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Palm Passion Sunday Sermon

Sermon  March 29, 2015  Palm/ Passion Sunday Mark 15: 25-39 Sermon:  Emptying Ones Self Only to be Filled with God  by Rev. June Fothergill We sit in astounded awe as Jesus completely empties himself on the cross. He has no status, no friends,  even it seems, no faith- Why O God have your forsaken me. He cries out and then he has no breath.  His life is poured out. Yet, in the face of this despair the man who looked straight at him, who saw him A gentile, a soldier, a stranger said in wonder “ Surely this is the Son of God.” The moment of complete emptying was a holy moment. The moment of deepest despair was a sacred time. The temple curtain was torn in two- something new was happening. God had entered our world in a new way. Hung with the deepest, most anguished human experience And tore it open- Created a channel for love/ unconditional/ gracefilled love to flow. There is a story, I think it is from China, an ancient tale, that I have adapted to help me understand this mystery of Jesus death, this strange and life giving way of emptying. Once there was a farmer who had a wonderful farm, fields of vegetables as far as one could see. In the center of the farm, near the river there was a large bamboo tree. Under that tree the farmer and his workers would rest and drink from the river in the shade of this wonderful tree.  The tree and the farmer were great friends and would converse together often.  The farmer loved the tree and the tree the farmer.  Then one day troubles came.   A drought scorched the earth and the river didn’t run as high and mighty. Then  a big storm came and knocked down the plants. It blew so hard that even the big bamboo with a cry of anquish, came crashing down.  After the story, the farmer ran to the great tree and knelt beside it.   He looked out over the devastation of the land, the wilted dry plants, the blown down stalks, the great bamboo, its branches twisted and its roots laid bare  and  his heart broke.  He cried for his ravaged land.  In his tears he realized that his heart and that of the bamboo were one.  He heard deep within the spirit of the bamboo whisper to him  “ Use me.”    The farmer looked up and realized that he could use the bamboo to bring water to his parched plants. He reverently split the big trunk and using its hollowed inside made a channel.  Placing one end in the river and...

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Easter Season Meditations

I invite you to enjoy these weekly meditations and also check out my Talk with Pastor post for reflections on Easter. I will be traveling to Chile in April and will be back for Mother’s Day.   Blessings, Pastor June Fothergill April 5 Mark 16:1–8 Alleluia! Christ is risen! But at the beginning of today’s Resurrection scripture, we meet Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome grieving the loss of their friend and teacher, and on their way to anoint Jesus’ body. They find an empty tomb and an angel who tells them Jesus has risen! Their lives are forever changed. What do we do with that life-altering news today? What is our role in the ongoing story of Jesus’ resurrection? This week, live out the Easter story by being a sign of new life for someone. Give an Easter basket to a homebound or elderly neighbour, offer a word or sign of hope to someone in despair, make a donation to a life-giving nonprofit organization, or invite someone to church. April 12 John 20:19–31 The story of Thomas is one we can probably all relate to – for how often do we want proof before we believe something? The important thing about Thomas’ story is that he doesn’t completely disengage from his faith. He wonders and questions, and then comes to believe after ecountering the resurrected Christ. Jesus says to the disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (verse 22), and as disciples today, we have the Holy Spirit with us as we share our wonderings and welcome them from others. This week, write down some of the wonderings or questions you have about faith. Share these with another person – maybe your pastor or a close friend of faith. April 19 Luke 24:36b–48 God’s presence among us can sometimes go unnoticed or even completely ignored. The disciples in this week’s focus scripture are “startled and terrified” and think they’ve seen a ghost, not the risen Christ. He shows them his wounds and asks for fish to eat. He is no longer a ghost, but their resurrected teacher and friend! In our everyday lives we are called to embrace this risen Christ and share God’s love with our communities. As Christ was transformed in the eyes of the disciples from ghost to friend, how are we called to transformation in our own lives? This week, at the end of each day, jot down the ways you’ve encountered God’s presence during the day. Say a quick prayer of thanksgiving for the many ways God reveals the hope and presence of the resurrected Christ to you in your daily life. April 26 John 10:11–18 In...

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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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sermon Lent 1 Feb. 22, 2015

Sermon    February 22, 2015 “River of Life” Mark 1: 9-15 by Rev. June Fothergill Have you had a wilderness time in your life?  Have you found God in that wilderness?   Not too long ago I went through a severe personal and professional trial.     I felt confused, hurt, guilty, frightened and very, very sad.  I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me.  So I went to the river to pray.  The river was near my home and I had made a habit of going there to pray and explore but during that period, how I needed the river!  It was where I could express all my emotions without anyone to judge. It was where I could plead and lament and be quiet before God.  Its flow reminded me of a greater flow of life and love than my small self and that I was loved and part of something bigger than myself.  The river was my holy place to come to grips with my sin and my belovedness, my need to forgive and be forgiven.   It was my wilderness. I find it moving that Jesus was driven by the Spirit – the very spirit that had just said- “you are my beloved” into the wilderness.   There Mark tells us cryptically- he was tempted by Satan.  Mark doesn’t tell us the specifics – which Luke and Matthew fill in with their later additions to the story.  No Mark leaves it open for each of us to imagine that wilderness struggle.  To go there ourselves.  And to know that whatever our wilderness temptations- Jesus knows. Jesus went through it too.  Mark invites us to be with Jesus in the wilderness and to know Jesus is with us in our wilderness times. What happens in the wilderness and what can be the outcomes? 1. Temptations When Mark speaks of temptations in the wilderness, no doubt his first hearers would have thought of the wanderings and temptations of the Hebrew people in the wilderness after their release from slavery. They struggled to truly trust God. They complained and set up an idol, they worried and horded.  Yet, through it all, God kept covenant with them, did not leave them. When I was driven at the river to deal with my internal wilderness,  I wrestled with temptations to retaliate, for I felt attacked, to lie and defend myself, or even to give up. Some of the tears that flowed were of self pity and anger.  Yet, that time gave me a chance to look deep for what I really valued and how I wanted to act not based upon my temptations and fears but my faith. In the...

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Lent Scriptures

Lent is the six weeks before Easter.  Our theme for Lent this year is Bridges and Rivers of Compassion This Lent, we look to God’s creation to help us find our way on our spiritual journey.  We seek God’s presence to help us grow in compassion.  God’s spirit is the flowing waters of the river of life touching us all.  Bridges allow us to connect with compassion to folks on all sides of the river. This Lent as we connect with scripture and with God’s creation, may we find ways to also connect with others in new and compassionate ways. February 22    Genesis 9: 8-17  Noah Psalm 25: 1-10 1 Peter 3: 18-22 Mark 1: 9-15 March 1  Genesis 17:1-7;15-16  covenant with Abraham Psalm 22: 23-31 Romans 4: 13-25 Mark 8: 31-38 Peter’s confession/ discipleship  March 8 Exodus 20: 1-17  ten commandments Psalm 19 1 Corinthians 1: 18-25 John 2: 13-22  Jesus cleansing temple  March 15 Numbers 21:4-9  bronze serpent/ healing Psalm 107: 1-3,17-22  healing of God Ephesians 2: 1-10 John 3: 14-21   God so loved world/ like Moses ( above) March 22 Jeremiah 31: 31-34 Psalm 51: 1-12 or Psalm 119: 9-16 Hebrews 5: 5-10 March 29   Palm/ Passion Sunday Mark 11: 1-11 Palms Mark 14:1-15:47 Psalm 31: 9-16 Holy Week Maundy Thursday Meal and Ceremony  6:00 p.m. Good Friday prayer vigil  7 p.m- 3:00 p.m. Done a home April 5   Easter John 20: 1-18 Psalm 118:1-2,14-24 Acts 10:...

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