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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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Easter Sermons 2017

Easter Sermon 2017   Rev. June Fothergill One Easter I had the great idea of having helium balloons that we would all release inside during the Easter service.  Then I had the additional “ great idea” of attaching paper butterflies to the bottom of each balloon’s string.  I could just picture all the butterflies soaring over our heads. So in the smallest of the two churches, Canyonville, I grabbed the strings of the balloons and proceeded to hand them out as we proclaimed over and over Christ is Risen.  Only trouble was, I couldn’t do it at all.  The butterflies and strings were all tangled up!  The congregation was patient as we finally untangled all the balloons.  What a mess. Balloons, butterflies, brass, music, flowers- Easter invites us to celebrate.  My favorite is the sunrise service, I don’t think I have missed one in over 30 years.  If my church didn’t have one I either started one or found a local ecumenical one.  I figured if those women could get up early on Easter morning , so could I.  I especially love it when the service starts in the darkness and  we experience the light slowly dawning.  I admit it, I rarely see a sunrise, but on Easter I cherish them.  All these rituals and symbols have meaning for me=- perhaps for you too.  Good symbols and stories do not carry just one meaning- which is why they last. Yet, sometimes it is good to look more closely at that the stories tell us and what the symbols can mean. For example, in more than 30 years of preaching Easter sermons, I have never really seriously considered the question of the cloths left in the tomb that John talks about in this passage in John 20.  This year those cloths have intrigued me, partly because of a prose poem written by Anne Copeland.   In it she tells the story of a lace collar given to her by her mother as they made the transition from a home to a smaller assisted living situation.   Anne reflects upon the importance of cloth and clothing to her mother and wonders about its importance as a symbol.  She wonders whether Peter took with him one of the Linen cloths from the tomb and who it was who won the gamble for Jesus seamless garment at the cross.  She asks “ to whom did those fibers speak? What , if anything did they say?”  ( p. 45  “ Lace Collar”  in Willow Springs January 1998) John gives us much detail about these cloths:  they were linen, the ones for the head were rolled up in a place by themselves.  Both...

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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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Easter Season Sermons 2016

May 1 2016   Starting at the River by Rev June Fothergill Acts 16: 9-15 A woman once criticized D.L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting  to win people to the Lord. Moody replied, “ I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?”  The woman replied, “ I don’t do it.” Moody retorted, “ Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”  ( p. 28 An Encyclopedia of Humor ed. Lowell D. Streiker. Hendrickson Pub. 1998) Maybe some of you remember back in the  1980’s when each church was asked to come up with an evangelism plan?  At the time I was serving a church in a town of 300 people.  We struggled with what it meant to do evangelism.  Many of us weren’t even to sure we liked the word.  Some folks remembered uncomfortable experiences with evangelists and methods they found too pushy or didn’t trust.   Yet, we were being asked and still are to share with others the good news of Jesus Christ and his love for our world. I still wonder:   What is the method of evangelism that fits us and our situation?   Can we learn something from the methods of Paul, one of the first and very successful evangelist for Christ?     Let’s see what this story reveals.   Paul had a vision that led him to move to a new geographical area of Macedonia, which is in what we today call Greece.  He was led there by his sense of God’s invitation to reach out to a new group of people.  But where does one start in a new place, with new people? What can we learn from Paul’s approach in Philippi? I notice that Paul started at the river.   Apparently he asked around for where people gathered to pray in the Jewish way.  He discovered that people were praying to God at the river, so he went there.   He started with people who had an openness to God.   He discovered that this was a group of women.   Maybe there hadn’t been the ten men needed for a synagogue prayer meeting, yet these women still decided to spend time together in prayer and worship.  They had shown initiative and hunger for a life of faith. I also notice what Paul did not do.  He did not immediately take on the pagan practices of the town. He did not try to preach in the streets.  He didn’t hang up a sign and expect people to show up.   He went to where the people were.  He investigated to discover where people interested...

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Lent 2016 Sermons ” Bread of Life”

Sermon   March 20, 2016   “ Broken Bread”  By Rev. June Fothergill For many years, I have found ways to simply tell this story of Jesus journey to the cross on Palm Passion Sunday.  It seemed too big a story for a simple sermon. It still does.     I remember that many years ago I decided to follow Jesus.   To follow Jesus,  I need to look at the cross and what is means for my life.    I think that there are many meanings of the cross of Jesus.   Today I invite you to imagine with me joining those followers of Jesus standing at a distance in Luke’s account.    Many of them were woman who had given of their resources to make sure Jesus and company were fed and clothed.  They had followed Jesus from Galilee full of hope and promise.   They had been swept up with the preaching and healing that showed them a glimpse of God’s kingdom here on earth.   Jesus had loved and healed and walked with them.  They had helped to plan the big procession to welcome him to Jerusalem. They had also helped to prepare that last supper with the inner core of followers.  Perhaps they even baked the bread.   I imagine they heard the discussion around the table about service and about  getting some swords.  Maybe,  they had wondered if Jesus would have his disciples use those swords  to fight the temple guards, to maybe start an insurrection that would bring the promised kingdom?    But instead of making battle plans Jesus had gone to the Mt of Olives to pray, to seek once again God’s way.    So, when the temple guard came in the night to arrest him, Jesus said to put away the swords.  And even reached out once more to heal the servant’s ear! I notice that after his time of prayer, Jesus decided that God’s way in this situation of high tension and danger was a way of peace, not the sword.   He would not lead an insurrection that would bring more pain and suffering on his people!  As he warns the women who weep for him,  more suffering will come to you!    The writer of Luke knows that in 70 a.d. the  Roman armies came in and not only put down an insurrection but destroyed the city and the temple!    Jesus was showing us that God has another way!    A way of living true to ones core values of peace and love in the midst of the death dealing powers of this world.  It was a way that Jesus walked before us and for us.  It is a way Jesus invites us to continue to walk. I...

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Lay Leader Bob Beck’s Sermon

“The Lord is My Shepherd” Sermon  April  26, 2015 by Bob Beck   Mary had a little lamb it’s fleece was white as snow everywhere that mary went the lamb was sure to go.   The lord is my shepherd I shall not want…   The poems that we learn as children –  these poems do have an impact on our lives.   They bring us joy, or comfort.  They bring a smile to our face as we remember our childhood – I know I saw several of you smile when I began Mary had a little lamb.  They bring us comfort….   I memorized, or mostly memorized, the 23d psalm as a boy in Sunday school, not knowing then how much this psalm  would mean to me later when I was prepared to go into harms way.  Even then, as a boy, I suppose I was becoming a soldier – I can’t remember any time when I was not fascinated by the army.   When Ike Eisenhower became president in 1953, i still thought of him as General Eisenhower – I was only 6 years old.   “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”  to me this was a soldiers’ prayer.   King David wrote the 23d psalm, and yes, he had been a soldier,  but David had also been a shepherd, and spent much of his time in the fields and hills.  “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.”  I grew up in the hills just east of Newport, Oregon, and loved the hills covered in trees.  not only did my brother and I have foxhole forts scattered in several places on our 10-acre property, but there were other places that were set apart as peaceful sanctuaries – the small grove of Doug Fir trees carpeted with moss as thick as a mattress, dad’s “park’ where he transplanted trilliums.  The babbling brook that bordered Dad’s park.   “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever.”  “He restoreth my soul.”  I felt very fortunate to grow up in God’s country, with the beauty of the hills and forests of the coast range. And during a good storm I could walk down to the bluffs overlooking the ocean, and yell at the wind, and feel the power of God.   But, the rest of the story:...

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