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Saturday, November 15, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: "Talents, We've Got Talents" Edition

Hello, all!

It's quite a lectionary week, isn't it? We've got a character from Judges whose name is almost like the President-Elect's (and thankfully a story ending short of tent pegs), and the day of the Lord coming like labor pains--ouch!!-- and a Psalm about masters and servants that reminds me how different our society is from the world of the Bible, and a parable so familiar and yet so inscrutable that people in our church Bible Study said, for the second week in a row, "That doesn't sound like MY Jesus!"

Will we wind up in the outer darkness? Or can we help each other to find the way to the joy of the Master?

Let us know what you have on your plate today; share a good idea for a children's message if you have one, we always like those!

I'm posting this late Friday night, but I'll be back early with virtual coffee and danish for everyone.


  1. we had a good Bible study on the Gospel reading on Tuesday. We too thought that it didn't sound like OUR Jesus until we dug deeper.

  2. Good morning campers!

    HUGE Sunday for me coming up as a group of folks from another church are coming to hear me preach.

    I've been up since about 4 chewing on that and other good things (and playing with Snapfish photo gifts).

    Music class in a few hours and then... I'm not sure.

    Good luck!

  3. s-tf, sounds like you got it figured out, please feel free to share.
    will smama, I believe you will rock!
    Coffee is on and hot and dark and fairly traded. Who wants a cup?

  4. Well since it's cyber coffee sign me up, and pass the Uber-breakfast.

    I am also happy for s-t-f's hint to dig deeper. Ooooooh!


  5. Let's see. I've got oatmeal (organic) or Cinnamon Puffins or really excellent Big Sky Three Seed bread for toast.
    And how about a banana?

  6. Good morning pals,

    S-T-F, so true about digging deeper into the gospel story and finding out that it does sound like our Jesus.

    I flinch everytime the talents story comes up in the lectionary. When I was in Catholic school, a nun was reprimending the class using the story of the talents and she singled me out to the class as one of those students who was burying her talents by not applying herself to her school work.

    Now I know she took the story out of context yada yada, but I think it's going to take a couple of hours on the therapists couch for me to let go of that pinch. However seminary taught me a way to reframe the story so that it is empowering and subversive, I love subversive.

    BTW, my partner bought me twinkies this morning, does anyone want any?

    Peace and love,

  7. A number of weeks ago, I decided to preach on the epistle - darkness and light and being prepared. Now I'm wondering why it struck me then. I've got some musings scratched down somewhere, but I won't get to them until after a presbytery meeting.

    Anyone out there have any children's sermon ideas about 1 Thess 5?

  8. we have a Bible study on Wednesday. They weren't keen on the outer darkness either. Those final words of Jesus sound a little too much like a Billie Holiday song....

    However, the question I asked was, "What is the thing the servants are asked to invest in is the Kingdom of God?"


  9. oops ... saved too soon!

    third grade Bible class, in preparation for the presentation of Bibles tomorrow.

    that's always fun.

    I think we have 15 of them (3rd graders).

  10. Dancing with God, how about going with the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of hope? How many kids will you have?

  11. songbird - anywhere from 4 to 8 kids. Breastplate and helmet are a good idea.

    diane - how exciting to be giving away 15 3rd grade bibles!

  12. I'm picturing a paper "breastplate" with the words on it. Construction paper, markers, hole punch and yarn: I'm a simpleton when it comes to teh crafts.

  13. I don't think the servants were being asked to invest in the kingdom of God. The master in the story reaped where he did not sow. The slave wasn't doing his earthly master's bidding.

    Just a thought

  14. When I get to heaven I will discover the ability to do things in time - except of course, that I'll have eternity, so it won't matter.
    Another mad day.
    Its 2.30 here - a flying visit to the church to finish a display for the Deanery service tomorrow ended up taking all morning, including a trip to the DIY store to buy a new chain for the plug to the font...because there's a baptism tomorrow. Still not started the sermon, nor the intercessions for Deanery service tomorrow...nor....oh 1001 other things that need doing today.
    I could waste time panicking but better not...

  15. i am knee deep in funerals... and critical surgeries... and it's a rains it pours kinda week ahead. sermon is done... i'm comparing the "new global bear barket" to what it means to live in a "Jesus centered market"... ie, that the parable is about risking to invest in the future... which God holds.

    we'll see how she preaches. but chidlren's sermon? anyone? anyone? anyone?

    and pass the coffee!!!

  16. good morning all! i hope y'all don't mind that i keep hanging out at your party even though i'm not writing sermons these days. i actually am writing these days though... actually i'll be writing every day for the next week straight (save for sabbath tomorrow). the goal for the day? a 25 page paper for my Bonhoeffer class.

    we have some delicious homemade french bread i could offer to the party...

    blessings all. WS- how exciting!!! Godspeed!

  17. I am whipping up some blueberry pancakes (or chocolate chip if you would rather) and of course Vermont grade A syrup to go along. Come have some, we have too many!

    I am solo parenting for another 9 days as DH is in Argentina doing research. So my sermon is done, as of yesterday, and I am going to send it along to our District Committee on Ordained Ministry for my annual review...I hope it flies.
    I used Henri Nouwen's Open Hands to talk about how the way we see God has a lot to do about how we approach the world, with an open hand or a closed fist. If I get bold, I will post it on my blog later.
    Blessings on everyone's preparations!

  18. will smama, special prayers for you! Preach the word!

  19. Go, WS! Go, Preachers!

    I have Kashi Good Friends cereal and Ezekiel Raisin Bread. Coffee, too.

    The bishop is coming tomorrow and we are planning to treat him to Zadok the Priest (complete with 30 of our Lutheran friends from down the road to swell the ranks) so I'll be listening to my study CD again.

  20. Ooh, WS, how exciting. Blessings and smooth sailing.

    As for me, I've been struggling to come up with something that I could live with for the Talents. The following did not come from my brain, but from a "Partners in Urban Transformation" link from textweek (how would I get through a week without textweek? Let's not think that way).

    First you have to ditch the idea that is probably firmly implanted in you that the master should be equated with God. He's not a nice guy, and admits to it. So then you have to look for the hero, who is the third "lazy" servant. He refuses to exploit or take advantage of people to make the unscrupulous master more money. He follows the anti-usury laws and the recommendations of the rabbis by burying the money to keep it safe.

    I hope that's helpful to someone. That's as far as I've gotten and am working to apply it. Well, that and I retold the story using the Brady Bunch brothers as the servants. That might get edited later, but it made sense last night late!

    The sweet baby is trying to help me type, so we're going to share some Cheerios now. You're welcome to some, too. Daddy has church meetings ALL day long, so we're on our own.

  21. Busy day here! working on several large projects, the most critical of which is finishing the kids service or dec 7th so that they can practice it this weekend. The sunday school director does the skit part, but I have to do the rest, and due to poor timing, this service included the hanging of the greens and communion. OY! then a retirement lunch and then back to work on the sermon. 1st thess. is the text, and I have vague ideas about building each other up, but no clue where it is going...

    I am also feeling this urge to bake and am not sure what that's about. Found a great recepie for challah bread and am wondering if I can call the time I spend with my hands in the flour "thinking time".

    WS - -you will rock. SSD, you are always welcome! So are the rest of you!

  22. will smama you will do great :)
    kathryn your comment made me smile. Prayers on the run for you ...

    "s-tf, sounds like you got it figured out, please feel free to share."

    oops sorry songbird I can see now that what I wrote could have sounded that way. I didn't mean that at all.

    Just that our bible study discuss the lectionary readings coming up - instead of discussing the Sunday that's been (that could so easily fall back into a dissection of what was said) this way we have the possiblity to discuss andfind out what we think :)

    one of the things we did this week was to look at talents and gifts that God has given us as a community (e.g. the incarnation, the spirit etc) and discussion revolved around why the third man was so afraid to risk even a part of what he had been entrusted with. Seems to me that often we as a church are a bit like that. (though that wasn't what we discussed in the group)

    the question is why. why are churches (so often) places where it's unacceptabe to fail - so we end up not taking risks? That's what the third guy was bound by too - fear of failure. (though I freely admit that this is only part of the story)

  23. Zephaniah, Thessalonians, and the Day of the Lord are on the agenda around here.

    My but that Day of the Lord stuff is fear-ful indeed. I am wondering if it is good news or not that dawn is breking? ANd how will we know when daylight comes?

  24. WS, knock em dead, well not literally since that may make it hard to negotiate a call...

  25. I'm on my way to a craft show with my sisters, but I thought I would check in here quickly.

    I had a sermon on the gospel lesson started yesterday and then halfway through my massage I figured out what was bothering me about it. The sermon - it stinketh.

    But I came up with a better idea on the walk I took later in the day.

    Here's where I'm going - we usually tend to think that the property owner who packs his bags and heads to Boca is God.

    What if the property owner is actually Fear? What do we do when Fear goes on vacation? What kind of stewards of our abundance are we able to be when we realize that we can not only act freely, but also faithfully?

    All this fits with our "talks" (which will soon be more than talking) with another congregation about amalgamation/shared ministry. What are the possibility if Fear doesn't get in our way?

    Gotta go now. I'll check in later. I still need a chidren's story and I'm hoping someone here has a brilliant one up their sleeve. :)

  26. hey ws - blessings on planning and preaching.

    i'm jumping the lectionary and instead the music director and I are having a dialog sermon about inclusive language/many names for God which grew out of a kind of heated conversation we had last week.

    I'm grateful because those talents bewilder me, too.

    so, I'm actually not writing today - we worked up an outline of talking points yesterday and tomorrow will be one of those "holy spirit get my back" kind of days (wait? like there's any ohter kind of day?)

    anyway, good to see you all. and for food i have those little yorguts and toaster waffles for the kids for breakfast and you are welceom to dig in.

  27. Good morning! Hot grain cereal to share, with blueberries to top it. And sourdough is rising, for bread later today.

    For the sermon, I'm thinking about the nature of fear, and how it leads to all kinds of poor choices.

  28. WS I've been excited for you all week. I was especially thinking of you when I worked on some paperwork this week. I know you will "preach with authority and grace" as a preacher friend reminds me to do every week.

    I am, believe it or not, NOT writing a sermon for the third week in a row. I planned months ago for tomorrow to be a "celebration of hymnody" Sunday, so there will be singing and Scripture and a baptism, but no sermon, as such.

    Expect me here next week, frantic as ever after almost a month away from the pulpit.

    I've got fair-trade coffee, oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon, and some pancakes to share!

  29. Good morning everyone, at least it is still morning on my side of the continent! I am not preaching tomorrow - we are having a "Reflected Eucharist" with a narrative that dscribes what and why we do what we do in worship, then we do it, back and forth. The narrative takes the place of the sermon...they all get worship books to take home too with more description in it. It is also pledge Sunday.... And we have a brunch in between services to celebrate all the ministries of the parish and those who lead and participate in those ministries....BIG day....

    many thoughts and prayers for all of you as you ponder the readings and what you have to say....

    prayer also to WM as she prepares for the on site visit....

  30. Good morning my wonderful preacher friends. I am still not back in the preaching saddle yet (next week), but am here getting a little jump start on that as well as doing some work on the community Thanksgiving service, and my post for the Feminist Theology Blog for Christ the King. I know...working ahead a bit, but as I looked out over the calendar, it occurred that this was not a bad plan. Plus just been missing the PP these last weeks, and I needed a little help focusing on this particular part of my life.

    Blessings on your preaching, WS You will wow them for sure!

    As usual lots of great ideas already brewing along with the good coffee. Off we go!

  31. It's cereal and morning cartoons around here, then hubby and I have an afternoon of tag-team playing with daughter/writing sermons. I plan to make chocolate chip cookies in just a little bit for anyone who would like a chocolate fix! Then tonight, of to one of hubby's churches for their annual lutefisk dinner (ick! I eat the Swedish meatballs instead!).

    I'm working on the talents - this Sunday I'm doing a stewardship emphasis. I'm not happy with anything I've come up with yet...

  32. I'd like to explore esperanza's ideas. Meanwhile I what blogged breifly
    on the fear stuff that shows up in all the texts.
    WS I just went thru the call process and start my new call, Dec. 1. Blessings for tomorrow and 'fear not' :-)

  33. Eww, lutefisk.
    I am glad I live in Baked Bean land.
    I'm glad the party is roaring along! I fell asleep, then became distracted by a big packet from a church in another state...have I mentioned I'm recording tomorrow's sermon to send to two search committees in yet another New England state? To say I am frazzled would be true.
    I'm looking at the parable and asking the question, was Jesus reflecting on his own life and ministry? Did he wonder whether the work he had done would prosper? Did he look at his disciples and wonder if perhaps he had buried his resources in a hole?
    s-tf, just wanted to hear what conclusions were reached! Same with all of you, let's put it out there. You never know when you'll be offering up the thing that helps another person.

  34. Speaking of beans, we've been collecting bags of beans at church for a bean soup mix to be sold at the Christmas fair. I'm working on a story for the children related to handing out bags of beans and seeing what people might do with them: make jars of bean soup mix to sell, make a casserole to give to someone or give the bags to the food pantry (not sure on that one yet, still thinking) or hang on to the bag of beans in case you need them later. Still refining this idea. Expect it to be ready about quarter to worship...

  35. Finally, here's a great story about a UCC church that did a mission activity based on the parable.

  36. Children's service written, bread rising to bake later. Guess I need to stop procrastinating and start sermonizing...

    Is it too late to have a hymn sing?

  37. Sue, I like the idea that the master is Fear. Much better than my Donald Trump idea (who goes to the Caymans, by the way). Oh, how I do get off track so easily...

    I too am glad I do not live in lutefisk country. I'll take my fajita dinners any time.

  38. I left lutefisk country, I'm glad I did. Where I live, lobster is king.

    Esperenza, I would love to see your sermon when you are done with it. I did a bible study on the talents a few years ago and the master being not a nice guy was the way we explored the text. I wonder how that will preach.

    BTW, Will smama, good luck tommorrow. You will rock the house I'm sure!

  39. Well the laundry is almost done. And I got time playing webkinz with the girls. Now off to the Bazaar & Tea for a couple hours.

    Maybe before going I can at least look at what I said on Tuesday about the sermon....

    PS> the word verif is "bugawea" -- sounds like a product sold to campers

  40. Oh joy! I just got asked if I would baptize a long time visitor tonight! Pray for me, please, as I have to call him now and tell him why it has to be DURING the service rather than all by himself AFTER the service.

  41. Awwww, y'all are so sweet. Thank you!

    Now if the boy and I can just get a little shut-eye this afternoon, the weekend will be back on track.

  42. Only a children's sermon tomorrow; I am working from the idea at . It makes wonderful sense to me! The music leader at our family service is a handyman, so we will have some pretty awesome tool kits for props.

    I really like the "master as Fear" idea; I'll tuck that away for another year.

    10 y.o. younger son had vacation yesterday and went cooking crazy, so I'll offer up low-fat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, fruity jello cups, pudding pops, and leftover lasagna, plus homemade doggie treats for the pups in your home. I hope that will help sustain those of you who are writing and working today!

    Priest in charge has been evacuated due to fires for the second time in a month, and a beloved monastery/retreat house in our diocese has been destroyed; prayers, please, for all those affected by fires.

  43. OK...I've now dealt with most of the admin type things that we hovering in a worrying kind of way...I trashed the study in the process, but that's teh way life is lived here, I fear.
    Now, I guess, it's time to do something about the sermon.
    We have a baptism at church in the valley, - which probably means I need to do two versions of a sermon I've barely thought through.
    I think it's all about grace, but I'm not qutie sure what more to say.
    It is, after all, ALL about grace!!!

  44. Hey, yall...afternoon or evening.
    I am watchign football, but soon off to hospital ot see a lady who had heart attack. Homeboudn meember. So sad.
    I am preaching on the talents and have borrowed title from a drama on the text...
    The Wizard of Odd.
    That is about all for now.
    Oh, I have leftover ham, blue cheese potatoe salad, orange jello salad, starwberry cake and lots of apple butter.
    Oh and misc. beers from variety pack at the local wine and spirits store. reat apple cider and pumpkin beer.

  45. I think the clue to the gospel is in that very phrase about the joy of the master...and we tend to slide over it as if it were just, "and they all lived happily ever after" certainly unlocks the misery-mindedness of the third servant, whoo-ee.
    Virtual croissants over here. And some nice hot chocolate from the National Cathedral. I have made it with skim milk, lest I grow too elated.

  46. and I think, but I'm not sure, that there's some kind of Rabbinical Thing going on in this parable -- so that the ways in which the master is NOT like God make the third servant's behaviour toward the master, which is punishable, even more unreasonable when it is seen as the pattern of our behaviour toward God.
    "If it's DUMB to treat an earthly master's commission this way -- even though we recognize it -- how DUMB is it to behave this way toward God's commission? H'm?"
    I'll find something more theologically respectable than "DUMB" to say. I hope!

  47. When I chose the scripture for this week (months ago), I thought I had an old sermon upon which to rely. Last night, I discovered, not so much. I hate it when that happens.

    So I have a fun-type kid thing tonight because I committed before I realized how much sermon I didn't have. What that really means is that I'm hoping that either Cici's or High School Musical 3 has "Deborah-Barak" inspiration.

    ws- The Holy Spirit has got your back and I'm praying too

  48. CR, at this point I would take "dumb."
    Just woke up from a nap, groggy and wondering what made me think I ever knew ANYthing about preaching?

  49. No preaching tomorrow...nor even AM duty...just updating our church website with FT and talking through the first two chapters of Romans so we'll be on our game for Bible study tomorrow. And we're also grousing about the regional blackouts of the U of M and MSU games -- whazzup with that?

    Since there's talk of beans...I have a mighty fine chicken chili in the crockpot: chicken, local navy beans, onion, garlic, a jar of salsa verde, a bottle of beer, a jalapeno from our small "crop," cumin and chili powder. Good stuff, Maynard, especially with a dollop of sour cream. Made lots.

  50. :-) songbird I know what you mean! But you do know about preaching I've read your sermons!

  51. Betsy, so sorry to hear of those losses and worries.
    Anyone else near the fires?

  52. I'll be thinking of you tomorrow WS - you will totally rock the place - no question.

    I am tired from being out earlier today so the children's story and prayers are just not coming together At. All.

    Must nap.

  53. Back from the presbytery meeting, which actually got out 30 minutes early. Took a nap and now it's on to sermonating.

    Later on tonight, when the sermon is done, I'll be in front of the tv making crafty breastplates of faith and love (thanks songbird!) Sometimes the simplest things ...

    Blessings to all who labor away on the sermon.

    I'll definitely take a piece of fresh bread!

  54. Many, many prayers for WS!
    I am excited for you!
    Still ploddign along with the sermon and also worrying over what it was I was gonna tell the Admin Asst to add to the newsletter, unti lI forgot what it was.
    But, it is important.I think.
    So, sermon stuff...visitd the lady who is in hospital. So sad to see her in bad shape, but happy to see such a storng wonderful family by her side.
    Anybody want a cider?

  55. checking in...sounds like wonderful food for thought and virtual tummies is being passed around. WS--so many prayers and thoughts are with you tomorrow. You go girl!
    I've got ginger-shitake salmon from Whole Foods to share.
    250 words in. oofdah!

  56. Juniper - I'll be thinking of you and praying for you tomorrow. Sounds interesting - and brave! But as you know, the HS has your back.

    Betsy - prayers in abundance for you and all in the fire area.

    I still have no children's story and feel groggy after my nap. It will come. Hopefully before tomorrow morning.

  57. Well, loves, I've written something (posted at mine, though I don't much recommend it) and am frankly too tired to do more tonight. Will just have to hope that inspiration enables me to adapt on my feet tomorrow,as it really is a bit too baptism centred for the other two services as it stands.
    Now I COULD write my intercessions for tomorrow night...or I might be better off going to bed.
    Sweet dreams and sweetly flowing words, friends.

  58. I have a draft, but this is one of those weeks I cannot tell if I have a dog or a pony or a heavenly choir. I would love feedback, here or there.

  59. Retirement meal blessed (and yummy!!!).
    Challah in the oven for the last rise.
    Soaked after being caught in the rain.
    College football team trounced.
    0 words written.

    But there will be fresh bread in about an hour!

  60. we had lutefisk yesterday and I lived to tell the tale.

    working on the Bible class this a.m., raking this p.m., not preaching for a change...

    I had bad experiences of the "talents" parable as a kid, thought I would be cast into the outer darkness for not using my talents....

    but I do now think that the parable, in part at least, is about risking, and what are we willing to risk. not that this makes it too much easier.

    by the way, songbird, I heard about other pastors doing something similar to the UCC pastor, not with 50 dollars, but with other amounts.

  61. Well I just finished cleaning up from this little adventure (involving diaper pail water all over the floor).

    Now I think I'll go have a tub to clean up.

  62. It's close to 8 here on the East Coast, who needs a Diet Coke to make it the rest of the way?

  63. Well all right now -- will smama, you are going to make the ends of their hair smoke, I can tell from here -- and I have posted more or less what I'm going to say tomorrow
    here .

  64. bread is ready. sermon is not. If I could just find my way in...

  65. songbird, I'll take a 6 pack! Thanks!

  66. Y'all, I am hitting the hay early, but there is plenty of DC to go around, and popcorn, too. See you in the a.m.

  67. God_gurrl, it's mediocre at best, but I can email it to you. (No blog, sorry). I can't find your email address...mine is texasesperanza @ hotmail . com

    But without the spaces, of course.

    Now, a prayer and a children's sermon and a baby to bed...

  68. Well, lutefisk dinner has been eatern (meatballs on my part, anyway), Lil' Princess has been tucked into bed, and now I have no reason or excuse to not get my sermon done.

    A couple of months ago our Synod office sent out info on some missionaries that have ties to our neck of the woods (ok, neck of the buttes), and I'd like to challenge my congregations about supporting them in some way - not be ruled by fear, act out of attitude of abundance instead of scarcity.

    That's some of what's ping-ponging around in my head, anyway.

  69. Looks like the night shift is here!

  70. I found the rabbinic story I am using as I move into how we tell that daylight has come. When will the day of the Lord come? Or has it started already?

    That whole now and not yet is troublesome at times

  71. something i hadn't realized is just how much a talent was... it would be equal to many many many years worth of daily wages.

    Last week, we talked about the amazing gift of God in our lives - and so this week we're talking about what we do with this HUGE gift God has given us.

    I like the ideas about fear keeping us from making much out of what we are given.

  72. I need about 300 words to close out, but i have nto figured it out yet.
    Know what i want to say, but jsut can't get the words out.
    So, I am gonna go take a 6 1/2 hr nap and then wake up to fresh coffee and hammer it out.
    Shall I leave the lights on?

  73. oh, and Katie, the amount I came up with on my internet search was$850,000= a talent.
    More than msot of us can imagine.

  74. It's not a good sign when the Sunday prayer is already posted and you're just sitting down at the computer...

    anyone still here?

  75. Yup, someone else is still here... I'm (slowly) plugging away at my sermon, thinking about fear and how we are called upon to use the abundance lavished upon us. And wondering how to make this vivid for the kids, too.

  76. Since I'm preaching from Judges, vivid for the kids would be a tent peg ... but maybe that's not what you're looking for parodie

  77. Well, the sermon is written thanks to great history and geography contributions from another pastor who is credited, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because my folks know from my own admissions that I'm not so great at either.

    I'll be around for a few minutes more while I finish the prayers and the printing but a warm bed is waiting so I won't be long.

    Blessings on your Sunday.

  78. I have the feeling some of our night-shifters were off this week!
    There's coffee for you last-minute revisers.

  79. I'm back this morning. I've got about two and a half hours before I have to leave for the church to whip this mess I've written into shape.

    Normally, that's not hard to do on a Sunday morning with this much time, but I feel terrible. Prayers that I can just get through this morning and then I can come home and feel miserable in front of the couch with my pj's.

  80. Oh, Katie Z, so sorry you're feeling ill! Hang in there.

  81. The sermon is posted here. I'm anxious about this one. Keep us in your prayers.

  82. Anybody need some fair Trade Coffee and a pop-tart?

  83. went to the Anglican servicetoday. The priest say this sermon is easy to understand -the key word is IS -

    “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country

    trouble is that the NIV translates it as "it will be like" and that's the version many of us had.


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