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Friday, February 19, 2010

11th Hour Preacher Party: The Journey Begins

So, here we are on the first Saturday before the first Sunday of Lent. The journey is beginning. What will your first step be?

Somehow I have never preached on Jesus' temptation in the desert, which I was kind of sad about this year. I'd like to get inside that text for a sermon sometime. This isn't the the year for me.

With Deuteronomy I was also attracted to the creed-like statement of faith that accompanies the offering before the Lord.

Two years ago my Lenten discipline was preaching the Psalms of Lent, and it left me swearing I would never do it again. It was that good. :) However, Psalm 91 is such a Psalm of encouragement to help start this season of sacrifice and introspection. I'm thinking now it would be a lovely way to begin the journey.

Romans would be a tough one for me to tackle after an interesting Adult Sunday School discussion we held recently about the "tough question" (our theme for the year) "Is Jesus the only way?" We spent a lot of time wondering about the necessity of a personal confession in Jesus for salvation. Very intersting discussion; very difficult preaching in at least my context.

All that said, there is a lot of richness from which to choose. Where is your preaching journey taking you? How can we walk with you on the journey this week? Are you feeling like a "wandering Aramean" or is the path more obvious this week? Join the party in the comments as we take the first steps together.


  1. Thanks for starting the party, She Rev!

    I have a vague idea where I'm going, based on our blanket theme for Lent...I'll be using a blanket as a key prop in my sermon each Sunday of Lent, and our service project is about raising money for the Church World Service Blankets+ project. So I think I'm doing something with a blanket as a safety net (a la Jesus being tempted to jump off the tower of the temple) and being caught by Jesus even when we fall into temptation. Something like that.

    But figuring all that out will be tomorrow's work. See you all in the morning!

  2. thanks for getting the party started. I thought I'd go ahead and comment since I'm on west coast time. I'm preaching the Luke text. In conversation over lunch last week, I realize many in our congregation don't know what lent is, about the practice, etc. So, I thought I'd have a few teaching moments in the sermon integrated in through the story of Jesus and his experience in the wilderness.
    I've gotten a good start on it, though it's not coming together as smooth as I had hoped!

  3. I'm so glad y'all are here!
    We are off-lectionary, using the Lent 4 texts for all of lent (the prodigal story along with 2 Cor 5) with the theme Reconciliation. We are considering the story from each of the three main perspectives, and this week is the I have the joy/challenge of placing us in the role of the father and contemplating our call to (and the challenge of) prodigal love.

    i'm on vacation and traveling home all day tomorrow, so I had to spend the last night of vacation writing a sermon. This one is still a very rough draft, and I'll be editing when I get home tomorrow night after dinner, so I need all the feedback you can give!!

    In the meantime, I'll leave our midnight pizza in the fridge for those who enjoy pizza for breakfast. Help yourselves, and pop over to read a sermon while you're at it! Thanks!

  4. Thanks for kicking this off!

    I am currently playing with connection between Deut and Luke, and am thinking along the lines of 40 days lent time of refocusing on God, removal of temptations not about deprivation but rather about providing space for God to show us the wonderful provision he gives and how we should respond...

    Possibly it's still a good 24 hours before i preach so who knows where I'll end up!

    Also trying to think of a good childrens activity for our all-age part, any suggestions??

  5. Hi,
    I am linking [I hope] Luke and Deuteronomy - they both remind us of God being the source of life and, well, everything. This Lent I am including a Stewardship focus, with a congregation who have not had a stewardship series for a while from what I have been told, and have bad memories of the word - so a gentle stewardship series. This week, everything comes from God – life, identity, security. Also Deuteronomy reminds me of communion liturgy, with the telling of the story.
    A cuppa then off to get some sleep before preaching tomorrow [Saturday 10.30 pm here] which means there is camomile tea, or you get to raid the fridge and see if there is anything in there.
    Happy preparing

  6. Ah, Saturday preacher's been a long, long time since I have been here. It's been a long, long, time since I have preached! This is my first time trying to write a sermon with a 3 year old assistant. It's a little bit like learning to ride a bike again. I'll eventually be in the same place but it's clear that the road to get there is going to be very different. I have a babysitter for 3 hours today. I'm hoping that and a little bit of Elmo will get me through....

  7. Oh, and I'm preaching Psalm 91. The Gospel will be read as well.

  8. anyone know if ALL birds shelter their young beneath wings or just certain birds? Dr. Internet is failing me.

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  10. This my first time back for a while too sko3. Sermon writing with kids is always a unique experience. I thanked God for Shek etc on many occasions.

    Enjoy the juggling

  11. I'm preaching on Deuteronomy, about giving God our first fruits, not only financially (gotta throw a little stewardship in there) but just in general not giving God the scrapings at the bottom of the barrel in terms of our time, energy, thought, etc. Our Lenten theme is gratitude, so that will tie right in (hopefully). Bringing in some coffee and muffins for those who are just getting up...

  12. I have long believed that the WIlderness story is a call story. The testing serves to focus who Jesus is called to be.

    Since we have Scouts and Guides present tomorrow I thought I would preach a sermon called "when I grow up...". THe intent is to talk about how we decide what to do and the various, equally good, alternatives that might come up along the way. How do we decide?

  13. Oh and now I have to get ready to head off for a meting 1.75 hours away. See y'all again after supper!

  14. Good morning! Good morning! I'm glad to see the party is already rolling. I'm stopping in to say that I will be an absentee hostess until mid-afternoon. We are engaging in some congregational discernment this morning and early afternoon, so I will be tied up in that activity. I'm sure we'll have extra donut holes to share, so I'll put those out when they get here..

    See you all later. Happy pondering and writing!!!!

  15. Hello all! Been a while for me, too, and I'm happy to say it's because I've been managing to get my sermons done before Saturday!
    Not this week however--Ash Wednesday threw a monkey wrench into my plans--and so here I am!
    I'm focusing on the Luke passage, talking about temptations--they come from within us, which is why they are so powerful; also, they begin from something good. NT Wright's chapter on Temptation in his book Following Jesus has some good thoughts. I want to talk about both Jesus being tempted and Christians being tempted, but have a fine line to walk as I don't want to suggest we can be just like Jesus (impossible goals, anyone?).
    I have some oatmeal with apples and coffee to share...

  16. G'morning y'all. I ate the left-over oatmeal but am thinking of making a new pot with raisins, coconut, nuts and maple syrup. Want any?
    Our Lenten theme is "girded and undergirded" by the power of the towel. Great music from one of our musicians that will be added next week. here's a link to the music if you are interested.
    right here.
    The sermon is coming together thanks to taking time to write down my thoughts last night. We are using both Ps. 91 and Luke 4 but moving into 'what brethren believe about sin'. and I have the top 10 brethren sins in commandment form to open with. I sure hope they get it.. Maybe I'll post those later at my place.

  17. I have a ridiculously busy week ahead, with three services and a funeral visit to do tomorrow so I've had to be prepared... today is my wedding anniversary too so I am trying to make time to celebrate with Tim!

    My draft for my sermon is here, whether it will be what I prach remains to be seen, it feels a bit clumsy right now...

    ah well!

  18. Rev Nancy I love your lent theme!

  19. Hi everybody! Back at it after an eleven week um...break from the pulpit. Yeah. Let's call it that.

    I preached and presided on Ash Wednesday, at a church that is getting its new pastor next week. That is where I am also preaching tomorrow.

    Here's my issue: I was thinking about using 12-Step language in my sermon tomorrow. The previous pastor, who left rather abruptly 2.5 years ago, had to leave because they (the pastor--trying to be gender neutral) seriously...lets say bungled the steps in a rather spectacular and public way after several years of sobriety.

    Too soon? Not sure. Feeling really out of rhythm with the preaching thing. What say ye, preachers?

    (Formerly CH)

  20. I want to work on Deut and the epistle. I am tired of preaching on the temptation.

    The idea of first fruits is interesting in the light of Karen Armstrong's book on the Axial Age in which she sees the movement from the realm of sacrifice to self emptying. Am not sure what I want to do with that.

    Prayers please, am not feelin' it today!

  21. Poking around the 'net found a great blog post on first fruits from a woman with blueberry bushes in her backyard, who realized that when she picks the first ripe berries off, the others on the stem then also grow healthier, and she compares that to giving our first fruits to God and having that effect the other areas of our lives in a similar way.

  22. Jules, it was 2.5 years ago; granted that's recent in congregational history, but there's been a good span of time. Are you using it specifically in terms of the pastor's departure or to some other point? I'd think the latter would be fine, because the 12 steps connect for a lot people personally, regardless of the previous pastor's issues.

    No preaching for me tomorrow; I'm simply assisting all day. Today I'm going to a bar mitzvah for a member of our youth group; that has been an interesting discussion starter! Dh and older son are walking/jogging a half marathon tomorrow, so I'm thinking I should stock up on comfort food for tomorrow evening.

    I have a crockpot full of chicken all seasoned/sauced for enchiladas or burritos if anyone is ready for a hearty meal :-)

  23. Betsy, I would definitely NOT be referencing the former pastor's illness. I'm thinking about how when we let go of whatever it is that numbs us--food, sex, drug, drink, shopping, gambling, spending time on the internet, whatever it is when we try to fill a hole--the first thing that happens to us is that we often begin to feel for the first time.

    This congregation certainly had to do plenty of feeling to get to this place, but I would approach that obliquely, not directly. There are some who are just now figuring out that they really, really liked having an addicted pastor, and I'm sure will have to adjust to having one that is not.

    The connection I am trying to make is between the mini-deprivation of lent and the feelings of awareness that can come from letting go of that which numbs us.

  24. Beth I think you've found something there that could be useful for any stewardship theme or just about any time. How are you going to use it?

  25. I'm not sure yet. I'd like to try and steer clear of making a direct connection between practice and gain (like a "tithe so you can get rich" kind of thing) and yet allow people to see that giving God our first fruits can be beneficial in other areas of our lives.

    I'm also trying to decide whether to push a little button in this congregation--or maybe how hard to push it. It is a very sports-oriented community, and there is a lot of missing worship (and confirmation class!) due to practices and games, and a feeling of powerlessness to say "no, we go to church." I want to try to go the empowerment route rather than simply criticize...

  26. I know it's not terribly Lenten, per se, but I'm basing my sermon on Vancouver poet Shane Koyczan's poem called "We Are More" - the one he performed at the opening ceremonies.

    You can see part of it here.

    I'm using a similar form of poetry to help us define our uniquely Canadian United Church of Canada. Yes, we grew out of Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist roots, but the UCCan is also uniquely Canadian, this seems a good time to do what the poet tried to do: define ourselves.

    Especially as our own congregation looks at amalgamation with another congregation, the timing for such self-reflection is perfect. I like what I've got so far, just have to keep at it.

    Later: dinner with our son who is visiting from Out West.

  27. mmmm... oatmeal with coconut - I need to try that!
    Putting mine together now: I'm reflecting on this being the first Sunday in Lent and the devil asking Jesus "who are you" via "If you are the Son of God" (twice). Maybe in this Lenten season, one of our disciplines will be to know who and whose we are as the beloved of God... if we truly knew that and embraced it at the core of our being, how much would it change our worldview? We would then be able to see others as Beloved also. If I were feeling more playful, I might sing the CSI theme...
    Jules - welcome back! I truly believe that people are relieved when we are able to name these things from the pulpit obliquely and gently. If you were told the story 2.5 years later in prep to preach then it is still a hurt to be healed.

  28. I posted a sermon on Psalm 91 yesterday. I was concerned about the sermon... and ask for feedback. I got feedback… online... and from friends. I posted the re-write here.

    I'm still open to comments and critiques. Post them... because for me... this topic... cuts to the core of who we are... what we believe... and how we live. What I don't want to do is... preach something people can't follow... preach bad theology... or preach something that will leave people people twisting in the hot air of a bad preacher.

  29. well, since I'm the new pastor (being installed this Sunday, although I've been here since 1 Feb), I'm really looking at self examination with the congregation this lent -- I did an ash Wednesday kickoff with psalm 51, seemed to get a lot of identification when I spoke of the three words for sin (missing, wandering, and willful); now I'm looking at the ways we're tempted -- since Jesus was tempted in all ways like we are -- and looking at physical appetite, pursuing things other than God, and expecting God to be at our beck and call. Of course, I got a late start due to Ash Wednesday, and then spent all day Friday and the better part of today at the vet. My oldest kitty (almost 12) has lymphoma. We can only make her comfortable now. So DH will not be at church tomorrow morning (he'll be at home north watching the cat). I'll head down to the manse tonight, where we are not yet moved in, to get ready for Sunday and my first communion (but we did manage to bake some GF bread yesterday). With communion, luckily the sermon can be a bit short, but not as short as it is now! Life is just a bit hectic at the moment.

  30. I knew the story as it was unfolding. Can't really say publicly how I knew the story, but I did.

    I'm not sure if the wound is still hurting there or not. Just would rather not bust it open accidentally if I don't have to.

  31. Leftover bacon, mushroom and Swiss cheese quiche to share here--it's good cold, or I can pop it in the microwave for you.

    Still waiting for confirmation from supportive but disorganized rector on when I am preaching this Lent (obviously not this week), so I'll work on teaching instead. My students each wrote three psalms after studying the different categories so those should be fun to read/grade. Kind of tired and slow getting started though--I am so ready for break, but there's one more week to teach first...

  32. Ok, kids talk, worship and communion done, now just the sermon to pull together.

    I know what I want to say but and just struggling to get it to fit.

    I'm going to focus on removing the things which soften the voice of God, giving God space to speak, being in the uncomfortable place of just listening.

  33. I have no idea what I am doing.
    Our worship chair is placing something in the church each Sunday to represent part of the Gospel text for Lent.
    She has a stone, with lovely moss all over it in front of church for tomorrow.
    It looks all outdoorsy and beautiful. So, now that we have the set so beautiful, i have to come up with a sermon to do the "setup" justice.

    Oh, anybody got a chidlren's sermon for the Luke temptation story? i am coming up with nada

  34. Welcome back sko, Revem, and Jules! Great to read y'all.

  35. I don't know if this is not serious enough, but I am going to be doing the Marshmallow temptation with a number of the kids. whilst they're sweating it ask the congregation to think about what they are tempted by.

    Finish the first temptation and then do it again with support people next to them encouraging them not to give in to temptation and make the point that, life is better if we let others and God help us, in times of testing.

  36. PS. Thanks for the welcome, Mary Beth, it's nice to be back

  37. Hi pals!

    Doing my sermon on First Fruits from Deuteronomy. Beth love the illustration of picking the first ripe berrys and ending up with juicier berrys.

    Peace and love,

  38. I am soooo stuck. Having a huge "I know what I want to say but have no idea how to say it" moment. I have a little something, but I'm not a huge fan, and don't know how to take it anywhere. Sigh...

  39. Well, believe it or not Teh Miracle of Teh Sermon Draft just happened here.


  40. I'm working from Deut. tomorrow, talking about remembering and re-membering, asking people to remember just when/how they realized that they believe and how important it is for us to tell the story, if only to ourselves, in order to be re-membered into the household of God. At least that's kind of the plan. I like the psalm and the epistle, too, and will probably have to bring in the wilderness as it is so much a part of life. Also, how knowing our story and remembering it when we are in the wilderness is what gets us through.
    Sunshine here again today and it is very hard to do much more than look outside. Spent yesterday afternoon cleaning up tree debris from the December storm and I ought to go out and do some more trimming this afternoon but my arms are too sore. So I'll sit in the sun with a good book instead.

  41. ever been at that place where you know there MUST be a paragraph out there that will tie all these thoughts together? That's me right now. And since I'm writing from Brueggers, I have a bucket-o-ice tea and blueberry bagels to offer!

  42. Well, I'm not quite sure how this happened, but I slept until 2:30 pm. Apparently I was more sleep-deprived than I knew! But now I'm feeling well-rested, if unmotivated.

    Still pondering the blanket idea, but no words yet. Maybe a cup of tea...and a bagel...maybe that will do the trick.

    It's really cool to see old familiar faces show up at the preacher party again--welcome back!

  43. Mmm...bagels. Maybe that will be my food for thought, so to speak. I'm slightly less stuck than I was a while ago, but since I started over and length-wise don't have any more written than before, we'll see how it goes. Off to the toaster for a bagel break. I'll share!

  44. 2:30 semfem? That sounds just absolutely gorgeous!!!

    Well, I'm finally here after a long chunk of planning with the session and congregation. I was so looking forward to this event to relieve me of some stress and feel like we were achieving a unified vision. An hour or so after it, I'm not yet feeling that. It feels like we're just geared up to rename old things and still trying to be everything to everyone and not finding away to focus in on what God is calling us to do - - unless God really is calling us in 75 disjointed directions. I guess I haven't really given that option a fair shake yet. Ugh. I don't know. I feel way more overwhelmed than I thought I felt coming into it all.

    And now I have to figure out how to relate this all back to the other 90% of the congregation. My plan was to preach our of today's event tomorrow, then expand on it all the next 3 weeks. Now I'm not so sure what do, or better said, how to do it all. Oh well.

    I'm still at the church, but ready to head home. I will do that and try to dive head first into my family for the rest of the hours that they are awake. Then I'll tackle the rest of this after bedtime.

    Oh - - and so annoying. I did the whole "I'll pay the delivery guy and everyone pay me back" thing and came up pretty short. I hate that. I HATE that.

    Sounds like things are starting well around here. I guess it's not much of a start - - we're halfway through the day for most of us by now. There are a few finished sermons, or at least drafts. What does anyone need? What can we do for each other?

  45. Here after a presbytery meeting. Took a nap first and then sat down to try to bring some focus to the first third of the sermon.

    Was not hopeful, but I think the HS showed up and things are falling into place.

    Taking a break by heading outside to knock icicles off my house before I lose more portions of gutter to them.

    There will be hot chocolate when I come in. And some Bailey's with a hint of mint is sitting on teh counter for any who may need a dash.

  46. I think I've cracked it, I would post it but I find sermons are the one thing I still need to do with pen and paper.

    That said the conclusion is something like this...

    The God of abundance, generosity, grace and love wants the best for you. Is this Lenten season the time to listen, to provide space for God to speak. What's he saying? Are you ready to listen?

    I am now going to bed, it's 10pm here, and will get up tomorrow and put the finishing touches on it.

    All the best


  47. hi, I'm late to the party, tho I was up early for a Bible study on Luke and a class on the Apostles' Creed for 4th Graders.

    then I went to the hospital, and now home not working. wow.

    that feels kinda good.

    She Rev, you always put on a good party!

    lots of good ideas here. If I was preaching, I think it would be the temptations (sounds like a song!).

    how about some meatballs for supper?

  48. Diane, meatballs sounds great!

    I am moving along, though I hate when I've said "I'll be done by 2/3/5/6..." and I'm not done yet.

    I'm hoping I'm not pushing too hard when after talking about making God a priority, including making worship a routine that even playing sports doesn't trump, I ask them to imagine a scene in which someone has gotten to heaven and God asks why She wasn't given that much time, and the person answers, "We had soccer."

    Diane's bringing meatballs, I've got some good bread...

  49. Greetings all! I haven't been here in a while either cause I keep getting sidetracked by Facebook. :(

    Along with several other preachers in my area I will be preaching on Holy Week throughout Lent, using Borg & Crossan's The Last Week as a starting place. In our tradition we don't usually spend much time focusing on what happens between Palm Sunday and Easter. Some of us do Palm/Passion Sunday, but we really don't look at the whole of Holy Week, so this seemed like a good year to focus our attention there.

    For me, then, it is Monday. The day of the cursed fig tree and Jesus' turning over the money changers tables in the Temple. The end of the sermon talks about Jesus seeking to return us/Israel to our/her original love for and obedience to God - re-newing and re-creating. Sounds Lenten but I'm not quite sure how I'm getting there. More will be revealed as the work progresses.

  50. This Lenten season we are changing things up. We have two different musical responses and the order is very different from "normal." The services are more thematic, too. We'll see how this goes tomorrow. The folks who came to Ash Wed seemed to like the musical responses. I hope that benevolent feeling carries over.

  51. Ack! It's 7:00 pm and I don't have a sermon--at least not one past an opening paragraph which I wrote this morning. I've had a headache all day, and felt sluggish. I did a funeral this afternoon, then went to the grocery store, and when I sat down to write again, fell fast asleep on the couch. Maybe that's what I needed, but I hope the inspiration flows now. Argh. I really was hoping to be finished early.

    I've got nachoes for dinner though, if anyone's interested.

  52. oh Nachos, well Hubby fixed the chops and corn so it was a good meal. Sermon is done. sorry I can't help anyone else with it. It's what Brethren believe about sin and its too long but I figure people will drift off in parts and get other parts. Its repetitive, hopefully for good reason. I really like the shorter ones better. Perhaps I'll pare it down tomorrow.
    best to all, i've got some decaf for anyone who doesn't plan to stay up all night.

  53. Bring on the decaf for me. I just finished, too. Thank goodness. Been having issues with my hip/tush muscles and sitting for this many hours has not been pleasant!

    I'm ending up pushing not only the sports button, but a financial one too. Last week we had our annual meeting in which it was announced that due to financial strain there would be (for the 3rd year in a row, apparently) no staff raises, in addition to which we have cuts to our benefits. Oh, and our endowment's back up around $3 million. I don't mention that directly...but there's definite implication.

    I'm leaving brownies for dessert or a midnight snack for you night owls!

  54. MMM, nachos and brownies, sounds like a winner to me!

    I'm wondering how short I can preach and still get away with it. I have 844 words and I think I've made my point (and I usually go anywhere between 1100 and 1500 words). Nobody here (or anywhere I've served) has ever complained about a sermon being too short, still feels like cheating to end it now.

    Beth--I hear what you're saying. St. Larger's endowment is not quite that large, but it's sizeable enough that it feels sinful to sit on it and not USE it more effectively or justly.

  55. But Beth, if we spent it, we wouldn't have it anymore... :)

  56. My sermon is pretty much done but the olympics are not helping me finish up because I would have to leave the laptop to actually finish but there's no tv where the desktop is. You understand how that works right?

  57. Children's sermon is a varation on the Marshmellow Test(using a big size lollipop and lifesavers.
    Will proably mention the Marshmellow temptation in the sermon.
    Though, I can't stand the 3 points and a poem style, I am going with 3! I remember a NT professor in college discussing the Matthew version of temptations and refering to the 3 P's. Of course, the order is a little different but still works out.
    They are Physical, Power, and Protection. I plan to discuss how Christ resisted all three and how we should try to as well.
    Of course, none of the three are sins, in and of themselves, they all three can become sinful if misused, abused, or givien into the temptaions of.
    So, there is a plan of sorts.
    Watching speed skating, cat purring at my side, and I am settled for the night. :)
    Anybody need anything

  58. Semfem, if it says what it needs to say...stop! And then enjoy the rest of the evening :-)

    Pasta and more pasta at my house tonight; may I put some extra on for some of you?

  59. glad you liked the meatballs! I discovered we never ate our little mini heart cake I bought for Valentine's Day. So we're going to eat it tonight.

    I'm having trouble sitting in the dining room chairs right now, because one of my legs is hurting all the time. someone at work thinks it might have something to do with my sciatic nerve.

  60. Miraculously I have a draft! I'm going to let it sit a few minutes and then reread and edit.

    I hear what you are saying about using endowments instead of letting them sit; our problem however is that we rely too heavily on ours, drawing out too much each year because (imho) of very poor stewardship. Lots of work to be done there.

  61. Yes, Vicar I understand.
    I cannot print from my laptop, issues with getting the printer and the computer to talk to each other. So, I have to send it to my desktop or to work and print it out that way.
    Yes, i know there is proably an easy fix, but no amount of dowloading and switching over to the printer has worked, in spite of efforts on many parties. So, as for now. This is what I do.

  62. 1-4 Grace, I can print to the "other" printer but not the one I want to print my sermon. And the resources I use for prayers are on the desktop. My laptop is so old and slow I can't add anything else to it. So, it usually works for internet stuff and word processing. But sometimes it takes forever.

  63. OK folks, how do the wireless printers work? Does it have to be a special printer or can you adapt a trraditional one? Our printer works fine but it is a pain to have to use the old slow desktop whenever we want to print (desktop might be better if I ever get around to increasing the RAM though)

  64. I'm home at last, and stopped for Indian on the way so if anyone needs a late-night-naan-snack, I'm your girl. :-)

    I'm debating about whether to edit the sermons while the washing machine does its thing, or to play Wii instead. hmm.....thoughts?

  65. Gord, neither of our printers are wireless but one of them will work across the network so I can print pseudo-wirelessly. But, of course, that's not the one I want to use to print the stuff for worship. So I save across the network to the computer that is connected to the right printer.

  66. I am SO SORRY, friends, for being a completely absentee hostess. I thought when I finally went home around 3:30 that I would have the rest of the afternoon/evening as a quiet, routine time, but I was so wrong. My husband had big plans to go to Ikea and the Mall of America, but we didn't even leave the house until about 5:30 p.m. What the heck was he thinking. We got home at 9:50 p.m. I don't have a thing yet, and I am one wiped out mamma.

    So, hopefully, something will coelesce here rather quickly. It's actually not that far from my usual start time, but usually I have more of a mental clue and usually I'm not SO tired. And usually I've done all my time wasting on FB by now. I'll be resisting temptation of my own if I can stay away before I start now.

    Anyone else still around? Again, I'm so sorry for leaving the party hanging - - and with some folks who haven't been around in a while. I promise this isn't our new routine!!!

  67. I confess, I am completely fascinated by curling.

  68. Love it, Vicar. I have been more absent from the Olympics than I planned so I haven't seen any yet. I have a congregation member who curls, though, and I have made her promise to take me to one of her events. I think that's something I could totally get into doing.

  69. Love it, Vicar. I have been more absent from the Olympics than I planned so I haven't seen any yet. I have a congregation member who curls, though, and I have made her promise to take me to one of her events. I think that's something I could totally get into doing.

  70. She Rev, I was busy being distracted by the olympics ... especially curling ... to notice that you were gone.

    I hope you got some good stuff shopping though.

  71. help! It's so late and I'm so tired. I was at church all yesterday and all today, and got home at 4 pm and here I am, still writing, with two halves of a sermon that don't fit together. I wrote the title for it earlier this week and I had such hopes, but it just didn't come together.

    I don't preach often in this church and I'm despairing. bleh.

  72. I managed to figure out how to do everything but print from the laptop. I'm reminded of my mother saying "If you'd put that much energy into XXX, you'd already be done by now."

  73. Dear Anonymous,
    Hang in there. The HS works through us even in the doggiest of sermons. Blessings to all

  74. anonymous, what passage are you preaching? what's the title? Give me some context and I'll see if I can help.

  75. Darn these Olympics! I was totally into the speed skating. Amazing race and totally cool stuff.
    Fair Trade Coffee and oatmeal in the AM! See you soon, but I need to sign off for a while, to crank out the last bit of my sermon. May be a short one, but hey, as we have said, " Nobody complains because of short sermons."

  76. Well, I WAS going to have my sermon done by Friday evening, until one of our town officials called to say they were sending out a state inspector in two hours to check out the site where we're composting a cow. (I'd tell you the whole story, but it's udderly depressing.)

    So, it's almost 11:30 here, and I think I'm finally pretty much done. Since I've been dealing with death and compost all week, I was drawn to the earthiness of all the "first fruits" stuff in Deuteronomy and the dusty, parched wilderness in Luke... sermon title is "Playing in the Dirt." I'm inviting the congregation to enter, together, into the season's "dirty work" of honest, humble spiritual preparation.

    This is my first sermon for the U.C.C. in which I've just started a six-month internship. *Deep Breath* Here we go...

    (Teri, I will definitely take you up on the offer of Indian food--thanks, I really needed that!)

    Blessings to all other night owl writers... I have plenty of tea and the kettle's keeping hot on the woodstove, so come help yourselves as needed.

  77. the luke scripture
    Title: "A Balancing Act"

    Sermon 1: We spend our days a bit out of balance in our lives. Over time those small changes can harm ourselves, those we love, and God. Through Lent we are called to recognize how we are "leaning on one side too much" or "putting too much strain on our knees." Ends with a series of reflections on "balancing acts": acts that can help bring us back into balance.

    Sermon 2: Follows the image of Jesus hoisted up in high places but is grounded in scripture. Something about how we are called to rely on the ground of God as well in our lifes high and low places

  78. anonymous, I don't have anything personally that looks like it will help you. However, look up through the comments to where Muthah+ and Beth have back to back posts about 10:40 am. You might be able to work with either or both of their images for the concept of balance. Jesus emptied himself to become a servant rather than filling himself with "things to do." And, the fruit cannot grow well when too crowded - when unbalanced.

    Hope that gives you something with which to work. And remember, regardless, the Holy Spirit has got your back.

  79. Thanks VoH. I got a new intro for sermon number 1, am going to let sermon number 2 fall by the wayside, and hopefully HS can step in somewhere!

    god bless!

  80. anonymous, sometimes calling out for help is really all you need then things start falling into place. While that may not be a mystery of faith, it is, for me, a mystery of sermon writing.

  81. Ugh. My post was just lost in cyberspace. So annoying.

    I'm ready to head upstairs to my real writing computer (both of ours are connected to the printer with a wireless printer server, I have no idea what that means, but I just asked my husband for the right term for you, Gord), but had to post first.

    I'm down to just the sermon to write, having found a VERY helpful chapter-by-chapter, with quotes and page numbers and discussion questions and applicable Scripture references, book study for The Shack. PRAISE GOD! I'm leading discussions of that twice tomorrow (2 different foci for the discussions in two different settings) and it's been 15 months since I read the book. Not good, until I found this study guide that gets me EVERYTHING I NEED to have my memory jarred and lead a decent discussion with direct book references, too. PRAISE GOD!!!

  82. Glad things are going better, anonymous, and isn't that the truth, Vicar???? In that spirit, is it too early for me to call out for help if I haven't even opened the word processing software yet???

  83. She Rev, I'm so glad you found Shack stuff. I hope the sermon falls together easily. What are you preaching?

  84. back here tonight after a nice, relaxing day. I enjoyed the local farmer's market and grocery shopping this morning, watched a little of the Olympics, attended the birthday party of a parishoner, and grabbed a pizza on the way home. I'm now opening the sermon at the spot where I posted and went to bed last night. I feel like I'm nearing the end of it, just not quite sure how that's going to happen.

  85. I'm heading for bed.

    Blessings on your Sunday

  86. Well, Vicar, I'm off lectionary for Lent because it just wasn't speaking for me. When I planned I based the 4 Sundays of Lent that I'm here for on the visioning session we did today as a congregation. Well, today was more of the planning; the session did the visioning officially in the fall. When I lead that retreat I based it on parables, so it made sense to pick parables for this series that sort of introduces some of the ministry areas we identified at that retreat. That was the plan. Well, today at the planning event we expanded things a bit beyond just the 3 areas a little, maybe, sort of.

    Tomorrow's plan is to introduce the idea of parables as demonstration of God's plan for the kingdom of God when everything is going the way it should. We wrote a parable for our congregation back in the fall, so after doing a little teaching about parables, and working with the VERY SHORT parable from Luke I've picked for this week (mustard seed, 2 verses in Lk) I think, I'll introduce our parable, and almost preach it a bit. I'll try to close with a lead in to the coming weeks which will each focus on a parable that touches on the specifics of our call as a congregation that we discerned - hospitality, compassion, and worship.

    That's the plan, I think. Sort of. In a big picture way.

    This week is Luke 13:18-19.

  87. Sorry She Rev, Vicar, and the others on the late night shift...I'm finished, believe it or not, which is good since it took me longer than expected to find all the materials I need for St. Larger's council meeting tomorrow after church.

    Now, off to print (I write downstairs on the laptop, then bring it upstairs to the non-wireless printer) and shower and try to sleep. (She Rev, sleeping until 2:30 pm today may turn out to not be so glorious after all!)

  88. She Rev, that sounds like a sermon to me!

    Now, I'm really going to bed.

  89. semfem, no need to apologize for being done early! that's a celebration!

    now, really, I'm going to bed

  90. I totally agree with Vicar, She Rev. It sounds wonderful. I really love that you all wrote your own parable and using it in the context of your sermon tomorrow could help further the ownership of it for everyone. Go for it!

  91. Thanks for the encouragement, ladies. I do think it's all here somewhere, and I am thankful that a chunk of it will be teaching a bit about why a parable even worked for visioning. The only place where this might be a struggle for me is that this one will be less directly biblically based than most of my sermons, and that's sort of outside my comfort zone. In a way it should be easy, but I just have to let myself do something a little different, a little out of the ordinary this once for the sake of the gaining the congregation's ownership and setting up the rest of the series and the changes we'll be making as a congregation. Needs to be done, and can be done, even easily, if I just let myself (and the Spirit) do it.

    OK, enough talking about it. Now it's time to jump in!

    (I had to do my Lent devotion for today, which luckily turned out to be one in which I counted my blessings for the day. Much better to do that one at the end of the day instead of the beginning. 4 days into it, and I've stuck with it on my blog so far. Woo hoo!)

  92. Done. It is 50 words too long, for me, but it is late and I am not in an editing mode. So it may be 50 words too long or I might cut a teeny bit after some shut eye. Blessings to all!
    Lent 1

  93. And yes, the beginning is pretty much word for word from a commentary on textweek. Apologies to the author, but with a little switching around, it is said better than I could have
    done. 95!!! Woot-woot

  94. 50 words? You can't complain about 50 words. THEY can't complain about 50 words. It's done, and, I'm sure, it's blessed.

    I'm at about 570-ish and calling it started. I'm gonna go to bed. I think I know how I'll get where I need to go. I hope I do, but for now, I'm going to bed for some much needed (but not much to be received) sleep.

    I'll be back for the early morning crowd. If there is one this time. I think it might just be me.

  95. Sleep well She Rev, thanks for a great party. I might see you in the morning for a much needed edit. I've gotten sucked back into the Olympics..
    just need to add the conclusion and I'm out.

  96. This is me trying to leave again. This time for real. Now I'm up to 932 (so about half way done for me, maybe a little more than half way if I can discipline my writing in the morning). Now I really plan to lay my head down for a few hours. Really.

    (Don't think this is me really just trying to bump us one post closer to 100. No, I wouldn't do a thing like that.)

  97. Well, I'm up again after a fairly restful night to do a final edit on my sermon.

    This has been one of the hardest sermons to wrangle, I have struggled all the way, along with many others by the looks of things.

    I wonder why that is?

  98. Does it count if comment 100 comes after midnight.
    I was away on a writing retreat yesterday. fortunately I'm not preaching today, just putting away the alleluias. And then I have a couple Girl Guiding services. Hope you feel the warm breath of the Holy Spirit surrounding you in all your worship today.

  99. I think it counts! I put no time limit on my post counts! Thanks folks.

    I'm back up to work. I let myself sleep to a later hour than usual with the high hope that since we got home so late last night everyone will sleep 'til at least 7 a.m. That gives me 2 hours which should be more than plenty. Good theory. Let's hope it holds!

  100. One hour down and I'm definitely trucking along, but I'm also definitely going to have to cut some of my fun, but frivolous beginning. I had a feeling that would happen, but I was having so much fun writing it that I let it go for the time being. Oh well.

    Should I put some coffee on? I'm not a big coffee drinker, so I haven't done that yet, but if there are others who will want some....

  101. I'll be teaching the children today, so my Lenten thoughts have more to do with sand painting than sermonizing, but I will be thinking of y'all today, especially MaineCelt!!!

  102. Ooooooohhhhh - - sand painting! That sounds awesome!

    I'm about 2 minutes from my hoped for hour of completion with it just about done. Minor problem - - I've got about 1000 words too many. Granted most of those I will likely be able to cut off the front end since much of that was just what it took to get my juices flowing, but still. I liked it.

  103. Good morning preachers,

    I finally finished my children's sermon. I feel more pressure to produce the perfect children's sermon than I do the adult sermon. That's the one that everyone loves and comments on. If I were to stop at the children's sermon and not preach the big people sermon, I think this congregation would be just fine.

    Anywho...have a great day everybody. Blessings as you preach, teach and pray!


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