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Saturday, April 24, 2010

The 11th Hour Preacher's Party: Plain and Clear, OK?

(photo from the files of Mompriest of a dust storm in the Sonora Desert)

The Easter season is clipping along at a rapid pace. Our readings this week are moving at good clip too - from Peter and the raising of Tabitha (showing the power and potential for new life that is now in the disciples) to the beloved and comforting 23rd Psalm and verses from Revelation (often used in memorial and funeral services) and leaving us with a question for Jesus and a plea to tell them plainly who He is.

Is it plain and clear to you where you are going with your sermon this week? Or, are you struggling to decide which text, what illustration, and what point to make? Do you have something you'd LOVE to say, plain and clear, but, uhm, need to say more delicately? Are you going with different texts entirely or do you have a theme for the Easter season that you are working on?

Whatever direction you are going in we are here to help, share ideas, offer feedback, or just keep you company. Here you will find laughter, compassion, care, and always a good cup of coffee or tea, fair trade of course! Pull up a chair and join the party.


  1. I can't believe I'm first! preaching a little bit to the early service on Sunday...tempted to talk about Tabitha! and the way Acts underlines that "disciples do what Jesus did"...not sure whether to emphasize the Talitha/Tabitha pairing -- what's y'all's thinking about that one?

  2. I have not preached the last 2 Sundays [a conference then a week off], and have decided to go off lectionary for 4 weeks. Using a resource from Iona with 4 monologues from people whose lives were transformed by meeting Jesus. This week the woman caught in adultery - she tells it from her perspective. But it is quite challenging material and language. 2 people have told me they couldn't read the piece as it is too confronting, and I'm not sure I can say ‘bitch’ in a way that sounds even vaguely natural, so I'll change a few words. Next week the leper tells of the meeting with the priest, then the woman with a haemorrhage, and the crippled man by the pool. Why are the women’s parts more challenging. Tomorrow, I’m letting the gospel and monologue speak for themselves with a reflection time with a slide asking people to think of where in their story they can remember being offered forgiveness and hope.

    Then off to another congregation to help them think about what their future may look like and what place a minister would have in those plans. So far I get the impression they want to be just like they are and have a minster come and hold their hand while they die out. Some say they want young people, but there is little willingness to change anything about the life of the church, so I’m not optimistic. But last week I was reminded that the church is God’s – so anything is possible.

    Happy sermon writing

  3. CR: I say, go for it. And, why are you up so early. For that matter, why am I up so early - 5:12am where I am....sigh. Well, it's a drizzly rainy morning, think I'll start the coffee and do my morning prayers.

  4. PRL - I like the resources from Iona and their monologues and meditations. Sounds like you could use a cup of coffee to fortify you for the rest of your day - sad how many congregations are just like the one you'll see later.

  5. well my sermon is done, I wrote it quickly and in a bit of a funk over some family stuff I can do nothing about! Will probably re-visit it later, could do with some feed back to know if I have seen the wood from the trees!

  6. Prayers for your situation PRL that is really tough, I love Iona's material, it wakes us up and makes us think!

  7. the monologues are in a book called Dandelions and Thistles. thanks for your comments. I am amazed at people's creativity, and grateful they are willing to share.

    nearly time for bed, here it is almost 10pm on Saturday night.
    may God bless you.

  8. I feel back asleep, on the sofa, with a cat on my hip....a little stiff here as I pour coffee...

    Welcome Sally!

  9. I'm off lectionary doing a brief series on (Shhhh!) spiritual disciplines. I've titled the series spring training, introduced the need last week, this week is "cardio" getting our heart ready (prayer, bible study, meditation, and submission).

    Biggest challenge, not trying to fit too much in. Since I've taught Adult ed (not here) where we did a 13 week study with a discipline (or 2) each week for an hour; this is a squeeze. But I need to keep them alert and try to throw a seed into a HS crevice.

  10. I'm home from the BE3 feeling refreshed and ready to return to leading worship. I have no breakfast plans due to hitting the Cruise buffet regularly. Glad to be with you all!

  11. Joyful alleluias! Tomorrow is a choir cantata, so that is the "sermon"...

    ...but I get to preach at my partner's ordination in the afternoon! Wondering if there's precedent? Do any of you know an example of someone giving the homily for a spouse's ordination?

    A.N. Agape, I love the "spring training" idea! I'd love to follow that theme sometime.

  12. I'm also home from BE3 and feel like I might not need to eat for a week in order to recover...
    I'm preaching this week on the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23 and the not-lectionary part of John 10 about the one flock one shepherd thing) and somehow tying that in to the day of prayer and action for Colombia, the focus of which this year is Internally Displaced People. Cuz that should be an easy connection, right?

    First, though, I have to go see off the middle schoolers who've been at a lock in last night (thank the Lord I didn't have to go to that when I walked off the plane last night!), then meet a couple who want me to baptize their lovely baby....and then possibly have officer training (I'm not sure). I should be back around lunchtime, which is likely right around the time my resolve about not eating as much as I did on the cruise will crumble. :-)

  13. all that talk of food is making me hungry, thanks for your comments mompriest they really helped!

  14. Good to "see" you all here this morning. I'm off lectionary, or rather back in last week. I loved the John passage and the Acts passage from last week so much, I decided to do John last Sunday and conversion story in Acts this Sunday.

    So I may go hang out in last Saturday's party for some ideas ...

    Fresh snickerdoodle cookies were left at my door. There's some milk in the frig as well.

  15. I took 3 days of vacation this week. The bulletin was done before I left, but sermon prep waited until I returned.

    Using Ps 23 and Acts 2: 42-47 (describing the early church). Using Psalms 23 with God as the ultimate all situations...and the early church's ideal attempt to be caring and reaching out.

  16. All of a sudden the party jump-started! Welcome everyone!! Seems as if everyone has a full plate today even if eating less is the hope. Glad the comments helped, Sally.

  17. I snuck some sticky buns off the cruise and offer them as food for bellys and thought... the martinis will come later!

    Not preaching, thank goodness! It's Confirmation Sunday and I'll be leading the confirmation liturgy AND baptizing one of my confirmands. Yay!

  18. Morning everyone! Pink Dragon, what a tremendous joy....Congrats to you both.

    I have tons of writing to do in the next month: seminary and internship recommendations for my ordinand in a week, a conference paper to present in three (half writte), and a last minute acceptance for another conference paper in four (many sources collected but no writing or assembling of PowerPoint slides yet). However, after a wonderful but intense year being back in the college classroom my body has had enough and insisted on rest by picking up a cold. So I will be resting and reading and trusting that I will be able to get writing again in time to get everything done.

    Welcome home to BE attenders and good energy for the sermonizing.

  19. Good morning! (Or afternoon if it is) I'm not preaching tomorrow since I have a Continuing Ed Sunday, but I'm a women's gathering preaching an old sermon this afternoon. Just signed on to a computer at the hosting church when I realized that I left my sermon at home. Thank goodness I caught my husband before he left, so he could e-mail it to me. Doh!

    Preaching this at 2:15 then running to meet my family in the Cities for a surprise (for the kids anyway) overnight at a hotel with a waterpark attached. My husband has to go back to church in the morning since the bell choir is playing, but he'll come back to meet us and play on the waterslides some more tomorrow.

    Just thought I'd check in since I had an unexpected chance. Peace and blessings on you all1

  20. She Rev - so glad you were able to get that waterpark/hotel night away in! Have fun :)

  21. If anyone needs a fabulous digital picture of a stained glass Good Shepherd window, complete with "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want," let me know; I have a really nice one from our church (actually, I have loads, from Pope Leo and Columba to Bonhoeffer and Rosa Parks, Desmond Tutu and Margaret of Scotland...).

    Althea, I like the spring training idea!

    PRL, may the Spirit be swirling about in the room as you meet with that congregation, helping them see God's future for them.

    Rev. Pink Dragon, the only ordination sermon I truly remember was given about 25 years ago by a (not ordained) husband at his wife's ordination. It was incredible, and I bet yours will be too.

    She Rev, have fun at the waterpark!

  22. Welcome home to all the BE 3.0 attenders!!! Good to have you back.

    I've been "off" this week (though it didn't feel like a day off yesterday when it started with an un-Godly-hour Breakfast Meeting). But hey, what can you do, right?

    Anywho, I have zero clue where I'm going yet for the sermon tomorrow, but I feel drawn to preach on the 23rd Psalm. I haven't done so for a very long time and our congregation has had some major losses in the past few weeks. The words are so comforting that it really feels like the right text.

    Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to say about it without making the sermon sound like a funeral homily.

  23. Hello everyone, welcome back, etc.!

    Before I do any sermon prep, I really need to finish up a newsletter article, and by that I mean begin. And figure out what we are going to do about a bulletin insert I promised but haven't done a lick of work on yet.

    I'm actually thinking about breaking the "rules" and preaching Peter and Tabitha that allowed on Good Shepherd Sunday?? Whatever it is, it has to be short as we have several other presentations to fit in and I shortened the liturgy wherever possible to make that happen.

    I love the idea of "spring training" to file that one away somewhere!

  24. Lovely sunny day here. This morning I have been sitting high above the Dorset Gap, surrounded by sheep, drinking in the view for miles around and hoping for inspiration. I think I will go with the alternative collect.

    Risen Christ, faithful shepherd of the sheep; teach us to hear your voice and follow your command that all your people may be gathered into one flock to the glory of God the Father. Amen

  25. Hello RevGals!
    I have the day off from sermon prep -- tomorrow is our annual Service Sunday. Our congregation goes out to several work sites after a brief liturgy and then returns again to celebration/testimony.
    My week was full of admin. and pastoral care culminating in a funeral yesterday (using both Psalm 23 and Rev. 7 I might add!)
    So now I'm letting the primer dry on a paint project and making some microwave pizza. It's not much but you may share...
    Blessing to all who are writing (and ditto almost everyone on the kudos for "spring training")

  26. Sounds perfect Glorious Things! It has been lovely in Yorkshire too :-)

  27. I'm preaching on John and I have some notes on my laptop at home. Not sure it will work, but I have some ideas about "how do we know who Jesus is?" But right now I am sitting in my office finishing up a large print bulletin for my 91 y-o retired priest associate, and I've come from having just done a funeral.

    It's a gorgeous spring day here, and the cemetery was lovely, but the bagpiper playing Amazing Grace just about did me in. I continue to be called to do funerals for people I've never met (that comes with the territory of being a newbie I guess) but I continue to be touched by how grace-filled they end up being.

    As soon as my printer stops I'm heading home to change out of the clergy duds, have lunch and get to the sermon.

    Still waiting for a Saturday with nothing "extra....."

    And do you suppose a priest in vestments driving a red Beetle might have looked a bit incongruous amidst all the black caddies in the funeral procession :)

  28. Welcoem home to BE3 folks. Glad you are all safe and sound.
    I am not preacing as we wil serve as a neutral pulpit tomorrow for another church.
    I am preaching on this weeks Acts text next week, so looking for early inspiration.
    Blessings PRL.Rain and thunderstormas here all day. Good sleep weather

  29. Newsletter article: CHECK (yay!)
    Bulletin insert: NO CHECK
    Sermon: NO CHECK

    Time for a cup of tea...there's plenty to share, let me make a pot.

  30. I am giving thanks that I am not preaching on Sunday. I am doing "everything" else. I came home from BE 3 to a crashed laptop which is in addition to the desktop with a bad sector on the hard drive that I did know I was leaving behind. That's 2 out of 3 computers down in significant ways. Already took the laptop in for repair and hoping they actually can repair it. But that kind of messes with writing a sermon or anything else that has typing on a computer. But the more I look at this screen, the more "seasick" I feel. So, all in all, I'm glad I'm not preaching. Blessings on your Sunday

  31. so obviously, instead of writing a sermon, it is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT that I upload pictures from the BE3. obviously.

  32. And instead of working on my sermon, it's much more important for me to look at your pics teri.

    Love the video of amy and the towel elephant :)

  33. Tea please, or something to wake me up. Althea love the spring training idea. Must file it away for next year.

    Just back from work day at the church. We got a lot done but I was covered in pollen. I changed clothes but long for a bath.

    Sermon on Acts for tomorrow and I'm steeling myself to read what I wrote at 10 last night. I'm not hopeful but who knows. Can I pray that God will edit it for me so I can have tea in the bathtub?

  34. Newsletter article: CHECK
    Bulletin insert: CHECK ( wouldn't think it would take two hours to do a bulletin insert, but apparently it does)

    And now, on to the sermon: NO CHECK

    Maybe a quick walk before that.

  35. Meg, that is such a neat idea about the Service Sunday. How do you decide on the projects? Do people go in large groups or arrange things individually?

  36. hey all - welcome back, cruisers! sounds like a good time was had.

    I am done with the funeral, off to a hosp visit or maybe 2, then home for the rest of the day to hang with the family, I hope.

    just came back from an incredible preaching conference, so my preaching will be speaking from my heart and retelling some of the stories I heard there, which means nothing to write but much to think about on ACTS and esp the topic of "he reached out a hand and helped her up."

    For the kids, I'm cutting out hand prints with "A Helping Hand for You" on them. Inviting them to give them to someone they can help in some way.

    Pink Dragon - congrats to you and your partner - that is really exciting!

    I'm still shaking my head over that note on the Thursday Ask The Matriarch thing. There MUST be a sermon in THAT somewhere!!!

  37. Love reading all of these newsy bits and seeing what God is up to in your corner of the world...

    I finished my last seminary paper (thanks be to God) and spent most of the listening to a friend who is agonizing over her mother's condition (in the hospital with Congestive Heart Failure.) I listened because I had no words of wisdom.

    praying for all of you...

  38. Sooooo...what's going on? The party seems to have quieted down? Can I perk it up with chocolate and tea?...Plenty here, of all varieties....

    I spent the mid part of my day at the gym: besides the usual elliptical (20 minutes) I took a strength building class, 60 minutes (yikes) and then had to go soak in the pool and do a few gentle laps. I followed that with a soak in the hot tub...and then a protein shake with fresh rapsberries - and broke the crown on my tooth on a raspberry seed. sigh. oh well.

    Hope the writing is going well and everyone has what they need.

  39. I might habe pushed the envelope just a bit with this sermon, here..

    I may not be preaching...feeling quite blech today...hope it is not the flu.

  40. Food related, not sermon: can I make fresh coleslaw (cabbage, crushed pineapple, mayo dressing) this afternoon for tomorrow's coffee hour? Hoping for a quick answer, as I'm going out for the rest of the day in a couple hours, so it's now or never!

  41. Besty, aside from being allergic to pineapple :-( it sounds delicious. Is it usual for you to have something besides cookies and coffee cake at coffee hour? :-)

    Purple, I'm heading over to read your sermon. Hope you are ok and not getting sick, ick....

  42. Ok, 2nd wind here, which means I'll crash early but that would be good! I'm happy with the sermon, which means I'd better look at it again later. On to the prayers. I told my daughter that I was concerned that some of my message sounded a bit like the BORG, "your distinctiveness will be added to ours..." and I haven't even watched a Star Trek movie lately. (Altho I did start following Leonard Nimoy and William shatner on twitter.)
    I'm not posting the whole thing at my regular place, but if I put it up on my wordpress site, I'll add a link here. My general idea is up there so if you are a quilter, feel free to comment.

  43. okay, so I took a nap but awoke both uninspired and un-refreshed. Still feel my couch moving like a boat, especially when I look at the computer screen.

    So far: 0 words. I do have a teensy idea, though...but it's so small I have no clue if it will work. We'll see.

  44. Hello all,

    Back from the boat. I've been feeling the waves all day. I just got done taking a nap with my kitteh and taking a walk with my sweetie. I'm not preaching tomorrow, thank goodness for the congregation. They would have to see me rocking with the waves in the pulpit and then they would get seasick.

  45. Finally home after preparing for and then feeding 24 youth and advisors for their "break-the-fast" after they did a 30 Hour Famine. I'm so proud of them! They raised money for hunger relief, but even more, they learned so much and had many eye-opening experiences.

    Now on to my sermon notes to try and make something of them.

    Purple, loved your sermon. Your version of Psalm 23 at the end reminds me of the folks in this congregation I serve - they are the most generous, hospitable group I have known. Could I possibly use it? I would of course give attribution!!

  46. okay, it's been an hour and I still have 0 words written. This does not bode well....sigh. I seem to have left my motivation in the Bahamas.

  47. Thanks, Mompriest! Yes, our coffee hours usually range between a light brunch and an all out meal after all 3 of our services. Unique...and delicious :-)

  48. I, too, took a nap and woke up feeling uninspired...and cold. You would think the front went through while I was asleep, but apparently not. So bundled up in fleece and nibbling on artichoke bruschetta (help yourself, it's delicious!), I am back to work.

    I guess I'm worried that Peter and Tabitha won't be ENOUGH for a sermon and everyone will leave feeling disappointed I didn't preach on sheep. But I had really hoped to make this a whole series on Acts. I guess the answer to just to start and see how it goes, if I need to work something else in there.

    I hear all you BE3ers about the motion of the ocean...I distinctly remember that being an issue after my one and only cruise! (I also got both sick and seasick on mine, so I hope yours went much, much better. Sounds like it did.)

  49. Eileen, of course you may use it.

  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. I'm off to shower and probably to bed early. Sorry to leave behind the party tonight. Here's the full version of the sermon if it will help move anyone else along tonight you are free to take anything that you may find helpful. (No promises that there's anything worth taking there.)
    Catch y'all in the morning.
    (Sorry that was my delete b/c I linked it wrong.)

  52. Wow, I doubted that the Tabitha story could be enough for a whole sermon, and Nancy has clearly just proven me wrong. Bravo! Excellent sermon.

  53. I really really really need a way in. Can I just start by talking about being on a cruise and hope that gets me to sheep and internally displaced people?

    what's that you say, that doesn't sound like it'll make any sense? well....making sense is so overrated...

  54. Teri, I would go for it. At least start writing it that way, and see where it leads you. Can't you tie in Uncle driving you to Bonefish with our need for a shepherd?
    (Great advice from someone who has the day off tomorrow, right?)

  55. Finally finished. Going to let it sit for a bit before I reread and print.

    And I managed to avoid the whole "good shepherd" thing on Good Shepherd Sunday by focusing knowing Jesus by what he did and the world knowing Jesus by what we do. There is a subtle (I hope) message in there about some 'bad' behavior I've witnessed in a few members of the congregation lately, too.

    It is sooo much harder for me to write when I don't get to start until sometime in the afternoon. I really need to work on changing my writing habits so busy Saturdays don't get me this way.

    Hoping to hear more about BE3; it sounds like you had a great time.

  56. ooh, Songbird...Uncle! excellent suggestion. Plus he was hilarious, so that should help, right????

  57. Expresso martinis for everyone!

    And now I kinda wish I was preaching, Songbird. Great way in.

    Wait, no, I don't wish I was preaching. :) But I will store that thought away for later!

  58. Tomorrow we have (belated) girl scout Sunday, and I'm drawn to Tabitha/Dorcas. I want to talk about the girl scout law and promise--how these values inspire action, not dogma. And Tabitha, her concrete expressions of love were embodied, literally, worn on the bodies of the least of these--and when death came for her, the community could not let her go. Her life not glamorous or exceptional--she didn't do anything anyone couldn't have done--but very few of us do what we can do, every day, in and out. So, Tabitha experiences resurrection...not an early church theologian, but this woman disciple, who really had already been living in the Kingdom. And I'd like to draw a connection between Tabitha, the scouts and the rest of us--that really we believers are all called to be scouts--running ahead/leading the way to the Kingdom, bravely walking in unexplored territory. something this way...thoughts?
    And I'd also like to add a little aside about Peter showing up and not preaching a memorial--but through the power of God raising her up. Not accepting that death was the only option and asking us to put a brave face on and find comfort in what death leaves us, but transforming it. And challenging all of us that while we may not (may not) have the power to resurrect the dead, we certainly do have the power to bring life out of death--whether that's by working to end hunger, provide health care, work for peace...etc. That supernatural miracles are not God's only options for raising someone up--like Tabitha we can use the gifts we have to help usher in the Kingdom, and like Tabitha we too may become occasions of grace.

  59. espressso martini's here, but I do have herbal tea and chocolate drop shortbread cookies....and I've enjoyed reading the sermons offered here. Can't wait until I get to preach again on a regular basis....sigh

  60. okay, i wrote something. It's not inspiring, or even particularly good, but it will do. And today that will have to be enough.
    feedback welcome--I still have 11 hours to make edits! :-)

  61. Well friends, it's been a blast hosting the party - the sermons I've read have all been very different but ALL wonderful. Preach the Word, Break Open that Word, and let the Spirit resonant around.

    Me. I'm calling it a day, last one up get the lights, 'K?

  62. Well, since Teri finished, and She-Rev, Vicar, and 1-4 Grace are not preaching tomorrow, I may be the only regular member of the late shift I'll get the lights, Mompriest.

    I do have an introduction written, so that's 315 words...more to go...

  63. 692 words...trucking right along...

    Perchance, anyone else out there?

  64. semfem, I'm still out there but barely. trying to wrap it up and struggling. praying you're making good progress!

  65. Mir, good to have you here! Hang in there, you can do it!

    I took a quick Facebook back to work.

  66. Calling it a night, Semfem! Trusting the HS to make this one stick on delivery. Sorry to leave you to turn the lights out...

  67. Thank you all for your prayers. The drama went well this morning, the reader changed some words, so it was not so confronting to speak.

    then to the other congregation, and there seemed something, maybe the HS has been busy. Some still want no change, but as one person mentioned, a few new faces helps us be more positive about the future. a few in this place is 10%. and if there might be a future, we need to think of what that might be!
    God bless you all as you preach and lead in various ways , and especially Pink Dragon as you preach at your partners ordination.

    see you all next week, I'm off for 24 hours away with my husband.

  68. Oops. I don't think I've ever been this late to the party. I spent 10 hours at Dulles airport on Wednesday and made a good start on the sermon but, somehow just couldn't get back to it when I finally got home. And jet lag has meant every time I sit down, I fall asleep. Finally it's done
    Happy preaching everyone.
    And BE3ers, hope you get your landlegs back soon but keep the glow from the retreat!

  69. Ugh. I just fell asleep for several hours and now need to finish up. It's so close, I have enough words, I've said what I want to say...I just need to find an appropriate ending.

    Looks like we'll just leave the lights on!

  70. Okay, I think I'm finally finished. I'll just leave the lights on and start the coffee for the early birds.

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching and proclamation today (even if it's already happened!).

  71. Good Morning! It's rainy here and I could have slept a long time but I'm up and the coffee is brewing. Have a good day everyone!


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