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  • A Big Fish Story | Anne Robertson
    way of showing truth than something factual because you can exaggerate the point so that people will understand Jesus told such stories all the time We call them parables He wasn t trying to relate history in those parables he was trying to show people the nature of God in a way that would engage people s minds and imaginations Which is exactly what the book of Jonah does What child s imagination hasn t been caught by a grown man being swallowed by a giant fish And in that moment of bright imagination adults find they have an opportunity to teach about God Why did a fish swallow a man What happened next Did he learn his lesson Was God mad So with all of that in mind what is the religious truth that we learn from Jonah I think we learn the immeasurable patience of God The story starts out with God s patience with the town of Nineveh We are told it is a wicked town and God wants to send Jonah to set them straight God doesn t have to do that God could simply flatten the town that s God s prerogative But no God wants to give them another chance and calls for Jonah Jonah s response is blatant disobedience God says Go to Nineveh Not only does Jonah refuse to go he gets on a boat and sets sail in the exact opposite direction Now if Jonah had been working for me he would have found himself on the unemployment line But God is patient God isn t a doormat Jonah is well aware that God is not pleased and has three rather miserable days to think about it but God is still with Jonah and still wants him to do the job Being in the belly of a whale and then the rather nasty exit from the belly of the whale may have been unpleasant but Jonah expected to die when he told his shipmates to throw him overboard The whale is yet another sign of God s patience and desire to save God calls Jonah again Jonah go to Nineveh This is so true God does not give up on us no matter how obstinate we are God calls If we run away God brings us back then calls again And again And again until we either respond or die in our obstinance God won t force us to go but God won t quit calling us either God is always willing to forget the thousand times we have said No and rejoice in the one time we say Yes This time Jonah decides he would be smart to get up and go But his heart is not in it Jonah hates the people of Nineveh He doesn t really have a change of heart he just doesn t want to see what God might do with him next if he refused He goes and preaches to the people hoping the

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/big-fish-story (2016-02-16)
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  • Apostles' Creed Sermon Series | Anne Robertson
    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 Body The More Excellent Way What s It All About Ephesians Holy Catholic Church Philippians Christ the King 1 John Courage Forgiveness of Sins The Catholic Spirit Hebrews Other Alden Bradford Oration On Pests Blog Posts Lost in Ashes Yard Work As Viewed From Heaven In the Pit Re membering Faith Shoveling Piles of White Stuff The Responsibility of Freedom Good Times Decision Time Be the Boss of You Because He Died more Home Apostles Creed Sermon Series Tue 09 17 2013 19 13 annerobertson2 Sermons on the Apostles Creed The following sermons comprise a series on The Apostles Creed that I preached at St John s United Methodist Church in Dover NH in 2004 You can read about the origins and history of the creed here Below is the

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/apostles-creed-sermons (2016-02-16)
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  • Matthew | Anne Robertson
    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 Body The More Excellent Way What s It All About Ephesians Holy

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/matthew (2016-02-16)
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  • Booking Passage | Anne Robertson
    the boat with Jesus In their case also a storm comes up and the disciples fear for their lives And they re pretty ticked off at Jesus who is napping through the whole thing When they wake Jesus up and insist that he do something about their plight he chides them for having no faith If Jesus is in the boat with them they are within the will of God and no storm can beat them With just a word from Jesus all is still and all are safe The biblical stories make plain that just the fact of being on a ship is not a guarantee of anything What makes the difference in the success of the voyage is the degree to which the destination is in line with God s will It doesn t matter how well the ship is constructed or whether the same commanding officer is in charge from start to finish There was once a ship that claimed it was stronger than the power of the sea and that set out to go where it pleased for the pleasure of its passengers It was named the Titanic There was another ship that never claimed to be invincible Most of us would not sail any great distance with it today It charted a course that required as much faith as skill to a destination that was full of hope and promise but unknown and unseen It sailed not for pleasure but for a purpose that its 102 passengers believed was in line with the will of God That ship was named the Mayflower It wasn t easy for the Mayflower to get started on its journey to the New World Twice it set sail and had to turn back to port Finally after a month of delays she pulled up her anchor and headed for the open seas It was not an easy journey They had to repair the ship as she sailed including when the main beam buckled halfway through the trip There were differences of opinion about whether they could do it or not William Bradford reports in his history of Plymouth Plantation Truly there was great distraction and difference of opinion among the mariners themselves fain would they do what could be done for their wages sake being now half the seas over and on the other hand they were loath to hazard their lives too desperately In the end however Bradford reports So they committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed The rest is quite literally history What I m trying to say in all of this is that as we chart the course for this church over the coming weeks and months we need to be sure we are booking passage on the right ship The invincible luxury liner with all the comforts of home certainly has its appeal but the story does not end well The ship to Tarshish might promise a pleasant destination but it

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/booking-passage (2016-02-16)
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  • By Their Fruit | Anne Robertson
    don t darken the doors of any church or religious institution relying only on their own experiences of God and their own conscience to discern what is God speaking and what is the inner babble of the mind coming to the surface So why bother Is that the answer I don t think so Our own experience is important and valid but it needs to be checked against something outside of ourselves to help keep us from becoming one of those religious wackos But how How do you sort through the noisy gongs and clanging cymbals of religious speech and find a trusted voice It s not a new problem In the Bible those folks are called false prophets A prophet in the Bible is a person who speaks for God Sometimes we think of them as only foretelling the future and they do that sometimes but their main role is to convey the Word of God to the people of God whether it be raising awareness of sin calling for reform in government or bringing consolation and advice in times of great grief and crisis Like today lots of people took on the mantle of a prophet but not all of them were true In the Matthew passage Jesus is warning those on the mountainside to beware of false prophets But since he says false prophets often come disguised as true prophets he goes on to give advice about how to sort out the false from the true How do we do it By their fruit he says Of course he s not talking about whether they put bananas or blueberries on their cereal He s saying that a person s allegiance is shown by how they conduct their daily lives He uses the analogy of a tree A diseased apple tree does not produce healthy apples and you re certainly not going to find figs on a thistle plant The nature and health of the plant is reflected in the fruit that is produced Before the fruit is evident it might be hard to tell I almost ruined an asparagus crop that way I d never seen asparagus growing before and didn t know that it takes a couple of years to actually produce the first edible asparagus When I moved to a new house and was cleaning up an old garden I almost pulled it up as a weed In a couple of weeks our daily readings will show Jesus warning us not to do any weeding until the crop is ripe and the fruit is evident But eventually the fruit of our lives gives us away Of course even on a healthy tree there are a few duds Jesus doesn t mean that true prophets never make mistakes or that we are looking for perfection Whether you are looking at individuals or an institution like a church your search for perfection will leave you disappointed and disillusioned But he s not talking about the perfect prophet

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/by-their-fruit (2016-02-16)
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  • Don't Go Back the Way You Came | Anne Robertson
    they weren t called Wise Men for nothing They paid attention to their dreams and a dream warned them not to go back and tell Herod anything but to return home by a different road one that did not go back through Jerusalem I think that dream is also the message for us as we leave here on Christmas morning Don t go back the way you came If God has truly been born on earth as a human being to live and to die for our sakes that ought to make a difference We should not be the same once we have been to the manger and have seen for ourselves the Word made flesh Too often it makes no difference at all That problem was actually how the Methodist movement started back in England in the 1700 s John Wesley an Anglican priest noticed that the people he saw every single Sunday in church didn t seem to live lives that were any different from the people that never went to church That didn t seem right Christian faith was not supposed to be a club that you joined or an alternative to golf on Sunday mornings It was supposed to be a way of life But the people in the church seemed to always go back home just the way they had come unchanged despite spending an hour in the presence of God So Wesley decided to do something about it He started small bands of people who met together weekly to challenge and support each other in Christian life and practice They confessed their sins to each other they joined together to help the poor they studied the Bible together and they made a commitment to live differently in response to what God had done for them in Jesus There was a method to their meetings and they were first called Methodists in derision for the strict method that they followed But week by week month by month year by year those Methodists began not only to change themselves but to change all of England They lived simply so that they had more money to give to those in need That enabled them to build hospitals and orphanages The founded women s work cooperatives and instituted prison reform They provided meals and assistance to any that were in need and it has been said that the reason the English did not have the equivalent of the violent French Revolution was because of the reforms put into place by the people called Methodists Of course not all the churchgoers took on the challenge of a changed life Some continued to go back home the way they came And even the church organization itself had issues with people suddenly taking their faith seriously John Wesley was soon out of a pulpit and had to take his message out to the streets and the fields Where it grew Where it changed lives Where it changed England Don t go

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/dont-go-back (2016-02-16)
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  • Epiphany | Anne Robertson
    of them is that for the most part we no longer expect Christ to be made manifest We have stopped looking for the revelation of Jesus as God s son The early church was a church full of excitement and expectation They anticipated the return of Christ at any time and the persecutions which they faced forced them to be aware of their faith and to live out or die for their faith every place they went every minute of their lives Many Christians today have lost that sense of excitement and expectation The early church celebrated Epiphany with the emphasis on God s present manifestations to us and the expectation of God s future and ultimate revelation The point wasn t to remember history but to be reminded that God appears miraculously to us in places and in ways that we don t expect That way we will be prepared when God does it again and be able to recognize God s coming to us Notice that all the events celebrated at Epiphany took place outside of the established religious structures In a stable with Gentiles At a river with a religious rebel and fanatic At a wedding reception where the guests are drunk And that is the way God still appears God epiphs when and where we least expect it If we re not expecting to see God revealed every minute of the day and in every place we go we will likely miss God s coming entirely coming away from wondrous miracles unmoved and unchanged The wedding at Cana was crowded but only a few were aware that Jesus had worked a miracle in their midst Most weren t paying attention They weren t expecting miracles so they weren t watching and missed an event that people have talked about for two thousand years Bethlehem was so full of people that Mary and Joseph couldn t even find a room to spend the night but there is no indication that more than a handful paid any notice to the new life that changed all of history bright stars and shepherd s stories notwithstanding If we want anything to epiph in our lives we had better begin by expecting it and watching for it If you are expecting company in your home you are not going to miss their arrival unless they are purposely sneaking up on you You have made preparations for their coming fully expect to see them and always keep an ear out for the doorbell and an eye out the window Yet how many of us expect God in that way Do we prepare For that matter have we even invited God to come Epiphany in our lives begins with prayer and ends with a warning The prayer is one that tells God how much we would like to have God stop by prayer that asks God to be made manifest to us How many times do you prepare for your day by asking

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/epiphany (2016-02-16)
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  • Get Out of the Boat | Anne Robertson
    better than 50 50 shot at coming home again This is not about putting what God has given to us in jeopardy as an invitation for God to strut His stuff Peter does take an incredible risk in getting out of a boat on a dark and stormy night But the key here is he doesn t put out the first toe until Jesus has said to him Come If Jesus is not anywhere near our boat we would be crazy to get out and try to walk on water We can t do that on our own But when God appears on the scene new possibilities open before us and we listen for the guidance of God And if God says it s OK you can take that to the bank We are not called to be reckless but we are called to trust The problem is our world does not live by trust Our watchwords today are words like protection security safe Whether it is the government law enforcement health care social programs or financial investment we hear those words as organizations describe their goals and objectives We must protect our children make sure social security funding is protected we have safe schools and want to guard our investments We have a whole branch of government now devoted to Homeland Security And there s nothing wrong with any of that But when we let our concern for security and safety spill over into our faith our faith vanishes and we sink into the sea Faith means nothing if it does not mean risk Faith and trust go hand in hand and that means so do faith and risk because trust is a risky business You can tell me that you trust me to hold your money until you re blue in the face but until you have actually put the money into my hands you haven t really trusted It s the same with faith You can say Oh I have faith in God all you want but until you get out of the boat it s only so much hot air There is nothing more important than God we say I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me we quote With God all things are possible We shout it again and again as we sit comfortably in our boats calling the ones who talk of getting out foolish and impractical And we look at those who do get out of the boat and we condemn their lack of faith if they start to sink completely unaware that even as they sink to the bottom of the sea their faith is greater than ours We have no business claiming we have any faith whatsoever until we have been willing to get out of the boat when Jesus calls The call of God to all of us is the same now as it ever was Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name

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