God’s Compassion and Comfort: 2 Corinthians 1.1–11

compassionofgodDelivered at Ames UCC
on May 22, 2016
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are written to be
heard rather than read. Listen
Please join us for worship
at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.

There’s a pastor in Harlem named Michael Walrond. I first met him in seminary when he did a fireside chat about his church. Rev. Walrond had served as chaplain at Duke Divinity School, I think, but was called to bring First Corinthian Baptist Church back to life.

And he has. They have gone from a couple of hundred parishioners rattling around in a huge multi-floored sanctuary to multiple Sunday services with lines literally around the block.

I went into seminary with the death knoll of mainstream Protestantism ringing in my head, so I was eager to learn how Rev. Walrond had transformed that bell into peals of joy.

His message was simple: Take your people to seminary.
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What Are We Doing Here? Acts 2.1–4 and 1 Corinthians 12.1–13

Delivered at Ames UCC on May 15, 2016
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are written to be heard rather than read.
Please join us for worship at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays

What in the world are we doing here? Why do you sit politely in those pews, as people direct you on when to sit, stand, and speak? Why do you literally let this institution put words in your mouth? What good is it doing any of us to participate in this ritual of Sunday Christian worship?

I ask myself those questions all of the time. All of the time I wonder how this—greetings, announcements, passing the peace, call to worship, hymn, prayers of confession and assurance, children’s celebration, scripture, sermon, hymn, Communion, prayers of the people, mission moment, offering, more prayers, another hymn, and benediction—how all of this came to be the primary corporate response to the stories of Moses and Hannah and Jesus and the Marys.

There is nothing in the Bible about pipe organs or stained glass, when to stand or when to shake hands. Yes, there is plenty of instruction about how to worship in a temple in Jerusalem that will never be built again. And the psalms give us more general instruction about joy and harps and horns and song.

But Jesus? Jesus told us to tear down institutions that exist only for their own sake, to pray privately, and to give away all that we have in order to be in utter service to God through service for others.
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Housing in Ames

Published May 7 in the Ames Tribune

I never expected so much of my adult life to be spent thinking about and developing housing. I have never experienced homelessness or had to live in treacherous conditions, as at the Crestview Mobile Park. After leaving my parents’ homes at 17, I was able to keep myself in student housing or clean apartments.

Just as I was about to turn 30, though, I moved back in with my father. I had taken out far too many student loans (particularly for my majors of English and Sociology) and racked up a lot of credit card debt, with 27 percent interest. I had no job and no savings, just a car and a generous parent. Thanks to him, I was able to stay housed and fed. And thanks to the Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota’s Financial Counseling, I was able to negotiate a reduced interest rate and five year payment plan with my credit card company. The notion of a safety net felt like far more than a metaphor in those days.
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