SERMONS

The story goes like this: when I was about three years old, I was, apparently, not a very tidy little fellow. Toys and clothes, I am told, tended to be strewn about my room in no particular order. Apparently, things got so messy that my mom once told me that my room was a disaster and that unless I cleaned up, she wouldn’t be able to come to my bed to tuck me in and kiss me good night at all. Apparently, this threat of not getting a good night kiss was a strong motivator for me as a child to do something, but I’m not sure that I got the real gist of my mom’s intended message to me because when she came to check on me and how I had done with cleaning my room, I had, apparently, not put toys or clothes back on shelves or in drawers, but only carefully pushed everything back just enough to create a clear path from the hallway to the side of my bed.

My mom did tuck me in and kissed me good night, but we had to keep working on what it meant to clean my room!

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Have you ever been excluded? I don’t think there is anyone here who has not had an experience of being left out a time or two or more in their life. Think about you felt when you were excluded.

It is very painful to be excluded. Perhaps you were excluded because you were a woman, as I have experienced, or are of another nationality, or because of your skin color, or because of your sexual identity, or because you are not fluent in the spoken language. Perhaps it was because of a physical challenge: being wheelchair bound, not seeing or hearing well.

I subscribe to an internet site called Nextdoor, whose function it is to connect neighboring folks so that they can help one another in various ways. This week, there was an entry that I’m going to share with you this morning. It was posted by an Hispanic man. It reads as follows:

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What do you hope for? Take a brief time now and think about that. Ask yourself: What do I hope for?

Every morning, my cat, Sunshine, accompanies me to the kitchen and she sits next to the cabinet where the treats are kept. She begins to drool a bit in anticipation for what she hopes will happen next: that I notice her and will give her the awaited treat. Would that we would put that kind of passion to work in us for what we are hoping for.

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Good morning

A few weeks before heading off on vacation, Pastor reached out about me possibly sharing a reflection. The initial thought was, that I had no idea what this would entail and if I would be able to do it. I agreed, and here I am today.

In line with our gospel lesson this week, I would like to share my faith reflection as it relates to welcome.

Specifically, what my life journey has been where I've felt welcome. Like most of you, we all have those instances where we've not felt welcomed.

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Greetings and peace to you! Thank you in advance for patiently enduring my thoughts and reflections on today’s gospel and other ramblings. Allow me to start with a little personal story:

In September, 1982, I was a 15 year old kid just starting high school. My brother Jonathan and I did not get along particularly well during this period of adolescence. I remember well his stern warning that if I acted in school the same way I acted at home I was going to get my butt kicked. Clearly, the warning was designed to instill fear in me because to me the big high school was the great unknown and what 15 year old entering high school isn’t afraid of the stories of being stuffed in a locker by bullies looking for a laugh at the expense of some random freshman. I made peace with my fear by praying to God for protection and making a vow to just be pleasant and kind to everyone because who would harass someone who is always being kind? I made a prayer that was my mantra throughout my young adulthood when I faced a challenging situation like an athletic competition or a tryout or a play performance: I prayed that God help me just do the best that I could because that’s all anyone could ask, right? It gave me tremendous comfort knowing that God would accept me no matter what as long as I was trying my best. After all, who else would I need to worry about disappointing?

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