"How do we live with dementia?" is the first question Joe Agne, pastor of Cedaredge United Methodist Church, will address in a fall preaching series that will pair questions asked by members of the congregation and the parables of Jesus. The series began Sunday, Sept. 2. The congregation will focus on these parables and questions in worship on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. and during its Sacred Bites Bible Study at 4Bs Brewery at 12:45 p.m. on Thursdays. The title of the series is "Jesus' Stories that Surprise, Provoke and Disturb."
"The Good Hamas Member" is the title of Pastor Agne's second sermon in the series, which will be presented Sunday, Sept. 9. The question of the week is "Does greed lead to vengeance and violence?"
Pastor Agne says, "The sermon title comes from the fact that the first century Samaria is the same land as today's West Bank. The Jews and Samaritans hated each other then. We are hoping people will think about what it might mean to have our lives saved by a member of a group we hate. "
The Good Samaritan will also be studied in the Sacred Bites Bible Study on Thursday, Sept. 6, at 12:45 p.m. at 4B's Brewery on Main Street in Cedaredge.
• The question and parable for Sept. 16, "How can Christians deal with depression and suicide?" The Kingdom of Heaven is like Yeast.
• Sept. 23 -- "Do we value truth?" The Pearl of Great Price.
• Sept. 30 -- "How can Christians respond to climate change?" The Mustard Seed.
• Oct. 7 -- "Why do we treat some people as 'other'?" The Pharisee and Tax Collector.
• Oct. 14 -- "How can a congregation help people age-in-place?" The Laborers in the Vineyard.
• Oct. 21, "Are marijuana and opiates helpful in dealing with chronic pain?" The Widow and the Judge.
• Oct. 28, "How can we respond to 'me too' in the church?" The Rich Man and Lazarus.
The resource for these sermons and Bible studies is "The Short Stories of Jesus," a book by Amy-Jill Levine, a rabbi who teaches New Testament courses at the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University. She invites readers to listen to the story with the ears of Jesus' contemporaries, avoid allegorizing, refrain from looking for the approved meaning, search for our own meaning now, avoid domesticating Jesus's stories and prepare to be surprised, provoked and disturbed.
The books are available at the church.