Texts: Psalm 137:1-6, Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4, Luke 17:5-10, 2 Timothy 1:1-7

I bring greetings from sisters and brothers of Central District Conference.  Twice a year the committees and board of the conference meet up at Camp Friedenswald in southern Michigan and Gwen R, Phil H, and I were a part of that Friday and yesterday.

One of the reasons these gatherings are so intensely good is that we are a geographically far flung conference and we get to see each other so rarely that when we are together, we have to pack a lot of humor and catching up and business into a very short amount of time.  I roomed with James R from Atlanta and Matt M from Milwaukee.  Plot the three of us on a map and you start to get the picture.

Today is World Communion Sunday, which makes that gathering up at Friedenswald look local.  Today Christians around the world gather around the table, and partake in this ritualized meal that carries with it such significance and spiritual depth.  Communion is always primarily about Christ – it wouldn’t be much of a meal without the food – but it’s also about this far flung...

Texts: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Isaiah 40:31

This morning we are celebrating baptism.  Tennison G and Andrew N will soon be baptized, and it is a chance for each of us to remember the meaning of our own baptism and how that continues to shape our lives.  It was meaningful to Tennison and Andrew to be baptized in this natural setting at retreat; and for Tennison this place, Camp Luz, has been an especially important part of his life.  And we’ve ordered the weather to be warm enough that we can all enjoy being outside to witness the baptisms, and cool enough that these guys are really going to have to want to get baptized to get in that lake.

So here’s how we plan to proceed.  I’m going to give a brief meditation based on these scriptures that have been chosen.  Then there will be a chance for Andrew and Tennison to share a little bit about their faith journeys and for their sponsors, Andy KK for Andrew and Austin K for Tennison to give affirmation and blessings.  After this part of the service is done we will reconvene by the lake and have a couple baptisms.

The scripture that Tennison...

Text: Romans 12:1-2, 9-21

The Peace and Justice Support Network of our denomination encourages congregations to celebrate Peace Sunday right around this time of year, the Sunday closest to the United Nations International Day of Peace, which was yesterday.  Today we join other churches around the country in this Peace Sunday observance.  The Mennonite Church, especially this Mennonite church, declaring a particular day Peace Sunday feels a little bit to me like the city of Columbus declaring a particular day Football Saturday.  Which is to say, that if you hang around here for any length of time, you’ll soon notice that it’s just part of the atmosphere.  Case in point: last Sunday, not officially Peace Sunday.  Jim Leonard’s sermon title: “Prayer and peacemaking.”

One of the things I noticed when I was first getting acquainted with this church was how central peace is to the church’s public presentation of itself on this property.  As you approach the church from High Street on Oakland Park Ave you see the church sign which includes the words, “Pray for peace, Act for peace.”  If you pull into the parking lot and park your bike or car, you will be doing so...

Text: Jeremiah 18:1-10

While this sermon was given Greg W. was working at a potter’s wheel beside me, so if you weren’t there…use your imagination.

1. Common things

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’  So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.”

Seeing a potter at the wheel is not an ever day occurrence for us.  It’s rare, especially in church.  There are few people who have taken time to develop the skill, and even fewer who make a living at it.

But in Jeremiah’s time, it would have been a common sight – minus the electrical cord.  Pottery was a skilled art form that also had very practical and necessary functions.  There were different techniques, the wheel being one of them, but this is was how vessels got made.  The kinds of vessels that households used to store, hold, serve, eat and drink.  Everyday kinds of pitchers and bowls and cups for everyday kinds of activities that these artisans would make, display, sell, and keep making.

When Jeremiah goes...

Text: Luke 16:1-13

When’s the last time you were at work and found yourself in the middle of a parable?

Jesus, famously, uses parable as one of his main forms of teaching, and many of his parables occur in the workplace.  A shepherd is out at work in the fields watching over his 100 sheep.  One wanders off.  He leaves the 99 and seeks after the one who is lost, and when he finds it, hoists it up onto his shoulders, rejoicing, and calls together all of his friends to celebrate.

A parable that happens while at work.

A farmer goes out to spread seed, flinging it generously over the field.  Some falls on poor soil, some on the hardened pathway, some falls where weeds are already growing, and some falls on good soil and that seed grows and multiplies and produces an abundant harvest.  Another work parable.

The kindom of God is like a new pastor who is hired to help give care for a congregation.  But in his first two months finds that it’s he and his family who are receiving all sorts of care from this congregation – help with painting the house and moving...