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Turning an Audience into the Church

The first Christmas I was at Duke, during the time I was not preaching regularly, my wife and I attended a local church. That year Christmas fell on a Sunday. Our son was two years old, so we dressed him up in his spanking new Christmas clothes and headed jubilantly off to church. We looked forward to the service with anticipation.

But when the pastor stood up to welcome the congregation, he said, "Today is the first time in a while that Christmas has fallen on Sunday. It would have been unfair to ask the choir to sing this morning, this being a big family day and all, so they won't be singing.

"I'm not really going to preach this morning either. Instead, I've got a little story to share with you. You know, I'm amazed you're here today. Most of you have guests from out of town. Coming today was such an inconvenience."

"I'm leaving," my wife whispered to me. "You stay with the baby if you want." She felt the pastor hadn't dignified his congregation with preparation, and she stomped out.

I couldn't ...

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