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Giving Up Death - 7

GIVING UP DEATH

Well, we’ve made it! This is the seventh and last message in our Giving it Up series, so that means we are celebrating the joy of Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday! Hallelujah and praises to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! The same Jesus who has arisen from the dead and changed the dialogue about death forever. We no longer look at death as an ending but as a glorious beginning.

I am reminded about the story of the little six-year-old boy named David who was taking a walk one day with his grandmother. They decided to detour through the local graveyard. They stopped to read some of the tombstones and Grandma explained that the first date on the tombstones was the day the person was born and the second date was the day the person died.
"Why do some tombstones only have one date?" little David asked. "Because those people haven't died yet," his grandmother explained. David was obviously stunned by his grandmother's explanation because, that …

Giving Up Popularity 6

GIVING UP POPULARITY

One thing that all of us humans have in common is a desire to be popular. Granted, the apex of this desire generally occurs during our high school years, but even adults have someone or some group they desire to be popular with. Remember back to high school and the pain associated with trying to fit in? Dressing just so. Trying to get in with the popular kids. Coveting the friendship of those deemed “popular”. Maybe it was the cheerleaders or the top athletes, or those who got the best grades and always seemed to win every award. Whatever the measure of acceptance or popularity was and is today, we strive to be part of it.

I had to change schools in seventh grade after my father passed away and seventh and eighth grades were very hard for me. I had no idea who anyone was, where they fit on the popularity scale or if I should associate with them. Luckily, I was a decent athlete, playing soccer, field hockey, basketball, and softball and fell into a very good group o…

Giving Up Your Life - 5

GIVING UP OUR LIVES

Late last year, November I believe, the virus we know as the “Coronavirus” or “COVID-19” appeared in Wuhan, China. Today, some four and a half months later, that same virus is affecting people around the world. At over 560,000 cases worldwide and over 25,000 deaths, COVID-19 is on a path to infect people around the world for months to come. Not just their health, but their finances, and yes, their weary spirits.
When I was watching the events of Sept 11, 2001, unfold from Woodbridge New Jersey, I was sure that I would never see anything of that magnitude in my lifetime again. I believe this Covid-19 pandemic may be the most devastating world event of the 21st century and is already being compared to two monumental events of the 20th century: the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic that infected 500 million people around the globe, killing about 50 million, and the October 1929 US stock market crash and the following great depression that reverberated around the world through t…

Giving Up Enemies

GIVING UP ENEMIES

Well, today is the fourth Sunday in Lent and as usual, God being in control, has given us much to ponder. This is our fourth sermon in our series “Giving It Up,” which focuses on our Lenten theme of giving up something that we feel has control over our lives as a means of discipline, in order to encourage us to practice a more disciplined faith in our journey with God.

Today we are encouraged to recapture our humanity as we focus on giving up enemies since we are most human, and reflect the image of God more fully, when we love rather than hate. I started out by saying that God has given us much to ponder because we find ourselves isolated and out of sorts as the pandemic rages around us. In a nutshell, for many of us, this time could be categorized as one of the most trying times of our existence.

Historically speaking, Martin Luther spoke of trying times during his initial spiritual training.  He said, "I myself am deeply indebted to my enemies that through the d…

Giving Up Superiority

GIVING UP SUPERIORITY

When I was a little girl living in Alfred Station with my four siblings, we were poor. I didn’t know it then, but I remember my dad saying one day that he didn’t even have enough money to stop at the diner for a cup of coffee before work. There was this one little boy in my class named Kenny who was an only child of an Alfred University college professor and he had everything. It wasn’t so bad that he HAD everything, but it became challenging when he proceeded to tell me what everything cost. One spring day I ran into Kenny and his grandmother at the playground. Kenny had a new bike which he immediately informed me cost $50. I didn’t even know how to respond since his grandmother was present and my usual responses were inappropriate, but to my surprise Kenny’s grandmother scolded him right then and there. I don’t know who was more surprised, Kenny or me! That was one of my first lessons in life about how we should never feel that we are better than someone else fo…

Giving Up Expectations

Giving It Up: Expectations


Well, here we are in week two of our Lenten journey’s and I ran into the topic that almost made me not want to do this series. The second topic in our Lenten Sermon Series, entitled “Giving It Up” is, for me at least, an unexpected one. The topic is “expectations.” So, this morning, we want to consider “Giving up expectations.”
Quite honestly, as I began some research into giving up expectations, I really struggled with why we as Christians, who are called to live our lives in a blessed hope and expectation of the Victory of Christ over the world, the flesh, and the devil should need to give up “expectations”, the very thing upon which we seem to base our living here on earth.
The more I thought about this and did some reading, it became apparent that when it comes to expectations there are two very different types of expectations. First is what we might call “motivations of the flesh” that lead or rather mislead us to worldly expectations. The second motivatio…

Giving Up Control

GIVING UP CONTROL

There is nothing that marks our society more than our desire for control over… well, everything!  And this desire seems to only grow.  One example: the remote control.  Think back 30 years (if you have lived that long).  How many of these did you have in your house?  I remember growing up… we had three remote controls for the tv… myself, my sister and my brother!  Hey, one of you turn to channel 8.  Now, turn to channel 4. Today there are many more channels; and there are lots more remotes too.  I had 3 myself up until last week.  Why?  Well, one turned on the sound bar, one turned on the cable and one turned on the television. I had control over every aspect of my television viewing at the push of a button. But, be honest, don’t we sometimes feel burdened by all this “control” we have over our lives?  We have so many choices today to control our lives that it becomes dizzying.  Another trivial example: Sometimes when I go to the store to get some toothpaste, I just w…