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The Worst Thing is Not the Last Thing

By |2019-04-14T18:15:51-04:00April 14th, 2019|Sermons, Uncategorized, Worship|

The Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem – James Tissot     The Worst Thing is Not the Last Thing Rev. Sarah Buteux April 14, 2019 Palm Sunday, Year C Luke 19:28-48 “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Five and a half weeks ago, we began Lent by reciting these words as the ashes of burnt palms were imposed on our foreheads.  Well, most of us did. Or, maybe it was just some of us.  I didn’t take attendance and I’m not going to ask for a show of hands to see who was actually there, because you and I all know that there aren’t a whole lot of people who come out for Ash Wednesday anymore. It is why we’ve taken to bringing the ashes out onto main street and offering them to people “on [...]

Lost Without You

By |2019-03-31T19:07:34-04:00March 31st, 2019|Sermons, Worship|

  By Rev. Sarah Buteux Luke 15:1-10 Lent 4, Year  C In my reading this week, I came across the story of Jon Tyson, a mega church pastor, who left his church in Florida and moved to NYC to start a new kind of church with a close group of friends.  I’ve read a lot of stories like this one, and at first it followed all the familiar beats.  Jon and his friends gave up the lives they’d known back in Florida. They banded together and started their church in somebody’s living room. They quickly outgrew that space and started meeting in the back room of a downtown bar, and when that became too small, they made the big leap.  They rented a theater uptown, launched a web site, printed flyers, rehearsed the band, and lo and behold, [...]

Life Isn’t Fair!

By |2019-03-27T12:09:10-04:00March 27th, 2019|Sermons|

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir Luke 13:1-9 March 24, 2019   Life should be fair, but it clearly isn’t. When the Manafort verdict came out, a Brooklyn defense attorney noted that a recent client received more time in prison for stealing $100 worth of quarters from a laundry mat. Recent news reports wealthy parents buying their children into elite schools. Fairness and justice are deeply held values. Without some degree of fairness, the moral center collapses.  And yet, no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to achieve perfect fairness.   The world is a messy place and sometimes bad theology gets in the way and makes it even worse.  Jesus is addressing the doctrine of fairness run amok.  I would like to believe if I lead a good life; seeking to be ethical, give back to the [...]

Life Isn’t Fair!

By |2019-03-27T11:59:05-04:00March 27th, 2019|Sermons|

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir March 24, 2019 Luke 13:1-9         Life should be fair, but it clearly isn’t. When the Manafort verdict came out, a Brooklyn defense attorney noted that a recent client received more time in prison for stealing $100 worth of quarters from a laundry mat. Recent news reports wealthy parents buying their children into elite schools.   Fairness and justice are deeply held values. Without some degree of fairness, the moral center collapses.  And yet, no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to achieve perfect fairness.   The world is a messy place and sometimes bad theology gets in the way and makes it even worse.  Jesus is addressing the doctrine of fairness run amok.  I would like to believe if I lead a good life; seeking to be ethical, give back [...]

Is My I-Phone the Devil? Some Thoughts on Technology, Temptation, and Jesus’ Sojourn in the Wilderness

By |2019-03-10T14:15:22-04:00March 10th, 2019|Sermons, Worship|

Rev. Sarah Buteux March 10, 2019 Lent 1, Year C Luke 4:1-13,   Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. Forty days.  Forty days out in the wilderness with nothing to do…without anything to eat…with no one to talk to.  When’s the last time you found yourself with nothing to do, without anything to eat, with no one to talk to?  It’s almost impossible to imagine, isn’t it?  I’m not saying that we’re never bored, hungry, or lonely. Boredom, hunger, and loneliness are part and parcel of the human condition. They dog us at every step.  But do any of us ever allow ourselves to truly feel those things anymore? Or do we pick up our [...]

Shame vs. Guilt: a sermon for Lent

By |2019-03-10T14:05:19-04:00March 10th, 2019|Common Ground, Sermons, Worship|

Rev. Sarah Buteux Preached at Common Ground on March 7, 2019 Psalm 51   There is a song by Kelley McRae where she sings:  Break us by the power of your grace O Lord, won’t break us, by the power of your grace  Break us Remake us Don’t let the sorrow take us Oh Break us, by the power of your grace  I love this song, and in my own spiritual walk, there are times when I need to hear those words, when that is my prayer…break me God, break me down, break me open, break in and break up the lies and the patterns and the habits that are hurting me and the those around me.  Break me, O God and then re-make me into someone whose life is pleasing to you. Re-make me into someone who is living [...]

Mixed Blessing

By |2019-02-21T11:26:08-04:00February 21st, 2019|Sermons, Worship|

By Rev. Sarah Buteux February17, 2018 Epiphany 6, Year C Luke 6:17-26 Before we begin, there is a confession I need to make.  In the interest of full disclosure, there is something you need to know before I even pretend I can help interpret this morning’s scripture reading, and it is this:.  I am blessed…like seriously blessed…and apparently not in a good way.  You need to know that I ate breakfast this morning - two eggs with cheese, washed down with my favorite tea, all of which I cooked in my beautiful new kitchen while laughing with my precious daughter. In this very moment, standing here in front of you I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I am rich, I am full, and I am happy.  I love my family. I love my house. I love my church. I [...]

Moving Deeper

By |2019-02-11T15:48:16-04:00February 11th, 2019|Sermons|

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir February 10, 2019 Text: Luke 5:1-11 If you were a reporter covering this story, what would be your headline? “Preacher’s Fishing Miracle Has Better Ratings Than Super Bowl.”   Or- “Local Fishermen Retire, Leave Lucrative Business to Join Cult.”  We bring our perspectives to the story.  We might ask, “Is this story true?”  Did Jesus really create a fishing miracle? How did he do it?  Preacher Fred Craddock said, “Is this true?”  is the most disrespectful question we can ask. We wonder if the writer is a fabricator, and we may miss the point.  Here is a better place to start.  What is the story trying to tell us?  What truth does it offer for our life? Let’s go with the story and see where it takes us scene by scene.  Scene One.  It is [...]

Miracles on the Margins

By |2019-02-05T08:33:21-04:00February 5th, 2019|Sermons, Worship|

by Rev. Sarah Buteux John 2:1-11 (Painting above by Morgan Weistling)   I’ve got two words for you this morning: Pecha kucha.  Has anyone here ever experienced a pecha kucha?  Does anyone here know what a pecha kucha is? Isn’t that a south American herb that can be steeped into a hot beverage?  No, that’s Yerbe Matte?  Is it a pre-Columbian Inca site in Peru?  No, you’re thinking of Machu Pichu.  Is it a little yellow Japanese monster?  Nope, I’m pretty sure that’s Pokemon, but hey now we’re getting close, because Pecha Kucha is a Japanese concept.  Pecha Kucha, which is actually the Japanese word for chit-chat, is a method someone devised to re-invigorate the good old power-point presentation we all don’t love so much.  When someone presents a pecha kucha, they can’t read slowly through bullet points as they [...]

Pastor Todd’s Upcoming Sabbatical

By |2019-01-31T16:38:18-04:00January 31st, 2019|News|

I’m writing this note to update you on my summer Sabbatical from May 1 through July 31.  This July will mark my seventh year at First Churches. Seven years is often a significant psychological time marker.  (Think 7 days of creation, the 7 Years War, 7 Year Itch!) A wise person told me long-term pastors need to reinvent themselves every seven years.  Otherwise either the pastor or the congregation get bored with the other. While I don’t yet think of myself as a long-term pastor at First Churches, since Solomon Stoddard served here for 55 years, seven years does mark longer term commitment in the modern era.   After spending some time thinking about what would benefit my growth as a pastor, I concluded what I really need is a pilgrimage.  Pilgrimages are a way of physically and spiritually being [...]