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Easter Sermons 2017

Easter Sermon 2017   Rev. June Fothergill One Easter I had the great idea of having helium balloons that we would all release inside during the Easter service.  Then I had the additional “ great idea” of attaching paper butterflies to the bottom of each balloon’s string.  I could just picture all the butterflies soaring over our heads. So in the smallest of the two churches, Canyonville, I grabbed the strings of the balloons and proceeded to hand them out as we proclaimed over and over Christ is Risen.  Only trouble was, I couldn’t do it at all.  The butterflies and strings were all tangled up!  The congregation was patient as we finally untangled all the balloons.  What a mess. Balloons, butterflies, brass, music, flowers- Easter invites us to celebrate.  My favorite is the sunrise service, I don’t think I have missed one in over 30 years.  If my church didn’t have one I either started one or found a local ecumenical one.  I figured if those women could get up early on Easter morning , so could I.  I especially love it when the service starts in the darkness and  we experience the light slowly dawning.  I admit it, I rarely see a sunrise, but on Easter I cherish them.  All these rituals and symbols have meaning for me=- perhaps for you too.  Good symbols and stories do not carry just one meaning- which is why they last. Yet, sometimes it is good to look more closely at that the stories tell us and what the symbols can mean. For example, in more than 30 years of preaching Easter sermons, I have never really seriously considered the question of the cloths left in the tomb that John talks about in this passage in John 20.  This year those cloths have intrigued me, partly because of a prose poem written by Anne Copeland.   In it she tells the story of a lace collar given to her by her mother as they made the transition from a home to a smaller assisted living situation.   Anne reflects upon the importance of cloth and clothing to her mother and wonders about its importance as a symbol.  She wonders whether Peter took with him one of the Linen cloths from the tomb and who it was who won the gamble for Jesus seamless garment at the cross.  She asks “ to whom did those fibers speak? What , if anything did they say?”  ( p. 45  “ Lace Collar”  in Willow Springs January 1998) John gives us much detail about these cloths:  they were linen, the ones for the head were rolled up in a place by themselves.  Both...

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Lent 2017 Sermons

Sermon  March 5, 2017  Lent 1  “ Temptation”   Rev. June Fothergill Genesis 2-3,  Matthew 4 Jim Grant in Reader’s Digest told about an overweight businessman decided it was time to shed some excess pounds. He took his new diet seriously, even changing his driving route to avoid his favorite bakery. One morning however he showed up at work with a gigantic coffee cake.  Everyone in the office scolded him, but his smile remained nonetheless. “ This is a special coffee cake” he explained.  ” I accidently drove by the bakery this morning and there in the window was a host of goodies. I felt it was no accident, so I prayed, ‘ Lord if you want me to have one of those delicious coffee cakes, let there be  parking spot open right in front. ‘  and  sure enough the 8th time around the block , there it was!”  ( Lee, Griess, Taking the Risk Our of Dying, CSS Publishing co., 1997   esermons.com 2/27/2004) Ahh temptation.      Yet, temptations remind us that we have choices.   J Barrie Shepherd in his poem, “Testing”  expresses this: The meaning  of a wilderness is not, in point of fact immediately evident, at least to most who trudge the daily adamant of pain or merely mediocre times because they must. The presence of A tempter with bright offers, tantalizing choices to be made, might even seem to bear a sweet relief from forty days of sheer  oblivion. Lead us , Lord into temptation for a change, please. And grant us just a passing whiff of evil before nightfall.   ( The Christian Century February 26, 1986)   In the Genesis creation stories God made us with the ability and opportunity for choices.  This is part of what it means to be a human being made in God’s image.   Yet, it doesn’t take much looking around to realize that we are not too good at making choices.  In fact, one of the hardest things to do is to be truthful with ourselves and to see clearly our choices.   We get trapped into addictions and rationalizations.   Paul experienced this and put it well, “ I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want but I do the very thing I hate.”  ( Rom 7: 15)   Paul calls what is at work inside of him, which keeps him from making good choices,  “ sin that dwells within me.” The Genesis story and Paul both show us a truth about our human lives- we experience alienation from our true selves and God.    The classical way of saying this is that we are “ fallen”.   Our ability to make choices...

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Easter Season Sermons 2016

May 1 2016   Starting at the River by Rev June Fothergill Acts 16: 9-15 A woman once criticized D.L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting  to win people to the Lord. Moody replied, “ I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?”  The woman replied, “ I don’t do it.” Moody retorted, “ Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”  ( p. 28 An Encyclopedia of Humor ed. Lowell D. Streiker. Hendrickson Pub. 1998) Maybe some of you remember back in the  1980’s when each church was asked to come up with an evangelism plan?  At the time I was serving a church in a town of 300 people.  We struggled with what it meant to do evangelism.  Many of us weren’t even to sure we liked the word.  Some folks remembered uncomfortable experiences with evangelists and methods they found too pushy or didn’t trust.   Yet, we were being asked and still are to share with others the good news of Jesus Christ and his love for our world. I still wonder:   What is the method of evangelism that fits us and our situation?   Can we learn something from the methods of Paul, one of the first and very successful evangelist for Christ?     Let’s see what this story reveals.   Paul had a vision that led him to move to a new geographical area of Macedonia, which is in what we today call Greece.  He was led there by his sense of God’s invitation to reach out to a new group of people.  But where does one start in a new place, with new people? What can we learn from Paul’s approach in Philippi? I notice that Paul started at the river.   Apparently he asked around for where people gathered to pray in the Jewish way.  He discovered that people were praying to God at the river, so he went there.   He started with people who had an openness to God.   He discovered that this was a group of women.   Maybe there hadn’t been the ten men needed for a synagogue prayer meeting, yet these women still decided to spend time together in prayer and worship.  They had shown initiative and hunger for a life of faith. I also notice what Paul did not do.  He did not immediately take on the pagan practices of the town. He did not try to preach in the streets.  He didn’t hang up a sign and expect people to show up.   He went to where the people were.  He investigated to discover where people interested...

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Lent 2016 Sermons ” Bread of Life”

Sermon   March 20, 2016   “ Broken Bread”  By Rev. June Fothergill For many years, I have found ways to simply tell this story of Jesus journey to the cross on Palm Passion Sunday.  It seemed too big a story for a simple sermon. It still does.     I remember that many years ago I decided to follow Jesus.   To follow Jesus,  I need to look at the cross and what is means for my life.    I think that there are many meanings of the cross of Jesus.   Today I invite you to imagine with me joining those followers of Jesus standing at a distance in Luke’s account.    Many of them were woman who had given of their resources to make sure Jesus and company were fed and clothed.  They had followed Jesus from Galilee full of hope and promise.   They had been swept up with the preaching and healing that showed them a glimpse of God’s kingdom here on earth.   Jesus had loved and healed and walked with them.  They had helped to plan the big procession to welcome him to Jerusalem. They had also helped to prepare that last supper with the inner core of followers.  Perhaps they even baked the bread.   I imagine they heard the discussion around the table about service and about  getting some swords.  Maybe,  they had wondered if Jesus would have his disciples use those swords  to fight the temple guards, to maybe start an insurrection that would bring the promised kingdom?    But instead of making battle plans Jesus had gone to the Mt of Olives to pray, to seek once again God’s way.    So, when the temple guard came in the night to arrest him, Jesus said to put away the swords.  And even reached out once more to heal the servant’s ear! I notice that after his time of prayer, Jesus decided that God’s way in this situation of high tension and danger was a way of peace, not the sword.   He would not lead an insurrection that would bring more pain and suffering on his people!  As he warns the women who weep for him,  more suffering will come to you!    The writer of Luke knows that in 70 a.d. the  Roman armies came in and not only put down an insurrection but destroyed the city and the temple!    Jesus was showing us that God has another way!    A way of living true to ones core values of peace and love in the midst of the death dealing powers of this world.  It was a way that Jesus walked before us and for us.  It is a way Jesus invites us to continue to walk. I...

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Lay Leader Bob Beck’s Sermon

“The Lord is My Shepherd” Sermon  April  26, 2015 by Bob Beck   Mary had a little lamb it’s fleece was white as snow everywhere that mary went the lamb was sure to go.   The lord is my shepherd I shall not want…   The poems that we learn as children –  these poems do have an impact on our lives.   They bring us joy, or comfort.  They bring a smile to our face as we remember our childhood – I know I saw several of you smile when I began Mary had a little lamb.  They bring us comfort….   I memorized, or mostly memorized, the 23d psalm as a boy in Sunday school, not knowing then how much this psalm  would mean to me later when I was prepared to go into harms way.  Even then, as a boy, I suppose I was becoming a soldier – I can’t remember any time when I was not fascinated by the army.   When Ike Eisenhower became president in 1953, i still thought of him as General Eisenhower – I was only 6 years old.   “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”  to me this was a soldiers’ prayer.   King David wrote the 23d psalm, and yes, he had been a soldier,  but David had also been a shepherd, and spent much of his time in the fields and hills.  “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.”  I grew up in the hills just east of Newport, Oregon, and loved the hills covered in trees.  not only did my brother and I have foxhole forts scattered in several places on our 10-acre property, but there were other places that were set apart as peaceful sanctuaries – the small grove of Doug Fir trees carpeted with moss as thick as a mattress, dad’s “park’ where he transplanted trilliums.  The babbling brook that bordered Dad’s park.   “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever.”  “He restoreth my soul.”  I felt very fortunate to grow up in God’s country, with the beauty of the hills and forests of the coast range. And during a good storm I could walk down to the bluffs overlooking the ocean, and yell at the wind, and feel the power of God.   But, the rest of the story:...

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