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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Eleventh Hour Preachers, Enter Here

By which I mean not that you are preaching in the eleventh hour, but rather that you are preparing your sermon at the eleventh hour.

As is typical for me, I am writing this post at an hour which is early to some but late to me, before I go to bed. I'm going apple-picking in the morning with some other clergy; anyone care for a bushel or two? By some miracle, I am done writing my sermon for this week, but I'm sure it will be significantly tweaked throughout the day, not to mention in the pulpit. I'm talking about *Jaws music plays in the background* suffering and evil.

For those of you who didn't have a sudden rush of inspiration on Friday afternoon, I leave a table set with plenty of coffee and warm apple cider donuts. It's fall, so apple cider donuts are an absoulute necessity. Bring your mugs, bring your goodies, bring your ideas, and bring your obstacles. Bring your dogs, literal or metaphorical, mangy or sleek and shiny. Pull up a chair, and make yourselves at home. We're all in this together - even those of us who, completely out of character, finished our sermons on Friday this week. Party on, preachers. I'll be back later with apples, and probably more donuts as well.


  1. well on Tuesday I decided that I would preach on Job, I'm now not sure why I decided that would be a good idea, but I've sent my service plan off to the stewrds so i can't do anything about it now...

    coffee, and a donut most welcome...

    why is it so hard to preach on pain and suffering?

  2. I think it's hard because we have to remember or acknowledge our own suffering, yet not stand up and preach as if we were being featured on "Queen for a Day." The challenge is being authentic without being self-serving.
    I've written a playlet about two friends discussing first Job, then Jesus welcoming the children, which will lead into a sermon that begins and ends with a brief guided meditation. The sermon is sketched out, but decidedly not written just yet.
    Meanwhile, my son and I are off to a meeting of several statewide UCC commissions. I'll be home mid-afternoon and check in with you then!

  3. souds good songbird- I guess I am grappling with the picture we get of God through this; I know that Job is a wisdom book and therefroe we are probably looking at a truth revealing story- but even so what is the purpose of Jobs suffering and why were they allowed- is God so swayed by the whims of Satan for example.. my message keeps getting more and more complicated!

  4. Good morning! Mmm...cider donuts! I have some homemade cinnamon rolls here, anybody want one?

    I have a wedding this afternoon, at 1:30, then reception at 5:30, so except for this morning, my day is pretty well shot.

    I began on Thursday afernoon, didn't get very far, but am using Job, the events of this week, and the old Anne Murray song "A Little Good News". The truth is, there has been good news this week. I'm thinking about the Amish community that set up the fund for the Roberts family, and other acts of mercy and grace in the midst of unspeakable pain. Are we willing to see the inbreaking of the holy and merciful in the midst of our darkness and sorrow? Or do we sit under the tree, scraping our sores with potsherds, tempted (inwardly and outwardly) to curse God?

    The potential for trouble with this is to not make it all sound just too, too precious. No, "Chin up!" while there is genuine suffering.

    Sigh...better get back to it...

  5. Sally, I think Songbird is right about acknowledging our pain without keeping the focus on us or as she puts it so well being the queen for the day.

    I admire you for preaching on Job, having done that yet. It is hard. Wish you well as put it together, and as the Holy Spirit is in there bringing it together.

    I am also impressed with Stacey having her sermon done so she can party today with friends.

    I have a bundle of ideas, thoughts, words all mixed up. I know these puzzle pieces on Mark will come together at some point.
    I have been struck by the words hard hearted, trying to trap Jesus, the pain of divorce, the nurture of a marriage, care for those who are going through a divorce or have divorced, and the children. Okay onto the puzzle pieces. I'll take some strong coffee and some doughnuts.

    I too will be gone to Bham with the kids for fun day put on by UAB Clef Palate clinic. Isn't that neat. Instead of always seeing the Doctors and staff at the hospital or clinic they get to have fun with them.

  6. Cheesehead, we cross posted, how cool. I like what you are putting together. Maybe you and Sally could combine your thoughts.

  7. Of course am not writing a sermon but I love this opportunity to consider the lectionary with y'all. The Episcopal lectionary doesn't have Job, but Genesis on marriage (or clinging together, anyway) and Mark on Pharisees, Jesus & divorce.

    So, thinking much about divorce. My parents were both divorced in the 50's and have now been married to each other for over 40 years. I grew up with the idea that sometimes you just have to get divorced. But, any more, it seems like that is ALL that is done. An awful ailing in our society...we are not preparing or educating kids for marriage OR parenthood, two of the most important things they will ever undertake.

  8. I'm not writing a sermon, but can I have one of the apple cider donuts if I promise to think about you all and pray for you as you write?

  9. If anyone would like to procrastinate, come to our blessing of the animals this morning - 10:00 at the church with the red doors.

  10. Linda, help yourself. Keep them prayers coming.

    Cathy would love to procrastinate with you, my animals sure need blessing.

    and Mary Beth thanks for sharing you experience and thoughts.

    I am procrastinating going to BHAM. I want to be lazy today.

  11. Oct. being Domestic Violence Awaremess Month, I'm preaching something about the church's response--and lack thereof too. Struggling...but for now I have to go to K Mart so I will enjoy the beautiful fall day and have another donut when I get back.

  12. First, I LOVE the spread. I have brought apple cider - both cold and hot and later on if we behave ourselves I will spike one pot of the hot.

    And now for sermon ramblings no one has to read, but I am selfishly using this forum to help collect my thoughts.

    We are off the lectionary for the year as we read through the Bible. In light of the Lancaster county tragedies and other neighborhood events I have chosen the texts from the end of Genesis where Joseph tells his brothers that God used their ill-will for good and the Matthew passage where in just 10 verses Peter goes from corner stone to stumbling block.

    I arrogantly named the sermon in the middle of the week. "If I were in Charge..." with the hope of using my words and the texts to move from a place of anger to a place of reliance on God's love, omnipotence and sovereignty.

    I am just struggling with getting from introduction to conclusion while remaining genuine and without throwing out religious cliches and easy answers.

    Maybe I'll do a hymn sing instead.

  13. Thanks ...I'm whirling through many ideas-- children having a bad week--divorce (no not the dreaded divorce lesson)...we aren't doing Job-- but I think I'll preach on it anyway (can I borrow your great ideas cheesehead and do you want a footnote...and I want coffee with my apple cider donuts, but mostly I want all of you around the table...thanks again gail

  14. Amish...Mark and Hebrews...There is something about knowing our place in the universe and God welcoming children into his embrace.

    I'll try not to lay it on too thick.

  15. I've been staring at a blank computer screen for hours. Please------spike the hot cider now. It can't possibly hurt.

  16. Good Morning all! Im not preaching but have been going to a local text study so thought Id add a little something. It puts an interesting spin on the divorce texts and helps you to think about it in a different way. Well at least it makes me think about it in a different way. As many of you know my mom is manic/bipolar. She was in the hospital a lot. Well my sophomore year of hs, she once again got sick. My sis and I came home from school and our dad was like I need to talk to you. With tears in his eyes, he said, "Im going to divorce your mom. Its not that I dont love her anymore. Its just that I cant handle this illness anymore." Ill never forget those words because it was the first time I had ever seen my dad cry. Just wanted to add in my two cents and see if I could help you out. Good luck with the sermon writing!

  17. well after sitting and looking at a blank screen for hours I did some washing, a bit of gardening, vacumed upstairs... had a sleep and finally by the grace of God came up with this : let me know what you think... please!!!

  18. willsmama- love the title but wow- you've got your work cut out!!! prayers and blessings...

  19. Okay, I need the sermon-bearing Antonio to show up NOW so I have the day to get ready to leave on vacation to NYC tomorrow.

    Despite leading text study this week on Tuesday, I don't appear to have much at all. I've got Mark and Genesis to tackle--me, a childless, single pastor, preaching on divorce and kids. Can anything good come from this?

    Only God knows.

  20. How could I forget about the sermon-bearing Antonio!

    I am now moving towards not having the sermon title I chose out of anger in the beginning of the week rule my sermon, but instead maybe use changing it as an illustration of how it is a good thing imperfect humans are not in charge.

    The pot on the right is spiked. Be careful, the combination of Captain Morgan's and apple cider is a sweet, yummy one and before you know it you'll be announcing the peter pulling contest at St. Taffy's.

  21. Pardon my frustration, but I could use pastoral input...So, i just had lunch with a guy from my church...a lovely man I like very much...and he told me that he hates it when pastors prepare sermons on Saturday. I am King of 5AM Sermonizing. I read the lectionary a week or sometimes two ahead of time. I muse. I pray. Seldom does anything come before Friday or Saturday.

    Needless to say, I will simply have to keep this a secret and find some way to keep from looking "free and easy" in my sermons.

    Unless of course I keep myself from trying to make everyone happy.

    Somehow I still let it get to me today.


    So keep me in your prayers as I tell everyone that those wacked out Amish, Luddites all, are worthy of our admiration...and emulation.

  22. Tripp, from what you wrote, you don't prepare your sermons on Saturday. Sure you might put the finishing touches on it - maybe even write it - but the preparation comes well beforehand.

  23. Well, and, Tripp, how does he know when the sermon was prepared?


    If he's so full of wisdom on it, maybe he should write a sermon or two...

  24. That was exactly my question--how does he know? Because you (or the hypothetical preacher) reference things that have happened since Wednesday? It's hard for me to understand how a sermon that has been in the can for four days is better.

  25. Aren't members amazing? Some prefer to have us "just speak from our hearts whatever the Spirit tells us on Sunday morning" and some "hate it when the preacher prepares the sermon on Saturday." It just isn't possible to keep them all happy at the same time.

    As far as I can tell, no matter when we physically write our sermons, the preparation comes long ahead of time. When we're especially blessed, what we have in our prep actually works with the sudden joys or tragedies that occur on Friday morning or Saturday afternoon.

    Good sermon, Tripp - no matter when finger hits keyboard. If only we could all accept whatever life brings with the grace and forgiveness our Amish sisters and brothers have done this week.

  26. Thanks, guys. Sorry to hijack the comment section. Just had a burden...wanted to foist it on someone!


    Thanks. Peace.

  27. That's why we're here, Tripp. No need to apologize.

  28. I'm not preaching tomorrow - our Regional Minister will be doing the sermon at our Jubilee Celebration. I just have to speak some (brief) welcoming words. Instead I'm dealing with the many little unfinished or "last minute brilliant idea" details of the day before the event - I am quite sure I'd rather be frantically trying to write a sermon!

    Needed a break so I came here to visit. I have just brewed a fresh pot of coffee - Free Trade, of course. You're all welcome to join me for coffee and meditation on Our Lady of South Bend - it's the fourth quarter. :-) Then back to work!

  29. Oh, real apple cider... north of KCMO at the corner where you turn to go on to Atchison KS there is (was?) an apple orchard. Fresh apple cider and fresh apple butter, yum! The stuff in Texas is a pale immitation of the real deal.

    Tripp, let him preach 6 weeks in a row. Once or twice is easy. It's the repetition accompanied by life during the week that makes writing late in the week. Or as someone else has named it, "The perpetual return of the sermon."

  30. echoed here too tripp- people simply don't understand the pressures of pastoral care balanced with preparing teaching/ sermons means quite simply that many of us prepare sermons on a Saturday- and echoing others aga in... how does he know! Impossible !!!

  31. Well ... at the risk of sounding like an echo ... Tripp these ladies have it spot on.

    We don't have sermons at my church ... we have content, which I'm providing tomorrow. We are celebrating the Jewish holidays this year as we build bridges to our past and other faiths. So I'm leading a celebration of Sukkot (Festival of Tabernacles). I'm going to be speaking about Jesus living a life of Sukkot, daily dependence on God for manna. I'll be using some of Matthew 6, Luke 12 and Deuteronomy 11 as a guide.

    I've got a lot of stuff stirring around, but nothing on my screen yet!! Perhaps I'll take some of that spiked punch ;-) I'd really like some donuts tho. Are there any left? I'll trade them for some apple pie I have ...

  32. My wise mentor used to have a big pulpit out West. His predecessor in that church was known for marvelous preaching of brilliantly written sermons. How did he achieve it? He locked himself in the office and told the secretary he was not to be disturbed. Is this really the model of ministry we want? That's a systematic, ivory tower view of preaching.

  33. Solas, I love pie. You have a deal.

  34. Teaching first communion class this morning, blank computer screen for long stretches of the afternoon, diocesan festival service for Royal School of Church Music then parish supper and beetle drive...but now, at half past 11 it is finished. Tomorrow sees the start of a sermon series on the creed, and I've been allocated the dubious privilege of kicking it off with "We believe"
    I believe I'm exhausted. I hope God will use my words anyway. Oh dear.
    Sleep well, everyone and blessings for tomorrow xx

  35. Tomorrow I'm preaching on prayer (as a part of the stewardship of our lives). Here's the beginning:

    There's a story of a grandmother who asked her grandson "Do you say you're prayers every night?" The grandson answered, "Yes, ma'am."

    Then the grandmother asked, "And every morning?" The grandson replied, "No. I'm not scared in the daytime."

  36. Stacey, I've never heard of apple doughnuts. I'll try one if any are left this late in the day.

    I'm using the Genesis and Mark texts because I pick the texts that sound like the most trouble. The sermon is finished mostly except for the tweaks tonight and as I drive to church tomorrow.

    Tripp, that member is just trying to be close to you. He or She doesn't know beans about preaching but heard someone say that and is trying to show you that h/she knows the "inside track" about preaching. Pay no attention to the words, hear the hope for closeness.

    I'm cleaning up my study to put down a new rug from a garage sale this morning. Wooo Eeeee!

  37. Content. That sounds less daunting somehow.
    So let's just say that while my content is not complete, it is well on the way.
    How's everyone else doing?

  38. I'm back, with fresh, still warm cider donuts - and yes, we have them even at this time of day! I have never heard of apple cider donuts before I moved to NY, St. C. I've also got some apple wine, should anyone be desirous of libations.

    Tripp, I think everyone else has answered this well already, but I just wish to restate the points that a) you are working on your sermon throughout the week; it just comes together on Saturday in final form, and b) your preparation rhythm involves many factors, not all of which are understood by some congregants. When people say things like that to me, I try to hear, "I want my pastor to take preaching seriously" instead of a critique.

    I'm exhausted, so if I drift off to sleep, will the last person out turn off the lights? Thanks.

  39. Hello all.

    I am back from BHAM. It was a great party for the kids. Even got to go swimming in a wonderful heated pool. The kids had a great time. We are a little worn out. I have been putting the pieces of my puzzle together little by little, bt it sure seems a little jumbled to me.

    St. Casserole, what a neat way to look at what the guy said to Tripp.
    I like that. Sometimes I have a tendancy to hear things negatively and that's not the way they are meant.

    Well, beside preaching twice, I also have acolyte training worship. But they lost the acolyte training booklet for the kids. I went by Cokesbury in BHAM and got the acolyte training book there. But as you know every church does it differently, so I'll be winging it as well.

    On top of that I got in the mail at church and anonymous letter about "Halloween" claiming it was of the devil. Okay who sent it? Why? And What do I do with it? I almost put it in file 13.

    Hope it all goes well for everybody tomorrow.

  40. Abi, you might have gotten it because "its the season." Your letter may have been one in many sent to churches.

    I got a "prophecy" letter this week. It happened to be signed but it still wasn't really meant for me even though my name was on it. Just another variation on junk mail.

    My church secretary previously was in journalism. She said they got similar letters semi-regularly to be printed in letters to the editor. They put them in file 13, too.

  41. Thanks Vicar of Hogsmeade. I believe I'll just go ahead with my original play and file 13 it.

  42. I'm back from the wedding reception. Today was an absolutely gorgeous midwestern autumn day. The wedding couple had a wonderful day to start their new lfe togther. I got the crowd to laugh in a few places in my homily, to break the tension.

    The sermon got finished late this morning, before the wedding. I'm not thrilled to pieces with every word, but I'm praying that the Spirit will use whatever it is I'm able to bring tomorrow. It's not exactly Clifford the Big Red Sermon, but we'll see.

    Spouse is upstairs painting the bedroom, so I'm going to hang out down stairs for awhile.

    'Night, all...

  43. Well, I'm finished. I'll look mine over in the morning, and after my service, I'll whip up a Power Point for the second go-round. I hope you all sleep well tonight!

  44. Argh..this should not be so hard. But it is. :-( Looking for some scriptures that I KNOW are in there...where are they? Where's my concordance? Oh man.

  45. Still grinding it out here... not sure when in the previous week I could have fit in getting farther along on this thing, but I wish it had happened. ***sigh***

  46. It is 10 o'clock Central time, 11 fast time. Do you know where your sermon is? Maybe out on a date with Antonio or watching the football game. Arrggh, right there with you WS and SingingOwl.

  47. For the second week in a row I am going to go to bed before the sermon is done. I HATE this.

    Good luck to all whose eyes are remaining open. I'll get the fresh coffee started in the am.


  48. Goodnight WS, hope the sleep helps...see you in the am for coffee.

    Okay who else has toothpick in their eyes and trying to stay awake while making sense in what you write?

    Please don't tell me I am alone here. Oh well, I am not really alone.

  49. Ooh ooh, I'm here (as always)! You are not alone, Abi.

    After Rev Maria posted about the Notre Dame game, I checked the TV schedule and found that my alma mater was playing in prime time (a rarity on this coast)! They lost, but I think watching the game was a worthwhile procrastination.

    I have something with a beginning, a middle, and an end, but it's too long and I know there is stuff that can be cut. So I'm going to take a shower and come back to it with fresher eyes and make the cuts.

    I ended up preaching only on Mark and only on the divorce part (not on the children part, which is too bad since I wrote an exegetical paper on that part in seminary). Presumptuous? Anti-Bible? We'll see.

    You can do it, Abi. Let me make you some super-strong tea.

  50. Thanks semfem. Hope the shower gets you going again.

    I am just doing the divorce part too. Hope it goes well.

    My team lost Thursday night. Boo hiss.

    keep up the good work.

  51. Good night all,hope i haven't turned the light to soon or too late. My eyes are now closing. So I be closing and going to sleep.

  52. I'm sleepy but I think I'm done. Plus the laptop battery is almost gone. Whew!

  53. Huh... apparantly that sermon finishing elf did not get my memo.

    Good job semfem and revabi.

  54. 5am in Chicago...

    I have a good "outline" (more than that, not quite a full manuscript)...Here is the poem by Joseph Awad that I begin the sermon with...


    Love, Love was incarnate there
    In childhood's glow and mystery,
    Christ was around me everywhere.

    On my knees I learned a bedside prayer,
    Mother and father leading me.
    Love, Love was incarnate there.

    In his rough hug, in her girlish hair
    About my face, in our revelry,
    Christ was around me everywhere.

    In grandparents' kisses, in the care
    Of aunts and uncles, in family,
    Love, Love was incarnate there.

    Daily I met His doting stare
    From a cross on a wall or rosary.
    Christ was around me everywhere.

    In the clang of church bells in the air
    I heard His call - my destiny!
    Love, Love was incarnate there.
    Christ was around me everywhere.

    - Villanelle by Joseph Awad, Shenandoah Long Ago

    From there it is the steady trek to understanding how precious, demanding and tenuous relationship with God is. And the Amish has something to teach us.

    Pray for our brothers and sister, y'all.

  55. *have* *have* to teach us...oy. Anyone bring the coffee?


  56. The coffee is ready Tripp. Thanks for reminding me of the poem I wanted to share today.

    Thanks all for your support. I hope your days are blessed ones. As for the sermons we have been working on, have no fear. In fact we should probably:

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

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

    Peace good and faithful servants. Peace.

  57. Here's the second pot. Blessings to preachers in all time zones. Remember, we are bringing the Good News, and who wouldn't want to hear that?

  58. Blogger ate my comment.

    But mainly I wanted to thank you all, and just 2nd what WS said.

    I am trying to smooth up what I wrote as my eyes were closing and my mind was beginning to close down too. However I got 3 little ones running around, and that doesn't count the 5 four legged ones.

    God be with you and the dog.

  59. Blessings on all who preach today.

    Today is our Jubilee Celebration - the culmination of a year's planning. sure could use your prayers between now and 7 pm west coast time.

    Wrote about it on my blog Jubilee this morning but haven't the brain power yet this morning to make the link work. :-) Is that coffee still hot?

  60. rev marie,
    prayers going your way today. And yes the coffee is hot,here let me make a new pot for you and the others on the west coast.

    I am done. Yea. The dog walked proud and the holy spirit moved.

    Now back over to the church for more work.

  61. Clifford the Big Red Sermon was VERY well-behaved at St. Smaller and everybody was duly impressed.

    Not so much at St. Larger.

    But it's done, whee! And I am off for vacation until Thursday! WOOHOO!

    Blessings on your proclamation, everyone!

  62. I usually know how something went over. Not today. I asked the congregation to raise a hand if they had ever heard a sermon about domestic violence....guess how many hands went up? 0

    Well, I lit three candles. Thirty women in the state of Wisconsin died last year in domestic violence incidents. So one candle = ten women. There were about 300,000 estimated incidents of battery...and the three candles alos stood for God...and by extension, us. The Church, representing the love of Jesus in this world. Just closed with prayer. Silence. I hope it was a profound silence and not just a bored silence. ;-)

  63. Singing Owl, there is no way to gauge the ripple effect your message from today will have through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    You are courageous and because you were empowered today to speak hopefully others who need to will be empowered as well.


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