Posts Tagged "Summer Series"

Sermon June 18: Tell Me Again!

Posted by on Jun 22, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon June 18: Tell Me Again! Faith United Methodist Church June 18, 2017 Second Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7, Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 Prayer for Illumination: Draw us close, Holy Spirit, as the Scriptures are read and the Word is proclaimed. Let the word of faith be on our lips and in our hearts, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice we hear today — the voice of truth and grace.  Amen. Sermon:  Tell Me Again! For $99, and a little DNA, you can now find out your precise ancestral roots.  My aunt mailed in her 23andMe test and, two weeks later, learned that she is 73% Western European, 12% Irish, 5% Scandinavian and 1% West Asian.   Some of the results were expected and some were rather surprising.  It makes the world seem smaller, somehow.   My aunt, a native and life-long resident of rural Maine, has relatives all over the world. For the next several weeks we are going to be talking about families.  Families come in all shapes and sizes.  Families can consist of people to whom we are blood related, legally committed, or simply drawn to out of mutual interests or shared worldviews.  Some people have very strong ties to their families of origin while others, due to distance or estrangement, find family among friends.  Sometimes we are proud of our families, while other times our families can be a source of pain or embarrassment.  One of my cousins (older than me) had a difficult time finding his way.  When my grandmother read about his arrest in the newspaper the shock and pain of that rippled out across our family’s generations. Family stories, when we tell them, can be a source of healing, hope, and perspective.  When we share painful family experiences we may learn that others have had similar experiences and we are not alone.  When we consider our family history we may see how we benefited from the experiences of our ancestors.  When we face struggle or loss we may be able to remember how our mother, or grandfather or great-aunt endured in a difficult time.    And families can also be a source of humor.  We may be able to laugh with (and at) our families in ways we can’t with others.  As one joke goes, “I shook my family tree and a bunch of nuts fell out.” I suspect that Abraham and Sarah, from today’s reading of Genesis, were a bit nuts – or at least their families probably thought so.   Prior to today’s reading the Scripture tells us that God instructed Abraham to take his wife and his livestock and leave his father’s house, his native land.  This was not something frequently done in those days…. To set off by oneself opened one’s household up to thieves and other tribes who might rob or even kill, not to mention the dangers of wild animals, drought and flood.  Together villages could often face these threats but alone, well, who knows? So Abraham should have known better than to drag his elderly wife out into the wilderness….and Sarah should have known better than to follow.  But there was something irresistible about God’s message to Abraham.  God told Abraham that, if he followed, he and Sarah would have a child and their descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Now, Abraham was 75 and Sarah was in her 60’s and they were childless.  Biologically speaking, it seemed that the promise of sons and daughters had long since slipped out of reach.   But God was giving them one more...

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Sermon August 14: Mobile Home

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon August 14: Mobile Home Faith United Methodist Church August 14, 2016 13th Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Genesis 12:1-9, Joel 2:28-32 Prayer of Illumination: God of new life, thank you for what we have heard. Thank you for the chance to hear the stories of our faith and ponder how these stories weave into our own. May the words we have heard turn into actions of love, justice, and mercy. Amen. Sermon:                                          Mobile Home Recently Gary and I moved into our new house. This was our first move together that didn’t cross state lines. Now, Methodists have always been “mobile,” with our itinerant system, but the rest of the world is becoming increasingly mobile as well. These days it is somewhat surprising to find people who have lived in one town all their lives. And, even more surprising, if they have lived in the same house for generations. While that was the norm a couple of generations ago, we have become a people on the move. How many of you have moved? After living in the same place for 21 years, I’ve moved seven times in the past 20 years. A couple of those moves were short distances, but, as I mentioned, more than a couple of them were across state lines, Maine to Massachusetts, Massachusetts to Connecticut, Connecticut to Vermont. No matter, the distance, though moving is never easy. There is a lot of preparation and perspiration. Sorting through things, deciding what to take and what to leave behind and what to give away. And the thought of leaving familiar surroundings and special friends is never easy. Last week we spent some time with Abraham and Sarah. Today we are going to visit them again. We know that God called them to go to a new land, an unfamiliar land. Abraham was well established in Haran, had connections and a large herd to support himself and Sarah. Sarah surely had a group of friends with whom she cooked and sewed and shared village gossip. Yet they packed up their camels with tents and supplies, became nomads for a while, and lived the ancient version of a mobile home. Everyday in our journey through life we make decisions that help determine the direction in which we are heading. These decisions may not involve an actual move, but a move or a change in our hearts. Many times, like Abraham and Sarah, we come to the crossroads and have to choose which path to follow.  I know you are all familiar with the Robert Frost poem on just this topic, so I will just share a few lines: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth. ……. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I– I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Each direction we face has certain enticements and certain challenges.   In a sermon, Sr. Joan Chittister put it this way, “…life is not one path; life is many paths, most of them unexplored in favor of closer, clearer ones.” Life is many paths. Abraham and Sarah knew this, as did the Everyday Saint we are going to meet today, although neither followed the closer, clearer ones. They took what might be described as the road less traveled by. Anna Howard Shaw was born in 1847 in England. After...

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Sermon July 24: Confirmation or Conformation?

Posted by on Aug 10, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon July 24: Confirmation or Conformation?

Faith United Methodist Church July 24, 2016 10th Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Colossians 2: 6-10, 16-19 Response to the Word (Bulletin) Like a true friend, Lord, you have not withheld the wisdom of your word. Like a true friend, Lord, you have given us the nourishment and strength for the living of these days. Sermon:                   Confirmation or Confirmation? This summer, for the first time, we are having summer Confirmation classes. We’ve been meeting for three hours at a time for lessons, donuts and games. The donuts and games are going over pretty well. The lessons…. well, the lessons are the necessary thing we have to get through in order to get to the donuts and games. Last Friday I took some pictures of the kids and Tim playing Frisbee on the field at Dorset Park. Being the “cool pastor” I like to think I am, I posted the picture on Facebook with the comment, “Summer Conformation Class!” Now, the different between what I posted and what I meant to post is small….just one letter. Confirmation vs. Conformation. But the significance of that one letter is huge. One definition of conform is, “to behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards.” To confirm is, “to make something stronger or more certain.” In Confirmation class we are trying to gently guide our youth away from conforming to the world and toward confirming their faith in Christ.   More and more these days we can see that the path of Christ is not necessarily the socially acceptable or conventional way. In fact, the true path of Christ has never been the socially acceptable or conventional way. No one knew this more that the Apostle Paul when he wrote his letter to the Colossians encouraging them to, “see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.” As Paul knew, it is easy to conform to the world. It is often much harder to walk the path of Christ, confirming our faith day in and day out. This summer our worship focus is “Everyday Saints: Inspirational People of Faith.” When you think of the every-day saints in your life, are they folks that conform to the expectations of the world? Or are they the folks who walk their own path, not worrying about what the world thinks about them, confirming their faith every step of the way? When I hear the word “saint” I think of stained glass. When I was young, the United Methodist Church I went to was pretty plain. One Sunday, though, I went to the Catholic Church with my friend Julie. This church had stained glass windows that looked like giant sun catchers to my young eyes. And in each of the windows was the depiction of a person. I asked Julie, “Who are all those people?” She told me, “Those are the saints.” Being only seven or eight, and raised United Methodist, I was not sure what a saint was. But I thought the people must have been pretty special to have whole windows dedicated to them. And I was right about that – the people shown in those windows were amazing people who did extraordinary things – St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Frances. Since then, though, I have learned something else about saints. They weren’t perfect people. They made mistakes. More than once Jesus had to set the disciples straight. The Apostle Paul, who wrote the Scripture we read today, threatened, and maybe even...

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Sermon August 7: As Many As the Stars in the Sky

Posted by on Aug 10, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon August 7: As Many As the Stars in the Sky Faith United Methodist Church August 7, 2016 12th Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 Prayer of Illumination: May the words that I speak and the thoughts that we form be acceptable in your sight, God, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen. Sermon:                              As Many As the Stars in the Sky The past few days I have been camping at Half Moon Pond State Park in Central Vermont. My friend and I rented a tenting site for two nights and enjoyed canoeing, swimming, hiking and cooking over the campfire. On the first night we walked her dogs after dark before settling them into the tent for the night. When I looked up between the trees I saw so many stars. Of course the bright ones showed up first, but then there were layer upon layer upon layer of less intense but just as spectacular stars. In that moment I had a sense of what Abraham must have felt when God told him he would have descendants as many as the stars in the sky. This summer our worship focus is Everyday Saints. Everyday Saints are people who, while living their every day lives, follow God in an inspirational way. Today we heard about Abraham and Sarah. You might think, “Their not everyday saints. They founded the national of Israel.” That is true, but they started out just like you and me….living their lives quietly in their community, going about their days, not expecting anything particularly spectacular to happen. Then they were invited to step out in faith. As the author of Hebrews tells us, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Or, as Eugene Peterson translates it, “Faith is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It is our handle on what we can’t see.” Faith is our belief that the unexpected will happen….that the promise will come to life. The lesson then goes on to give examples of those who have lived life with such faith, and this is where we pick up with the story of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham and Sarah, we are reminded, were called from their homeland to a whole new place that they knew nothing about. They left a land of culture and good living for something completely unknown, and they did this because of a promise that God made to them.   Believing in the promise, yet not being given a time table in advance, they packed their things and headed out on their journey. Probably against the advice of some friends, and most likely with a little fear and trembling, they set off for an unknown place. What did Abraham and Sarah look to in their journey, what assurances were they given, what kind of promise prompted them to make such a radical change, we may wonder? They weren’t promised riches or a life of ease or good health. What they were promised was a land where they would live, as many descendants as there are stars in the sky, and that through them all the families of the earth would be blessed. So Abraham, with Sarah, followed the promise. Hebrews tells us, “By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents….” I enjoyed my camping trip, but I don’t think I would leave my comfortable home and travel many miles to live in tents. Still, they followed the promise. This is not to say that Abraham and Sarah didn’t worry every once in...

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Sermon August 30: Is Church Cool?

Posted by on Sep 16, 2015 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon August 30: Is Church Cool?

Faith United Methodist Church August 30, 2015 14th Sunday after Pentecost / Silent Auction Sermon Rev. Kristabeth E. Atwood Scripture: James 1: 17-27 Prayer of Illumination: God of all wisdom, source of truth, come to us that we may be filled with your Word. May our lives be testimonies to the hope that is found through you. And may the words that I speak and the thoughts that we form be acceptable in your sight. In Jesus name, Amen. Sermon:  Is Church Cool? Today I am preaching my “Silent Auction Sermon.” You see, back in May I auctioned off a ‘sermon’ at our Ham Dinner and Silent Auction. The idea was that the winner would get to choose the topic for today’s sermon.   Our winner, Lynn Rowe, and I talked and e-mailed about potential topics. One that is dear to her heart is connecting college students with a community of faith. This naturally led to a conversation about young people and the church. Why do we so often see our young people drift away from their faith communities sometime between Confirmation and High School graduation? How can faith communities connect with young people who haven’t been raised in a faith tradition (what some are calling the ‘nones’)? Lynn had other great ideas that would have made for interesting sermon topics, including Christian acceptance in the midst of cultural diversity.   (She’ll just have to win the sermon again next year!) In the end, I decided to go with this one ~ The Millennial Generation and the Church. Is church cool?  Now I may be dating myself by even using the term ‘cool.’ Maybe a better question would be, is church ‘rad’ or ‘da bomb’? The Urban Dictionary reassures me, though, that I’m okay using the word ‘cool.’ As they put it, the word ‘cool’ is “…the best way to say something is neat-o, awesome, or swell. The phrase ‘cool’ is very relaxed, never goes out of style, and people will never laugh at you for using it.” So there you go, my question stands. Is church cool? What do you think? Yes? No? As far as pastors go, I like to think I’m kind of cool. Maybe a little cool? We have PowerPoint. Does that make us cool? We have a website. Does that make us cool? We have a ukulele. That definitely makes us cool!! In our epistle lesson today ~ surprisingly ~ James (the brother of Jesus) didn’t seem all that concerned about being cool. In fact, he wrote, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the God of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James doesn’t seem at all concerned about what is in fashion and what is not. Bell bottoms or skinny jeans? iPhones or Droids? 2-D or 3-D? What James concerned himself with is the eternal. He continues, “Religion that God… accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Lots of studies have been done about the Millennial generation and why they are not in church. (Millennials being those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s.) Some experts think churches aren’t high tech or entertaining enough. Others think churches need to brand themselves better (make church more cool and create brand loyalty). A few churches have designed their buildings to be like malls, with pastry shops, movie theaters and espresso bars.   Some churches live tweet their services and others offer drive through communion. Yet is that really...

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