps, remember I...

Texts: Deuteronomy 5:1-7; 12-15; Mark 8:31-38


Before Sabbath was a holy day, a noun, it was a verb, with nothing particularly holy about it.  To sabbath means to cease, to desist, to rest.  Verbs are action words, and sabbath is an action word meaning, basically, to refrain from action.  Sabbath is the un-verb.

The first four times the word appears in the Bible it is in verb form.  It’s mentioned twice in Genesis 2, where the Creator Elohim famously and somewhat mysteriously ceases, rests, sabbaths from all creative activity.  This happens on the seventh day, which is not yet called the Sabbath.  The seventh day is declared holy because on it Elohim sabbathed.

It’s mentioned nowhere else in the book of Genesis, and so we’re on to Exodus, chapter five, where Pharaoh is scolding Moses and Aaron for daring to ask for a three day holiday for the Hebrew slaves.  Holidays and paid vacation leave were not a part of the slave memorandum of understanding.  Rather than give them a break, Pharaoh makes their work more difficult, demanding the same quotas for brick production, while making them provide not just labor, but some of the materials.  From...

Texts: Mark 1:9-15; Exodus 16:1-5; 13-26

Over the years I’ve watched my fair share of TED talks.  One that left a big impression was also one of the shortest.  It’s a talk by Jessa Gamble from way back in 2010 titled “Our natural sleep cycle is nothing like what we do now.”   Rather than the standard 18ish minute TED talk, this one is only three minutes and 55 seconds.

Her talk goes something like this: Humans, like all other multicell organisms, plants and animals, have an internal clock.  It’s part of our chemical make up, linked to the daily cycle of light and darkness.  Humans evolved close to the equator, where days and nights are about equal, so our body clocks are most naturally equipped for this kind of cycle.  But we’ve spread to every corner of the globe, where daylight and night time hours are not evenly split, and of course our modern world of abundant artificial light throws another curve at our sleeping patterns.

But we seem to have a fairly persistent body clock, even when we don’t know whether it’s night or day.  Jessa Gamble cites studies of people having their watches taken away...

Speaker: Julie Hart

Text: Luke 9:23-24

Then he said to them all, If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves (their self-centeredness or ego)  and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.  What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

1.I’ve got great Christian credentials! I grew up in the community church from conception on, attended every Sunday, was involved with my youth group, attended church camp from third through 12th grade, served on camp staff during my college years and even married one of my church camp counselors.  But, somehow I missed a very important message.  It could have been my fault or it could have been the church’s and I suspect it’s a little of both.

Finally, in my mid 30’s when my dad entered alcohol treatment I found my way to a 12 Step Alanon meeting for Adult Children of Alcoholics, I was introduced to the idea of turning my will and my life fully over to the care of God.  This is...