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September 2019 Associate Minister's Column by The Reverend Nathan A. Ryan

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I write my sermons with you in mind. That’s right, you, the person reading this. Whether you are a long-term member, a visitor, a board member, a casual attender, someone who is suffering from addiction, someone in grief, or someone who’s not even been to the church but been thinking about it for months. 

I think about you during the entire process. I think about you when I submit the subject for the newsletter and when picking music and readings.  I think about who will be challenged and who will be comforted by a story or parable. I try to imagine who will feel included by the sermon. I try to imagine how it will sound to someone who has a child in religious education, or is sick of being the target of racism. I try to craft the services so that a new person can join in and feel joyously welcomed.
From concept to delivery, 20 hours is a conservative estimate of how much time is invested in each worship service. The service is part of an ongoing conversation between you and your ministers. And here’s the thing, when you aren’t there, you miss it.
When you aren’t in church sometimes I’m sad. I’m sad that you missed a service I crafted with you in mind. And I worry. I worry that your depression or addiction or grief is keeping you away. I wonder how you’re doing. Sunday is the time that we can see each other, face to face. It’s the time when your ministers can touch base with you.

Attending church is a spiritual practice. It doesn’t always provide immediate results, but it offers the opportunity to be at peace. It offers a time for you to reflect on how you can better the world, how you can atone for something that has been weighing on you for too long. It helps you build a thick spiritual safety net. It is an hour handcrafted for you so that you might find harmony and help heal the world.