Pilgrimage: Sheep, Mud, and Non-Toxic Masculinity
Texts: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; John 9:1-7
Speaker: Joel Miller

When the prophet Samuel goes to Bethlehem, he has one purpose – to anoint a new king of Israel.  It was a risk.  Israel already had a king – Saul – the first king of this tribal confederation - anointed by none other than Samuel himself.  But Saul had fallen out of favor with the Lord and with Samuel.  So it was time to anoint a new king.

The institution of kingship was already something of a divine compromise, according to the book of 1 Samuel.  Up to that point the people had been led by regional chieftains or judges.  People like Gideon and Deborah and Samson - and Samuel.  Toward the end of Samuel’s life the people started asking for a king, a centralized leader to govern them and fight their battles.  Samuel reports this to the Lord, and the Lord, through Samuel, issues a warning.  If they do indeed get a king, the king will enlist their sons in his military, he will take their daughters into his court, he will claim the best fields and vineyards and orchards for...

Living Water Pulses Through Us

Sermon—12 March 2023 | Sarah Werner

John 4:1-42

I want to share some stories this morning about water, holy places, and how living water helps us find a home in the world. Water makes up over half of the substance of your body, and three-quarters of your brain is water. Water literally is life, as the saying goes. When Jesus arrives at the well in the middle of the day, he is likely just as thirsty as the next human, parched from the brilliance of the desert sun. But what he eventually offers the Samaritan woman is something quite different, the living water of the kin-dom of God.

This passage from John is a powerful one, getting to the heart of what it means to follow Jesus and to be nourished by living water. It is the longest theological conversation Jesus has with anyone in the gospels, and it is with an unwed Samaritan woman, the ultimate outsider. But I have to start by saying, this story makes me...





Pilgrimage: Womb and wind
Text: John 3:1-10
Speaker: Joel Miller

John chapter 3 contains one of the most common phrases in American Christianity: “Born again.”  “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kin-dom of God unless they are born again.”  Other English translations say “born anew,” or “born from above,” but “born again” seems to be the one that stuck in the culture.  As in, “I’m a born again Christian.  Are you?”

I know a significant portion of this congregation considers themselves recovering evangelicals, and another portion actively resists being identified with that version of Christianity.  So I’m curious, if you’re comfortable outing yourself a bit – I’m pretty sure you won’t be alone – I’m wondering if we could get a show of hands for anyone who has some baggage with this verse about being born again.

I may be in the minority of folks here even interested in giving this a go, but I’d like to attempt to reimagine this phrase. ...





Pilgrimage: Beginning, and beginning again 
Texts: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11
Speaker: Joel Miller

In the last two decades geneticists have confirmed the sublime dream of poets and prophets: That the human family really is one family – we all come from the same lineage, descendants of Africa.

And when it comes to our differences, the anthropologist Wade Davis is fond of saying something like this: “The other peoples of the world are not failed attempts at being you.  They’re not failed attempts at being modern.  Every culture is a unique answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive?” (Quote from The Tim Ferris Show #652, podcast interview)

It’s a big question: What does it mean to be human? 

It’s hard to know what’s going on inside the heads of animals, but it’s very possible we’re the only species bothered by the question of what it means to be ourselves.  It’s not the kind of question easily answered in a few sentences, or a few books or documentaries.  It is the kind of question we inevitably...


Sermon: Fire and Ash

Text: Matthew 17:1-9

Speaker: Mark Rupp

Last weekend, Columbus Mennonite hosted one of the mid-year gatherings of the Central District Conference, the conference within Mennonite Church USA to which we belong.  These gatherings are like mini-conventions, a chance to gather for fellowship, for worship, for resource sharing, and for dreaming together about where God is leading the Church.

As part of the gathering, Matt Pritchard, the recently hired Associate Conference Minister of Emerging Communities of Faith, led a workshop to introduce us to the kind of work he will be doing in his new role.  Not only will he be focusing on helping to grow new and emerging communities of faith, he plans to work on what he calls “revitalizing” congregations, that is, helping communities of faith re-connect to the transforming Spirit of God and discern how the Spirit is calling them toward new horizons. 

As part of his workshop, he did an exercise that I want us all to do here this morning in an abridged way.  He first...