Sermon: “Cesar Chavez & the Farm Workers’ Movement”

By Benjamin Bolaños

Play Corrido de Cesar Chavez

That’s called Corrido de Cesar Chavez. It’s Tex-Mex Mariachi style music.   And I hate it.  Not the lyrics but the music.   I really really do.  German Polka music in Mexico?   Not really my thing.  However, regardless of my lack of affinity for this type of music, it does evoke strong memories for me.  I’ve been running away from Mariachi music for a long time.  Or at least I thought I was.  But it’s not really Mariachi music that I’ve tried to keep at arm’s length.  It’s what it culturally represents for me.   It anchors me to a time, place, a history I’ve battled with internally, again and again. The music has power over my identity and the path I forged for myself:  Latino, Hispanic, Salvadoran, Mexican, immigrant, the migrant worker, the outcast, outsider, the great unwashed, the spic, the illegal…. All  labels used to define my identity.  See, that music, its harsh melody, that accordian noise, reminds me of those labels. They are like chains to me, a prison, a monolithic omnipotent force that you cannot ever escape, forever shackled to my being, my mind and soul.   But assimilation, to belong, was the other power force.  Assimilation was the antithesis, the remedy, and the medicine  to those labels, to the music. Assimilation meant opportunity and a sure way out.  It was the language of the powerful.   Read more

Sermon: “Radiant Wholeness”

By Sheri Hostetler

Easter Sunday

Matthew 28:1-10

We are created in the image of God. Inside each of us is a radiant wholeness that seeks to be expressed in our human form. Thus, we have the mystery of the Incarnation. That mystery is not just that God became flesh in Jesus but that God — this radiant wholeness — seeks to become flesh in each of us. Jesus’ calling was to show us that it was possible to be whole within this human form, to show us the way.

And so he started like each of us do — a small, powerless being in a large and often overwhelming world. The bulwark against this world is our parents or guardians. They are the ones who, hopefully, protect us, feed us, comfort us when the inevitable overwhelm happens. Quickly, we learn that these people, these gods, expect certain behaviors of us. We are given smiles when we do the right thing, frowns and possibly “consequences” when we don’t.  Soon, others enter the picture — teachers, peers — and they, too, have their expectations, as does the larger society. We learn what parts of us are desirable and what are not. The undesirable parts are stuffed into our shadow, that long, black bag we all carry behind us. They become the “not me.”

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Sermon: “Jesus and the None Others”

By Joanna Shenk

Sixth Sunday of Lent — “Soul Journey: Joyful is the Dark”

Matthew 21:1-11

This is a familiar story for our congregation. We act it out every year. There’s lots that could be said about it. What words, images or phrases come to mind for you when you think about the Palm Sunday procession story?

We could explore how it was an embodiment of political satire. Jesus entering one side of Jerusalem on a donkey (and a foal!) and Caesar entered on the other side with chariots and horses. We could talk about the fickleness of the crowd, shouting “hosanna” one day and “crucify him” the next. We could talk about the chaos that’s inevitable when a city is packed full of people for a festival celebration.

As you may guess though, I’d like to focus on something else today. I’d like to look at the context surrounding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, his clarity about what he was facing and it’s implications for soul work.

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Sermon: “Reconciling with the Cross”

By Addie Liechty

(cross-posted from https://addieswriting.wordpress.com/)

Fifth Sunday of Lent — “Soul Journey: Joyful is the Dark”

Ezekiel 37

The language of the soul is not one of words. It is one that speaks in symbols. In Christianity our main symbol is the cross. Personally, I have never felt very connected to this symbol. I have distanced myself from it as it has become wedded to Christian hegemony causing much harm all over the world. In our country’s history the confederate flag “X” is a derivative of the cross, after all. In my own genealogical history, the cross was likely utilized when hunting down and killing many of my anabaptist ancestors. In my lifetime, the cross has been used as a symbol that alienates me from Christianity and even the Mennonites due to my queerness. I would venture to say that there is no one in this room that has not been harmed, in some way, by the cross. Aside from that, when I think of it, I see those bloody images of an agonizing Jesus and the whole of it just feels violent. So, for most of my recent life, I have buried this image and much preferred the symbology of angels and hearts. When I picture the archetype of a Bible thumping, queer hating pastor, he is holding a bible or a cross, not a heart (although, trading the cross for the heart in my imagination is rather amusing and it takes some of the power out of it)

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