Changing from the Outside In: A Hallowe’en Sermon – Psalm 109, Colossians 3:1-14, Job 29:14

Today’s scripture passage is all about identity.  Paul uses an interesting metaphor for the Christian life, he talks about it as putting on clothes.   He talks about the old life, with all its negativities such as fornication, impurity, greed, idolatry…he says you need to strip that off.  Just take it off, strip it off like you would dirty old clothes, full of mud and dirt.  Then he talks about clothing yourself with something new, with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, with forgiveness and above all with love.

Travelling Mercies on Family Journeys – Genesis 37:17-35

The story of Joseph and his brothers has captured our attention for thousands of years. It’s a story of family violence. A story of a family walking a long journey with the consequences of that violence. It’s a story of how God can take violent people and turn them around. Why did

Really Listening: The Story of the Wheat and the Tares – Matthew 13:24-30

This summer we are hearing sermons about parables. Some parables are easy to understand, some are hard.  Some are popular, and some are not very well known.  Today we heard a straightforward parable that I think the Mennonite church has not taken to heart.  My sermon will be pretty historical

Our Bodies as Gift and Sacrifice – Romans 12:1-13

One of my earliest memories from growing up in a Mennonite church is attending Sunday school and singing in the auditorium with all the children. One of my favorite songs was “Take My Life and Let it Be”:  in the wong we asked God to take our hands, our feet,

Take Up Your Cross: On the Home Front – Mark 8:27-38, Romans 5:1-11

Take up your cross and follow me: these are some of the most famous words of Jesus. The newest Christian knows them, and yet the oldest Christian might not understand fully what it means. “Take up your cross and follow me.” What do these words mean for our identity as

Jesus Saves: An Introduction – Mark 8:27-37, Psalm 27

This story about Jesus begins with a question. Jesus asks, “Who do people say that I am?” I preached on this passage earlier this year. Remember we learned that Jesus is asking this question in the Roman city of Caesarea Philippi…a city which was famous as a worship destination because

Praying for Fire and Brimstone – Jonah 4

Where do we find ourselves in the story that we just read?  To help us think about this, I’m going to divide the congregation into four groups. Here on my right, you will be Nineveh. To my left, you will be Israel, on the far left, you will be Jonah,

Overthrown: God’s Power to Change – Jonah 3

So Jonah went to the great city of Nineveh. The story tells us the city took three days to go through. The ancient city of Nineveh is now the modern day city of Mosul in Iraq, it’s in the northern part of Iraq, on the Tigris River.  Archaeologists tell us

Jonah: Journeying with a Man on a Journey – Jonah 1:1-16

In Hebrew, Jonah means dove. The dove is a gentle little bird that turns up over and over again in scripture.  Noah released a dove at the height of the flood; the dove brought back an olive branch, a sign of hope in an anxious time. In Isaiah doves are

Praying for Hope in Gaza – Matthew 2:1-23, Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

An epiphany, according to the dictionary, is “a sudden, intuitive insight into the essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple or commonplace experience.” It’s come into our common language from the church, because Epiphany originally referred to the event of the Wise men arriving from the East to

My Neighbour is my Neighbour Too – Luke 10:25-29, Amos 5:21-24

The story of the Good Samaritan is probably one of Jesus’ most well known parables. Today we didn’t even read the whole story, we just read the set-up for the story. The lawyer comes to Jesus, discusses what is most important about the law, rightly answering that “love God with

A Light in the World: Faith Made Visible – Ephesians 5:1-20, 2:8-10

On January 21, 1525 a tall man with a big head of black hair knelt down. They called him “Strong George”. He asked his friend Conrad to baptize him, even though he had already been baptized as a baby. Conrad Grebel baptized “Strong George”. Strong George then baptized all of

You are a Greeter in God’s House – Psalm 84, Luke 15:11-32

A doorkeeper in the house of God…that’s the way the way the writer of this psalm talks about himself. Two different things caught my eye in that description. The first was “house of God”. I wondered whether we think about church as a place that is a house of God.

The Transformative Call to Welcome Strangers – Genesis 18:1-15

The story we read today from Genesis is about transformation. At the beginning of the story we have three men appearing out of nowhere at the door of Abraham’s tent. They are strangers, aliens. But at the end of the story they are honoured guests. A transformation has happened. It’s

Not the End of the Story: An Easter Sermon – Mark 16:1-8

As a worship planner, it’s a hard call to go with only Mark’s resurrection story on Easter Sunday morning. We’ve had a service today with lots of joy and alleluias and rejoicing, but that is not the tone of gospel reading. The young man in the white robe in the

Bartimaeus, the Faithful One who Sees – Mark 10:35-52, Joshua 6:20

Let’s look at our gospel story closely.  Jesus comes down here to the city of Jericho, and he hears a man shouting. Now, that’s a déjà vu sort of experience, if you know your bible stories. Jericho is famous in the Hebrew Bible. Why? Because Joshua fought the battle of

One Thing Lacking: Jesus Inviting the 13th Disciple – Mark 10:17-34

I had a great idea for starting this sermon.  I was going to get a powerpoint of all sorts of artist’s depictions of this bible story about the rich man and Jesus.  It’s such a dramatic story, I could picture the paintings before I even found them.  A painting of

Crosses in the Context of the Family – Mark 8:27-38

Take up your cross and follow me. Those are some of the most famous words of Jesus. The newest Christian knows them, and yet the oldest Christian might not understand fully what it means to take up your cross and follow me. Today we are going to be exploring these

Judge Not: Temptation Logistics – Matthew 7:1-5; 26:47-50

Are we sympathetic to people who face temptation, or are we harsh in our judgment of them?  Today I want to think about how this played out in the lives of a few of Jesus’ disciples. And I want to think about how Wisdom can help us when we see

Easter: Are We There Yet? – John 20:1-18

Every Easter we listen to the story of Jesus raised from the dead. This year, I chose to read from the gospel of John. It of course contains the wonderful news that Jesus was raised from the dead, but the way John tells the story is a bit odd.

Extinction of Species: Does Jesus Care? – Deuteronomy 22:6-7, Psalm 104:10-23

A sermon preached at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate Kitchener, Ontario on March 3, 2021, and Breslau Mennonite Church,  Breslau, Ontario on November 3, 2019 by Carol Penner. Texts: Psalm 104:10-23, Deuteronomy 22:6-7 I grew up singing a children’s song, “God sees the little sparrow fall”–a song that tells us God cares

The Gate of Heaven – Genesis 28:10-17

There are some bible stories we can’t get out of our heads. They keep showing up; they keep tapping us on the shoulder and whispering, “Hey there.” And we meet something new and surprising sometimes as the story shape shifts, providing something we need to hear, at the moment we need to hear it.

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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