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...

Text: Luke 12:13-21

Last weekend about 20 people gathered at the seminary in Elkhart, Indiana to talk about what the church needs to be talking about over the next decade.  One of the questions each of us was asked to speak to was What is the church most afraid to talk about?   As we went around the circle, the first five answers went something like this: Affluence, wealth, upsetting the seminary donor base, class, how embedded we are in a capitalist system that goes against ­so many of our values.  Do you sense a theme emerging here?

Marriage therapists often comment that typically the most difficult and contentious topic for couples to talk about is not sex, but money – finances.

Lucky for us, the weekend after it was determined that money is not just difficult for couples to talk about, but also the thing that the church is perhaps most afraid to confront, CMC is having a stewardship Sunday in which we talk about that very thing.

Maybe you’ve heard these numbers before, but they bear repeating.  Everence, the stewardship agency of Mennonite Church USA, estimates that in the Hebrew prophets and New Testament teachings, there...

A month ago twelve of us from Columbus Mennonite attended the ­­­Mennonite Church USA Convention in Phoenix.

I’ll give a taste of the Phoenix experience by sharing six different slices from the week.  I guess you could think of this as Phoenix pizza, or a Phoenix pie, sliced six ways, hopefully containing some kind of nutritional value for the mind and soul.

Each slice is introduced with a verse of Scripture.

So the first slice is just to get a sense of the atmosphere of the gathering.  The scene.

1. The scene – Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as we are in the habit of doing.”

These national conventions happen every two years and are a combination of business, continuing education, fellowship, worship, and fun.  For those of us who have attended a number of them as well as various Mennonite institutions, it pretty much amounts to a sea of half familiar faces, making one at least a partial believer in the idea of previous lives.  Someone comes up and greets you, and you do a quick search through your memory...

Text: Ecclesiastes

I am holding in my hand an Illinois Lottery All Jackpot Report slip from a couple years ago.  On the back of it is handwritten ECC Chap 4:9-11.  This ticket was a gift to me, and I’ve kept it as a way of remembering the experience that went along with it.

The handwriting belongs to someone that I knew only as Troy, and he gave me this slip of paper at the gas station where I had taken him to fill up his gas can.  I had been driving from Kansas back to Ohio after spending some time with Abbie’s family and Abbie and the girls had stayed back for an extra week.  I was in the middle of Illinois and saw a guy on the side of the interstate beside his car, holding up a gas can.  It’s not real often that I’m driving by myself, without having to be at the destination at any particular time, so I decided to stop.  Troy got in the car, cursed at himself for running out of gas and asked for a ride to the nearest gas station.  After I asked him his name he asked me what...