Posts Tagged "Stewardship"

Sermon October 22: The Grateful One

Posted by on Oct 22, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon October 22: The Grateful One

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/The-Grateful-One_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church October 22, 2017 Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Luke 19:11-19, Psalm 66:8-12 Prayer of Illumination (Unison): O God, it is hard to claim the hope and promise of the past in the presence of today’s troubles. Meet us today with your good news that we may be renewed by the power of your presence and be thankful. Amen. Sermon: The Grateful One Over the next few weeks we will be asking ourselves “What Light’s Our Path?” What lights our path? The answer to that may seem easy. The sun. Our LED lights. The high-beams in our car. The street lights. The headlamp that I wear when walking the dogs. The flashlights we keep handy in case the lights go out. Unlike ancient days, today there are so many sources of light that we bemoan light pollution. If only it were dark enough to see the lights of the heavens. Yet light doesn’t always come from the obvious sources. As our children reminded us this morning, God’s word can be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Our Gospel lesson today shines a bit of that light as we hear of one of Jesus’ miraculous healings. Jesus was on the path to Jerusalem. His path was lit by his desire to visit the Holy City during Passover and follow the mission God had placed upon his heart. But Jesus encountered something on the way that caused him to pause, if just for a moment. Ten lepers, recognizing the great healer, called out to Jesus for healing. “Jesus, over here!” And Jesus, seeing their need, healed them. They were so excited they took off without a second thought. They needed to present themselves to their priest to be declared clean before they could return to their families and friends. And this was a pretty big deal. As lepers they were ostracized from the community because of their illness. This healing meant that they would be able to sit for a meal with their loved ones, hold their children, kiss their mothers. It’s no wonder they were in a hurry to get going, to get back to their lives. But one of the lepers ~ yes, just one ~ paused. Instead of rushing ahead with his life, he turned back. This one leper broke from the group and went back to Jesus to thank him. He fell at Jesus’ feet and praised God for the amazing thing that happened. Jesus’ healing was a tangible, physical reminder of God’s goodness. It is a powerful experience to receive a blessing, name it and give thanks for it. David Lose writes that gratitude is, “…the most powerful emotion, as it frees us from fear, releases us from anxiety, and emboldens us to do more and dare more than we ever imagined.” In response to the leper’s gratitude Jesus blessed him saying, “Your faith has healed and saved you.” He was not only healed of his physical disease, but he was given the wholeness of salvation. You could say that this leper followed the path of gratitude and it led him to the feet of Jesus. But let’s think about those other nine lepers for a minute, okay? Didn’t they, too, receive healing? Weren’t they, too, given a new lease on life? So why didn’t they go back and thank Jesus? Why didn’t they show gratitude to the one that set them free? It might be going too far to think that the nine were not grateful, but did they do anything to show...

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Sermon May 1: From Strangers to Friends

Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon May 1: From Strangers to Friends

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/From-Strangers-to-Friends-May-1-2016.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church May 1, 2016 6th Sunday of Easter Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Acts 16:9-15 Prayer for Illumination:       God of light and life, shine upon us with your wisdom and truth. Open our hearts to listen eagerly and to love generously. As you teach, so may we live in your world. Amen. Sermon:                         From Strangers to Friends There are two main characters in our Scripture lesson today. The first character we encountered ~ and we could probably say he was quite a character ~ was Paul. In true Paul fashion, he experienced a vision that led him to change his course and do something different. We may remember that this wasn’t the first time that Paul had been persuaded by a vision. The vision God gave him on the road to Damascus changed his whole life-direction and brought him to the Christian faith. Today’s vision, if slightly less dramatic, also led Paul to change direction. “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Paul ~ and those with him ~ followed God’s leading and ended up in Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia. This was the first experience of the early church in what is now Europe. Yet, the “us” of the vision was not immediately clear. Come over to Macedonia and help us. On the Sabbath Paul cast about for a place to worship before stumbling upon an assembly outside the city-gate by the river. It was there that Paul found Lydia and her community of women gathered in prayer. Lydia ~ the second main character of today’s Scripture lesson. Lydia who sold purple cloth. Upon meeting Lydia and her friends at the river Paul did what Paul did best. He shared the good news. Lydia heard the word and God opened her heart and she believed.   She became the first convert in what is now Europe. Following her conversion, she and her household were baptized. Lydia, the mother of European Christianity. Some of us here can trace our faith roots back to her. Beyond this, we really don’t know much about Lydia. We don’t know if she was a mother, a grandmother, a wife, or an aunt. She could have been widowed. Perhaps she was compelled ~ out of economic necessity ~ to take over her husband’s trade in purple cloth. We do know that, by this point in her life, she was successful. She was influential businesswoman who was head of her household and made decisions. One of the decisions she made was to believe and be baptized. Another was to open her home in an act of hospitality. In the encounter between Paul and Lydia those who were at first strangers became friends. And Lydia’s generous hospitality did not just extend for that one night. Indeed, her home became the missionary outpost for the developing church in Philippi. That small prayer group by the river became a growing Christian community that drew Jews and Gentiles alike. Scripture tells us that, as time passed, Paul continued to draw on Lydia’s friendship. If we read further in the book of Acts we hear of Paul’s arrest and imprisonment in Philippi. Upon his release, he and his company headed straight for Lydia’s house. After Paul left Philippi, it was likely that the congregation continued to gather at Lydia’s house to share meals and worship. It was likely there they took up a collection to help Paul in prison in Rome and, later, read the warm letter Paul wrote to them. Some may even go so far as to say that from...

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Sermon April 24: Just Like New

Posted by on Apr 24, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon April 24: Just Like New

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Just-Like-New-April-24-2016.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church April 24, 2016 5th Sunday of Easter Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: John 13:31-35, Revelation 21:1-6 Prayer of Illumination: We praise you, O God, for the gift of creation and the surprise of re-creation. Open our eyes to see new things. Open our minds to think fresh thoughts. Open our spirits to follow your Spirit. Amen. Sermon:  Just Like New When I was a little girl I had an enormous imagination. I was an only child, so I pretty much had to entertain myself. The run-off from rainstorms became mighty rivers for my toy boats. My four-room dollhouse became a mansion for a royal family. A thicket of trees became a magic forest full of enchanted creatures. I had a whole circle of imaginary friends I could call up at a moment’s notice. I loved to play make-believe. My parents appreciated it too, since my imagination often kept me out of their hair. That is until I tried to bring my imaginary friends out to dinner with us one night. Somewhere along the line, though, it became un-cool to have imaginary friends or play make-believe. Somewhere in the journey from childhood to adulthood real-life begins to take precedence. There are summer jobs to worry about and colleges to get into and boys (or girls) to think about. Then there are careers and mortgages and children of our own. Somewhere along the way, in the words of the Apostle Paul, we “…put away childish things.” But is it necessary to lose our imaginations? A little imagination would probably help us when it comes to understanding the Book of Revelation. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, at the sea was no more.” In our routine world, it is kind of hard to imagine what that would look like, what that would be like. “Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” Everything will be just like new. The Book of Revelation is an eschatological text, which is a fancy way of saying that it points to the future and speaks of a time beyond our time. It is an apocalyptic book. It is hard to grasp, as our mid-week Bible Study folks can attest. It unveils something previously hidden, something beyond our understanding. As Mainline Protestants, we don’t spend a lot of time with Revelation. We prefer to think about the here and now. And because of that, Revelation has been hijacked, to some degree, by the ‘end of the world’ folks.   Yet, as one preacher (Wes Howard-Brook) explains, “[Revelation] is explicitly not a fantasy for the future, but a revealed picture of what life as a church is intended by God to be…” In our Gospel lesson Jesus gives the disciples ~ and all of his future followers ~ a new commandment. To love one another. “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” It’s a nice ideal, but I’m sure the disciples had some questions about its practical application. I can just imagine the disciples pulling Jesus aside later, bubbling with questions. That new commandment sure sounds good, Jesus, but you don’t mean we are supposed to love our enemies too, right? I get that whole love-thing, Lord, but I’m sure you weren’t talking about the woman who cheated me at the market, or the banker who stole all my money, or the guy who cut me off in the square…… not to...

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Sermon April 17: I Don’t Need a Thing

Posted by on Apr 17, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon April 17: I Don’t Need a Thing

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/I-Dont-Need-A-Thing-April-17-2016.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church April 17, 2016 4th Sunday of Easter Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Psalm 23 (King James and The Message) Prayer of Illumination: Shepherding God, guide us on this journey of life. Lead us on the paths that lie before us. Strengthen us in times of fear and comfort us in seasons of sorrow. Renew us in moments of exhaustion, that we may lie down to rest in peace. Surely your goodness and grace are flowing through our lives even now, and we rejoice that you dwell with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. In gratitude and joy we pray, Amen. Sermon:                           I Don’t Need a Thing Have you ever confused ‘wants’ and ‘needs’? I do all the time. I need a new pair of pants. I need the latest version of the iPhone. I need a Roomba to keep my new house clean. I don’t think so! While I may want a new pair of pants, I have enough pairs of pants to keep me well clothed for more days than I care to admit. The latest version of iPhone does cool things mine does not, but I don’t use half of the features on my current iPhone. And yes, it is nice to watch Roomba suck up the dog fur on my floor while I write my sermon on a Saturday night, but I don’t need it. I have a perfectly fine push vacuum cleaner. (But I got Roomba for my birthday, so I am going to enjoy it!) The truth is that most of what we have are ‘wants’, not ‘needs’. Our consumerist culture tries to confuse us about this. Everyday we see advertisements telling us what we ‘need.’ On TV, on the internet, on the side of the bus. We are bombarded with messages telling us what we need to buy to make our lives better. But what really makes our lives better, I wonder, and can it be purchased with a credit card? This morning we heard two versions of the 23rd Psalm. We heard the King James Version, which is probably most familiar. In Sunday School I was made to memorize the 23rd Psalm King James Version and recite it in front of all the Sunday School children and teachers – one of my first experiences of public speaking. The Message version, though, is likely not as familiar. Eugene Peterson brings us The Message, which is a paraphrase of the Bible put into modern language. Where the King James Version translates the first verse as, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” The Message renders it, “God, my Shepherd, I don’t need a thing.” Of course there are things that we need. We need shelter, food, and clothing. We need companionship, support and love. We need opportunities to share our gifts so we can live out our call as children of God. Sometimes need verses want is just a matter of perception. The Psalmist, who is believed to be David (the same David who, as a young boy, was anointed by Samuel to be King of Israel), also wrote, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” No matter what version you read it in, David was taking about abundance, about God giving lavishly and unconditionally. The table prepared by God was covered with all the finest food and drink. The Message version of the same verse reads, “You serve me a six course dinner right in front of my enemies.”  ...

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Sermon April 10: Free Fish

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon April 10: Free Fish

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Free-Fish-April-10-2016.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church April 10, 2016 3rd Sunday of Easter Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: John 21:1-19 Prayer of Illumination: Since we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth, make us hunger for this heavenly food, that it may nourish us today in the ways of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen. Sermon:                                    Free Fish It is said that there is no such thing as a free lunch, right? The implication being that it is impossible to get something for nothing. Even if something seems like it’s free there is always a cost, no matter how indirect or hidden.   This reminds me of a conversation Gary and I had before a recent vacation. My mother, very generously, offered to pay for our plane tickets, knowing we were saving for a house. When discussing whether we could afford the vacation I said to Gary, “Well, the plane tickets won’t cost us anything,” to which Gary replied, as only a son-in-law can, “Oh, we’ll pay!” Today we have already heard about “free soup.” And in this morning’s gospel lesson we see an example of “free breakfast.” But can someone really get something for nothing? Let’s catch up with the disciples….. First a little back-story….. The men we find in the fishing boat this morning had accompanied Jesus in his ministry. They had been called by him. They even went with him to Jerusalem, yet betrayed him in his last moments. They experienced the depth of grief when he was crucified. And then something amazing happened. Jesus was resurrected and appeared first to the women and then to them. But today they don’t seem to be thinking of resurrection. They seem to be thinking of fishing, which isn’t too surprising since they were fishermen. Overwhelmed by the events that had taken place, and wondering what they should do next, the answer probably seemed simple. It seemed right to do something familiar, something they knew how to do. But maybe they were out of practice. Maybe they had lost their touch. The night passed without a single nibble. As morning dawned they looked up to see a man on the shore. This wasn’t the first time that the risen Christ appeared to the disciples, but I don’t imagine one ever gets used to seeing a resurrected friend. From far off this man on shore called to them with some tips, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat and you will find some!” After their unsuccessful night they had nothing to lose. They tried it and they got a great catch of fish, an enormous catch. And it was then that they realized the man on the shore was Jesus. By the time the disciples got to shore, Jesus had already begun preparing breakfast. Free fish for everyone! A seaside breakfast with Jesus was probably not how they imagined ending their night. Then, after breakfast, Jesus turned to Peter and asked him three times, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter responded, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Some think that Jesus did this to rid Peter of the guilt be carried for denying Jesus three times in Jerusalem. Jesus forgave peter and ~ more than forgave ~ loved Peter through all the mistakes he had made. That morning on the seaside there was free fish, free forgiveness, unconditional love. Today’s Scripture reminds us that Jesus loved the disciples with an unconditional love, a love that gave and gave…. Free breakfast, free forgiveness, love...

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