December 2, 2018 Sermon

“Watching and Waiting”                                                              Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4, 3:17-20
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
December 2, 2018

One year ago minus eight days, I stood in this pulpit for the first time and preached a sermon about waiting. As I prepared for this Sunday, for another sermon on waiting, for the beginning of yet another season of Advent, part of me got restless: “another sermon on waiting?”

It’s really not the sort of thing that’s a lot of fun to preach about. Lots of church people like Advent, but when asked why I’ve rarely heard “because of the preaching.” The music, yes. The candles, yes. The preaching? Eh. But waiting is something that is part of our lives. It’s a hard thing, and it is not going to go away.

So here I am, talking about waiting once more.

People back in the prophet Habakkuk’s time didn’t like waiting either. Their situation was horrible. The Assyrian army had destroyed city after city, brutally killing people.

Habakkuk and his people had a question: “Lord, how long will I call for help and you not listen?” And so Habakkuk did what people do when we need to hear from God: he entered into discernment. He voiced his peoples’ deep pain and fear and trauma, asking the age-old question. Where is God? “I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you don’t deliver us.” Continue reading

The Good News for December

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November 18, 2018 Sermon

“Peace and Possibilities”                                                                Isaiah 36:1-3, 13-20; 37:1-7; 2:1-4
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
November 18, 2018

I’d like to share a story with you, entitled Wangari’s Trees of Peace. The story is by Jeanette Winters and tells the story of a peacemaker in Kenya named Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. It’s an illustrated book for children, but it speaks to us all. The pictures will be shown on the screens.

The tree, of course, is a symbol of peace. As the landscape was violently destroyed, the trees witnessed to the power of life. A few things about this story really stand out to me, especially in light of the story we heard in scripture today and God’s vision for peace.

In both stories an incredible amount of destruction is taking place. In Kenya it’s the destruction of so-called “development.” Following the lead of the United States and Europe, God’s creation is being destroyed around the world for the sake of what we think is best for us humans. In ancient Jerusalem, it was the total destruction of 46 Judean cities by the Assyrian empire fighting a senseless war. The Assyrian King says it all in his own records – now on display at the University of Chicago: Jerusalem was surrounded “like a caged bird.”

In both stories attempts to stop further destruction were met with laughter and taunting by men in power. In Kenya, Wangari and the women she lead were laughed at by men who said they couldn’t successfully plant trees. Then once they were successful and she became even more brave, brave enough to stand in the way of more destructive “development,” men in power put her in jail. In ancient Jerusalem, the king’s general taunts the people, saying their God was powerless to save them. He claimed they could have a good life, if they surrendered. Continue reading

November 11, 2018 Sermon

“Making Things Right”                                                                                 Micah 1:3-5, 5:2-5a, 6:6-8
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
November 11, 2018

Two weeks ago we explored Wisdom through King Solomon of Israel. I mentioned that Solomon didn’t always do a great job of listening to the wisdom God gave him. In fact, he left quite a mess when he died. His son Rehoboam was supposed to become king. He was challenged by a former official named Jeroboam. The kingdom split in two: a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom. The northern kingdom, Israel. The southern kingdom, Judah.

Fast-forward a couple hundred years, to the time of the prophet Micah. Micah lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. While he was active, the powerful and brutal Assyrian empire defeated the Northern Kingdom. Judah was tiny and was allowed to exist as long as they paid a lot of money each year. At the same time their economy was changing: people with more money and land abused the system and got even more. Those with less had even that taken away. It was a terrifying time. Everything was changing. Nothing seemed safe anymore.

When times get hard people ask a lot of questions. Why is this happening? Did we do something wrong? Is God angry at us? How can we fix this? Continue reading