Posts Tagged "Epiphany Season"

Sermon February 4: Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow……

Posted by on Feb 4, 2018 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon February 4: Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow……

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Dont-Put-Off-Until-Tomorrow..._E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church February 4, 2018 Fifth Sunday after Epiphany Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Mark 1:29-39 Prayer of Illumination: Everlasting God, we listen, expectant, and you speak your wisdom and truth. Guide us in our search and strengthen us on our journey. Embrace us as your children, sending us forth to proclaim the news of your loving power to all the ends of the earth. Amen. Sermon:                              Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow……        Apparently Benjamin Franklin is the one credited with first saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow…. what you can do today.” The procrastinator’s corrective. This saying has since been put on t-shirts, decorative signs you can hang in your home, coffee mugs…. In the children’s musical “Bebop with Aesop” the ants and grasshoppers sing, “Don’t put off until tomorrow all those things you know you should do. Don’t put off until tomorrow, cause they’ll all still be there waiting for you.” Now, I appreciate the point, but the procrastinator in me questions the universality of the statement. Sure, there are times when one should get to the task at hand. For example, if it’s Saturday night, the pastor really must finish her sermon. But I can think of many other instances when it would be a good idea to put something off until tomorrow. Sometimes the inspiration for a task is just not there. Sometimes tasks need to take a back-seat to relationships. And sometimes rest must win out over productivity. In our Scripture lesson Jesus finds himself in the midst of a very busy first day of ministry. You may recall from last week that Jesus first taught in the synagogue and then healed a man with an unclean spirit. Jesus’ first teaching and first healing in the same day! And after a day of teaching and healing one often needs some refreshment, so Jesus and the disciples headed over to Simon Peter’s house for a meal. When they got there, though, they found that Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Simon was concerned, so he told Jesus about her condition right away. The Scripture then tells us, “He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her and she began to serve them.” Jesus’ second healing of the day. But that wasn’t the end of it either. Word apparently spread and by evening a crowd was gathered at the door to see Jesus the Healer. The Scripture tells us that the whole city came. I imagine there were the curiosity-seekers as well as those with real needs. Late into the night Jesus cast out unclean spirits and healed the sick. Exhausted and resting his head on the pillow that night, Jesus would’ve had every reason to be pleased with his day. He shared the Good News. He healed the sick. He helped people in need. He seemingly didn’t put off anything until tomorrow. He did it all that day. But Jesus didn’t take that as permission to sleep in the next morning. Jesus was up and out while it was still dark to find a quiet place to pray. Perhaps he knew that if he was to continue, he needed to refresh himself, connect with the source of his power, and listen for God’s direction. However, Jesus’s quiet time didn’t last long. Simon and the other disciples, anxious for Jesus to back to work, went out looking for him. As Katherine Huey describes it, “A blundering Simon interrupts Jesus time alone, like a modern day political handler moving a weary candidate along.” More...

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Sermon January 28: Permission Granted

Posted by on Jan 28, 2018 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon January 28: Permission Granted

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Permission-Granted_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church January 28, 2018 Fourth Sunday after Epiphany Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Mark 1:21-28, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 Prayer of Illumination: God of all people, through the power of your Holy Spirit help us grow deeper, wider, and fuller in our knowledge and understanding of your ways. In your wisdom help us to bring others closer to you and to your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen. Sermon:                                          Permission Granted  Authority. We live with it and chafe under it and sometimes even question it. There are certain people in our lives who are natural authority figures ~ teachers, parents, bosses, police officers. There are others who are authorities in certain areas ~ doctors, airplane pilots, accountants. When I was ordained the bishop laid his hands on me and said, “Take thou authority…..” I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that means. The truth is, though, that we all hold within us a certain authority. We carry the authority of our experiences and what we value as important. And we are the premiere authorities on our own lives. We know best our fears and joys and our journey with God. As Christians, we carry with us the authority of our baptism. We are brothers and sisters of Christ and what we say, what we do, and how we live matters. This is what Paul was getting at in his letter to the Corinthians. All his talk about eating meat or not eating meat really came down to a question of authority. You see, at that time in Corinth much of the meat (the affordable meat) had been sacrificed to idols before it was sold at market. Some Christians argued that since they did not believe in idols they should be able to eat the meat without worry. They were looking for a cheap meal!   Paul agreed with them, that whether they ate the meat or not didn’t really make a difference. But it wasn’t quite as simple as that. (It never is, is it?) Paul argued that they needed to think of the message they would send to others who might see them eating the meat. As Christians they carried the authority of the faith with them. If one of the younger or less mature Christians saw them eat meat sacrificed to idols and began to question their own faith it would do great harm to the fellowship. Yet Paul wasn’t going to tell them what to do. They had to decide for themselves. As our “Seasons of the Spirit” explains it, “Paul suggests there is authority within us that allows us to act with freedom of choice.” Our Gospel lesson is also about authority ~ Jesus’ authority. In our lesson Jesus enters the synagogue in Capernaum to teach.   This was Jesus’ first official teaching and the Scripture tells us that the people were, “…astounded at his teaching for he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Sure, the scribes could speak with the authority of scholarship, study and tradition, but Jesus was different. Jesus spoke with a different kind of authority. His authority didn’t come from books or scrolls. In fact, we see his authority primarily in his actions. While he was teaching he was interrupted by a man described as having an ‘unclean spirit.’ Jesus didn’t skip a beat. He spoke to the man and called out the spirit and the people were even more amazed. They wondered, “What is this? A new teaching ~ with authority!” His was an authority that even the...

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Sermon January 21: Are You Calling Me?

Posted by on Jan 22, 2018 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon January 21: Are You Calling Me?

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Are-You-Calling-Me_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church January 21, 2018 Third Sunday after Epiphany Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Jonah 3:1-5, 10, Mark 1:14-20 Prayer of Illumination: God of new realities close at hand, open our ears to hear your call. Give us the insight to know that it is you who calls us. Grant us the courage to go where you send us as we journey with the risen Christ. Amen Sermon: Are You Calling Me?? I like my old-fashioned phone. It reminds me of my childhood when we had a party-line. There were five houses on our rural street sharing one phone-line. I remember picking up the handset to eavesdrop on our neighbors on our party-line. Maybe my grandmother next-door would be on long-distance to my aunt or our elderly neighbor would be scheduling a dentist appointment. As a five or six year old, it was thrilling to feel like a spy, listening-in, undetected. That is until my mother walked in the room and caught me red-handed. Another thing about the party-line was that it was difficult to call the people with whom you shared a line. As I remember it, when we wanted to call my grandmother we would dial the number, but then have to hang up the phone. We would then have to guess how long it would take for her to answer. When we thought enough time had passed for her to get to the phone we would pick up the handset and hope she was there. This led to a lot of frustration – either waiting to long or not long enough. On more than one occasion I remember my grandmother showing up at our front door asking, “Are you calling me?” Our Scripture lessons today are examples of calls. When we talk about calls in the spiritual sense we are speaking of times when God tries to get our attention. In the example of Jonah, our reading picks up at the end of the story. If we’d read from the beginning we would have heard God’s call to Jonah telling him to go to the Assyrian city of Nineveh. Jonah, though, thought God had the wrong number. So convinced was Jonah that he could not do what God had called him to do, he volunteered to be thrown off a ship mid-storm to certain death. Much to Jonah’s chagrin he was rescued by a large fish and called by God ~ again! Today’s lesson picked up with Jonah, finally, doing what God had initially asked. The fishermen in our Gospel lesson also received a call. Simon Peter and Andrew didn’t carry cellphones with them while fishing the Sea of Galilee, but Jesus called them anyway, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” Now, after receiving such a call we might expect some….. deliberation. The Scripture, however, doesn’t suggest anything like that. Unlike Jonah, they didn’t question their call. We are told, “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” And then, just a few moments later, Jesus does the same thing with two more fishermen. Perhaps they shared the same party-line. James and John were in their boat with their father Zebedee and when Jesus called them they didn’t hesitate either. They left their poor father mending the nets and followed Jesus. I can imagine old Zebedee shouting after them, “Hey guys! Where are you going?” And trying to explain it to his wife later that night when she asked, “What do you mean they’re not coming home? Are you saying the boys won’t be home for supper?” The response of...

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

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | 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 his disciples to tell them the really important things he wanted them to know.   Yet, we tend to forget that others were there as well. The crowds had followed them and were listening-in. The shop keepers, the beggars, tax collectors, those needing healing, women, men children, you and I…. all...

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Sermon January 29: What Do You Do?

Posted by on Jan 29, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon January 29: What Do You Do?

Faith United Methodist Church January 29, 2017 Third Sunday after Epiphany Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Isaiah 9:1-4, Matthew 4:12-23 Prayer of Illumination (Unison): God of love, we hear your call to follow. May we see that the foolishness of your word is more powerful than the wisdom of this world. May we lay aside our differences for the sake of the gospel. Your realm of light and life has drawn near; we hear your word of truth. Turn our hearts toward you and give us the wisdom to walk in your ways. 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:                               What Do You Do?   Last week, in our “Who Are You?” series we talked about knowing our names. And I teased you about wearing your nametags. Are there more nametags on this morning? But the truth is we can know someone’s name without really knowing anything about who they are. God, on the other hand, knows our names, and knows all about us, even before we are born. Using sticky nametags we considered how we would want to be known as followers of Jesus. The nametags I saw had a great variety of descriptive names. Hello my name is Patience. Hello my name is Acceptance. Hello my name is Loving Kindness. Hello my name is Helpful. The second thing we often ask when getting to know someone, after asking their name, is, “What do you do?” The assumption is that by finding out what someone does to make a living, or to pass the hours in a day, we will learn something essential about that person. While that is sometimes true, I question that general assumption. The jobs that we do don’t necessarily reflect our passion. Sometimes we’ve just got to pay the bills. I have a friend whose e-mail address is worktoplay. And many people, for a variety of reasons ~ including caretaking, disability, retirement ~ don’t hold a traditional job. Then there are those who may not want to disclose their day job, concerned about the preconceived notions that will spring up upon saying, “I’m a garbage man,” “I’m a lawyer”, “I’m a pastor.” In social situations when I tell folks that I am a pastor I predictably hear excuses for absences from church and apologies for whatever spicy language they may have used in my presence. For this very reason a pastor acquaintance of mine does not disclose his profession when asked. Instead he says, ““I’m an executive in a non-profit and I work in the department of quality assurance.” In our Gospel lesson this morning we heard about four men who had a particular day job. They were fishermen. But Jesus had a career change in mind for them. The Scripture tells us that Andrew and Simon were casting their nets when Jesus called, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” A little further up the shore James and John were working with their father, Zebedee, when Jesus spotted them. The Scripture tells us, “…he called them. Immediately they left their boat and their father, and followed him.” This seems quite amazing to me. Practically speaking, these fishermen had little reason to leave their current life for a life of the unknown. They had steady jobs and family ties. Fishing wasn’t an easy job but it was a necessary job and, no doubt, brought in a regular paycheck. And I can imagine that Andrew and Simon, James and John...

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