Admittedly I have only really considered one of the four texts from the RCL for my homily on Sunday, the one from Galatians. The one that says, there is no longer Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. In light of the tragedy in Orlando, FL last week I just can see my way into another text. Only I am not so convinced that claiming that we are all the same is a good idea. I rather like that humanity is made up of many different people: races, ethnicities, genders, religions (or not religious). I think our differences make us better humans as a whole. I am, however, okay with the idea that God might see us as all the same. I just think it’s better that we in fact are not at all the same. We are very different. So, how to make this idea work within the reading from Galatians?

Anyway, that’s what I’m noodling on. Oh, and I have a funeral this morning, so there’s that sermon too.

What about you? Are you pondering one of the readings from the RCL or from the NL? Are you planning to say something about the shootings in Orlando? Or, is that too far removed from your context, but something else is closer? Or, do you have absolutely no idea?

Well, regardless of whether you have some ideas or none. at. all. we are here with you. Here, at this party, we share ideas and do what we can help one another. I have good coffee and plenty of fresh fruit. Please pull up a chair, help yourself, let’s party!

standing around the world

63 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: We all are…

  1. I’m also preaching from Galatians, and am going with Paul’s call to grow up and stop replying on the Law to make decisions for you. We must learn to live in love, for God and neighbor, because we are all one in Christ. Not all the same, but all one. And we will toll our tower bell 50 times. God, be with us.

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    1. I like the idea of tolling the bell 50 times. I have three services, however, and I think the neighbors would complain. Maybe we could toll it 50 times during the last (and probably biggest) service? Something to ponder…thanks for the idea.

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      1. Terry, knowing that my local queer community might like to hear the bell toll but not join us in worship, I created a facebook event and invited everyone to either join us or stand outside where you can actually hear the bell much better. A retired pastor in our congregation made the suggestion that we take the light of Christ out to the people so they could use it to light vigil candles if they wish. I hope it will be very moving for everyone.

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        1. Now I’m thinking we should toll the bell 50 times at the end of the last service, as people are leaving. If I ring it during the service it won’t be heard in the church. It does ring three different times to mark the start of the 8 and 10am services and it rings at 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm. But still, ringing it for 50 times in a row would be distinctive. We also have a special Prayers of the People with the refrain, “Make me an agent of your peace” being said or sung (depending on the service) and the names of all 49 people being read aloud by members of the congregation. I like the idea of taking the Christ candle (we call it the Paschal Candle) outside to mark a vigil time. Maybe I’ll light ours tomorrow and take one outside for that service. All good ideas and symbols of faith. I hope you have folks from the community join you and your congregation.

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  2. Here in the UK we are reeling from another death. That of an MP- member of parliament. She was shot and stabbed while in her constituency office. This has never happened, like this, before. Gun violence is rare. The killing of one of our representatives doing the work is simply unheard of.
    Also, continuing violence and rioting at the euro football tournament- which I have no interest in, but many in the congregation do.

    I am still working through 2Corinthians. And still struggling. This week the title is reconciliation which seems apposite. But I just don’t know where to go.

    Oh yes, it is also communion. The family are here for my oldest son’s birthday (32) and for us announcing our wedding to the congregation. Sigh….
    I will just have to get on with it!
    Coffee, birthday cake, bacons, eggs, left over pizza, tattie scones…. help yourself!

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    1. Julie, the death of the MP has made the news here, it’s startling and I am so sorry. Reconciliation is a good theme for the week – how does one reconcile one’s feelings in response to such injustice, violence, tragedy? What signs are there of people who are doing that by reaching out and caring for others who are hurting, trying to help? How might we be agents of God’s healing and reconciling love, especially in the face of violence? Sometimes there are fewer answers to give, but questions to ask.

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      1. maybe this idea of reconciliation directs us to RCL luke instead of galatians (or both) a legion of voices calling us in so many directions… nationalism, hatred, pride, denominational pride, intolerance… all demonic voices that leave us residing in death and isolation… are we the man possessed (a people possessed), one of the voices trapping others in captivity among tombs… the people too afraid to let go of what we know that we cast out jesus rather than the demons… can we let jesus cast out the demons… ties to galatians too… does someone have to be a jew first… or a christian first before we can offer them the love of christ… or is it that love that guides/guards them into the faith

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  3. I’m going with Galatians, somehow … in our diversity is our oneness, or something. We’ve been “that church” with “that pastor” in the valley of 2500 people with 14 churches, and this historic Congregational church is just now grasping it’s place as a “God is still speaking,” UCC congregation. Not only that, they articulated right up front that calling me to serve them with my wife in tow was about as Open and Affirming as they were going to get, but here we are, four-plus years later with 35-plus new members who are clamoring at the horror of the week as the time to do some work. We’re going to have small group viewings and conversations about “For the Bible Tells Me So” video from about 8 years ago. We’re beginning to talk about the “clobber” passages as they confess their biblical illiteracy and hunger to understand why other people sling verses at them. AND the evening of June 12 one of the congregation called to tell me not to worry if I heard the bell pealing and tolling–he was “being led by the Spirit to call people to prayer and to toll once for each person who died, even though we don’t yet know their names … God does.” While feeling so much that I couldn’t articulate, I was being approached by people in the community about “What’s your church going to do about this terrible situation?” and “If you don’t say anything or do something, no other pastor or church will.” So Thursday we held a vigil–24 people showed up, half from my congregation and half from the community … a HUGE deal. God’s sense of humor also appeared: Our local weekly paper offers a “Pastor’s Corner” column on a rotation. Guess who’s turn it is this week? Ha. Lord, guide my words, with Your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth!

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    1. May you continue to be guided by the Spirit in this time where the grace of who you are is a sign of God’s love in the midst of tragedy. Being authentic, gracious, and always about God’s love are values that can help to keep our “egos” in an appropriate level of investment as we strive to do God’s work. Blessings on your words and actions in these days.

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  4. I’m up early, hoping to get some work done on my homily for Sunday before I head off for the funeral. It’s been many weeks in a row of Saturday/Sunday funerals or weddings or ordinations and worship services. I woke up with a headache (related to neck strain), so I’m icing my neck and waiting for the Excedrin migraine meds to kick in. It is a beautiful morning here, but a very hot day ahead. Coffee anyone?

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  5. Galatians and Luke. I am in a series on Galatians, but the gospel readings keep getting in there as well. In the Short Talk or Children’s time [we don’t have any children in worship most Sundays] i am telling the story called “You are special” by Max Lucado. thinking about how we name ourselves and others. human divisions and the unity we have in Christ.
    a great afternoon today when we had a visit by the Moderator, Rev Myung Hwa Park [state leader of our denomination] . A wonderful ordained woman, with a passion for spirituality, born in Korea.
    tomorrow i am only leading at the later service, so a 9.45 am start, instead of 8.15 am, looking forward to a little sleep in, and not so rushed getting between services.

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  6. Like Pearl, I am in Galatians series, but the gospel keeps poking its way in there. This week, though, I feel as if the texts, already favorites, were handed to us for precisely these circumstances. Jesus unfazed by “differentness” and always moving forward to heal and to deal with the root cause of suffering, Paul telling us that in baptism we are all one in our identity in Christ (which does not mean that we don’t celebrate our other claims to heritage and identity), and both experiencing rejection.

    I was in Washington, D.C. advocating for suicide and mental health legislation this week, and I’m going to use as an illustration a lunch with some of our group and a group of educator-advocates crammed together in a crowded and noisy cafeteria in a house office building, sharing our concerns and then quickly moving to our personal stories. One of the educators, a middle-aged white man, talked about his transgender son, now a teacher himself. Another, an older black man, told us about his son who died 25 years ago and then said to me, “Fifteen years ago, my pastor preached against gay people, but now [said with satisfaction] that’s changed.” All of the distinctions among us fell away as we got to the stories of our lives. Interesting that Longworth Cafeteria reflected the church for me this week — how is the church itself doing?

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  7. I often visit here, but am not sure I have ever posted. Reading posts and comments this week has been deeply moving and profoundly encouraging. I am so grateful for this community of preachers. My sermon will most likely be written much later today or even tonight…I was struck by the townspeoples’ fear following the man’s healing, and their insistence that Jesus leave. He does, but asks the man to stay and be a witness of the power of God to transform individuals, and, perhaps the story implies, ultimately even whole communities. It would be easy to run away from difficult conversations, from fearful situations. But Christ himself calls us to stay – what remarkable faith he has in us. We are actually Jew and Greek, male and female, gay and straight, Democrat and Republican, Mississippi State and Ole Miss (well, maybe that’s just here!)…the distinctions are part of what make us a beautiful, full community. But our core identity is not any of those things – it is that we are beloved of God, healed and called and sent by Jesus Christ. If we begin our conversations there, begin our actions there, perhaps we can do so with less fear.

    Terri, my heart is full for you trying to write with a headache and such a full day ahead. Healing prayers ascending!

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    1. I agree that our differences make us rich and full and better! Thanks for the concern. Ice/heat/ice and excedrin did the trick for now! Funeral over, having some lunch before moving into the afternoon.

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  8. Still working on sermon – a combo of Galatians and Luke and Orlando. It was a week of my own parishioners’ needs and covering for two other pastors. My husband was out of town at a silent retreat and I felt quite alone hearing the awful news Sunday but I couldn’t tear myself away. Finally called my son in Seattle.
    I plan to use a wonderful “Blessing in a Time of Violence” by Jan Richardson to end the sermon. I appreciated David Lose’s In the Meantime “there is absolutely nowhere God is not willing to go to reach and free and sustain and heal those who are broken and despairing.” and that God sends us to those places as well. But how to bring it all together? Not sure yet. I’m going to a graduation party this afternoon but hope to have a core of the sermon done by then.
    Rhubarb sauce and coffee here for anyone who is interested. (And some mint M&Ms but I’m trying not to dig into those).

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    1. Sylvia, feel free to call me next time Chris is away! This week I couldn’t fall asleep for watching the filibuster, and had about a million different trains of thought vying for attention. Hopefully they have all been placed back on their own tracks by now, but… I hear you on needing to process the overwhelmingness of this week.

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  9. I am ‘off lectionary’ this week. We’re looking at the Elijah thread of the RCL but have mixed up the weeks in order to take the story in chronological order rather than that as printed in RCL. So we’ve had ravens and widows and tomorrow we look at the two pyres and prayers to God and to Baal.

    Elijah is asking the people to make a choice for God. He is proving that God wins. God is love ergo love wins. My sermon looked very differently on Monday to its near final form today. I had planned to preach on exaggerated narratives and finding the truth in ‘big fish’ stories. So much has happened since then, and even before Monday I was saddened and upset and then I spent some time yesterday talking with trusted colleagues who have encouraged me to go with my heart and preach on choosing love when the world seems bleak.

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    1. I think people are looking for us to comment on the tragedies, connect them to our faith and scripture, and offer some sense of real hope. My hope is usually found in the goodness of people responding to tragedies (first responders, those who continue after) with the idea that God is working in and through them to help heal the broken places.

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  10. I’m struggling with what to say tomorrow, still, and suspect that will continue a bit longer today. I’ve employed almost all my procrastination/creativity-spurring techniques. The only one left is to add to the headers on this blog. Keep a look out for new photos. 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sometimes procrastination is just another way to let the Spirit work inside until what she has to say can formulate itself well enough to move to the outside. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking with it as I sit on Facebook, eat lunch, prepare to walk dogs before it really is too hot, etc., etc., etc., until I have to finish writing the sermon…

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  11. just finished talking to my future son in law (who will marry my transgender son in Oct). it was jolting to hear him say that , in spite of all the vigils on Sunday night, they just wanted to be home, alone, and safe. That he went to his regular grocery store, and realized he was anxious about being in public, not unlike people of color, he felt aware of his fear. I am using the Gospel, and a bit of Galatians; speaking of fear, hatred and how we need to work so hard against the fear and hatred heard from some places in the name of God and religion. Obviously, this will all be from a mom’s point of view, whose kids were 4 and 8 at the time of Columbine—-and how that has colored us …… a long way to go…

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      1. thank you Terri, it is not coming a long too smoothly. Perhaps a break to “whip up” a fresh asparagus quiche?

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        1. Yes, an distraction might be exactly what you need. Sometimes when one is trying hard to get the words just right, the words fail us. Stepping away might help open new channels. Besides, asparagus quiche? YUM!!! I have some terrific fruit to go with it. 🙂

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    1. Susan, Might I use your story – keeping it COMPLETELY anonymous in order to bring the message home to our small congregation? I don’t want to add to fear, but want people to FEEL.

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  12. Week three of sermons by request… this week was scheduled to answer a question that arises from our “You will be my witnesses” theme from Eastertide. It was worded in a way that was asking for a way to tell others about our Christian faith… witnessing, as some might say. I will likely give them some “how to say it”, but I want to get to proclamation in our sacramental understanding of giving up our lives, showing up, being seen in places where we earn the right to be heard.

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  13. I can’t preach this week. The combined violence, and anniversaries of violence, this week have left me struggling to name my own emotions, let alone any theological response. Instead, our New England UCC congregation will have an informal version of a Moravian Lovefeast: lots of music, prayer, a time for testimony, and baskets of sweet rolls and scones passed around for people to eat during worship. I’m using 1 Kings 19:1-7 and Galatians 3:23-29. I’ve built a litany of quotes–both recent and historical–around violence, injustice, and unity, with refrains that echo the 1 Kings passage. Hope the Holy Spirit takes all these pieces and flies with them!

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    1. Holly, I hear your pain. God be with you. I am also struggling. I can name the violence, and I can express my anger and the anger of my community, but I’m struggling to find God in this situation. I’m afraid the whole worship service will be a giant downer. I’ll be thinking about your sweet rolls and praying they give me inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. I’m in the middle week of a Galatians series to prepare for the expected conflict at our Annual Conference (IN N.C.!) So i’m sharing some denominational statements from us(COB), UMC and UCC, especially the strongly worded UCC call to action, asking if our website welcome, and welcome to people who find us is enough? “Silent Rainbows” is my title.
    On a practical side, I typically have a more interactive message and this is more “sermon” with only a couple questions that are mostly rhetorical. And it may be too long. But I’ve got some great images to go with it.
    Maybe I can get them talking next week…

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  15. Reading through this page has become part of my Sunday evening ritual, but this is my first time posting. I so appreciate knowing I’m not the only one wrestling with a sermon on Saturdays.
    Like many others, I’m having a hard time putting thoughts into words this week. I’m in the narrative lectionary, so the theme is reconciliation. I plan on reading the children’s book Old Turtle to help illustrate what reconciliation looks like. I also plan to lead the congregation through an interactive meditation involving ripping construction paper into smaller and smaller pieces as we consider all the torn and broken relationships in our lives and in the world, and then inviting them to come together to glue their pieces onto poster board in the shape of a heart. I hope it will be a visual reminder of how God takes our broken pieces and mends them back together through love to create something new. Hopefully I can find good words to tie it all together.

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  16. I’ve promised to go thru the OT alternative readings this summer and this week we have Elijah running from Jezabel and taking solace in the cave by Mt. Hired where God asks “What are you doing here?” Told to listen for the Lord he finally hears it in the “sheer silence”. I’m preaching on the noise in the world this week and struggling to hear the voice of God. Can’t leave it there though because Gid tells him to move on, go back and move ahead; anointing new kings and a new prophet. When we hear God in that “sound of silence” we move ahead in action.
    Came off well tonight, now the polish for 2 more services tomorrow!

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    1. I am also preaching on Elijah in the cave with my congregation in Orlando, FL . Those who are active in the LGBTIQ community and the Latinx community have been in vigil nearly all week. The power of LOVE here in Central Florida is almost palpable, even at the grocery store or in line for tickets. God is doing a good thing among us. But those who have not found community are just weary and scared and a little overwhelmed by all the bad news this week. (The shooting is the worst, but there is more). We are starting to see symptoms of the stress that comes from a tragedy like this: sleeplessness, anger, trouble focusing, and sensitivity to light and noise. So I want to try to bring us all into the cave with Elijah; to listen to the storm outside and then tune our ears to hear God’s still small voice of assurance. Thank you all who are struggling with what to say. Your voices really matter, even if you catch some flak about being “too political”. The change we need in the world will only come if good folks realize the real life effects of the violence that we have allowed to reign,

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  17. What came to me (as I was trying to make progress on other important projects!) was silence. There is silence–and there is silence. The silence within which Elijah encountered God that is so important yet uncomfortable for us in our clanging world. The silence of not speaking–being polite, hesitating to speak for fear of offending, being so tolerant and accepting that we find it hard to name evil. I have a crammed page of thoughts and notes that I’m trying to pull together. Maybe more than one sermon’s worth. I think, though, that I will end with thoughts from Amy Butler (I think it was on Patheos) about our clergy responsibility to speak. This is about Orlando, but it’s also about the rape culture, about bathroom sign debates, about the anniversary of Charleston–hate crimes. Maybe it’s about our silence being not polite and inoffensive but perpetuating these patterns. So, there is silence for discerning God’s call to us, then a time to speak and act. “A time to be silence and a time to speak…” Sorry, thinking out loud.

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    1. Yes! This is where I am going. Silence is good – necessary – a place to meet God. But if we stay there too long, silence becomes apathy, indifference, evil. We need to speak truth to silence (like a number of senators did this week) and say no! we have been silent for too long! Now it is time to break the silence and name the injustice and work for reconciliation/healing/peace/love/God.

      At least, that is what I hope I will be preaching in the morning. Prayers and blessings to you.

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    2. This is a good place to think out loud. I hope your sermon pulled together. I do agree that we need to speak, I think the people in the pews are hoping to hear something to help them make sense of tragedies. We can’t have the answers, at least not always, but at least they can hear us struggling too.

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  18. Saturday evening here in Santa Fe….and I’m still letting the events of the week and the text from Galatians percolate. I’ve been preaching on Galatians, and will through the first week in July.

    Last Sunday, at the 8 am service, we had a visitor, a young man biking his way through New Mexico. He’d been in the ER for a few hours – dehydration and not enough food – and found our nearby church to rest. After worship he joined us for coffee and fellowship. Asking to talk to me alone, he asked for some food and water – we have a food pantry so were able to give with abundance. He also asked me about our door mat. It is a large “All are welcome” with the rainbow. We are ELCA, RIC. This young man had never before heard “all are welcome.”

    I spent Monday mourning Orlando, and went to a citywide vigil in the evening. I’ve been processing ever since.

    I’m going to lead the congregation in reviewing what it means to be RIC, as it’s been over 20 years. We have a number of new members. I remember hearing a year ago when I was called, that “some” were concerned we’d become the “gay” church.

    So, these thoughts are percolating, as well as the “Christian” voices who spouted hate this week. And having heard that Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council will be on ABC’s Sunday morning program, representing a “Christian” perspective.

    And yes, one year after the murders in Charleston, by a young man raised in the ELCA church….

    Holy Spirit, come please, with words of wisdom.

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  19. I think my sermon is pretty similar to those linked here. I just hope I remember enough of it, since I have moved to outlining only and then trying to speak without the outline. Truthfully, I have been laid low by this week. DC and suicide prevention advocacy were inspiring and energizing, but the subconscious is always working through the reason you are there, so it’s exhausting as well. And Orlando, of course, was always in the background, and moved right to the fore as soon as I got home on Wednesday night. And then Friday a meeting with a family to plan a funeral, and the discovery of yet another fairly recent suicide death with something of a connection to our church. (That makes at least 4, and I’ve only been there 5 months.) And then there’s the little boy at Disney, whose family’s ordeal is one that I can imagine practically minute-by-minute. A still, small voice seems a rather generous description to me.

    I am going to choose three of the 49 names and read them at random tomorrow before the prayer litany. I just hope I make it through the morning.

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  20. 9:30pm my time. Anyone still partying? I’m just sitting down to finish the draft that got about 80% finished on Thursday. This weekend has been consumed with family time, in a good way, as we planned a fabulous surprise birthday party for my parents, including their out-of-state siblings flying in to visit unbeknownst to them! So, working late tonight but riding high on family energy.

    My sermon will be longer than usual this week, naming that it is a difficult time to be a woman, Latin@, queer, Muslim, a person of color. I am paralleling the struggle of our justice-oriented members and regulars with Elijah’s frustration at his ministry. We’ll talk about how silence is good insofar as it invigorates us and connects us to God, but silence is bad when it becomes inaction or apathy. And that’s where I am so far – time to write a conclusion.

    Preaching blessings to all!

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  21. I’m sorry to say I feel asleep last night without signing off from the party. I’m trying to go back this morning and acknowledge folks and comment but wordpress wants me to sign in every time I comment and I just don’t have time. This is our first Sunday of summer services, three of them, one after another 8, 9, and 10, with the 9am outside. The bells will toll, special prayers will be prayed, and some thoughts will be offered on this recent tragedy. I am holding all of you in prayer, may you feel the Spirit with you this day.

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  22. Not preaching this week, nor next week, nor the week before, which is quite a lovely feeling. But I remember preaching on the Galatians, back several “cyclings of the cycle” ago…and reflecting that in my childhood I heard that text with considerable contempt, because it didn’t seem to have any point…I looked around our small, backwoods congregation, and there sure weren’t any Jews visible, and nor any Greeks (that’s how small our town was), and so that was OBVIOUS, and nobody sported obvious chains, so there weren’t any slaves…. and OTOH it would have been somewhat rash to describe anybody I could see as conspicuously FREE, either, so THAT was also self-evident, and then Paul said there was neither male nor female, which went to the other extreme and was plainly CRAZY TALK… it was (too many) years before I got the point. Or, sort of got the point.

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