Strong in the Broken Places

Strong in the Broken Places    Genesis 32:22-31  Matthew 14:13-21   Russell Eidmann-Hicks A joke goes that Mother Teresa died and went to heaven.   God met her and asked if she was hungry.  Mother Teresa said, “I could eat,” so God opens a can of tuna and some rye bread and they share it.   As she ate, Mother Teresa looked down into Hell and saw the people there eating huge steaks, lobsters, expensive wine, flaming desserts.   Mother Teresa said, “I’m really glad to be in heaven, God, but why do we just eat tuna and rye bread while down in Hell they’re eating like kings?”   God said, “Well, for just two people, why bother to cook?” That is certainly not my vision of heaven, nor do I think it is Jesus’.    On the hillside as the sun was going down, Jesus realized the crowd of his followers needed supper, and there [...]

By | 2017-09-13T13:28:20+00:00 September 13th, 2017|August 2017|Comments Off on Strong in the Broken Places

Seeking Good Soil

Genesis 25:19–34   Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23  Russell Eidmann-Hicks Jesus began by sitting alone, quietly on the beach, listening to the lapping of waves and creaking of boats and rustling of sails.  Eyes closed, in prayer and inner peace, he enjoyed the warm sand and gentle breeze.   One by one, people in the village spotted him, and word spread, and many flocked to the beach, and sat all around him in a circle, waiting patiently for him to open his eyes and to come out of his stillness.   When he finally looked around, he saw an enormous crowd, and decided to speak, stepping into a nearby boat and pushing out a little way, so that all could see and hear him.   He told them a parable, a simple story that can be interpreted in many ways.   The story is about seeds tossed out into the winds, which can land on various types [...]

By | 2017-07-26T18:14:07+00:00 July 26th, 2017|July 2017|Comments Off on Seeking Good Soil

None Apart From God

None Apart From God  Romans 8:35-39  Matthew 10:24-39 John O’Donohue in his book Anam Cara tells “an old story from India about a man condemned to spend the night in a cell with a poisonous snake.  If he made the slightest movement, the snake would strike to kill him.  All night the man stood petrified in the corner of the cell, afraid even to breathe for fear of alerting the snake.  As the first light of dawn reached into the cell, he could make out the shape of the snake in the other corner.  He was deeply relieved not to have alerted it.  Then as the light of dawn increased further and became really bright, he saw that it was not a snake at all, but an old rope lying in the corner of the cell.  The moral of the story is that there are harmless things, like that old [...]

By | 2017-07-11T17:10:34+00:00 July 11th, 2017|June 2017|Comments Off on None Apart From God

Subject To Each Other

Subject to Each Other  Philippians 4:10-13    Matthew 10:21, 25-33 A Doonesbury comic started with a picture of Mike Doonesbury at his 25th Reunion at Walden College.  He’s talking with a husband and wife.  The husband asks whether Mike has a child, and if he, like men nowadays, is helping out with the child-care.  “Are you a modern dad?  My wife and I share the load.”  His wife chimed in, “What do you mean share the load?  You do 20% tops.”  Her husband protests, but she says, “So what does this mean, that in five generations you might actually pick up your socks?”  Mike is seen slinking away from this marital quarrel.   It’s Father’s Day.  Fathers, like mothers are going through lots of changes in their identity nowadays.  Modern fathers do pitch in more than in previous generations.  Expectations are different about whose time will be taken up with [...]

By | 2017-07-11T17:08:36+00:00 July 11th, 2017|June 2017|Comments Off on Subject To Each Other

Arise My Fair One and Come Away

Arise, My Fair One, and Come Away    Genesis 24:34–38, 42–49, 58–67    Matthew 11:16–19, 25–30 It was in early spring, snow still on the ground, when I received a bright blue card in the mail.  As a lonely assistant minister in a small, hardscrabble urban church, I didn’t get many fancy cards.  Inside I found a lovely note from a girl I knew from the divinity school, who had been a field education student at my church the year before.  She said that she was thinking of me, knowing I was going through a tough time, and that she wished me well in my ministry.  I was struck by how thoughtful and simply-put the card was.  I waited and then wrote back, with enormous trepidation, to asked if she might want to go for a walk sometime.  After a couple of weeks, which were agony for me, another blue [...]

By | 2017-07-11T17:06:15+00:00 July 11th, 2017|July 2017|Comments Off on Arise My Fair One and Come Away

Pride & Pentecost

Acts 8:15-40   Acts 2:1-21    UCC Minister Martin Copenhaver shares this story about what it means to see the love and Spirit of God in each person: In his memoirs Oscar Wilde recalled the experience of being brought from the prison, where he was held after being declared—in the strange manner of his day — "guilty" of homosexuality. He writes: "When I was brought down from my prison between two policemen, a man I know waited in the long dreary corridor so that, before the whole crowd, whom an action so sweet and simple hushed into silence, he might gravely raise his hat to me as, handcuffed and with bowed head, I passed him by. Men have gone to heaven for smaller things than that." Such a small act, but it meant so much!  It still means much to show respect and dignity to someone who is being dismissed and [...]

By | 2017-06-06T18:54:05+00:00 June 6th, 2017|June 2017|Comments Off on Pride & Pentecost

Who is My Mother?

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_text] Who is My Mother?   1 Kings 3:16-28   Matthew 12:46-50 From her book, Traveling Mercies, writer Annie Lamott tells this story:  “Two days before his seventh birthday, Sam and I were in a town in Idaho, several thousand feet above sea level, where I was teaching at a writing conference.  We were taking an early morning walk in a valley that was so majestic it made you feel patriotic, when Sam noticed half a dozen paragliders floating down off the jagged high mountain above us.  His eyes radiated excitement… Our mouths were hanging open [...]

By | 2017-05-17T20:32:06+00:00 May 17th, 2017|May 2017|Comments Off on Who is My Mother?

The Last Tree

  Genesis 9:3-17   Matthew 6:25-34          Earth Sunday      Russell Eidmann-Hicks In USA Today recently, Physicist Stephen Hawking says that human greed and stupidity are still the biggest threats to humankind. During an interview on Larry King Now, the science superstar told King that in the six years since he’s spoken with the talk show host people haven’t cleaned up their act. “We certainly have not become less greedy or less stupid,” Hawking said. “The population has grown by half a billion since our last meeting, with no end in sight. At this rate, it will be eleven billion by 2100.” He noted that the massive problem of pollution has only grown.  “Air pollution has increased over the past five years,” he said. “More than 80% of inhabitants of urban areas are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution.”   When asked what the biggest problem facing the world [...]

By | 2017-05-01T16:02:11+00:00 May 1st, 2017|April 2017|Comments Off on The Last Tree

By Their Wounds You Will Know Them

  1 Peter 1:3-9    John 20:16-32   Russell Eidmann-Hicks Fear makes us do crazy things.  It makes us want to defend ourselves behind locked doors.  But the more we do this, the more we shut out other people and what might help us make connections in community and in families.  Fear divides.   We find this in our scripture reading this morning.  The disciples huddle in an upper room, doors bolted shut.  Here are the saints of the church, leaders of a new world religion.  Are they feeling lofty?  No, of course not.  They are shaking with anxiety: fear of being arrested, fear of persecution, fear for their lives – even shame that they themselves abandoned their teacher and friend to die on a cross unjustly and almost alone, if not for the women.   Fear, yes fear is at the root of many of our issues – spiritually, emotionally, and [...]

By | 2017-04-27T14:01:33+00:00 April 27th, 2017|April 2017|Comments Off on By Their Wounds You Will Know Them

Palms & Protest

Philippians 2:1-11     Matthew 21:1-17    Russell Eidmann-Hicks Jesus’ march into the city of Jerusalem was a joyful expression of hope and community and faith.  It was a way to affirm his follower’s faith in Jesus as messiah, and his vision of God’s new way of equality, caring and sharing. It was joyful.  But it was also a protest.  Jesus designed this parade as a prophetic portrayal of his ministry as an alternative to what was happening in Jerusalem at the time: intolerance, hatred, and violence.  It was resistance – overturned tabled and confrontations with religious leaders. Karl Barth wrote: “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.
” Our faith lives are not only for our own benefit; our religious and spiritual practices change the world. In prayer, we protest the ‘disorder of the world.”  We are called, like [...]

By | 2017-04-17T16:36:05+00:00 April 17th, 2017|April 2017|Comments Off on Palms & Protest