The big event this weekend at South Church is that we are having our annual Harvest Craft Fair. It takes place on Saturday from 9 to 3 p.m. with food, crafters, auctions, raffles, and the sense of being at a big reunion where many long-time friends stop by. It will be a beautiful day! Bring a friend and you might even want to try out the Bouncy House that will be out front! After all that we’ll gather for worship on Sunday to receive our Neighbors in Need special offering for mission and ministry throughout the U.S., to lift our voices in thankfulness and praise, and to reflect on the Scriptures for the day. Gratitude will be our theme.

In Luke 17: 11-19 ten lepers are healed of their skin disease. Jesus sends them to get a clean bill of health and off they go. One of them, a Samaritan, returns to offer thanks, falling prostrate at Jesus’ feet. Jesus affirms the deep faith of this double outcast—leper and despised Samaritan—while also asking why the others didn’t come back. Since he was the one who sent them off in the first place, it’s a puzzling question. But, then, why did the Samaritan return? It all has something to do with “Responding to a Deeper Call” which is my sermon title. My thoughts will focus on a question raised in one of my readings on this lesson: “How have I experienced healing but did not notice?”  Come find out how we can listen more deeply to our own lives.

We’ll also share responsively the words of Psalm 111 which is a testimony of thankfulness. And we’ll read 2 Timothy 2:8-15 which speaks of the depths of God’s faithful, covenantal love. Can we sense more of those depths in our own lives? In addition Rev. Tom Damrosch will be our organist and will lead the Chancel Choir in singing “My Lord, What a Morning? That anthem sounds a bit like what the Samaritan could have said the morning of his remarkable healing. Finally I’ll share a message with the children about thankfulness. All of this sharing and singing we do on Sunday will fit well with the opening quote in the program from Meister Eckhart, a medieval mystic, poet, and theologian who said: “If the only prayer you ever said was ‘Thank you,’ that would be enough.” Something to ponder on a bright, colorful, fall weekend.

Keep the Craft Fair in your prayers as all these steady, faithful efforts come together on Saturday. And be sure to get your tickets for the “Tommy T” dinner and concert coming up next Friday in support of the Thanksgiving Angels project. It’s when Elvis (whom Tommy impersonates so playfully and well) helps us buy turkeys for those in need.  Have a blessed weekend and Columbus Day holiday.

PS. As I was finishing up with these thoughts I heard about Hurricane Matthew and the extreme damage in the Caribbean and upcoming landfall in Florida. May we keep all those affected by this tragedy in our hearts and minds this coming weekend. I will let you know about disaster relief efforts as our UCC and Church World Service let us know.

Pastor Joel