The Cutting Room Floor

cutting room floorMy friend Don Flowers has a blog called “Didn’t Make the Sermon.”  I love the title, and I would guess that every other preacher does, too.  We know there are plenty of things we think about putting into the sermon that we eventually leave out, often with good reason.  And we all remember those times we left something in that should have been left out.

I went back and forth on this introduction to yesterday’s sermon, but eventually left it out, reasoning that it was more about last week’s sermon than this one.  Still, there was something there that I liked–the idea of the church as a place of unconditional love and acceptance.  So, I’ve rescued this intro from the cutting room floor and posted it here for what it’s worth:

We are still on the road with Jesus, walking with him on the way to Jerusalem, watching everything he does, listening to everything he says. Last week he was talking to the scribes and Pharisees about what you do when you lose something precious, like a sheep, or a coin, or a son. Jesus implied that you drop everything to look for it; you don’t stop looking for it until you find it; and when you find it you rejoice. It made me think about those who are wandering away from the fold of the church in America these days, and what we are doing about it. A lot of them are young people who simply don’t find church compelling any more. They’re not afraid they’ll go to hell when they die. They don’t know why they should show up and listen to someone tell them how to live. But some of them are leaving because they’re afraid that if we knew everything about them we wouldn’t want them to come. They don’t think of the church as a place of unconditional love and acceptance; they think of it as a place where people will judge them for who they are and how they live. It made me think we need to find a way to let them know that this place is not that kind of place, that we need to do a better job of seeking, finding, and rejoicing.

I wonder what would happen if we put a big sign on the front steps of the church that read: “This is a place of unconditional love and acceptance.”  Would it bring in the wrong crowd?  Or would it bring in the right one?

And who gets to decide which is which?

The “Maturity” Checklist

My brother Scott has been serving as my mother’s “editor and publisher” recently, helping her sort through a lifetime’s worth of collected musings and publishing online those things that might be of interest to others.  This one was of interest to me: a “maturity checklist” designed to help me and my brothers know if we were ready to make it on our own.  It provides an interesting glimpse into that rugged, rural West Virginia life we were living in those days, in an old white farmhouse up on a hill with a big garden and lots of dogs, cats, ponies, rabbits, and chickens.

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You can know if you are grown-up enough to leave home and be on your own.

Can you: work eight hours in the hot sun, love God, take care of yourself and have enough strength left over to tend someone else?

Here’s the checklist for the six Somerville sons:

I CAN

USE CHAIN SAW SAFELY AND SHARPEN

BUILD CAMPFIRE AND KEEP IT SAFE

BUY MY OWN DOG,  DOG FOOD, SHOTS

FIX A COMPLETE MEAL FOR OTHERS

CHANGE A TIRE AND GET REPAIRS

READ FEVER THERMOMETER

FOLD SHEETS, PLAIN OR FITTED

HANG CURTAIN RODS

USE ELECTRIC DRILL

EARN MONEY

PACK A SUITCASE

SKIP A MEAL AND PRAY INSTEAD

TITHE

SAVE MONEY

SPLIT KINDLING

RIDE A HORSE

FEED DOG DAILY WITHOUT REMINDER

ADDRESS AN ENVELOPE

MOW GRASS

WRITE A LETTER

IRON A SHIRT

MULTIPLICATION TABLES

BOOKS OF THE BIBLE

54 PREPOSITIONS

PARTS OF SPEECH

TEN COMMANDMENTS

LORD’S PRAYER

USE CONCORDANCE

USE A DISHWASHER CORRECTLY

FOLD CLOTHES

SORT LAUNDRY INTO DARK AND LIGHT

USE LAUNDRY MACHINES AND CLOTHESLINE

TAKE OUT GARBAGE

USE AN ELECTRIC SANDER

WASH DISHES IN SINK

SCRUB OUT BATHTUB

SWISH-CLEAN TOILET

USE A CATALOG

USE A DICTIONARY

CLEAN SHOES

READ A BOOK

“CLEAN” A ROOM

HANG CLOTHES ON HANGERS

OVERCOME OBSTACLES

OVERCOME FATIGUE

OVERCOME DREARY WEATHER

DO ONE JOB AT A TIME

NOT AFRAID OF RAIN OR SNOW

AVOID SIDETRACKING

OVERCOME SLUMP

ACCEPT DISAPPOINTMENT

MAINTAIN PACE

KEEP IMPROVING

OVERCOME BOREDOM

—Mary Rice Whiting Somerville

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I’m still working on those 54 prepositions, but my chainsaw sharpening skills are strong.

Thanks, Mom.