It was a snowy day and an intimate crowd, including all the Sunday School kids in the front pew. So, the sermon is a bit non-traditional and more improvisational than I anticipated. Keeping our theme with "All I Want for Christmas," we looked at Isaiah 11:1-10, and Isaiah's list of desires for justice and peace, the desire of a young child for a home and family, and our own deepest yearnings. Our musician Neva Polley shared Amy Grant's "My Grown-Up Christmas List," and we all wrote our own—then exchanged them for prayer and action.
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Our theme this Advent is "All I Want for Christmas." We often think that Advent and Christmas this time of year should be kept separate, or we feel guilt about indulging in the secular aspects of Christmas alongside the sacred ones. Instead, this sermon series thinks of it like a musical mash-up, with the two held side by side, each one adding richness and nuance to the other. Today's mash-up includes Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You," which we played before the sermon and you can listen to here; the movie "Love Actually," and Isaiah 2:1-5. What holds them together is this question: "What do you want for Christmas?"
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Our guest preacher this Sunday was the Rev. John Vertigan, Conference Minister of the Indiana Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ. He brought us a prophetic proclamation that embodied both the content and the style of Isaiah—describing a better world and a holy worship. Scripture: Isaiah 12:1-6
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The story of Zaccheus is far more complicated than the famous children's song. This sermon starts with the division. There are people who want to get on the jumbotron at a major event, and people who don't. Which one was Zaccheus? And why does it matter? It turns out that it's not just Zaccheus whose life was changed by Jesus—it was the whole crowd. Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
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This sermon compares the church's stewardship campaign with the public radio pledge drive happening this week—and finds that God's economy is very different. Rather than urging us to give with words, God writes the covenant in our hearts. We already know God's love, and how we are to respond. Jeremiah 31:27-34.
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Gratitude is a virtue we all want to cultivate. The story of the 10 lepers healed by Jesus, when only one returned to express his thanks, is a lesson in the importance of gratitude. But perhaps it's not so simple as a reminder to always say "thank you." Perhaps it gets at the heart of true worship as well. Scripture: Luke 17:11-19
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