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Saturday, December 13, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: "Shouts of Joy" Edition

Good morning, preachers! It's that festive season of the year when church and family activities may well be at risk of overlapping, even colliding. The things we feel compelled to do compete with the things that might give us a sense of the season as we idealize it. And for preachers, it is the 11th hour, the moment of truth.

What shall we preach?

John the Baptist -- really, would you think of him this way? Not me, but apparently this was DaVinci's vision of him. He certainly looks knowing and pleased with himself. But didn't we talk about him just last week?

You could do something with the Psalm or 1 Thessalonians, but I have to admit, I like the gospel in Advent. The alternative to the Psalm is the Magnificat, so there's another angle to try, though Isaiah gets at the same things.

I'll keep the coffee brewing, and I'm happy to share oatmeal with you. We'll save the M&M cookies for later...


  1. Thank you for getting the party started Songbird!

    I'm not writing yet--just up late trying to take care of some little things before bed. I had really wanted to write a lot of the sermon on Thursday this week, but it just didn't happen.

    I think I'm going to be pondering J-Bap's insistence that "he himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light." Isn't that our job as the church? WE are not the light. We testify to the light...the light that is coming...and the light that is among us in the darkness.

    And I have some visual aids that could either be fun or be a total flop--a headlamp (for when we think WE have the light) and a flashlight on a tripod (that can give light to others).

    Anyway. I think the writing must wait until tomorrow for me.

  2. WHOO HOO! A late night preacher's party before Saturday night! Hey semfem, good to see you.

    There's always a mirror to help show how one can not be the light but can "testify" to the light or the moon works too

  3. Well, it's mid morning in the wet and mizzly UK and I'm not preaching tomorrow, tho I do need a short homily for the 8.00 Communion. I think that SemFem & teh Vicar have sorted that out for me between them,though (wouldn't SemFem & the Vicar make a fab name for a band,btw?!)
    I also as a matter of urgency need to sort out the carol service and contact readers, so that's my task today...I'm singing in a concert tonight for which there is a rehearsal this afternoon - and I need to fly into town to collect a present for the Dufflepud that we reserved till today. So, not going to be idle that's for sure...
    I think there are some mincepies about for later...meanwhile, fresh fruit is on the table (I'm also battling the seasonal sore throat, so let's eat oranges together)

  4. Hey, y'all! I guess it's apparent I posted before bedtime, just in case their were early birds. I'm about to start a pot of Star$ Christmas blend, and how about some music to inspire our writing? Sufjan Stevens, anyone?
    I'm going with Mary, don't get to preach next week, feel the need to talk about her. I'm using my Advent Retreat piece as a basis but also reading the Annunciation, so I am facing the words that challenge me most: "Let it be with me according to thy word."

  5. Good morning all+
    I have some "Christmas in Leelanau" coffee and some wonderful little raspberry-filled sour cream cookies to share, that is if Music Man and Game Boy did not completely scarf them up last night. BTW, prayers please - Game Boy got his temporary drivers permit yesterday... thankfully, he's a bit intimidated by the whole idea of driving :)
    I was drawn to the word/image of PROCLAIMing in the Isaiah 61 text and in Mary's Magnificat. What I needed to send to the illustrating team fleshed out the context of those two periods and what God's people proclaimed to their contemporaries. And now I am processing through what we proclaim to our own context. But the message is still somewhat lifeless, waiting for the breath of the Holy Spirit and sacred proclamations of God at work right now to make it dance and sing for Joy!
    Grateful for any morsel you might share...

  6. I'm going with Mary too, like Songbird I am not preaching next week, and the chance to use the Magnificat is too good to miss.

    I want to ask questions about how we see her and who she was... and to look at her response..

    lunchtime here, some homemade spiced chicken noodle soup is on offer....

  7. ...just looked at that picture again... not my vision of J-t-B at all!

  8. Good morning, everybody. I'm going with Mary, too. Still not sure where I'm going, but she's a good companion in figuring it out.

    Also on my plate today: getting the house and preparation ready for husband's youth group to come tomorrow night for the Christmas progressive dinner. I've learned not to clean too much in advance, but some de-cluttering is in order. And some wrapping and sewing on some Christmas gifts would be nice, if unlikely.

    I just got 5 lb of Cutie Clementines last night, and they're really good. Help yourselves. Or you can have some of the fixings for the youth group's fajitas.

  9. No preaching for me this weekend as it is pageant SUnday. ANd of course there is a winter storm warning for tonight/tomorrow so how many childrwn will we have?

    BUt given the week I have had, glad to not be preaching. WEnt away (interview) Monday/Tuesday and of course there was a pastoral crisis as soon as I left town. And while visiting her mother Beloved got into a figth with sister-in-law over mother's care plan (long story). ANd then we got home Tuesday to a house that was about 6Celsius inside. Furnace was down until 11 that night.

    ANd in an hour I am off to the church to finish prep for a community Christmas Party we are hosting in conjunction with a variety of other groups in town.

    So no preaching is just fine with me.

  10. OK, read the comments now.

    I am going with the MAgnificat net week and preaching about songs of justice (also using Zechariah's song when John is named, and likely referencing Hannah's song when Samuel was born). So I look forward to whatever wisdom y'all have on it

  11. Like Gord, I haven't been here most of the week. The retreat with Newell and Barbara Brown Taylor was wonderful. I did get the Christmas Eve sermon written. ;-) Came home to dogs and cat who needed lots of lap time on Thursday and a rehearsal that night. Yesterday, I baked for the sale at church all day and then the puppy sampled the best of the cakes. Today is two concerts and a rehearsal with some time this morning to figure out what to say tomorrow. I still haven't gotten my annual report started for the meeting right after the second service, either. I like semfem's take and, unless one of you comes up with something else that tickles my fancy, that's where I'll head. Thanks!

  12. Good Morning, my dear unseen companions of Saturday's writing marathon-
    I am soon to go help with a clinic to put chip IDs in animals, and I want to spend the rest of the day doing fun Christmas prep stuff...but alas, a sermon and a session meeting need to be planned for etc. I am working with the idea of reflected light, pointing to the light with our lives, our churches etc. The full moon kept me awake last night,and provided some much needed inspiration. I also really liked Jan Richardson's thoughts on her Advent blog about "where I am from" but think I will tuck that aside for another sermon another day.
    As for food...nothing much in reality, but in the virtual world I offer a wonderful array of yummy breakfast treats that are all only one WW point each!! :-)

  13. I remember, back in the day when I was new at the AM game, stressing for days before my Sundays "at bat" -- agonizing over and writing and rewriting the Prayers of the Church.

    Yeah; those were the days. LOL

    Today I am going to my nursing-home-resident aunt's Christmas party, and making cookie dough.

    This is either confidence or complacence...hopefully the former!

    I'm also fantasizing about wearing my LL Bean headlamp while praying about "testifying to the light"...LOL...maybe not.

    We are out of "good" coffee, so I'm brewing up some pedestrian but useable 8 O'Clock. (I covet Rev. Honey's coffee!) If we had some milk, we could have homemade-bread French toast. Oh, well.

  14. LC, use the headlamp! Maybe not for the whole sermon, but use it!

  15. And I'm not just saying that because I work across the street from LL Bean...

  16. LC, we're out of milk, too, and using the rest of our pedestrian pre-ground coffee. Time for a trip to the store, I suppose.

    Gord: Geez, what a week you've had!

    I am thinking about the Magnificat and Mary's experience, but only really obliquely.

    "Christmas in Stoic Village" is up first, then home to sermonate and hopefully sneak in writing the Christmas letter somewhere there.

  17. I'll add some grape-cranberry juice to the party.

    The phrase from IThess "do not quench the Spirit" has been tugging at me all week long...and how both prophets, Isaiah and JBAP did not quench the Spirit.

    Also trying to fight off a cold/sorethroat. Dr*gs anyone???

  18. My sermon notes are here. About praying without ceasing and rejoicing always - also this Ted Loder poem
    Hidden God, wherever you are, in your own kind of space,
    we watch and wait for you to startle us to wakeful
    newness in this Advent season.
    Come and thrust into us the spirit of daring and courage,
    to make flesh on earth a bit of the kingdom of heaven.
    Come and lift up the valleys
    of our discouragement and doubt and denial
    and make level the mountains of our greed and pride,
    so we may see your glory revealed once more
    in us and in all our brothers and sisters
    from the shepherd least to the magi lofty.
    Come lace our songs, our shopping, our celebrations
    with your mystery and strange magnificence,
    and let us sense it in the small, strange stirrings
    of the earth and of our hearts, now and always.

  19. I've been looking at Grunewald"s Isenheim altarpiece and thinking about John not as baptizer but as witness, pointing us to Jesus. Who are our modern day witnesses?

  20. Try this link instead (or search under 'g' in the other one).

  21. Like Songbird, I'm preaching the Magnificat this week because next week is the Children's Cantata.

    We have our favourite local liturgical dance group coming in to interpret the Magnificat for us, so I'm very excited about that. They need to rehearse in an hour or so, so I'll head over to the church to let them in, turn on the heat and hang around my chaotic office (possibly even reducing its chaotic state in the process).

    My sermon is done and I say with some trepidation that I think I kinda like it. (I generally go into a Sunday just hoping my meager offering is somehow acceptable and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest).

    This week, as always, I still the HS to have my back - but I sort of like what I have. Hm.

    Anyway, I used a portion of text from "The Secret Life of Bees" (pp108-109) about the slave Obadiah finding the wooden figure of the Black Mary "Our Lady of the Chains" and how she broke the people free from those chains.

    I know I'm no Queen Latifah (who told the story in the movie version), but that reading is SO powerful that I can't resist including it. It speaks to the chains that hold us all down and keep us from our best potential as servants of God.

    Mary did that for all of us. She said "Yes" so that we could be free. Free from fear of death, free from doubt about God's love for us, and well....just free.

    Part of the story in the book:

    "Our Lady filled their hearts with fearlessness and whispered to them plans of escape. ....the people called her Our Lady of Chains....not because she wore chains. They called her Our Lady of Chains because she broke them."

  22. I'm up and contemplating the sermon, while also trying to decide if i want to do the christmas shopping that didn't get finished yesterday due to a snow storm. hmmm ...

    Working with John the Baptist and contemplating light. Had planned on using flashlights in the children's sermon. Maybe I can pick up a headlamp when I'm out and use that too.

    Thanks for the idea semfem! I think it's great. And I've found that people really remember things/the sermon when you go out on a limb and do something a little bit different.

    And thanks Vicar, the moon may make it into my sermon.

  23. We're headed out to take the dogs to the beach. I'll be back to write a little later!
    Great ideas, all, I almost wish I were preaching about John and light after all.

  24. I'm with the not-preaching-tomorrow group, but working on other things like officer training and writing my sermon for next week. Tomorrow is our children's program, which is the first we've done one since I've been there. As much as I loathe the idea of doing this on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, *and* the fact that we are singing "Joy to the World" as our closing hymn (aaack!), the kids are incredibly excited about the worship service being completely theirs tomorrow, and they will do fabulously. I'm also enjoying the fact that I have a bit of a breather and was able to work ahead for Christmas week, where I have a wedding the Saturday between Christmas Eve and 12/28. For the daughter of a couple who are not my biggest fans, by the way. Bride & groom are delightful, though.

    Gord - had a similar situation recently with my bro & s-i-l over my mother's care situation. Praying for all of you.

  25. I'm not preaching this week, but I've always liked the verse from John, "Standing in the midst of you is one you do not know." It seems that this is still the case today, and that it is still our job (the church) to point to him and to the work he is doing in the world.

    I'm doing the annunciation next week, "Hail favored one. The Lord is with you." What sort of greeting is THAT?

    Tomorrow is our children's program, and also we have a big presentation about our $100,000 budget shortfall. Please pray for us.

  26. Yikes, Diane. That's bigger than our *entire* budget.

    No progress on sermon. A little cleaning has occured. I need some motivation.

  27. i'm clearly in the minority here... preaching on Isaiah with a wee bit of john thrown in. at any rate...

    working on funeral prep today and then going to sit down and handpaint ornaments for my niece & her hub - the 12 days of christmas.

    prayers you for writers!
    prayers diane for the budgeet meeting... ick.
    prayers that the light is cast into the dark corners of all the parishes...

  28. Hey, y'all. I'm back. I'm writing. You know, the thing about reusing is sometimes you find you want to turn things around a little, so that makes more work rather than less.
    Ah, well.
    We have leftover pizza, if you're ready for lunch!

  29. Diane, my gosh, that is a scary amount of money! You're making our $19,000 deficit sound like child's play.

  30. whoa, diane! I thought we were bad with $70,000 shortfall (and we are....but...). wow.

    tomorrow our choir (made up of a record 32 people!!!), along with a brass quintet, will present John Rutter's Gloria instead of me or ISP (interim senior pastor) giving a message. This is good news, as it means both ISP and I are relatively off the hook, and it also means a week for us to hopefully recover some energy as ISP has been sapping it with longer-than-we're-used-to sermons. I'm on next week, preaching on the Magnificat then. Can't wait to read what you all have to say about mary this week! I can use the ideas.

    Today is our big annual Cookie Walk (which is not like a cake walk...and IS something I'd like to figure out how to get rid of). I'm about to head over there to see if there are any cookies left (they often sell out in an hour or so--which is one reason I don't go until the end!). If there are, I'll bring some Christmas cookies for you all. Tonight: Jesus' Birthday Party! pizza, cake and ice cream, games and stories, crafts and other fun, presents for underprivileged kids in our county...30+ kids usually, too few volunteers... It's when parents get to drop their kids off and go out for an evening (date night, shopping, whatever!) and the kids get to have a fun dress-up-for-Jesus birthday party. Perhaps I'll bring you all some late night pizza after that...

    in the meantime, i have tea. and glazed almonds and pecans from the christkindlmarkt. mmmm.....

  31. I'm thinking of going for Isaiah too, and mixing it with the idea of abiding joy. Not sure yet, we'll see where it goes.
    My big issue is coming up with a good story for children's time - we're focusing on angels this week (the church has a crèche, and the characters are added week by week, and this week is the angel's turn), but I'm really not sure where to go with it. Ideas anyone?

    I've got oatmeal shortbread to contribute to the party, and for those who have sore throats, I've heard that eating yogurt works absolute wonders.

  32. Many prayers Diane.

    I'm off to the grocery store ... frig and cupboards are pretty bare. Anyone need anything?

  33. Gord, I hope you get enough children out despite the weather.

    I'm thinking the same thing about our liturgical dancers. We just finished our practice, and I told them not to put themselves at risk to get here. If the roads are not cleared, stay home and we will read the Magnificat instead of dancing it.

    I'm off to the store to stock up on what we need for a few days of heavy snow.

  34. Howdy everyone, no snow here in my part of the midwest, in fact the sun is out for the first time in weeks! The sermon is done, but I can't say I like it, I know what you mean, Sue, and I am so glad you go in tomorrow with something that feels right! It doesn't happen very often over here, but I know I am my own worst critic.

    I am going with the John and Isaiah passages as well, and using a version of The Virgin of Vladimir icon that I have hanging in my office - I can't find it on the web anywhere, but it shows Mary holding the toddler Jesus. I was struck by the toddler's feet - one shoe is securely tied on, the other is falling off. Who untied Jesus' sandal? For two weeks we have heard from John saying he was not worthy to do it. But his mother and Joseph must have, many times. What does it mean to be worthy to tie Jesus' shoes?

    Anyway, that is where I am headed this evening. This morning I spent baking brownies and toll-house squares (chocolate chip bars, if you didn't grow up in New England)for our home church's Holiday Market. The brownies are my specialty, I add some coconut and chocolate chips and use Hershey's Special Dark cocoa. I am happy to share! Best wishes to all preachers, and I would love to read some of the takes on the Magnificat, as I will be using that in our Longest Night service next week.

  35. Love shoe falling off image and who ties on the shoe-sandal.

  36. Hello all...
    Ah, this week's paper? "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy" and my own theologica religionum in "only" 20 pages.

    SO. Coffee. LOTS. please.

    For sharing the wealth, I have LOTS of citrus because The Harpist's orchestra sold it as a fundraiser. Grapefruit? Oranges? Tangerines? We got 'em!

    Back later...

  37. Just settling in to work on prayers and liturgical minutia. The co-pastor is taking the sermon this week. So, the water in the kettle is still hot and the tea selection is plentiful. Blessing to you all as you sermonate.

  38. Good morning everyone (here on the left coast, anyway)! I'll be doing more physical than intellectual labor today, as we are heavily into Advent preparations. My daughter was Santa Lucia this morning, surprising the guys (white angel dress from last year's pageant, one of my red stoles for a sash, and the Advent wreath she made in Sunday school on her head. We didn't light the candles though). And she and I need to sew (or maybe glue), stuff, and decorate our Jesse tree ornament for church--our assignment is Mary and the suggestion is a lily. I guess the one thing I might write is the tactful letter I need to send the children's minister....In her handout with about thirty days of ornaments and accompanying scriptures, the only women in salvation history were Eve and Mary. Sigh.

  39. As I mentioned earlier, I've been re-purposing what I wrote for the Advent Retreat, and I want to mention how Juniper's offering that day inspired me.
    I've got my sermon up, for anyone who is interested: Disturbed By Joy.
    Now, who wants cookies?

  40. Thanks Songbird! I'm looking at Mary next week, so I'm sure I'll be back (to you and others).

    I'll take some cookies...with a side of motivation please! :)

  41. Gord, you really deserve the day off. If the snow is too bad, will the children's program be postponed?

  42. Well after a busy morning of breakfast Christmas Party with parishioners at the local retirement center and a visit to a dying parishioner, I am back working on this sermon....sigh..

    it's very short. And, I wonder if it works? I'm using Thessalonians and talking about sushi and chicken feet

    maybe I've completely lost it...?

    I'll be back around to read sermons from others...but now I think I'm going for a pedicure and manicure to prepare for a Parishioner Christmas party tonight...sigh..

  43. I'm not sure exactly where this thought came from but I'm thinking about folks that help others "shine." Like Josh Hamilton's pitcher for the home run derby, Clay Council. Here's one interview with Clay . In a different interview (that I can't find now), Clay told Josh that if he (Josh) was ever trying out and needed a pitcher to call him (Clay) and he (Clay) would put it over the plate for him (Josh) so he (Josh) would look good.

    There is a sense in which Clay was pointing to Josh. I'm sure there are other folks who are "support" people who help others shine rather than drawing attention to themselves. Maybe that's another way to talk about JtB pointing to Jesus in ways that could also illustrate that we, too, point to Jesus.

  44. Vicar, you have all the best stories.

  45. But Songbird, you have the best sermons. I'm seriously coming back to your Mary sermon next Sunday!

  46. There are some seriously good sermons out there today...

  47. Aw, Vicar. Hope it's helpful.
    Y'all, I think a nap is in order before quick errands and an appearance at the Bean Supper. Call me in an hour, okay?

  48. Older son finished our box of Cuties, so I'm glad Esperanza has some to share! I have 4 boxes of Trader Joe's peppermint Joe-Joe's (think Oreos with candy cane crushed into the frosting part) to take as our family traditional food to the potluck tomorrow, but I can run out for more if you all finish those :-)

    Mompriest, sushi and chicken feet? That sounds intriguing! And I love the headlamp...

    Christmas pageant tomorrow; younger son is playing the harp for the first time in public, so I'm more nervous about that than my sermon at the early service.

    I had a sermon in mind for Christmas 1, then discovered I'm not preaching that day, so I'm tweaking it for tomorrow. At our diocesan convention, we had huge video screens up so we could see the speaker. But I kept finding myself--seated at our table near the back--craning my neck and leaning around to see the actual person. I want to see the real thing! I'll work from that story to JtB pointing us to the the Real Thing. The bigger, easier to see images around us may be helpful or detrimental, but it's worth the effort of our lives to see and point out to others the Original. I hope I can figure out how to work in some Isaiah also, just because I like it...

  49. Okay, I had a little snoozle, now I'm off to the bean supper! Keep working, and I'll see you all later!

  50. In a really rather shocking move, I finished my sermon on the Magnificat last night. Don't hurt me! I'm usually up late, but this one was a rewrite of an older version, and it's been a tough weekend (cantata last night, funeral and wedding today, funeral and cantata tomorrow). Here it is. Would love comments.

  51. All of my services between now and new year don't involve preaching - reflecting on Mary tomorrow using some readings and prayers, the youth church take over next week and then, to end the year, we'll do readings and carols. There are so many beautiful reflective readings around that I'm going to shamelessly use. I'm sure folks will appreciate a change from the usual order. However all the time freed up seems to be spent writing funeral services.
    Also geting to take part tomorrow in an annual quiet service for those recently bereaved - I'm sure I'll appreciate the respite. I put the service together, but will enjoy just being there tomorrow - all the hard work's done.
    I'm even going to light our pink advent candle tomorrow which I think is out of sync but I want to honour Mary properly and, since its the first time they've had an advent wreath here, who's gonna know?
    Offering home made lentil broth and tiger bread to warm up the late night workers.

  52. Actually, Liz, you'd be praised by the liturgy police for pink this week--in traditional usage the pink candle is for the third Sunday. It's called Gaudete Sunday=Rejoice in Latin, from the Philippians verse about rejoicing always which was the entrance antiphon for that day's mass. You'd occasionally see "rose" vestments that day too if the parish could afford them (when it was all guys they were chicken to admit they were wearing pink). It was a bit of a break from penitential violet when that was more of an emphasis on that in Advent as well as Lent. So Catholics, Anglicans and other heavy liturgical types still do pink the third week. I think some of the mainline churches may have moved it to the fourth Sunday, though, along with coming up with themes for all four like peace, hope, etc. Here ends the liturgical trivia.

    We just feasted on tamales from the Guadalupe celebration at our parish last night, ripe Bartlett pears, and the cranberry nut bread I took to the potluck. The bread is super tasty but healthy--white whole wheat flour and half applesauce instead of oil. So dig in, everyone.

    Looking forward to reading the cool sermons out there, but right now I need to join my family for Lord of the Rings monopoly. Still haven't faced the Jesse leaf project.

  53. Heh, I grew up in a pink-candle-is-the-fourth-candle church, and now I serve a pink-candle-is-the-THIRD-candle parish! Massive confusion my first year. This year I am going with their traditions (last year we ditched the pink candle entirely).

    I'm back, after distributing Angel Food, having a quick nap, and making a quick call to a parishioner who lost a brother. Now, I need to settle in and complete these four things:
    1. Candle reflection on joy
    2. Sermon (which may now use a headlamp AND a mirror! thanks Vicar)
    3. Council report
    4. Reflection for evening prayer

    I have a feeling one cup of chai is not going to be enough.

  54. WEll I've been home for about 1 hour now. PArty was a HUGE success, with many people saying it should happen again next year.

    Church is all set up for the pageant which, short of over a foot of snow in the next 16 hours, will happen with however many kids show up. If we have one angel, one shepherd or one magus so be it....

    ANd now I am ready for a nap. Even though I wasn't really doing much specific at the party I am thouroughly tired out. No sermon tomorrow is a blessing. ANd thankfully I also farmed out, er I mean let someone else take their turn, the meditiation for the BLue Christmas tomorrow night.

  55. Sophia,
    thanks for putting me in the picture. I can now feel justified as we light that pink! And I like that idea of being with a more ancient strand of tradition that almighty presbyterian. I've posted one of the readings here for anyone who wants a little reflection.

  56. I can't resist adding in a little more liturgical trivia. In the Episcopal Church, the collect for tomorrow begins, "Stir up your people, O Lord..." But before our current version of the prayer book, that was the collect for the last Sunday before Advent began (and thus late November), and it was informally known as "Stir up Sunday," by which time you should've stirred up your fruitcake so it would have time to soak up the fumes from the nice brandy soaked cloth in which you wrapped it!

  57. Well, for once, my sermon is done before the wee hours of Sunday morning! I even finished 45 mins before the self imposed deadline!

    Now, I get to enjoy the Christmasy evening with about 50 church folks.

    And, somehow, the house is also almost clean due to the miraculous diligence of the offspring in the house. (really, I think a monetary bribe helped that.)

    God speed to those of you finishing up.

  58. that slightly wrong; it's "Stir up your power, O Lord," although stirring up the people isn't a bad idea either!

    Sophia, those tamales sound fabulous.

    For all of you in snowy, icy climes, may the weather break/hold off until after worship tomorrow.

  59. Wow, go Vicar go!

    I think I'm getting pumped enough to write now. It's coming together in my head beautifully...let's see if it does the same on paper. :)

  60. Hi All:
    I'm always late to the party, but am delighted to discover that Caribou will refill your coffee mug as long as you sit in their shop, so many refills to go...

    I'm looking for a good poem or something--i'm doing the Isaiah & JTB route...thinking about the return from exile rejoicing that's happening in Isaiah and our tendency to live in a self imposed/media imposed exile now. Still fleshing out these ideas.

    I've got freshly made chocloate chip biscotti and candied citrus peel (also freshly made) to share!

  61. I seriously hope it's time for the cookies! I was wondering if I was ever even going to get here today. I have a trifecta owbn service in the morning, the nursing home in the pm (which requires a slightly different version of the sermon) and then the big blow out Lessons and Carols in the evening for which we have been rehearsing and I have been doing all sorts of "stuff" including making copies, getting cookies and all such nonsense. But all is done and all is copied and pasted and posted and I am toasted. Sermon ended up being a trifecta too...Isaiah, Mary and John all made it into the mix. I have a few miles to go before I can settle in to read other's sermons...but look forward to that. On days ilke this, it's good to know we are in good company.

  62. Back from singing choir concert - and intrigued by Betsy's reference to Stir Up Sunday, which for us in the C of E is the last Sunday BEFORE Advent and was supposed to be the last date on which it was acceptable to prepare your Christmas pudding.
    No, i've not made ANY progress on the homily since I last dropped in.
    BUT I do have some stollen to share...and now (it being darned nearly bedtime)I must write. And fast!

  63. After procrastinating a bit this morning, washing my CR-V, I have a sermon here.

    I didn't go with Mary, but focused on not quenching the Spirit.

  64. Glad the party went well Gord. Here's hoping for less than a foot of snow overnight!

  65. Friends,
    I was just looking at e-mails froma list serve to which I subscribe and they were talking about regimes banning the reading of the Magnificat because it was (and is) subversive. Apparently Guatemala did so in the 1980's (weren't they a favored Central American nation by US standards at that time? But I digress)

    THis is an idea that will be in my sermon next week. Maybe even at the beginning "Do you realize we have just read a passage that was considered so subversive that it was baneed in...?" THat should sharpen up gentle Mary meek and mild!

  66. Cobbling completed...I did rework an old one, interspersed with thoughts from here and from the PRCL list..not great but to be distressingly honest, I suspect that though the 8.00 congrgation claim to welcome "a word" they probably don't actually tune in to it that often. And there are, on a good day, only 6 of them.
    Does that mean I'm a bad priest, do you think?
    I know I'm a weary one, and it being half past midnight I think I'll take my weariness away...Blessings on all those still bending words into the service of the Kingdom.

  67. Kathryn, I think you are a very good priest, and a very realistic one too! Not to mention one whose reliance on the Holy Spirit I find admirable. :)

    This is amazing, I'm practically done! (980 words, and I don't want to go too much over 1000 this Sunday.) But I still need a really good and grace-filled ending, which is nowhere to be found. I am also using an abundance of props in this sermon, which hopefully will be seen as interesting and not frenetic or gimmicky.

    Maybe a bite of dinner will help me think of a good ending. I've got chicken curry to share if anyone else is hungry.

  68. OK.
    Church member party attendance. (It was a FUN one, though.) Check.
    Leadership monthly meeting. (Not so fun.) Check.
    Paper done? Un-check.

    Back to work.

  69. Had the open house at the parsonage today. Whew! It's a nice event, but so much work. The weather has gotten so nasty here, all my services have been cancelled, so at least I can recover from a very long exhausting weekend.

  70. Hi everyone!
    I've benefitted so much these past few weeks from all of you as I've been "lurking" - getting the feel of things, actually. When I found this story a colleague posted on our conference listserv, I decided it was time to give back. It's a story by Robert Fulghum who has great stories.

    "At the last session of a two-week seminar on Greek culture, our
    instructor (asked), "Are there any questions?" These two weeks had generated
    enough questions for a lifetime, but for now there was only silence. So. I
    asked. "What is the meaning of life?" He looked at me for a long time,
    asking with his eyes if I was serious and seeing from my eyes that I was. "I
    will answer your question." Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he
    fished out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter and said:
    "When I was a small child, we were very poor and lived in a remote village.
    One day, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. I tried to find all the
    pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the
    largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I
    began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I
    could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine. It
    became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could
    find. I kept this little mirror, and as I grew up, I would take it out in
    idle moments and continue the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand
    that this was a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I am not the
    light or the source of light. But light is still there, and will only shine
    in many dark places if I reflect it. I am a fragment of a mirror whose
    whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can
    reflect light into the dark places of this world and help change some things
    in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am
    about. This is the meaning of my life." ("The Meaning of Life": from It Was
    On Fire When I Lay Down On It by Robert Fulghum ©1988, Ballantine Books)

    Betsy, I also love your image from your convention! We use those screens at our Annual Conference sessions, too, and I’ve always hated them but couldn’t really say why. You named it for me – yes, we can see it, but it’s not the real thing!


  71. Sweet. Eileen may have just finished my sermon for me! Thanks!

  72. Yes, thank you, thank you, Eileen! So glad you came to the party!

    Preach well tomorrow, everyone!

  73. Eileen, you are the hero of the evening! Eileen has been trying to comment for hours, with no help from Blogger, and finally some bending of our settings by me. Glad you could join us in non-lurker mode!

  74. My goodness! Well, Eileen, please believe that I welcome you as more than a story-supplier and a sermon-finisher--welcome as a friend and colleague!

    (And THANK YOU to Eileen and to Songbird for helping to post that beautiful story, which just summed up beautifully in 500 words what I was trying to say with 1000.)

  75. Eileen saves the day!
    Now, who wants a cookie?

  76. Just arrivign at the 11th hour party. I slept late and then had a drop-in party today. My folks helped and so I treated them to dinner at nearby restaruant with gift stores out front.
    So, here i am.
    SB, love the pic of JtheB, odd how he looks like Virgin Mary on past Christmas Stamp and is doing a phony birdy too.
    I am usign the Epistle lesson with Magnificant beginning. Rememberign how the SP as past church said he did not like preaching the Magnificant because he did not think it was accurate. Hmmm...???
    Anyhow, I am preacing the two together becuase I like them and I want to....and I actually get to preach for Advent now. Woo-who!~!!!!
    My cold is better, but not great yet.
    I am also baking natiivties for craft night on Monday...
    I have leftover, cheesecake, hummingbird cake and carameal cake...punch and hot cider and cheese ball and spincah dip with crackers.
    So, help yourself, there is plenty!!!!
    Oh, exciting news, I get to welcoem my first two new memebers tomorrow! YAY!!!!

  77. WOOT! Paper has a rough draft!!! I only need to edit it down to the max page length (from 20 pages to 18).

    But what a great feeling!

    Praying for you preachers... and Eileen, I loved that story!


  78. I have peppermint bark to share... it seems to make sermon writing a little easier... for me at least!

    I posted an offering here… with many thanks to PB&J.

  79. Y'all, I have to hit the sack. Please help yourselves to cookies and Diet Cokes and whatever else you need. I'll be back in the morning with a fresh pot of coffee!

  80. Fabulous story, Eileen! After my initial burst and a bit of commentary on the big images we see--both ones that point us to and distract us from God--I am feeling stuck. That may have been the restart I needed...

    Deb, that is a lot of work on that draft; hooray for you!

    I have the rest of dinner's baked potato soup and some sunflower seed bread if anyone needs a hearty serving to keep going. I think I'll head for the peppermint bark, myself :-)

  81. I'm back from a long day away--cookie walk (huge conflict starter, not as good on the turnout or creativity starting...), choir rehearsal (I got to listen in the headphones to check balance for the recording tomorrow! fun!), lunch with friends (for 4 hours, and including a lovely hot apple cider with rum), and Jesus' birthday party (30 elementary and preschool aged kids, games, storytime, singing, and birthday cake--what's not to love?). I have cupcakes and candy canes (and hot chocolate to put the candy canes in!). And a pressing need for really brilliant prayers of the people to go with the amazing Rutter Gloria. And for patience not to say something horrible to the interim. And for ideas for a church member who's in the midst of a anxiety-based paranoid schizophrenic episode, and is living out of her car because it's the "only place not infested with mold."

    Maybe one thing at a time...

  82. Hi Friends,
    Anyone else still here?

    I have such good intentions to finish my sermon early, but here it is Saturday night and I'm whacking away at it.

    I love my idea for the sermon tomorrow, but it needs some more fleshing out.

    Loving these comments, and like Gord am praying for NO SNOW tomorrow. Just an inch closes everything down out here.

    Love Kathryn's band name idea :)

    Glad that I could be of help, Songbird. I'll be borrowing from you next week when we do the Magnificat (two women in the congregation are pregnant/due in February and they will be reading Mary and Elizabeth's parts! If there's a dry eye it wont be because we didnt do our very best)

    Sue, I gotta read that Secret Life of Bees book again. I think I so did not get it the first time.

    Cracking up about "stir it up" Sunday.

    Ok, back to the whacking....

  83. I'm closing up shop here...the sermon just needs a quick read-through and will then be done...the council report is done, and the candle reflection is done. Whew.

    There's still a reflection for tomorrow night to write, but I need to be more tranquil for that and if push comes to shove, I could just have us meditate in silence.

    Juniper, I agree, I got a kick out of Kathryn's band name. :)

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation tomorrow!

  84. I am closing up here too. Have not really gotten much accomplished in the sermon department, but I think it's workable. Gifts are wrapped (don't be impressed; there are still many more to do), house is clean(er); a bit of sewing got done, thanks to a lovely long nap by the sweet baby.

    I'll leave the clementines out for whoever is up late. See y'all in the morning.

  85. Eileen, I love that story. I've used it too recently for tomorrow even though it fits perfectly -- besides I'm not re-writing anything at this point. Anyway, my sermon for tomorrow is for the 5 or so who at the early service who won't come to the cantata.

    Blessings on your Sundays

  86. Now tryign to deicde do I crank out the last 400 or so words and close or do I take my Nacotic cold Meds and sleep, then get up to finish?
    Do, I try to whittle this down to the sermon for the retiremnet home tomorrow or wait for inspiration on a short meditaiton?
    Note to self, do not have drop in, preach, and do mediataion in same weekend when you have a bad cold and cough. Even the cats are sleeping now

  87. I'm way late to the preacher party too... We had a lot of prep today for an alternative gift market we are doing tomorrow after church. I'm excited about it and yet also not looking forward to the very extended hours tomorrow.

    My big focus tomorrow will be connecting a song I posted on my blog "all will be well" by the gabe dixon band with the idea of the people rebuilding the cities in Isaiah. Joy fits in there somewhere...

    That is the piece that I'm still working on, but the UM general board of discipleship helps for this week is my connecting point. It's all about exchanges - garland for ashes, praise for a faint spirit, tears for shouts of joy

  88. Holy Crap! Did i just hear right? Amy P. is leaving SNL!
    WTF, what we will we do without her comedic brilliance.
    I can only hope this means we will see more of her in the movies!
    She is so totally great.

  89. gnight all - blessings on your preaches.

  90. Hi, Katie Z! The coffee is hot, unlike my house. We failed to check the water level this week and the furnace turned itself OFF. And it's, oh, about 14 degrees outside. I'm thinking I don't wash my hair this morning.

  91. oh songbird! Warm thoughts headed your way!

  92. Thank you!! At least there is heat at church. I think "rebooting" after the ice storm may have drained the reserves of water.
    If I sound like I know what I'm talking about, please don't believe it.

  93. lol... I at least understand the concept of ice storms and water problems and no heat =)

    I think I finally figured out my transition to the joy section of my sermon. Praise the Lord!

  94. I'm having trouble with the water and furnace concept, but I can understand 53 degrees in the house!! Yikes, Songbird. I'd figure out how to skip the shower entirely. Brrr.

    I'm obviously awake, if not coherent. Better get moving. Blessings on the preaching and singing and all other Advent-ing.

  95. I'm not preaching this morning - another choir cantata. In fact, I don't have next week either because of the children's program. Feels strange, and I might work to change this a little next year. But for now it's the way it is, and I might as well enjoy the 3 weeks break (the next week is a vacation Sunday). Thought about you all a lot yesterday, and have said prayers for preachers this morning! Blessings!

  96. Warm thoughts SB! What a pain!
    Hope you can get it warm soon!

  97. I'm totally confused about water in the furnace, but I hope you're now warm, SB!

    I am trying to be brilliant in writing some prayers of the people since today the choir presents the Gloria (no message from the preachers) and it is going to be AMAZING....don't want to be the downer of the service, you know? Who wants prayer to be the low point? But when the high point is Rutter, complete with brass and organ and a large choir, well....there's nowhere to go but down, really. (sigh)

    Come, Holy all who preach and pray this day!

  98. 53 F :(

    that's how I feel when I've been to the states and people have air conditioning ... hope you are warmed up nowSB

    and Gord

    I was just looking at e-mails froma list serve to which I subscribe and they were talking about regimes banning the reading of the Magnificat because it was (and is) subversive. Apparently Guatemala did so in the 1980's (weren't they a favored Central American nation by US standards at that time? But I digress)

    THis is an idea that will be in my sermon next week. Maybe even at the beginning "Do you realize we have just read a passage that was considered so subversive that it was baneed in...?" THat should sharpen up gentle Mary meek and mild!"

    LOVED THAT ....

  99. Songbird, hope you are warm now....

  100. Songbird,
    I thought about you and your non-functioning furnace all day! Be grateful it shut itself off, however -- in a different parish, (seems like eons ago)I came within inches of having the furnace explode because the "automatic" low-water shut-off did not shut off!!
    (My limited understanding of that kind of furnace - can't remember if it's steam or hot water that goes through the radiators, but both involve water in the boiler which is part of the furnace. If the water level gets too low, all sorts of nasty things can happen, such as icky - read toxic - fumes, and potentially, explosion.)
    Anyway, Songbird, I hope the furnace is fixed and you're all snug and warm again.

    Same wishes to be warm and snug - at least safe - to all dealing with the ice storm in the Northeast US - many are due to not have power restored for days.



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