Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wrestling in the Pews

I am not preaching tomorrow, but here is a sermon from a while back for those of you who like them. This was the first sermon I preached at Tiny Church--an audition, if you will.  As anyone there can tell you, everything went wrong in that worship service; even the electric keyboard stopped working, and I had to lead replacement hymns a capella. I figured there was no way they'd hire me after that service, but session met in the foyer and hollered a job offer across the parking lot before I could drive away. Such is the way of tiny churches.

Possibly the most memorable part of that worship service (for me anyway) was the reading of scripture, specifically this verse from Genesis 25:  
Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife because she was barren, and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, "If it is to be this way, why do I live?"
At that exact moment, my oldest child caught his brother in a headlock. The little guy shrieked with rage, leaped up from the front pew, and ran underneath my skirt. Oldest casually strolled up and leaned into me, smiling out at the congregation. As I stood momentarily stunned, the congregation giggled a bit, and after depositing my two weasels back into the pews, I continued on with my debut sermon. I will simply say that pastoring as a single mother is an interesting experience.

Here is the sermon. Enjoy, dear ones.

Sermon, Sunday, July 13, 2008
by Katie Mulligan

Scripture Readings: Genesis 25:19-34 and Matthew 12:46-13:9

Jacob and Esau were the grandsons of Abraham and Sarah. They were the only children of Isaac and Rebekah, and they were born late in Isaac’s life, when Isaac was sixty years old. For twenty years Rebekah had been barren, unable to conceive children. Isaac prayed to the Lord, and God answered their prayers for a child. In God’s usual way, the prayer was answered mischievously, with a pair of twins. From the very beginning, even in the womb, Jacob and Esau fought with one another. They were so rowdy in their mother’s womb that Rebekah sought advice from the Lord. Foreshadowing the pain and struggles to come for their little family, Rebekah asked the Lord, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” Siblings who fight can cause unimaginable grief in a household, and these two were already going at it before they were even born. The Lord’s answer can hardly have been all that reassuring. Two nations at war in her womb, the elder shall serve the younger, a recipe for disaster in a world where peace in a household was maintained by birth order.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crocodile Teeth

Sermon, Sunday Nov. 21, 2010
by Katie Mulligan

Scripture Readings:
Genesis 1:20-25
2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Today is the last day of the liturgical year. Or in other words, this is the last Sunday of the church calendar. It is the end of Ordinary time. It is the last Proper Sunday. No more green until January. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, and also the beginning of a new year for the church.  Today is Christ the King Sunday—the grand ultimate ending to our year.

In keeping with the quiet beginnings of a baby, I'm betting next Sunday will be a quiet Sunday for most of our churches. Bloated from holiday eating, and spending binges on Friday, exhausted from long hours of travel and/or entertaining holiday guests, attendance on Sunday will be a bit low, I suspect. Perhaps you will be cruising along a turnpike somewhere this time next week, rocking out to a chorus of “Are we there yet?” and “Stop touching your brother!” and “Moommmm! I’m hungry!”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Unzippered in Church

I dedicate our reading from Habakkuk this morning to Oscar Grant and his family. Mr. Grant was fatally shot in Oakland on January 1, 2009 by police officer Johannes Mehserle. He was unarmed, face down on the ground, and shot in the back. On November 5, Officer Mehserle received a sentence of 2 years, including time served. Davey D, a reporter and activist in Oakland has written extensively about this trial.

I don't have the answers. But for those of you closer to me, there is a rally for Mumia Abu-Jamal on Tuesday, November 9 in Philadelphia. The Third Circuit court is determining whether Mr. Abu-Jamal is to be executed or receive life in prison. Information on the rally can be found on the Free Mumia website. Additional information about his case can be found at Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The effects of centuries of racist violence in our country are undeniably at the root of both Mr. Grant and Mr. Abu-Jamal's cases. Read the Habakkuk scripture. And then the sermon about Zacchaeus. And then let us ask ourselves, in a moment of naked honesty, what have we taken and how do we pay it back?