Sermon: Praying for Fire and Brimstone – Jonah 4

An interactive sermon where I invite people to take on different characters in the story: “Jonah means dove, a book that brings an olive branch of good news to all people, especially in dark times. This morning we sat in Nineveh’s chair. We sat in Jonah and Israel’s chair. We are invited to sit in God’s mercy seat, to feel God’s compassion. As followers of Jesus, we are called to carry that olive branch of peace, that message of hope and good news, no matter what the cost.”

Read More »

Sermon: Overthrown–God’s Power to Change – Jonah 3

Wholesale change is sometimes what we need.  If you have seen wholesale change, if you have seen God hapak someone’s life, then you know how dramatic this can be. I was with someone when God hapaked their heart. It wasn’t anything I said, I was just there to witness it. It was just a sudden shift in thinking, a sudden realization, a moment of clarity, and they were…overthrown! This person had spent years putting up defenses, so they wouldn’t have to face the destructiveness of their own actions. And suddenly in an hour, all the defenses just fell away, and the person crumbled. Their past was laid open to them, and they saw with new clear eyes the trail of destruction behind them…

Read More »

Sermon: Jonah in the Whale–Praying When you are Down – Jonah 1:17-2:10

A sermon that uses slides of artwork to illustrate the story of Jonah: Jonah descends to the depths in this story, but he arrives, by the end of chapter two, at the surface alive again, by the grace of God. Going to the depths and coming up again…that’s something all human beings can relate to, even today. The translatability of this story to today’s world, combined with the vivid imagery may explain why this story has had such lasting power in our culture.

Read More »

Confession: You Great Searcher of our Hearts

God, you great Searcher of our hearts,
is this the place where remorse begins?
You know our lives through and through.
You’ve seen the wrongs we try to hide,
the wrongs we dare to do in plain sight
and the wrongs we don’t even notice.
As we pause in the awareness of your gaze on us,
is this the place where repentance begins?

Read More »

Repenting and Lamenting in Times LIke These

You are the God who hears:
hear our prayer today for all who lament or repent.
For those among us who face discrimination every day
because of their skin colour,
we lament.
For those among us with white skin who benefit
from racist systems sometimes even without realizing it,
we repent.
For those among us who have struggled and waited so long
for the Promised Land of freedom and equality,
we lament.

Read More »

A Prayer for a Thousand Tongues

God of every tongue and nation:
thank you for the multiplicity and beauty of languages,
each one a treasure, each one unmatched and irreplaceable.
Thank you for the slow growth of languages over time,
their plasticity and adaptability,
their ability to convey and carry culture,
the heart of a people.
As a white Canadian, I mourn the colonial decision
to declare only two languages official,
the languages of white people.
Settler peoples waged war on First Nations and Inuit,

Read More »

Judas, the Friend of Jesus

Judas is so easy to hate.
The  betrayer, the snitch, the bad seed,
his name synonymous with treason.
No one cries when we hear he’s hung himself.
We all think, “Finally he gets what he deserves.”
Cast into the darkness of disgrace for all time,
who mourns for Judas?

But Judas was there from the beginning,
called like every disciple,
leaving behind everything to follow Jesus.
He was there in the boat, watching Jesus walk on water….

Read More »

Palm Sunday Confession

On this day when we remember your triumphal entry
we admit that we, too, have paid lip service to you,
but have not wanted to follow when the road is difficult.
The words in our heads have often been,
“Can’t,”  “Won’t,”  “Never,” “Impossible.”
Believing our problems too deep for you,
we have underestimated your power
and stewed in our own misery.
We repent of this hardheartedness.
    God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Read More »

Turn to the Cross Good Friday Prayer

We come gingerly to prayer on this Good Friday
holding the pieces of our broken world.
So much is ruined and spoiled,
so much hatred and anger,
so many acts of violence.
Our eyes turn to the cross
as evidence of our sinfulness,
we crucified even the one who loved us most and best.

There is no talk today of who is greatest,
no talk of triumph and victory.
Instead we stand quietly here at the foot of the cross,

Read More »

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

Recent Posts

Posts By Month
  • Popular Tags

    Your browser doesn't support the HTML5 CANVAS tag.