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Saturday, May 02, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: The One with the Shepherd

Hello, preachers and kibbutzers!! Welcome to another 11th Hour Preacher Party!!! If you're new here, or have been lurking, I hope you'll leave a comment and introduce yourself this week.

It's Good Shepherd Sunday tomorrow, for those of us following the lectionary, one of those annual events that sometimes taxes a preacher's inventiveness. To catch up on our thoughts from earlier in the week, check out the Tuesday Lectionary Leanings.

Where is the shepherd's voice leading you this week? Have anything special planned for the children's time? Share your thoughts here and we will encourage each other.

Do you have a lot on the schedule today? Tell us in the comments, and you may be sure of a sympathetic hearing!

I'll keep the coffee hot and the Diet Cokes chilled as we gather around this virtual table and get another one written, together.

(The Mafa painting of the Good Shepherd can be found on the Vanderbilt Lectionary site.)

114 comments:

  1. Good morning! I got back from Italy Thursday noon and have spent most of the last two days unpacking and doing laundry. But last Sunday night, as I was reading a book by Michael Tucker on moving to Umbria (where I was sitting at the time), I came across a funny story about talking to Jesus. It seems a friend of Tucker's was channeling Jesus and invited some friends over to talk to him. She urged them to bring questions.
    When she began channeling, Jesus suggested that it might be best if they started the session with questions. No one said a thing until Tucker blurted out, "so, how are you doing?" It went downhill from there.
    And that got me to thinking about a few things. First, most of us have said something like "when I get to heaven, I'm going to ask God about...." Why are we waiting? Do we think God doesn't know what we want to ask already? And second, if Jesus were to walk in, what would I say/ask? Could I do any better than "so how you doing?" My guess is the answer is no unless I understand that I am already in Jesus' presence and we've been talking for years! It ought to be more like getting together with a good friend we haven't seen for years. Despite the time passed, you can still pick up where you left off.
    Andn somehow, I will tie all of that in with the Good Shepherd. But before then, I have to rehearse for a concert that's tonight and get ready for my sister and her husband to come pick up their dog and spend the night. And there are calls to check up on parishioners after my two week absence. My dogs and cat, though, would like me to schedule some quality time with them as well and someone has to take the yard down an inch or six before it rains again.
    I've got tea in my new teapot, english muffins with Italian honey and fake bacon with real eggs. Y'all stop on by. There are a few hundred pictures to see. :-)

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  2. Hi, Margaret! What a funny story.
    I'm writing my first sermon for my new setting. I'll be the Interim Associate Pastor, so this will be my only sermon for them in May and I won't preach there again until a two-week stint the end of June/beginning of July. It's weird! I'll still be preaching alternate weeks at my other job, but it all feels odd.
    This church has some particular Communion practices that haven't been explained to me very well yet, so I'll be checking in with the Senior Pastor in the morning to be sure I'm clear about it all.
    There is also an impending death in the church family, so I'm prepared to go if needed.
    Other than that, it's a typical quiet Saturday, dedicated to writing and walking the dog.

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  3. Big day today. I am waiting on the electrican for repairs on manse, I have a noon chairty luncheon and then a funeral later this afternoon.
    Oh, and the relay for life was last night.
    I am in a dense fog, despite sunny skies.
    Preaching on the I John text and ponder that which is stronger than death.
    Welcome home Margaret!
    Hope all goes well with tomorrow, SB.
    It is always strange in new settings with new practices.

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  4. I will write a sermon and not facebook. I will write a sermon and not face book. Oh hi. I tried to write one Thursday night, but fell asleep. Tried to write one Friday, but just never could get it going. And so now I am 11th houring it with the rest of you, the Good shepherd and a bunch of sheep. At least it isn't pigs or the pig farmer. I titled my sermon the Good Shepherd, and thought I knew which way I was going, but I lost my way, so now am having to focus and find my way again. We're poor little sheep who lost our way, baa baa baa baa.

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  5. 1-4, the electrician again? How inconvenient!
    Thanks for your kind thoughts.
    Abi, that song was running through my head, too!

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  6. wow Margaret--just returning from Italy, what a chore just to get settled in, let alone write a sermon! blessings to you!

    Martha--blessings on your first sermon at the new church. sounds complex, you've been in my thoughts.

    Abi--bless you, you always make me smile! thank you for that!

    yesterday i received a call from one of the matriarchs at the country church asking what time i'd be at the church on Saturday. it took me a minute to realize that she was talking about the baptism of her grandchildren! i almost died! i had completely forgotten!

    now i'm working on preparing for the baptism. it's my first and it feels a little strange since it's a "private" family baptism. so i'm looking for a different liturgy that is more appropriate to the situation.

    i'm also missing my girls' soccer games this am--big bummer but it's nice to be in a quiet house for a change!

    i think i'm going to focus on there being one flock under Jesus the good shepherd. in Feasting on the Word there is a great story of Barbara Brown Taylor's that i'm hoping to incorporate.

    blessings to everyone as we all prepare for another Easter celebration!

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  7. Taking a cue from Abi:
    I will write a sermon and not read Eclipse.
    I will write a sermon and not read Eclipse.

    This is the first time I've preached since January (I'm technically on leave from the pulpit and pastoral duties till September). DH is out of town on study leave so I am filling in. I've got a babysitter coming shortly for 5 hours, which won't be enough to get my sermon done, but it'll help. She is also bring the 3rd and 4th Twilight saga novels for me. Can I resist the temptation to start #3? We'll see.

    I'm preaching on John, mostly on 17-18, entitled "The Life Laid Down." Right now I mostly have stories and images, but not sure I have a firm grasp on the meat of what I need to say.

    SB, what a switch for you! I can understand how strange it will feel for you not to preach every week!

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  8. Oh, revhipchick! Eek!!! So glad she called you.
    Earthchik, I have SO been there, with both the Twilight series and Harry Potter.
    Just realized to my horror that the phrase I was making my focus (and which is printed in part as the title of the sermon) is actually in a later part of the John chapter. I guess I will just refer to it and explain the context, but wow! Do I feel dumb!

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  9. SHepherd Sunday again!!!!!!!

    Why do we put up with this every year? I am never sure what to do with the image. MAybe if I lived in a livestock community?

    ANyway, the Word God has given me this week appears to be about trust and courage even when the shepherd leads us into areas that seem strange and frightening.

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  10. It is outside cleanup day at St Stoic. This means I will trot over to church and meet up with the couple who are the self-appointed Garden Czar and Czarina. Unfortunately, they are the two most grumpy people I ever met. Five years and I still don't know what makes them so grumpy.

    I had a thought last night about the 1John text and H1N1. Avoiding transmission of the virus can be accomplished two ways: living as a quarantined hermit, or living as a person who mindfully takes others into consideration. Which do we choose?

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  11. Welcome back Margaret!

    Abi - you're cracking me up. I struggled with the Sermon vs. Crackbook dilemma yesterday.

    Thankfully, the sermon won. Yesterday's snow flurries have also gone, the sun is shining and I'm planning on going for a walk.

    But then there's the children's time and the prayers....

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  12. Hello all!
    We are a busy bunch this week! Baptisms, funerals, outside cleanup, electricians... I have laundry, paperwork and a sermon to write.

    I have a bunch of notes and links on the John passage--I'm feeling drawn to the "other flocks" verse. We are not the centre of God's attention--we are not God's only sheep, we here in our cozy congregation... It's all too easy to huddle together for shelter and protection, but Jesus is out there bringing in other sheep to be a part of the flock, and we'd better be helping him or at the least ready to welcome those other sheep...

    My last radiation treatment was yesterday, so went out to celebrate with friends last night. I have leftover chocolate peanut butter banana torte for breakfast--and because it's virtual, there's plenty for all and it's calorie-free!

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  13. Good morning preachers!
    I'm conveniently avoiding shepherd sunday by preaching on/introducing a new program our tiny church is joining through our larger governing body. It's about church transformation and conveniently has 12 points, so I'll touch on a few of them, and call it a day. If I become so bold, I might even try to draw a parallel between transformation and Jesus is our shepherd leading us into transformation, but that seems a hair contrived to me.

    Even with an outline to work with, I'm having trouble getting motivated today to write this and be done. Blessings and inspiration to you!

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  14. Oh, Gord, I'm not doing Shepherding Sunday at all. This is my first Sunday back since BE 2.0 - so I'm preaching on some of what we learned there.

    Good luck with the outdoor grumpy people Cheese. In my (almost) eleven years of ministry, I've discovered that some people just like being miserable and nothing - not even the Good News that God LOVES them - will change that.

    Sorry, I'll stop preaching now and go enjoy the warm globe in the sky.

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  15. I've gotten some initial thoughts down and now am heading out to take a walk with Sam. Hopefully I'll be brilliant when I return...

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  16. Morning all!

    Margaret - that's quite the challenge you are facing, time change adjustment, sermon, unpacking. Many blessings and hope you have great times of productivity today!

    1-4, how's it going at the manse?

    I was struck by the 2 articles in Feasting on the Word that talked about "the good shepherd" being better translated as "the model shepherd."

    Going with the model shepherd and how Jesus shows us how to go out and find others with whom to share the good news.

    Sounds a lot like evangelism ...

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  17. Greetings all! My son has a track meet today, and I have a wedding to officiate this afternoon.
    The meet was supposed to start at 9 and go all day. Our plan was to go early and I would leave about noon to finish wedding prep (including homily). When we arrived, son told us his event wouldn't be until noon, and his other at 1:25. On to plan B. We are now back at home, and I will do my prep work now, we'll go to the meet about 11:30, and I will leave in order to make it to the church by 2:15 or so. Wedding is at 4:30, but they want to do some pictures and such before hand.

    The rehearsal last night went well, and I told them that for the homily I would probably talk about the weather. I really am planning to, using spring rains as my guiding metaphor. I'm now accepting thoughts for that if you have any to share.

    Tomorrow's sermon on the Acts passage, "Answering the Inquisitor" will have to wait until later this evening, as will the children's sermon. Blessings!

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  18. I have a funeral today, two church services tomorrow, followed by another funeral (remember, it's the four funerals and a wedding...)...anyway...somehow I have managed to not have to preach at any of these. guest preacher on Sunday, and preachers at each of the funerals who knew the deceased better than i...

    After this morning's funeral I have to head up north to the hospital to see a parishioner. I also have to walk the dogs....

    and maybe today I'll get to those two dozen thank you notes I have to write - thanking folks for all their help over Lent and Holy Week...

    I have fresh watermelon, fair trade coffee, and not much else this morning, but the watermelon is sweet and crisp and the coffee is hot. Blessings on all you efforts today...

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  19. I just got a call from the guy mowing our church lawn that water was gushing from a pipe at the church. Turns out we have a rusted out water heater so no hot water but fortunately no water damage inside the church. A small part of me was hoping the situation would be bad enough for us to cancel church tomorrow...I'm sure that puts me on God's "Needs work" list of people. Good thing I'm preaching on transformation.

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  20. Nutella - if you look closely on that "needs work" list, you will find my name near the top. About every second day I hear myself saying "I am SO going to he*l for that one."

    Good luck with the h2o troubles. Oy.

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  21. I am smiling a I read all of your comments. How is it that Saturday turns into such a zoo? Praying for all who are dealing with crisis, grumpy old people, repair work, funerals, baptisms, wrong texts, and other asundaries.

    I was able to refrain from Facebook, I mean crackbook but now have to deal with the girls while, Bob takes boy to a birthday party. He has had them two days at home and I can tell he is cracking. I'll be rescuing him some.

    I have a direction and thoughts written down. I may use some of your thoughts as well.

    Ya'll are the best. In the meantime, I will not facebook, crackbook although am tempted.

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  22. My soul has been clogged up for a few days with a family misunderstanding that needed a phone call. God provided the courage so I made the call this morning. All will be well and all will be well and all manner of all things. . .

    I'm thankful I'm on God's "needs work" list because my life is not a do-it-yourself-fixer-upper!

    Sermon is absolutely *perfect* in my head. Now it's just a matter of getting it onto paper. . .

    I have tea, girl scout cookies (which, you might be surprised to learn, are NOT made of girl scouts) and sunshine-y skies to share with all!

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  23. I've messed with the lectionary this month and am a week ahead with Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. I've renovated a sermon from three years ago, and it's turned out to be a baptism sermon. On communion Sunday. I think it will work, though.

    But...children's time? Eunuch? Anyone want to tackle that?

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  24. esperanza, can't you just talk about baptism with the children? I wouldn't get into defining eunuchs...

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  25. crackbook! you are killing me! too too funny!

    i've found my baptism liturgy and thankfully i have found the list of names/participants. however, i forgot to make a note of who is who!

    Nutella--blessings with your h2o problems. what a pain!

    this is the first week in a long time i've had thoughts for a children's sermon. we'll blindfold one of the kids and have their parent or best bud call their name while the other kids try to distract them. relating to the shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know the shepherd by the sound of his voice. it could go terribly wrong but i have faith that it will work.

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  26. Anyone ready for lunch? I'm making tuna melts!

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  27. Good morning all. My prayers go out for baptisms and water heaters and grumpy gardeners and avoidance of temptation and . . . what a busy morning everyone is having.

    Rainbow, I celebrate the end of your radiation treatments.

    All I have to do today is go to the Apple store in a little while so The Husband can get the imperfection in his iPhone screen corrected. Of course, then there will be the temptation to stay at the mall for lunch and window shopping . . .

    I'n avoiding the whole shepherd thing by using Peter's speech of defense in Acts. I'm going with the Feasting on the Word image of Peter preaching to the family, not to an interfaith council. And how the stone did not lift itself but was placed as cornerstone by God, just as the healing was by God using Peter and James as instruments. Then I will invite us all to allow God to use as as God will.

    As Rev Irreverent said "sermon is perfect in my head, now to get it on paper. . "

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  28. And Rainbow Pastor, I'm so happy for you!

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  29. I'm hiding out in the church office for a few minutes. Forgot sun screen this morning, so my face is a little pink.

    The Grumpy McGripertons stayed home. Hooray! And a whole crew of very dedicated people showed up to do the heavy lifting. I have been raking/shoveling/wheelbarrowing for about an hour and will probably beg off to go home and write soon.

    Put me at the very top of the 'Needs Work' list for hoping the you-know-whos would not be here this morning. Its a shame,since they are both Master Gardeners.

    Oh, and Songbird, I love me some tuna melt!

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  30. sermon is not "perfect in my head" nor are the 2 pages singlespaced ramblings anywhere close to where I'm trying to go. arg. And now I must head to my other job and do some work there, hoping I don't get paged for additional visits not already on my list.

    Tuna melts! What a great idea! and I actually have the stuff to make them. Thanks!

    Rainbow Pastor - many many congratulations on your last radiation. What great news! I'm sending virtual hugs and your beverage of choice your way.

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  31. Hello! I don't remember ever being "on" for Good Shepherd Sunday in my first call, and I can't even remember what I did last year. I think I ignored the Good Shepherd part, and went with another reading. Not a clue.

    Anyway, I'm going for it this year, and had fun writing liturgy with Psalm 23. The opening lines are in the Call to Worship. The dark valley is in the Call to Confession. The rod and the staff are in the Forgivness. The table and cup are part of the opening of the Great Thanksgiving. The mercy and dwelling are part of the benediction. I really like it, if I may say so myself.

    For preaching I am drawn with the part about the shepherd's fold is made up of the sheep that hear (and I'd say listen and follow) his voice. The definition of the church that belongs to Christ, then, is the church that listens for his voice. I am working on getting the church ready for a strategic planning/discernment, so this is where I'm feeling led.

    I just had a brain storm about that process while I was sitting here. We are installing an outdoor labyrinth at the church in the next month or so. I wrote an article for our May newsletter about praying with labyrinths and we are having a laybrinth consultant lead adult education two weeks in May. I'm thinking about organizing the whole strategic planning around the theme of a labyrinth to tie in to the project we are building. (Unrelated, I know, but I needed to type it before it left me.)

    So, we spent the morning out and about as a family. Basic shopping, looking at bikes for a possible present for the (almost) 4 year old's birthday in 10 days. The day is GORGEOUS here and I DON'T want to spend it writing, but I also want to go out to dinner with the family when my FIL comes into town this afternoon. I LOVED a real night's sleep last week when I didn't have to preach so I have an incentive to work this afternoon. I can't get it all, but I can try to get a few things!

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  32. I am not preaching tomorrow...or even going to be in worship tomorrow. It's the annual Walk for Hunger in Boston, and I, with four other congregants are walking the 20 miles to represent the congregation. But I am thinking about all of you and will have plenty of time to pray for you in worship while I slug through the miles.
    tuna melt? nummmy!
    watermelon? yes!

    revhipchick--the Holy Spirit, she has got your back!

    Peace to all.
    (Sue--hope you post your sermon somewhere, would love to read it!)

    and in solidarity,RevAbi, I will not visit facebook after I post this comment. ;-)

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  33. Abi can't read your comment right now, karla, she's busy at Facebook.
    :-)

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  34. no preaching here tomorrow, as it's the children's musical--which also means no children's time! It's like heaven over here, with one small problem:
    communion/peace/children + ONE "probable" (not confirmed) case of H1N1 flu in our county = interim SP freaking out and changing everything and insisting we tell people not to touch each other at the passing of the peace and we use little cups and cut bread for communion.

    Is there no place where we can get away from fear mongering? I understand caution--even changing the communion pattern--but telling people we're doing it because of the "swine flu" and asking them not to shake hands at the peace? really?

    I'm trying not to be annoyed...and also trying to come up with a communion prayer that incorporates fears and Jonah (subject of the musical) and the wonder that is God's love that casts out fear.

    (sigh)

    I have lovely fresh asparagus to share with all, and great local cheddar cheese with some Trader Joe's pretzel slims...who wants a snack?

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  35. Well almost finished. Had to take a break to take care of the kids and to go grocery shopping. We were sorely lacking groceries.

    How is everyone else?

    I am right there at the top of the needs work list, all the time. That's why I like the good shepherd, he likes me even with my big needs work list.

    Why do I find myself referring to the 1995 movie so much with my sermon? Is it cause I have kids or it is one of my all time favorite sermons? Please help, I got to preach traditional with all the old people, although they do like movies and books when I make references to them.

    Cheesehead, be careful with your fair skin in that sun up there. We got clouds and rain.

    rainbow pastor, congrats on your last radiation treathment.

    Sue, congrats on coming back, hope it goes well.

    Teri, we are having to handle the H1N1 situation carefully and calmly too, so as to help our parishioners.

    I like this solidarity thing.... now back to the sermon as I listen to my wild children doing the slip and slide before the next batch of storms.

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  36. Well, Teri, the Presby Disaster Assistance guidelines say to switch to Intiction, which is what I'm doing :) (I like it better anyway, and it is so obviously all about me!)
    /snark/

    I am crying uncle on the passing of the peace, again at PDA's suggestion. I'm hoping this whole thing will blow over by next week.

    But I'm not panicky at all. Just trying to help people through this.

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  37. Well, my babysitter leaves in 20 minutes and I still have miles to go. Bah!

    Teri, yikes about the SP! I'm sorry you're having to deal with that.

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  38. H1N1 panic is WAAAAYY overboard IMO. Last I looked there were less than 75 cases in Canada. I am sure that at least 5000 Canadians have been to MExico since this flu variant first appeared. Can we no longer do basic math?

    Oh and Intinction is actually the worst way to serve communion if you are worried about spreading germs--all those finger tips that end up touching the juice.

    I just got back from the church where I re arranged the chairs following this morning's yard sale. Apparently the tape marks on the floor are there for decoration, not to cue people to start the rows there. Everytime.

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  39. Well, Gord, my practice on intinction is to give a way honking piece of bread, in order that fingers do not need to touch the juice. Yes, it requires some teaching. But I am the Teaching Elder. It's my job.

    Yes, the panic is way overboard. And yet-- We do have four suspected cases within a five mile radius of the church. Children, who were in school with some of the kids at church. I'm just doing the best I know how to do.

    I think we all are.

    I'm trying to do the middle of the road in terms of being careful, in a relaxed, non panicked way so people know that church is one place they don't have to be so worried.

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  40. I agree we're freaking out way too much, but how is intinction a better option? I've seen SOOOO many fingers go into the juice, bleh.
    I guess I'd better see if the UCC has guidelines, too. We have some cases in Maine, but not in our direct community. Having spent the week with a sneezing coughing child and NOT catching what she has due to care on my part, I know it can be done.
    I've got an outline and some parts written, and now I have to call on the deathbed lady who did not die yesterday, after all, but instead went back to the nursing home. Back a little later!

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  41. And can't we invite people to greet each other as they feel comfortable doing? Turn and speak to the person next to you. It doesn't have to be a makeout session, right?

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  42. Laughing at Songbird, because supposedly the Welsh do not make out. Especially not in church! LOL

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  43. wait church is NOT supposed to be a make out session? darn.

    ANybody seen my sermon float on by? I thought it was on FB but all I found there were time sucking games...

    But at least the laundry is done

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  44. oh, she just wants us to stop making OUT during the peace--that makes more sense! ;-)

    There's just one suspected case in our whole county...and I haven't heard a single peep from a church member about anxiety about the flu. No emails, no phone calls, no "just dropped in to ask"s...nothing. All of it is coming from the SP. It seems way over the top. We "discussed" (via email) cancelling communion! I mean, come ON.

    We normally do intinction, but this time will apparently have people come up, take a piece of pre-cut bread and a little shot-glass-for-Jesus, and...I don't even know what after that. I guess we'll have big trash cans for them to toss cups in? Do we want someone having to collect all those little cups from the pews later? who knows.

    Even the news outlets are saying that this has not shaped up to be the big thing everyone thought--regular old influenza is still a good 3600 times worse, at 36,000 deaths a year. But we don't stop the passing of the peace from November to April.

    Just sayin'.

    Anyone have a communion prayer out there about overcoming fear with love, or serving through fear, or being strengthened at the table to live in a world of fear?
    LOL.

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  45. We are in H1N1 overdrive here in N. Texas...our bishop sent out a letter asking us to consider offering communion next week instead of this week (for those first-of-the-month-communion churches). I tried to purchase hand sanitizer to have available throughout the church but everyone is sold out. So we have cute little alcohol swabs for those who so desire to swab their hands. Fortunately, I have my personal stash of hand sani stuff to use and share with servers because we will have communion...at the end of the service in the event that folks want to bow out.

    I think the fear is that no one is vaccinated against this strain of flu and there is a high potential for lots of people to get sick at once.

    Wow...I've been trying to wrap my head (and my typing fingers) around a sermon and just jumped on the first distraction that came up...I am definitely in the "needs work" category.

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  46. I think you should write that prayer, Teri. Then please share with the class!

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  47. Is home from "her day" and have had some pretty "less than holy thoughts on a few folks."
    Cemetary stuff is driving me crazy, so I will join Nutella and Sue on that list!
    I am watching a ballgame and then my parents are having chicken on/off the grill.
    Have not started sermon, but will later. For now, I am really tired and have a headache. Learned about shoes called Maggiez at fashion show/luncheon.
    They have magnets in them, but of course I heard "maggotts." Sounds like something out of Stephen King.
    Does any one know of these shoes?
    Oh any ideas on Ijohn?
    Thats my text and I am sticking to it.
    crap, rain delay on Braves game. And they dont do Monkey Movies anymore!

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  48. Arrgh, I gave in, but only for a little while. Then we took the dogs for a walk. We saw just about everyone of our neighbors out doors. The rains are coming, it is getting darker.

    So I am back getting the rough draft to be smoother. There is retired Army Chaplain who is a member who likes to give me critiques of my sermons. Sometimes they are helpful and sometimes, I just don't want to hear it. But I think My preaching has improved also. I get more atta girls from him these days.

    So how is everyone? Giving in to facebook like me I see. Playing games and quizzes, I see. Its okay, because that actually gives the brain a rest and some creative play.

    Oh boy, Cheese head you are so funny.

    I think we are suggesting you turn and say hi, but no shaking hands etc. Washington Post had a good article about what church's are doing about it all. I suggested for communion we buy those individually wrapped cups and wafers for now. I also put out lots of hand sanitizer and kleenexs. We sent out email to every one about the situation.

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  49. Here is a piece of the Washington Post article: The Rev. Diana Holbert, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in East Dallas, sent an email Wednesday to members and supporters of the church. In it, Rev. Holbert offered the following advice on church attendance:
    "1. If you are coughing or sneezing, it's probably a good idea to stay home. Let us know and we'll send you a cassette tape of the service if you like!" says the pastor.
    "2. If you are well, I encourage you to come together to worship and to pray for those who are sick or panicked."
    Rev. Holbert adds that Grace UMC will continue its sanitary practice of washing hands and using hand sanitizer before serving the bread and grape juice of Holy Communion. These practices have become common at many churches that receive bread from a common loaf, which is a Christian symbol for the unity of the body of Christ, the church Grace UMC's pastor says in her email that she won't withhold the personal touch of fellowship: "I will continue to shake hands and offer hugs to those who desire it. For those who want to keep a distance, just smile and give a wave."

    Rev. Holbert invites Grace UMC members and guests to attend worship this coming Sunday, May 3. "Let's take a deeper look at what Psalm 23 has to say to us today. It may just be what the Doctor ordered," she writes.

    The pastor closes with the encouragement: "Breathe peace, not germs."

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  50. Oh and with H1N1, had not even thought about it, but we jsut had a funeral with lots of hugging, kissing, etc.
    We only do intinciton for special occasions, but I am trying to get folks back into peace passing, so there. We going to be passing peace, germs, and everything else.
    Nappage now, sermon later.

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  51. As pastor in a church that regularly uses shot-glasses-of-Jesus (I inherited this one. I'm not happy about it either.) You just have them swig it there and put the empty cup right back.

    My soul has returned from the nether-regions so I'm in a better place to write. Just unmotivated. And I really want a Slurpee. Can I justify 8 minutes away from my computer for a 7-11 run?

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  52. For those who are not familiar with Monkeyed Movies:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8LuUwQzWpo&feature=related
    Here's a link.

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  53. I didn't waste the afternoon on FB, but my daughter's Webkin has a LOT more money from all the tournaments I just played during naptime. The boy is now awake, so I guess I'll be back for the late night party!!

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  54. The United Methodist Church General Board of Discipleship has some articles and links to information on its website, beginning with this article:
    http://www.gbod.org/worship/worship/articles.asp?act=reader&item_id=7908&loc_id=9,10,27

    One of the links suggests having servers use hand wipes before serving; when doing intinction, having only the server handle the bread, and instructing the one serving the cup gently tip the cup toward the person receiving so that there is no need to get fingers in the cup.

    There's also a suggestion I think is a bit over the top with a handwashing that involves acolytes and pitchers of water and lots of towels. They say this isn't intended to be "ceremonial", but that's exactly how it sounds!

    We're going with hand wipes and some simple common sense reminders.

    Also, going along with 1st John's "let us love one another", one of my colleagues mentioned that a teacher in an area school (upstate NY) was encouraging fear among her students because of the number of Mexicans working in their community. Aarrgh!

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  55. Okay, how is everyone?

    I am feeling motivated again, but motivated for what, I am not sure. Maybe I should play wii with the wii-ones. Is there a sheep one?

    All will be well. i just know it. All will be well.

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  56. I am losing steam, which is not good since I still haven't really said what I need to say. In fact, I don't even know anymore what I need to say. And I'm probably 3/4 done. Ack!

    Wish I had a babysitter and a cook. And a housekeeper. And a masseuse. And a ghost-writer.

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  57. Oh, and the image I've had in mind for the last 10 days, the one I thought I would end with, no longer seems to fit.

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  58. Man, Cheesehead got me thinking about something I wrote almost four years ago when we were hearing all that avian flu stuff, and now I feel I need to do something different than I had planned.
    Have I mentioned it's my first Sunday in a new setting? Yeah. Not sure what to do.
    Also, pretty bad hostess. But I can still offer you Diet Cokes!

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  59. Hey. Preaching from the lectionary using Psalm 23 and I John. I'm unpacking the metaphor of shepherd...what does it mean to follow in a culture of self-help. Using the I John passage in conversation with the Psalm to help point to what it means to abide with God -- dwell, i.e. follow.

    sermon is done. now on to the tweaking.

    It's a full Sunday. Preaching at our 8am service. liturgist in the 9:30 service. 50 year member luncheon, pre-marital counseling afternoon meeting, and new member orientation from 3pm-7pm.

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  60. You don't have to be mad to comment here, but it helps - a lot. Loadsa madness around today - so encouraging. Although its 10:30pm here, I'm just arriving. Had a funeral, a wedding and then turned up at hospital 10 mins before a dear old lady died - I was alone with her. Isn't our job so special and so priveleged? Thankfully,I don't need a sermon - tomorrow we're having a good old hymn sing - and I mean old - things like Christ receiveth sinful men from moody and sankey. That's what happens when you ask folk for their favourites. So I have to try and be gracious and not show how I really feel as I introduce such wonders. In terms of the shepherd stuff, I just need a brief meditation. Haven't encountered hype about swine flu over here - yet.
    Anyway, I appreciate all the light relief offered here. Isn't it funny how the party swings - some weeks there's so much heaviness and others, we laugh together. Its just great to know that we're all welcome whatever is going on. I'm thinking some low fat herb cheese and a glass of wine might round off my day and help me round up that meditation I need. Any takers?

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  61. just popping by to ask if any of you know where the sermon fairy is. She's not here and I need help! Or to just get to work. My 20 minute nap turned into a 2 hour nap and now I have a nap hangover!

    IN response to the H1N1 comments, we are passing the plate tomorrow and using the shot glasses of Jesus. We switch to intinction in the summer. Fewer hands touch the bread when we pass, as we have 4 plates, and only use 2 loaves when we intinction. I'm not worried about it. My people tend to be hyper vigilant - my first 2 winters we had a note in the bulletin from October to April reminding people that it was cold and flu season. We didn't this winter, and it was fine. Folks who are either worried about catching something, or worried about spreading something, simply wave and say "peace be with you". I'll be curious to see what happens tomorrow. I will have hand sanitizer for me though!

    if you need any carbs, I've got them here! Apparently my coping mechanism for getting ready to be gone for 4 days back for 36 hours (with confirmation class fundraiser happening in that time) and gone for 4 more days is to eat every carb in the house.

    Oh, and I HATE good Shepard Sunday. It comes with a lot of baggage around here. Memories of the best Bible study ever taught by one who is not here anymore "It was a good sermon, but I remember..." folks who get upset if you don't mention the hideous memorial windows with Jesus and the sheep, folks who get upset if you do. Is it too late for a hymn sing?

    Ok, and for something less grouchy, Mike Rowe is making soap on Dirty Jobs.

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  62. who woulda thought that making soap was a dirty job!?!

    @ the office (w/ a slurpee) the sermon seems to be working much better here.

    Couple more hours. . .

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  63. esperanza - if you come up with a workable children's story about eunuchs I simply MUST see it. Just so I know it can be done. Heehee.

    RP - Yay!!!!!

    Hmmm...hadn't given much thought to the flu thing and communion tomorrow. We serve by intinction and the minister is always the last one served, so really, most of the risk would be to me. Anyone with icky-virus hands who did the old "up to the elbow" dunk would have left their little friends in the cup for me. Yay. Ick.

    On the other hand, there are no reported cases in Our Town, which is one of the benefits of living in the middle of nowhere.

    Karlajean - I'll probably post my sermon tonight or tomorrow. I'll need to tweak it a bit to keep my pseudo-anonymity in place. Once that's done, I'll post it.

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  64. the baptism was nice. a very cute and sweet little 3yr old boy.

    so it's making me a little crazy because i keep thinking of Brokeback Mtn.--they were shepherds! however, while i could probably use that in the small church to help folks get a feel for the rugged and isolatedness of shepherds, no way could i even allude to it in the bigger church! which makes me want to use it all the more!

    but i will be a good girl. as merkin has informed me, i've gotten a little soft now that i'm earning a pay check with the preaching.

    peace and blessings for everyone!

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  65. RevAbi, thanks for the prayer you wrote and the points from the Presidential Prayer team.

    I hadn't even thought about h1n1 as an issue, either for communion or for our greetings, even tho there are some probable cases in LA. Most SoCal media is making a big deal of "if you cover your mouth and wash your hands you will be fine" instead of fear-mongering for a change. Usually when our folks are sick they hang back from hugging, so I may just mention taking care of ourselves. I use hand sanitizer before breaking the bread anyway.

    I never got involved with Facebook, but I did start Tweeting (Twittering?) this morning, an excellent new way to avoid writing! Guess I really should think about the sermon now that I'm back from the Mall.

    Since I can't seem to get the words to move from my head to my fingers, If anyone does see the Sermon Fairy please send her my way.

    Songbird, may I have one of those Diet Cokes, please?

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  66. I have a beginning and an ending but I am horrifically undecided about how to get from Point A to Point B.
    I need Antonio Banderas on the doorstep to straighten this out, toute de suite.

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  67. Do you think it's a sign you were going the wrong way when your computer crashes and the last known copy was from this morning?

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  68. Oh Songbird, no.
    Blessings. Pull out the old sermon, it will do, tweak it and run with it. I bet your anxiety is so high right now.

    Prayers going up.

    Back from supper with obstinate defiant children over the issue of green beans. None of you have been there have you?

    I thought of Brokeback also. I could sort of mention it in my church. They are a pretty openminded bunch. But I think that would immediately take away from the Shepherd.

    sigh. I am not feeling well either, have post nasal drip, a stopped up hurting ear, but no fever. No it is not swine flu. I hope I feel better by morning.

    They have discovered more swine flu cases in our county. The county is keeping the school closed until the 14th according to Federal Guidelines. City schools will make up their minds tomorrow. Its going to be a long week.

    Oh and some churches are already canceling youth and children activities for tomorrow.

    Good Shepherd where are you when we need you? Are you gone with the sermon fairy and Antonio having a party somewhere for pre cinco de mayo?

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  69. Oh, Songbird! Good luck pulling together what you can. I am so sorry.

    Abi, I wish I could say we had green bean battles at our table tonight, but we did not - because I piled the boys in the car and went to McD's instead. Ugh. I always feel like such a crappy mom when I resort to that. But I am really struggling tonight, trying to see about the boys and trying to fumble my way through a sermon that is simply not cooperating.

    Bleh.

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  70. Songbird -- I am sorry. I can't imagine but what good is imagining anyway. I shall pray!

    I am done for the night. Sunday AM is for edits. My sermon on Emmaus Road ends triumphantly, as it should and leads brilliantly into our Lord's Supper service. (This will be my first time officiating on my own -- leetle nervous.)

    I'll try to post the sermon tomorrow.

    Love to all -- except for naughty computers and green-bean-loathing children ;-)

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  71. Oh no Songbird!

    I've got a beginning and a middle. I'm now in search of the ending. Having all of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella songs in my head after having seen the local elementary school production is not helping.

    Think I could end a model shepherd sermon with "It's Possible" or "Ten Minutes Ago" ... ?

    Ten minute ago I started talking
    As I murmured about the Lord
    Then your heads started reeling
    and you got the feeling
    that she would have more to say ...

    Ok. Maybe spending time on the actual sermon would help.

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  72. I'm preaching on the 1 John text this week. I'm asking us to put aside those things that aren't important. I posted the sermon here.

    I have some Greek salad... and warm pita bread for anyone who's hungry.

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  73. I had a green-bean loather at lunch myself!

    No children's sermon on eunuchs, sorry. I think I'm going to do an old favorite--a tour of God's house--checking out various elements in the sanctuary, ending at the doors with a little discussion of who can come in the doors to God's house? Anyone, of course. It goes with (I hope) the main point of the sermon--who is worhty to be baptized? Well no one, but that means everyone is. Feel free to use as you wish.

    And computer crashes are terrible! So sorry it's adding to your anxiousness about a new place, songbird.

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  74. I have a solid first paragraph about emperor penguins. I have a funny feeling I used it last year as well, but as that manuscript vanished into the dust, I am not sure. it's a solid start. Time moved very slowing this morning an is making up for it now!

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  75. Okay, I pulled something together and posted a draft. I'm going to print it out and hope it doesn't seem too wretched!

    Now what do we want for dessert? I've got blueberries and raspberries, or ice cream, or maybe even a Girl Scout cookie or two in the secret stash...

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  76. All of that sounds like a great dessert buffet Songbird!

    Glad you were able to pull something together.

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  77. SB, your sermon rocks, per usual.

    Mine, however, is rapidly turning into a flock.

    You know what I want for dessert? A pecan mudslide from Dairy Queen. Not gonna happen, but a girl can dream!

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  78. Um. I did not mean to say that my sermon was rapidly turning into a flock. I meant it that it is rapidly turning into a flop.

    Oof. Sheep on the brain.

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  79. Earthchick, if you go, can you bring me back a Peanut Buster Parfait please?

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  80. Prayers for SB and all who write. I have to get a teeny sermon or a meidtation for tomorrow.
    We have communion and do a litany for a parish nurse.
    I am wishing I had a big cup of decaf and a warm bed.
    I could of course manage both, but sermon to write.
    So, write I must.
    There is left over lemon grilled chickn, steamed veggies with cheese sauce and asparagus. Baked goods from relay for life.
    Help yourself. I am up to sermon on I JOhn/
    Prayers to all.

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  81. Good sermon Song Bird, I like both stories.

    Earth Chick are things settling down for you? Maybe you are pulling together a flock.

    Doin smoothing work on sermon.

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  82. Oh EChick,
    I'll have a Georgia Mudd Fudge. Do they have thsoe outside of GA?

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  83. 1-4, yes we have those here, and that is JUST what I was thinking. That's it, earthchick, put down that laptop and make a run to DQ. We clearly need ice cream at this party. Er, maybe I'll put down my laptop...anyone else want anything?

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  84. I will happily make a DQ run for us all, if one of you will come over and watch the kids!

    Meanwhile, I am apparently trying to set a record for how many times a person can write and erase a paragraph.

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  85. Is there some kind of Oreo blizzard thing? Because I could go for that.

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  86. Y'all, I'm going to hit the sack. I'll be back in the morning to put on a fresh pot of coffee. Write well!

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  87. I'm off to bed, too, to dream about sheep and ice cream, I'm sure. Blessings to all still hard at work, bringing God's word to God's people.

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  88. I'm focusing on whether we act like hired hands or members of the family, using the John 10 and the First John. Psalm 23 is only there in song. ("My Shepherd You Supply My Need")
    The scarier part is that I'm starting a five-week class on Revelation tomorrow too! (Why did I think it would fit into five weeks? Why would I want to spend any more than that on it? Why am I doing it in the first place?)

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  89. I am fading. I will write the Sunday prayer in a minute. Blessings to all.

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  90. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  91. Ok...I think I'm done. I am just a bit concerned that it resembles wandering sheep more than a strong shepherding message. Will rise early and see what mods are needed. I have posted ...the story credit comes from Ron Rolheiser at Center for Liturgy on textweek. Comments are most welcome!

    Blessings to all as you prepare and proclaim.

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  92. Trying again...

    bedtime for this preacher. But the sermon fairy came back and left me with this:

    Penguins and SheepEarthchick - -I'll come crash at your house while you run to DQ!

    Goodnight....

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  93. ...gosh....gone all day...now I am just wondering one thing....

    if I'm not preaching tomorrow, and I'm not...do I have to go to work?


    (oh yeah....I'm the priest regardless)...

    Hope the rest of you are feeling rested (LOL) and ready for the day...

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  94. Are we gonna hit 100 before the last stroke of midnight?
    Sermon is brewing.
    I, like many am fading fast

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  95. Praying for you Songbird, in the new place. Blessings on this important milestone, Rainbow Pastor! And hello to the rest of you too...laughing, commiserating, praying, and MISSING the preacher party. :-( I hope I'll be back one of these days.

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  96. I don't know that I'm done but I'm quitting. Draft posted here.

    SB, many prayers for you in your new place. And prayers for the rest of you who write, and prepare, and rest, and lead.

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  97. We'll get close to that 100 by your midnight. I'm sure we'll pass it by mine! I've got a general plan of where I need to go. I started to read around, and I think it's a lot like where Songbird was heading so I stopped reading. Don't want to confuse your words for mine! I've got to try to keep this one on the shorter side. I haven't been judging time well lately when we've had some extra things in worship. I need to show them I can do it in hour still! (Like it or not.)

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  98. OK - - I'll go ahead and be 100. Anyone see the commercial with two guys wearing "They" t-shirts? I've only seen it 20 times today, but can't recall what it's for now. How effective was it? (Thinking about using it for my illustration - - This time we are "they." The sheep that weren't in the original flock. The ones that need to hear his voice and follow.)

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  99. To clarify - - "They" = the anonymous crowds, maybe the nay-sayers, mostly "they" are not "us"

    Gentiles, non-Jews, were likely the other sheep Jesus was talking about.

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  100. dang, y'all have been busy today! I hope you have restful nights and wonderful worship tomorrow. I'll be restraining myself from kicking and slapping and snarking RE the flu thing...and also loving being led in worship by our children, I'm sure!

    prayers for those of you still working--may there be dairy queen at the end of the tunnel. :-)

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  101. I have enjoyed the humor today, I am finally done with my message for the morning. Peaceful dreams to those who have had the chance to turn in earlier than I.

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  102. OK. Usually this is the time I wake back up to finish my sermon after a couple hours of sleep. Not tonight. Ugh. I have known where I want to go for days and I thought I knew how to get there, but now it's almost 5:00 a.m. and I've got a huge mess on the screen in front of me. I haven't slept yet at all, and it's not looking promising. I am called to where I am going with this, but I just can't quite figure out how to get there. Not a good place this morning with a long day in front of me. Not at all.

    It'll come together in an hour or two. It'll have to!

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  103. I'm here with you, SheRev, and at this point, I have NOTHING. It will come; I hope it will be soon. God bless you.

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  104. Oh, sweeties. I hope by now things are coming together for both of you!
    I'm up and cooking for the dog (yes, you read that right) and drinking some coffee. I found a repetition in my sermon (not the good kind) and fixed it. I'm praying for the morning to go smoothly. Oh, and the evening, when I am meeting both youth groups *and* attending the Church Council meeting in my new setting.

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  105. Well, I've got something. Not my favorite, but it's something. I think this is a harder one for me because it's probably the most contextually specific sermon I've written in this church. It's a little more pointed than I usually preach, but not accusatory, but needed. I hope it makes sense. I'm going to go lie down for an hour and hope the kids don't wake up in the mean time. I think they're starting to stir.

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  106. Friends, walk the sheep, I mean the dog proudly. Remember we are not the shepherd, we are the sheepdog. Okay so I got all the metaphors mixed up. But I came to the conclusion sometime back that I was a sheepdog working for the Shepherd with a flock of sheep.

    So now go in peace and the Holy Spirit go with you in all you do and say today.

    praying for us all.

    Marth, prayers for your first big day.

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  107. Thanks, Abi! This is by far the most liturgically traditional UCC church I've served, and I must admit I wish I were NOT the one doing Communion this morning. At least the Sr. Pastor will be there to assist. Not that I've ever had that, except at my Ordination. It should be an interesting year or so!

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  108. I woke up ready to finish writing. Now I know where I'm going.

    Blessings on all who preach and all who listen today. Songbird, special blessings on you in your new place.

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  109. A reread and minor edits later I'm feeling OK about this sermon. I just wish it hadn't come from a literal all-nighter. Yuck!

    Worship
    Attend education
    2 hour elder training
    2 home communions

    That's all I've got until a potential nap!!!

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  110. Oh, congrats to Sherev at getting to 100 beforeMidnigth.
    Not sure why this is significantto kme, but it might be an OCD thing.
    Sermoni s not by best, but like Sherev, had to be short, short.
    Prayers for SB in her new local.
    I may beat y'all to the sunday PM nappage today.
    I am so dragging

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  111. Sermon over and went well. I came back to say that I am *SO* glad we had a discussion here are revgals yesterday about dealing with swine flu. Because right before the service this morning, a retired minister came and asked me if we should change the passing of the peace b/c of swine flu. I was able to tell him I had given it some thought and why I wasn't going to do it. I would have been totally caught off guard if it hadn't been for you gals. so yay! Thanks!

    Happy Sabbath. Hope y'all get some rest, or whatever else it is you need today.

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  112. SheRev, I forgot to tell you thanks for sharing your idea of threading the 23rd Psalm through worship...I borrowed and it worked really well -- Thank You!

    Blessings and happy nappins' to all!

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