Category Archives: Sermons

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

March 31, 2019 Sermon

“Money Management with Jesus”                                               Matthew 25:14-30 Rev.           Sean Weston                                                                                                               
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
March 31, 2019

In second or third grade I checked out a book from the school library. I finished it and forgot about it until I got a notice that the book was due back. I looked everywhere for days and couldn’t find it until one day I found it right where I had left it – in the backyard. I was relieved until I realized it was soaking wet.

With a sinking feeling in my stomach I took the book back and told the librarian what happened. She was kind. She thanked me for bringing it back and being honest, and that she knew it was just a mistake. But then the kicker came, “we won’t be able to use this book anymore, so you’ll need to pay for it. That way we can get another copy that other kids can use.”

I’m not sure how much it cost. More than I had at that point in my life. I don’t remember how but somehow I worked with my parents to pay what I owed. And I have never, ever, ever left a library book outside again.

Libraries depend on people being good stewards. Borrowing what they need, treating it well, and returning it. If enough people stopped doing that, libraries couldn’t exist. Good stewards of library books recognize that libraries are for “us” and not for “me.” The people coming after deserve access to the same resources we do. As a kid I had to pay for the book not for punishment but so that my carelessness didn’t hurt those who came after me. So I could be a good steward. Continue reading

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