HMC E-Newsletter January 13, 2013
Join us Sunday as we begin a new worship series:
Getting our Relationships Right (PS. The Bible calls this Righteousness)
We’re wired for relationship. Indeed, God views us as interconnected and as one. We are “members of one another” (Eph 4:25) and members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians). This is our default mode, our reality, whether we realize it or not, it is our truth. We are interconnected as part of the same entity. One might say humans are interdividuals rather than individuals.
But that doesn’t mean living in relationship is easy. It’s not: we bicker, fight, hold grudges, disagree, resent, turn bitter, stuff our anger and project it on to others, call names, act passive aggressively, outcast and break relationship regularly. Being in relationship with people you disagree with is HARD work (anyone talk politics lately with someone across the aisle; or about acceptance of gays with a person you disagree?). Conflict is perfectly human!
God too is also wired as relationship: living in the divine community as the Three in One. And God is often referred to as “Righteous,” a social-relational word rather than a legal-piety word. God reveals what healthy and fully functioning community relationships should be like. God is passionate that we get our relationships right also, and actively working to make all of our relationships right. This is precisely why reconciliation is such a core concept in defining the gospel. This is why God leads us through the dark valley to sit at table in the presence of our enemies: to make things right.
“Righteousness,” so often misunderstood as legalistic sin-patrol, is actually God’s desire for all of our relationships: healthy, flourishing, life-giving, working-as-designed, committed in covenant and joy. This is true of our relationship with ourselves, God, others and with all creation.
Of course Jesus the Son of God is the clearest picture of what it looks and feels like to get our relationships right. Thus Paul says in Romans 1:16-17 that the gospel of Jesus reveals the “righteousness” of God. Jesus embodies right and healthy relationships at every level. His integrity, emotional and moral maturity is of course off the charts. His spirituality and trust in God (Jesus intimately calling God, “Abba!” and God returning the blessing by calling God “beloved.”) precisely illustrates the depth of passion, practice and purpose of peace between God and humanityBut even more importantly is how Jesus models right relationships with everyone we meet. The Gospels sum this up with a series of cascading images that help us completely re-imagine what level of hope we should have for right relationships.
- Treat others as you would like to be treated. Luke 6:31. With this Jesus frees us from selfishness and empowers us to see life from another’s perspective. This is also stated as, Love your neighbor as yourself. If this is so, conflict presents us a wonderful opportunity to build relationship and learn about ourselves and others.
- Love your enemies. Matthew 5:43. Jesus isn’t one bit interested in fault or blame when it comes to broken relationship. Regardless if it is they (Matt 5:23) or you (Matt 18:15:) that caused the rift, he beckons all followers to initiate reconciliation and restore right relationship.
- Love one another as I have loved you. John 13:34 Ultimately love of self isn’t powerful or healthy enough, and thus Jesus gives us yet richer images of hope for healthy relationship. Our behavior towards the other can NOT in faithfulness be based on their behavior toward you but only on Jesus behavior toward you.
In life and teaching, death and resurrection, Jesus gets relationships right and teaches us how we can right our relationships. We see this most pointedly in the worship ritual of communion, where breaking and pouring summarize not only the righteousness of Jesus, but the righteousness that we are called to as well. We’ll be celebrating communion each week through this series.
For the next 5 weeks we’ll worship the God of community, as a community. We invite you to join us as we learn about conflict and reconciliation, agreeing and disagreeing in love, civility and Christ-like behavior; all through the lens of Ephesians 4:25-5:2. Along the way we’ll learn several practices that empower us to get our relationships right: Tenderhearted Dialogue, Speaking the truth in love, Learning from our anger & enemies, and Non-retributive forgiveness.
In this series, as we worship the God who gets Relationships right, may we get our relationships right too.
Dear HMC Family,
Thank you for the beautiful flowers, countless prayers and other expressions of concern. Your kindness has truly been an instrument of God’s healing during the loss of our father & grandfather. -Roxie, Lynda, Emily & Rebecca Voran
Connecting More Fully at HMC:
► Covenant Signing: At the beginning of every calendar year we at HMC throw our hats in with each other as a sign of commitment and covenant. By signing our names annually we are saying, “You are my people, my faith family! Let’s learn and grow and be on mission together.” This Sunday in worship we’ll provide space to sign our annual covenant for those who were not present January 6. This is for all members, and for attenders who wake up mornings with the feeling that you are part of us.
► Young Adult gathering: Are you a young adult? You decide! Young adults are heading to a local restaurant after worship Sunday to eat together. Hope you can join!
►Value the Relief Sale? Great, so do we! Come help us E-valuate it on Sunday after worship.
► Congregational Meeting: January 20 after church. More info on the meal to come.
► The Second Sunday group will meet after the service this week for a light lunch and a discussion of favorite books. This is an open session and all ages are welcome. Topics last time ranged from examples of heaven on earth to violence in our culture. Suggested authors to read are CS Lewis and Rick Warren. Come and share your ideas and get to know others in our community better.
►Do you enjoy helping others with financial planning? If so, consider volunteering to be the Everence representative-formerly Mennonite Mutual Aid- for HMC. Training is via the internet and materials are provided. See Marty or Judy Hoffhien if interested.
LOST AND FOUND:
A Dodge key with built in electronic buttons was found in the Women’s RestRoom Sunday after worship. The keychain is from Hazelwood’s in Kingwood.
Roots of Violence~ Roots of Peace
The Roots of Violence: In the sermon Sunday, Marty used the story of the Wise Men on Epiphany to help us understand the darkness of our world and to unpack the roots of violence. From empire to spiritual brokenness the darkness runs deep. You can read the full text on our Sermon tab at houstonmennonite.org
This is the chaos out of which God chose Jesus to be born! Where Administrative violence rules the land and men who inhabit safe and special space destroy families to ensure a misguided notion of “peace.” Where subordinates bow to the destructive wishes of those above and feel powerless to resist. Where the assumption is that only violence begets peace, and more violence and threat ensures even more peace.
It’s a time where people, good people, are caught in the system and become complicit. Where no one person is to blame, and everyone – absolutely everyone – has an out; every person can say, “It wasn’t me! I’m not responsible. I was only doing my job.” The nebulousness, the confusion, the complexity of it all is exactly what the Bible meant by tohu wabohu (and later, in the New Testament, by “Powers and Principalities.”.
You can’t understand the light, until you understand the darkness.
But the roots of peace are also present in this story. “The light shines in the darkness but the darkness did not overcome it.” We can summarize these with 3 F’s.
- Focus on the Light. In Matt 2:11 the wise men worshipped Jesus and paid him homage. In the midst of all the darkness of the day, and Herod’s terrible anger, the focus was and must be on Jesus. We ascribe allegiance to Jesus and orient every aspect of our lives to the gospel and God’s mission in our world. Without worship, how oh how will we fall in love more deeply with God and the things of God? About this light Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel… for it reveals the justice of God.” (Romans 1:16-17)
- Finance the Light. Matt 2:11 The wise men do more than worship, they also Finance the Light by giving their best treasure to support what God is doing in our world. With extreme generosity they pour themselves into the Jesus story by blessing a family in need. The trip to Egypt that is necessary because of the Wise Men’s mistake? Covered. They finance the light because the darkness has such deep pockets! Listen folks, this is not only an act of resistance, it also moves the story along. God’s kingdom doesn’t depend on money, but we’ll get nowhere without it.
- Fast from further support of the darkness. In Matt 2:12 the wise men make a calculated decision that they will not support Herod any longer, they refuse to be complicit any longer, and instead choose to fast from the darkness. Isaiah 58 defines what Biblical fasting looks like, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?” This is an essential step, to turn our back on the darkness, on administrative violence, and myths about violence, and loosen the weights of materialism that cling so closely.
This is our call, this is who we are. If we want to be part of Jesus story in 2013 we must Focus on the Light, Finance the Light, and Fast from the darkness. I invite you to join me on this journey, it’s certainly nothing that can be done alone.
Above all, remember that no matter how dark it gets, or how muddied our souls become, that the Light is stronger than the darkness. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (including tohu wabohu), will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8
Marty will be blogging an entire series that came out of this sermon from January 6, 2013 on the roots of violence. You are encouraged to follow along and share with friends at: http://blog.chron.com/thepeacepastor/
Order of Worship January 13, 2013
Call to Worship
Songs of Praise
Sharing our Joys
Offering & Offering Prayer
Scripture Presentation Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Sharing Prayers and a Time to Build Up the Body of Christ
Message We are one~Live like it
Song of Response Longing for light #SJ 54 – (v. 1,2,5)
Connecting More Fully
Comissioning Song Renew your church HWB 363
♦ Communion: Houston Mennonite Church celebrates an open communion. All people (members and visitors) who follow or long to follow Jesus are invited to pray and celebrate with us at the Lord’s table.
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, email@example.com, also available on Facebook.