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

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Nov. 13 Gathering: North Place Maternity House


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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. 16 Gathering: “The Dreams You Encourage Them to Have”


This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

–Jer. 29:4-9 NIV

In the midst of the most contentious political season in recent memory, it’s often hard to live out Jesus’ call to peace and forgiveness. We’re so wrapped up in our fear of what might happen if this candidate or that one gets elected, it’s hard to have any sense of objectivity.

To make matters worse, our social media is often an echo chamber where we only engage with people who agree with us, and we unfollow or unfriend those with contrary opinions. We suddenly find ourselves thinking we don’t really know people we thought we knew well because they support a candidate we despise.

Then there’s the national media, which seems intent on stirring our discontent in the interest of creating controversy to boost ratings. And even though the election will be over in just a few weeks, few of us expect that the vitriol will die down. It’s hard to imagine a way forward.

But there’s a little passage from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah that might prove helpful. Writing to expatriate Jews during their exile to Babylon, Jeremiah urges the people to make peace with their enemies. He even goes so far as to suggest that they will prosper as their captors prosper. And he has a warning for those who might try to benefit from sewing strife.

What might it look like for us to seek the best for our political opponents? How can we imagine prospering under leadership we so deeply disrespect? And what about the dreams we encourage the “prophets and diviners” of our day to have?

Join us this Sunday, Oct. 16, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company for a deeper look into Jeremiah’s 2,500-year-old prophesy and how it might help us navigate the difficult political waters of 2016.

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

Sept. 4 Gathering: Haters gonna hate — Luke 14:25-35


pond5.com

pond5.com

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could go up against the twenty thousand coming against him? And if he didn’t think he could win, he would send a representative to discuss terms of peace while his enemy was still a long way off. In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.

Luke 14:25-33 (CEB)

In this familiar passage on the cost of discipleship, we often read the first paragraph as another in a string of hyperbolic exaggerations Jesus uses to make a point. And then we interpret the second paragraph–the part about construction costs and battle plans–through that initial hyperbole. And what we come up with is a pretty straightforward reading: the cost of discipleship is high, and one had jolly well better be prepared to pay it if one wishes to be part of Team Jesus.

Luke, of course, works in layers here, as he does throughout his gospel. And so we must remember Luke’s agenda…to paint the Jesus saga in terms of a new Exodus movement.

So what are we to make of this teaching in that light? What else could Luke be telling not only his original audience, but us today, about what it means to be a disciple? Why is it important? And why should we care?

Join us for a special Labor Day Weekend edition of New Wineskins this Sunday, Sept. 4, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company for some dynamic conversation about this fascinating passage as we wrap up our summer Lectionary series.

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

Aug. 21 Gathering: Luke 13:10-17 – Rescued by the marginalized


Creative Commons (Some Rights Reserved)

Creative Commons (Some Rights Reserved)

“He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you’re free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.

The meeting-place president, furious because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the congregation, “Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath.”

But Jesus shot back, “You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn’t it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?”

When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on.”

Luke 13:10-17 (MSG)

He had done it again. “Worked” on the Sabbath. Appearing to all the “religious” folks to have broken the law he said he came to fulfill.

The synagogue leaders are understandably upset. After all, it’s their job to teach the law and enforce it. To maintain control. To defend the status quo.

So why does Jesus do it? Certainly, we’ve seen him poke the bear, as it were, any number of times in the gospel accounts. Is his goal simply to shame the religious/political leadership? To disprove their time-honored traditions? To make them look like fools?

Or is there something more happening here? Something bigger? Something that goes beyond the woman and her illness or the synagogue or even the Sabbath itself? Could Jesus be revealing something of his broader agenda in this relatively small gathering?

This Sunday, Aug. 21, we’ll continue our Summer Lectionary Series with a look at the multiple layers of meaning Luke presents in this passage and where it still holds meaning for our lives today. Join us in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company and be part of the conversation!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

 

July 24 Gathering: Scorpions, Snakes, and a Prayer


snakes_scorpions

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“Which father among you would give a snake to your child if the child asked for a fish? If a child asked for an egg, what father would give the child a scorpion? If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

Our summer lectionary series continues this Sunday with a look at Luke 11:1-13, which is Luke’s rendition of what we commonly call the “Lord’s Prayer,” also found in Matthew 6:9-13.

Why does Luke’s version of this prayer differ from Matthew’s, where it appears in the midst of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? Is it the same prayer taught in a different context? Or is Luke’s agenda different? Why does it matter? And what’s all this about snakes and scorpions?

Join us this Sunday, July 24, at the Marietta Brewing Company as we discuss all this and more!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm