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.

Text: Philippians 2:12-18


Talking about the importance of church conference during worship feels a little bit like Ira Glass talking about the importance of public radio during an NPR fund drive.   Rather than try and go directly for the hard ask, Ira Glass takes the more subtle approach of reminding listeners how much they benefit from NPR, whether they give or not.  NPR is a part of your life, he says.  You like it so much you even listen to it during fund drives.  It’s supported by listeners just like you, and even if you don’t give, it will continue giving you the programming you’ve come to depend on.

It could be an annoying tactic if Ira Glass wasn’t so disarmingly charming.  So, maybe that’s what finally nudges you over the edge to donate to public radio, or maybe you just smile at the clever, pure-hearted marketing attempt and keep driving.

Our main goal today isn’t to get people to give to conference, although Central District will always accept your money and would put it right to good use.  Our conference has encouraged its congregations to have a CDC Sunday to highlight how we do church together...

Text: Acts 2:42-47

At the risk of sabotaging my own sermon by drawing your attention completely away from it, I want to draw your attention completely away from the sermon for a bit and invite you to take out the insert in your bulletins for the 12 and 6 scriptures project.  We figured one way to get high participation was to get it to you while you’re a captive audience and have you at least start to fill it out and maybe even complete it and hand it in before you leave the church today.  Hopefully you’ve caught some drift of this project and know that we are asking each person, young and old, to submit up to 12 of your personal most important and meaningful scriptures and six most personally troubling and difficult scriptures.  From these submissions an adult Sunday school class will discern our congregational 12 and 6 scriptures and we will use these to focus some of our worship themes for the next year as well as help further name our gifts and mission.  At least a couple of you have asked if you can flip the lists so you can name your 12 most...


Text: Luke 24:13-35

The most difficult part of preaching a sermon on the Road to Emmaus story isn’t finding something to say, but choosing what not to say. The passage has so many entry points and sub-themes that it can be a little overwhelming choosing which part to zoom in on and which to keep at the periphery. This is exactly as the gospel writer intends it to be. This story occurs in the final chapter of Luke and serves as something of a summary of Luke’s entire gospel message. It’s his way of bringing his message to a climax and conclusion, and it’s also the gospel itself in miniature: We are on a journey, confused and disoriented. Jesus comes and walks alongside us, only we don’t recognize him for who he truly is. The scriptures are opened and illuminated. Hospitality is extended around a meal, the bread is taken, blessed, broken, and given. We, the travelers, have our eyes opened to Christ, are transformed, and go and share it with others.

There it is, the gospel in one narrative sweep.

Today we are welcoming five people into membership in our congregation. It’s a day I’ve been...