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Sermon on the Beatitudes Jan. 29, 2017

The Blessed Life  by Rev. June Fothergill    Matthew 5: 1-12 “Reported to be seen on  a sign outside a church in Houston Texas, “ The meek shall inherit the earth.” Underneath it a graffiti artist had scrawled “ But not the mineral rights.” P. 89  ( Encyclopedia of Humor, Lowell D. Streiker) When you hear the word Blessings what come to mind?  Maybe our families or our homes?  Living in a free country?    Friends?   If we are honest, I doubt if many of us would think first of things like mourning or persecution!    We live in a culture which values hard work and achievement and the fruits of our labors.  We expect progress and life to get better over time.  Success is important.  I know that I was proud of my good grades in school.  I liked the feeling of being successful.    But now at the closing end of my career, I face the reality that I serve in a declining denomination.   I haven’t had too much “success”   in terms of how we tend to evaluate it. Even here at Ebbert,  our average worship attendance has gone down by one rather than up.  Our income is smaller.  By the ways the world and even the institutional church measure “ success”  I’m in trouble.  Of course the numbers of people we feed each week has grown substantially, but there are few ways to report that in our statistics.   I can report that I have a little Bible study on Monday morning during our meal. Yet, how can I report how studying the scripture  with folks who are unhoused has changed in my heart?  How each Monday I am humbled and inspired? I think that in this passage we call the Beatitudes Jesus is giving us two kinds of encouragement.   He is showing us the way to the Blessed life in the Beloved community of God’s realm. 1. The word is one of encouragement to those who experience humility and hurt in their lives. I invite you to close your eyes and imagine these words as Jesus encouraging you in your life right now. He tells us that when we are poor in spirit. When we don’t have the answers, when we feel empty, even useless- we are blessed , the kingdom of heaven is ours! He tells us that when we are bereaved, when we have lost what matters to us, when we mourn. We are blessed- we will find comfort. He tells us that when we are meek. When we have no power in the political process, when our lives don’t seem to matter-  we  are blessed- we will inherit the earth. He tells...

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Sermons January 2017

Welcome to the sermons from January 1- January 15, 2017  Enjoy! Sermon  January 1, 2017 John 1: 1-18; Galatians 4: 4-7  “ Being An Heir of Christ in this New Year”  by Rev. June Fothergill “We are no longer slaves, but children of God and therefore heirs.” – Paul in Galatians The attorney gathered the entire family for the reading of the will. Relatives came from near and far to see if they were included in the bequests. The lawyer somberly opened the will and began to read: To my cousin Ed, I leave my ranch. To my brother Jim, I leave my money market accounts. To my neighbor and good friend Fred, I leave my stocks. And finally to my cousin George who always sat around and never did anything but wanted to be remembered in my will I say, “ Hi George.”  ( p. 143 The Encyclopedia of Humor) This past week I spent time with my mother in her 80’s  and my mother in law in her 90’s. It’s good to spend time with them, to care for them, and to receive from them the wisdom and stories they had to share.    I think about what it means to be an heir.  In both cases it is less important what physical inheritance I might receive from them than the ethical inheritance. What are the values and ways of living that they hand down to me,  that I want to emulate and pass down to my children and others?  What did they inherit that they want to pass down to me and my family?  How do we help this sharing of stories and values happen?  How do we value each other in such a way that the stories get told and the values get shared?   These are the questions that concern me not just for my own family but for our churches and even our world.   What does it mean to be an heir. I think about all this also because of the reading from the letter of Paul to the Galatians we read this week.  Especially, “ We are no longer slaves but children of God and therefore heirs.” What does Paul mean and what does it mean for us today? Paul writes first of all that “ We are not longer slaves.”  This is crucial for his argument to the Galatians.  He is upset because some people have been teaching that in order to be right with God one needs first to be circumcised and adhere to other practices of the Jewish laws. To Paul this is a big mistake!    He doesn’t want them to get hung up on things...

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Anniversary Sermon December 18 2016

Sermon   “Serving Christ in this Very Place” by Rev. June Fothergill   December 18, 2016 Isaiah 7 ,   2 Chronicles 6:1,2,18-21,40-42; 7:1-4 ; Hebrews 10: 19-25 The little Kingdom of Judah was in trouble, surrounded by enemies on all sides.  The Bible says ( vs. 7:2) his heart shook like the trees of the forest shake before the wind.”    The King Ahaz, had heard a word from God to ask for a sign. But he said, “ I will not ask, I will not put the Lord to the test.”  But the prophet Isaiah saw his fearful heart.  “  Come on. “ He said, “ God asked you  to seek a sign. Can’t you just trust God and look for one?  So look the Lord is giving you a sign.  The young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall name him  Immanuel- God with us.   For before this little one is weaned, this threat that so frightens you will be  gone. The sign God gave to the frightened king was a little baby-  someone to love and cherish, to care for with  curds and honey.  These were choice foods for a weaned child but hard to find in a city under siege.  God was telling King Ahaz that all would be well for this little child.   By the time the child was weaned, those who threatened Judah would be gone.    Centuries later, the first Christians, particularly the writer of Matthew’s gospel looked upon this promise of God in scripture and saw a parallel to what God was doing in Jesus and Mary.  God came to bring salvation through a little child- God with us.  A child needing our tender loving care.  Could it be that God continues to come to us as the vulnerable one who needs our love .   That opportunities for tender loving care still give our world hope in the midst of despair, pain and fear? The other night at the Egan Warming Center, I met a young woman who was frightened and cold.  It was her first time in such a place.  She didn’t want to talk with anyone.   I invited her to sit with me and introduced her to a couple of my friends also staying at the Center.    They reached out to her with gentle TLC and humor.  Before I left that night she was talking some with me.  Tonight the Egan Warming Center will open once again.  Folks  from all over the valley will come to show tender, loving care for the most vulnerable in our midst on a cold night.  Soon it will be our turn to host the Center, already several of...

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