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Saturday, January 31, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Jesus Shows Up Edition

Good morning, preachers!

What's going on today?

I know what's going on in tomorrow's text: Jesus is showing up where the people worship. Can you imagine the disarray we'd experience if he showed up at one of our churches? And not only does he show up, he preaches! With authority! Not like the regularly scheduled explainers...

It's delightfully unsettling.

But before we go there, how about some coffee? Let us know in the comments if you're preaching, where you're headed, and if you have a great idea for the Children's word. We always love to share those!


  1. Hey, I've been waiting on your post - how sad is that. I've already been for a walk along the river bank this morning. I've updated face book and now I'm looking forward to a day of domestication - cooking, laundry, cleaning up. Its so long since I've had the luxury of spending a day like that. So, I'm taking the laptop into the kitchen and perhaps bits of the sermon will get written as I cook - making weight watchers recipe leek and potato soup and meatloaf, along with some home made tomato and parmesan bread - so there'll be plenty to share later. As for the sermon - going with the idea that folk were so distracted by what Jesus did(the exorcism) that they missed the message of who he is - along those lines. Maybe for no better reason than I've had my first kind of discouraging office bearers meeting so far in this new job - everyone seemed so negative and fixated on trivia. Want to draw us all back to the man and the good news. Anyway look forward to parting with y'all. I'll let you know when the soup's ready - that's gonna be lunch:)

  2. Hey - meant partying - not parting! Not yet anyway - long way to go.

  3. I've just had my tea; otherwise, the coffee would be welcome.

    I am inclined to go with the psalm tomorrow. I pulled my sermon from three years ago and I did Mark then. There are enough people in the congregation who might remember so I'll go for something else.

    The Sunday school is presenting a replica of the Ark of the Covenant that one parishioner made and another painted tomorrow morning. The psalm's ties to Exodus make it a good way to incorporate the presentation into the sermon.

    I want to talk about the wondrousness of God and whether we realize how much we praise God. I think we are jaded to the point of flattening our faith into a manageable size. We Episcopalians, but not just us, turn away from expressions of wonder, praise and love because they tug at our emotions and emotions tend to be unmanageable. What does it take for us to let ourselves go? How can we hold on to our famous reserve - God's frozen chosen - and still give ourselves over to praise? Perhaps if we started by tapping a toe during the hymns. Some of them are dance tunes and we could maybe even move our bodies a little. Or we could smile when a phrase from Scripture or the liturgy strikes our fancy.

    And on and on. I think that's the way I'm going. But first there is an ordination at 11 and confirmation class to prepare.

    The cupboard is pretty spartan this morning. I can offer Cheerios and that's about it. I guess I'd best head for the store!

  4. Oh, liz, sorry I didn't schedule the post earlier! Glad to "see" you here.
    Margaret, I've been reading a book by a woman who describes herself as being "ecstatically in love with Jesus," and that's pushing me to both the psalm and the gospel lesson. Although I have some differences with the author, her perspective pushes me to think about what might be missing for people in my tradition. Congregationalists tend to hang back from feeling they know Jesus that well!

  5. Well I am preaching on the epistle- the text was chosen for me, and I am battling with it...

  6. ... and I am furouosly cleaning my house as my parents are coming over ( no I haven't grown up yet)....

    they are coming to celebrate my birthday... there is something wrong with this picture;-)

  7. Sally, I found I couldn't even bring myself to focus on the epistle at all this week. Didn't we have one of these food texts recently? I think the key may be to substitute something else for food: something else people might idolize or sacrifice to things they idolize or misuse due to idolatry. You or I might be able to visit Las Vegas without becoming compulsive gamblers, or even losing much money (especially if you go with my husband, who doled out $10 in quarters and told me that was it), but would our action have a bad influence on someone else, set a bad example or create confusion?
    Does that help? (Keeping in mind I wouldn't want to preach it, either.)

  8. Good morning, preachers - I'm looking forward to a quiet day...I hope! I'm focusing on the epistle, too, Sally. I'm headed in the direction of faith is more than the ability to 'not sin.' When we follow after Jesus, we don't focus on what we are free to do for ourselves, we focus on what we can do for our neightbor. That's a whole different morality than sin management!

  9. :-) it wouldn't have been my choice Songbird, but I am preaching at an ecumenical service and the "meeting" chose the readings, it is that or Deuteronomy and there is no way I am atempting that today!

  10. Chilly fingers I like the direction you are headed in. Thanks for the inspiration :-)

  11. I felt like crap yesterday and this morning I had to take the Kid to school at 6:00 am for an activity. I went back to bed when I got home and had weird dreams...all that to say that I feel a bit behind on my sermon and a bit under pressure b/c I have to record it this week for a discernment committee...and our technology isn't great in that area, we'll see how THAT goes.

    Any way, I am working with the theme of authority...WHAT Jesus said in this passage seemed to matter far less than how he said it and what he did--how do we recognize authority? Maybe tied into hearing God's voice in it...I hope when I start writing it all comes together; that's usually how it works for me, but some weeks better than others.

  12. I'm going with the gospel tomorrow (Mark). I got intrigued by the question "did you come here to destroy us?" earlier this week, and have been noting throughout the week how a variety of people/institutions in authority betray our trust. Like, say, Wall Street, the banking institutions, a certain governor and a previous presidential administration, to name a few. With that kind of experience with authority, how does one set aside experience and go deeper to connect with truth?

    For breakfast I've got oatmeal with raisins, apples, maple syrup and flax seeds. Help yourself!

    Liz, your kitchen creations sound fabulous. I'll enjoy the aromas!

  13. Good morning preachers! I'd offer coffee but Love has not woken up and I'd have to grind the we all must wait for my pot.
    I'm going with the Psalm, and hoping to say something about praise and how it can be a spiritual discipline during these hard economic times, to remember the stories we've been told about God's faithfulness. But I'm feeling less than praisy since a conversation with a parishioner yesterday about another parishioner...way too much gossip and unkindness among people who are truly wonderful people. I don't get it. So I'm stuck on that rather than praising God at this moment, but hoping the sermon will come quickly.
    Blessings to yall!

  14. Okay, I've been to the store and the blueberry muffins are in the oven.
    The epistle felt like I'd just done it to me, too. Paul seems to be saying that if something is a problem to some of us then the rest of us who don't see it as a problem should sort of wait for the others to catch up and help them do that by stepping back to where they are. I know that's a skewed reading but it's what liberals in the Episcopal Church has been doing for years now and most of us are tired of it. Since I am a liberal in a very conservative congregation, I just can't go there. I also don't want to marginalize the people in my congregation who are already feeling terribly marginalized.

    So, a tidbit on authority for whatever it is or isn't worth. Apparently, the scribes always started what they wanted to say with an "according to Rabbi X," kind of statement. Jesus didn't bother to do that and it stunned people. If we did that, we would likely put our congregations right to sleep. I like the idea that Jesus has given us all the authority to speak without quoting our sources - and by all I mean all the baptized and not just the ordained.

    Have a good morning. I'll check in when I get back in early afternoon.

  15. Good morning everybody!

    I'm preaching for the first time in 2 months and I'm feeling a bit rusty.

    I am switching up the lectionary readings this month. I am doing next weeks reading on Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law. It is women's week in the UCC and I thought it would be good to preach on one of the first uses of the word Deacon in the Mark text.

    I'm procrastinating now. Trying to get Gramcord to work on my new computer. However I don't have the password. UUUGGGHHHH. Any hackers out there?

  16. I'm just back to work on the sermon after being at a conference for a couple of days. Working with the Mark passage, puzzling out the authority bit.

    We (please note the "we") also need to clean house a little bit because hubby's youth group is coming over to watch the superbowl tomorrow.

    The cooking going on sounds great. Just let me know when it's ready.

  17. Good morning! I'm into my first cup of coffee, WG is off at a forensics meet, and Blue Eyes needs to do some work today, so there is the perfect set up for me to get right to the sermon.

    Yet...I can't seem to find my mojo. I am distracted by our pup, who had a strange episode last night that included falling down the stairs, and by a sad thing that happened to Blue Eyes yesterday. When he got to work he found out that a co-worker, in his 30s, mysteriously died in his sleep Thursday night, leaving a wife and two very young children.

    when I do find my mojo, I hope to apply it to the OT lesson. Moses seems to have lost his mojo, too.

  18. I'm still two weeks away from my next scheduled date to preach (SIGH!!!) but am once again in need of a children's time on the gospel reading. That's apparently all I have to do this week. I confess that I am feeling a bit like I'm being pushed out of leadership roles by the interim--I'm doing less preaching, leading fewer parts of the service, and having less interaction with my ministry teams as she chooses to take them over, one by one. My frustration may begin to leak out as there is uproar yet again over a situation that could have been avoided with better planning....sigh.

    So...I have a sore throat and now am congested (a new development since last night), so I have peppermint tea with honey, Emergen-C packets, and a plan to skip a meeting that's an hour's drive away (even though I really wanted to go) because I'm concerned that I won't get well enough to deal productively with all the issues going on. AND I need a Children's Time that's amazing. Last week's follow-the-leader was a hit....

    any ideas floating around out there?

  19. I'm exegeting Matthew 11 (Jesus praising John the Baptist) and then Luke 15 (Found Sheep, Found Coin, Found Sibling). Then it's chauffeur time!

    Praying for you preachers!


  20. cheesehead what a rough time you've had, I hope pup is OK, and sending up prayers for that family...

  21. WEll I have already dealt with the first task of the day which was to give the invocation at a meeting of the District Municipal Association.

    LAter I have a planning meeting for this evening's event--an improv murder mystery performance.

    Tomorrow is our Annual MEeting and I am using next week's lectionary so I can use ISaiah and lifted up on wings like eagles. I think so many people are tired around here. WE need to talk about that...

  22. Reverend Ladies and Gents,

    I have been conferencing in Grand Rapids all day yesterday. I just heard Marva Dawn and am now hunkering down in my old seminary student center to pound out the details for tomorrow's prayer, liturgy and announcements.

    Y'all should be here for the Calvin Symposium on Worship ( but I guess you know what they say: Next year in GR-usalem!

    Blessings to all & a kiss of peace.

  23. Margaret - and here I thought we United Church of Canada folk had cornered the market on being the "frozen chosen"!! When we ask our folks to (gasp) move during worship, most of them look like deer caught in the headlights.

    RevDrMom - 6:00 am activity at school? That's wrong on so many levels. So many.

    So sorry about your sad news Cheese, and about the pup too. I hope he feels better soon.

    Gord - I hope you Annual meeting goes well. Ours is in two weeks.

    I'm going with a bit of the epistle (the part about how love builds up) but mostly with the gospel. I'm talking about how Jesus comes into the place of worship and turns everything on its head. Everything the people thought they had right about God was now being challenged.

    Sometimes that is what being a liberal mainline denomination feels like. So what do we do? Kick Jesus out like some itinerant trouble-maker? Or do we watch and listen as he shows us everything we NEED to know about healing, compassion and love. And so on...

    Anyway, my task today is much more somber. The sermon was done yesterday, and today I have to prepare a memorial service for a stillborn boy who was born and joined the communion of saints on Monday. It's my first memorial service for anyone under 35 and my first week back at an increase to 30 hours (I've been half time since October).

    If you have any experience or ideas regarding the service, they would be appreciated, but rather than take over the preacher party, you could always email me at suecan at gmail dot com.

    Basically I'm avoiding all religious cliches and going with an honest approach - that there is no sense to be made of this tragedy, there is no greater purpose, but God is there - feeling the pain and crying the tears along with the family and gathered friends.

  24. Not sure at all where I'm going to go today. Everything I've thought about sounds so heady. I listend to someone talk about reclaiming the the teaching function of the sermon, but I don't know how that flies with me or the congregation. I'll be back later. I'm working with Mark and authority and, I think, the different between divine authority and human authority. Not sure I totally know what that is though. Something about human authority being given one to another or even earned (in the sense of trust), but Jesus' authority came from somewhere else. People who would have no reason to trust him just knew he had authority - - even the demons obeyed. Not sure where to go or what that means.

  25. For those working with the psalm, I thought the Sermon Brainwave podcast at had a neat take on it with the difference (or non-difference) between praise and thanksgiving. Good stuff.

  26. Sue, I think you are right on to deal with reality in such a tragic death. God does cry with us at the sad moments of life (doesn't cause them!)
    Margaret, I'm preaching the epistle and Bruce Rigdon in Feasting on the Word said, "Does this require, then refraining from any behavior or position that is disapproved, because of the sometimes narrow-minded consciences and outlooks of the weaker minority in a congregation? That would make prophetic witness..impossible and is not what Paul hurt those for whom Christ died is to commit sin."
    I want to ponder the realities of living this text out - with the congregation rather than "preach to" them. I'm just not sure how the make the form of the sermon comply.

    I switched to constant comment tea cos the office is cold. Any takers? I have local honey to make it sweet.

  27. Originally struck by the authority and similar to RevDrMom thinking there is something in people's interaction with and experience of Jesus that conveyed authority. So explore that, maybe talk about how we respond to authority in general, and what it means for us that Jesus taught with authority.

    I've toyed with how authority could mean power/influence, but I think authority also speaks to a certain credibility, authenticity, truth, or knowledge... he seems to know whereof he speaks. Practices what he preaches.

    For Sally & ChillyFingers and others doing the epistle: I was going to steer clear of the epistle (& unclean spirits). In a conversation with a friend planning to preach it with an approach similar to what Songbird suggested, I could see some potential in not being a stumbling block and the phrase popped into my head, "you may be the only Bible someone reads."

    So, how might our actions be a potential hindrance to others' faith lives. If they know I attend church but observe behavior that seems at odds with my faith, will it fuel their cynicism and view of us as hypocrites and add one more reason not to seek God?

    Today my brain seems to be merging the authority piece & the hindrance piece. Earlier I was exploring the idea of:

    Being a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block.

    It will be interesting to see what the rest of the day brings. :)

  28. My younger son just brought me a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese (which he proceeded to eat half of!); I know we have more and I'm sure he'd be glad to fix them for any of you!

    God Gurrill, I preached on that passage 15 years ago next week. The reason I know is because it was the day after my MIL died from cancer. I talked straight from my heart about my anger and sadness that God mde Peter's MIL better but not mine, and then about the difference between curing and healing. I wanted cure; God gave her healing.

    Cheesehead, how very sad about the co-worker. And I hope the pup is okay.

    Sue, I've done a few of those services and it is so hard to find any words. The best I seem to have to offer is the assurance that God is crying with them and walking alongside in this sad journey.

    Teri, I too am doing the kids tomorrow; for us, it's the only sermon so I'm aiming for all ages (though I always think that's the case: if it's not good enough for the adults too, then it wasn't good enough for the kids). I'm playing off the last line of the psalm, that the fear (=healthy respect) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and then Jesus teaching with authority. I am going to take in my collection of business cards for tradespeople, and talk about who I call when I need help with a household repair. Next step is asking where any of them go when they have a problem, and then that knowing to ask for help is a sign of wisdom, not incompetence. Turning to God who is the chief authority, and the people/resources God gives us, for help is a step toward wisdom.

    That's the bare bones idea, anyway! I'd be delighted to hear anyone else's additions or ideas...

  29. hey friends - not preaching tomorrow but stopping by to say hello! have a wonderful day and bless your writing and proclaiming!

  30. Good morning, preachers. My sermon is complete...I think. You can read it here. I'm using the Gospel to set the stage for the vision I have for my congregation. I took a cue or two from Tribble's new book, The Great Emergence. We'll see how it goes.

  31. I'm one who is also looking for a children's message... on any reading, frankly! Though I'm preaching on the gospel, and using the Deuteronomy as the second reading, so one of those would make sense...

    Sue... Your approach is genuine, gentle and pastoral. Blessings as you walk with the family in their grief.

  32. I discovered last week that I could read but not post via my phone. So this is my token, running out the door, post so I can get the email. I'll be back later.

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Sorry about that deleted comment, my graphic didn't come out...try this again...

    It's 11am and I have a rough sermon. Thanks be to God. IT feels a little heady, but I discovered a great congregation participation refrain ("God is good" "All the time"...)that I've included sporadically which might keep them listening....we'll see. I'm not above using a gimmick this week.

    I have coupons for free chicken sandwiches at Chick-a-fil if anyone wants to join me and Love. You might get sucked into cleaning our recently vacated apartment though. And it's truly a gorgeous day here in Texas. I'm sending you some sun for those of you in the frozen gray north.
    Blessings on your writing today!

  35. Oh, cheese. Prayers for Tanner and for all of you.
    In sermon news, I opened the Word Document I started the other day, where I had written one paragraph plus one sentence.
    I feel this is progress.

  36. Sue, when is your memorial service? There is an Episcopal resource for burials for children and I could email you a copy but it's at work and I won't be there until later this afternoon.

    And the 6am drop off was so they could take a bus to a school a couple of hours away--still brutal for all of us!

    As for my sermon...well, I'm 3/4 done and struggling with the ending.

  37. Thanks for the offer RevDrMom, but I'm using the United Church resource called "Celebrating God's Presence" as a starting point and working from there. They have a good service in there (which I only discovered this morning) that provides the bones of the service. Now I just need to flesh it out.

    Bless you.

  38. well the sermon is 23/ or 4/5 done... just need the application part (of course)... but i'm thinking it's a balmy 30something outside... i'm heading out for retail therapy instead... and to buy more paint. paint! paint!

  39. Greetings preachers~!

    I'm a first time poster here, and along time lurker.

    Great to hear the comments and suggestions, and ideas...

    My take on the gospel reading is authority vs. power. Am reading Ched Myers "Binding the Strong Man" a political reading of Mark.

    Jesus spoke with authority.. the people knew it. And even those with unclean spirits recognize just who this preacher is....

    I'm starting with the example of Blogajavich and Haggard, two men hoisted on their own petard by their hubris... obviously filled with an unclean spirit whereby they deny their truth, and keep talking to avoid responsibility, and repentence. They've lost the trust of those they vowed to serve.
    they've given up any personal integrity they have... Can they shut up and hear truth?

    Then I refer to the interrupting unclean spirit in Capernaum synagogue called out by Jesus. Flash to the people who hear the voice of real authority vs the power of Rome/Herod/Pharasaical/scribe hovering over them. But the voice of Jesus calls us all out, all of us who come to holy places with unclean spirits in our lives..

    How do we deal with those who come to worship with unclean spirits in their lives? And how do we deal with our own unclean spirits, obsessions/addictions, and listen for the voice of authority who calls us out... and offers us new life?

    Oh, breakfast was oatmeal and banana and coffee around 6 am, and lunch was peanut butter on sourdough toast.

  40. Having fortified myself with turkey chili (3 points a cup!) I am at about 1200 words, and since it is communion Sunday don't need to go much further, but need to find the "tie it all up and bring it home" ending.

    Like sage1, I have images of both Haggard and Blago on my mind today, but I do not name them specifically, hoist though they may be. I'm more concerned with the overall cult of personality vs true prophets.

    Here's my focus paragraph:
    Truly prophetic ministry, which stands in the gap between the Divine and the creature, and mediates on behalf of both, is unsettling, and disturbing. It unravels our tightly woven tapestries of What We Think We Understand About God. Rather than predicting the future, prophecy is more concerned with describing the present, and recalling the past. Prophets don’t break open fortune cookies—they lug around mirrors into which they themselves must peer constantly, and which they must hold up in front of the people to whom they are called to bring Truth. Prophecy is dangerous. Looking into that mirror is dangerous, holding it up for other people to look into can be treacherous. No wonder the prophets in Scripture are reluctant. No wonder the ones we find today—or think we find—seem certain to either fade into obscurity or flame out in a messy, loud explosion.

  41. Blogger ate my comment. Here we go again.

    I really want to use a South Park illustration to begin the sermon. It won't fly (although a few would find it hilarious), so the search is on for something else to say.

    We also have St. Larger's annual meeting to contend with, so soup and reports must be created ASAP as well.

    Feeling kind of achey. I hope it's just from bowling and not an illness.

  42. The sermon is done!. And, now, I think I am going to try a cupcake recipe I saw on the Food Network. Yum! If they turn out pretty, I'll post a picture!

  43. Okay, I've paid bills, planned dinner, started more laundry--clearly, I'm avoiding something.
    Maybe a little more coffee...

  44. Just a quick pop-in! I have done a funeral, have a phone call in a few minutes (send some good vibes my way!!!) and am sleeeepy! My brief offering for the Psalm is up (I need the "how to link it directions again! I lost my sticky note with them). It;s on the Psalm, but honestly not super in-depth.

    Ok, time for the phone and then to write the rest of the liturgy. (Baptism, communion, ordination etc etc).

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  46. Chilly Finger, I like that! Keeping that thought for future sermon fodder. Oh, Cheesehead, I'm sorry.

    As for me I am in s short (3 week) series on Gideon. This is week two, and next week may be the last sermon I preach for--who knows when. Sigh. The grandkiddo, Trinity, is here so I am babysitting, cleaning house for company coming later, working on the sermon, and cooking this on the stove.

    It is a strange sounding soup, I know, but if you could smell the leeks and spices that are simmering...MMmm...smells middle-eastern. No, I'm not all that good at multitasking, and I'm getting kind of stressed. I've been having bad dreams about powelessness all week. Ugh.

  47. On the odd chance you really want to know what is on my stove,
    I'm trying the link once more.

  48. I've finished Matthew, on to Luke 15. Takes me a long LONG time to do these...

    Bearded Brewer stopped at Majorca Coffees and picked up a nice decaf for my afternoon studies... have some? :)

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. Deb, can you really do exegesis on decaf? ;-)

  51. is pumpkin soup and it is yummy. Have some. As for me, do I dare take a nap?

  52. Cheesehead, I love the mirror vs. fortune cookie image; that points me in exactly the right direction to listen to what else you have to say.

    Having written my vague family sermon ideas here, I seem to have gathered that the monkey is off my back...NOT! I need quite a lot more focus. But instead I am thinking that after some kid errands, perhaps we all will go see Hotel for Dogs. I'm sure there's another week's sermon on community in there, so it's prep work, right?

    One hotdog left, if anyone would like it!

  53. Missed all of you last week as I was gone at Con Ed. Preaching the psalm this week and am excited to say that 2/3 of the sermon was written before I left. So now to tackle the last 1/3.

    I'm talking about praising God - why we do it and how we do it. I'm using an illustration from The Color Purple. In an elderly congregation, can I get away with quoting a scene from the book and saying, "I think it p*sses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it."


  54. Nice work cheesehead and sage1! I like that approach to authority vs. power. It'll preach. I wish could be in your churches to hear you.

    Dancing with God - I love that illustration from the Colour Purple. I wonder if you could offer a pre-emptive explanation that the wording may not be to the taste of some, but it illustrates the point, so you have opted to use it anyway...something like that. (Bringing to mind those tv warnings about program content...)

    Many, many thanks to those who have offered suggestions for Monday's memorial service for the wee babe. I just came from a visit with the family. They are doing as well as can be expected.

    thanks again everyone!

  55. Dancing, I agree with Sue, use it with a warning (but not an apology), if it works for your sermon.
    cheese, your focus paragraph rocks.
    sage1, welcome to the party!
    I'm about to fix some popcorn, anyone want to join me?

  56. Dancing:
    You'll have to judge if they can handle it with or without the disclaimer. Will using your original wording distract them and send them on some mental tangent, or will it really connect and make sense to your group? Maybe you can find another word? Do you really think it pisses God off? if so then maybe you can use "makes God angry, upset, annoyed," Or is it more God feels under appreciated, ignored, taken for granted, overlooked, sad or disappointed? These might not pack the same punch, but might convey the same message and get you where you want to go if you're uncertain or anxious about their response to using your original wording.

  57. Dancing, my congregation would spend the rest of the service stewing over the fact that I said p*ss from the pulpit. Even on this friendly board, we chose not to type out the word. I'm probably more cautious than most - Sister Worry Pants, that's me.

  58. Well, I stand by my recommendation, if you really want to use the quote, use it as written. It's intended to be provocative. Do you want to be provocative? If you think it pisses God off, then don't be afraid to quote it.
    (There, I spelled it with letters.)

  59. I'm struggling with authority. So often authority is missed you. I think I sometimes am so cautious about using my authority that often I wimp out. But in this church I have learned that the church wants effective leaders who lead with authority so I try, but back to the sermon, need somnething

  60. I am loving all this talk about authority since I am preaching this Mark passage next week.

    I find myself in a quandry. Of all the position profiles I have read in the past 6 months there have been some which lead me to say "i could be happy there" and one which when I read it I heard/felt "this is the place". I interviewed there and felt good about it. THey asked me for a DVD of a service which I sent early this month and they have recieved it but at last account their committee has not yet met since they did some interviewing.

    How long do I wait before looking elsewhere? I have a couple places I may send info but don't really want to do that to get a contact next week offering a call...

    Also, I really want to give my notice sooner rather than later so the congregation can start the work of needs assessment and we can all begin the procedss of wroking towards transition. SO the waiting is rather frustrating.

  61. Hi Gang!
    I'm really struggling with this sermon. Living in Illinois, it seems odd not to mention Blago and the scandal and authority, but, honestly, it's not been where I've found my energy.

    So I've written a first person narrative account, from the view point of the man who had the demon cast out. There are pieces of it I like, although I'm having trouble with an ending. And I worry it's not "sermon-y" enough.

    I'm fascinated with why the demons recognize Jesus and his followers don't. Oy vey. I feel like I'm getting nowhere....

  62. Home and napped (twice) from the Session retreat I have my sermon based on Psalm 111 in my head, but it will have to wait until after dinner before it gets on solid ground.

    And since there is nothing like coming in late to a discussion and adding in 2 cents, I say to use the correct quote or not at all BECAUSE if you don't you will piss off the folks who have read The Color People and loved it for what it was - bold and to the point.

  63. I've got several pages of notes & ideas. Energy is with Cor & Mark, but thoughts roaming far and wide all afternoon. For instance:

    Puffed up - what puffs up & why

    Build up - what exactly are we building up, what's involved in building up a structure?

    The Kirk Cameron & friend infomercial (Way of the Master?) where they hijack unsuspecting folks with the 10 commandments. Seems more like playing on fear or guilt than building up to me. In trying to share their knowledge (puffed up, pride?) and their view of Jesus' authority are they potentially more of a hindrance? Same for Mark Driscoll in Seattle (neo-Calvinist, conservative, hyper-masculine approach in contemporary clothes/language). Some are clearly drawn to his msg & theology, but others may wonder if there's another approach. I'm not trying to totally bash on these folks, as I give them credit for trying to get out there and talk to people. But I think there's a difference between talking *at* and talking *with*. Can we authentically share the reasons we believe Jesus' teaching has authority, in a way that builds up the other?

    Another random tangent had to do with Jesus newly arrived in town and off to teach. I wondered if folks would have expectations like we might of a substitute teacher (this is going to be a waste of time, oh boy, let's goof off), and are surprised when he seems to know what he's doing.

    I had a 6th grade teacher - not warm and fuzzy actually a little intimidating but was a good teacher. He had this presence, you knew he could teach you something. Then they gave him a different position and we got a new teacher. She did not have this same presence. We weren't confident she could teach us anything, so we were difficult, rejecting the little authority she had.

    So... there are some more of my ponderings. Need to figure out the main point I'm being drawn toward so I can narrow. :)

    Congrats for those who are done, and encouragement to those still working.

  64. I had a preaching professor who could absolutely use the Color Purple quote and get away with it. It was just the way he talked. All the time. From him, it was honest and genuine and fantastic. From me...I would have to paraphrase for it to be comfortable with the way I talk. ("To paraphrase The Color Purple...")

    I had a memorial service this morning and I spent the first half of the week on a retreat. Can you say, "difficulty focusing on sermon"?

  65. yes my sermon is supposed to go somewhere... it's not. i've shopped. walked the dog. and now... it is time to reconsider what i've written... and either start again or salvage... *sigh*

    that is jsut the way it's workin' this week... or uhm not workin'...

  66. Sara+ your first person narrative really got me thinking shifting my gears a bit.. Really like this energy. When I do first person narratives I don't write them out, which by the way scares the jeepers out of my husband, I kinda jot an outline Because If I have a manuscript I tend to read so I am better off with as few notes as possible. I am wondering about doing a flip flop kind of narrative with energy like at first I am not sure what has gotten into to me, feelings of being overcome by the evil spirit then when Jesus spoke oh with such power such grace all that was ailing me slipped from my being and I felt at peace again Ok tell me to shut up I am rambling I need some ice tea anyone have any!

  67. After a long visit to the grocery store... I have lots of goodies to share. Cookies... ice cream... crackers... cheese... philly cheese steak sandwiches... even a bottle of wine and a couple of cold beers.

    After I got home and got everything unpacked... I posted my offering for tomorrow here. Comments are always welcome... especially if you catch me writing something that is heretical!

  68. Gord, would it be appropriate to call and ask them for a time frame for you to be looking at?

    Perhaps just being candid about your needs from their committee would tell them even more about you and how you do ministry - in this case, with concern for your present pastoral charge, and with a no-nonsense-right-to-the-point question. I think it's a perfectly legitimate request.

  69. well I am not happy, I have a rough draft and am going to have to sleep on it as it is late here, comments welcome here

  70. You probably don't want me as the Heresy judge...
    Who needs a pick-me-up? Diet Coke anyone?
    I've got a draft. It's short because we have Communion tomorrow. But I think I like it as is.

  71. I do need a pick-me-up, thanks. I also need a pick-my-sermon-up, if you've got one of those. Wishing I could figure out what I really am trying to say. Baby is in bed, hopefully for the night. Hubby's bringing home supper. Hopefully I can get this hammered out soon.

  72. I just had a quick impromptu nap, so clearly I could use that Diet Coke!

    I have the reports done for tomorrow, but not a word of the sermon yet. And the soup is not yet made. Still having trouble getting motivated.

    During Advent I came up with a theme for this season of healing the world, and now that the readings are turning to that healing and what it looks like, I need to make a key connection here. First comes the call...then comes the task.

    And I think I want to include something about the difference between power (which can be seized) and authority (which must be given, and must be authentic to one's being).

  73. There is plenty of Diet Coke--an everflowing stream, just like time. :-)

  74. I've put the sermon on hold for a bit. thought I was being productive today and then remembered a couple other things needing time and attention. :P

  75. Napping is the theme of the day it seems. I just woke up from a short nap and realized (thanks Songbird) that tomorrow is communion, so I don't need to write the prayers of the people. Nice to cross something off a list that I had not managed to get to anyway.

    Now I'm wondering if my sermon is too long. I may go back and tighten it up a bit...

  76. Sweeties, and really, if you have met me in real life, you'll know I might really say that to a group of you, I must go to bed. I know it's only 9:30 Eastern, but I have sleep to catch up from last night.
    I will leave out for you:
    more Diet Cokes
    three different kinds of decaf tea including Constant Comment and Chai
    one therapy dog and a cat or two if you can find them
    (the other dog is shy, and he's going upstairs with me)
    HBO if you need a diversion
    and those 1 point Weight Watchers Frozen Latte bars

    Write well and sleep well, and I'll check in tomorrow morning!

  77. G'nite Songbird. Sleep well.

  78. I have found it interesting this week the various circumstances in which I have witnessed or overheard terrific examples for the I Corn passage and even, perhaps, the Matt passage. But they have no additional substance as of yet.

    On the one hand, I think I need more caffeine but on the other hand, I'd like to sleep later.

  79. I have decaf Fair Trade and some cookies.
    If you're really hungry i have lasanga soup for Souper Bowl luncheon tomorrow. It is really good because i had a bowl earlier!
    I have not gotten far on sermon. We have a lady in Hospice who is close to death, though I do not think it will be this weekend. I spent a good bit of time with family and I had to go pick up the estimate for our new flooring at church. The session will vote for the project. I don't think it will be a question even, it is more thant we had planned, but to get good work, warranty, etc we need to pay more.
    So, that is why I do not yet have a sermon done.Well the fact that I slept late this morning has lasting effects!
    But, help yourself to anythign you like. Cat cuddles are also avaialable to give you extra motivation.
    Okay, sermon, sermon...
    Hey, it is communion tomorrow! Slightly shorter sermon, but now to say soemthign about Jesus and authoirity in about 1100 words!

  80. Oh, I am making ref. to the season premire and the second episode of Lost in my sermon. To tie in prophecy and authority (i.e. who is in charge) to the OT and Gospel readings.
    And, yes, CH there is a tiny ref to Blach. and Ted Haggard. Cant help it. Whne the issues of the day are so timly you gotta use 'em!

  81. Communion tomorrow! OH! Arrgh! I'm glad for the reminder...but oh to shorten the sermon?

  82. OK, just got back from a highly enjoyable murder mystery presentation (and no I wasn't the killer) which was made all the more interesting by a couple of short power outages while we were trying to read our clues...

    SUe, I may well be in touch with them again. I did ask if they had met when they got the DVD a week ago so if I haven't heard anything by next week another e-mail will go out. And there is a big city church I may send a package to as well--I can always withdraw my name later.

    Opinions please...
    I am thinking of taking time (the slot the choir would be singing if they were doing so) to present some of the books I have read recently. Part of am accountability piece, partly because some of them are ones I want to recommend. Does this sound like a suitable thing to do in worship????

  83. ANybody else having trouble accessing crack, I mean facebook? I get a "page not found" message

  84. Ugh. I still don't know where to start. Not that I've done a whole lot of real thinking on this either. Actually, I've got two good starts, but I don't know which to use since I don't know where the heck I'm going. Really struggling with what to say about this Mark passage. I feel like I've got in front of me what would be an easy road to take and then the unknown road. The easy road is not an unfaithful road, but it doesn't seem like the right road, or at least not my right road, but I could whip it out in enough to go to bed before midnight.

    I won't do that, but I don't know what the other road is. Ugh. Sometimes I can just start writing and see what happens, but this time that doesn't see like a good idea either. I could stop procrastinating, too, I guess, but....

    Ugh. A lightning strike of inspiration would be good right about now, but if it doesn't come I'll go ahead and just get another bowl of kettle corn!

  85. (Oh yeah - - and crack is working entirely too well for me.)

  86. I'm here, but I'm taking a quick interlude and heading out for a snack with another preacher.

    I have a rough draft finished (yay!) but it is reeeeeeally rough. And needs a good conclusion. Hopefully to be found soon.

    Be back in a bit.

  87. Thank you friends! Thank you brothers and sisters! Thank you! Thank you! Reading around, thinking about what I'm reading - - I've finally got some of my thoughts coming together. Here's what I think about Mark:

    Obviously, Jesus has something about him, something in his teaching, something in his personhood that makes it obvious to everyone he's different. The people are amazed. Maybe they're pleasantly surprised for a change of pace in worship. Maybe they're intrigued about something new. Maybe they're excited for something that really touches them this time. Awwww....isn't that nice.

    The people are amazed, but the demon is scared. Are you out to destroy us? The demon knows there's more to this authority than just a nice teacher with some neat new ideas. The demon knows that with this authority to teach comes the authority to change, even destroy lives as we know it. The demon knows this is more than just a good preacher or a good teacher, but someone who is going to turn things upside down - -beginning with the demon himself.

    The demon, the only one who TRULY knows who Jesus is, is the one with the most appropriate response. It's not astonishment or amazement. Finding out who Jesus is, agreeing to follow and be a part of his kingdom mission (an idea I worked with last week) is a buckle-your-seatbelts-it's-going-to-be-a-wild-ride kind of experience.

    Jesus isn't going to stand for those unclean spirits in our lives or in the world, and, if we're true to our calling, true to our promise to follow, we're going to have to let him assert that authority we recognize. We going to have to let him toss those demons right on out of us (and the world).

    OK, so the wrap up still has work, but for something that's finally coming together in that last few minutes, it'll work to get me writing! Whew!

    Is it wrong to run with th

  88. Gotta go put the car in the garage which I forgot to do when it was still 44 degrees. At least now it's still 30. Funny how 30 is warm after the weather we've had for the last month. I won't even bother to wear a coat to go out for this task!

  89. Oh yeah, two posts ago I cut myself off - - Is it wrong to run with the idea that the demon is the one we should emulate?

    (Well, not totally, but you know what I mean. I like a little twist in my sermons and the idea that demon got it right isn't original to me, obviously. I think I'll just run with it a little more.)

  90. I hate that I get on a roll after everyone is gone so I end up writing blind (with no feedback about whether I'm crazy or not). Not complaining about you guys. Complaining about me.

  91. I'm actually still around, trying to figure out pieces of vestry retreat so I can create a tentative agenda/plan to discuss w/Sr. Warden tomorrow. I liked your thoughts... seemed like you were on a roll.

  92. I'm here! Just got back from Hotel for Dogs, which I recommend for a light-hearted flick, though a little (4-5 y.o.) behind us got upset for a bit. Happy ending for all, however.

    SheRev, I tend to like sermons where there's a twist on the expected. So, the idea that the demon's recognition of Jesus, and the roller coaster after that, is something that works for me!

    I'm off to bed; it's not yet 10:00 here, but I have a hospital visit to make before church in the a.m. Productive vibes for all of you still (or back to) working.

  93. 1:01 anybody else out there?
    Anybody else still writing their sermons?
    Anybody else wish Saturdays were longer?

  94. Still here 1-4. I've got my first 304 words down, but at least I finally know where I'm going! Once I double that I'm going to bed and will wake up 4:00 a.m.-ish.

    I don't know that more hours would help me. I'd still wait 'til the last ones possible!

  95. And what have I done? I looked up soemthing for my sermon on the web and then went to revgals to see what the next book would be!
    Which led to looking at more books...
    I am sooooooo ADHD!!!
    It's really sad.
    Good luck, see you in the AM, I am going to have to get offline to finsih up

  96. Night night! I'm halfway done so I'm going to bed. I'll be back in a few hours to bring this one home.

  97. I'm back...She-Rev, 1-4, anybody here?

    Just trying to poke and prod and preen this sermon, and come up with a great ending. And perhaps change the beginning. I'm at 1194 words so far.

    At least the soup and reports are done for the annual meeting!

  98. hey Semfem, you got me beat. I am only at 1066! But, since it is communion, I will have to tie it up a little shorter than the norm.
    Just have nto figured how to bring this one home yet.

  99. well 1-4, I'm now at 1301, but I'd like to shorten it a bit if possible. We have Communion every Sunday so that's not why--but folks will want to start the meeting on time and things will just flow better if the sermon isn't as long.

    I just wrote an alternate introduction using South Park as an illustration, but I don't really care for it. So it's back to polishing what I already have finished, and resisting the urge to nap again.

    Ending the sermons is indeed the hardest part! At least I think so.

  100. Good morning - its after 9am here. I've just finished up and need to hit the shower. Cheesehead, thanks for sharing your focus passage - it helped me to draw things together.
    And Songbird, thanks for hosting even though we party on way beyond your bedtime - desperate measures!
    Till next week.

  101. I'm back to finish this one up - accompanied by notes scratched out in the dark on a piece of paper next to the bed. That one last thought that wouldn't let me sleep that will hopefully help one struggling transition.

  102. I'm printing this sucker and hoping to get an hour of real sleep. It's not perfect but it will do, I hope.

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching and proclamation today.

  103. Gord, I think reporting on books sounds more like something for the newsletter or a gathering after church over coffee. I think it's a great idea to share your recommendations with the congregation.
    And I think in a search process it's okay to keep applying until you have the right call. You just say no thank you to others as soon as it's certain. As soon as you cut things off, you're making less room for the Spirit to move.

  104. Wow, a lot of late-nighters! I hope you all have enough sleep to stay on your feet today.
    Glad some of you get to use current events. With children in worship, I steered away from the bleeping governor and the pastor with, ahem, issues.
    I've got a fresh pot of coffee for those of you polishing things up this morning.

  105. Oh poo. Got on a roll and now I've got too much. This is always the case. I've got 15 minutes to fix it, and after that we just go over! (Whatever "over" is when we're talking about worshiping God!)

  106. (Maybe I can take the Welcome Back, Kotter reference out. Probably not necessary to the right preaching of the Word.)

  107. Although, Sherev, the Welcome Back Kotter is interesting. Now I will be thinking of them all day.
    One of my elem school buddies had a WBK lunchbox. I am rememebering it now!
    So, prayers appreciated here. Th lady in hospice died aroudn 3AM. They caled me little after 7 this morning.
    So, add funeral to Tuesday's schedule, as long as weather is okay. It won't be much, but I live in an area where fluries brigns about school closing, panicked trips to the grocery store for milk and bread and constant runners at bottom of screen with closing and delays.
    Yes, all you Northerners can chuckle away. It is parrt ofthe little excitment we have here!
    Anyhow, prayers appreciated for the upcoming days.
    Prayers for all who preach the word this day. Let the HS do her stuff. If ya got a dog, walk it proud and don't step in any poop!

  108. SB, that is sort of what I was thinking about ht books after more thought. Mind you doing it in worship would ensure there are people o hear.

    Ah well, time to find some special music, and come up with a Children's Time. Totally forgot about that !

  109. children's time...ugh!!!
    wait it is souper bowl. we can talk about Jesus telling us about feeding others.

  110. I found another 170 words to cut right off the bat, so WBK stayed in - - it's just a passing comment about raising my hand to give the answer in WBK style. "Ooh! Ooh! Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter!" I don't even say that much.

    Those of the right generation will get it and giggle, the others will let it pass. I don't anticipate a distraction

  111. Ah, this is it!
    Just for you, Sherev!

    I hope the link works.


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