Author Archives: lyonsvillechurch

The Good News for April

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March 24, 2019 Sermon

“Get Your Act Together: Accepting God’s Invitation”                                         Matthew 22:1-14 Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                               
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
March 24, 2019

The pastor was giving a children’s sermon, where every week the children anticipate him making a new point about Jesus. This particular week she begins by holding up a stuffed squirrel and asking, “Do you know what this is?” Silence. The pastor asks again. Silence. Finally, one little boy is bold enough to shyly raise his hand and offer, “Gee, I know I’m supposed to say Jesus, but it sure looks like a squirrel to me.”

Sometimes we are stuck between what we imagine we are supposed to think, and what we actually think. This especially happens in the world of faith and church. On the one hand, we all carry with us the weight of tradition – not only whatever we have been taught our whole lives, but what people have been thinking and teaching and believing for hundreds and thousands of years. We are never independent from those things – even though sometimes we might wish to be. On the other hand, we our own have the questions, thoughts, struggles, and beliefs. A lot of times, part of growing in faith is experiencing a conflict between the heritage we inherit and the paths we travel today. Sometimes we think we’re supposed to see Jesus, when all we see is a squirrel. And sometimes a squirrel is just a squirrel. Continue reading

March 17, 2019 Sermon

“That’s Not Fair: Learning Generosity and Grace”                                              Matthew 20:1-16 Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                               
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
March 17, 2019

When I lived in New York City for a year of seminary, I was eligible for SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funded by the federal government often referred to as “food stamps.” I got a restricted debit card, and on the first of the month it was loaded with $194 which was what a formula decided a single person in NYC needed for food. Because of the SNAP assistance I received I was able to take out about $2,000 less in loans than I otherwise would’ve needed.

I remember a few things about being on SNAP.

The first is that it was incredibly difficult to get enrolled in the first place. I couldn’t figure out the online system – and I know online systems pretty well. So I went to the office in Harlem and got in a line that snaked down blocks. I was the only white person in line and it was clear to me from start to finish that the process was designed to be as difficult and dehumanizing as possible.

The second is that I felt so much shame about needing help. I’ve always believed that everybody deserves to eat, and that part of what a society does is make sure that everybody can eat. But since I could listen I’ve also heard the sorts of things our society tends to say about people on “food stamps.” I felt ashamed that I needed help, especially when I would go to pay and everyone saw how I was paying. I felt the eyes on me and my shopping cart, eyes that seemed to ask how I had a nice coat if I needed food stamps, or whether I worked (I did, in addition to full time studies), or why I was getting meat or ice cream. Continue reading

Obituary for Chuck Helms

Chuck was a long-time member and leader at Lyonsville. His obituary is below.

Charles (Chuck) Waitman Helms, 74, of Countryside, Illinois died on March 14, 2019 at his home.

He was born June 30, 1944 in Chicago, the son of Albert and Juanita (Heatherly) Helms.

Chuck married Gail Marie (Wardo) Helms on April 20, 1974 in Chicago.

Chuck was committed to his family and community. He owned and managed Helms Lawn & Landscape in Countryside for nearly 30 years. He was a member of Lyonsville Congregational United Church of Christ in Indian Head Park, where he served in many roles over the years.

Chuck was preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Juanita (Heatherly) Helms, and his brother, Herman.

Survivors include his wife, Gail; two children, Edith (Paul) Ruez, Centralia, Illinois, and Arthur (Nikki) Helms of Countryside; one granddaughter, Madaline, and three grandsons, Cody, Charles, and Russell.

Cremation is planned. A memorial service will be held at Lyonsville Congregational United Church of Christ in Indian Head Park on Saturday, April 13 at 11am. The Rev. Sean Weston will officiate. A lunch will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Lyonsville Church or the charity of your choice.

March 10, 2019 Sermon

“Called to be Better: Accountability and Forgiveness”                                    Matthew 18:15-22
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
March 10, 2019

In 1982, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, gathered in Ottawa, drew a line in the sand and declared apartheid a heresy. Apartheid was South Africa’s social, political, and yes, religious system of discrimination, segregation, and violent oppression of Black people. Delegates from churches around the world, including the United Church of Christ, declared that, “Apartheid is a sin, and that the moral and theological justification of it is a travesty of the Gospel…and, a theological heresy.” With that statement, the Alliance suspended the membership of two white Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa that defended and supported apartheid both inside and outside the church, declaring them fundamentally wrong to the point that fellowship could not be maintained.[1]

This was a big, big deal, and it was controversial as all heck. To declare something heresy or somebody heretical is to say that their beliefs and actions are absolutely wrong, and cannot be accepted in the church. There is no stronger statement than a church can make. For decades before, the worldwide body had condemned racism and apartheid, hoping that the racist churches would realize they were wrong and change. But by this point it became clear that was not going to happen. And so we – and as part of that body we are part of that we – declared this to be a status confessionis issue, which is a matter that the church cannot allow disagreement about: If you insist on barring God’s Black children from the Lord’s Table in your churches, if you insist on teaching and preaching that God supports segregation, oppression, and violence against Black people and defending the indefensible actions of your government, you are wrong, and we must draw a line in the sand. If you want to be considered part of the worldwide Church again, you must change. The churches could be reinstated under three conditions: 1) If they no longer excluded Black people from the life of the church, 2) if they offered concrete support to those who were kept down by apartheid, and 3) if they publicly admitted their guilt and rejected apartheid. Until then, they were out. End of story. Continue reading