This will be a different kind of post for me.  I’ve got lots swirling around my head and my heart about my sermon for Sunday, which is about the shepherds being some of the first to receive the Good News of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8-20).  I’m working with an understanding that saturates the Bible: God comes to the least and the outcast and the marginalized first and foremost to receive divine grace and hear the sacred message.  In this instance, God (via the angelic choir) came to the common laborers of the land, the working class folks, the “line staff” and the “day laborers” if you will.  I’m pondering the power of the God of All Creation telling the average Joe and Jenny that the world was going to change in an instant.  Maybe today, it might be more appropriate to say “the average Juan and Maria!”

So… things rolling around in my heart:

+ The pain and heartache I am feeling for the members of my congregation and community who are out of work, looking for work, underemployed, on the anxious edge of employment, and those staying in unfulfilling and dis-heartening jobs far longer than they might otherwise because of the difficult economy.

+ The news that the U.S. Congress did not agree to extend Unemployment Benefits, and how that *directly* affects members of my congregation, and people who are beloved to me.

+ The news that many corporations – some of whom were recipients of U.S. Government loans to prevent them from going completely under only a couple of years ago – are planning extravagant and wasteful holiday parties.

+ An awareness that there is a nasty smear campaign on the part of conservative political extremists and media pundits to pin the blame of the economic downturn and the U.S. Debt on the backs of our public service employees, even though they do the hard work of real-time on-the-ground service to the citizens of our cities, counties, states, and nation; they *have* been hit hard by the recession; and they are not making anything near the income of middle or top management in the corporate world (not to mention the exorbitant salaries of CEO’s).

+ The power of knowing that some of the least appreciated and most hard-working people one can imagine are the very ones that God called to do great things!  Moses and David were shepherds.  Cain was a farmer.  Hagar was a maidservant.  Andrew and Peter were fisherfolk.  Paul, Aquilla, and Priscilla were tentmakers.  Lydia dyed (and presumable sold) cloth.  And, of course, Jesus, following in his father’s footsteps, was a carpenter.

+ I’m also thinking about my ongoing and longstanding commitments to buy “Made in the U.S.A.” and “Fair Trade” products, in large part because by doing so I am part of making sure the folks who made the products might more likely be getting a living wage by doing so.  It’s worth it to me to pay a bit more for products if that means my neighbor can have food on the table and health care when she or he gets sick.

Thus, you can see I have a lot (too much?) rolling around in my head.  Perhaps you see something I don’t or have a perspective on what I am thinking that would help move me forward on this sermon?!

God’s Grace Is Abundant!

Pastor Allen