Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hey Jesus! Heal Me Already!

Sermon October 25, 2009
by Katie Mulligan

First Scripture Reading: Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Second Scripture Reading: Mark 10:46-52

Happy Reformation Day to you all! This is a day perhaps more celebrated by our Lutheran sisters and brothers, as it has been set aside to honor Martin Luther and the beginning of the Reformation—that’s Reformation with a capital “R”, that church movement in Germany that split away from the Roman Catholic church to become eventually the Lutheran church. But as church splits often do, Martin Luther’s actions motivated and inspired many others to go their own way with regard to faith, and 500 years later (or so) hundreds of protestant sects have sprung up; one of those is the denomination we know as the Presbyterian Church in the USA. Although we usually give more attention to John Calvin in the Presbyterian Church, we owe a great deal to Martin Luther and his followers—if nothing else for having the courage to act on their convictions, despite threats of physical violence, ex-communication, and eternity in hell.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shelter: The Church that Never Stops Talking

Sermon October 18, 2009
by Katie Mulligan

Places to get help and resources:

     (Burlington County, NJ) 
     (Mercer County, NJ) 
Domestic Violence Solutions
     (Santa Barbara County, CA)
(If you're looking for the Gomer sermon, go here)

"A Reverie"
Once when I was small,
I stumbled home broken and bruised and weeping.
It was not the first time nor the last.
At a moment, perfectly balanced between him and home,
I stopped and began to laugh.
At that moment, perfectly balanced,
I perceived with my six-year-old mind that I could think.
A space big enough for me, but too small for him,
opened in my body and I crawled in.
I stayed there for twenty years
until I was sure he was gone.

--For a girl I once knew

First Scripture Reading: Psalm 91
Second Scripture Reading: Luke 18:1-8

I am so relieved to be with you this morning! For I have spent much of this week thinking and praying about this sermon. Thinking and praying, and wondering, as all pastors do, what to say and how much of myself to reveal. What stories shall I share with you and what stories will they bring to your own hearts—those stories of your lives that perhaps you wonder whether to reveal also.

The Gomer Sermon

Sermon February 26, 2009
by Katie Mulligan

At Princeton Theological Seminary, students are invited to lead daily worship once during their senior year in Miller Chapel.  It was an opportunity to bring together what I had learned in 3 years, and also to contribute to the seminary community in gratitude.  Fair warning that it is a hard sermon, even for me to read, but I believe it offers hope to those who have suffered from intimate violence.  A few folks have asked me for it.

Love to you all!  Katie
(click below for the sermon)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Funny

Sometimes this is what it's like to be a pastor--watch it til the end :-)

Love to you all!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From Inside A Lion

Sermon October 11, 2009

by Katie Mulligan

I am writing these poems
From inside a lion,
And it's rather dark in here.
So please excuse the handwriting
Which may not be too clear.
But this afternoon by the lion's cage
I'm afraid I got too near.
And I'm writing these lines
From inside a lion,
And it's rather dark in here.
               --Shel Silverstein, "It's Dark In Here"

First Scripture Reading: Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Second Scripture Reading: Mark 10:17-31

Today's sermon was very short and unscripted. First of all, it's hard to do much with this scripture without making it seem like we're trying to avoid giving our money to the poor. Second, I hate asking for money, which makes for very short "stewardship" sermons.  Here's about what I said:

Jesus says clearly in this passage that in order to get to heaven, the rich man must sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor and then come follow him. I have had many discussions in several churches about this passage, and almost always we get into these questions: "How rich do you have to be before this instruction applies to you?" "What does Jesus have against wealth? There are lots of places in the Bible where wealth is considered a good thing." "Don't I have a right to support myself and loved ones?"  Each of us is going to have to read this passage and follow our conscience; even the disciples were shocked; this passage is supposed to hit us hard.

"Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor" is not the same as saying "Give your money to the church."  Yes, I hope you will give generously to the church. No, that's not exactly what Jesus said.  It seems repetitive and trite to point out that we in the U.S. have vastly more wealth than those in many other countries. Rather than repeat it (again), I invite you to reflect on that and see how the Spirit moves.

The rich young man in the story has done everything he was supposed to by following the commandments and yet senses that there must be more.  Coming to Jesus he asks what that might be, and after receiving a difficult answer, he walks away, grieving.  We have no way of knowing whether the young man was grieving because he was going to miss all those possessions he was going to sell, or if he was sad that he was going to miss God an awful lot.  Perhaps he hadn't decided yet.  But the rest of the story is that Jesus told the disciples that no one can get to heaven without God's help. And so I think today's message is that it is a good thing to stick together as much as we can as we try to figure out God's word.  Because sometimes a person comes across a scripture like this and gets too close, and all of a sudden you get swallowed up by the lion and you're not quite sure what happened to the light. It's not so much that today's scripture is confusing or difficult to understand, it's that if we truly give all of what we have to the poor, we will be living a radically different life.  And if one is going to get swallowed up by a lion, one might as well have company.

So today's "stewardship" sermon is this: keep coming to this tiny church and keeping us company. 'Cause it gets lonely trying to live out God's word.  Give of your time and skills (and yes, your money) as generously as you can, but what we really need is to know that we are journeying together.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Singing Horses

Some things just make me smile, and this is one of them.

Click on Singing Horses to go to the page where they'll sing to you.
When you get there, click on the horses one at a time.
Really, I could do this for hours, but I think I need to work on that newsletter!

Peace, friends...

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Sermon October 4, 2009
by Katie Mulligan

I promised a second sermon on this Mark passage, so here it is.  In more ways than one, this passage caused me grief.  Peace to you and yours...

First Scripture Reading: Mark 9:38-50

Second Scripture Reading: Psalm 13

Last week, we also read the Mark passage—the one where Jesus said to cut off your own hand or foot or pluck out your eye if it was causing you to stumble. If you remember, I suggested that at least one thing this text was telling us was to be careful what we consider an offense—to be careful of what we consider offensive enough to cut off our own body parts. Since plucking out an eyeball is an irreversible action, it makes sense to think things through before reaching for the knife.

As Christians, we often speak of the body as a metaphor for the larger body of Christ, encompassing brothers and sisters across many denominations. The body of Christ stretches across continents and permeates borders. We are not alone in our beliefs; what we do here every Sunday matters to the Christian body as a whole. There are no unimportant body parts—the worship and affection of a tiny church in Mt. Laurel matters to God and enriches the body of Christ. We are connected to our brothers and sisters in far away places of which we have no knowledge. We are connected to our sisters and brothers who worship nearby whom we have never met. And we are connected to the two other congregations who worship in this sanctuary. The body of Christ. Today is World Communion Sunday, and we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper along with believers all over the world. At the end of the Mark passage Jesus says to his disciples, “be at peace with one another.” Well, today, this is us, making that effort.