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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Eleventh Hour Preacher Party: Handmaid of the Lord Edition

We are coming up on the 4th Sunday of Advent, only a few short days from Christmas Eve and Day. In just a few short days we'll be eating and celebrating with family and friends, we'll be wrapping presents for the children, we'll be speed-cleaning -- but most of all, we'll be worshiping, hoping and working and praying for a Holy and Light-filled Day.

But before Christmas, most of us still have one more Sunday to preach, preside, pray and prepare. In my tradition, on this day we hear Mary's story -- The Annunciation, and especially her words to the angel Gabriel, "Here am I, the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be with me according to your word." We also hear the God's promise to King David, that God would establish his throne forever. I'm right there, at the intersection of those two texts. Like Mary, I'm wondering and pondering a little this morning, about this sermon and the sermons to come, and about what it means to be favored by God.

Where are you this morning? In the darkness or in the light? Have you been visited by an angel, or a prophet, or someone else entirely? Are you preaching? Do you have special worship plans for this weekend? And what are your plans these next few days, as we approach Christmas?

I have oatmeal with apples and cinnamon for breakfast this morning, fair trade coffee and tea. I have the advent candles lit and hope that you will stop by, share your ideas, your hopes, your frustrations, your prayer requests -- and your Christmas goodies. Please share some special Christmas goodies with us.

117 comments:

  1. I'm sorry I hit publish a little too soon! I hope there are some who will be able to join for early party-ing.

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  2. I'm here for the early party!

    I am actually hoping to write tonight, to free up tomorrow for visits and other errands. Today was the snowier of the two days, so that was the plan. But it's almost midnight and I have nothing! (Well, I have a long list of thoughts, but no sermon yet.)

    It just doesn't seem right to write without the Preacher's Party, so maybe I'll get it started now!

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  3. I'll join the early party! I have this weekend's sermon to finish (by 5 p.m. my time Saturday for the first service) plus Christmas Eve sermon to write. I really wanted to finish this sermon tonight, but am heading to bed instead. I feel like I have nothing else to say, but what I have is still to short. Frustration doesn't add words so I'll try to take the sleep--if I can let go of this and the other thousand things I need to get done!

    For others here early, I can offer some yummy homemade (not by me!) peanut brittle. Not sure that it would make a good breakfast!

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  4. great to have you! I'm late starting (for a person who still has to write two more sermons). I had meant to get all finished tonight, but we ended up going out to supper and doing some shopping... and ... well, now it's late, and I had a glass of wine... and... I think i'll get up real early.

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  5. Hellooooooo...the early party is quiet...but maybe that's why I managed to finish my sermon for Sunday! YAY!

    There will be some polishing to do, of course, but it's finished and that's a load off my shoulders. Maybe I can even knock the Christmas Eve sermon off tomorrow. Wouldn't THAT be a hoot!?

    I'm going to leave a virtual pot of coffee, pot of tea, and encouragement for all those early morning writers getting up soon!

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  6. Miles to go, but deep joy as I ponder with Mary.
    I have oatmeal with pecans and dried cranberries to share...

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  7. Good morning! I have fresh snow, and a pageant rehearsal, and a choice to make about whether the Blue Christmas service will go forward tomorrow, and two days lost, so far, to being sick. So the meditation and candles for Blue Christmas, written and purchased--NOT.
    I had planned to talk about the Magnificat, but that isn't speaking to me this morning (maybe because I already preached about it, along with the Annunciation, last week?). I'm thinking now I'll go with Isaiah 9.
    Meanwhile, I'm starting the day with waffles and a cup of tangerine tea. Let's hope I find some voice, both for the rehearsal and for what to preach tomorrow afternoon!

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  8. well, semfem, I'm glad you got done and can work on your Christmas eve. wish I could say the same. I don't know what has come over me lately, but I have not been able to focus early enough in the week lately.

    I finally came up with a title: The Third Miracle. And I think I'm about half done.

    My basic problem is that I don't have a lot for either Christmas eve or day.

    This is not like me; I usually know at LEAST what I am going to preach on Christmas eve by this time.

    So, the other day I was looking through sermons (someone has been organizing my sermon files for me this fall) and I came a cross one I preached a few years ago on John 1. And I thought it was pretty good.

    So I'm trying to decide if I can tweak that one.

    It's from 2001. What does anyone think?

    I do not generally re-use sermons.

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  9. I'm off to an early morning missions committee meeting. I shall return with cinnamon rolls!

    My Tuesday thoughts are up at my blog. I think I have it perfect in my mind. Now it just remains to put it down on paper but, as they say, there are only two kinds of sermons: perfect sermons and written sermons.

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  10. I'll share some gingerbread people, as yet undecorated. There are big size ones and teeny weeny ones.

    I'd planned to read a story tomorrow and had it all picked out. Sat down to read over it yesterday, and it's about two times too long. So, some condensing happening here. I do believe writing a sermon would have been easier. Christmas Eve is Lessons & Carols, so I need to work on that service a bit, write prayers and such, but it shouldn't be too time-intensive. Our tradition doesn't do Christmas Day worship, so that isn't on my plate. All in all, not too bad of a Saturday.

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  11. Esperenza, I would like one of your gingerbread people, before I go to my Bible study. I like the idea of Lessons and Carols. Does that mean you don't preach either Christmas eve or day? If I had my druthers, I do one or the other...

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  12. songbird -- when is your Blue Christmas? How are you feeling?

    I love Isaiah 11 -- that's the root of Jesse, isn't it?

    One of my parish members shared with me a story once about a maple they cut down in their yard. A few years later, it sprouted up from the root again, but this time it was a red maple. Somehow, that spoke to me....

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  13. I'm up bright and early on this Saturday morning, feeling a little better than yesterday....I really want to complete, or have in good shape, three sermons by the end of today: one for tomorrow, one for Christmas Eve/Day and one for the Sunday after - BECAUSE our daughter flys in tomorrow afternoon and I want to enjoy our time with her (she leaves on Friday)....but before I can get to sermon writing I have a meeting and some other things to tend too...I'll be back this afternoon to write and clean house.

    Happy party-ing everyone - hope there is lots of good stuff going on for everyone!

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  14. I've got a pot of coffee on... not much here to eat... I've gotta go buy groceries. I posted my sermon for Sunday here.

    One more sermon to write... for Christmas Eve. It's gonna be short... that's for sure!

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  15. I'm back this morning after not enough restful sleep thanks to a cranky 6 month old. Now to sermonize!

    Diane--I think it's okay to re-use/tweak an old sermon, particularly from 2001 (versus say 2007).

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  16. I'm not preaching tomorrow, but preached on Mary last week. I used a quote from "The Secret Life of Bees" about why Mary was referred to as the Queen of Chains (paraphrasing...)"not because she wore chains, but because she broke them". I asked what chains we need broken in our own lives, what keeps us from God's best hope for us etc... it went over well.

    This is Pageant week, so I'm off to the church now for dress rehearsal - or - as it was referred to earlier in the week on the Internets, a "Christmas-themed slice of hell" (just kidding, it won't be so bad. I'm only narrating. I'm not in charge of the gazillion or so small children that are gathering at the church as I type this.

    Ok, the gazillion is only about 20-25, but that's plenty, thankyouverymuch. (Thus explaining why Sue didn't go into a specialty of children's ministry)

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  17. Got to get J out of a snow bank and take the car to the shop. It is too snowy to get out to the church today and more snow tonight. Don't know if we will be able to even get to church tomorrow. I want to crawl back into bed.

    No sermon today--it is supposed to be the kids play.

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  18. That's right, Diane. I'm Presbyterian, and I've never seen a Presbyterian Christmas Day service, so no preaching then. And we do L&C on Christmas Eve, which pretty much takes up the time, and lets us hear the whole Christmas story. We also do communion and the candles, of course. So no preaching then...I might say a few words at the table, haven't decided yet.

    And I hate to tell all you snowy people, but my neighbor is outside rearranging his Christmas yard "art" while wearing shorts.

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  19. WEll the tree is decorated. I know the kids like to help, and that it really is fun to see their excitement but wouldn't it be easier without them????

    ANyway, other than sermon (which is being videotaped tomorrow) all that needs doing today is another load of laundry and grocery shopping. Until/unless it snows of course.

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  20. As I said to a friend of mine yesterday "It's the week before a major Holy Day -- of course I'm sick."

    To do today:
    Finish sermon for tomorrow
    Shower
    Go to service of remembrance and not fall out of the pulpit while reading names

    so for tomorrow, I am also pondering Mary. But maybe a nap first..

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  21. Now as for the sermon...

    Justice and subversion and Christmas oh my. I am going with the Magnificat and the fact that it was once banned for being to subversive. In the context of bailouts that amount to "give us money so we can keep acting as we have been acting" what does God's call for justice mean? Be not afraid, justice will be done.

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  22. Not preaching again this week, so not too much to add in the that department, but I wanted to chime in and say I miss you ladies on Saturdays. I'm back in the pulpit Jan. 4 after too long of a break for choir musical, children's program, and a vacation week. I do have Christmas Eve and I guess I could write a new one for that, but I decided to use my first Christmas Eve sermon ever, from 2002, from my old church. I really like that one! It's a pretty good length, but I'll tweak it a little and shorten a tad, but otherwise it's good to go. That gives me Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to make some LONG overdue, and lucky for me, timely visits to shut-ins, people with special needs, etc. I like the idea of spending my Christmas week doing that rather than being holed up writing.

    Today I'm off to take the 3.5 year old girl to the Christmas program rehearsal. My husband is at Ecumenical Men's Breakfast. While daughter is rehearsing I'm working on getting a donated car towed to an auto shop so the church can get it fixed up for a woman who we just helped move out of a homeless shelter this week. YEA! It has been a joyful, but busy week working on getting this single mom of 3 kids on her feet, but it's coming together.

    I hope it's not snowing too much to make the towing impossible. If it is we'll get it there first thing Monday morning. I want her driving her new old car by Christmas Eve. That's my goal!

    Anyway, gotta go shower so I can get the kids moving and get on this car project before more inches comes down. The internet says just 2-4 inches, so I hope it's not worse than that on the early side of the day.

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  23. "Christmas-themed slice of hell" I love it, Sue!

    We are all cleaned up from 14 inches of snow yesterday, so I have no excuse not to get out there and finish up the Christmas shopping today.

    Christmas pageant tomorrow completely directed and rehearsed by wonderful people at church, so I don't have to preach tomorrow.

    And I really, really must get the cards and letters out today, must'nt I?

    Got Christmas Buffalo cookies to share.

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  24. dang it but there's alot of saddness in boonieville right now. we've had buckoo funerals since thanksgiving...

    pass the tangerine tea and some of them buffalo cookies... i needs some nourishment to get crackin' on that christmas eve sermon.

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  25. I'll take a tiny gingerbread cookie ... yummy! I've got fresh Amish Friendship Bread to share - two loaves.

    Not preaching tomorrow because the children are doing their christmas pageant. Will need to say a few words on how that is also the word proclaimed and an opportunity to share the christmas story, as there are some in the congregation who believe only a pastor could do such a thing.

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  26. Greetings all!

    I'm a long time visitor and remain very thankful for the wisdom I glean from your thoughts and insights. Last week, someone shared a story that was just what I needed to close my message. Thank you!!

    This week, I have been pondering with Mary while also pondering Songbird's message on God's disturbing joy (thank you!). I heard a story on NPR that seemed to illustrate this idea. If interested in hearing the audio, go to marketplace.org then click on worker (way down at the bottom of the page). Listen to the story of Leandro Carvalho, a 30 year old man who left family, fiancee, and comforts (the beach!) behind to work as a labor inspector for the Brazilian government. He closes with reflections on the divine purpose of his life now...the joy he has even as he faces disturbing scenes of deplorable working conditions.

    Blessings on your preparations!

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  27. well, back after my morning Bible study (John 10) at the restaurant, and what happened to the comments? everyone dropped in! I like what I am saying tomorrow, but sometimes you CAN preach too much in one week, I think. I do think I'm going to tweak the old one, even though it is from this church. That way I can concentrate on Christmas eve, which I haven't thought too much about. I thought I wasn't preaching this year for the first time. But I am.

    And I can visit a few shut-ins.

    But first --- back to tomorrow's offering!

    Mompriest, I like the idea of using the same sermon on eve/day. Do some people come to both services?

    I like letting the story speak, but I do think I would like to preach at least at ONE of the two services.

    Dancing -- I hear you. I think our people have gotten used to the program by now, but there are still those who think it has to come from a pastor.

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  28. oh, and Mompriest, I really admire your ability to crank out three sermons in one day. wow.

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  29. on my to do list for today:

    sermon for tomorrow, RE Mary. 1st must decide on direction, since I have about 5 sermons swirling in my head right now.

    sermon for Christmas Eve. No idea where this will go, but I have a hunch it'll be about Christmas. You know, baby Jesus, hope, light, etc. probably.

    powerpoint for Christmas Eve 330 service--must. finish. now!

    clean up house, especially kitchen and living room.

    wash clothes. towels. sheets.

    eat something, probably. I'm low on breakfast food today, but I have tons of tea and bread for toast, and yummy homemade jam thanks to a lovely church member's annual christmas basket. For lunch I have...umm, cheese and tortillas--quesadillas, here I come! Unless I decide to get dressed and go grab Indian food with a friend, which could happen if I can get a sermon written.....

    I think I'm fighting off a cold. One of my cats has an upper respiratory infection that requires me to give her antibiotics via nose drop. And there's a foot of snow outside. BRR. (/end whine) (start writing)

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  30. For some reason Songbird's and Beach walkin' sermons brought tears to my eyes. Yes, there is joy in this gospel.

    I'm a little over-advented this year, since we used the Magnificat two weeks ago, when we were off lectionary. Four of our services don't use the Psalm reading unless we switch out something else. So I will focus on this young woman saying yes.

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  31. Prisca, I don't think I'm over-advented, (sadly, under is more like it), but I think Mary's yes is grand indeed.

    it's my third miracle...

    Hope to get a chance to read yours!

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  32. Ok, now I'm at a Starbucks drinking Christmas Blend coffee and enjoying a pumpkin scone - there's plenty to share....

    two sermons are in pretty good shape, one more to go, have to look up the scripture for it....

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  33. ....and not to be snarky (ok a little snarky) the woman sitting next to me is soooo chatty and annoying in her repetative, "like....like...like..." followed by "I go....so, I go...so, I go"...

    ok. back to sermon #3....maybe that is my real issue, three sermons in one day....sigh


    I mean, like..

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  34. Oh good....she left. sigh....and I feel a little guilty being so critical...

    oh well...back to sermon #3. This time enjoying a mom and her young daughter enjoying some together time at starbucks....that's sweet!

    Do you think I'm procrastinating?

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  35. Whole grain pancakes, anyone? And you can enjoy the snow from a distance, on the mountains, past the palm trees, while you sip a steamy cup of Christmas-y tasting tea!

    Graveside service in a few hours, for a man I didn't know; his adult daughter is a member of our church, and I buried her mom just 10 mos. ago. It will be a small group, so for a homily I only need a few thoughts to sum up the stories they'll be invited to share.

    No preaching for me tomorrow, but I'm bouncing around the one for the family service on Christmas Eve. We use Christingles--oranges w/ various symbols including a candle--and I want to go with the theme of light: the shepherd's fire, the angels' heavenly glow, the star's brilliance, and the inner brightness of Jesus...all through the generations to our candles and lives. But beyond the basic idea isn't coming beyond that.

    I've used the same sermon for late on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day; the person or two who came to both services always understood why with no complaint.

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  36. I'm not anywhere NEAR a sermon (I haven't even put a heading or the text on the screen yet...sigh) but I thought I'd share with you the poem we are reading in between the annunciation story and the magnificat. I think I might be using some of the themes here (unexpected, not as planned, turning the world upside down, burden) but twisting them a bit (filled with good things rather than bad, blessing not burden). Maybe.

    I'd probably find out if I would spend more time thinking/praying/writing than playing facebook scrabble.

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  37. procrastinating? good grief, mompriest, you are writing three sermons in one day! you put me to shame!

    I am almost done with tomorrow, but not typed yet. Getting off the computer and on paper helped me. But, not quite done, and I'm back procrastinating.

    We are in a winter storm warning right now, until 6:00 p.m. tomorrow. This is Minneapolis, so we're used to it, but still.... it's supposed to blow tonight, so I don't know how our 5:00 service will be. the usher called to see if we were going to have it.

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  38. Well I appear to have made a strategic error. YEsterday I bought myself Tales of Beedle the Bard (translated from the ancient runes by HErmione Granger and with annotations by Albus Dumbledore) and instead of hiding it until Thursday left it out in the open.

    But it is finished now and that gets one temptation out of the way.

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  39. thinking about angels saying "do not be afraid" and loving the poem over at Teri's. Time for more cold meds and a shower and the funeral home remembrance service.

    Uh oh -- forgot to go to the post office to mail the last package. Guess it will go out on Monday.

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  40. Here's my offering for this morning:

    This is the irrational season
    When love blooms bright and wild.
    Had Mary been filled with reason
    There’d have been no room for the child.

    Madeline L’Engle

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  41. sarah, I love that poem. I used it in my sermon last year, which was titled "Room" and was about making room for the baby. Or something.

    one of my friends just dared me to open either tomorrow or christmas eve with:
    "So a middle-aged guy, a knocked-up teenage chick, and a donkey walk into a barn..."

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  42. Sarah+ -- thank you. I'd been thinking of this too.... nice to see it in print.

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  43. Let us know how that opening goes Teri!

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  44. don't know how that opening would go over in church, teri, but it sure made me smile :) thanks!

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  45. Hi everyone, been missing the preacher's party lately. I just returned from a week of vacation and we are shoveled out from the snow cheesehead mentioned. It is snowing again, however! Enough!
    Feeling achy and scratchy throat--I WILL NOT NOT NOT get sick. Impossible!

    I have tomorrow's sermon to do, and a Christmas Eve sermon to plan, and I am just totally NOT inspired. Don't know what is wrong with me.

    The tree is still not decorated, though the lights are on. I think I'll have one of those gingerbread cookies and a cup of hot tea and then go decorate and maybe inspiration will strike...

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  46. I'm back from missions meeting AND finished with all of my store Christmas shopping to boot!

    It is almost 2pm here and I want to hie myself away to a local Saturday Evening Eucharist Service at 5.(THANKS to all you lovely Anglicans/Episcopalians who give us Reformed folks a place to worship, btw)

    SO, that's three hours of nose to the grindstone sermonating. Then home in the evening for edits. I'll check in with y'all then!

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  47. I just need a closing story. That's all. by 5.

    and yet, I'm going home for lunch.

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  48. i made a deal with a friend that we would both finish the things we needed to do by dinnertime so we could justify going out for Indian food.

    That means I need a completed sermon by 6pm.

    Guess I'd better get going....

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  49. ok, I have a story, part of a Katherine Paterson story. Not exactly what I was going for, but I can't be picky right now.

    maybe by tomorrow, it will be different.

    and I need to start the Eve sermon...

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  50. In case you are curious there is a wonderful reflection on Mary over here


    now, I am home and will proceed to alternate between cleaning house and sermon #3.

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  51. okay, I have a draft! I'm in need of comments, please...it might push the protestant envelope just a bit. what do you think??

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  52. have I mentioned lately how much I love you gals? I just thought I'd share in case anyone's wondering. It's a lot. a lot a lot a lot.

    Okay, as you were.

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  53. My daughter is just home from a cookie-baking party with her cousins, where they did NOT exhibit the Christmas spirit, neglecting to be sure each got some of every kind. Last to the table (is being "family holdback" genetic?), she came home with a disappointing array, but if you like gingerbread or those peanut butter cookies with the kiss in the middle, we can share those!
    I took a long nap after an unbloggably traumatic Christmas Pageant rehearsal, and I am no closer to having a message for Blue Christmas than I was this morning. Maybe I'll re-check the weather report before I get to work.

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  54. My deepest and sincerest sympathies to all who have to deal with Christmas pageant rehearsals this season. The pageants themselves are fine. The rehearsals--yuck. Always a stress-filled disaster which ends with someone in tears (usually the person in charge).

    Now I'm thinking I DO want to do some sort of communion meditation for Christmas Eve. Hmmm...

    And none of you have seemed to mind that the gingerbread people are undecorated...can they just stay that way? (And I'm not just being inclusive-language-y--there are girls and boys both).

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  55. oh! Teri! I can't read right now. I've just been shoveling the walk in front of the chapel. We have a church service in a few minutes, and so far there are 5 of us (including me, the organist and the usher: to parish members.) It's one of those times when I wish I could "wing it."

    maybe I can...

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  56. weather update: not snowing as much, but it is blowing more....

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  57. I don't see how you can improve them with decoration, esperanza. I like 'em plain!

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  58. Diane, take care in that weather!

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  59. One of the benefits of having no reading children and therefore no speaking parts in the pageant is that we have not needed a rehearsal for about 3 years now. Just get the parts to the narrators and have wranglers available on Sunday to send angels et al in at the appropriate time.

    I detest pageant rehearsals. When I taught Sunday School we would do these incredibly elaborate things each year. ANd part way through the rehearsal every year the co-ordinator and I would ask why we were doing it again

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  60. be careful Diane!!! I hope it goes well even if only 2 or 3 are gathered. I fear we may be in the same boat tomorrow, as it's supposed to be extremely windy, snowy, and with wind chills around 30 below 0. oh my!

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  61. So, help me out here. The weather forecast is for a huge Nor'easter, due to begin mid-day. The specific time of concern is after dark, and there are already travel warnings, saying don't be out after dark.
    The Blue Christmas service is scheduled for 4 p.m. and would last about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on how many people come and how many candles they light). Sunset here tomorrow is 4:07 p.m.
    So I cancel, right?

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  62. yep Songbird... I would cancel! tomorrow's HIGH temp here is -2... so I do believe worship will be cancelled. augh...

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  63. Wow - I am almost envious of those of you having snow. We don't get much of it where I live! I've finished the sermon. What excites me is that a woman who is due January 2 will be reading the Magnificat! How cool is that?

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  64. there were 5 of us tonight. wind is coming up. supposed to be cold tomorrow. don't think anything will be cancelled, but numbers will probably be small....

    I didn't really give my written sermon, just spoke, used the manuscript just for one quote from Luther....

    I wish I had all my sermons done! Maybe I'll work on the next one tonight....

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  65. Songbird, I think you either cancel or do it right after church. Canceling is probably easier, and if you are not well, probably the best decision.

    Teri - I used the poem in my sermon. Thanks for posting it!

    Speaking of, I have a draft here
    (praying the link works!)
    Comments welcome!

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  66. If it isn't so bad that people want to leave right away, we have a Church Council meeting after church. Aargh! I don't know why people thought that was a good idea. They rescheduled from the 7th without consulting me.
    I gave up on writing my Blue Christmas idea and found some material that went with my Christmas Eve idea in a sermon from five years ago, thanks to the tweaking conversation here earlier.
    I'm relieved to have a draft, because I need to get cracking Monday on a sermon for the 28th!

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  67. ok, is anyone interested in Mexican food? somehow I just have a craving right now....

    I totally decided to tweak the old one, even though it's from here, and some people might frown on that. oh, well...

    so now I'm just deciding that tomorrow's "is what it is" and I'm going to work on Christmas Eve.

    but not quite yet.

    I've been writing Christmas eve sermons for 15 years. wow. You'd think I'd be less neurotic by now.

    after the 25th, I don't preach until January 18, how about that?

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  68. I'm always up for Mexican food, Diane. And it always hits the spot in cold weather. It's still warm here but supposed to get "cold" by tomorrow morning. "Cold" being 40. I imagine that's not a reason to cancel worship?

    I need to get cracking on the 28th sermon, too. Hubby and I both are TAKING OFF the 4th of January, which we are really excited about. But, I do believe that's two weeks from tomorrow, which leaves work yet to do.

    Baby is sleeping, so I'd best get busy.

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  69. Betsy - Thanks for the education. I have never heard of Christingles, but I just had an enlightening 20 minutes learning about them! Totally new to me!

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  70. Our rehearsal was relatively uneventful today. Just a few problems with nervous children speaking waaaaaaaay too quickly to be understood. A few repeat attempts and we were fine.

    I'm feeling the same about a Christmas Eve sermon. I hadn't planned on one for the late service, but now I'm wondering....

    The early service - no way. Too many hyped-up kids and chaos, but the late service....we'll see.

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  71. hey, it's minus here. Fahrenheit. What's the temperature where you are? I still have Christmas left, and everyone else is talking about the 28th!!!

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  72. Knittin preacher, I love it! Your vivid images, questions to ponder, and flow all work wonderfully for me, and I'm sure they will for your congregation as well.

    SheRev, glad you enjoyed learning about Christingles. We don't use the them in quite the traditional way, but it all works for good :-) If anyone ever needs a good Christingle sermon, let me know; a few years ago I had one of those moments of inspiration and got it just right.

    Warm thoughts to all of you in freezing lands!

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  73. Thanks Betsy!

    Diane, if there was decent mexican around here, I'd be all for it!

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  74. oops. minus 3.

    how low can it go?

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  75. Here, right now, it's 13 F, but with wind chill it feels like 3.

    Tomorrow the storm in the Midwest and the nor'easter are supposed to collide right over us. FUN!

    Wouldn't it be an ironic shame if we had to cancel church for the one Sunday I finish the sermon early?

    P.S. No headway on Christmas Eve sermon, but I did get some good visits done today before the storm hits.

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  76. WEll I rarely write anything for Sunday but I did this week. Just a couple of opening paragraphs and some notes. BUt here they are

    Now back to watching Miracle on 34th Street--the original black and white version

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  77. Oh and as part of my time-wsting earlier I posted The THeological Problem with Santa At least in my (not so) humble opinion.

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  78. I did a bunch of visits on Thursday, but by no means not all of them (is there ever really an end?)

    none today, yucky weather and had a hard time finishing tomorrow's sermon.

    not much headway on Christmas eve (sigh). I don't have any good excuses for it, either.

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  79. Well, just in case, I finished a reflection for the Blue Christmas service and posted it here.
    Now I can cancel without guilt, if need be.

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  80. oh, it's minus 5 now. minus 5. wind has calmed down for now, they say there will be more tomorrow, though.

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  81. We are in the midst of a heat wave here. -14C (about 7F). But it was -25C(-13F) this morning -- which was warmer than most days this week.

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  82. I finished the sermon, and now I'm working on the Christmas Eve stuff. We have a wonderful musical guest tomorrow, and other things to go with the sermon, and the snow is coming down hard. I think we cancelled the Sunday before Christmas last year--I hate when that happens! I hope it stops snowing. If not, I am at least somewhat prepared for Christmas Eve!

    Feeling a little better...but floating on tea...whew..

    I see others are wondering about weather too. Outside, only the top of Joseph's bowed head is visible. All the rest are buried in snow.

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  83. oh....I am finally back....many hours later than I anticipated....sigh...

    I have some delicious TAZO mint tea and some Ghiredelli chocolate for those in need of a late night pick me up....

    now....where did I leave off on those sermons?

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  84. I am **always** up for chocolate!

    Songbird, you had me immediately with the story; I was just reading that book to some of our preschool classes last week. Where you went with it was so honest and compassionate, a word of understanding at a time that is not joyous for everyone. I hope, for the sake of those who want and need these words, that you are able to do the service. I've never heard of doing a Blue Christmas service, but I like the idea; maybe something for next year.

    54 here...downright chilly ;-)

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  85. hi.
    I have a big box of "band fruit" as a Christmas gift from a church family.
    Lovley!
    if you are not from around here, high school bands frequently sale fruit from FLA as fundrasiers. It coems in around Tday or just after and is wonderful. I just had a Navel orange and have grapefruits and apples.This is what we should have ahd to ward off colds!
    Anyhow, no sermon tomorrow, our messae will be in song with the "un-cantata" and then we have a chicken and veggied catered meal and the finale will be the local 2 lap parade in nearby one horse town.The kids will do their own float on the back of a truck and we will cheer them all on.
    Prayers for those who write. I need to begin preps for my Christams eve sermonette and get a newsletter article done.
    Amnyone need an fruit, a Sierra Mist Cranberry, a piece of trial communion bread or a beer?
    I have it all here.

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  86. okay, I'm officially NOT going to obsess over a sermon I know could be better. Instead, I am going to study at least a little for Christmas eve. And wrap a warm wool blanket around me.

    it's minus 6, but I think it has levelled off for the evening.

    Why do I live here?

    I got some good Luther quotes in today, about how there were three miracles in the Annunciation, and that the third was that Mary believed. I love that Luther says, "And the third is not the least." He's all over it's not just about believing that Jesus is the messiah. But believing that he comes TO YOU.

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  87. Thanks, Betsy.
    I'm going to hit the sack, hope everyone stays safe in whatever their weather is tomorrow!

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  88. it's supposedly 20 degrees F right now, but dropping fast. We currently have four special advisories going at once, including one for "extreme northern Illinois" (which is where I live) that says "travel across this area is not recommended" and uses words like "blizzard conditions" and "white out." that can't be good. That and the 50 degree drop we're expecting in the next 8-12 hours or so combine for bad, bad, bad. We have no procedure for canceling Sunday worship, as that's never happened. hmm...

    I'm back from eating so much Indian Food that I'm not able to eat dessert, so I have plenty of Frango Mints for all! yum! please help yourselves. I'm going to snuggle up for the night and pray that no one gets hurt on the way to church tomorrow.

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  89. My family is here this weekend celebrating Christmas. We have consumed the feast, opened the packages, washed the dishes, taken out the trash, bathed the babies, and sent the old folks to the hotel. So, now for the sermon. I have an old one open on the computer, I have "resources" collected from various places over the years, and this is the second time (in 18 yrs of ministry or 3rd if you count my sister's wedding) my step-dad will be present for a sermon.

    Teri -- it's scary how good your beginning sounds to me ... and quite tempting

    Now that I know semfem is done early this week, I'm hoping I've got other late night company

    Meanwhile, "hail Mary, full of grace ..."

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  90. I think I'm going to save the fake joke opener for christmas eve. Something like this:

    "so a middle aged guy, a pregnant teenager, and a donkey walk into a barn....it sounds like the beginning of the worst joke in the history of jokes, but it's actually the beginning of the greatest story ever told." And then follows, in theory, a sermon about the way God comes into the world not being the fancy broadway-musical-style gig but instead the lowest of the low, butt of cheesy jokes, don't-get-paid-style gig. And yet there's more hope here, more light in the darkness here, than we've found anywhere else.

    Maybe?

    For this week, I actually started with "Hail, Mary, full of grace" which I'm hoping doesn't freak out my very protestant people, many of whom are ex-Catholics. (sigh)

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  91. Teri -- I really like that Christmas eve opening. really.

    If only I had one...

    And I like your "Hail Mary" sermon too.

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  92. Vicar, I am here. Because even though 'Thou shalt not sacrifice thyself on the altar of the perfect sermon' - I just don't like what I have and feel like I am being pushed to do something more.

    You know.... like post at the Preacher Party.

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  93. Kathrynzj, something MORE??? I'm just looking for something ...

    ok, not really, I've got the MORE thing going with the family here

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  94. Kathrynzj -- glad you are here. I don't think I'll be up any longer. I did leave a pot of tea on, and the light is on in the study as well.

    may the spirit bless you.

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  95. I'm printing this sermon (freshly edited) and then I'm turning in for the night. God be with you, all still writing. Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation this morning.

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  96. Something better... something preachable.

    Although I really just want to get up and recite the Baby Jesus prayer from Talladega Nights... 'cause that would be funny.

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  97. with terri's opening and the baby jesus prayer, I hear a stand-up routine in the making

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  98. "Dear Lord baby Jesus, lyin' there in your ghost manger, just lookin' at your Baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin' 'bout shapes and colors. I would like to thank you for bringin' me and my mama together, and also that my kids no longer sound like retarded gang-bangers."

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  99. How ya doing there Vicar? Getting closer to bed or still grinding?

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  100. I'm getting closer. A reference to Tom Clark's nativity sent me chasing photos to see for myself. So slightly distracted but more on track than before.

    How's the re-write?

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  101. I'm done(ish). I feel better about it. I always want to change my sermon, but try not to get caught up in that game. In this case, I couldn't sleep anyway and I realized I had a good way to put a positive spin on 'change' and figured that was a Holy Spirit moment worth putting down on paper since my folks just found out this week that I am leaving.

    How's that for a sentence?!

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  102. It made perfect sense to me ... I'm not sure what that says

    I'm almost ready to print. We'll see how it actually preaches in the morning

    God be with you especially tomorrow

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  103. Truthfully, I'm hoping none of my family fall asleep during the sermon

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  104. Bless you all.

    Reading this (what a lot of comments) - puts a new spin on being part of the congregation today and LISTENING to the sermon..

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  105. G'night.

    And for you early risers... breathe deep. The Holy Spirit has got your back.

    Peace, friends.

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  106. I am an early riser. And just to follow along with the weather commentary - it's -7 outside right now with a windchill of -30. brrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    I'm reworking a sermon from two years ago (different church, different conference) on Colossians 3... and have actually found that most of it is useable! The theme of that sermon was that we should let Christ be embodied in us, and my focus this Sunday is asking what new thing is God planting in your life this Advent, this year.

    Like Mary, will you be able to say yes? Are you ready for Christ to be born in you?

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  107. So... some prayers are needed.

    All of the pieces I'm inserting into that old Col. 3 sermon is about Mary, being an unwed young woman, who is willing to take on this beautiful burden and to bear God's son...

    I was just writing something about how her family would have responded - would there have been rejection? shame? isolation? putting out?

    And as I write this, I'm thinking of my congregation - including the family of a young woman in high school who has recently discovered that she is pregnant. Prayers for them and for me as I provide counseling and support!

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  108. and for our community who will eventually find out!

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  109. Good morning! It's 3 degrees here, and the news and weather people are advising we hunker down before the storm hits this afternoon. I've gone from wondering about canceling the Blue Christmas service at 4 to wondering about canceling the Church Council meeting at 11:30! The latter won't be my call, though I hope I'll be consulted.
    Meanwhile prayers for all who preach, and pray for me, that what little voice I have holds out through Greetings and Announcements and my six speeches in the Pageant. I have help with everything else, even the kids doing the Benediction with me!

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  110. -12 here this morning. just letting the dog out in the backyard, if she'll go. Maybe we'll walk a little later today, when it's at least light.

    praying for your voice, Songbird.

    and for all preachers today.

    "The Lord is with you."

    Let it be with us according to your word.

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  111. Church is cancelled, since a bunch of our folks have to come in from the countryside--wind chills of minus 30 and wind blowing like mad. Our parking lot is impassable. Two years in a row of cancelling church the Sunday before Christmas...waaaaaaahhhhh! :-(

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  112. Sigh. -40 windchill here, so first service, with Christmas program, has been cancelled. Lil' Princess is bummed! Thus far the other two services are still on (I serve three churches), since the high is actually supposed to get to -5 with a -10 windchill. (shudder) Not really feeling the usual Sunday morning motivation this morning!

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  113. We had our pageant this morning, much fun, people crying tears of joy at the sight of an actual baby as Jesus. But it was clear as soon as worship ended that canceling the Blue Christmas service scheduled for 4 p.m. had been a good call. The snow began earlier than forecast and the wind was as predicted. The visibility was awful on the way home. So we are glad to be safely tucked away from the storm!

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