The Good News for September

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June 16, 2019 Sermon

“Part of Something Bigger: Exploring our Heritage”                                                 John 17:20-26
Rev. Sean Weston
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
June 16, 2019

It was 1943. World War II was raging. The United States military – still segregated by race – was now an active part of the war. Word was starting to get out about the horrors taking place in Germany, only later to be called a Holocaust. Allied forces triumphed in Italy, yet as the year ended it would be another year and a half before the war would end.

Life at home was lived to the tune of the Glenn Miller orchestra. More and more items were rationed: shoes, canned foot, meat, cheese, butter, cooking oils. Factories that used to employ men making cars were employing women making bombs and plane engines. And even though it would be four years before Jackie Robinson broke the color line and Black players were allowed in Major League Baseball.

Some church leaders got together that year, representatives of the Congregational Christian Churches (of which Lyonsville was a part) and the Evangelical and Reformed Church (of which Burr Ridge UCC’s predecessor congregations were a part). They were looking out at the world and didn’t like what they saw. Death, destruction, and division were the themes of the day. I’d add depression too – 1943 is the year the Great Depression was officially ended, so it wasn’t far from anyone’s mind. Church life didn’t seem to be offering anything different to the world. People were scarce with so many men overseas; money and resources were tight. The church was just as divided as the world. So some church folks got together, and asked “is there a better way we can be doing this?” Continue reading

To Our Neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

Our Pastor was quite surprised to get an email from Indian Head Park’s Village Administrator recently, saying he’d heard we were closing. It turns out that at the last Village Board meeting a resident said the church had voted to close. You can imagine our surprise, since there has been no vote to close, and certainly we would know!

We don’t know why this was shared, but it’s out there now and we all know how rumor mills can work. So let’s clear the air: Lyonsville Congregational United Church of Christ is open and in active ministry. We gather for worship, prayer, study, and service. Our vision is to be a home for the spiritual journey. We have been that home for countless people for 175 years and counting.

It’s true that we are a small congregation – though the numbers shared at this meeting don’t square up. One thing our faith tells us is that God can do amazing things even with small groups of people. Jesus started with twelve, after all! If you’ve joined us for worship, eaten delicious turkey at the Harvest Home Dinner, joined us at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, or purchased gifts from the Fair Trade sale at Christmas, you know that this small group does big things!

It’s true – a lot has changed in the last 175 years – and so has church. We’re asking where God wants us to go next, actively examining all of our options for the future. No matter where God takes us next, you can count on hearing directly from us. Check us out at lyonsvillechurch.org or like us on Facebook!

If you like pizza and games, we’d love to have you at our Pizza and Game night this Friday, June 21 at 6pm. We gather for worship at 10am on Sundays and would love to meet you there (though this coming Sunday, June 23, we’re worshiping with our friends at Burr Ridge UCC and Highlands Presbyterian).

Have any questions? Please contact our Pastor, Rev. Sean Weston, directly at pastor@lyonsvillechurch.org or 708-246-1255. He’s planning to be at the next Village Board meeting and would love to meet you there as well.

Thanks for being our neighbor! We’ll see you around.

June 9, 2019 Sermon

“Amazed and Perplexed”                                                                                                 Acts 2:1-21
Rev. Sean Weston
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
June 9, 2019

The story of Pentecost we heard today in Acts is set in Jerusalem about 2,000 years ago, shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection. During Jesus’ day, Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious practice. The magnificent temple was the pride of Jewish people throughout the world. On festivals like Pentecost, celebrating the spring barley harvest and the giving of the law to Moses, people would travel from near and far to celebrate in Jerusalem, a place beloved by centuries and centuries of Jewish people. It was a deeply special place.

Below the surface of religious joy and worship, however, was layer upon layer of suffering. For thousands and thousands of years Jerusalem has been the site of serious and often violent conflict. Centuries before today’s story took place, the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and razed the temple to the ground, carrying leaders into exile and leaving everyone else behind. Along with the nation of Israel, Jerusalem has been ruled over the centuries by various empires. Some let the Jewish people live and worship as they wished; others forbade them from their practices at the pain of death. During Jesus’ life and for centuries after, Jerusalem was dominated and ruled by the brutally violent Roman Empire, the empire that killed Jesus. Yes, Jerusalem was the site of religious joy and sacred memories. And Jerusalem was also the site of deep suffering, death, and oppression. Continue reading

May 19, 2019 Sermon

“Laughing With God”                                                                                          Genesis 18:1-15
Rev. Sean Weston                                                                                       1 Corinthians 3:18-23
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
May 19, 2019

Each year around Easter Sunday, a video by the comedian John Crist circulates on my social media. The video is called “Pastors on Easter Be Like….”

The video gets attention because it’s funny. It gets at some truths about ministry and church. I’m sure our staff will tell you that I was fixated on making sure every little thing was perfectly planned for Easter. I was sure that everything had been planned perfectly: we would worship for between 60-65 minutes, Mike Molloy and I had developed step by step choreography for the choir and I to get the offertory going, I’d practiced the sermon over and over again, Jean Hegner was planning to prepare enough Communion cups for everyone to have two – just in case – the bulletin and powerpoint had been proofread over and over, and it was all going to go perfectly, lest some mistake take place and Jesus not be resurrected after all.

I arrived on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, for Austin Boosted’s memorial service. I set up the powerpoint and walked around doing my thing, when I looked up and saw that the screens had a white background on the left and a green background on the right. There was a problem with the projector. An hour before a memorial service, and the day before Easter. And I was stunned. It had been just fine before! How could it have broken just then? How could we worship if one of the projectors couldn’t project the color white? Surely one of the prophets said something about that, right? Woe to you who worship with projectors that faileth to project in white! How could God do this to me?? Continue reading