Anali provided the message this morning, reflecting on her spring semester spent along the Mexico/US border, in Guatemala and in Cuba as part of her cross cultural experience studying at Eastern Mennonite University. Her talk included sharing a number of pictures from her experiences (PDF).
Rachel preached from I John 4:7-21. We’re not alone on our journeys. Together, we encourage each other, share resources, catch each other when we fall, and simply enjoy each other. As our journeys become real and we’re brought to the edge of ourselves, we’ll encounter God’s love there too. Through loving each other and through discovering God’s love at the deepest part of who we are, we are given what we need to do the impossible.
Using I John 2:7-15 Melissa shows that factions in the Church are nothing new. As the Church was starting, there were different understandings of the Gospel message. How do we handle this?
Zinith talks about his own experience as a retired person, comparing that with the Apostle John, being banned to the Island of Patmos.
In the last sermon in her series on the 10 commandments, Melissa focuses on the tenth from Exodus 20:17. To help us understand the concept of “to covet” Melissa has the congregation participate in a little biblical exegesis. She uses 2 Samuel 11:1-13, the story of David and Bathsheba, to explain that coveting has to do with people who have the power and desire to possess. This commandment was–and continues to be–aimed particularly at men. The sermon ends with the congregation partking in communion.
Melissa continues her series on what we generally call the ten commandments, found in Exodus 20:1-16. But she intertwines this Old Testament passage with the Gospel reading from Mark 10:17-31, what we typically refer to as the story of the rich young ruler.
Jesus tells this man and the disciples–and us–that the commandments all along have been a form of judgment that actually sets us free.
Paul’s letter from jail declaring his thanksgiving for Christ and prayers for discerning how to live a life to the glory and praise of God.
This Sunday Rachel told the story of Tabitha, in Acts 9:36-43, but from the perspective of one of Tabitha’s widowed friends in Joppa. Tabitha shows how our whole life can be defined by little resurrections, little renewals of life, little affirmations that death, sin, division and brokenness do not have the last word. Her story serves as an invitation for all of us to practice resurrection; inviting in the outcast, lifting up the poor and lowly, and doing all this through the power of Yeshua, whom we now call Jesus.
Claire Unruh provided the sermon this Sunday based on the story of Paul and Silas’s imprisonment recounted in Acts 16:16-34. They were jailed after casting out a demon in a slave girl.
Claire used the story as a springboard to recount other stories of people who have been imprisoned because of their beliefs as conscientious objectors to war or the death penalty. Standing up to and resisting systems of violence is a way to bring light and change in our world.
Melissa preached from Acts 9:1-19 about Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. However, it wasn’t only Saul who had an unexpected experience with Jesus. God involves Ananias in Saul’s conversion, even though he really wasn’t needed. Ananias also needs to be able to see. Saul is turned from a predator to a liberator, but Ananias converted too. Turning to his former enemy, Ananias calls Saul “brother.”
This was “holy humor” Sunday and Melissa started out her message with a joke before getting into the story told in John 20:19-31. Just as Jesus met Thomas, Jesus meets us where we’re at. Faith is not something you come to on your own. It takes many different forms and in every single one of them, doubt is part of the mix.
The most foolish thing we believe is that you were created for no other reason than for love. You do not have to do anything at all to be loved. We’re utterly convinced that when you are confused and you can’t quite get your beliefs in line, when your head and heart collide, that Jesus is making a way to you. You don’t need to do anything at all to be loved. You don’t have to earn your way to some great reward. But’s that’s ridiculous! Or at least that’s what the world thinks.
Prior to Melissa’s sermon on this Easter Sunday, Pam read the poem, “Christ as a Gardener” by Andrew Hudgins.
Mary returns to the tomb Jesus had been laid in after she and the two disciples found it empty. She’s weeping. Then she sees these angels. Then there’s this gardener. He had to have been there all along, hadn’t he? She’s begging him to tell her what he saw. “Where is the body of Jesus?!?” She can’t see it’s him…until he says her name. “Mary.” And her eyes are opened.
We wait beside tombs, because that is where he says he’ll show up. Where love leads us back, without reason, and often without hope. God will show up where there is nothing left but devastation, where there is no way out or where no one else is coming. It’s here, waiting here, where our grief at the pain inflicted by the world will break open. And we’ll discover the one who is there calling us by name. Jesus is there, who makes contact.