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Extravagant Generosity Sermons

The themes of the following sermons are: Feb. 5-  Generosity Flowing from the Heart Feb. 12- The Art of Loving Feb. 19- Vision for Our Church for the Coming Year Sermon Feb. 19, 2017  “ Bucket List”  by June Fothergill Have you ever seen the movie The Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson? Two terminally ill men develop a list of all the things they have always wanted to do. Then they help each other do those things. They face their task with a great sense of urgency. The movie invited us to wonder- what do we really want to do before we die? Today we will explore our bucket list for the church. This week’s card asked you to consider what you would most like to see happen in the church in the next year. Consider now what you would like to see happen in your life in that same time. In what ways do your passions for the church align with your personal desires? Today I will share my vision for the church in this coming year. In our text from Joel today I notice that the culmination of gifts from God to the people will be that all of them will receive God’s vision and word.  As 2:28-29 says “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old  shall dream dreams, and your young shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves in those days I will pour out my spirit.”   (NRSV)  This is an encouraging word for us.  It suggests that God’s Spirit, the source of God’s vision is not just for certain folks like the pastor.  It is for all the people.  I your pastor may articulate a vision I sense from God for us, but your ideas, your prayers, your input and passions are also important for the vision for our congregation.  Joel reminds us that we listen together for the word of the Spirit to give us vision and hope.   What has God inspired you to envision for the coming year?  The ideas I want to share with you today come from my attempt to pay attention to God and to you, this Insightful congregation.  I share them with an openness to our discernment together. Also, clearly Jesus had a vision for the Kingdom of God. He preached and taught about it all through his ministry.  Yet, he also noticed that sometimes his people had trouble catching on to it.  In the passage we read from Matthew 6, Jesus identifies some of the things that got in the way of his people catching the...

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Treasure Sermons

  Giving your treasure back to God. By Rev. June Fothergill  November 8, 2015 Mark 12:38–44;  Matthew 6:1-6 Shortly after Dan retired his wife asked him , “ What are you going to do today?”  “ Nothing.” He said.  “ That’s what you did yesterday” She said.   “ Yes,  He answered, but I wasn’t finished.” This past week my husband and I attended a UMC Retirement Workshop.  The experts suggest that we attend a couple of these before we retire.  I have to tell you two things about the UMC retirement system- it’s a bit complicated ( thus the need for a two day workshop)  and it is generous, thanks to the ongoing generosity of all of you.  It struck me a while ago that our pension programs as a church are one of the ways we participate in God’s mission.  These funds provide for the lives of many, many widows and even some orphans.  I personally couldn’t make sure that all the widows of our retired pastors have funds and health care but when I give to God’s work in the church, I help that to happen!   It may not be as exciting as a project in the third world but it makes a day to day difference in so many lives. Giving our treasure back to God, is choosing to be part of what God is doing in the world.    Sometimes I worry that our meals ministry doesn’t really change lives, and then I woke up one day and realized that it was my life that has been changed!   I was looking through my 30 year unorganized collection of sermon illustrations and found many articles and examples from ministries related to homelessness, some of them from 30 years ago.  Thanks to all of you now I could write some of those articles and stories myself. For example, if you go to the basement, you will see a poster there that is made up of puzzle pieces that one Wednesday night I put out on all the tables and invited people to write on them their names and thoughts about being the body of Christ.  I gathered them up after the evening and found enough to re make the puzzle on the wall. It’s been up there awhile but I still see people looking at it and commenting on it.  In fact last Wednesday someone suggested- why don’t you let us fill in the missing pieces. In our meals here at Ebbert we are doing something bigger than ourselves.  We are not only providing  regular, counted on meals for many hungry people, we are also offering a place where folks can experience or...

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Jesus and the Seeker

Sermon  October  11, 2015 Jesus and the Seeker by Rev. June Fothergill  Scripture:   Mark 10: 17-31 I remember after I had been here a few months, I parked and locked my bike and its trailer on the side of the church.  I had a hard time getting the trailer on and off so I figured it was safe.  I was wrong.  The trailer was stolen that afternoon.  I felt upset because the trailer had been given to me by friends just before Joseph’s birth over 20 years ago and I had left my favorite hat in it!    I was touched at how concerned people were and how folks tried to find it for me.  Some of the folks helping me look for it had had their own  stuff even all their possession taken away numerous times. We’ve mostly all had the experience of losing a possession we valued.  Somehow it often helps us put our lives and what we truly value or treasure in a new perspective. Jesus encountered a man one day who was questioning and seeking.  The gospels writers retold this story for us to continue to learn from today. What does it mean to be a seeker? Are any of us seekers here today? Trying to figure out what we really treasure or what it means to have treasure in heaven?  In a couple of weeks we will begin an all church four week exploration of the topic of Treasure using a program developed by James Armstrong.  There are daily devotional books for each household and there will be at least 2 opportunities to join a small group to discuss the topics at Sunday school time and Wed. morning.  You will be receiving a mailing about it all soon. We will discover together that Jesus has a lot to say about treasure. Today let’s focus on this young man and his encounter with Jesus.   He is clearly a seeker. He comes to Jesus with a question on his heart. What must I do to inherit eternal life? I wonder about this question, is he asking how to get to heaven when he dies? Or is he asking for deeper meaning and purpose for his life now?  Is he just wanting assurance that he’s heading to the kingdom of God?    Whatever his intent, he is someone who asks the deep questions.   What is it that you and I seek?  What is the question on our hearts?  Imagine coming up to Jesus and asking him the question of your heart.  What would you ask? I find Jesus’s response interesting.  He seems to think that the man all ready knows the answer to the...

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