February 28, 2021
SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
9:30 Sunday School on Zoom
10:30 Worship on Zoom
~Deep In The Woods: Called to deep commitment~
Words of Welcome:
Brothers and sisters in Christ, grace and peace be to you as we join in worship. Welcome.
We are transformed by God as we follow God’s voice along the path of life, a voice calling us to deep commitment. Even when our path leads deep into unfamiliar woods, as we lose ourselves, we are found.
IN OUR CHURCH THIS WEEK
TODAY, Feb 28—Second Sunday in Lent—light five candles
Mon-Thurs., Mar 1-4—Norma attends AMBS Pastor’s Week on Zoom
Mon., Mar 1—Ken Kohlenberg’s birthday (74)
--7 PM --Trustees meet
Tues., Mar 2—5 PM--Worship Committee meets
Wed., Mar 3—7 PM--In the News Bible Study
Stop by the church and pick up your new devotional book and Sunday school book.
Final week to see “After the End of the End of the World,” a collaboration between Rachel Epp Buller and Derek Owens, in the Regier Art Gallery, Luyken Fine Arts Center, at Bethel College. The exhibition closes Friday, March 5. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Fri. (Because of the pandemic, there will be no public reception for this exhibit.) Please note that face coverings must be worn and physical distancing practiced on the Bethel campus.
Weds., Mar 3, 7 p.m. – Bethel College’s two small a cappella ensembles, Open Road (men) and Woven (women) will be featured in the monthly concert series at Plymouth Congregational Church in Wichita, via livestream. To view, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NjlrPGFuTM (Plymouth Congregational Church, Wichita, on YouTube).
Registration is open for the Spring Scrapbook and Crafts Retreats at Camp
Mennoscah on Mar 5-7 and Mar 19-21! Once the retreats are full, sign up on the waitlist. Register at www.campmennoscah.org!
First Mennonite Church, 1161 E Ave A, McPherson is having a drive-thru verenika (with ham gravy and sausage) dinner on Mar 6 from 1-7pm or until the food runs out. This will be a free-will donation event with the proceeds going to the McPherson Housing Coalition. Phone: 620-241-4040
MCC Comforter Blitz: At Home update - We are half-way through the blitz and have received 193 completed comforters. The goal is to receive 300 completed comforters at MCC in North Newton by the end of March! All the details and information on getting comforter making supplies from MCC are at mcc.org/blitz-at-home. Share pictures of your work on the MCC Comforter Blitz Facebook page. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 316.804.8432 with questions. Need batting? Contact Charlotte’s Sew Natural for their special MCC batting price at 316.284.2547. And THANK YOU to everyone working to create beautiful comforters for MCC!
A wonderful gospel quartet—The Triumphant Quartet--is coming to Tabor College Richert Auditorium on Sun, Apr 25 at 7:00 pm. Tickets are required and can be purchased at www.tabor.edu/tickets or call 620-947-3121, ext. 1401. Come enjoy an evening of worship and gospel music!
Planning is now underway for the 2021 Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale to be held July 2 and 3 at the fairgrounds in Hutchinson. One of the most popular booths at the KMRS is "Plants and Things". As many of you know, this is the place to purchase a variety of things for your gardens. You traditionally have been able to buy flowers, shrubs, and garden plants. Many people have counted on being able to get their tomato plants, cabbage starts, melon seedlings, annual flowers, bulbs, etc. at the KMRS. Because July 2 and 3 is a bit late to be thinking about purchasing plants and starting or adding to a garden, the "Plants and Things" booth will be open on April 10, the time our sale is regularly scheduled. "Plants and Things" will be set up at the MCC Building in North Newton utilizing the parking lot and the warehouse facilities. Some things are yet to be decided such as opening and closing times, drop off hours, flat pick up, etc., but we wanted you to know that we will be accepting the plants that you wish to bring to the sale. So please start the seeds that will become a part of your contribution to MCC and the sale event. More information will follow, but we want to encourage you to start those plants to donate to the KMRS Early Plants and Things Sale.
For more information and answers to questions, please contact Kristi Unruh at 6203456867or by email at or you can contact Jim Robb at 620-7470186 or by email at email@example.com..
MCC Alumni Gathering, July 9-11 at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp! All MCC alumni are invited to Colorado to relax in the cool mountain air this summer. We realize there is still uncertainty about summer activities due to COVID-19. At this point, we are planning to have this gathering, all registrations will be refunded if the event gets cancelled. We ask that you still go ahead and register if you plan to attend. Find all the details, including COVID-19 protocols that the camp is following and REGISTER at mcc.org/alumni-gathering.
Everyone mute please.
CALL TO WORSHIP
One: God, you ask us to set our minds on you, to walk before you and be blameless.
You teach us what matters, and you do not hide your face from us.
Many: With each step along the path, we are transformed
into who you made and called us to be.
One: God, you teach us that when we lose our life, we save it.
Many: With each step along the path, we hope against hope in your promises.
One: God, you say you will make us exceedingly fruitful, that you will bless us.
Many: With each step along the path, we take up our cross and follow you.
All: We believe your everlasting covenant is to be God to us,
and that we will live forever.
We call out to you, as you call us deeper into this covenant.
Hymn: “O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus” (Start at 1:07 and end at 4:10 ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hzYKovRsJ8
Candlelighting: Light only five candles.
Prayer of Confession:
Many: Deep calls to deep.
We call to you from the depths of our hearts.
One: We confess when we have stayed on the edges.
Not listening to each other.
Not taking the path you show.
We confess when we have strayed from the way.
(Silence. Or name the forces that keep us from deep commitment.)
Deep calls to deep.
You call to us from the depth of your love.
Many: Calling us to deep commitment.
We come to you, God.
HEARING THE WORD
Supplies: common and uncommon items found in a forest, such as a rock, pine cone, leaf, picture of a pygmy shrew, picture of a fiddlehead
(Display the items and ask if they can name them. Begin with the most recognizable, common item and end with the most unusual, unrecognizable item. If the children are not able to identify the last item, ask the adults.)
Did you know that all these items can be found in the woods? Some of the things you recognized right away, like the rock and leaf, but some of the other things were a little bit difficult to recognize. We even had to ask the adults to find out what it was.
Our life can be like going into a forest. Sometimes there are things we recognize easily. Life is familiar, things are going well for us, but sometimes there are things we don’t recognize. Maybe we have to try something new that is unfamiliar. It can seem a little bit challenging, but as today when we didn’t know something, we can ask other people to help us.
When we experience unfamiliar situations in life that we are unsure about, we can ask the adults that God has placed in our lives for help. Who are some adults that you can go to for help?
Most importantly, we can also ask God!
(Lead in prayer, acknowledging that life can sometimes bring us deep into the woods, where things can be unfamiliar. Thank God for the assurance that we can come to God and to others around us for help.)
Scripture: Mark 8:31-38
Message: “Called to deep commitment”
When you walk through an unfamiliar forest, it is easy to get disoriented. The landscape looks the same and you lose the ability to see landmarks that help you know where you are. Spiritually and theologically, we may prefer to stay out in the open, where the familiar stories we tell ourselves serve as reliable landmarks, and we know what we believe. But life takes us into the depths of the forest sometimes. Lent leads us into spiritual depths that can help us when we find ourselves cut off from familiar landmarks.
Jesus’ words led Peter right into the forest. Peter imagined victory, dominance, a kingly reign. Talk of suffering and death and rejection was not the story Peter told himself about the Messiah. But going there with Jesus was part of Peter’s journey—learning a different story.
Going into the woods of confusion and new understandings can lead to transformation of our faith. This transformation is not earned, but called into existence by God, not pieced together one act at a time, but birthed within as we lose ourselves in the leading of God. Losing ourselves is not what most of us seek. But God brings opportunities to embrace doing so. If we never go in the forest, we miss the great beauty and mystery that reside there, the truth in which we find ourselves again and again.
Going deep into the woods is uncomfortable. Denying yourself. Losing yourself. Taking up your cross is not comfortable.
When this passage is taken out of context, it seems to suggest that the mission of Jesus and his disciples is to suffer and die. However, when we read it within its narrative context, we come to see that the mission of Jesus and his disciples is to give life—knowing that earthly powers will violently oppose them.
The passage picks up in the middle of a private conversation between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus has just acknowledged that he is the Messiah, the anointed king through whom God will deliver God’s people. We can imagine that the disciples associate this title with earthly glory. After all, they will soon argue about which one of them is the greatest, and some will request from Jesus the most honorable seats in his kingdom. In the disciples’ defense, they have witnessed a great deal of local fanfare, with crowds of mostly peasant villagers swarming to Jesus in order to witness and receive his healing powers. When local leaders oppose Jesus, he always bests them in debate, so we cannot really blame the disciples for seeing their future, as Jesus’ closest followers, through rose-colored glasses.
But now, in the middle of Mark’s narrative, Jesus lays it out plainly. To this point, he has spoken only mysteriously about persecution. Now he says clearly that he, the Son of Man, must undergo rejection, suffering, and death (verse 31). It is precisely for this reason that his followers will take up crosses and lose their lives (verses 34-35). Yes, Jesus will rise again, and yes, persecuted and martyred disciples will receive new life. But the hard truth is that the road to messianic glory runs through Golgotha. The disciples are following Jesus to a cross.
Much depends on how we interpret the “must” as “it is necessary” in verse 31. “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things…” it is necessary to suffer. Too often the word is taken to mean that Jesus’ mission is principally to suffer and die, with interpreters inferring a latent theology of atonement. In this reading, Jesus “must” go to the cross in order to affect a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. But while Mark may hint at some mysterious efficacy to Jesus’ death, he is far from so specific an atonement theology. More to the point, when we pan out beyond one or two isolated verses, we find that the overarching narrative offers a simpler, but no less profound, explanation of Jesus’ death: Jesus dies because powerful humans oppose both his healing mission and, more specifically, the disruption that mission brings to established law and order. Unbeknownst to Jesus’ opponents, they are opposing the in-breaking reign (“kingdom”) of God.
This pattern of disruption plays out in Mark’s early conflict scenes. Jesus is unflinching in his insistence that the divine mission to welcome and reconcile sinners overrides the stigma of associating with them. He is also unflinching in his insistence that the divine mission to alleviate human suffering overrides any application of religious tradition that might impede it To be clear, this is not a “Christian” correction to supposedly “legalistic” Judaism as much as it is a radical channeling of longstanding Jewish belief in God’s compassion for the marginalized. As the messianic emissary of this divine mission, Jesus inevitably elicits antagonism—eventually violent antagonism—from those invested in maintaining the status quo.
So the real epiphany of Mark 8:31 is not that Jesus’ mission is to die, but that his faithfulness to God’s healing mission will inevitably result in his death. In Mark, Jesus “must” die because his commitment to human healing will not falter. With two millennia of Holy Weeks under our belts, we can easily underestimate the power of this epiphany. Essentially, Mark is saying that the Son of God will not dial down his ministry to spare his own life, or even to ease his suffering. His commitment to the healing of humanity literally knows no limits. And neither—Easter tells us—does God’s life-giving power.
It is not hard to see why Peter so quickly “rebukes” Jesus’ prediction (verse 31). As noted above, Mark gives a rather straight-forward presentation of disciples captivated by hopes of earthly glory and therefore preoccupied more with Jesus’ messianic title than his life-giving mission. Of course, the title “Messiah” is helpful for establishing Jesus’ God-given authority. But that same title is dangerously false when detached from Jesus’ own counter-cultural mission on behalf of the broken and outcast. Peter thinks that Jesus is insane, possessed by a demon, in need of exorcism. According to Mark, he took Jesus aside “and began to rebuke him” — the verb for “rebuke,” is strong language, often used in reference to silencing demons. So Peter is hitting Jesus with some serious flak. Peter so violently protested because all his life they had thought of the Messiah in terms of irresistible conquest, and they were now being presented with an idea which staggered them. To Peter the whole thing was impossible. He was deep in the woods.
Mark would rather see people following Jesus unpretentiously in this mission, and actually participating in this holy work, than waving signs or posting memes in Jesus’ name. So consequential is this point that Jesus calls Peter “Satan” for his self-serving confusion (verse 33)!
Why did Jesus so sternly rebuke Peter? Because he was putting into words the very temptations which were assailing Jesus. Jesus did not want to die. He knew that he had powers which he could use for conquest. At this moment he was refighting the battle of temptations in the wilderness. This was the devil tempting him again to fall down and worship him, to take his way instead of God’s way.
Jesus responds by rebuking Peter with the words, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (vv. 32-33). He wastes no time in undermining Peter, because he is convinced that Peter is charging in the completely wrong direction, toward the earthly instead of the heavenly.
These are fighting words — the language of silencing demons and scolding colleagues.
So here In the eighth chapter of Mark, we learn what it means to be a disciple. The vocabulary of discipleship is not always peaceful, since it includes calls for self-sacrifice, predictions of suffering and violent outbursts such as “Get behind me, Satan!” To be a follower of Jesus is a life-and-death battle — challenging, stressful and painful.
Before we fall into formation behind Jesus, we need to count the cost. We don’t want to be like the original disciples and skedaddle when it gets risky.
With these words, Jesus is making his position clear. He is not the United States Secretary of Defense making decisions about military matters from a position of safety many miles from the fighting. Instead, he is down in the trenches with his comrades, on the front lines of the spiritual battleground. When he says that “the Son of Man must undergo great suffering,” he is speaking in a very matter-of-fact way about what lies ahead for him. Rejection by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes — that’s inevitable for someone who is willing to buck the religious establishment and show people a new way to God.
Jesus is willing to put his life on the line as he moves toward his destiny in Jerusalem. He is not a basket case, but a person determined to devote body, mind and spirit to the work that God has called him to do. He’s not interested in satisfying the expectations of others, not even the dreams of his closest friends. All that concerns him is doing the will of God.
There’s a message for us here, especially as we struggle to find our focus as Christians. In our multi-tasking world, we have a hard time sorting out the competing demands of family, work, community, friends and church, and our endless activity can leave us feeling scattered and even shattered. With remarkable clarity, Jesus gives us a new vocabulary for discipleship.
Set your mind on divine things, he says. Not on human things. And be willing to suffer.
“The Son of Man must undergo great suffering,” says Jesus. And so must those who follow him.
Now this is not to say that suffering is pleasant or desirable in any way. We shouldn’t seek it for ourselves, or overlook it in others. But Jesus knows that there are some things worth suffering for — and so do we, if we think about it. There are some kinds of suffering that produce great good.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that avoids suffering at almost any cost. We want more social services without higher taxes. We want to lose weight without cutting our calories or increasing our exercise.
We don’t want to suffer.
But the vocabulary of discipleship includes suffering, and Jesus sees it as an important part of marching on the pathway to God. “There can be no love without suffering,” insists Pope Benedict, “because it always involves an element of self-sacrifice.” We simply cannot mature into the loving and sacrificial people God wants us to be, if we skedaddle away from suffering.
Jesus illustrates this life of loving sacrifice by lifting up the image of the cross. Calling to both the crowd and his disciples, he says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (vv. 34-35).
This is not a call to skedaddle; it’s a call to suffer. Our struggle will involve both love and suffering, and it will certainly include self-sacrifice. But if we set our minds on the things of God, we will receive the riches of everlasting life, and we will know how to answer the question of Jesus, “What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself?” (v. 36, CEV).
Jesus doesn’t want anything to undermine our life with God.
Notice, in verse 34, that this is no longer a private conversation between Jesus and his inner circle. In verse 34, Jesus summons the surrounding crowd, eyeing the possibility of still more disciples. His repeated use of relative pronouns “anyone,” verse 34; “whoever,” verse 35;, makes it clear that the cost of discipleship is not limited to an apostolic few. Anyone who purports to follow Jesus must understand the sacrifice involved. For Mark, discipleship is not some comfortable affiliation with Jesus but a life-changing—and potentially life-threatening—commitment to him.
It is a difficult message for today. So much of North American Christianity has been reduced to a comfortable affiliation with Jesus. Of course, some Christians are persecuted in certain parts of the world. Still, we do well to bear in mind that, for Mark at least, discipleship amounts to participation in Jesus’ ministry. What makes the ministry of the Jesus counter-cultural, and therefore the object of earthly hostility, is that it will not stomach any obstacle to the immediate restoration of the broken and outcast.
Response Ritual: Each person takes one stone out of the bowl. Use it to help you reflect: How is God calling you to deep commitment? What do you sense God calling you to commit to more deeply? You may write it on the stone with a marker. Take the stone with you to remind you of your deep commitment with God.
Hymn: “Will you let me be your servant?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsBCCz3Y7_w
Mail your offering to the church at Trinity, 211 Elm, Hillsboro, KS 67063
…For budget--to continue to pay the bills…
…for bucket offering which will go to MCC
…Don’t forget the Food Bank During the month of March, we are bringing Canned Vegetables.
Gracious Spirit, you have showered us with your gifts, and we embrace you with thanksgiving. May our embrace be arms wide open, ready to share, to serve and to love. Use our spiritual gifts that we may live the spiritual life, moving according to the Spirit's heated touch and bending in the direction of God's holy will.
Now, everyone unmute and share your joys and concerns. Update us on your prayer concerns and tell us how we can pray and rejoice with you.
Time of Sharing Joys and Concerns
Prayer Please help…
Phil & Norma Duerksen’s brother-in-law Gilbert Jara--COVID
Eldon Funk’s daughter Janice—cancer
Cory Miller’s dad—cancer
Galen Penner’s great nephew Reese—neurological paralysis
Pam Riesen’s brother Mike—alcoholic seizures
Texas residents/churches affected by winter storm
Pray for Martine Audéoud as she teaches one of the first offerings in Mennonite Mission Network’s new online institute for peace studies in the French-speaking world.
Thank you for…
Hymn: “What does the Lord require of you?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6ZDpTYkG_g
Go deep into the woods of your week, knowing that you are called to the kind of commitment that will not leave you comfortable. Our God is not to be fully known or neatly packaged. Be ever ready for the transformation that accompanies deep commitment. Go, expecting surprise. Amen.
* * * * * Thank you to those involved in the service this morning:
Worship Leading—Nancy Kaufman Preaching—Norma Duerksen
Zoom—Phil Duerksen Storyteller—Mary Gill
NUMBERS FROM LAST WEEK
Attendance in Worship: 30 by Zoom Budget: $2,745.00
Attendance in Sunday school: 18 by Zoom MCC: $1.00
* * * * *
Mar 7—Third Sunday in Lent
--Education Committee meets Mar 8—Deacons meet
Mar 9—CORE Advisory Board meets
Mar 10—HAMA meets
--In the News Bible Study
Mar 14—Time change—spring forward 1 hour
--Fourth Sunday in Lent Mar 15—Council meets
Mar 17—WDC Pastor peer lunch
--In the News Bible Study
Mar 18—Bethel College Women’s Association meets
Mar 21—Fifth Sunday of Lent
Mar 25—Lindy Wiens’ birthday (67)
Mar 28—Palm Sunday
Mar 29—Sharron Schutte’s birthday (82)
* * * * *
Trinity Mennonite Church 211 S. Elm, Hillsboro, KS 67063 620-947-3824
Office hours: 10:00 am-5:00 p.m. M-F web page:
Norma Duerksen, Pastor: 620-381-0949 Email:
Deacons: Kenton Kaufman 620-877-7263 Randy Wiens 620-947-1707; Roger Hofer 620-877-0167
Lent is a 40-day season of reflection and preparation for the commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Lent calls us to daily discipleship of prayer, spiritual disciplines, fasting, service, and charitable giving.
Here’s the countdown to Easter! Look up the verse for each day to give you a thought for the day. You might even want to repeat it often enough during the day to memorize it.
Called to Deep Wisdom
Mon., Mar 1—Day 30—Exodus 20:3
Tues., Mar 2—Day 29—Psalm 19:7
Wed., Mar 3—Day 28—Psalm 19:14
Thurs., Mar 4--Day 27—I Corinthians 1:18
Fri., Mar 5— Day 26—I Corinthians 1:25
Sat., Mar 6— Day 25—John 2:19
Lent prepares us for Easter. It is a time to clean out our lives and make room for hearing and responding to Jesus’ call to us. With this in mind, here is a symbolic reminder:
This week we invite you to do a literal cleaning of your junk drawer.