HMC E-Newsletter March 11, 2010

Be transformed: How Scripture functions at HMC: Part 2
By Pastor Marty Troyer

I’ve always been Biblically fairly precocious. I have fond memories of reading my picture Bible with dad, flannel graph in Sunday School, Story Book videos, and being the Troyer family Bible trivia champ year in and year out. I also remember being stunned as a freshman in college to learn that the David who killed Goliath as a wily kid was the same David who grew up to become King of Israel. Since that fateful day at Hesston College 16 years ago, I think by my count I’ve read the whole Bible 10 times and the New Testament twice that many times. So hopefully I wouldn’t make such a silly mistake today.

The Christian education I grew up with taught me the stories in scripture. And I knew the individual stories, or lots of them anyway (there are hundreds of individual stories and vignettes in scripture), along with dozens of the main characters. What I, like many, did not know was THE story. It wasn’t until college and adulthood that I realized that the Bible isn’t just a collection of great stories (and it is!), it is moreso a story that has a beginning, middle, and an end. Instead of the Bible being a collection of individual beads you can arrange anyway you want to, it is a necklace with beads strung together in proper sequence. Only in seeing them together can the single stories about David be transformed from stories about heroes to THE story of God redeeming people.  

But the truly astonishing thing about the Bible is not that it is just one story. Oh no! The most fantastic feature of the Bible is that it proves to be our story. We ourselves are characters in the ongoing story of God reconciling the world to itself and the divine. We are invited to participate in the greatest story ever told, to stand beside Abraham and Sarah, Peter, Mary, and Martha as participants in the unfolding plan of God. Some have likened “God’s story” to a play in 4 Acts. Act 1 highlights the story before Jesus; Act 2 is the climax of the story in Jesus of Nazareth; we’re characters living in Act 3; and Act 4 is the fulfillment of all God’s dreams for his creation. It is a story whose end is yet to come.

So, how does Scripture function at Houston Mennonite Church? It functions to invite us in to God’s story, to see ourselves and our own individual stories as being the story of the people of God. My story, our story, is God’s story! Michele Hershberger, Professor of Bible at Hesston College, says it this way: “Choose God’s Story as your own. Out of all the ways of understanding who we are and why we are, we choose the Story of how God has been loving and drawing us through Jesus Christ. This story now defines our identity and our way of looking at the world. We ‘believe’ Jesus (God’s Story, Our Story: Exploring Christian Faith and Life, pg 112).”

When we see God’s story as our own, the Bible begins to read and interpret us. This is the story that reveals us as we truly are, and as we were from the beginning intended to be. Likewise, this story above all others reveals the world as it truly is, and as it was from the beginning intended to be. In other words, it becomes our guide and source book. It no longer describes the actions and beliefs of people back then. Instead it describes the actions and beliefs of us today. This is precisely why we call ourselves “The church of the Sermon on the Mount.” Because we believe that sermon is our sermon; and more importantly, that the preacher of that sermon is our preacher. As Hershberger has said many times, “Jesus meant what he said, and he was talking to us.” Jesus’ call for the disciples to “follow me” is God’s call on our lives. When Jesus said in Acts 1 “you will be my witnesses,” he is looking right at us. When he said “come to me all that are weary and I will give you rest,” he’s thinking about your tiredness and need for care. Paul’s notion about everyone having gifts and needing to share in leadership isn’t just an antiquated way of surviving without a pastor, it’s a challenge we must accept to share the work of ministry at Houston Mennonite. And when Paul says in our upcoming Sunday text that “we are ambassadors for Christ…working together with him,” he’s thinking about Malakai, Rosa, Liza and Lilya- our children who will one day grow up to participate in the ongoing work of God on earth. 

As I preach each week I seek to respond to God’s call on us by being faithful to myself, the text I’m preaching from, and our context. As I said last week, the texts we use in worship are not random, but intentionally chosen to center us on Christ by inviting us in to the story. As pastor and preacher this is my ultimate goal- to orient your lives to Christ our center as we navigate God’s story together. May this be so for you as you continue to read the Lenten texts, listen to the sermons, hear God’s word read aloud in worship, and study Scripture together corporately in Sunday School and the Journey. May you enter God’s story as your own!

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Don’t forget to check your church mailbox! If you are new and would like a mailbox at church, please let Marty know. Thanks.

►THE JOURNEY: Wednesday Night, 7PM @ HMC A mid-week small group gathering to share life, prayer, and reflect on Lenten scripture texts.. Pack your Bible and perhaps a journal. Travel companions provided. Why stumble alone when you can walk together? Come share the Journey!  
►Blessing the Brooms Ceremony: The Justice for Janitors campaign is in full swing in Houston. Meet Downtown, Jones Plaza Wednesday March 17th 4-5PM.
►Learning Christ by reading and/or listening to the New Testament: We invite you to read/listen to the NT during Lent. For more information, talk with Pastor Marty or visit our webpage.         
►Ten Thousand Villages Rug Sale: Help is needed with unloading and reloading of the rugs, as well as with the sale itself. Unloading rugs Wed., March 25th at 6 pm. and reloading will be Mon. March 29th at 6 pm. The sale is Thursday March 25- Monday March 29.
►Ten Thousand Villages: Next Sunday is “Mennonite Sunday” at TTV. Those who regularly work please email your license numbers to the store.
►Maundy Thursday: Thursday April 1 Meal 6PM (Bring your own) and Worship @7PM including foot washing and communion.   
►Good Friday: Friday April 2 Tennebrae Service of Shadows 7PM.
►Easter Sunday!!! Sunday April 4.
                           9:00 AM Outdoor “Sunrise” service
                           9:30 AM Brunch Potluck
                           10:45 AM Easter Worship
►Outreach BBQ: April 11. Outreach team is sponsoring an outreach event we will invite the community to. But the best “community” is your community!! So invite your friends, your family, and your co-workers If you have ideas for games (corn toss, croquet, carnival games, etc…)  or entertainment, let Outreach know. Please plan on attending and helping out! This is a great way of living our value of wanting to grow. Please support this effort.              
►Care Packages for College Students and our Missionary family.  Collecting April 11- April 25th. Think lite and small.
►Welcome Lunch for Newcomers: Sunday April 18.  Are you new to Houston Mennonite? Would you like to hear more about our congregation’s history? Interested in knowing more about Mennonites and Anabaptists? Join us Next Sunday October 4th after worship for a light meal and time of fellowship and sharing. We’ll tell you more about our congregation’s vision and mission in the world, and give you a glimpse of our story over the 42 years of our existence. We’ll also talk about what it means to be a Mennonite, and why we think that’s an important part of our identity. Pastor Marty Troyer and our Community Life Ministry Team will host you for a meal.
►You won’t want to miss Western District Conference Annual Retreat: Friday July 9-Sunday July 11.
Put this on your calendar now! This is an amazing Christian resourcing, recreational, and relational event. Cost is incredibly low at $130 per person, for 2 nights and 5 meals. Location is Waxahatchie Texas, just South of Dallas. A 4 hour drive from Houston. Plan now to attend with your church family. Church leadership would love to see 20 or more HMCers attend.

 March 7th Offering Report: The March 7th 2010 Offerings were $2220.00, including $100 for our new missions support of Gamaliel and Amanda Falla.

The March edition of The Mennonite magazine included a very challenging and theological look at economics and generosity.

Ceaseless Generosity

by J. Alden Tyson

Economics, under the guise of capitalism, according to the textbooks, is the science that studies the allocation of scarce resources. The assumption is that the created world is one inherently lacking the resources necessary for the equal well-being of its creatures. Thus the doctrine of a scarce world is to capitalism as the book of Genesis is to the Bible. Insofar as capitalism declares that the world was born not with plenitude but with innate scarcity and despair, it lays the foundation for the competition and violence that accompany its global crusade.

Yet peering deeper into the fabric of capitalist economics, we see something even more perilous at work. Capitalism’s creation theology inherently risks eliminating the act of gift-giving. In a scarce world, letting go of your possessions means sacrificing your security. Who among us is willing to do such a thing?

To read the entire article:


 The following looks at one church’s efforts to be faithful and to grow in an urban context. It was first printed in the Winter 2009-2010 edition of Leader magazine, a publication of Mennonite Church USA.

Ministry in the Neighborhood
By Samuel Voth Schrag
 In the fall of 2008, the St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship (SLMF) purchased its first building in a low income neighborhood in southern St. Louis. By our second Sunday in the building, we experienced the different culture of our new neighborhood in the form of our neighbor Jim, and soon afterwards lost the first car windows and cell phones to theft during an evening meeting. We had rented from other congregations for the first 30 years of our history, mostly in suburbs around St. Louis, so a low-income neighborhood was outside our comfort zone. Beyond the obvious challenges of owning our own building—the water in the basement, the lawn needing to be mowed every week, and the bathrooms requiring cleaning—the community around the church became a much greater part of our experience as a congregation. After that encounter on our second Sunday, a constant stream of visitors have been inserting themselves in our lives and asking for our assistance, and we have not lacked for opportunities to live out God’s mission.

Faced with a poor neighborhood, an economic crisis, and a new building, our task as a congregation was to discern how to best serve God in our new community: How might we offer service to the poor, justice to the oppressed, and the vision of Christ to all people?

To read the full excellent article from an urban Mennonite Church likes ours, 

Budget and Debt Counseling

 If you are facing a difficult financial situation or need questions answered about a mortgage, your credit report, or even the household budget, MMA offers a compassionate and thoughtful service that can help.  

Confidential budget and debit counseling from a certified credit counselor (up to six sessions) is available to you at no cost through an arrangement MMA has with LSS Financial Counseling,* a service of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. To use this reliable, free, faith-based service, call (877) 809-0039 – this is a toll-free number. LSS also offers counseling services through mail correspondence. Call LSS or your local MMA or Mennonite Financial office to use this method of service. Among the services or topics available are:

       Family budgeting skills
Credit reports and improving credit scores
Debt repayment plans (read the Bankruptcy Question article)
Advice about identity theft issues
Student and vehicle loan questions (borrowing, repayment, default, and repossession)
Home buying and mortgage information

 Lenten Schedule

►Learning Christ by reading and/or listening to the New Testament. Mp3 copies of the NT are available the next several Sundays in English and Spanish, children’s and adult.
►Wednesday Nights: The Journey A mid-week small group gathering to share life, prayer, and reflect on Lenten scripture texts. 7PM Wednesdays at Houston Mennonite Church. Pack your Bible and perhaps a journal. Travel companions provided. Why stumble alone when you can walk together? Come share the Journey! Come to me, all who are weary and in need of rest.’ Jesus


Lenten Practices

You are encouraged to either pick up or let go of something this Lenten season, as a spiritual symbol of your walk with God. Check out the worship tab of our website for suggestions, or consider joining us for this collective practice:
Read and/or listen to the New Testament.
We invite you to “work out” your faith this Lenten season by listening to or reading the entire New Testament through the 40 days of Lent. Mp3 copies of the NT will be available the next several Sundays, for those who want to listen. Bible Reading guides will be available for those who want to read (also below). Of course, you can do a bit of both. The January 10th sermon talked about “making the impossible possible” by training ourselves to practice what we want to become. Make sure to pick up your copy of the NT on CD this Sunday: available in English, Spanish, adult and children’s.

To download free copies of the New Testament in various translations, languages, and drama or non-drama formats, check out:

To purchase a $29 listening device called a “Bible Stick” see

Day 1 – Matt. 1-7
Day 2 – Matt. 8-12
Day 3 – Matt. 13-18
Day 4 – Matt. 19-24
Day 5 – Matt. 25-28
Day 6 – Mark 1-6
Day 7 – Mark 7-11
Day 8 – Mark 12-16
Day 9 – Luke 1-4
Day 10 – Luke 5-9
Day 11 – Luke 10-13
Day 12 – Luke 14-19
Day 13 – Luke 20-24
Day 14 – John 1-5
Day 15 – John 6-9
Day 16 – John 10-14
Day 17 – John 15-19
Day 18 – John 20-Acts 4
Day 19 – Acts 5-9
Day 20 – Acts 10-15
Day 21 – Acts 16-20
Day 22 – Acts 21-26
Day 23 – Acts 27-Rom. 4
Day 24 – Rom. 5-10
Day 25 – Rom. 11-I Cor. 1
Day 26 – I Cor. 2-9
Day 27 – I Cor. 10-15
Day 28 – I Cor. 16-II Cor. 9
Day 29 – II Cor. 10-Gal. 4
Day 30 – Gal. 5-Phil. 1
Day 31 – Phil. 2-I Thes. 2
Day 32 – I Thes. 3-I Tim. 5
Day 33 – I Tim. 6-Heb. 1
Day 34 – Heb. 2-10
Day 35 – Heb. 11-James 5
Day 36 – I Pet. 1-I John 1
Day 37 – I John 2-Jude
Day 38 – Rev. 1-7
Day 39 – Rev. 8-15
Day 40 – Rev. 16-22


Welcome to Ten Thousand Villages Houston!

Ten Thousand Villages Houston is a nonprofit fair trade retailer of artisan-crafted items from more than 130 artisan groups in some 38 countries.  We are part of a network of more than 156 retail outlets throughout the United States selling Ten Thousand Villages products.

As one of the world’s oldest fair trade organizations, Ten Thousand Villages has spent more than 60 years cultivating trading relationships in which artisans receive a fair price for their work and consumers have access to distinctive handcrafted gift items, personal accessories and home decor from across the globe.

To many, fair trade is just an economic term.  Our definition, however, runs far deeper. At Ten Thousand Villages, fair trade is a partnership based on dialogue, mutual understanding, respect and direct contact between ourselves and our artisan partners in developing countries.  We seek to establish long-term buying relationships in places where skilled artisans are under- or unemployed, and in which they lack other opportunities for income.  

►Ten Thousand Villages Rug Sale: Want to help with this annual event? Help is needed with unloading and reloading of the rugs, as well as with the sale itself Unloading rugs Wed., March 25th at 6 pm. and reloading will be Mon. March 29th at 6 pm. The sale is Thursday March 25- Monday March 29.

►Ten Thousand Villages: Next Sunday is “Mennonite Sunday” at TTV. Those who regularly work please email your license numbers to the store.

Mennonite Mission Network Responds to the Chile Earthquake:

See the link below for an article printed in the Mennonite Weekly Reivew

The following article asks the great question, “So how does a shy Mennonite reach out to others?” It was first printed in the Winter 2008-2009 edition of Leader magazine, a publication of Mennonite Church USA.

Just walk across the room
by Keith Hostetler

As I think of those that need to be reached, I look at the church growth models of the mega churches in our communities. I see many of them attempting to attract the beautiful middle class families. We would like those families too, but perhaps our mission is different. Perhaps we are called to reach out to the tax collectors, sinners, thieves, drunkards, and prostitutes. We have to invite them into our lives. How can we do that? By walking across the room to meet them.

For the full article,

Mennonite Hero Gene Stoltfus, CPTer, died Wed March 10

MAM to Host Taste of Spring Branch


Savor the flavors at the first Taste of Spring Branch hosted by Memorial Assistance Ministries (MAM) Sunday, April 25th.  Restaurants in the Spring Branch area will offer a sampling of their specialties from 4 to 6 p.m. at MAM located at 1625 Blalock Road, Houston, one block north of Long Point.

Restaurants slated to participate include: Blue Planet Café, Old Towne Kolaches, Chocolate Pizzazz, Ashland House Restaurant, Russo’s New York Pizzeria, Polonia and Silver Eagle Distributors, plus others.  Beginning April 1, tickets for $20 each can be purchased at MAM or on MAM’s website,  Tickets purchased on the day of the event will be $25.    “This is a great opportunity for friends to try new places in town,” said Martha Macris, Executive Director at MAM, “and discover some hidden treasures in the area all right here at MAM.” 

All ticket proceeds will benefit MAM Emergency Assistance Programs.  MAM serves the Spring Branch area in a variety of ways, including rent assistance to prevent homelessness, utility help to avoid cut off or restore service and limited medical and prescription assistance.  MAM also works closely with Spring Branch ISD with uniforms for school and eyeglasses.  Recently, MAM has expanded their Employment Services program to provide computer classes, job coaching with mock interviews and partnerships with area businesses. MAM also offers GED classes and day and evening English as a Second Language classes.  MAM is a section 501© (3) non-profit organization.  For more information call 713 574-7540.

You and your friends are invited to join us for our Sunday School programs for people of all ages. 9:30AM each and every Sunday!

►ADULT Class: BOOK STUDY: Time Warped: First Century Time Stewardship for 21st Century Living. 9:30AM.
This book is on time-but not time management. You don’t need another organizational tool or trick. What you’ll study in these pages is our society’s inclination toward busyness-and what that means to the Christian seeking God and wholeness. Each chapter ends with discussion questions that will help you identify areas where you may need to do some repair work.
►Preschool (age 2-4): With Teacher Beth Wiebe.
►Grades 3-5:
With Teacher Linda Ensminger.
►Junior Youth (Grades 6-8):
With Teachers Alan Wilson, Kristi Long.
►High School: With Teachers Lynda and Roxie Voran, Marty Troyer.

** Children’s Church happens during worship in our children’s ministry room for kids 1-5. They hear a Bible story, sing, and play together.

Housing Needed
Relatives of former member Linda Kandel will be spending 11 weeks in Houston starting June 7 and are looking for temporary housing. A studio apt or even a room and bath would be o.k. Linda says this about her niece and the husband: Justin is doing a human resources internship with Shell Oil  on Fannin. He is a grad student at University of IL. Kirsten would be interested in finding something to do , work or volunteer. Justin and Kirsten are very neat young people. He is outgoing with lots of energy, she is creative and more shy. They are liberal Apostolic Christian, which is my background, and very interested in peace and justice.  They are looking into missions and have visited Sierra Leone for a possible place. Justin and Kirsten plan to join us for worship this summer when they can.

If anyone in the congregation has or knows of anything available please contact Linda Kandel or Pastor Marty. 

Order of Worship March 14, 2010

Do you know of someone who would benefit from hearing that there are things in life worth holding on to other than stuff, and that it might be time to let go of something? Consider inviting them to church. Here’s one way that might feel more comfortable to you and them: Tell them something your faith helped you to let go of, and tell them about our church Lenten theme. Let them know where and when we meet. Tell them to check us out online for themselves, so they know what they are getting into before they come. Try it, it might be just what they need!

* Call to Worship                                                                                                            HWB #659
* Opening Prayer
* Opening Songs                                                                                
        I sing the mighty power of God                                                                                       
HWB #46
        Softly and tenderly                                                                                                     HWB # 491

Scripture Reading                                      Psalm 32                                                        OT Pg 506
Children’s Time (Children 1-5 dismissed for Children’s Church)   
Sharing joys and concerns, Prayer       Please feel free at any time to light a candle-prayer at the front of the sanctuary
Affirmation of Faith                                                                                                       HWB #714
Scripture Reading                                2 Corinthians 5:16-21                                            NT Pg 181
Message                                               Ambassadors for Christ
Prayer of Confession
Leader: Loving God, you have called us to our spiritual home, to be reconciled to you. And you have called us to be your ambassadors, to establish and nurture relationships within the church and the surrounding world.

All: And yet we have not loved you with all our heart. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. We too often let cares for this world, fears and lack of experience block us from sharing your hope with the world. Lord have mercy.

Leader: Reconcile us to yourself! May we be filled with love.
All: As we work together with Christ, we remember we are a new creation! Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation, and we accept your call to be ambassadors for Christ. Empower us to be the righteousness of God! AMEN
Song of Response                         Make me a channel of your peace                                               SJ #56
Offering & Prayer


Welcoming of Visitors and Announcements                                        
* Benediction Song                                The Lord lift you up                                                     SJ #73
* Benediction                                                                   


* Please stand if comfortable when indicated by asterisk.
SJ- Sing the Journey (Green) HWB- Hymnal Worship Book (Blue).   

Thank you to the following for sharing your gifts!                        
Worship Leader: Gloria Wilson; Song Leader: Paul Siemens; Accompaniment: Andrea Welty Peachey; Scripture Reader: Irma Morales; Children’s Message: Judy Hoffhien; Children’s Church: Hannah Troyer & Adrienne Graybill;  Speaker: Marty Troyer; Sound: Jim Emmert and Nick Gehman.         
Next Week: Children’s Church: Danielle Graybill & Jane McNair, Pianist: Linda.


Call for Pitches
We at Houston Mennonite Church publish an equal opportunity Newsletter. We’d love to have your input in our newsletter. I’m not biased or anything, but I think you should consider including a piece for us to read. Suggestions include: a personal reflection on your faith journey, the death penalty, the wars we’re still fighting, immigration, parenting, creation care, updates on another issue dear to your heart, a look at Houston life and politics, a poem, a historical piece, what it feels like for you to tithe, a skill-based article (pastoral care, hospitality, teaching, etc…), your dreams for our church, a recipe from your pot-luck dish. You write it, we’ll publish it.
With all the technology and media we have today, let’s practice our Anabaptist heritage of everyone having a voice!
Special thanks to Linda Ensminger for her piece below! Stay tuned next week for more offerings from each other!!


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, cell:(713)835-9436, church office (713)464-4865,, also available on facebook.

Additional Information

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 

2 Responses to “March 11, 2010”

  1. Good post! here’s a good one for ya, an organization is like a tree of monkeys… all on different limbs,… at different levels,…some climbing up. The monkeys on the top look down and see a tree full of smiling faces. The monkeys on the bottom look up and see nothing but a%Xholes. hahahah work is too serious joke a little!

  2. Hello! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent job!

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