March 11 Gathering: Faith or Fear?


Hellfire and Brimstone Preacher

The writer of 1 John claims that “perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 Jn. 4:18). But often, it seems our faith is motivated more by fear than by love. Fear of death, fear of the other, fear of the unknown. Fear of punishment. Fear of hell.

Why are we so quick to embrace a fear-based theology? Why is it so hard to live out of a motivation of love rather than fear?

This week at New Wineskins, we’ll talk about the sources of a fear-based faith narrative, the implications of it, and how we can combat it and even turn it into something more powerful and more beautiful.

Join us this Sunday, March 11, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company as we seek to understand the role of fear in faith and seek ways to overcome it.

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

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Feb. 11 Gathering: Vulnerability


View the video of Dr. Brené Brown’s TED talk on the power of vulnerabillty.

In the story of the Exodus, Moses encounters a bush in the desert that is on fire but is not being consumed by that fire. In his curiosity, he approaches, and hears a voice from the flames: “Moses. Take off your sandals, for where you are standing is holy ground. I am the God of your ancestors, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

So Moses hides his face, presumably out of shame, or fear, or both. The voice goes on to tell Moses that the time has come to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and that Moses is the man to do the job. And in his string of excuses why that can’t possibly be right, Moses finally gets to the key question: “Okay, suppose I do this. Suppose I lead the people out of Egypt. Why would they follow me? Who do I tell them sent me? What if they ask me your name?

And the voice from the bush answers, “Tell them ‘I Am’ sent you.”

Now, what’s lurking just beneath the surface of this exchange is a sociological norm that was true of ancient peoples but not in our world today, so we miss it. In those days, when you encountered a stranger, you never wanted to be the first one to state your name. It was a sign of subservience. By giving another your name was to give them power over you.

And so for God to give Moses the name, “I Am,” says something more about who this God is than just a name. It implies a level of vulnerability we don’t expect from a deity. It says that God is not afraid to be known.

Vulnerability is something we humans–and especially prideful, individualistic 21st Century Americans–mostly try to avoid. We want to be seen as strong, as independent, as self-sufficient.

But what if vulnerability is actually at the heart of what it means to be fully human? What if, without vulnerability, we are missing out on something that is at the core of our true essence?

This week at New Wineskins, we’ll talk about vulnerability and its place in our relationships with God and one another.

Join us Sunday evening, Feb. 11, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company as we unpack the power of vulnerability.

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

Jan. 28 Gathering: What’s Our Story?


OnceUponATime

We may not think about it much, but we are a people of story. What we believe and the way we order our lives are based in the story (or stories) that seem to give us truth.

For those of us who follow the Jesus story, that means we hold to a particular set of assumptions. But even those assumptions are subject to interpretation.

But beyond just following stories, we actually live out stories of our own. Because a story really is nothing more than the narrative of a sequence of events involving characters. It is, according to one definition on dictionary.com, a report or account of a matter, statement or allegation.

As it happens, stories have immense power. And what we do with the power of our own stories in many ways defines who it is that we actually are.

This Sunday at New Wineskins, we’ll talk about the power of story, about how we view our own stories both individually and collectively, and how we can use story more effectively to bring love and life into the world around us.

Join us Sunday evening, Jan 28, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company for a story about stories!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

Dec. 11 Gathering: Have Yourself A Subversive Little Christmas


Mary and Joseph with the child Jesus in the Manger of the crib at Christmas

Mary and Joseph with the child Jesus in the Manger of the crib at Christmas

Ah, Christmas. Hymns and caroling, cocoa and candlelight. Baby Jesus lying in a manger. Angels singing. It’s the most wonderful night of the year.

In many church buildings around the world, people will gather in poinsettia-filled sanctuaries and nostalgia-filled pews with friends and families to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We’ll sing songs like “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “Joy to the World!” We’ll light candles and sing “Silent Night.”

But how many of us will tell the real story of Christmas? Not the one with the pastoral imagery of white-washed Nativities, but the one about the unlikely delivery of a child to an unwed couple in a filthy stable in a backwater town in a two-bit corner of the Roman empire? The one where shepherds–the nobodies who nobody would believe–are the first to hear the news? The one that upset static notions of who God favored and set in motion a revolution that is still changing the world more than 2 millennia later?

The Christmas story–the real Christmas story–is one of the most subversive stories ever told. So why have we wiped it clean of its rawness and messiness and replaced it with a cheap, sanitary imitation?

This week at New Wineskins, we’ll discuss the birth narratives from the gospels of Matthew and Luke, and try to rediscover a story that can still change the world.

Please join us Sunday, Dec. 11, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company as we seek to uncover a better way to live out the Christmas story!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

Nov. 27 Gathering: Google Hangout with Tomeka Robinson


islamaphobia

We love it when our New Wineskins friends do awesome things in the world. Tomeka Robinson, who was part of our charter group when we started meeting back in May 2014, certainly fills the bill. Now coaching debate at Hofstra University in New York, Tomeka spearheaded a forum back in September on Islamaphobia, seeking to raise the conversation around its role in the election cycle.

This Sunday, Tomeka will join us via Google Hangout to talk about the forum, her experiences around Hofstra’s hosting of the first presidential debate, and more!

Please join us Sunday, Nov. 27, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company to welcome Tomeka back (even if it’s just virtually!) and be part of the conversation!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

Nov. 13 Gathering: North Place Maternity House


northplacelogo

In a culture where being a young, unwed mother can easily trigger a cycle of poverty and ever-shrinking options, there is a place in our community offering hope and support to women and their children.

North Place Maternity House offers a safe, Christ-centered environment for young women who find themselves unexpectedly expecting. Through mentoring, support, and education, NPCH helps give their clients the tools they need for a safe, healthy, productive life.

This Sunday at New Wineskins, North Place’s Wendy Williams will join us to introduce us to the facility’s mission and vision and share how unconditional love is breaking through to transform the lives of new mothers and their children.

Please join us Sunday, Nov. 13, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company to learn more about North Place Maternity House!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

Oct. 2 Gathering: World Communion Sunday Instructed Eucharist


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For centuries, the celebration of the Eucharist has been of central significance to Christian communities. Whether it’s celebrated daily, weekly, monthly, or at less regular intervals, nearly all Christians participate at least occasionally in Holy Communion.

But have we lost some of the significance of this ancient and holy rite? Has it become little more than another ritual we methodically march through occasionally, more out of obligation than for transformation?

This week at New Wineskins, we will celebrate our first Communion together as a community in observance of World Communion Sunday. But since we are a people called to look beyond the ritual into the deeper meanings of Jesus, our service will be slightly different.

Led by Father Steve Peck (Catholic Universalist Church) and Rev. Joe Webb (Provisional United Methodist Deacon), we will participate in an “Instructed Eucharist.” This ceremony allows us to examine and reflect on the various elements of the Communion service in order to help us understand and recapture some of the deeper meanings behind why we do what we do, and to allow Jesus to encounter us in new and profound ways.

Please plan to join us, and perhaps invite a friend, to what promises to be a deeply meaningful New Wineskins Gathering this Sunday, Oct. 2, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm