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  • Transformation in Whoville | Anne Robertson
    town to make them as miserable as he is and he cheers himself with the thought of their crying and wailing on Christmas morning To accomplish his ends the Grinch sneaks into town dressed as Santa Claus and steals everything associated with Christmas He takes the presents the Christmas trees the decorations the flowers the food for Christmas dinner and the logs for their Yuletide fires Then he hauls the whole lot up to the top of a high mountain to dump it But just before the Grinch goes to dump the sleigh off the mountain he stops to listen He won t be satisfied until he actually hears the sobs and cries of a town in misery the signal that he has destroyed Christmas the sign that the happiness of Whoville is under his control But to his bewilderment that s not what he hears Instead of wailing and crying the Grinch hears the sounds of joy as Christmas carols rise into the air proclaiming the arrival of Christmas He hadn t stopped Christmas from coming it came Somehow or other it came just the same This is the thing that transforms the Grinch He was not transformed by the love of friends nobody even knew he was there He was not changed by discovering that he was headed for a miserable end he was quite pleased with what he had done The Grinch was transformed by an encounter with something bigger than himself something that could not be manipulated by human contrivance Christmas was associated with a lot of trimmings but Christmas itself was higher and deeper and more mysterious than all of that And the Grinch s heart the one that had been too small for anything but himself grew that day to encompass the world There s only one other Christmas classic I know of that sends that message It begins And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed And all went to be taxed every one into his own city And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judaea unto the city of David which is called Bethlehem because he was of the house and lineage of David to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife being great with child The first century also thought it could steal Christmas The religious system was too corrupt for Jesus to come there Joseph wanted to disown Mary and a child that was not his After he accepted responsibility for the child there were still problems The Messiah needed to be born in Bethlehem and the parents lived 80 miles away When they got there there was no room to stay and the parents were too poor to bribe someone Once the baby was born an attempt was made to have him slaughtered But they couldn t stop Christmas from coming it came Somehow or other

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/transformation-in-whoville (2016-02-16)
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  • Ups and Downs (Apostles' Creed, Pt. 6) | Anne Robertson
    like Jesus did on Friday and on Sunday morning be out and about looking like a gardener doing his day s work whether he had actually died or not The Creed asserts that Jesus was actually dead and buried and that he actually arose from the dead If you add in the line about Jesus descending to the dead these sentences move Jesus all over the map he is lifted up on the Cross he is down in the grave he descends to the dead he rises from the dead he ascends into heaven where finally he gets to sit down Up and down down and up Jesus is on the move Of course the Creed was written to set out the doctrine of the Church From that point of view these sentences are merely telling us what the Church believes happened to Jesus But as I want to ask of all of these doctrines so what What practical difference does believing about all these ups and downs make How does believing in Jesus death resurrection and ascension make my life any different than someone who doesn t One of the critical moves that St Paul makes in his New Testament writings is in making the claim that the life of Jesus is tied to our lives Not only did he in some way take our sins upon himself when he died but his resurrection and ascension are also about our resurrection and ascension Paul says over and over that if Jesus wasn t raised from the dead then we can t expect to be either and he goes as far as to call Jesus the new Adam Jesus replaces Adam as the model for our life and death Where Adam modeled sin Jesus modeled perfection Where Adam was given the curse of death Jesus is given the gift of life Where Adam is cast out of Paradise Jesus is welcomed back in So just on a purely psychological level believing the things stated about Jesus in the Creed make for a much sunnier outlook on life My sin is perhaps not inevitable With God s help I can live as Jesus taught There s a purpose to my day I can be a better person today than I was yesterday But most importantly of all I do not have to be afraid of death I don t have to be afraid of my loved ones dying and I don t have to be afraid of my own death And that is no small advantage This picture of Jesus dying and rising and ascending into heaven is a guidebook of sorts for us It tells us what happened to Jesus so that we can know what to expect when we die For some of you thoughts about dying might be very far away For others of you it may be much too close for comfort But for all of us there will come a day whether it is tomorrow or

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/ups-and-downs (2016-02-16)
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  • Who's In Charge? | Anne Robertson
    almost incomprehensible mess of the faith I truly believe that if God were to send us a video of how God planned for the church to work we would barely be able to recognize it as church But for all its flaws and failures I still believe the Christian proclamation is true If you believe that God is an impersonal force I can understand why you might think that But I think you re wrong More than that my belief that God is revealed in Jesus has been so rewarding and fulfilling that I am going to try to convince you to change your mind If I try to force you to see things my way I have fallen into sin because the King I serve honors free will but to keep the good news to myself would be like eating a great feast in secret while all those around me have bread and water If the God who is in charge is like Jesus that means some very definite things and some very wonderful things It means God loves us and wants to be in intimate personal relationship with us It means that God cares more about the spirit of the law than about the letter of the law It means that God is compassionate and courageous slow to anger and quick to forgive It also means that God really gets riled up when religious people lead others astray when greed finds its way into houses of worship and when the rich are given preference over the poor If Christ is King that means children are valued servants become leaders and even the worst of sinners are welcome at the table It matters who is in charge The passage from Luke this morning sets out how it all works The words are a prophecy spoken by Zechariah who was the father of John the Baptist Zechariah had been mute for nine months since the time that an angel appeared to him as he served as a priest in the temple The angel told him that his barren wife would have a child He questioned the angel and Zechariah was made mute until the time of the birth His first words after the birth were to name the child John as the angel had commanded His next words were the words of this prophecy The prophecy does two things First it puts Jesus squarely connected to God s promises in the Hebrew Scriptures Jesus is not cancelling out the Old Testament but is rather fulfilling promises that God made there God promised a Savior and now God is delivering on the promise When the Savior delivers us from the hands of our enemies it says in verse 74 75 then we will be able to serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness What Jesus will accomplish says this prophecy is that we will be able to worship God better That is in fact what happened Jesus enabled us to

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/whos-in-charge (2016-02-16)
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  • John | Anne Robertson
    Why Be Good Psalms Become Thanksgiving Lamentations Where is the Hope Ezekiel Can These Bones Live The Repentance of Believers Where Are The Shepherds Jonah A Big Fish Story Apostles Creed Sermons Matthew Booking Passage By Their Fruit Don t Go Back the Way You Came Epiphany Get Out of the Boat Guard Your Heart Is God Fair Jesus The Son Mount of Olives Sealed in the Tomb Temptations The Canaanite Woman Mark Blind Bartimaeus Clearing the Temple Eating With Sinners I Believe The Living Christ Whatever It Takes Luke Conceived By the Spirit Counting the Cost Going Out of Your Mind Mother of God Mt of Transfiguration Revealed Rock Concert The Duty of Constant Communion The Shepherd Channel The Shepherd Channel Transformation in Whoville Ups and Downs Who s In Charge John Immigration This Must Be the Place Wade in the Water Water Into Wine Lazarus Come Out Stay in the Machine Where are the Shepherds While It Was Still Dark Acts God s Cleansing Love Holy Spirit Sharing the Load Singing In Prison Romans Apart From the Law Maker of Heaven and Earth Tower of Love Who s the Judge 1 Corinthians Here I Stand Resurrection of the

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/john (2016-02-16)
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  • Immigration | Anne Robertson
    our own Ivana and the boys are part of every holiday in our family And so in these past few weeks as debates and demonstrations about illegal immigration surged I had at least some point of connection And I am talking about it this morning because I have heard things that give me cause for concern Citizenship is a political construct and not a moral category and while we all hope that there is at least some overlap between what is legal and what is moral history has shown that such is not always the case Milos and Ivana were in this country illegally and we gave them shelter Was that a sin either on their part or on ours Maybe I don t know But I do know that God has never nudged me to ask forgiveness for it and every one of us standing on the train platform that October night felt that we were making the world a better place I also know that we are becoming overwhelmed by the influx We have very real security concerns with smuggling terrorism and gangs waltzing too easily across our borders and all solutions have a large economic cost I know there are real problems and I m not here to advocate for a particular political solution But in the past few weeks I have begun to hear a shift in the language surrounding the debate away from policy and toward both racism and hatred If we don t nip that in the bud we are headed toward the same kinds of race riots across this country that so harmed the soul of our country during the Civil Rights movement Unlike citizenship racism and hatred ARE moral categories and those responses are forbidden to those who take on the name of Christ As you are learning from doing the Daily Walk Bible readings the Bible is full of comings and goings migrations and conquests Throughout the Law of Moses there is the refrain for Israel to remember their own roots as slaves in Egypt and to have compassion on what the Bible calls the alien living in your towns A concern for the racial purity of the Jews comes up in several places as well as the condemnation of certain nations but then sitting in the midst of it is the book of Ruth Ruth is from the condemned country of Moab and she follows her widowed mother in law to Israel Remembering the command to care for both the alien and the poor the Israelite Boaz instructs his farm workers to be inefficient in their harvest so that Ruth can walk behind and glean what they have left and so provide for herself and her family Long story short this illegal immigrant from a nation God has already condemned ends up marrying Boaz and thereby becoming part of the genealogy of Jesus And then in the New Testament there are the Samaritans By Jesus day the Jews and the

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/immigration-sermon (2016-02-16)
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  • This Must Be the Place | Anne Robertson
    pretty much knew each other So Jesus laid the burden on the accountability of the group He said All right the person out there without any sin you start it And just as in any community church people looked around and some might have thought of picking up a stone but they thought There s So and so They know what I did last week They re going to say something if I pick up a stone And all the way around people left starting with the elders because they were the ones who had the right to throw first And as the elders left soon everybody left because somewhere along the line everybody had done something that they should have been stoned for doing and they knew it Then Jesus the only one who s righteous is left with the woman He doesn t condone what she s done He recognizes it as sin But he doesn t condemn No I don t condemn you either Just go and don t sin again We have two pictures of the church what the church can often be like when we insist on just going by the book we re the righteous ones and we re supposed to ferret out the sinners and deal with it and then the picture of what Jesus presented that the church should be like accountable ness but in love recognizing that we are all sinners saved by the grace of God One of my favorite quotes says The church is a hospital for sinners not a hotel for saints We forget that Let s face it the church over time has a crummy history We call ourselves the body of Christ which means we are supposed to be Christ for others We are the physical representation of Christ in the world now that Christ has ascended to God We re it We re supposed to be acting out toward others in the way that Christ acted Instead so often we re those scribes and pharisees Sometimes it s really blatant atrocities the inquisition crusades sometimes we re more complicit like in the holocaust or sometimes we have our little individual atrocities in individual congregations and churches I ll bet if I asked how many of you know someone who now will not go to church because they were once harmed and judged and hurt within the body of Christ almost every one of you could raise your hand And I could probably raise enough hands for the people who didn t So many people The church has been its own worst enemy over time Often the reason people do not come into the church is because of their experiences with the church not because they don t know Sometimes it s because they do know We need to hear the message of John 8 I often hear people struggle with the notion of behaving like Jesus did with the woman caught in adultery saying But

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/this-must-be-the-place (2016-02-16)
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  • Wade in the Water | Anne Robertson
    you read the Gospel of Mark and understand the words you have pretty much understood the point of the Gospel When you read through the Gospel of John and understand the story you have only the faintest glimmer of what John is trying to say John is deep philosophical and many layered Chapter 5 tells us the story of the pool of water that heals people The waters become troubled because the pool is fed by an underground spring that every now and again bubbles up to the surface In the desert climate of the middle east this type of water is known as living water It is water that moves water that comes from a spring and is renewed Springs rivers and streams are living water Well guess what chapter 4 of John is the story of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at the well the story where he talks about water and being thirsty and where he describes himself as the source of all living water So when you get to chapter five and the man by the pool you have at least two levels On one level you can say that our theme has nothing to do with the story The man never goes near a drop of water and is healed by Jesus instead But on a second level he does indeed go in the water He is immersed in the living water that Jesus has to offer and as that water washes over him he is healed Either way you look at it we have a spectacular healing miracle in John That sort of atmosphere is what Naaman was looking for in the story from 2 Kings that we read He has heard that there is an amazing prophet in Israel who can perform healings If you read the story of Elisha you ll see that it s true Elisha performs all sorts of miracles including raising the dead Naaman feels like he s pretty important and is ready to be a part of one of these great scenes Here too he discovers that he is supposed to get in the water But in this story it is not a legendary miracle pool it is the shallow muddy Jordan River and Naaman almost decides to remain a leper rather than be healed in such an inglorious fashion These two stories together show us what wading in the water is about When we actually get our feet wet in the waters of Christian life it could mean anything It might be an exciting step into a miracle pool It might be an ordinary step into a stream we consider a bit polluted It might be a spiritual step into the waters of Jesus himself But in all of it we are called to wade in the water To just do it To get our feet wet in the service of God What that means for each one of us as individuals varies but I can

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/wade-in-the-water (2016-02-16)
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  • Water Into Wine | Anne Robertson
    John is to start out with the assumption that the message John wants to convey is below the surface and the details of the story are just a means to that end So let s go to the story with that in mind Let s assume that this is not primarily a story about a wedding about drinking or about who scurried around to do what for whom It s in John so it must be something more than that The first thing to notice is that John does not call it a miracle In fact John does not call anything a miracle in his Gospel Instead John calls them signs He records seven signs in his Gospel and changing the water into wine is the first We can assume that all that is intentional This was a sign for people something that would inform people about what they might expect from this Nazarene something that would point them toward a deeper meaning None of the other Gospel writers saw the miracle at Cana as something worth recording They were much more impressed with the healings and exorcisms But John remembered Cana John saw in the miracle at Cana a sign that served to define the very purpose for which Christ had come into the world The servants at the wedding saw water turned into the finest wine John saw a man who in this first sign declared himself as an agent of transformation Remember it is only in the Gospel of John that Jesus is recorded as saying I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly This statement I believe is what the miracle at Cana is all about Water the basic necessity of life is changed into wine the symbol not just of life but of abundant joyous and celebrative life If you go into this thinking wine is evil you miss the boat completely Wine in Scripture is a symbol of joy and warmth and celebration and abundance In changing the water into wine and allowing the wedding celebration to continue Jesus is clueing people in on his mission Jesus has come to transform the world We often think of transformation in terms of opposites We think of the ugly turned beautiful as in Beauty and the Beast or the kind Dr Jekyll transformed into the cruel Mr Hyde Or we think of change to something unrecognizable like the caterpillar transformed into a winged butterfly or the transformer toys where a boat becomes a robot And it is true that God can and does transform people in those ways God does take mean ugly lives and transforms them into beautiful angels of mercy God does take us when we are crawling along on our bellies and gives us wings to fly God does take us when we are broken and make us whole But there is another type of transformation that is modeled at Cana At Cana the object of transformation is

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/water-into-wine (2016-02-16)
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