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Saturday, December 19, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party - Homestretch Edition

Here we go! This is the homestretch, preacher friends. Well, it's a long homestretch with multiple services for many of us in the coming days, but this is it, the 4th Saturday sermon party for the season of Advent this year. What are you working on?

Somehow the 4th Sunday in Advent has taken a bit of a backseat in my thinking as I've been planning for The Longest Night worship on Monday and our Christmas Eve services on Thursday. How about some of you? I know I'm not the only one being pulled in all sorts of liturgical directions. The Sunday after Christmas is also hovering around in my thoughts, but still too far away to get much attention either.

As for tomorrow's Scriptures we have, as alluded to above, the Magnificat, Elizabeth and Mary, Micah's prophecy about the "one of peace," and well, Hebrews. I have to say I wouldn't pick that one up with all these other wonderful pieces to work with, but I'd LOVE to hear if someone else does. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it's just that the rest is so juicy!

Join the party today. I suspect it will be a rousing one! Hopefully it will also be an inspiring one and many will find sleep and dreams of sugar plums before the morning comes. Yea - - I can at least pretend that will be me!

See you in the comments!


  1. Sermon written, time for bed.
    Someone used the story I was planning on telling at Christmas Eve at a church function today. Not sure what to do, Guess it is time to find another story for Christmas Eve. At least tomorrow morning’s service is finished! Happy advent 4 partying.

  2. Speaking of stories, if anyone is looking for a Christmas Eve storybook, I highly recommend "Room for a Little One," which tells the story of the animals in the barn making room for each other and ultimately for the Holy Family.

    And in the spirit of resource-sharing, I have a Christmas Eve story that I wrote a few years ago and used again last year. In each case, at a family-oriented service, I told/read this story to the children when there was no sermon being given. I've posted it at my blog this morning. If anyone would like to use it, please just email me.

  3. Dear She rev- I would love to hear/see more about the Longest Night service- we are doing a pageant this week, lessons and carols for xmas eve- so preaching duties are light- but we are trying a longest night service this year, and im wondering what other people are doing for that....

  4. awww dang. Amazon is out of the story, Songbird. Could have used that!

  5. Found it at a library across town.

  6. It's still available in the board book version. Sorry I didn't notice the other one was out!

  7. Well, I am sitting here trying to figure out how the snow storm is going to rearrange things this weekend. We didn't get more than six inches yesterday but that is significant in an area of many hills and valleys. I have a parishioner staying with me who couldn't get home (lucky for him I had been to the store and had more than Cheerios to offer for dinner!). We'll try to get him gone before the snow starts up again. I'm guessing tonight's concert will be postponed or cancelled but I don't know whether the Bishop will cancel his visit at the late service. I'm guessing not. Then there's the youth group bonfire tomorrow night in now bitter cold weather. Hmmm....
    As you can see, sermons have not entered my mind! I'll talk about Mary and Elizabeth tomorrow at the early service. Thursday and Friday are too far away to consider and the 27th will be Christmas L&C with no sermon.
    My daughter and her husband arrive Monday night so I have linens to wash and beds to change. The youth group put my tree up last Sunday - decorated it in 8 minutes - so my holiday decorating is finished. There are Christmas cards to be written today and knitting to be worked on. I may just watch a combination of minor bowl games and made for TV Christmas movies all day and knit! You're welcome to join me. The cookies are all baked and ready to share.

  8. Hi pals,

    Getting ready to write my sermon. Wrote the outline last night so I'm feeling pretty good about my sermonating this week. The choir has a 10 minute anthem so it means a short sermon for me. Yeah!

    However, there might be a big storm tommorrow. My town is right on the edge of it. Hope it doesn't come because Magnificat sunday is my favorite Sunday of the season.

  9. Anonymous -- I hate it when that happens!
    Songbird, I love that book, and one called "Welcome to Our House," which is also a board book. I'll see if I can get a link.
    thanks for your story too, songbird.

    I took want to hear aboaut this longest night service.
    I am two-thirds done with the sermon for tonight/tomorrow, which is about "what mary believed", and titled "everything will work out....somehow".
    also finishing up a pair of fingerless gloves (mittens?) for my neice.
    also need to visit some people today. and wrap presents.

  10. Glad to see the party is up and running! Good morning (or evening for at least one!)

    Story-stealers - FAIL! That stinks. I hope you find something that works.

    Thanks for the story, Songbird. I will definitely check it out a little later. I'm doing a family service and a candle-lighting service on Christmas Eve this year and the only "sermon" at the first will be the children's sermon, so I'm trying to figure out what that will be.

    For our Longest Night I am basing it mostly on Ann Shull's materials. She's the woman who keeps the Mustard Seeds blog with resources from worship. I tweaked it up some since here's was "Blue Christmas" and I wanted to keep ours a little more Adventy and draw on the dark night imagery. The meat of the service, though are 4 Scripture readings and reflections, after which folks can light small votive candles up from in remembrance of a particular topic. I did loss of loved one, other losses (relationships, career, etc), thanksgiving for the support of friends and family, and healing. The original didn't have healing, but that seems important to our congregation this year, and I'll also offer anointing with oil during that time. At the end will gather around the table with a little reflection about how just sharing our losses even silently made light in the darkness, we'll sing stanzas 1 & 3 of "Silent Night," and leave from the table with the invitation to take a votive with us to carry that light home.

    So, now that I have sufficiently fried my children's brains on TV this morning while I "slept in," it is time to get up and make them breakfast. We've all gotten kind of used to big breakfasts on Saturday because my husband has gotten into making them. He, however, is at the church men's breakfast this morning, so it's my turn to perform. Ugh. I hate early morning messes. Oh well, here come homemade wafflees and bacon! I'll make enough to go around.

    Glad to you all arriving. Great start G_G! I hope it keeps going well.

    Hope the weather isn't bad for your library run, revkarla. I never can remember where everyone is!

    Enjoy your snow day, Margaret!

  11. Good morning all!

    I wish I were in a better mood to approach these texts, but I am feeling Grinchy b/c of the burdens of the season. We have one houseguest already, one more arriving Monday, and a third arriving Wednesday. That will put us at 5 adults and 2 kids in our 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. I haven't planned our menu yet and am feeling rather stressed about it (torn b/t the needs of the vegan, the needs of the out-of-work carnivore who I really want to pamper since he can't afford much good food himself these days, and the needs of the picky kids).

    Meanwhile, the hubs has to attend a Budget Committee meeting this morning to deal with the impending shortfall for both this year and next. We really should both be there, but I had to say NO to something.

    Still not done with Christmas shopping or Christmas baking or Christmas knitting. Let's not even talk about Christmas wrapping. And I just finished decorating the tree last night.

    le sigh

    Sorry to dump all that. I figure you people understand the competing demands that women preachers face.

    Okay, griping over. Gotta get in the spirit of Mary. Love the Visitation scene as well as Mary's song, don't know what fresh thing I might do this time. I really liked the sermon I preached on it last time and it's hard for me to approach it in a new way....

    I've got chocolate-covered toffee to share from the school bake sale. It's very yummy, and I certainly don't need any more of it!

  12. I'm not preaching tomorrow but I am preaching at one of the Christmas Eve services....will check out the offerings here...

    it's going to be a very weird Christmas, no presiding at worship, no midnight service, and one of our children will be alone in Chicago while we are here in Arizona (she does have friends and extended family - but not US)...

  13. Earthchick, thanks for sharing that b/c I was feeling a bit overwhelmed myself this week. We did get our other house rented altho the snow storm is going to keep them from moving in today.
    I don't know if we'll have services but I'm going to finish the sermon anyway. I went with Rumor's idea of using mostly the Christmas texts, since we usually have a small C.Eve turnout. So I've got a combination of texts.
    My shopping is way behind so it's on-line for me today while I'm snowed in. I'm looking forward to it. It will be sad to miss the service tomorrow tho, it could be wonderful. We shall see, the snow is coming down very fiercely right now.

  14. Good morning everyone! I am commenting here as Anonymous, but many of you knew me for years as CH.

    I saw the comments of concern last week. You all are sweet to worry about the sudden disappearance of my blog. I know it looked like a very bad thing, but it was time for me to take a clean break.

    If I come back--and I hope to--it will probably be in my real name, with no traces of my old pseudonym or the nicknames for my former congregation or family members.

    Meanwhile, I am leading an active Spacehook life. I miss the Preacher Party, I miss preaching, and I miss my congregation. What I do not miss are some aspects of congregational life.

    There are some other transitions going on in my family which require my attention right now, so I am grateful for the time off.

    God is good!

    Love to you all, and remember: the Holy Spirit has your back!

  15. Assorted sermons and services are perking in my mind, but top of the agenda today is adopting two kittens! They are Christmas presents for myself and younger son (11); we think we've already picked one out at the shelter, but the whole family has to meet him, and we are hoping to find a second one as well. Then the fun begins, including the intro to our 3 y.o. Lab! Any suggestions about that are welcome :-)

    Songbird, I love that book; someone gave it to me a few years ago. Another good story is the one about the poinsettia (many versions, including online). I'll be checking out the link to your own story.

    We're doing a Blue Christmas service Monday night for the first time this year; it is much like what She Rev describes. No clue if anyone more than the 10 people with roles will show up, but I hope so; I feel like it helps meet such a need.

    Earthchick, sending peaceful vibes to you; that is a lot of extra stuff bouncing around.

    For the family service tomorrow, I think I'm going broadly with Mary. As folks come into church, they'll get a slip of paper with some version of yes or no on it ("Sure!" "I'd love to!" "No way!"). In the sermon, I'll ask them to think of a question it would be easy to answer that way, then one it would be hard to answer that way...segue to Mary answering God's call. Need to flesh it out, but I think it will work.

    Blessings on all of you today; those of you in stormy places, stay safe and warm. I've just put some cheesecake on the table; it's early for dessert, but hey, it's a dairy product w/ lots of protein!

  16. mompriest... i spent a christmas alone when i was in my 20s and it turned out to be formative in unspoken ways... i hope the same can happen for your daughter. but *sigh* as a momma what a bummer!

    no sermon this week... but midnight mass christmas eve i need something special, something out of the ordinary... *sigh*

    until then today i'm painting gifts that still need finished...

  17. I am postponing sermon work in favor of a geocaching party ... cause there's always a sermon but there's not always a party.

    When I get to the sermon part of my day, it'll be Luke and Mary. I'm thinking about talking about people I know of whom I would say "their soul magnified the Lord." And talking about that as a life focus, how is it that our souls can magnify the Lord?

    Hopefully, by the time I am back, I will be at 400 geocache finds (or more).

  18. Sherev - thanks for the great start.

    hey CH - good to see you here, even for a minute! Been missing you in blogland.

    Anon and Diane - LOVE the longest night! Truly, it might be my favorite service of the year. Let me know if you want an order of worship and I'll email it to you. Although, I do something very similar to She Rev.

    Earthchick - maybe your overwhelm is jus the thing to bring to your sermon - I'm always thinking Mary must have been overwhelmed too. So what did she do? Got away, asked for advice/help from another woman, sang....

    Last year, we Oregonians were very incovenienced by snow - we are not used to it here and we had to keep cancelling things, but I have to admit I"m missing it a little. so, enjoy it, all you who are having a white christmas this year :)

    I have a draft, but I'm scared that if I look at it, it will be worse than I thought, so I'm answering some email this morning. We have The Flintsones Christmas on the TV, and day-old cinnamon rolls heating up in the toaster oven (smother em with butter, you'll never know....)

    See you all later :)

  19. now I'm signed in for "follow up comments..."

  20. Sorry about your stressors, Earthchick. This is definitely the place to vent about all the different directions we are pulled. (And I totally understand the menu piece. We had a guest with major food allergies at Thanksgiving, then the day after another adult how is the PICKIEST, and not to mention rudest, eater I have ever met).

    Mompriest - I remember the first Christmas my older sister was not with our family, and then not too long after that the first that no one was with my parents. It even felt weird for me, "the kid." Prayers for you.

    Congrats for the house rental, Nancy!

    Thanks for popping in Anonymous/CH!!! We miss you, too.

    I like the interactive piece, Betsy. I've done a lot of more "high media" stuff the last few weeks, so this one might seem like a downer to some, but a welcome return to "normal" for others.

    Painting sounds fun, HCLuth!

    I need to geocache with you, Vicar. We have been much slower than I hoped at collecting our finds. However, we do attempt to do it with a 2 year old and 4 year old which I think influences our success!

    Good to see you, Juniper! Glad to hear someone else has the TV running this morning!

    As for me, the waffles are mostly eaten. I need to cook up the rest of the batter so we have the leftovers tomorrow. Then I need to hit the shower and join the family in errands. Woo hoo. My daughter already needs new snowpants. The ones purchased this season already have a huge rip in them. Ugh. Ditto with her mittens. What are they doing at daycare????

    I'll be back a closer to lunch time!

  21. Rough draft done and it's not even noon. I feel like a rock star!

  22. Ditto what Juniper said, you are a rock star!

    It's not lunch, but I had to come back real quick - - -

    There's nothing like that early morning call from the funeral home on Saturday Dec. 19. That just changed up the weekend a bit! (Also, nothing like finding out the person who died is the one you planned to go visit on Tuesday. Argh!)

  23. Here's the sermon. Please stop by and leave a comment. I realize that as a protestant it might be a little out there.

    There's Something About Mary

  24. Rushed in between rehearsal & choir concert (the church hosting us appears to have no heating, so v unusually our conductor, who errs on the side of inhumanity, sent us all home after just an hour...a real blessing for many reasons)Have the readers finally sorted for Carol service - and don't need a full sermon for tomorrow, as the curate is on duty - but DO badly need a homily for 8.00. Also need to stop worrying about whether Hugger Steward will be able to cross the Channel - currently neither ferries nor Eurostar is working thanks to the snow, and when he gets to England I still have to get him safely back from Cambridge....That is rather preoccupying my thoughts today, to the detriment of much else.
    Also just started the essential seasonal cold :(

  25. I'm sitting here trying to compose our Prayers of the Church for's hard to compete with the Virgin Mary!

  26. WOW! There is much going on @ the preacher party today. Hugs for Anonymous & EarthChick!

    We did our Christmas Mourning service two Sunday nights ago. It was very emotional but very well done. We did it two years ago and again this year with an uptick in attendance. It may be the sort of thing that needs to grow on a congregation. . .One woman went home all puffy eyed and red faced and her husband said, "What did they DO to you?" Be prepared. Bring Kleenex!

    I was woken up this morning with a call from my realtor that the sellers have agreed to my offer! WHOO-HOO! I'm a grown-up (and yes I realize that means mortgage payments and if-it-breaks-I'm-fixin-it) but for today I'm just happy!

    Co-pastor has this Sunday's services and Christmas Eve so I'm trying to wrap my head around Luke & the shepherds. Am quite grateful that "the fullness of time" did not involve pundits and 24/7 media news pageantry.

  27. Just going out to for family meal celebrate 16 yr olds birthday. Glad the snow hasn't reached the west side of England yet. Am praying for safe journeys for your kids Kathryn. We have a thanksgiving service for the birth of a child tomorrow for parents not yet ready to make baptismal promises but wanting some way of thanking God for their special gift. What a joy then that it co-incides with the magnificat reading.

  28. Also have a draft before noon! Its a good day...

    If anyone uses Feasting on the Word, the homeletical section on Luke is great this week--talks about the Feast of Fools and the absurdity of how God enters the world and challenges the preacher not to take the text too was an interesting take for me!

  29. No preaching here, as per usual, but some of that grief was moderated by the copious "you changed my faith journey forever" comments in my students' final papers--affirming the quiet preaching and living of my priesthood in the classroom I am so fortunate to be back in.

    Plenty of intellectual work in between mom chauffeuring....I turned in my grades yesterday so the clock is no ticking rapidly toward two new preps starting right after the New Year. So I am reading, questioning why on earth I picked some of the books and whether I should try to quick-change them, and brainstorming assignments and supplementary web materials. Learning a lot about Islam as it will come up both in the first year Intro to Religion and the senior Women and Religion, and that's cool--though neither Amina Wadud nor Asma Barlas is easy to read!

    Saw HockeyBoy on ice for the first time (he played roller on the West Coast) and he got two out of the three goals taking his team to the win! And in a little bit I am taking Ladybug to pageant rehearsal at the new TEC parish that looks like it might work for the two of us while the guys stay Presby. Kind of a pain but it's buying her in to the community so I won't have to worship alone--and it's a good way to meet folks.

    The teaching prep is way stressful with so little time but earlier this week I found some comfort in adapting the venerable Preacher Party mottoes: Thou shalt not sacrifice thyself on the altar of the perfect syllabus, and of course The Holy Spirit has your back!

  30. Forgot to say thanks CH for checking in and hang in there, and congrats Meg!

  31. ok, draft of the sermon done - I think it'll be fine with a little a.m. tweaking.

    now, childrens time? anyone? I usually love this part of the service, but lately feel the well is kind of dry. Might go with your book idea, Songbird, which would mean trip to the bookstore today (shucks!)

    I need to go out anywya, I need some jars for my sermon illustration tomorrow (long story).

    Now, two hours of housecleaning - then this afternoon
    1. exercise
    2. get together scripts for longest night readers to pass out tomorrow.
    3. call a few folks to check in

    and then, at 5, god-daughters ballet recital which I'm actually looking forward to, but I think 5 will come EARLIER than I think. so gotta go now.

    have a great afternoon, preachers. I'm thinking of putting on a pot of lentil soup and you are welcome to dip in. :)

  32. Just starting to write for the first service that I will leave for in 3 hours - but I think I know where it's going & what I'm saying... just need to get it on paper and in order.
    Prayers for all as we ramp up for the week - may we remember to care for ourselves in the busyness

  33. I'm back for a bit; have a sermon, but haven't posted it yet. maybe later.

    So good to hear from you CH!

    And all the rest, with all the busi-ness, frustrations, sermons, etc.

    I'm off to practice, mail packages, etc. see someone in hospice, and then to practice some more.

  34. I'm using the Micah text tomorrow--I can't explain this, it doesn't make sense to me--but I just felt drawn.
    I love the theme of salvation coming from an unexpected place...obviously an easy jump to Mary as congregation is facing a make or break year in 2010--and if they look to expected sources of salvation (i.e. let's try and attract a bunch of middle-class people like us to drive across town and join our church) they're going to die. But the thing they fear, the thing the think might destroy them, the thing all the 'experts' say can't happen--welcome their neighbors, do ministry WITH them, bless and be blessed by them...well, that's the unexpected source of their salvation. it seems like it might preach broadly--the expected sources of salvation--jobs, 401Ks, health insurance, new president/old president, the institutional church...all on the ropes, maybe this is blessing because it forces us to put faith in God--who shows up, continually in unexpected people and places. It seems like this could be a major theme of Advent/Christmas observation this year that could be portable for folks for years to come...
    does anyone know the children's story 'a visitor for bear' My daughter's favorite. i'm thinking about using it for children's sermon to set the theme (all about a bear who is determined to be alone, trying to get rid of a mouse determined to have tea with him, bear finally 'caves' (ha!) and discovers the mouse is everything he's been missing in life)...what do you think of reading an entire story in Children's sermon AND explicating? seems to long to me...

  35. We are in the path of the Big Snowstorm, and it is messing with my plans! The Kid was supposed to come home tonight after his last exam (via bus) but with the amount of snows forecast I was afraid I couldn't make it the 20 miles to the city where the bus goes, so he's going to wait until tomorrow or Monday. And I have a great dramatic reading scheduled for tomorrow, but again, with the snow forecast, I expect the readers won't actually make it to church, and I'm wondering if anyone will. I live right across the lawn so I can get there--we'll see who else makes it. I wonder if we should cancel, but we have at present no mechanism for notifying people. Do any of you cancel of weather?

    So far this morning I've bought a Christmas tree, gone to the grocery store, and checked on the altar guild. Now it's time to write, but I'm still feeling distracted. And sorry that I can't plan on having the dramatic reading as a lead in. Sigh.

  36. I mean do any of you cancel because of weather?

  37. Rev Dr Mom, yes we have canceled for weather once that I know of, two years ago when a really bad snowstorm hit early Sunday morning (this was two years ago on the 3rd Sunday of Advent). We are used to having snow here, but it was particularly treacherous that day (I think it was something like 11 inches of snow, and it was still falling and a lot of the streets hadn't been plowed yet). It was the kind of weather that would have canceled school if it had been a school day, and after a lot of thought and consultation with others, we decided to cancel. It was a bear trying to get everybody notified (we probably spent as much time doing that as we would've spent driving to church and leading worship).

    What we did was, I worked through our phone directory and made a huge email list of everyone in the directory who had email and then I sent an email to all of them. We have a better system for mass emails at church, but I was working from home so I just had to do it all by hand myself. Meanwhile, my husband (co-pastor) was making phone calls to people who either did not have email access or who we did not think would be checking email. He was able to delegate some of that by asking the choir director to contact the whole choir. We put up a message on the home page of our website. And we contacted the news outlets that were announcing various cancellations (turns out many churches were also canceling that day).

    It seemed to work. The only person I knew of who showed up for worship was a student who walked across campus and didn't pick up her cell phone messages until she got to church.

    It was a pain and we were very torn about doing it, but it felt like the right thing to do. We knew that a lot of people would have decided to stay home anyway, but others - like the choir, which has a lot of older people in it - would have felt compelled to make it there no matter what.

    Good luck making a decision! Sorry about your son coming in later than you'd expected.

  38. I have a sermon draft (which I printed but it's on the other computer - will post it for comments later). Since I was going to preach it tonight and videotape it for class, and that service is cancelled since we have 12 inches and more falling (in an area that is paralyzed by 1 inch!). SO I will preach it tomorrow to my family and kittehs and we will have church at home. Even if the church has services, we likely won't get plowed until sometime tomorrow afternoon. SO more later.

    CH I figured you were stopping your blog for a reason, but I still miss your writing. Songbird, I have that story in my files now (thank you!) To all of you who have more people than help, I'm praying for things to level out...


  39. I'd like to share my favorite Christmas eve/day children's sermon ever! My very first Christmas in a church, the senior pastor did this, and I've used it and made it my own over 7 parishes since.

    Tell the children you have 2 presents to show them and they're to choose the one they'd like to have. One is an incredibly beautifully wrapped present, fairly large. The other is small, in newspaper or brown bag -- stomped on, clearly a mess.
    Most of the children gravitate toward the "beautiful" one, and I could always predict which of the children would choose the "ugly" one!

    Then concentrate on the pretty one, revealing what they haven't been able to see: attached on the side closest to you, are strings with tags saying things like: "you can have this present if........ (you fill in the blank --clean your room; get good grades; don't fight with your brother/sister, etc.) The reactions are priceless!

    Finally, ask one of the kids who chose the "ugly" gift to open it. Inside is a message which says "God loves you -- no strings attached". I've varied that sometimes, connecting it with putting the baby Jesus in the nativity scene, etc.

    It works fine on its own, but I added a personal tradition of making an ornament to give each child and household to take home and remember the message. I got small boxes from a box supplier, wrapped them in Christmas fabric and ribbon, and attached a slip of paper with the "God loves you, no strings attached" message. People have told me they still have them every year on their trees.

    If this helps anyone, feel free to use it.

  40. Yuck - - the Christmas cold, Kathryn. Prayers that it is quick and easy for you!

    LutheranChik - Maybe instead of competing with her you can just pray with her? Is there a way to turn her song into your prayer? Just thinking.

    Meg - - I wonder what the spin would have been on it if there had been the pundits, etc.

    gloriousthings - I like the option for those not ready to make promises, but who still feel the need to celebrate with the community. I think we don't do a great job with that and that's one of the reason we end up with requests to "get the kids done" or no request at all. We don't make room well enough for the middle ground.

    Nice work, Emily!

    Isn't it wonderful to feel affirmed in your call, Sophia? Especially at a shaky time for you. Blessings this season!

    Sounds like you're well on your way, ElastiGirl, and just in time. YIKES!

    Look forward to reading later, Diane, hopefully!

    Kate, I LOVE your reading and application of Micah. I think it is fantastic. I'm also doing Micah and working from the "one of peace" phrase - tying that into Mary's song to get a definition of peace that is so much more than we usually think. I LOVE what you're doing, though. Good luck!

    Enjoy your house church, Deb!

    As for me, I've come in to the church during naptime today. The funeral that popped up this morning made my need to finish up the visuals for The Longest Night a little more pressing. I had planned to just do those Monday since the rest of the service was completely planned. Now there's a funeral Monday at 2:00 p.m., so today will be the day for this. Tomorrow afternoon I meet with the family. Tonight will be sermon. So much for working on Christmas Eve final details on Sunday, that will now be Tuesday. It's not until Thursday, right????

    Continued blessings on our day!!!

  41. Canceling church is what I've been doing for the five hours. I gave the Bishop the Sunday off even though he didn't get any snow and doesn't expect any. Our parking lot hasn't been plowed and I discovered that we have used the plowing people so rarely in the last ten years that we let that contract lapse! Talked to the deacon and we agreed to have a 10:30 service and cancel the early one, telling everyone that only those who can get there easily and don't mind donning boots to get into the church should come. I can't say that I am inclined to write a sermon on that basis. ;-)
    And tonight's concert has been postponed to January so there is really nothing to do now except knit or read and take a nap. Maybe both!
    Thanks for the good sermon ideas here. I'll be thinking about them as I consider what I need to say tomorrow. i really like the Micah stuff!

  42. I'm just hanging around today, being snowed in. I can't believe how much snow we've gotten here in Central PA! I wasn't scheduled to preach anyway tomorrow because the children were to have a program in place of the sermon, and I'm sad for them that the service will probably be canceled. We'll hopefully find a way to reschedule so that all the hard work they've put into preparing doesn't get to be showcased.

    I've got some fresh-baked (though not yet decorated) gingerbread men to share; they are so yummy; the recipe is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and is delicious and buttery! Help yourselves!

  43. Hard to write a sermon on that basis, Margaret! I hope some will make it to church.

    Eileen, that's a great idea; I've heard of the two packages concept before, but the bit with the strings is really neat. How wonderful that you make the little ornaments to go with it!

    We are now the proud owners of two kittens, one of whom came home today and the other will come in a few days, after being spayed :-) Not inclined to work much when I either want to play with Streak or help the dog (they are separated for the time being) from feeling ignored!

  44. Congratulations on the new editions, Betsy!

  45. hey, Eileen, that's a great idea for a children's sermon. makes me wish I was back in a small church (sigh).

    ok, getting ready to practice for the early edition. can't stop eating snacks.

  46. oh, eileen, love the kids message. makes me wish I was craftier, but maybe I can modify it a little.

  47. for those of you cancelling services - i empathize - that is hard! one good thing it got us to do last year when we kept being snowed in was to get our Phone Tree updated.

  48. Well, I just about finished up the visuals for The Longest Night, so now that the kids are probably I think I'll go home and enjoy them. Tomorrow will be a long day with funeral planning and as much of Christmas Eve as I can finish up, too, so Monday can juts be Longest Night and funeral. Ah....

    Coming back later to actually work on tomorrow's sermon!

  49. Eileen, I love your Christmas idea....I hope I remember it for next year!

    So good to hear from CH....

    And, thanks, everyone for your thoughts and comments on the status of my Christmas this year...

  50. So, I wrote this sentence earlier: We'll hopefully find a way to reschedule so that all the hard work they've put into preparing doesn't get to be showcased. Duh, what I meant was so that it gets to be showcased! We're looking at doing that in Epiphany sometime. Looks like the snow will lead to an extended Christmas experience for our congregation!

  51. Blessings to all of you as you prepare - in various ways - to lead and celebrate the coming of Christ.

    Emmanuel - he is with us!

  52. Praying for safety for everyone in the snow storms. Funny, but considering the amount of snow we get around here, we've never actually canceled worship because of snow. A few years ago, we had Advent 1 with the 13 people who lived close enough to walk or ski their way to the church, but onward we went...

    I've just had notice of my annual Christmas funeral. I've never had a Christmas week without one. Really. 12 years now, and I've yet to get through Xmas and New Years without at least one funeral. This one will likely be Wednesday, but date and time are not finalized as the deceased is being transported from another part of the country.

    Circle of life, right? As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we celebrate and mourn a life well lived and loved and now embraced by the Holy.

  53. To thwe best of my knowledge the only time worship has been last-minute cancelled here was last March when a water main broke just outside on Saturday and the clean-up rendered the parking lot inaccessible for Sunday. THat day I just called a few key folks and got them to start spreading the word.

    I am at a loss as to what I am saying about future promises and hope in the morning. MAybe a hot tub will gt my brain moving. And I am awaiting a death and a funeral supposedly imminently. But since the (soon to be?) deceased lives away from here (and not yet dead as far as I know) the timing is up in the air as yet.

  54. A few comments I didn't get to earlier:

    Meg, congratulations on the house! It is a total joy and a total pain in the neck to be a homeowner, and good for one's taxes. I hope the closing goes smoothly.

    Kate, if the story is a truly fitting one--and if you've chosen it, I imagine it is--I would stop there, with no further explanation. One of the great challenges of storytelling is trusting the story to do its job and giving people room to use their imagination, heart, and soul. I love where you are going with Micah!

    Lots of early finishers today...hooray for all of you!

  55. Sue, last year I missed what I think will turn into my 1st annual Christmas funeral. The elderly man died on the 23rd, and I had tickets to fly out on the 25th. I got someone else to cover for me.

    This year the death came early. My 2nd annual Christmas funeral will be Monday. No time like the present!

    Getting ready to put kids in bed, then I'll be back to start the sermon. I haven't thought much about this one at all other than my basic gist and theme and what I hope I'll be able to do with Micah and the Magnificat. Hopefully my second preacher party sans college football will got better than the first. I really should be able to get a lot done before midnight if I actually try!

  56. Hello everyone, I'm checking in for the late night shift. After a hectic day of pastoral counseling, attending a high school play with one of our youth, attending the neighboring church's vespers service, and running to various stores in between each stop, I'd love to just head to bed right now.

    Sadly, I still have a sermon (short one though, since it's pageant day) and a candlelighting reflection to write. Oh, and a children's sermon, but I think I already have that one figured out. I think I am focusing on wrapping gifts, and how God wrapped the ultimate gift in flesh.

    As for snow cancellations...St. Smaller cancels usually at least once a year due to plows not plowing the streets early enough on Sunday. They have a very efficient phone tree to spread the word. St. Larger hardly ever cancels, because I can walk the two blocks there, but they have an account with a local news station where I can dial in and use our code to have a cancellation notice show up on TV. (It's tempting, having a built-in way to give myself a Sunday off!)

  57. OK - - are we really all this responsible that we're either done or working hard and not posting? Or is there are grand late night party winding up out there???

  58. Or maybe option #3 - - lots of cancellations?

  59. Just checking in to say I'm done and am really happy with how my sermon turned out (I'm preaching Luke, both the visitation and Mary's song). I struggled forever to come up with an ending and then all of a sudden, one finally appeared, and I'm unusually happy with it. I usually post my sermon draft on my blog but I'm too pooped and out of time for that right now. So much more still to do tonight.

    Blessings on all who are still laboring!

  60. No sermon here as the Un- Cantata is tomorrow.
    I do have lots to offer in the way of party stuff. I had the church drop-in at the manse/parsonage today.
    So, I have 6 types of cake(two Paula Deens), sausage balls, and little BBQ weiners. Cranberry-Pineapple punch and hot cider are available.
    Also, my sermon from last week is posted(but I used this week's text). Borrow as you like.
    Prayers and best of wishes!

  61. So 9:00 p.m. was my TV/FB off deadline, but I'm a round or two away from my absolute best score ever at Mexican Train Dominoes, so I gave myself an extension. This means I'm not supposed to go back and play again AT ALL tonight. We'll see if I do it.

    Forgot about the cantata excuse for a lighter night tonight. Haven't seen semfem yet, though, have we???

  62. Oh that was unreal. In the last round I got stuck with a potload of points and missed my old high score by 7. Totally anti-climactic and now I have to hit the sermon with a letdown. Poo.

  63. She Rev- I'm just beginning the sermon myself!
    Eileen - love the packages with string attachments --- I did something similar for children's chapel last week but really want to remember the strings attached part...good learning opportunity!
    In addition to Magnificat/Mary and Elizabeth, I have the baptism of (beloved) Deacon's 11 month old daughter tomorrow also! AND HER MIDDLE NAME IS JOY!!!! I have just learned that Gaudete means “joy” in Latin (the pink Gaudete candle is new to me) so will be preaching around the joy and promise that Mary, Eliabeth and all expectant parents feel.
    And tomorrow night is Blue Christmas Service (my 3rd, but 1st for this congregation I've been serving since July). If anyone is interested in the liturgy, email me and I'll send a copy.
    I've got Todd Agnew's "Do You See What I See?" playing as I'm working and spouse is watching a new "Dr. Who" in the adjacent room. It's been a tough week - his mom died 10 days ago after deteriorating health over the past 4 years.
    Serving molasses cookies and chai tea....feeling really productive so may not be up much longer!

  64. [waving her arms] I'm here, She Rev!

    Just went and retrieved my Katie Luther stuff to write this reflection. But I also moved to write while sitting in the recliner...which has proven dangerous (sleep-wise) on more than one occasion.

    I am trying to resist the urge to start out with a game or two of something, and instead just WRITE until the news comes on.

  65. I rejoin the party for the real work time for me. After logging the geocache finds, I'm at 403 total. I can live with that. If I manage to find 17 more before 12/31 I will hit my "total in a year" high. We'll see ... SheRev we could cache together! We could put my 13 yr old w/yours & we'd make great progress! My kids have stayed in the car with my sister's kids while my sister & I found caches, much faster than taking them. But we have taken them along, too. We were more particular about the caches when we knew we had them with us. Then, again, we dumped all 4 (mine & hers) on my brother-in-law, too.

    ok, now for the sermon, really ... Go Saints! You can come back! ... oh, sermon ...

  66. Yipee! The late night crew is arriving. Maybe now I can begin!

  67. The sermon I thought I'd write is not coming together. So I'm going with something else ... not that I actually know what that is yet.

    Touchdown Saints! ... oh, sermon, sermon, sermon

  68. everything printed and ready to go. hope the snow storm misses us, I'd hate to cancel such a special service. The choir is really knocking themselves out with tommorrows anthem.

    Blessings to the late night folk and blessings to you all tommorrow as you preach, pray and participate in the sharing of the good news of God's love tommorrow.

  69. Woo hoo! Started typing and I've got 438. I probably have way too much Presbyterian polity included in here just to describe a discussion I was a part of about "Peacemaking." Will edit when I find myself with too many words for a service that I'm trying to keep a little on the short side!

    (Word verification: despa - Roman goddess of the desperate late night partiers, but I'm not yet!)

  70. Vicar,
    I am planning on hiding my first cache nearby.
    There is actually one across the road from the church in a little park.
    I am going to take a shower soon. I made a late night run to Walgreens as they are the only ones who carry Shower Soothers. My nose is all yucky again and that is one of the things that helps.
    Anyhow, lots of good food. I may have a cup of cider first.

    I have not wrapped the first gift. I have got it organized with paper, bows, tags, tape and all. Maybe I will have a wrapping party soon.

  71. 1-4 Grace, cool! I have a cache ready to hide in my glovebox. Just haven't done the work to find an empty place and approval.

    The girls and I have a family "name" too & we placed a cache in our family name. It's been running for a couple of years now.

  72. Ahhh...just thought away around my snooze-fest of an opener, but I need an example. I can totally remember this happening, but I can't remember any of the specifics. I'm thinking of "incomplete gifts." So the scenario is when you there are a few gifts under the tree that basically go together, but you open them out of order and the first seems random and useless because you don't know about the other. I know I have sat in Christmas celebrations where this has happened, but for the life of me I can't remember any specific examples to share. Anyone? Anyone? Real or fake, I'll take it!

  73. LMM, prayers for your family as you grieve dh's mom. On the other side (from us as preachers and pastors) of all the Christmas funerals are all the families like yours, facing loss at a time one expects to be joyful.

    May there be joy in preaching, singing, pageanting, or--for some of you in bad weather--staying home tomorrow!

  74. hey ladies. I'm here, kind of lurking, kind of goofing around on fb, kind of doing some more reading (for goodness SAKE).

    what I"m NOT doing is getting any work done. sermon is ok, but childrens time is a big black hole for some reason. I feel like my kids times lately have been kind of boring, and I really dont want this one to suck, but..... OUT of ideas.

    so, putting togehter prayers, etc. and waving at all you geocachers. Is this just a presbyterian pastime, or can anyone play? (ha!)

  75. I think all are welcome, Juniper. For sure. My roll has come to stand still as I have been trying to think of a good example of my "incomplete present" thing. Shouldn't be that hard. Might just make it up - - like getting a bike basket from a grandma as a kid, but not having a bike since my parents held it to the end of the presents. Sounds realistic. Almost like it really happened. Hmmmm....

  76. The bike basket & bike sound good to me.

    umm, I'm Methodist so there's no Presby only thing.

    I might have a sermon started.

    Too bad Saints especially to the Cowboys

  77. Or the nightmare of every parent..
    a cool toy, but no AA batteries to make it work

  78. I think I'll make the story about a childhood friend instead of me. I'm sure it must have happened to SOMEONE! (Is this totally wrong? Tell me if so, so I can fix it.)

  79. Opps, I did nto mean to submit yet.
    One year I sneaked in a saw an unusually sized and wrapped present. I opened it(just a wee, little bit) and it was a pack of batteries.
    Also, you could have a dog collar and leash, but no puppy

  80. The batteries! So good, too! And the puppy! Oh my! Now what to write? The bike is going well since it's so close to a real Christmas of mine, but if it doesn't tie together in the end, I might go with the batteries. We were the dorks who took advantage of that Black Friday deal at Home Depot - I think it was 60 AA for the price of 30.

  81. oops, sorry Vic. See, I'm all tired and cranky and it makes me say stoopid stuff.

    Ok, found a good childrens time, but now I need to find some bells. dangit. I wonder how late Joanns is open....

  82. She Rev I think you should go for it.

    I am hitting the shower. I'll be back 'cause I'm no where near done. Maybe I'll be inspired in the shower :)

  83. oh, who told this story? There was a tradition that one family had of putting things in the stockings all the week before christmas, but the rule was you couldnt look. The year she turned 16, the girl found car keys in her stocking a couple days before Christmas and she was in a fever of anticipation, thinking her folks had gotten her a car, but the day came and went and nothing. Turned out her brother had pulled a prank.

    Cant remember where I heard it, but maybe it could be good for the "empty promise of earthly things" part of your sermon :)

  84. ok, heading into the night to find jingle bells. When I come back, I'll get the LongestNIght script ready to pass out tomorrow. Anyone want me to pick up Starbux while I"m out?

  85. I'll take a hot chocolate with a splash of orange syrup from the 'Bux. IT's my way of pretending I'm not drinking caffeine while pregnant. (Shhhh...don't tell me there's caffeine in chocolate)

    Also, LOVE the car keys story!!!!

  86. rackle snackle...

    I printed out the sermon. Good thing. Now it appears that I printed it and did not save it. I am not going to retype it. If my spouse can resurrect it from partial-file-hell I will post it.

    Oh, and I timed it and it is exactly 15 minutes. huzzah!

    We got another 8 inches of snow since I last posted. We shoveled for 2 hours and you can't tell where we were. ugh. And boy do my shoulders HURT!!!

    OK - safe travels and happy trails.

  87. I am now clean & uninspired as opposed to the previous unclean & uninspired state.

    Juniper, I didn't take it as grumpy & should have said "come on!"

    I *love* the car keys story

  88. Deb - I'm sorry your shoulders hurt & that makes me even happier to live where shoveling snow just isn't done

  89. Oh I HATE it when that happens, Deb. DRIVES ME CRAZY! I hated it even more this fall when I KNEW I had written a sermon that I wanted to repreach. It was perfect for my current setting and didn't hurt that it was a rough week before. At 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night when I pulled out my old disc from the old church to hit "print" I discovered that I had no copy of the sermon. The document saved under the appropriate title was a smattering of notes of that sermon, but there was no sign of the finished product. It killed me! I'm glad you at least have the hard copy. If you ever have the energy it's worth it to retype!! :)

  90. Thought i would do my part to help y'al make it to 100 by midnight(central time).
    No, i have not gotten that shower yet. I had to do my PT exercises for my shoulder. Be careful, Deb, I have a partial tear in my RTC. Having to do the exercises is kind of a drag. But, they are helping as my range of motion is getting better.
    Oh, I am catching up on the Glee episode I missed(and forgot to watch). This is from before Thanksgivng and is where they are doing sectionals aganist the girls correctional school and the school for the deaf and blind.

  91. jumping in to help make 100 (and because I'm stuck at a halfway point in the sermon)... why is it this week's sermon isn't coming along on paper as fast as I thought it would in my head? grrrr..... stopped to make some peppermint bark for sweet treat tomorrow after service.

  92. That stinks when that happens leann. Sometimes I feel like I've been fooled by myself when I thought it worked so well until I start typing.

    I think I'm chasing an unnecessary rabbit here, so I need to either find my way back or ditch this trail soon.

  93. Whew - - I erased that rabbit trail. It needed to be gone.

    Well, shoot. I hoped to see 100 before I went to bed, but I don't think I will. I've got 1300 words (and change) and just a little more to do. I think I'm going to hit the hay, and come back around 4:30 or 5:00. If I can stay focused at that point. I will be done in time to eat breakfast. Haven't done that the last couple of weeks, but I also haven't had any words on a page at this hour the last couple of weeks.

    See you all later! Keep those comments coming!

  94. I'm almost done with the sermon but there are prayers to put together after the sermon is done

  95. Oh geez. I didn't go. But now I will. I'm at 1400 words and only need to bring it home with the Magnificat. I can do that in the morning. I will also need a children's sermon about peace as God's gift at Christmas, but I'm hoping that will come pretty easily. I think they've been giving away my sermon punchlines a little too readily the last few weeks, but hopefully that's not a distraction from the sermon - - just a good preview. We'll see what comes up this week!

  96. ok, got the jingle bells. also the gift for the party tomorrow with the white elephant thing, which was hard. for some reason I always REALLY overthink those.

    now, I'm heading to get another thing on Amazon, then I have to do a few more detail-y type things and then bed.

    vic, you still up?

    I'm glad not to be shoveling, too!!!

  97. As a matter of fact, no! I'm heading for bed. Everything is printed so now I can sleep.

    Blessings on your Sunday

  98. But I still haven't gone. Now I'm on a search for a children's sermon idea. I just need at start, and it has to be about peace because I've got a series and theme going. We've got to unwrap the present like the last 3 weeks and inside the present in the ornament for our chancel tree that says "peace." Gotta talk about that gift, but can't figure out a way to do it. I want to get the kids thinking about how they can be peacemakers, but I need a "way in." Ugh.

  99. Oops. I sort of fell asleep in the recliner (ugh, I knew I would, but did that stop me? no!). Just finished the candlelighting reflection. Now I need to start the sermon.

    Those are not good words to type at 2:13 Sunday morning. Sigh.

    Anybody still up (Juniper? Vicar?), please feel free to send the Holy Spirit this way...

  100. oh, semfem, that IS so late - HS has your back though FOR SURE.

    SheRev - what about connecting to Mary somehow? you are on lectionary? even though it was a scary or dangerous time for her, she felt so much peace she could sing. Or, are you talking more "outer" peace than "inner" peace?

  101. or, sherev, maybe you could talk about ELIZABETH - and how she didnt scold her cousin, but wlecomed her with love and how it makes peace to wlecome people even if we dont understand or agree with their choices? Hmm, so many typos - time for bed I'm thinking....

  102. I was going more outer. The gist of my sermon basically uses Mary's song and the description of what God does as a definition of peace over and above our usual thoughts of peace simply equally the absence of war. If all we're shooting for is fighting to stop, but we're doing the other things that God is against (pride, using power to oppress others, keeping food from the hungry, etc) than we're never going to see the peace God intends. (Or actually, I'll try to do it from the positive side instead of the negative.) So I think I can get the kids to come up with some ideas of things that are peace-making, I just can't figure out how to get into it.

    Maybe I'll just ask them what are somethings people fight about. We've got a young crowd; I'm bound to get "toys" out of them eventually. I'll tell them what happens at our house when a fight happens over a toy - no one gets to play with it. It makes the fight stop, but do you think it makes everyone feel good? No, because they still want the toy and they still think things are unfair. Open present with gift of "peace" inside. What makes peace? Does just stopping the fighting make peace? No, peace comes when things are fair for everyone. Mary sings a song about the the ways things will be different when Jesus comes. Can you tell me which of these are the unfair things in the world and which things are the ones that bring peace?

    Pride - - people think they are the best in the world (unfair)

    People who are ignored are remembered (peace)

    People who have no friends are loved and make friends (peace)

    Some people have no food while other people have a lot (unfair)

    What can change to make that situation fair? To bring peace?

    God promises that Jesus will bring the world peace, and those are the things that Jesus did - - made friends with people who had none, remembered people who were forgotten, gave food to people who are hungry. That is the way Jesus is God's gift of peace, but it is also the way we can help bring peace in the world. What kinds of things can you do bring peace?

    Sort of a round about way to get there, and I'm not too thrilled about "unfair" being the opposite of peace, but at the same time, I guess that's where I'm going on a very elementary level.

    OK - - now that I've thought that outloud, I think I'll go to bed. Not my favorite children's sermon, but I think it will work. I might be trying to do too much. Oh well.

  103. Maybe, She Rev, but the adults will probably get it loud and clear. :) And the kids will still get the initial point you make, about how the best outcome is not just avoiding fighting, but actually sharing.

    I just ate a piece of pumpkin pie and it has fueled my first 294 words. On to the rest.

  104. mmm, pumpkin pie

    Sherev, that is actually really great. have fun with it!

    ok, all, heading to bed in just a few minutes. have a great rest of the night and I'll see you in the morning!

  105. Wow, in an hour of writing (minus a quick distraction of tracking down a particular Christmas song), I've gotten to 1282 words and I think it all hangs together pretty well.

    Time to go do some minor task, like write out the Christmas cards for staff, and then take a final look at this puppy. I might get to go back to sleep, this time in BED!

  106. Okay, the sermon is done and I do feel good about it, yay! I'm heading upstairs to print these out and get some sleep. I hope everyone else is either sleeping, or perhaps already up and preaching right this very minute.

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

  107. Back to finish up. Definitely later than usual, but hopefully with less to do than usual. I haven't been up that late in a while!

  108. Must find ending. Must find ending. I have 15 minutes to find that ending since I promised the fam I'd be ready to be with them at 7:00 a.m. this morning!

  109. Good morning folks,

    Looks like the storm missed us, YEAH!!!

    My soul magnifies in the Lord.

  110. Ending found. Fun details of a true-ish story have been pared down. Printing commenced.

    Grace and peace to you all!

  111. Well, good thing I thought my children's sermon out here. I got to church and realized it was the one piece I forgot to print at home. Yikes. It isn't the pretty version I tweaked up, but it will work.


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