Sermon: The Weeds and the Wheat

By Sheri Hostetler

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Jesus tells three parables about seeds in Matthew 13 in order to explain what the kingdom of heaven is like. The “kingdom of heaven” is Jesus’ main teaching, and parables are one of the main ways he teaches about the kingdom of heaven. So, these parables in Matthew 13 are the heart of Jesus’ teaching.

Last week, we looked at the mustard seed parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its shade.” I like that parable because I’m a gardener and a tree-lover. And, yup, you plant a seed and within five years it grows into a sequoia 20 feet high. This happened, right outside my house, so I know it’s true. Sure enough, the crows that I love settle in its branches in the late afternoons, and it provides shade for my son when he’s outside throwing frisbee with his friends and they get hot. Since we are also organic matter, I believe what is true of seeds and trees is also true of us. We plant something small and it can grow into something large that can sustain life. Read more

Sermon: Hope in Chaotic Times

By Sheri Hostetler

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-46

Something is collapsing. People on both the right and the left believe our political order is falling apart, which could be (depending on  your point of view) a cataclysm or the opening we need to create something more just. Just the fact that Trump could be elected suggests that something has already collapsed. At the recent Mennonite convention in Orlando, I talked to my friend Cindy Lapp, who is pastor of Hyattsville Mennonite Church just outside of D.C., and she told me that it’s exhausting living there right now. Everyone is on edge, she said, because everything is chaotic. No one knows what’s going to happen.

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Reflection: Mennonite Church USA Convention in Orlando, July 2017

By Addie Liechty

My experience at the Mennonite Church USA conference was…many things.  As some of you know, I signed up for this task in the midst of break up grief/mania.  I was dumped and the reason given was irreconcilable differences in regard to religion.  My check-list for processing through this break-up reads like this:

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Sermon: Imprisoned by Hope

By Joanna Shenk

Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Zechariah 9:9-12

I had a hard time getting out of bed yesterday morning. I was feeling the weight of a lot of things and wondered if it was futile and disingenuous to write a sermon that offered hope. I wasn’t feeling hopeful. I was feeling more like the title to the most recent Metallica album, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct.” The bad guys keep winning. Vulnerable people are endlessly oppressed. And it seems like so many people don’t even have a moral consciousness to appeal to. 

The whole moral consciousness thing is something I’ve having an internal argument with Vincent Harding about currently. I’m turning my extended interviews with him into a book and therefore have been immersed in his writing and thought. I continue to be amazing at the faith he has in people to choose transformation. He believed that with love, encouragement and an openness to questions, people could change. To the end of his life he was calling people to their highest human potential and calling this country to its highest potential.

What I’ve been saying to him now is, “Do you still believe that or have we crossed the point of no return? Have we finally proved we’re really only capable of self-destruction?”

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Reflection: I Pledge Allegiance to…

By Sharon Heath

When Nathan Yergler emailed asking me to speak today, he asked, “What are you aligned with?  To what or whom are you loyal?  To what or whom are you committed?”

With what am I aligned?  I am aligned with the gay community.  The Rainbow Flag is my flag.  Even when I find the behavior of some members of my community to be a tad embarrassing, they’re my people and that’s all there is to it.  Believe it or not, I am also aligned with the Mennonite church.  Some Mennonites drive me crazy, and I have declined to be involved either on the conference or denominational level because of the hostility of so many to gay people, but these, too, are my people, and I am deeply committed to strengthening this denomination.  I just want other people to do it!

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Sermon: Pride Sunday 2017

By Logan Rimel

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable to you, God, my strength and my Redeemer.

Good morning. Some of y’all are probably wondering who on earth I am, and that’s fair. I attended Sunday services here somewhat irregularly for several months about a year and a half ago. I fell a little in love with this community, but unfortunately work and living circumstances have made it difficult for me to cross the Bay on Sunday mornings. But still, I’ve been very happily a part of the East Bay discipleship group for the past several months, and maintain my deep fondness for First Mennonite. When Sheri asked if I would give a reflection on Pride Sunday, I jumped at the chance to get back here.

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