Anne Robertson

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The world is on edge right now. Troops muster, missiles fly; hate and violence cast a pall of fear at home and abroad. We feel a sense of unity with those who share our views on world events but more divided than ever from those who don't. New alliances are made but often at the high cost of once-cherished relationships that now lie in the dust.

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Sermon on the mount

Christians make a big deal out of "discipleship." We claim that we are disciples of Jesus and most churches consider the call of Jesus to "Go into all the world and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19) to be at the heart of their mission. Our discipleship doesn't seem to be showing.

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A dark pit

"For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit."    --Psalm 16:10

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Grandma Robertson was best known for her compassion toward wasps. She fed them. Sugar water. On her finger. She accepted their stings as merely ignorance on their part, and even when she fell into a nest of them and was stung all over her body, she maintained their goodness and innocence. The only thing Grandma loved more than wasps were her flower gardens, which she tended from dawn until after dark.

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The Communion of Saints Tapestry by John Nava

Last summer, the house I grew up in went on the market and I went to an open house. Things had changed, of course. Some of the changes were intentional, but mostly the house and lovely grounds were simply showing their age.  Small trees were large trees, the basketball court was like an archaeological discovery in a jungle overgrowth.  The apple orchard was gone.

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I mourn for the French in these days of fear and grief after the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.  I share their outrage at being attacked and killed for acts of self-expression, and I agree that two of the rights that are foundational to a democracy are freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  I support those principles and am exercising that right even now, as I write this blog.  Attacks on liberty of any kind are always something that deserve a full-throated response if society and the individuals within it are to grow and thrive.

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Crucifixion painting by Anthony van Dyck circa 1622

As I wrote my new book, Introducing the New Testament, one thing became increasingly clear to me.   As I wrote about Jesus the man, Jesus the Jewish rabbi, and Jesus the Christ I realized that although we Christians revere Jesus as the Christ and learn to live our lives through the teaching of Jesus the rabbi, we sing songs like "Oh, How I Love Jesus" because of Jesus the man.  And that emotion is thoroughly rooted in Good Friday.

While Good Friday church attendance makes clear that most people would like to avoid the dark and horror of crucifixion and go straight to the Hallelujah's of Easter morning, we don't, in the end, love Jesus becaues he was resurrected.  We love Jesus because he died. 

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Cardinal Sean O'Malley and Rev. Anne Robertson (George Martell/Pilot New Media)

THE HISTORY

Fifty years ago, as Vatican II was sending the ecumenical spirit soaring, Cardinal Richard Cushing was invited to speak at the Sudbury United Methodist Church.  In that new spirit of Protestants and Catholics getting along, he accepted the invitation and gave the gathered congregation of Protestants and Catholics about 90 minutes of his best stuff.

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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 text of the creed.  I have linked each line to the sermon about that line.  There are twelve sermons total. (Note that the first line contains two links.)

 

 

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John 20:1-9, 19-31; 1 Cor. 15:33-49

If you have been with us for the past few months, you know that this morning we arrive at the end of a long discussion of the Apostle's Creed. Line by line we have examined the teachings of the Christian faith and here, on Easter morning, we reach both the end of the Creed and the beginning of faith...the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.