Dreams of Our Youth, Calling of Our Community
Text: Genesis 37:1-28
Speaker: Joel Miller

Let’s talk about dreams.  Dreams, let’s face it, can be pretty weird.  They’re usually this bizarre collection of people and places.    If we remember them at all, it’s often for how strange they are.    

Sometimes dreams can be vivid.  Maybe one scene in particular, or even just one thing someone says or does in a dream can stick with us for days or even years. 

People have been dreaming for a very, very long time.  And for just as long, we’ve wondered what these dreams of ours can mean, if anything.  In the ancient world, dreams were often seen as a way of receiving messages from the gods. 

Closer to our time, there was a psychologist by the name of Carl Jung who understood dreams as a window into the unconscious.  That’s the part of reality we’re not aware of, but which wants to be known.  Carl Jung used the analogy of a ship on a great sea.  The ship is our consciousness – our awareness of things within us and around us. ...



“We Are Many” 
Text: Mark 5:1-20
Speaker: Joel Miller

Where, oh where to begin?  This story of the Gerasene Demoniac is at times troubling, puzzling, and probably profound if we could only cut through the layers of cultural distance and hear it like Mark’s original audience 2000 years ago.  Or maybe they were just as baffled as we are.

Speaking of 2000, Why not start there?  

If you’re an animal lover, or just paying attention, it’s hard to get over those 2000 pigs rushing down the bank of the Sea of Galilee, drowning in the lake.  One minute they’re feeding peacefully on the hillside, the next they’re dead in the water.  All this with the seeming approval of our dear, precious, kind Jesus, who agrees to the plea bargain of the unclean spirits to possess the pigs rather than be cast out of the country.  If you’re a pig farmer, or grew up around pigs, you might be further scratching your head, knowing that pigs are excellent swimmers. 

Or, we could start a bit after that, with that wonderful phrase about this man post-possession -...

Yours is the Kin-dom 
Texts: Mark 3:1-21,31-35
Speaker: Joel Miller

Back in March of 2020 David Brooks wrote a long essay for The Atlantic called “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake.”  That title is only slightly misleading.  Brooks isn’t against the nuclear family – a married couple and their kids.  He acknowledges the benefits that have come with less rigid extended family structures.  But he does lay out a pretty good case for why the isolated nuclear family unit is less than ideal.  I won’t recap his whole argument, but do recommend reading the essay.  Here are a few highlights:

The nuclear family peaked around 1960, when over three quarters “of all (US) children were living with their two parents, who were married, and apart from their extended family.”  Today’s reality looks much different, and 1960 was a massive shift from a century before when “roughly three-quarters of Americans older than 65 lived with their kids and grandkids” - a much more historically normal arrangement across cultures.  Brooks names...





Starting with Solitude
Text: Mark 1:12-2:4
Speaker: Joel Miller

Today’s readings from Mark begin with Jesus alone in the wilderness, and end with Jesus surrounded by so many people a group of friends has to remove part of a roof just to get to him.  There’s enough that goes on in between it’s hard to keep pace. 

Jesus emerges from the wilderness with a message so short it can almost fit on a bumper sticker: “The time is fulfilled, the kin-dom of God has come near.”  Mark, and Jesus, call this, simply, good news, or gospel.  Jesus proceeds to recruit two sets of brothers, all fishermen; teach in a synagogue and cast out a harmful spirit; restore one of those brother’s mother-in-law back to health; go on a campaign across his home region of Galilee proclaiming his message and driving out more harmful spirits; restore a man with a dreaded skin condition back to full fellowship in the community; and land in a house where people are so...