September 11, 2011

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 Hebrews 10:19-25 This morning’s “Gems of Encouragement” theme comes from the Christian Education Committee, with special thanks to Mary Jane Hanson for the idea and for taking care of many of the details. The committee decided that a focus on the spiritual gift of “encouragement” would be a wonderful way to start another educational year, as well as a good way to build up supportive relationships between the people in our church community. But when we first talked about doing this encouragement theme in September, I didn’t realize how many things would be coming together on this day. We are beginning a new year in the Church School, and we have a number of new teachers coming on board. We are ordaining three new elders who will join our session and serve in the leadership of our church. And we are announcing that we have hired a Pastoral Care Nurse for the congregation for the very first time. And simultaneous with all of these joyful and exciting beginnings, we are aware of the fact that today is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. In so many ways, “encouragement” seems like the right thing for us to be doing today. And so, setting aside the lectionary readings for today, I selected the passage from the book of Hebrews that Logan read for us this morning. I thought that the final verses (24-25) – originally written (or perhaps preached) to one of the … Read more »

November 18, 2012

1 Samuel 1:4-20 Hebrews 10:11-25 There are people like Hannah among us today, and in our families and communities… not just women and couples who struggle with infertility, but men and women and young people who experience the kind of anguish and despair that Hannah shows to us in her story. The particular struggles are myriad… grief, illness, loneliness, depression, problems at work, problems in family relationships, conflict between friends, or a general lack of meaning and purpose in life or in the sense of being valued and loved. What a sad way to start a sermon! But it’s true, isn’t it? Most of us can relate to Hannah’s outburst in the place of worship because we have felt like that at times too. Some of us will have kept the public weeping to a minimum, but we can understand how she got to that point. She just couldn’t take any more of the other wife’s taunts. She just couldn’t handle any more of her husband’s sympathy. She just couldn’t hold on anymore to all the anger and sadness and resentment that she had been carrying for so long. And she let go of it by talking to God about it. Now, it wasn’t a nice little prayer that she offered up to God with a measured amount of praise and thanks and a polite request for some help in the baby-making department. It wasn’t a carefully prepared request like the prayers we often offer together in our public worship. … Read more »