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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Eve Preacher Party: How Far is it to Bethlehem?

How far is it to Bethlehem?

Not very far.

Can a preacher write a sermon

lit by a star?

Still writing for Christmas Eve? Join our discussion here. And have a piece of fudge. Especially if you like the kind with nuts. Because we have plenty of that. Also, a fruitcake.

I'll be back later after a family party to check in with you, and keep things going tomorrow, too.


  1. Thanks for the added party this week songbird! I have fugde, cookies, and candy from various members to share that needs to disappear before my plane ride Tuesday.
    I have no idea what to preach on tomorrow. The good thoughts I had earlier in the week are not working out. My in-laws are on their way here, I still have to pack for trip Christmas morning, and I have a migraine, again!

  2. Okay, so I'm back with a draft. In-laws are here and babygirl will not take a nap. I'd appreciate comments, if anyone has the time. It's rough and need WORK! Blessings y'all!

  3. Hello, cpclergymama and other Christmas Eve preachers!

    These high holy days always seem to bring an added sense of pressure and various complications.

    May the Holy Spirit visit with you as you write and prepare, giving you the peace that comes with the confidence of knowing God is at work!

  4. SOngbird wasn't insinuating that the Preacher PArty wasw populated by nuts and fruitcakes was she???

    ANyway, I'll have some fudge.

    Just got back from teh church setting the stage for tomorrow evening...

  5. No aspersions intended! Just a reflection on the holiday treats we have received thus far.
    I have a pretty preachable draft for tomorrow night and will look it over in the morning. See you then if not before!

  6. Well having been called both a nut and a fruitcake before (although never a nutty fruitcake to my knowledge) I had to check :)

    My story has to be finished and a prayer found/written but they may have to wait until little people go to bed.

  7. My congregation has given me the greatest gift. We will do lessons and carols tomorrow night. No sermon to write! I hate writing Christmas sermons anyway. I feel so much pressure to write a really good sermon because it's the only time some folks get to worship. How can I tell the story better than has alread y been told.

    I'm off in a little while to the Episcopalian church for their Celtic Eucharist. They alternate a Taize and Celtic service on Sunday evening. I love going. I can sit in the candle light, listen to the music, have communion and not be responsible for anything. I'll probably go to their 11 o'clock service tomorrow night, unless I go to the midnight service at the Catholic Cathedral which is two blocks from my house.

  8. Songbird posted the lines from the hymn I haven't heard in some time - so, of course, I checked it out on Youtube and thought I would share with you all - it's nicely done.
    How Far is it to Bethlehem

  9. I am working on a meditation - a very, very brief one. God bless lessons and carols. My guess is most folks around here are working with the images of power and light and hoping for same since that is how most of us spent the beginning of the week.

    Right now I am sipping some Starbucks and waiting for my sister to finish dinner - YES!

  10. 5 services down this week- just midnight mass to go, then a glorious week off- what to say... short, and meaningful, but what to say...

  11. I have cookies and cake to offer, and a bottle of wine. But do I have a sermon? No. We're doing lessons and carols too, so I only need a brief meditation. I haven't recovered enough from the children's program and baptisms of this morning to even have thoughts. Glad we're partying again.

  12. My little reflection for Christmas Eve is written. I think it will do...I'll post it later...calling it "Labor of Love"...

    CPCM, I hope your migraine goes away...

    Prayers for all of you. I have a Cheerios mix to offer, later baked chicken and a glass of red wine...

  13. WOO, it's time to party again!

    I have a few rambling thoughts about chaos and calm but am having trouble gelling them into a beautifully written yet nice and short reflection that will compel all C&Eers to come back to church and make everyone cry to boot.

    We do NOT have lessons and carols (that's next Sunday, which works out well since I skip town Tuesday), but we do have plenty of carols lined up and that's really what people want, right? Silent Night and candles. They couldn't care less about the sermon.

    Right? *whew*

  14. Mompriest, Prayers ascend. Migrains are no fun at this time of the year.

    I have a sermon but I won't post it till tomorrow. No sense stealing my own thunder. My parishioners read it before I get to the pulpit!

    I had to talk about the Incarnation--it is the most important feast in the Church year I think--at least for me. I just want the Christmas service to touch people as I was touched so many years ago.

    Prayers ascend for all of us who just want others to KNOW the Christmas story on the insides.

  15. ok, can someone explain cheerios mix/ chex mix to me please?

    oh yes reflection- and then onto an assignment- part-time study blah....

  16. Thanks Cathy - that was a lovely music break.

    I'm writing a funeral sermon tonight, but still need to pull together a short sermon/reflection for the late service tomorrow night.

    For some reason the late night candle-lit service always inspires me to preach on the John 1 reading. I may need to go in another direction this year, just to change it up for the C/E folks.

  17. I'm doing a journey from Genesis to Revelation, complete with carols, candlelight and communion? Think I can pull if off in less than an hour?

    I am anxious to work on it, but I am too tired. I'll be back in the morning to work on it.

    Joah, I would love to go with you to the candlelit Celtic service. Just to sit and listen and be still. No Episcopalians nearby, alas.

  18. Cathy, I have never heard that lovely song before. I am sitting here teary-eyed--"God in his mother's arms" got me. The mystery of incarnation--whew.

    ((((((Cathy))))) Thanks for sharing that. It was my Christmas moment.

  19. SInging Owl that sounds very ambitious. LEt us know how it goes.

  20. If you are looking for a story that goes with the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it, there is a great story on my blog titled The Light Bearers.

  21. I've been pondering the choices God makes for incarnation for the past few weeks. Have we heard the story so often it has started to make sense? Because it certainly didn't make sense to the world into which Jesus was born.

    That's my start - it'll percolate all night and (hopefully) come flowing out with the coffee and cinnamon rolls tomorrow morning.

    Blessings to you all - I'll have rolls and java in the AM!

  22. You are welcome Singing Owl - I thought it was beautiful.

    I wish I could listen to you all on Christmas Eve - I know each of you will deliver a different perspective on this most Holy night.

  23. Oh, wow, I'm so happy we are having another party! We do lessons and carols on Christms Eve and then I do a very brief communion meditation. It's a beautiful service, but I still need to come up with a few words!

  24. ok, sally...cheerios mix...I'll be overly basic just in case you don't have cheerios cereal in GB...

    Cheerios is an oat based cereal shaped like "O's". For the mix it's baked with various seasonings (garlic salt, etc), pretzels, and peanuts to make a party mix...a little salty, good with "beverages" MIL makes it and my husband and kids love, well, it's OK....

  25. Oh cpclergymama - I hope your migraine has eased up for you.

    Funeral sermon is done. I'm going to have to work on the late service tomorrow. For now, bed time for me. My head, she's hurting. Sleep will come even with the sore head - I am tuckered right out.

    Peace to all!

  26. Thanks Vicar for sharing the Goat Lady story - I heard it once several years ago, but had forgotten it.

  27. I have the book with the GOat Lady story in it. It has 15 stories about Gletha and "Rogee". SOme are better than others of course. But the book is worth it if you can find a copy. It's called Tales of Gletha the Goat Lady

  28. Gord, I had no idea where to find it. Thanks!

  29. That's been a special piece of music to me since the first time I sang it in 1992. I lost a baby earlier that year, and the image of "God in his mother's arms" was powerful for me. Still makes me weep.
    My meditation is based on a blog post from about ten days ago, so I won't re-post it, but I will be "buffing" it in the morning and also working to expand on it as my message for next Sunday, when I'll be preaching at St. Cass's church. Hurray!

  30. My story is done

    At least I think so. It may get edited tomorrow. And it will certainly be changed when done since it is being done as a first-person monologue without text in front of me.

  31. I finished my Christmas eve sermon quickly, and with a tear in my eye--which usually means *I* think it's a great sermon, but no one else does. ;)

    I did a reflection using the Godly Play questions of "I wonder..." First, I wonder what it was like to be the innkeeper, then a shepherd, then one of the wise men, then someone in the pews on xmas eve. I end with wondering if each of them knows how much God loves them. "Know that God loves you. Wonder about everything else."

  32. Momma Helen - Love that...
    CPClergyMama & Sue - prayers for the headaches.
    Need five minutes of stuff - cuz that's all I'll get from the kids tomorrow night who will be waiting for me to finish so they can set the creche.
    I have white mix here... another version of the Cheerio mix - but sweet/salty - Capn Crunch, Rice Krispies, Pretzels, and Peanuts coated with white almond bark - very tasty and plenty for all!

  33. momma helen, Oh, I love that ending....Know that God loves you, wonder about everything else. I'm going to use that one day!

    I'm heading off to bed. Hope everyone is doing well, preparing for Christmas...

  34. Well, I'm not done like I wanted to be by this time. I'll be back at it tomorrow.

  35. I took a big break to watch the news (anxious about the weather) and I'm just now coming back. Lots of activity here for a non-standard preacher party!

    I'm 787 words into a reflection about chaos and calm, using a story about the filming of the movie The Nativity Story, and how even when the director tried SO HARD to film the perfect calm scene, chaos ensued.

    Ditto in our normal lives, and especially in our Christmas lives. The only true calm comes from knowing that God entered into the chaos of humanity in a tiny baby.

    Hmm. I don't like it so much when I put like that.

    I think I'll go procrastinate some more by reading the wonderful things linked here.

    (anybody still out there?)

  36. I'm here semfem! I'm up not feeling so hot, but up. I realized I didn't post a link to my meditation/sermonette/ whatever. It's here. It's mabye a rought 800 words but as we have a candlelight communion service and people want this service short I hope it will work.
    Semfem, I like the storya bout the Nativity movie, I've never heard it before. It's true, our lives are chaos when we seek calm and calm when we trust God is seeking us.

  37. WHOA. cpclergymama, you may have just cracked open the theological kernel for me with that comment about seeking the calm of Christmas...what we need to do is be found, to be given the gift, not to look for it and try to take it.

    THANK YOU! Oh, and I just read your meditation and liked it very much. You've made me rethink a few things in what I've already written. And I really like how you draw in the whole story of Jesus.

  38. Oh, and the story about the Nativity movie is at Guideposts, It was suggested by another clergy friend of mine...

  39. Thanks for the link, semfem. I was just getting ready to ask for the story when the link came through

  40. Vicar: er, in that case, try this!

  41. Oops. The "da" on the end of that should really be "date=12/22/2007".

    On the other hand...I think it's linked right on the main page.

  42. I found it on the front page but thanks for the extra work anyway

  43. Semfem, glad to be of help! I read the whole story on guideposts site and really enjoyed it, thanks!
    I think I'm going to try to get some rest now. I have to be up for a minister's breakfast in 4 hours. Blessings, and let me know how it turns out!

  44. Okay, I think I'm done (1014 words), the ending kind of sucks, but I've got to sleep. I'll take another look at this tomorrow before preaching it. Hope it will miraculously stop being sucky. :)

    I hope the story helps Vicar or someone else out! Night everyone, and blessings on all proclamation tomorrow night.

  45. Good morning, preachers! The coffee is on. I'm still trying to give away fruitcake, but we also have a loaf of really gorgeous cinnamon swirl bread and some applesauce bread, too.
    Anyone prefer tea?
    I've looked over my draft and made some tweaks (including changing a reference to last night's family party, since my husband stayed home with our ailing dog). I'm afraid if I look at it much more I'll decide I need to do something completely different, and we don't want that, do we?
    If anyone needs a children's story, I wrote one a few years ago for Christmas Eve, when we were doing only a children's message with lessons and carols, no sermon. I'll post it, in case it might be useful. I must admit it conflates the gospel stories as well as extra-biblical traditions.

  46. Lunchtime on Christmas Eve checklist

    Crib Service - prepped - lost music tracked down - stand in organist contacted - stable built

    Carolling at hotel - nothing to do but show up and sing (note to self; collect HS from work first or there won't be a tenor line)

    Midnight - Presiding, so no words to say beyond those of timeless liturgy

    Christmas morning - 8.00 Communion reflection - eeek...still elduing me
    Family Eucharist modified liturgy sorted - talk done

    Domestic Christmas - more or less untouched!

    Dog has eaten chocolate coins from stocking
    Computer refuses to talk to printer

    Do you think it's too early to hit the gin bottle?

    Hey - but this time tomorrow I should be home and DONE! For a whole week.

  47. Oh - what am I thinking of...I was so engrossed in my private pity party that I totally failed to send you all encouraging hugs,loves and such chocolate as the dog has left untouched. We also have some utterly wonderful hot ginger cordial, which is just the thing for weary preachers' throats...more mincepies that you can shake a stick at...Lebekuchen by the gross...
    Could it be Christmas Eve??
    Hugs and loves all round xxxx

  48. Merry Christmas, preacher people! I am off to the airport in a couple of hours. Feels totally strange after so many years of fussing over sermons on Christmas Eve. Hopefully we won't get stuck at Midway, mid way.

    Have a blessed, blessed day.

  49. My husband and I (both pastors) put together a slide show with lots of images (thank you, flickr!). It's about five or six minutes long, and has images of Mary and Joseph and some modern day shepherds. The images are interspersed with a few lines of text, focusing on the decision the shepherds had to make after the angel brought them the news: stay in the fields, or go to see and worship the Christ? We remind the viewer that's our decision as well, and it's time to go and see. Then lots of images--old woman praying, kids dressed up like angels with powdered donuts all over their faces, a church congregation with candles lit. We're doing one service in his charge and one in mine.

    I'm thrilled with how it came out. And neither of us has to open our mouths! Praise God for five whole minutes of silence on Christmas Eve!

  50. Here are my 2 sermons from this week... One for the adults here

    And one for our Family service that is aimed at the kids - here

  51. sadly i am still writing for tonight's service:-(

  52. I finished mine late last night. I posted it here. I will probably tweak a little as the day goes on...

    Happy writing, all.

  53. Beloved let me sleep in this morning, then looked at me askance when I sat down in the easy chair with a cuppa and yesterday's Times crossword. "Daddy should either work on his sermon or get on the treadmill for his run while Mommy's watching the babe," says She Who Must Be Obeyed.

    Thus, I'm now blogging instead of writing. Do I have a problem? :-)

    Should be okay, though - the genesis of what I'll be writing has been in my head for two weeks now, and usually that means it'll gather steam and come pouring out when I finally do write.

    Blessings, all! I've got some Equal Exchange "Love Buzz Blend" in the thermos for later if anyone needs good fair trade.

  54. What wonderful things are going to be happening in all your churches tonight!

    Busy day already! I've had a minor crisis, but I think it's taken care of. And I had the pleasure of a Christmas text from Brit Boy (dontcha love the 21st century? instead of calls, it's texts). The readers for the late service had a medical emergency, but I think I have subs lined up.

    Left to do: Pack for trip, finish getting ready for Roomie's arrival (including cleaning the bathroom), go to bank...oh, yes, organise sermon for tonight!

    Truth to tell, it's going to be simple if not sweet--telling the Christmas story with the creche, as I mentioned yesterday. But I still have to wrap the figures and put together a cheat sheet.

    I have some lovely chocolate cookies with peppermint candy on top...and coffee, lots of coffee.

  55. I guess I should make my own cookies if I don't want fruitcake, huh?

  56. I posted. I feel good about this one.

    Have a holy night, ya'll

  57. Still working on the sermon here. It's truly amazing what I can get done when I'm avoiding something else. Between yesterday and today, I have unpacked and put away another carload of stuff into the new apartment, organized the pantry, done laundry, and run several miles. But have I written a sermon? Of course not. So, eking that out now. Cookies or chocolate cake, anyone?

  58. Sorry, fogot to tell you where.

  59. Christmas Eve here - and Santa's already been ...

    chocolates anyone? Or cheese and crackers?

    We're off to midnight church (at 10pm here - go figure!)

    but it's been a lovely day :)

  60. Yum, cinnamon and applesauce bread and chocolate peppermint cookies.

    Merry Christmas Lorna (and Sally and Kathryn)-I can't believe it's already here where you are.

    We did house mass for Advent IV last night and will go to the 11 pm service at the nice little Episcopal church where we did Maundy Thursday--first time for the kids to stay up and they are way excited. So once again my writing task is trying to finish the paper proposal for the Hildegard conference. I have some hospice charting and need to organize my binder for that, but may put it off for a day or two

    We got lights on the tree yesterday and will add ornaments today, have lasagna I made last month thawing out for dinner and Rocky Road cheesecake from a school fundraiser for dessert.

    Love and blessings, everyone.

  61. I'm not writing today, as I have the "alternative" service and so instead of preaching have decided to have four character meditations--all found, edited for context, and rehearsed with lay readers. All I have to do is the christ candle reading and communion. hallelujah!

    So, I'm here to encourage those still working, cheer those who've finished, and generally be sparkly and hopeful.

    Also, I have hot apple cider, cocoa, and lots of different kinds of tea. And candy-cane-Joe-Joes! :-)

    Soon it's time...the five-service-Christmas-Eve-extravaganza begins at 3.30 (well, probably really 3 with all the kids running around and taking places) and ends around 11.30. oy!

    Maybe I'd better have some of my own cider to prepare myself....

  62. Hubby is working on the sermon, I am baking. The photos of the candy cane coffee cake are posted!
    Merry Blessed Christmas everyone!

  63. Merry almost Christmas to many of you and Merry Christmas to some!

    I don't usually do this, but I wrote out my meditation for this evening, because I'm supposed to be [ahem] brief and relevant to Luke 2:1-7. My UCC colleague gets to talk about Luke 2:8-20.

    You can read it here if you choose. Comments are certainly welcome.

  64. well, I'm done, I think. I'm going to let it "settle" for a little while. It needs to be pretty short because we have lots of music, communion, and baptism of a baby. May y'all have a blessed Christmas

  65. I have finished my writing! NOw just the doing is left. My Christmas prayer is up at my place

  66. I'm finished at last, and with 4 hours to spare. Wahoo! This will be my last Christmas at this church, and I'm beginning to feel a little sad about it. It'll be a weird night, leading worship at this church and then attending the later service at the church where I'll be working in about a month. I better stay away from the eggnog and red wine, or I'll get all nostalgic and weepy!

  67. Well, mine's done--now to print, do some more preparing for Roomie, get some supper and head over for the 5 pm gig--er, service. Back after that, I think, try to get some more stuff done before the 9 pm service and the traditional (for us) Chinese dinner.

    Blessings to you all!

    In haste, RP

  68. For those of you who need a bit of a break from rich holiday fare, I have a simple beef-vegetable noodle soup I'm willing to share. It's very warming and very satisfying, without being very filling.

    I'm praying for those of you whose schedules are crazier than my own this year.

  69. Finally definitely done! Tweaked the sermon and about to head out for dinner at a parishioner's house. Woohoo!

    Blessings on all proclamation tonight!

  70. Mine is done, and posted at my place, complete with pictures. I am having trouble with a link. Blessings, all!

  71. Off to the service. A very blessed Christmas to you all!

  72. Oh! And I almost missed it. I posted my sermon here. It's a short meditation about God leading us from sentimentality to truth...

  73. Happy Christmas, friends! I am two services in with three to go...thought I'd stop by in case anyone comes home tonight thinking "I'll just check in at RGBP instead of going immediately to bed like a sane person...." :-)

    anyway, merry christmas. Thanks for being here for inspiration and encouragement!


  74. I'm dropping in to see what's going on.

    The one service I was responsible for is completed. The sermon was not delivered as written but the bones of it were the same. In spite of microphone problems, we had a beautiful worship service. I am so privileged to be the pastor here.

    We're not having a late service this year but that is my favorite service so I'm going somewhere else for that. Meanwhile, I'll watch football and maybe wrap some presents.

  75. Home again! I hope all had a blessed night. Service was wonderful, but very sparsely attended, which makes me sad.

    I did go from Genesis to Revelation in 45 minutes, complete with music. LOL

    Tomorrow we are off to the prison for services there which will take up the major part of the day. Blessings all, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!


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