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Saturday, March 27, 2010

11th Hour Preacher Party: So Many Options, So Little Time

Holy Week is upon us, and the festivities(?) kick-off tomorrow with Palm Sunday. Or Passion Sunday. Or Palm/Passion Sunday. What to do? What to do?

On the one hand we have the traditions of kids (and as I've learned from others here, whole congregations) parading with palms and singing hymns of glory and honor. Who wants to shorten one of these kinds of glorious, celebratory Sundays?

On the other hand for many of our Sunday-only worshipers, if we go from palms straight to resurrection then they miss some really important stuff.

On another hand (How many hands does a preacher have? Never enough), if we do palm and passion both in the same Sunday and still offer Triduum services (some or all) are we giving people an excuse to skip those?

Oh my! So many options, so little time.

What are you thinking? Are you preaching? The palms? The passion? Are you doing a passion reading? (A WONDERFUL option I learned by hanging around here a few Easter cycles and the direction I'm going as I'm just back from vacation a couple of days.) I'll go ahead and invite folks to also share and search for advice from others on any other services that are coming in the next week. This could be your big chance to get a lot of worship leaders all thinking on the same thing!!!

Whatever you're doing tomorrow, wherever the Spirit leads you, join us in the comments. This promises to be one heck of a party!!!!


  1. First draft written - which is good as it is almost 9pm on Saturday evening - so probably only a minor tinker when I reread it. I am thinking about the entry to Jerusalem as political street theatre. Jesus didn't avoid risk in showing love. we praise God, but do we live justice and righteousness and peace.

    we also have a service Thursday and Friday, though not all will attend. Thursday I am thinking of using Iona material form Stages on the way that looks at some of the incidents usually read in the first few days of Holy week, finishing with the last supper - and communion. Friday we will pick up from there through to burial. and yes lots of reading - not much preaching! time for people to hear the story themselves and to have some time in quiet reflection.

  2. I'm up twice tomorrow. More shocking yet, I'm up this morning and it's barely 6:30 here! Did a send-off of our Spring Break Mission Trip. Let the day begin...but first, I have tea, mandarins and diet pepsi to offer.
    I'm sure I'll be checking in as the day progresses -- the world is still dark around me and it'll be nice to know others are up & at 'em! Preachers unite!

  3. awoke befor sun or birds that's too early. wedding thss afternoon with Baptist friend conducting too.
    Sermon still brewing. remembring fragrances fom the costly perfume...
    now present?

    ok may see if i can catch some more zzzzzz ah ah ha ah C U all later Bobbie

  4. I'm preaching in the evening for a non-Palm Sunday-esque service. My text is the prodigal and I am strangely relaxed as I know I have so much I can say on the subject that I've not pinned it all down yet!!

    I'm also preaching for the FIRST time on Easter Sunday. I'm figuring it's a bit like the State of the Union which is why as a lay preacher I've never done it before and now I'm preaching where there's a vacancy.

    I must admit Easter is worrying me more - what to preach!? so often we preach to a text and see what it has to say but Easter is pretty much all about the central core of what we're preaching every week anyway. hmmm much to think about!

    Luckily I'm helping with the children's easter workshop there too so hoping for some stories from that to add in at the last minute!

  5. Good morning preachers,

    I'm going to a concert tonight so I can't participate in a full day of procrastination before writing my sermon.

    I have coffee to share and oatmeal bars.

    I will be preaching on how there were really three parades on the day of Jesus' triumphal entry, there were the pilgrims coming to the temple singing psalm 118, there was the Roman military parade to let occupied Jerusalem know whose boss and there is Jesus and his motley crew letting everyone know that God is really in charge. My theme will be which parade are you marching in?

    However, I had to come up with a sermon title earlier in the week long before I formulated my sermon in my head. On Monday morning all I could think of was Barbara Striesand so my sermon title is "Don't rain on my parade." Thank goodness my church doesn't publish sermon titles on a sign out on the lawn.

  6. Welcome folks! Sounds like things are brewing already (and more than coffee). My husband is working on some blueberry pancakes so I'll share when they're reading.

    Sarah, my "first" Easter was just 2 years ago since I was an associate in my first call. I definitely never got Easter there. I remember blogging on the exact same dilemma you're talking about. Mix into that a little worry about what to say that is meaty enough for the every-weekers, but Eastery enough for the "C & E"-ers, and I was a stressed out preacher. I think it worked, though. Good luck. The Spirit shows up for you!

    I like it GG!

    I'm one of the non-preachers this year for Palm Sunday. I just got back from vacation Thursday, so I planned for myself a sort of Palm/Passion "lessons and carols," for lack of a better term. We'll start the service in Palm Sunday celebration, sort of make the switch into the Passion at the prayer of confession, and then I'll read the entire Lukan Passion with breaks in the readings for appropriate hymn verses and/or silence. That's about it. We'll go to the offering, final song, and sending from there. Oh wait! I forgot I've also got a litany on the stations of the cross that we'll use after the final reading of the passion paired with paintings of each station. Loved it.

    We also do Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. MT we'll do communion and prayer activity stations. GF is more traditional, but it's joint with the American Baptist church down the street. I plan the order of the service, and it's held in our sanctuary, but it's the Baptist's turn to preach. Woo hoo! I was thinking I'd do Tenebrae after his sermon, but now I'm questioning that. It feels like it will repeat our Palm/Passion service to some extent. However, I have already advertised it that way in the newspaper and everything. Hmmmmm...

  7. I'm not preaching tomorrow--we're starting with an outdoor Palm Procession (weather permitting) and then going on to a congregational reading of the Passion--and after that preaching seems too much of an anticlimax.

    And we're pulling out all the stops for Holy Week. It's my first year here, so I'm not sure what attendance will be--I've set my expectations quite low in fact. We're having a simple Eucharist at 5:30 pm on M,T and W on the premise that there ought to be SOMETHING offered every day of Holy Week. On Thursday we have Eucharist with foot washing and stripping of the altar. On Friday at noon we'll pray the Stations of the Cross and at 7:00 pm we'll have the Good Friday Liturgy. And on Saturday night we'll celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter. This parish hasn't done this in 20 years so it is something new, and I'm pleased that people seem interested in it, because for me it is the most important service of the entire church year.

    So I have seven homilies to write (yeah, when I mentioned them a few weeks ago, that's all I did--mention them.) And my goal for today is to outline what I'm doing M, T, and W, which will be very brief homilies, each on a different "character" of Holy Week. I did this last year at my former parish with a colleague and it worked well. So we'll see.

    For Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I expect that I will be drawing on what I've preached the last few years. Strangely enough,I've preached at four Easter Vigils but never on Easter Sunday b/c my previous boss always took that day. So it is a challenge to me to preach something different from what I preach Saturday night.

    I am trying to pace myself, and to remember ALL the details, but I know something will fall through the cracks and it will all still be okay.

    As a seminary classmate reminded me, "Holy Week isn't a sprint, it's a marathon." So happy marathoning, everyone.

  8. Okay, I've done everything else that I can think of. . .now it's sermon time!

    AM sermon: We've been "On the Samaritan Road" through Lent. My sermon title is "This is it! Is this it?" So far, I've recapped our journey through Samaria, highlighting the disciples expectations as they headed toward Jerusalem. And I'll be finishing up by giving everyone instructions on how to make a palm cross (expectations of glory turned cruciform.)
    So now it's just a matter of getting from point A to point B with a hoped for stop at "There's no crying in Palm Sunday" (like Tom Hanks in League of Their Own).

    PM Sermon: I'll tell you when I get there!

    In the meantime, I'm going to raid the church fridge -- anything I can grab for you?

  9. Morning, Gals. I don't preach on Palm Sunday. I let the drama do the talking by ending the service with no blessing, no final hymn, no greeting at the back of the church and no coffee hour. After we do the Passion as a dramatic reading there is communion and the prayer after communion but that is all. So maybe now I can get to the Friday Five because I didn't have any time yesterday.

    I am beginning to pack to move in June so the sorting has begun. A wise thing to do in Holy Week.

    The bulletins are done for Holy Week and Easter.

    Sarah, I am preaching Easter for the LAST time as a full-time priest. I retire in June. May you have a life as full of Easter Sundays as I have had. Just preach the Resurrection, Sistah! You will do great. Keep your eyes on Jesus and the words will come.

  10. Oh Muthah+ retirement... my goodness! May your last "working" Easter be blessed indeed!

    stones... that's what i'm preaching about. what do the stones shout? mmm....

    bulletins are not done.
    sermons are not written.
    however... we've got worship space visiuals planned out... Palm/Passion Sunday as the purple paraments gone replaced by scarlet ones. The old rugged cross is now draped in scarlet fabric covered in black fine mess fabric, and the crown of thorns in the middle. at foot of said cross is a vase filled with palms, surrounded by huge garden stones.

    MT - the cross is gone. paraments come back purple. a round table set for a fancy schmancy supper sits in the chancel... crystal abounds, candles too. a seder is afoot...

    GF - every moveable furnishing is gone aside from the old rugged cross with reappears. draped in black. black velevet around the base, which holds 7 glass, metal and wood candlesticks which are about 2-3 ft. tall each. all set for simple tenebrae

    Easter... well now kids! the baptismal font is front and center, and from the font's very edges the plants step outward and downward to form an easter garden. all sorts of live green foilage and lilies... my dining room is beginning to look like a jungle!

    happy writing gals!

  11. Awoke to a quiet house as my husband took the kids to an all day church museum trip--bowed out so I could try to get a lot of writing, and some singing practice, done before the Holy Week blitz. No explicit preaching this week, but lots of music that fills that role, especially--fulfillment of a lifetime dream--singing the Exsultet (long, joyous chant proclamation of the resurrection) at the Easter Vigil. Other chant solos, in English, on Good Friday, and choir for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and 2 services on Easter Sunday. Oh, and maybe a funeral Monday--they'll tell us tomorrow if they are having hymns and looking for volunteers.

    Today's goals: 1) drafting a "Representing Motherhood" conference paper proposal due in April on art/film/blogs/sermons which show or discuss Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus 2) reading through texts by my beloved medieval theologian girls to collect primary sources for two other proposals due in May and, most pressingly, for an actual paper to be presented in May, which I will also start drafting if I can. All fun stuff: feminine images of the Holy Spirit, priestly images of Mary and the female mystics who had visions of her, and visions of St. John the Evangelist and St. Catherine of Alexandria by the same gals.

    Request for assistance on the nursing Mary project: if anyone knows of any modern children's books, or nativity scenes, or Jesus movies, which show Mary (or God the Mother) breastfeeding, that would be greatly appreciated--as would any blogged sermons (Christmas or otherwise) by you or others that mention that nursing relationship, and/or the image of God as nursing mother. Also, I have a lot of examples of general nursing Mary paintings from the middle ages and Renaissance, when it was a popular image--but so far none that show this happening at a Nativity scene. So if anyone knows of any pictures along those lines--modern or historical--I would be very grateful.

  12. I finished my draft last night. But I"m really only providing the transition into Holy Week from the Palm Sunday parade. I've got a sore throat and beginning cough. My hubby has the full blown cold. The more I do the worse I feel so if I mostly rest I feel like I'll make it thru tomorrow. I got several readers to dramatically read the excerpts from Luke that follow Jesus' movement during the week. I'm encouraging people to go home and read all the final chapter of Luke themselves. I feel a little like I'm copping out, and yet you all remind me that the scriptures speak for themselves this week and there's really no reason not to let them speak.

    TIme to edit and finish worship. I have some oatmeal and Echinacea Green Tea with honey that is really helpful to my throat. I'll share the tea without sharing the cold, how's that?

    My best to all of you with so many services to preach. I have several meditations to do for Love Feast on Thursday and then I too am a bit concerned about Easter, but trust the message will come.

  13. Just back from some Con Ed time, so I wisely planned a Palm/Passion Sunday with dramatic readings and hymns.

    I'm calling it a service of story and song (a la lessons and carols).

    It's ending with a liturgical dance to Via Dolorosa, which reminds me, I need to burn that onto a CD.

    And yes - this is most definitely a marathon.

  14. We're doing Palm AND the beginning of the Passion (we take the second set of readings to Luke 23: verse 25. It leaves open the possibility that more might attend the mid-week and Good Friday services to get the rest of the story, and it prepares the sanctuary for the week ahead.

    The sermon time is the transition time. This year, I'm trying to get the congregation to have a taste of the confusion and disappointment that the disciples and those cheering Jesus into Jerusalem must have felt when Jesus plummeted from hero to criminal in such a short time.

    I'm going to ask, halfway through the sermon for everyone to change where they are sitting. Back folks come to the front, one side moves to the other, choir people get shaken up too. Then I'm going to ask how many people feel unsettled, perhaps confused about why I asked them to do that, perhaps even a bit angry.

    Comparatively, imagine how unsettling it must have been for the friends and followers of Jesus to see how quickly things changed for him that week.

    That's pretty much where I'm at. Now I just have to write it.

    * Also: as an aside, I had the person doing the second set of readings call me yesterday to ask if he could take out the part where the crowd says "Crucify him" and instead insert his own "interpretation" of the story. Wha? I very diplomatically but firmly said, "I know that the beginning of the Passion story can be difficult to hear, but that's the whole point. We *need* to hear it. Otherwise, the joy of the Easter story becomes so diluted that Easter feels like just another Sunday and not the highest holiday of the Christian year."


    He asked then if he could read it as it is printed in the pulpit bible and THEN add his own commentary. Again, I said no, that the commentary part would be in the sermon.

    His answer?

    "Yes, but who is going to hear it?"


    ~getting resume up to date~ - first task after Easter.

    How insulting. "Who is going to hear it?" Well, cr*p, I thought a few people had been, you know, listening to my sermons for the past eight years. Seems I'm mistaken.

  15. Sue, I love your idea of shuffling and feel for you after the worship leader's comment. Perhaps it is there own ears that are closed (hardened heart even?)
    I hope you can go talk to someone who will warm your heart today.

  16. Aw gee Sue, how rude of that reader.

    Just know it's all about his issues and not about you at all.

    He just doesn't want to be the one saying "crucify him" in front of the congregation. He doesn't want to own up to the notion that it is our human sin that put Jesus on the cross. His commentary would amount to "it wasn't me." He knows that in your sermon that you are not going to let all of us off the hook, however what people will hear you say next week is that sin does not have the last word, new life does. Tell him to put that in his pipe and smoke it!

    BTW, your story has given me an idea for the beginning of my sermon. Can I use it!

  17. Thanks all for the wisdom about easter preaching. I now have all my thoughts down about the prodigal and I realise why I wasn't really worried - there is so much there already!

  18. Thanks Nancy and GG - I know it's his own stuff coming through. I actually thought about calling him back to ask if he would rather read another time - but we have a sign-up sheet for scripture readings, so he knew what he was signing on to do.

    Go ahead and use whatever might be useful for your worship.

    And GG - you're absolutely right. He doesn't want to hear about human sin, doesn't want to know that any human being at any time had anything to do with the Passion. It makes me sad, because if he can't admit that, then all the trumpets in the world aren't going to make the Easter message meaningful for him.

    Back to it...

  19. Oh, Nancy, sorry you are feeling unwell--and Sue, sorry you were treated so badly.

    Followup to the Nursing Mary question, for Canadians or those with knowledge of that culture....I know that in Europe (and many other places in the world) public breastfeeding is much more common and less stigmatized than in the US. Anyone know if Canada is more like Europe on that, more like us, or somewhere in between? Since I am presenting in Canada this is something I need to address. Thanks!

  20. Sue,
    Your story is almost a perfect parallel of something Fleming Rutledge wrote in one of her Palm Sunday sermons:

    "I was at the church door at the end of the service, shaking people's hands, when a woman leaned forward and said to me in a confidential tone of voice, 'I never say, Crucify Him! I just can't do it.' She obviously expected me to congratulate her. . .but she did not understand Jesus' saying, 'I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'"

    Anyway, I guess that means you are in good company.

    I've finished a fairly reasonable draft of the sermon. Now off to collect what I will need for the stations of the cross experience I'll be leading on Sunday night.

    Check in with you Gals later!

  21. Sophia, singing the Exultet is a favorite of mine that I miss. I'm making up for it by chanting Tenebrae with my choir director and using the mozarabic chant on Easter day.
    I just re-typed my sermon for tomorrow and, amazingly didn't change a word! Here it is, just as I posted it on Tuesday. Gotta love that Holy Spirit!
    I spent Thursday night with a clergy friend. She told me that the Sunday after Easter will be "Laughing down the Devil" Sunday. Instead of a sermon, everyone is invited to tell jokes - clean and pre-approved - that they might laugh the Devil out of their lives. It's an ancient tradition. I might try that next year. Wonder if these folks will unbend enough to laugh at more than the sermon. :-)
    happy Saturday to you all. I'm going home to watch basketball and hopefully get a phone call from my son.

  22. Wish I could help on the nursing question, but I haven't much experience there.

    All I can say is that I see nursing mothers (discreetly) feeding their babies everywhere - including in our church during worship. A baby blanket over the shoulder goes a long way toward making the act of nursing next to invisible and on NO level is it considered offensive. But again, I'm only speaking from my limited experience.

    Thanks Meg! It's good to know I'm in such good company!

  23. Sue, I love your idea of having people shuffle their seats--talk about discomfort!

    And I love the idea of having a "laughing down the devil" Sunday. Wonder if I could pull that off here?

    I've picked Peter, Judas, and Mary Magdalen as the three characters I will focus on, and I have some preliminary ideas for them, so at least I have a start.

    I realized this morning that I forgot to email my Passion readers to remind them to be there early, and I never received confirmation from the person who is supposed to read Jesus' part--I am counting on the Holy Spirit to be there for all of us! (I know I could email the readers now but 90% of them wouldn't check their inboxes before Monday.)

  24. Had a fabby time this morning in the church halls doing a palm making workshop - a joint project between the local primary school and the church. We have lots of impressive looking branches to wave about - hoping no eyes will be lost due to over-enthusiastic waving of said palms by the kids as they process in during the first hymn. All the branches will be brought to the front and then inserted into poles painted green - to create instant palm trees. We'll tell the story of the entry... kids go off to Sunday School and then rest of the service we'll be reading through the passion story interspersed with hymns. This on the basis that the story tells itself and that we have services every night of the week until Sunday which are still in process but nearly there - my supervisor is completely awesome, lol!!

  25. Thanks, Sue--I was hoping you would have something to share. That does sound more open than the US--I always nursed in church, as did my grad school friends, but it is sadly unbelievably rare here, as in public places in general. So very good to hear a pastor supporting it!

  26. Sue - - Sorry about that poopy exchange!! Prayers for you AND him.

    Sophia - - I'm not in Canada, but have nursed two kids to a year (and slightly beyond) in the Midwest. I have found that it's much more common here than when I go to visit family and friends on the East Coast. With my first I was a part of a nursing support group (not LLL, but sort of the same idea). We would meet for our group then go out to lunch afterward. There we were 15-ish moms and nursing babies taking over some section of a local restaurant. It was rather humorous. I nurse publicly anywhere my kiddos need to be fed, even Sunday morning when I'm working - - not during worship, but during fellowship time or adult ed. I don't use commercial "Hooter Hiders" (or other similarly named paraphernalia), but just keep it dicrete with my clothing.

    I'm sure you've seen the article from The Christian Century, probably about 2 year ago now, about the tradition of Mary nursing. Wish I could remember better when it was, but it was a good one.

    So far, it sounds like folks are doing well. I've got to run outside and push some kids on the swings for a little bit!

  27. Thanks SheRev! Glad to hear you have had a good experience--and that you are making it safe, by example, for other moms in your congregation. I am also recalling that my church sample may be a bit skewed given that once I moved away from grad school, where I was in the Catholic chapel or parishes, I have spent much more time in Episcopal churches. And these have nurseries, so there aren't as many babies in church in general.

  28. Sohpia, fwiw, my experience in TEC is that fewer moms are using the nursery especially for infants, and that more are nursing--yes even in church.

    My own two daughters have been pretty causal about nursing wherever they are. Not a representative sample, but more data for the mix.

  29. Sophia, thanks for your comments on my blog. I agree with both of your points. And I think that by the time Holy WEek preaching is done, I will have addressed them. There is always much more that can be said - or else we are scrambling to find anything at all to say!
    On to Monday's sermon.

  30. So sorry Sue. That makes me both sad and angry for you. ugh.
    GG- Love your idea for sermon. Dang. I 'll have to file it away for another time.
    I titled mine Palm Reading and am discussing how in the midst of all the celebratory parade and shouts of Hosanna, the sun cast a shadow on Jesus through the palms.
    In the midst of all the joy, there is a Palm reading of what is to come

  31. More good news, and thanks for sharing it, RevDrMom.

    Thanks also for the kind words, Margaret--I am glad that you experienced my comments as helpful, and that you share my concerns and plan to cover them over the course of the whole week. A last thought to consider and I will shut up: given that some people may only hear this sermon, and the tremendous power of everything said during a sermon to shape attitudes on key issues like Jesus' women disciples or the history of blaming Jews for the crucifixion, you might consider taking a few minutes to change/add just a few words in this one to ensure harmony with the whole message you are trying to get across. E.g. "by later that week the multitude of disciples, except for a few faithful women, had left...." and/or "the brutal Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, didn't want to be bothered with Jewish squabbles and claimed to wash his hands of the whole thing" or something along those lines. At least for me personally, hearing something that is personally painful, or strikes me as really problematic theologically, in a sermon is a serious distraction and makes it difficult to trust the preacher and take in the rest of the message, even if it there is a lot of good stuff in there too.

  32. On a completely different note: I got an email from my former worshipping community which pointed out that in Luke's Palm Sunday narrative, often read this liturgical year, the people throw coats/cloaks on the ground before Jesus....So they are asking people to bring coats to pass on to those in need--and including those in the procession along with palms!

  33. I am enjoying reading all your posts--it's getting me more centered.

    Tomorrow is going to CRAZY at our place, and I'm feeling a little panicky.

  34. Got cut off there...

    It's crazy because we are celebrating our 150th anniversary Confirmation Reunion along with Palm Sunday AND we begin outside with an ecumenical blessing of the palms, then process inside. We are expecting 200+ people, and we usually worship 80. Probably the largest crowd for worship in over 10 years.

    I'm trying to handle confirmation renewal, Palm Sunday and some hint toward the passion in a less-than-10-minute sermon. An impossible task!

    I do have a basic theme of "Decision Day," and the idea of making the faith our own. Jesus took on the mission God gave him and followed through by going to Jerusalem. At Confirmation, we take the faith of our parents and make it our own. It's becoming an evangelism sermon--Palm Sunday as a call to return to walking with Jesus, to renew vows made at Confirmation to follow Jesus, even to the cross.

    Thanks for the conversation--it's somehow less threatening to post here than on the sermon document...

  35. I'm back after picking up every last thing (famous last words) for the Sunday PM Stations of the Cross experience.

    Had to stop at home and am quite alarmed. I think my cat may have slipped out this morning in my early mad rush. She's never been outside before (I just moved from an apartment) but she's been itching to bolt since the weather's gotten nicer. I couldn't find her anywhere (I searched for an hour and my house ain't that big) and she's kind of like a dog -- usually at the door to greet me and definitely comes when she's called. I know she's just a cat and the world has bigger problems than this but if you could send up a prayer...

    I'm going to finish my edits, real quick, print a picture of Bridget off the computer and canvas some neighbors (maybe I'll drum up some Easter morning worshippers while I'm at it!)

  36. revjmk - you're not alone in the panic department. I just got back from the church (had to do some set up for tomorrow) and all i could think on the way home was "TOMORROW'S PALM SUNDAY!!!!!!" Ack.

    Breathe deeply - everyone, altogether now. Iiiiiiiinnnnnn.......and Ouuuuuuutttttt.

    There. That's better.

  37. Meg, definitely praying! for you and the little kitty both. This you did not need!

  38. I'll pray for the little kitty!

  39. Dear St. Anthony, please come round--Bridget's lost and must be found!

  40. Oops, no time to read all the comments just yet, but I will when I return. We had church clean-up day today and I'm off to a parishioner's house for an early dinner now. Will be back later.

    Oh, and for tomorrow we are doing Part 1: Palms; Part 2: Readings, reflection (by me), prayers, and Communion; and Part 3: Dramatic reading of the passion. So I do have a short piece to write, probably relating back to our blanket theme from Lent.

    Be back this evening!

  41. Sermon is done. Happy dance.

    Here it is. Don't let the title throw you off. I had to think up a title earlier in the week for the bulletin and all I could think of was Barbara Striesand.

  42. Oh Meg...Prayers for you and kittycat.
    Keep us updated, please

  43. Sitting down to watch (at least part of before I get interrupted) Jesus Christ Superstar under the hopeful excuse that it will give me sermon inspiration.

    THis morning I spent a couple hours at the church helping with prep for tomorrow's ham supper. Then while the kids were resting Beloved and I did some sorting of books: move, yard sale, trash.

    The sermon question of the week is Can you stop the Kingdom? Since Luke/Jesus tells us that the stones themselves will start to sing it seems dubious but there is that shadow on the horizon....

    Actually that sermon question sets the scene for Friday (Stopping the Kingdom) and Sunday (Can't stop the Kingdom). Sure hope this plan works....

  44. I love the coat drive for the Luke Palm Sunday. I'll have to tuck THAT way. We're doing a shoe drive for Soles4Souls along with the Maundy Thursday drive. I'm very LOOSELY tying it to footwashing, at least in the pitches/announcements to the congregation.

    We're at that time of day when we start to make our turn toward the evening. I see we have a few folks finished. Good for you all!

    Is there anything else anyone needs as we move on tonight? We're doing a pretty basic spaghetti for dinner. I'm happy to share!

  45. Songbird, I love the new template!

    The Entertainer had piano competition this morning where she earned highest marks. Meanwhile, SportsQueen was at a softball tourney. Original game schedule was 9, 12, & 3. SQ called at 8:30 to say a team dropped out so 12 game shifted to 10:30. Shoot! Piano with TE meant only game I could see was 3. At 3:30 that team forfeited (no show), so I paid to not see any game with my kid playing. At least the weather was beautiful (though windy) & I had a book with me.

    I guess it's time to work on the half-baked Body of Christ sermon now.

  46. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  47. Meg, my heart goes out to you! Is there a possible hiding place under your porch or nearby? Some years ago, the (indoor) kitty I had at the time got out the day I was to return from my vacation. I was a wreck - crying like a baby (it was the same summer my father died). It turned out that he was terrified and hiding under my front porch. My neighbor heard his tiny "meow". So, we lured him out with his favorite treats: Pounce, by shaking the can.

    I'm doing palms, but looking forward to the rest of the week. I was caught by the Christian Century link on textweek: "What do the palms say?" and will be citing a good bit from there.
    Blessings to all this week!

  48. Oh Meg - I'm so sorry. I hope kitty comes home soon!

  49. It is 7:30 my time and i still don't have a clue. I am really whiny tonight. Hormones or spring fever or exhaustion before Holy Week. Maybe all three.
    Still praying for kitty, Meg

  50. Thanks Sophia! It started off as a joke suggestion from the secretary, but I loved it! She still can't believe we're doing it. I told her to keep telling me her jokes!

  51. Ooops! I was trying to delete one of my own posts, but I accidently deleted one of Sophia's. Totally not offensive or anything. Sorry about that. I just clicked on the wrong trash can! Sorry Sophia!

  52. So, anyway, it's kind of quiet around here, so I hope folks are having productive evenings. 1-4, it'll come.

    I'm not preaching tomorrow, but I do need to read through the passion a few times to find my cadence and how I want to emphasize things. Also I need work on my Adult Ed class on lament. It's the last in the series about evil/suffering/God's absence. To keep it seasonal, I think I'll use Jesus' prayers/laments over Jerusalem and probably even Psalm 22 that he quotes from the cross. I've got some great resources, so tonight I will just need to make my lesson plan.

    Kids are in the bath and will soon be in bed. Will be back shortly to check in!!!

    Meg - - I hope you find the kitty soon. My cat has always been an inside cat, and about a year ago she snuck out when a babysitter was here. I didn't know if she had enough natural instincts to make it back, but she did. HOpe you find yours soon!

  53. Prayers for a lost kitty to find her way back home again!

    I'm back and slowly chipping away at this reflection...and sipping a Starbucks venti hazelnut mocha to try and stay awake long enough to finish! If I get done early enough, I would like to work on Easter's bulletin.

    Dancing With God...we are doing something very similar to your plan for tomorrow, except we're doing it for the Sunday after Easter...songs and stories of the resurrection! Basically Lessons and Carols for Easter, since I will be on vacation. Hmm, need to work on that too...

    Sophia, what you are writing on sounds fascinating! I am no help, but just wanted to say that.

  54. I are definitely preaching Psalms this week and saving the Passion until Thursday/Friday (split between the two).

    But on a really happy note -- we are consecrating our new building tomorrow; it has reached completion and even better -- it's all paid off!

    Praise be to God and Hallelujah!

  55. Trying to stay focused. Feeling weary after a long week and a consistory retreat this AM (it was supposed to be in February and moving it to before Holy Week was a bad idea). Just doing Palms tomorrow with a hint toward the Passion. Wishing I was doing more of a scripture and song / silence piece instead (now I know for next year!). Steep learning curve in the first year, right?

    Praying for the sermon fairy to show up and fast! Wrestling with the Luke text that doesn't give us hosanna or palms. And pondering peace, particularly in the midst of all the violent happenings following Healthcare Reform.

  56. No problem SheRev, and thanks for the props, SemFem. I am really enjoying the project--just wish I had gotten more done on my other research today than I did. But I don't teach Mondays, and have a light day Tuesday (test for one class, already made up, and "available for consultation on research papers in the other"--and no prep for Thursday which is a holiday, yayy)...So hopefully I can focus on the other projects then, since if I am accepted for the nursing Mary one I will have added another deadline to a crowded May.

  57. Margaret, I love the idea of the jokes; that would be such fun and a great reminder that laughter is one of God's gifts.

    Sue, I think the changing seats idea is brilliant; I am going to tuck that one away. For those who aren't able to move easily, you can still encourage everyone to look around and feel the confusion of the mixed up/less familiar faces near them; at least in the churches I've been in, the human landscape is generally virtually the same every week and one is easily lulled into ease of it!

    Family service for me tomorrow; I'll focus on Palm Sunday, as we do a great GF stations for families. We're going to make crosses from our palms fronds, and that will let me introduce the transition.

    Thinking ahead to Easter Vigil and Easter Day sermons, plus a couple of school chapels, one of which will include guests visiting for Super Seniors day.

    Lasagna in the oven; stop on by in an hour if you'd like some :-)

  58. Reverend Mommy, congratulations on the new, **paid off** building! May tomorrow be a day of much joy for everyone.

  59. Ugh! It's 1 am here in Scotland. And the clocks go forward tonight.No idea what I'm saying to kids tomorrow after their procession. Maybe it's too obvious - just wanted to have a bit more fun with them. We'll see. However, I have got all my holy Week services done now. Just Easter Sunday to firm up on. So it's been a good day, although a bunny hunt this morning meant I had to nap a couple of hours tonight and earth hour meant I lost another hour! I'm going to sleep and hope I awake with some ideas for kids. Some left over hot cross buns here if anyone is feeling peckish.

  60. Betsy, I must have been writing my comment when you posted. Your transition from palms to crosses has just given me inspiration. Thanks. This site always comes up trumps doesn't it? Blessings

  61. Kitty update - I've done everything I can think of doing. The neighbors have a picture & contact info. I waited until dark and did another flashlight search. I've read up on the internet about luring a cat home -- got some food out and some of her toys in my yard (b/c she needs her "scent" to feel comfortable coming out). Found a logical hiding spot for her near the house and put a dirty fleece of mine there to attract her to the scent. All that is left to do is wait and pray and NOT CRY tomorrow at church!
    Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.

  62. THe Sunday after Easter is known as "Holy Humor Sunday" and celebrates the great joke God, in Christ, played on the Evil One. IT ties in nicely if we use a Christus Victor understanding of the atonement.

    I found a couple places that describe it well. The opening words of this service and this website

  63. Did some more translation and I have had it for the day....Thanks for the good company and blessings to everyone still writing, and for worship tomorrow. Good night!

  64. Looking ahead, we are doing Holy Humor Sunday for the week after Easter as well. It'll be our 3rd year, and it's wildly popular. We end up with good attendance on "Low Sunday" and everyone looks forward to it. It's a nice break for me and lifts me out of the post-Easter letdown.

    If anyone wants more info, let me know--I'll get to it.

    If anyone wants distraction, you can listen to our Broadway version of the Easter story from last year's service here.

  65. Mir, it took me 3 years in my first solo call to figure it out! Well, the first I had only been here a couple of months, and hadn't done the "high holy days" yet, so it definitely didn't seem right. I hadn't really heard of the ideas yet then either. So why I didn't figure it out last year, I don't know. Very happy for it this year!

  66. Okay, here are my late in the game preliminary (okay round three of preliminary) thoughts. That said, I feel sort of like I did when I had a pressing assignment in college--perhaps tomorrow a snow day? :) Actually, given my 9th month of pregnancy, my thoughts are more along the line of..."if I went into labor I wouldn't have to preach this week." Okay, so here it is...
    it's our sin.
    he died for us.
    this is the tender love the collect speaks of...
    Jesus did not come to gather the righteous, but flawed human beings. When we say crucify him we are owning that, we own our participation in the evils of this world...and in doing so we are like Peter, we are like Judas, we are like Pilate--all of whom are subject to grace just as much as we are. The forgiveness, the resurrection, they lose their meaning if we aren't able to own that we NEED Jesus to save us.

    What happens when every day is a feast day? The feast loses it's meaning--if we do not take the time to confess in our liturgy does the peace make any sense, would communion lose its impact?

    What will Easter mean if we lose the meaning of the feast because we've never acknowledged that anything is wrong...that we are in need of redemption.

    God's response of love is to our need...we need God in our lives and we need Christ...and we need to acknowledge that through all of this.

    I am a Christian b/c God knows how much it can suck, how awful it can be, God knows our pain, our blood, our love and our strength. God understands what it is to be betrayed, what it is to anger, what it is to mourn, what it is to the most intimate, human of ways. The gift of Jesus is the gift of knowing, of understanding. And, if we deny our participation in the evils of the world we are denying God's ability to redeem us.

    So, if anyone is STILL working feel free and thanks to the preacher party for the inspiration!

  67. Sounds good to me, Joy! (And so does going into labor, but not for me, I'm 2 months behind you so that would not be a good way to get out of tomorrow!)

  68. Prayers for you preachers for tomorrow and the whole week upcoming. I'll be hanging with the kids in the morning, hoping my caterpillars stay in their chrysalids through tomorrow, and then hatch in time for an Easter release. My duties this week are mostly of the read scripture/set up the stations kind. But I'm married to a preacher too, so I feel your pain....

  69. Okay, I think I'm done with the very short reflection (648 words), but I am starting to get panicky that I have forgotten something and nervous in general about the whole Holy Week thing. UGH. Are we done yet?

  70. Congrats semfem! I say just go over your week day by day and think through what you think you may need for each day. I bet you're good to go!

    So, either we were all very well prepared this week, or we're celebrating Earth Hour all day, or we're too stressed to even check in with the RevGals and Pals. This has not been as rowdy of a party as I anticipated! I hope and pray that's a good thing.

    I'm about done with my Sunday School lesson so I'm going to hit the hay! It's not even 11:00 p.m. here so I can hardly believe this. Usually, though when I actually have the opportunity to sleep on a Saturday night before a working Sunday SOMETHING keeps me up - sick kid or anxiety that I forgot to do something. So far one kid is coughing (and the other HID the asthma medicine sometime today - for real!) in his sleep, but I know I have done everything I need to for tomorrow. Hopefully the cough doesn't get too bad!

  71. Joy, I read your comment too quickly the first time but the 2nd time it struck me how well this expresses part of what I want to say about confirmation which is in the midst of the Palm/Passion worship service. Thanks!

  72. She Rev, Hid so it doesn't have to be taken? I'm surprised mine never tried that one but then again, I stockpile asthma meds as much as possible. Too many scary trips to ER with her when she was quite little.

    That Earth Hour seemed longer than an hour since I wasn't working on the sermon during it.

    I am really the only one left for the party?

  73. No - hid with good intentions. (This makes me sound like "Mother of the Year" for leaving meds within reach of the children, but whatever.)

    The almost 5 year old apparently saw the almost 3 year old starting to touch the little plastic tubes of liquid medicine that goes in the nebulizer (COMPLETELY child-proof containers we and the kids have found out on other occasions when they have tried to help). Trying to keep him from doing that, she took the tubes and put them on a shelf in her closet. Thanks for the help. From there they have disappeared.

    Both kids get a kick out of using the nebulizer when they need it, so it's not to avoid taking it at all. Luckily I have an OB appointment with our family doc on Monday afternoon so I can get a new Rx. Of course, our refills are out. Ugh.

    The boy doesn't need 'em too bad right now, but it would help him sleep better!

  74. I guess so, Vicar, unless 1-4 or a West Coast compatriot is still out there somewhere sermonizing! I'm heading to bed now. I think I've got everything...Good Friday parts to hand out...dramatic reading ready...Blankets+ DVDs to be shown...just need to print the sermon, make a note about the announcements, and I should be done.

    Oh crap, I was going to make those baby blankets really quick for the visual. Maybe I can still do that. And THEN bed.

    She Rev...this may be the calm before the storm!

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation tomorrow (even if it happens to be not in a sermon).

  75. I am over 2/3 done. Just dropping in to see how everyone is doing?
    Anybody want a peanut butter cracker, a ginger ale, or some haystacks?
    We are closing in on the 100.

  76. I am guessing a lot of folks have cantatas tomorrow?
    One day I will rememeber and do Lessons and Carols.

  77. Goodness, it's been awhile since I've been the new format!

    Praying for lost kitties and preachers dealing with attitudes...

    Tomorrow is a big day for my congregation. Ok, really, it's a big day for me. We are merging with another church and tomorrow we bring in our pledges as we covenant to work together through the next 12 months. If the numbers are good, I get to stay...if not...well, the cabinet has one more name to consider. sigh. I want to stay.

    As far as a sermon goes, this time I'm going in with my heart and no papers...Jesus is entering Jerusalem, filled with commitment to God. Will we enter this new chapter with commitment?

    Blessings to all in your preparation and prophetic witness...

  78. Blessings on your day and your merger, RevSis!!!

    OK - so I didn't actually go to bed when I said I would, but I am now. My 16 pt, 1.5 line spacing version of the passion reading is currently printing. I sort of read through it again, but with as much attention as I could have. I will tomorrow morning over breakfast!

  79. Major prayers RevSis. My heart did a little flip flop for you. Hope all goes well.
    Incredible sounding sermon thought

  80. SheRev and 1-4, thank you. I know this is God at I have to step aside and not add me in! Please keep us in your prayers.

  81. For sure ,RevSis.
    Blessings to all who contnue to work. Prayers for those who are feeling under the weather and special prayers for the lost kitty.
    I am at 1335 words and calling it done.
    Maybe the congregation will be happy for a shorter sermon. We have a trumpeter for prelude and offeretory tomorrow.And, of course, the children's Palm parade. Always fun.
    So, I am heading to bed.
    Hugs to all!

  82. I just hit print for the sermon.

    She Rev I completely understand the asthma med stuff. I learned the hard way to stockpile and had a great pulmonary nurse that helped me do it after she had to "deal with" the ex one time over meds. She was so incredibly helpful in many ways.

    RevSis, you and your church(es) are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Now, I need to get the prayers for tomorrow together.

    And, semfem, you reminded me that I, too, need to hand out "parts" for GF. Shoot! I don't even have them copied or organized in any way. I hate it when I forget that kind of stuff! It's probably an indication of my denial that we are beginning Holy Week.

  83. She Rev, I'm thinking that a mom who teaches a 5 yo to be protective of a 3 yo is doing a fine job as a mom.

    Now that I stop to think about it, when mine were 5 & 3, the 5 yo could put the nebulizer together and knew that it needed a dropper of the brown bottle with 2 squirts from the white bottle (old school albuterol & saline). Of course by the time she was 11 she had forgotten anything related to asthma or protecting her little sister ... in an age appropriate way, of course.

    I'm ready to go to bed now. I was slightly tempted to tell Easter jokes to get us over 100 but I'm just too tired.

    Blessings on your Sunday

  84. Good morning and blessings on all as you prepare (or even are done!) proclaiming in a variety of ways. May your worship be filled with the Spirit!

  85. (Oh yeah - - and the meds were found this morning. I kept forgetting to just check the 5 year old's dresser top, so I did it first thing after I came upstairs. There they were. Kids are happy on the couch with one "reading" to the other while his lungs are being cleared as we speak. Thank God!)

  86. Checking in to see if there was any word from Meg....


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