Category Archives: Sermons

May 12, 2019 Sermon

“God’s Power, Humans Hands”                                                                          Acts 13:1-3, 14:8-18
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
May 12, 2019

“Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”

These words were spoken by Dorothy Day, a 20th century Catholic. Day co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement, which continues to operate homes throughout the nation and world, providing hospitality, shelter, and community to people in need of food or a place to stay. She spent her life working for justice in several ways: imprisoned while protesting for womens’ right to vote, standing against popular wars, getting shot while working for racial justice – a fierce critic of our nation’s economic system of extreme wealth and extreme poverty. She was radical, she had a famous scowl, and in life was controversial inside and outside the church. Continue reading

April 28, 2019 Sermon

“Go”                                                                                                                               Matthew 28:16-20
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
April 28, 2019

 

A while ago, the New Yorker ran this cartoon:

[show cartoon]

There is a man sitting on an empty train bench wearing a shirt saying “ask me about my religion. The caption says “another way to keep an empty seat beside you on the train.”

Or, there’s this bumper sticker:

[show sticker]

It says “I’ve got nothing against God. It’s his [or her, I would add] fan club I can’t stand.”

 

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to some of his disciples on a mountain. Some doubted, some believed fully. And he called each of them to baptize all nations and teach them to obey what Jesus taught.

What does it mean to make disciples of all nations?

“Depending on whom you talk to,” writes Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor, “it seems possible that nothing has cost Jesus more new disciples than the tactics of those most intent on recruiting them.”[1]

One August, I moved from my parents’ house to the University of Kansas campus. I was pretty scared and overwhelmed, walking alone on that large campus, trying to find my way around. A young man walked up to me and introduced himself. He was so friendly, and asked if he could walk with me. He showed interest in me, and I started to feel so much better. And then it came: he told me about the campus ministry he worked for, and how it would be great if I came. And again my heart sank. This was not a friendly face simply wanted to be kind to a terrified new freshman. I was a target. This was his job. Continue reading

April 21, 2019 Sermon – Easter

“Life and Death”                                                                                                          Matthew 28:1-10
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
April 21, 2019

The story was never supposed to get out.

Four verses before the Bible passage we heard today you’ll find this story: After Jesus was crucified, the powers that be got together and talked to Pilate, the Roman governor. We remember, they said, that Jesus said he would rise from the dead. We don’t want his people to come steal his body and claim that happened! That would make things worse than before! So Pilate agreed to send soldiers to guard Jesus’ tomb.

Then we get to today’s story, where two women named Mary come to the tomb, experience an incredible earthquake, talk with an angel, witness Pilate’s guards becoming like dead men due to so much fear, and meet Jesus alive. That’s a pretty incredible story, but if you’ve ever been to Easter services you’ve heard it before. Maybe so much that you haven’t truly heard it for a while.

And then there are five more verses. After the women head to get word to the men, the soldiers tell the authorities what happened. So the authorities bought the soldiers off, paying them to say the disciples had taken Jesus’ body away. Continue reading

April 14, 2019 Sermon

“Who’s Religion For Anyways?”                                                                                Matthew 21:1-17
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
April 14, 2019

We are used to hearing stories told as if the narrator was one of Jesus’ friends, following him around and recording what he did. The writer of the story writes from a particular point of view, one that assumes Jesus is right and anyone he is in conflict with is wrong. And given that I am a minister in a religion founded by followers of this Jesus, I also tend to assume that Jesus is right.

But there is a lot of conflict in today’s story, and there is more than one perspective. And, without letting go of the belief that Jesus is right, there is much to be learned about this story if we explore another perspective. It helps us see the whole picture. So here is today’s story, as I imagine it told from one of the religious leaders Jesus is in conflict with: a priest in the temple, responsible for taking care of that sacred space. Matthew 21:1-17, told by a Hebrew priest:

I was exhausted. We were just six days from Passover, the biggest religious festival of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I love Passover. In some ways I live for it. When else do all the faithful come from near and far to the temple? When else are we united in our faith, celebrating God freeing our ancestors from slavery? And it sure is nice to see a full temple. Continue reading

April 7, 2019 Sermon

“Who’s Right In The End?”                                                                                       Matthew 25:31-46
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
April 7, 2019

Jesus had just finished telling parables that would have been hard to hear, parables with lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth. He had predicted that he would be killed by the authorities, though his followers fought him tooth-and-nail on the point. By the time Jesus finished telling these parables his followers were feeling pretty beat down. Tired. Scared. Anxious. Angry, maybe. Wanting to know what was next. Maybe wanting to just get over whatever was next: “OK, we get it, it’s going to be hard. If it has to be that way, could we at least get it over with?” They were weary of waiting. And like most weary people I imagine they were starting to squabble a bit with each other and within themselves, wondering why they got themselves into all this mess in the first place and what’s the point?

I wonder if we too, Lyonsville, are followers of Jesus who are weary of waiting. Wanting to know what’s next, whatever it may be, in our daily lives, in our life as church. After all, as the 19th century French novelist Honoré de Balzac once said, “most miseries lie in anticipation.”

Have you ever read a book that is getting especially difficult, and flipped to see how it ends? Sometimes knowing the ending is the only thing that gets me through hard stories. So, perhaps picking up on the weary misery of his followers, Jesus jumped to the end of the story, giving them something better to anticipate. Continue reading