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Saturday, November 14, 2009

11th Hour Preacher's Party: Where Are You, Lord?

At a conference I attended a few weeks ago we spent some time discussing Christian Formation and Faith Development. Part of the discussion focused on John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, and his three step process of Christian Formation. In this process one begins as a newcomer to faith - filled with "Desire" for God. The next stage is one of "Conflict" - the dark night of soul where faith is deepened and matures. Most Christians spend the majority of their faith formation in this second stage. The third stage is "Contemplation" and it is marked by a person being so grounded in their faith and trust in God that the dark nights no longer feel dark. A person in the stage of Contemplation is able to maintain an emotional sense of peace even when confronted with a spritual challenge. Maybe Hannah and her silent prayer to God represnt a person in this third stage. Or maybe she is well into the second stage approaching the third? photo credit Anyway, our process of faith formation might be one avenue to consider...

The readings from Samuel offer some compelling thought for a preacher this week. Hannah, a named woman in the Bible, expresses a profound faith, pointing us to the faith that comes later with Mary, and the coming season of Advent.

Now, admittedly for me it would be a bit more of a challenge to write a sermon on the Gospel. Maybe it's just my state of mind these days? Case in point - my initial response to the Gospel: "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings..." immediately brought up the image of Little Red Riding Hood, "Oh my what big...." photo credit here

Obviously I'd find another direction for my reflection...but, I'd probably carry an inner giggle with me to the pulpit.

Anyway. What are you thinking about? Where is the Spirit leading you this morning? I hope it's not into the woods....but definitely toward some good food and fruits of the Spirit. And, if you find yourself in the dark woods, or lost, we're here to help.

I have a busy day and will be in and out as I go to a series of workshops and then dinner out with friends. But I'll be around often enough to keep the party going. Now, what can I get you? Coffee? Tea?? Scones?


  1. I'm going with 'it's the end of the world as we know it [and I feel fine]' theme from Tuesday using Mark, Ps 16 and Hebrews.
    It's all done and shamelessly pilfered some thoughts from the audio clip someone linked to in Tues. discussions.
    Am delighted that Hollywood is in tune with the lectionary cycle with the release of the 'end of the world epic' 2012 yesterday... and so that's how I'll be leading into the sermon.
    Bringing pain au chocolat and freshly brewed coffee to the table.
    Praying for lots of inspirational 'oh yeah' moments for you all as you get set up for the day ahead!!

  2. I'm also going with Mark but the direction isn't quite clear. Something about how easy it is for every generation to see the end of the world as described in their own time, wondering why we would rather wage war than peace, then bringing it down to the personal level and a plea to tear down our own walls so the King of Glory can come in. This is probably as close as I'll ever come to hellfire and brimstone. ;-)

    Meanwhile, it is Salvation Army day so I'm off to cook and serve. Then a stop at another parish's bazarre (sp?) before returning to the sermon and packing for clergy conference followed by a mad dash to Delaware for the rest of the week.

  3. Oh! And no scones for me, thanks. Last night's dinner was enough to feed a small village and I'm still stuffed. I do have a doggie bag full of pork au vin if anyone would like to finish it off. It was really good. So was the pumpkin creme brulee. Sorry, none of that left.
    Otherwise, my house is down to food for dogs and cats only.

  4. Good Morning Nik - all done already and the party is only beginning! Well, at least you brought some delicious pain au chocolat (yum).

    And Margaret, welcome and, I we'll see you later.

  5. Good morning fellow preachers! I was able to finish my sermon yesterday, also because of the sermon Meg posted at Tuesday's Leanings. It guided me to write based on Hannah's story and song, and the words in Mark, "do not be alarmed". I also shared some of our own struggles with infertility and high risk pregnancy. This is a congregation who knows me and has been very supportive, so I think I will be ok sharing.

    Today - day 6 without my husband who is working in Argentina for another week. Thankfully it is nice outside, and we have no concrete plans. So - clean out the fridge, vacuum the car, and find something fun to do with the girls!

  6. Good morning, all! I'll take some pain au chocolate and have baked eggs with sharp cheddar and whole wheat sourdough toast to contribute.

    My sermon is posted at my blog and will be handed out at the church door, by way of nonviolent resistance, at the mass I was scheduled to preach and celebrate before my dismissal for whistleblowing the sheltering of a pedophile priest. I feel peaceful and grounded but also pretty nervous knowing there will be some major anger--and hoping I can avoid my natural tendencies under stress and take a loving and peaceful and respectful stance in response. Prayers greatly appreciated!

  7. Welcome Mumpastor, enjoy the day!

    Sophia, prayers for peace all around, especially for you.

  8. I'm off lectionary this week (using the texts from Oct 18th - long story) and have a rough draft done. By "rough" I mean that it may need to be a toss-out. I'll take another look, but I think I need to start from scratch.

    I would love a scone please and thanks.

  9. Hi Sue, scones coming! Hope you don't have to toss it all....

  10. morning friends! I'm working on Hannah, and I think I'm working on a theme revolving around worthlessness/worth...when we look outside our relationship with God for our value, we find ourselves worthless. or something.
    i'm having a little bit of trouble because we had a MAJOR conflict in our congregation this week, and while it seems quieter right now I don't know what state of mind people are in, and I don't want to *either* preach straight to the situation OR ignore it I need a way to preach that will make people in the know feel like they've been addressed but will also speak to people who have no idea what just happened.
    I am out of all the good food, and I have to go to a dinner party tonight. I think I'm taking acorn squash bowls filled with wild rice, wilted spinach, cranberries, and mushrooms. But that means I have to finish in time to actually MAKE that, and get it there by 7. awesome.
    If anyone needs Emergen-C, though, I have a whole box. :-) ward off that flu!

  11. Hey Teri, prayers for you as you ponder that. I have to do the same on several about a cup of coffee first? And let us know how we can help.

  12. I am working with images of birth and pain and fear and "barrenness" (to use the scriptural and painful term) and trying to us it as a way in to congregational visioning (or the need for same at least).

    But in that image what is the role of congregational leadership? Are we the midwives helping the birth happen? Are we the mother worrrying about the closed womb? Are we the pregnant parents worrying about a miscarriage or stillbirth? Are we the ones on labour, dealing with the birthpangs?

  13. Good Morning, Gord....and welcome. Sounds like you have some intresting reflections for congregational visioning - hope it becomes fertile ground for them to ponder...

  14. I'm up and ready to rock. Havent had food yet - just a bottle of water, maybe I'll try those TJs mix pumpkin pancakes again in a while - they were popular around here.

    Other people like the quiet early morning hours, I know, but I tend to wake up a little going over all the Things That Could Go Wrong, so I'm waiting for my boys to get up and make some noise.

    In the meantime, thinking about Hannah. I'm doing a first person thing (in her voice) telling her story and talking about prayer (the what and why of it).

    I'm glad to be taking a little sabbath from STEWARDSHIP which has been a MAJOR focus for the last 2 weeks, and will be next week, too.

    Childrens time? Thinking of talking about when people make fun of you/dont understand you, God is there for you? Would love a better idea, though, for my very young crowd - they're kind of the song/finger play/craft age....

  15. Hi Juniper....yum, to those pancakes sound delicious....looking forward to hearing how you develop your theme of Hannah and prayer....ideas anyone? for a children's time?

  16. Wow, lots of Hannah musings. Best to you Sophia to keep your presence non-violent in spite of the 'violence' being sent your way.
    Gord, I love the ideas, but alas I have my stuff in place. (If not completely finished.)
    Somehow, somewhere, someone decided it was Bible Sunday and that was on my worship grid. So I'm using the lectionary texts, with a little extra thrown in, to review the over-arching idea that the BIBLE is Good News and if it's not (for those in the pew) then they are wasting their time here. (hope no one walks out at that!) We have church council after worship and we vote on the budget. Should be non-controversial since I am moving into the parsonage and saving them 6,000 in housing allowance (which was meager) AND 12,000 in utilities which they allocated for the parsonage. This has me worried, since I don't have that much to pay for utilities. Is moving to the 'city' really going to cost me that much? What a hit I am taking, if so! but time for me to listen to my own sermons and do some trusting, right?
    I've had 2 pots of coffee, chocolate chips and I have some espresso beans left from the wedding favors (chocolate covered) whew, i'm exhausted just writing it. I'll post the sermon when it is done. Now off to read Sophia's.

  17. I'm preaching on Hannah this week and am focusing on how we respond to disappointments in life. What do we do when things seem to go terribly awry? Where do we turn? I'm looking at Hannah as a model of faith who takes her deepest troubles and vulnerabilities to God, trusting that God loves her and will hear her.

    It's coming along pretty smoothly so far...just playing with some illustrations and transitions at this. Oh, and thoroughly enjoying peanut butter crackers and cherry coke :)

  18. Haven't started writing yet--I had a funeral this morning, and I'm doing some laundry, and then running to Tarjay quickly ....and then to sermonizing (this is a new strategy to get some other things out of the way early in the day and then devote myself to writing--we'll see how it works!)

    "It's the end of the world as we know it" has been percolating through my head all week; preaching on Mark but fews ideas fully articulated at this point.

    Back later!

  19. 12 000 for utilities??????

    That seems oddly high Nancy. ANd yet they saw 6000 as a fair amount for a housing allowance? They must be using some new math or something.

    Now off to get ready for the UCW Bazaar (NOT bizarre, well maybe) this afternoon. See y'all later

  20. I posted the draft version if anyone is interested in hearing my story. Mostly it is about my experience with the Bible. I hope it will help people recall and clarify their experience with these wonderful stories of faith.

  21. Wow, I step away for a few minutes and a bunch of folks drop in - welcome Nancy, Rev.drmom, and, off to read some of the sermons that have been posted!

  22. I need some help! I'm not preaching tomorrow, but do have childrens' time. The letter announcing my (forced) resignation will probably arrive in people's mailboxes today, and i wonder if I should address that with the children since I am leaving in two weeks?

    Suggestions, please!

  23. oh, cheese, all the hard steps to take on this hard, hard path...

    how about "people say goodbye, but God is always with me and with you?"

    but you will know how to do this more awesomely.

  24. ((Cheese)) - I do think you need to spend some time with the children and let them know you love them....that may be all. Sometimes relationships come to an end, but love does not.

  25. Cheese,
    Totally thinking you should address your leaving with the kids. I never got to and I have regreted it. I was not given opportunity to do Chidlren's Time as "the other pastor's never did that." Anyhow, I really wanted to and did not. So do it.
    Uh, anybody else preaching on Daniel or am I the only dumb @$$ in the bunch for choosing such a bizarre passage? No offense if someone else is preaching on it. I just feel that way about myself. It is not a commentary on anyone else's intelligence or anatomy

  26. 1-4 grace, welcome - I suspect there will be a few takers for Daniel in the group! Looking forward to what you will bring forth from the passage...

  27. friends, we have a miracle: a draft on Hannah's worthlessness! feedback appreciated...I didn't expect it to work like this (all came out onto the screen in about half an hour) and I'm still not sure how I'm doing with the whole church-blowing-up thing, but I think I might not hate this sermon. Interesting!

    That also means I can begin to focus on the side dish I'm taking to tonight's dinner party...acorn squash veggie bowls! :-) I'll make some extras for y'all!

  28. tomorrow country church has a big fancy whang-do celebration... and i've been trying all week to get excited. pumped-up. on-task. on-target. on-gospel... *sigh* i'm not... well i'm using alternate texts for their celebration... but *sigh* i have zero enthusiasm... and no conclusion to the long and winding road of a sermon...

    i painted a new painting.
    delivered altar flowers.
    cleaned the sink.
    bought groceries.
    and now... trying to garner some enthusiasm... any ideas?

  29. HC - sigh....I'm plum out of inspiration and ideas lately...sorry....but I do have tea, if that would help.

  30. We are only at 30? Of course I went back to take a nap after meeting the roof guy at church this AM.
    Now I am awake to see the Gamecocks

  31. Of course I spent too much time and money at Target! But now it is really time to write!

    Cheese, I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Hugs and prayers for you.

  32. wow, teri - that is great! thanks for posting it. it doesnt happen too often, but I love it when they just flow out like that! that's the holy spirit, baby!

    ok, so after a morning of soccer and tidying the playroom and the child's bedroom (report on that: I WOULD like to be able to ask him to do anything without him bursting into tears these days, because really I am very nice as moms go, but once we got going it went ok.) I have a few minutes to myself while the rest of the fam goes to target, so I'm trying to apply myself.

    to something besides a nice nap, I mean.

  33. Hello everyone! Not preaching tomorrow, so just checking in to say hi and wish everyone blessings. Prayers for Cheese and Sophia and everyone else in tough, challenging times right now.

    I'm off to make some bulletin inserts and then preparing the house for a guest tonight--our guest preacher for tomorrow. It will be stewardship Sunday, but I have a sneaky feeling many people have either forgotten or don't know. This will put an interesting spin on the potluck...

    Hope the Holy Spirit is blowing where you are!

  34. Hey SemFem...welcome....a preacher party without you burning the midnight oil will be an early night...LOL

  35. Hannahizers:

    In case you havent seen it: here is nutella's note from Tuesday, to which I say YES YES YES.

    "I've always been struck by the chronology of the story. She goes to the temple, berates Eli, he listens to her, and she leaves and her "countenance is sad no longer." THEN she discovers she's with child. It reminds me that often what people who are suffering need just as much as an end to their suffering, is validation for their suffering and having someone listen to them, as Eli did for her. For Hannah, apparently just having Eli say he will pray for her request too, lifts her spirits, after her husband so thoughtlessly says "aren't I enough for you?" and Penninah keeps flaunting her own fertilityin Hannah's face. Finally having someone validate her suffering must have been so refreshing. "

  36. I tried to take a nap, but got all the anxious-stupidness instead. I even tried to remember all the stuff I learned on Monday (just a few days ago!) about how to relax and self-regulate in the middle of stress. But now I've just re-read my sermon and I might actually like it! I added on sentence at the end...and I think I am going to leave it alone unless something drastic happens tonight.

    speaking of tonight: it's church dinner party night, when we get together in groups of 8 or 10 in people's homes and have dinner parties. I am bringing stuffed acorn squash (halved, roasted with butter/brown sugar/sage, then NOT scooped out but just the hollows stuffed with a wild rice/mushroom/leek/spinach/and-maybe-cranberries mixture. I'm debating about topping it with shaved parmesan. I probably won't (would require a trip to the store) but WOW do I love cheese. :-)
    Two of the couples at tonight's dinner are heavily involved in/affected by the craziness going on in the church. Pray for me not to say anything stupid. Remember, self, no wine and all filters!

    Maybe I'll post pictures of the yummies, and I'll definitely squirrel some away for you all! I did make a few extras, too--they'll be in the oven when you're ready...

  37. Teri, the acorn squash sounds delicious - yum! I hope the night goes well and people behave themselves or self select to stay home.

  38. Is everyone off eating dinner? It sure is quiet here now.

    So I think I'm done writing. Playing off of a reflection I read on Text this Week, I'm looking at Jesus' list of calamities to come not as warning signs for the Apocalypse but as the result of a broken humanity and the natural world that each mark "the end of the world as we know it" and provide us with the opportunity to either be led astray or to act as Christ in the world reaching out to those who are hurt, and by doing so giving birth to God's kingdom in the here and now. And I'm hoping that is not too much of a stretch with this passage.

  39. Nutella,
    You are so brillant.
    Still thinking on my stuff and working on sermon. Sadly, I have cut and pasted several bits and pieces of a commentary on Daniel.
    It is not gonna be my best. I think my last two on Ruth were good, so maybe a fair one is not so bad

  40. hi folks,

    haven't been around cuz I'm taking a couple of week break from preaching. hopefully i'll be climbing back behind a pulpit by advent but the break has been good.

    however, my computer's hard drive died this afternoon. i'm going to get a new hard drive per my warrenty but it's the data that i am concerned about. it is at the geek squad right now. i forgot the 11th commandment, "thou shalt back up thy data often."

    here's some root beer to keep the midnight oil burning.

    btw ((cheese)) thinking of you.

  41. Hi All! Preaching for the second time at my new church tomorrow. Now I'm putting all the thoughts on paper - did the exegesis stuff earlier this week (reflections at my place), but we had diocesan convention this weekend & have a new bishop, so I wanted to see if there was timely stuff brewing to toss in - and of course there is - all good. Tomorrow, the first female will be ordained in the Diocese - Thanks be to God!

  42. I am slugging away at my big paper for the semester on Genesis 34 (Dinah). Pray that I will persevere and git 'er done. It's due ont he 22nd...

    Praying for all you preachers...

  43. Praying, Deb. And Cheese--my Godde, how incredibly awful.

  44. The late night won't be the same without you semfem. Hope I'm not the only one there. Too many other things happening so I am just now sitting down to consider what to write

  45. I miss y'all in this non-preaching week for me. I did have a busy weekend, doing Week 5 of my Soul Spa program, sandwiched between sessions of our Conference's Fall Learning Event. Vicar, I was working on your sock while listening to Diana Butler Bass last night and today!
    My prayers are with all who are preaching and especially those facing challenges tomorrow.

  46. Yay! a sock, I'm free! Thank you, thank you so much*

    well, except for this sermon writing gig

    *Dobby reference ... what do you expect from "The Vicar of Hogsmeade"

  47. Well, I haven't given it to you yet...

  48. What a hard week and weekend for some - prayers for Sophia, Cheesehead, Teri, Nancy.
    I am preaching on the gospel and it's week #3 of stewardship drive AND a baptism of a 3rd generation child of this congregation who's returning to baptize her child and probably will never come again.
    So do I go with the 'buildings will fall down and we are all given the chance for rebirth through the birthing pangs.'
    Kind of fun since we just destructed (intentionally) our 37 yr old belltower as it had become a liability. Now we are working with architect on campus enhancement project that will bring us into the 21st century with accessible entrance and restroom.
    Now I'm not sure how to combine the stewardship, property improvement, baptism and gospel!
    Perhaps cover the baptism in the children's message?
    I'd love some feedback!

  49. Congrats Vicar, you are soon to be FREEEEE!
    Sermon is done, but with a heavy heart. A seminary colleage and friend passed away unexpectadily today. I am thinking of his wife and 4 children tonight as they are faced with a grim reality.
    Tomorrow's sermon on Daniel and mark texts, took a very different turn today.
    But, what a blessing to be reminded of the hope in the resurrection.
    Blessings to all and nite.
    Help yourself to some "white trash" which I made this week.

  50. I have a question: how long is a typical ordination service for an Episcopalian?

  51. Hello? Anyone here? or did those end times come and I missed it?

  52. VoH - 1.5-2 hours - and then the reception to follow...

  53. VoH - check your fb inbox please

  54. Hey Vic,
    I saw some people at the park today doing that thing you do - what is it called? - where you go around with a compass and try to find cool stuff? Oh, yeah, Geocaching. Anyway, they had a compass and were beating the bushes with big sticks, so I figured must be that....or else something nefarious.

    Ok, so my sermon is as done as it's gonna get tonight - tomorrow I say it out loud once in the car and then once more when I get there and call that good. Now, going to re-read Philip Yancy's chapter on REasons for Unanswered Prayer before bed.

    Just back from a good dinner including belly laughter, so am Grateful and satisfied.

    Night all :)

  55. Well, I had some serious stuff come which took me away for the afternoon and night - sorry folks! Looks like the party went on well enough. Blessings on all preaching tomorrow!

  56. juniper, using just a compass would make it very hard. they were probably using handheld gps but it does sound likely they were geocaching. too funny

    geocaching got me moving enough that my health insurance pedometer steps were high enough to get bonus points which earns me money. not that I needed geocaching reinforcement

    wish the sermon was locatable by longitude and latitude, I might have better luck finding it completed

  57. Late coming in, to send prayers to all of you for the Spirit before, behind, and within you on Sunday!

    About geocaching...some years ago in our area, the FBI was called into a residential neighborhood after a resident had noticed various people, often dressed in business attire, arriving at various hours and digging in bushes for a small metal box. The bomb squad ultimately was called in to remove the container :-o Thereafter, geocachers were advised, at a minimum, to use clear plastic boxes and inform the neighbors when placing one!

  58. ok, really heading off to bed now. blessings all you late night writers.

    betsy, that is too funny! we live in such strange times, dont we?

  59. I brought back french silk pie for those of you still up...or you can eat it for breakfast! It's amazing!
    dinner party was a success, at least at the one I went to. Fun was had, stories shared, laughter laughed, food eaten, beverages all around (except the pastor, who drank tea and water all night). All behaved themselves, the food was amazing, the hostess' house lovely.
    and now, sleepy time. it's the problem with the dinner party night program--five times a year and yet it ALWAYS manages to fall on a weekend when I'm preaching. Of course it does. :-)

    Have pie!

  60. Betsy, that is too funny, too! And could've been me on Thursday. I had a meeting and stopped to grab a cache that I thought would be easy to reach. It was in some large bushes that required "going in." So, in I go, suit and all!

    I met a police officer out in the woods one day ... he was a geocacher, too! I was relieved

  61. There's a taco bell close to my church and next to a laundromat that is almost always busy, if not full. A cache is hidden in a lamp post there. I kept trying to get it during the week but there were always way to many people around to be sneaky enough. So one Sunday morning I left the house 10 mins early to go to that completely deserted lamp post and grab the cache before church.

    Meanwhile, I've managed to grab the sermon & prayers sufficiently enough to have them printed. I'm finally going to bed.

    Blessings on your Sunday!

  62. Elastigirl, congrats on your new bishop and know that many of us are there in spirit with you all today for the ordination. It's been such a long time coming and I am grateful to all of those women who fought the good fight.

    The problem with unwritten sermons is that they are never really done; however, I think I'm in pretty good shape this morning. So maybe I'll get my packing done for the clergy conference early. I'm not preaching next week so I will miss the party. Have a good time, y'all!

  63. I am off lectionary with our Sermons for our stewardship campaign taken from Adam Hamilton's book Enough. Today is on Simple Peace from Philippians 4:6-7. At least I have a voice and am not sick. I notice several of us are sick though. I missed yesterday due to a full day at the church with work. So I lift my prayers for all us preaching today. May the Holy Spirit speak through us and open the ears of those listening. Blessings.

  64. Just a note for anyone quoting the MP3 file posted on Tuesday... The file info says that it is from the Center for Excellence in Preaching, and the preacher is Mary Hulst.

  65. So glad to hear the Vicar has been freed by the sock. :)

    Blessings to all this morning, my friends.

  66. After a late and fitful night I am up and glad to see the party continued on. Many blessings on all of you preachers this day!


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