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...

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,...