Sunday, July 31, 2005

Book Review: The Darling, By Russell Banks

Well, not being quite as cool as Dean Snyder, I wasn't able to actually travel to Liberia this year, but I did just read a book that is set (mostly) in Liberia - The Darling by Russell Banks.

I found the book - fascinating. I'm still not sure if I liked or disliked it - it is not a typical novel in many ways. The 'heroine', if such a word is appropriate, is a woman named Hannah Musgrove. Through a series of flashbacks, we follow her life from her late-teens/early twenties to her late fifties at the close of the novel. She's not a particularly likeable character, but I found myself routing for her anyway, or at least rooting for her to get with it! Hannah is involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the US in her early years, but quickly gets drawn into more dangerous/extremist political groups, and eventually flees to Africa to go "underground."

She ends up in Liberia, marries a man who is not too high and not to low in government, and has three children with him. The heart of the book takes place against the background of unfolding events in Liberia - civil war, terror, unrest, chaos, military coups, and eventually, the rise of Charles Taylor to power. Hannah seeks her identity in the midst of all this, and as she shares the only love she seems to be able to give with her dreamers, the chimpazees she cares for at a lab.

One quote from the book: "It may seem strange to you, but something about prisons, jails, cages comforts me. All my life I've run from confinement and tried to keep others, even animals from being imprisoned. Yet whenever I come close to an actual place of confinement . . . something inside me clicks off and something else clicks on. Dread gets replaced by complacent, almost grateful acceptance . . . [When I was in jail for two nights] having relinquished my physical freedom, I was somehow free in a new and more satisfying way." (pg 291)

The book certainly is, as I said, fascinating. The politics of US relations with other countries, the personal journey of someone trying to make peace with haunting events and choices from the past, and many other issues interwoven - it is a very layered story. Worth a read, I think, even if I can't say you'll "like" it!

a thank you and more on church-searching

Thank you all for responding to my post on finding a new church home. Also, check out my friend Jason's response, which he posted over on his blog, for more reading. I think the stories you've shared are fascinating - you never know what will be the deciding factor for someone to call a church 'home' - no magic pattern. That's a needed reminder sometimes.

Actually, I should have mentioned that my mom is currently looking for a new church home (a blogless family member - shocking, I know) Her journey is somewhat aided by the fact that her daughter and her brother are both pastors in the conference, so we have plenty of suggestions for her!

Today she worshipped with a congregation near her hometown who has a new pastor as of July 1st of this year - one of the few African-American clergy in our conference, one of even fewer female African-American clergy. The church is a smaller church, but filled up for its size, and my mom thought the pastor was great and very spirit-filled. But one of the other parishioners commented to her: "I don't think it detracts from us that we have a black pastor." Ugh. I guess it was her attempt to show how not-prejudiced she was, but I think she missed the mark a bit...

I think my mom may still end up attending this church, despite the comments of some, but if she tours more churches, I'll tell you how her first-time experiences go. She's like my reporter working out in the field ;)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

finding a church

At my church, we're starting plans (slowly, but surely) to add a Saturday evening worship service, for a variety of reasons, which maybe I'll write another post about soon. Anyway, in planning, I was talking with a parishioner about how people end up at the church they attend. I was 'born into' one church when I was little. My parents eventually led me to a new church home when I was a sixth-grader, where I went grudgingly at first, but eventually came to love. I stayed at that church until, well, I became a pastor! During college, I attended one of the UMC churches in town, but hopped from church to church too. During seminary, we had a very strong community of worship in our own chapel. So I've never really been in the position to seek a church to call my own.

So I want to know - how do people find a church? If you've had the experience, I want to know, if you are willing to share:
How many churches did you visit before you landed where you attend?
Where you invited by someone to the church you now attend?
What were you looking for in a church?
What did you find that 'made' or 'broke' the deal for you?

Is it the music, or the preaching, or the fellowship that keeps people coming back to a church, or running from it? I'm sure it is a combination of all these things and more - but if you have some insights, I'd appreciate your sharing.
Thanks!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

review: The Working Poor, by David K. Shipler

WARNING: LONG (rambling?) POST!

I finally finished reading The Working Poor by David K. Shipler. Let me start of by saying that this is an awesome, excellent book. You should read it. You should especially read it if you think a) the government gives too many handouts to the poor or b) poor people should just work harder and they'd be fine. But you should also read it if you just want your eyes to be opened even wider to what it means to be part of the so-called "working poor." I feel like I could write several posts about this book, but I'll try and spare you and condense my thoughts.

Shipler spent years researching the people whose stories he follows in this book - he knows them and their struggles over a period of time that gives him some real perspective. He divides his work into chapters that deal with aspects of poverty: immigrants, education, family ties, etc. - but his focus is on the people who are poor, and their stories. I think he strikes a good balance - he doesn't paint poor people as saints - he's fair, I think, about emphasizing community and individual responsibility for poverty. But he's clear in showing how the system - government, culture, society, communities - has failed people who are poor.

One of Shipler's primary goals is to debunk the myth that if poor people got jobs they would no longer be poor. In the chapter "Work Doesn't Work," he talks about Christie, a woman, who, for example, took a special training course so she could do more at her job and get a raise - a 10 cents/hour raise. With her raise, her food stamps were dropped by $10/month. The net result of her training? An extra $6 a month. (pg. 41) Talk about motivation! Christie also had her children in a Boys and Girls Club after-school program. (Childcare expenses are a huge issue for families with financial struggles) She was late to pick them up one day - having forgotten that Friday had an early pick up day. The club has a rule that they fine parents up to $10/per child/per 5 minutes for late pick-ups. Christie, an hour late, had a fine of $80/PER CHILD for being late. She couldn't pay, so she could no longer send them to this program. (pg. 45)

"Importing the Third World" talks about our reliance, our American need for undocumented workers in order for our economy to function, and the following chapter, "Harvest of Shame," talks specifically about migrant workers. While in college, I had the opportunity to visit homes of migrant workers my freshman year, and was appalled at the living conditions I saw. This chapter, for you United Methodist readers, also follows the Mt. Olive Pickle boycott - which is interesting to read from a non-UMC perspective. A fact: about 52% of the nation's farmworkers are here in the US without permission.

"The Daunting Workplace" talks about the skills people need to get jobs that they don't have - not skills like typing and computers (though those are of course needed) but 'soft skills' like attire and punctuality, hygiene, etc. And Shipley concludes the chapter saying, "it's as if education were like capital; the more you have, the more you get," when pointing out the jobs-skills programs tend to work best for those who already have the most education. (pg. 140)

"Sins of the fathers" looks at abuse, sexual and otherwise, and its impact on people and poverty. "Kinship" was the chapter that spoke to me most personally. The chapter looks at how people with ties - of family and friends - can manage in and sometimes through poverty in a way that those without ties cannot. My own family struggled a lot when I was a child. My father had been an air-traffic controller and went on strike when I was two. President Reagan fired all of them who didn't return to work, and said they could never be hired by the government again, which was where the vast majority of air-traffic controlling jobs were. We struggled - me, my parents, and my three siblings. We went on food stamps. We got behind on bills. We were recipients of my church's Thanksgiving food baskets. We had our heat and power turned off. One Christmas we opened presents with our winter jackets on, and then went by sled (no gas in the car) around the corner to my grandparent' house. I had an umbrella open in my bedroom over my Cabbage Patch kids, to guard them from the plaster that occasionally fell from my ceiling. But I remember being happy and loved, and part of a tight-knit extended family. We struggled, but never fell through the cracks. With the support of family and benefits of education, we struggled out of poverty into middle class. That's what "kinship" is about, and the family profiled in this chapter moved me to tears.

"Body and Mind" talks about health care, nutrition, food, housing. The basics. The best part was one individual who goes above and beyond the usual, really doing something to help. A doctor Barry Zuckerman is profiled. He doesn't just provide health care. He started giving books to his child-patients, which turned into the program Reach out and Read. He's hired lawyers (his fastest growing division, he says) to pursue things like landlords who won't keep their housing up to condition, which in turns causes asthma or infections in children. (pg. 225-226) Inspiring efforts of one individual.

"Dreams" talks about young people, education, parenting. Inequality in education, struggles of teachers and parents are highlighted. Some of the examples of sub-par education are horrifying.

"Work works" follows the stories we like to hear about : people who made it out. Who went through the system and have become "upstanding members of society," who have jobs and are viable and stable. The stories here are great.

In "Skill and Will," Shipler brings it home, asking, "what can be done?"
He argues that poverty has many related issues, and we can't focus on just one aspect of poverty - like housing - or things won't get better. He says we must have skill and will. What problems do we have the skills to solve? Sometimes, he'll admit, we don't have the skills. But he argues that more often, we never come close to exhausting our skills because we exhaust our apparent will to exercise those skills. (pg. 286) "Holistic remedies are vital," he says, but we must be willing to have some - those with the most to give - be willing to make some sacrifice to alleviate hardship for those with the least. He especially urges for changes in wage structure, education funding (Head Start's funding equaled at the time of writing the price of 1.5 new air craft carriers, pg. 298), and health care (the federal budget for child health care equals the price of a new air craft carrier, pg. 295).

Finally, in an epilogue, Shipler gives us a "where are they now" follow up to some of his primary sources. Some are making it. Some are still in the same cycle of poverty.

Read it!

Friday, July 22, 2005

children's sermon: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Sorry I haven't posted a children's sermon for the last two weeks - I wasn't preaching! So, for this Sunday, here's my plan.

I'm focusing on the 'yeast' part of the parable, and I am going to bring in two cakes - one made without any baking soda/rising agents, and one made with. I will show them the flatter cake, and ask the children what is wrong with it. I'll talk about how even though it is such a small amount of the recipe, a bad-tasting, unexciting ingredient, it is totally essential to the cake. I'll tie that in to the kingdom of God, and to our own essential and important role in that kingdom.

Not a perfect comparison. But it will do :)

congrats...

Congrats to my little brother Tim, who got a 95, scoring 5th place on the firefighter's exam. He rocks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

So, I just took a brief break from the other books I'm reading to read JK Rowling's latest in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Like the others, I loved this book as well. I'm fascinated by the details that Rowling has come up with, the world she has created. I admire people who can write so creatively.

What I don't understand, really, is the condemnation of the books by some Christian groups. I really just don't get it. Some of my other favorite books, as I've mentioned before are the Chronicles of Narnia from CS Lewis. I realize he's a theologian writing clearly with Christian themes, but he certainly still talks about witches and wizards and magic in a way that doesn't say they are evil. What makes Harry Potter so bad?

Indeed, as the series progresses, Harry has to struggle with deeper ethical questions. I won't pretend they are blantantly theological questions of course - but they are ethical life questions. Harry's adventures are really about the choices he makes. And Rowling is emphasizing that love is the ultimate power, indeed, that sacrificial love is more amazing than any tangible power another can hold. In the end, Harry's magic powers are just a side note to the decisions and choices he has to make. I think it is sending all the right messages to young (and older!) readers, in a make-believe world that is fun and exciting.

What do you think?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Reflections: Youth Retreat

I've been a bit delinquent in blogging this week, and I just got back from a weekend conference youth (CCYM) retreat held at one of our conference camps, Casowasco.

It was an exhausting weekend, with a wedding thrown in the middle. But the thing that keeps me doing youth work, the reason that makes all the craziness worth it, which I've mentioned before, is seeing youth articulate their faith for themselves, their own thoughts, sometimes for the first time, as they are figuring out who they are. Being a witness to the transition between child and adult is a precious gift, even if I occasionally (or frequently) want to pull my hair out from being part of such a process.

This weekend, our keynote was my probationary colleague Rev. Heather Williams, and the theme of the weekend was "You've Got a Friend in Me," based on Disney's Toy Story. In one of her talks, Heather referred to the movie and how Woody knows that he belongs to Andy because Andy has written his name on Woody's foot. Then Woody acts out in pain, anger, and violence when he thinks Andy doesn't want him any more. She compared this to our belonging to God, and how we act when we think we don't belong to God any more, or when we think that God has broken promises to us.

In youth witnessing (we give youth time to do 'open witness' - just come up and tell how they see God working in their lives):
One youth read from a book - and I unfortunately can't site the source - but the quote was something like this: "We spend too much time stealing time from those who love us most trying to please those who love us least." Is that on target or what? As youth, as people, as pastors we do this.

Another youth shared something a friend had told her: "If it's not great at the end, it isn't the end."

Sometime the youth have theology that is - well, undeveloped. But it is their own. They are working on saying what they believe and why for themselves, and that's a lot to work through. So I admire them for being willing to stand up in front of 100 other youth and cry and laugh with them and be honest about their fears and doubts and stumbling faith. Good stuff.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Pastoral Visitation: Survey Responses and Reflections

Thanks all for your responses to my survey on Pastoral Visiting. Feel free to keep them coming - my interest is ongoing!

Some background on my reasons for my questions. I've just hit my two year anniversary at the church I serve in Central New York. I have about 100 in attendance on Sundays (except in summers, when attendance could be anything) and about 450 members on the rolls, plus constituents. I certainly have not visited everyone or even nearly everyone on the books in my two years. I've visited those who are home bound, those who have found themselves in crisis, and those who have invited me to their homes for one reason or another. But, I still want to connect with those others I've not met, who don't come to worship regularly if it all.

So, our evangelism committee is undertaking a project - a series of dinners late this summer and early this fall for groups of 20-25 people - groups by age, groups by geographic location, groups by common interest. I'm hoping to get to know people better, meet at least some that I've not yet met, and help some of our newer and/or less active members find a group within the church with whom they can share fellowship.

Pastoral visiting can be a tricky issue. Sometimes, pastors (like me, for sure) overlook situations that need attention. Sometimes I mean to call someone or follow up on something, and before I realize it, a week has gone by. Already, I've had both positive and negative feedback on the 'dinner party' plan - some are excited to help out, some think I should just be visiting all these people on my own. Sometimes, parishioners feel upset because they've missed a few weeks of church and no one has noticed. Sometimes, parishioners feel upset because they've missed a few weeks and someone has noticed! Visiting is a tricky thing to figure out, so I've been curious: is there a 'norm'? A best method? How do pastors utilize laity in visitation?

Of course, like most things church, the responses have been as varied as the people who respond.

From the laity, some have never had a pastor visit, and some have had long visits from them. Some seem happy with their time with their pastor, and others wish for more/different time, and it is not always directly connected to the actual amount of time their pastor has spent in visiting them!

From the clergy, some visit 5, 10, 15, or 20 hours a week. Mine own visiting is certainly closer to 5 hours a week than 20. Visiting of shut-in members happens quarterly, monthly, biweekly, weekly. Most have at least some help from laity and/or other staff/volunteers in some form.

Thank you for your responses. I'm constantly amazed in ministry by my experiences, and by peoples' need to be loved - I try to remember that it is the need for love that is at the heart of our care. This week, I visited someone who was related to a regularly attending member, and I referred to myself as "his pastor." He was surprised that I thought of him as 'my' member, and touched, just because I would claim him. Sometimes, it takes so little to give so much.

check out: different religions week

A student at Rice University founded Different Religions Week in 2003, and it will be observed starting July 15th this year. Nathan Black started the movement to encourage people to look beyond misunderstandings of other religions, to choose peaceful relationships with one another instead of reactions based out of fear and lack of knowledge.

A quote from his site: "Religiously motivated violence is at a troubling level in the world today — 9/11 and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict come first to mind. Different Religions Week aims to take a few small steps away from the widespread ignorance and intolerance that fuels such tragedy . . ."

Check it out, as Nathan is encouraging others to simply spread the word about this Week.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Relevant Magazine: reflections

I just finished reading the current issue of Relevant magazine, and I must say, I continue to be impressed with the magazine. Many of the perspectives in articles I disagree with, but you can't box this magazine into a category of liberal or conservative. Many articles also have me nodding my head in agreement, or hopping on the web to follow up something mentioned in what I read. You really should check it out if you haven't seen/read it yet.

Anyway, thoughts from this issue:

Dan Haseltine, lead singer for Jars of Clay, is an occasional writer, and in this issue has a page article titled The Louder Voice.

Excerpts: "The Church has been sold a lie that they are now investing in and perpetuating across the Western world. The lie is that technology, intertainment and comfort are core necessities to tell the Gospel story . . . I have never heard a person in remembering their journey from fear to faith recall the type of screens, the light show, the fabric colors . . . [that] stirred their heart to a place where they could examine their life and soul and see that they were a wretch and that God alone could save them. Our God is still a God of relationships . . . and the Gospel does not need our technological wonders and brilliant sanctuaries to enhance it or make it relevant. The Gospel is rooted in the messy world of relationships. It does not need comfort to thrive; in fact, it seems as though it thrives best in places where comfort cannot be pursued."

Really, I want to quote virtually the whole article. But I'll restrain myself.

Another good page article is Demagnetizing Christianity by John Fischer, where he talks about politics and attempts to sign Jesus up with a political affiliation.

And O Jesus, Who Are Thou? by Jason Boyett examines with great humor different ways we have answered over time the question, "Who do you say that I [Christ] am?" (which, by the way, is coming up in the lectionary later this summer.) Jesus types we love, according to Boyett: Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild; Republican Jesus; Christ Hippified (my personal fave); Romanticized Boyfriend Jesus, The Wild-Hearted Jesus, and, most recently, Jesus Is My Homeboy.

Ok. So, check it out.

london

My heart goes out to people in London today, as many others have expressed.

Certainly, we're not dealing with the number of deaths that came on 9/11/2001, but I imagine those directly impacted and indirectly impacted are feeling some of the same feelings of fear and insecurity today.

Back in 2001, I was still in seminary at Drew, and doing my supervised ministry at the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (GCCUIC), which is in the upper west side of Manhattan. I worked on Mondays and Fridays and had been into the city exactly twice before the attacks. I had thought I was pretty brave trying to navigate NJtransit and the subway, and feeling very wordly and sophisticated. But after 9/11, I basically never wanted to go to NYC again. I did, but it was hard, and I was filled with anxiety all the time. I hated being on the trains and subways. Once on the way home on a train we sat stopped on the tracks for over an hour because of an anthrax scare (turned out to be powered sugar or something like that). It was a long time before I could enjoy my position again, and my whole position at the interfaith agency was certainly shaped by what happened on 9/11.

So, my heart goes out to people whose lives will be forever changed by today.

And, I already have anxieties about what's happened in London today, that follow this line of thought: Who will be blamed for these attacks? How will the UK (and others) respond to these attacks? How do we learn to act without violence and hatred toward those who hurt us or who we perceive to hurt us and to teach this to others?

I pray for the peace that Christ speaks of to be upon us.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

new blog

My friend jason has started a blog. He's currently United Methodist, but sadly on his way out. However, don't hold it against him - read his blog anyway!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

informal survey: pastor visitation and calling

I'm doing my own informal survey on pastoral visitation/calling. If you have a few minutes, I'd love for you to respond to my post, either in comments or by email if you are more comfortable (beth at bethquick dot com).

Answer these questions if you are a pastor:
1) How many hours a week do you spend in visitation of parishioners?
2) How often do you visit the same person if they are home-bound/nursing-home-bound?
3) How often do you visit a person who is hospitalized for a short time period?
4) Do others in your congregation help with visitation? How?
5) How long is your 'average' visit?
6) Have you visited all members, including those who do not actually attend your church?
7) How did you initiate visits when you first came to your congregation?
8) Do you visit a person when he/she first begins attending your church? How/when would you initiate such a visit?

If you are a lay person, please answer these:
1) Has your pastor visited you?
2) If yes, how often has she/he visited?
3) How long does he/she visit for?
4) Has your pastor visited you for other than special situations - just a 'regular' visit?
5) When you first met your pastor, either because you joined the church, or a new pastor came to your church, when were you firsted visited by her/him?

Thanks for your help in this! If you have other insights on visiting/calling you want to share, feel free!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Live 8 - reflections

Yesterday I made a day-trip down to Philly with friends to catch that branch of the Live 8 concerts. It was an interesting day. I've seen conflicting figures of how many people were there - I only know that it was hard even to move sometimes it was so crowded. Grassy areas were filled up, so people were sitting in the street, standing on top of trucks, sitting on top of port-a-potties (yuk!) Not a place for the claustrophobic.

It was pretty hot out - some fire trucks were even on site sprinkling by-passers with cold water. There were vendors everywhere, selling things at expectedly high and inflated prices. We found our best bet was a stand operated by a local sports association.

The music was ok - unless you were very close, you couldn't see the stage, and it was also hard to find "seats" near the jumbotrons, big-screens showing the stage. My favorite - Bon Jovi (I used to love singing Bon Jovi songs on the bus home from elementary school) and Will Smith leading a sing-a-long to the theme from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

All said - I wouldn't have wanted to miss it. What kind of impact will Live 8 have? I'm not sure. But it raises consciousness - it encourages social activism in people who may not have considered it before. I'm not foolish enough to think everyone who attended was there for the cause and not for the free concerts. But, people were still there, hearing the message about poverty, debt, and relief. People were made to feel like it is possible to make and to work for change, and I think that is something we often forget.

Are there other better ways to fight poverty? Probably. But I don't find it helpful to critique efforts like this if you don't have 1) better alternatives in mind 2) the commitment to work on these issues in your alternative way. At least, I don't think there were any malicious intents in Live 8. Personal interests? Of course. But when is that not the case? Better to hope for the best, and hope that this event can make or contribute to positive changes as we work to end poverty. We'll see...

On Being a Pastor from St. Casserole

Via Dylan's Grace Notes, I just found this new blog, St. Casserole.

Particularly, I like these posts in honor of an anniversary of ordination -

First:
On Pastor Spakle, an excerpt -
So, having said this, I give you the St.Casserole 27th Ordination Anniversary Coming-Up Sparkle Advice.

3. Make some friends with people outside of the church. I know this is difficult but you need people to relax with and say what you want to say.

4. Spend time without your preacher-self "on". Drop that facade so you won't forget who you were before you became holy. I'm not talking returning to the sin dens of your youth but many pastors have a pastoral affect which is stilted, pious, goofy with holiness and silly. Put that aside and don't be a twit all the time.

5. Ministry is tough. Ministry is demanding. Find humor where you can. Watch a silly movie. I suggest the original "Arsenic and Old Lace", "Airport", "Spaceballs", "Harvey".

6. Please do not try to bring the Kingdom in by yourself. This is a team effort.

8. Keep your devotional disciplines going. Read your Bible, pray for others, sit in silence, meditate, put yourself into the scripture passage. Pray and listen.

10. Get it wrong every now and then. Wear an outfit that doesn't work. Put on lipstick. (I write from my perspective so if you don't wear lipstick because you shave a heavy beard everyday, get a better haircut than you've had).


Then, Funny Moments in Ministry:

Preaching with my alb inside out. Didn't notice until later.

Seeing myself on wedding videos. Even worse than the wedding pictures. Thank goodness, weddings aren't about me.

Dropping the lids of the communion trays loud enough to make the organist gasp.

Hearing the organist hit single long notes during the service when she fell asleep at the keyboard.

Watching a man pick his nose during the entire sermon. Fascinating.... He didn't realize that I can see everything? Is this a benefit of far-sightedness or a curse? Discuss among yourselves.

Doing a funeral with a Baptist pastor who referred to the dead person by my name throughout the entire service and keeping a straight face.

Being shown scars, incisions, body parts by patients in the hospital. I am modest. I hope I never do this to anyone.

Having a hospital patient explain to me that her boyfriend's you-know untied her tubes during sex. Having to leave the room before I doubled over laughing.

Co-officiating with an Episcopal priest who had an erection while doing a wedding. I wouldn't have noticed but the bride was hysterical. The congregation thought she was just happy. I couldn't get through with that service fast enough. Top that for inappropriate behavior!


And Remarkable Things I've Actually Seen as a Minister:

Once in worship, a congregant was trying to kill a wasp with a hymnbook against the window pane. Windows were plain clear glass in the very old church. He pushed the hymnbook on the glass to squish the wasp and the hymnbook, wasp and window pane fell out towards the ground.

I heard something during the prayer and thought, what's that? It was an elder CLIPPING HIS FINGER NAILS during the prayer.

During a Session meeting, one elder SPIT on another elder. Not an accidental spray (which is gross enough) but hocked a louie.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Children's Sermon for Matthew 11:28-30

I don't know about you, but I always have a hard time coming up with Children's Sermons that are fun for the kids and to the (theological) point. So, I think, when I find a good one for the upcoming Sunday, I will post it here. For this Sunday, try "When your load is heavy" from Sermons4Kids.