Posts Tagged "Holy Humor"

Sermon August 20: Um….. Jesus

Posted by on Aug 21, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon August 20: Um….. Jesus

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Um-Jesus..._E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church August 20, 2017 Ninth Sunday after Pentecost – Holy Humor Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Matthew 15:1-2, 10-11, 21-28, Psalm 133 Prayer for Illumination: Lord of love, come to us this day with clarity.  May the words that I speak and the thoughts that we form bring to us a message of wholeness and the light of truth.  Strengthen us, enliven us, empower us, for the living of your Word.  Amen. Sermon:  Um….. Jesus Once upon a time, a woman called the local pastor and asked him if he would officiate at a funeral for her dog.  The pastor was a bit put off by the request.  With a somewhat disgusted tone in his voice he suggested that there was no way he could do such a thing but that she might try one of the other churches in the area.  She agreed to do that but not before she asked the pastor for some advice. “Pastor, do you think $500 is an appropriate honorarium for a funeral of this kind? And would I make the check out to the minister or to the church?”   The pastor quickly cleared his throat and said, “Wait a minute, why didn’t you tell me your dog was United Methodist?” This is as far as I got in my Holy Humor sermon before Charlottesville happened.  I thought the lectionary delivered up quite a juicy gospel lesson for our Humor Sunday.  Jesus calling a woman a dog!  This is a one of a kind scripture in that way!  I was looking forward to celebrating the spunk of the woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer and poking a little fun at Jesus who seemed to be, as many of us are, quite stuck in his ways.   I mean, it was a bit ironic that Jesus had just been telling the Pharisees that it isn’t what you put into your body that defiles you, but what comes out.  And then Jesus came out with a doozy of a line, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But then Charlottesville happened and this scripture didn’t seem quite so funny.  Discrimination is no laughing matter.  When I saw the news footage of white nationalists, members of the KKK and white supremacists wielding torches, displaying Nazi symbols and chanting their hateful rhetoric I was horrified.  I hope you were, too.  No, I don’t deny the right to free speech or the right to assemble.  What horrifies me is that people ~ people not that different than you and me ~ would have so much hate in their hearts that they would speak and act in such a repulsive and violent manner.   Hate directed toward immigrants, Jews, African Americans, gays, lesbians and transgendered people, Muslims – basically anyone who doesn’t conform to a white, heterosexual standard.  And, in my opinion, the violence was compounded by leaders in our nation who refused to immediately condemn such behavior. What those at the highest level of our government don’t seem to understand is that actions taken to stand up against hate do not equal the actions of those who perpetrate hate in the first place. So today’s Gospel lesson is tricky.  First we hear Jesus telling the Pharisees that it isn’t what goes into the mouth that defiles, but what comes out of the mouth – our speech, how we treat other people.  But then we hear Jesus speak words that cause us to cringe.  Before Jesus stood a woman – a Canaanite – with a sick daughter.  As...

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Sermon August 21: It’s All in the Timing

Posted by on Aug 27, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon August 21: It’s All in the Timing

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Its-All-in-the-Timing-August-21-2016.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church August 21, 2016 14th Sunday after Pentecost Holy Humor Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Luke 13:10-17 Prayer of Illumination: (Unison) O God, lighten our solemnity with laughter, our boredom with dancing and turn our work into joyful play; for you are the God of humor and the source of all playful creativity. Amen Sermon:                              It’s All in the Timing In comedy, it’s all about the timing, right? You can have the best joke, but if the delivery is off it can fall flat. Comic timing is described as the use of rhythm, tempo and pausing to enhance comedy and humor.   Good timing can emphasize a point and, sometimes, even alter its meaning. The best comedians ~ and some of the best preachers ~ have a gift of timing In our Gospel lesson today we see an example of perfect timing. We find Jesus healing on the Sabbath. Now, that might not sound like a big deal, but healing was considered work. And everyone knew it wasn’t right to work on the Sabbath. So there he was… with his bad ~ or maybe good ~ timing. In the synagogue on this particular day Jesus caught sight of a woman with a terrible aliment. She was bent over and, for eighteen years, had not been able to stand up straight. Not able to see the world in front of her. Not able to look her friends in the eye. Jesus summoned her over, laid hands on her and healed her. And the woman couldn’t believe what had happened. Standing up straight, she began to praise God. But the synagogue leader felt that Jesus’ timing was off.   He may as well have put up a sign that said, “Only Scheduled Miracles Allowed.” He wasn’t about to let this free-spirit Jesus-guy get in the way of his observance of Sabbath. So he kept reminding the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.” That is what it says in the commandments, after all. But Jesus understood something different about the Sabbath. For Jesus, Sabbath was not so much about right or wrong, rules or regulations, but about freedom and wholeness and thanksgiving. The Spirit moves as the Spirit moves. Jesus understood why we keep the Sabbath. As Moses taught, “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there … therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.” Jesus understood that it isn’t only overzealous pharaohs that can enslave us. God’s hand is stretched out to all God’s children who find themselves enslaved in some way or another. And ‘enslaved’ would be one way to describe the experience of the bent over woman. She was trapped. The Greek word for bent actually means bent in. She was bent in on herself. As Sharon Ringe put it in her commentary, she was “…captive to restricted movement, to the inability to meet another person face to face, and to a world defined by the piece of ground around her toes…” Yet this bent over women did not come to Jesus asking to be healed. She knew better than that. She knew what day it was and that healing wasn’t for the Sabbath. She had waited eighteen years; she could’ve waited one more day. So it wasn’t the woman, it was Jesus who took the initiative ~ who set her free. And it is not just the bent over woman...

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Sermon August 23: Tin Soldier (Holy Humor Sunday)

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon August 23: Tin Soldier (Holy Humor Sunday)

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Tin-Soldier-August-23-2015.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church August 23, 2015 13th Sunday after Pentecost / Holy Humor Rev. Kristabeth E. Atwood Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20 Sermon:  Tin Soldier          Today’s Scripture reading, in which Paul encourages the early Christians to dress themselves in the armor of God, reminds me of the little tin soldier collectibles you can find in antique stories or on eBay. They are perpetually equipped for battle with their belts, their breastplates, their boots, their shields, and their swords. Some have helmets. Others carry weapons. They are all at the ready. My dad had a few from when he was a boy and I would play with them at my grandmother’s house. As a little girl I wasn’t that into playing battle games, but I remember how the little tin soldiers always looked ready to step into battle. Real life isn’t like that, though. In real life we may try to hide behind breastplates and under helmets and behind shields, but eventually they must come off. We aren’t always at the ready. Today we are having a costume party. Some of you are dressed up!   Realizing I didn’t have a costume ready, I went to the party store yesterday and bought some masks. I have this cat-mask, which I think it kind of cute, and this creepy mask that just makes me look weird. I also have these big sunglasses to hide behind, and this Groucho Marx thing that I’m sure masks my identity. But the truth is, we don’t need plastic masks to hide from the world. We each wear masks every day. We wear a mask when we put on a happy face to go to work, even if we are feeling sad or depressed. We wear a mask when we answer, “I’m fine” when we’re really not to a friend’s question, “How are you?” We wear a mask when we don’t want our friends or family to know that we are worried ~ about our job, about our marriage, about our health. And we wear a mask when we pretend that an insult or a sarcastic remark didn’t really hurt. We wear a mask when we refuse help out of pride, even when that help is truly needed. There are all sorts of masks that we put on everyday to hide the truth from those around us, and sometimes from ourselves. We pretend that we are that tin soldier, at the ready, strong, and prepared for whatever might come our way. Paul, though, knew that the kind of armor we need is not the bullet-proof kind. The sword that Paul carried was not the kind soldiers carry into battle. Paul’s sword was the sword of the Spirit. His breastplate was the breastplate of righteousness and his belt the belt of truth. His feet were fit with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. And his helmet was the helmet of salvation. Too often we pretend at being the tin soldier, unmovable, impenetrable, unaffected. We pretend that the things of life don’t bother us. We forget to turn to the real armor that we need, the armor of faith ~ truth, righteousness, peace.   Only when we take all our masks off and present ourselves before God without pretense are we truly fearless. The rest is just a costume party, trying on different masks, different outfits to distract us from the reality around us. The armor Paul talks about isn’t meant to change us, but to make us more who God created us to be. As I shared with our children, laughter is at it’s best...

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Sermon Holy Humor August 24: No Joke

Posted by on Aug 24, 2014 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon Holy Humor August 24: No Joke

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/No-Joke-August-24-2014.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church August 24, 2014 Holy Humor Sunday Rev. Krista-Beth Atwood Scripture:  Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20 Prayer of Illumination:   O God, you have spoken to us through the word of faith.  Embolden our spirits by your Spirit, that your words may be made manifest in all that we say and in all that we do to bring your kingdom on earth.  In the name of Christ we pray, Amen. Sermon: No Joke I’m not much of a joker.   So every year I find myself wondering what I am going to say on Holy Humor Sunday.  I think I have a good sense of humor.  I like to laugh.  And I think I can take a joke.  I’m just not that good at telling jokes.  I get the timing off ~ or I forget the punch line ~ and it just kind of fizzles.  Here’s one I might be able to tell: What did one snowman say to the other?  Do you smell carrots? But that’s about as far as my joke-telling repertoire goes.  So, a little nervous about what this Sunday might bring, I turned to the Scriptures.  Our lectionary gives us two rather serious lessons this morning.  The first (which we will hear later) is from Matthew.  Where we pick up in the Gospel, Jesus and the disciples had been together for a while, so Jesus decided to give them a pop-quiz.  First, to warm them up, he asked, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  He got some good answers:  John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, one of the prophets. Then he got serious, “But who do you say that I am?”  At this point Simon Peter piped up, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus clapped him on the back, “Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah!”  In other words, you got an A+.  Jesus then went on to say that Simon Peter would be the foundation ~ the rock ~ of the church and would receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  This was heady stuff. At that point Peter didn’t know exactly what Jesus meant by his statement.   It sounded like a promotion.  He didn’t know that it would mean suffering, betrayal, even death.  He didn’t know that it would mean ultimately leading the church beyond where anyone ever imagined it would go ~ among the gentiles.  He didn’t know it would mean his own death as a result of his faith.  Peter was just happy to hear the words of affirmation from his teacher.  “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”  What Jesus said was no joking matter. Our second lesson (which Sandy will read for us shortly) is from Paul’s letter to the Romans.  (And Paul’s no joker.)  Paul’s letter was written after Jesus died and was resurrected, so Paul knew a little bit more than naïve Peter did in the Gospel account.  Paul knew that following Jesus would mean suffering.  He had even endured some of that suffering himself.   And, knowing what he knew, Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers and sister, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” Huh?  Was Paul joking? How can we sacrifice our bodies?  When we think about sacrifice we think about giving something up.  Old Testament sacrifices often involved the slaughter of animals.  Sometimes during Lent we talk about sacrificing by giving up chocolate or coffee.  But this...

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