Text: Luke 4:16-30

Speaker: Mark Rupp

Let me begin by saying what an honor it is to have been called to serve Columbus Mennonite.  The opportunity to serve a church in a pastoral role is something that, for a long time, I was not sure would ever be a possibility for me.  And so I thank you for being a congregation that is willing to live into your commitment to welcome all people.  I thank you for being a congregation that refuses to allow requests for patience to drown out cries of injustice.  I thank you for knowing that we cannot be silent when we know that God is near.   I am truly humbled by the opportunity to serve a congregation that has felt like home long before I even applied for this position.   May God’s Spirit continue to be felt strongly here among us as we enter into this journey together.


This past week, when someone found out which scripture I had picked for today’s sermon, she told me she could not even imagine what I was going to say about it.  This passage actually happens to be one of my favorite stories to preach about because, in...

Texts: Matthew 18:21-22; Genesis 50:15-21

On Thursday I was part of a group of clergy who got together at First Congregational Church downtown to meet with four leaders from the Sandy Hook Promise organization.  There have been enough violent events in the last couple years to lose track of which was which, but you may remember that Sandy Hook is the name of the Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where an awful and senseless act of violence was committed in December of 2012 by a troubled 20 year old young man.  To date, it remains the deadliest of all the school shootings in our country, and was targeted at the youngest kids.  From that tragedy formed the Sandy Hook Promise, a group of parents and concerned people who are mounting a national campaign to help prevent gun violence.  The executive director is a former employee of Proctor and Gamble.  He had a child at Sandy Hook who was not injured, but he personally felt a draw to redirect his vocation toward this work.  Their advocacy director told us briefly about his son Daniel, a first grader, who was killed that day – a compassionate little boy who would...

Text: Deuteronomy 6:1-9 


This is a story handed down.

It is about the old days when Bill

and Florence and a lot of their kin

lived in the little tin-roofed house

beside the woods, below the hill.

Mornings, they went up the hill

to work, Florence to the house,

the men and boys to the field.

Evenings, they all came home again.

There would be talk then and laughter

and taking of ease around the porch

while the summer night closed.

But one night, McKinley, Bill’s younger brother,

stayed away late, and it was dark

when he started down the hill.

Not a star shone, not a window.

What he was going down into was

the dark, only his footsteps sounding

to prove he trod the ground.  And Bill

who had got up to cool himself,

thinking and smoking, leaning on

the jamb of the open front door,

heard McKinley coming down,

and heard his steps beat faster

as he came, for McKinley felt the pasture’s

darkness joined to all the rest

of darkness everywhere.  It touched

the depths of woods and sky and grave.

In that huge dark, things that usually

stayed put might get around,...

Twelve Scriptures Project

Texts #11, 12: Psalm 121, Romans 8:35-39


We have arrived at the end of the rainbow.

For the last ten weeks we have been pondering these twelves scriptures as foundational/ centering passages for our understanding of God and what it means to live a life of faith.  Next Sunday the front will look very different as the sanctuary is prepared for the wedding of Rosa W.  Even though we will be moving beyond these scriptures to focus on other things, I hope they will have a lingering presence with us in some way.  Yesterday the church commissions had a retreat and had these scriptures in front of us while talking about the kind of future we want to live into as a congregation.  And I wonder if there are other ways we can keep coming back to these passages, or to keep remembering the kind of foundation we have together.  Remembering back to my few years of construction experience with Habitat for Humanity, having the foundation in place meant it was time for the rewarding work to really start, with lots of collaboration to help something take shape.

Psalm 121 begins this way:...

Twelve Scriptures Project

Text #10: Matthew 5:1-17


Blessed are the wealthy, for they will have all they need.

Blessed are the mentally stable, for they will keep it all under control.

Blessed are the warmakers for they will pre-empt and destroy any threat that may come their way.

Blessed are the white.  For they will have the privilege of not thinking much about being white.

Blessed are those who drink Coke, for they will Open Happiness.

Blessed are those who eat at MacDonalds, who wear Nikes, who shop with Mastercard.  For they are lovin’ it.  They will Just Do It.  Their experience is “Priceless.”

Blessed are the self-sufficient.

Blessed are the well-adjusted.

Blessed are the athletic, the youthful, the beautiful.

Blessed are you when people say all kinds of wonderful things about you.  Rejoice and be glad, for your name is golden, and your reputation is your ticket up the ladder of success.

Blessed are the…

Who gets to decide who are the blessed ones?

In Matthew 5, Jesus rolls off a series of statements that have come to be called the Beatitudes – or, as the autocorrect on Robin W’s email to me this week preferred,...