Audio from Raleigh Mennonite Church: primarily the sermons from Sunday morning worship, but some other surprises show up occasionally as well.
Leaning into Fear – Dec. 3, 2023
On this first Sunday of Advent, Melissa acknowledged that there is so much in our lives, in our world, to be afraid of. We are not in control of the world. We are vulnerable beyond our imagining. Somehow though, God is at work in this Apocalypse.
She told the story, among others, of John Donne, who had fallen ill and was isolated, dying from the bubonic plague. Sick and alone, he wrestled through his fear, and then he prayed, "Give me a fear of which I won't be afraid."
Christ the Hidden King – Nov. 26, 2023
Susan Scott preached during Christ the King Sunday, and yet the lectionary scripture for this sermon is Luke 23: 33-43, telling of the crucifixion of Jesus where he is mocked by the guards and one of the condemned for proclaiming his lordship. Susan invited us to see the kingship of Christ not as a ruler who bends people to his (or our) will, but rather as a "hidden" king who has labored hard to identify with and inhabit our suffering in the most intimate and vulnerable fashion. The manifestation of his rule and reign, unlike our traditional concepts of physical kingdoms, continues on in his followers through the commandment of love. Although we sometimes fall short of our goals to create a more just and loving world and feel discouraged or burned out, remember that Christ is the "hidden" King and he is the source of our hope.
The Terrible Parable – Nov. 19, 2023
Staying Awake, Pouring Out Hope – Nov. 12, 2023
Melissa's sermon this Sunday focused on the parable from Matthew 25:1-13 about the bridesmaids waiting for the long-delayed bridal party, with all of them falling asleep and half of them running out of lamp oil.
Jackie and Trixie provided a reenactment of how things maybe could have gone better had they stayed awake.
What might happen if we don't fall asleep on one another? The darkness is so dark, the night is so long. Pay attention to each other. Look towards each other's needs. Share hope with each other. Because some of us can be silly and some of us wise. It's likely that in the same day we could be both.
Martyrs on All Saints Day – Nov. 5, 2023
The great ordeal John writes of in this letter from exile in Patmos is the persecution of the church. It's a real and living threat to Christians in the first century. If you were to join up with the Anabaptists in the sixteenth century, there was a very good chance this would get you killed. There is a collection of the stories of Anabaptists being killed recorded in the Martyrs Mirror.
In our day, reports coming from the center of the ongoing devastation in Gaza consistently refer to the dead as martyrs.
This world is dangerous. If you live like people aren't just things, or tools to build wealth and power, if you live like this, really live like it, it might get you killed.
On All Saints Day, we remember that many, many people before us have borne witness to this radical kind of love with their lives. Others have gone before us who help us now to say, "Salvation belongs to our God." They help us believe that this love will never end.
Understanding God, Ourselves, and Cycles of Violence Through the Parable of the Wedding Banquet – Oct. 15, 2023
Matthew 22: 1-14 The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
We often try to interpret parables to find easy lessons and clear allegories, but Melissa Florer-Bixler invites us to ask how the "Parable of the Wedding Banquet" interprets ourselves, the recent violence in Israel and Gaza, and where we can find the character of God and Christ within it. Much like our recent events, the parable is filled with ordinary people caught up in violence not of their own making, at the mercy of choices made by leaders more concerned about pride and vendetta than the vast harm they create. Jesus is not only criticizing the leaders of Jewish people during his time for aligning themselves with Herod and the Roman occupation that ultimately leads to the destruction of Jerusalem, but referring to his own imminent sacrificial death, not unlike those innocent bystanders in his time and ours, at the hands of others in power. The parable invites us into an uncomfortable, unsettling place of grief with this revelation in order to see the pain and futility of downward spirals of reciprocal violence. Melissa encourages us to think of recent reflections of past events and then ask ourselves sincerely "Where is your God in today's parable?" or "Is God here at all?" Ultimately, we await the God who will one day wipe away all our tears and hold us close through the love of Jesus that overcomes death and meets us in our darkest places.
Praise the Lord 🙏
Thank you for this podcast. I really love the Mennonite Church and the Lady Pastor knows the scripture and delivers great sermons. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen 🙏