Impossible Power
Texts: John 20:19-31
Speaker: Jeremy Garber

“I don’t usually believe in things like this, but…” I was a twenty-something young adult with a theatre major and no direction in life. I’d moved to Minneapolis to find acting work, but found that the hustle and unreliability of theatre life wasn’t a good fit for me. In the meantime, I ended up working for minimum wage in a chain bookstore – and returning to church for the first time in a decade. I grew up in a Mennonite household where it didn’t even occur to me that people didn’t go to church every Sunday. But the lure of college hedonism and the late nights of theatre rehearsals took me away from church. It took a life crisis to bring me back.

I grew increasingly frustrated with barely eking out a living in retail, even though I loved books and I loved my coworkers. On Christmas Eve of 1999, I submitted my rejection letter and swore I would never work in retail...





Easter Pilgrimage: The Great Unsettling
Text: Matthew 27:45-54; 28:1-10126
Speaker: Joel Miller

When I say Christ is risen, you say Christ is risen indeed!
Christ is Risen…
Christ is Risen…

No need to respond out loud for this, but if you were to complete this sentence, what word might you choose? 

Of all the Sundays of the year, Easter is the most  ____________ .

How about: The most joyful.  The most celebratory.  The most hopeful.

For this congregation Easter Sunday is the most floral; the most likely Sunday to dress up; the most Episcopalian we get in our Communion liturgy; and definitely the most brunchy.   

And if we were to answer this question from a theological or spiritual pilgrimage perspective - What would we say?  Of all the Sundays of the year, Easter is the most ___________.   I imagine our responses would range all the way from the most comforting to the most confusing. 

Unless we’re so overly familiar with these stories that we’ve stopped...



Sermon: Pilgrimage: From Garden to Garden 
Text: Matthew 26:36-46
Speaker: Joel Miller

If you ever visit Jerusalem, one of the places you may see is the Church of All Nations.  It’s one of many structures built on a site of religious significance.  In this case, the Garden of Gethsemane.  It’s right there at the bottom of the Mount of Olives, right outside the walls of the old city, beside those 1000 year old olive trees, believed to be the location where Jesus prayed with his disciples the night he was arrested. 

And if you were to enter that church you may notice a sign - as I have the couple times I’ve been there.  It reads: “Please no explanations inside the church.” 

It’s a well-meaning sign that I think is more profound than intended.  What I’m almost certain it’s supposed to mean is that this is a sacred site, and when you’re inside this building, please be reverent, or at least be respectful of others and don’t talk loud. ...


Pilgrimage: Sheep, Mud, and Non-Toxic Masculinity
Texts: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; John 9:1-7
Speaker: Joel Miller

When the prophet Samuel goes to Bethlehem, he has one purpose – to anoint a new king of Israel.  It was a risk.  Israel already had a king – Saul – the first king of this tribal confederation - anointed by none other than Samuel himself.  But Saul had fallen out of favor with the Lord and with Samuel.  So it was time to anoint a new king.

The institution of kingship was already something of a divine compromise, according to the book of 1 Samuel.  Up to that point the people had been led by regional chieftains or judges.  People like Gideon and Deborah and Samson - and Samuel.  Toward the end of Samuel’s life the people started asking for a king, a centralized leader to govern them and fight their battles.  Samuel reports this to the Lord, and the Lord, through Samuel, issues a warning.  If they do indeed get a king, the king will enlist their sons in his military, he will take their daughters into his court, he will claim the best fields and vineyards and orchards for...