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Saturday, January 17, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Listening Servants Edition

Good morning, gals and pals! We're coming up on the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany here, and the lamp of God has not quite gone out. I'm listening for God's voice -- or is it Eli, or Andrew, or someone else entirely? I've got the radio on in the background as I write this; I wonder if that makes it harder to hear God calling me?

What about you? Is the word of the Lord rare for you right now? How is the lamp of God burning for you? Are you hearing God call your name in the night? Or is it more like an invite from a friend, saying, "come and see"? Or, maybe you have your fingers in your ears, and you're saying, "Lalala, I can't Hear you!" God's call is always good news, but it's not always easy news.

I'm looking forward to a lively conversation. I've got fair trade coffee (french vanilla today) and Good Earth Tea. I've got the famous banana chocolate-chip muffins (I promise, no calories!), and a nice bowl of clementines to peel and eat. I'll turn down the volume so that we can hear one another, and discern God's call, no matter where our preaching leads us.
Image is Georges de la Tour, Samuel Awakening Eli


  1. Good morning. Its a bright, breezy morning in Scotland. I desperately want to get out and walk but I need to put some flesh on these very sparse bones of a sermon. We're launching a year of homecoming and I'm challenging folk to consider that if the prodigals return to their spiritual homes, what do we have to offer? Using the "come and see" from the gospel hopefully to help us reflect on the gift of hospitality.
    These words from Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out are helping:
    'The very world we live in is hostile. So many people are busy, lonely, estranged from friends, family, God. The world is so full of competition, aggression, fear, and suspicion. In this type of setting we as followers of Jesus have an obligation to “offer an open and hospitable space where strangers can cast off their strangeness and become our fellow human beings.”
    Nouwen defines hospitality as “creation of free space where a stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer space where change can take place… The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and find themselves free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free to leave and follow their own vocations.”

    A bit jumbled just now in my head but I'm sure its going to tumble out in some kind of sense.
    Offering crisp Ayrshire bacon rolls to help the musings. I'll return later.

  2. It's 4 degrees here and still dark so I will walk with you virtually, Liz.
    The sermon for Sundayis done! I was caught by the suggestion Tuesday of preaching on the Epistle and the HS showed up with the words!
    I haven't much to eat this morning but there are English muffins and honey lemon green tea for those who want to drop by. Lots of dogs to make everyone feel welcome as my "niece" has joined the pack for the weekend.

  3. That coffee sounds GLORIOUS! Please pass me a very, large mug.

    I will be spending my sermon time mending together two previously preached (by me) sermons. I figure if I don't remember them, they won't either and after researching the one especially really hit where I want to go.

    We will have a congregational meeting afterwards where my terms of call will be dissolved (as of 2/28) and our new officers are going to be elected. I am going to focus on leadership and responding to call (theirs, not mine).

    I also have the Farmer's Market and a visit to my Dad sprinkled in there so it will end up being a full day, but hopefully not a stressful one.

  4. Good morning, preachers! I have fresh coffee and a finished sermon! I know - I'm a nerd, but my parents are here for the weekend, and we are exploiting their musical talents and having them lead a choir workshop this morning! So, I will not be doing any sermon writing today. If it's helpful for anyone (and I enjoy reading everyone else's sermons) I've posted mine.

  5. welcome, everyone! Lots of good thoughts here (and finished sermons, wow!). I'm about 2/3s done, I think....but not sure yet whether "it'll preach." I'm pouring the coffee and getting ready to take the dog for a little walk. it's dark and cold, but not quite as cold as it has been (I think it went above zero last night).

    Welcome! I like the hospitality quote, liz!

    I won't read your sermons yet, but later, I will check in.

  6. 'Chilly Fingers' - never has a blogger's name seemed more appropriate with the weather a lot of us are experiencing!

  7. Good morning! I'm about to bundle up and head out for a graveside service this morning.

    I got a start on my sermon Thursday, but not enough of a start. Our annual congregational meeting is tomorrow, so if I "go short", I don't think anyone will care.

    Back in a few hours!

  8. I'm shivering just thinking about cheese's graveside service. Brr.

    I'm about to head out for a Presbytery committee meeting. I got some work done on the sermon yesterday, but it needs finishing today. Thinking about Samuel and hearing God's call and responding to it, even when it's the last thing we want to do.

    I'll take a clementine. We have some leftover hamburgers for you sisters who get to lunch before the rest of us.

  9. Also, Liz you raise the question: why am I not in bright, breezy Scotland?

  10. I'm thinking about how we are called as a church but really, at this point, it's not going anywhere.

    It's 6 degrees here, but bright and sunny, and perversely, I kind of like it.

    But Cheese, how do you do a graveside when it's all frozen? Seriously, we don't bury anyone til the ground thaws. (Not to say we don't have funerals, just not interments.)

  11. Good afternoon from the UK, I've struggled to put aside the excitement of a new call from earlier this week and to get to work on my sermon for tomorrow.

    I have some oolong tea brewing and slices of lemon ready- ( a diet/health kick atempt!!!)...

    I have decided to look at Nathaniel's story and to present a narritive sermon, the question is does it stand alone you can find it here, I'd really appreciate some feedback!

  12. Wow it seems that you are all in cold places, I'll heat up that tea!!!

  13. Don't hate me, 'cause I'm done.

    My sermon focuses on a word from God that changes everything-- and causes our ears (and hearts) to tingle. I'd never attended to that wording in the 1Samuel lesson before...

    I offer cinnamon raisin bagels and fresh, hot coffee for your pleasure.

  14. I have no words on the page yet. After a funeral on Thursday I took the whole day off yesterday. It was good! Let's see, the temp here is around 8 with a windchill of -7, according to the news. I have more coffee (we will be well caffeinated today!) and some oatmeal with craisins. The text will be samuel, but I am not sure even where I am going.

    anyone else have the hymn "Here I am Lord" running through their brain?

  15. Liz, I love the idea of hospitality from Nouwen. We're doing our centennial next year (and probably our funeral, too) and I'm struggling with how to focus our energy outwards instead of inwards.

    I'm preaching on Mark 1:1. Five words in the greek. I love it. It's short. We're electing elders, installing them and then doing the annual meeting, so short will be welcome. I also have a memorial service in the afternoon (and the furnace isn't working).

    It's warm here. The computer said 28 when I left at 6:45 for my run. I'm glad I'm not in MI or Cleveland this day. (I can remember days in Cleveland and MI when I thought 20 was a heat wave.)

  16. well done Jenifer, sometmes it is good to be done!

  17. kp, thanks a lot because I do NOW!

    Good hymn, great words... but after hearing it at EVERY installation and ordination - no mas!

  18. Kathrynjz, just trying to share the love. It's been in my head for days and days, and we are singing it on sunday at the request of the choir director. Plus, I think it needs to be rescued from funerals, which is when it gets sung around here.

  19. I got up early and consumed caffeinated beverages in order to drop SportsQueen off this morning and then the drop off time changed to afternoon. Now, I'm too caffeinated to go back to sleep so I might as well work on the sermon.

    I've got an MLK quote I plan to use and an old sermon that could be "stripped for parts." guess I'll see what unfolds

  20. Good morning. I've never posted but have long appreciated the preacher party. I'm playing around with call--particularly Samuel's--and thinking about MLK as well. I'm wondering Vicar whay MLK quote your using--if you don't mind sharing! Writing a funeral homliy today as well. I have tea to share.

  21. After the fiasco last week when I wasn't even in worship (I had about a dozen people contact me in outrage over the sermon the interim I spent a lot of time saying "have you talked to her?" and also stewing in my own outrage if she really did say the things people were saying she said....AND I was out of town most of the week!!!), I wish I was preaching. I wouldn't say my conversation with interim about said sermon went well, really (or, perhaps I should say the outcome wasn't what I'd hoped for), so I'm mildly concerned about this week. But we'll see. I'm on children's time, praying, and ordaining elders duty this week. Hmm, Children's Time on Samuel...seems like it should be a slam dunk, right? (that implies I'm going to come up with something before tomorrow morning.....)

    I'm headed to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's today and plan to be back just in time for a slightly late central-time lunch (around 1ish)...anyone want anything?

  22. up late last night putting together new bookcase... good aside from strained muscles and developing blister from screwdriver.

    up late today putting together thoughts to finish sermon... good aside from fact it is stalled out and feelin' useless like a stripped screwhead. dang... perhaps my pot of strong coffee will help...

  23. hi, I'm back from Bible study now and really need to get the last two paragraphs on my sermon done. I feel like it's moving right along, but there is strangely something different. Jennifer -- I like the word that changes everything!!!! I'm doing that part of the lesson too, partly because of the "ears tingling" and partly because we don't hear that difficult word that Samuel had to say to Eli, and that fascinated me too.

    However, I don't feel that I have spoken adequately to "our moment" yet.

  24. Chilly Fingers - enjoy the workshop. How delightful that your parental units are willing to offer such a great gift!

    Teri - that whole interim thing sounds just downright awful. Thinking of you.

    RevDrMom - We bury year 'round here as well, despite our -43 record of the past week. It's amazing what a backhoe can do even on frozen earth. (There's a sermon illustration in there somewhere....)

    Stay warm cheese....

    I am going with the Samuel reading and trying, trying, trying to find a new approach. I want to (loosely) connect it to our collective call as a congregation to amalgamate with another church. It's going to happen eventually and the talks are on-going, so I would prefer we do it when we feel called to it as opposed to when we can't pay the staff or keep the buildings standing.

    I guess the question I want to ask is: When do we know it's God speaking and not simply practicality and our own survival? What do we do once we stop "dating" this other church and actually move in together? What's our call going to be then?


    I can't steer toooooo far from the topic of the merger because it is on literally everyone's mind. It would be like avoiding the world's biggest elephant in the sanctuary.

  25. I wonder how many ways (or times) we put on mufflers to keep our ears from tingling or maybe we use our earphones to fool ourselves into thinking the music (or podcast) is ear tingling while we miss the word of God

  26. I'm using the texts from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Ezekiel 37, some verses, don't remember exactly and will work with that topic and theme. I will also pull in Martin Luther King Jr. I've never used either of these as a worship theme focus, so it's something new to me. Next week I'll be back on the RCL.

    Won't get to this until tonight, though. Kids are in the bath playing this morning, then we'll hang at home. The preschooler and I have a playdate at an indoor playground during her usual nap time. I hope that means she'll have an early bedtime.

    Gotta go. One's screaming, the other is crying. Might be time to wash hair and get out.

  27. Hey - I just noticed that I haven't had to do the word verification in a while. Did I miss something?

  28. Well besides tomorrow's sermon (more about that in a moment) I also have to write out from memory what I said as a tribute at my grandfather's funeral last friday. REally MUST do that today.

    It has warmed up here so of course that means it snowed. But thankfully I got the shovelling done already (so it will likely snow again of course)

  29. As to the sermon tomorrow...

    The idea is to talk about the hard stuff we are sometimes called to do/say. Thankfully few of us are given a task like SAmuel's as our first task in ministry but still the day comes when the uncomfortable/discomforting things have to be said.

    Around here that means naming the question of our sustainability/viability as a congregation (some of which I did in my annual report to be distributed next week) and the choices that need to be made around that. IT may also mean challenging the "let's get back to where we were and everything will be alright" mentality around town. It may mean questioning the whole economic system (which I feel is fatally flawed -- or at least based on some very faulty assumptions and practices) we find ourselves part of.

    Now here is the question. DO I do the hard stuff? Or do I wimp out and focus on what we do when we feel God is calling the hard stuff (which is a sermon in itself) and discerning the path?

  30. Oh Gord, we are SO living in parallel universes right now. I need to say some really hard stuff to these folks, who are just now settling back into what they consider "routine" (as in: "Oh good, Sue's back, everything is the way it used to be.")

    But it's not. And it has nothing to do with my presence or absence. It has to do with listening - really listening - to what our mission is. Is our mission to maintain "what has always been" or to move forward creatively?


    Have I been back long enough to be truly prophetic and invite them to take their fingers out of their ears (as Diane so eloquently started us off with today) while they say "lalalalala"?????? (Of course I would put it more gently than that, but still...)

  31. The sermon I have been working on since Wednesday is almost finished. It feels to me that this is a critical sermon to preach in the life of the congregation, and possibly my tenure here....but I do not want to make THAT the motivation, rather I want to be much more subtle....

    Anyway, once I have tweeked it a bit more I'll post it, feedback will really be appreciated.

    And as I write this morning I wll also hold you all in prayer - in the cold places, in the frozen places, whether in writing or in the weather....

    and lastly, I have an appointment soon for a hair cut and color - I'm going from gray to um, maybe, red...

  32. woo-hoo gray to red... there's a sermon in there... moving from neutral shades of living, to living boldly, passionately...

    now if i could wrap up this sunday's sermon without preaching about mompriest's new hairdo... hmmmm....

  33. ok, hi folks. Gord and Sue, what you say resonates with him. I'm saying some things about how our community is changing, and I'm getting to the uncomfortable part, and so you see I am over here.

    Also, I feel that though I am near the end, but I haven't really contextualized that here we are, coming up on MLK day and inauguration. Sigh.

    Mompriest -- Red! you go, girl.

    oh yeah, church meeting tomorrow. We asked for more money ($100,000), and we got a good return, but not quite all that we were asking for. It will be interesting....

  34. THANK YOU Preachers! I have been avoiding sermon writing this morning but hearing from you has reminded me that I am not in this alone.

    I had a great brainstorm on Tuesday, its been rolling around in my brain, collecting speed, I just need to get it down on paper (but, inevitably, this is where my fear and anxiety come into play.)

    The good news for all is that I am preaching Jesus' call of the disciples, which is next week's lectionary text, and I'll post it for public consumption next week.

    I have tea, comfy new living room couches and a window with gorgeous snow falling outside. Come on over!

  35. HC - that is a great metaphor for this change in me....hee hee

    That said, here is my sermon, still in need of some tweeking - especially the end...comments most welcome!

    now, off to the hairdresser, then a walk, then I have to write my notes for the BIG meeting tomorrow, the outcome of which may determine what I decide to do here, stay or leave....

    yeah. not much on the line....

  36. Wow, lots of you wrestling with how to express hard-to-hear and hard-to-say things to your people tomorrow! May the Spirit give you the words to say and your congregations the ears to hear.

    Liz, those Nouwen ideas are wonderful!

    Sally, maybe you've explained it elsewhere, but...a new call? Does sound exciting!

    I've got the family service again this week and I'll be telling the story of Samuel. Two years ago, I had a wonderful sabbatical during which I focused on storytelling. I continue to develop and use (sometimes to better effect than others!) those skills with passages like this one. I just love those moments when I am able to let go of my self-consciousness and "be" in the story, and I find that happening a little more frequently :-)

    I don't have much in the way of food, but I think there's still some fudge around. Perhaps you'd like to bring your laptops and work out on our patio, where it is forecast to be over 80 today?!

  37. Hi again. That bright and breezy morning turned into a howling storm but at least I got the cobwebs blown away. Sermon is about two thirds done but just thinking about children's talk - think I'l take my ipod in. I always spend time at the beginning catching up with their news - thinking I'll put my headphones on and then not be able to hear them. Are you with me - can then draw the parallel about blocking out God speaking to us. Going in a slightly different direction with the kids and adults bit that's OK. Still on the "come and see" and theme of hospitality with the adults. hope to post that soon because I am out with some gilrfriends tonight. Must stop procrastinating and wrap it up though surely its not really procrastinating when you;re just looking for some more inspiration from fellow preachers?

  38. Betsy, Oh yes, may I please? It is about 9 F outside here, and 63 inside, the warmest it has been (outside or in) for about 48 hours.

    I have a sermon, I am sort of ok with it, based on Samuel and John - calling, hearing the call, how others help us to hear it, where we would call others to "Come and See" Jesus in our own lives. I'll try to post it in a bit.

    Blessings to all with hard messages to say, and Sally, I read your narrative, I like it a lot!

    Nouwen's words are always powerful to me, thank you Liz!

    Must get back to cleaning, off to preach in about 3 hours, but the house has to look better before I leave!

  39. Betsy, my laptop and I are on our way! That sounds lovely.

    Don't have "Here I Am, Lord" swirling around in my brain, though we are singing it tomorrow. I'm humming John Bell's "The Summons" which we'll sing in response to the sermon.

    Ahhh, the sermon. It's started and I've got an idea for the ending. Now if I could just flush out that pesky middle portion that should have all the meat of what I'm trying to say.

    I don't have much to offer in terms of food. Seeing if I can make it another day before grocery shopping because it's just too cold to be outside.

  40. Why do I always come up with great sermon titles weeks after I've already chosen one and it's in the bulletin????

    I'm thinking "Are You More Prophetic Than a 5th Grader?" would have been really fun since I'm using the Samuel passage.

    Or maybe I just need to take a break....

  41. Woo hoo! i'm done. I can go and enjoy my night out with the girls. I've posted here.
    See y'all later.

  42. So, how many weeks can I postpone the Baptism of Christ? Snow in the forecast here, supposedly worse than last week, when the Trustees wanted to cancel and I went along with it. How do I insist on having church this time?

  43. Songbird - could you go with "wherever two or more are gathered"?

  44. Songbird,
    I agree with Sue. ;-)
    If it is safe for you to travel there. In spite of really heavy snow last week, we still had worship, with about 15 people.

  45. songbird, I have often seen folks post on their blog that if the pastor can get to church, then church happens. This usually happens with pastors in manses who do not have to drive, so I don't know if it applies to you.

    I have the bones of an outline and nothing to say. Dancing, we are also singing the summons. Both this week and next. It's one of my favorites!

    Maybe I'll take a shower and try to focus when I get out.

  46. Hi friends--I'm back with trader joe's pretzel slims and a soft-ripened, triple-cream (but not brie) cheese to share, along with tea and shortbread...and many many other goodies! I'm also contemplating making a risotto for dinner...maybe with mushrooms? Or something with artichokes? not sure yet of the combo...

    Still absolutely no idea where the interim's sermon is going and so no ideas about the children's time. Guess it's time to pull up the various sermons4kids type sites...

  47. I'm moving to Teri's!

  48. I am finally home after getting a new mouse for my computer and freezing while doing it. The house isn't too warm either. Hard to get an old barn to warm up when it is 5 outside.

    I want to do something with "Imitate me"--another translation for "follow me" from the Jn reading. What does it mean to imitate and still maintain one's unique character given by God.

  49. I'm done. I just need a good idea for a children's story. Why, why, why didn't I ask someone else to do the children's time? Two people offered a few weeks ago and I just never got around to making the phone call to set it up. Ack.

    Any ideas out there?

    I'm using Samuel, so it shouldn't be brain surgery to come up with something, but I'm feeling stumped.

  50. almost. . .done. . .

    Songbird, cancelling church has become an issue round our place too. But this is because our trustees don't and I (secretly) wonder if they should. At the very least, we are reminding people that, just because there is church does not mean that we are taking attendance and we trust them to do what is right for themselves and their families (not sure this always works for the elderly for whom church attendance is sacrosanct, but. . .)

  51. I'm back, briefly. Went out to lunch with stepson, had communion with shut-in, now to print and practice what I've got, hoping to figure out the little niggling "what's wrong" as I practice.

    we never don't have church. It was different in my country churches, but here -- it's always on.

    I'm crabby and I don't know why.

  52. I want to go to Teri's for dinner! I'm looking at leftover frozen pizza that was originally dinner on Friday night.

    Maybe some good food would help me finish up the sermon ...

  53. I'm the same as Diane - we've never canceled church in the ten years I've done ministry here - in the snowiest and coldest place on the PLANET. (Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much)

    Gee, I guess I'm crabby too...

  54. Margaret, you are brave to have taken on the epistle; good job!

    Chilly fingers, I really like how you explored Philip's perspective and experience and then tied it to our own response to meeting Jesus.

    Sally, narrative sermons are tricky and I really enjoyed reading yours.

    Time to go bake some cookies to keep ds working on his homework. There's still more room on the patio, and along with the sunshine, you can enjoy the fragrance of the rosemary hedge which I pruned yesterday!

  55. I'm back from a frigid morning spent with a truly warm and lovely family.

    To answer the question on everybody's mind: They use a special saw. This burial was only an urn, so they didn't have to cut a very big hole.

    To answer the other question: It was -10 windchill according to my iPhone.

    Now, to find 1200 or so more words to attach to my pithy beginning. Or as my friend/mentor would say "Put a house on that porch, woman."

  56. Teri, that interim situation sounds really icky. Sorry. But your food sounds wonderful...can we all come over?

    No one else has a children's sermon either? It should be a no-brainer, with this Samuel passage. But I can't think of anything I like, and my trusty websites aren't doing it for me either. Sigh. And I know we'll have children tomorrow, so I really should plan ahead. (I will shamefully confess that many a children's sermon gets planned during the first hymn).

  57. For Children's time I generally just tell/read a story (sometimes with comments/annotations). Given the number, ages, and personalities of the children we have anything else (such as a discussion) tends to fall flat on its face.

    WE also bury all year here--I have been in the cemetery at below 0F doing a committal. Last year I did 2 graveside services, which tend to be longer than a simple interment, in such condidtions. Luckily there was no wind :)

    As for cancelling worship? Doesn't happen here. To the best of my knowledge we don't even have a communction system in place should that be needed.

    Might I mention that writing out a reflection a full week after giving it is not easy. Knowing a written copy would be wanted I should have taken the church's voice recorder wth me...

  58. If it helps's where I am with telling the story of Samuel to kids/families: I'm taking a blanket and my bathrobe and I'll curl up on the floor as if sleeping (one of the best ways to get those kids' attention is for me to lie down on the floor!). I'll tell the story from Samuel's perspective, playing up the repetition and the puzzlement. I'm going to ask the music director, at some subtle cue from me, to do the multiple, "Samuel, Samuel" calls.

    The points I'm heading toward are that 1) God calls regular people like us (I'll have Samuel brush his teeth and do a bedtime ritual each time to emphasize his ordinary nature) , and 2) it's okay that sometimes it takes a while for us to figure out God's call. Kids are really open to the idea of God speaking to them when invited to consider the possibility; I hope this will encourage that!

  59. Betsy I love the attention grabber!

    I'm off to bed now as it is getting late here, thank you all for your company today.

  60. DONE!

    And, being new to my town, I've also just discovered this awesome coffee shop with a liquor license. Now I can finish off my glass of wine and read -- for fun!

  61. Done as well. It's kind of cahllenging this one, on a kind of challenging day.

  62. I'm thinking tomorrow might be "Runaway Bunny" day again with the children. Haven't told it in awhile, so many will not have heard it (at least at church).

    Since the Samuel story is so much about God's persistence and devotion to Samuel, the story seems to fit.

  63. I'm holing up at my dean's house (she's also a good friend) and writing after we finished a conference event today. Sounds great, except I will need to drive back in blowing snow tonight. But hopefully it will lead me to be more productive.

    I'm preaching the Samuel story and being called, not just to hang out in the temple, but to put things right--even if it causes us to be uncomfortable. I'm working with a "healing of the world" theme this season and being called to share healing.

  64. well, #1 is done. preached. fini. I didn't use the manuscript for much of the first half and improvised a little. A couple of places were disjointed, some things went better. it seemed just a little long....

    I will need to take another look before tomorrow a.m.

    we bury in the winter here, but in one of my rural churches we had so much snow one year we could not get into the cemeteries. so I guess it depends...

  65. okay, friends, the mushroom/artichoke risotto is ready! It's vegetarian but not vegan. Plenty to go around, so grab a virtual bowl (or, if you're really into it, come on over!).

    I think I might go with the Name angle for the children's time--God calls Samuel by name and also calls each of us by name. Maybe. Still thinking.

  66. Have a preachable sermon. Will do some tweaking in the morning.

    For now it's a movie and some knitting and some wine.

    Blessings to those still working.

  67. Diane, the guy had to plow a walkway for us today to get into the cemetery, and a very small space on which to stand. Fortunately, there were only ten of us, and standing very close together was a better way to brace from the wind, so it worked out.

  68. Hi all--
    Dropping in with chocolate chip cookies for dessert/snack if anyone would like some...homemade!

    I'm about 2/3rds done with the sermon. I'm focussing on the gospel, pulling together two strands--one is the good coming from the unexpected places ("can anything good come out of Nazareth?"), since our town has an inferiority complex; and the call to go and do (pulling in MLK for one)--the ones who work against expectations are the ones who make a difference.

    Just want to get through the body, then I'm for bed--I'll do teh conclusion in the morning...chemo is still dragging me down. But I've only preached twice in the last 6 weeks, so I think I'd better start doing what I get paid for!

  69. Just getting ready to take the preschooler up to bed, then I'm back to actually start. I feel like I know where I want to go with this sermon, but I don't have a clue how I want to get there. Hmmmm...I'm off lectionary for the Week of Prayer of Christian Unity. Have some creative stuff I'm going to do as suggested by the materials for the observance. I got my volunteers, but completely forgot to get the sticks and rope and stuff needed to do the symbolic stuff. Ugh. I think my husband might be making a run to the store yet tonight. I might need have him stop at Home Depot or something. I wonder if they're still open this late on a Saturday....

  70. I am still wrestling with a simple sermon on discernment or adding in some of the hard words God is calling me to say. THe hard words will be said over the next couple of months (like during my lenten series on Stewardship) and talking about discerning is so much, well, safer.

    For CHildren's Time I was going to tell the story of Samuel and ELi. But the eldest (Princess) asked me to read her Christmas present book. IT is co-written by Bishop Tutu and ties in well with mentioning either Week of PRayer for Christian Unity or MLK Jr. SO I think that is where I will go...

  71. You can find the book I mentioned above here

  72. Teri--if you have a name meaning book somewhere, that can be a good one too. You can look up Samuel's name, as well as the childrens' names. I've used it too recently to use it again. But you're welcome to it.

  73. Oh, Gord, thank you! An MLK Children's sermon, that's the ticket. I can do something with that.

  74. The organist and I agree: we will be there in the morning! Hope the person being baptized will show...

  75. I'm back! sorry to be gone so long. I see there are plenty of people who are "done", and I'm wondering if anyone is still working out there. I have a sermon, I wonder about the people who say they are going to tweak it in the morning. My first service is at 8:45. Tweaking it in the morning would mean getting up at -- oh -- 5:00 or so. Do you do that? I'm not a morning person.

    Speaking of weather (wasn't somebody?) it got all the way up to 20 degrees ABOVE ZERO today. seemed like a heat wave. it's supposed to be nice all week, and then how low can you go? next weekend.

    Let me know if anyone is still working. I'll break out the snacks. I have pretzels, popcorn, herb tea, cocoa. Would anyone like apple cider? I have wine too -- the bottle is just sitting here, but I'm wondering what that will do to my concentration.

    I'm going to read for a little bit, then tweak.

    I'll check in again.

  76. Diane - tweaking in the morning means I get up around 7am. Only have one service and it's not until 10:30am.

  77. Diane, "tweeking in the morning" would mean 1 am for me :) but I worked with a Sr Pastor years ago that got up at 4 am on Sunday to tweek/finish/memorize his sermon. He was @ the church by 5:30 am. I'm not wired that way.

  78. Diane, I'm here and, as usual, just getting started. Tweaking in the morning....hmmm...I do more than tweak in the morning. My goal is to go to bed with at least an outline by midnight (sometimes 1 am). Then my "tweaking" (uh, writing) starts at about 4 a.m.. I've got one service at 9:30 a.m. Sometimes I get more than my outline done by midnight, and I really can just tweak in the morning. Usually when that happens it means I'm going to bed at 1:00 a.m. at the earliest, and I'm back up at 5:00 a.m. for real tweaks, not first time writing.

    I don't like my process, but every attempt to change it has failed, so I just keep waiting for age to catch me and force me to do something different.

  79. Sounds like everyone has had a productive (but COLD) day! I've been sitting by my fire with my mom tonight, and watching those flames has just about put me to sleep - so I'm headed to bed. I wish a blessed to day to all of us preachers tomorrow.

  80. Diane, I'm here too and only about 620 words in. I'm in a real live preacher party tonight with a few friends, but sleep is threatening to take over. Must. Write. More. I will have a bit of a drive to get back for church.

  81. I'm around, with prayers for all who are still working. I have some oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies (low fat, not low sugar!) to offer for evening snacks. Diane, that cider sounds like just the thing to go with them!

  82. hi, thanks for checking in, folks. I'm just moving a couple of things around so that they make more sense. No attempts to memorize here.

    I don't do the "memorize" thing and especially not at 4:00 a.m.

    But I wish I didn't need a manuscript, most of the time.

    I preached about 1/2 without it tonight.

    I'll take a couple of those oatmeal cookies. Yes. The cidar is good.

    I will say that I think my sermon is ok, but I like it to be a little more narrative than it is. That's ok for this one, it is what it is, but my best comfort level is a good story.

    But maybe, just maybe, God isn't interested only in my comfort level.

    Another cup of Cider, anyone?

  83. well, I usually get to stop by and read a few of your sermons....but not tonight - and, I miss doing that...I miss reading what others are saying tomorrow....sigh.

    but, now I must go to bed and try to sleep. Prayers for all tomorrow, and thank you for the prayers for me.

    I have a little bit of Tazo "Refresh" mint tea for the late nighters..

  84. Ugh. I think I'm done but I'm not really pleased with it. This one might be a dog that needs to be walked proudly.

    I'm now going to re-read, print, and consider whether I drive home at this hour or grab some sleep first.

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation this day.

  85. I'm least until I wake up tomorrow and go through it again. It's posted here

    Prayers for all struggling to speak a good word and peace for those speaking the difficult words we all need to hear.

  86. Diane,
    Last Sunday, I tweaked between the services what I had tweaked at 7:00. I get up by 5:30 on Sundays but don't start thinking about the sermon until I get in the shower.

    As for not using a manuscript, I have gone from always using it to never using it and am back to using it again because I found that having no manuscript allowed me to be sloppy in my preparation. I wasn't putting in the serious prep time I had before. Now that was after 18 months without one. I'll likely go back and forth. I do find, though, that once written, I am pretty much wedded to the script and the way the words go together.
    There was one Sunday last fall when I had a written sermon on the pulpit but only a few folks at 8:00 so I decided to preach from the floor. It felt good so I did it again at 10:30. When I looked at the script, I discovered an entirely different sermon. So you never know where the Spirit will lead you, eh?
    Happy Sunday and I hope you won't be up tweaking. ;-)

  87. Good morning. Looks like the party petered out last night.

    Want to wish everyone God's blessings this a.m.

    May the Spirit be with you.

  88. I was up late into the night last night, but you're right, the party petered out. I've been back up at it for about an hour, and I'm pretty close to finishing up.

    Blessings on you all! Can't wait to be back on lectionary with you next week.

  89. Walking with Emily Dickinson for the past few years, and maintaining an online presence too. From ED's poetic letters, her homily this morning:

    "Travel why
    to Nature, when she
    dwells with us?
    Those who lift their hats
    shall see her
    as devout do God."


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