Posts Tagged "50th Anniversary"

Sermon December 6: Celebrations, Thanks and Challenges, Rev. Stephen Butler

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon December 6: Celebrations, Thanks and Challenges, Rev. Stephen Butler

“Celebrations, Thanks, and Challenges” by Rev. Stephen C. Butler Faith United Methodist Church, South Burlington, VT Joshua 23:1-3 and 24:14-30 December 6, 2015 The ancient Hebrews were not seafaring people. They did not build great ships and explore the seas. They were people of the land that God promised to their ancestor Abraham. So whenever they crossed a body of water, it was fraught with danger and significance. Abraham’s grandson Jacob was camped by a stream of water when he had his famous dream of the stairway to heaven. Years later, Jacob returned to that stream and wrestled with God all night until he received God’s blessing. Then he crossed that water as “Ish-ra-el”, The Man Who Wrestles With God. His descendants made their most famous water crossing as they escaped from Egypt. Forty years later, Joshua led a new generation up from the Sinai Desert, west through what is now Jordan, to the Jordan River where once again they prepared for another great event. Certainly there were celebrations. I’m sure they gave thanks. Then Joshua challenged the people. “Choose today whom you will serve: the gods of Egypt, the gods of the desert, those of this country where we are now, or Adonai Eloheynu, the Lord our God, who brought us out of Egypt and to this place today.” “We’ll serve the Lord!” they answered. “Are you absolutely sure?” “Yes, completely sure!” But no one ever serves God completely, do we? And that’s our challenge, too. Joan and I are very thankful to be part of this celebration! 50 years ago we were Juniors in high school. We didn’t know each other then, but I vaguely knew that two new churches were being established that year in Queensbury, NY and here. In 1978 I was appointed as your pastor. We served and raised our children here for 11 years, and we’ve been privileged to celebrate many wonderful events in this place. Just like every pastor, every congregation, and every person: most things were pretty ordinary. Some were quite tragic. There were a few notable failures. Others were great victories. Today we give great thanks to God as we celebrate this victory. Halleluiah! (Amen?) Praise God from whom all blessings flow! So now comes the challenge. (You knew that was coming, right?) What will it take for any of us to be able to celebrate here again, even 25 years from now? If I’m alive in 2040 I’ll be 91. And there’s no guarantee that this church will celebrate its 75th birthday. But I am totally convinced it can and will, if and only if we continually live in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, serving in unity with Jesus Christ! I keep learning two very powerful lessons. Life is not about what we do. It’s about who we are! And life is not about accomplishments. It’s about relationships. I first came here ready to do and within three years I burned out. I tried to do so much I lost sight of who I was and who I was called to be. With lots of prayer, support, and assistance from many of you I started re-orienting my life, a process that still continues. It’s not about what we do. It’s about who we are. Since retiring, I now see the church as a participant rather than a leader. And the most crucial thing I’ve learned is: the overwhelming majority of America sees no use for us at all. In the 1950s our problem was, “Where can we put all these people?” By 1975 we wondered, “Where is everyone...

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