HMC E-Newsletter July 7, 2011
Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Sunday School for All ages: 9:30AM Adult Sunday School Class: God and America: Inside the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America. Please watch episode 4, “A New Light” (56 minutes) online at: http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/for our class discussion this Sunday. Those unable to watch will be able to engage conversation, but you’re encouraged to watch ahead.
►Pastor Marty will be attending Mennonite Church USA’s bi-annual gathering in Pittsburgh July 4-9 Visit: http://www.mennoniteusa.org/Home/Convention/ for more info. For pastoral care while Marty is in Pittsburgh please contact the Community Life Team:
►Houston Astros Faith and Family Night: Saturday July 16. Want to see a baseball game with some friends? Like Christian Music concerts? Join us for a great night in July. Game time is 6:05PM, Houston Astros vs Pittsburgh Pirates. Concert following is The David Crowder Band. We’ll purchase group tickets in the $10 range. Please RSVP to Pastor Marty by Sunday July 10. http://www.davidcrowderband.com/
►July 29-30 – WDC Annual Assembly, Bethel College, North Newton, KS. Make plans now to attend! Something New! Persons attending the WDC annual assembly July 29-30 at Bethel College and Bethel College Mennonite Church, will register for one of ten “Learning Tracks” of three hours in length, designed to be resourcing events for pastors and lay leaders. A variety of toipcs will include Immigration issues, Tur-around church, Anabaptism, Church planting, Spirituality, Adventure course, Holistic service, Welcoming children, and Potluck. Here’s the kicker – Anyone (non-assembly-goers) can attend a Learning Track – for only $20 – it’s a great opportunity to get some quality resourcing. www.mennowdc.org
The following is a reflection on the Mennonite Church USA Convention theme and key verse: Bridges to [the] cross by Pastor Marty
I love my city. I love Houston’s ridiculously hubristic skyline, our underperforming sports teams, our gargantuan flyovers and 20-lane highways, our farmers markets, our bayous and museums, and our longing to be a “real” city.
I love our food. In my neighborhood alone you can find world class Thai, Polish, Mexican, Korean and Salvadoran food. I walk my family to a little Churro booth that holds its own against anything at Mennonite relief sales.
And I love our diversity. Houston’s four million people have no majority population and Houston is home to 325 different people groups. When our family first moved to Houston I remember going to the play-land at a local mall and counting no less than eight languages being spoken by the children there.
Yes, moving to Houston has helped me to fall in love with diversity. But too often, rather than celebrating diversity, Christians allow it to divide and separate us. High profile cases of Christians judging others who are different (like the Florida pastor who burned a Koran; or the Kansas church known for protesting funerals) or who believe differently (the outrage among Christians towards pastor Rob Bell’s thoughts on hell) or who act differently (homosexuality) embarrass me by how far off the mark they are. Race, legal status, wealth, politics, and faith divide us.
But reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel.
In word and lifestyle Jesus draws his community together, breaking down the boundaries that divide. Drawing on Isaiah’s vision of the peaceable kingdom (11:6-9 & 65:25), he calls his followers to be makers of peace (Matthew 5:9) rather than judgment and discord (Matthew 7:1), and gives us specific instructions on how to pull it off (Matthew 18:15-20). Leave your worship behind, he says, and go be reconciled to your neighbor – it’s that important (Matthew 5:16-26). It’s also controversial enough he’s almost killed (Luke 4:24-30) just for mentioning the possibility of reconciliation with an outsider.
So how have Jesus’ followers done in emulating his example? The first generation of believers did smashingly well! Paul in particular sees reconciliation at the center of the Christian life, declaring we have been “given the ministry of reconciliation… So we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18,20).”
Likewise, the next generation embraced this ministry of reconciliation. One late second century pastor said Christians “Love all men, and by all men are persecuted… They are reviled, and yet they bless; when they are affronted, they still pay due respect (section 5 of The Epistle to Diognetus).” They were clearly working for the good of all by valuing relationships more than being “right.”
But what about Jesus’ followers today? Is this, my Mennonite friends, how we are known? Are we the glue that binds, or the scissors that divide?
We as Mennonites and as Mennonite churches have a marvelous opportunity to regain that reputation for being reconcilers committed to the dignity and respect of all persons and cultures. Peace, reconciliation, conflict transformation is in our blood. Jesus is our DNA.
As ambassadors of reconciliation (racial, religious, political, economic), our call is very different from civil ambassadors, who work to impose the will of the dominant party on fringe groups. No, our call is the reconciliation of all groups to each other and to God. It is to share one story, one identity in the midst of diversity. Our call is to love, and to empower others to do likewise.
How is God calling you to build relationship in your neighborhood or workplace? As an ambassador for reconciliation, what resources do you need to love, overcome barriers, and stand with those different than yourself? Is there someone in particular that you need to be reconciled to today? Wouldn’t it be great if we Christians were known not for our exclusivity, but for our ability to “love the stranger as you love yourself”?
To all members in our denomination of beautiful multicultural diversity: “Be ambassadors for reconciliation.” Perhaps our political leaders don’t believe in diversity of cultures, but our God does. Love your city, your neighbor, your co-worker, your enemy and everyone you meet. If you do, you’ll be “the justice of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)”!
Links you can use:
- Last Week’s Sermon from the “Citizens on a Hill” series God’s remedy for the World’s biggest problems. You can find it here: https://houstonmennonite.org/sermons-from-marty-troyer/remedy-for-the-worlds-biggest-problems/
Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
►Intermediate Youth: with Lynda Voran.
** Children’s Church during worship in our children’s ministry room for kids 1-5. They hear a Bible story, sing, and play together.
ORDER OF WORSHIP, July 10, 2011, Citizens on the Hill
Welcome include a reading of: Psalm 133
* Songs of Praise and Celebration
Wonderful Grace HWB #150
Far, far away from my loving Father HWB #139
Scripture Reading Matthew 5:21-26
Sermon & Response Bridges to [the] cross
Affirmation of Faith Slowly Turning, ever turninge SJ #23
*Sending Scripture 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
* Sending Prayer/Commissioning
* Song of Sending Jesus help us live in peace SJ #52
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, also available on Facebook.
HMC E-Newsletter is compiled by Houston Mennonite Church pastor Marty Troyer.
All are invited and encouraged to share articles, personal updates, stories, announcements, pictures, etc… to include in the weekly updates.
Know of others who would like to receive HMC E-Newsletter e-mails from Houston Mennonite? Have them send name and e-mail to Marty at email@example.com.