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The Kingdom of God Sermon Sept 2018

Sermon  September 23, 2018    “ Vision of God’s Holy Mountain” by Rev. June Fothergill  Scripture:  Isaiah 65: 17-22 I have a Beetle Bailey cartoon on my home office wall.   Two soldiers are lying in their tents looking up at the stars.  One says, “  Someday we’ll be able to fly to all the stars.”  The other replies, “ And we’ll die from the hot gases of nuclear fusion.”   Then the first guy says, “ It should be against the law to destroy dreams with facts.” If we live long enough we realize that our dreams don’t often turn out as we dreamed them.    A lot of our lives are littered with lost and discarded dreams.  And when we are pushing 60 or 70 or 80 even 90- is there still place for dreams in our lives?  Maybe we need to just settle.  Dreams are for the young who don’t know any better.  And yet!  There is something about our scriptures and our faith that just can’t let go of us. There is a dream of God for the world bigger than our lives and efforts that continues to call to us all our lives.  As the prophet Joel and the book of Acts attest, when the Spirit comes, “ the young will see visions and your old share dream dreams.” What is this dream of God that compels us and calls to us throughout our whole lives of faith?  Jesus called it the Kingdom of God.  He declared in his life here on earth that people needed to repent and turn to this Kingdom of God coming into their midst.  He told stories about it. He lived it through acts of healing and justice.  He died and rose again to inspire and free us to continue on its journey. Yet, I remember one time as a teenager wondering what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God.  I read through the New Testament but frankly was just confused by the stories and metaphors and found few concrete examples.  I didn’t realize at the time that to understand what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God I needed to look to what had inspired him- the Hebrew Scriptures, especially the prophets.   Today we heard Jesus once again tell us- “Seek first the kingdom of God”.     I invite us to look at the passage from Isaiah 65, one Jesus surely knew by heart for insight about this  vision, this dream of the kingdom of God. One of the images for God’s kingdom that is common throughout Isaiah is that of the Holy Mountain or Mount Zion.   Around here many of us have climbed up the hills nearby...

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Sermon ” Spirit Prep”

Sermon   May 28, 2017 “ Spirit Prep” by  Rev. June Fothergill   Scriptures:   Acts 1: 1-14 One time when I was in High School as friend of mine moved away.  I missed her very much.  In her new home she got involved in a charismatic church  which taught that to receive the Holy Spirit was to speak in tongues.  She sent me a very earnest letter explaining all this and how important it was.  She gave me a prayer and Bible reading process that was  supposed to open me to this gift of the Spirit.  I was very curious and trusted my friend and her faith, so I went somewhere by myself to pray about it as she had suggested.    I prayed the right prayers and did what she suggested  but nothing happened.  I did not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.   The experience left me confused and a little sad. I had really wanted it to “ work.” Since then I have learned and experienced that God pours out the gifts of the Holy Spirit  in many different ways.  There is not just one gift of the Holy Spirit but many.   One college town pastor helped me identify that for me a gift of the Spirit can be an unexpected insight into a problem or concern.  The Spirit helps me reframe  the situation and see God’s possibilities in a new way.    I have also known some people who have the gift of healing touch.  Others had a gift for compassion for others or for discerning wisdom or  speaking truth.    The Holy Spirit is the work of God’s presence and power in our lives in so many ways.   How do we open ourselves to  its presence and power?    Can we get ready for the Holy Spirit?  Do Spirit Prep? Well ,  I think the first answer is no.   We do not control God’s  Holy  Spirit, so  we cannot say or do a formula that will bring it down to us.   That was the trouble with my friend’s letter.    The Holy Spirit is not a force we control or can manipulate with our formulas or prayers.   The Holy Spirit is the powerful, free presence of  God.  It’s not about our control of it but our openness to it.  That is why the disciples were asked by Jesus to wait and pray.  That is why he warned them that only God knows  the timing of the Kingdom of God.  And  I think that is why he reassures them over and over  of the promise of the Spirit and its power. So why even be concerned about it.  If God will pour out the Holy Spirit who...

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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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