Wednesday, January 27, 2010

faith in community, in so many ways

I thought I had a pretty good sermon on Sunday, if I do say so myself. It was called "faith in community", and I made reference to this very blog, as I talked about the body of Christ, and in what ways we need each other. Toward the end of the sermon, I hit one verse pretty hard, the one where Paul says, "the parts of the body that appear to be weakest are indispensable."

At 10:00, the Senior Pastor called the 5th and 6th graders up to the front fo the children's message. There were just three of them on Sunday, a small (but quality) group of young people. He told them about Jesus preaching his first sermon in the synagogue where he had grown up and where people had known him as a child. He asked each of them if they had one thing they would like to tell the congregation, what would it be? They whispered in his ear, and he wrote a few scratches on three pieces of notbook paper. Then he numbered them -- 1, 2 and 3.

He gave each one the paper with their words recorded, and invited them to take their place at the pulpit, behind the microphone, and speak their words.

The first child said, "Jesus loves you."
The second said, "Obey the adults in the church."
The third said, "Everyone has a certain gift."



Today I held the early morning Matins service at the church. It is a small group of (mostly) elderly people who meet together to pray and sing the matins service. There is a short homily. I looked ahead to find some Epiphany lessons that we wouldn't be using this year, and finally settled on Genesis 45 (the end of the story of Joseph) and Luke 6:27-38 (which starts with "Love your enemy" and includes the "golden rule.") For some reason I find this section of Luke's gospel kind of heart-breaking.

Everything that Jesus says seems so out-of-reach, and everything that Jesus says seems so necessary for our survival as humans. "Do unto others..." seems the epitome of essential, good advice, the sort of thing you can clip and put in your pocket; I always think that I'm doing a pretty good job with the golden rule, until I find another instance where I have been insensitive and unintentially cruel.

I'm still thinking about these scripture passages, long after I have had to say something about them, can you tell?

At the close of the service, we sang the old familiar gospel hymn, "I Love to Tell the Story." And two women, a mother and a daughter, always kind of sneak out of the door at this point in the service, because they are in charge of putting out the coffee and treats.

Only today, they lingered for most of the song.

It was the theme song for Sunday School many years ago, when the mother had been in charge of Sunday School.

She's practically blind now, but she can still sing it by heart.


In the meantime, I seem to be inordinately concentrated on knitting. I have finished now my first pair of mittens, a short keyhole scarf for myself, and am still working on the prayer shawl for my dad. I am nervously looking around for the next project, paging through books in the book store, looking at yarns, wondering what I want to create, what skill I want to learn. There are so many patterns I don't know yet.

For most of my life I've felt awkward and clumsy. I have attributed this to being left-handed, although I don't think I can totally blame my feeling on this; I know plenty of left-handed people who have discovered that they are adept at something.

But for me, I finally feel like I have something to give, however small, other than words.


Terri said...

It's odd, isn't the images we live with in our heads of "who" we wonderful that you can re-image that sense of self through knitting. I too have been on a knitting binge - socks for me and prayer stole for M2 - I am literally trying to knit and pray her into a job. Knitting and words - a theme for this season...

Fran said...

Mmmm... you have many gifts, words and other things; your presence, your ministry and your knitting.

Jennifer Garrison Brownell said...

oh, hey, another awesome childrens sermon....

Anonymous said...

Words can be a powerful gift, too. I am often inspired by your writing.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I am so pleased that knitting has given you so much.

Barbara B. said...

That's great about your knitting!