Posts Tagged "Family Stories"

Sermon July 30: Marriage, Children and Reconciliation

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon July 30: Marriage, Children and Reconciliation

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Marriage-Children-and-Reconciiation_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church July 30, 2017 Eighth Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Genesis 29:15-28, Psalm 105:1-11, 45b Story Moment: Stories have been part of our human culture since the beginning.  Some of the earliest carvings found on cave walls are thought to depict stories.  Before stories were written down tribes would gather around the fire where stories would be shared.  Stories help us understand where we come from and who we are.  Stories strengthen communities and connect the present to the past.  Stories of being and meaning have been passed down through countless generations. If any of you are podcast fans like me, you might be familiar with StoryCorp.  StoryCorp’s mission is to record, preserve and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs.  The stories are recorded, shared on podcasts, and archived for future generations.  Listening to StoryCorp podcasts in the car I’ve laughed out loud and I’ve cried.  And I’ve come to realize that you can never presume to know another person’s story. Some might say that the stories we’ve been reading from Genesis the past few weeks are the original StoryCorp.  The stories of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel and Leah were passed down from generation to generation orally – told beside the fire or over a shared meal – so the people of Israel would know where they came from and who they were in relation to God. So today we are joining the ancient tradition of storytelling and having our own StoryCorp, of sorts.  First Bill and Lynn will share a story with us.  Then you will have a chance, if you wish, to share a story about your family…. a story that has informed your life, that tells us something about you that we may not know, or that helped you understand where you come from or who you are. Bill and Lynn……. Stories can celebrate our uniqueness or help us to appreciate our commonalities.  In a few minutes we will wrap up Jacob’s story as we come to the end of our journey through the family stories of Genesis.   Prayer for Illumination (Unison): God of possibilities, mold us into people of possibility.  Keep us ever mindful of your covenant love and grace.  Wake us up to watch and wait for your appearance and your guidance.  Let your Spirit rise within us, that we may bring forth the kingdom and influence others to this hope and promise in all that we say and do.  Amen. Sermon:  Marriage, Children and Reconciliation Earlier I said that we will wrap-up Jacob’s story today, but that is not completely true.  There really is no end to the story because Jacob’s story is our story.  That’s the thing about family stories – they often don’t wrap up all neat and tidy.  There is often the next generation or another branch of the family tree that keeps the story going.  And even if the family tree dies off, the influence of every family lives on in the communities or in the church families to which the family belonged.  Last week we followed Jacob into the wilderness where he fled from his brother to save his life.  You may remember that Jacob ran from Esau who was in a murderous rage after Jacob stole his birthright and his blessing.  Jacob escaped into the wilderness not knowing if he would ever be able to return home.  And it was in the wilderness that Jacob, in a dream, received a promise from God.  God assured Jacob that he would return home,...

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Sermon July 23: The Morning After

Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon July 23: The Morning After

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/The-Morning-After_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church July 23, 2017 Seventh Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Genesis 28:10-19a, Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 Prayer for Illumination (Unison): Search us and know us, O God.  Test our hearts and know our thoughts.  See if there is any wickedness that clings to us like dew to the grass.  Search us and know us, O God.  Lead us in the way of everlasting life.  Amen.  Sermon:  The Morning After Do you know that feeling of waking up the morning after you’ve made a really bad mistake?  For a few seconds everything seems right with the world but then….. you remember.  You remember what you did and how it hurt the ones you love and how your life will never be quite the same because of it.  I suspect that is how Jacob felt on the morning we read about in our Scripture lesson, waking up with a stone pillow under his head. You see, Jacob was on the run.  He was fleeing from his brother who was in a murderous rage because Jacob tricked their father and stole two of the most precious things one could – his brother’s birthright and blessing.  As the great preacher Barbara Brown Taylor put it, “…he has simply pushed his luck too far and has left town in a hurry.  He is in-between times and places, in a limbo of his own making.” Because of his actions Jacob has become the black sheep of the family – the odd or disreputable family member who gets pushed outside the inner circle.  Jacob had always been a little bit of an outsider.  His brother Esau and his father Isaac liked the same things.  They were outdoorsmen while Jacob enjoyed being inside.  They hunted together and tended the flocks together while Jacob stayed with his mother to cook and clean.  Maybe he even longed for a better relationship with his father and brother, but didn’t how to make that happen.  Isaac and Esau probably made fun of Jacob, calling him a ‘mamma’s boy.’   And Jacob probably got fed up with it.  But what Jacob did put him firmly outside the family circle, on his own in the wilderness, running for his life. So when Jacob, physically and emotionally weary from running, falls exhausted for what he could only expect to be a fitful night of sleep in the wilderness he took a stone for a pillow and prayed that no wild animals would come along and eat him in the dark.  Instead of a restless night of sleep, though, Jacob received a beautiful gift, a dream that assured him his place in the family of God.  Jacob was not the black sheep in God’s eyes.  In his dream there were angels traveling up and down from heaven on a ladder.  One scholar suggested that the angels came down to earth to carry the fear, the guilt and the suffering of Jacob up to heaven.  In his dream, God also spoke, “I am the Lord…. the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring;… Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go… I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Jacob, whom some have called a cheat and a scoundrel, found out that he could not flee from God.  The morning after his amazing dream Jacob took his stone pillow and used it to mark the spot where he heard God’s voice and saw the angels.  Up until this point in the story Jacob had only...

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Sermon July 16: Coming of Age

Posted by on Jul 18, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon July 16: Coming of Age

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Coming-of-Age_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church July 16, 2017 Sixth Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Genesis 24:19-34, Psalm 119: 1-5-112 Prayer for Illumination: Nourish us, O God, with your word of life.  Bring us to our senses so your purposes may be apparent to us.  In our sharing and our reflecting, may we rejoice with our sisters and brothers as we find new life.  Amen. Sermon:  Coming of Age I am probably not the most qualified person to be giving today’s sermon.  You see, I am an only child and today’s story is about brothers and, more specifically, sibling rivalry.   I didn’t have brothers or sisters to compete with for Mum or Dad’s attention.  No one compared me to an older sibling or told me to be a good example for a younger one.  So, today, I am going to ask for your help with the sermon.  We warned you that you might have a chance to tell a story today!  But first, I’m going to set the stage a little bit – give you a chance to think if you have a story to share. So, let’s consider, if you had a choice, would you want to go back and live your childhood over again?  Childhood.  Our first experiences with accomplishment and our first glimpses of defeat.  It seems like childhood is, in some ways, the time in our life that holds the greatest possibility, while also forcing on us the most change.  As Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic Calvin and Hobbes, once said, “People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children.” It is probably no wonder that many people look back on childhood with a bittersweet feeling.  Childhood days were filled with play and laughter to a degree that we don’t often experience as adults.  But childhood was also when we faced life’s first hard lessons.  Our first skinned knee.  Getting teased in school.  At a tender, young age we learned that the world is not always a happy or safe place. The Scripture hints that Jacob and Esau most likely didn’t have an easy time in childhood.  Isaac and Rebekah ~ the lovebirds from last week’s story ~ were not the best parents.  They chose favorites.  For twins, Esau and Jacob were nothing alike.  Esau was the type of boy who loved to hunt and be outdoors.  He and Isaac probably spent a lot of time together in the fields.  Jacob was a quiet boy who liked to stay inside, probably helping Rebekah with the household tasks.  Isaac and Rebekah, whether wittingly or unwittingly, created competition between their sons instead of love and mutual respect. The first example of this is from our lesson today.  Jacob cheated Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of stew.   Now this just sounds ridiculous.  Don’t you think?  Jacob was greedy and devious.  Esau was impulsive and short sighted.  Esau was so hungry that he thought he was going to die.  Jacob took advantage of his brother’s vulnerability.  Jacob one-upped Esau and we get the feeling he was pretty happy with himself. But Jacob didn’t stop there.  His deviousness continued.  He had his brother’s birthright and he wanted his blessing, too. If we read on in the book of Genesis we see the family story take a tragic turn. While Esau was out hunting game, Jacob sneaked into his tent to deceive their old, blind father.  Jacob tricked his father into thinking he was Esau and he, Jacob, received Esau’s blessing.  First a birthright and now a blessing.  Once Esau discovered what had happened,...

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Sermon July 9: “A Match Made in….. Nahor”

Posted by on Jul 9, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon July 9: “A Match Made in….. Nahor”

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/A-Match-Made-in...Nahor_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church July 9, 2017 Fifth Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67, Psalm 45:10-17 Prayer for Illumination: Abraham and Sarah heard God’s call and traveled where God led. Rebekah heard God’s call and traveled to Isaac as God led.  The God of our ancestors calls to us even now.  May we travel where God leads in the name of Jesus the Christ who strengthens us for the journey.  Amen. Sermon:  A Match Made in….. Nahor Today, in our Family Stories series, we have a love story.  It may not be the kind of story that we expect, with our modern day understanding of love.  Isaac and Rebekah didn’t meet at a bar on single’s night.  They didn’t message each other on Match.com.  Their eyes didn’t lock over the coffeemaker at work.  Their love story was more of the ‘arranged’ variety.  Abraham decided that it was time for his forty-year-old son to settle down, so he sent his servant back home to the city of Nahor in the country of Haran to pick a wife for Isaac from his family clan. In those days it was often the families that set these things up, taking into account dowries and clan relations.  Not very romantic.  Custom even required that, once betrothed, the groom wasn’t supposed to see the face of his bride until the wedding night.  (We’ll see later how that got Jacob into trouble when, intending to marry Rachel he married Leah instead.  But that’s a story for another day.)  Today we see Isaac, the long-awaited and much beloved son of Abraham and Sarah, take another step toward the promise as he welcomes a wife and settles down as a family man.  We may wonder why Isaac waited so long.  As the bearer of the promise one might think he would want to get the promise going.  Let’s get this party started!  If one is going to be the father of multitudes, one better start having babies.  But Isaac, at forty-years-old, lived seemingly as a bachelor, a loner, moving around, tending his flocks and herds. Isaac’s reluctance to settle may have had something to do with what we talked about last week, Abraham’s near sacrifice of him.  Maybe Isaac had some trust issues having been nearly killed by his own father, at God’s instruction no less.  Maybe Isaac didn’t think love was a real thing, having been hurt so badly by one who supposedly loved him.  At the end of today’s lesson we find Isaac coming from the land of Beer-lahai-roi to the Negeb.  Beer-lahai-roi is the land associated with his step-mother Hagar, the land she and Ishmael went to when fleeing Sarah’s anger.  Isaac having just been to Beer-lahai-roi brings up memories of another of Abraham’s questionable actions, the banishment of Isaac’s own half-brother. With family like this, who needs enemies, right?  And neither was Sarah, Isaac’s mother, blameless.  But she did, it seems, hold a place in Isaac’s heart.  For it was at her death that Abraham sent for, and Isaac accepted, a wife. So far we’ve talked a lot about Isaac, but Rebekah is no wall-flower in this story.  In fact, most of the story we read this morning is about her and her family.  Rebekah has variously been described as generous, compassionate, full of energy, and courageous with a sense of adventure.  In fact, in this story, and throughout their marriage, Rebekah really over-shadowed Isaac.  She was a strong woman who usually got what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to take a chance. And it appears that Rebekah’s...

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Sermon July 2: The Fear of Isaac

Posted by on Jul 2, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon July 2: The Fear of Isaac

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/The-Fear-of-Isaac_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church July 2, 2017 Fourth Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Genesis 22:1-14, Psalm 13 Prayer for Illumination: We thirst for your presence, O God.  When we feel that you have forgotten us, draw close to us and remind us of your steadfast love.  When things feel difficult, show us that you are with us and provide for our needs.  When we are tempted, assure us of the freedom of life in Christ.  When we feel estranged from you, welcome us with your grace, that your love may transform us in the arms of your mercy.  Amen. Sermon:  The Fear of Isaac  Last week we thought we had a tough scripture, with the story of Abraham sending his first-born Ishmael away from the family and out into the wilderness.  Sarah wanted Abraham to prune some limbs off the family tree so her son, Isaac, would be the one to inherit the family fortune, the flocks and the herds….. and the blessing.   But today it looks like all that is in jeopardy.   The longed-for son, the bearer of the blessing, may not make it out alive.  The Scripture tells us that Abraham received message from God telling him to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering on a mountain in the land of Moriah, so that was what Abraham set out to do. This summer we are following along with Abraham and Sarah, watching the story of their family unfold, for our summer worship series “Family Stories.”  In the weeks to come we will see how the blessing is carried from generation to generation.  And we’ve already seen that those who bear the promise are not perfect people.  Thank God one doesn’t have to be blameless in order to be part of God’s work in the world.  But today’s story pushes the boundaries a little…. far. The story starts with God calling out to Abraham, to which Abraham responded, “Here I am.”  Now, the Hebrew word translated “here I am” is hineni.   (As an aside, this word, hineni, has recently stepped into the cultural vocabulary with Leonard Cohen’s last album You Want It Darker, which received a lot of press both before and after he died.)  Hineni.  The word conveys much more than it’s English translation can capture.  Hineni means, “Here I am to do whatever you ask of me.  I give myself over to you.”  So here we see Abraham trusting God so much that he basically agrees to do whatever God asks before he even knows what the request is.  And why wouldn’t he?  God had promised ~ and delivered ~ lands, riches, a son.  So why wouldn’t Abraham trust God? But then the unimaginable happened.  Abraham heard God tell him to take his beloved Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering, a sacrifice.  So, as the Scripture continues, we see Abraham get up early, gather supplies, and lead his son up the mountain.  First century rabbis, writing on this passage, point out that Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice as one carries his own cross. There are many questions about this story.  As Kathryn Schifferdecker asks, “Is it a story of an abusive God?  A misguided Abraham?  Religious violence at its worst?  Or is it a story of faith and obedience?”  Is this all a nasty joke God played to see how far he could push Abraham?  It makes very little sense to me.  Why would God finally give Abraham and Sarah their long awaited boy ~ the fulfillment of all their dreams ~ only to threaten to take him...

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