Texts: Matthew 6:9-13; Acts 4:32-37

Maybe this has happened to you before: You’re in a group that’s praying the Lord’s Prayer without a script, everything is going smoothly until: “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our…”  At this point, unless a leader has prompted the group ahead of time, you have one of four options.  You can say “sins,” “forgive us our sins.” You can say, “debts,” “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”  You can say “trespasses.”  Or, you can make a noncommittal mumble  or simply stay silent as a way of yielding to whichever choice the majority of others go with.  I think I’ve tried all four options at different times.

One can cite Scripture for using any one of those three words, but on closer examination, there is one that comes out as the leader for the original intent of the prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer appears twice in the New Testament, once in Luke’s gospel, and once in Matthew.  Jesus is giving his disciples words to use when they pray.  The prayer condenses Jesus’ theology into just a few statement. Luke’s is the shorter and more compact version and...

Text: Genesis 4:1-17; Luke 24:36b-48

Practice resurrection.  This is the theme we have chosen for our Easter season as a way to remind ourselves that Easter is not about celebrating just once a year the new life that resurrection shows us is possible.  Rather, we remember that Easter is a season, a way of life that holds every moment in the light of the new life that is possible in God. 

It is easy to see why Easter falls in the early spring.  It’s not hard to imagine the possibility of new life when we are surrounded by both daffodils and people bursting from the dark places that have sheltered them through the cold, hard winter. 

But if Easter is a call for us to practice resurrection in every moment, what do we do with the moments that don’t feel like spring?  What does it mean to practice resurrection in places of deep suffering?  What new life is possible when our bodies and our souls are marked by the wounds of violence and abuse? 

Specifically this morning I want to spend some time thinking through these questions by looking at a topic that has been in the forefront of Mennonite...

Text: Mark 16:1-11

Christ is Risen.  Christ is Risen indeed.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, which may not be much of a secret.  Today, Easter Sunday, preachers and congregations around the world will proclaim the resurrection, that Christ is risen, that Christ is risen indeed, but we barely know what we’re talking about.

I say barely because we kind of know what we’re talking about.  We’re familiar with the witness of the early apostles, those who knew Jesus when he was alive and encountered him after his death.  We’ve heard Peter’s sermon from Acts 10, when he told a group of Gentiles how Jesus of Nazareth went around preaching peace and doing good and healing all who were oppressed by harmful spirits and that we was put to death on a cross but that God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear to Peter and others who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  We’ve read Paul’s writings, someone who never knew Jesus when he was alive, never met the guy, and who in his letters to these little communities he was founding hardly ever...

Text: Mark 11:1-11

There’s something wonderfully anticlimactic about Mark’s telling of Jesus’ dramatic entry into Jerusalem.  It all begins about two miles outside the city, in the town of Bethany, where Jesus and his companions will be staying throughout the week of Passover.  It was a time when the city was flooded with pilgrims, all the homes and hotels in the city at full capacity.  Jesus and his crew had neglected to meet the online early register deadline, so they’re stuck at one of those outlier hotels that some youth end up in at Mennonite conventions, when they have to take the shuttle back and forth to the convention center.  But it’s all good.  They’ve got friends in Bethany – hanging out in the home of a guy named Simon the Leper.  Maybe catching up with Mary and Martha and Lazarus who also lived in town.  And given all that’s going to go down in the city in the coming week, it will be nice to have a quieter -and safer – place to escape to at the end of each day.

Pilate had perhaps already made his dramatic entry into the city, coming down from his headquarters...

Text: John 12:20-33

One of the things in the back of my mind this Lent has been wondering whether we are having too much fun.  It can be one of the more somber times of year, but this Praying with Creation theme has been lively.  Personally, it’s not every week I get to use some of the sermon prep time to brush up on the history of the domestication of cattle, or look at images of ancient cave paintings or a huge cute kitten painted on the remaining wall of a bombed out building.  The fact that various children want to come up and play with our worship visuals only confirms that there is an underlying stream of joyfulness going on.  It’s good inviting all these creatures and elements of creation into our hermeneutical community.  Last week Mark even managed to find a way to make serpents welcome guests, teaching us their wisdom, with their need to shed their outer skin, which doesn’t grow, to make room for the rest of their continuously growing  selves.  Throw in insightful daily devotionals from different members, a wildly successful comforter knotting party, and a much deserved party celebrating Paul Swartzentruber’s long...