Reflections on Mennonite Heritage Sunday

On the last Sunday of October, many Mennonite churches in the United States observe Mennonite Heritage Sunday, a day set aside to remember the gifts that our spiritual ancestors have bequeathed to  us. Our Anabaptist ancestors participated in one of the biggest religious, social and economic upheavals in European history. The 1500s were a time when the structures that had governed society for centuries were being actively challenged and dismantled by the masses, who were seeking to transform these economic and political and religious structures to be more egalitarian and just.  It was an apocalyptic time, a time of violence and fear and hope and vision when the world truly seemed to be ending and something new truly seemed to be happening. Sound familiar? 

Our social context today is similarly apocalyptic — a time of transformation, when centuries-old structure are failing and something new is desperately trying to be born. Our service today will look at how we in this church are participating in the many moments for transformation swirling around us. Kate Irick, Jim Lichti and Helen Stoltzfus will be offering reflections on that theme, which follow.

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Sermon: Prophets and Kings

By Joanna Lawrence Shenk

This is the fifth sermon in a series called “The Story of the Bible: A Hot Mess and a Healing Journey.”

Scripture excerpts from Judges, Samuel and Kings

In the sermon today we have another great sweep of scripture to cover: Judges, 1 and 2 Sameul and 1 and 2 Kings. In the Hebrew bible these books are known as the former prophets and they are understood to be a theological commentary on the events leading up to destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC and the Babylonian exile.

These books explain why things happened the way they did. They are not a historical account. I’ve also realized in writing this sermon that I’m reflecting less on specific prophets and specific kings, and more on the scope of these prophetic books and how they reflect on the transition of Israel, from a tribal confederacy to a united and then divided monarchy.

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