Posts Tagged "All Saints Sunday"

Sermon November 6: Our Living God

Posted by on Nov 6, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon November 6: Our Living God Faith United Methodist Church November 6, 2016 All Saints Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Luke 20:27-38 Prayer of Illumination: God of wisdom and truth, speak to our hearts, so that the words we speak, the words we hear, and the meditations of our very hearts might be pleasing and joyous to you. Amen. Sermon:  Our Living God “You just don’t get it!” We can hear the exasperation sneaking into Jesus’s voice. “No matter how many times I tell you, you just don’t understand.” Jesus was talking to the Sadducees, but he could have been talking to us. Because what Jesus was talking about was not easy to ‘get.’   Was, indeed, difficult to understand. Jesus spoke about the after-life, what comes next, the resurrection from the dead. The exasperation came, in part, because the Sadducees were trying to trick Jesus. These guys, from the elite upper crust, were the modern intellectuals of their day. They thought they had it all figured out and they didn’t believe in the resurrection. They dismissed the idea of an afterlife because they could not make sense of it. So they presented Jesus with a puzzle. A wife married successively to seven brothers who each died. Who’s wife was she in the afterlife? They were trying to trip Jesus up. Jesus, deftly, side-stepped their question. He didn’t answer them directly but, rather, used it as a teaching moment. As Nancy Lynne Westfield described in Feasting on the Word, “Rather than take the questioning as a personal attack, Jesus uses this moment as a time to teach about the love and mercy of God.” In fact, Jesus told them that their question missed the point. The next life is not going to be a mirror image of this life. Things don’t work in heaven they way they do on earth. (And isn’t that a relief.) As Jesus put it, “Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” I don’t know about you, but I can sympathize with the Sadducees questions. I mean, I don’t appreciate the spirit in which they interrogated Jesus, but I would like to know more about he afterlife. Today is All Saints Day, which is a day that we remember those who have passed from this life to the next. As Christians, one comfort of this life is our belief that we will see our loved ones again in heaven. But how is that going to work, exactly? Jesus tells us that it is too great of a mystery for us to understand. And I guess that is where faith comes in, right? Faith that, even when we can’t understand, God has it figured out. Faith that, while death is the end of many things, death is not the end of everything. As Eberhard Bush put it, “We humans are not eternal, but God’s love for humans is eternal. In order to really silence the Sadducees Jesus reached back into their shared Jewish history to illustrate his point. He brought up Moses’ experience at the burning bush when God is announced as the “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” These three patriarchs had long since finished their earthly lives, but the Living God, the “I Am” names them as his own. Does that not mean that they must be alive? The Sadducees, having their plan to humiliate Jesus blow up in their faces, don’t have much else to say. Jesus, using their own logic against them, invites them to think about life and...

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Sermon November 1: Appetizers

Posted by on Jan 23, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon November 1: Appetizers Faith United Methodist Church November 1, 2015 All Saints’ Sunday Rev. Kristabeth E. Atwood Scripture: Mark 2:13-20 Prayer of Illumination: God promises that those who believe will see the glory of God. On this day when we celebrate the life and faith of the saints of God, renew our faith in the one for whom we have waited. Amen. Sermon: Appetizers     Appetizers. Sometimes they are the best part of the meal, right? Cheese and crackers. Nuts. Pigs in a blanket. Meatballs you eat with a toothpick. Yum! It’s easy to make a whole meal out of appetizers. At Thanksgiving I tend to load up on the appetizers so much that I’m full before the actual meal begins. Today we begin a four-week sermon series (leading up to Thanksgiving) on Soul Food. Of course, this is the time of year we think a lot about food. For our ancestors ~ and some of us too ~ it’s harvest season. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving we shop and bake and talk about what we are going to make for the big day. We dream about our favorites…. stuffing, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole. And this is also the time of year we celebrate generosity, looking beyond ourselves and our wants. In our church this takes the form of collecting food for the Burlington Area Emergency Food Shelf so others can also have a Thanksgiving full of their favorites. We will watch our cornucopia grow and overflow with food over the next four weeks. So it seems appropriate that our Scripture lesson takes place at mealtime. Have you noticed that Jesus does a lot of eating in the Gospels? With friends, with sinners, with crowds, in the upper room, at the lakeshore….. Jesus was a hungry guy, and he liked to relieve other people’s hunger as well. But before we get to the meal, a little back-story. In today’s lesson Jesus and his disciples were traveling when they came across Levi (also known as Matthew) at his tollbooth. It was likely that Levi was a kind of second-level tax guy. He probably worked for someone like Zaccheus, who was a chief tax collector. As a toll collector, Levi would collect from those in his community. Yet what he collected included the tax and a portion above that ~ some to keep for himself and some to pass along to his chief tax collector. It was a corrupt system and that’s why toll collectors were looked upon so negatively. I wonder what the disciples thought when Jesus called out to this toll collector, “Follow me.” Follow me. People like Levi took money from the poor to line his own pockets. That’s why the Jewish book of rabbinic law ~ called The Mishnah ~ says if tax-gatherers enter a house, the house becomes unclean. And still Jesus said, “Follow me.” And not only that, soon they were all partying at Levi’s house. Appetizers passed around. Jesus’ disciples and Levi’s sinner friends were all invited. Maybe this party was a celebration. Maybe it was a going away party. Levi got a new job as a disciple and his friends wanted to give him a good send-off. But just like any party, they couldn’t keep it a secret from the neighbors. Before they knew it, the “proper police” came knocking on the door. I wonder if Jesus even had a chance to get through his first course before they showed up with all their questions. Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners? That was their first question. And it was...

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Sermon November 2: How Not to Be a Saint

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon November 2: How Not to Be a Saint Faith United Methodist Church November 2, 2014 All Saints Sunday Rev. Krista Beth Atwood Scripture: Matthew 23:1-12 Prayer of Illumination:         Faithful God, as your Word is proclaimed, we pray for purity of heart, mind and action. Through the gift of your message, breathe your Spirit within our lives, in the name of the one who came to embody your word. Amen. Sermon:  How Not to Be a Saint Jesus’ teaching today might be called ‘How Not to be a Saint’ with the Pharisees as the object lesson. Poor guys. Jesus calls them out for their fancy clothes and their tendency to like nice things. He points to their desire for a good table at dinner and their pleasure at being greeted respectfully when seen in public. He even draws attention to their practice of piling the workload on their underlings without offering to lift a finger themselves. If you want to be a saint ~ if you want to be a servant of the Kingdom ~ don’t be like those guys. Sure, they talk a good game, but when it comes down to it, do they don’t practice what they preach. It’s a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” We know Jesus is right. The Pharisees liked to talk the talk, but they didn’t always walk the walk. But still, it’s hard not to identify with them.   I like nice clothes and enjoy being treated respectfully, too. I certainly wouldn’t want Jesus using me as an example by calling out my inconsistencies and hypocrisies. Would you? Jesus tells the disciples and the crowds gathered around, “The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” Humility is a tricky thing, though, isn’t it? Humility ~ servanthood ~ implies selflessness and sacrifice. Throwing the credit away. We certainly like to get the credit we think we deserve. There’s a country song on just this topic: Nobody Wants to Play Rhythm Guitar Behind Jesus / Everyone Wants to be Leader of the Band. Have you heard that one? No? (Maybe our Faith Singers can work it up for next week.) John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, had a teaching on humility. In his Collection of Forms of Prayers he listed several questions to be asked on Tuesdays before praying. (Don’t ask me ~ Why Tuesdays? Let’s just say John Wesley was very ‘methodical.’) The questions include: Have I ascribed to myself any part of any good which God has done through me this day? Have I desired the praise of others? Have I, when thought so, said, ‘I am in the wrong’? Yet even servanthood can become a source of pride if taken too far. When humility is practiced for humility’s sake, it becomes a race to be first-place at being last.  Wearing the worst clothes. Taking the last seat. Beating our breasts in public so everyone will see. Are we doing what we are doing to be seen by others or for the glory of the kingdom? Someone once said that humility is living with one eye on heaven. I wear this stole today not because of any important liturgical significance, but because my Grandmother made it for me and she was one of the saints of my life. She perfectly fit Frederick Buechner’s definition of a saint. “To be a saint is to be a little out of one’s mind…” My grandmother was the one who would put teddy bears in small sleds and send them down over the...

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