“How Do We Listen?” Mark 9:2-9
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
Rev. Sean Weston
In the fall of 2005, reports came out that then-U.S. President George W. Bush had said that God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, as part of a broader plan to bring peace to the Middle East.
Just a few days ago, a former U.S. Representative declined to run for a Senate seat in Minnesota, because in her own words, she didn’t hear a call from God to do so.
I came to serve as this church’s pastor because I felt God was telling me to.
I like to think the same is the case for you.
Christians often talk about God telling us to do something, or God calling us to do something. But what do we really mean when we say that? After all, and I don’t say this to be demeaning, I have some pretty serious doubts that President Bush heard God correctly – and to say there were serious consequences for what I believe was a mis-heard message is to understate things quite a bit. You’ll find Christians who strongly believe that God has told them to reject those of us like me who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Then you’ll find Christians in Open and Affirming churches like this one, who will say God has called them to wholeheartedly embrace LGBTQ people. The list goes on, and on, and on. I know there have been times in my life where I don’t seem to have gotten the main point right.
Either God is saying way different things to different people, or we people aren’t so great at listening. Continue reading
“Remembering our Roots” Isaiah 40:21-31
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL Mark 1:29-39
Rev. Sean Weston
February 4, 2018
The only thing they could count on was change.
God’s people – the Judeans – had been through so much. The holy city of Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside had been destroyed. Many had been deported into Babylon, into a strange and unfamiliar land, while others were left behind to scratch out a life among the ruins. It was a hard, unforgiving life: Psalm 137 was written during this time, and cries out: “By the rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion….How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”
Everything they thought they knew was gone. Destroyed. They had believed that the temple in Jerusalem was God’s home. What happens to God when God’s home is destroyed? They believed that their nation was blessed by God. What happens when the nation is brought low?
The only thing they could count on was change. Change, change, and more change. What do you do when you can’t depend on what used to be dependable? Continue reading
See You Down The Road
A reflection by Rev. Dr. Thom Bower
for January 21, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Epiphany
based on Jonah 3:1-5, 10
The story of Jonah is one of the best-known stories from the Hebrew scriptures. Jonah has been called by God and told to go preach in Nineveh. Jonah gets on a boat and flees the opposite direction. A storm rises, and the sailors ask who had offended their God. Jonah admits that he has, and asks them to throw him overboard. A giant fish, maybe a whale, swallows Jonah and later throws Jonah up onto the beach. All this happens before the part of the story we are about to hear.
also based on Mark 1:14-20
This passage has several elements characteristic of Mark. John the Baptist is mentioned; his story provides markers for the story of Jesus. Prophecy is fulfilled. Jesus calls, and people respond. And we have one of Mark’s favorite words: immediately. Listen for these as we hear this morning’s gospel lesson.
Well, we finally made it here to … not the end, not really even the conclusion. We made it to another transition. Our journeys of faithfulness to God follow different paths now. I’ve thought a lot about that mystery: how can you and I both travel with God and yet travel different paths? And here we are at that intersection. Continue reading
A reflection by Rev. Dr. Thom Bower
for January 14, 2018 celebrating the Baptism of Christ
on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend
Based on Mark 1:4-11
The gospel of Mark begins the story of Jesus with Jesus being baptized by John in the Jordan River. In this passage we are told that God’s own voice spoke confirming Jesus’ identity.
Some weeks, sermon writing is like a dartboard: some message is so evident that writing the sermon is a matter of focusing on that single bull’s eye. It might be the scripture passage, or a holiday, or a church event, or some experience during the week. Some weeks sermon writing is like an old-time arcade shooting gallery – you know, ducks on a belt going round and round, targets on swinging pendulums, targets that pop up briefly then disappear, and lots of lights and buzzers to distract the shooter. Preparing this week’s message has been more like the arcade than a dartboard.
With one statement, one word, the president has disparaged an entire continent – and a national debate erupts if it is really racism. This on the weekend celebrating a national hero in civil rights; is the timing accidental? It comes in a week following a powerful testimony by Oprah about the power of speaking up, speaking out – followed by her silly assessments of the mudslides near her California home. Continue reading
Worship is the heart of the church! Sunday morning worship services are at 10:00 a.m.
Church school for children preschool through grade 8 is offered during the worship time September 8 through May. Children begin in the sanctuary for worship for the first 15-20 minutes, and then are dismissed to their church school classes following the Children’s Time.
The first Sunday of the month is usually a Communion Sunday and Family Sunday, No church school classes are offered on those Sundays. Children are invited to participate in worship with their families. All may participate in Communion, including young children, if their parents believe they have some understanding of the special nature and meaning of Communion.