First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Greg Briggs,
Interim Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720
231-547-9122


Sermon and Weekly Bulletin ~ September 8, 2019

09-08-19 Bulletin PDF

  1. Prayer and Introduction
    1. “May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our rock and redeemer. Amen”
    2. Are you the pot, or the clay?
  2. Dangers of context-less literalism
    1. No, he’s not saying all parents are bad, or all family members should hate each other
    2. Making a very important point, as he has for our readings the last several weeks
      1. Each time, choosing a different method – some of which you may find jarring
      2. Each scripture may not be speaking exactly to you each week, but it is speaking to somebody
    3. Focus of reading is Discontent and judgement with the world as it is
      1. which does tie into family, peers, even one’s own life.
    4. Potter’s wheel, pottery, and the clay
      1. Speaking not at the individual level, but national
      2. At any time I may announce that I will dig up, pull down, and destroy a nation or kingdom; 8 but if that nation I warned turns from its evil, then I’ll relent and not carry out the harm I intended for it. 9 At the same time, I may announce that I will build and plant a nation or kingdom; 10 but if that nation displeases and disobeys me, then I’ll relent and not carry out the good I intended for it.
      3. Liberating, or threatening?
        1. Where do we see our selves, our churches, communities, nation?
        2. Pottery, or the clay?
      4. Forms, or the underlying material?
        1. Are we trying to keep the clay wet, fresh, moldable, or are we trying to harden our forms, bake things into place?
      5. Time of changing forms – new time, or same old, same old
      6. Looking back at gospel, there’s always been times when each generation has tensions with the ones before it or after it
        1. Ancient roman writings about kids these days.
      7. Dissatisfaction with clay, or forms?
    5. Current faith commentaries on this
      1. White American Christianity
        1. Mainline – good clay, overly attached to forms
        2. Evangelical – more willing to be molded into new forms, but the clay itself, the theology, is not as malleable.  Chunks for hardness in it.
  • Both are too focused on inner structure than outward forms
  1. Help with the clay, let go of the forms
  1. UCC preamble to the Constitution
    1. It claims as its own the faith of the historic Church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant Reformers. It affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God.
  2. Johnny Cash, What is truth?
  1. Increased sense of urgency
    1. Climate crisis
    2. 10 years to make drastic changes to keep majority of world habitable as they are. Avert change –
      1. God as potter
      2. I am a potter preparing a disaster for you; I’m working out a plan against you. So each one of you, turn from your evil ways; reform your ways and your actions.
    3. Artic ice melting, when projections were not until 2070
    4. Amazon and other rainforests, being set on fire
      1. To fund short term financial gain
      2. At a tipping point they might not be recoverable
    5. Hate your parents
      1. Asked the question earlier, where will the church be in 10 years,
        1. First response of many, I hope I’m still alive
          1. Concerns about health
        2. Many of Gen Y and Z say the same thing
          1. Concerns about climate devastation and failure of current political systems
        3. Greta Thunberg,
          1. “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
        4. Flawed pieces – bad theology
          1. God does give us more than we can handle. Individually.
            1. That’s why we need God and each other
          2. 8 Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be unaware of the troubles that we went through in Asia. We were weighed down with a load of suffering that was so far beyond our strength that we were afraid we might not survive. 9 It certainly seemed to us as if we had gotten the death penalty. This was so that we would have confidence in God, who raises the dead, instead of ourselves. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 Common English Bible (CEB)
          3. This is what Jesus is calling us to hate
            1. Platitudes
            2. Denial of severity
  • Apathy
  1. Greed
  2. Self interest
  1. Doomsday Pollyanna – we’ve overcome before, and recently
    1. Nuclear war threat
    2. Ozone layer
  2. Doomsday Pollyanna – the Place for Grandparents
    1. Reclaiming our stewardship of the earth – the caretakers of God’s garden – Already named by the church as a goal
  3. Pre EPA
    1. Cuyahoga river fire – 1969
    2. You can remember why we need this protection, saw what it was like before.
  4. In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.
  • Be open to bigger visions
    1. Church has named environmental action as a place it feels called to grow
    2. Much deeper than compostable disposals, or doing dishes again.
    3. Clay needs to be remolded
      1. Renewable energy, decrease in carbon usage
      2. Need trees more than golf courses
  • Start with calculating the cost – becoming aware
    1. Be willing to prioritize, dedicate time
    2. Educate
      1. Quiz – https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/04/specials/climate-change-solutions-quiz/index.html
        1. Top 5 (7) actions
          1. Manage chemical refrigerants
          2. Install onshore wind turbines – part of your next building project?
          3. Cut down on food waste
          4. Eat more plants and less meat
          5. Restore our forests
          6. Tie for 6th – increase access to family planning and educate girls – go ZONTA
        2. See it around you, raising water levels here in Charlevoix – echoed around the world. (water has to drain somewhere)
      2. Listen to younger voices and informed voices
      3. Share your journey
        1. Not looking for a few, perfectly living people, but many people living imperfectly, but better
        2. Crop walk – not just a fundraiser, but an embodied action.
  • Chance to broaden your horizon
    1. Average distance to get water
  • Rethinking inheritance – focus on the clay, not the pottery
    1. Not legal or financial – property or cash
    2. The world
      1. Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Readings

Jeremiah 18:1-11 Can be found on page ___________ of your pew Bible.

This reading from Jeremiah challenges a core belief of God’s people, the election tradition. That is the belief that since God has chosen Judah, that God will always shield the nation from harm. It is also a reminder of the importance of mutually upholding our covenant with God

 

18 Jeremiah received the Lord’s word: 2 Go down to the potter’s house, and I’ll give you instructions about what to do there. 3 So I went down to the potter’s house; he was working on the potter’s wheel. 4 But the piece he was making was flawed while still in his hands, so the potter started on another, as seemed best to him. 5 Then the Lord’s word came to me: 6 House of Israel, can’t I deal with you like this potter, declares the Lord? Like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in mine, house of Israel! 7 At any time I may announce that I will dig up, pull down, and destroy a nation or kingdom; 8 but if that nation I warned turns from its evil, then I’ll relent and not carry out the harm I intended for it. 9 At the same time, I may announce that I will build and plant a nation or kingdom; 10 but if that nation displeases and disobeys me, then I’ll relent and not carry out the good I intended for it. 11 Now say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem: This is what the Lord says: I am a potter preparing a disaster for you; I’m working out a plan against you. So each one of you, turn from your evil ways; reform your ways and your actions.

Luke 14:25-33 Can be found on page ___________ of your pew Bible.

Today’s reading from Luke continues in the same chapter as last week’s reading, where Jesus was invited to a feast at a Pharisee’s home, and reminded them to not seek their own status, but the greater reward.

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, 26 “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. 30 They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ 31 Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could go up against the twenty thousand coming against him? 32 And if he didn’t think he could win, he would send a representative to discuss terms of peace while his enemy was still a long way off. 33 In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.

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