Posts Tagged "Easter"

Sermon April 1: A New Home

Posted by on Apr 3, 2018 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon April 1: A New Home

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/A-New-Home_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church April 1, 2018 Easter Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: John 20:1-18 Prayer of Illumination: Holy One, we worship you today knowing that we are your Easter people. We read the story again and marvel at the sight of your rising Son. Help us reflect the light of Christ that others might see and give glory to you, by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen. Sermon:                                          A New Home Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! We are the people of the Good News and this is a day of very Good News. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! That first Easter, though, didn’t start out as a day of good news. Just a couple days before Jesus was crucified on a cross. The hope of the world had been executed, given a criminal’s death. To Jesus’ followers it certainly seemed like the end. Their hopes had been dashed, their dreams ruined. Defeated, the disciples left Jesus and went back to their homes ~ back to what they had known before Jesus ~ perhaps with the idea that they could put this whole Jesus mess out of their minds. Mary Magdalene, though, wasn’t ready to go home. The truth is that Mary Magdalene probably didn’t have a home to which to return. As a single woman with what some have described as a “bad reputation,” there were few places that would accept her. Jesus, though, had accepted her, had loved her and provided her with a home. Following Jesus as he taught and healed probably felt more like home than any place she had ever lived. So on that Sunday morning following Jesus’ death she gathered her anointing oil and burial spices and went to the tomb of her friend, expecting to find his dead body. And why wouldn’t she? Dead bodies don’t usually get up and move around. When she saw that the stone had been rolled away and that Jesus was nowhere to be found, she suspected the worst. Jesus’ body must have been taken away, stolen. And who could blame Mary for thinking this way? As Craig Barnes put it, “Easter is that last thing we are expecting.” We understand that death is final. And Jesus’ death was not a rumor. There were many eyewitnesses to his crucifixion, including his own friends, followers and family. Everyone knew that Jesus of Nazareth had died. And, despite all that Jesus had taught, no one expected that he would rise from the dead. That life is filled with many experiences of death is no secret. Like Mary, we know the pain of loss. No one can get through life without it. In the midst of life we are in death. Death comes to us in the loss of precious loved ones. Death also comes to us in the loss of cherished hopes and dreams. In a short time we learn not to expect too much because then we won’t be disappointed. Of course Jesus body had been stolen. What other possible explanation could there be? Peter and John, the Beloved Disciple, didn’t seem to know either. Summoned by Mary, they arrived at the tomb and saw just what Mary had described. The stone rolled away. The tomb empty. Indeed, Jesus’ body must have been stolen. What other explanation could there be? After a short time, the disciples left and returned to their homes. To do what, we don’t know. To resume their fishing business? To settle down with wives and kids and everyday responsibilities? To put the last three years behind them?...

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

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon April 16: Gratitude, Joy, Hope, Love, Wonder, and Generosity

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 over all that had happened in the last week.  Her tears attract the attention to two angels and, then, a man she supposes to be the gardener.  Only he is not the gardener, but her good friend, the one who had died the Friday before.  Jesus.  Yet, she doesn’t recognize...

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Sermon March 27: The Way to the Tomb

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon March 27: The Way to the Tomb

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/The-Way-to-the-Tomb-March-27-2016.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church March 27, 2016 Easter Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: John 20:1-18 Prayer of Illumination: Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Risen One. Help us recognize you this day as we make our way to the empty tomb. Come speak to us, that we might be messengers of your love and doers of your word. Amen. Sermon:   The Way to the Tomb Have you ever had the experience of going along your way, to the grocery store or a concert or the Farmer’s Market, and recognizing someone, only to have no idea how or from where you know that person?   You wrack your brain, running through different situations and contexts, but nothing clicks. Have you had that experience? It’s made worse if that person recognizes you. Then you have to pretend that you know who they are and that doesn’t always end well. To recognize is to identify. To know from past experience. There are several ways that we recognize people. Appearance. Voice. Mannerisms. We might recognize someone’s handwriting or style of clothes. Expectation also plays into recognition. Like the situation we talked about when you bump into your dentist at the grocery store and just can’t place her because you are used to seeing her poised over your molars, not poised over the red peppers. We expect that we will see certain people in certain places and that helps us recognize them. On the way to the tomb early that morning one wouldn’t think Mary would have any trouble recognizing her friend, Jesus. She just saw him on Friday. Granted that was the day of his crucifixion. But even before that she’d seen Jesus often, listened to him teach and watched him heal. She shared meals with him and, with the other women, she watched him die. That is not something one would easily forget. But early on that first day of the week Mary had certain expectations. She probably replayed these expectations, the events of the last few days, in her mind as she made her way to the tomb. She expected that her friend’s body would be laid inside the tomb. She expected that the tomb would be sealed. She expected that death would be final. Instead she found an empty tomb with the stone rolled away. It wasn’t what she expected. And it wasn’t what the disciples expected, either. Their journey to the tomb was rather swifter than Mary’s. We are told Peter and John practically raced to the tomb, only to find it just as Mary had described. Upon their inspection, they made a hasty retreat, perhaps afraid of what would happen if someone found them there. As the Gospel writer tells us, “….for as yet they did not understand the scripture.” While Peter and John dashed to the tomb and, then, made their retreat, Mary made her way back to the tomb. Confused, scared and grieving, she likely wanted one more look at the place where Jesus had been laid. Thinking she was alone, I can imagine her startle when she heard a man’s voice. “Woman, why are you crying?” Having no idea she was actually speaking with Jesus she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him….” In the words of one preacher, “Sometimes our expectations…blind us from seeing the very thing we seek.” So what was it, do you think, that finally got Mary’s attention? Jesus’ physical appearance? His voice? Something else? The truth is Mary wasn’t the only one who didn’t recognize Jesus after he was raised. In fact,...

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Sermon April 5: While It Was Still Dark

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon April 5: While It Was Still Dark

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/While-It-was-Still-Night-April-5-2015.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church April 5, 2015 Easter Sunday Rev. Krista Beth Atwood Scripture: John 20:1-18 Prayer of Illumination: O Risen Christ, open us to the power of your resurrection as we celebrate it anew this day, that we too might rise to new life in you. Amen. Sermon:  While It Was Still Dark Last week I was having a little “Holy Week” anxiety, as many pastors do this time of year. There was a lot on my mind. As I was getting ready for bed Wednesday night I was thinking of all the things I needed to do the next day and wondering if I would be able to get it all done. Now this sort of thing isn’t unique to pastors. We all know what it’s like to go to bed after a particularly difficult or stressful day and have that stress show up in our dreams, right? The next morning I woke up before dawn and stumbled into my home-office where I do my morning devotions. As I was sitting there, while it was still dark, I realized that I had already gone through the whole day in my dreams. I had dreamed about the meetings and the tasks and the writing I had to do. It was an exhausting feeling realizing that I was going to have to do it all again, expect for-real this time. And as I went about the day I kept having the feeling of déjà vu. A couple of times I actually had to ask myself if I had already completed a particular task, or if it was all in my dreams. It wasn’t a very restful way to spend a day, or a night for that matter.  So it was with this experience in mind that I read our Gospel lesson, the story of Mary going to the tomb while it was still dark. We presume that she went to the tomb to honor her teacher and friend, and maybe even to anoint him with burial spices. I can’t imagine that she’d had a very restful night prior to this early morning journey. The events of the days past ~ Jesus’ arrest, torture and crucifixion ~ must have been heavy on her mind, even as she considered what was to come. It’s not surprising that she jumped to the worst possible conclusion when she saw the stone rolled away. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him.” It’s really no wonder that ‘resurrection’ wasn’t the first thing that popped into Mary’s head. Resurrection isn’t something that you expect. It doesn’t happen every day. So she ran to find Peter and John to tell them the bad news. When Peter and John arrived at the tomb, blinking in the early-dawn light, they also didn’t know what to think. Their dreams had likely been filled with the violence and betrayal of the past week. Even the Scripture tells us, “They still did not understand… that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” Without fully appreciating what they were witnessing, Peter and John left Mary alone at the tomb Well, at least, Mary thought she was alone. However, she soon was joined by two angels who wanted to know why she was so distressed. I wonder if Mary questioned herself, wondered if she was dreaming or seeing things as the night turned to day. But before she had much time to think about it the cemetery gardener showed up ~ or a man she supposed to be the gardener. Looking at...

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Sermon April 20: Early Riser

Posted by on Apr 20, 2014 in Sunday Message KB | 2 comments

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Early-Riser-April-20-2014.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church April 20, 2014 Easter Sunday Rev. Krista-Beth Atwood Scripture:  John 20:1-18, Colossians 3:1-4 Prayer of Illumination: Open our ears to hear your Word proclaimed in this place.  Open our hearts to know your Love offered in this congregation.  Open our eyes to see your Presence blessing us in this moment.  Amen. Sermon: Early Riser Some might call me an ‘early riser.’  I get up around quarter of six, eat breakfast, run the dogs, do some exercise, and putter around the house until I come to work.  I don’t mind getting up early.  In fact, I kind of like it. It’s nice to be up before the world gets busy.  But I also enjoy sleeping-in when I have the chance.  Just ask Gary.  I can get pretty grumpy if my weekend beauty sleep is disturbed. This morning, though, wasn’t an ordinary morning.  There was no puttering this morning.  I wasn’t just up at quarter of six.  Several of us gathered at Wheeler Homestead before dawn to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  Our “Alleluias” rang out even before the sun peaked over Mt. Mansfield.  With Christians all over the world we greeted the rising of the sun by celebrating the rising of the Son. The tradition of the Sunrise Service isn’t as old as we might think, though.  The first Sunrise Service took place among Moravian Christians in 1732 in Germany.  Before that, Christians would often stay up the whole night before Easter celebrating what is known as the Easter Vigil.   In this way they could experience going from darkness to light, from death to life, as Easter dawned. Many Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Anglicans still do this.  We Protestants, perhaps wanting our sleep, changed the tradition, slightly, by gathering just before dawn ~ the same time Mary went to the tomb that first Easter morning.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed! So we get up early… Some stay up all night…. We dress and gather on this morning…… Because Jesus was an early riser.  Jesus was up before dawn.  Even Mary, who arrived at the tomb when it was still dark, wasn’t early enough.  Jesus had already risen by the time she got there with her burial spices.  The stone was rolled away, his burial clothes set aside, the tomb empty. So what happened between the time Jesus’ body was sealed in the tomb and when Mary arrived early that morning?  It’s not like Jesus just woke up from a nap.  Jesus had been brutally tortured and crucified ~ hands and feet nailed to a cross.  His friends saw him breathe his last breath.   As far as they were concerned, there was no hope.  His damaged body was taken down and laid in a tomb, finally at peace.  There was nothing more anyone on earth could do for him. Yet that’s the point, isn’t it?  What happened to Jesus wasn’t within the normal course of human experience.  Jesus didn’t wake from a sound sleep or even recover from a coma.  He wasn’t resuscitated.  Jesus was raised from the dead.  As preacher Barbara Brown Taylor put it, “The resurrection is the one and only event in Jesus’ life that was entirely between him and God. There were no witnesses whatsoever. No one on earth can say what happened inside that tomb, because no one was there.”  Something happened between Jesus and God that caused Jesus to step out of the tomb renewed, eyes wide to the rising sun. And, as we can imagine, this new development threw Jesus’ friends for a...

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