Greening our Fellowship Time

By Karen Kreider Yoder

Dear Congregation,

We are trying to eliminate single-use plastic in our lives, and to that end, a snack team recently prepared the fellowship hour snack as free from single-use plastic as possible.  It was quite a challenge, as most of our food is packaged and delivered to us from a distance in single-use plastic, rather than local and seasonal.   

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Sermon: The Gifts and Perils of Calling

By Joanna Lawrence Shenk

Luke 4:21-30

I think it was sometime in 2012 I was invited to speak during an evening, student-led, chapel service at the conservative Christian college from which I graduated. This was about 7 years since I had graduated, so the current students didn’t know me, but some of my friends were on staff and many of the professors remembered me. I had been student body president and very involved in campus life while in college. I had also worked on staff as a Resident Director for two years after graduating. Although I had changed a lot since my college days, it still felt like a homecoming.

I was invited to speak by a friend who was on staff with the campus ministry department. He had heard me speak in another venue about faith and identity and thought it would be a good message for the students. I was looking forward to the opportunity because I felt like I could say things that would challenge the students who thought they had all the good Christian answers.

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Sermon: MLK Sunday

By Chude Allen and Rachel Stoltzfus

Chude Allen:

On June 9, 1964 I stood in front of the pews of an Episcopal church in a small town in Pennsylvania. I was about to go to Mississippi to be a freedom school teacher as part of what is now called Freedom Summer. I asked the parishioners for donations and their prayers.

When I was in Mississippi I wrote my parents that when I returned I wanted to speak again in the church, that I believed God would speak through me. My minister, however, would not allow me to speak during a service, only in the parish hall at an evening educational. Today is only the second time ever I have spoken during worship.  Of course Spirit does not only appear in places of worship, but there was and is a power that comes when we join together in acknowledgement of something greater than ourselves.

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Sermon: Holy Spirit Subversion

By Joanna Lawrence Shenk

Luke 3:15-22

Today I want to pick up where we left off last week with these words at the end of Sheri’s sermon: “In our present time, when paranoid kings rule, and when the life of the planet is literally at stake, I think it is more important than ever that we come together to listen for the Spirit and to seek the Spirit’s guidance.”

She continued, “I think we need more than our conscious intellect, our rational mind, to get ourselves out of this mess we are in. I think we need to hear the Spirit’s voice in many ways, new ways, perhaps ways we haven’t been as attentive to before, as we observe the glimmers of light that have appeared in the dark and move toward them, together.”

What does it mean to listen for the Spirit and seek the Spirit’s guidance? How do we do this with more than our rational mind? What might the Spirit illuminate and how will we respond in this season of Epiphany?

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Sermon: Transformational Listening

By Pat Plude, with Joanna Lawrence Shenk

Mark 7:24-30

Today we depart temporarily from the Ephesians passage we have been using throughout this series, to look at a time when Jesus demonstrates his humanity by speaking to a woman in a particularly snarky way! Using the story of the Syrophonecian woman in the Gospel of Mark, we will look more deeply at the practice of listening, another crucial component of learning to speak truth in love. As we go you’ll hear several voices and stories: those of the Syrophonecian Woman and Jesus, as well as my own and Joanna’s.

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Sermon: The Wisdom and Limits of Emotions

By Joanna Lawrence Shenk

Excerpts from Ephesians 4

Thank you Diego, for that reading. I wish we would had time to hear the entire chapter of Ephesians 4 because it’s chock full of wisdom for discipleship. Paul was writing to the Ephesians as a prisoner due to his association with Jesus’ revolutionary movement. He was writing to the Ephesians who were a largely Gentile community and therefore experiencing more social privilege than he was as a Jewish person in the Roman empire.

He was calling them to ethical living which was personal, communal and political. “The calling to which they had been called” as the church was to deep personal and political maturity. “To grow up” the text says “into Christ.” As a part of Jesus’ movement they were called to be, as Ched Myers puts it, “a social experiment in reconciliation between ethnically, politically and culturally alienated groups.”

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Sermon: Revolutionary Bible Study

By Joanna Shenk

Amos 7:7-15

A few weeks ago I was in northern Indiana for a Shenk family reunion with Eric and the kids. It was the first time I had seen some of my extended Shenk family in a couple years. We had a lot of fun playing games in intergenerational groups, like kickball, super big boggle and ultimate frisbee.

One thing that I love about my Shenk family is our storytelling. My grandpa Shenk (who is passed on) and his four children constantly tell stories about us when we’re together. It could be stories of when I was a kid and the funny things I’d do. Or stories about my uncles and aunt when they were kids. Or stories about ancestors further back. Whatever the conversation, it often ends with the recollection of a family story.

This kind of storytelling instilled in me a strong sense of identity when I was young and carries through today. I know who my family is and what they value and I know what it means to carry on that identity. Through the work of differentiation I am also able to decide how I want to carry on that legacy in a way that’s authentic to my journey.

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Children’s Story: Jesus’ Parade into Jerusalem

By FMCSF Youth Group

Note: Our church’s youth group rewrote the Gospel stories for each Sunday of Lent and then presented them as children’s stories during worship.

Palm Sunday, March 25

Mark 11:1-11

This is a story that a guy named Mark wrote about Jesus. He wrote the story in a way that highlighted the kind of leader Jesus was. Mark wanted to show the difference between Jesus’ movement and other military and political groups who had power.

In this story Jesus and his friends were on their way to Washington DC to confront the powerful leaders there. They knew it was going to be difficult. They also had to decide how they were going to enter the city. The way that they entered the city would communicate to the people there what their movement was about.

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Children’s Story: Zacchaeus and Jesus

By FMCSF Youth Group

Note: Our church’s youth group rewrote the Gospel stories for each Sunday of Lent and then presented them as children’s stories during worship.

Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 18

Luke 19:1-10 (Jesus and Zacchaeus)

While traveling with his poor people’s movement, Jesus and his friends, had a protest march in Manhattan, New York. Manhattan is one of the biggest places for business and trade in the United States.

A man there was named Zacchaeus and he was the biggest property owner in Manhattan. Since he owned so much property he was able to charge high rent because people had very few other options. This made him very rich.

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Sermon: Zacchaeus, Redistribution and Salvation

By Joanna Shenk

This is the fifth sermon in a Lenten series called Capitalism: A Bible Study.

Luke 19:1-10

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Clarence Jordan Symposium in Americus, Ga. The symposium marked 75 years since the founding of Koinonia Farm, which was the first interracial community in the South. Clarence Jordan was one of the founders of Koinonia and he was a friend Dr. Vincent Harding.

Those who joined the community committed to four principles of community life:

1. Treat all human beings with dignity and justice
2. Choose love over violence
3. Share all possessions and live simply
4. Be stewards of the land and its natural resources

When the community was founded in the 1940s it was unlawful for black people and white people to sit down together in Georgia. They could be standing next to each other, but they couldn’t sit down to share a meal or conversation or anything. In the 1950s the community got a lot of threats, their produce stand was dynamited and they experienced the terror of drive-by shootings at the hands of white neighbors.

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Children’s Story: Jesus and Gerasene Demoniac

By FMCSF Youth Group

Note: Our church’s youth group rewrote the Gospel stories for each Sunday of Lent and then presented them as children’s stories during worship.

Third Sunday of Lent, March 4

Mark 5:1-17 (Jesus and the demoniac)

After spending time traveling the suburbs surrounding Washington DC, Jesus decided to take the train all the way to the other side of the country–to the Bay Area. None of his friends were from there and they were a little afraid to go.

After an exhausting trip, they arrived at Jack London Square in Oakland. Jesus’ friends noticed a few homeless encampments nearby and a bunch of parking lots. As soon as they walked off the train this crazy guy, who had cuts and bruises all over his body, started running toward them. He was yelling and moving around and jumping up and down as he approached.

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Sermon: Capitalism and the Self

By Joanna Shenk

This is the third sermon in a Lenten series called “Capitalism: A Bible Study.”

Mark 5:1-17

Wednesday was an intense day for me. It began with a trip to the San Francisco County Jail which is located in San Bruno. A friend of mine, Ellen, teaches classes there and invited me to speak about my new book and Vincent Harding. I figured Dr. Harding would be pleased that my first “official” book talk was in a jail. He was always encouraging people to be in conversation and relationship across lines of difference.

It was my first experience going to that jail and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. When Ellen picked me up at BART she said there would be 48 men in the class that day. I hadn’t anticipated that many, but was up for the task. I had sent some readings earlier in the week and she said the men were really interested to learn more about Vincent Harding and also about Mennonites.

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