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Saturday, January 03, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Christmas or Epiphany? Edition

Good morning, gals and pals! This Sunday will be the (let's see 7, 8, 9) 10th Day of Christmas, the 2nd Sunday after Christmas -- or will you be celebrating an early Epiphany in your church? There is a wonderful discussion that goes both ways here. In my own congregation our habit is to celebrate Epiphany, as there would otherwise not be a chance to hear the story from Matthew. The Senior Pastor is preaching, and I'm getting ready for the annual journey to Phoenix, Arizona, where my sister resides. We're also planning a special snowfall for the weekend.

This is also the anniversary of my first time hosting the preacher party!

In the 10 years I've been here, we've done several different special things on Epiphany Sunday, including a Reader's Theatre based on Henry Van Dyke story, The Story of the Other Wise Man, and a Processional with three people dressed up like kings, all bringing their gifts to the manger. What about you? Do you have any special plans for epiphany? Or is it the 2nd Sunday after Christmas for you, with the ethereal Gospel reading from John? Or, something else entirely?

I have oatmeal with apples and cinnamon for breakfast, fair trade coffee and tea. I also have some leftover Christmas cookies I'll leave out throughout the day JUST IN CASE. Please come and tell us the stars you are following, where you are seeing grace and truth, where you sense danger and where opportunity.

129 comments:

  1. here I got up early and there's no early party! oh well, I'll put the coffee on anyway...

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  2. I'll take a cup!
    We've spent most of the time since I returned from visiting St. Casserole fretting about one of our dogs, Sam, famous for his love of textile-themed foreign objects. I must admit he is more on my mind that any sermon might be. However, there is a chance, a slim one, that my friend the sound engineer (remember him?) will be coming to church tomorrow, so I am in the same place of eager yet doubtful agitation about the possibility of recording a sermon tomorrow. This has grown tiresome.
    We are using the Epiphany texts, and I have a vague sense of where I'm going, but that's about it.
    Also, we're out of milk.

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  3. hmmm, textile themed foreign objects -- like jackets? I hope that Sam is ok. I also hope your engineer friend can finally record your sermon!

    Here's a cup of my favorite: Toffee Caramel. I get mine from Lutheran World Relief.

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  4. Oh, in the past he's eaten:
    socks
    knitting, including a ball of dishcloth yarn
    stuffing from my sofa (an old one, with a mixture of horsehair and modern fiber stuff)
    a fleece rope toy we did NOT own
    a portion of a cloth napkin
    any number of paper towels and hair ribbons and pony tail scrunchies
    a shirt sleeve

    Toffee Caramel sounds more to my taste, thank you!

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  5. Fair Trade Coffee, Grits, and Eggs here.
    I also have lots of juice and grapefruit to share.
    I shall keep the cold to myself!
    We are doing Epiphany and I may try the chalk blessing if I get out of the house today.
    during SS we are doing baby shower for Jesus and items will go to women and babie in need.
    My sermon will flocus on the crossing of desert, following of a stat the Magi did and they were not Jewish, and yet they followed anyhow.
    What level or extereme woudl we go to?

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  6. Just reading on Sam. Poor guy, interesting love of items, though.
    Hope he gets better soon.
    Must be hard to know what to keep out of his reach (first his reach is HIGH!) and then you can't be sure what he would eat next

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  7. Scout used to eat paper towels. And she ate a sock, but only once. (thank goodness.)

    I haven't had grits for a long time!

    1-4 Grace, I really like the baby shower idea!!!

    I might like to put that on my list.

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  8. Our two like wood...furniture and the like. Oh, they also like any food we are eating and will try to steal what they can when the mood hits.

    Mystic and Maverick send get better woo woos to Sam.

    The eggs and grits sound very good.

    As usual, when I am preaching, which is over 80% of the time right now, I need to have the bulk of my work done by Friday at 5 pm.

    I went with John 1 - tying up the loose ends of Christmas as a transition into the Epiphany season. I've zeroed in on the hope that is inherent in John's words "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

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  9. Hello all!

    I have been extravagantly lazy the last few weeks--no preaching for three weeks!--and so am leading house worship today.

    We're looking at the John passage, and I like the idea from the Center for Excellence in Preaching of assuming that Jesus is every person we meet, instead of being surprised that we served him (ala the sheep in Matthew). What would the world look like if everyone was Jesus to us?

    I have piroulines (great with coffee) and plum pudding (an excellent breakfast item, with all that fruit in it) to share; and the last of the Christmas cookies for later.

    Hugs going out to Sam!

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  10. Thanks for the hugs and support. Sam has gone to the vet for more IV fluids this morning. We'll pick him up at noon and hope this does the trick!

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  11. Welcome REv Honey and Rainbow Pastor, your wise words are welcome here.

    I like John 1 -- particularly as it sets the stage for everything else in John. How can we understand everything else that happens to Jesus if we don't have John 1?

    I used the example once of the very beginning of Beauty and the Beast, and the story of the curse.

    You cannot fully understand the fairy tale without knowing this "prequel" about how the beast got to be a beast.

    well, now I'm off to Breakfast Bible Study, where we are working on John 12.

    See you later.

    Have another cup on me.

    p.s. thanks for the grits.

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  12. Good morning all. I am doing Epiphany (and coffee) with a whole bunch of scattered thoughts, a HUGE outline and an open hymnal in front of me. No pageant, just my attempt to grab this congregation's attention and in no way have them be able to think that I dumped 1/4 in order to focus more on 1/11. Next week I preach at the church I hope will then vote positively for me to join them.

    The Boy is with his Dad today, but I would like to be done working on church stuff by noon and I have the Confirmation Class notebooks to put together.

    Coffee is ready... thanks Diane for kicking us off and for the love of God, Sam, give it UP! and OUT!

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  13. Aw, poor Sam. I hope everything is okay Songbird!

    I'm going with the Epiphany readings. A member of our book club at church stood up during celebration time last week and said he had been reading about something called a "Loadstar" and that we should all do some exploring on the subject for Epiphany - so I did.

    You have to search a bit for a definition, but it turned out to be a pretty good introduction.

    The alternate spelling is "Lodestar" and the definition is:

    1. A star, especially Polaris, that is used as a point of reference.
    2. A guiding principle, interest, or ambition.

    OR

    Noun 1.loadstar - guiding star; a star that is used as a reference point in navigation or astronomy lodestar star - (astronomy) a celestial body of hot gases that radiates energy derived from thermonuclear reactions in the interior

    2. loadstar - something that serves as a model or guide
    (example) - a representative form or pattern; "I profited from his example"

    That's my intro. I have a long way to go, but the theme is example and guiding the way. Who guides our way? Are we ready to risk taking another way home as we are guided by the ultimate model we find in Jesus?

    Now - it's off to yoga class! Wish me luck. I'm just hoping not to get stuck in some pretzel-like position. It's my first session, so an ambulance would be very disconcerting.

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  14. Sue, thank you for the reminder - I need to get my non-stretchy self to some yoga... not right this second, though.

    Currently the internet gods are smiling upon me and I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to be able to touch base with all of you as I write.

    Yeah!

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  15. Kathryn,
    We are happy that you are here!

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  16. I have some great, strong coffee for inspiration this morning. I have so enjoyed being home for a couple of days and sleeping in! I am going with the Christmas texts - Ephesians and talking about praise. I'll post it a little later. I am hoping to be done early so that I can scoot out and visit a baby just born yesterday! That makes the fourth one in our congregation in less than a year! I guess that's one way for us to grow.

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  17. We're celebrating Epiphany. As I said on Tuesday we'll have King's Cake and bless chalk for house blessings and people are bringing baby gifts for a local charity.

    I'm working on the theme of light coming into the darkness, starting with "It was a dark and stormy night". I found this great poem by Gerhard Frost:

    If I am asked
    what are my grounds for hope,
    this is my answer:javascript:void(0)
    Light is lord over darkness,
    truth is lord over falsehood,
    life is lord over death.

    Of all the facts I daily live with,
    there’s none more comforting
    than this: If I have two rooms,
    one dark, the other light,
    and I open the door between them,
    the dark room becomes lighter
    without the light one
    becoming darker. I know
    this no headline,
    but it’s a marvelous footnote;
    and God comforts me in that.


    I need to be done by noon, and despite staying up very late last night to write, I am not as far along as I would hope. So I probably shouldn't even be here...oh well, misery loves company, and so do last minute writers!

    SB, I hope Sam is okay, and everything works out in the end (pun intended!)

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  18. You can leave out that "java script void" part--no idea where that came from!

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  19. RDM - I LOVE that poem and giggled at the placement of the 'javascript void'.

    And if it is helpful at all, I don't consider Saturday morning last minute.

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  20. Oh ...here ws I thinking that the javascript void bit was an exciting congregational response to be encouraged everywhere!
    Songbird, I'm so sorry Sam is poorly...hope trip to the vet does the business. I'm sure its only a matter of time with Libby, who loves to explore everything by mouth, much like a toddler...So far, I don't think she has ingested anything too dreadful, - but who knows?
    I'm playing around with Epiphany.
    Strictly it should be an All Age Sunday, but as the schools are not back and I've had no opportunity to engage with anyone much apart from my nearests and dearests, I suspect that under 60s will be very thin on the ground. However, we have the music group rather than organist, and will use the All Age liturgy so I need a child-friendly talk/activity which can run with no children at all...I also need something else for the 8.00 and Church on the Hill congregations....and my desktop is showing signs of premature death in windows, though it runs better in linux.
    So I'm going to make up a pot of the chocolate and liquorice tea that I found in my stocking (much nicer than it sounds) and be thankful for my friends...Heck, I'll even write your semons for you, so long as I don't have to write my own!

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  21. I'm here early for me, but not ready to start writing. I'm sure the kids will have a full day for me before I get to my sermon.

    I'm doing Christmas, but since I was off last week, I'm going back to last week's texts with Anna and Simeon since for some reason I've never gotten to preach that before.

    Not sure where I'm going with them yet, but I'm looking forward to peeking backwards to last week's discussion and sermons for some inspiration. But later.

    First, I better feed or entertain this squirming 18 month old who has already deleted this post once with his grabbing fingers.

    Later, ladies!

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  22. hey everyone...first, hope that Sam is feeling better. The IV fluids hopefully will help--on that list, do you know what he exactly ate?
    love the baby shower for Jesus. I must steal that for next year.
    I had no intention of joining the party today because I was going to finish up last night so we could go cross country skiing, but instead I had a nasty fall carrying too many things down from the attic (my office) which doesn't have a guard rail. YOWCH. nothing broken, but incredibly bruised. so...no skiing, and finally back to work on John 1. It will be a sort of New Year's kind of sermon...grits and eggs sound yummy...

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  23. ouch karlajean - be good to yourself.

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  24. Good morning. I feel as though I have not preached in AGES, though it has been only a couple of weeks. Still--what if I've forgotten everything I know?

    I have a title I fleshed out six months ago, "Back to the Beginning" and I know I am concentrating on the Ephesians text from Christmas 2, and there is some bit in there about Jesus not being God's "Plan B." That is it!

    Pray my brain comes back from summer camp, 'kay?

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  25. Also, RDM, I am TOTALLY using that poem. Thank You!!!

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  26. I am here with absolutely no food in my house at all (no time for grocery shopping since returning from SoCal) so I'm having tea for breakfast and hoping that's good enough. I have a funeral (committal first, in an hour!, then memorial service, then reception/luncheon--free food!) and then have to crank out an Epiphany sermon which, for some unknown reason, I titled "let there be light" and used the "live as children of the light" bulletin cover art (I'm sure I had an idea when I made that up a month ago...). And then, at 6.15ish, I have to head out to the Epiphany Party--the big music ministry bash, social event of the year, etc etc. I must be done before I get there, as it's a late night event and you can't leave early. (sigh) I was hoping for a nap this afternoon, but unless some kind of inspiration strikes, I think I'm just going to go to Starbucks on my way home from the funeral.

    To add to all that fun, I'm currently obsessing over a person saying hurtful things about me while I was on vacation (actually, the same person who I complained about here once before...email evil strikes again!) and need to go to the grocery store and it's really quite cold outside.

    Sorry to hear about Sam and injuries and intermittent internet...hope there's still a good party going when I get back! Anyone have starbucks orders for mid-afternoon? I'll be back around 1ish Central time....

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  27. Ooo Karlajean. That sounds really painful.
    Cheese...I can't IMAGINE planning anything like a title 6 months in advance. I'm awestruck (and deeply grateful, as always, that there is no UK expectation of sermon titles...people just get what happens when we stand up to preach!)
    Fabulous poem...thanks for posting it, rdm

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  28. Okay, I'm up, I'm up. The holiday week has reset my natural clock; I'm stayingup too late (unproductively) and then sleeping in.
    Coffee,yes, thanks, and eggs and grits would be delightful.
    The WonderMutt sends get-well messages for Sam and suggests (don't read this part, SB) that if he would develop a taste for yummy rawhide chewies Sam's mom would fall over herself giving him treats. Or he could give them to the WonderMutt.
    RDM, thanks for the poem...that will go nicely with tomorrow night's sermon.
    Teri, I'm sorry there was meanness.
    Kathryn, I've planned for a journey theme and a title of "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"--want to write that one for me? I've got an old Epiphany one on "Aha!" moments I'd be glad to share (if I can find it).
    Oh well. Guess I'd better quit playing and get to work. And my husband would say, "Fire in the hole!"
    Praying that we all find inspiration!

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  29. Teri - here's some advice because I am not using it... keep some Luna bars in the house to get you through mornings like this, and others, when any kind of fixed breakfast just ain't gonna happen.

    And in less annoying, supportive talk: Hang in there! You are doing amazing things there! Prayers ascending for you to get through the committal and funeral.

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  30. Karlajean -- ouch!
    Songbird -- keep us posted on Sam, 'kay?
    Teri -- the email thing sounds just icky. prayers for you.

    Revmom -- I love Gerhard Frost. I have three or four of his old books and I use them a lot. What a pastor's heart that man had. Thanks for sharing that poem.

    Welcome to all! I am back from the Bible study and getting cranked up to write prayers for tonight's service.

    Also I have a hospice visit today.

    Also lots of laundry to do before we leave early Monday morning (I mean really early; our plane leaves at 6:15).

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  31. oh, Luna bars! I actually have a couple in the pantry (duh). I also found an open package of McVities digestives (yum!) so I had a couple dunked in my tea.

    Okay, for real, I'm getting dressed and going to the cemetery. Why didn't these people inter the ashes in our Columbarium? Protected from the wind, not as cold, and easy to visit! But no...the old downtown cemetery with no parking. I think she might be the last person to go in there--it's packed. They bought the family plot-for-ashes more than 25 years ago. (sigh) At least this isn't a big town so the church is only a 5 minute drive after that...keeping it short!

    Speaking of keeping it short--it's a communion Sunday tomorrow! yay! And I am also using three poems from Hay and Stardust (the Iona Community Christmas resource) about the kings....which means my sermon can come in at 10 minutes and be perfectly acceptable! woohoo!

    looking for chocolate raspberry luna bars....

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  32. Well having spent last Sunday afternoon and evening cleaning up dog vomit after forgetting to move 4.5 chocolate oranges out of dog's reach before going to church that morning I feel for you SB.

    I am off to the hospital to fulfill a request to visit someone who "seems to have a lot of regrets in his life". Since the referral came from one of the community counselors I hav a sneaking suspicion this may be related to a 12-step process...

    Sermon is about discerning our gifts--same them as I chose last year. But while that was non-intentional I am still going to run with it as I think it is a great lead in to the theme of responding to God's call that runs through the season after Epiphany.

    Next Sunday I will be on a plane returning from my grandfather's funeral (at which I have been volunteered to read a biography and give a "reflection") and so my idea of using floating candles to talk about Light + Water = New Life will have to wait for another time

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  33. Teri - first of all, love adn prayers for the day. Hope things run as smoothly as possible, and I am sorry about hurtful person. Yuk.
    Re Let there be Light...just a thought...Give them all a star to write a hope/prayer committment so that they can explore ways in which they can be light in the year ahead. Use that poem
    "When the song of the angels is done..." as the launch pad and make it clear that the work is up to them...
    You see, I will do anyone's sermon but my own...RevAnne, I'm stymied by the planes but journeys I can manage.Times when the star disappears...times when we cant distinguish it from all the others...Times when we are weary and just want to stay home. Oh, hang on, that's more to do with my reluctance to re-engage with work than with the journey of the magi...whoops

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  34. Good morning...I'm drinking tea (from a chocolate tea assortment that was a gift from my husband) and eating Dutch Almond cookies which I had to make yesterday to work out a kink in the sermon...

    I'm guest preaching at the church that hosted my internship and ordained me, one of the Dutch Reformed groups from whence I came...and now, returning as a Presbyterian, I picked the Ephesians and Jeremiah passages because I was initially fascinated by thinking about the ideas of adoption and ingathering in both passages and mixing a little Christmas in with them.

    So, I TOTALLY COMPLETELY overlooked the fact that the Ephesians passage is the key test on predestination. How could I have missed that?

    It's not that I don't like predestination (I have a John calvin bobble head on my desk if that tells you anything), it's just that it's hard to preach on. And one simply cannot walk into this rather theologically informed congregation of other folks who also have John Calvin bobble heads and preach on Ephesians 1 without mentioning predestination.

    So, now I have the sermon I was hoping to preach and the sermon the text wants me to preach, and I am eating those almond cookies like crazy to keep my inner-Dutch-Calvinist placated!

    But really, I should be happy. Because I am so sick of being an infrequently-preaching-associate, so I am absolutely delighted, conundrum or no, to be here with all of you!

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  35. Gord, praying for you in your journey next week for your father's funeral...

    Teri --praying for your funeral and your mean/hurtful person. and for you.

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  36. Okay, I have a working first draft, which in my mind means if everything hit the fan it WOULD preach, but it's not my 1st choice.

    I am off to shower (you're welcome) and then across the parking lot to make confirmation class notebooks. We are cramming in one more class before I leave here in mid-February.

    Hang in there all. I was thinking if only Transfiguration had a 'hook' like the 3 kings maybe we would all like it a lot better.

    Teri - you rock!
    Sam - puke or poop already.

    Good luck all!

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  37. Joining the party and trying hard to get back into the swing of things after a week's vacation.

    Titled the sermon "searching" a few weeks ago. Preaching epiphany and may go with searching for and following Christ, who is our light.

    Pulpit supply preacher preached epiphany last Sunday. Darn preacher who doesn't know how to follow the lectionary, after specific conversation about the church being lectionary-following. He may not get asked back again.

    Cheese, I can't imagine having 3 weeks off and heading back into it because I feel all out of whack after 1 week off.

    Many prayers for those preachers who have lots to do today besides write a sermon.

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  38. I guess I am one of the few that is doing Christmas III. I haven't preached on the prolog of John for awhile. I think it is an important thing to do.

    Need to go get hair cut and the car service. I will post tomorrow.

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  39. Muthah+ - I did prologue of John Christmas Eve and my folks mainly stay here so most heard it.

    DwG - that preacher does NOT get invited back. That is seriously undermining and uncool.

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  40. Okay, here is my focus paragraph for tomorrow, again, written while I was swatting skeeters out in the yard:

    "Salvation through Christ was not God's Plan B, but was God's intention for humanity from the very beginning. Christ is the fulfillment of God's history, and is the point at which history begins and towards which it moves. Deliverance is not some move towards an exotic new future, but rather the return to life as it should be." (borrowed heavily from Craddock, et. al)

    Dang. I hate it when I'm smart one minute, then 6 months later can't figure out what to do with it.

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  41. For Sam, and others like him who have a fondness for "things they should not eat"...
    This is not intended to be vet advice, although it came from a vet...if your dog eats something that you want them to expel quickly, feed them pureed, canned pumpkin. Not pumpkin pie mix with the sugar and spices, just plain canned pumpkin.Then, plan on taking them out...alot! Of course, if they are in big distress (like Sam must be if he needs IV's) then go to the vet, don't try home remedies! This method worked well when I actually saw my dogs eat the tube sox or whatever and was able to get them to eat the pumpkin right away. Prayers for all preachers and sick puppies this day. As for a sermon...I had some great notes that made sense yesterday, but today, not so much. Back to the old drawing board!

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  42. DwG -- maybe the preacher thought he was doing the Holy Innocents?

    not.

    That is soooo frustrating.

    I'm in the midst of calling and organizing.

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  43. chocolate tea? I must know more about that. so I am back procrastinating, and you all are being inspirational. My former retired boss just called--she was the head of school that I taught religion at for 8 years. she is so delightful and wonderful and I haven't seen her in years, but she always calls over the holidays. I learned so much from her...a great 45 minute chat, but isn't going to give fodder for my sermon. gotta get busy.
    Cheesehead, you won't forget everything you learned, I feel certain.
    Kathrynzj, congrats on having something that will preach...
    and Teri, boo on mean people and glad you found some luna bars!

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  44. I've got a nice fire going and bread rising, but that doesnt get me any closer to sermon writing - still basically where I was on Tuesday.

    I had this sweet dream-y idea about talking about the , but that was before the violence in Gaza ramped up, which is looming large in my thoughts today.

    RDM - thanks so much for the poem. I'm trying to put in mine, too.

    Oh, Sam! Your pal Rainy hopes you feel better soon.

    Also, preachers - have you seen this? http://www.blackchristiannews.com/news/2009/01/library-of-congress-plans-to-collect-sermons-for-obamas-inauguration.html
    Church seems so marginalized (at least in this little corner of the country) that I'm delighted that anyone thinks that what we say actually matters.

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  45. Sending healing thoughts to all those--human and canine--who are ailing.

    We have representatives from our diocesan-affiliated adoption services organization coming tomorrow, so no preaching for me. We chose the date somewhat randomly, so it is a God-incidence that the 2nd reading includes our adoption as children of God :-)

    I have questions for some of you, however! First, I'm familiar with the idea of blessing homes at/during Epiphany, and using chalk, but I hadn't thought of the idea of blessing the chalk and sending it home; can any of you point me to a suggested liturgy for that or give me more details? In addition to blessing the chalk at church, do you send a copy of a blessing service home with people? I think it sounds wonderful.

    Also, I'm doing Epiphany in our K-6 school chapel on Tuesday, and after 9 years of doing this one way or another, I'm out of ideas. If any of you are preaching on Epiphany specifically to kids tomorrow, I'd sure be interested in your approach!

    If you were looking for excuses to procrastinate, I'm glad to have helped out. And if I've pushed you off track when you were just getting going, my apologies. I'll offer up some homemade peppermint bark and some cookies from the Czech Republic to make amends...

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  46. Hurray! Hurray!
    It turned out to be a diabolical duo: a Hershey bar wrapper, including foil, and a young boy's sock. Neither came from our house. If I buy chocolate, you better believe it's better than Hershey's, and we haven't had that size foot around here, at least on a boy, in Sam's lifetime. This means he picked them up either on a walk or at the dog park. We know he likes to grab at trash, and we are careful, but clearly not careful enough. The vet suggested a basket muzzle, but that seems extreme. We're going to talk about it.
    Thanks so much for your kind suggestions and words of support.

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  47. Back from yoga.

    karlajean - owchie!!! Do take care of yourself.

    Gord - you and your family are in my prayers as you travel next week to your grandfather's funeral service. I conducted my uncle's service and while it was difficult, it was also a great honour.

    My sympathies for all with puking dogs.

    Yoga = awesome. I start regular classes on Mondays and Wednesdays this week, but today was an introductory freebie day. It was wonderful. Now I feel too mellowed out to work. Good thing the sermon is almost done.

    Nice poem RevDrMom!!

    We're expecting 20-30 cm of snow tonight, so I expect that turnout will be low tomorrow. I hope someone shovels the walk - I don't want to mess up my nicely relaxed muscles with shoveling.

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  48. The last time I preached Matt 2 was 1997. Since I have funeral prep with a high maintenance family that sermon is looking really good.

    It contains the line "It's frustrating, isn't it? Knowing where you want to be, knowing what you expect to find, and not quite able to get there."

    That was written many years ago but reminds me of a few months ago in Mexico

    Sometimes a simple journey with a fixed task becomes a life changing event even if it doesn't exactly follow the plan

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  49. And this is the comment where I check the email box

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  50. Ack! I'm at the dreaded 1000-word mark. You know what that means, don't you kids? Time for me to find my point!

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  51. Vicar -- you have me intrigued.

    Cheesehead -- I know know know you will find your point. You always do, beautifully.

    Off for a communion call.

    I'll check back later to see if anyone needs refreshments.

    Songbird -- glad to know you figured out "something" about what Sam ate.

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  52. The church history class went well this morning. We got only as far as I thought - Council of Chalcedon - but that means cramming 1,000 years into next month's four hour class, scheduled for the day after my colonoscopy/endoscopy!
    So I haven't begun tomorrow's sermon. I've got a commentary to read and several hours before the 8:00 tomorrow morning. I've never preached MT 2 before and I think I'll expand it to most all of the chapter from the 12 verses in the bulletin. Or not.
    There are a few gingerbread men left, some dark chocolate which I keep very far away from the edges of counters as my dogs like to get it, too, and honey lemon green tea.
    But first, I think a nap will happen. I'll check back later.

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  53. Vicar, you crack me up. I do just that same thing :)

    ok, still reading some articles abotu dreams I found at ATLA and wondering if this a good direction to go after all, and at the same time making some potato soup with some leftover bacon.

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  54. Juniper: leftover bacon??? Whoever heard of leftover bacon? Bacon doesn't last three minutes in my house!

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  55. Well, I've procrastinated well...office/craft room I meant to get perfectly set up last year is still in chaos, but I've been to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and picked up

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  56. Oops...itchy trigger finger, I guess...sorry
    ...picked up two cabinet units (they don't match but I don't care) and an oak door to serve as a work surface. Wonder how long it will take me to actually get them in and set up?
    No matter, I'm back to sermonizing.
    I've got Trader Joe's dark chocolate almond bark, and some Christmas spice cookies. Come & get it!
    ps: SB, Cletus the WonderMutt is glad everything came out okay. His words, not mine. :)

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  57. I need to borrow about 300 or so words for a sermon. Trying to work in communion with the 3 wise guys!
    Still clearing throat, blowing nose, and coughing. Has anyone ever worn a mask fo communion?

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  58. in my humble opinion, there is no such thing as leftover bacon (or am I just hungry?)

    Because the almond bark sounds good too...

    would anyone like soup? It's soup weather here.

    It's going to snow snow snow tonight, which is good for laundry and packing, at least I think.

    We just heard that the retired pastor from our church (very belowed former visitation pastor) is in intensive care in Baltimore.

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  59. I would like soup, Diane. Songbird...whew about Sam. I have a sidewalk surfer too, but she leans towards more organic treats rather than textiles, or plastic, which is infinitely worse. My goodness--a SOCK?
    I am back from a break--B is painting kitchen, and we went to check out some options for tiles and new door pulls. Back to change and hope and hopefully a point.
    prayers for all still crafting and creating.

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  60. well, funeral was fine--has anyone ever noticed that pretty much no matter what you say at a funeral (with a few notable exceptions) everyone afterward always says "that was such a nice service" ?? I swear I could use the same funeral sermon all the time and no one would even notice.

    I say that because, of course, 80% of the 3-4 minutes that I talked was the same as last December's funeral. Copy, paste, add something about the particular person, then encourage memory-sharing and we're done.

    Anyway, I've been to the grocery store, so anyone in need of a mid-afternoon quedsadilla is in luck. Anyone in need of a latte (coffee or chai) is also in luck, thanks to many *$ gift cards received by me last week.

    Anyone in need of a sermon, umm, sorry...no help here. I have 3 hours to work with and no words written. AAA!!!

    I think I'm going to use the star thing as a children's time because I don't have time to cut out 300 stars. (sigh) I wish I came up with good ideas like that, and then I wish I came up with them a month in advance!

    The Advent wreath has been disassembled and put away, in spite of direct and clear instructions to leave it up through tomorrow....which means the whole leading-the-way-out-of-the-sanctuary-with-the-christ-candle idea is out. (sigh again)

    Okay, for real--I'm writing. See me writing? (ignore the part where I'm still looking for a white elephant gift for the party in 3.5 hours....)

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  61. I swear I could use the same funeral sermon all the time and no one would even notice.

    I say that because, of course, 80% of the 3-4 minutes that I talked was the same as last December's funeral. Copy, paste, add something about the particular person, then encourage memory-sharing and we're done.


    You meant that isn't the idea? Essentially that is what I do. I have 2-3 basic sermons that get recycled and adapted. ANd the liturgy is a block with some different options at times but the prayers are basically the same everytime. ANd it works. ANd I never claim it to be anything more than it is.

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  62. 1-4 Grace: I would try to avoid actually wearing a mask for communion (unless it were literally required by a doctor). If I reallycould not get through the consecration without coughing and sneezing all over the elements (gross!), I would keep them covered for that part and recruit an additional person to help distribute. And use hand sanitizer.

    Due to a strange combination of circumstances, I haven't actually preached a regular Sunday sermon since November. Normally I preach every week, so this has really broken my rhythm.

    And I just realized that I left my printed prayers at the office, so I will have to run over there for the second time this afternoon...

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  63. I am feeling like I had an idea, and that it is probably hiding in the folder for this Sunday. Which, of course, is exactly where it belongs: in the file drawer in my office.

    Unfortunately, I'm at home.

    Hmmmm....

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  64. Hi all! Just got back from the Christian ed meeting where I ended up volunteering to help with the 7-10s tomorrow. We are doing Epiphany and also moving them to, and blessing, a new classroom as we add a new class to separate them from the 5s and 6s. I'm just the assistant, though, so my main responsibility is getting out the guitar and practicing "We Three Kings" and the Taize "Come and Fill our Hearts with Your Peace."

    Also reflecting on my presentation on breath prayer for Epiphany night itself, which will be the first monthly meeting of our new spiritual formation group. Gotta finish a handout for that, now that I think about it. And I should probably experiment with the prayer altar setup here--I have a little table roughly the size I'll be using--and only haul the stuff that will really work.

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  65. Okay, have a draft. Wondering if I should post or if the Stealy McPlagiarpants will strike again!

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  66. Hmmmm...my last post seems to have been lost in cyber-space.

    I'm another one of those that hasn't preached in WAY too long - Dec. 7 was my last real sermon. Had a sermon"ette" planned for Christmas Eve that really just turned into an intro into candlelighting because of the length of all the musical offerings.

    I have completely lost my rhythm and have wasted the kids' naptime playing Webkinz games. Am I the only adult in the world with this addiction? Probably, but I can't break it.

    Anyway, soon I'll get something going so that I'm not starting from SCRATCH after the kids go to bed. Kinda hoping this winter storm warning that we're in turns into something heavy so there's a chance we cancel worship tomorrow. Then I can just worry about getting back into the swing of things next week!

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  67. Cheese--post away. I'm on Epiphany, so I won't steal your goods.
    I have (gasp) 977 words of a sermon that's just getting to the point, a bowl of freshly popped popcorn in my lap, and I believe I'm on a bit of a roll.
    As to the communion thing: Hands-free consecration is a beautiful thing, if your tradition allows it. So is hand sanitizer. We do what we must...praying for healing between now and then.

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  68. Like Cheesehead, and I am done with my draft, too...with two completely unrelated points that make complete sense in my head and my intellect, but...yewah, I guess I will come back later to it. I have to edit a paper for a Korean Professor, and go soak in the hot tube to soothe my bruises.
    Peace and blessings to all.

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  69. Why am I always so exegesis-heavy on Epiphany? Did those camels carry the New Interpreters Bible or something?

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  70. RevAnne: I didn't mean to imply that any of the RGBPs steal. If any of y'all wanted to borrow and asked, I'd totally let you. I had somebody else outright plagiarize once, though, so I seldom post anymore. :(

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  71. my aunt recommends that I talk about my trip to the zoo and wild animal park--after all, there were camels and elephants there! ;-)

    I think I remember that I was planning to do something with epiphany=revelation: that true light was revealed, not in the star but in the christ-child. Or something. "guide us *to* thy perfect light" not "*with* thy perfect light". Or something like that....
    two hours to go. I better figure this out fast!!!!!

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  72. I am mulling a change in focus. Instead of the "what gift do you have to bring?" I may go exegesis/symbolism heavy and talk about what Matthew is saying in the gifts he lists....

    Not really happy with either alternative though

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  73. That is if I want to change focus and still have the sermon title seem somewhat related to the sermon (title is Bringing what gifts??)

    For children's time we will talk about the little drummer boy--complete with drum!

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  74. Dropping back in...my church board is now trained, my laundry is (almost) done, I am prepared for house church...making butter chicken for dinner, would anyone like some?

    I almost wish i were preaching this week--y'all are giving me great ideas!

    Just, please, have great ideas for me for the 18th, too, K?

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  75. Okay, a draft is up. It feels a little cumbersome n the middle, but there you have it.

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  76. Busy day today! I am invaded by family tomorrow, including one parent who has never heard me preach (and in general is the source of much of my therapy converssations). So I spent most of the day making sure most of the house is perfect, being glad for doors that will be closed when I leave for church in the am.

    Now for a sermon that feels like it caries more importance than it should. I loved the poem, and will try to find a way to use it. I'm doing both epiphany and the john prologue.

    I have chicken piccata for supper when ya'll get hungry.

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  77. Cheese, I didn't mean to imply that you thought we'd really steal it. Darn interwebs...
    I have 1370 words and I'm foreseeing some major cuts in my future, cause I'm not close to done. I need at least 2000 words to be about the length I want...I'm a fast preacher, and even my attempts at slow are pretty quick.
    We're making pizza in a little while, but there's fresh-popped popcorn with butter in the meantime.
    I'll post a draft when I get one that makes sense.
    Gord, does your church sing "We Three Kings"? Exegeting the significance of the gifts in the song might get you somewhere.

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  78. OMG--cheese, may I borrow your Plan B thing? I think I just figured out how I can work with the "revelation of the light" thing AND my title ("let there be light"). Possibly. Now if I could just get a first sentence, I might get this done before the party (97 minutes to go)...

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  79. I borrowed heavily, and I mean HEAVILY, from last year's sermon, so I'm not going to post it. I did get a confirming phone call from Sound Guy, so I'm going to spend some time actually learning my sermon this week. What a concept!

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  80. I've spent hours today reading up on Epiphany and Mt 2 in commentaries and on internet and I'm feeling information overload with no clear direction, some interesting ideas but not sure how to flesh them out. Grrr. I'm going to take a break, shake it off. Often that's when things will "gel" for me.

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  81. Anybody want Chinese food?

    My sermon for tomorrow is posted.

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  82. Back from a walk around the little lake, taking down the last of the Christmas decorations (those outdoor lights that seem so cunning in November seem so tired by now...), and doing a cleaning in the car - a kid (not mine for once) was sick back there a couple weeks ago, and I keep thinking I've got it, but then we get a sunny day and it becomes olfactorially clear that theres more to be done. Hmm, probably TMI.

    Anyway, I'm with Gord on funerals. I think its comforting to hear familiar words repeated. I mess around with other liturgy, but memorials I basically leave the same every time. Lately, almost every time a person in the family does the eulogy, or there's a pass-the-mike remembering time, and then I kind of wrap it up at the end.

    Ok, that was a lovely distraction, but I actually have an actual sermon to write still - have a sort of draftish object, but it sure needs some polishing...

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  83. Chicken noodle soup from Panera over here and maybe some leftover Bday cake.
    I am to the point of needign to wrap it up and still cant get it done.
    Tired of coughing and ready for bed.
    Anybody got soem rock n rye?

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  84. Longtime lurker here, but not quite ready for prime time.

    I'm going with Epiphany texts--Isa 60, Eph 3, and Mt 2. In my view, these 3 are disparate stories of God's glory made manifest. Isaiah's Epiphany vision is one of homecoming. St Paul's Epiphany is the Gentiles coming to know the mystery of Christ. And Matthew's Epiphany is Jesus' coronation (notice Mt never refers to Herod as king after this). But such is the season of Epiphany--my hook is something about "where is God's glory? A, B, or C?" And yet this season reminds us that real Epiphany is actually D. All of the above.

    Or something like that.

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  85. anon - yeah, the good thing about God is that She doesnt just try to come to us in one way - but meets us where and how we can get it.

    sounds good.

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  86. Oh yes we sing 3 Kings. In fact in my first year here I did dramativ monologues based on the traditions around the "3" kings leading in to those middle verses. I will do that again sometime...

    Still I can't help but think that the message we need here and now is that we have gifts to offer that, although they are not gold or frankincense or myrrh are equally valued. I have heard too many people say "I have no gift to offer" (ironically this is usually as they are hip deep in churhc work). SO maybe I'll stick with the original idea and talk about discerning what we bring to the table.

    And it is communion sunday so shorter is better--especially since I want them to stick around and de-decorate the church afterwards

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  87. OK, blogger is playing games again. As I typed that last comment I was shown as being signed in then when I hit publish it decided I wasn't and chastised me for leacing required fields blank.

    What's up with that?

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  88. Well, the big blizzard that was predicted has started in earnest. We may be nicely snowed in tomorrow morning. Dang. My sermon isn't half bad either....

    Even so, the worst of the blizzards never stop the few who live close enough to walk (including myself and the secretary) - so worship will happen regardless of numbers.

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  89. leacing=leaving

    MAn I wish I could type

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  90. okay, I have something. I'm not sure how I feel about it--it feels a little repetitive, so I might be cutting later (or tomorrow morning, or while preaching, who knows!?!?!). Thoughts/feedback greatly appreciated!

    I managed to get in the terrible wise-women-are-better "joke" and the Plan B line. And a little teaching moment on the co-eternal business (which, can you believe it, has come up FREQUENTLY in the past 4 or 5 months? Did people really think Jesus was just something God thought up and who appeared randomly in 4bc? really? I'm clearly not doing my job in teaching about the Trinity....sigh). And a challenge for us to be the star.

    As I just wrote that, I thought "wow, that sermon needs to be edited!!" hmm....

    I'm heading out to my office to wrap my white elephant present (because I don't seem to have any wrapping paper here--but I know there's a whole roll in my office!) and head to the party. Oh, and to cut out stars for the children's time. And possibly to write a communion prayer...all before 630. I can do that, right?

    I promise to bring back many treats for the late-nighters!

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  91. well, I just went away for a LITTLE WHILE and look what happens! Everybody's working hard.

    Anybody want supper? We're thinking burgers, what about you?

    Also it was raining here, now it's snowing.

    We're getting out the suitcases tonight, laundry, starting to pack. I hope. Because our plane leaves at 6:15 Monday MORNING. ouch.

    Teri, I'll be over.

    Songbird, I get what you mean about learning your sermon. Break a leg -- I think.

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  92. Sue - hope all goes well tomorrow even in snow. glad you can walk from your new place, too - I was wondering.

    just read your blog, btw - goodness, what a year!

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  93. I think I am gonna have a hot shower, drink something to soothe the sore throat and go to bed.
    Hopefully this "junk" will be gone in the AM.
    Blessigns to all!

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  94. 1-4 Grace, hope tomorrow's great!
    I've got a working draft at my place. Would welcome feedback.
    I'm taking a little break for a late dinner; I'll be back! Grace and peace to you.

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  95. wow, I leave for a few hours, and we are almost at 100. My kitty is helping me edit; I have fresh ravioli with real grate parm/olive oil/ garlic/ wine sauce to share...Songbird, you will rock tomorrow...all the talk about zoos and camels reminds me of a picture I have of our oldest congregant
    (96)on a field trip to the Heifer Outlook Farm teaching center kissing the resident camel. A beautiful image.
    Bad news: B and I have been doing house stuff, and we were working to put giant elliptical and treadmill in place, and I slipped and fell and bruised the other half of my bum...seriously, I have to get less clumsy.
    Back to thinking about tomorrow and Good News.
    p.s. I am with you Gord. On funerals. You know what works, and what is comfort and hope, and what the Spirit will work with.

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  96. My children convinced me the pseudo-King Cake should be for them, and the bag of babies for the children at church. I hope we can still get into heaven...
    Meanwhile, they are making colored sugar.

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  97. I am so enjoying the party today...it is wonderful to hear many sermon ideas. I'll contribute frozen creampuffs, leftover from our New Year's open house.

    I love epiphany and always think of my former boss, who was Cuban-American. She was talking to her niece on the phone on the week after Christmas and mentioned that she was taking down her decorations. Horrified her niece said "But the Three Kings won't come!"
    Have a wonderful epiphany.

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  98. Hey, y'all! I'm late to the party because I spent the day with the family in the 70 degree weather! So...time to step it up!

    Tomorrow is my first Sunday in my new call and I'm a bit nervours. I have been preaching for a congregation of 40 the past year or so and now I have worshipping body of about 140.

    For my children's time, I was thinking about unpacking a suitcase with them full of things like my stole, my bible, and other item that are meaningful to me that will be in my office. Is that too corny?

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  99. I think that sounds great, Iris!

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  100. I'm late to the preacher party (again), but got to spend most of the day visiting with friends from college and then at the cokesbury store in Big City to the West.

    I'm toying with the idea of the wise men being the beginning of that "sword that pierces Mary's soul." That unknowingly, they let Herod know that this King has been born and put his life in danger. That for the first time, this light that has barely begun to shine in the world is tested.

    I think I'll probably hit heavy on the symbols that Matthew uses...

    As far as the journey idea that some of you are hitting on, I have a post on Epiphany being like the start of a journey of faith, complete with a few star related metaphors here

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  101. hey! lots of good food and ideas here.

    really, it sounds yummy. makes me wish I was preaching (but I would have done the 5:00 already). Once I preached on the Two Kings, Jesus and Herod -- which do you worship?

    and if anyone is still looking for a children's sermon idea, this one is easy: I got a balloon in the shape of a star one year (a really glittery one) and carried it around the sanctuary with the children following me. We stopped at places that revealed God's love for us.

    back to packing/laundry.

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  102. oh, and a question: colored sugar?

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  103. Purple, green and gold. The purple is a little browner than would be ideal, but we're new at this. We tried using cinnamon rolls, but the middle didn't cook right. Next time I'll do the whole thing from scratch. (If there is a next time.)
    Anyway, I'll tell about King Cakes and give out the babies at the children's time tomorrow, even without cake.

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  104. Man, I hate it when you have an idea and head out into the world wide web to fill in some of the blanks and you find an already crafted, much better than you could ever say it piece. After reading it, now all of my words and phrases sound like their's.

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  105. Back from dinner with my fam and father-in-law. I have as little now as I did when I left, which is nothing. Sigh.

    Hopefully I'll be in a better swing of things again next week. 'Til then my bottle of Chloraseptic and I are here for the long haul. I've never seen a throat as nasty red as mine is tonight - - looks like super-rare prime rib back there!!! Hurts like H*() too.

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  106. Ok, so I kind of flaked on the party tonight (and yet enjoyed the virtual food immensely!). My offering is here:

    Thought appreciated!

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  107. Yay me! I made the link and it worked!

    Blessings on all of you.

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  108. Is it too late to join the party? I'm back after being away since Christmas Day and trying desperately to get started writing soon, but still in the marinating/thinking/gathering info stage.

    I, like She Rev, am borrowing Simeon and Anna from Christmas I and preaching on them tomorrow. And you'd think this would be easier since I heard a Simeon and Anna sermon last Sunday, but NO. It's slow going. And I still need to unpack from vacation.

    Thanks for all who conversed last Saturday--I'm poring over your thoughts and pondering mightily!

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  109. semfem, it's never too late to join the party!

    I think the power supply went out on my desktop ... I'm quite grateful for the laptop but printing is going to be a little interesting.

    at least I'm not working as late as usual

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  110. semfem, it's never too late to join the party. unfortunately, I seem to be fading fast. I'll leave the light on, and the tea kettle on, for everyone who needs it.

    then I need to turn in.

    unless I need to check the laundry one more time.

    but, in the immortal words of Madeline Kahn, "I'm pooped."

    g'night. party on, Garth.

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  111. So many great ideas and yummy treats! I have beef and cheese enchiladas, rice, beans, guac, and cornbread to share.

    After months of thinking about blogging and wishing I were blogging, I finally decided to get started. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to post a link, so I'll just invite you to my site for my sermon draft. We're celebrating Epiphany with the wise guys.

    Blessings on all -- especially those who are facing lots of challenges. And on Sam, too. My pal Rigby sends her prayers.

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  112. Oh Diane - coloured sugar brings back SUCH good memories for me. My Mom used to put it out in the "good" sugar dish for very special occasions like Christmas, Easter and all of our birthdays. I haven't seen it for years.

    Thanks for a good memory.

    BTW, our "storm" didn't end up being much of anything - just a lot of wind, not much snow. Hopefully that means we'll have our regular turn-out tomorrow.

    G'nite all.

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  113. Ugh. I wish we were getting a snowstorm so we could cancel church tomorrow, since there is no sermon in sight.

    I do love the Ralph Milton story. How to work that in...hmm...

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  114. Just checking in, looks like a lot of good stuff was written today and vicar and semfem, I am sure will continue to be written

    Have a great day tomorrow, all!

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  115. Well, I fear my sermon is a bit disjointed and too personal, but it's done. I can look it over in the morning.

    For those of you still working, God bless and may you have your "aha" moment very soon.

    Night,night...

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  116. Hi semfem - of course, now that I'm back in the pulpit after almost a month off due to musicals and children's programs and vacation, I'm here for the late night party STILL.

    I don't think I'll be too much longer, but I probably should be, if you know what I mean.

    Oh well.

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  117. I'm still at it myself. I kept getting distracted by a purring cat at my feet. I might be finding a rhythm that will last me another hour or so... then I'll be heading to bed.

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  118. Cool...Vicar, She Rev, and Katie Z...I think we make an excellent late-night party.

    I am now struggling with two sermons that want to be written. Which one do I go with? At least I have figured out that they are different beasts altogether.

    Keep in mind, I'm preaching on the story of Simeon and Anna:
    1. Babyhood rituals of Jesus' life highlight his incarnationalness, his very human-ness!
    OR
    2. Simeon's prophecy showed the fullness of what it was like to experience God-with-us (both the joy and the heartbreak...)

    Opinions?

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  119. I'm back from the epiphany party bearing many treats--toffee bars, fudge, cake, and plenty of beverages of all kinds. Also very silly gifts! I came away with a very tacky light-up-and-singing (motion sensored, even!) nativity scene, including a lamb in a snow globe. wow.

    I did a little bit of editing, but not much. I wouldn't call this my strongest week ever, but we can't have that every week! I'm off to bed...wake up is in 6 hours 19 minutes. (sigh) Still need to cut out the stars for a children's time, since I chatted with a friend on facebook instead of doing that earlier....

    blessings on all still working...may the spirit breathe on you soon, but not in such a way as to mess up any papers or computers.

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  120. I like choice #2 myself, Semfem, but don't let that decide for you. I think because I know if I were going either of those directions #1 would fit better in my worship for next week since we have an infant baptism. It would feel like I was preaching two similar things in a row. But obviously, that's pretty specific to what we're doing in our place.

    Back at it.

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  121. fwiw, I used Ralph Milton's story last week and my old people LOVED it. I didn't even get it woven in very well ... they didn't care.

    So I'm voting for whatever works with that story :)

    Finally got the printer driver installed on the laptop ... it almost took longer than writing a sermon

    Now everything is printed and I'm heading for bed

    Blessings on your Sunday

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  122. semfem, I think that I tried to do both last week, and like you said, they really are two different beasts.

    I think that #2 could be more of a message that can reach people where they are, whereas, #1 is more of a teaching sermon... so I guess it's whatever mood you are in.

    I also am realizing that I have two different sermons in front of me. One talking about the extreme darkness that would have surrounded the light of Christ (Herod and the slaughter of the innocents) - and that we need to remember that darkness in order to understand just how powerful the light is... (which is the sermon that is currently 1000 words written on my laptop) and my original idea of talking about the symbolism of the gifts... in particular the myrrh and tying that in with Simeon's prophecy that I talked about last week about the sword that would pierce Mary's heart.

    They go together somehow... I'm just not sure if I can do it gracefully in 12-1500 words.

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  123. well Katie Z.--the gifts themselves hold light and darkness within them. They are the perfect concrete illustration!

    I think I found a way to craft option #2 in a way that I'm pleased with, so I'm going with that. KZ is spot on though...it's a matter of story vs. teaching...but the story does fill in the bits that would otherwise be confusing (i.e. what were they doing in the temple).

    Then I'm planning to talk a bit about how every child holds a promise, but the promise is entrusted to ordinary people, like Simeon and Anna and US! And the importance of ALL of us being good stewards of that promise...not just parents and grandparents.

    Now to write!

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  124. Wow. I think I did it. Incorporating the story admittedly helped write quite a bit of the sermon, but I just added a few paragraphs after and I think I'm finished!

    Now to shower, do a final readthrough, and print.

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching and proclamation today!

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  125. I kind of used the three gifts and that light/darkness theme as a close, but i'll probably tweak it in the morning. Thanks for your help!

    I'm off to bed now. The alarm will be going off in 6 hours =P

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  126. I thought I was so close to being done, but I was wrong. I've got it all "on paper," but the tenses shift, the metaphors wander. It definitely needs tightening up and some concrete, in-the-news nitty-gritty. Problem is - - I've been on vacation. I haven't heard the news for a week at least. I'm very aware of the Israel/Gaza issues, but I'm off to read some trusted news sites to see what's been going on the world while I have been blissfully ignorant.

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  127. Good morning, all, and may the Spirit breathe on you and your words this morning.

    Up and at 'em.

    take care all...

    it was a great party.

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