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Dawning to New Life

Easter Sunday 2016   March 27, 2016  Isaiah 65:17–25    John 20:1-18    Russell Eidmann-Hicks Have you ever been possessed by a demon?  Demons take many forms – anxiety, addiction, depression, rage, jealousy, greed – and so many more.    It says that Mary Magdalene had been healed by Jesus of seven demons that had inhabited her soul.  What was her story?  Perhaps she had been locked in a tomb filled with evil voices – voices of self-degradation or criticism, of emotional confusion and terror, fear, or compulsion.  Her life had become a living hell, a tornado of self-loathing and defeat, of self-abuse and neglect.  Mary was trapped in a tomb, walled up inside, without light or hope. Then one day Jesus walked into her life.  A glimmer of light cracked through the door.  “Is it possible to find a new life?” she may have asked.  “Are these demons so strong they [...]

By | 2016-10-21T21:38:49+00:00 March 28th, 2016|March 2016|Comments Off on Dawning to New Life

Like a Rolling Stone

Like a Rolling Stone   Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016  Psalm 31:9–16     Luke 19:28-40 Rabbi Lawrence Kushner told a story on the radio show “On Being” last week:  He said that his education director asked him to talk to the pre-school class on the synagogue’s ‘bima’ where the Torah scrolls are stored, behind a curtain.   The class was ushered in and just as they were facing the curtain, Rabbi Kushner was told that he had an important call, and had to leave right away.  The little kids were led back to their classroom – and told they would be able to see what is behind the curtain another time.   Later the teacher told Rabbi Kushner that the children were intrigued by the curtain and what might be behind it.  Many had opinions abut what might be found behind the curtain.  One child, described by the rabbi as being a [...]

By | 2016-03-21T14:17:37+00:00 March 21st, 2016|March 2016|Comments Off on Like a Rolling Stone

Diakoneo

Diakoneo      Isaiah 43:16–21     John 12:1-8 The spiritual writer, Parker Palmer, went through a protracted period of deep, agonizing depression.  In his writings, he blamed it on ways that he had flown too high, become too judgmental of himself and more.  But truthfully, depression cannot always be explained; it just happens.  Palmer holed up alone in the Pendell Hill Quaker retreat center in a small cottage.  Friends wrote to him, visited and tried to give him advice, or they gave him veiled criticisms, asking why he, a spiritual writer, should be having such difficulty.  (Physician heal thyself!)   But then, every day an elder Quaker would come by Palmer’s cottage, let himself in, and bend down and rub Palmer’s feet.  Without a word he would quietly massage his feet, and then stand, and show himself out.   Palmer said his was the very best of care at his worst moment. [...]

By | 2016-10-21T21:38:49+00:00 March 21st, 2016|March 2016, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Diakoneo

The Running Father

2 Corinthians 5:16-21     Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32                                                  Russell Eidmann-Hicks The prodigal son was no hero – right?  He was a mess: immature, selfish, stupid and short-sighted.   The word “prodigal” means excessive, wasteful, over-the-top.  He took his father’s open-handed inheritance as the 2nd son, and he blew it on parties, wine, women, fancy food. Instead of saving a penny he ended up with empty pockets when a famine struck.  When he got work, he envied the filthy pigs because they were given pods in their slop and he was given nothing.   We’ve known people like that – people who just wouldn’t listen to reason, who drive too fast, who get drunk, don’t save, or take drugs, who use others, and rush as foolishly as possible toward the edge of the cliff.   We shake our heads, turn down their invitations, don’t return their phone calls, and write them off.   Good riddance, right? In my [...]

By | 2016-10-21T21:38:49+00:00 March 7th, 2016|March 2016|Comments Off on The Running Father

Trust in the Promise

Trust in the Promise    Genesis 15:1–12, 17–18     Luke 13:31–35 The sun was broiling, baking the asphalt of the narrow road through endless miles of jungle.   Before the tire blew out, we had driven for at least an hour without seeing a town or garage, so chances of getting help were pretty slim.   Martha and I couldn’t sit in the car because the sun was too intense, so we got out to look at the tire and to see if the rental car had a spare and a tire iron and jack.  As I rose out of the car, I was confronted with a dozen men dressed in rags stepping silently out of the forest and quickly surrounding the car.   We stopped and stared at each other – native Mexicans from the wilds of the Yucatan, and two stranded, privileged American tourists.   Could we trust them?  We were completely [...]

By | 2016-10-21T21:38:49+00:00 February 24th, 2016|February 2016|Comments Off on Trust in the Promise

All Gifts Matter

All Gifts Welcome  I Corinthians 12:1-11      John 2:1-12   Rev. Rusty Eidmann-Hicks In his book, Community: the Structure of Belonging, Peter Block writes: “If we care about transformation, then we will stay focused on gifts, to such an extent that our work becomes to simply bring the gifts of those on the margin into the center.” Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that each gift of those in the community of faith – especially those on the margins - has value.   The various talents and callings of its diverse members contribute to the health of the common good.   We differ – and what we have to offer is unique – but working together we make one body, one whole.   In Paul’s day the Corinthian community in Greece was amazingly varied, since the Roman Empire drew upon people from its widest reaches.   Travel was easy and safe because of its roads, and [...]

By | 2016-10-21T21:38:49+00:00 January 19th, 2016|Sermon - January 2016|Comments Off on All Gifts Matter

Beloved

Beloved    Isaiah 43:1–7       Luke 3:15-17, 21-22                                                  Russell Eidmann-Hicks Thomas Merton’s famous revelation in downtown Louisville is described this way in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being human, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition [...]

By | 2016-10-21T21:38:49+00:00 January 19th, 2016|Sermon - January 2016|Comments Off on Beloved

Waiting for a Savior

Micah 5:2-5a    Luke 1:39-56                                                             Russell Eidmann-Hicks Two little brothers were fighting over who got the first pancake one morning. Their mother pulled them apart and said, “You are brothers; you should be like Jesus who would say, ‘Brother, you take the first pancake. I can wait.’ The older brother said to the younger, “You be Jesus first!” Waiting, watching, can be trying; we’d rather get what we want now – first – without having to wait. Henri Nouwen, in his book A Spirituality of Waiting: Being Alert to the Lord’s Presence in Our Lives, writes that “Elizabeth and Mary came together and enabled each other to wait. These two women created space for each other to wait. They affirmed for each other that something was happening that was worth waiting for ... It is one of the Bible’s most beautiful expressions of what it means to form community, to be together, [...]

By | 2016-10-21T21:38:49+00:00 December 22nd, 2015|Sermon - December 2015|Comments Off on Waiting for a Savior

Guide our Feet into the Way of Peace

  Philippians 4:4-7     Luke 3:7-18 So here we are in Advent, hearing again from John the Baptist – the holy prophet with flying beard and knotted hair down to his waist, wrapped in animal skins – yelling 'Turn your life around!'  He cries to the scribes and religious leaders: you can’t depend on your ancestor Abraham to be saved. Do what God asks of you! Bear the fruit of compassion, justice, and moral action!   To common people he instructs them to share their belongings, to be honest in their dealings, not to cheat, or rob, or do violence to their neighbors.   He warns that Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff, with the wheat going to the granary and the chaff into unquenchable fire.   We assume that means different people. But remember that wheat and chaff come from one stalk – and so he is saying that Jesus calls us [...]

By | 2016-10-21T21:38:49+00:00 December 8th, 2015|Sermon - December 2015|Comments Off on Guide our Feet into the Way of Peace

Colonial Story: Penelope Stout 1622-1732

Penelope Van Princis Stout    1622-1732   Colonial Worship Service November 22, 2015 The storm that shipwrecked us in 1643 seemed like a wicked demon, pushing our vessel sideways, like a leaf blown across a pond. Waves and wind drove us onto sand at Sandy Hook, leaving the boat to be smashed by enormous rolling surf, until timbers gave way, the masts snapped, and our sails were torn to tatters. As many of us as were able slid over the side to wade into the waters, clutching what little we could carry. My husband was sickly and pale after weeks aboard ship. By the end of the night, after being soaked and knocked about by the waves, he could do little but crawl across the sand into a patch of woods. Other survivors, the captain and crew and merchant-men promised to return for us from New Amsterdam, once they arrived, [...]

By | 2016-10-21T21:38:49+00:00 December 2nd, 2015|Sermon - November 2015|Comments Off on Colonial Story: Penelope Stout 1622-1732