September 19: Ephesians 6:10-20, “Godly Attire: Fashion for Faithfulness”
Marilyn Rudy-Froese, MCEC Church Leadership Minister is our speaker and will officiate the ordination of Stephen Reist for ministry in the Mennonite Church.
This is our first hybrid in-person/Zoom worship service. The singing did not sound good on Zoom so the recording is only of the scripture reading, message, and ordination.
This Summer, instead of sermons, we will be having times of sharing and short devotions and discussion. We will not be recording those services.
August 8: The Value of Church
The church in Canada, the Mennonite Church in Canada, and MMF have gone through a lot of changes in the past decades and face a lot of uncertainty as do we all individually. So, as we face decisions, I thought it might be helpful to leave you with a reminder in what scripture and our Anabaptist tradition say about church so that we have a firm footing and know what’s important going forward.
July 4: Native American Theology
This Sunday, I would like us to be theologically ‘woke’ by the perspective of Native American theology as shared by Dr. Terry LeBlanc, a Mi’kmaq-Acadian. He is Executive Director of Indigenous Pathways and also the founding Chair and current Director of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS), an indigenous learning community. Dr. LeBlanc holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida, and specializes in Theology and Anthropology.
I will be summarizing some of Dr LeBlanc’s thoughts from a lecture he gave in 2015 at Wheaton College, IL ( watch his full lecture here )and making some of my own comments about how we theologically respond to the present tragic discoveries. I invite us to come with humble hearts and open ears to what the Spirit might be saying to us from one with a different perspective.
June 20: The Favor of God
Father’s Day is a day to reflect on the good we have received from our fathers. To be sure, our stories are varied and complex – not all good and not easily captured sometimes in a Hallmark card. The story of God’s favor on us is also complex. This Sunday I plan to consider that human story of God’s favor.
June 13: Eliana Ku, “For the Unwelcomed”
Eliana AhRum Ku is a Ph.D. candidate in Homiletics at Emmanual College in the University of Toronto. Her research interests include ‘lament to proclaim hope amid suffering in preaching’, hermeneutics for the Biblical text, especially the book of Lamentations, divine lament, Asian Woman Theology, and Asian Woman’s hermeneutics. Eliana has two active children and she and her husband and have studied together for 15 years.
We look forward to Eliana speaking this Sunday in our worship service. Her title is “For the Unwelcomed” and her text is Genesis 19:1-9 and Romans 8:26.
June 6: The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Guess what! Things aren’t always what they seem. This Sunday I would like to review a few stories from the Bible that illustrate a how humanity has built its narrative about us and God. These are the stories we have told ourselves since the beginning. But Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4 says there is something we miss – that we don’t see what is really going on with God.
“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Cor 4:18 (NLT)
May God give us eyes of faith and a humble heart.
May 30: Karen Reist: The Trinity. What a Relationship!
Karen hopes to encourage each of us to seek a full experience of this Wonderful Love Relationship.
May 23: The Spirit Gives Vision and Hope
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming upon the church. In reviewing the story I found my attention drawn to the apostle Peter’s quote of the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
We need prophetic understanding, visions of a future, and outside the box dreams right now. We need hope from the Spirit of Life!
May 16: Peter Haresnape, “No One Rises Alone”
Peter Haresnape, Pastor at Toronto United Mennonite Church is our speaker this Sunday. Peter has shared that he will be speaking about the Church on matters of purpose and calling, and looking to God to see how God sees us – that we are a body that is rising from the dead as part of the rising of all things out of death. No one rises alone!
“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” – Ephesians 1:22-23
May 9: Love One Another?
“Distance makes the heart grow fonder,” the saying goes. Do you miss me?
I wonder what these many months of church online has done to our attitude to “church”? Hopefully we will be able to worship again together in person soon but what are our expectations of being together again? Have we learned anything or changed what we think about “church” in a year?
Jesus commands us to love one another. What does it look like to love each other in the church? In this church, MMF?
These are some of the questions I’m wondering about this Sunday.
May 2: Amy-Jill Levine, Antisemitism in the Lectionary
Our speak this Sunday is Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. A self-described “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Protestant divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt,” Levine “combines historical-critical rigor, literary-critical sensitivity, and a frequent dash of humor with a commitment to eliminating antisemitic, sexist, and homophobic theologies.”
Her publications include The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus (HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), the edited collection, The Historical Jesus in Context (Princeton University Press, 2006), and the 14-volume Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings (Continuum).
Since May has 5 Sundays, instead of a live speaker we have this YouTube video of a sermon Prof. Levine gave this past March at Washington National Cathedral. It sounds academic, but Levine is an energetic and engaging speaker. I think you will find she helps us see the New Testament through new and insightful eyes.
April 25: God is Greater Than Our Hearts
“19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God“ (1 John 4:19-21a)
This has been one of my favorite passages in the Bible for many years, reassuring me that my own self-criticism is not the truth. But this is more than a passing reassurance. John invites us to be in a relationship of confidence with God not one of guilt or uneasiness. Let’s consider this possibility together this Sunday.
April 18: The Raw Carrot
Get your spoons and bowls ready! We welcome Rebecca Sherbino, co-founder of the social franchise “The Raw Carrot” as our speaker this Sunday. Rebecca has an undergraduate Degree in Global Development, Peace and Justice and a Master’s Degree in International Development. Rebecca has always had a passion for working with people. Living in 5 countries abroad and working for 4 years in Sustainable Community Development in Malawi and Sudan, Africa, she developed an acute awareness of the issues facing vulnerable and marginalized communities. Her passion led her to co-found The Raw Carrot social enterprise in 2014.
April 11: The Fellowship of Easter
From the scripture readings listed in the Revised Common Lectionary this week, I see a unity based on Jesus’ resurrection and the hope, joy, and mission that come from that profound event. We yearn for fellowship again yet maybe the absence of fellowship in person invites us to consider that God given fellowship is based on something other than normal social bonds (friendship/common interest/culture etc) but instead overcomes diversity that would divide us.
April 4: Easter Sunday: Merle Reist; “Burning in their heart”
Happy Easter! Merle shares about two of his favorite resurrection stories and reflects on the love and faith moving from mind to heart.
March 28: Great Expectations
It’s Palm Sunday and we will be hearing again the story of Jesus’ victory parade into Jerusalem. It’s street theater – a political statement of liberation, welcoming a new King of the Jews in the gates of the capitol city heavily fortified, anticipating trouble. What courage and faith it would have taken to shout “Hosanna! Save us!” in front of Roman soldiers. Have you ever found the courage to take such a risk – to trust God with your great expectations? What happened?
March 21: Brent Musser, Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp “Dancing with Creation”
Our speaker this Sunday, Brent Musser lives at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp with his wife, Mary Anne, and their four children. Brent and Mary Anne have shared the role Facilities and Environmental Stewardship Director at Hidden Acres since 2017. Prior to that they lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where Brent served as a pastor in a Mennonite congregation. Brent loves spending time in nature, especially birding, and is eager to learn more about the natural world and to share with others about the connections between faith and our appreciation and concern for God’s creation in which we live.
March 14: The Vaccine of the Cross
Our topic this coming Sunday is SNAKES! Don’t worry, no real snakes or pictures of snakes or virtual/online snakes (is that a thing?) will be present. The Lectionary readings for this Sunday, as we journey to Easter, are about the snake problem and solution Israel experienced in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4-9 ) and also about Jesus predicting his death saying, “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” He says this in the midst of his conversation with Nicodemus. You know, the one where Jesus says “Ye must be born again” and where John 3:16 is also found. Deep stuff. I’ve read an insight into this ‘snake’ think that might help us reflect in a fresh way on Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Like snakes, we would rather avoid it. But gazing on it brings healing and our salvation!
March 7: Jennifer Reist and Natasha Martin:”Trust + Surrender = Freedom”
Jen is a CSW with Teen Challenge, an in-residence alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation program program in the Greater Toronto Area. She shares about the Teen Challenge program and her experience seeing God at work changing lives. Natasha works for Homewood Health Center also working with recovering addicts as a Recreational Therapist and shares some of her experience helping people build whole lives. (Due to confidentiality we are not able to publish the recording of the message.)
February 28: Jonah part 4: Changing Our Minds About Evangelism.
Yes, I just said the “E” word. I know, you’d rather take a boat to Antarctica then talk about evangelism! What do we have to say that people would even listen to? Jonah thought it was futile (and risky?) too. Well, I’m hoping God will change our minds and give us a new hope about our calling to speak for him without the traumatic storm and fish belly quarantine.
February 21: Harold: How Then Shall We Live?
This Sunday, I am continuing my message from March 29, 2020 where this scripture passage from Galatians 5:16-26 was used; only instead of speaking about The Fruit of the Spirit, we will be using this Bible passage (and a few others) to find a Biblical response to the question “How then shall we live?”
In Galatians 5:16-26, the Apostle Paul addresses this question indirectly when he provides a description of the Christian experience from both a worldly and spiritual perspective. The attached handout is my way of graphically summarizing this passage from Galatians which hopefully you will find useful. Then, we will look briefly at the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Jesus Calming the Storm as two examples of how Jesus modeled this biblical approach in His life and taught it to His disciples.
February 14: Beware the Fish!
This Sunday we will be finally talking about Jonah being in the belly of the great fish. I will be talking about how that kind of death like experience can change a person (or not), and compare Jonah’s story to Jesus’ story. My premise is that Jesus compared himself to Jonah and rewrote the familiar story of Jonah in his own life with a new ending.
February 7: MEDA: Sowing Seeds That Feed
Chris Brnjas is an Associate Development Officer with MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) whose mission is to “create business solutions to poverty” around the world. Chris will be reflecting on the “Parable of the Sower”, planting seeds in the kingdom of God and MEDA’s work at large.
January 31: Jonah Part 2: Worshiping Gourd
The scene of Jonah being swallowed by the great fish is what everyone remembers about the book of Jonah but there is a bigger beast in the story – the evil city of Nineveh. The fish distracts us from the punch line – it’s like a punch to the gut – delivered by God “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” What?! No! What kind of god is this? I think I’d rather worship the gourd plant. At least it’s predictable.
January 24: Carol Reist: Faith Lessons From Raising Chickens
Carol shares with us some thoughts about God’s care for us that she has seen illustrated in caring for her eight free range chickens.
January 17: Our MMF Covenant
This Sunday is our annual MMF Covenant Sunday. Edgardo, our Steering Committee Chairperson will share his reflections, with scriptural references on the components of our MMF Covenant that we pledge each year to God and each other.
January 10: Jonah part 1: Fact or Fiction?
(imagine sea shanty music playing the background)
This Sunday the epic tale of Jonah will delight us and surprise us as we begin to explore this strange story with a profound message. I am pleased to have found a radiophonic production “The Book of Jonah” with music and songs by David Benjamin Blower and scripture narrated by N.T. Wright. I think it will set the tone nicely and add some inspiring drama to our scripture readings.
This is the beginning of a four part series on Jonah and I will begin this week by considering the background to the book of Jonah, considering what kind of book it is, why it was included in the Old Testament, and of course the big question: is it a true story?