Holy Week and Easter at Morden Mennonite

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Grace, Grace, God’s Grace

A sermon by Ron Falk on March 31, 2019, the fourth Sunday of Lent, called “Grace, Grace, God’s Grace.” It is part of our Lenten series entitled, “Blessed Hunger, Holy Feast.”

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Come to God’s Feast!

A sermon by Pastor Michael Pahl on March 24, 2019, the third Sunday of Lent, called “Come to God’s Feast!” It focuses on the theme of “repentance,” and it is part of our Lenten series entitled, “Blessed Hunger, Holy Feast.”

Here is a written excerpt:

Jesus’ call to repentance is indeed a call to “deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him.” But this “self-denial” is not a denial of our humanity; it is not a denial of the good desires God created within us. Rather, it’s a denial of the self-centred way in which we try to fulfill those good desires. Repentance is a turning away from all our harmful words and actions generated by those desires disordered by our selfishness.

But as we “deny ourselves” like this, Jesus says, we will experience true “life,” full and “abundant life” together. This is what he means when he says, “Those who lose their life will find it.” We discover our true humanity, including our natural human desires, re-ordered and re-imagined around love of God and love of neighbour, and so we experience life as God intended it.

Jesus’ call to repentance is indeed an invitation, then. It is an invitation into a sacred space of love, of liberty, of flourishing life. It is an invitation to God’s lavish feast of love, God’s rich banquet of infinite mercy and grace.

And this invitation is still open to us today.

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From “Fear” to “Holy Fear” to “Fear Not”

A sermon by Pastor Michael Pahl on March 17, 2019, the second Sunday of Lent, called “From ‘Fear’ to ‘Holy Fear’ to ‘Fear Not.’” It is part of our Lenten series entitled, “Blessed Hunger, Holy Feast.”

Here is a written excerpt:

There’s a story about fear that gets repeated again and again in the Bible. The basic story goes like this:

So-and-so is afraid of something. There’s an enemy at the gates, or a storm engulfing the boat, something threatening their wellbeing.

So, God comes to them in some way, through an angel or a vision or a burning bush or a man walking on water, and this makes them even more afraid. They’re terrified, now, because the all-powerful, holy God is here. This is actually a positive step, though: suddenly their previous fear seems pretty puny by comparison.

But then God says to them, “Do not be afraid,” or “Peace be with you,” and God gives them something as a sign of God’s faithful love to them: a wooden staff, a pillar of fire, some wine and bread, a breath, a hand, a promise.

To put this story in other words, this repeated biblical story is a movement from “fear” to “holy fear” to “fear not.”

From “fear” to “holy fear” to “fear not.” That’s the story about fear here in Genesis 15. It’s the same story for Israel in Egypt, and then in the wilderness, and then later in the exile. It’s the same story of Jesus coming to the disciples in the storm walking on the water, and Jesus coming to the disciples after his resurrection from the dead.

From “fear” to “holy fear” to “fear not.” This is also, in a way, the entire story of the Bible. Humanity lives in fear of death and dark powers. So, God comes to us in our fears at Mount Sinai, and we are in awe of God’s awesome power and holiness. But God responds to us—in many different ways, but ultimately in Jesus—by saying, “Do not be afraid” and “Peace be with you,” and giving us a sign of God’s faithful love for us: Jesus’ gift of himself.

From “fear” to “holy fear” to “fear not.” This story is reflected in our passage from 1 John 4 also. We live in fear of others, in fear of God, in fear of condemnation and punishment. But God comes to us in Jesus, showing us a God who not only loves us but who is love in God’s very being. And God gives us a sign of that love: when we love each other in the same way as God has loved us in Jesus, we will see God among us.

From “fear” to “holy fear” to “fear not.” This can also be our own story. Our lives are swarming with fears of all kinds; our very wellbeing so often feels threatened, body and soul, present and future, ourselves and those we love. So, God comes to us in our fears, and our first response is a “holy fear”—humbled in the presence of our Creator. But then God says to us, “Do not be afraid, be at peace,” and we receive the very presence of God’s Spirit alongside us, groaning with us in our sufferings, assuring us of God’s ever-present love and faithfulness come what may.

From “fear” to “holy fear” to “fear not.” This is the story about fear that we need to hear. It’s the good-news, gospel story of Jesus.

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Cries for Deliverance

A sermon by Pastor Lawrence Siemens on March 10, 2019, the first Sunday of Lent, called “Cries for Deliverance.” It is part of our Lenten series entitled, “Blessed Hunger, Holy Feast.”

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The Coming Son of Man

A sermon by Pastor Michael Pahl on March 3, 2019, called “The Coming Son of Man.” It is the seventh and last in a series called “Reading the Bible with Jesus.” The sermon is a reflection on Jesus’ use of “Son of Man” to refer to himself, including his use of Daniel 7:13-14 in this.

Here is a written excerpt:

James Tissot, Jésus dans la synagogue déroule le livre

Many times when Jesus uses the phrase “Son of Man,” then, these are the kinds of things he is thinking of: he is the “Human One,” representing the full promise and responsibility of humanity. When he heals on the Sabbath, for example, he says, “Humanity was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for humanity. The Son of Man”—Jesus, in other words, representing all humankind—“is Lord of the Sabbath.”

But there’s still more to all this. There are a few times when Jesus uses “Son of Man” to refer to a specific Old Testament passage, one that puts an extra strong spin on all this: Daniel 7.

We read a snippet of Daniel 7 this morning. If you’re looking for something to read this afternoon, you should check out the whole chapter. It’s a doozy! It was also a pretty popular passage of Scripture in some circles in Jesus’ day.

Daniel 7 describes a dream Daniel had, a prophetic vision. In the dream he sees four beasts, each one more monstrous than the one before. These beasts, we’re told, represent four successive empires in human history: perhaps the ancient Babylonian Empire, then the Persian Empire, then the Greeks and the Seleucids.

Then, in sharp contrast to these horrific, horrible beasts, these inhuman empires, these oppressive powers of this age, “one like a son of man” comes “on the clouds of heaven” into the throne room of God, and God gives this son of man “dominion” over all the earth. In other words, this is a kingdom with a human face, a human touch, a humane kingdom: this is the kingdom of God.

In other, other words, this is humanity fulfilling its original divine purpose: extending God’s reign of love and light and life to all creation.

Here, then, is the significance of all this “Son of Man” language by Jesus. Here is what this odd way of referring to himself is all about.

Jesus comes as “Son of Man,” fully and truly human, sharing in our humanity. As Son of Man Jesus share all our weakness, all our frailty, all the dust and dirt of our bodily existence.

Jesus comes as “Son of Man,” representing us as humankind. As Son of Man Jesus draws us up into God’s presence, paving the way for us to fulfill God’s purpose for us created in God’s image.

Jesus comes as “Son of Man” to receive God’s eternal kingdom and to reign over all the earth in love and light and life, in contrast to all the monstrous, inhuman empires and evil powers that continue to plague our world.

And in Jesus’ birth and life, his baptism and transfiguration, at the cross and in the resurrection and at the renewal of all things, all this is fulfilled. Jesus is this coming Son of Man.

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Sawuti Choir

We are pleased to welcome the Sawuti Choir to our morning worship service this coming Sunday, February 24, 2019, at 10:40am. All are welcome! And then all are welcome to stay after for a church potluck with the choir!

Note: We will be collecting a separate offering in addition to our regular offering, to help offset the choir’s travel expenses. If you are writing a cheque in advance, please make it out to “Seven Wells Ministries Canada”.

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