Sermons

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...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/20150405sermon.mp3

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...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/20150329sermon.mp3

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...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/20150322sermon.mp3

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...

Texts: Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-21

In the last seven months of serving here at Columbus Mennonite, I have been asked the same question a number of different times, “Do you ever get tired of being the gay pastor?”  Even though I don’t think I’ve given the same answer to any of the many people who have asked this question, I think I’ve finally decided on an answer that feels right to me.  So here and now, once and for all, hear my reply: Do I ever get tired of being the gay pastor?  It sure beats the alternative. 

You see, I used to answer this question in a lot of different ways because I constantly found myself trying to live in the tension between, on the one hand, recognizing that being the “gay pastor” is something that is immensely meaningful and life-giving in important ways, not just for me but for lots of other people.  I don’t ever want to downplay the fact that I believe what Columbus Mennonite has done in calling me to serve as your pastor is part of a movement towards more just relationships with the LGBTQ community.  It is truly something to celebrate.

But on...

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