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Healing our fears

Sermon   March 15, 2015   “Healing our Fears” by Rev. June Fothergill Scriptures: Numbers 21: 4-9, John 3: 14-17 I suffer from two phobias says Brad Stine, “  1  Phobia- phobia – the fear that you’re unable to get scared and  2  Xylophataquiopiaphobia- the fear of not pronouncing words correctly . (p. 341 An Encyclopedia of Humor) A cab driver died and arrived at the Pearly Gates. Just ahead of him was a famous minister, but St Peter motioned him aside and took the cabbie into heaven at once.  “How come you’re making me wait, while the cab driver gets right in? Asked the frustrated clergyman, “Haven’t I done everything possible to preach the gospel and live a good life? “Yet, said St Peter but that cab driver scared hell out of more people than you ever did. (p. 80 An Encyclopedia of Humor) Do you like to be frightened?  I know some folks like scary movies or experiences.  I frankly do not.  I’m a fear avoider big time.  Yet, I have learned that fear is just an ordinary part of being human. It’s an emotion we all experience.    I appreciate Marshall Rosenberg’s insight that emotions like fear indicate that a human need is threatened or at risk.  When we feel afraid or encounter others who are afraid, we can ask- what is the human need not being met or threatened?  What does the person need?   This moves us past evaluating or judging ourselves of others for our feelings toward trying to understand and have compassion for one another. God understands this.  The people in the wilderness had a great fear- that they would die in the wilderness.  After taking the big step of fleeing Egypt and slavery, they were afraid that their wilderness journey would come to nothing- death and destruction.  They manifested this fear by complaining and impatience.   “Why are we out here? The food provided is boring.  Maybe it would be better if we hadn’t come.”   IN the midst of these complaints a new danger arose- poisonous snakes came into the camp and some people died of their bites.  What they feared was happening- they were dying in the wilderness. Yet, they had learned a couple things on their wilderness journey- if there was trouble go to Moses.  And there is a God out there who cares about what they do.    So they came to Moses this time not with their complaints but with their repentance.  “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So, good ol Moses did it (one more time) He prayed to God for...

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Midrash on Psalm 19

Sermon  March 8, 2015   Rock and Redeemer by Rev. June Fothergill Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1: 18-23 He wandered out on the balcony of the palace.  And looked up and saw the stars.  He sighed and remembered nights when he and just a few loyal men had camped under these stars.  In them they had seen their dream of a kingdom under God.   The people united and at peace.  He had wanted to be a good king, a just king.   He looked out at the road before him and remembered how he’d come down that road dancing with glee, dancing before the ark of the covenant. Coming to make Jerusalem his capital, the religious center of  this realm. He had hoped that people would come and find God here. That he would find God here.   He sighed deeply and watched the lights of the armies camped around his capital.  Now everything he had built was threatened, not from the outside but from his own household, his own son turned against him.  Oh Absalom, OH Absalom, King David cried into the night. Tears  in his eyes, he looked up again and this time the stars seemed to sing.  Their unheard song reverberated in him and he felt a song well up in him-  “ The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”    Then David remembered that he was part of something bigger than himself.  He was part of a covenant people, a people called to bless the earth.  He was connected to the stars, the land, the people, to his God. He went inside and sat down to recall  some of the ancient teachings of his people.  As he recited to himself the words he had learned, he sensed a peace in his heart.  God was with him.  These words of his ancestors provided a grounding in faith that he needed that night.   AS he recited them he realized that he had not always kept them well. He had been proud, he had committed adultery and murder, he had deceived others and certainly coveted. He had not always humbled himself to make worship of God first in his life and actions. Yet, his old friend Samuel had said that he was God beloved.  Oh God he prayed,   “ Help me.”  Your law is perfect but I am not.  Clear me from even my hidden  faults.  Surround me with people who will be honest and true, and help me live a life of integrity from this moment on.  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you  O Lord my Rock and my...

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Learning from Elder Abraham

Sermon March 1, 2015 by Rev. June Fothergill Lent 2    Genesis 17: 1-19; Mark 8: 34-37 A 27 year old minister had been assigned to his first post only a short time when he noticed that one of his parishioners, an old lady, had missed several Sundays in a row.  He decided to see her and find out the reason.  “Young man.” She answered him firmly,” you aren’t old enough to have sinned enough to have repented enough to be able to preach about it.”  (p. 55 An Encyclopedia of Humor) Do we really know more about repentance and change as we grow older?  Or just more about sin?   Sure!  Yet I admit, I get comfortable with the status quo.  Take technology-   I usually figure that if the old technology is doing the job = why change?  Besides I know more or less how to run this- not so sure about the next thing.   But what I have noticed is that if I hang on too long to an old technology, I become hampered because there are no longer the supports or equipment for using it- like the old 8 track tapes or even cassette tapes today. I have an old typewriter in my closet but wonder where on earth I would get a change of ribbon for it.    The truth is that as we live, we accumulate more and more baggage, or we learn how to let it go.  We find the wisdom to change or we get stuck. We need the traditions of the elders, like the OT not to be stuck there but to learn how to live faithfully. Take the story of Abram.  Abram’s story begins a saga of covenant with God.  This small family, with a barren wife is chosen by God the Creator of all things to be in close relationship.  God stirred in Abram’s heart and invited him to leave his home and travel to a new land, to believe in the One God, to trust that this God would make him the ancestor of many many people that they would have a land that would sustain them and they would bless all the families of the earth.     So the roots of our faith begin with a man and his family who are willing to embrace change, to set out on the promises of God. Abram’s journey was not always an easy one, he faced many challenges- one of the toughest was that his wife Sarai was barren. He had no children.   Later on he has another encounter with this Covenant God. This time he questions God, he says to him- I have no children! And God...

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