Monthly Archives: September 2014

An open tent

“To you who wakens all who sleep and stirs all those who slumber, who gives speech to those who cannot speak, who frees the captive and upholds the falling, who makes upright those bent down – to you alone we offer thanks.”

This morning there are songs and chants of praise in our sanctuary.  Little Minyan is a Reconstructionist Jewish community that uses our building to celebrate their high holy days, today observing Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish year.  A minyan refers to the quorum of Jewish worshipers needed to carry out certain religious obligations.  Reconstructionist Jews are theologically and socially progressive while valuing traditional liturgy.  The above prayer is one of those recited today from “Prayerbook for the Days of Awe.”

I was able to experience the opening half hour of the service.  The cantor began with a brief meditation on the prophet Balaam who had been hired to curse the people of Israel, but who, when he saw that their tents were open and facing each other, chose instead to utter a blessing.  She invited the congregation to enter the new year grateful for the safety of their tents, but with their tents open to one another, being willing to expand their tents to hold all of the differences of our global neighbors.

Often when I meet with other groups or pastors throughout Columbus someone will comment that they have been in our building for a gathering of an organization with which they have been affiliated.  Our building is actively used throughout the week and it is one of our ways of keeping our tent open and welcoming to our Columbus neighbors.

May your home and your life also remain open as a blessing to those the Holy One will bring your way.

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A baby and a new front door

For the last half year we have been plodding along in the creation of a new church website, working with the good folks at LightSky who were recommended to us through Central District Conference.  Because the church staff has worked on it little by little and watched it slowly take shape we’ve recently been calling it our baby.  We’re now happy to announce that labor has ended and we have a birth, or a re-birth.  www.columbusmennonite.org has been born again!  (If the site has a picture of the church building on it, this is the previous site and means the new one hasn’t fully uploaded for your browser.  Refresh your browser or try again soon).

Like any baby, it’s not completely finished, just finished enough to get started.  One of our hopes for a website was that we would be able to update it and adapt it to our needs over time, and that is what we have.  There are pages that could use more pictures – especially of things happening outside the doors of the church – and some areas where we’ll refine the text as we go.

The main picture on the Home page of the hands of the Piecemakers working on a comforter seemed to us a good metaphor representing the congregation.  We are a stitching together of many stories and perspectives; we value beauty and creativity; we are oriented toward service; our life together calls for many hands to contribute and share their gifts.  A little further down, the Home page also includes a box that will describe the worship focus for the upcoming Sunday, an upcoming event (Church Retreat!), and the most recent blog post.  LightSky encouraged us to feature sermons on the Home page, so at the very bottom is a feed of the five most recent sermons.  When we don’t have the manuscript from an outside speaker we’ll try and include the audio.

You’ll notice under Resources that there is a Member Login feature.  At this point, the only extra page that logging in enables you to see is the Worship Grid, a spreadsheet detailing who is doing what for upcoming worship services.  This is something that Worship Commission uses regularly but is also accessible to anyone who wants to look ahead to when they might be on for a certain duty.  There will be a single username and password for the congregation and Gwen will send that out to members in a separate email.  The worship grid is view-only and cannot be edited/altered through this password.

Another metaphor, besides baby, that can be used for websites is a front door.  In the digital age, people’s first impression of an organization is its website.  The site was designed to be useful to members, but primarily serves as the front door for people who, for example, are looking for a peace church or LGBTQ welcoming church in the Columbus area.  Or those curious about Mennonites, or those who have heard about us but want to know more.

We invite you to share the new site freely with your acquaintances or on Facebook and we are of course open to ways to improve the site over time.  The new site can also be a positive challenge to us to be the church we say we are: “God calls us to be followers of Jesus Christ and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to grow as a community of grace, joy, and peace so that God’s healing and hope flows through us to the world….Columbus Mennonite Church is an inclusive congregation seeking to follow Jesus’ teachings of love to all, justice to all, and fellowship to all.  We invite you to come journey with us in the way of Christ.”

This ordinary time

Although we haven’t been following the lectionary readings for Sunday worship this summer, it is worth remembering that this is the season of Ordinary Time. This is the space between Pentecost and Advent in which we are neither immediately anticipating Christ’s birth nor death. Easter has happened. Pentecost has happened. And now it is Ordinary time, and life is happening. And life is ordinary. And yet, if we are willing to pay attention, it is permeated by all those things we celebrate and observe in the heightened seasons of the year – birth, death, resurrection, Spirit-gift.

If the spiritual life does not consist of honoring the ordinary and finding the holy in the common, I’m not sure what value there is in it. “This, now,” is what we are given. I don’t know why it’s so hard to remember this. My mind races ahead and faces back but forgets what is present, doesn’t notice the immediacy of things given. The gift is given, and its wrapping is the events and people of the day. It is ours to receive.