Sunday Messages

Sermon April 16: Gratitude, Joy, Hope, Love, Wonder, and Generosity

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Sunday Message | 0 comments

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Gratitude-Joy-Hope-Love-Wonder-Generosity_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church April 16, 2017 Easter Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: John 20:1-18, Colossians 3:1-4 Prayer for Illumination (Unison):  God of wonder and mystery, we give you thanks for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that has been made known to us in the words of scripture and in our lives today.  Like Mary, standing astonished in the garden, we do not always recognize your presence with us.  But when we hear your voice, we can truly say: “We have seen the Holy One, and we know that Christ is risen.”  Alleluia!  Amen. And may the words that I speak and the thoughts that we form be acceptable in your sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen. Sermon:                  Gratitude, Joy, Hope, Love, Wonder, and Generosity It’s been a long Lent.  I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry.   Over the past six weeks we’ve emptied our plates of a lot of things.  Temptations, misunderstanding, regret, blame, doubt and fear have all been put out on the compost pile.  And it was hard work, wasn’t it?  Our Lenten series of “Emptying our Plates” invited us to look deep within and see what holds us back from true love of self, love of neighbor, and love of God.  By emptying our plates we’ve made room to experience the miracle of Easter.  We arrive here, on Easter morning, ready to be filled. But filled with what?  Personally, I’m really looking forward to Easter dinner in a few hours.  It’s our tradition to have lamb on Easter.  And cooking the lamb is Gary’s job ~ supportive pastor’s spouse that he is.  So I can’t wait to have a little Easter-afternoon rest and then enjoy some succulent lamb, veggies and a piece of apple pie from my favorite gluten-free bakery – with ice-cream on top.  My plate will be full. And I’m sure I won’t be the only one.  But I am not sure if this is the kind of “full plate” that Easter is really about.  I mean, Easter dinner with family and friends is certainly a good thing to enjoy, but I think Jesus had in mind something a little different than eggs benedict and apple pie.  We did the hard work of Lent in order to experience the true miracle of Easter.  Jesus endured the suffering of betrayal, denial, torture and death.   And we’ve arrived here on Easter morning to find that the tomb is empty.  It’s resurrection day. It’s resurrection day and it’s almost too good to be true.  Almost.  We know the story.  Mary Magdalene heads to the tomb early on Sunday morning, perhaps to finish the burial ritual of anointing the body with perfumed oil and spices.  What she finds, though, is not what she expects.  The stone is rolled away and Jesus’ body has gone missing.  Afraid of what this could mean, she runs to tell the disciples, who run to the tomb themselves.  Peter and John see just what Mary saw:  an empty tomb, but for the discarded burial wrappings.   Unsure what this means, they head home. Mary, though, stays right there.  As one preacher put it, “…face to face with the empty tomb…” she remains at the site of her grief and cries.  Her mind probably racing...

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Sermon April 9: The Hour Is At Hand

Posted by on Apr 11, 2017 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Sermon April 9: The Hour Is At Hand

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/The-Hour-Is-At-Hand_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church April 9, 2017 Palm Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11, 26: 14-16, 36-46, 57-58, 69-27:2, 15-23 Prayer for Illumination:  Give thanks to God, for God’s steadfast love lasts forever!  In this faithful love, we are forgiven and strengthened in Christ.  Amen. And may the words that I speak and the thoughts that we form be acceptable in your sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen. Sermon:  The Hour Is At Hand Palm Sunday started out so right.  How could it have gone so terribly wrong?  That’s the question centuries worth of Christians have asked, and there is still no easy answer.  The crowds that danced with joy on Sunday, waving their palms to shouts of “Hosanna!” stomped their feet and shook their fists on Friday crying “Crucify Him!”  Everything seemed so promising at first.   By Friday the hope of the world was nailed to a cross.  Sometimes that’s the way things happened, though, right?  Things aren’t always what they seem.  Jesus’ followers thought that he was going to overthrow the Roman government and return Jerusalem to the Jews.  They thought Jesus was going to be a military hero like his ancestor David.  They had been down on their luck for so long, but Jesus was going to fix all that.  Or so they thought.  When it became clear Jesus wasn’t going to meet their narrow expectations many of his followers turned their backs on him.  And, not only that, they joined with the Roman authorities in cheering his death. What, at first, seemed like a miracle turned into a nightmare. And it wasn’t enough that the religious authorities were out to get him.  It wasn’t enough that the crowds turned against him.  But his most intimate friends, those with whom he shared the most, didn’t understand.  Judas betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver.  Peter, James and John fell asleep when Jesus needed them most.  And, later, when asked if he was one of Jesus’ disciples Peter denied it three times.  In the end, Jesus was left alone. Last week, in our “Emptying Our Plates” series, we talked about emptying our plates of doubt.  In reflecting on doubt, I said that I don’t believe doubt to be the opposite of faith, but fear.  And, today, I think that is exactly what caused everything to go so wrong.  Fear.  A lot was at stake for the Jews of Jerusalem.  The Roman authorities, and even the Jewish leaders, were already suspicious of Jesus.  And even more so after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  Jesus didn’t do things the way everyone else did.  Through his acts of healing and his radical teachings he drew attention to himself.  People were actually beginning to believe what he said.  To the Roman authorities and the Jewish leaders ~ those interested in maintaining the status quo ~ Jesus was a dangerous man.  They were afraid. So, in aligning themselves with him, Jesus’ followers were taking a risk.  A big risk. They were publically calling into question the rule of law.  And, as minority members of the Roman Empire, this was scary stuff.  This was not a democratic society.  There was no freedom of speech.  There was a very real possibility they could lose their livelihood, their homes,...

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Sermon April 2: A Way out of No Way

Posted by on Apr 2, 2017 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Sermon April 2: A Way out of No Way

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/A-Way-out-of-No-Way_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church April 2, 2017 Fifth Sunday of Lent Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  John 11:1-45 Prayer for Illumination:  As Lazarus in the tomb heard your words of power, so have we.  On this day may we walk out of darkness and into the light of righteousness.  May the ministry of your word remove our grave clothes and embrace us in the kingdom of God.  Amen. Sermon:                               A Way out of No Way Doubt.  Faith.  Faith.  Doubt.  Some folks believe that faith and doubt are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  Merriam-Webster defines doubt as, “a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.”  I doubt the Red Sox are going to make it to the World Series this year.  I doubt I will be able to fit into that dress.   To doubt is to be unsure.  Doubt always leaves open a possibility. I tend to believe that doubt and faith are not opposites.  I’ve heard a convincing argument that fear is, in fact, the opposite of faith, not doubt.   In fact, I think that doubt and faith go hand in hand.  We are human, after all.  We have limited imaginations.  Who would’ve thought it possible for a blind man to see, a leprous man suddenly made clean, a dead man to come back to life.  Of course we are going to scratch our head at these events.  Seriously?  Can that really be true?  We get so used to the predictable that it’s hard to believe anything else.   We’re not conditioned to believe there is a way out of no way. Our Gospel reading today is about the death of one of Jesus’ closest friends. When Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick, you’d think that he would’ve left immediately to do whatever he could for his friend.  At least that was what the sisters were hoping.  But instead, Jesus waited two days to even begin the 20-mile journey.  Two days.  By the time Jesus arrived at the house of his friends, Lazarus had been dead four days and was buried.  In Jewish thought, it took three days after death for the soul to leave the body.  Lazarus wasn’t just dead.  He was dead-dead. Put yourself in Mary and Martha’s shoes for a minute.  How do you think these sisters must have felt?  Grief stricken, abandoned, angry?   Mary didn’t beat around the bush once Jesus finally arrived.  She confronted him, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”   She knew Jesus healed the sick, so she had hope when Lazarus was alive.  But now that Lazarus was dead, what could Jesus possibly do?  Tears accompanied Mary’s greeting.  While she loved Jesus, she doubted he could do anything at this point. And what did Jesus do in response to Mary’s tears? With those who mourned Lazarus’ death, Jesus wept.  Now this leads to an interesting question.  If Jesus knew that he could raise Lazarus from the dead, why would Jesus cry?  Some people even think that Jesus delayed his trip because he planned all along to raise Lazarus.  If that were the case, why would Jesus be moved to weep at Lazarus’ tomb?  Did Jesus doubt his ability to restore his friend’s life? Perhaps he was weeping over...

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Sermon March 26: Pointing The Finger

Posted by on Mar 26, 2017 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Sermon March 26: Pointing The Finger

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Pointing-the-Finger_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church March 26, 2017 Fourth Sunday of Lent Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  John 9:1-17, Ephesians 5:8-14 Prayer for Illumination (Unison):  In the light of God, all is made clear.  We see how much God loves us and how much God loves all people.  We see Christ, the Light of the World, in Scripture and in our lives; and although we once were blind, now we see! And may the words that I speak and the thoughts that we form be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen. Sermon:                               Pointing the Finger The blame-game.   We’ve all played it at one time or another.   We do something risky or unwise or costly and, instead of accepting our responsibility, we look for someone else to blame, we point the finger at our kids, our partner, our coworker, the dog.  You fail the test not because you didn’t study, but because a friend kept you up late talking on the phone.  You burn your dinner not because you were careless, but because the dog had to go out and you didn’t hear the timer.  You miss your doctor’s appointment not because you forgot, but because they forgot to give you that reminder phone call.  The blame-game.  This is the fourth Sunday of our Lenten Series “Emptying our Plates.”  Throughout this series we’ve been considering the ways we fill our lives with things that distract us from what is truly important.  Thus far we have emptied our plates of temptation, misunderstanding and regret.  And today we are emptying our plates of blame.  Psychology Today, in a September 2015 article, outlined some of the reasons we play the blame-game. First, blame is an excellent defense mechanism.  When we blame someone else we can avoid seeing our own faults or failings.  Second, it is easier to blame someone else than to accept responsibility and change our behavior.   When someone else is at fault we don’t have to apologize or make amends.  The Psychology Today article sums up by pointing out, “Unlike other games, the more often you play the blame game, the more you lose. Learning to tell when you need to own up to your role in a bad situation will help you grow from your experiences, and ultimately help you achieve more fulfilling relationships.”  Blame can be an impediment to seeing the opportunities right in front of us.  In John chapter 9 we find several examples of pointing the finger.  First we see a man, blind from birth, begging on the street corner.  The disciples asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind.”  The disciples saw something they couldn’t understand and they wanted to assign blame.  They wanted to distance themselves from this man by making him a theological object lesson.  This beggar must have done something to get himself into this situation.   Yet, as David Lyle pointed out in The Christian Century, “In the darkness we have the luxury of having conversations about the sins and sufferings of others without acknowledging our own sin.” Jesus, though, knew the danger of objectifying other people.  When we assign blame, we lose the capacity for compassion.  When we point the finger we can feel better about ourselves at someone else’s expense. ...

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Sermon March 19: Everything I’ve Ever Done

Posted by on Mar 19, 2017 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Sermon March 19: Everything I’ve Ever Done

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Everything-Ive-Ever-Done_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church March 19, 2017 Third Sunday of Lent Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  John 4:5-30, 39-42 Prayer for Illumination (Unison): Spring of eternal life, well up within us and wash away our fears. Sweep away the impediments that keep our hearts from loving others as you have loved us. Give us the confidence of the Samaritan women, that we might share with others the good news of your mercy and compassion. In the promise of your grace, we pray. Amen. And may the words that I speak and the thoughts that we form be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer. Amen. Sermon:                               Everything I’ve Ever Done Regrets, I’ve had a few. You probably recognize that as a line from Frank Sinatra’s popular song, “My Way.” Regrets. We’ve probably all had a few. A few things we wish we’d done differently. A few things we wish we hadn’t done at all. A few things we wish we had done. Regrets are often experienced as the “if onlys.” If only I had taken better care of my health. If only I had spent more time with my children. If only I had spoken up when I had the chance. And regrets have a way of sticking with us. We kick ourselves for what we should have done differently. We get down on our younger selves for decisions we made before we knew better. One of my regrets ~ among many ~ is that when I was a 19-year-old sophomore in college taking a class in London, England I didn’t visit John Wesley’s Chapel. The 42-year-old Methodist pastor that I became would really like to have had that experience.   And that is certainly one of my more trivial regrets. This is the third Sunday of our Lenten Series “Emptying our Plates.” We use the expression, “I’ve got a full plate,” to mean that we are too overwhelmed to take in ~ or take on ~ one more thing. Yet, when our plates are too full we risk missing out on the joys and miracles that life can unexpectedly bring. And our plates can be full with a lot of things. Our plates can be full with tasks or fears or responsibilities. Our plates can be full with opinions or grudges or regrets. Our plates can be full with disappointments or sorrows or shame. So, in the weeks leading up to Easter, we are invited to ask ourselves how we can empty our plates, even just a little, to make room for the miracles God places before us, not least of which is the miracle of Easter. And this morning we meet a woman who may have a few of her own regrets. We don’t know her name, but we often refer to her as “The Woman at the Well.” Jesus, who was traveling through the region of Samaria, met this woman when he stopped at Jacob’s Well for a drink. This encounter was somewhat unusual for several reasons. First, in those days, it was not customary for a man to speak to an unaccompanied woman. Second, Jews (of which Jesus was one) did not associate with Samaritans due to centuries-old religious disagreements. In fact, when traveling, Jews often went the long way around rather...

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Sermon March 12: Courageous Conversations

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Sermon March 12: Courageous Conversations

Faith United Methodist Church March 12, 2017 Second Sunday of Lent Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  John 3:1-17, Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 Prayer for Illumination: As we reflect on your word, O God, may your Spirit of Truth bring us wisdom to carry the message of the Gospel in our hearts. May we live according to your word that we might reflect your glory. Amen. Sermon: Courageous Conversations Misunderstandings happen all the time, right? Last Thanksgiving Gary, Ben and I traveled to Maine to be with Gary’s side of the family. Before we left I dropped the dogs off at the kennel while Gary packed up the car.   When I got back to the house I asked, “All loaded up?” Gary responded, “Yup.” So we jumped in the car and took off. Around about the Richmond exit on 89 Gary said, “Well, I didn’t put your suitcase in the car.” What????? Needless to say we made a U-turn at the Waterbury exit and headed back to the New North End. My Miriam-Webster iPhone app defines misunderstanding as, “failure to understand correctly; mistake as to meaning or intent.” Sometimes misunderstandings can be simple, even humorous. Other times misunderstandings can cause unintended, major consequences. Relationships have ended over misunderstandings. Wars have started over misunderstandings. There is the example of the War of the Stray dog when, in 1925, a Greek soldier’s dog crossed the border into Bulgaria. The soldier did what any good dog owner would have done and ran after the dog into Bulgarian territory.  The soldier was shot and instantly the Greeks used this as an excuse to invade Bulgaria. A ceasefire was eventually declared over the misunderstanding, but not before 50 Bulgarian citizens had been killed. Hopefully our misunderstandings don’t have such severe ramifications, but misunderstandings can cause breakdowns in conversations, community and common life. This is the second Sunday of our Lenten Series “Emptying our Plates,” our opportunity to consider how we fill our plates too full. We are not necessarily talking about food. Perhaps our plates are full with tasks or fears or responsibilities. Perhaps are plates are full with opinions or grudges or offenses. Perhaps are plates are full of broken relationships or nursed wounds or resentments. When our plates are too full we risk missing out on the joys and miracles that life can unexpectedly bring. So, during these weeks we are invited to ask ourselves how we can empty our plates, even just a little, to make room for the miracles God places before us, not least of which is the miracle of Easter. So this morning we explore one of the most familiar misunderstandings in the Bible. We don’t know much about Nicodemus, except that he was a Pharisee and a leader in his community. Yet he was a curious, wondering sort. And, having some specific questions for Jesus, he sought out Jesus himself. Some say that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night so he would not be seen by his fellow Pharisees. He didn’t want his friends to misunderstand and think that he believed what this Jesus said. Yet Nicodemus acted courageously in initiating this conversation, even under the cover of darkness. You may be able to tell that I like Nicodemus. I identify with his questions and wonderings and curiosities. He wanted...

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Sermon March 5: Tempting

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Sermon March 5: Tempting

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Tempting-March-5-2017_E-.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church March 5, 2017 First Sunday of Lent Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7, Mathew 4:1-11 Prayer for Illumination: Nourish us, O God, with your word of life. Bring us to our senses. Take away our uncertainty and arrogance. Grant that we may hear all you would have us hear, speak what you would have us speak, and live how you would have us live. In the name of Christ. Amen. Sermon:                                           Tempting My birthday is in a couple of weeks. (As many of you know, I’m not shy about celebrating my birthday. Forty-two, in case you are wondering!) It’s our family tradition to go out to eat for our birthdays and I’ve got my birthday dinner all figured out. First, we’ll go to “A Single Pebble” where I will have the Mock Eel for an appetizer and the Lemon Sesame Shrimp for an entrée. Then we will walk up to Church St. and stop in at “Sweetwaters” for dessert. I will have the flourless Chocolate Torte with Vermont Island mint chocolate chip ice-cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.   As you can tell, I’ve put a lot of thought into this. But it is a little ironic that, while I’ve been planning my epic birthday dinner, I’ve also been planning our Lenten Series “Emptying our Plates.” Over the next five weeks we will be considering how we fill our plates too full. We can look at this literally, as in piling on too much food to the detriment of our waistlines and our health. But we can also look at this more figuratively. Perhaps our plates are full with tasks or with fears or with responsibilities. Perhaps are plates are full with opinions or grudges or offenses. We use the expression, “I’ve got a full plate,” to mean that we are too busy ~ too committed ~ to take in one more thing. Yet, when our plates are so full we risk missing out on the joys and miracles that life can unexpectedly bring. In these weeks leading up to Easter we will follow Jesus to the cross. And, as we do, we will ask how we can empty our plates, even just a little bit, to make room for the miracles God places before us, not least of which is the miracle of Easter morning. As we begin this Lenten journey our first stop is Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. We could consider this Jesus’ first step in self-emptying and determining what, for him, is essential. As the Scripture tells us, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.” The wilderness is a place of isolation and denial. There is no mock eel or flourless chocolate cake in the wilderness. Jesus, at his most vulnerable, was met by the devil who tried to seduce him with promises of ease and wealth and power. No wonder Frederick Buechner said that in the wilderness Jesus was trying to figure out “what it meant to be Jesus.” And maybe this is what Lent can be for us as well.  The Season of Lent can offer us the opportunity to look at our...

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Sermon February 26: Be Who God Intends You To Be!

Posted by on Feb 26, 2017 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Sermon February 26: Be Who God Intends You To Be!

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Be-Who-God-Intends-You-To-Be-Feb-26-2017_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church February 26, 2017 Transfiguration Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Matthew 17:1-9, Exodus 24:12-18 Response to the Word (Responsive) Precious Lord, let us walk with you as you have walked with us. May we follow your Spirit to new mountaintops, through low valleys, and even to the cross. May we follow your Spirit to new life, through the grace of Jesus Christ, now and forevermore. Amen. And may the words that I speak and the thoughts that we form be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer. Amen. Sermon:   Be Who God Intends You To Be! This Sunday we may say we are at a crossroads. And, no, I’m not talking about the Oscars. Will La La Land win for best picture? Will Meryl Streep add a fourth statue to her collection? And who will be wearing the best dress!? Despite the Oscar buzz and red-carpet commentary of tonight, I would argue that today we encounter something even more important ~ and spectacular. At this moment between Epiphany and Lent we have a startling story of dazzling brightness, ancient visitors, declarations from heaven and awe-struck disciples. If this were a movie it would be Oscar material, but it is not. It is the story of our faith. Still, the Transfiguration was a major ‘special effects’ moment in Jesus’ life. Jesus was enveloped in a shining light. His face glowed like the sun. His clothes appeared whiter than any bleaching. And then two of the giants of the faith appeared with him. Moses and Elijah stood beside Jesus as a radiant cloud enveloped them all and the voice of God declared, “This is my Son. Listen to him.” And the disciples, the supporting actors, bore witness to the miracle. And the disciples reacted in two ways, which brings us to the conflict in the story. First, Peter suggested making this mountain top miracle a permanent situation. He wanted to move in, make houses and capture the glory forever. Peter was ready to whip out his hammer and nails and erect a shrine so the magnificence of the event would not pass by. But then, before they could do anything, the disciples got scared and fell on their faces, blinking and shielding their eyes from the glare of God’s glory. Those of us looking on from 2,000 years distance recognize Peter’s faux pas. We know we can’t stay in worship forever, because on the flip side of worship is service.   And this is shown in how Jesus led the disciples back down the mountain. After Moses and Elijah were taken back into heaven, Jesus led the disciples right back to the villages to heal and teach and minister to the crowds. The lesson we might glean from this story is that, like the disciples, we are to follow Jesus from our worship back into the world to serve. And, while I think this is a valid interpretation, it lacks something. This interpretation of the Transfiguration doesn’t appreciate the mystery of God. Jesus, just for a moment, lifted the covering of his humanity. The best of what we can do, it seems, is to stand back in awe. The Transfiguration wasn’t about doing, but experiencing, experiencing God’s glory in a new and exciting...

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Sermon February 12: Give It Away

Posted by on Feb 12, 2017 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Sermon February 12: Give It Away

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Give-It-Away-Feb-12-2017_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church February 12, 2017 Sixth Sunday after Epiphany Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Matthew 5:21-24, Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Prayer of Illumination: Caring God, nurture the life within us. You have shown us the ways that lead to life. You have challenged us to move beyond easy answers, to embrace the hard choices that come with caring deeply for others. Give us the wisdom and the courage to resist evil and walk in your ways of love. Amen. Sermon: Give It Away! Today our worship theme is “Creating Right Relationships.” And we spent a little time earlier hopefully doing just that. In order to be in relationship we have to get to know each other. But what, exactly, is “right relationship.” It’s not a phrase we hear very often. We hear about good relationships or challenging relationships, toxic relationships or loving relationships, but not often “right relationships.” In a theological sense, right relationships means putting God at the center of our lives. Only when we have God at the center can we be in right relationships with those around us. Being in right relationship means that we try to love, to live, to forgive, and to hold each other accountable as Jesus did. Right relationship requires that we sometimes put our needs, our wants, our desires aside to meet the other person ~ whether a friend, a lover, a parent, a child ~ where they are. We don’t stockpile God’s love for ourselves. Instead, we give it away. One thing I’ve learned ~ and I’m sure may of you have learned ~ is that relationships take work. In the “chocolate and roses” phase of a relationship it seems that nothing could ever go wrong. And then something does go wrong. Sometimes that is the end of the relationship. But other times we don’t want to walk away, so we get down in the mud and muck and try to work things out. Sometimes that means saying we are sorry. Sometimes that means accepting an apology. Sometimes that means adjusting our expectations or preconceived notions and starting fresh. And this is true not just for romantic relationships, but all kinds of relationships. Friendships. Family connections. Working relationships….. And church relationships. We here are a family of faith and, just like any family, we have our disagreements. When these disagreements come up we have to decide if we are going to work through them or walk away. Staying and working through things often requires hard work and sacrifice but, as Jesus reminds us, there are often great rewards. Today we meet Jesus teaching on the mountain ~ the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon Jesus touches on some pretty tough topics, including ‘anger’ which we hear about today. Jesus’ audience ~ the disciples and the crowd gathered around them ~ were familiar with the Jewish law and what the law said about anger. They knew the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses. And Jesus, having just proclaimed that he hadn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, was surely expected to uphold every word. But Jesus added a little twist. He preached, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’… but I say to you that if you...

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Sermon February 5: Don’t Let Satan Blow It Out!

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Sermon February 5: Don’t Let Satan Blow It Out!

Faith United Methodist Church February 5, 2017 Fifth Sunday after Epiphany Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Matthew 5:13-16, Isaiah 58:9b-12 Prayer of Illumination: God of justice and mercy, Christ of light and life, enter our lives and this time of reflection with your radiant presence. Bring light to our journey, that we may see your path of righteousness. Shine in us and through us, that we may be lights of integrity, compassion, and justice for all the world to see. Amen. Sermon:   Don’t Let Satan Blow It Out! In our reading from Matthew, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp-stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”  When I was a kid the verses to “This Little Light of Mine” were different than the ones we sang this morning. We sang a verse that went, “Hide it under a bushel. No! I’m gonna let it shine.” We are not to hoard the light to ourselves, but let it shine to be seen near and far. And there was a verse, “Don’t let Satan blow it out! I’m gonna let it shine.” I was always intrigued by that last verse. How could Satan blow out my light? Integrity is our topic for today in our “Who Are You?” series. Living with integrity. Integrity implies stability, consistency, honesty, sincerity and trust. Someone who lives with integrity stands up for what they believe in, doesn’t compromise principles, and can be trusted with the smallest and the largest of things. Like those two young men on the video, people with integrity don’t take advantage of people or situations, no matter how tempting. The other illustration that Jesus used in our Gospel reading is that of salt. “You are the salt of the earth.” There was no Sunday School song about this verse, at least not one that I learned. Of course, we sometimes refer to people as being the salt of the earth ~ honest, down to earth, good people. But, to be honest, this verse never really came alive to me until this past week.   In my sermon study I came across the simple explanation that salt, when we put it on our food, disappears into the food to make it tastier. In a similar way we are to go into the world, not to make a name for ourselves or to stand out, but to make the world better – to season the world. Light, uncontained, dissipates over the miles. Salt disappears into the food. As Brian Maas wrote for the Christian Century, “Being salt and being light involves giving ourselves away completely… The rub, of course, is that we humans, even we so called faithful ones, are hesitant to give ourselves away quite so fully, to dissolve or dissipate quite so completely.” We fear that if let our light shine out we won’t have enough light for ourselves; if we season the world we’ll miss out on something here at home. These Gospel verses come from Jesus’ larger teaching known as the Sermon on the Mount. When we think of the Sermon on the Mount we often think of Jesus gathered with...

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