The American Spirit: Walls

This past spring, I was standing on the bridge to Mexico when I realized I did not have my passport! For just a moment, I felt this sense of rising panic… But then I remembered I was in fact a U.S. citizen, and I was standing on the bridge with a border patrol agent who was escorting me while I filmed our country’s Southern border. Then I wondered to myself, “How did I ever find myself here?” 

The answer began four years ago, when my wife and I set out on a journey to explore the American Spirit. We began by returning to our own Appalachian roots. Then we examined native cultures and black history. Through these trips, we have discovered how many different groups of people have helped shaped the American Spirit, and how the American Spirit has helped shaped their lives. 

In 2019, we took a journey into our nation’s Hispanic heritage. We traveled to San Antonio to learn about Spanish Texas. From there, we headed south to Laredo to experience the southern border. After Customs and Border Patrol allowed me to re-enter the country, we came back to Hamilton Ohio to see a Midwestern Hispanic community. Along the way, we learned about our country’s Hispanic ancestors. We also learned the word “Hispanic” does not really do justice to the variety of cultures with Spanish histories. 

This February, we are going to tell the story of our trip. As we do, we will consider the many walls – both spiritual and physical – that have been built between groups of people across America, and reflect on biblical laws regarding how to treat people who are different from us. So come with us on our journey to explore The American Spirit: Walls

February Worship: History Month Center Your Life around History 

● Bible Readings 

○ February 2: Psalm 137:1-6 (8-9) Catholic Conquest 

○ February 9 : Leviticus 19:33-34 Manifest Destiny 

○ February 16: Matthew 10:40-42 The Land of Our Ancestors 

○ February 23: Hebrews 13:1-3 The Making of Walls 

● Faith & Life: #BREAKtheWALLS 

○ Cross the lines of color in your home, church and community. 

● Documentary Screening Sunday: February 23 

○ 9:30 a.m.: The Making of Walls 

○ 11:00 a.m.: Screening Walls 

○ NOON: Panel Discussion on Walls 

Tribal Elders

In the summer of 2017, my family and I drove down a lonely road in South Dakota. We were on our way to the Standing Rock Reservation to film a native Pow Wow. But I was anxious… because we did not have permission to record the event. And, in order to get permission, we needed to speak to a tribal elder. We reached the site an hour early to allow plenty of time. As we waited for the elder to arrive, I wondered if we would be accepted or rejected. My fear was heightened by the fact that white visitors are not always warmly received on reservations, given the historic treatment of natives on this land.

As it turned out, the elder was female, and spoke only to my wife. After Mariellyn met with her for a few minutes, she returned with permission to stay and film. We were very excited, and spent the rest of the day recording the Pow Wow, which included dancers of all ages. We even got to interview a 17-year-old dancer, who spoke to the power of traditional dances.

During this experience, I was struck by how much respect the native Sioux hold for their elders. On the reservation, elder members of the tribe were treated with a special reverence, as younger leaders sought the advice of the people who had been around the block a few more times than they had.

This deference was interesting to me; because, in the wider American culture, elders are seldom given such a deep respect. In fact, today it is often considered offensive to call someone “old” or “elderly.” Instead of revering people who have an abundance of experience and wisdom, our culture is quick to push older members to the sideline in a constant celebration of youth. So, this January, we are going to look at Bible teachings on how to treat the generations who have gone before us, the wisdom that comes from experience, and the significance of how younger generations should treat Tribal Elders.

January Worship: One Month to Welcome

Center Your Life around Hospitality…

  • Bible Readings
  • 1/5            Leviticus 19:32-37
  • 1/12         Exodus 20:1-17
  • 1/19          Deuteronomy 32:1-7
  • 1/26         Job 12:1-12
  • #Set the Table
    • Prayer for Hospitality

Lord, let us set the table for our loved ones; let us set the table for our friends; let us set the table for our enemies; and, let all people feel welcome at our table. Amen.

  • Love Feast
    • Sunday, January 26, 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall

The Perfect Christmas

Christmas is a time when many people want everything to be perfect. The perfect tree. The perfect presents. The perfect traditions. And, of course, the perfect family gathering.
The only problem with wanting everything to be perfect on Christmas is nothing is ever perfect. So, this Christmas, I want to invite you to set aside your quest for perfection. Instead, concentrate on celebrating the birth of Jesus. Rather than searching for perfect moments, find your hope, peace and joy in Christ. Then, you will discover the true meaning of A Perfect Christmas.

#Center your life around faith this Christmas


Weekly Bible Readings
December 1: Isaiah 2:1-5, Christ Our Hope
December 8: Romans 15:4-13, Christ Our Peace
December 15: Matthew 1:18-25, Christ Our Joy
December 22: Christmas Sunday
December 29: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, The State of the Church