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June 2020 Sermons

Sermon June 7, 2020    “  A New Lens”    by Rev. June Fothergill Scriptures:  Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Matt. 28: 16-20    I celebrate zoom worship today!  I really like the cartoon of the woman in her pj’s and slippers walking down the aisle at a worship service.   It is good to laugh at ourselves, is it not? Like only last week I forgot what day it was- oh the confusion I can sow!   Yet this past couple weeks has also had its tough times. Besides the restrictions of dealing with a pandemic, we saw another killing of an African American man George Floyd by police and the protests and anger that ensued.  Today I want to talk with you about seeking a new lens for our ministries.   What do I mean by a lens?  Well, a lens is that we use to see our world and what we see guides our decisions.   I want to share a couple examples.     You may have noticed the quilt hanging behind me these past few weeks.  It is a quilt that my son Joe received when he worked at Suttle Lake UMC camp.  When I was a youth church camp gave me and many of my generation a new lens on the meaning of church.  At camp we had a new experience of Christian community that we didn’t get at home church or school.  This experience gave me a deep sense of belonging and an experience of truly being made in the image of God.   I and many others received a new lens for what church could be.     Another example for me is the experience of zoom worship.  I started out thinking that the lens of my computer screen was adequate.   Finally, I have realized that what I see on my screen is not nescessarily what others experience.    I have now a new zoom lens! ( tee hee)      This idea of changing lenses is one that we see many times in scripture.  In fact the Genesis poem of creation we read today is one of those times.         For the people of Israel this poem of creation gave them a new lens on the meaning of their lives and faith.  It connected them with all of the creation as a good work of God the Creator.  It told them that they – both male and female-were made in the image of God the creator and God saw and proclaimed that this was good!     This lens opened the door to new more equal relationships between men and women.  It provided a way to celebrate the connection between themselves and the rest of creation.  It was a poem that...

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May 3 Sermon Dealing with Fear

Dealing with Our Fear by Rev. June Fothergill   May 3,2020 Scripture: Psalm 23     I found a Doonesbury cartoon the other day that made me laugh.  A couple is talking to their little boy. The father says, “  Alex, honey Mom and I have been talking and we’ve decided it’s time for us to start attending church as a family.”    Alex replies, “ Church? Church is boring!”  “ Well.” His dad replies, “ we thought you might say that. All kids think that….”  Alex, “ Didn’t you think church was boring when you were a kid?”  “ Well, sure  I hated going but church was good for me so my parents made me stick it out.  You may end up hating church, too but you have to come by that feeling honestly. You have to put in the pew time, like Mom and I did. “   “ Oh “ replies Alex,” What if I like it?”    “ Like it?” The father reacts fearfully, “ What do you mean?” his dad exclaims and his Mom adds soothingly, “ We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, honey.”  ( Gary Trudeau)                                   Ah.  I suspect that most of us have fears about our best laid plans.  In fact these last couple months have been all about changes of plans. Staying at home, social distancing, being careful about the virus has lead to much anxiety even fear in our lives.   Our best laid plans are in disarray.  Even in the best of times, many of have a niggling fear of the future, but when the future is so unclear as it is now- we may experience anxiety and fear.  So  today, as I listened  the ringing words of Psalm 23 and to  the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, I decided to face the issue of fear.   In fact on one of my walks I came up with the memory aid, FACE-for this sermon. F- is for facing our fears.  I think that we don’t need to be afraid or ashamed of our fear. Fear is a natural human emotion we all experience.  So I encourage you to stop fretting about having fear. Rather face it.  It is simply a part of you.     When we face something, then we can find ways to deal with it.    I remember when I was pregnant for the first time.  I had fears about this new experience.  For me, taking some quiet time to face those fears and then imagining the resources and persons I had in my life to deal with them helped me to relax and enjoy that special time.   There are lots of  realities in...

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Easter 2020

Easter Sermon  April 12, 2020 Scripture:  Matthew 28: 1-12  “ The Risen Christ on the Go.” One Sunday late in Lent a Sunday School teacher decided to ask her class what they knew about Easter.  The first little fellow suggested, “ Easter is when all the family comes to the house and we eat a big turkey and watch football,”  The teacher suggest that perhaps he was thinking of Thanksgiving.  Next a little girl answered, “ Easter is the day when you come down stairs in the morning and you see all the beautiful presents under the tree,”  A this point the teacher is really feeling discouraged. After explaining that the girl was probably thinking about Christmas, she called on a lad with his hand tentatively raised in the air.  Her spirits perked up as the boy said “ Easter is the time when Jesus was crucified and buried.” She felt she had gotten through to at least one child until he added, “ And then He comes out of the grave and if he sees his shadow we have six more weeks of winter.” ( p. 65  An Encyclopedia of Humor ed. Lowell D. Streiker)   Not too long ago we had a family event called , “ Easter beyond the Bunny”    We had a good time doing a puppet show, playing outside with a parachute and doing an egg hunt in the sanctuary and retelling the whole story with the  contents of the eggs.   Did the children get it, did they understand what Easter was all about?  Actually do you and I?  We know the story  or stories.  We may even have a couple of the songs almost by heart. But each year we learn anew the meaning of those stories and songs.          I invite us today to delve in to one of the stories of Easter told by the writer of Matthew.        In Matthew’s gospel the tomb of Jesus is opened with great fanfare- an earthquake, an amazing angel with an appearance like lightning, and terrified guards.  Whew.  But the women who had come to the tomb were unfazed. The angel told them not to fear.  Then they received the message which would change their lives.  The resurrection message to these woman was that the risen Jesus was going before them to  Galilee. It was there that the disciples would see him.       It makes me wonder, why have them return to  Galilee?   It was not so easy a journey as today.  It would take time and resources.  Couldn’t they like the women who went to the tomb have an experience of the  Risen Christ’s presence...

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Lent 2020

This year we have a unique lent experience because we have had to cancel worshiping together to protect ourselves and the community from the spread of the coronavirus. Here are the sermons from that times starting March 15, 2020 for your inspiration. Mar. 29  Fifth Sunday in Lent   Death and Life in the Wilderness by Rev.June Fothergill Ezek. 37: 1-14  Dry Bones John 11: 1-45  Raising of Lazarus     I grew up in Idaho so am very used to the desert.  Some people thing that the desert is without life. When they drive through it in their cars all they see is rocks and a few scrubby plants. But those of us who live in the desert know that here are a wide variety of plants, animals and other life forms that populate what looks like wasteland.  We see the vole and the coyote, the sage brush and the sycamore, the snakes and the lizards.     But the wasteland that Ezekiel saw was not like the desert of my childhood. It was a valley of dry bones!  The bones of people who had not been properly buried!  A shameful and depressing place. A place where all life had left long ago.  Hopeless.    One of the struggles many of us have with our current situation of physical distancing is that we cannot see the end.  No one really knows how long this strange quarantine will be needed or last. Our bishop who lives in one of the nearby hot spots as told us for all of April. But other events have been put off till summer or fall.  Not knowing when this will be over can lead to a sense of discomfort and even hopelessness.   The other struggle with this time is that although the numbers are still going up of those who we know have the virus, we don’t yet see the impact of the illness itself all around us, only the impact of our quarantine.  There is an unreality about the whole experience.  Of course that could change, as more people get really sick. BUT this time of physical distancing is for the purpose of reducing the numbers of people who get really sick.  We shall see.   Meanwhile, we live in a strange new world.  Many of the ways we are used to receiving and giving spiritual nourishment are dried up.  It may not be a dry bones valley but it has its own strange dryness.    So into the dry bones valley of the people, the prophet Ezekiel was called by God to speak.  He was called to speak a word of life to the dead.  Can these bones live God...

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Annual Conference 2019 Sermon

Sermon    June 23, 2019  Scripture: Luke 8: 26-39       When Andra and I talked about our report about Annual Conference, she asked me to give some history.   So, I want to give you a little background.  The General Conference of our denomination meets every four years to adopt and revise the Book of Discipline which is the regulations and official stances of our denomination.   General Conference is made up of delegates elected by the different Annual Conferences based upon their membership. In 2020 our Conference will have two voting delegates.   In the 1970’s for the first time words were added to our Book of Disciple by General Conference that stated that the practice of homosexuality was incompatible to Christian teachings.    Our Bishop Elaine was a youth observer at one of those General Conferences and remembers that there was debate about whether the Bible actually condemns the homosexual relationships we know today.  So it was decided to say incompatible with Christian teachings because, as Albert Outler  the professor of Wesley studies who proposed the language suggested  Christian teachings do change over time.    But since that time the language of our Discipline has become rather set in stone.  Attempts at each General Conference since then to change, modify or overturn this language and the language that prohibits ordination and marriage of GLBTQ persons have not succeeded.           Some Annual Conferences over the years have decided to adopt different understandings of Christian tradition and teachings and include the experiences and ministries of LGBTQ persons. Our Annual Conference has been part of that movement for a long time.  I can remember many heartfelt discussions and sharing around the topic over my 30 + years.    Other Conferences in the Western Jurisdiction have also taken this stance. The movement in our denomination has been called the Reconciling Movement.  Many local churches across the country and in our conference have decided to become Reconciling Congregations who are open to full inclusion of GLBTQ persons in their ministries and practices.           At the 2016 General Conference in Portland the conference decided to ask the Council of Bishops to come up with a plan for how the church could best work through this controversial issue.  The proposal was to hold a special General Conference in 2019 to look just at the issue of human sexuality and the inclusion or not of the LGBTQ community in the life of our denomination.       There was a Commission on the Way Forward made up of a wide range of points of view and perspectives who worked on some plans to present to this Conference.  One of our clergy members Donna Pritchard worked long hours on this...

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Lifting Up Body and Spirit Sermons

Sermon  February 3, 2019   “ Ministry Sunday” by Rev. June Fothergill    Matt. 25: 31-46; Mark 6: 31-44     Since we already talked some about hips, I had forgotten that I am in good company with my hip troubles.        One of the highlights of the past year for me was our banner project.   I love it when we do something at our church which brings together people from different worlds.  In this case we had teens from A3 and Springfield schools, members of Rotary and their families and folks from our church working together with a young artist who lives part of the time in Costa Rica.   The most obvious outcome of our collaboration was the mural which is now gracing the back of our education wing.  Yet, other outcomes and relationships are still unknown.  Will the high school artists remember the experience and have a soft spot in their hearts for the church?  Will our mural inspire our neighbors?  It is good to look at how God transforms lives through our ministries but much of the outcomes we have to place in God’s hands.     Jesus told his disciples not to worry about outcomes but to pay attention to the needs of people and how they can meet them.  He told them when they realized the crowd was hungry-  You feed them.  He told the tale of the last judgment when those who cared for the poor and outcast were actually offering care to him.  He realized that meeting human needs was part of building his kingdom.  He wanted to empower his disciples to do this and continues to empower us even today.  We  experience this every week when by the gift of God we always gather enough food to fed those who come in need.  Sometimes we only find out much later the impact of our ministries.        Recently we made a connection with the Youth Transition Program at the Springfield schools because the woman in charge of the program is an alumni of Ebbert’s youth programs.  She thought of us when looking for a good place for her developmentally different students to get work experience.  She apparently learned about how to care for all people as a youth in our church.   We see the impact of our past youth ministry today in her vocation and renewed connection with us.      I have found that we at Ebbert as fairly typical of our generations and culture in that we don’t easily talk about things like “ transformation,” or  ‘impact.”   Because we don’t tend to talk about dramatic transformations,  we may wonder what the Spirit is doing in our midst.  I think...

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