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Saturday, September 23, 2006

11th Hour Preacher Party

Goooooooooood mooooooorning, preachers!

It's the eleventh hour once again, and here we are, with pens (or computers) in hand, preparing for the culmination of our week. As usual, the coffee is flowing freely - my parents sent me a pound of Caribou Coffee French Roast as a late birthday present - and the accompanying goodies should start arriving shortly.

As for me, I'm dashing out pre-breakfast to help with set-up for our Harvest Festival. I'll bring back some leftover pie later this afternoon. In the meantime, pull up a chair, settle in, and get the ideas flowing. No need to rush; whoever would be first must be last of all. What? Jesus wasn't talking about sermon preparation? Oh well. It's a comforting thought, anyway.

On a somewhat related note, I must take this opportunity to tell you that one of our number, a church nerd, is being ordained TODAY! He's also preaching his first sermon in his first congregation tomorrow. So, if you have a break from writing, stop by and wish him grace and peace in his new phase of ministry.

Alright, now. Time to get down to the matter at hand. Ready...set...write!


  1. Yawn.
    Stacey, don't you have anything better to do, than to wake up in such a pleasent mood so early? LOL.Thanks for the great coffee, which is better than the tiger who says gerreeaat about his cereal. Yuck too much sugar anyway.

    Well I am preaching on the greatest of all Jesus who put some smart alecky disciples in their place, it wasn't always the pharisees you see. And then brought in the best object lesson, a child. weclome the child.

    But first we are headed down to Bham for a party sponsored by the Adoption Agency that we adopted our 3 through. This is their once a year blowout for all the adoptive families. (They also do them for the Chinese families as well.) This time they are really doing it up big instead of your ordainary picnic. We should be back by around 3pm. I expect all you preachers to have written your sermon on the Mark passage by then so I can borrow it. teehee. And the others well, you can at least have something scribbled. some more joking.
    Seriously I have put down several thoughts at various times as I told my hubby, now I have to bring them together, or not. So I'll see you all later this afternoon, and I'll bring some goodies from the party.
    Blessings on all of you today, and especially on church nerd.

  2. Long time listener, first time caller here. I rarely preach, and generally start writing drafts days in advance. This time, I got nothin'. Big old nothin' I have a big old 2 liter bottle of Diet Pepsi, though, and I'm sharing (for those not into the hot caffiene thing.)

  3. I'm not writing a sermon - I just listen to them on Sundays, so I will be glad to listen and read comments. Oh yes, I brought some chai tea for an alternative beverage.

  4. Usually I begin my sermon prep on Tuesday morning, early when all si quiet and I am alone (LOL)...but this week I was too busy doing these task oriented things like driving a truck with a hitch and trailer (for the first time) to pick up some scaffolding. Then I set up the scaffold in the church so we can repair our light fixtures (before we end up worshiping in the dark). Then because I will be attending conferences for the next two weeks I organized all the parish info that needs to go out in the mail: our stewardship mailing and invites to a celebration supper etc. So, this Sunday I am going to introduce, during the sermon time, a new (for us) bible study reflection guide called Synthesis CE, which those in the Episcopal Church may be familar with. I have been encouraging the parish to spend time reading and reflecting on scripture using a variety of "methods" (African Bible Study, or from the book, "Engaging the WOrd" looking at scripture from "lenses"; the literal, the historical, and the prophetic) adding Synthesis is just one more method. We'll see how it goes when I walk folks through it tomorrow. That's my sermon: teaching folks another way to read and engage in our scripture. Now, back to my coffee, my meowing cats looking for breakfast, and household waking wishes to all of you as you ponder the Word!

  5. I'm on vacation, la la la la la.

    Just peeking in, friends. Good to see ppb here. Of course she's at the one party I'm gonna miss. Dang.

    I'll be thinkng about you all today and tommorrow.

    Remember: HS has got your back, and if you've got a dog, walk it proud.

    (I figure ws is at the beach, somebody has to say it...)

  6. Okay. I have a paragraph. Suppose I could be excused from this because typing interrupts my kitten's napping?

  7. you know, there are people out there who have normal jobs - you know the kind of people who sleep in on Saturdays - or take their kids to soccer - or go shopping? Does anyone remember shopping? Seriously, I wouldn't trade sitting in front of my computer without a thought in my head or an inspiration in my soul for anything in the world. No pressure, my friends :)

  8. I got nuthin. Absolutely not one word. I'm freaking out. This didn't happen in the summer. I had those written by Wednesday. I do, however, have a lovely cut and color and highlights, done at 8:30 this a.m. I don't think that fits in with the "whoever would be first shall be last thing" though. Here's some Diet Dr. Pepper.

  9. Well, I'm at the library holding down the desk. Hubby's preaching twice at the hospital tomorrow and I'm doing church school at church.
    It is Pastor Appreciation Month, and we are having a surprise luncheon for our pastor tomorrow. I appreciate you all too!

  10. Those dang Loo'trens. Ordination on a Saturday???
    This is a big "WOO HOO" and a "WOOT" for the Church Nerd. (eh, I guess my oridination present is late, eh?

    I'm preaching the Proverbs 31 thing.... and I am not finished (of course) but the Loving Husband and I are going down to his grandfather's house to work on the estate (it's an endless task). I wonder if I can weave the two together in some way....

    And it was my b'day yesterday. I refuse to say which, except it's my friend Eric's age times two minus three. A word problem, yeah!

  11. Just popping by to check in on the party. How's everyone doing? Do we need more coffee? Did anyone bring anything good to eat?

    Abi, I didn't get up to write that post. I am not that chipper when I wake up, nor do I wake up at 4am. That was a just before bed post. And yes, I was just going to bed at 4am...long story.

    Alright, back to the Harvest Festival for me. Party on, preachers.

  12. In quasi-desperation, I'm doing something I rarely do: freshening up an old sermon. Think they'll be able to tell??

  13. PCIT, no one will ever know. Here's some cheese and crackers for everyone. Sorry there's no proper food in the house. The wife (you know, the perfect one of Proverbs 31) has gone out shopping. Happy birthday, reverend mommmy!! And I big huge CONGRATS for the church nerd!!! I have most of a rough draft done. It's a little rambly and brings in none of the James text yet, which I wanted to do.

    Advise, please. I used stories about myself, which I think paint me in a fairly neutral, human light. But I don't want to be self-serviing.

  14. I meant to end with, "What do you all think about using personal stories in a sermon?" And one of mine makes reference to a nice note a student wrote to me. Too self-indulgent?

  15. Well, Marie, I tend toward a lot of personal stories, so I say go for it. That said, I've found people either love it or hate it in a preacher. I'm trying (this week) to not use any personal stories, just for a change, but it's hard.

    BBT makes the point that the use of personal stories is good if it's a universalizable personal story---walking the dog, living a regular life, etc.---not "as I walked through the holy lands last summer" stuff that the average person can't personally relate to. But that's just her. Your mileage will vary.

  16. We had a tornado. I am behind in my preaching.


  17. Hmmm, thanks PPB. Mine's somewhere between "walking the dog" and "walking through the holy lands". I'll keep pondering...

    Tripp, sorry about the tornado. Good luck!

  18. Marie, I was just quoting Barbara Brown Taylor. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about that pronouncement. Don't go scrapping everything due to it. Now if it was MY opinion, I'd expect you to drop everything.

  19. Dear Jesus, if you will write this sermon for me, I promise I will never, ever wait until the last minute again.

  20. Well, I'm done with my membership class from this morning. Two new members, whee!

    I have a few ideas, scribbled down between headaches and malaise this week. Now, to get it into some kind of coherent outline...

    I'm talking about Daniel and the lions and God's presence with us in exile; I'm thinking of the lions as the embodiments of our fears, and how God can "close the mouths" of what we fear.

    Next week--to think way ahead--I'm not only off-lectionary, but out of the Bible! It's Fellowship Sunday, the anniversary of the founding of the UFMCC, and I'm using a reading from one of our founders's books, where he talks about the original "mother church" being burned to the ground. Talk about exile!

    I want to lead from Esther (last week) and her courage in standing up in spite of her fear, and then offer a tag to follow from Daniel to Troy Perry and the resolution to see GOd's presence even in the devastation and exile.

    That'll preach, I hope!

    Oh, and I brought some coffeecake--my mom's buttermilk struesel receipe. Mmmm.

    And PS--congrats church nerd!!

  21. PCIT - I have a friend who learned in Communications Theory Class that no one remembers anything unless they hear it 7 times. She didn't believe, so she preached the same sermon ten weeks in a row. It was only after the seventh week that the first person said, "Didn't you just preach that same sermon last week?"

    True story.

    Freshen up!

    I have the sermon done for the evening service (James) now onto the morning sermon on Worship.

  22. D2 is making No-Bake Cookies!!!!! I'll have her make a double batch. They go well with Diet Dr. Pepper!

  23. Yummm, cookies. Yeah, I'm not scrapping everything, PPB, not even for BBT, (hey look your initials rhyme). I just feel a little rambly... How's the Jesus writing the sermon thing coming? Would he write mine, d'ya think? I'm back at it. Noisy family came, noisy family went. I have a couple of hours of sermon-writing and laundry.

  24. I meant to add in there, that OF COURSE I would drop everything if it was your opinion, PPB. Of course...

  25. Just so long as we're clear on that Marie. Sadly, Jesus appears not to be, as I still got nuttin.

    How many of you are glad I'm not usually here?

    I just went to the local drugstore and bought $7.17 of junk food. Think it'll help?

  26. Well, I'm back from a morning of distributing food with the new Angel Food program at the Methodist church, and I'm ready to settle down and churn out this sermon.

    Oh, and I made an Arby's roast beef sandwich run for our spread, if you're into that kind of thing.

    I don't really have any kind of direction, which I would normally like to have at this point (at least a very general direction). But I keep coming back to Jesus placing the child in their midst.

    St. Larger is located in a town that is having major problems with its children and struggling with keeping them away from drugs, gangs, and general hopelessness. They hosted an after-school program for a few years, but it kind of blew up in their face and they have a trashed basement to show for it.

    St. Smaller isn't in the same position, but is in a smaller town that has its own issues/problems with young people as the economy continues to decline steadily.

    I'm really wrestling with Jesus' admonition to "welcome the child" in the midst of these contexts where the mere presence of children tends to make people anxious.

    Suggestions are welcome!

  27. Crystal clear, PPB. :) I'm glad you're here. Of course, I only preach once a month. Almost done here. Sermon centers on children being lowest of the low, invisible in Jesus' day and how to we learn to "see" those who are invisible to us. Favorite line so far, one disciple to another, "Dude, you can't even keep your tunic tied." (Do tunics tie? Were there tunics? Is this funny or am I just tired?)

  28. Semfem, thanks for the Arby's. I love a good Beef 'n' Cheddar. As for the child thing, maybe the idea of welcoming the "invisible", i.e. the marginalized, those whom we don't usually see would be easier to preach.

  29. Marie,

    I think it's funny! Tunic is a funny word to say. Say it a few times fast- tunic, tunic, tunic, tunic... Yeah, I'm a little tired, too!

    I'm new to RGBP. I'm so glad I found out about you all. How refreshing!

  30. not preaching until next week (when I go visit Jan), but popped in with some spicy vegan risotto--super good with some kind of green stuff and some kind of fruity stuff and lots of rice and lots of spices...mmmmmm. (I got it at a restaurant, no accolades for cooking vegan here!) Enjoy.

    Marie, I don't think tunics tie unless they're that funky new style, but I do love the alliteration and the idea, so keep it! :-) I think it's funny.

    and my 2 cents on personal stories: everyone always wants to hear my stories because I've traveled a lot, especially in the holy land/middle east...and part of my job is to "interpret" for them. So I do, with wild abandon. I would guess that at least 1/2 my sermons have at least a mention if not a full-blown story about some middle eastern adventure or lesson or something. So go for it--people may not relate, but if you tell it well they may be able to imagine, and that's important too!

  31. PPB - if Sweet 16 powdered sugar doughnuts are among your stash of junk food, it's sure to help!

    Hey everybody! I put myself on restriction from commenting today until after my sermon was finished. It is bad, bad, bad for me to postpone writing until Saturday. My children's needs and schedules really don't allow much time on Saturdays for writing. This is the third week in a row I've done it, though. Shame on me!

    Semfem - I think that was Jesus' point exactly - that it is just those people who make us squirm who find themselves in the spotlight in the kingdom. We tend to want to ignore them. Jesus says to welcome them. Or at least that's what I think I get out of it.

    Check in with ya'll later. Getting ready to take the kids out for supper and putt-putt.

  32. My sermon is all done - short but done. And now I'm thinking of re-working it to make it a drama. Thought I might dress like a child and speak from a child's point of view. I did it about 3 months ago and the kids in the congregation really listened attentively. I might have to grab some of the leftover pie to tide me over if I'm going to be working for several more hours...ugh. Why do I do this - scraping a perfectly good (albeit short) sermon to craft a dramatic sermon??

  33. I return, bearing leftover pie from the Harvest Festival.

    I'm tired. I'm cold. I'm in no mood to write the rest of my sermon. But I must, because there is supposedly a vanload of new people coming to church tomorrow. And also because that is my job.

    My congregation seems to like personal stories, and I think they help people apply faith to their everyday lives, so I include them in sermons fairly frequently. I just stay away from the extremes of either self-flagellating or self-applauding.

    I'm focusing on the Gospel text, and talking about how Christians so often try to be first by finding ways to determine why everyone else is not a "good Christian." I wish I had a good personal story for this, but nothing is coming to mind.

  34. Hi all!

    I've been at a huge disaster relief auction the last two days, and now I need to settle in to prepare a sermon for Stewardship Commitment Sunday. I've had too little sleep, too little time, and too little inspiration. The pieces I collected earlier now seem like they belong to about three different sermons -- not sure if any of them are part of tomorrow's -- and I've developed a literal pain in my neck from trying to carry both kids from one place to another. Wah! Okay, that's a little better. Anyone have any leftover cheese to go with my whine?

    Blessings to all of you, and thanks for company that makes me feel better about not being the only one who has to preach and really doesn't want to tomorrow.

  35. Hrm. I appear to have stalled. I have a nice long list of interesting stuff, but no clear sermon emerging.

    Marie--yes, I agree, it would be easier to preach the broader lesson here of welcoming the "invisible", and I plan to include that as well. But for some reason I really feel called to speak SOME word that is more specific to the context. Just not sure how much to say--and how to phrase it differently for the two congregations.

    Preacher Mom--I agree, and that is the hard part! St. Larger attempted to DO what Jesus advised, and it kind of backfired. How do you keep welcoming the child after something like that?

    Actually, I am thinking about laying the story of Born Into Brothels alongside the story of our afterschool program. I won't go into the BIB story here (you can Google it if you're interested), but I think it might offer another perspective on how welcoming children does some good even if the end goals are not met. I'm sorry I'm not being very clear, but my comments are already long-winded enough. :)

    Preacher Woman from MN--is there any way you can do one sermon or the other two weeks from now, when the other Markan text about children comes up in the lectionary?

    I hereby donate homemade hummus and Diet Coke to the late-night snacking of the RGBP. Keep on, fellow preachers!

  36. Hi all, I am writing between thunderstorms, tornado watches and warnings, and lots and lots of rain. Got back earlier from Bham, but the storm prevented my writing yall.

    Stacey, I in no way meant to hurt your feelings. I am not a morning person at all.

    I am so glad to see everybody that is here today. PPB come anytime. I always enjoy you.

    Marie, I like personal stories that people can relate to. I haven't traveled the holy land and stuff, but I think you can use it if you use it in a way that is helpful to the cong and the text. I also like to use other people stories as well, and I try to ask if I can use them.

    Well, I only have diet coke, some fruit and a headache tonight. I have some words and thoughts and some flow, but want to tidy it up a little.

  37. The food's getting really good around here.

    Teri, YUM! Vegan risotto. Sounds divine.

    Stacey, Thanks for the pie. Yummy!

    Sounds like a great sermon. Christians are never more sure of themselves than when they are trashing other Christians. *Sigh*. I could sure preach that sermon.

    I think I walked the line between self-flagellating and self-applauding. I like my stories, K liked my stories. We'll see how the crowds (I wish) take them tomorrow.

    Peacepastor, here's some cheese. There's always cheese at our house. You deserve it!!!

    Preacher Woman, hope the drama is going well, if you did indeed decide to dive into that. Brave woman!

    Preacher Mom, you are a stronger woman than I if you can avoid the lure of teh internets while writing a sermon. Nice job! Hope putt putt was fun!

    Blessings to all of us. Remember, if you've got a dog, walk it proud.

    (PPB, that refers to "If you think you've got a stinky sermon, just trot it on in there and see what the HS does with it." Or something like that.)

  38. Abi, you didn't hurt my feelings at all. I just thought it was funny to think of myself starting my day at 4am and being so cheerful, because I am not a morning person either. At all.

    I feel like I have a good direction for this sermon, but the words are flowing out at the speed of a glacier. Who's up for trading the sermon for a nice hymn sing?

  39. I'll sing with you, Stacey. Now that I have my sermon written, I have to write an "Ember Day Letter" to my bishop. I think I'm late. And I have NO idea what to write. Meh.

  40. What is an Ember Day Letter? Whatever it is, it doesn't sound like fun.

    Still desperately yanking the ideas from my head. I feel like I'm ranting a bit about the ways Christians judge each other, and that I'm doing this in response to some accusations that have been made about me recently. I'm not sure "defensive" is a description I'd like to be applied to my sermon...

  41. Yes what is an Ember Day Letter.
    I am glad Stacey. I hope whatever you were up late with was good and fun.

    I am doing my sermon on the Mark passage. I kept coming to they who welcome a child, welcomes me, and not only me but the one who sent me.
    So that seems to be the focus of the sermon. Haven't tidied up yet, been reading your comments, and some email. you know those things are more important. LOL.

    I am worried, one of our kitties who likes to get out and explore was not here when we came home, and all we have had is major rain and storms. I am afraid for her. Say a prayer she is okay and gets back home safely.

  42. I think I am done, except for the inevitable revisions that will be made in the morning, before and during the preaching.

    My late-night activities last night were mostly fun and definitely good. It's funny to me how I end up functioning as the pastor even in the least likely places and times, such as a bar at 3am. This is a good thing, but always a little unexpected.

  43. Oh, and prayers are being said for the wandering kitten, that she makes it home safe. Hopefully she's found a dry place to wait out the storm.

  44. These comments are so fun to read! I'm not preaching tomorrow, and after reading PPB's comments, I'm SO glad I'm not.

    It's so nice to know that when I do start preaching regularly, I have a place to find encouragement, whine a little, and have fun while writing!

  45. Amy you can come and join us anytime. And when you start preaching we will encourage you as well.

    Great Stacey that you are done, and that you have a ministry in a bar at 3am.

    And guess what, Kitty girl just came home, wet as she could be. I am so relieved.

  46. Back from putt-putt! It's one of Rosemary's favorite activities and she is determined that her younger siblings will love the game as much as she does. I think she knows that it will be harder for me to turn down three "Can we please play putt-putt" pleas than just one! Marie - they only way that self-discipline wins out over here is if the promised reward is great. I really wanted to play with my kids tonight without the black cloud of unfinished sermon threatening to rain on our fun. It was worth the temporary 'restriction!'

    Semfem, how's it coming? I think I'd like to hear more about what happened to St. Larger when they attempted such a worthwhile ministry. It really hurts when your sincerest efforts are rejected or taken advantage of. I wish that Jesus had included some kind of "money-back" guarantee with this command. Instead, we all worry that we will get sued for helping someone who has wrecked, or that the ex-con we hire will rip us off, or that the kids we try to help will trash our building. As St. Larger discovered, it happens far too often. It's a tough, tough command for a tough, tough world.

    Revabi, I've sent up quite a number of prayers through the years for my 4-legged buddies in jeopardy. One more has gone up tonight for yours!

    PPB, you bring fun to every party, so come on in every week - sermon to write or not!

    If I don't make it back by tonight - blessings on all of you wherever you worship tomorrow!

  47. Preacher Mom--thanks for asking. I've got a fairly tight outline now and just need to flesh it out more fully.

    As for the St. Larger situation...I'll try to fill you in without getting too specific (i.e. publicly badmouthing anybody or assuming too much).

    I have only been here for a matter of months. The previous pastor was instrumental in getting this afterschool program started. They opened up their basement on a daily basis (I believe) for middle school kids and younger. All appeared to be going fine.

    One by one the capable leaders moved away or retired (including the previous pastor) and people were left in charge that had NO training in how to handle at-risk youth (which is what many of them were). As a result there was physical intimidation of staff, the basement became pretty trashed, and things went downhill.

    The program had been put on hold before I got here and it's more or less defunct now. My hunch is that it appears to have really hurt St. Larger's sense of boundaries and self-respect.

    So, we are now beginning to rebuild those boundaries for the health of the congregation...but remembering that Jesus told us to welcome people, not put up newer stronger locks and heavier walls.

    Does that make sense? That's a little bit more background for my struggle with this text.

  48. That's a tough situation, semfem. Praying for your process of rebuilding boundaries without putting up walls.

    It's the bitter end for me, preaching pals. It's been a sleep-deprived week, so I'm off to bed earlier than usual.

    Walk that dog proud, even if it looks a little mangy. Welcome the dog. Embrace the dog. May it prove not to be flea-ridden, by God's grace.

  49. It's amazing to me how the Spirit manages to create so many powerful messages each week out of so many oh-so-human concerns that we have nothing much to share.

    I have a mostly complete draft now. I think it barks, but hopefully it won't bite. I don't know that I'll bring a frisbee to the park, but the dog of a sermon is beginning to show a few glimmers of life.

    It's off to bed for me. Peace and prayers with all of you tomorrow.

  50. Ps. The auction I went to had some incredible moments of blessing and some really generous donors. If you want to read more, I wrote about it on my blog tonight. It actually helped give direction on the sermon (I'm preaching on Proverbs 22, verses on care for the poor.)

  51. Thanks for sharing, Semfem. I admire your determination to help your folks define the differences between boundaries and walls. I struggle with that on a personal basis quite a lot, so if you have any words of wisdom or any good working definitions, please pass them on.

    My prayers are with you, your church, and the at-risk kids - and for each of your respective struggles.

  52. Another late night here at Chez Semfem. Thanks, Stacey and Preacher Mom, for your prayers and encouraging words.

    I'm mostly done--off now to take a shower, then write a snazzy intro, check for preachability, and tweak a few paragraphs to fit St. Smaller since I wrote with St. Larger in mind.

    Tomorrow afternoon's going to be one heck of a nap!

  53. Good morning all,

    prayers for each one as we begin our day, and go to preach and lead,and teach.

    prayers for sem fem's church and semfem as she leads them.

    Thanks to all who prayed for my kitty. Today is suppose to be more storms, hope she stays home.
    Hope all are okay today with the crazy dangerous storms we are having.

    And now in the wisdom and words of the great WS "You preacher out there be sure to remember:

    1) Let it go... the Holy Spirit has got your backs.

    2) If you've got a dog, walk it proud."

  54. Well, I did it. Still sticking to the outline, but with a few sentences and phrases here and there and a written-out first paragraph and last...

    I'm walking this dog!

  55. Go Rainbow Pastor go!

    Thanks to Abi and to all who pray for the situation at St. Larger. I really appreciate it!

    Usually I feel much better about my dog-walking at St. Smaller (the earlier service) than I do at St. Larger. But since I was preaching specifically about St. Larger's situation, the opposite was true today. Nice to feel I could give them a proper dog-walking for a change!

    Hey, at least the dog didn't morph into a velociraptor, seize me in its talons and fly away.

    It's SO nap time. *snooze*

  56. Semfem, I'm gald there were no dinosaurs and that all seems to have gone well (at least you're still posting!) Sounds like a really tough situation and I, too, admire your courage in engaging the text head-on.

    I'm SOOO about to nap, too. 8:30 service. 10:45 service. Parish meeting with interim consultant. Started period. (Sorry, guys.) It's 3 pm. Snooz-o-rama.

    Oh, but did I say how grateful I am to all of you? The HS may have our backs, but so do the RGBP's.

  57. I suspect that if I had been preaching and will smama hadn't been out of town, too, this would have been a 100 comment party. Thanks for invoking the Holy Spirit, those who did!
    ppb, I believe the correct interpretation is, "Even if your sermon stinks on paper, preach it as if it were a good one."
    It's good to be home. Do I have to start planning for next Sunday today?


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