I don’t know how long it takes a normal person to get back into the swing of work after maternity leave, but I feel like I might be finally getting there. This week is my fourth week back. I am usually about 15 minutes late every morning, but I do make it to the office, and I am always dressed. This morning I fit back into some pants I haven’t fit in for a while and my 2-year-old exclaimed, “Oh Mommy, congratulations!” followed by, “You’re soft; I want to hold you.” I always wonder how those little minds work. She is certainly back into the swing of toddlerhood and has taken to life as a big sister quite well. She only likes the baby when he does something, which is very rare at this stage in babyhood. At least it gives me confidence that she will love him more the older he gets!
I’m also feeling as if we’re getting back into the swing of things because the church seems to be revving up again. First of all, yesterday was our largest attendance in two months.* Second, our little one-room Sunday School is building in consistency and excitement. We don’t have a lot of kids in our church, but the ones we have are so fun and unique and I want them to have a great place to learn here. Our new CE director, Olivia, is doing such a great job serving kids ages 2 years to 7th grade – a very, very difficult task. And the best part– they’re coming! Consistently! And they’re enjoying it. Third, we have many great programs and ideas in place and ready to get started. I’m afraid several things fell by the wayside when summer came along. People were out of town, I was tired and pregnant . . . but now we’re ready to start book study again, along with a monthly film viewing called “Popcorn in the Pews.” We’ll be joining Madison’s Prison Ministry by attending worship services at Fox Lake Correctional Facility. Confirmation class is up and running . . . Well, let’s just say it feels like the church is a fun place to be right now!
*Don’t get me wrong– I fully believe that numerical attendance isn’t a sign of success in itself but it is still great when people show up!
Okay folks, part of getting back into the swing of things is that I’m ready to get back to my sermon reflections on here. So here goes!
Read: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17*, Luke 14:28-35
It’s important to read The Message Version of this passage, which goes: “May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.”
Listen: “Look What We’ve Built!“
Dig a little deeper: This week was Stewardship Sunday. I am always asking the church, “what gifts do you have?” in a rhetorical way, and therefore no one ever responds to me! This Sunday I asked about surprising gifts, but in an even broader sense. I asked the question, “What are three things about you that might surprise us?” Here were some of the many interesting responses we had:
Several people responded about what they want to be when they grow up.
- Maria, who is a musician, said, “As a child I loved to draw house plans and wanted to be an architect.”
- Laura, a senior in high school, said, “I tell people that I’m interested in psychology and journalism, (and I am,) but when it comes down to it I truly have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.”
- Holly, one of our college students, said, “I want to be a high school guidance counselor when I grow up.”
- Casey wants to raise bison and meat chickens and his wife Erin has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up!
- My husband used to want to be a priest but now he wants to be a stay-at-home dad.
- Maggie, a freshman in high school, said, “I want to be a pilot.”
- When Robyn, a mother of two, grows up she wants to still be a kid.
Several people talked about fears and things they hate
- Barb is afraid of coffee.
- Kara is afraid of heights.
- Maggie is afraid to become an adult.
- Maria hates coconut.
- Tim hates “labels, and people who hold fast to dogma, ideology, and political parties.” (I wasn’t surprised)
- Maic “doesn’t care for” the Beatles, Harry Potter, Star Trek, and Vodka
And I couldn’t believe the things some people said about their eating habits:
- Stephanie has eaten raw fish eggs out of Green Lake.
- Tim loves M&Ms and bacon, together I assume.
- Andy has eaten raccoon
- Kurt, one of our tall, lean members likes to eat fast food once a week
- Bob loves meatloaf and mashed potatoes (at least some people around here are normal…)
So, what does this all have to do with our faith? What do you think? How do you think silly questions like this help us to grow together as a faith community? Answer in the comments!
P.S. I didn’t have the time to write a sermon reflection on this sermon from last week (From One Generation to Another), but I do think you should listen to it, and if you do you might want to see the following articles, which I referenced in the sermon.
1. NPR “To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer”
2. This article on Nadia Bolz-Weber is where I first learned about her, but you’re probably better off looking at her personal website.
3. National Geographic show, “Church Rescue”