HMC E-Newsletter June 8, 2012

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Check out Pictures from Sunday’s BBQ!!

God’s Counter-Cultural Story: Did you miss last week’s sermon on how the Bible functions? Marty spoke about the pressure’s we feel to conform to the world, and How the Bible empowers us to live for God. You can find them at:, sermon tab.
Immigration from a Christian Perspective: Over the next two weeks (June 3 and June 10), the Adult Sunday School will be discussing the topic of “Immigration from a Christian Perspective”. We’ve gathered some resources for the discussion, which are listed below – if you’ll be taking part in the discussion, we recommend you read as many of these as you can. If you’re pressed for time, concentrate on items 1 and 2. See you on Sunday!

1. Mennonite Church USA statement on immigration
2. What’s more important: Legality or Hospitality? Peace Pastor blog article on the topic of immigration from a Christian perspective, from July 2011:

3. Mennonite Central Committee’s page on immigration:

4. Article – ‘My ancestors were illegal immigrants’:

If you’d like to do some further reading, check out this list of resources available from the Western District Conference Resource Library:
This entire list can also be found with the Sunday School listings on the HMC Facebook events page:

Thank You’s

#1. Church Council and others: For organizing and hosting a great BBQ last week! Everyone participated in creating a great event we can all be proud of.

#2 From Hannah and Marty Troyer: We are thrilled to call Houston Mennonite Church our church family. Thank you for the rich blessing and commissioning we experienced last Sunday in worship! We have loved our 3 ½ years among you and look forward to the next four years!

WDC Annual Gathering
Becoming One to be Sent in Christ (John 17) is the theme for the upcoming Western District Conference annual assembly, set for July 6-8 at Meridian Convention Center in Oklahoma City.  You, as a member of a WDC church, are invited to attend this gathering of resourcing, meaningful worship and community-building conversations.  Featured speakers are Chuck Neufeld and Eugene Thieszen.  Check your church office for registration info or:

3.  Note these upcoming deadlines for the WDC Annual Assembly:
Hotel – for the lowest rate, call the Magnuson Hotel in Oklahoma City by JUNE 6 at 1-800-784-7830 to reserve your room. Say that you are with the Western District Mennonite Convention, code #13408.  (Please do NOT book rooms online, as this will not allow use of free meeting rooms.)

  • Registration form – Send your registration form with payment by JUNE 22.  After this date, the registration fee increases.

Why our Prayers in Worship are broader than individual concerns
By Marty Troyer
Our church sharing time is one of the most important elements in our worship. It opens space to be cared for and nurtured, to share our brokenness and needs. We value this gift so much we do it verbally and through unspoken candle prayers. This caring is at the heart of who we are as a people.

It is equally important for our sharing time to be broader than our individual concerns, to open space in our hearts for the other, and for God’s mission in our world. The quintessential Christian prayer –The Lord’s Prayer- can lead us in understanding why our prayers in worship our broader than individual concerns.

I absolutely love the phrase in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, “Beware of practicing your justice before others.” It sounds odd because the work of justice is often very public; and Jesus doesn’t make it less odd when he then talks about charity, prayer, and fasting.

Apparently, in Jesus mind, practicing spiritual disciplines are necessary (though he’s not claiming they are sufficient) to our work for justice. Chapter 6 closes by Jesus encouraging us to strive for justice above all else.

And right in the middle, Jesus teaches us how to pray for justice. In doing so he’s teaching us to visualize an alternative future than we’re defaulted to achieve. As Walter Wink said before his recent passing, “History belongs to intercessors who believe the future into being.”

So Jesus, with his eyes on that alternative future says, ‘Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 

Prayer begins as a pledge of ultimate allegiance to God alone. This is ethical monotheism rooted in the Sinai command “have no other gods before me” and the greatest commandment of loving God with all our being. “Dominion” the Psalmist says, belongs not to mayors and Presidents or corporations; but “to the Lord.” Making peace and doing justice requires such unchanging allegiance precisely because God is the God of peace and justice.

And thus the mission of God (God’s reign, God’s kingdom) is seeking the Holistic Peace of Houston. We pray that God’s intent for the world would become reality. Which is no small prayer, as the rumors of war and presence of poverty prove. Instead, it’s nothing short of a miracle. The miracle of God’s breaking into the present order to establish God’s reign. To this vision, Houston’s peace-makers add our voice to thePsalmists, “May righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.”

Jesus now pulls out his colors and paints a fuller picture of what God’s reign is.

Give us this day our daily bread. 

The single word “our” changes everything for the person of faith, demanding that we consider the whole. There is no room for “us” or “them” in Jesus inclusive “our.” There is just we, a noun large enough to cover the entire system that is Houston. And large enough to cover those Houston City Council has just made it illegal to share food with. It’s missionally impossible to pray this prayer and criminalize food-sharing at the same time. For only a dead faith separates prayer from action. James says you cannot see a person in need and say, “Go in peace! Keep warm and eat your fill” and not share your resources with them. Christ’s prayer breaks the bonds of selfishness and individualism, freeing us to pursue the common good.

God’s Shalom picture for Houston is proved remarkably relevant with his next brush stroke.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

God cares about debt and prefers Jubilee to oppressive lending and imbalanced economy. When Jesus re-members our imagination to Jubilee (the ancient concept of economic and social justice where everyone has enough) he invites us to lead the way in the incredibly earthy, financial terms of debt forgiveness. After all, God has forgiven us our debts, and we’re called to be like God.

Fleshing out the insistent “our” still further acknowledges the powerful bonds, thongs, and yokes that forbid debt forgiveness in our world. Breaking these in prayer and action is the discipline to which we are called.

Doing so would radically change our landscape and skyline. After all, Houston’s two tallest buildings are architectural celebrations of these same bonds, thongs, and yokes. But imagine the beauty of Harris County’s landscape if we traded our skyline for the building blocks of Jubilee, Generosity and Enough! Or the character-creation if we traded our Education budget for our Entertainment budget.

Of course, there is much in us that is resistant to such a vision for Houston. So Jesus closes his prayer with:

And do not bring us into temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

The prayer itself defines our temptations.  We’re tempted by idolatry, to pledge allegiance to someone or something other than God. We’re tempted to work for a public vision disconnected from our faith, and by an other-worldly faith disconnected from real life. We’re tempted to hoard and exclude, to separate and segregate, to function as individuals, families and tribes rather than a whole. We’re tempted to riches at the expense of others.

We end where we began, with a summons to allegiance that cuts right into the overt individualism of the American Dream,

For yours are the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

Last week in our sermon (which you can read online,, sermon tab) we heard about God’s Counter-Cultural Mission which invites us to “Seek the peace of the city where you live, and pray to the Lord on its’ behalf.” Again we see the connection between action and prayer in bringing shalom justice to Houston just like it is in heaven. For this, God promises we will indeed have everything we need!

GOD’S STORY (YOU ARE HERE) June 10, 2012
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


Opening Scripture       Genesis 1

Opening Prayer

Songs of Praise and Celebration

I Sing the mighty power of God HWB #46
For the beauty of the earth
HWB #89
Prayer for illumination HWB 725

Scripture          Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26                                                                                                  

Children’s Time


Moment of Mission
Song of Response        Creation is a song SJ #24

Sharing & Prayer
*Offering and Offertory

Sending Scripture                    Romans 12:2

Commissioning (with laying on of hands)

Song of Sending           The Love of God SJ #44

Theme: God’s Story: You are Here. Today we intro our summer theme on the Story of God found in Scripture. The Bible is both filled with stories, a collection of events from dozens of authors in numerous contexts spread out over more than a thousand years; AND, it is ONE story: the story of God’s Mission in our world. This summer we’ll look at God’s Story in 5 Acts. Our place in God’s story is in Act 5, a context which calls for a specific way of being that differs from other “Acts” in God’s story. This Sunday, we’ll celebrate the story of creation as told in numerous ways in the Bible.

Worship Leader: Gloria; Speaker: Marty Troyer; Children’s Message: Margaret; Children’s Church: Laura Peifer; Song Leader: Paul; Pianist: Margaret Gehman; Scripture Reader: Diego Rodriguez; Moment in Mission: Ana Rosa Craig.

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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