Twelve Scriptures project

Text #2: John 1:1-5;14


When’s the last time you saw a word become flesh?  I’m not sure how I’d answer my own question, but I’m pretty sure I once saw a word become a house, although it was kind of by accident.

During my first year of seminary I took a course on preaching.  Part of the coursework involved a preaching lab in which we delivered sermons to classmates and the professor, receiving and giving constructive criticism.  This was all fairly new stuff for us, and so we proceeded to give what were hopefully the worst sermons of our lives.  I hereby nominate for official sainthood June Alliman Yoder, longtime preaching professor at the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, for having to sit through several decades’ worth of Mennonite pastors in training, all the while keeping her groans to a minimum and her criticism constructive.

After one of my sermons, whose point I and everyone have long forgotten, I received the evaluation form back from June.  Along with some other technical comments, she noted that I had told a story about my experience with Habitat for Humanity while in Mennonite Voluntary Service in St....


Twelve Scriptures project

Text #1: Genesis 1


The Hebrew Scriptures, and our Christian Bible, begin this way:

In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth.

And the earth, it was welter and waste,

And darkness was on the face of the deep,

And a wind from Elohim hovered on the face of the waters.

And Elohim said: “Let there be light.”  And there was light.

—  Genesis 1:1-2


The selection round for our Twelve Scriptures project has come to a close, and we have our finalists.  Unlike reality TV, we will not be forced to eliminate one of these scriptures each week until we arrive at a singular favorite.  Playing CMC Idol with passages from a book that isn’t too keen on idolatry doesn’t seem like all that good of an idea.  So unlike that and the World Cup, these scriptures get to enjoy group play all summer without having to worry about who is in and who is out of the final tournament.

This summer we’ll be walking through these twelve scriptures – beautifully displayed here – thanks Adam Ruggles and Seth Trance – and pondering what they have to say to...

Text: Acts 2:1-21 | Pentecost

There’s a story in the Torah, in the book of Numbers chapter 11, that takes place just after the Israelites depart from Mt Sinai where Moses received the teachings of the law on the people’s behalf.  They are again on the move and they are again complaining about the lack of dining options in the desert.  Nothing but this bland manna to eat.  The people are upset, and this makes Moses, their leader, upset.  Moses has it out with Yahweh saying that this is an impossible task, too heavy a burden to bear, and that if Yahweh is indeed merciful that Yahweh should end his life at once.

Yahweh’s response is to have Moses gather 70 of the elders of the people together.  Yahweh says, “I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself.”  Moses is skeptical, but goes along with the idea.  He calls these elders together, takes them outside the encampment and has them circle up around the tent of meeting, which...

This was given at Columbus Mennonite’s annual outdoor service at Highbanks Metro Park.  No audio available.

I’m going to talk about two epiphanies I’ve had and how they have led to a conversion in my adult life.

I grew up on a farm, less than an hour’s drive northwest of here, in Bellefontaine, where my parents still live.  We had cows, a large herd of barn cats, and about 140 acres of crops.  There are two creeks that run through the property, and a couple different patches of woods.  It’s a lovely place.  So I grew up surrounded by “nature,” but I didn’t really get it.  I liked being outside, liked doing manual labor and getting dirty, but I didn’t find anything particularly beautiful or awe-inspiring or even interesting about the natural world.   I was interested in people, and I was interested in ideas.  I remember that my brother would sometimes go back to the woods to think or write and I would wonder why in the world that would help anyone think or write.

Two of the more transformative epiphanies in my life have been not flashes of profound insight but rather flashes of profound ignorance.  The first one...

This Sunday I interviewed Linda Mercadante of Columbus Mennonite.  She is a professor at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio and has recently published Belief Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious.  Her project included five years of listening to the beliefs of those who value spirituality but do not identify with a single religious tradition.  She found a number of common themes and has an important message for the church and culture.  The audio of our interview/sermon is below.