October 22, 2023 | The Specter of Royalty

Texts: 2nd Samuel 5:1-5; 6:1-5; Psalm 150

Speaker: Mark Rupp

My husband and I were nearly two-thirds of the way through the most recent performance in our Broadway in Columbus season when a brand new character came out on stage and I had to lean over and whisper “Wait, who is that?” Now what makes this a bit surprising is that the show we were seeing was Jesus Christ, Superstar, a rock-opera retelling of the story of Jesus, and I– an ordained minister in the Christian church–needed to ask my husband–a non-religious heathen who maybe attended Sunday School once in his life–what was happening in the story being presented to us. 

Before you all start drafting emails trying to get my ordination revoked, let me be clear that a couple things were happening. First, I was having a bit of a hard time understanding some of the lyrics from our not-quite-nose-bleed-but-still-mid-mezzanine seats, so I think I can be forgiven for not being able to follow...


Ruth and Persistent-Loving-Kindness | 15 October 2023
Text: Readings from Ruth
Speaker: Joel Miller

“In the days when the judges ruled.”  That’s how the book of Ruth begins.  This was after the Israelites had settled in Canaan, the promised land, but before they had kings.  The leaders were tribal chieftains, judges, who would rise up during times of crisis. 

If you’re tracking the flow of the Narrative Lectionary you’ll note that we have gone – last week – from the giving of the Ten Commandments in the Sinai desert, to the days when the judges ruled.  We have skipped over, conveniently, the conquest stories in the book of Joshua.  That’s when the new generation of Israelites, after the death of Moses, under Joshua’s leadership, emerge from the desert and take control of the land of Canaan through military conquest.  All this conquesting was done in the name of their God.  These stories do not fit real well into Mennonite peace theology.

If it’s any consolation, the consensus among scholars...





Lord of the Flies or Law of the Fugitives? 
Texts: Deuteronomy 5:1-21; 6:4-9
Speaker: Joel Miller

Here’s a story: A plane crashes near an uninhabited Pacific Island.  The only survivors are a group of youth.  The boys come ashore and elect a leader, establish plans for survival, and light a fire to alert potential rescuers.  But the order soon falls apart.  Many of the boys don’t do their share of work.  Some believe there is a monster on the island.  One of the boys gains popularity when he pledges to kill the beast, even as he carelessly allows the fire to go out.  He becomes leader of a rebel tribe who continue the slide from civilized British youth to wild savages.  They kill a pig and make its head an offering to the beast.  They paint their faces, dawn spears, and dance around a fire.  They kill one of the boys, mistaking him for the dreaded beast.  Eventually the tribe sets fire to the forest and hunts down...

Wrestling with God: Blessings and Bruises
Text: Genesis 32:3-32
Speaker: Joel Miller


“Jacob was left alone.”  That’s what it says in Genesis 32:24. 

Jacob is alone because he has sent his entire family – two wives, two maids, and eleven children – and all his possessions – hundreds of sheep, goats, cattle and camels; servants, tents, changes of clothing, - everything he owns and everyone in his family and entourage – he has sent them all to the other side of Jabbok River.  It is night, time for sleep, and Jacob lies down, under the dome of the heavens, alone. 

It was a rare thing, for Jacob to be alone.  From the very beginning, even in his mother’s womb, he had company. 

Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah, who we met last week, married Rebekah.  And Rebekah, like her mother-in-law Sarah for most of her life, had no children.  But she becomes pregnant, with twins, who, as Genesis 25 says “struggled within her.” Oof. Jacob must have lost that wrestling...