All Times Alleluia: Jeremiah 29.1, 4–14

2017.11.19 alleluia
Delivered at Ames UCC
on November 19, 2017

©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

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

Holding hands and having small group conversations in worship, spontaneous baptisms: I know the last few weeks at church have been a little different, but seeing Easter banners up in November may feel like the last straw. When will the liturgical heterodoxy end??

Today is the last Sunday of Ordinary Time.  It is known as Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday. The idea is that before we begin the four weeks of preparation for Jesus’ birth and resurrection—Advent—we remind ourselves of the outcome of that birth and resurrection: the eternal presence of Jesus Christ in our lives and this world. The good news that justice and righteousness cannot be killed is always cause to ring out alleluias and proclaim “He Is Risen” as loudly as on Easter morn.

But our scripture today has no mention of Jesus. Instead, it is all about God and Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was a prophet of God in the Hebrew kingdom of Judah through the fall of that nation and God’s temple, to the Babylonians, about 600 years before Christ.

For forty years Jeremiah warned his people that their failure to live in covenant, that their ingratitude to God and their material greed, would be their downfall. Because they did not bind themselves to each other in mutual love, they would be torn apart by colonial power.

Jeremiah’s is a long book. It is hard to read because of graphic violence and consuming anger. It is hard to read because God does not prevent the downfall of God’s own people, but leaves those people to suffer the consequences of empty rituals, shallow prayers, and passive faith.

The powerful and affluent of the nation are deported to further reaches of the empire. The poor and the powerless are left in place, under the control of the empire. The End.

In Jeremiah there is no redemption, there is no reunion. The promised land is lost, along with a great deal of life.

God does not cut off relations, though.

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When Jesus Becomes Christ: Mark 2.1–22

when jesus becomes christ(1)Delivered at Ames UCC on
January 10, 2016
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are written to be heard rather than read.
(Listen to this one
Please join us for worship at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays.

I once knew a man named Wilbur Held. He just died last year after one hundred years of life. Wilbur was many things, including a world class organist, composer, and arranger of organ music. It is safe to say that thousands of churches are hearing one of his tunes today.

Well, after hearing me preach for a few months Wilbur gave me a call. Wilbur said he didn’t want to be one of “those congregants,” meaning complainers, so I could ignore him completely, but something was eating at him. When a 98-year-old says something is eating at him, I listen. Continue reading

Listen to Your Elders but Live by the Scandal of the Christ: 1 Kings 12.1–17

scandalDelivered at Ames UCC on November 1, 2015
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are written to be heard rather than read.
Please join us for worship at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays.

I really want to talk about Jesus today. I keep a note on my fridge at home that reads, “Scandalous birth, life, community, death, spirit, resurrection, and coming of Jesus.” It’s a snippet of a lecture by The Rev. Dr. Dow Edgerton, a son of Iowa and one of the UCC’s best preachers. Dow wanted us to always remember that, despite how sanitized and commercialized and colonized our Christian story has become, it is at its core a scandal.

The stateless whelp in a barn? We say he is ours.

The guy who ate with Philistines and foreigners? Oh, yeah, we want to be with him.

The one who endured a filthy, bloody, slow death intended by the state to humiliate? Our most precious love.
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