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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Monday, December 26, 2005


Christmas Eve is usually a bustling time at any church. The clergy is focusing on delivering homilies to a significantly larger than normal crowd. The parish secretary or administrator has labored over the various bulletins to be used; the sexton makes certain there are no cobwebs; the altar guild has made certain the linens are fresh, the vestments spotless; buildings committee made certain the lights are working and the garland will not ignite when the candles are lit.

At St. Bartholomew's I was juggling things trying to make certain the Soup Kitchen would be ready to accommodate plenty of guests for Christmas dinner at noon, moving defrosted turkeys into the fridge, stacking loaves of bread and industrial sized cans of tuna and jars of mayo on one corner of the large stainless work table to be transformed into sandwiches for all the guests to take home after their meal...... for later.

I brought my puppet Murray the raccoon to take part in my homily (Murray the Christmas Raccoon: Wondering, Wonders, Wonderful) for the childrens/family service at 4pm. The service went without a hitch. All the kids got a cocoa mug on their way out the door after the service. I then proceeded to Dunkin' Donuts to pick up jelly donuts to give to our soup kitchen volunteers. Back for the 11pm service, preceeded by a lovely musical program of anthems, hymns. Fr. Gawain welcomed the new faces in the Christmas eve congregation, some bedecked in regal finery.... There are strangers among us, there was a stranger between Joseph and Mary that night long ago. Who and how we are as Christians has a direct connection with how we deal with strangers -- and making them welcome, strangers no more. The candles, the families, the hymns, what a glorious night. I got out of vestments, went down to the kitchen once more to put donated canned goods into the cupboards. It's 2am and I'm crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge to head home to Emmy Lou and some sleep.

Up at 6. Got to get to church to put the 4 huge turkeys into the commercial-grade oven. The volunteers who will be helping prepare, serve and clean up after the meal are all Jewish from the White Plains area. What a testament that they were longing to find somewhere to do service the morning of the first day of Hannukkah.

There we were, Jew and Gentile, doing our part to see to it that those on the fringes of our local society and economy were fed a full meal with all the trimmings; they were clothed: each received a coat,gloves, hat, scarf, gloves, fruit and a tuna sandwich for later; they were listened to: we sat down and ate with them.

Most of our guests were significantly moved and grateful; a few 'old timers' adopted the callous attitude of getting as much as they could grab, "working the system" without any thanks - the attitude of 'you owe me' that masks any vulnerable feelings they may once have had.

Our job was not to expect thanks or judge their actions and motivations... simply and purely to give because generousity and kindness are underpinnings of both of our faith systems.

Blest are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, who provides food for your people.
Blest is your Son who, coming among us, gives us a present of inestimable value.

Help us to do your will, to minister to those in need, and give you the glory and praise. Amen


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