HMC E-Newsletter August 2, 2012  

Connecting More Fully at HMC:

Peace Camp Benefit Concert: We are planning a musical extravaganza this Thursday, August 9 at the Mennonite Church from 7-9 PM. The eclectic group, Free Radicals, will be playing in our worship center. Their style is genre-defying, but that evening they will focus on World Music such as ska, reggae, salsa, and jazz. The Free Radicals have performed many concerts, marches and fund-raisers for anti-authoritarian groups like food not bombs, peace festivals and charities. They have participated in demonstrations for immigrants’ rights and for a Houstton janitor’s union. A dinner of various ethnic food will be a part of the program. This is fun music for all ages, so come out and support the Peace Camp and the Houston Area Women’s Center!

PEACE CAMP AT HMC: Our church campus will be the location for the Houston Peace Camp from August 6-10. The curriculum will include mini lessons on courage, racism, immigration, and bullying. It will be an International Week with a focus on Belize, Chile, Japan, Israel and the Congo. The youth will make “Passports” and travel vicariously to these countries via books, the internet, powerpoint presentations, and special guests who are native immigrants. There will also be a focus on the environment using the community garden, pond, and woods as educational resources. There is still a need for volunteers-especially in music-even 15-20 minutes would be a treat for the kids. Ages 5-12 are encouraged to participate, and there are still spaces available. Check peacecamphouston for additional information. A special thanks to Linda Washburn who is coming on Thursday morning to share about her work with disabled children. Come and be a part of this positive energy to support
peace in our community.

Memorize the Books of the Bible: We encourage you to memorize the 66 books in the Bible. Grab your bookmark at the back!

►PEACE CAMP AT HMC: Volunteers Wanted to help August 6-10 from 9 AM-3 PM. Ages 5-12 are invited to participate. The theme will be “Courage.” for information or contact Judy Hoffhien.

Forming Christ in Us: Resources for Christian Discipleship

Over the last couple week’s we’ve heard from the grassroots of our congregation a deeper desire to be inclusive and multi-cultural. This may happen, but not by accident. It’ll be something we’ll have to reach for. And education will be a good place to start. Here are 3 resources for helping us move more toward Intercultural Transformation.

Public Jesus, a book review and Election 2012 reflection
Marty Troyer’s Sermon from Sunday July 22, 2012

Is Jesus an appropriate foundation for Christian ethics, or must we look elsewhere?

Desperate and a bit clueless after my first year in ministry, I enrolled in George Fox Evangelical Seminary in the fall of 1999. One of my first classes was “Christian Ethics” with the primary textbook being, “Mere Morality” by Lewis Smedes. My professor so unapologetically answered the question above with, “Duh! Of course not”  that it was never even asked or entertained.

A standard answer for many evangelicals at the time, but I was stunned. 

Author Tim Suttle’s answer in his powerful new book, Public Jesus, is equally stunning, though completely opposite. With equal parts creativity and courage Suttle encourages us to base all of life, and all of our ethics, on Jesus. He blows up the “private faith” myth not so much through detailed argument, but by inviting us to believe, and by showing us what faithful daily public witness is.

And you’ll love him for it. Indeed, Suttle is part of a new thriving core of evangelicals who are proudly calling the church to image Christ in life, or, as he refers to it, live “cruciform” lives. I’m utterly thrilled to see this transformation over such a short period of time.

And he’s relentless in his insistence that our faith is both Jesus-centered and public . In the introduction he says, “God belongs in the public square because the public square belongs to God.” He then spends the rest of his work describing what such a cruciform public life looks like: through and at work, in worship and rest, in our public language and in our allegiance.

Public Jesus will challenge you to examine your own faith as he pushes out what it means to live our whole lives as though we actually believe Jesus is Lord. His chapters on vocation, Sabbath, and Eucharist fall slightly short by weakening the tension created early in the book between the publicness and Jesus-ness of our faith. (With his chapters on work and Sabbath not being Jesus-y enough, and Eucharist not being public enough. Regardless, they are still excellent!).

But he’s at his best when fleshing out the decidedly political nature of the Gospel and lifestyle of Jesus. He suggests, following Hauerwas and Yoder before him, that living our shared common life together in cruciformity is a “profoundly political act.” He then contrasts the politics of Jesus with the current American political scene and suggests that “major surgery” is required for we Christians to faithfully follow the Public Jesus.

But is this too-short work up for such major surgery? It’s unlikely that was his intent, though he certainly provides several helpful tools for the work better left to communities than individuals anyway. He helpfully deconstructs “the spectrum” of choices available in the American political scene (Liberal-Conservative, Secularism-Fundamentalism, Democrat-Republican, etc…) and the basic promise from all on the spectrum of potential utopia. Jesus provides us with a core third way, and identifying with Jesus alone is the foundational tool for those whose primary citizenship should be in God’s kingdom and not Caesars’. The book’s true value is in calling us to do the major surgery for ourselves. A task I’d invite you to join me in.

Suttle’s book, like my research paper, would not have passed muster in my evangelical seminary ethics class. But no one’s looking for a grade anyway. What we need to know is does it help us process Christian faithfulness in this complex, multiple-fronts war, corporate-driven, post 9/11 Election Year 2012?

One of the cruciform areas of faith that Tim practices so well, but is limited by the book medium, is community dialogue. So I’ve asked author Tim Suttle to dialogue with us directly. He graciously agreed to help deepen the conversation surrounding the Christian witness to the state, and in particular issues in this election year. My next post will be a dialogue between he and I regarding Election Year 2012 (for more posts on Election year 2012 clickhere). Before signing off, let me say unequivocally that framing Christian ethics around Jesus and cruciformity is absolutely essential today. Any book that invites us to do so is worth the read.

I recommend Public Jesus to all my readers! Find it here for a great afternoon read. Tim blogs at Paperback Theology and tweets @tim_suttle, which you may love as much as I do. Check them out, then come back next week when Tim addresses the questions posted in the first comment below. Don’t forget to add your questions, and let’s dialogue!

So what do you think? Is Jesus up to the challenge of being the basis of all Christian ethics? What are the tools needed for the major surgery of separating Christianity from American civil religion?

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GOD’S STORY (YOU ARE HERE) August 5, 2012

Welcome words
Opening Prayer
Songs of Praise and Celebration                                                               SJ 44 The love of God SJ 13 My soul is filled with joy
*Offering and Offertory

Scripture                      Micah 4:1-4 & Revelation 21:1-8
Children’s Time
Sermon                        Remember the Future

Response Song HWB 299 New Earth, Heavens New
*Sharing & Prayer

Connecting More fully
Sending Scripture Letter (1 Peter 2:9-10)
Commissioning Prayer
Song of Sending           HWB 323 Beyond a dying sun

Here’s a Summer Series Summary

Act 1: Creation: It is very good!
Act 2: The Fall: Something has gone terribly wrong.
Act 3: God’s Solution, Part 1: Israel
Act 4: God’s Solution, Part 2: Jesus
Act 5: The age of the Church

Scene 1: The New Testament Church
Scene 2: Church History
Scene 3: Houston, TX, 2012
Scene 4: Future History

Epilogue: Remember the Future


Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
Immigration: See above.
►Junior High/High School Youth:  Faith Exploration with Pastor Marty. In the annex.
** Children’s Church:  During worship in our children’s ministry room for kids
aged 1-5. They learn a Bible story, sing, and play together.

Pastoral Care: Do you want a person to talk with about something in your life? Got a question or insight into faith or scripture you want to kick around? Have you been sitting on a great idea for the church? Need prayer? Want to get to know your pastor better? As your pastor, I’m available to meet with you at the office or at a time and spot that works better for you. Just let me know when and where! Monday’s through Thursdays, and weekends by appointment. Marty Troyer, church office (713)464-4865,, also available on Facebook.

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