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Saturday, April 04, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Two Processions Edition

Good morning, gals and pals! Today is the day before Holy Week begins. You know what that means: tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Or is it Passion Sunday? Great discussion of that is here.

Since I was sick on Tuesday and didn't get in on the discussion, I'll just say that when I was a little girl, it was always Palm Sunday. We gave the palms and the hosannas and the cheering crowds the whole day, and saved the rest of the story for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Now, in my tradition, it's called Passion Sunday: we open with the cheering crowds but by the end of the day, we have heard the whole story of Jesus' suffering and death. So there are two processions: the cheering Sunday one, and the jeering Friday one. (hence the post title).

I have fair trade coffee this morning (as usual), Good Earth Tea (think a cinnamon orange spice flavor), oatmeal with blueberries and bananas and some orange juice. I'm "11th houring" today, but I'm also working ahead to organize Holy Week and Easter. Come by and share your sermon inspiration or your emptiness, your hunger and thirst, the things that feed you on this day.

In this procession, let's walk together.


  1. Anyone for oatmeal and coffee?

  2. Definitely! Busy day here: rehearsal for tomorrow's Palm and Passion Drama, preparation for a memorial service tomorrow afternoon, family obligations, too. I'll check in later!

  3. sounds good, Songbird. see you later. blessings on your day.

  4. mmm. oatmeal. yes.

    we are doing the same palm/passion sunday over here, too.

    even after doing some study, and a great sermon title, it is hard to figure out how to preach this! plus, it has to be short and sweet, deep and meaningful. huh.

    I have some really good grapes, bagels, carrot juice...and raisin bran and soymilk.

    blessings to SB on a busy day...

    hope you are feeling better diane, it sounds like you were really, really sick.

  5. Maybe someone noted on Tuesday but the best reflection I have read this week is linked on the front page Textweek. Starts from the anointing woman on through the meaning of the week.

  6. Good morning.

    While I am not "pulpiting" this week I do offer a Holy Week prayer, which I found several years ago.

  7. Purple,
    I love the prayer.
    I just went back to the Tuesday comments to see where/what people are doing.
    I love just leaving the Passion story as it is, and no sermon.

    Too late for that, but next year...

  8. thank you all for your offerings. Karlajean, that has been exactly my thought every year (although we do not read the whole passion narrative). Last year I wrote a monologue (bystander); this year I'm trying another (a pilgrim).

  9. Ann and Purple, thanks for your offerings: much appreciated. And Karlajean: I agree with you, but I don't get my way here....much.

  10. I don't get my way much, either.
    this is the comment where I don't go and check my email or drool over shoes at Zappos, but buckle down and get something written.

    really. it is too early to be procrastinating already!

  11. Purple, thanks for posting that prayer. We're doing palms tomorrow, with readings and reflections. I've posted a couple here
    We have a service every night in Holy Week, so progress through the passion then. I love it but lots still to prepare.
    I know its not Easter yet but we broke out the cadbury's creme eggs for the children at the bunny hunt this morning - so help yourself.

  12. Is it ever too early to procrastinate??????

    I am off to visit with the ladies prepping for tomorrow's Ham Supper, whilst I meditate on Worship, Music, and Pastoral Care for this afternoon's video call interview.

    THe Palm Parade sermon will wait until this evening for final polishing

  13. well friends, I seem to have worked myself into trouble. I have exactly zero words to back up my boring sermon title ("Hosanna"), and in ONE HOUR I will be leaving my house for a day of meetings, meals with friends, concerts, and a little downtime in between....the trouble being that all of this is happening in downtown Chicago, an hour + drive away from my house. I'm not likely to be home before 11pm.

    During that one hour, I need to finish laundry, get ready for the day, and possibly do a teensy bit of cleaning up around my very untidy house (or possibly facebooking, who knows).

    I have this to say: uh oh.

    I have a vague sense of a plan, in some bizarr-o world where this will work: a combination of Chuck Campbell's column for the Palm Sunday text in Feasting on the Word (about Jesus' parade as parody/satire that shows up the inadequacy of the military/political parades of power) and Scott Black Johnston's Day 1 sermon on this text (for this weekend) about Hosanna = "save us" and what it means to be saved in unexpected ways. I'd been thinking about these things, then read his sermon and realized how unoriginal mine was going to be...and then remembered that no on in my congregation is going to have read/heard his, thank goodness! my head is something about salvation that isn't what we expected but much much better, satire, and palms. Thank goodness I don't have to work the passion in too!

  14. i am wondering if we will have worship... since the great blizzard of '09 is due to blanke the entire state later today.

    hunkering down... working "ahead" today on other things for the week... keeping a watchful eye on the darkening sky.

  15. I know, I need to buckle down and just finish what I started yesterday. shouldn't be too hard. the idea of the monologue is "what procession are you in and which king do you follow?" do we follow the king who went to the cross?

    And I'm a little more than half done, but procrastinating...

  16. oh and Gord, prayers for your video interview...

    Teri -- oh dear. that's all I can say. plus, I'm really looking forward to getting back to "Feasting on the Word." Forgot all about it during our off-lectionary Lent.

  17. We're a busy bunch today! Blessings on all the activities.

    I'm doing the Palm/Passion thing as well--we won't be having our own services during Holy Week (join with the United Churches in the area), so I want to at least expose the congregation to the story every year. However, I'm preaching on the Palms passage, with only a glimpse of the Passion. I'm looking at Jesus as ruler, what the calling of a ruler is and how he fulfilled it. not sure of much more than that at this point.

    Early lunch with a friend, then back home to sermonise and plan worship for the summer. I've got a pot roast started in the crockpot (smells great already) and hope to be able to kick back and read tonight...

    Gahhh, just saw the time! Must run to shower and dress...See you all later!

  18. Diane, I did a sort of "which parade" sermon last year. I am sort of wishing I could just use it again!

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  20. It's a gorgeous day in Florida...come on over, and we can climb through my window and sit on my roof, cups of tea in hand. And if you'll help me do inventory (April 15 just around the corner, arrrggh), I will give you all the chocolate you want.

    More and more, my imagination and attention go to the gaps in a text, or to the seemingly small details that I have usually passed over. This week, as I worked on the words and art for my blog reflection, my eye kept turning toward the place where Mark tells us how, after the big procession, Jesus goes into the temple and looks around. Just that--he looks around, and then goes with his disciples to Bethany. I got to wondering what, in the wake of the crowd and acclamations and festive noise, Jesus was thinking as he stood (probably alone) in the (probably darkened) temple--that place that was so central to his own life and to the life of his people. It struck me as Jesus taking a deep breath between the procession and the passion, and gathering strength for the path ahead.

    Wishing all of you heaping blessings as we enter Holy Week, and praying that, between the procession and the passion, we will find some quiet moment to pause, to remember, and to gather strength from those who have graced our journey.

    Glad and grateful to be walking in this procession with you...

  21. welcome Jan! I welcome your insight into the details. and I would love to be in Florida right now, although it's starting to feel like spring here, finally.

    have a cup of coffee?

  22. Diane, I'm with you on the parade. I'm in a new church so I'm going to revamp the 'two parade' sermon. I must have read part of the last week, (Borg Crossan) before this week because the 1st chapter IS my sermon = 2 parades.
    Purple, love the prayer too, may find a way to incorporate it.

    Jan, thanks, I'm looking for a way to have the sermon lead to comtemplation at the foot of the cross because I'm having our big wood cross carried in for a visual benediction. Perhaps Jesus' looking around will do it.

    blessing to all and altho I'm loving the start of spring, a big old snow storm sounds good too, with a warm fire.

  23. We're sticking MOSTLY to Palm Sunday. We have pretty good attendance on Maundy Thursday and Goood Friday, so I'll save the passion for the passion days. Last year and started on Palm Sunday and ended on Passion Sunday, and I liked that, but I'm up for doing it different.

    I had worked all of Lent to get to this weekend and not have a sermon to write on Saturday night. I finally established a good weekly rhythm to my ministry. I was geared up to write on Thursday. Then all the music people decided to descend upon the office on Thursday and figure out what was going where for Easter. Ugh. I didn't write or muse any for this Sunday, but I did finish the Easter bulletin completely. It could print now if we needed it to.

    Oh well. A late night it will be tonight. For now, off to a state park with the fam. It's not as warm as I wish it would be for this little outing (between 35-40), but we'll take what we get.

  24. gotta get it done by noon, so I can preach tonight.

  25. Best wishes to you Gord on your video interview.

    I liked the idea that Borg and Crossan presented in "The Last Week" about the two processions coming from two opposite directions. I used that theme for my newsletter message, so I may echo a bit of it tomorrow.

    My sermon tomorrow is more of a "reflection" in that it really needs to be short (for those who know me personally *cough* Gord - I'll thank you to save the short jokes, 'kay?) :)

    Really, I only have about 5-7 minutes to say something brilliant and keep things moving. Our folks are not fond of going over the ever-holy ONE HOUR LIMIT!!!


    I still need a children's story. Any thoughts?

  26. It's snowing hard here, too. So far we've gotten 8". In April. Such is life in the Mountain West. Sigh.

    We are doing Palm/Passion Sunday, reading the Passion narrative in a "lessons and hymns" format (a suggestion from the Companion to the BCW). I had already decided to let the Scripture do the proclamation.

    That turns out to be providential, because this week the front corner of our sanctuary was deemed by two engineering firms to be unstable. One recommended that we keep people out of the sanctuary completely; the other went along with that but also said we could probably keep people just out of the rear portion of the sanctuary. Session met yesterday and decided to err on the side of caution. So, tomorrow we'll be worshiping in the fellowship hall. With an old piano that is never used and badly out of tune as our only musical accompaniment. Too much snow and not anyone readily available who knows about moving pianos to move our just tuned sanctuary piano over by Sunday. So today we'll be working on making the fellowship hall look like as much as possible like a worship space. A couple of people will be moving over the communion table, cross, baptismal font. I'll put finishing touches tomorrow. Suggestions on how to do this transformation welcome.

  27. Hi, all.

    I am thankful that I do not have to preach after the dramatic reading of the Passion tomorrow. The sorrow of what has happened here in Binghamton is almost overwhelming.

  28. True to what I said on Tuesday, I am not preaching tomorrow, and letting the Passion narrative from Mark have the last word. All I really need to do for tomorrow is put together my liturgy, print out the readings, plan the lesson for Adult Ed, and plan for dyeing Easter eggs with the confirmands tomorrow afternoon.

    Eek! That sounds like a lot, now that I read it! I almost wish I was writing a sermon instead.

    Pretentious Village Talent Show is tonight at the high school, and WonderGirl is performing in her Girl Band and as a solo artist on guitar/vocals. She wrote all her own songs. Did I mention that she is awesome?

    Off to shower (just got off the dreadmill) and go to the grocery store...

  29. I thankfully (please don't hate me) have my sermon for tonight/tomorrow done. the midst of playing with 10 month old Baby Girl (and keeping her out of no-no's), thinking about other sermons/services yet this week, I am trying to work on a job application--which is due April 15th! (posted April 1) Nothing like Holy Week as a time for pastor types to apply for something.

  30. Greetings all. Purple, I love the prayer. Thanks for sharing.

    This year our choir concert is on Palm/Passion Sunday and titled Journey through Holy Week. It ends with the crucifixion, leaving us waiting for Easter morning.

    So, no preaching in the morning service, but I do have to have something for the afternoon Recovery of Hope worship. And no clue. Vaguely considering something about the journey . . .

    RevKim, we always hold our afternoon service in the church hall. A table with white cloth, candles and the communion elements on it and a portable podium are all we use to make it "worship space" I like to think of it as more like 1st century worship than what we are used to in our lovely churches . . .

  31. oh! ((((Muthah+)))
    praying for all concerned...

    sometimes it is best to let the readings speak for themselves.... let our hearts grieve, before saying anything.

  32. Rev Maria - Thanks for the reminder about the 1st century churches. I'll use it in my opening remarks tomorrow!

  33. Muthah, prayers for all of you grieving over the terrible events in Binghamton.

    RevKim, the first thought that came to mind for me was of the "parade" you have going moving all those familiar items to an unfamiliar place. Maybe the unusual setting offers some possibilities to get people to listen in a new way?

    Gord, hope all goes well this afternoon.

    For our family service, we'll do a responsive reading of the Palm gospel and bless palms, then I'm going to read "The Colt and the King," which is the donkey's look at Palm Sunday and Jesus.

    For the next service, which will have lots of kids, I'm incorporating a cross the Sunday school has been making. Each week they've written a theme word--hope, patience, faith, love--on one side of a post-it, and their own thought about that word on the sticky side. It gets stuck to the cross, and their thoughts are just between them and God. This cross is being brought into church and placed by the altar at the end of the Passion gospel, and I'll preach briefly about bringing all of ourselves--the cheers and the jeers--to the cross. It's just between us and God what we offer, and God accepts it all. Hope it works!

  34. Betsey -- it sounds like a great idea. wish I'd thought of it.

    I have a monologue, not ready to link to it at this point. going to practice and pretend that I like it.

    won't know it by heart, unfortunately.

    I like the idea of being in a different place, and hearing in a different way.

  35. This is too late for this year, but this would be an excellent dialougue sermon where you pair the celebration of the Palms aganist the loss and tradegy of the Passion.
    I would gladly do this sermon dialogue with any of you revgals!

  36. Okay, I have blogged my thoughts over at my place. This will likely be the extent of the sermon as the Passion Narrative is much longer than a regular gospel reading. But then, you all already know that!

    Thoughts, prayers and hugs to those in Binghamton, snow storms and/or preparing for job changes. I have vowed never to move again until I retire.

  37. Hi all. I have home-made guacamole and chalupas to share if you need a snack.

    Like many of you, my church is beginning with Palms and ending with Passion. We are not reading the entire Passion narrative, because that will happen on Good Friday. We're just reading the part about Pilate and Barabbas, Mark 15:1-11ish.

    I had originally titled the sermon for tomorrow "Beware Popularity" but, thanks to RGBPs, Borg and Crossan, maybe I will talk about the two contrasting parades. Teri shared something on Tuesday that is prodding me as well, "We'll roll out the red carpet for you Jesus, as long as you don't discuss or threaten our power, our politics, our religion, our economy, etc etc etc."

    I'll be joining the parade of MSU fans to watch the final 4 tonite.

  38. I, too, am letting the scripture speak.

    Meanwhile, there's still plenty writing/planning to do.

  39. guacamole and chips sounds great! I don't know if my stomach could handle it, but....

    I'm not in love with what I wrote, but I'm hitting print, and practicing, anyway...

    I love that line, "we'll roll out the red carpet for you, as long as..."


  40. Muthah, hugs to you and prayers for your city...

    I am back from a lunch that lasted way too long! Friends back from a few months in Cambodia (one of them is a doctor who works at a clinic there). Had delicious buckwheat crepes with cheddar cheese and fig puree.

    Now on to the sermon!

    PS--last week I asked for prayers for Strong Heart as she was candidating--she was called to that church and will begin there next week! Very exciting--her first solo pastorate (she's been 'on staff' at the church where she trained).

  41. prayers for muthah and community...

    celebrations for Strong Heart....

    Hope that Gord checks in after the Skype interview...

    and I want to live wherever buckwheat crepes, cheddar and figs are on the menu together.

    I have something that is the beginning of a draft. It does have a beginning, middle, and ending...but needs some Spirit thought before returning to it.

    Guess I will go and clean something.

  42. 2nds to the buckwheat crepes.

    now pray for me, off to practice.

  43. pastrami, provolone cheese, garlic triscuits here... hoping a snack will induce the funeral-homily-mojo... it's sleeting outside. inside it is also meh.

  44. arghh! the sleet has now become hail... dangity dang dang it!

  45. Hail! oh hotcup, plagues of locusts.

    Yes, I'll take some of the pastrami, as long as it's virtual.

  46. I'm back after coffee with my sisters, which was lovely. Three of us live here in town and we don't see each other often enough. We're all going to be in different places for Easter, and our fourth sister lives in another city, so it was great to get together.

    Betsy - I LOVE the idea of the words hope, love, patience, kindness, etc... our admin assistant had started making paper palm leaves just in case ours didn't turn up, so I can use those as part of the children's theme time.... thanks!!

    I too am hoping to here from Gord after the interview!

    Is it terrible that I've started packing for B.E.??? Talk about having trouble living in the "now!" :)

  47. Diane, hard for me to imagine hail; I'm in flip flops and a t-shirt and was getting hot gardening in the sun!

    Just got back from Smart & Final, so I can offer all the foods a teen boy needs to survive: frozen burritos and hash browns, red grapes and Granny Smith apples, yogurt, and assorted cheeses. If you are here later, I'll put out the black bean enchilada casserole I'm making for dinner.

    Sue, how lovely to get together with your sisters...much nicer than working on a sermon.

  48. Hey All,

    Not preaching tomorrow,so just poking my head around the corner to say hi and blessings all on your writing.

    Also, SheRev - have fun at the park (brrr) and I have that communion thing, but cant find your email. You can email me from Facebook and if you are still looking for one.

    Have a great day everyone. I'm napping and bike riding :) after a dusty morning spring cleaning at the church. Yeah, spring!

  49. OK, have a good rough (almost final) draft. I'm going to let it sit and see if the pot roast is done. It was looking a bit dry last time I walked through the kitchen...may need to liquid and let it cook a bit longer.

    Gord, any news?

    I'll offer the pot roast if anyone is interested in an early dinner--assuming it's ready!

  50. Just 22 minutes to tip-off... Sermon? What sermon ...?

  51. potroast? yum!
    Mstate? uh i am wearing green...
    funeral homily... done. geesh!
    hail? gave way to rain. snow begins tonight... bwaaa haaa haaa blizzard warnings galore. closed highways and all...

  52. Just signed off from the SKYPE call. Went alright, save for some technical difficulties that necessitated a reconnection halfway through the "sermon". Not really a sermon given the topic matter, more of a rumination on what they mean to me.

    THey apparently are doing other interviews the same way. I think it is a good way to steward resources. To fly me there would have cost them $500-1000 and me 3 days. IT is worth looking at for other palces. Of course you need the technology (but most congregations have someone with a webcam and SKYPE is a free download and free calls) and a good internet connection to make it work.

  53. I'm back!
    The final items on my agenda are:
    1) print out a fresh copy of the script for tomorrow so that the organist, the narrator and I will not have to flip back and forth from bulletin to script, and
    2) write memorial service for tomorrow afternoon. I'm finding it challenging. A town family asked to have the church for a funeral for the mother/grandmother, and because church members knew them and asked me to do it, I agreed. On meeting with the family I realized they are completely unchurched and have only a vague sense of God and heaven, sort of a greeting card conceptualization. They knew no scripture, no hymns, yet wanted a "church funeral" with the organ. I'm going with "Abide With Me" and "Amazing Grace," figuring those are enough in the public consciousness that it won't be an epic fail. I've got scripture in mind based on what they told me about her life, but maybe I'm trying too hard.
    If any of you have input, I'm open to it.
    (Other than, why did you agree to do this, Songbird?)

  54. okay, I dashed off a draft between lunch and dinner and would love some feedback--I'll be back LATE LATE LATE to rewrite. I think the first half is mostly fluff but am not sure how to edit it in the 30 seconds I have left before the dinner/concert I'm headed out for right now!

  55. Gord, you are in the vanguard!

  56. Gord, please tell me they didn't ask you to "preach for a call". That is SO not United Church. (waving red flags madly here)

    Otherwise, I'm glad it went well.

  57. NO SUe. THey asked for a: a 15 -20 minute sermon on Music, Worship, and Pastoral Care, these are the most important things to our congregation. As I said, it was a rumination on those things (with references to fellowship and CE added)

  58. Whew! You had me worried there for a minute. That's kind of exciting about the techy part of it all. Good stewardship!

  59. What a up from the fierce winds yesterday, a big funeral this morning, house cleaning for dinner guests tomorrow, and a sermon...sigh....

    But first - how is everyone??? I'll take some time to catch up!

    Also, my draft is posted God's Passion and broken heart over flowing with love

    now, back to cleaning...

  60. Sue or Gord--
    What is meant by "preaching for a call?" How is that different from the candidating sermon and why is it a Bad Thing?

    I have many friends who are Unitd Church and I'd like to be up on these things... :-)

    PS Pot roast is ready!

  61. Gord,
    Is that only main Three things the church is looking for and considers important?

  62. wow, a lot has happened since I was last here! Gord, sounds like it went well. I've never done anything like that before. People don't ask us to prepare a special sermon, although some spies have been known to sneak in and spy on a Sunday morning.

    Tonight, not sure they would have been impressed. I need to know my monologue better. Plus, our decidedly low tech mike clip decided to fall off twice, letting the power pack crash to the ground. (sigh)

    I hope everything goes well tomorrow.

    I'm considering posting the monologue. In the meantime, I'm curious: Songbird, did you write your drama? I have not tried that. I've used Wangarin's The Cry of the Whole Congregation.

    Also want to read others' offerings.

  63. I did, Diane. I wrote four monologues based on Mark's Passion narrative six years ago (the woman who anoints Jesus, Peter, Pilate and one of the women at the cross), then three years later I wrote three more for children to interweave with the Palm narrative (a boy whose colt is borrowed, a girl who meets the procession on the road, a girl who goes all the way to the Temple with her grandmother, following Jesus). The readings will weave through the whole service, and Peter's reading comes in two parts with Communion in between.
    The beauty of dramatic worship materials: the opportunity to use them keeps coming around! I love remembering the other voices that have spoken them. And we have a wonderful anointing woman, who is one of our RevGalBlogPals! Gave me chills with her reading today!

  64. I have 5 monologues based on Mark's passion narrative, but we'd never use them here. I used them for 5 weeks in Lent once. I think they're pretty good, maybe I can use them somewhere else.

  65. Here's a note I just passed to Teri...thought it would make sense to "share with the rest of the class," so here you go:

    Years ago, I heard Rev./author Rebecca Parker refer to the Passion/Resurrection narrative in terms of the Ancient Greek concepts of tragedy and comedy.

    A tragedy, according to Parker, is a story with an awful end you can see coming, yet you are powerless to stop it. A comedy, on the other hand, was a story where the end turns out very different from what you expect. The Holy Week story starts out sounding very much like a Classic Greek tragedy. We can almost hear the eerie soundtrack as the horrible scenes play out.

    But Jesus communicates, with his radical openness, his humor, his unexpected actions, that we do NOT know how all this will end. Every time the Powers of Empire try to squash him under their Mighty Thumbs, he somehow keeps slipping out and showing up in our midst again. He is the Holy Fool, the child laughing at the naked emperor, the common Messiah riding on a donkey. He is the Lord of the dance, cut down, and though we enter a time of silence, there is another verse waiting, unexpected, waiting to be sung.

    (This is the basic skeleton of a sermon I did, based on Parker's concept, one year when Palm Sunday fell on April Fools' Day.)

  66. Checking in late...sermon is sort of done. As I said Tuesday, focusing on Simon of Cyrene. Wishing most strongly that I had decided not to preach, but too late now. In need of children's time.

    Also, I will be telling the congregation tomorrow that I will be leaving them, due to my husband being moved to a new church. That is...ah, somewhat distracting. Lousy timing for Palm Sunday, but we didn't get much choice on that.

  67. Oh, I see how it is, MaineCelt. Over here you're wise and clever, but at my blog it's all puns, all the time!

    I've finished my funeral preparations. Where's the party? Anybody have ice cream?

  68. Now that MSU has defeated UConn and will go to the Big Dance, I am remembering that I have to preach tomorrow ... but I think I know what to say.

    In the meantime, I found out that my locale is under a winter storm watch. Thankfully the snow isn't supposed to arrive here until late Sunday night ... but a snow storm during Holy Week is just plain whack!

  69. MaineCelt, I really really like that idea. I heard Paul Stookey sing a song once called "April Fool."

    Esperanza, I'm sorry... for everything. that you're leaving, that you didn't get on that well, etc. I hope you will be blessed in the next place.

    Now, I feel hoarse all the time, no matter how much water I drink. really scratchy throat. anyone know what I can take for that?

    and, I'm really tired. I don't want to poop out on the party. and, I really need to know my sermon better for it to be effective tomorrow.

    who knows how long I can hang in there.

  70. ok, here's mine

    If anyone's still around, let me know what you think. (I think.)

    I'll be over in a minute, Teri.

  71. (((Esperancea)))
    SB, everytime I hear Abide With Me, I think of Steel Magnolias!
    Sorry! It jsut reminds me of them in church carrying on so.
    Does anyone need anything?
    Did I mention the Spirit store got in my favorite Abita brew last week?
    Strawberry Harvest.
    Our slightly long program of music and readings for Holy Week (not to be confussed with a Cantata) is set for tomorrow.

  72. Thanks, Diane. It's complicated, but mostly good. Just stressful for a few weeks here.

    And, you should take care of yourself and go to bed! We'll be fine.

  73. Just checking in before hitting the sheets...

    RP - When I was in seminary, both of my homiletics profs were very adamant that in the United Church of Canada, one does NOT "audition" for a congregation (ie preach for a call).

    In some denominations, when one preaches for a call, it's often the last stage of the search process. The congregation has pretty much decided you're okay, but before they call you, they want to hear you preach.

    Unlike Diane's system (which no doubt happens in the United Church on occasion) it's not just a few reps from the committee coming to your present charge to hear you preach.

    Rather - you are up there, in the church you may or may not be called to serve, front and center, and expected to "perform." If you have a bad morning - well, you're screwed.

    That's why it's bad.

    To set someone up in such a life-changing, stress-inducing situation hardly seems fair and borders on cruelty. When there is so much at stake, how can you not show some nerves, mispronounce a word, or whatever??....and EVERYTHING is dependent upon that one single sermon - not the hundreds you may have done before that.

    The other bad thing about it is that what happens turns into something other than true worship - it is part of a job interview and everyone in the sanctuary knows it. To my knowledge, that is why we don't allow it.

    Gord may have more light to shine on the subject, but that's my two cents....

  74. My sermon is a Palm Sunday sermon... based on John 12:39-50 (a reading after the procession into Jerusalem)... and it's here.

  75. My daughter is the narrator for our service tomorrow, and we've been going over the words that trouble her: Salome, Joses, the way another kid in the program pronounces "colt" as if it were "cult"--yes, it's an average Saturday night chez Songbird. :-)

  76. Hey, Songbird... I never promised you a prose garden.

  77. In the UCC, we give a candidating sermon, after which the congregation votes. But this comes at the end of a long process of interviewing. And only one candidate, who the search committee recommends to the congregation, will give one. There will also often be a neutral pulpit, where the candidate preaches on neutral territory and the search committee attends. It's certainly true that a bad sermon would hurt you, but if you're being called to a position in which preaching is a primary part of your call, I can't imagine how a congregation can know they want you without hearing you preach. What criteria do you use in the United Church?

  78. diane - try boiling water as if for a cup of tea. add to your cup approx. 3 Tbsp of honey and 3 Tbsp of lemon juice... add boiling water and sip 'til gone. helps my throat every time...

    uh we got 50mph winds... and this is the calm before the snow flies later. i think palm sunday might be spent at home with the dog. bummer!!!

  79. Diane: a few folk preacher remedies for your throat:

    1) Tea: there's a brand called "Traditional Medicinals" that makes a tea called "Throat Coat." If you can get ahold of some, sip it as often as you can Keep a warm mug-full with you at the pulpit. This stuff has gotten me through preaching/singing gigs when nothing else could.

    2) Ricola cough drops, original flavor.

    3)Look for any tea/candy/cough drop that features liquorice, slippery elm, or horehound. Bonus if it includes honey and/or mint.

    4) Try a warm-water gargle with salt water.

    5) Keep your throat warm. I've heard that professional singers always keep their throats wrapped so they never get cold. Maybe there's something to that.

    Sending healing prayers & thoughts your way!

  80. thank you everyone! I will be trying one (at least) of these in the a.m. I've been hoarse ever since my bout with flu early this week; feel like I damaged something. I can't sing over a C.

    Everyone's talking about interview preaching: I know that for my first call, we were not required to preach for the congregation; in fact, it's a no-no to ask. I do know for this one, four people from this church drove all the way to South Dakota to hear me. It was January, and BAAAD weather. And can you imagine trying to explain four strangers to your little congregation? hmmmm.....

    anyway, I think it's tricky...

    now, at least we broke 80 comments. I was hoping we might get to 100 tonight, but I'll be happy with 90 (hint, hint.)

    But, unfortunately, now I really do need to go to bed.

  81. Feel better in the morning, Diane.

    I'm turning in, too. After the one year I got the flu DURING Holy Week, I try to take better care of myself. Try, anyway.

    Blessings on the preaching and the singing and the hosannas tomorrow.

  82. Blessings to you, too, Esperanza. May some stones roll away from the next portion of your path.

    Now it's off to rummage in Ye Olde Costume Box for something an Anointing Woman might wear... hmmm.

  83. P.S. to Diane:

    I just remembered two more remedies:

    1) French onion soup or borsht (any clear soup is good, but onions & mushrooms & deeply-coloured veggies have special curative/soothing powers. Skip the melted cheese or sour cream on top, because dairy products can make ear/nose/throat conditions worse.)

    2) (Reserve for AFTER church) A half-shot of single malt whisky, served at room temp, no ice. Sip slowly. Feel the burn. Then take a nap.

    (Don't tell my Grannie I said so. She was a life member of the WCTU!)

  84. Just popping in to check on y'all before I go to bed. I'm trying to decide where to go to church tomorrow and realizing it may not matter since snow is on the way.
    My daughter is still at the church formerly known as "mine" and it is strange to hear that so far not one of the church's traditions of Holy Week is going to happen this year. Not one. Hmmm...okay...SO not my problem...not my problem...but feels sad and strange.

    Blessings on all who preach tomorrow, especially you, Diane!

  85. Of course, I'm still here and with little written, but enough in my head to write. I really want to get writing here soon because I remember last Easter when I almost didn't make it through the service because I was coughing so horrendously. I was so ticked that I had picked all my favorite Easter songs and didn't get to sing ANY of them. Anyway, I'm sure being super rundown from all the Holy Week activity did not help me fight off whatever came my way. I swore I'd be in bed at a decent hour on Palm Sunday this year so I at least didn't have that against me going into Easter this year.

    So, that requires something resembling a sermon showing up about any minute now. Stop messing around on the internet, SheRev!

  86. Esper - still looking for a childrens time? I am not doing it tomorrow, but the woman who is will be bringing a box of Things To Wave (why do we wave flags, banners, white hankies, our hands?) And why do we wave PALMS....

    Well, we have lots of young ones so it has be simple and active. But in case it helps...

  87. Oh, all this talk about preaching for a call is giving me nightmares of days past....

    I have been asked to send a pre-recorded cassette tape of a sermon; a DVD of me preaching and Presiding; had people show come to visit (and be less than discrete by announcing to one or two people why he was there - this old partially senile man, sigh); had entire teams show up and interview a number of people as well as see me "perform"; I've had to preach and Preside on sight for a small group of vestry and search committee; and in the case of where I am now - none of the above. The first time anyone here heard me preach or Preside was my first Sunday here, a year ago. They literally gave a sigh of relief afterward....

    It's all bad, difficult, and somewhat artificial. The call process is way difficult. I hope I never have to do it again, but I probably will...

    So - many prayers for those going through the process....

    And Diane - what MaineCelt says - yes!!! Love the throat coat tea...

  88. Wow. I'm pretty sure I'm the same denomination as Diane, and preaching as part of the call process is pretty normal here. I was required to preach in a neutral pulpit and then also at the churches I was called to serve. Fortunately it was part of a much larger interview and discernment process. Just interesting to hear about the wide differences even within the same congregation!

    So, I'm here, quite late, after a long day, without a word or note written. It's going to be extremely brief, so we have plenty of time for the dramatic reading at the end, but I still need to have something to say to wrap up our Lenten theme.

    To complicate matters, I am struggling with some medical worries tonight. I don't think I want to say more than that, but it's certainly distracting to think that maybe I should be going to the ER one minute, and planning to call the doctor on Monday the next.

  89. Oops, I said "congregation" in my first paragraph there when I actually meant "denomination."

    Clearly I need sleep. And a sermon.

  90. semfem, one of the things I hate about being single is trying to figure out the "go to ER vs call the Dr" line on my own.

    remember, better safe than sorry

  91. Okay, I'm home after a great day (and a fabulous concert!) and I think I have a restructuring/rewriting idea, so I'm off to work on that as quickly as possible...I do want to sleep tonight, after all!

  92. Prayers for those with ER vs call the dr Monday issues.
    I am off to bed and hope all is well. Good luck with rewrites, 1st writes, and memorization and tweaking.
    Anybody need soemthing before I turn in?
    I have clean sheets tonight. I always sleep better on freshly washed sheets!

  93. What's with all these commercials for numbers to call if you want to chat with "hot singles?"

  94. UGH. Had a great breakthrough about an hour ago. I know where I want to end up and even how to get there, but JUST. CAN'T. FIND. A. BEGINNING. So annoying.

  95. If they are so indeed hot, then why are they "waiting for me" to call them at 1AM?

  96. If it might be strep, go to the ER! I remember a Saturday night when I really wished I had. Spent Sunday morning at the Urgent Care instead. I was having a rapid strep test as worship was starting without me. Take care of yourself, esperanza!

  97. Vicar--yeah, I guess I shouldn't make it worse by Googling what I think might be wrong...if I'm not going to the ER tonight, I need to write this freaking reflection!

    She Rev, been there, and yes, it is really annoying.

    I think I might have a hook here, finally, so let's give it a shot.

  98. 1-4 Grace, ironically, your comment probably has moved the preacher party to a different Google search list :)

  99. Going to bed soon...hoping all who are ill are better (diane, Semfem)...Teri, will you republish that altered sermon? I'm curious where you go with it...

    well, 5am will be here an hour earlier than I want because I've stayed up an hour later than I should have...sigh.

  100. Songbird--it's not strep, it's something wrong with my leg. I wish we had a walk-in clinic or Urgent Care or something like that around here.

    Back to it. Two pages should be a cinch, right?

  101. Well, I think I've got SOMETHING to get me in even if it's not as creative as I wish.

    As I'm writing tonight I keep getting drawn back to the audiobook on my iPod that I downloaded for the kids - - The Emperors New Clothes. That parade is the one that keeps coming to mind and I don't know if that's an interesting thing to explore or completely disrespectful.

    I keep thinking of the palm wavers whispering to each other "Does he know he's on a donkey?!?!?! Does he know he doesn't look AT ALL like a king? Where are his clothes, the poor guy?"

  102. (The Emperor's New Clothes is not the thing I've got to get me into my sermon - - two unrelated thoughts there)

  103. OK. I think I've got the whole thing pretty much written, it's just not in the correct order. I'm going to bed for a few hours and then I'll come back to finish. Shorter than usual won't hurt anyone's feelings this week, either. I need to keep telling myself that. For a number of reasons we could have a larger than average crowd which will lengthen communion.

  104. Okay, I think I've got this pretty well wrapped up. I just need to finish my visual aid for tomorrow and take a quick shower.

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation today.

  105. an hour and a total rewrite later, the brand spanking new sermon, with different tone, different structure, but same basic message, along with the same exact (still boring) title is here.

    Ever have one of those moments where you wish you'd written in a new document, rather than deleting everything old, just in case when you wake up neither thing works? I'm having one, but it's too late. So I'm going to sleep, praying for the Spirit, and hoping for the best. See you in the morning, friends! Happy preaching to all!

  106. What we thought was triumph
    went to true triumph
    save the palms
    it will be time to wave them
    this time
    in utter joy

  107. I'm back. A little bit of wisdom as I was falling asleep saved me from a long, drawn out, unrelated intro. Still not all that riveting, but at least it's RELATED to what I'm doing. No time for frivilous stories and half-related illustrations, though, anyway. Thankfully, I'm wordy enogh that's usually the case for me!

  108. checking in this a.m. didn't end up getting as much sleep as I had hoped because my father-in-law was taken by ambulance from his nursing home to the hospital late last night. He has pneumonia. we're worried.

    so, up here not to work on my throat and know my sermon/monologue better.

    blessings on everyone's day and holy week....

  109. Oh, Diane! So sorry to hear this. Hope he is feeling better soon.

  110. Songbird - sorry I didn't respond last night, but I went to bed early.

    The idea behind not preaching for a call is that the search committee needs to work with the references provided and the reputation of the individual as a preacher. Also, there's always that question in an interview "What are your growing edges?" (ie what do you need to work on?) For a pastor whose growing edge is preaching - that's an important moment for stark honesty.

    The committee needs to trust in all three of these. References need to be asked deep and serious questions that go well beyond "Is he/she a good preacher?" They ask about exactly what makes the candidate a good preacher - style, content, good research, approachability or any number of areas. So the process is VERY thorough, but does not allow for the scenario I outlined earlier.

    A neutral space with only the search committee - that I could work with. I'm still not sure if the Manual would allow for it, but I can see where it would create safer space for the candidate.

    Anywho - it's a United Church thing. The Joint Search Committee Manual is pretty clear on that ruling. As I mentioned, there may be a history behind that particular General Council decision that I don't know anything about, so others may be able to explain it better than I did.

  111. well I can't find a reference to preaching for a call in the Joint Search Handbook (do you know where it is SUe) It does suggest the visit approach or a audio/video recording of a sermon (most places I have sent information to I have included a CD of a worship service).

    But Sue is right, preaching for a call doesn't happen for us. The first time the congregation hears the name of the person selected by the committee is at the meeting where they will vote to accept the reccomendation (if confidentiality has been respected that is--I remember once as a teen where everyone knew what name was being suggested and that is why so many were there at a meeting following worship in August).

  112. Me again - two quick additions, then I'm off to the church.

    1. I should add that if a pastor's particular gift is preaching, that's the time to step up and explain why (humility can come the interview, we're encouraged to tell the committee WHY we're good at a particular area of ministry - with plenty of details...)

    2. The eventual covenant involves four parties - the candidate, the congregation, the Presbytery and God. A call is always going to be something of a leap of faith, preaching for the call or not.

    Maybe that's part of what lies behind the ruling.....

  113. Hi All,

    Those of you on the East Coast are in church already - prayers and blessings to you.


    Sherev, here is a long-ish thing in my inbox this morning from The Geranium Farm that reminds me of your Emperor comment. Not sure it has anything to do with anything, but I sure like it :)

    ...I sat in our garden last spring with a friend who told me a painful story from her past. We sat for nearly an hour in the sun on a bench that was only slightly comfortable, but we sat in the midst of flowers, butterflies, happy fat honeybees. Ethel Merman (her nickname for a local hummingbird) attended as well, busy on some bright red monarda I had planted just for her. She couldn't help but listen in, I suppose.

    Everybody makes mistakes, honey, she told my friend kindly. I'm not sure my friend heard her.

    Actually, Ethel, we were having a private talk. I started to explain that it was a confession, but Ethel flew discreetly away to sample some buddleia, well out of earshot. A cat walked carefully along the stone path and stopped to gaze fixedly at us for a while, but her indifference to the topic at hand was obvious.

    Animals and plants share the outdoor common. We share it too, when we sit outside, when we walk there, when we stretch out on the grass and rest. We crave the fellowship of it from behind our double-glazed windows and closed shutters, and we come out into it as soon as it is warm enough.

    Everything outdoors is public and private at once. The animals wear no clothes: they have nothing to hide. They keep no secrets as we understand secrets, but they do creep silently up on an unsuspecting prey, noiseless even in the pounce. And they do nurse their illnesses, even their deaths, in privacy, finding a hidden place to lie down when they know the end of life is near. They seem to want to leave this world on their own terms, which is what we all want -- if we must leave it at all.

    The confession in the garden was at an end. Ethel was still working the buddleia.

    Helps to talk sometimes, don't it? she said to my friend as she flew past, but I'm not sure she heard.


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