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...

Texts: Exodus 20:8-11; John 2: 13-22

If you ever want to see an aurochs, you’ll have to go to a museum.  When you do, you’ll be looking at a set of assembled bones.

If you’re extremely fortunate, or have some amazing connections, you could witness depictions of the aurochs on the cave walls of Lascaux, France, a gift from ancient artists, accidently discovered 75 years ago by four teenage boys, preserved for almost 20,000 years.

But hardly anyone’s allowed in there anymore, too much humidity and light.  A more likely opportunity would be to watch the stunning documentary from Werner Herzog, “Cave of forgotten dreams,” which gives rare video footage of these kinds of paintings.

The aurochs once had a range across Europe and Asia and North Africa, that stretched from the western most parts of present day Portugal and Spain to the East coast of China and the Koreas.  At some point, the story of the aurochs and story of the human intersected and merged.  Aurochs became a reliable source of meat for hunters, a source of inspiration for artists.  About 8-10,000 years ago, in at least two separate locations, India and the Near...

Texts: Genesis 17:1-8; Mark 8:31-38

1.)  Promised land

When Abram was 99 years old, he was old.  The first time Al Bauman had a birthday when I was in Columbus I asked him how old he was, and he said, “Almost 100,” after which he went off somewhere to climb a ladder and fix something.  Al was joking, of course, but for Abram, this was no joke.  He was almost 100, the end more in sight than it had ever been.

You learn to let go of a lot of things by that age, I suppose.  A lot of friends and family you’ve outlived.  A lot of unfulfilled hopes.  If you don’t learn to let go, likely you don’t reach that age.  But Abram still hung on to one haunting concern, unresolved and now all but impossible to be fulfilled.  At a time when children, and sons specifically, were how you lived on after death – not just in perpetuating your own DNA but in whether or not your name was remembered and honored and carried forward – Abram and his wife Sarai were childless.  The entire story of the Jewish people, the foundation of the Christian narrative,...

Texts: Genesis 9:8-17;  Mark 1:9-15

Two weeks ago Katie G ended her sermon by introducing us to a phrase that comes out of music theory: “Participatory discrepancies.”  Participatory discrepancies are the human element  in community and specifically, singing and music making, when each voice participates through the same score on the page, but adds its own variance and unscripted nuances.  When we do it well, Katie noted, it can produce a meaningful disunity, which actually turns out to be a pretty good basis for community.

As someone not raised singing four part harmony, but who has spent much of my adult life only somewhat successfully trying to get up to speed on such things, I’m keenly aware of the participatory discrepancies I contribute to any song we sing, and am always a little surprised and grateful that the disunity turns out to be meaningful nonetheless.

And since we are in the mode of learning new vocabulary, I thought we could start the season of Lent off with another contribution, a phrase not completely unrelated to the previous one.  Ready for it?  Hermeneutical community.  The word “hermeneutics” contains the name of the Greek god Hermes who was a messenger...

Texts: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11

Speaker: Katie Graber

I love music. When I was growing up, I took piano and violin lessons and sang in choirs and musicals. I was a piano teacher for many years, and now I’m an accompanist and I teach music history classes at Otterbein and Ohio State. Because I love music, I’m tempted to repeat all the grand statements that people like to make about music. Here are a few that I often see posted on facebook in fancy fonts over photos of sunsets: Music says the words we’re too afraid to speak out loud. Without music, life would be a mistake. Music is what life sounds like. Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything. Yes, music is all of those things! … sometimes, but not always. Music is also hard work, and it can be humbling. How many of you have ever been bored when we sing hymns? Have you ever been confused? Have we ever sung a song you don’t particularly like? Have you ever been a songleader and screwed up a song so badly you had to start everyone over?

So, instead of repeating platitudes...