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Saturday, December 02, 2006

11th Hour Preacher Party - Slightly Late Edition

Good morning, preaching pals! Perhaps you've noticed that I'm not exactly an early riser, and I neglected to open the doors in the wee hours of the morning before bed as I usually do. Nonetheless, I'm here now, and the table is set with coffee and cranberry nut muffins. Help yourselves, and add to our weekly feast as you will - with both food and sermon ideas.

I'm not sure exactly where I'm going this week, but I'm focusing on the Jeremiah passage and doing a bit of Advent education. How about all of you? How are you ushering in this season of waiting?


  1. (looks around)

    First ne here, eh?

    I'm going with the Luke passage, Advent theme, and using the countdown clock used on "Studio 60" as am image for the Christian life. Jesus asks the disciples to stay busy, keep alert while waiting for the Second Coming.

    Well... that's as far as I've gotten. I think I'll grab one of those muffins and get back to it.

  2. Hi Stacey and CH, I'm running a tad late myself this morning.

    Just stumbled out of bed and am sipping that first dose--er, cup--of coffee.

    As to the sermon, I'm looking at the theme of waiting for change, expecting something to make things better, and how do we knoe if it will come, or when it is coming. Yes, I'm using the Luke passage.

    On a related topic, I'm planning to lay out the whole year's readings before the year starts--choose them now so we (the worship team) can do clever things with them. We think of these neat ideas, but we don't have time to implement them before that Sunday. And--since I'll be working with the calendar anyway--I'm going to put in all the holidays and observances, too.

    So ys'll probably do that already, right?

  3. Worship Team? What is this creature of which you speak? At St. Stoic, it turns out that there is an I in team. I am the team.

  4. I'm going with old Jeremiah, and the power of promise - and idea I picked up from Sojourners. I posted the sermon on my blog if you'd like to see it.

    Why don't you try one of my Krispy Kreme Pumpkin spice doughnuts...yum!

  5. Don't feel late - it's barely 7:30 here on the left coast.

    We do a fairly extended Hanging of the Greens the 1st Sunday of Advent in place of the sermon so I'm not preaching tomorrow.

    I just wanted to check in before I run off for a pretty full day - a meeting for a Regional Women's event about an hour south of here, then back to drag out all the greens, candles, and Chrismons and get them ready for the morning. Then I'm going to a pot luck and speaker event.

    RP, I just dream about laying out the whole year. Shoot, I just dream about laying out a whole month! May your dream become a reality.

    I made twice as many spiced apples as I need for the pot luck. You all are welcome to help yourselves while I'm gone.

  6. I'm using Jeremiah and Luke and giving a Communion Meditation (you know, short sermon...) on Signs of Hope and how the signs don't always point to what we expected (i.e. we got a baby in a manger instead of a champion on a stallion). I'm going to bring in the shepherds and the magi and their response to the unexpected and urge us to respond to the Good News in our lives by sharing it as the shepherds did. Yes, I'm leaning into Christmas. When your pastor resigns at the end of November, I figure everybody needs a little Christmas, right this very minute.
    Meanwhile, I hope you'll understand if I don't share my erythromycin.

  7. Worship Committee = me, musician, and deacon (who is principal worship leader).

    So not really a huge crowd, to be honest!

    Well, I've visited Desperate Preacher and got some ideas, done my tour through The Text This Week (in theory, I do that all on Thursday, but, well, I did say in theory), and now have some ideas.

    I'm looking at the concepts of change and expectation, and the fear of change that the secure would feel, while those who are not secure (economically, or because of their health--can bring in World AIDS Sunday here--or their gender or race or geographical location, or any number of things)can look forward to change as a positive thing, a focus of hope--"lift up your heads."

    That's what I've got to this point. I have a couple of errands to run, then back to work on it some more. I'm really hoping to finish it up this afternoon, as there's a dinner party tonight, and I want to enjoy it without having to come back and finish the sermon afterwards.

    How are you all coming? I'll pick up some fruit while I'm out. Any requests?

  8. Oh, and that planning the year in advance thing?

    I spent two hours on it yesterday afternoon (sermon procrastinating) and got as far as the readings for the year and some of the holidays. This is going to be a big project, possibly unfinished...

  9. I am planning to begin with an explanation of Advent as the first season of the liturgical year, and how the church calendar is designed to help us relive key moments in the life of Christ and his teachings. Advent is the "we can't wait for him to get here" expectation anticipation part. Our watchful preparation is key for our ability to receive him ... and so forth and so forth. Following the paths of our true and highest longings ... as opposed to base desires [whatever those are. Maybe the violent desire for a PS3?]

    On the other hand, who knows what I'll say ... I don't write anything down generally. Just rehearse in my head --and you know what they say about people who talk to themselves. Scary!

  10. I finished the small group study for the Isaiah 9 passage I was assigned, finished a project and mailed it in, and started analysis of Mark 7. For Advent purposes, my church is doing a four week study on "All I want for Christmas" based on the names of God from Isaiah 9: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. I was lost in my study of "Mighty God" for several hours... quite an amazing thing to consider the God of the universe made a way for a humanity that pretty much says, "hey God this is how I see You and I'm right..." -- and yet God chose to reach down to us in a person, human, way...

    Veni, Emmanuel


  11. Well, I pushed "print" at 10:59 my time. I don't often meet my goal, (done by noon) but this week I did! Yay for me!

    Now I reward myself with a bubble bath, then I get to take Wondergirl for haircut. Teh bad news: the haircut place is attached to the mall. Do I have any idea how stupid that was on a Saturday before Christmas?

    Yes, I do.

  12. oh, dreaming of a worship team... there's an "i" in this team too, cheesehead!

    though hubby who just happens to be the church musician and i make a pretty good, if tiny, team.

    well... i've never posted a full sermon on my blog before, but i just did. i'm preaching on the jeremiah text. if you'd be interested in bringing your coffee and muffins or..mmm... donuts and stopping by on a sermon writing break, I'd be honored. Please feel free to offer feedback, any strengthening suggestions are welcome (though not required!) before i go to print and preach this tonight.

  13. A round of applause for cheesehead... *applause, applause, applause* Good luck with that whole Mall thing...

    Rainbow Pastor - your idea about planning for the year sounds great, though work intensive. It would certainly take some of the pressure off week by week.

    My father-in-law, who is retired now, used to take his three week study leave every year and go to Princeton. He would take a one-week intensive course and spend the other two weeks in the library doing exegesis for the entire upcoming church year. That way, each week required only that he contextualize the material and prepare the pastoral prayers. It was a great discipline.

  14. Oops, got here too early and found a coffee shop down the road. Now I'm back and impressed by Cheesehead's rewards, Sue's f-i-l and all of the great thoughts floating out there.

    Sue, I think maybe I need to stop taking my continuing education at the beach. I seem to get a lot less exegesis accomplished there... I think my family probably has to stay behind too. Hmmmm.

    Tomorrow we are welcoming in the new confirmation class and serving communion; because one of the confirmands is not baptized we are doing that too so all that is needed is about 2 pages from me and that - for once - is done. It's about waiting and the wait being over at the same time.

    Yeah, it's a lot for two pages.

    I am off to bake for our volunteers as a Christmas thank you gift. I'll bake some extra applesauce cakes for all of you.

    You all are doing great!

  15. OK, errands run, lunch had, I'm checking in with you folks.

    Way to go, Cheesehead!

    Sue, I had a mentoring pastor who would do the same thing, only more incrementally--she took a couple of days every three months and put together an outline for each Sunday. Her rationale was that the weeks you had a funeral, a Board meeting and a cold were the weeks you really needed that outline; and if you had a quiet week, having the outline ready was your reward.

    I have never made it to that point--the best I've done is the readings for a month or two ahead of time. But I am vowing to get things done ahead of time, tired of playing catch up. This week being a case in point (holiday weekend, overnight bingo, member's partner in the hospital).

    So off to the sermon...again. What was that about preparing?

  16. Sermon is: short, crappy, done!!!!

    ALong with the Luke passage, I couldn't get the T.S. Eliot poem with the line "In my beginning is my end..." out of my head since we're baptizing 5 babies this week, and short staffed because our head pastor's dad died last week.

    I'm not sure that line helped the sermon at all.

    For anyone looking for last minute inspiration, here's a toasty chestnut for you: check out "The Message" as it paraphrases the Luke passage! It is SO SO timely for Advent:

    "Don't let the sharp edge of your expecation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping."


  17. Rainbow Pastor--I get together with a few good clergy friends in the area periodically (i.e. every 3-4 months) to do long-range worship planning. We look at the lectionary and search for emerging themes and talk about images we might use in worship to illustrate those themes. Much more fruitful than having that same discussion with my newly-formed worship team!

    I slept in, as usual, so I'm just now digging in. I'm focusing on the idea of time for all four weeks of Advent--different ways of measuring time, chronos vs. kairos, and the promise that God's time really is coming even when the world appears to be falling apart.

    Something else that just spoke to me was the variety of signs we read about in the Luke passage. Sure, there are violent end-of-the-world signs, but there are also quiet, peaceful signs as natural as a tree sprouting its leaves.

    I'd like to work something about baptism in for St. Larger, because we are baptizing a thirteen-year-old boy and everyone is really excited--him most of all!

  18. Hi all, missed the party last week. Its going to get harder to party with Bob off to work at noon and not back until 1am. Oh but the kids were decorating the tree while the kittens were just as quickly undecorating it. LOL.

    I am doing the 1st Thess. passage. I got lots in my head, and various places around, but not in any orderly fashion. Cheeshead, I am jealous, yet congrats.

    Not sure what I can offer except hot chocolate or tea or carrots. yep, still doing weight watchers or trying..

  19. Hi all--just rediscovered a great resource, and thought maybe some of you would like/could use it.

    Laurence Hull Stookey's book "Calendar:Christ's Time for the Church" is amazing. I actually tool several liturgical courses from him in seminary, but had forgotten how readable and useful this book is. He has a bunch on Christmas and Advent, which I am using for our Spotlight on Scripture time (i.e., Children's sermon for kids who are too old for a children's sermon). He also wrote on Eucharist (Christ's Feast with the Church) and Baptism (Christ's Act in the Church).

    OK, back to work.

  20. Ok I overslept too...what's up with that...I'm working on the JeremiaH passage, not too successfully, but that God starts and finishes what God promises..and that things are not always what they seem (i.e what our culture says is valuable/successful/etc is not what God says...ok so it needs much more work. Perhaps I'll just all the suggestions though..gail

  21. Thanks for the tip RP - both on the book and on the pastor that did the planning more incrementally.

    I was going to be a part of a lectionary group this year but the person pushing for it switched to Year of the Bible. I had been looking at that and so I decided to do that too figuring we could plan together with that in mind as well.

    Then she moved, became an AP, and doesn't even preach again until Dec 24th.

    But I'm not bitter, am I apstraight?

  22. I stuck with the Jeremiah, and I'm talking about waiting. I think it's easy to wait when we know the results will come relatively soon. But, when we don't know exactly what we're waiting for, or when it will come (as is always the case when waiting on God), it is much more difficult. I tried to stick with waiting this week and will explore the hoping part of Advent next week. It's finished, but could use some work. Flowing thoughts to all.

  23. Well, I have a decent outline (which is what I preach from nowadays...), so will take time for a power nap before I finish it off.

    I'm talking about the roaring of the seas, and people fainting from fear--comparing that to 9/11 and the fears of so many; and making the point that it is the ones who have the most to lose who fear change the most--i.e. the ones who are already secure ( = in power). Thus, the ones who are in need will "lift up their heads" when the changes come. So we, who all have needs (lower-income, minority, GLBT, HIV+, immigrant, unemployed, etc.) are waiting in hope to see what those changes will be.

    I finish up with the idea that we know it's Jesus who's coming at Christmas, but we don't know what else might happen, using a quote from the book I mentioned earlier, that "God keeps promises but loves surprises."

    There's alot there, but I think I've made it more coherent in the outline than it appears here, LOL. Maybe after the nap I won't think so...

    Keep those thoughts flowing and those eloquent (well, I personally would settle for usable) sermons coming!

  24. I preached 3 of the last 4 weeks including my first time preaching 2 weeks in a row (including apocalyptic end-times texts and Christ the King plus a baptism), so I am grateful to have this week off.

    Thanks for the couple RGBP's who popped by my blog during delurking week and left comments, prompting me to do some updating and try to be better about journaling.

    Blessings to you all as you listen for God speaking to us in this week's texts and craft your messages.


  25. p.s. rainbow pastor: I love Lawrence Hull Stookey's "Calendar" book too. I often find myself looking at it to help me think about where we are in the church year as we hear the texts.


  26. Thank you, Sarah Dylan Breuer, for pointing out Malina and Rohrbaugh's comment that the fig tree is among the LAST to bloom in Palestine. For some reason, reading that provided my AHA! moment this week.

    Now for writing!

  27. Inspired by "more cows" (whose sermon is excellent, BTW) I decided to put snippets of my own up on my blog.

    While you're there, scroll down to see some nativity goofiness that took place at our house during the "Blizzard of '06" yesterday. (You may have to click on "home" first.)

  28. Back from spending all day at a church women's conference. It was not particularly inspiring. I did work on my sermon while I was there, but I'm looking at it now and realizing that it doesn't quite make sense. Somehow my attempt to be "relevant" has turned out to mean "without a real point." I'll take some coffee, a donut, and a closer look through your comments in search of a clue.

  29. Good news is: I'm well enough (I think) to preach and preside at our two services tomorrow - yahoo!!

    Bad news, I'm not sure the old brain is really working well enough to have a sermon to preach.

    I'm using the Luke text and use an illustration of how technicians strategically use dynamite to implode a building, causing it to collaps on itsef. From there I am talking about the ways we experience "collapse" in our world and lives as we know them: twin towers, natural disasters, personal illiness or job loss. I connect this idea of collapse, loss of world as we know it, with the how apocalyptic this particular Luke text is. I clarify that apocalyptic scripture (Revelation) is not about prophesy of end times (ie the Left Behind series) but tells a beautful story about people remaining faithful under persecution, hopeful under oppression. I connect it all by talking about how God does not cause the collapse to punish us or stregthen our character, rather these things just happen, they are a part of life. But when they happen God comes into the collapse, into the chaos and does what God does best, brings forth new life. Of course I connect this to Advent, in the dark night (collapse) we wait with hope and expectation that God is with us and will bring forth new life. Advent is the time of waiting for God to come among us, Emmanuel, in new ways,Christmas.

  30. Hi all! It's good to be back at the party. I brought brownies. They are the sweet of choice at our house lately. Tomorrow I will lead worship at the hospital chapel. We moved the service time because no one was showing up. Hopefully with the posters I put up, we'll have a few patients, family members, and staff. I'm going off lectionary and using Luke 1:26-38. (Gabriel comes to Mary with the news of Jesus' birth.) I'm talking about the fact that this was not a Christmas Card moment. This news literally turned Mary's world upside down. All her plans for the future were put at risk, yet she answered "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." At the hospital, people have their lives turned upside down on a daily basis by sudden injury, death, or serious diagnosis. Our family has had an upside down experience lately. So there's where I am so far. Of course the meditation is only 5 minutes, so I'm close to finished. In truth, what I really need to be doing is CPE homework. Gotta get moving, gotta get moving (is it working?)

  31. I'm leaning heavily on Bono and U2 this week...Peace on Earth is the tune. Bono is wrangling with promises of peace in the midst of horrible violence and a world upset by war. Bu the song finishes with the proclamation "Peace on Earth!" It is a rally cry. It is a statement of faith, a challenge to the world which denies a present God. I Am, says the Lord. Not, I Will Be.

  32. Wow. There is really a wealth helpful info in these comments-- did I already say WOW! Books and planning strategies. Fantastic.

    I'm leading the Adult Formation class tomorrow-- we're looking at the Advent Lessons and Carols service, and what we learn about Advent from it.

  33. I can't read other people's sermons yet, because I don't have one, and I would feel ashamed. Basically I still have what I had this morning.
    But I've done laundry, gone to church to set up the Advent Wreath, gone for a walk with husband and dogs, taken a bubble bath, written a poem about falling down the basement stairs, eaten leftovers, and read some blogs.
    Now maybe the decks are clear enough for actual writing.

  34. Well, I have something I could preach from if I had to...glad I'll have some time tomorrow to put a final polish o it, though.

    Blessings to you all--and walk that dog proud.

    Off to a dinner party, without feeling guilty, yay!

  35. The sermon makes slightly more sense now, although my brain is straining to figure out what to say about Jesus and his strange signs. The dog is being a complete spaz, and I still have to finish the laundry and pack for an Advent planning retreat. Blah. Sounds like many of you are coming along well, though, so yay for that!

    I've switched from coffee to a pumpkin ale. Tasty, but I fear it will put me to sleep.

  36. I just returned from a weekend district meeting. I hate it when they schedule stuff for Friday and Saturday.

    I'd doing a bit of Advent education too.

    I toyed with the idea of joining you lectionary folk and preaching the Jeremiah text, but instead I am using the Isaiah passage about people walking in darkness seeing a great light. This is one of my favorite passages of scripture and seems to me to be the perfect introduction to the season.

    That said, I'm struggling with the sermon. Many thoughts, but not coming together in a coherent manner.

    Hmmm....maybe I'll just go do the trivia challenge and then post a better-late-than-never Friday Five.

    Yeah, that's the ticket.

    And I love some of your ideas and may ponder them for later this month.

    And that yearly planning thing? I'm going to take a couple of cloistered days next week to do that.

  37. thanks, cheesehead, for stopping by. i'll stop by your place next! and blessings to all still writing... and congrats to all who have a manuscript, or an outline, or a plan you can live with... and double congrats to all who get a week off.

    we had 15 people at vespers tonight (if you count hubby and me and I do). for a new service that frequently has had 5 or 6 max... this is a boom! must call senior highs and beg them to be in the christmas pageant, and make a prop for the children's sermon tomorrow, and oh yeah... i should eat something. and mom wants a call... LONG DAY.

    stacey, still awake? is the pumpkin ale yummy? is that a beer? sounds like a beer i might actually like.

  38. It may be that I'm getting somewhere now. May be. Please tell me some of you are still out there working.

  39. I'm still here, and yes, the pumpkin ale is beer - and excellent beer at that! Here, try one...

    Still working here, and awake, more or less. How's everyone else?

  40. Still working here. :-( Need a good story to add. Thinking....

  41. Okay, I think I'm done. I'll look it over again in the morning.

    It's good to know you're all out there!

  42. I've decided to be done for now. It will get another review in the morning. I'm just way too tired to keep writing, and things weren't getting any better. May the prayer for illumination be effective...

  43. No, no, no, don't stop now. Its quiet at my house, the kids are finally asleep, and I can think clearly or at least try. Please somebody stay up with me. Great ideas and comments for Luke and Jeremiah, but sadly they don't fit the I Thess. passage. So please stay up as I finish this mama up.

  44. I'm still up, Abi, just not working on the sermon anymore. I haven't even looked at the Thess. passage, though, so I won't be of much help there.

  45. a friend gave me a fridge magnet. Says "It will be all right in the end. If it's not all right, it's not the end." that's where Jeremiah and I am going this Sunday.

  46. What a great reminder, pastornines, and fitting for the season as well.

    Abi, you hanging in there?

  47. My preparations for tomorrow were interrupted because the belt on my vehicle that controls steering, brakes, cooling for the engine and just about everything else broke today when I was running an errand.

    You should have seen DH and I towing the car with her pickup a mile down the road to the local Firestone so they could replace it so I could get to my churches tomorrow. In true butch fashion, we reasoned that we should not pay $60 for what we can do ourselves.

    look here

    It is one thing to tow a vehicle behind another --it is another thing to tow one that steers like a tank and stops like an ocean-liner. But, wonders will never cease, I didn't rear end her or run her off the road. And it drives lovely again now.

    Thank God you were still here, Songbird --in all of this additional confusion, I nearly forgot the wreath! Sheesh --what's Advent without a wreath?

  48. Wow! Looks like great things are being written/prepared.

  49. Thanks Stacey, just knowing you are still up, helps.

  50. Hey Abi ...

    For what it is worth, I guess my take on the Thess passage is this is what I am longing for, but don't always experience. I want to increase and abound in love, I want a heart strong in holiness ...

    ...and the idea of being seen as blameless is really a pleasant thought. We play the blame game a lot in our day and age. Lots of finger-pointing at others as opposed to owning of responsibility.

    This is an expression of what Paul hopes for his people --is that the Advent piece of this text?

    I dunno ... you've probably already figured all of that out.

  51. Ack--I tried to post a few hours ago, but was thwarted because I think the phone lines were down between here and my ISP.

    Anyway, I finished early (for me)! Right about 8:00 p.m. Still needs a readthrough for editing, but for a change I won't be up all night.

    Go go go, everyone still writing! You can do it!

  52. Keep it up, preachers! You're doing well!
    Singing Owl, did you come up with a story?

  53. I'm still up with you preachers for now. It all sounds interesting, I wish I could come to all your services.

    As for the 1Thess passage. I just read it. Here are some thoughts.

    Wouldn't you love to get a letter like that to you or to your parish? Such love and caring! What a warm fuzzy. :) Longing to see the community, wanting to finish the teaching that was begun and fill in any gaps. Asking that the Lord increase them and that they would abound in love.

    It sounds like a wonderful picture of Christian community.

    What would it look like if we were thanking God for the joy we have in new Christians we've taught and for a Christian community? What would it look like to pray earnestly day and night to see them again? It also seems to assume that they would increase and do likewise. How good are we at following this example Paul has set for us? Where do we fall short? What step might we take in Advent to live into this example?


  54. Keep up the good work and good words... I'm going to bed -- and it is only 9 o'clock here in the west. :)

  55. Sigh...nope. Nothing that seems right. It's almost 11 so I am going to bed and will try again early in the a.m.

  56. Ask and you shall recieve,
    Thanks for all the great ideas on I Thess. My sermon is sounding a lot like what by the sea wrote. It is good to have you back. Thanks for staying up with me. I am done for now. I am now turning it and myself over to the Holy Spirit.

  57. I'm off to shower and sleep. May the Spirit be in all y'all's words tomorrow.

  58. Good morning! The tea is steeping...I am up early. This is a shame, really. The church's progresive dinner was last night. My wife and I were dropped off at midnight. So, next year I will have the sermon completed on Friday. Oy. Veh.

    Heaven on Earth...we need it now.
    I'm tired of all of this
    hanging around.

    Veni Emmanuel

  59. How are you Singing Owl, still hanging in there?

    I hope that you all have incredibly blessed mornings and that if you are not fond of what you wrote somehow you let it go and relax; the Holy Spirit has got your back.

    And if you've got a dog; Walk it proud.

  60. Well, I don't preach every Sunday... but I do have my second sermon due in my HOM class on Tuesday. The manuscript is due Monday at noon.

    Psalm 124. "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side..."

    This week has been so crazy, I might be able just use the fact that I survive until Tuesday as a sermon illustration.

  61. I'm back, doing a final polish.

    I'm asking for prayers today, too-not only for the sermon (always ned that prayer!) but also for our congregational meeting afterwards. It's possible it will be stormy, and I'm dreading it. I just want to stay calm and collected...

    Singing Owl, how are you doing with yours?

  62. Missed the party yesterday due to a busy, busy Saturday schedule. I look forward to coming back later to read the comments to see what I missed. A day late, a dollar short - the story of my life!

    Anyway, me and my dog are getting ready to trot across the yard to church.

    Blessings on you all!

  63. WEll, it's done and printed.

    We're going for a dogwalk...

  64. Just home from church, so praying for you, RP.

    As for my story, I never did find what I was looking for--and then--in the middle of the sermon I realized I had one. I recalled a time when I was walking through an amusement park attraction (Davey Jone's Locker at the now defunct Pacific Ocean Park in California) and the lights went out...and panic ensued, and some rumors....and how if felt to be struggling in the dark...and how it felt when I saw the tiny gleam of sunshine that meant the exit was near.

    Yay, GOD!

    But getting sermon illustrations while one is speaking is a bit stressful.


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