Sermons

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I Let Go of My Accumulations

Patty Wudel

July 22, 2018

Thank you for inviting me back to share something real with you that is close to my heart.

In the past months I have read and re-read two books by young African-American Christian leaders. Drew Hart’s Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism; and Austin Channing Brown’s Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness.  And since reading Professor George Yancy’s incredible love letter, “Dear White America,” published in the New York Times about three years ago, I have returned to it often and more so in recent months, and searched my soul.

Drew Hart and Austin Channing Brown both write about being young, gifted, African-American Christian activists and leaders working or studying in white, liberal, Christian churches and universities. Professor Yancy writes to white people with tough love and invites us to have the courage to engage our racism honestly, to let ourselves be vulnerable and look into the “disagreeable mirror” he holds up for us, so we can actually finally see how we nice white people are complicit with systemic and institutional power and privilege and the suffering it brings on African-American people. And change. Learn to change.

The Land Cannot Bear All His Words (notes)

Nathan Detweiler


July 15, 2018

PRAYER

  • Prophetic voices, where are they? Are there even any prophetic voices out there anymore? Was MLK the last prophetic voice? How should one be a prophetic voice?
  • These are all questions that both liberal and conservative Christians have really wrestled with in the past couple of years (notwithstanding many years prior).
  • Today’s text from Amos, and in fact the whole book of Amos, are really a response to many of those questions.
  • Amos not only sets an example for how to be prophetic but he challenges each of us, that daily choose to live as Christ did, to discern how we can be prophetic - because let's face it being prophetic is deeply, and oftentimes painfully, counter-cultural and counter-normative.

Talitha Koum

Crisely Melechio-Zambrano
Walton Schofield

July 1, 2018
Texts: [Full texts printed after the message]
     Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24
     Psalm 130
     2 Corinthians 8:7-15
     Mark 5:21-43

To remind us of what we just heard, I want to repeat a line from each one of our readings.  Lines that really jumped out at me:

Book of Wisdom: God does not rejoice in the destruction of the living
Psalm: You changed my mourning into dancing
Epistle: Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less
Gospel: Talitha koum.  She should be given something to eat. 

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Oh!   I love these readings.  Maybe it’s because I am such a tactile person.  Each of these readings is so deeply human and so deeply physical.  What’s more human than dying, mourning, dancing, the struggle for justice, and rising and eating?

Fully Alive

Mary Ann Zehr

June 10, 2018
Texts: Psalm 130
         2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I’m happy to have a chance to share with you in a teaching right before I make a major transition in my life.  I am leaving the Washington, D.C., area after 27 years and moving to the small city of Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley.  (Yes, it officially is a “city.”)  I will pack up my things and move on July 2.  In mid-August I will start a new job as an English teacher at Harrisonburg High School.  I have loved this faith community and grown a lot by being connected to many of you over the last 13 years.  Your support has seen me through a couple of major transitions in my life.  I’ve appreciated so much the annual silent retreat and emphasis on being attentive to our inner journeys, not just our outward actions.  And I’ve had a lot of fun with you.

In November I gave a teaching about how I was asking the question, “How can I be useful to God?” I reflected then on how I was feeling burned out as a teacher in DC public schools.  I focused on scripture from 1 Thessalonians about how God “tests our hearts.”

I decided to look for a new job and I hoped that I would be able to find one at my age.

Justice and Freedom on the Sabbath: Healing and Glory Balanced by Suffering

Carol Bullard-Bates

June 3, 2018
Texts:  Mark 2:23 - 3:6
           II Corinthians 4:5-12

In reading the Scriptures focusing on the Sabbath in the last few weeks, what struck me in the Deuteronomy passage was three things: that we are to keep the Sabbath holy, that holiness is equated with rest, and that the Sabbath is related to the people’s freedom from bondage in Egypt.  As we celebrate the Sabbath, we are to

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.  Therefore, the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath Day.

God’s people were not only to rest on the Sabbath, but so were their servants, their animals and the aliens in their land.  The Sabbath Day was a social leveler for all people and even for the animals.  The Sabbath Day was seen as a symbol of the freedom God’s people were given when they left their slavery in Egypt.  No longer did they have to work every day for taskmasters.  They were free to rest, to focus on God’s presence in their lives, and to make sure that even their slaves and servants and animals rest too.  I am sure this concept of Sabbath was a radical departure from the rest of the people around them and their cultures.

Pentecost: What’s next?

Kevin Boteler


With a small congregation this Sunday (due to most people being at our annual “play weekend,”) Kevin gives some introduction after each scripture passage that was followed by discussion (which was not taped or contained in the following).

Those of you who have heard me speak before may remember that I have bemoaned challenging lectionary texts.  I suppose that today is an example of life balancing out, as today’s texts are an embarrassment of riches.

Last week, on Pentecost, we heard about the Spirit coming to the followers of Christ as they worshipped together in Jerusalem as the first manifestation of the promised sending of the Holy Spirit to all mankind.  This week’s scriptures help us explore the implications of that event.

First, the Gospel:

Breath

Connie Ridgway

May 20, 2018

Text: from The Message: Ezekiel 37:1-5, 7, 9-10.

God Grabbed me.  God's spirit took me up and sat me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones.  The Holy one led me around and among them — a lot of bones!   There were bones all over the plain, dry bones, bleached by the sun.
The Holy One said to me, Son of Man, can these bones live?  I said, Master God, only you know that.
He said to me, Prophesy over these bones: Dry bones listen to the message of the Holy One!
The Holy one told the dry bones: Watch this: I'm bringing the breath of life to you and you'll come to life.
I prophesied just as I'd been commanded.  As I prophesied, there was a sound and oh, rustling!   The bones moved and came together, bone to bone.  But they had no breath in them."The Holy one said, Prophesy to the breath.  Prophesy, son of man.  Tell the breath, The Holy One, the Master says, Come from the four winds.  Come, breath.  Breathe on these slain bodies.  Breathe life!
So I prophesied, just as the Holy One commanded me.  The breath entered them and they came alive!   They stood up on their feet, a huge gathering.

Witness

Katie Archibald-Woodward

April 15, 2018
Texts: Luke 24:36b-48
           Acts 3:12-19

Let me begin with a poem by Kabir:

What Kind of God

What kind of God would God be
if God did not hear the
bangles ring on
an ant’s
wrist

as they move the earth
in their sweet
dance?

Who Jesus Is

Betsy Edmonds

WHO, WHO is this Jesus whom we celebrate today as the Risen Lord, worthy of our trust and devotion?

Who, who is He?  The answer comes echoing down through the Ages from beyond the dawn of time; first, through the prophetic Hebrew Scriptures and then from the recounting and observations of those who knew Jesus best and followed him to the end of His life on earth.

From the book of Genesis, we see God acting creatively.  We notice there the Hebrew word for God, “Elohim,” is singular with a plural meaning: that God is a many faceted, complex being.  So we hear:

Now let Us conceive a new creation—humanity—made in Our image, fashioned according to Our likeness. And let Us grant them authority over all the earth—the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, the domesticated animals and the small creeping creatures on the earth.”

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