Mark & World Communion Sunday
2009-09-29 by KAREN HUNDRIESER

This Sunday is World Communion Sunday.  It is a day when we intentionally welcome and honor the diversity of the church universal.  If we are visual in our worship, we show images which include those with different skin tones, different dress, from different climates, worshipping in different ways and languages and using different forms of music and song, having different ages and customs for marrying, having different needs and different joys.  We sometimes even honor all the different ways in which we make "bread" by having as many kinds as possible on our communion tables.  And who knows what's in the chalice?  When I was a teenage MK in Nigeria we used Kool-Aid or Fizzies because that's what was available.  Our list could go on.  The point being that all are welcome to the table, while honoring and acknowledging our differences.  Our sameness found in being the beloved children of God.  

But we still do not wish to acknowledge those who are homosexual - either as a participant or a leader in the table liturgy.  A post from last week suggested that our exclusion of another becomes our stumbling block.  In my previous post I asked if we were preparing our children for marriage/covenant/community relationships. Our children are learning what they need to know from their friends, the internet, the world, sources of all kinds because we come to the table with a posture of exclusion.  

Hardness of heart: our stumbling block to teaching this passage on marriage/covenant/community relationships that honor?  Hardness of heart: putting asunder what God has brought together?  Perhaps we can or should replace hardness of heart with something else - but does it really make a difference in the outcome?

When we do not acknowledge all people, we do not acknowledge God.




Need Help With That Sermon?
2009-09-28 by David Howell

This week subscribers to GoodPreacher.com are enjoying 5 Exegetical perspectives, 5 Theological perspectives, 5 Pastoral perspectives, 4 Lesson and the Arts, 5 Sermon Reviews, 4 Preaching the Lessons, 1 Scripture and Screen, 1 That'll Preach! articles, 7 sermons on Mark 10: 2-16

and 1 Exegetical perspective, 1 Theological perspective, 1 Pastoral perspective, 1 Lesson and the Arts, 1 Sermon Review, 1 Preaching the Lesson, 1 sermon on Genesis 2:18-24

and 1 Exegetical perspective, 1 Theological perspective, 1 Pastoral perspective, 1 Lesson and the Arts, 1 Sermon Review, 1 Preaching the Lesson, 1 Scripture and Screen and 1 sermon on Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12

and sermons and essays on World Communion in Unlectionary and topical files

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Another thought on Mark
2009-09-28 by KAREN HUNDRIESER

Our sexuality needs liberating in order for us to be in healthier, God-called relationships - as couples and as community.

I believe we are also challenged to continue to create new rites of passage ceremonies/liturgies.





Our guest preaching blogger this week is
2009-09-28 by David Howell

The Rev. Karen Hundrieser. "I am a Local Pastor in the United Methodist Church in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.  My parents were missionaries for 15 years - I lived all my teenage years in Nigeria, West Africa.  My first career was as a social worker - working with the homeless in various programs in Wisconsin.  I have an MTS from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  My call to ministry and my gifts are centered around 'hospitality'."



Hard Heartedness
2009-09-27 by KAREN HUNDRIESER

To quote Dan Dick's words in the Journal writings for this week (goodpreacher.com): "Sins come and sins go."  I grew up sure that divorce is sin.  I am divorced.  I never claimed to be perfect (only striving as a good United Methodist does), so I'm okay with that.  My wise mother told me to take the time to figure out what had gone wrong before jumping in again.  27 years later I'm still checking 'divorced' on all those silly forms.  What brings us to the place of divorce?  Hard heartedness. Not because a law was broken or because one party has "the" reason, the one that fits into a legally acceptable category, in order to ask for a divorce, but because of hard heartedness. 

Divorce does not separate two who have been joined.  They may feel ripped apart for a time, but they are not two separate beings as they were before the marriage/commitment, even if they never managed to become "one".  You never forget, that "other" is always there, good or bad, they are always a part of your life, part of your life's story.  Maybe separated legally, but not in many other ways.  Families are dishonored in the process, in Jesus' time and even now.  Things that you thought you could rely on are no longer.  There is a lot of pain in the acting out of hard heartedness.  (But still sometimes we have to go through with it, we have no choice.)  Like many others who have written on this, I agree that divorce is not sin, but hard heartedness most assuredly is.

Let's go back a minute - once again Jesus is being tested by folks who still haven't figured out that they're thinking/living on a different plane than Jesus.  They are concerned with the law.  Jesus is not.  Jesus is concerned with peoples' hearts and minds and attitudes.  Jesus is concerned with community.  Jesus is concerned with foundational things, going all the way back to creation.  Jesus' response says something about being made to be in partnership, in community, in friendship, in covenant with one another. 

And he also says that honor belongs to women as much as it does to men.  So does dishonor.

And he says, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."  This is one of those lines that most people have memorized from the marriage ceremony.  It intrigues me after mulling over James and community for some weeks.

What God has joined together.  My cynical self says that most marriages have nothing to do with God, but rather with hormones or money or something.  My other-extreme side says that God has brought everything together.  If that's true, then we are to separate nothing.  Not community.  Not marriage.  Not covenant.  There must be a middle ground and perhaps it is found in the answer to what is God's purpose for our being together, is there a purpose, and are we living that purpose? And the ultimate question, have we really been joined together by God?  Or does something else hold priority in our being together?

Let no one separate.  How have we prepared ourselves for this?  I wonder today how we have prepared people for marriage/commitment (from childhood on).  Does our partner/marriage counseling address our culture's false independence/individualism?  Do we help our children to be self-assured, confident and ready to disagree peacefully?  Can we love another or others who are different than we are? Can our relationships, our community deal with changes in economics in healthy ways?  How have we addressed our competitive ways which are bound to spill over into our relationships? What does friendship mean?  What are we doing about domestic violence on all levels? (October is domestic violence month)  Are we willing to listen to another's struggle in relationship and find ways to teach and nurture understanding and peace?  Can we do that also for our faith community - God certainly had a hand in bringing that together too...





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