Mary’s Soul Cries Out – Dec. 17, 2017

Melissa preaching Dec. 17, 2017 with many Marys on the table in front of her.The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, or Joy Sunday.

We focused our attention on Mary, the mother of Jesus, through the  depictions of Mary displayed on the front table from many of our nativity scenes. Melissa opened her message, based on Luke 1:26-38, 46-56, by talking about her visit to Duke Chapel to see the life-sized paper doll depictions of Mary on display. They included the Virgin of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, the Byzantine Theotokos, and Madonna and Child of Soweto.

She also showed the cartoon by Everett Paterson called José y Maria, a modern-day down-and-out couple outside of a gas station convenience store searching for a place to stay.

Mary, the first priest, born into poverty, a patriarchal culture that considered women property, the female body a dirty curse. A young woman pressed in on every side. And an angel says that she is favored. Looked upon as one with worth, a life that has been noted, that, though it matters to no one else, matters to God.

When our belief grows thin due to the vagaries of the world, remember that Mary was there, at the beginning and at the end. “She is always here, bearing witness to all of it–to the grace and the terror, to the injustice and the hope.”

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Guns to Garden Tools – Nov. 12, 2017

Mike Martin speaks at RMC Nov. 12, 2017Mike Martin, director of RAW Tools from Colorado Springs, brought the message as part of RMC’s Guns to Garden Tools event. He shares how RAW Tools got started and how Jesus lived out a life of nonviolence, putting into practice the concept of beating swords into plowshares from Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3.

In church today we had 3,000 lights strung in the front, commemorating the more than 3,000 deaths by gun violence reported in North Carolina last year.

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Worship service on Nov. 12, 2017 with 3000 lights strung up front.

Here at the Cross – Nov. 20, 2016

Mellissa speaking at RMC Nov. 20, 2016On this Christ the King Sunday Melissa spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion, the very first Christian community and the radical example of our Anabaptist forebears. The scripture texts were from Jeremiah 23:1-6 and Luke 23:33-43.

Many church leaders have said, in response to the recent political machinations, “God is in control.” However, that does not mean that everything will be all right. We are called into a Christian community into which not everything is all right. We are called to transform ourselves into a community of people so dangerous that we can not be allowed to exist.

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God leaves everything…to pursue God’s beloved – Oct. 9, 2016

Melissa preachnig at RMC on Oct. 9, 2016Melissa spoke from 2 Kings 5:1-14 and Luke 17:11-19, focusing on the story in 2 Kings about Naaman being healed of his skin disease after hearing about God’s prophet Elisha from a little servant girl.

We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are. God sees things as God is, and when God sees you…God sees a beloved.

 

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Increase our faith – Oct. 2, 2016

Melissa Florer-Bixler speaking on Sept. 18, 2016Melissa spoke from Luke 17:5-10 and Psalm 37:1-9. She envisioned Jesus telling the disciples, “Faith isn’t something you get; it isn’t a form of currency to be increased. Faith is a particular disposition in the world.”  A disposition of faith means putting our bodies next to the bodies of others, particularly the bodies of those who are most vulnerable. How do we make space for anger–such as the anger of those who continue to face oppression–without hatred?

Today was also World Communion Sunday. A time to break bread together, but also a time to remember the oppression faced by so many of our sisters and brothers throughout the world.

 

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Rich in Good Works – Sept. 25, 2016

daryl-byler-150Daryl Byler, executive director of Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice & Peacebuilding, preached from the lectionary readings of Amos 6:1,4-7, I Timothy 6:6-10,17-19 and Luke 16:19-31.  The readings all talk about wealth. They can be a bit unsettling since by most global measures most of us fit into the category of being wealthy. What is our responsibility when there are so many disparities here in the U.S., but even more so world-wide? Daryl used a number of slides to illustrate his sermon and provide some suggestions.

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A life of debt, the bonds of love – Sept. 18, 2016

Melissa Florer-Bixler speaking on Sept. 18, 2016Melissa spoke from “the slimiest story in the New Testament,” Luke 16:1-13, the parable of the dishonest manager. This manager makes some mischief. Throughout the Gospel of Luke the good news is the reversing of social boundaries, boundaries maintained by economic disparity. What if Jesus’ followers actually knew how the system worked, and what if they caused some mischief?

 

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