S.J. Mundahl, September 19, 2010
...I know I have probably made some of you very uncomfortable because I may be holding a mirror up to you and asking you to take a look and consider facing the truth about your own dirty little secrets. But now I want to tell you why. When we face the truth of our actions, we can ask for and receive forgiveness. Whether it is forgiveness from our own heart, from a neighbor, or friend, or family member and ultimately from God. In this act of asking forgiveness we feel the shackles of lies that have held us prisoner being released.
Psalm 146, Luke 7:11-17
Rev. Dr. Beth A. Donaldson, June 6, 2010
...as the prophets of the Older Testament point out again and again, the people’s treatment of widows is a mark of their holiness and righteousness… so it is our life and the life of everything on this planet that is in flux right now, and we’re all in the crowd looking on, to some extent."
A Service of Baptism
Rev. Louise Bender, December 28, 2008
I remind you this morning:
- much about the world is shadows and threat, and we desperately need light to shine out in the gloom which oppresses the spirit of love in this world
- these boys may be the light of their parents’ and grandparents’ and aunts and uncles and cousins’ eye, but they are not the light of the world, and we cannot in good conscience burden them with that expectation
- Jesus is the light of the world, and our best course of action is to follow the way of that light ourselves, pointing out that path to these wee tykes who will follow us wherever we go, at least for awhile!
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26; Luke 1:47-55
Rev. Dr. Beth Donaldson, December 21, 2008
Mary is no passive actor in the Tableau of our Christmas story. On this Sunday of love, we are invited to see in her the Glory of God that is also in all of us – the glory of love expressed and shared by humanity in all creation. In this, hear great good news.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; John 1:6-8, 19-28
Rev. Dr. Beth Donaldson, December 14, 2008
People talk a lot these days about when our prosperity will return. Isn’t it possible that we might not want to go back there? Isn’t it possible that the prosperity was a form of greed masked as entitlement?" The invitation of this time is, perhaps, to gently suggest this to ourselves and to others. We don’t ever even have to say Jesus’ name if we don’t want to – but the joy that I want to share with all of you is that I think the world is more ready now than it has been in generations, to hear about this new way that is simply not new at all. I think it is time to share this good news and offer it to everyone we know! And not try to go back up the tree – but to create new ways of being together – TOGETHER!
Psalm 123, Matthew 25:14-30, I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Rev. Dr. Beth Donaldson, November 16, 2008
But let’s talk about how Jesus might advise us in our other investments. In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul advises us: “So let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are not destined to be sent to the outer darkness in anger and to fear a God of retribution, but rather we are invited, very simply, to follow the Christ.
Deuteronomy 34: 1-12, Matthew 22:34-46
Rev. Dr. Beth Donaldson, October 26, 2008
By choosing this theme, inspired by John Thomas’s wonderful sermon, “The Big Tent and the Great Parade,” I think the Continuing Stewardship committee is trying to say something like, help the church stay strong so that we can join in with the work of God out in the world (God’s Great Parade) in ever more meaningful and powerful ways.
Exodus 33:12-23, Matthew 22:15-22
Rev. Dr. Beth Donaldson, October 19, 2008
...But what does our faith offer us by way of dealing both with those aspects of ourselves that cause us to behave in ways we would rather not admit, and in dealing with our feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability in being victims of theft?
Genesis 21: 8-21, Matthew 10:24-36
Rev. Dr. Beth Donaldson, June 22, 2008
Out of sight, out of mind, out of heart, out of family… these are all just as true for me, and for most of us, as they were for Sarah and Abraham and Hagar. We don’t like to see the suffering of others. Out of sight, out of mind, out of heart, out of family.
John 17:1-11; Acts 1:6-14
Rev. Dr. Beth Donaldson, May 4, 2008
And like our communion in worship, where else but in church can we invite a wisdom to be among us that is not just about decision making, but is about being together in mutual exploration of an issue, listening to each other, and discerning together a new way?
Psalm 23, John 10:1-10, Acts 2:42-47
Rev. Dr. Beth Donaldson, April 13, 2008
It is every church’s responsibility and privilege, especially in the UCC where each local church is autonomous and there are no mandates from any higher office of the church to do or believe any one thing, to discern and interpret its own understanding of what it means to do and be the church – and specifically in our case, to be the Christian church. And there are as many different outcomes of this discernment as there are churches.
Exodus 24:12-18; Matthew 17:1-9
Rev. Coqui Conkey, February 3, 2008
Your mountaintop experiences, your high times, and your clearly holy encounters serve to orient you and give you direction. Retell your stories and let your memories of those experiences once again clarify your essence. Return again to the mountaintop. Wait on God.
Chester O'Gorman, December 16, 2007
God's call to Mary is a blessing that, even if it entails difficulty and tragedy, ultimately lifts up the lowly....Herein lies the true miracle! In the Immaculate Conception, God gives us the opportunity to see the truth about ourselves, a cruel aspect of our culture, and purge it. Condemnation of Mary comes because we're trained to see women and their sexuality in terms of economic and sexual value. God's in-breaking into our lives through the miracle challenges us to question our values and assumptions, and see women differently, as God sees Mary! The eyes of God, the eyes of love, call us to see that womanhood and motherhood possess inherent worth.
Jeremiah 23.1-6, Psalm 46, Luke 23.33-43, Colossians 1.11-20
Chester O’Gorman, November 25, 2007
By accepting His death and maintaining His innocence, God in Christ deprives us of the power to form community at the expense of scapegoats. The cross that rests at the center of our faith is a warning. The reality of the broken body and blood that’s thrust upon us every Sunday forces us to confront the real consequences of our real violence, and severely judges that violence. It calls us to task for justifying oppression with lies, and excusing sins by blaming others.
Isaiah 12, Luke 21: 1-19
Rev. Dr. Beth A. Donaldson, November 18, 2007
So, what are we – a little church on the corner of a highway and a street, next to a lake – to do about all of this? We are not significant enough to make a real difference, we might say. But I question this. I really do.
Huge institutions already exist, and we are still in the mess we are in! Size doesn’t change the world. And honestly, might doesn’t really change the world either. What we have, and what we do with it – all of us – every single on eof us – changes the world.
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4; Luke 19:1-10
Rev. Coqui Conkey, November 4, 2007
I have wondered how far we would go to see Jesus, individually and as a congregation. Could we be like children excited, so filled with joy that nothing could keep us back? And how could we respond when Jesus recognized us up in the tree and said, “Hey, get down here. I’m coming to your place for dinner?” How could we point out the actions that mark our faith?
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13
Rev. Coqui Conkey, September 23, 2007
Prayer ... isn’t just an exercise in coming into the presence of the Holy. Margaret Silf wrote, “Prayer that works is prayer that makes a difference, contemplation that turns into action, on behalf of peace and justice in a troubled and unjust world system. Prayer is energy, the energy of love and transformative power. It is given to us to use for the good of all creation. In prayer God gives us the fuel of life, and asks us to live it,” Prayer is not passive and it is not a last resort.
Genesis 1:26-31; Luke 12:32-48
Rev. Coqui Conkey, August 12, 2007
Jesus said that the one found working would be rewarded. All of us, together and separately, must be about the work of caring for the treasure God entrusted to humankind. We can’t just pay for the privilege of continuing to use up resources in the way we have. In An Inconvenient Truth Al Gore repeats an African proverb, “When you pray, move your feet.” “When you pray, move your feet.” We must be at work making a difference, preserving our treasured gift.
Hosea 11:1-11, Luke 12:13-21
Rev. Dr. Beth A. Donaldson, August 5, 2007
When bridges fall, we are invited, not to regret that we are not God, but to rise to the humanity that is ours as a gift of God. ..... When bridges fall, after we have gasped in disbelief and mortality, we are called to great humanity. Come, my friends, God has equipped us well for this – let us become the glory of God – human beings fully alive, even in our sadness and grief and fear.
Psalm 52; Colossians 1:15-28; Luke 10:38-42
Rev. Coqui Conkey, July 15, 2007
The lawyer asked what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. That lawyer knew the law and the commandments to love God and neighbor. But there is more. God’s Realm is about much more than following laws. We must instead embrace and embody the values of that Realm – compassion that compels us to see, stop, and act – and justice that keeps us at the scene working to right the wrongs until peace, until healing, until shalom is restored.
There were three who walked by the injured traveler. Which one are you?
Kings 19:1-18; Psalm 119:105-112; Matthew 5:14-16
Rev. Coqui Conkey, June 24, 2007
For fifty years the United Church of Christ has worked faithfully and diligently to shed light into dark corners....we have tried to keep ablaze the light of God within...the comma in the UCC’s slogan could serve as a reminder to take into account what has gone before. It presents an opportunity to consult the tradition with question in mind “How has God spoken in the past?” as prelude to an encounter with the new."
Psalm 8, Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Rev. Dr. Beth A. Donaldson, June 3, 2007
I never heard whether Cindy [Sheehan] got an audience with President Bush in those two years that she tried to share her wisdom. It’s not that I necessarily think she would have convinced him to end the war. But I do believe, without hesitation, that conversations about our truth – listened to deeply, DO CHANGE THE WORLD. It’s just that we don’t listen....
Genesis 15:1-6, John 17:20-26
Rev. Dr. Beth A. Donaldson, May 20, 2007
I have no idea how many members we have. I don’t really care. But I love that my church counts – that my church says, “You can count on me… Count me in… Count the ways of God’s love… Count it out carefully… You count!… and then, Counts these among its many blessings.” These I can say with confidence and pride – for these are the Glory of Christ, and the Glory of a church that counts. Amen.