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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

November 4, 2018 Sermon – All Saints Day

“Finding Life in Death”                                                                                               Revelation 21:1-6
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                          John 11:32-44
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
November 4, 2015

“Jesus began to weep.”

Jesus knew that he was going to raise his from Lazarus from the dead. He knew that he would get to see him again, in the next few minutes. That’s more than any of us ever get when confronted with the death of a loved one. Still, Jesus wept.

Before the events of today’s story, Jesus had taught, healed, overturned tables, argued with authorities, defended a woman about to be stoned for adultery. Authorities had already attempted to arrest and stone him once. Then Jesus heard from Mary and Martha that their brother Lazarus was sick.

When he heard of Lazarus’s illness, Jesus chose to wait two days before traveling to him. Jesus had to show something so important that he chose not to run to Lazarus’s side. He allowed death to have its way with his dear friend, as he would later allow death to have its way with his own self. Continue reading