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. 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

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 10 Gathering: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)


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Creative Commons

This Sunday we’re starting a new summer series where we’ll focus on the Gospel readings from the common lectionary for each week of our gatherings. This week’s text is Luke 10:25-37, the story of the Good Samaritan.

While this is certainly a familiar story–both within the church as well as within the culture–it bears some examination. At the heart of the story is the question of what it means to love our neighbors. But there are also questions about how to apply the original cultural/historical context to our present time, what truly loving our neighbor really looks like in a practical way, and how we move beyond theoretical love to active love.

During this summer series, we’ll examine each week’s passages in our usual facilitated discussion format (as opposed to a more formal “Bible study” format), which means lots of room for questions. This should be not only an exciting time for our community to deepen our spiritual formation together, but also a great opportunity to invite new folks who want to learn some new and deeper ways of looking at scripture.

Join us Sunday at the Marietta Brewing Company as we discuss this week’s passage and kick off our new series!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

June 19 Gathering: Breaking the cycle of violence


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Creative Commons

In the wake of last Sunday’s mass killings in Orlando, communities of faith across America have been seeking ways to respond. Through prayer vigils, calls for justice, and other acts of support, churches have been at the forefront of our collective expression of grief.

And while those responses are appropriate and helpful, it seems eventually we always find ourselves plowing the same ground of identifying and arguing over where the blame lies for these heinous acts. Whether we fault immigration policies, gun culture, mental illness, or some other factor, our quarrels end up consuming us and, ultimately, nothing changes.

But what if there’s something else we can do? Rather than arguing over where to place blame, can we really do anything to change things? Can faith communities play a role in reshaping culture away from violence as our default response?

In essence, that’s the heart of Jesus’ kingdom announcement. That death and violence no longer reign.

But can we actually live that life? And, if we can, what might it change?

This Sunday at New Wineskins we’ll talk about how faith communities can lead the way toward not just individual redemption, but cultural redemption. Join us at the Marietta Brewing Company as we discuss ways to break the cycles of violence in the world around us.

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

June 5 Gathering: What will the church of the future be?


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The evidence is plain: church attendance and participation are in decline in America. It’s been that way for a few decades now, and some trends project that as few as 30 percent of Americans will receive their primary spiritual direction from a local church by 2025. In fact, some data indicates that as many as 2,000-3,000 churches close every year (source).

As fewer and fewer people participate in church activities, the church itself has tried many different approaches to stem the tide. Google “Church Growth Strategies” and marvel at the number of (mostly very expensive) programs that are available. We have mega churches, micro churches, house churches, restaurant churches, warehouse churches, and, yes, even pub churches.

But are we just trying to feed an irreparably broken model for what the church is and how it works? Are all our “new” ideas really just ways of pursuing the Einstinian definition of insanity, trying to do the same thing to achieve different results?

Or are there ways to redeem the church? To reinvent it for new generations of people who view the world through much different lenses than those who came before?

This week at New Wineskins we’ll look into our collective crystal ball and talk about what a new kind of “church” might look like, act like, and feel like. We’ll look at the question from each of our unique local contexts, and discuss ways we might begin to spark the conversations that will lead us forward.

Join us this Sunday, June 5, at the Marietta Brewing Company as we think about what the next incarnation of the church could be and what we can do to bring it about!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

May 15 Gathering: Pentecost


We talk a lot in Christianity about the Trinity, the three-in-one nature of God that includes Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in some sort of mysterious dynamic interplay. Each is believed to be unique, and yet each is an integral part of the whole of who God is.

There can be little doubt that the least understood of the three persons of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit. Just mentioning the words conjures images of charismatic church services where people speak in tongues, run through the aisles, and prostrate themselves uncontrollably.

And yet, our theology tells us that each of us “receives” the Holy Spirit when we choose to trust in Jesus. But what does that mean? Why don’t we all have the same experience as the first Christians who experienced something clearly tangible and identifiable on that first Pentecost recorded in the book of Acts?

How do we know the Spirit is with us? How can we be sure that the Spirit is acting? Is it just a feeling, like a gut instinct that something other than ourselves is in control? Or is it something else altogether?

Join us this Sunday, May 15, at the Marietta Brewing Company as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday together and discuss the work of the Holy Spirit, how we perceive it, and how we can have confidence that God really is at work among us through the third person of the Trinity.

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm