Pastor June welcomes everyone to Ebbert!

Ebbert United Methodist Church

532 C Street Springfield, OR 97477 ebbert2@comcast.net 541-746-3513

You are invited to worship and praise via zoom Sundays 10:00 am 


We continue to meet for worship via zoom.  We continue our meals via “take out”.


We currently do not hold worship in person to help protect everyone from the Coronavirus. If you would like a link to a video recording of our worship services or the zoom invite link contact Pastor June at 541-603-8706 or juneafothergill@gmail.com.  Sermon by Pastor June for June 21 is below.


We have a wonderful choir.

 

Our office is open for information and to visit the church: Monday- Friday 8-11:30.


                                                                

WE LIKE TO FEED  PEOPLE

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You can also join us for our  Community Meal each Wednesday at 5-6 p.m.   This meal is now a take out meal.

Click here to learn how they are feeding more than just the hunger of the stomach: http://bit.ly/1AKZNTv

You can get involved on Wednesday Night:

          Eat a great meal

          Bring food to share

          Help serve or in the kitchen              

 

Our Meals Ministry Includes:

  • Mondays 8:30-10:30 Free Breakfast – take out

  • Tues and Thurs 8-11:15 am Sack lunches

  • Wed. 5-6 pm Community Meal- take out

  • Sat Hope House 3:00 take out

  • Sunday  10:30   cancelled for now


Sermon  June 21 2020  Taking Care of Family by Rev. June Fothergill   

Scriptures:  Genesis 21: 8-21; Matthew 10: 24-39

     It seems like during this pandemic that family time is either feast or famine.  I see my husband and sons everyday but haven’t seen my mother except on zoom in months.   George Burns once quipped, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” ( p. 121 An Encyclopedia of Humor ed. Lowell D. Streiker.) 

     Family has many meanings for many people.  When Jim and I lived in Portland, we took a class called Cross cultural Communication.  In it we discovered that people from different cultures have different definitions of family.  They may use the word family but mean something very different than I do. We  discovered how hard it is to truly communicate well across cultures- almost impossible. I decided after that class that it was only through the work of the Holy  Spirit that cross cultural communication was even possible.   

     So as we read the passages from scripture this morning, it is good to realize that we are listening cross culturally.  Both passages come from different cultural contexts from each other and from our own.  For example- how many of you have been in a household with more than one wife?  Yet, that was a common family configuration in Abraham’s time.  Or how many  women listening this morning got married and went to live with their mother in law?  The relationships in the family that are described in the Matthew passage do not nescessarily correspond to many of our 21st century experience. 

     So with all that in mind, I ask myself- what is the human condition that these passages are dealing with?  Is there, despite the cultural differences some common ground? 

     One thing I notice is that Jesus is inviting his disciples into a new family, a family with a wider scope than the traditional families of his and the gospel’s day.  In Abraham’s case, God is being clear that he still considers Hagar and Ishmael part of  God’s family.  Jesus and  Hagar’s story invite us to have a broader understanding of who matters in our lives.  For Jesus the immediate family circle was too narrow.   AS he says, Anyone who follows me and does God’s will- that is my family. 

   Many years ago  our  Annual Conference Commission on Religion and Race had a training program called the  Green Circle. It was geared for children but was interesting to do with adults.  Children for the most part had little trouble realizing that their circle grew as they grew up. And that they decided who to add to their circle of friends and family.   Most of them could also empathize with what it felt to be left out of the circle and how important it was to welcome people into their circles.  It was interesting to me that when I did this pretty simple program with adults they  wanted to complicate it. Some  wouldn’t take responsibility for the choices to welcome or not people into their circle, some of them looked for excuses to exclude.   Jesus said to us that we needed to be like a child to enter the Kingdom of God- a child open to growing ones circle of love and family.

      A second thing I notice in both passages is the reality of conflict in human relationships.  The narrative in Genesis does not spare us the reality of conflict within the family of Abraham.   And it leads to a mother and child abandoned in the wilderness.  In Matthew,  Jesus tells his disciples specifically that  following him can lead to conflict within families.  Of course when we have loyalties beyond the immediate family, this can cause  tensions and conflict in the immediate family. Especially if this means a shift in the power dynamics of the family.   If you say to a patriarchal father,  I have a  loyalty to a father/ person God greater than you.  He just might get upset!   The gospel writers are simply saying that following Jesus can bring family tensions and conflicts. 

     I grew up in a family that avoided conflict whenever possible. Well, at least the conflict that came from strong emotions like anger and jealousy.   Around our dinner table conflict was to be about ideas and argumentation.  My father sat in the middle of this, calmly playing “ devil’s advocate” when his oldest daughter got too sure of herself.  What about this he would ask me, bringing up another point of view. That kind of conflict was ok. But the kind of conflict where people would get really angry and hurt one another.   Well, that we avoided.  Only much, much later in life did my father admit to me that part of his stoicism was not just that good old northern European reticence, but that his father had abused his mother when he was growing up- and he didn’t want to be that way!  And he wasn’t.   

    I am still learning that conflict and emotions like anger don’t mean the end of the world. That conflict is part1 of human life and intimate relationships.    The Bible is not afraid of conflict and in a sense,  I find myself invited to be less afraid myself.   Jesus says in Matthew  “  So don’t be afraid, you are of more value than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”  

     I notice also that the conflict described in the Bible is about issues of power.  Hagar is thrown out of her home because Sarah perceives her and her son as a threat.  Abraham is reassured by God that God will look after them but Abraham doesn’t show  them much support- he could have set them up in another household or at the very least  given them more food and water.   Hagar’s suffering is not overlooked by the narrative.  Her trauma reminds us of the suffering that can happen when we abuse and misuse power.   In Matthew,  the conflicts within the family that Jesus outlines all have to do with power relationships.  The son and the father, the daughter and the mother, the daughter in law and the mother in law. In each case the younger, less powerful person is not submissive but in conflict with the more powerful person. Could it be that the work of God in Jesus to liberate the oppressed could even affect  oppressive family systems?    

     Jesus invites us to a new way of looking at power and control when he follows this passage about family conflicts with the words,  vs. 39 “ Those who find their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake will fine it.”     What does it mean to lose ones life?  To let go of the ways we have been in power and control?  Or submissive and silent?  What if God has another third way for us? The way of Christ where we build a beloved community that starts with humility and equity? 

    One example of this would be the way of CAHOOTS. As many of you know we in this community are fortunate to have a group called CAHOOTS which provides an alternative to the police when someone is in a mental health  crisis or just needs some TLC in order to go on about life.  They are trained in mental health triage, de escalation and  first aid.  Those of us who have helped at Egan or at our meals know that sometimes unfortunately  a police presence can  escalate  a conflict situation. The police represent a certain kind of “ gun toting “ power. But CAHOOTS’s emphasis is de escalation and seeking to understand the needs someone has.    What difference could it make to increase their kind of presence in our community and others across the nation?

     Finally,  these passages invite us to humbly realize that families come in lots of forms and configurations, even in the Bible and certainly in our lives and communities.  This array of ways we form our intimate relationships can be confusing sometimes.  Yet, I think it is rather liberating to realize that there isn’t just one kind of family in the Bible. Rather the Bible shows many.  Jesus in his statements about family reminds us not to put family on a pedestal  or as an idol.  Jesus invites us to put first our relationship with God.  Will this mean we always get it “ right?”  Well, like with Abraham, we will have our moments  and difficult choices.  Yet, Jesus suggests that putting first God and God’s ways or Kingdom, then the beloved community can be formed. Then we can learn how to love each other as Christ loved us.

    For, what matters in the Bible is how people treat each other, whatever the configuration.  When the second slave wife is thrown out, the Bible tells her story too. For Jesus and Paul, the family they had growing up may not become the most important family for them as adults.  What matters according to Jesus is the love and respect, the hospitality with which we treat one another.     He closes this discourse in Matthew this way, “ Whoever welcomes you welcomes me and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward and whoever welcomes a  righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple- truly I tell you none of these will lose their reward.”  ( 10: 40-42)

   Could it be that Jesus is inviting us to form families- close relationships less about control and power and more about a welcoming spirit for all. In the midst of all the conflicts, Jesus sees the Beloved Community that flows from a loving God as POSSIBLE.


The mission of  Ebbert United Methodist Church is to invite people to become disciples of Jesus Christ through welcoming, worshiping, nurturing and sending.


If you’d like more information about us you can call 541-746-3513 or Pastor June at 541-603-8706 or email us at ebbert2@comcast.net.  We are glad you came by to see us today.


The church building has space available for non-profit groups for offices or meeting spaces.  Contact the church office at 541-746-3513 or email ebbert2@comcast.net, if interested.         


Our Monday Breakfast and Sack Lunch programs are helped by  Food for Lane County.   This meals are open to all people.   In accordance with Federal law and U. S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race color, national origin, sex, age or disability.  To file a complaint of discrimination write USDA Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.