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,...

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...