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  • There's a Ram in the Bushes | Anne Robertson
    well be dead And so the Church Council gathered and we voted to simply write out a check to the treatment center for 25 000 It was a risky thing to do because that money was already committed to the 2002 budget but as person after person spoke around the table God s direction was clear Don t worry about a deficit budget Give the money Someone else came forward with two plane tickets and an hour after the meeting the family had both check and tickets But what struck me was what happened when I called their house When the phone rang they were in the middle of an argument They had realized that there was no way they were going to come up with 25 000 The family knew that God had led them to the facility in Arizona a faith based program that everyone said was Sarah s best chance at recovery Even national experts on anorexia said the very best place the most holistic place for treatment was Arizona How could they not give her the best chance But then how could they give it to her if they didn t have the money It was like they had Sarah tied down on the table of sacrifice the knife raised above her and tears running down their faces In the midst of their tears and screams and anguish I called to say There s no need to sacrifice your child There s a ram in the bushes Sarah noticed She noticed that at the height of the storm God stepped in to show a way and she said to her mother I have a little of my faith back now As the church we agreed that we would make the sacrifice instead Sarah could have the best shot at a new life that we could give her It will still be largely up to her but we have given her a chance not because we are especially good or righteous but because by virtue of her baptism Sarah is not just the Lepine s child and not just God s child Sarah is our child We have baptisms fairly frequently It doesn t take a long time and we read words out of a book But behind those words stands the power of God that in some way beyond our understanding takes each one of us and makes us family At baptism a child or adult is recognized as part of Christ s church not just the local church here and not just the United Methodist Church In baptism we are part of Christians everywhere one body with Christ And if we take seriously that as Christians we are one body in Christ to let one of us die is to let us all die In a way I think you could say that the Abraham and Isaac story is about baptism in that it is about that kind of commitment God has befriended Abraham and

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/ram-in-bushes (2016-02-16)
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  • The Good Steward | Anne Robertson
    were given freedom to make the choices we felt were best even if God looked on and saw that we couldn t manage our way out of a paper bag God offers abundant help and guidance when it is asked but God valued freedom too much to step in and interfere with our choices even though we might make choices God felt were unwise The point is we were made partners in the work but not owners of the company If we are using the resources we have been given for the work of the firm to our own advantage or worse to the detriment of the company well just check out the news to see the response Check out Enron and Arthur Anderson or check out those who have contributed to the Catholic Church and discovered that their offerings were used to buy the silence of the victims of pedophilia That is a small scale version of what Wesley is trying to talk about The divine economy like the church economy is supposed to use resources for a specific end God s purpose for every last speck of dust in the cosmos is to provide for all of creation to thrive that it might show forth the glory of God We are made partners in that project because we as human beings are made in the image of God and of everything in Creation we are best suited to show God s praise For us to pollute the earth air and water is just as much of a crime as me embezzling this morning s offering or you skimming funds from your job We are stewards not owners of the earth For us to throw away food or eat more than we need while others go hungry is as much a crime in the divine economy as the Boston couple recently charged with starving their baby to death Or here s a more direct way to look at it This comes from the report of our Annual Conference Statistician given a couple of weeks ago at Annual Conference If believers had given 10 of their incomes to their churches in 1999 an additional 133 billion would have flowed into congregational coffers With just 2 5 billion most of the 11 million children under age 5 who die each year would live That is precisely why Wesley shouted so loudly about stewardship that it threatened to flatten London God s intent is that God s partner s in ministry i e human beings distribute God s resources as any has need To allow any of it to pile up while others go without is in the divine economy embezzlement Yes I know that s hitting hard and it is aimed at myself just as much as anybody else I have way more than my share of stuff but it s not just having a lot of stuff that is the problem At the time that Adam Smith was writing the

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/good-steward (2016-02-16)
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  • The Tower of Babel | Anne Robertson
    name for themselves If they had said Let us build a tower to proclaim the glory of God they might well still be in it to this day The tower was built as an act of pride As a church we must never build either a physical structure or any sort of program of ministry in order to make a name for ourselves If we do we will eventually have a large lovely empty church or a large thriving social club The Spirit of God will leave this place when we seek to exalt ourselves We must always do what we do for the glory of God and to serve the mission of spreading the knowledge and love of God made known to us in Jesus The same thing is true in our personal lives If you are building your career or your reputation or your legacy to make a name for yourself it will all be in vain You might end up famous or rich or well thought of by everyone But if your life has only been about you it will not outlast you Even if you manage to garner tons of media coverage at your death like the Anna Nicole Smith circus we have been enduring this past week when our bodies return to dust so will all our accomplishments The World Trade Center was brought to dust in minutes the splendid buildings the wealthy corporations the important people all gone in an instant The only thing that lasts from those lives is the love The rest is not important anymore Why we do in the end matters more than what we do That s the first lesson from this story and we get that truth whether it happened or whether it didn t The writers tell us about a tower that was doomed even before construction began because it was built in order for the people to make a name for themselves The second truth this story brings to us is related to that we are not put here just to get comfortable We have a purpose beyond ourselves we are sent out to the world to each other In one sense the Tower of Babel story is a mirror of the call of Abraham in the next chapter In chapter 12 God calls to Abraham to pack up his family leave his home and travel to an unknown land God s purpose in calling Abraham and his descendants is so that all the families of the earth shall be blessed verse 3 Abraham is sent out of his comfort zone and the intention is for all of his descendants to do likewise to leave home and go out to the world to be a blessing to all nations The people in the Tower of Babel story were settling down They had decided to stay together and make a name for themselves No more nomadic lifestyle They could stay together and build a great city where

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/sermon-babel (2016-02-16)
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  • Exodus | Anne Robertson
    to David The King Repents Kings Job 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

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/exodus (2016-02-16)
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  • Don't Forget the Bones | Anne Robertson
    again He has dug up the bones of Joseph and put them on a cart We are going to the promised land How odd it must have seemed how like a strange dream How exciting how terrifying Suppose there wasn t really a promised land We re headed for the desert how can we possibly cross the desert Who is this Moses Who is this God Is it a trick But there go the bones Maybe there was something to the old story maybe this God has power The plagues have been so strange they have only fallen on the Egyptians Maybe there is a God for the Hebrews could those really be the bones of Joseph They don t look like horse bones Is it possible that God brought us here and is now bringing us home Move it out old man Do you want to be the only slave left in Egypt You wanna make enough bricks for the city all by yourself without straw We re outta here light a fire under it man The cart with the bones rattles by Could it really be that there was a man named Joseph Could the stories about God really be true The bones of Joseph Moses took them along because of a promise made hundreds of years before he was born But in the taking of them Moses provided the people with a concrete way to remember things about themselves They had not always been slaves There was a God who kept promises and made slaves into kings It might be long in coming 400 years even but God was faithful and they were being led by someone who also was faithful faithful to God and faithful to ancient promises Strange things were happening A shining cloud went before them in the day and a pillar of fire by night Could it be trusted Was it the God of the Hebrews leading them to freedom or a god of the Egyptians leading them to destruction The bones of Joseph were a reminder OK Anne point made But so what Glad the Hebrew slaves had some help but what has all of that got to do with me Funny you should ask I was just getting to that We have had a bit of fun with the things around the house that we save Things that remind us of our personal history our families our country our travels And those are important But I want to make a plea here for saving some other things as well things that remind us who we are as people of God things that remind us that God is faithful This is not meant so much to be an inspirational sermon This is meant to be a practical sermon that highlights things you can do to aid your spiritual life And the basic message is don t forget the bones of Joseph in your own lives and don t let the church forget

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/dont-forget-bones (2016-02-16)
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  • Leadership | Anne Robertson
    that since the bookcases were only about 5 ft high it would be easier to see the books if I tilted the shelves up a bit So I had my workers do that And I heard about it from the owner What was I doing making such a change without his approval You would have thought I had decided to make everything in the store 75 off or something I was told I was in charge but no real power or authority had been delegated to me God who can do everything better than we could ever dream of doing it delegates authority real authority for better or for worse We see that in many places in Scripture and I have chosen two very obvious ones The first is the story of Moses and his father in law Jethro Moses is running himself into the ground doing all the work of leading the Israelites himself He was their spiritual leader but he was also their entire government Every single lawsuit got brought to him to settle Every time Nadab forgot to close the gate for Zadok s sheep and one got out they went marching to Moses to sort it out for them Jethro watches the day long parade in astonishment Why on earth is Moses doing all this by himself Jethro s advice to Moses is sound Save yourself for the cases that only you can settle There are a bunch of issues here that anybody with a brain in gear can sort out get some help Let others hear the smaller cases and you just get involved with the most complicated ones So Moses appoints other leaders lots of others and gives them real authority to settle the cases brought to them This frees Moses up to tend to the spiritual life of the people We see the same thing in the passage in Acts We see here the church in its very earliest stages of formation It had been a group of disciples who lived and traveled with Jesus Now Jesus was physically gone from their midst and the focus was on spreading the Good News of his resurrection and the coming of the Kingdom of God That meant organization There was a task to complete a mission to fulfill and the disciples were trying to sort out the best way to get it accomplished As the organization grew there were more things that needed tending including the care of the new converts They could hardly represent Christ if they were neglecting the poor and the widows and orphans But the twelve disciples were trying to do it all themselves and the job was too big Before long they found that their whole purpose and mission was being undermined They were so busy caring for the people who had already been converted that they were no longer fulfilling Jesus direct command to them to go and make disciples of all nations There was no time left to

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/leadership (2016-02-16)
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  • Mt. Sinai | Anne Robertson
    asked to give up your life in order to begin living the life that God has for you Moses learned this at the burning bush and the Hebrew people learned it shortly thereafter Their first real encounter with God was as a liberator God worked through Moses to free them from 400 years of slavery and they rejoiced But God was not through with them yet They still had to come to the mountain The Hebrews were at the base of the mountain for two days preparing for something special it seemed And then on the third day it got dark Moses would later record it this way On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning with a thick cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast Everyone in the camp trembled Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God and they stood at the foot of the mountain Mt Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace the whole mountain trembled violently and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him The answer God gave was the Ten Commandments The pyrotechnics at Mt Sinai were appropriate It was a dangerous thing for Israel to go near the mountain Moses could approach safely now because he had already lost his life back at the burning bush But Israel had not yet made the dangerous leap They had not yet decided to wipe out the life they had been used to and to take up with this strange new God Yes they had seen some mighty miracles along the way but that had nothing to do with their choices God had just helped them and bailed them out because God always works for justice and for liberation But now they were free and once they were free they had a choice to make a dangerous choice a choice that would cost them their lives as they knew them God presented the choice on the mountain Many times we forget that the Ten Commandments aren t just rules given in a vacuum What God is offering on Mt Sinai are the terms of a relationship It s an offer of covenant God makes the offer I will be your God and you will be my people I will help you and care for you and make you a blessing to all nations In return I want you to keep these laws I have given you and to live in a way that is not like all the other nations When God stops speaking it is not over The people have yet to decide Will they accept the offer and the laws of God or will they choose to go another way and try to make it without God s help The rest of the

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/mt-sinai (2016-02-16)
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  • Passover | Anne Robertson
    God or the wrath of human beings he wisely chooses the wrath of God as the more merciful A lot of people have trouble with the wrath of God but would you really be comfortable with a God who looked at us and just said Oh look they ve been slaves for 400 years beaten oppressed not even treated like human beings at all isn t that too bad Hope they can sort it all out When someone drags a man behind his truck because of the color of his skin and then curses the man s family in court I want a God who is spitting mad about that I want a God who will forgive when someone recognizes the wrong they have done but I also want a God who will do whatever it takes to free me from my abusers if they refuse to let me go The night of Passover combined with the night of the Last Supper shows us exactly those two sides of God At Passover all of Egypt pays for the sin of Pharoah who they worshipped as a god and for their own complicity in 400 years of slavery The children are taken without pain to be with a merciful God and the parents are left to realize that sin is costly On Israel s part as they tremble inside their homes they recognize the incredible power of their God As they obey the command to prepare the Passover meal they realize even the practical nature of God s providence They are to eat meat a whole lamb for every family and they are not to leave a bit of it until morning Slaves did not eat meat often but they would need strength for the journey ahead The bread was to be unleavened there would not be time to let it rise This was the first fast food eat and run On this Passover night Israel learned that God demands justice and if the demands are not met God exacts justice God is extremely patient but God is not a pushover Then as the disciples remembered that God of justice at a Passover meal 1200 years later Jesus shows that God is ready to free the people once again The old tyrant was Egypt but that was child s play for God The greater tyrant the one that held even Pharoah in its icy hands was death This passover night Jesus would be both the firstborn of Egypt and the lamb of the Israelites This freedom was for everybody Jesus the perfect lamb Jesus the firstborn child who dies because of the sins of others Jesus the new Moses in obedience to God leads both Israel and Egypt out of bondage Jew and Gentile alike can be free from death Now there s a key word in that phrase Jew and Gentile alike CAN be free from death It is not automatic That is one important way that we as Methodists

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/sermon-passover (2016-02-16)
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