Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: evil

May Nothing Evil Cross This Door: Part 2

Our reading this morning was the poem, The Finitudes, by Mark Nepo.

The first portion of this sermon was a retelling of the fable, The Friendly Forest, by Dr. Edwin Friedman, which can be found in his collection, Friedman’s Fables.

I wonder, how many of you were waiting for the tiger to eat the lamb. I know the first time I heard this fable of the friendly forest, I was waiting for the untimely demise of the lamb. It was almost certain. Instead, we are left wondering what the animals in the forest finally did and if the lamb survived – or any of them, for that matter.

But we are also left with questions about the ethics of this story. Like the story of God wearing a two-colored hat, we have to suspend our belief – the friendly forest is absurd. But it invites us to ask questions about the nature of evil, emotions, complicity, and nature itself.

We can reflect: Is the Tiger in the fable inherently evil or just doing what is in his nature? What if the lamb was eaten, who would be responsible? The tiger? The lambs’ friends who said to not worry? And we can broaden it to the greater questions of life and meaning. Read the rest of this entry »

May Nothing Evil Cross This Door: Part 1

Sometime in high school, I decided to take a philosophy class.  It had random little dips into various philosophies, and then a turn toward religion.  It was a great space to ask big questions during a time in life when often bigger questions are answered by who your friends are, what clothes you wear, or what you’ve decided to rebel against that particular week.

It was my favorite class in high school, and the teacher was wonderful.  Upon diving into religion and having a broad sweep of it, we were assigned a project many of you are familiar with – you’ve either done it yourself, known people that have, or witnessed it being done here when random groups visit us on Sunday morning.

We were tasked with exploring a religious tradition in depth and sharing it with the class.  The teacher gave us a week to select one and to let him know – we just couldn’t choose our own.  The next week we gave him our selections and proceeded with the class.  I think I chose the Hutterites. Let’s ignore the fact that there were no Hutterite communities in Illinois. Read the rest of this entry »

Second Annual Question Box Sunday

For our second annual Question Box Sunday, we had a plethora of amazing questions.  Most of them were DIFFERENT than last year!  There were some strong themes amongst the questions this year, so, I’m going to do something a little different with the answers.  One or two of the “blocs” of the questions will become a sermon or series of sermons sometime this church year.  I will be sure to note that the inspiration for the sermon(s) was a Question Box Sunday question.  There are also a few questions I’m going to answer outright as they feel timely.  The rest of these questions will be answered sometime throughout this church year – I will endeavor to answer blocs of them and, as I did this year, send a compiled list of answers to you all before next year’s Question Box Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »