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Easter Season Sermons 2020

Sermon April 26    It All Depends On Your Point of View Meditation by Jeffrey Gordon, MDiv Based on Luke 24:13-35             I don’t know about you, but this Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives order from our Governor has resulted in some inconveniences for many in our state, including myself and my family.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it is necessary to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus 19, and I support any order that is made to protect those people, especially those that I care for.   Still, this particular directive has raised havoc with my sense of time.  With the days getting longer, the weather being nice, and no set schedule to follow, both my wife and I have to check our watches to determine what the time is.  One day seems to run into another, so even remembering what day of the week it is becomes a challenge.  If you are having similar problems, let me help you a wee bit, at least for today: in the liturgical calendar, today is the second Sunday after Easter and the scripture from the Gospels is from chapter 24 of the Gospel of Luke, verses 13 through 35.  For many of us, the story contained in these verses is often referred to as the “Walk to Emmaus.”  It revolves around two men returning to their home(s) in Emmaus from Jerusalem and what happened to them on their journey.  But more about that later…             Raised as a Roman Catholic, the first time I heard this story was from the nuns who taught my catechism classes, and they made sure that I heard it several more times until I was able to read it for myself.  Many of you probably had similar experiences, first hearing it from your parents or in Sunday school class and, after learning how to read, you were able to read it yourself.  Having heard or read this passage many times during our lives, we should be very familiar with its story and what it implies (i.e., what it is supposed to mean), but how many of us have noticed that this story is found in only the Gospel of Luke?  Not only that, but it is the lead into the final story of Luke’s gospel – the story of Jesus’ appearing to his disciples for the last time and his ascension into heaven.  Thus this story must have held special significance to the author of the Gospel of Luke.  Let’s see if we can figure out what it might be.             One method that we can use to get a hint of what a story in one...

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Exploring Mark 10 sermons Oct 2018

Oct 7  -Mark  10:1-16    Oct 14- Mark 10: 17-31 Sermon  October 7, 2018  “ View of the Child”  Rev. June Fothergill Scripture: Mark  10:1-16 Tony attended a men’s prayer breakfast and heard a visiting psychologist speak on the topic of showing appreciation to the important people in one’s life.  He decided to start with his wife.  So that night after work he bought a dozen long stemmed roses, a box of chocolates and a pair of earrings.  He chortled with self satisfaction as he contemplated surprising his wife, showing how much he appreciated her. He stood at the front door with the roses in his right hand ,the gaily wrapped box of candy under his arm and an open jewelry box displaying the earrings in his left hand. With an elbow he rang the doorbell. His wife came to the door, opened it and stared at him for a long minute. Suddenly she burst into tears. “  Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” asked the bewildered husband. “  It’s been the worst day of my life, “ she answered. “ First Jimmy tried to flush his diaper down the toilet. Then Eric melted his plastic airplane in the oven. Then the dishwasher got clogged and overflowed all over the kitchen floor. Then Brittany came home from school with a note from the teacher saying that she beat up a boy in her class. And now you come home drunk.”  Pp. 93-4 An Encyclopedia of Humor ed. Lowell D. Streiker Everyday relationships are tough! Yet they are the fabric of our lives.  Jesus understood this.  When Jesus wandered as an itinerate preacher and teacher, he didn’t have much normal family life and he suggested that most important for his followers was to be faithful to God, not to family ties. Yet, the gospel of Mark, the first one to write down his story, shows him concerned about marriage and children. One of the big controversies of Jesus day was how to be a faithful person and deal with the reality of divorce.  Even as far back as Moses’ day divorce was part of the life of the community.  Deuteronomy 24: 1-4  in the torah gives a way for men to divorce their wives. Ever since the rabbis and commentators had been discussing how best to do this and what the rules about it ought to be. There were several schools of thought in Jesus day, so the local Pharisees asked him what he thought, to test where he stood on the question.  Mark reports that Jesus turned the question back to them- what did Moses say. Then he invites them to look a little deeper not at...

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Sermons Lent 2018

Sermon February 18, 2018  First Sunday in Lent  Scripture:  Romans 3: 21-26;  5:1-5;  8: 31-39 The Gift of Grace  by Rev. June Fothergill Mark Twain once said, “  Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” ( p. 330  1001 Quotes, Illustrations and Humorous Stories ed. Edward K. Rowell) I also heard the other day that a Miwaukee minister declared that there were 947 sings and was besieged for copies of the list! (p. 42  An Encyclopedia of Humor, ed. Lowell D. Streiker) Paul says in vs. 21  But now apart from law the righteousness of God has been disclosed and is attested by the law and the prophets the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Sometimes people view religion as a list of do’s and don’ts, if we just follow the rules, then everyone will be all right.   Yet, this creates problems, as Paul very well knew.   One is that few of us can successfully keep all the rules all the time, even if we have a list!    Trying to live by a list of do’s and don’ts opens us up to the reality of hypocrisy on the one hand and self righteousness on the other. Either way we are far from the right relationship with God the rules promised. Paul would not say that there is no place for what he calls the law- the ways of life developed by his people over the centuries to help the community stay in touch with God and their roots of history and faith.  He knew the value of these to teach us about what God wants from us.  He proclaimed in synagogue after synagogue and here in Romans that the story of Jesus and the salvation he brings is rooted in those very scriptures.    Yet, the righteousness  of God is now available to us all in a new way- trust in Jesus and his story of salvation- his life death and resurrection.   Believe in Jesus Paul urges and you will know the righteousness of God, you will be in right relationship with God. Vs. 22 For there is no distinction since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; This is a summary of the previous chapters where Paul spells out the ways that the world is trapped by sin and alienated from God.    Another school shooting this week reminds us how far our own society is from God.   Every society has conflicts and struggles with violence in various ways but our society is well known for more mass shootings than other places where...

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Mother’s Day 2017

Sermon May 14, 21017  Risky Hospitality   by Rev. June Fothergill  Acts 17: 1-15 A man’s wife was in labor with their first child and suddenly she began to shout, “ Shouldn’t, couldn’t , wouldn’t ,didn’t , can’t”  He asked the nurse what was wrong with her. The nurse said, “ She’s having contractions.” It being Mother’s Day and all,  I was thinking about being a mother  and the process of welcoming a new baby.  It’s exciting and fulfilling but there is also an underlining risk- will I be up to it? What sort of person will he/she be?    Any act of hospitality- welcoming a new person into your sphere involves stretching our hearts and minds. It can involve risks.    I think of Jason and those women of high standing who not only welcomed Paul and Silas but welcomed the word about Jesus and became believers.  They welcomed a new person with a new perspective into their lives.  And it changed even disrupted their lives. How do you deal with disruption in your life?  Are you one that is good at going with the flow?  Or are you more apt to get distressed and worried about things?   Or maybe you’re one who plans and anticipates possible pit falls and “be ready” is your motto.  Or maybe you’re someone who runs away and hides at the first hint of trouble or the one who stands up and fights.   Maybe some of us have done all those things at different points of our lives depending upon the situation.    One of the things we learn as we read the book of Acts is that the early church was not immune to disruption and troubles, internal and external.   The coming of Jesus the Christ has brought something new and life giving to the world- but the world has not always been able or ready to receive it.  And even among the disciples themselves the way forward wasn’t always agreed. Yet this story of disruption and conflict is also a story of growth.  The community of believers grew in numbers and places. It grew in faith and  commitment.  It grew beyond its own comfort zones to reach a wider world with the good news of  Jesus Christ and his love and grace.   Choosing to be a believer and a disciple meant a new spiritual relationship and hope but also it could shake up your life! For example,  Jason.   Imagine what it might have been like to invite someone to your home and then to have the local authorities arrest you for harboring that person.  I would be scared and shocked. Even though they were soon released,  Jason and the other...

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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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Lent 2017 Sermons

March 19, 2017 John 4: 5-42      Sermon  Woman at the Well  Rev. June Fothergill Ah there it is!  I can still hardly believe I left my water jar behind! And I really needed the water!  I hadn’t gone down in the morning with the other women. I was just tired of their talking more about me than with me.  But a person needs water- so with the sun high, I trudged to the well.  It’s Jacob’s well- I may be a Samaritan but I know my lineage and Jacob left his well for us. It makes a big difference in our lives. We need fresh water and  we are grateful for it! But that day I encountered someone even greater than Jacob. He didn’t look like much at first.   Just a stranger sitting at the well, obviously weary-  his clothes and feet dusty- his face lined. He wore the cloak of a Jew. I paid him little mind- figuring he’d just ignore me. But instead he spoke- asked me for a drink. I was shocked! Here was a Jewish man speaking with me! a Samaritan woman?  I was so worried about what someone might think.  I’ve always been rather outspoken and I did it again that day- sir- do you realize who you are talking with?  Are you sure you want to be talking to me!  pause   I forgot all about his request and his thirst! Who as this man? I remember wondering.  He must have known my question for he smiled and told me- If you knew who I was you’d ask for living water. Living water. . And I knew I needed that living water he’d offered. Whatever it was , ” sir I said give me that water!  But then he caught me up short- Go and call your husband. Well I’d been half expecting it – everyone gets around to asking eventually. He as a good sort though I wanted him to like to keep talking with me. So I told him- ” I don’t have a husband.” Then he looked at me so very gently and said What you say is true you have had 5 husbands and the one with you now is not your husband.” I looked at him and it was like he’d seen all the misery I’d suffered. The rejection the grief the shame. I could see in his eyes- He knew all about me yet he had spoken to me as a real, loveable, thoughtful  person. I felt a thrill as somewhere inside an empty place started to fill. ” Sir you must be a prophet.” Looking back I realize that right then he...

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