Sermons
THE SPIRITUALITY OF A YOUNG MOTHER BETH DONAHEY When Pastor Glenn asked me to to speak today on the spirituality of being a mother, I was reminded of God’s timely sense of humor. That particular Friday was the end of a particularly rough week of parenting, with most days resulting in both my 2 year old son and I on the floor crying. Spiritual was the last word I would have used to describe motherhood.   When I was younger, I thought that motherhood was something that just came naturally - when a woman became a mom, she would gain these insights and instincts, knowing exactly what to do and when to do it. My own mother’s actions didn’t support my theory, however, and I grew up determined to prove to myself I was not like her. I would be a better mom than she was. I don’t recommend this…
Luke 24:13-35 Into My Heart April 30, 2017               Maple Grove UMC   Into my heart, into my heart, Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today, come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.             Today's gospel reading is about a journey. It’s presented as a journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  But hard as they’ve tried, scholars have never identified a place called ‘Emmaus.’  Which means, I think, that Luke is not reporting a literal journey, but a spiritual journey.  The journey to Emmaus is a journey from the head to the heart.                   There’s a difference between hearing about the resurrection and experiencing it, a great difference between knowing about the resurrection and being changed by it. Before Jesus came and walked with them, the two disciples had already heard all about the resurrection.  The women had told them about angels who said Jesus was…
Matthew 28:1-10 Fear Not! April 16, 2017     Easter Sunday     Maple Grove UMC             Here are some words from today’s Gospel reading that you might not expect to be part of the Easter story:  Don’t be afraid.  I mean, if ever there was a time when you shouldn’t have to tell people not to be afraid, you’d think Easter morning would be that time.  But here’s the angel telling them, “Don’t be afraid.”  And five verses later, the risen Jesus himself appears to them, and he has to say it again: “Don’t be afraid.”            What does it mean that even an angel of good news, that even the risen Christ himself, have to tell people not to be afraid? Surely it says something about the depth, the persistence of fear in our lives.  Over the past several weeks at Maple Grove, we’ve been studying and pondering how to overcome…
Matthew 26:36-46 Praying Through Fear April 14, 2017      Good Friday         Maple Grove UMC             I grew up in a church where the big stained glass window was ofure of Jesus praying in Gethsemane.  His body was gray, his face had an anguished expression, and to my child’s eyes it always appeared that a sharp rock was poking him in the side as he prayed.  You’d think I’d have grown accustomed to this Bible story.  But I have not.  It’s a shock every time I hear about Jesus in Gethsemane—about Jesus throwing himself on the ground, about him repeatedly pleading with God to avoid the cup of death, about his friends not being able to stay awake with him even one hour, how Matthew says that Jesus was grieved, even unto death.  It’s still a shock to me.  It’s kind of like seeing your parents being afraid for the first…
John 12:12-15 / Psalm 46 / Psalm 27 When Afraid, Hold on to God April 9, 2017     Maple Grove UMC   Here's what that first Palm Sunday was: a crowd of people, banding together to prepare for the week to come.  They didn't know it yet, but Jesus would soon be arrested and put on trial and hung on a cross to die.  They themselves would soon desert and deny him.  And the scripture John shares for Palm Sunday is this, from Zechariah:  Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; See, your king is coming.   Actually, the "do not be afraid" part is not in Zechariah, at least not the version we have today. Perhaps John added that, knowing it's what the disciples needed to hear, given all they were about to go through. And here's what Palm Sunday is today: a crowd of people, banded together to…
1 John 4:16b-21 Love Casts Out Fear April 2, 2017             Maple Grove UMC   Here's how the great preacher William Sloan Coffin put it: "I am sure the Bible is right: the opposite of love,” he said, is not hate but fear."1 And here's how 1 John puts it: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear."  I believe that with all my heart.  That said, I want to acknowledge that there is a relationship between fear and love.  Scott Bader-Saye points out that there is a sense in which love is actually born of fear.  We love something and therefore fear losing it.  And the more we love, the more we have to lose, and therefore the more we are subject to fear.  But this does not mean that fear is love.  Rather, Bader-Saye concludes, "fear is the shadow side of love."2   Fear is…
Matthew 14:22-33 Take Heart March 26, 2017   Maple Grove UMC             This Lenten worship series is called “Fear Not: Overcoming Fear with Faith.” We started with Jesus saying, “Therefore, do not worry about what you’re going to eat or drink or wear . . .” I heard one person summarize that message as “Take deep breaths and don’t watch the news.” That’s a great start to overcoming fear! The next Sunday was about balancing our natural fear of strangers and foreigners with the Bible’s insistence on hospitality and justice. Still to come in this series: 1 John says that perfect love casts out fear. Oh, to love like that! The psalms teach that the opposite of fear is not fearlessness but trust. On Good Friday we’ll watch in Gethsemane as Jesus prays himself through fear. Even the Easter story has the phrase Do not be afraid not once but…
Leviticus 19:33-34 / Deuteronomy 10:17-19 Fear (and Love) of Strangers and Foreigners March 12, 2017             Fred Craddock told this story: He stopped off at the Winn Dixie to get some peanut butter.  He was in a hurry, and those stores are so huge.  So he saw a woman pushing a cart, and he thought, She’s comfortable here. I’ll ask her.  He said, “Um, lady, could you direct me to the peanut butter?”           She jerked around, stared at him, and said, “Are you trying to hit on me?”           He said, “No, ma’am. I’m looking for the peanut butter.”  As he backed away from there, he saw a store employee, so he said, “Where’s the peanut butter?”           “Aisle five, I think, way down on the left.”           He went there, and sure enough—big jars of peanut butter.  As he turned to leave, that woman was there and…
Matthew 6:25-34 Not to Worry March 5, 2017        Maple Grove UMC             “I used to think that the angels in the Bible began their messages with ‘Do not be afraid’ because their appearance was so frightening,” writes Scot Bader-Saye in a book called Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear.  “But I have come to think differently.  I suspect that they begin this way because the quieting of fear is required in order to hear and do what God asks of us.”1                     The quieting of fear is required to hear and do what God asks of us. That idea is at the heart of this Lenten worship series called “Fear Not: Overcoming Fear with Faith.”  Let me be clear:  this is not to say that all fear is bad.  Fear warns us of danger and teaches us much about ourselves.  But there’s a reason why “Fear not” is…
Matthew 5:38-48 Relationships Include . . . Enemies February 19, 2017        Maple Grove UMC             We may have smiled and nodded during the Gospel reading today, but if we’re honest we have to admit that those are some very hard teachings, aren’t they?  Jesus says not to resist anyone who harms you.  Whoa!  He says to love not only your friends, but even your enemies.  Really? These are hard teachings, and people know it.           Just days after the 9/11 attacks, Tony Campolo dared to read in church these words of Jesus about loving enemies and not retaliating.  One listener came to him and declared, “This is no time to go around quoting Jesus.”  “I’ve got news for you,” responded Campolo; “this is exactly the time we had better quote Jesus.”1           These are difficult teachings.  By that I do not mean that I’m telling you, “Hey, these may…
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