Guest Preacher: Rev. Dr. Jennifer Oliver
Raised in historic Birmingham, AL, Rev. Dr. Jennifer Lynn Oliver has been described as a down-to-earth individual, who is committed to excellence in everything that she does. She attended Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA where she earned a BS in Chemistry. Once completing her BS, she returned to Birmingham, working briefly for UAB Hospital Dept of Preventive Medicine and then obtaining a job as a Chemistry Teacher in the Birmingham City School System. While teaching she received a Master’s of Education with emphasis in Secondary Education-Chemistry and successfully completed the Urban Teacher’s Education Program. After only 5 years of teaching, Jennifer went on to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in Food Science from Alabama A&M University, which she received in December 2011. Dr. Oliver spent three years working as an academic research scientist and adjunct professor at Alabama A&M University in the Dept of Food and Animal Sciences as well as the Dept of Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics at A&M and Calhoun Community College. During her tenure at A&M, she has authored six and co-authored over 20 peer-reviewed articles in research areas ranging from food safety and security, nutritional toxicology, colon cancer prevention, and functional food product development. Currently, she holds adjunct teaching positions in the Natural Sciences and Mathematic Department at California Baptist University.
Jennifer earned a M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary, with an emphasis in Worship, Theology, and the Arts and International Development and Urban Studies in 2019. She integrates her background in agriculture and food science into ministry to aide in transforming communities by filling need gaps in the area of hunger, poverty, and clean water, both domestically and globa through her food systems solutions consulting firm Dixon & Dukely, LLC and its nonprofit arm Manna Movement Collaborative. She is an advocate for community health and wellness, serving as the director for the Vernon Johns Food Justice Initiative for the Faith Community Coalition. Her purpose in life is to help individuals restore connection to God, themselves, the earth, and each other in community so that all might be transformed into embodied vessels of love, to be agents of transformation in the world. Rev. Dr. Oliver is an ordained itinerant elder in the AME church, serving as an associate minister at First AME Church, Pasadena. She is also mother to 15 year old daughter, Jordan.
Grace UMC prepares for Sunday worship by reading the scripture for the coming Sunday’s sermon. Below, you fill find questions that can be used for Bible Study, small groups or personal devotion. Let the scripture speak in to your life! Expect great things!
We gather here today to grow, learn and change as a group. As we begin our Bible study, we ask that you help all of us to gain a better understanding of your truth. We lay down our hearts, minds and lives before you. We ask that you move among us and help us to feel safe with one another: to think, ask for help and to question. Helps us to share our life with you and grow in our knowledge of your Word. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Scripture: Luke 10:38-42 (Common English Bible)
38 While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. 40 By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.”
41 The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42 One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”
The phrase “as above, so below” has many meanings. Among them, “As above”, refers to the spiritual realm and “So below”, refers to the physical world, with the goal that life on earth should resemble the beauty of life eternal.
Mary and Martha live into two visions of what God expects from us. Martha believes her salvation is in her work for Jesus. Mary sees salvation in tending to her relationship with Jesus. Let’s not grow weary in well-doing, but find live in nurturing our relationships with the Lord!
- What is a word, phrase or image that comes to mind when you read or hear the text?
- In this passage, Jesus says that Mary chose “the better part.” This does not mean that Martha’s choice was bad, but quite the contrary. Martha’s work was good, but Mary’s was better. What do you think Jesus means by “the better part?”
- What does this scripture teach you about distractions?
- What does God invite you to do, change or be through this passage?
Discipleship Huddle Questions:
- How is it with your soul?
- How does your soul prosper?
We give you thanks, Oh God, that your love is more than we could attempt to comprehend. We trust that you are a God of wisdom, truth, and love that has been displayed in the person of Christ and that enlivens us today. Fill us with the fire of your Holy Spirit. Stir up the gift within us. That we may grow in faith in you. Amen.