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Saturday, September 04, 2010

11th Hour Preacher Party: Shaped by God Edition

Good morning, gals and pals! (or, good middle of the night, if that's when you are reading this...) It's (for many of us), the End of Summer Sunday, or Labor Day Weekend.  It's also the Sunday when Jesus weighs in on the cost of discipleship, when Paul exhorts Philemon to a transformed relationship with his slave, Onesimus, when Jeremiah reminds us that God is the potter, and we are the clay.  Very weighty thoughts, especially at this time of year.  But these remind me of the many ways that we are being shaped by God.

How are you being shaped by these texts (or others) this weekend?  How are your sermons and worship services taking shape?  Do you need a good children's sermon?  If it is Labor Day, do you have any special way of observing it in your congregation?  Inquiring minds want to know.  (I heard of one colleague who anoints her parishoners hands, and blesses the word of their hands, on Labor Day.)

 There is a really great discussion of the texts here.  There are blueberry pancakes, and turkey sausage (less fat), fair trade coffee and good earth tea here (at my virtual place, that is).  Pull up a seat and join us! 


  1. Wooo-whhooo. First one to start the party off. I am PREACHING sunday. YAY!!!
    Bad part is this pastor got sick. Poor chap.But, they called me, so I get a chance to do my thang.
    SInce i did nto get called until Friday AM, I was told to do whatever, as the bulletin is printed already.
    So, I am using a recent one from my interim. Word Verf is "recal". Uh, H to the yes!
    But, I get to party.!
    I will bring some food offerings later, but Fair Trade will be brewing in the later AM.

  2. Oh and this is not at the church where I was interim, it is my parents' church.

  3. Hey y'all!

    1-4 Grace yay for preaching!

    My text is Jeremiah. That's all I've got right now. I didn't even get a shot at my usual early in the week prep work. Haven't had time to see if there's an old one to re-work. So, really, I've got nothing, yet. Anyone who does have something from the Jeremiah text please feel free to share freely here. :)

    Hopefully, that will be different by the time I am back.

    my verification is combadis

    that's a little different from come Holy Spirit

  4. 9.00pm - finished an hour or two earlier than usual - YAY!! Preaching tomorrow on Luke. I was planning on Jeremiah, but here in Australia it is Fathers Day tomorrow [ but not Labor Day], and one of the Bible study groups asked how I could preach on Luke on Fathers Day - so I am! The cost of discipleship. Mentioning Jeremiah. God told Jeremiah to go to the Potters house, then he gets the rest of the story. Also clay can work with or against the potter, so I am talking about discipleship that is open to God moulding and shaping and reshaping.

    The person rostered for children’s talk has swapped with me, so I am looking at that as well. The children are doing Luke in Sunday School, about risk of discipleship, so I am taking a backpack and asking what I need to climb Mount Everest – I am hoping they tell me an apple and a bottle of water and a jumper aren’t enough – but it will depend on who is there.

    Camomile tea coming up.

    teh verification word is rests - whihc what I am about to do!

  5. I've got some research and an outline for Philemon, but I can tell it's going to be a struggle. Probably sending off The Boy to hand with his Dad for the morning so I can attempt to get this thing in a place not hanging quite so heavy over my head.

    Gorgeous day here so I'm going to kick it off with some contemplation on the porch, freshly ground coffee, granola, yogurt and fruit. Grab a bowl and come join me!

  6. welcome! 1-4 Grace, glad you're glad to be preaching! anytime you and bring stuff to the party, you're welcome.

    PRL -- cool. from now on I'm remembering it's Father's Day in Australia. even after all these years, I've never done a sermon on "the pottery and the clay", so I'm interested. AND thanks for the tea. I need it.

  7. I'm preaching!!!
    Soon this will no longer be amazing and wondrous. But for today it's both.
    Tomorrow is my first Sunday, and most of these texts felt like a lot to unpack on a first Sunday, so I am going with Psalm 139 and some ideas I mentioned here on Tuesday, though I have changed the title a bit.
    NYCC, my new call, has a ritual of candle-lighting for each prayer request on Communion Sundays, and I understand it's lengthy, so I'm going to keep my Communion Meditation short. I don't expect much in the way of children as it's a weird combination of some being back to school but having a 3-day weekend, some ditto but with a 4-day weekend and some not starting until Tuesday. Further, a few of the most involved families are taking their kids to our UCC church camp for a Family Weekend. And a lot of people have said, "Oh, I'm so sorry I won't be there for your first Sunday!" Because, you know, see above. Anyway, I need a children's message because I expect two little people whose dad is on duty for Communion.
    Okay, that's enough for now. Must drink coffee.

  8. and Vicar! welcome as well. I'll be looking for some major sermon inspiration re: Luke.

    kathrynzj -- I've never preached Philemon either, and I wimped out again this year.

    Welcome to you all! anything you need, I'll be happy to get.

    I am in a little preaching crisis this week, as I shared what I had with my husband last night and he said, 'it seems a little abstract.' so, I'm tearing up and starting over.

    want to do something on vocation, and read this on working preacher:

    bearing a cross has nothing to do with chronic illness, painful physical conditions, or trying family relationships. It is instead what we do voluntarily as a consequence of our commitment to JC. ...if this is true, then we are invited to take up our cross .. that is, have our life shaped by our commitment to the crucified messiah -- anywhere, anytime, and doing just about anything.

    I'm pouring coffee, anyone? will be back later.

  9. Off to the food bank for our regular distribution day. Riding home from MIL's funeral on Thursday I put my text work together into a plan. I stayed up and typed b/c I knew it would all go away when I slept.

    So, I hope to pull those pieces together this afternoon. Hubby is cooking eggs and fairtrade is brewed. Come help yourself.


  10. Diane, that quote is Philemon for me since I am leaning towards a 'what institutions would Paul be pushing us on now' sort of vibe.

  11. Martha -- so glad you're back and preaching! welcome to the party.

    I have plenty of coffee, and I need it too. I like Psalm 139, but our Lectionary has Psalm 1.

    I'll pour you another cup. I know it will help me...

  12. kathrynzj -- quote is David Lose and he quotes Alan Culpepper for part of it.

    I'm tired, have a b-day party for my husband tomorrow, and want to keep it short.

    I don't think anyone will mind.

    But, it still does have to make sense. there's the rub

  13. stalled at twelve comments...

    be back after a couple of paragraphs...

  14. Hello! I am somehow miraculously continuing my new trend of writing earlier in the week instead of being a part of the RevNightOwls. I am just about all done. I've got a little conclusion and the invitation to communion (which I'm really considering an extension to my sermon) left to write and that's it. I'm not at all thrilled with this one, but I told myself that when I'm establishing this new routine there may be some sermons that I don't like as much as others, but the healthy routine and happy wife and mommy are more important than how I feel about the sermon. The Spirit will take care of that if I take care of the rest of us. What is it that many of you say, "I will not sacrifice myself/my family on the altar of the perfect sermon." Geez that has finally hit home. (Partly since I never really realized I was doing it until I had a summer off and saw what I was like without sermon-writing Saturday nights.)

    So, anyway, we're off to the Too Big Mall and Scandinavian Furniture Maze for the morning. I'll be back in the afternoon to write my last bits during naptime, assuming and praying that Pearl actually takes one so that I can write OR that she enjoys watching football with Daddy.

    I'm on the Creation liturgies this month and working with Psalm 104 and Luke 5:1-11. The minor problem is that I preached Luke 5:1-11 almost exactly a year ago. I'm not flattering myself into thinking that they will actually remember that, though.

  15. She Rev -- welcome. Even without little ones at home, I think your new discipline is worth it.

    and I truly believe that the Spirit will be with you.

    That being said, I've re-written two paragraphs now.

    And (hehe) I know the Mall and the Scandinavian whatsit that you are referring to.

    have a good day!

  16. Preaching Luke, but I need a good feels like I talk about cost of discipleship a lot, and I need to change it up some. Not inspired at the moment.

    But it is a GORGEOUS day outside, and I don't intend to sit here at the computer all day, so I'd better get to it.

    Fresh Maine blueberries here...and heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market. I have lived on tomato sandwiches this week.

  17. I have a beginning, I think, but now I really need to take the whimpering dog out into the world. After reading about tomato sandwiches, I think our destination will be the Farmer's Market. More later.

  18. I'm not preaching Sunday for the first time in 9 weeks. On the one hand its nice to have a Sunday off. On the other hand it's not....I will hold all of you in prayer today and tomorrow as you prepare. Blessings.

  19. Martha, I'm so excited for you!

    I'm preaching Psalm 139 as well. I have the beginning in my head but not on paper, and am hoping once I get it going it will all come super-duper easy. Because that's the way it works, right? ;)

    This is my first time back in the pulpit post-vacation and I'm feeling a little wobbly!

  20. I'm preaching at a church where I served as Associate two years ago before we moved to California. I love this congregation and I'm looking forward to being in the pulpit with them. I'm doing a Luke, Deut., Psalm 1 combo about the choices we make in following God. I've words on paper but I'm trying to untie the words in my head and make sense out of all of them!

  21. Martha - tomato sandwiches! yum!

    I gotta get to church for a pre-baptism meeting...

  22. earthchick, I was right there with ya when I came back from vacation in August. And for the first time I took 2 weeks vacation and sure enough I was shaky for 2 Sundays upon my return.

    The good news is that I found a lot of that was in how I felt, and not in how the Spirit was able to work and the people were able to receive.

    Good luck!

  23. earthchick, I have felt wobbly after vacation too (even after 16 years preaching). wonder if it ever goes away?

  24. Earthchick, I'm feeling a little shaky sermon-wise too. I'm preaching tomorrow for the first time in 3 months! I've been on Sabbath Leave all summer, attending other churches and resting so I could heal from burn out.

    PRL, my very first student sermon in front of a congregation (other than my preaching class) was this Luke passage, in a retirement community on Grandparents Day. It went over pretty well, but then the congregation consisted mostly of retired pastors, pastor's wives and missionaries.

    Anyway, here I am with maybe 1/2 a page written on Luke and no real clear idea of where I 'm going from there. I do know I will be meditating on Our Lady of South Bend (Indiana) later on today, a critical component of Saturday afternoon sermon writing during this particular season. Go Irish!

  25. It was a perfectly awful week so I am ever so glad my deacon is preaching tomorrow. It is Appalachian Ministry Sunday in this Diocese and he is director of Episcopal Appalachian Ministries so this felt like a fit.

    I expect this will be a low attendance Sunday. Schools have been in session for a month so this weekend is like an early fall break for many families.

    And my daughter flies in this afternoon. I haven't seen her since Christmas so I'm excited! Another good reason not to preach tomorrow. Like I was looking for one more. ;-)

  26. Hi everyone--lots of great energy going on already.....
    I am going to work with Jeremiah least for a couple of hours and then out into the day to celebrate birthday weekend! I have a trenta ice coffee from Starbucks (bigger than venti) so I am happy to share. It's a whole pot of coffee, I swear.
    Vicar, I am glad we are using the same text! excited about your new call.
    Diane, hope the rewrite is productive!

  27. Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels shaky post-vacation. I was back in church last Sunday, but my husband was preaching, so at least it's not my first Sunday back.

    It's like riding a bike, right?

    Like others of you, I'm expecting low attendance as well. School here doesn't start until Tuesday, so it could be a weird mix of families being gone for the last holiday of the season and new students visiting ready to start college on Tuesday.

    I'm about a third of the way done and am hoping to stay focused and energized. I would really like to finish up in enough time to spend part of this beautiful day with my family. We'll see!

  28. Lalalala, I don't hear you talking about how hard it is to come back after a break!!! (Because I've only preached once since the end of July, and the nervousness about having it be the first day in a new call? Let's not even go there.)
    I've got a start, hoping to be halfway there by lunchtime, at least.

  29. Man - you all are a bunch of early birds today! I haven't put one word to paper yet, but I have a tentative outline for Luke and Labor Day. sort of a counting the cost/vocation mash up.

    If your interested, Father Andrew Greely tells a great modern parable about a young football player that really illustrates the Luke text. the link is

    I just got back from the farmer's market and we'll have some fresh gazpacho to share around lunch time!

    Validation word is zinep. what a fun word!

  30. diane...
    "carrying the cross" i'm using that as an image of baptism when we were marked with the cross of christ. seems like you could tie that into luther's concept of vocational call.

    coffee on. blueberry muffins baked. sermon half-baked... bwaaa haaaaa... needs a wrap up of some sort. then i'm off to spray paint and repurpose some decor items for fall... yahoo to copper metallic spray paint!

    *arggh* i think the puppy just stole an entire muffin off the counter...

  31. I'm doing Pulpit Supply tomorrow (and the following week) in a UCC/UMC federated church. I am slightly nervous. When I agreed to this gig, I hadn't looked at the Lectionary and was hoping that I would have something sweet and simple. I was NOT anticipating the bulky St. Luke that we have this Sunday. I have, however, decided to preach on that.

    Not that any of you reverend ladies (and gentlemen, like myself) have to worry about this again, but it is NOT easy to prepare a worship service/write a homily during the first week of college.

    I've got organic string beans and cucumbers fresh from my friend's farm--enough to share with you all!

  32. Martha, hooray on the new call! If you are willing to go with a Labor Day theme for the children's sermon: take an apple, or a school notebook, or whatever, and ask them who it took to get that item to you. If you can use an easel to write/draw the web, even better. It's not just the obvious chain of production; there are the people who made the road for the truck to drive on, or the boxes for packing, etc. The ultimate point is to see how connected to and dependent upon each other we are, and to encourage taking times to stop and give thanks for the labor of so many others.

    I'm preaching Labor Day propers tomorrow. After an amazing concert with Earth, Wind, and Fire at the Hollywood Bowl last night, I am thinking about creativity and how labor and rest go hand in hand. Perhaps a few hours restful meditation in the hammock would help me ;-)

    I have some fabulous cheeses leftover from last night in the fridge, so if you are in need of a snack, stop by!

  33. Back from the food bank. they served almost 150 families this morning, the high for the week. Reminds me that not everyone gets to 'go away' for a 3-day weekend.
    Martha, when do we get to hear more about your new call? It sounds so exciting, you will be awesome.

    the weather is far too nice here today to spend inside with my sermon, but it so needs work. I'll go check out your suggestions from working preacher before I get down to it. thanks

  34. Do we believe that God has shaped and is reshaping us?

    Do we like it?

    And how do you think the clay feels?

    Just some of the questions I am asking (and hopefully pointing towards an answer) in the sermon. Or at least I think so. (Hope so?)

    But for now, time to go sort laundry....
    There are some leftover pancakes (plain and chocolate chip) if anyone needs a bite.

  35. Diligently piecing this thing together. Time for lunch here on the east coast. Did someone mention tomato sandwiches?

  36. Hey, y'all. A very late start for me this week...I'm doing Ps 139 and Jeremiah, since we are doing Blessing of the Backpacks at the start of the new year for school and for the church program year. I'm talking some about how God keeps on work with us and in us even when we don't know it's happening. How our work, that we offer to God in all its imperfection, can be used by God to be something beautiful. How God accepts our imperfections even as we are gently encouraged to improve them, and that his love and joy in us is the reason he sent JC to help us, and the reason that the HS continues to bring us light and knowledge. Sort of still foggy right now, but it's getting there.

    And Songbird - blessings as you get "back in the saddle" at your new call. We are so excited for you!

  37. Took a little lunch break (yay tomato sandwich!), and now I'm getting back to it. I've written pieces, but I'm not sure how well they go together, especially since I want it to be short!

  38. By any chance can someone explain a translation issue I have:

    How is it that "not right now" or "later" translates into "You said no" or "you said never" in the mind of a 6 year old?????

  39. hi hotcup, I resemble your remark :). I think I have a sermon, it's kind of a short one, hope nobody minds.

    might change after tonight's early edition, but it will be good enough tonight anyway.

    I end with having people open their hands and make the sign of the cross in each other's hands, saying, "You are marked with the cross of Christ. Blessed is the work of your hands."

    What do you think?

    tomato sandwiches! Martha, that makes me hungry!

    you are going to be great tomorrow!

    I've been preaching all summer, so I feel almost the opposite. could use a sabbath, I think...

  40. SheRev- I think its great that you are shifting your schedule in positive ways for you and your family! *love* the descriptive, Scandinavian Furniture Maze. It was there that I fell in love with Billy.

    revkjarla - I hope that means you have great pottery-ish stuff to share :)

    maybe I'll actually get the email follow-up box checked this time

  41. Diane,

    I preached the "take up the cross" passage in seminary, and came across a commentary that pointed out that for us to pick up the cross requires a posture of emptiness and potential. In other words, what are we willing to lay down in order to pick up the cross and follow Jesus?

    Don't know if this helps, but since I'm not using it, help yourself!

  42. Jules -- that take up/lay down dichotomy sounds vaguely familiar to me....

    hmmmm.... thanks. I have some stuff burbling in the background now.

    just averted a "nobody came to set up communion" crisis for tonight. gonna go home for lunch in a little while.

  43. The Boy has returned and although the sermon is not exactly as far along as I would like it to be, my time was well spent reconnecting with one of my favorite people.

    We're taking the dogs to run somewhere. Good luck to all who are working thru the afternoon, I'll be monitoring dogs and child all while hoping sentences and themes come together in my head.

  44. This week involved a toddler with strep throat which meant almost 3 days of her wanting to be held the entire day. We watched way too much tv--just wish one of the movies we watched what felt like hundreds of times would have written my sermon for me! She's feeling better today but I have barely anything done and not really even a vague clue where to begin. And this is one of the few weeks I don't even have an old sermon to pull from...ugh. I'm so glad all of you are here!!

  45. My word verification is "kapirap," which pretty much sums up the day so far...crappy crap!

    Hoping to get going on a sermon on Luke, pulling in Deuteronomy, focusing on the journey and choices we make. Like all the vocational stuff too, so maybe will pull that in as well. But don't have much yet besides some thoughts swirling around.

    Got to get something on paper and somewhat finished before a colleague's birthday celebration tonight! And preferably make some headway before my alma mater kicks off at 3:30 eastern...oh, kapirap...

  46. I have nothing to go with this thought:

    what is the assumption of the potter about the clay?

    Did you notice the potter did not discard the clay?

    Aren't we usually fairly likely to throw out something that isn't working is broken?

  47. Gord, I sympathize I can remember those misunderstandings and they go the other way too. My 27 year old can still tell me about the day I "promised" to go to McD's and didn't take them. . .

    What does it mean when you read in your sermon draft a note to self: "Where is this going?" Not a good sign if I didn't even know when I wrote it. ah well, on to try again.

  48. you folks are now making me gain a whole new appreciation for tomato sandwiches, however, I have tortellini to share over here. Not preaching and won't be for yonks: taking a sabbatical from worship prep to concentrate on thesis. However, intend to continue with the RCL weekly thinking/ reflective discipline.
    I was looking at the NRSV version of the gospel ... so it goes into the hate mum, dad, etc. At the end of the passage, discipleship is about giving away your possessions. Got me to wondering about the 'family values' of Jesus nonsense that some more uber right-wing folk go on about: have they ever read this text? Wonder how the Focus on the Family folks might preach this? But back to the lumping of people into the possessions bit - here I read an antidote to family-olatry - not to be 'possessed' by your family, nor make a 'possession' of them. Wonder how that might spin out into a sermon?

    A pal who is preaching tomorrow just shared this great buechner quote with me:
    "If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party. The world says, Mind your own business, and Jesus says, There is no such thing as your own business. The world says, Follow the wisest course and be a success, and Jesus says, Follow me and be crucified. The world says, Drive carefully — the life you save may be your own — and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. The world says, Law and order, and Jesus says, Love. The world says, Get and Jesus says, Give. In terms of the world's sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion."
    — Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner

  49. Thanks for hosting Diane.

    I worked and re-worked these words. As I told our scripture reflection gathering on Wednesday evening...there is more than one way to read and interpret the Bible.

    I am gently...and I hope very gently starting to break open some new ideas about the Bible.

    Title: Holy Risk: To Boldly Go Where We Have Already Gone Before".

    Back from Day #2 at State Fair...and now the drive back to small community.

  50. Since Philemon is so short, its ok if my sermon is too, right?

    How do you all say "Philemon" anyway? I looked up the Greek and have a better idea, but not his name sounds like a steak. . .

  51. Have you seen <a href=">this church?</a>

  52. Hi, I'm supply preaching this week where I've not preached before....I'm reading Jeremiah and Luke but concentrating on psalm 139...
    You hem me in behind and before.
    If we believe " JESUS/GOD knows us thru and thru and loves us even still" something I preach every week in one context or another...

    Then why would we not think we are shaped by God's hands and not fear to give up things of this world and follow?

    Perhaps we are not as faithful as we think we are, or pretend to be, but we are still 'runnin' scared!)
    (Is that scared as in afraid or scared as in marked by wound or sacred as in Holy) I know the spelling may be different but I'm just thinking.

    Oh sisters I'm in the midst of discerning a new call pray for clarity for me and the church/churches and
    peace. Thanks.

  53. Bobbie, prayers for discernment for you. I like your play with scared/scarred/sacred.

    My Labor Day sermon is taking a distinct turn toward the need to not labor sometimes, and the hammock is calling more and more loudly. Practice what I preach and all that, y'know? Might help get the work done if I wasn't staring out the window at it too!

  54. Vicar,
    it is my memory that clay which has not been fired can be broken and reused even if it has dried out -- it just might need some soaking first.

    Another place this week I read that sometimes the best products comes from clay that has been re-worked a few times.

    SO yeah, the potter doesn't toss the clay (it is likely too valuable after all) but reworks it.

    Shall I start or end the sermon with the T-Shirts saying "Be Patient! God Hasn't Finished with ME Yet!"

  55. hello all. I am back from lunch and a nap which didn't seem to help, but instead helped me to feel worse.

    my sermon is done, but I.don'

    I don't know why I am feeling so yucky. really want to sleep for a long time, but I have worship tonight, worship tomorrow (with baptism), and party for my husband tomorrow.

    soldier on, everyone!

  56. In response to Rev Nancy's pic--
    Chalice Press has a "WTF: Where's the Faith?" series. It's intended audience is young adults, and from what I know so far, so are all the authors.

  57. I just cut a block out of my meditation, which was getting perilously close to sermon length. My first sermon (on candidating Sunday) was a bit longer than usual, and I want to show them I can do short. Also, I've learned that their second interim got them out in 45 minutes every Sunday this summer. I get that, but it's not helpful!
    Meanwhile, I'm wondering what it was I meant to say in the first place, envying my friends who have the purposefulness of Tom Long as an influence on their preaching. I'm a little poetical...

  58. Martha - give yourself a break, the church needs poets

    Gord - I didn't know that about "hard" but not fired clay, thanks

    I'll be back later

  59. I like your stuff on bearing the cross, D!
    @ Gord, I am sure the translation issue goes back to the Greek!\
    And SB, so glad you are into your new call.

  60. Martha -- I agree with Vicar -- we need more poets.

    okay, I'm kind of awake and feel a little better.

    just about ready to go into "early edition."

  61. Back from all the shopping. My husband is in the TV room assembling all our new Scandinavian Furniture. I'm going to attempt to write the conclusion to the sermon I don't like while 2 kids watch PBS shows on the same bed where I am typing. The baby is happy (for the moment) in the swing. We'll see how well this goes.

    (We've got good word verifications going on. Mine is "unwoo" at this time. Exactly how I'm feeling about this sermon.)

  62. Vicar,
    re: what is the assumption of the potter about the clay?

    Did you notice the potter did not discard the clay?

    Aren't we usually fairly likely to throw out something that isn't working is broken?

    Here is my take on the clay, after studying/doing functional production pottery for a year. Clay, has a life of it's own. I found that when throwing sixty mugs, that not all turned out because of overworking the clay, or me just not being balanced, or even the type of clay it was....but I didn't throw out pieces, I recycled the clay, so I could use it again. Sometimes that just meant re-wedging, if it wasn't too over worked, and sometimes I would have to let it dry just a little, to re-use it. Whether cranking out a bunch of pots, or fussing with one or two, there still is a relationship with the clay--a respect, a love, a groove.
    for me, the assumption about the clay was a relationship, a co-creation. sometimes the clay didn't do exactly what I would want, and at times that would be better, or I would have to rework it because it wouldn't be a strong enough vessel, or balanced in the way it needed to be.

    Most potters I know are very loathe to throw out unfired clay. It is so easy to recycle it--even if one has a piece that is leather hard, but not fired--it can be put into water to let it break down and be recycled.

    And yes, I agree that if something isn't working, we want to throw it away. I think this is a huge issue in the modern church today because we don't understand or trust that the clay (church) can be reconstructed, shaped into relevance, not just for those within the walls, but for the 9 out 10 people (or whatever the statistic is) that chooses not to go to church. The gospel is real.
    We just need to trust the potter to shape us into the right vessels from which the good news can be shared.
    Huh. Went on a bit long. Guess I will go write my sermon!

  63. Well, the sermon's done but I don't like the conclusion. Maybe I'll get some inspiration while making dinner- oven fried chicken and fried green tomatoes.

    It's nice to be done so early and have time to relax!

  64. I have written a whole lot of words but I'm not at all sure they make a sermon. I took a break to take communion to a parishioner, hoping it would read better when I got back, but it doesn't. Ugh.

    I'm curious--many of y'all talk about having shorter sermons on communion Sunday--how short is short? And what do you aim for on the other week? We have communion every Sunday, and I try to have a 10-12 minute sermon.

    Now I must find something for dinner...

  65. 1238 words. I don't like too many of them, but they're typed and saved. I've got a few more to go to really wrap it up, but I might make those my invitation to the table. Need to find a Calvin quote about communion that I know exists, but have no idea where it is.

    OK - - wait! I've got the Texas/Rice game on. Did I really just see a violin section in the Rice band? Oh my. So many comments, none that are very nice, so I'll keep them to myself. I'm a string player (bass), so don't get me wrong, but.... OK nevermind.

  66. Rev Dr Mom - - I like to try for shorter on communion Sundays, but I don't usually get there. I think I will this week. On the other Sundays I tend to be a 16-18 minute preacher. I didn't really know this until my husband started recording my sermons. I didn't really watch the clock. Those are about 2000 words.

    It's looking like I'll hit about 1500 words, hopefully a little less this week, a communion week, so I think that will be about 12 minutes.

    I think I tend to be one of the longer preachers around here.

  67. RDM, I strive to be in the vicinity of 1500 words (which for me is 15 minutes, give or take) most Sundays. If I know it's a church where Communion will be lengthy, I try to be in the neighborhood of 1200 words, and this week I'm hoping for less. It's an awkward length for me. I write newspaper columns that are 600-800, and sermons come easily to me at 1500. But 1000-1200 is both too long and too short. Aargh!!

  68. So, what's for dinner? I picked up Pad Thai, and there's plenty to share!

  69. I tried to stop by earlier but my browser wouldn't show me the word verification (no matter what I did) so I couldn't comment! Anyway, I finished up a draft earlier this afternoon. Finishing on the early side (early for me) always makes me a little nervous. Like if I'm not working until the last minute I haven't done enough to hone it. Don't know if that makes any sense or not, but whatever. I'm calling it done.

    Rev Dr Mom, on non-Communion Sundays I tend to preach 16-18 minutes, 20 minutes at the very outside. On Communion Sundays it is more like 13-15. All of this is considered short in my tradition (Baptist), where 25 minutes would typically be the minimum a preacher went, regardless of Communion or not.

    Before RevGals, I never paid attention to word count - I just judge length by pages. In 16 pt font, it usually takes me 2 minutes per page. I'm thrown off for tomorrow, though, because I had a computer crash and haven't reinstalled Word so I'm typing in Google Docs. No 16 pt option! I know I had 1889 words, and I'm guessing that'll be around 15 minutes.

  70. Oh man, Martha! I would love some Pad Thai!

    We ordered pizza. Today is the first home game (Univ of Michigan) and people are tailgating in our neighborhood, which put me in a pizza mood!

  71. OK, it's almost midnight here - but I have a draft tomorrow I'm preaching at two congs I'm caretaking just now and then at my own place (on a completely different theme) in the evening. So, I'm kinda letting up on perfection if you know what I mean. It will do - it will have to! The week's not been easy, too busy to prepare properly, but the HS is out there already - right?
    Sorry to leave the party - but late enough for me with tomorrow already looking like a marathon.

  72. Hello Pals,

    My vacation is winding down, so no sermon tomorrow. Beloved and I will be frolicking at a fair and worshipping God in the cathedral of the midway.

    Come on over to my blog and check out an entertaining little video I put together. There's nothing like having time on your hands to learn a new skill.

    The fruits of my labor are here.

  73. I've got a draft, over here: Searched and Known. My daughter came home instead of contra dancing with her dad, so I hurried to finish. Now she says she wants to read manga instead of hanging out with me. Oh, well. At least I'm done!

  74. interesting "length o sermon" conversation here. I don't count words, I've always had pages. so, when I was a young, struggling for a message preacher, I preached about 2 pages. Now I am know I need more than 2, but I dare not go over 3. I'm going to start counting words to see how many that is. I count words for my newsletter column which needs to be a mere 300 words.

    I try to go about no less than 15 and no more than 20 minutes. and we have communion every Sunday.

  75. now I've preached the early edition and it went better than expected. I riffed a little in the beginning, but mostly followed what I had written, and that helped.

  76. Pizza's on the grill. Kids didn't cooperate, so I'm one practical-schmactical paragragh from completion. This sermon has such a strange structure for me. I'll finish that when bug kids go to bed then settle one the couch for the rest of the football games and some beer. Almost there!

  77. We always have communion, so there's no variation in length based on that. My sermons are about 10-12 minutes, around 1000 words. I don't generally think about aiming for that (except when I am under 500 like today and wondering if I will ever have enough); they just all seem to end up that length. I work on two principles: the mind can absorb what the seat can endure, and never ever use up more than one idea on a single sermon because there are way to many more Sundays yet to go ;-)

  78. I'm late joining the party! Preaching Jeremiah and Psalms over here but as the first in a sermon series. I'm using the image of the clay and the weaving as a way to get into discipleship and discipline. Co-creation, in a sense, working with God. That's all I've got so far, though. Stuck. Oh, and very toxic sitch at the church....sermon is in response to direct attacks, so prayers would be appreciated.

  79. RevMommy, you have my prayers!

  80. Rev Mommy -- praying for you tonight and tomorrow.

  81. if anybody hasn't had pad thai yet, I have stir fry for dinner.

  82. revkjarla - I'm pretty sure I'll be quoting you :)

    revmommy - I'm sorry to hear about your situation. that's a rough place to be. I've been personally (not physically) attacked several times by church members but I don't think the pulpit is the right venue for response. I hope you reconsider that.

  83. Thanks for your insight, Vicar. Not going for a direct response via the sermon--will address that with individuals--rather the sermon and sermon series addresses why we do what we do--our particularities as a denomination and what makes them good, which is sort-of in the ballpark of the issue, but not a direct hit, if that makes sense.

  84. I printed my sermon so I could read over it. Then it fell behind the couch. Then I remembered I never settled on a children's time. It's sort of a domino effect. What next?

  85. I'm back from the birthday celebration dinner, which was also pad thai! Delicious.

    I have a halfway decent outline including a way in, so I think I'll toss some laundry in the wash, take a shower, get comfy and clean and then dig into the manuscript.

    Glad to hear things are coming together out there!

  86. For Christmas a couple years ago our eldest got a battery operated pottery wheel. It cames with a couple packs of clay but I am going to play with it and some play-doh for children's time (while talking about making stuff with pay-doh).

    Then I have some bags of play-doh to give to the kids to take away with them.

    THe wheel may get re-visited during the sermon, I haven't decided yet as it is really loud.

  87. Big kids are in bed (or at least working that way with Dad). The baby is enjoying her first college football Saturday, or at least I'm ignoring her crying while I'm enjoying it. (KIDDING!) She's swinging and I'm still that last paragraph away from being finished. I think I'll wait 'til this LSU-UNC game is at the half, and then I'll try to knock it out. With that in mind, I better feed Pearl so she's not hungry when that time comes.

    Totally off-topic. We spent some time at the Apple store this morning. Are there any among us who preach from an iPad? I know a few preachers who do, but I've never asked them about it. Anyone here have one and use it in the ministry setting for anything? I'd love to know. I'm not usually a gadget/techie geek, but I have to admit I started to get a little excited when I finally saw one in person.

  88. I need a really really children's message for the service where there is not a baptism.

    and, here's the sermon.

    it's simple, but I guess it'll do. what do you think?

  89. what I mean is a really really simple children's message.

  90. Here's my children's sermon idea:
    What is something you like to have your parents see you doing?
    What is something you DON'T like to have them see?
    Same questions for God, expanding the idea.
    Reassurance that just as parents forgive children, God loves us even when we make mistakes. Something like that.

  91. semfem - did we meet up for dinner last night and I didn't realize that we overlapped in this community as well?

    wrapping things up over here and practicing Charity Chapman's version of Psalm 139, "You Are There" in sign language, which will be the end of my sermon tomorrow. taking comfort in the fact that if the words didn't come together right, music and sign seems to speak to many in the congregation.

  92. SheRev, I have a friend who is vision-impaired and she uses her MacBook as a gospel book and as an altar book. She even got some special equipment so that she could "turn the pages" with a foot pedal while she is at teh altar--you know Episcopalians and their manual acts during communion! Her goal is to get an iPad for this eventually.

    I hadn't thought about preaching from an iPad, but it sounds intriguing...but can you display a word document? Or I guess you could use a pdf...thinking to myself.

    I'd love to hear more thoughts about using an iPad.

  93. Martha, that sounds good. I'm now thinking of a kind of "follow me" children's message, or a "simon says" game...

  94. Dancing With God: Yes, you are correct. :)

    iPad...I have a colleague who LOVES using it for worship, especially for weddings. And there was something making the rounds on Facebook about an "iPulpit"...a pulpit with a specially carved out space for your iPad to go with your sermon. So it seems quite popular!

  95. I know several people who preach from an iPad...and also Landon Whitsitt, vice moderator of the pcusa, told me (and a bunch of us at Church Unbound, actually) that we should all have them (and use our professional expense accounts to pay for them) because they are great ministry tools. Preaching, powerpoint/keynote presentations, photos, books, email, etc....all very portable and easier to use in a pinch than a laptop.

    Personally I'm holding out for version 2...

  96. Teri - - that's kind of what I'm thinking about - - using my professional expense fund here at the end of the year. Since I was out for a few months I didn't use much this year. They were thinking about buying a new computer for my office this year, but the budget has not been great. Since the professional expense line is really one of my benefits it can't be denied even in a bad budget year, so I thought maybe I'd sort of help by buying something they intended to buy anyway for myself. I'm assuming that you can somehow get a normal keyboard attached to it. My husband said something about Bluetooth for that.

    RDM - - From what I can tell some folks do it as a pdf and others somehow get the sermon into an iBook format (I don't know how that works). I also saw something last night about a teleprompter-esque program that could be used.

  97. Check that out we're already at 100!

    And, my sermon is done. Thanks in no small part to the potter pastor revkjarla :)

    It's longer than I really want it to be but I've cut everything I can and still feel good about it.

    Now for the prayers

  98. She Rev - A good friend of mine has a regular keyboard that she got a few weeks after the iPad

  99. Teri - 2nd generation, good idea! Maybe that will release after my dissertation is finished so I can shift tuition money to an iPad ... one can hope anyway

  100. yay! 103 comments! I'm tired, have a lame but ok idea for a children's message, so I'm going to bed and get up early. sorry to leave the party, but I'm pretty jazzed about the number of comments. yeah!

    I'll leave the light on, the tea kettle on, hang in there, guys!

  101. I said I was on my way to 1500 words. Just finished at 1487. And it's not as bad as I first thought. Still a very different style than my usual, but not as bad as I thought. Will get it posted once I rescue the sad, tired baby from her father (or rescue him from her). I'll put it up while I watch the rest of the football game! Woo hoo. For the third week in a row I have finished my sermon in way decent time. This might just be becoming my new norm!

  102. SOmething I remembered this afternoon while I was fighting with the office computer at the churhc and then re-remembered just a few minutes ago:

    Colleagues of mine were using this passage and asked a potter-friend of theirs to come and throw during the service. Beforehand they were setting up the wheel and the potter had sheets and sheets of plastic. One asked why and she replied "pottery is a messy business".

    That'll preach! After all, being reshaped is a pretty messy business too---expecially when the clay fights it.

  103. Getting there...looks like there won't be as many around to keep me company this evening! My sermon seems to say the same thing over and over again; I just hope it's not a circling the drain type of repetition.

    About 5 years ago I had an HP iPaq, a small handheld PDA. I had used the notes program on that a few times for sermons, back when my eyes were a little better than they are now. Worked pretty well. The one fear I always have is technology failure!

    We'll be breaking out some gingerbread and vanilla ice cream soon; anyone who is still up is welcome to have some.

  104. OK. Got it posted. Copying and pasting my communion liturgy from the Season of Creation website and I'm DONE! I think I'll even knit before I sleep. I might be able to finish the sleeve of the toddler sweater I'm working on.

  105. Revised sermon. Got to do a prayer and make sure I am ready for communion.
    There is some soda in the fridge and some cheee and crackers for you to enjoy.
    Mind,Body,and Soul coffee will be brewing at the Chez Katz in the AM.

  106. WTG people who are finishing up!...Betsy, don't worry, I am only barely halfway done, so I'll be here for a while!

  107. My notes for tomorrow are posted here

  108. Still writing...all by myself...? 770 words and counting...

  109. 10:45 my time, and I'm finally all done. Sorry to leave you on your own, SemFem, and I hope that the rest of the words come quickly and with inspiration.

    Blessings on all tomorrow, whether you labor or rest!

  110. Done with 1219 words! Whew.

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

  111. One more because I can't resist--

    Word verification: "copotist."
    Definition: A person who is an expert at copping out of things.

  112. Just checking in here this morning to see what I missed at the late night party(middle of the night for me). I don't have an ipad but I do have a kindle and have started preaching from that - its so neat and the font size can be adjusted easily mid flow - I'd recommend it as a cheaper but not so versatile option for preaching. Now I'm off and running into the day. Blessings. already looking forward to holy nap time - think I can just about squeeze one in today:)

  113. just a reminder this morning that the Holy Spirit has our backs!

    blessings on your Labor day weekend, your worship and your post-liturgical naps!

  114. I finished early last night, and came back to check in. I can't BELIEVE I missed the whole conversation about Ipads. I will wait for version 2, but huh, I am thinking I might scrape enough money up to use for a MINISTRY TOOL. Get out!
    Vicar, glad I could help ;-)
    Gord, I thought about taking my wheel, but then I thought about the mess, and thought for a summer sermon that I just wouldn't go there. Will be taking some tools and pieces to use for communion, though!

  115. Woo hoo! Look us and our big bad preaching party last night. I'm trying to print (some difficulty with our wireless printer network here at home) and feeling pretty good.

    Thanks for the iPad/Kindle/other device comments. I like the idea of waiting, but at the same time the money is available now. Ugh. I hate that. Something better will always come along, and I just never know when to jump on the bandwagon. I can put knitting patterns on it, can't I? Oh how glorious not to have a bunch of random printed/copied sheets floating around.

    Oh well. I'll talk to the Personnel Committee at our meeting in a week.


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