Category Archives: Sermons

January 13, 2019 Sermon

“In The Water with Jesus”                                                                                           Matthew 3:1-17
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
January 13, 2019

John the Baptist was all about making things right in the world. Like many poor desert dwellers, then-and-now, he lived on a diet of locusts and wild honey. He wore strange clothes and he was loud and he would be glad to tell you everything you were doing wrong. In fact, he did just that when the religious leaders made the journey to see just what he was up to. “Don’t think that just because you’re from the right group that everything is fine for you. It takes more than being in the right place to be okay with God.”

John was freaking out the authority figures because he was drawing crowds of people who were very, very unhappy. They wanted change, and John had a message for them: “repent!” To repent, as the Common English Bible translates, is to change your hearts and lives. But the authorities didn’t want the people to change, because when people change other stuff starts changing too. As the crowds grew, those in power got more and more on edge. To the present day, tyrants always start sweating when crowds gather. Eventually John would pay for his preaching and baptizing with his life – executed by the government. Continue reading

December 24, 2018 Sermon (Christmas Eve)

Christmas Eve Homily                                                                        
The Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
December 24, 2018

He was both God and human. His arrival was called Good News, for he brought peace to the earth. He was called son of god, lord, and savior. It was said that his birth had been marked from the beginning of time, to fulfill the hope of generations. None would surpass his greatness.[1]

I am of course talking about Augustus, emperor of Rome during Jesus’ birth. It is with this Augustus that Luke’s story begins: “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.” The people of Israel lived under this Augustus, it was because of his decree that Joseph and Mary were making the grueling 70-mile trip to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.

Augustus was a big deal. After violent power struggles, he put an end to a civil war in the empire, ushering in a time called Pax Romana (latin for Roman peace). Some said that he introduced a golden age, when “the supreme good in human history was fully realized.” He was considered the center of the world. Continue reading

December 23, 2018 Sermon

“Trusting the Absurd”                                                                                                Matthew 1:18-25
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
December 23, 2018

It seemed everything was lost. It was time to give up and throw in the towel.

For Joseph, it was the end of a marriage that had never really started. Marriage was a lot different in his time. It was a legal transfer negotiated between fathers, not a union based in love and care. So it’s hard to know how either Joseph or Mary felt about it. But I imagine that Joseph was excited to take this important step in his life. And then, with Mary pregnant before their marriage, it seemed she had not been faithful to him. This would have been devastating news. He was bound by law not to marry her. It was time to give up on his plans and his hopes.

For the people who first put this story down on paper, it was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans. Their plans, their hopes were all gone. Thousands of their neighbors and friends had been executed by Rome. God’s home on earth had been destroyed. And not for the first time in their history, either. Matthew’s gospel was written around 65 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, among a community of Jewish people who had followed Jesus and believed he was the messiah, come to save them. But now that everything was lost, they wondered if it was time to give up their hopes. Continue reading

December 9, 2018 Sermon

“For Such a Time As This: Courage and Peace”                                                           Esther 4:1-17
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                                                           
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
December 9, 2018

Today’s sermon will be from the perspective of Mordecai, one of the characters in this story. Mordecai was the uncle of Esther. He raised her from a young age after her parents died.

Esther is often considered the star of this story, the one who bravely intervened against the King’s plans to wipe out her people. She is an example of courage and faithfulness, and she helped ensure her peoples’ ability to live in peace. However, Esther did not act alone. And it can be hard to relate to her – how many of us are Queens in a royal palace, hiding our minority status? Many more of us, like Mordecai, may only come up to the palace gates. We may feel that we have no influence over what happens in the halls of power. We may feel like peace is a far-off dream and all we can do is wait and hope. As you listen for his story, consider your own calling to courageous action for God’s peace. Continue reading

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