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Sermon – Rev. Emily Heitzman – 8/6/17

WELCOME TO GUEST PREACHER EMILY HEITZMAN AND THE EDGEWATER YOUTH COALITION!  Rev. Emily Heitzman is the Shared Pastor with Youth and Households at Ebenezer, Unity, and Immanuel Lutheran churches in the neighborhood of Edgewater in Chicago.  

Epistle Lesson:  1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (NRSV)

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Gospel Lesson:  Luke 4: 14-21  (NRSV)

                 14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

                16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free, 
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ 
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’



“The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” – Pastor Hal Murry – 7/30/17

Sermon Outline:  "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil"

  1. A Second Creation Story
  2. Today's Scripture: Portions of Genesis 2 and 3 (Sharon Hannon and Hal Murry)
  3. Choice AND Responsibility
  4. Two Examples

Today's Scripture:  Portions of Genesis 2 and 3

  Genesis 2:4-9

On the day the Lord God made earth and sky— before any wild plants appeared on the earth, and before any field crops grew, because the Lord God hadn’t yet sent rain on the earth and there was still no human being to farm the fertile land, though a stream rose from the earth and watered all of the fertile land— the Lord God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life. The Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east and put there the human he had formed. In the fertile land, the Lord God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit, and also he grew the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

  Genesis 2:15-18

15 The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it. 16 The Lord God commanded the human, “Eat your fill from all of the garden’s trees; 17 but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day you eat from it, you will die!” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It’s not good that the human is alone. I will make him a helper that is perfect for him.”

  Genesis 2:21-23

21 So the Lord God put the human into a deep and heavy sleep, and took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh over it.22 With the rib taken from the human, the Lord God fashioned a woman and brought her to the human being. 23 The human said,

“This one finally is bone from my bones
        and flesh from my flesh.
She will be called a woman
        because from a man she was taken.”

  Genesis 3:1-7

3 The snake was the most intelligent of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say that you shouldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?”

The woman said to the snake, “We may eat the fruit of the garden’s trees but not the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘Don’t eat from it, and don’t touch it, or you will die.’”

The snake said to the woman, “You won’t die! God knows that on the day you eat from it, you will see clearly and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was beautiful with delicious food and that the tree would provide wisdom, so she took some of its fruit and ate it, and also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then they both saw clearly and knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made garments for themselves.

  Genesis 3:22-24

22 The Lord God said, “The human being has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” Now, so he doesn’t stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever, 23 the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden... 24 He drove out the human. To the east of the garden of Eden, he stationed winged creatures wielding flaming swords to guard the way to the tree of life.

Pastor’s Blog – Thoughts on Reading “Genesis” – Pastor Hal Murry

When Jesus had something important to say about God, he would make up a story.  In a pre-digital, pre-mass media, pre-literate, oral culture, storytelling was the best way to teach.  Paint a picture with words.  Tell a story that people could relate to, draw them in, and then end the story with a surprising, sometimes even disturbing twist.  People went away thinking, talking, debating, re-telling and, most importantly, remembering.

The characters in Jesus’ stories ran the gamut.  They were rich and poor, male…female.  There were people of different races, nationalities and religions.  There were parents and children, day laborers, professionals, widows, businessmen, farmers.  These   stories were about common experiences.  They are accessible for everyone.  And the plots are creative, interesting, intriguing… there are lost coins, lost sheep, lost sons, seeds, vineyards, trees that  didn’t bear fruit.  Oh, and there was a “good” Samaritan…almost as shocking as saying a “good” Muslim in some circles today.  In Jesus’ surprise endings, the lost were found, the bad guys turned out to be good guys, the rich were poor in God’s eyes, and the blind could see things that the sighted missed.  His stories always     provoked reactions.  His audiences laughed and hooted, jeered and cheered.  The culture’s powerful recognized him as a threat to their status quo.  And the masses, the common people, heard in him the voice of God.

It’s no surprise then, is it, that great teachers a thousand years before Jesus would use some of the same techniques?  If they had something important to say about God, they would tell a story.  The stories show great imagination and creativity.  They feature interesting characters, fascinating details.  Most importantly, our spiritual ancestors, like Jesus, were always trying to communicate deep spiritual truths in memorable ways. 

Even then, thousands of years ago, these teachers realized that humans can’t just be told what to think.  We have to think about what we think.  We have to discover what we think… through listening and talking and reading and living and reflecting.  Only then can we make a spiritual truth our own.  For most of us, spiritual growth is a lifetime journey.  And so, teaching that is creative, memorable, even controversial sticks best in our busy minds.

The authors of Genesis, the first and perhaps best known book of the Bible, never intended their stories to function as historical journals, scientific textbooks or owners’ manuals.   And if we use Genesis that way, we arrogantly make these stories more about OUR truths, our biases, our neediness.  If we read INTO them, instead of LISTENING to them, we make them more about our culture’s anxieties and less about the spiritual truths that these great literary artists are trying to teach.  

As you read the opening chapters of Genesis, keep asking yourself:  Why did ancient Israel tell THIS story?  What is it that they wanted us to know about God and about humanity?

Rev. Hal Murry – August 2017

“The God of Sabbath Rest” – Pastor Hal Murry – 7/23/17

Sermon Outline:  "The God of Sabbath Rest"

  1. "Sabbath day" -- "sacred time" that's hard to keep
  2. Following "Sabbath" through the Scriptures
  3. "SO THAT..."
  4. The "normalcy" of civilization vs. God's "enoughism"

Following "Sabbath" through the Scriptures:  Sabbath Day (every 7th day)

The heavens and the earth and all who live in them were completed.  On the six day God completed all the work that he had done, and on the seventh day God rested from all the work that he had done.  God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.  (Genesis 2:1-3)

 Do your work in six days.  But on the seventh day you should rest SO THAT your ox and donkey may rest, and even the child of your female slave and the immigrant may be refreshed.  (Exodus 23:12)

 Jesus said, "The Sabbath was created for humans; humans weren't created for the Sabbath." (Mark 3:28)

 Sabbath Year (every 7th year):  slaves freed, debts liquidated, land rested

 If any of your fellow Hebrews, male or female, sell themselves into your service, they can work for you for six years, but in the seventh year you must set them free from your service.  Furthermore when you set them free from your service, you must not let them go empty-handed.  Instead, provide for them fully from your flock, food, and wine.  You must give to them from that with which the Lord your God has blessed you.  remember how each of you were slave in Egypt and how the Lord your God saved you.  (Deuteronomy 15:12-15)

 Every seventh year you must cancel all debts.  This is how the cancellation is to be handled:  Creditors will forgive the loans of their fellow Israelites.  They won't demand repayment from their neighbors or their relatives because the Lord's year of debt cancellation has been announced...whatever is owed you from your fellow Israelites you must forgive.  (Deuteronomy 15:1-3)

 For six years you should plant crops on your land and gather its produce.  But in the seventh year you should leave it alone and undisturbed so that the poor among your people may eat.  What they leave behind, the wild animals may eat.  You should do the same with your vineyard and your olive trees.  (Exodus 23:10-11)

 Sabbath Jubilee (every 50th year):  slaves must be freed (Leviticus 25:35-55); land must be restored to its original owners (Leviticus 25:14-16, 23-34).

 The land must not be permanently sold because the land is mine.  You are just immigrants and foreign guests of mine. (Leviticus 25:23)

“In the Beginning:  Human Destiny” – Rev. Hal Murry – 7/16/17

Sermon Outline "In the Beginning:  Human Destiny"

  1. Too many questions!
  2. Today's Scripture: Genesis 1:1-31    (Hal Murry and Julia Smith) 
  3. All that is comes from God and it's ALL good
  4. Humanity: created in the image of God to run the world as God's stewards

Scripture:  Genesis 1:1-31  (CEB)                                                  

1 When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters— God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light Day and the darkness Night.

                There was evening and there was morning: the first day.

God said, “Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters to separate the waters from each other.” God made the dome and separated the waters under the dome from the waters above the dome. And it happened in that way. God named the dome Sky.

                There was evening and there was morning: the second day.

God said, “Let the waters under the sky come together into one place so that the dry land can appear.” And that’s what happened. 10 God named the dry land Earth, and he named the gathered waters Seas. God saw how good it was. 11 God said, “Let the earth grow plant life: plants yielding seeds and fruit trees bearing fruit with seeds inside it, each according to its kind throughout the earth.” And that’s what happened. 12 The earth produced plant life: plants yielding seeds, each according to its kind, and trees bearing fruit with seeds inside it, each according to its kind. God saw how good it was.

                        13 There was evening and there was morning: the third day.

14 God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will mark events, sacred seasons, days, and years. 15 They will be lights in the dome of the sky to shine on the earth.” And that’s what happened. 16 God made the stars and two great lights: the larger light to rule over the day and the smaller light to rule over the night. 17 God put them in the dome of the sky to shine on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was.

                        19 There was evening and there was morning: the fourth day.

20 God said, “Let the waters swarm with living things, and let birds fly above the earth up in the dome of the sky.” 21 God created the great sea animals and all the tiny living things that swarm in the waters, each according to its kind, and all the winged birds, each according to its kind. God saw how good it was. 22 Then God blessed them: “Be fertile and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

                        23 There was evening and there was morning: the fifth day.

24 God said, “Let the earth produce every kind of living thing: livestock, crawling things, and wildlife.” And that’s what happened. 25 God made every kind of wildlife, every kind of livestock, and every kind of creature that crawls on the ground. God saw how good it was. 26 Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.”

                        27 God created humanity in God’s own image,
                in the divine image God created them,
                  male and female God created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food. 30 To all wildlife, to all the birds in the sky, and to everything crawling on the ground—to everything that breathes—I give all the green grasses for food.” And that’s what happened. 31 God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good.

                There was evening and there was morning: the sixth day.


“Loser Leah – When Second is Chosen” – Rev. Nancy Bickel – 7/9/17

OUR GUEST PREACHER TODAY, The Rev. Nancy Bickel,  served as the Minister of Church Life at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Dubuque for twenty-six years.  She and her husband Ken are now retired and enjoy traveling, golfing, gardening, pickle balling, reading, and of course, their grandchildren.

Scripture:  Genesis 29:13-29 (NRSV)                                                                                                                      

                13 When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14and Laban said to him, ‘Surely you are my bone and my flesh!’ And he stayed with him for a month.

               15 Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?’16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. 18Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’ 19Laban said, ‘It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.’ 20So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

               21 Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.’ 22So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. 23But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. 24(Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) 25When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?’26Laban said, ‘This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. 27Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me for another seven years.’ 28Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29(Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.)


Scripture:  John 1:40-42 (NRSV)                                                                                                                   

               40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).