Visit our new site at

Saturday, July 05, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Prisoner of Hope Edition

Here in the U.S., it's Independence Day weekend, which means some of us have been up late watching (and listening to) fireworks, some of us have been hosting family gatherings, some have been marching in parades. Some of us serve congregations where the expectation is a patriotic Sunday worship service this weekend, celebrating our freedom.

In the midst of this a humble king rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, and the humble King Jesus invites the people: "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." In the midst of this the apostle Paul writes of our experience of captivity to sin: we want to do what is right, but we end up doing .... something else. And for those of us moving through the stories of Genesis, Rebekah comes to the well seeking water and discovers.... something else.

So, where are you headed this weekend? What are you singing? Do you have or need a children's message? What else do you have to share or need?

I'm here with bagels and muffins and orange juice and fair trade coffee. I'll make pancakes if anyone is game! I'm holding down the fort for the next two Sundays while the Senior Pastor is gone. So, check in! I'm lonely! I'll auto post for those overseas, and check back in the morning.


  1. Oh my! It's rather lonely here right now. Guess everyone is partying or sleeping. I'm working Romans and Matthew, the reality of the sin we are caught in, and the reality of the grace that holds us. We exchange the shackles of sin for the yoke of life of hope. Well, something like that anyway! I've got the in-laws and two nieces visiting, so I need to get this sermon done ASAP!

  2. Good morning!
    I have part of a sermon (which at the moment is about Utopia and freedom and responsibility and so forth), a title for a children's message ("Sparklers!") though I can't remember what the heck I meant to do and am stuck with it since it's printed in the bulletin, and a major memorial service this morning at 11. That preparation is complete, so I'm hoping to work on the sermon at the office before the service, than come home and crash after.
    I'm reminding myself to keep it short as it is a Communion service and we will also have a brief patriotic sing-song before the service begins. (Yes, that's my gift to them. Where else do people get to sing songs in groups anymore? I won't turn the whole service in that direction, although I'll be talking about freedom as noted above.)

  3. Songbird, do you have any sparklers? Maybe you could talk about how we encourage one another, spreading the light of the gospel, sparkling for each other with God's light, yada yada yada.

    I got nuthin.....

    I have a month of from preaching unless someone calls with an emergency gig. So today is just a day to clean house before out of town company arrives at three. Blessings on everyone's endeavors.

  4. ok, blogger ate my comment, so I'm back to try again.

    Steph, I like your idea. Songbird, I never have a title for my children's messages, so you're way ahead of me. My sermon title is "Land of the free" by which I meant the kingdom of God.

    My big goal was to preach with notes rather than a manuscript this weekend. Not sure if I'm going to make it or not.

  5. Good morning y'all. I'm preaching Matthew, title "The Lightest Burden" and I have a few ideas but nothing written yet. I hope to do it quick-like, though, because I'm doing the solo parent thing today (while dh is out of town on study leave) and am going to have divided attention for as long as I'm working on the sermon. Tomorrow is communion, which means I need a shorter sermon - but often that means it takes more time to write.

    Am thinking about what this passage has to say about freedom, and specifically about freedom from religion (love the Paul Tillich sermon on this "The Yoke of Religion" in the book The Shaking of the Foundations . Can also be found online here (thanks, textweek!). Am thinking of springboarding from 4th of July type stuff into the text. Am especially thinking about how people get upset about the aspect of freedom of religion when it is also applied to the concept of freedom from religion, yet this is exactly what Jesus brought.

    My house is on the empty side, food-wise, but I can offer some fresh fruit (watermelon, anyone?) or some Oreos that I have hidden away (from my boys and myself!).

  6. Earthchick, I liked Paul Tillich's sermon.

    Whenever I think of preaching freedom, I think of Martin Luther's little essay, "The Freedom of a Christian," which begins "The Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none." The very next statement is (and I'm not quoting, so I might be a couple of words off), "The Christian is a perfectly obedient servant of all, subject to all."

    The essay explains why both are true.

  7. earthchick, thanks for the Tillich cite! I'm heading out to be sure everything is prepared for the memorial service. Last I saw the green paraments were half off and the white not yet on...
    so there may be work to do. I'll check in from church.

  8. I am mostly done with a sermon on Psalm 145 (one of the alternate psalms for the day). I have to prepare a children's sermon. I DESPISE children's sermons.

    My sermon will either be a huge hit or a huge flop. It's a little off the beaten path.

    Anyone have a children's sermon---general theme being praise and enjoying God?

    And I'm ignoring the 4th altogether. If anyone asks, I'll say that I thought they might have celebrated it last week.

  9. From my CSA box this week, I can offer the last of the strawberries, small and perfectly delicious. I have cereal and milk as a vehicle for the strawberries.

    Sermon-wise, I'm going to set Matthew in contrast with our cultural understanding of freedom and indpendence (free from all restraints, autonomy, etc.). Our lust for complete self-determination may very well be the slavery to sin that Paul talks about in Romans. In contrast, in Matthew, we are invited to put on a yoke in order to find true freedom, something that our national independence festivals would not understand.

  10. I've made today's cole slaw for family reunion, all the family staying with me are up and ready to go see if we can find half-runners in Johnson City on our way over the mountains to western NC. Meanwhile, I think Steph and I are going in the same direction, sermon-wise but this is one that is going to have to take care of itself. I won't be home until late tonight. Maybe my Methodist minister uncle will have a few ideas to pass on. Now if my nephew's dog would just stop trying to roust my cat out from under the ottoman...!
    Have a good day everyone.

  11. PPB -- you can do that (ignore the 4th).
    Barbara -- I like what you are doing. I did that on a sermon on Galatians (for freedom Christ set us free). talking about "freedom to participate" rather than freedom from restraint...

  12. I slept 12 hours last night! So I'm rested and ready to finish my sermon. It's Matthew, about Jesus' frustration with offering a great gift and people ignoring it. I just need to add a piece that came to me yesterday: about how we humans would rather stick with what we know (perfectionism, dependency, codependeny, addictions, etc) rather than give them up for what Jesus promises is better. We sit on the sidelines, neither dancing nor mourning.

    Could offer matcha (ground green tea, quite bitter, but made better with nonJapanese honey added).

  13. Good morning! I think my new upside-down Saturday pattern (play, then work) will be abandoned today. I did so much laying around yesterday that I feel eager to get at it. Not eager enough to get up before 8:00, but there you have it.

    I am going with Romans this week. Title: The Things We Hate To Do. One of my stories is about the new "hands free law" in California. And since I featured a newly departed white guy last week in George Carlin, I think including Jesse Helms this week might work.

    Might work, I said.

    I have 8-grain hot cereal with 1T agave nectar (3 pts.) to share. And fair-trade, shade-grown, locally roasted coffee.

  14. Yeah, PPB, I'm down with ignoring it too. In fact, I have never ever address 4th of July before - and wouldn't this time if it didn't seem the perfect entry to what I'm doing with my text.

    I have zero words so far. Bleh.

  15. I'm eating fresh blueberries, Kashi cereal and kefir, and I have plenty to share.

    I am ignoring July 4th, too. We do patriotic on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day and that's enough.

    I'm working on Matthew. All week I've been thinking about the yoke as the kind of yoke you put across your shoulders to distribute the load--but I have no idea as yet where I'm going with that, and time is getting short.

    I don't know how y'all think of titles ahead of time. I am soooo glad I don't have to do that!

  16. Titles: shudder. When churches (I'm a rent-a-preacher, by way of explanation) insist on them, I just take a line from the scripture, which sometimes has nothing to do with the sermon. This week, the title is "generation to generation." The sermon has absolutely nothing to do with it, though the scripture does. (Shrug.)

  17. I am on children's sermon duty this week, and SP is preaching on the yoke business. I'm not sure where I'm going yet with that...

    I'm down in the city staying with friends, heading back on a train in about an hour. So no snacks to offer...sorry! I'll be making a starbucks run on my way to the train station, though, so put your orders in now! When I get home it's parade time (the Gala parade, always on Saturday, preempted the 4th of July parade so they're combined) and then laundry time and then figure-out-a-children's sermon time.

    RE the 4th (and all other patriotic but not litirugical holidays), we usually mention it in the prayers of the people. Much harder this week since on communion Sundays we don't do joys/concerns and the POP are wrapped up in the communion if anyone has ideas about how to incorporate something about the 4th into a communion prayer, let me know!

    happy writing, friends...

  18. I'm not preaching tomorrow...but then I'm on for five Sundays, which is how many weeks I have until vacation time...(just a few months ago I preached every Sunday, every every I'm NOT complaining, just sayin')

    In the meantime the deacon who is preaching tomorrow has sent me her sermon so I can post it on the church blog. She's preaching on Matt and the freedom/yoke theme.

    This morning I am taking a long drive to the big city to the north. Son is going to spend a few days with a friend who is having a tonsillectomy on Monday. No fun to be 15 and having that surgery...and no fun for me, a six hour round trip drive just to drop him off (sigh)

    So, blessings on you all this day and tomorrow.

  19. Good morning preachers! I've thoroughly trapped myself in a corner with preaching on Isaac and REbekah and a reading from Song of Solomon (one of the alternates). No frickin earthly or heavenly idea what I'm going to say. But I like Diane's thought about Rebekah going to draw water and discovering something else. I also need a children's sermon...on anything at this point.

    I have a still-wrapped Self magazine to offer anyone...and lovely tasting coffee.

  20. Joan, sounds like lovely rest. I like your sermon idea, too. Now I have to write prayers and see if what I wrote on Thursday does not (ahem) suck.

    I always relate to the 4th -- But use it to talk about something else. sr. pastor always chooses patriotic songs and then LEAVES on the 4th weekend, so there you go. that being said, I've gotten kind of good at it.

  21. I actually have all my titles (prospective titles, I call them) for all the sermons from now till next June lined up. It was my BIG planning project of this Spring.


    I might go ahead and use the titles I picked, and some weeks I won't. But at least when I go and look at the titles (and the paragraph or two I wrote about the texts) I remember which idea I began with. Most of my titles come straight out of scripture.

    I have never titled a children's sermon, though. Not that planned ahead when it comes to the kiddos.

  22. I am thinking about PAul and confession and human nature. Oh and sin of course. (I think I'll come out agin sin but time will tell).

    What do we do with our shadows? If I had time and incentive I would read some Jungian book I supposedly read during my ethics class in 1st year seminary that touched on the topic. I think we need to name our shadw, to name our failings, as a sign of health. They do say that confession is good for the soul...

    On another note, today is my blogiversary!! Later today I might do some reflecting on the three years of Following Frodo

  23. Morning, all. I am doing a Fourth of July service with readings from the US Constitution, Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address and the Gospel appointed. I want to talk about the Christian response to democracy.

    But first we must watch Wimbleton. It is a family tradition on the Fourth of July weekend. I'll be back later. Thanks earthchick for the Tillich source. I especially like the source on Luther. I can use that.

  24. Oh and since I leave for camp tomorrow following worship I should likely pack! (and finish the theme stuff up)

  25. Diane, I feel for you being stuck with the patriotic songs when the SP leaves every year. I decided the most patriotic I could handle tomorrow was "lift every voice and sing" and am more than a bit convinced I'll be the only one singing it iwth a pianist who also doesn't know it and who can't read music. If I were truly pastoral, I would have chosen patriotic music for my almost entirely retired/active military congregation. I'm sure Jesus would have something to say to me about meeting people where they are or something.

  26. Anybody have a handy link to explain what that kind of yoke was that spreads things out? My books are still in 15 boxes awaiting the painting of my office and addition of bookcases, so I cannot get to my New Interpreter's or any other commentaries.
    (Yes, I have been here three months.)

  27. Good morning all! I had a glorious Sunday off last week and got to be just a "worshipper" at Montreat.(for those who don't know, Montreat is sometimes called the "Presbyterian Mecca" and is in the mountains of North Carolina...a bit of heaven, indeed!)This week I am preaching from the Romans and Matthew text...right now I am pondering how Jesus' admonition to "take up the Cross" sounds rather solitary, but "take my yoke..." is by necessity a relationship/community thing. As for breakfast...just fair-trade coffee with soy milk right now...more after a trip to the local farmers market.

  28. I'm trying to be a good preacher and get some sermon work done this morning before my hubby wakes up. He can sleep until noon any day of the week! My cat is distracting me however, and wants to play fetch, and my tummy is growling for some of those pancakes that were offered =)

    Joan Calvin... I love the direction you are going and it's very helpful to me!!! Especially the "It's Matthew, about Jesus' frustration with offering a great gift and people ignoring it" part.

    I get the sense that people in my congregation would rather have me beat them over the heads with how bad they are and how they should be better and how hard it is and how the path is narrow and straight and few will enter, rather than talk about the abundant, overwhelming, powerful grace of God.

    God doesn't give us rules, God gives us grace. Christ's yoke is easy because it enables us to choose the good and to refrain from the evil... and because by accepting this new way of living it means that we aren't held back by all of those other forces of guilt and sin and law and hell and damnation. Those are the things that keep people from playing the game (or get them excited about playing because they can tell everyone else how bad they are).

    I have two people in particular who have told me multiple times they want me to preach a hell and damnation sermon. And I think in these next few weeks, with my "Three Simple Rules" theme, I'm going to instead continually, consistently, overwhelmingly drive home the point that God's grace is offered freely, abundantly, over and over and over again.

  29. teri - -I'm in the exact same place with the 4th and POP. No specific prayers because of communion. That's what I do with secular holidays, too, so I was at a bit of a loss this week. I threw in a hymn written by Francis Scott Key, and in our dedication of the offering I made it sort of a "dedication" of our freedom, too. Sort of a thanks for these gifts that we give to you and the gift of freedom that we give to you, too, so that we can use it responsibly, etc etc. I think it worked well.

    I'm off the lectionary the next few weeks, or rather I'm just ahead of it. Due to some vacation and continuing ed (see you at S.S. cheesehead?) I moved the Matthew passages around a bit so I could cover what I was trying to cover with some continuity.

    I'm doing the Parable of the Sower this week complete with visual aids of my father-in-law's GPS guided planter. I'll post for anyone's use next week!

  30. Barbara Crafton has "Comfortable Words" here

  31. Muthah+, were I to become an episcopalian (and I am tempted sometimes) I would still keep my little copy of The Freedom of a Christian (aka On Christian Liberty) very very close to me.

    Cheesehead, I bow to your organizational and administrative skills. boy, am I impressed.

    Now, back to my own work.

  32. Oh! She Rev! SS! No, I'm not going, but now I have a context in which to place you. Hmmm...did we ever meet there?

  33. happy writing! we are using 4th-ish hymns during communion... seemed the "safe route" and the sermon is asking which culture would you stake your life on? American culture... Starbucks? Driving a Saturn? a few other marketing cultures I walk thru and then I mention the culture of God, where Jesus has promised the weary find rest for their souls...

    Not sold on it. but it's written and now I'm free to do other things... mmm and let me add I'm not "bashing" American culture but lifting up that the culture/kingdom of God is our primary center. make sense?

  34. Does freedom extend to our freedom not to preach a sermon tomorrow? or would that be freedom to do evil instead of freedom for a new life?

    Katie Z, I wish I had your attitude of abundant grace. So often I feel overwhelmed by the evil of this world and our responsibility to speak against it, to act against it, that I lose the grace part of life. As a listener, I need to hear the grace for my attitude to change. As a preacher, I find myself preaching what we should be doing. I'm still hoping for God to provide me a happy medium to learn from and preach to simultaneously.

    As it is, the grace of a gifted sermon by the Holy Spirit is eluding me and I'm burdened by the fire and brimstone that will happen should I decide not to preach a sermon tomorrow!

  35. I'm one of those lurkers that come here every day to see what everyone else has to say! My larders are somewhat bare due to a 17-year-old son and his friends, but I do have blueberries to share and whole grain goldfish crackers.

    I’m going with the Gospel lesson and I have a title. “Take on the Yoke of Freedom.” Freedom in Christ not being the same as the freedom we expect to be our right as Americans. The choir is singing “God Bless the USA” and I was tempted to make the title of the sermon, “America Better Start Blessing God,” but decided that might be a little too much. :-)
    We’ve only had a choir for a couple of months and I don’t want to discourage them!

    No words are down on paper yet, but after going for a walk, I believe I’ll be able to get something written.

    By the way- it is so good to know there are so many of us that wait for the Lord’s voice the day before we speak! My DH seems to think I should write my sermons months ahead of time. I’ve offered to let him do that for me, but so far he hasn’t taken the bait!

  36. lol methodist mama - i too have a husband that thinks all of this should be done way before hand... but most of the time the spirit doesn't move me until today (or tomorrow early morning) to write!

  37. We are doing patriotic songs, folks would be up in arms if we didn't! I'm focusing on Matt. and the yoke/freedom theme as well. I'm including the New Colossus sonnet from Emma Lazarus, as the first words of welcome my Mom saw before disembarking at Ellis Island in 1951. Course, she couldn't read English at the time!!! I'm leading into being joined together with Christ that truly frees us, heals us, and brings us into all God desires us to be.
    Well, something like that!!
    Yikes, I never title my children's sermons. I have a hard enough time just coming up with a sermon title!
    May you all savor the goodness of this day.

  38. Just dropping quickly before Strong Heart and I dash off to run errands.
    I actually have a rough draft (that I spent yesterday writing)... Are we like Rebekah, ready to respond to God's call out of the blue?
    That's it in a nutshell, back later!

  39. Songbird, think of the yoke across the shoulders with a bucket hanging on either end to carry water.

    Here is my reference, from R.T. France, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Matthew (2007) (a wonderful commentary, btw)

    "The animal yoke which harnesses two animals together to pull a plow or cart is to be distinguished from the human yoke, which is worn by a single person to distribute the weight of a load across the shoulders. Each is an unwelcome restriction which is gladly thrown off when the work is done, but the purpose of he human yoke is to make it easier to carry or pull a load. If there is a burden to be borne, it is better with a yoke than without.The pejorative use of the yoke imagery in the OT, if it refers to the human yoke (as it does apparently in Jer 27:2), therefore focuses not so much on the function of the yoke itself as on the unwanted imposition of the burden and the servitude that it implies; the rabbinic use, on the other hand, focuses on the willing acceptance of an aid to carrying. The animal yoke is the basis of two NT metaphorical uses which focus on joining two people together (2 Cor 6:14; Phil 4:3), but here as in most Jewish usage, it is more likely the single human yoke which is in view. However appealing the idea of being "in double harness with Jesus" may be, that is not the point. He is offering those who are finding their loads too hard to carry a new yoke which, far from adding to their oppression, will ease the burden and paradoxically will bring not further toil but "rest." (p. 449)

  40. Another note about the yoke, from the same source:

    The metaphor o a yoke which in the OT commonly denoted social or political oppression (lots of refs) and had a strongly pejorative sense, came to be used in later Jewish literature for the demands of the law upon people's obedience, usually understood in a positive sense, an obligation freely accepted by "putting on the yoke of the Torah." (p. 448)

    This commentator goes on to say that J's ref could be to the heavy demands of the law made by the Pharisees and scribes, but also could be to burdens more widely construed.


  41. Songbird--this from "The Interpreter's Bible" commentary--"the rabbis themselves referred to their religion as the yoke of the law." "...Christ offers a transfer of yokes...from the burden of the law, with its endless proscriptions and ritualistic Christ's law of worship and love."...Jesus' is a voluntary yoke...
    don't know if that helps, but thought I'd share it.
    As for my "4th of July" worship plans...we will sing "O Beautiful..." as the final hymn which is the tradition of the congregation, but I threw in "In Christ There Is no East or West" as one of the other hymns.

  42. Songbird, I also like these words about the yoke from Douglas Hare (interpretation commentary):

    "Jesus' yoke is called 'easy.' The underlying Greek word means 'kind.' A good yoke is one that is carefully shaped so taht there will be a minimum of chafing. Jesus' yoke will be kind to our shoulders, enabling us to carry the load more easily. In this sense alone his burden will be 'light.' Jesus does not diminish the weight of our accountability to God but helps us to bear this responsibility.

    Also he says

    "the New yoke is not one that Jesus imposes but one he wears! We remember that commonly a yoke was a wooden instrument that yoked two oxen together and made them a team. IN this word Jesus may be saying: 'become my yoke mate, and learn how to pull the load by working beside me and watching how I do it. The heavy labor will seem lighter when your allow me to help you with it.'" (p. 129) (this is interpretation of the "Learn from me" part of the passage...)

    well, sorry to be so long on that!

  43. st. inuksuk, I did the same thing as you several years ago with Emma Lazarus' verse and the "come to me" passage. I have referred to it on my blog. I can't link here at church, because my computer screen freezes every time I go to my blog here (sigh).

    My favorite little illustration about the "easy yoke" is this:

    a woman reminisced about asking her mother this question:

    "Will I have to do dishes in heaven?"

    to which her mother replied, "Yes....
    but you'll like it."

    Transforming the task in partnership with Jesus.

  44. My theory on the whole yoke thing is that we always yoke ourselves to something. We are made to be yoked. But we frequently pick the wrong person, thing, problem, job, dream to yoke ourselves to. That's when life gets hard. When we are yoked to Jesus, it's easy, kind, instructive, gracious. It's about the search for meaning and if we connect ourselves to the wrong thing- life is painfully hard.

  45. revhrod: about the yoke:


    yoked to/with Jesus.

  46. Songbird, do you have BBT's "Seeds of Heaven"? She has a sermon on the Matthew passage in it, and she talks about the type of yoke that is for one person (carrying water) and the type of yoke for, say, oxen, that spreads the burden. She oncludes with likening Jesus to the latter type of yoke, helping us to carry our burdens.

    We leave tomorrow for vacation, so today I'm cleaning house (love coming back to a clean house), doing laundry, and of course, writing the sermon. Had a hard week here with a parishioner angry at me that resulted in a difficult visit that seemed to end up okay, but nonetheless, I'm drained and Jesus' words "Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest" are what are speaking to me. So I'm going with that theme. Other than that, I got nothin'. I'm also keeping it short because it's Communion Sunday, and it's supposed to be in the 90s here tomorrow and we don't have a/c in the sanctuary. I'm hopeful people will appreciate more of a meditation.

  47. Oh dear Lord!
    so far today I have married a couple (went well) finished helping LCM and visiting friend paint an elephant (that will have rings thrown over his trunk at the fete tomorrow), done a powerpoint for the Songs of Praise at the end of the fete, started writing a script to take care of the links for that service, realised I still need to write a speech for tonight (when whizzy opera singer is performing i aid of Church on the Hill's roof) AND that just because I'm not preaching at the parish Eucharists doesn't mean I don't need a thought for the day for 8.00
    I guess you could say I'm panicking.
    Maybe I could use this comment as the sort of "weary and heavy ladenness" that we're offered relief from ?!?!?
    Oh...and I would have offered virtual jelly beans, but I ate them in a moment of all too real weakness! Curses!!

  48. wow, things are hopping here this morning. I blessedly have a day to work, since hubby is hanging out with the baby today. The sermon is wandering around with the idea of independence that is our cultural value, the reality that we are in fact dependent anyway, and the call of Jesus to be dependent on him. It can be short, due to communion and a picnic following worship. I hate to stand between people and food.

    We're singing the National Hymn as the opening and the nod to independence in the sermon--those are my only concessions. Like nutella, we're mostly military related, so I'm sure they may be expecting more. I was out of town for last year's Fourth of July holiday...maybe I should work on that for next summer!

  49. Hi All,
    wow, all this great stuff makes we wish I was "yoking around" this Sunday (heh, heh, heh) but i'm messing with the lectionary a little and going with Jacob and Esau this week.

    PPB - childrens time is hard if you dont know the kids. I like to talk about how anytime is a good time to praise God, not just Sunday. Sometimes it's fun to teach them a church word for praise (halleluia! or hosanna! or something) and then brainstorm iwth them different situations in which they can say it:
    PPB: "When I get to have my favorite dessert, I shout,"
    All (kids and grownups can both do this): Halleluia!
    PPB: When someone shares with me, I shout
    All: etc...

    If they are talkers, they can give you ideas, but if you have 4 or 5 in mind, they dont really have to say anything...

    SB - Hope the memorial is going well.

  50. I've been gone a couple of hours and just catching up.

    Songbird-- If you still need description and illustratin of a yoke, try Wikipedia: Follow the footnote links for more illustrations and directions for making and fitting a yoke.

  51. God bless you all, thanks so much!!!
    It is beyond frustrating to have all my reference material still packed away. I do have the BBT book, somewhere.
    Anyway, thank you all.
    The service was gorgeous, one of the nicest I've ever had the honor to lead. All three living children of the 90 year old lady spoke, one about their parents' marriage, one about their mother's creativity and faith, the third about her last days, and I wrapped up with the immediacy and nearness of heaven she expressed in our final conversation, reading from John 20 as a bridge to singing her favorite hymn, "In the Garden." I have never enjoyed the hymn so much, it was perfectly beautiful, accompanied on the piano because the dear lady found organ music a sad reminder of her oldest child's death at 21 in a car accident.
    People who never expected to be emotional at the memorial service for a 90-year-old found the tears they needed to cry as well as a word of hope. You can't ask for much more.

  52. Ah, Songbird, lovely.

    Diane - cant wait to hear how it goes with notes :)

    Ok, all - got a draft, off to run some errands. I'll check in this afternoon.

  53. I have been spinning my wheels for a while on sermon. No idea what i was thinking when i picked the Issac and Rebecca passage. I was hoping to play it off in soap fashion and discuss how Abraham was trusting God to provide once more for his son. Also playing up that Issacc was a bit of a momma's boy and Rachael had tough role, but she also trusted God. Uh,....ramble r amble ramble.....
    Oh and it is communion Sunday.
    AND i AM SITTING HERE, USING MY BRAND NEW LAPTOP. I just hit the caps key and so it is still new to me. Way sensative keyboard.
    Oh, this is first notebook I have had and so I am getting used to it!
    I have pineapple pistacio pound cake, fair trade coffee and Dr. Pepper to offer. And cats in need of chin skratches.

  54. yeah, 1-4 grace...not sure what we were thinking. it should have tipped me off when Textweek had NO sermons on Gen 24. I'm now wondering along the lines of Rebekah being the next generation to continue the covenant, passing the torch. but also thinking about this great testimony of faith in her actions...and then also thinking about Eliezar being a great witness to this covenant so that Rebekah, site unseen decides to go with him and participate in the covenant herself. a great evangelist he was. three different sermons. none of which seems to be jiving with me.

    oh, and the sanctuary AC gave out so it's going to be hot in there. if we move to the fellowship hall (the old sanctuary) we have no piano or organ. And I've chosen hymns no one knows anyway. A hymn-sing sounds nice but it would put our pianist, a volunteer who can't read music, on the spot.

    I'm Rebekah saying I'll go but am pretty convinced tomorrow the Holy Spirit will not show up.

  55. juniper, not sure if I'm going to risk the notes thing tonight, but TOMORROW, esp. out on the lawn ... we'll see how it goes!

    I think it might work, as a far amount of my interpretive material is not new this time around. I'm not happy with that, but I've preached around the 4th so often.... that...

  56. wow, who knew God was faithful to us angst-ridden preachers? have a sermon draft and am now off to spend the afternoon with hubby. the holy spirit is now done with me so I'll send her along to the rest of you. God-speed.

  57. ok, so everything has slowed down. Now my computer at work says that I am "not connected to the internet." one of the many issues my computer has had. I'm at home right now, but will be returning to church shortly, and won't be able to check in.

    so sorry, I'll be back as soon as I am able.

    sure hope the sermon work is coming along!

    we have cold lemonade here! It's hot out! (we're trying to dig out tree roots where they don't belong.) (sermon illustration for NEXT week???)

  58. After multiple starts and much angst and indecision, I have finally gotten some sort of direction. I think. Or at least a start. We'll see.

    I'm about to put on another pot of java. Anyone care for a cup? I make it strong and dark. Perfect little pick-me-up for the mid-afternoon sermon doldrums.

  59. nutella -- I could take some coffee, but could you send it to my office, please?

    thank you.

  60. Good affternoon all, WOW! Such a busy bunch as usual, and full of such good things for body and soul. I love all of your ideas about the yoke. Makes me wish I'd stuck to the lectionary for the baptism (we get to choose) but we we went off and are using Nicodemus. I am baptising L tomorrow for anyone who reads my blog. Big day for us all. Sermon is done and posted. We had a small rehearsal this morning just to make the perfectionist priest (me) happy. Service bulltins are done and copied. CD of the two praise songs he has requested that are going to set my folks back on their heels (DC Talk! Oh, my!)is done. Now I am off to church to put some greenery on the font and make sure the CD works in our player.
    Sounds like lots of folks have to "go short" tomorrow. Always a challenge. We are ignoring the 4th. Too much else going on. Looking forward to reading posted sermons later. Blessings on everyone's preaching.

  61. I want some of that coffee! Otherwise I fear a nap will over take m...

  62. cheesehead - - We did meet there. You were in the NOCS the year after me, I believe. We figured out the connection at the Fest. of Homies. I'm not good at keeping track who is from where usually either!

  63. I'm happy to say that I am done!I didn't mention the 4th, but did speak of personal/collective/national arrogance and self-reliance, as in "That won't save us, people" (with nicer words) I wonder who will catch that?

    Fortunately for my peeps, the organist is playing all-patriotic, all the time. ::gag::

  64. Oh! She Rev! I know who you are, now!

    (Speaking of NOCS, did you know that nutella and I were roommates the year we were in NOCS? We had met each other once before, then boom! roomies, and now revgals. We really are a tiny little denomination.)

  65. esperanze - - Don't Daddy-baby Saturdays just rock your world? Those don't happen often enough in my opinion!

  66. cheesehead - - Did you know nutella and I went to seminary at the same time, or at least overlapped a year? Then she was called to my (former) presbytery? Crazy small!!!

  67. OK - kids are napping; EconoMan is playing video games. This is the perfect time for me to knock out a sermon, right? I hope I can keep my eyes open. I was up late last night trying to care so I didn't have to do this today, but that didn't happen. Tonight is our town's fireworks so we're going to be out past 10:00 p.m. I'm sure. Oi.

    When I did my summer/fall sermon planning (I'm not organized to next June like cheesehead, but I'm good until Advent) I looked at the lectionary more than the dates so I didn't even notice the yoking piece was on 4th of July weekend. What a great opportunity.

    Instead (as I said earlier) I flipped some days around and skipped this lectionary week to do the parables of the next 3 weeks a week early.

    I'm repeating myself -- if I get an outline down I'm taking a nap!!!

  68. all you sleepy preachers are making me sleepy too. Not really, I was plenty sleepy already. And Daddy has put the baby to sleep, so it is nice and quiet around here. You would think that would make it easy to concentrate and write. Huh.

    I forgot that I have abundant picnic leftovers...burgers, dogs, chicken, potato salad and all the trimmings. Help yourselves. Please. The fridge is overflowing.

  69. Just returned from shopping to find a message on the voice mail..

    Sue (Inner Dorothy) has had a reaction to her medication and is in hospital. A colleague is visiting her tomorrow and will let me know but unfortunately I am away all week so will be unable to post updates.

    prayers arising

  70. Oh, Gord, I'm so sorry to hear this. Thank you for letting us know. I will certainly be praying for her.

  71. Thanks for the info, gord. (Typed "god" for you AGAIN!) Prayers ascending!

  72. House cleaned - check.
    Laundry - check.

    Ready to start sermon. I've done lots of percolating, so hopefully it will flow once I start typing. Just in time for the kids across the street to decide it is still 4th of July and begin setting off loud firecrackers. Setting a goal of being done by dinner. Done lots of percolating on this one, so hopefully it will flow once I start typing.

  73. Songbird--If you haven't had enough input on the yoke thing you might check out Rob Bell's explanation in Velvet Elvis or on his Nooma video, Dust. He elaborates on the already-mentioned use of yoke by rabbis to refer to their teachings and how a disciple of a given rabbi would be said to wear that rabbi's yoke. It all works well for me so that's where I'm going to go tomorrow. Now if I could just think up a durned children's sermon to go with it I'd be set. I'm thinking about something using school backpacks and how heavy they are, but it's not gelling for me yet.
    For virtual snacks I have all kinds of goodies from the farmers markets this morning--peaches, blackberries, corn, etc. I have some kind of Barbara Kingsolver fantasy going about freezing/drying all this stuff for winter. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (her book) changed my life, but if I don't get this stuff put up before it goes bad my DH may drag me into marriage/financial counseling.

  74. Just showing up at 10.40pm!!! I have a rough outline/idea that I put together on Monday (miracle of miracles) but how near it is to being an actual sermon, I'm not sure -though I am going for shorter than usual as I want to end by playing Don Francisco's 'I'll never let go of your hand' to the congregation. And at least the children's message is done - based on Romans 'I do do what I don't want to do and I don't do what I do want to do' and all that!

  75. I'm so sorry to hear about Sue. Prayers here for her.

    I've got a draft that I'm going to let simmer a bit before I post for any comments. I didn't end up using anything I had thought I would about freedom/4th of July stuff, I came in on an entirely different theme. Don't know yet if it worked, and it may need some fleshing out here and there. Also, I have one fairly long quote and I'm trying these days not to use overly long quotes. I love it so much (from the Tillich piece, which pretty thoroughly informed by whole sermon) that I want to use the whole thing, but I'm trying to look at it in a more detached way and see what parts of it might not speak as much to the congregation and therefore may need cutting.

    I'm off to spend some time with some very neglected little boys. I'll be back later when I've posted my draft.

  76. Oh no, so sorry to hear about Sue's most recent trouble. Thanks for passing along the news, Gord, and we will pray here, too.

    A still-napping baby and a passing thundershower are making me even sleepier. zzzzzz

  77. I too am preaching on the Matthew 11 text held along with the Emma Lazarus sonnet -- then a brief musing about physical liberty vs. spiritual liberty (quoting Victor Frankl "Everything can be taken from a man but ... the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.") Frankl found in the pocket of the coat he was given in a concentration camp the Shema -- and used his last freedom to choose to trust in God.

  78. After all my musings about the yoke, I really didn't use least not the part about different kinds of yokes. I tend to be an expository/exegetical preacher and I spent some time on how Jesus was laying out some pretty good Christology in 25-30, as a context for calling people to him for comfort. I preached in once, but it's always hard to read how it goes over at the 5:00 service. I may revise although I liked it better out loud than I did on paper. Funny how that works.

  79. Y'all, I have a draft up, and I am relieved. Such a busy weekend, it was hard to get this one done!
    I've got real biscuits for strawberry shortcake, anyone interested?

  80. Hello preachers! It's been a rough week here, and my computer is broken, which is why I haven't been able to join the party for the last few weeks. I'm posting here at church and then heading home to write the sermon.

    I'm also going with Isaac and Rebekah--I think?--and perhaps talking about when people surprise you as being much more gracious than you think. Karen Armstrong's Genesis commentary says that Rebekah's drawing of water showed generosity and grace comparable to Abraham's feeding the three visitors at the oaks of Mamre.

    I would like to tie in the yoke comments too though, as it's a sad time at St. Smaller and they could use some lightening of their burdens. Love the idea of yoking ourselves to the wrong thing vs. being yoked to Jesus.

    As for the 4th, we are putting it into the prayers and that's about it. Musicians may choose to do some patriotic stuff for prelude/postlude which is fine too.

    Probably won't be back at the party tonight--but blessings on all pondering and preaching tonight and tomorrow!

  81. Ok! I have been off line at church. something is broken with my computer there. Preached once: verdict -- some was from notes, and some was written out. I'm starting anyway.

    Now we're off to a ball game! see you later!

  82. OK...the Concert was beyond fab...(will blog it one day when time permits)...the horribly inadequate sermon is done and dusted...the Power Point for Songs of Praise after the Fete tomorrow is sorted and even has good visuals, the links between the hymns are there on the whole
    So..I need SLEEP
    By bedtime tomorrow, I'll only have a funeral address to do.
    Sorry to be such a whingey poster and prayers to all still writing, and for Sue of course xxx

  83. Whew! I have a draft up here . Any feedback appreciated. It's hard to know what makes sense when my attention is so fragmented today. I did manage to ruthlessly cute the Paul Tillich quote from a 9-sentence block quote (long sentences, too) to just two sentences.

    I made vegan blueberry pancakes for dinner, with strawberry-banana smoothies. There is precisely one pancake left, but virtually it multiples, right? So there's plenty to go around.

  84. I've been on the road today, but I am now home and relaxing. Here' my oferring for tomorrow. I'm calling it "Give the Good Dog a Bone."

  85. To rewind to morning, thank you revhrod, you reminded me of what I had been thinking of in the first place! I'll just have to remember to stop at the grocery store for sparklers on the way to church tomorrow.

  86. Thanks for the update on Sue, Gord. Oh, that is so hard.

    Ok, back from a long-ish outing and ready to get back to business....

  87. My bits and fragments are here - I am thinking about Rebecca, breaking cultural barriers, 4th of July, Emma Lazarus and Wendell Berry. LOL

  88. hey y'all, I'm here to officially log my procrastination :)

  89. just rehearsed the sermon... it sucks. it's bedtime and my sermon sucks. that's the way it goes...

    ok only like the last third of it. but still... arggh!

  90. dear friends, I am a little French fry tonight. Brain is gone. Daddy has done a great job today, and I've worked a ton. But I am tired. Sermon will get reviewed in the morning. We will share in communion around the table and in fellowship around the picnic. See you on the flip side.

    Blessings to Sue and to all who are hurting tonight. And blessings to all who are still working.

  91. 1/3 taken care of - liberally quoted from my devotional reading for yesterday as it fit the sermon to a "T"...

    T for tired bodies
    T for tears shed by those hurting
    T for teddy bears hugged tightly by children
    T for the treasure of the gospel entrusted to each of you in the morning to proclaim
    AND T for that cup of tea to unwind before sleep comes...

  92. Vicar, I'm just glad to note you are not on Eastern Time...

  93. I'm doing the traveling preacher thing too. The pastor of the two tiny churches I'll be preaching in tomorrow put freedom and patriotic pics on the bulletin cover, but my sermon goes nowhere near it. I'll address it in the pastoral prayer. I'm conserving energy and reusing last month's communion sermon titled "Body Language" about the literal body of Christ in the world, the Body of Christ in Holy Communion and we the Body of Christ in the world today. I imagine I'll rework part of it between 4 and 5 am, but I'm tired tonight. Spent the day at family reunion 100 miles away. It was fun, but now I'm tired. Sooo, I'll leave you all some cool lemonade and say goodnight. I may check in during the wee hours. Blessings to all.

  94. But what time zone is Hogsmeade?

  95. hi! I'm back from the ballgame, and we won.

    so, now I'm going to do some sermon study to try to preach from notes tomorrow a.m., especially at 8:00.

    Also, I don't have a children's message. I was trying to think of something with yokes, but it's just not working.

    might do something with "captive to sin" and "free". maybe tie people together with ribbon and then cut the ribbon. What do you think?

    I think I can do most of the sermon from notes, what I'm really worried about are the last two paragraphs. Not sure I have them yet.

  96. Well, some might say it's always the witching hour

    others could argue for kairos

    some could expound on the way to answer that question in light of the use of a time turner

    however, for me, it's earlier than you think

  97. also, I am praying for Sue. that is so terrible.

  98. diane, want to call me and practice over the phone? im in my church office right office, feel free.

    childrens time - well, my gang of kids is not the kind of crowd you want to let loose with scissors. myabe yours are milder. how about giving them the ribbons to wear around their shoulders - like stoles - and talking about the symbolism of stoles?

  99. I'm also children's-sermon-less. We only read one text, normally, and tomorrow it's the yoke thing. All the internet stuff suggests having kids try to pick up something really heavy one at a time, then together to see how much lighter things are if you work together. I'm not sure how to make the jump to being yoked to Jesus for a 4 year old though. "sometimes things in life are really heavy and hard to carry" is just abstract enough that it probably won't really work for most of my kids. hmmm....if only we had anyone in the congregation with an actual cattle yoke.....

  100. oh juniper, thank you, but I'm not sure that over the phone will work. I need to be looking at someone, I THINK.

    also, I wasn't going to give them the scissors. Only I would cut the ribbon.


  101. Diane - if it's just you with the scissors, that should be a-ok :)

  102. Juniper, email me your phone # because I'm doing this again next week and am going to do the note thing again.

  103. Prayers going up for Sue in a major way!!!!!
    And no, Nutella and i were not thinkng straight with pickinng our text, but fortuanly have the Holy Spirit. i am not too sure my beginning about Issacc being a Moma's boy and ending with Rebekkah coming out of the blue to fulfill the promise, (thanks to the revgal who gave idea for sermon title) really has any remote connection.
    I think Rebekkah had a tough role to fulfill and having to jsut come and agree to marry this due, not knowing anything about him was still a bit risky even when she was in a society that did not really give women much of a choice.
    Anyhow, she doies agree and goes on to fulfill the promise made to Abraham by God.
    Oh I ahv e Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches. 2 points for WW. If I eat half of one, does that mena it is 1 point? I already ate a whole one, but was jsut wondering. I love these things!
    So sorry for teri doing the childrens sermon....
    Remembering the time I heard someone misinterpret yoke as yolk...told folks that Jesus' yolk was not hard to swallow! Yeah, nothing like my former denomination to coem up with soem really bright stuff.
    Sorry for spelling, I am not any good with this thing yet. Buyt I do think i am cool. Did I mention that on of the sale colors was Expresso Brown? Yes, it is my color of choice1

  104. Oh, I do think a dramatic monologue would be like way cool to do for a sermon with the Genesis text. Would be lovely to "play" part of Rebekkah.
    Only problem is I require a lot of time to work on script and memorization. But, would be way cool! Another year A perhaps1

  105. I'm back from the town fireworks. Who knew they started at 10:00 p.m.! Apparently the people organizing this no longer remember what it's like to have a 3 year old and 1 year old.

    Now I need to head to the computer upstairs to write. I'm doing my normal routine of writing 'til 12 or 12:30 then waking up at 4:00-ish. Tomorrow morning is going to be hectic, though, since we have to get the kids bathed (just passed out with new diapers for bed) and dressed and ourselves. I was hoping to get to the church early to work out some last minute images in PowerPoint for the sermon. I'm not speedy at putting those together and I don't have PP at home. I wish EconoMan weren't one of the communion servers tomorrow. I'd suggest he and the kids just stay home instead of adding to the get up and go stress.

    Oh well.

    I don't think you'll hear from me again until morning. I need to do some writing and some sleeping. I don't have one complete sentence written yet!

  106. prayers, she rev.

    maybe you could find a stand-in server? I'm maybe letting DH off the hook as lay reader if his sore throat gets worse. there'll only be 8 people here anyway.

    i'm off to bed,too. so tired from fireworks LAST night :) at the office now and just got my desk cleaned off in anticipation of VBS week, which feels good but didnt get me closer to a done sermon, which I guess it going to have to be a 5 am deal here, too.

  107. I'm way overdue for bed, but just wanted to say: I did a dramatic monologue once of Rebekah looking back over her life as an old woman. it worked really well. got a cane and walked with a stoop...

  108. she rev, if staying home is what they need, how about a last minute substitute?

  109. I don't know if staying home is what they need as much as it's what I need! :)

    This short-Saturday-night thing is not new to me, but getting them all moving in the morning without us all killing each other is where the challenge will lie.

    I'll let 'em decide for themselves in the morning. If the kiddos wake up at the usual 6:00 a.m. then I guess we all might as well go. If they're dragging, I'll pull someone in to serve. Funny thing is that he is the substitute for someone else! It's his first time doing this in this church. Also funny is that in our last church he was an active member before I ever came and they never asked him to do serve communion (not a MAJOR deal in our tradition other than it has to be an elder or some places a deacon) even when they were desperate. No problems including him like a "regular ol'" member here. I love it!

  110. 1am here and I'm awake again - so a little revising of the reusable sermon, finding the tune for a hymn I've never heard then back to bed. It will be an early morning as I need to leave 1.5 hours for driving (and finding the church) time, as well as time to get the lay of the land before a 9:30 service. Is anyone still out there? Vicar?

  111. Hey mid-life. I am still here but getting ready to turn in. I relaized in midst of a longer sermon that we have communion tomorrow...I remembered on Thursday, but then forgot! Anyhow, sermon needs to be shorter, so I am doing a Reders Digest Sweetened Condensed Soup version!
    Anyhow, get the lights when you go to bed. Cats are already sleeping...hmmm they sleep most of the time anyhow, but they are in bed sleeping. I am headign that way.
    Anybody got a bright idea to connect Issac and Rebekkah to communion?

  112. Oh, BTW Diane,
    I already walk with a bit of a stoop from moving boxes of books here and there! Very neat idea to do the lookign back!

  113. 5amEST and I am up to write even though if 1 person told me yesterday they weren't going to be here, 20 did.

    Actual attendance should prove interesting...

  114. I'm back, too. Just sayin. Ready to put at least one sentence down on paper. Just one would be a start.

  115. The good news is, I had an outline so there is something on paper. I believe my illustration out punches the message but such is life.

    Now... can I call in sick for intergenerational Sunday School because clearly I was mentally DERANGED when I agreed to pull that off through the summer.

  116. lol will smarma - I had that idea too, but fortunately, we got so busy before summer everyone forgot about it =)

    I'm up at 5am also... well, 5:30 by the time I got going. I have an outline of sorts that needs fleshed out and the ending needs tightened up, I like the direction I'm going, but I don't want to get too far off track either.

  117. prayers for inspiration for everyone working this morning! And a pot of hot lady grey tea!

  118. Hmmm...I just might end up preaching from notes myself for the first time ever. I have practically delivered this sermon in conversation SEVERAL times this week, but it's almost 6:00 a.m. and I can't seem to write it down.

    I don't think I dare, but I also think I'm going to quit trying to write EVERY WORD out. I'm having a hard time writing about the parable, I think, partly because it's such an oral form itself.

    I'm confident about the sermon I am going to preach. I'm not excited about actually writing, though.

  119. I'm back too. A pretty good night around here, which is a surprise. Usually the baby saves up all kinds of shenanigans for Saturday nights.

    Need to look over what I've got and prepare for what I'm going to say for communion. You'd think after all these years I'd remember the words, but no.

    Blessings to all, especially those still writing.

  120. Go for it, She rev. Once you have preached without a text, you might never go back to it.
    Up early, read the paper and chatted with my brother-in-law over crossword puzzles and tea. I woke up before 5:00 thinking about where the sermon is supposed to go and am still not sure what will happen. I think I'll look at the one from 3 years ago just in case. Come on Holy Spirit!

  121. okay - quick question (and maybe one I asked before)

    How many of ya'll
    a) preach from a manuscript
    b) preach from an outline or notes of a manuscript
    c) preach from an outline you haven't fleshed out on paper
    d) something else?

    I'm not the best at impromptu speech, or extemporaneous speech, but sometimes, to be honest, the spirit uses my words best when I let the manuscript go.

  122. Good morning. Prayers for all of you. Pray for us please. It was a roughish night and we all have the grumpies. G&T is driving me today and manBoy is accompanying. Sometimes this is a blessing and sometimes not. Maybe I should get gps and go it alone. Anyway, off to put the suit on.

  123. mid-life rookie - - a GPS. Funny. A GPS is sort of the central illustration of my sermon. GPS guided planters tractors being the exact OPPOSITE of how the seed is sown in the parable Jesus tells. (I'm a lectionary week ahead.)

    I hear ya, Margaret. I want to move away from my manuscript. I think today will be larger away from it, because I think I can speak this one better than I wrote it, but so far it's still on paper. I'm having a rough time wrapping it up and I want to be out of the house in 70 minutes. Why you ask, am I still typing on RevGals then? Because I'm not focusing today!!!!!!!!

    Anyway, I always have a full manuscript, but lately I've been using pieces of it to different degrees. When I have a story or illustration to tell, I tend to ad lib it more. When I'm in the more meaty sections of the sermon I tend to follow the manuscript more since my sentences and their structure and their organization are more important to me.

    I could probably move out of a full manuscript to at least a partial one pretty easy. Maybe I'll give it a shot next week. I'll do what others are doing and probably write the full stories at least in my composition stage, but then take the stories out and just tell them when the time comes. Again, maybe next week

  124. Good mornin' y'all. Sermon is printed, prayer is written and printed, coffee is half-drunk, one boys is awake. I have a little more than an hour to get all of us ready and out - I may make it!

    Katie Z., I use a manuscript unless I am doing more of a devotional type thing at a nursing home or our homeless ministry. I have no problem speaking extemporaneously and had a good bit of training and experience doing that growing up, but I strongly prefer preaching from a manuscript. In 12 years of preaching, I've preached a Sunday sermon without a manuscript precisely once, as an experiment. It went fine, but I haven't found a compelling reason to do that as my usual practice.

    For me, the manuscript is a wonderful discipline, and the gift of that discipline is a certain freedom that I don't feel I have when I speak only from notes (or without even that). When I write my sermon, I work hard to be very precise with my language. My natural speaking style tends to move towards rambly imprecision. The manuscript keeps my words focused, and frees me to more fully express what is there without myself getting in the way.

    When I preach from a manuscript, I do know my sermon. It is in me, not just on the page. I don't read, I refer. I make a habit of never having my mouth open if my eyes are on the page (something Barbara Brown Taylor taught me at a preacher's workshop many years ago).

    Ha - clearly I can be rambly when writing posts, too!

    Blessings on all who preach, lead, and worship today!

  125. Katie,
    I am a manuscript kinda gal, but love tip fro mearthchick about not looking down and having mouth open!
    i occasinaly dont have in particualr words what I wish to say and wing it thorugh a part...liek today, my ending is direcvted at my congrgation here and I am jsut going off at the end a bit.

  126. Another manuscript preacher chiming in here. And for much the same reason that Earthchick describes--I work hard to write exactly what I mean to say, in the way I want to say it. And I'm often simply not that precise when it's just me talking. The Spirit works with me as I write as well as when I speak.

    I've preached without a manuscript at youth conferences and such. And once in church. When I FORGOT the manuscript at home (20 miles away). Yikes. I outlined what I had written and went from there. I haven't left it at home since!

  127. SheRev, Snuck out of the house this morning before E was up and now am feeling guilty - he likes to come with me early and I'm trying to encourage this love of church he has...So, you cant win either way.

    KZ - I do all kinds - manuscripts, notes and extemporaneous. People give better feedback when I preach without ntoes, but not sure if that means they actually get more out of it, or if they just are impressed with the "trick" of it. I'm not like Margaret -- sometimes diff texts or moods seem to call for diff ways. The most imp thing to me if I'm preaching without notes is to practice it OUTLOUD, in the sanctuary. It's a different medium - it's not about getting all the words precise (although, like earthchick, I enjoy that discipline too sometimes), it's more about conveying the mood or feeling of the text.

  128. oh, diane, that sounds so cool! would you be willing to share that?

  129. Juniper - I know what you mean about letting E be there early. LadyPrincess is that way, too. It's sort of her space, which, with all the drawbacks of being the preacher's daughter, I'm OK letting her think. She likes to come in my office and do "her work". One day that entailed finding a pad of paper and a pencil, and writing "scriptions" that she handed out to every person who walked in the door. She stood at the door and greated every single worshiper, member, visitor, or guest. It was adorable and a lesson for the Evangelism Committee! I was so worried she was in the way, but didn't have time to mess with it, so I let it go. People loved it! Even the grouches ate it up.

    KZ - I am a manuscript person for the reasons you said (careful word choices, etc), but am interested in being able to move a little more when it's appropriate. We have a less formal sanctuary that really lends itself to moving in and among people, so I want to try a little of that. I once (in my former MUCH more formal sanctuary) gave a sermon from the baptismal font, and that was less tied to manuscript and I loved it. It was one of my last sermons in my last call, so I'm ready to try it in this slightly looser congregation.

    Also, I like to tell stories in my own voice and while I think I write true to voice, sometimes intereactions with the congregation lead to slightly different tellings so I already go off the manuscript in those cases a little.

    I'm taking a storytelling class later this summer so I hope that will help me try some new things.

    Mostly I'm in Juniper's boat, or actually I aspire to be. I'd like to be able to proclaim in several different styles in order to fit the mood or the need of the text and the service.

    I've been doing this 6 years - - I've got time to grow!

  130. juniper, kind of you to ask. It's one of the few times I did NOT use a manuscript, just told the story through Rebekah's eyes... though I could write it up... I don't know if the ending if historical, but she is looking back on her "two boys" and wondering if they will kill each other or get back together...

    I remember a couple of ovcnfirmation boys breathlessly come up to me afterwards (I did it at confirmation once) and said, "well? what happened next?)

  131. oh,and Juniper, I wasn't quite able to do everything from notes. the last two paragraphs ... I had one less day to prepare, and I just wasn't quite ready on those.

    now, next week....

    but now I have a funeral, too.

  132. I don't ever do a funeral without a text and I occasionally go back to text for Sunday services; however, when I do that, I use a music stand and eschew the pulpit which, in this sweet small sanctuary (seats 125 well) feels far away and separated from the body.
    For the first five years, I only preached mid-week services without notes. Never on Sunday except the Easter that the Holy Spirit told me to give up what I thought was the message and there wasn't time to write another. Then, this congregation asked me to get out of the pulpit and I didn't really like the music stand so I gave up the manuscript and wrote a few notes on the bulletin. But that felt awkward to me so I finally gave up having anything other than the thoughts that have roaming in the head all week and, hopefully, congeal into a sermon by Sunday morning. I still have to do just as much prep work, maybe even more, but I have gotten used to it now and don't feel like going back to the manuscript.
    Yes, there are weeks that I start one direction and the HS tugs me another and what fun that is!

  133. Just one last thing. I can't tell you how glad I am that I found this group. You all have provided me with more than one direction.

  134. I agree!!! i feel extremely blessed by this group!

    One of the biggest things that people have told me coming out of seminary was to find people to be in community with... and working in a small town congregation I find people wherever I can =) I have a local pastors group, a county pastors group, a young clergy regional group and you guys. and it feels AWESOME. this is actually one of the only places I can go and really feel heard - I feel like the newcomer and intruder in some of the other groups, but i'm finding my place slowly but surely. revgals is so hospitable and loving.... you gals are great!

  135. margaret -- I ALWAYS use a manuscript for funerals. too many people have asked for copies for me not to. will sometimes do a little "devotional" if it is a graveside service and that is all they are having.

  136. I guess most people know I am a manuscript preacher, whether it's a regular service, a special service, a wedding or a funeral. I do at times "tell" a story that i have written out ahead of time, but I find that when I leave the framework, I talk too fast!!! The manuscript does not feel limiting to me, but rather feels freeing. I know where I'm going and can focus on how I am getting there, in terms of delivery and relating to the congregation, rather than worrying about where I may end.
    My departure from a manuscript usually takes the form of writing drama for worship, though I am sadly doing less of that as an Interim minister.
    I admire those who preach without notes, but since writing itself feels like the best gift I have, I'm glad to be able to put it to use each week.

  137. I think that writing is one of your many gifts, songbird. I like writing the manuscript, but when I've done my short "jazz preaching" sermons, I get so much positive feedback, that I think there is some benefit to learning to do it as well.

  138. Well, it's possible I'm just chicken!

  139. songbird, chickens don't sing very well. ;-)
    I, too, liked the structure of the manuscript and I'm a pretty good writer. But I find that if I write the manuscript, I can't get away from it. So when I feel compelled to write it, I pay attention to that and stick with the script. This usually happens when there is some very heavy teaching that needs to be done.
    I think one of the reasons this particular congregation prefers the looser style is that this is very much a family place and preaching from the floor without text makes them more a part of the sermon. Just a guess on my part, tho.


You don't want to comment here; instead, come visit our new blog, We'll see you there!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.