Mark 4:26-34, Ezekiel 17:22-24
Every young kid growing up during Jesus’ time would have been familiar with the prophecy from Ezekiel that Diego just read. Our kids recite Kendrick Lamar lyrics; those kids recited this prophecy — that God was going to take this small, vulnerable group of people and make something great of them. In the Bible, political kingdoms are often likened to trees or branches, so the people of Israel are the tender sprig from the top of the lofty cedar that God is going to plant on a high mountain. No longer would they be easily and often invaded, at the mercy of the massive superpowers surrounding them. Not only would be they be self-governing, autonomous, free – they would be more than that. They would be beacons of hope to others of the goodness of life lived under God’s reign. They would like be a noble cedar planted on a mountain that bore fruit and provided shelter for many creatures. Ezekiel’s’ stirring prophecy with that stirring image ends with these stirring words: I the Lord have spoken; I will accomplish it.
But almost 600 years later, God’s promise still has not been fulfilled. The people of Israel have lived under a series of oppressive regimes. Throughout the centuries, revolutionaries and small armies have risen up, had small victories against these oppressors, but no one has been completely successful. Throughout the centuries, the people of Israel have tried to be faithful – tried to keep the commandments, tried to keep their end of the covenant – they fail, of course, but they keep trying. But God doesn’t seem to be fulfilling this promise to make of them a great nation, a noble cedar. It must have been so easy to fall into despair. To believe that their small acts of resistance or faithfulness didn’t stand a chance in the face of the largeness of their oppression. To believe that nothing they did really mattered, that their actions were bearing no fruit.
This two reflections were given on Sunday, June 10, by members of our San Francisco and East Bay Discipleship Groups. Our Discipleship Groups are small groups that meet monthly to learn about and practice following in the way of Jesus.
San Francisco Discipleship Group Reflection
By Amy Bolaños
I called the patient’s name in the waiting room. A man in his mid-50s, unshaven, in tattered hat and clothes, stood up abruptly and walked brusquely toward me, barely acknowledging me as I greeted him and led him back to the exam room where I would take his blood pressure, review his medications and prepare him for his visit with the doctor. The tough, guarded look in his eyes, as well as his agitated body language, warned me to keep my voice and body language calm and to notice my safe and quick exit route from the room. As soon as I asked him how he was doing today, he launched into a barrage of threats to the stranger on the street who had just stolen his belongings. He hadn’t planned to come to the clinic today, but 30 minutes ago he was mugged by another man.
He had just picked up his medications from the pharmacy a few days ago, and they were in the bag that was stolen. “The meds aren’t going to do him any good! They’re for my heart! I hope he eats them all and it kills him!” The patient then began a 5-10 minute loud, angry monologue listing ways in which he planned to carry out revenge on this man. “I’ll find him, and when I do I’ll rip his face off! I’ll smash his head in!” etc. I just sat and listened to him vent his anger. When I could get a word in, I validated his pain and anger, trying to imagine experiencing such violence myself and the emotions it would bring up for me. I also reassured him that we would be able to help him replace his medications.
Sunday, March 3, 2018, was First Mennonite Church of San Francisco’s third annual participation in a Bay Area event known as “Walk and Bike to Worship Week”. First Mennonite’s participation included scootering and riding mass transit as well as walking and biking. The program at First Mennonite Church was organized and facilitated this year by Kenda Horst and Karen Kreider Yoder. Participants were awarded stickers showing participation and awarded entry in a raffle to win prizes that included Ford GoBike annual membership; Walk SF T-shirt and membership; and a San Francisco Bicycle Coalition T-shirt and membership. Participants were invited to a picnic at the Conservatory of Flowers following worship. One of the goals of the walking, biking, and transiting to worship event was to SAVE THE PLANET. A show of hands during the worship service on Sunday showed that around three dozen congregants walked, biked, or transited to First Mennonite Church services on March 3rd. Thank you Kenda and Karen for organizing this event! – Jim Musselman, for FMCSF Green Team
Pictured before church: Karen Kreider Yoder, Kenda Horst, Joanna Shenk, Jim Musselman, Miriam Menzel. Photo by Alan Hilton-Nichol.
Greetings, community. Almost two years ago, our congregation adopted a scent policy and we have been living into it since then. The policy states: “First Mennonite Church of San Francisco would like all services to be accessible to those with chemical sensitivities. Please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, and scented products. This is also the policy of FMCSF’s host, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav.”
Sheri was musing to Pat and Joanna recently that in her 18 years of ministry here she has not come across an issue that has brought up as much resistance, skepticism and even conflict as this scent policy. And so, with this blog post, we hope to address several points related to this policy, in the hopes of furthering greater clarity, communication and awareness: Continue reading