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,...

Texts: Genesis 9:8-17;  Mark 1:9-15

Two weeks ago Katie G ended her sermon by introducing us to a phrase that comes out of music theory: “Participatory discrepancies.”  Participatory discrepancies are the human element  in community and specifically, singing and music making, when each voice participates through the same score on the page, but adds its own variance and unscripted nuances.  When we do it well, Katie noted, it can produce a meaningful disunity, which actually turns out to be a pretty good basis for community.

As someone not raised singing four part harmony, but who has spent much of my adult life only somewhat successfully trying to get up to speed on such things, I’m keenly aware of the participatory discrepancies I contribute to any song we sing, and am always a little surprised and grateful that the disunity turns out to be meaningful nonetheless.

And since we are in the mode of learning new vocabulary, I thought we could start the season of Lent off with another contribution, a phrase not completely unrelated to the previous one.  Ready for it?  Hermeneutical community.  The word “hermeneutics” contains the name of the Greek god Hermes who was a messenger...

Texts: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11

Speaker: Katie Graber

I love music. When I was growing up, I took piano and violin lessons and sang in choirs and musicals. I was a piano teacher for many years, and now I’m an accompanist and I teach music history classes at Otterbein and Ohio State. Because I love music, I’m tempted to repeat all the grand statements that people like to make about music. Here are a few that I often see posted on facebook in fancy fonts over photos of sunsets: Music says the words we’re too afraid to speak out loud. Without music, life would be a mistake. Music is what life sounds like. Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything. Yes, music is all of those things! … sometimes, but not always. Music is also hard work, and it can be humbling. How many of you have ever been bored when we sing hymns? Have you ever been confused? Have we ever sung a song you don’t particularly like? Have you ever been a songleader and screwed up a song so badly you had to start everyone over?

So, instead of repeating platitudes...

Text: Jeremiah 1:1-14 

Every summer of jr high and high school involved baling hay with my uncle, and I have a fond memory of one of the first times he had me drive the tractor that pulled the baler and the wagon where he would stack the square bales.  I would have been about your age.  We would always use the same gear in the tractor for baling hay, but each gear had a low and a high setting, adjusted with the push of a lever.  Up to that point I had always driven in low, but toward the end of one of those long days my uncle told me that at some point during the next load he was going to signal from the wagon for me to push it into high.  And sure enough, a little ways into the load I looked back, my uncle gave me the signal, and, for the first time, I shifted on the fly from low to high.  The thrill that I felt run through my body had a little bit to do with the immediate increase of speed from the tractor, but probably had more to do with this sense...