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Saturday, June 06, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Holy Frustration

We've had a gorgeous couple of weeks around here, but today it's back in the 50s. Fantastic. I just changed out the kids' wardrobes to make room for the spring/summer clothes. Ugh. Frustration.

Frustration is also where I've been with my sermon prep this week. There is something about the last sermon before vacation that is just torturous for me, and my usual difficulty has been intensified by the texts and festival this week.

I've had little bits of disconnected inspiration that will have to come together into something preachable soon. I'm thankful today for God's free gifts, especially the Spirit that blows where it will. Blow this way, Spirit, I'm ready!

Thankfully, the Spirit has been known to blow through this community more than once or twice! I'm looking forward to discussions, conversations, and community today! Let me know what you need, and I'll do my best to provide! Grace and peace to all who are preparing! Welcome to the party, Gals and Pals!


  1. I'm here, just before heading to bed...pondering Trinity and Isaiah and all sorts of thoughts...hoping to collect a few things to mull about tomorrow during our rummage sale. I'm especially intrigued by the Trinity that Sunrise referred to on Tuesday: awe, humility, service (our three-fold response to God).

  2. I'm preaching on the Isaiah passage (we're only having one passage as it's a baptism) and finding myself bringing in elements from the gospel that isn't there!!

    I've gone for describing how I've viewed this one passage differently through various stages of my life.

    Loving the graphic story as a child,
    when studying history I loved the fact it is rooted in a particular chronology
    when I was contemplating ministry it kept popping up - the Here I am , send me bit especially.

    I'm also describing how it was the opposite for someone I know - the stumbling block that made them leave their faith rather than the marker on the journey in various ways.

    Talking to the parents of the baby being baptised I'm then going on to talk about the issue of stumbling blocks on the way and how we deal with them. Do we get up again or do we fall. and how does this thing make us view life differently.

    Then going on to seeing through the eyes of a parent beign the closest to seeing the world through the eyes of God and his love hope and call for each of us.

    No realt trinity mentioning but lots of things coming in threes!!

    It's not all fleshed out but the bones are there!

    Hopefully the cup of tea and the toast that's about to pop will help!

  3. I love trinitarian theology--wish I WAS preaching this week! Can't help thinking about the legend of St. Patrick where he used "a humble shamrock" to "teach" the Celts about God's threeness-in-oneness. Poor, stupid Patrick! They'd already been honoring trinitarian deities--albeit female--for hundreds of years.

    Here's some nice nettle tea for anyone that wants a little boost, and a big plate full of freshly-baked rhubarb cake.

    Now I'm off to reconfigure the portable electric fence so we can move the cows to another part of the yard. Then a couple more hours of frantic yard and house clean-up before work... Oh, Help! Tomorrow we're hosting the church picnic!

  4. In Virginia, all the pastors are at Synod Assembly this weekend, so they all have substitutes. We have a liturgist doing the sermons at two of our churches and handing off a sermon to be read to the third church.

    She said she would concentrate on Nicodemus, so I'm looking forward to being worship leader for one of the small churches.

  5. It is a sad week for me. This is my last Sunday with this congregation. Due to financial reasons they've had to eliminate my position. I've known for months but haven't blogged about it or told anyone online.

    I've decided to go off lectionary this week to find readings more appropriate for the occasion.

    Please pray for me as I move into this leave taking weekend. Lots of mixed emotions but trying to leave with grace.

  6. She REv -- where do you live? (No, don't answer) it's just that, your weather sounds exactly like ours.

    I'm not preaching this weekend.

    We have a liturgy at our late service tomorrow for high school graduates. The students kneel and their parents bless them. Then the parents kneel and their children bless them.

    I'm always moved by seeing this.

  7. Prayers for all of you, especially GodGurrll. God is holding you.

    Diane, that liturgy for graduates sounds fantastic!!

  8. Cool and overcast here, too. (Diane, SheRev and I live in the same general region of the country that you do!)

    I got a good start on Thursday, which was a real gift to be able to do, since I've been battling severe insomnia this week.

    I'm mentioning Trinity only tangentially as I said on Tuesday. I'm concentrating on the idea of holiness. I have a story from my high school years and some girls in my class who were part of a "holiness" movement--wearing only skirts and dresses, no makeup, no haircutting allowed. This was done in an effort to identify themselves as "holy" in some biblical model. What are the outward marks of holiness today, and in an effort to be "holy" do some actually lose their humanity and cease to see others in light of humanity as well? Does this result sometimes in some perverse violence in the name of holiness?

    (George Tiller's murder is still very much on my mind. I wrote about it here.)

  9. Well, I've rearranged my office. dusted. Hung up some pictures but have not started on my sermon. Procrastination nation here.

  10. Hello folks! We had blueberry pancakes for breakfast at our house. I know it's a little late for some of you, but maybe you slept in! Enjoy!

    Lots of Isaiah going around, it seems. I can't remember when it was in the lectionary recently, but I feel like I JUST preached it. (And preached it well, if I may say so myself. Obnoxious, I know.)

    So I'm with the Nicodemus crowds. I feel like I'm stumbling over the festival, feeling obligated to do something with it, but feeling like I'm forcing it. Maybe it'll just come. I also feel like I'm finding a very "free, irresistable gift of God" trend in a passage that seems to usually be used to support a theology that focuses on a believer-based, required conversion. I don't want to come off as sounding dismissive of other traditions, but I also don't feel like I can ignore the "born again" elephant in the room. I think it often gets interpreted as "give birth to yourself again" instead of "let the Spirit bear you again" or something like that. Anyway, I'll still be struggling the day away, and I think the Trinitarian stuff will come organically. I need to let it do that.

    MaineCelt - - Oooooooohhhhh, a church picnic! Lot of work for you, but fun for all!!!

    God_Guurrlll - - prayers ascending. That last sermon is a hard one. Off lectionary for something more fitting seems highly appropriate to me!

    Diane - - it is exactly like yours if I remember you location correctly from Fest of Homies last year. Across the river to the east!

    OK - - checking later. Off to play "Rememory" with the 4 year old. (That's Memory to the rest of us.)

  11. Holy Frustration indeed! Is anyone else unable to access textweek today? grumble grumble grumble...

    We'll be looking at the Isaiah passage along with Romans -- I'll be commissioning our mission trip participants and recognizing our graduate (yes, just one this year!).

    When I could get on textweek earlier this week, there was a great article on Isaiah that looked at the rest of the passage and questioned whether Isaiah was still feeling good about raising his hand and offering to be sent. I'm bringing in the Romans passage to shift the emphasis from the called/sent individual to the called/sent community...which may be a good segue into the relationship of the Trinity.

    We will also celebrate Communion then have a luncheon after worship. Leaves me about 5-8 minutes, I think!

    Fortunately, I don't have anyplace to be today so I can focus...but then again, there's facebook and we just got connected with the Lord of the Rings online game...

    I have coffee to offer and will have twice-cooked pork, orange chicken, rice, and fried wontons to share for lunch.

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  13. God Guurrill, prayers for you tomorrow and in the days to come. How hard it must've been to hold this secret.

    Not much to offer in the way of food--bananas, lots of yogurt, some leftover chicken casserole--but I have lovely sunflowers to brighten the table!

    Family service again for me tomorrow; I'll be tackling the Trinity. I have to accept the fact that the preschoolers aren't going to get it and that's okay; I can plant seeds of ideas. So I'm trying to figure out how to aim for the elementary age kids plus the parents...

  14. LOTR online game???? No it is probably best that I don't know abotu that.

    I am wanting to talk about re-birth tomorrow and ask Ezekiel's question can these bones live? June 10 is our denominational 84th anniversary and also our General Council meets this summer so I will (attempt to) tie in a vision of the future for the denomination as well as the congregation.

    Interestingly the Greek word anothen can mean born again OR born from above. ISTM that this is a way in.

    For Children's time I am going back a week and have some boiled and bleached chicken bones from WEdnesday's supper to use as a prop. Then we will listen to the version of DemBones that was posted as part of last Saturday's preacher party.

  15. Hi Ladies, I'm jealous of the 50 degree temps. down here in the land of 8month summers, one more day of cooler weather sounds magnificent!

    I'm tackling the Trinity, using the Isaiah text and GEn 18 to segue into a kind of guided meditation/discussion/SSlesson type sermon on Rublev's trinity icon, which I'm printing on the bulletin covers. At least that's the idea. It's been one of those weeks when everything leading up to sermon writing has taken 3 times as long so I'm way behind. I'm going to focus on how the Trinity teaches us how to be in communion w/ God and each other, as we are made in God's image, and therefore made to be in communion with one another. And I might throw in some perichoresis in there just to really startle people with the image of 3 persons dancing around in a circle.

    I ran across a quote from Aquinas: "We know that God is, not what God is." So for those of you tackling the trinity, at least we're in good company.

  16. The preciousssss is calling you, Gord! LOL -- yes, LOTRO is online and incredible, especially when you have a group to join up with. My sister, nephews, and some buddies are all on so it's lots of fun.

    Hooray! Textweek is back up!

    Diane, your liturgy for graduation sounds awesome! Is it available somewhere for others to use?

  17. So I just got a call from the lady who cleans our church and we have no electricity. Could be a really interesting service tomorrow...

    Am waiting to hear whether or not we paid our bill...sigh.

  18. Believe it or not my sermon rough draft is done. The Holy Spirit is working overtime in me. Thanks be to God. Now I'm going to read it to my partner, cry and take a nap.

    Oh poop, what should I do for a children's sermon.

  19. I've been on here for a couple of months but first time I've ever commented. I'm subbing for the interim at a local church in town. I decided to go with the Nicodemus passage. I still haven't gotten far with it. Serving 6 years as an associate, Trinity Sunday was always one that the pastor handed off to me, so I decided I didn't have to tackle it on a Sunday this year.

    God_Guurrll, praying for you and your church. It's almost been a year since we left the church where I had been associate for six years. Hope that this time tomorrow will be special to all.

  20. Children's sermons, we have actual children not toddler so I have a shot at going a little beyond the basics. But I"m not going to use trinity stuff; (Water, Ice, steam; daughter, sister, mother roles) altho they get a mention in the sermon. I'm going to Nick At Nite and ask them what kinds of things do they do at night? What if we had to sneak into church so no one would see us? Some people still do!

    the sermon is called "Out of My Head" and looks at experiences (like Trinity) that take more than our head to understand. then we have communion which should follow nicely.

  21. It is the frustration week for me too, but I am still another week out before vacay hits.
    At any rate, due to communion and one special recognition, my sermon will be shorter than normal. This is actually harder in some respects when trying to pull a sermon together.
    Anyhow, i picked my news story. I am doing the one about the store keeper. found here
    Any thoughts or ideas?
    Also, many hugs and prayers to GodGurl. That is a touugh sermon to have to preach

  22. God gurl,
    do you have any token you could leave with the kids to have...something small they could keep with them to remember somethign you have taught them?

  23. Don't hate me because I'm done...I finished about an hour ago, ate a quick lunch and had my bubble bath. I am so seldom in the early crowd, it feels good to be in it this week.

    Stay with it, preachers of the Word!

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  25. not a clue what I'll say tomorrow. I'll likely focus on the awe in Isaiah and confusion in John. I spent most all week on General Convention stuff and my mind is still full of budgets and resolutions and reports, not the Trinity I particularly want to talk about. Next week is full of meetings so being clueless just might be a new trend!
    God Guurrlll, saying good-bye is difficult under the best of circumstances. It must be doubly hard in your situation. You are in my prayers.

  26. G_G, blessings to you. Leaving is tough business, no matter the circumstances.

    Regarding the children's sermon, here are a couple of ideas I tossed around a couple of weeks ago. We ended up doing 'here's the church, here's the steeple' and talking about how the church belonged to God and was made up of people, not just me (this for the little first grader with the misguided crush). Or, my other idea, which I actually used for the "grown up" sermon, was that "good bye" comes from the Middle English "God be with ye," so when we say goodbye, we are entrusting each other into God's care. It also works with other languages too (Spanish, French, probably some more).

  27. Mighty quiet around here today. Maybe everyone is outside enjoying the coming of summer!

    I spent some time reading outside earlier and now must focus on the sermon.

    Luckily, there is communion, honoring of graduates, and recognizing of Sunday School teachers. Sermon can be a little bit shorter ...

  28. Sorry for being the host who goes missing. Took the kids to see "Up." What's the rule with using new movies in sermons? Talk about being born from above!!! Ugh. Finally got inspiration, but I'm afraid using it will ruin the movie for many. Good movie, though.

    Nutella, check out this sermon if you need more ideas about Rublev and the Scriptures. Seems like you might be on the same wavelength.

    Rev Nancy - - You've got me singing "Over My Head, I can hear music in the air." Love it!

  29. This week has seriously gotten away from me, between meetings and lunch appointments and the fact that I joined Facebook at couple of days ago. (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) All that and then midweek I decided to change the scripture I'm using to Isaiah. I didn't even read the Tuesday Lectionary Leanings until this morning.

    Like SemFem I really like what Sunrise had to say about Trinity through Isaiah - Awe, humility and service - and am fairly sure I'll be moving in that direction also.

    Preaching on Trinity Sunday always reminds me of being a student chaplain and having a staff member ask me to explain the Trinity to her during her coffee break. The only thing I could think to do is tell her there was no way I could do that in 15 minutes.

    God_Guurrlll my prayers are with you.

  30. Final draft done of sermon. Now off to the going away pot luck. It's all so bittersweet. Please hold me in prayer.

  31. Call me late to the party! Today was yard sale day and then time started moving really fast. I am at a loss for words, and not a fan of trinity sunday. Thankfully it is communion sunday and we had our strawberry festival last night, so i can talk about those and sunday school teachers. Graduation is next week.

    I'm preaching the John text, and reading it, i thought "hmmm.... this sounds familiar." I preached the John 3:16 passage last time it was in the lectionary - -was that during easter or lent? VERY recently.

    I'm ordering chinese food in about 30 minutes. What can I order for you?

  32. OK, having read some of the stuff abeing produced in preparation for General COuncil on the State of the UCCan and thought about the state of this ongregation (and others in teh PResbytery) I am trying to come up with a hopeful vision. Don't want to be a downer after all....

    Now Off to cook spaghetti for supper.

  33. I am the lucky duck who gets to GO to the picnic at MaineCelt's farm!!
    I've been at a special Conference meeting today, where we voted to sell a beloved but impossible-to-maintain retreat center. Then I rehearsed the young people who will lead worship tomorrow. A full day including much driving!
    Now I'm home and making tuna pasta salad and Texas Sheet Cake for the picnic. No sermon tomorrow; my worship-planning labors all took place weeks ago, and the message will be delivered in a skit by the children. We're using the Genesis 1 Creation story as a basis for the whole service, including reading whole sections responsively, with the congregation as the voice of God. I hope it works!

  34. Thanks SheRev!! Wow, just started it and it looks like what I'm trying to do as well. Thanks for the link to get the juices flowing.

    I've been so slow today, recovering from a bad migraine middle of the night. There's a pride parade tonight that I was hoping to walk in with a local church group, but with sermon not started, I think I'll have to pass. Come Holy Spirit, Come! and Come quickly!

  35. God_Gurrlll, thinking of you and praying, too.

  36. God Gurrll, thinking of you and praying. May the Holy Spirit hold you well...

    Gord - that "Called to be Church" document is interesting isn't it? I used a bit of it last week and printed a bunch of copies for folks to read on their own. We also lit a special prayer candle for GC 40. Also, we will be making prayer flags to send to Kelowna for the event (a request went out awhile ago, but the deadline has been extended to July 30). Good stuff. Even with all the not-so-terrific stats tucked into the text. :)

    Not preaching this week. Blessings to all of you.

  37. Yesterday I had a migraine that did not respond well to the meds. Today, I strained my back leaning over to shave my legs (maybe I should've left them). The good news is I found a sermon that has not been preached here in my sermon barrel. A little tweaking and getting prayers together will happen later.

    God_Guurrlll may you receive grace and peace today and tomorrow

  38. She Rev, our choir sang "Over My Head" as a communion anthem last week and it's been running through my head all week; funny you should mention it :-) For lack of a better description, they rocked out, complete with percussion and sax...not your usual suburban Episcopal offering!

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  40. Power is back on, bulletins printed, altar ready, tables set for lunch, and sermon...oh, yeah, I knew there was something else!

    My prayers are with you, God Gurl...and with your congregation.

  41. "Over my head" sounds like most 11th hour late nights. I'd like to hear the choir do it!
    God-Gurl, many prayers surround you at this parting. Perhaps God has something wonderful for you just around the corner.

  42. Oh Vicar, I do hope you feel better for worship tomorrow. Thanks be to God for those sermons in the barrel!

  43. Many prayers for tomorrow God_Guurrlll.

    I'm breaking out the mint chocolate chip ice cream because I've finished. There's also some chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer. Help yourself.

    May it give you energy to finish whatever needs to be done for Sunday morning. Or may the Holy Spirit step in and lend a hand.

  44. I talked about the Holy Trinity... here.

    If you are theologian by profession... please don't take offense... I just never got the whole Holy Trinity thing... at seminary... at least not the way that I probably should have.

  45. I just came to a screeching halt. Dancing, pass the ice cream.

    Maybe a 10 min break and then come back to it?

  46. Hi folks! Kids are in bed and I'm eating my ice cream (rocky road, I think, for my first time ever). When the bowl is empty the sermon writing will continue/begin.

    The blessing of a barrel, Vicar! Nice work!

    Wish I had heard it, Betsy!

    Well, I'm sticking around for the late-night party, and welcoming any company I can get!

  47. We have a Holy Spirit emergency over here. I'm preaching at St. Extra-Large tomorrow, and while there are some things going on that I can't really talk about publicly, I keep hashing those issues over and over again and can't seem to settle down and focus on a sermon. Do I let the issues into the sermon? Do I guard against that?

    So instead I am procrastinating by checking out Julia Nunes on YouTube (much recommended).

    God_Gurrl, prayers are with you for a difficult day tomorrow. [hug]

  48. Rocky road? Mint chip? Time for a road trip, I think! I have chicken in the oven, one of my easiest recipes which makes it smell extra good.

    I think I'm sorta kinda in good enough shape for the family service. We have our children's choir musical at the later service, and someone else has preaching duties at the early one, so that means I'm more or less good to go.

    Sem-Fem, may the Spirit guide you as you find the narrow path between saying too much and not saying enough.

  49. I'm passing out cake, for strength.

  50. I go straight for the chocolate chips for strength. Altho, the sermon is done and the deacon duty list and names to be affirmed for call are done. I guess I can no longer justify chocolate. oh horror.

    best to all, I'm going to veg a bit before bed and think if I've forgotten anything. we start our earlier hour service tomorrow and I hear about a dozen folks are out of town. ah well, it will be an intimate communion setting. thanks to all for the party today.

  51. Done...I think! At least done enough to give myself permission to do another quest on LOTRO...

    Come, Holy Spirit! Fill our lives, guide our thoughts, give us your words...we yearn for your presence...and give thanks for ice cream!

  52. mmmm... cake and ice cream!

    God Gurrrl - I keep commenting and then realizing I have not also offered you my prayers for tomorrow as well.

  53. I am going to be traveling adventure trip to Michigan's Thumb, terra incognita for I noted on Facebook, I'm relieved to avoid the Athanasian Creed, should it rear its ugly head in the liturgy.

    I fear we have no ice cream at our house (not even with a new ice cream maker). We do, though, have a little chunk of lemon Stilton, and some Golden Delicious apples.

  54. Working on an outline and getting close. This one might write after all!

  55. I'm working on two papers, both due in the next 48 hours... AHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    Ok. I feel better.

    I have homemade blueberry pie and chocolate cake (it's a birthday weekend!) so please PLEASE eat some before I just go sit in the pan and apply what's left directly to my hips...

    I am actually working on two papers relating to the Holy Spirit; one on the wrestling match between Scholastics vs Mystics on the means of the work of the Holy Spirit (like any one REALLY knows???) and one on Wesleyean Perfection.

    Add to all the "fun" -- the Harpist graduated this week, it's been non-stop parTAYs, recitals and other such events. So these papers are being thrown together. Literally.

    Lord, be merciful...

    Praying for you preachers...


  56. I'm done, thanks to the miracle of the internet. I don't know how preachers did research before the internet was around. Thanks SheRev for the link.
    God guurrlll--blessings be heaped upon you tomorrow to sustain you in the days and weeks to come.

    God be in your sleep this night, preachers.

  57. God_Guurrlll...

    Ouch. I am too close to your situation myself...

    I am praying for grace and peace and may God surprise you with the next blessings on your path...

  58. Yipee! Glad it could help, Nutella.

    Deb, I do not envy you, but I am praying for you! Ugh. The work of the Holy Spirit - - really, like it can be explained in a paper. And I loved school!!!! (It's almost as bad as trying to explain the Trinity in a sermon - -which is why I'm NOT this year.)

  59. OK - - that scary looking "removal by administrator" was not something bad. It was me deleting something I wrote myself under my wrong name. Looks menacing that way, though!

  60. It SNOWED today!!! We were in shorts last week...crazy. Had Synod Assembly this weekend, just got back a few hours ago. I tried Really hard to get my sermon written before we left, but it just didn't come together. So now its late Saturday night, I'm exhausted, and trying to come up with a rousing sermon about the Trinity. And shivering.

    I'm thinking about showing and explaining several of the many symbols of the Trinity, and using that to lead into talking about how Trinity is about salvation history, about how God has expressed God's love for creation. That's the unformed general plan, anyway!

  61. Since I've had to delete two goofs today (a double post and one I did under my son's log-in), I am reassured to know I am not alone!

    Explaining the work of the HS in a paper? Have fun with that one ;-)

  62. And I? Have the Blogger Superpower to make the deleted comment disappear entirely!!!

  63. Apparently Songbird gets a little diabolical when she's not preaching the next morning!?

    I have finally stopped crying and whining and started actually looking at the text. Radical, I know, but I've heard it can help. Except maybe not on Trinity Sunday.

  64. I hear you semfem. I turned off all TV and even stepped away from FB about an hour ago and against my usual flow, have just started writing. I think I'm on to something with themes of birthing (it being the job of the mom, not the one being born - - or the Spirit, not the believer) and truth-seeking in the night. I might not end up needing both, or better said, I might not end up having time for both, but it was time to just start writing to see where it would go. I haven't written like this in a long time!

  65. I need about 200 more words to close out, but not sure how to say what i want to say in 200 words and be done.
    I need to write a prayer for a member who is in seminary and is going off to do his sumemr internship. At Old Crusty, we called it SM210. Mine was odd, memorable, scary, and weird. I hope he will have a good expeirence and learn what he needs to learn most right now.
    Hmmm, maybe that should be part of the prayer.
    ANyhow, will do that in the AM.
    I took an extneded break and went to an auction over an hour away. I now have another froggy, a set of walkie talkies to take to the lake, a set of 33 pieces of flow blue type china with a gold rim and a wrought iron garden cart.
    Pics will follow sometime this week on my blog.
    For now a quick snack and something without caffine.
    And 200 words...
    Anybody want something>

  66. 16 blessed words over my "limit." I think I shall say done and go to bed. :)~
    Good night all!

  67. Hmmmm...1200 words when I'm shooting for 1400-1500...I think I can go to bed. Much better than the last few weeks, in fact. I've probably got too much filler with stories that are somewhat related, but if I catch the Spirit-wind in the morning, I can cut some of those out. I still really want to use stuff from Up, but think it's too new of a movie and I don't want to tell some of the scenes that I think are more fun to see in the moment.

    We'll see!

    The basic plot is known right? Old guy flies his house with a bunch of balloons. That's all I knew going into it, so maybe if I write with that in mind and try not to tell too much else....Don't know if I can. Oh well.

    Going to bed. I'll be up with the early morning crowd to tack my last couple of paragraphs on. 200-300 words can add up quick so I'm considering this one about done!

  68. I lied. It seemed silly to go to bed with that little left to do, so I decided to stick it out and finish it. Woo hoo! Going to bed NOW at 2:06 a.m. my time, but I have very little to do in the morning. Or so I think now. We'll see what I remember I need to do then!

  69. I did my classic "fall asleep at desk and wake up to write frantically" routine. So it's now or never. Here I go!

  70. I have a modular sermon (necessary because they switched up the texts on me for each service) and it's time for me to jet. Whew!

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation today.

  71. I still don't know how you do the fall asleep at the desk trick, semfem, but I'm glad it works for you! Finishing up my tweaks now, and listening to the family eat breakfast upstairs on the monitor.

    Blessings on you and all!

  72. Blessings to all who preach this day!


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