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


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. 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

 

Jan. 10 Gathering: Hearts at war, hearts at peace


heartbomb

pond5.com

Amidst growing divisiveness and turmoil in society and the church, can the choices we make about how we view others actually be reinforcing the very behaviors we seek to correct? Can we create a “state of the heart” that invites more conflict despite our best efforts to reduce it?

In the Arbinger Institute’s book, The Anatomy of Peace, a case is made that the minute we choose to objectify rather than humanize our opponents, we begin an endless cycle of conflict escalation. When we view other people and their ideas as obstacles to overcome rather than human beings with hopes, needs, and cares as important as our own, we set the stage for not only inviting conflict, but actively investing in it. According to the authors, “Seeing an equal person as an inferior object is an act of violence.”

The question is, will we approach others with hearts at war, or hearts at peace? And what might Jesus say to guide our thoughts and actions?

This week at New Wineskins, we’ll talk about how the choices we make about how we view others can either send us spiraling into conflict or lift us to understanding and resolution…and perhaps even to redemption.

Please join us this Sunday, Jan. 10, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company for what promises to be a dynamic conversation! Happy New Year and welcome back!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

 

 

Dec. 6 Gathering: Reading the Bible through the lens of oppression


It’s a familiar story. A beaten man writhes alongside a well-traveled road. Robbed. Naked. Unclean.

The first two passersby choose religious piousness over service. Their law demands purity.

The third, however, is different. He stops. He helps. He commits.

But this man is a Samaritan. Hated. Reviled. Unclean.

Who is the neighbor? How do we read this story?

Our instinct, as 21st Century Americans, is to choose one of the passersby with which to identify. Of course, we all want to be like the third man, the marginalized Samaritan, the one who stops and helps.

As Dr. Mark Powell challenges us in the video above, what if we identified instead with the man on the road? The beaten, robbed, naked victim of a violent, unfeeling culture that steals not only materially, but spiritually?

The first people to hear the narratives of the Bible were likely more likely to have identified with this man than the other three. Because the Bible was written primarily by, to, and for the oppressed.

So how does our privileged 21st Century American culture  read these stories? And what might we be missing? Do we identify more with the heroes of the biblical narratives, or the victims? What are the implications?

This Sunday, we’ll explore some Bible stories that challenge us to view the world, the gospel, and God through the lens of the oppressed. Along the way, we’ll also examine the implications related to viewing these stories through the eyes of the oppressors.

Don’t miss this fascinating discussion! Join us this Sunday, Dec. 6, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company and join us for this week’s dialogue.

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

Nov. 22 Gathering — How do we respond to terror?


Creative Commons. Some rights reserved

Creative Commons. Some rights reserved

The events of Friday, Nov. 13, in Paris (and prior–though less reported–incidents in Beirut and Baghdad) once again set us collectively on edge as the ugly specter of terrorism once again reared itself in dramatic fashion.

As our prayers go out to the cities where these attacks occurred and the friends and families of the victims, some serious questions arise for those of us who seek to follow Jesus. Is military action an appropriate response? Can forgiveness truly be extended to mass murderers? What is our relationship with Islam? Can we risk our safety by allowing Syrian refugees to dwell among us? What does real justice look like in these situations?

This week at New Wineskins, we’ll tackle some of these difficult questions and seek open, honest conversation around our feelings and our responses. We’ll be less focused on providing concrete answers than on creating a safe space for questions, doubts, ideas, and dialogue. And we’ll seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to lead us forward.

Join us this Sunday, Nov. 22, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company as we engage in this important conversation.

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

October 11 Gathering: Jake Kaufman Returns!


Jake Kaufman

Jake Kaufman

This Sunday, Oct. 11, we are thrilled to welcome Jake Kaufman back to New Wineskins to share stories of inspiration from his most recent blog series, 15 Stories in 15 Weeks (#15Stories).

A Mid-Ohio Valley native now living in Columbus, OH, Jake is a full-time writer and speaker who prefers his beer from a can. His blog, jkstories.com, is a diary of  seeking God in the face of doubt and finding faith despite the often-harmful trappings of religion.

Jake first visited New Wineskins in July 2014 as our first-ever guest speaker and is excited to join us this week as our first-ever two-time guest speaker!

Join us this Sunday, Oct. 11, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company to join Jake in a conversation about stories and how we live them.

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm