Sermon  September 6 2020   “ And what of death?”  by Rev. June Fothergill Scripture: Exodus 12: 1-14; romans 13: 8-14; Matthew 18: 15-20      Not too long ago Jim and I watched again the movie “ Hannah and Her Sisters.”  In it, Woody Allen plays a character who has become obsessed with his own death.  He is terrified and anxious about not being anymore.   He goes to his Jewish parents for advice but they don’t see the issue.  He tries a Catholic priest and comes away with a pile of reading but that’s not for him. He even talks with the Hari Krishna but can’t imagine wearing an orange robe and hanging out at the airport.  Discouraged and still in terror, he goes to the movies.  As he watches an old Marx brothers which makes his laugh, he has a revelation that he needs to turn away from his anxiety and search for “ answers” and embrace life with all its mystery and maybes and laughter.  I admit it, his antics made me laugh.   Most of us face the reality of death at some point in our lives.  And Woody Allen, although exaggerating, is right, it is a fearsome thing.  We do shrink before the mystery of death.  This is only natural.  So what of death?  What place does it have in our lives, our theology , our faith?  I cannot answer all those questions in one sermon. I ‘m really not sure I can answer them any better than a Marx Brothers movie.  Yet, the reason I bring up the topic at all, is the impact of this passage from Exodus.  Let’s look at it together.     When reading again this passage in Exodus, I got a bit of that terror at or at least the solemnity of death. I had always thought of the first born- when I thought about them at all, as children- terrible enough certainly.  But this time I realized- I am a first born.  I would have been dead.  It was a little like when after 9/11 I realized that that many dead, would be everyone in the town I lived in at the time would have died! We do not usually keep thoughts about death in the forefront of our minds. As Woody Allen showed it is not a healthy way to live, obsessed with death.  Yet, death and transformation are at the heart of our faith and our deepest questions.   The passage from Exodus depicts a liturgy, an important ritual of the Israelite life and faith.  According to the commentators it is made up of materials from many centuries of Israel’s worship and faith.  ...

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