Texts: Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:1-11

Speaker: Mark Rupp

The end of the year and the beginning of the new year--whether you measure liturgically or by the 12-month calendar--is a time of looking back and looking forward.  This past week, I was reminded that it was almost one year ago I decided that one of my new year’s resolutions was going to be getting more houseplants.  Of course, “more” wasn’t hard when you start from zero, but on January 1, 2019, I walked out of Giant Eagle with a beautiful, fuschia-colored orchid. 

Thus began a journey that has blossomed--pun intended--into, at last count, 27 different containers of plants.  We only have one room in our house that gets adequate light and doesn’t allow access to meddling felines, so nearly all of those 27 plant-babies live in that one, southern-facing sun-filled room. 

Lately I’ve taken to calling this room our sanctuary.

This sanctuary is also home to my desk, so the plants became my companions this week as I sat with the lectionary texts.  Isaiah’s vision of a tender shoot springing forth from the stump was made even more vibrant as I looked around and could see new shoots and leaves springing...

Texts: Isaiah 2:2-4; Luke 1:26-38

Speaker: Joel Miller

Note: Please see the postscript after the sermon from CMC member and OSU Department of Physics Lecturer Rick Leonard.  He goes into more depth about the workings of sailing, corrects some poor physics in the sermon, and suggests another possible route for semonizing. 

Back in August we had a family vacation by Lake Michigan.  One of those days we took a ride on the Friends Good Will – a replica 1810 top sail sloop.  Or, in words that I understand, a really cool, pretty old, good sized, sailboat.  The original boat played an important role in the War of 1812 on the Great Lakes.  The Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven offers this ride as a way of experiencing what it’s like to be on such a boat, complete with an experienced crew running the ship and giving full commentary along the way.  The out and back trip on the lake took about 90 minutes.

On the way out, the wind was mostly at our backs and we were mostly occupied with looking around the boat and watching the crew work the ropes on the sails.  As we made the...

Text: Luke 21:5-19

Speaker: Joel Miller

In Luke chapter 21 Jesus and his companions are walking the temple grounds in Jerusalem.  The whole complex is an engineering marvel, a feat of mind and muscle.  Some are awestruck by its beauty.  They comment on the massive stones, dressed and stacked; the attention to detail; the overwhelming sense of power and permanence such structures evoke.  Jesus, who was never very good at going with the flow of conversations, interjects: “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

These startling comments suddenly take center stage.  “Teacher,” they ask, “when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place.”

After looking back for the last two weeks – first with All Saints/All Souls remembrance of Anabaptist history, then with Rabbi Jessica Shimberg reflecting in a similar way on Jewish history – invoking memory and lineage and tradition, we seem to be doing a 180.  Having been told that the present order will soon collapse, we are suddenly turned toward the future.  With the disciples, we want to know the timeline. ...

Guest preacher: Rabbi Jessica Shimberg

This week, I had the blessing of reading Joel’s sermon from last Sunday and, in observance of All Souls Day, his reference to The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians. As an American Jew in my 50s, my formative experience of Christians — as one of the only Jewish children in Upper Arlington in the 1970s and early ‘80s — didn’t allow me to see the nuanced variety of Christian experience. In my personal story, to be Christian was to be part of the dominant majority — safe, secure, culturally very dominant. Through my many experiences of exclusion (though none of them “bloody,” thank God!) and as the victim of antisemitic language and mythology, I was the stranger despite my citizenship and that of my parents and my grandparents as people born in the United States.

The opportunity Joel’s sermon provided to learn about Menno Simons and the persecution of the early Anabaptists/Mennonites at the hands of other Christians within central Europe was a window for me into, as Joel put it, “one of the central teachings of Menno and Anabaptists of his kind. That to be Christian is to embrace the...

Texts: Exodus 22:21-23; Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:33-34;  Matthew 5:1-10   

Speaker: Joel Miller 

The picture on the front of the bulletin is one of about 100 images made from etchings, included within the Martyrs Mirror.  For the uninitiated, this book is a 17th century compilation by a Dutch author.  Its full title is The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians. Subtitle: Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, their Savior, From the Time of Christ to the Year AD 1660.  They just don’t make book titles like they used to.  The author was a Mennonite, a group taking its name from Dutch Anabaptist leader Menno Simons.  The Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians is a reference to one of the central teachings of Menno and Anabaptists of his kind.  That to be Christian is to embrace the nonviolent – or, as they would say, nonresistant – way of Jesus – the peacefulness spoken of in the Beatitudes –  thus giving up any claims to defend oneself with violence.  The large majority of the Martyrs Mirror focuses on the 16th century, when the early Anabaptists/Mennonites, the defenseless...