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Sermon October 30 Branches of Compassion

Sermon October 30, 2016   Luke 19: 1-10    Branches of Compassion by Rev. June Fothergill Rolfe Barnard tells a story about a fellow preacher  named Johnny Hilyard who was quite short.  At a conference one time he got up and said, “ Zacchaeus was short in stature and so am I.  Zacchaeus  was up a tree and so am I.  And Zacchaeus skinnied down and sat down. And he sat down.” Have you ever climbed a tree?  The last time I remember doing so was when I was in High School at Lebanon Oregon. The Methodist church was a couple blocks from the school. In front of it at that time was a large Oak tree with a branch I could reach.  I remember running away from school at lunch time and climbing up that tree.  It was fun to be there and look down on any one passing by. To hang out with a tree. Was I looking for Jesus?  Well, maybe!  Climbing a tree at lunch time is a pretty strange thing to do for a high school student. So I can imagine Zacchaeus. It’s not do easy to scramble up a tree.  You’re likely to get a little sappy!     So,  What do we know about him?   He was a  Citizen of Jericho, a Chief Tax collector,  Rich. He seemed to be a go getter- top of his field.  Yet, he was not liked.  In fact, like most tax collectors in those times, he was despised as someone who collaborated with the Roman oppressors.  He was rich so he didn’t follow John the Baptist’s directions to tax collectors- only collect the amount ascribed to you.   So he was rich but unrespected.  Rich but lonely- not invited to be part of the welcome team for Jesus visit.  Oh and he’s short, so short he can’t even see Jesus coming for the crowds. So what does he do?  What’s he got to lose – only his dignity!  He climbs up a Sycamore tree.  My neighbor in Boise has Sycamore trees and they have nice big leaves.   Z could hide up there and view everything below. He’d get to see Jesus!   A grown man, a rich man up a tree! It’s a funny picture.  Luke is just possibly making a little fun of Zacchaeus. But then Jesus does what Jesus does.  He notices the lost and the outcast.  He sees Zacchaeus in the tree, knows and calls him by name.    Jesus has a good network of tax collectors, he could have heard about Zaccheus from Levi or Simon the leper or one of the many tax collectors he has stayed with over the years of his...

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Caring for the Children Sermon

Sermon October 4, 2015 “Caring for the children” by Rev. June Fothergill   Mark 10: 2-16 A Sunday school teacher began her lesson with a question, “Boys and girls what do we know about God?”  A hand shot up in the air, “He’s an artist” said the kindergarten boy.  “Really? How do you know?” the teacher asked.  “You know- Our Father who does art in Heaven” The other day Jim and I got to go to the ribbon cutting for the Schutte’s farm’s new corn maze. Since the ribbon was cut we decided to try it out.  We had fun!   Figuring out the map, finding each clue station, solving the game, getting my shoes all wet, enjoying a beautiful day!   I really enjoyed being a kid! I believe that we have a child inside.  A child that has experienced joy and laughter and play and still can. Most of us also have a child inside who experienced various traumas of growing up.  No matter what the particular configuration of our child inside, our scripture today tells us that Jesus loves that child and wants to heal and bless us. I need that word today because the same day that I had the opportunity to play and enjoy my inner child, I also heard about the shooting in Roseburg and that it took place in the very space Jim used to teach.  So close, so sad.   Today during our prayer time we will light candles remembering them and also the six persons in our own town who have been murdered since May.   Our hearts go out to all the families and traumatized survivors.  How could I have so much fun and so much sadness in the same day? That is our lives.   As human beings from the very beginning of our lives, we experience connections with other human beings, connections which bring us joy and sadness, comfort and fear.  It is when we don’t have those connections which nurture our lives and selves that we suffer and sometimes cause others to suffer.   And this all starts in childhood.  Jesus taught us to care for the children. The passage from Mark today tells us at least three ways Jesus teaches us to care for the children- actual children in our lives and world and just perhaps too the child still inside us. One way to care for the children is to build strong, respectful relationships. The passage about divorce we read today has caused much pain when it has been interpreted as a set of rules or a ways judge others.  Yet, when looked at in light of the practices around marriage and divorce of the time...

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