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Thursday, December 23, 2010

11th Hour Preachers Party: What Day Is It? ...a special Christmas edition

(photo from an internet search)
Welcome to this special edition of the Preacher's Party!

Did you sleep last night? Or was your mind racing with all that needs to be done? Are you exhausted and still there are days...important come?

(There there....take a deep breath.)

Pull up a chair. Let me get you a cup of coffee or tea. I have homemade goodies: cranberry/orange bread and cinnamon scones. Rest a spell.

We're here to help you finish those sermons for the next few days. Are you preaching Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or BOTH? (and if you are preaching both will you preach the same sermon or different sermons?).

What are you thinking about? The incarnation?... The nativity?... The "journey?"...the mother? What is the Holy Spirit sparking within you? We are here to share ideas and to offer feedback. We are here to keep you energized or help you recharge. We are here if you need a laugh or have something funny to share.

Join the party, we'll be here all day and into the night. It's almost Christ-mass!

(photo from flickr photos of a natural beachwood nativity set)

Ask the Matriarch will return next week.


  1. I am full of cold, and preaching tonight, Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Tonight is organised...Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are planned but not so organised...

  2. Home from carols service [ evening of 23rd]. we did a nativity play where whoever wanted to could be part, and it was chaos, but everyone had a great time. And we sang 14 carols. No sermon tonight,and no sermon on Sunday 26th, carols and readings.

    tomorrow finishing the Christmas service, and I have done very little. I am thinking of talking about how Christmas comes in the midst of ordinary stuff of life. A number of people have told me this week they have been to funerals or are organising one for next week. Also I keep hearing how busy and stressed people are, trying to fit everything in and be organised for Christmas.
    So I think time to talk about the messiness and imperfection of the first Christmas.
    I have been trying to have different carols at Carol service, Christmas morning and 26th, but after planning Carols and 26th, there is not much choice left from the well known carols, so some doubling up will happen.
    time for some chamomile tea, and then to sleep.

  3. Merry Christmas Sally and pearldownunder! I hope youre celebrations go well.

  4. HI, I'm preaching both, but have the Christmas Day one done. wish I could say that I can preach the same one, but we use Luke's gospel for eve and John for Day.

    I'm getting a little worried abuot Christmas eve, for a variety of reasons, not just the sermon...

  5. and Sally, prayers for your health in this season...

  6. Diane, I've always had that same "problem" with Christmas Eve and Day - different Gospels...and I worry that someone will actually come to both - although that never actually happens....I hope your worries for Christmas Eve are calmed and eased.

    And, Sally - sorry I was sure you meant virus cold or weather cold - I find it really difficult to preach and preside when I have a cold, so foggy-headed....I hope you feel better.

  7. Prepping for my first Christmas pastoring a community... Definitely some anxiety around here! I had a classic anxiety dream the other night about our bulletin, although the sermon is a greater cause of (wakeful) stress. Only one sermon, thankfully, and only one service that I'm responsible for (the Eve). Still, nice to find some company!

  8. Good to be in the company of Gals and Pals...the expectations of these special services adds to the stress for me. Working on taking a couple steps back and just tuning into the Spirit.

    Hubby and I each contribute brief reflections to the service Christmas Eve. I am working in the direction of miracles, the phrase "a Christmas miracle", and "Miracle at the Meadowlands"

    ...and the 26th will be a casual, fun Carol romp with some talk of gifts (given and received)...inspired by the Little Drummer boy.

    Prayers for all, whatever our condition, as we travel once again to Bethlehem

  9. Good Morning Parodie - I hope your first will be amazing and put your anxieties to rest.

    Bethany - how interesting to have both your voice and your husband's voice for Christmas Eve reflections...and love the idea of a casual carol romp on the 26th!

  10. Sally, I am so sorry you have a cold. And Pearl, I love your chaos. That is what 1st Christmas Eve is 'supposed' to be! ;-D.

    I am covering Christmas and Sunday for a colleague who is ill. I had been fretting about Christmas because I do love the service so. And sure enough God put me out there. The only problem is that I have 3 services tomorrow night, one Sat morning and another on Sunday. It is a large church and I am not used to having to commune so many. But it will be fun.

    word verification: mudderse

  11. I am not too worried about the sermon for Christmas Eve. I have been preaching this service for almost 30 years. This is a new bunch and they have not heard my stories--ahhh the joys of mobility! But no sermons is the same. Even if I were to read the same text, it would not be the same for those who hear it.

    The eyes of Christmas eve are on the child. And for me and for my theology, it is the wonderous act of God to elevate humanity by becoming human that takes my breath away. And so talking about God becoming human--a child--a baby is really a joy for me.

    The harder one is Christmas Day

  12. Before I get to the sermon, I first have to work my way past the resentment that reaches its peak at about this point every year, one of those occupational hazard things. I find myself sad that another Advent has gone by in a muddle of bulletins and special services to plan, and that there's hardly a sign of Advent/Christmas in my own home because I've been busy taking care of other people and more sermons. It's sort of like PMS, and it hits every year, and I know I'll get over it, but right now I'm kind of down in the dumps. At least my sons are now old enough, at 12 and 16, to get the tree in the house by themselves this morning (it's been in a bucket in the yard for a week) and the lights on, so that by the time I come home from work early afternoon, we can put on ornaments; I tell myself that the annual late-arriving tree is simply respect for the season of Advent ;-)

    Anyway, helps me just to say all that to folks I know will understand!

    I'm working on a sermon for our big family service. I'm starting with "Go tell it on the mountain" and wondering who told what to whom. I've put together a string: God told the angel, the angel told Mary, etc. Now I need to fill it out, and I'm making a small symbol on a pole for each one.

    I have some lovely homemade sugared nuts, if anyone needs a sweet protein boost!

  13. Good morning, friends! Praying for you, Betsy, and you too Sally and Diane...and all who are preparing today. I used to consider the candlelight Christmas Eve service (did not do Christmas Day unless--of course--it was Sunday) as my gift to the congregation. I tried to make it an island of peace and calm. Missing the preparations for it. We will be attending Christmas Eve service at my former church (at four in the afternoon!) since my daughter and her family still attend there. It will seem strange. On Christmas Day, Ken and I will (as always) conduct a Christmas service at the prison where he is the chaplain. It always makes the day difficult to plan, but it is always a highlight of joy in the season. Ken is preaching for the two services, but I'm singing and leading the worship. Many blessings to you, dear fiends, and you prepare. There are so many here who I would love to watch and listen to as you preside!

  14. Muthah, having moved a couple of times myself and therefore reusing illustrations, although rarely the entire sermon, I find it delightful to put a new point of view on an "old" idea - blessings as you celebrate with the new congregation, I imagine your colleague is quite relieved to have you.

    Betsy - prayers for you too - glad we can be a place to share that loss of Advent-time...such a hazard for clergy - we preach and teach our congregations to slow down but we can't do it....

    SingingOwl - I'm with you this year - missing the preparations and preaching, it's my first year in ten years that I am neither preaching nor Presiding at any Christmas services. It's sad. But at lease my family and I will get to attend (as a family) the parish we went to when our kids were little.

  15. Betsy, May I make a suggestion? Make a day in Advent that is Pastor's Advent. It is a day off and it is clearly YOUR and YOUR FAMILY day. You must make a pact with yourself that NO CHURCH WORK will be done that day unless there is a death in the parish.

    There was some grumbling about it when I first did it, but after a while, the congregation understood that I needed to have it.

    Anybody got a suggestion about what to do on Christmas Day? I haven't done a Christmas Day service in dog's years.

  16. Preparing for Christmas Eve here. Betsy, I understand - the kids have decorated the whole house . . . and we have no tree. I had hoped that with a new parish I'd be more organized around my own house, but I'm afraid it just isn't so.

    Focusing on the incarnation -- and the unlikely places Christ is born in our world. We're celebrating the Lord's Supper and having candlelight so no need for a long sermon, just a brief reflection. The real sermon comes as we receive the gift of Christ in the sacrament.

    this is the first Advent in a long time I've felt prepared and hopeful! I think the Longest Night service was healing to me. Peace be with all of you who need rest.

  17. Betsy, I understand, and I'm feeling it a bit myself. I did take a day off earlier this month for a half-day Advent retreat with some other clergywomen, but I need more. Even my morning prayer time has felt rushed, jumbled, distracted, and I find myself edgy and cranky about things right now that should give me joy. Bah!

    I'm trying to prepare some personal words - not a sermon - for our service on the 26th. I've asked three other people to also share testimony that morning, around the question, "How has Jesus being born in your life this season (or this year)?" I've been thinking about it a lot but am still at a bit of a loss as to what I'll say.

    I also agreed to preach at my home church in Georgia on January 2, at the end of my vacation at my parents' house. Not very vacation-like is it? I felt it was an invitation I should say yes too (was preparing my Joseph sermon when the invitation came, and I was trying to learn from his example of being willing to take on things that he hadn't planned). But right now I am feeling frazzled about it.

    Hope to check in later today. i'm not in much of a writing space right now.

  18. Been sitting here at my computer all day procrastinating on facebook and not getting anything written. I have an outline for my Sunday sermon, but it feels so BLECH, that I have no motivation to write it. But, my in-laws come tonight so I want to get it written so I can spend time with them tomorrow. Add to all this the pressure of being my first Christmas in my first call, and it is enough to make me want to crawl under the covers and stay there all weekend.

    Anyway - I'm re-arranging the lectionary for Sunday and preaching on the wise men and how Matthew uses this story to give us 3 main points of Jesus' ministry: 1-it fulfills a prophesy, 2-outsiders welcome God's activity unfolding through Jesus, and 3-Insiders just don't get it and refuse to see God's work among them.

    I know that it will eventually come together in God's time, but I wish it would coincide with mys schedule.

  19. Welcome KT - hope all goes well.

    Muthah, good suggestion - a Pastor Advent Day! And as for Christmas Day - I've always felt that a simple short homily is appropriate for the quieter Christmas Day congregation with a focus on the love of God poured out for all creation in the Word made flesh.

    Earthchick - I just preached at my home church after being gone for ten years - it was a wonderful experience...I just told stories from my time there when our kids were little...

  20. Welcome Jeff - it really will all come together - and sometime the sermons that feel Blech to me end up being Holy Spirit inspired when preached - so don't fret too much, the Holy Spirit has your back.

  21. I've been trying to get here all day!! Complexities abound today. I've finished a meditation for the 26th, thankfully, but still have one to write for the late service on Christmas Eve.
    The copier in the church office is finally finished all its tasks for this weekend; tomorrow we will run the bulletin for the 2nd, then both my Admin and I will have a week's vacation! (Yay for the retired pastor willing to fill in for me!!)
    I'll be back later this evening to talk about Christmas Eve in more detail.
    Terri, thanks for hosting today.

  22. Betsy, I really share your feelings about the way Advent passes in a blur and no time to do home stuff...and as a single parent it really piles up sometimes. Even though I no longer have a kid living at home full time I still have all the shopping and decorating and....well, I'll stop b/c I know you all get it.

    So I said the other day that there has been one crisis after another ever since I came home from Florida, and the trend is continuing..we lost one boiler last week but were getting by, and today the second boiler failed. So we have NO heat except in the offices and no chance of getting it fixed before next week. So I took the drastic step of canceling all our Christmas services. Still can't believe it but it would've been just too cold.

    I am friends with the priest in the next town over and I've invited our congregation to go there and I'll be there too. Not sure how many will come but wanted them to have an option.

    So I don't have to preach, and oddly I'm not as relieved as I would've expected given how much other stuff I have to do--finishing the wrapping and grocery shopping being high on the list before my kids and grand-kids start arriving tonight.

  23. Ohhh Rev.Dr.Mom, I am so sorry about the boiler. You can't get anybody to come out on the Day before Christmas to fix it???? Usually the heating companies know that is above and beyond. I have met some rather remarkable guys fixing things before major feasts!

    Oh, well. Will your colleague at the next church have you be a part of his service? That is when some really neat community happens.

  24. Hi Friends, I have the children's Christmas message ready - Twas the night before Christmas by Penney Rahm. I'll possibly show them the social networking version of the Christmas story if it is an older group. I have the late night sermon ready. Willing be talking about What Child Is this? A child who inspires South Koreans to sing carols across the DMZ and inspires us as one body in Christ to celebrate Christmas for our Iraqi brothers and sisters who have cancelled Christmas celebrations.
    Christmas day I will read a meditation by William Loader from a sheep's perspective.

    Here is my problem. We have a baptism on the 26th and the text is the Massacre of the Innocents. Someone is laughing, I know it. I think I'll do a short meditation on dreams and childhood. Any thoughts. Help!

    No one ever told me in seminary that Advent and Christmas practically disappear once your in the pulpit. Sometimes I feel cheated.

  25. Thanks for all these comments - I have sighed & laughed & cried with you all.
    I usually duck out of Sunday after Christmas but felt I couldn't this year because there'll be almost no-one in church on Dec 26th & not fair to ask someone to come 'specially' - so the few will get me.
    My line will be the apparent callousness of God getting his son away from the massacre is only really a 'stay of execution' for Jesus. The gritty messiness of Christmas and the true meaning of 'incarnate' has pretty much been a recurring theme through Advent.
    And then I'm surprised when my life has been, by turns, messy, disorganised, frantic, and (secretly) resentful.
    Somewhere an angel is singing 'Yet God loves this mess & chooses to be a part of it - never, ever think you're alone'.
    And if I can preach that without weeping it'll be another minor miracle - my heart is full of this wonderful, messy truth. Love to you all.

  26. HI Songbird - I'm happy to be here helping today, thank you! And I hope all your preparations go well.

    RevDrMom - I so understand the "not being as relieved as you thought"'s actually really odd to be off of one's "game" this time of year, unsettling....I hope that the priest in the next town over invites you to participate.

    AK - so true. I hope your Christmas goes well....and, uhm, I'll be thinking of you as you plan the homily for the Baptism on Jan. 2....there's no changing the readings?...

  27. Oh well said. Blessings on your words and your heart as you preach them.

  28. *ahem* some will say i'm copping out... but today i'm home, sick as a dog... (and well one of them is sick)... my throat is on. fire. so today i'm resting. anyhoo the plan

    Dec 24 - using a carol setting for communion, and for a "sermon" doing an intro and retelling "the man & the birds" narrated many times by Paul Harvey. it is short -google it and you'll find the text.

    Sun Dec 26 - lessons & carols, much more "traditional" style
    Mon Dec 27 - huge funeral
    Tues Dec 28 - vacation begins

  29. HC - awww, no! Lots of hot tea, gargle with salt, warm water with lemon and honey....I hope it is a mild touch of the ick...

  30. Terri - a month ago I thought I could work with the Massacre text. I even cleared with the parents of the baby to be baptized. Now I am tired and not so sure. But I am laughing because, well.. what else?

  31. AK - exactly. I get that....oh well....when I have a baptism I just preach on baptism and not much on the text anyway...maybe just a nod toward it if it works...

  32. Oh, poor HCL! Sorry! I love the Paul Harvey story, and I suspect my husband may use it tomorrow at prison.

  33. If anyone is still looking for a children's story, I have the one that's been on my blog in the past in a Word Document with additional images. Let me know via email ( if you would like a copy.
    As far as the Sunday after Christmas goes, I'm using the Isaiah text and Psalm 148 and (gasp!) not reading the Slaughter of the Innocents. But I'm UCC, and more importantly, the church is Congregational, so I can do whatever works. There is no requirement to read all the lessons.
    If I did have to read it and baptize a baby, I think I would go at it by triangulating with the congregation against the text: We don't like this story! It sounds like God let other children die, only saving Jesus! But it's an important reminder that God came into the real and dangerous world as a baby just like this one we are baptizing. God's love was for those families in their loss, just as it will be with this child whatever may come.
    And way smarter than me is Fred Craddock, who wrote about the passage for Christian Century. Honestly, he talks more about the whole of the historic context than the children being killed. But he makes this point:
    "This event is told in the manner of an antiestablishment story, a peasant-versus-king story, a story protesting abuses by the powerful against the powerless." So maybe that's a good message for a baptism. It's not about taking some literal body count of babies. It's about who Jesus came to be *against* and who he came to be *for.*
    Rats. I may have to add that text to the service, too. I just talked myself into it.

  34. Songbird, that's a sermon that will preach!

  35. I'm so very grateful for all of you preparing ways to open the Word for your fellow travelers in the days to come. Really. It fills me with a great swell of gratitude. Those feeling stressed, that probably doesn't make you feel any better! but there it is.

    I am making a large amount of lasagna for dinner and will be happy to serve any and all hungry comers.

    And, I don't believe I've ever (!) been to church on Christmas Day...but I may do it this year. If the clergy are going to prep a sermon (or whatever) the least I can do is get my self there to hear.

  36. hey all. found this thread ever to helpful.

    I'm not preaching Dec. 24, but just finished all the liturgy for it (prayers, communion etc.)

    I am preaching on the Massacre this Sunday and struggling to get beyond my outline. Like Jeff and others I have family coming and a crazy day tomorrow and need to write this now...

    Craddock's article in the xian century inspired me to look at 2 kings (Herod and Jesus) and 2 kingdoms...not a romantic notion of Christmas, but the Incarnation isn't meant to be...thanks all for sharing your thoughts, they are helping to crystallize my own.

    I've got some strong coffee, brittle, and prayers for all of you!

  37. I am FIRED UP for tomorrow night. The bulletins for the two service (one family and one traditional candle-lighting) are done. The worship slides for the 26th are done. I only have one sermon/meditation to write. The family service has an impromptu nativity play, and I just. can't. wait. I think it is going to be so cute. The second service is less thrilling to me because it's less about tell and hearing the story, and, frankly, seems to be more about hearing good music. I've got nothing against good music, and when it is planned with the intention of telling the story I'm all for it. Here though, those who are participating just pick whatever songs they want to do and if there's going to be any cohesion I have to try to find a way to fit it all together to make it make sense. I don't know how to describe it so it makes sense, but it just feels backwards to me.

    Anyway, that's why I like the early service. It is totally participatory and kid-friendly. It's all about telling the good news, getting the kids involved, and worshiping. I'm loving it and think it will be cute. I'm super excited that a newspaper photographer asked if he could come take pictures for the paper. That will be very cool and some wonderful free publicity. Diane, if you get the eastern city's paper, you might see us. I'm not sure if it will be in Saturday or Sunday's paper.

    So my only sermon (since I do Lessons and Carols on Sunday and we don't have a Christmas Day service) is that candlelighting service. With 12 pieces of music (including congregational hymns) there isn't much time for me too say much. I'll work on getting my thoughts in my head on paper tonight, but I'm preaching out of Matthew's geneaology instead of one of the birth narratives itself. Basically, Jesus' family tree is a messy family tree. The world he came from and the world he came to is messy. God came into the messy world and from within it God saved it. His messy family tree was redeemed by Jesus, as is the messy world we live in. Or something like that. That wasn't my best description of it, but I like where I mean to take it. :) "A Humble Start" I have titled it - - not so much meaning the stable and manger and all that (since we're reading only Matthew anyway and none of that is in there), but humble human origins, a humble genealogy (even with King David in it).

    I'll be back to the party later tonight when my kiddos are in bed.

  38. Feeling like the Grinch right now - just want it to be over. thankfully my kids are now 12 and 17, so they "get on with it". Tomorrow I have 2 funeral services as well as meeting family about a funeral that will take place just after Christmas. then I have two Christmas eve services and Christmas day - fortunately 26th is a Carol sing.
    I'm tired, grumpy and my throat hurts.
    Come Holy Spirit, Come.

  39. Mary Beth - you are so sweet! I've found Christmas Day to be delightfully mellow and in that a different way than all the anticipation of the Eve...

    Suz - sounds like you have a good focus for your sermon on Christmas I....thanks for sharing it...

    And good golly LIZ!!! that is just too much, all those funerals plus the regular services. Here, sit for a bit, let me get you some tea and some chocolate...

  40. My kids are going out to a family party with their dad. I am excited to have them go! House to myself, I plan to half-watch "Love Actually" while writing tomorrow night's meditation, which I am hoping is adaptable from an old one. Please let it be so! The last time I preached this theme on Christmas Eve, I was so hoarse no one could have understood me anyway, and only 12 people came (including our friend MaineCelt). So it should be okay to re-use, right? Sustainable Sermons...

  41. I find the readings after Christmas are out of order - why does the lectionary do this???
    anyway 26th is carols and lessons, I am looking at the wise travellers and the massacre on 2nd January - different responses to the birth of Jesus, what is our response? though I may pinch from Songbird as well :)

    this is my first placement [4 1/2 years], and I am also finding that I allow ministry to take over Advent, Christmas, Lent ad Easter. so busy trying to make the seasons relevant for the congregation, I don't get to live them myself.
    Maybe our Matriarchs could address that in the new year sometime.

  42. Songbird - "Sustainable Sermons" crack. me. up.

    Yes. absolutely. I hope the night proves fruitful!

    pearldownunder - I like that idea - a "share your resources for keeping Advent/Lent/Holy Week" as clergy....

  43. Terri,
    your kindness brings tears to my eyes - thank you so much. This is just such a great space to be heard and supported, a safe place to let the mask slip for a while - so thank you all my revgal pals.
    The HS has definitely put in an appearance tonight. My various meditations are starting to come together.
    Because I'm spending so much time with bereaved families just now, Christmas has a very melancholy feel this year - I'm sure there is purpose in that - not sure what, though. will be interesting...

  44. This will be my first Christmas Eve in a new parish. We have two services: a children's service in the afternoon and a candlelight service in the evening, both completely different. The candlelight service has traditionally been lessons and carols, but when I was told how many people come who only show up once or twice a year, I decided that they needed to see what they were missing the other 50 Sundays and give them a full worship service. Years ago I heard a minister of a large city church say that he had come to realize that every Sunday there would be people in the congregation who would only come once, and he felt he "only had one shot" to give them a word from the Lord that they could take with them. So that is my approach to this Christmas Eve service.

    In the Dec. 13 Presbyterian Outlook, Jack Haberer writes about the question, "Who is Jesus Christ to you?" Awfully big question to pose on Christmas Eve, I know, but what better time to ask it than when we are pondering the birth of a baby centuries ago? What is so special about this baby that we are still drawn to the story of his birth after two thousand years? I don't want to go too heavy duty into this for the once-a-year churchgoers, but I am going to ask them to think about what (or Who) draws them to worship on this night, and maybe they will have a little nugget to take with them and chew on when they leave.

    RevDrMom, I am so sorry to hear about the boiler! I hope your congregation has the financial resources to replace TWO boilers in one winter! I know from experience in a previous congregation that they can be very expensive -- and don't lend themselves to fixing in an afternoon.

    Good sermon writing to all who are writing this night!

  45. Hi All. I'm so grateful for this thread. I'm feeling really homesick this season. My entire family is elsewhere and, thankfully, I have adopted family who take in me on Christmas Day, but it's not the same as waking up with your beloved and spending the day with family. It's been 5 years that I've been in a foreign land (okay the Midwest is not exactly a foreign land, but I'm Southern and dramatic, so...) and I still struggle with Christmas Eve and Christmas day not feeling the way I expect them to because I'm not "home."

    In terms of sermons, I'm wrestling with the contrast between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It seems to me, that the people who come for the Eve come for the event--the pretty baby, the angelic scene, what I think of as the Jesus of Childhood (who I love and sometimes call on). I think those who show up on Christmas Day come for something different--the Incarnation--that was is and is and continues to be. The Jesus who is at the deathbed of a 39 year old, even as we don't understand it. The God who is born in us, made incarnate in us, which leads not to pretty pictures, but to real and true and gritty places. I don't know. I think it's hard to reconcile the realities of the world (war, homelessness, loneliness, brokenness) with the way we think we're "supposed" to feel this time of year. And trying to preach through that is a challenge. Christmas Day is easy for me. The expectations (the many layers of expectations) feel really high on Christmas Eve.

  46. Hello friends, I'm checking in to write up a sermon for tomorrow night (two services, identical sermons) and a sermon for Sunday (slaughter of the innocents).

    I never thought I would have this problem, but I somehow have TWO good ideas for Christmas Eve and am having trouble choosing which one to run with. One is a sweet, touching story...the other will get people laughing (hopefully)...any votes? And for Sunday, Songbird's suggestions have got me thinking...

    Hope everyone is hanging in there. Especially RevDrMom...I can't imagine losing the boiler at this time of year (actually I can, but it seems like a nightmare!).

  47. ((Liz))

    Sarah - I'm a Midwesterner at heart although I spent my first decade in the West (Rocky Mountain west) and then spent two years in the desert of Southern Arizona - so I understand feeling like one is not "home"...I almost made a pecan pie, but didn't so would you be content with a slice of apple/raisin/allspice pie and a cup of tea?

    Semfem - I'd go with laughter - if you are sure that the humor will connect with most everyone. Otherwise, sentimental & sweet.

  48. Sarah, consoling hugs to you; of course you miss your family, and a major holiday brings it all to the forefront.

    Rev Dr Mom, that is a total bummer about the boiler; what horrendous timing. I do hope many of your congregation take you up on the invitation to join you at the other parish.

    The day went on and I got the attitude adjustment I needed, though not in the way I expected. When I got to work, I discovered that after a week of rain and a windy night, a ginormous tree had fallen across the road by the next property to ours, breaking 7 power poles and taking out the power until tomorrow morning at best. No copier, no computer, no heat (not like Rev Dr, but still darn chilly), etc. But we pulled together, figured out alternate ways of getting things done, and had a fun time even! In the midst of this, 4 sheriffs with guns drawn suddenly came rushing into our office; at some point the alarm system triggered, the alarm co. didn't get through to us on the phones because they were dead, so they sent the sheriffs.

    The upshot of all this was that I realized I am grateful for a usually-warm office and great colleagues, for sheriffs who risk themselves to keep us safe, for the power I take for granted, and for workers who will be out all day and night to replace those lines and poles. I am also grateful for this place, where I could come to be honest, which was the first step in feeling better. And when I got home, the boys had indeed put the tree in the house in its stand :-)

  49. We have a Christmas Eve Candlelight service that's typically lessons and carols format with a shorter homily for me. I decided to trick myself into not procrastinating for Sunday by writing that reflection first (we're doing more lessons and carols there but also with a shorter homily). So Sunday's reflection on the Matthew text is done...although I don't love it. I have a good start on tomorrow's reflection but feel stuck. We got the news this week that my grandmother is dying (she's a few states away) and so I'm struggling to be present here. It's good to know others are struggling too...somehow that lessens the burden.

    Blessings to all as you write, preach, sing and console...

  50. Mir - welcome, and hope you find here some respite and hope...and if all else fails I have lots of home baked goodies (oatmeal/white chocolate/cranberrie cookies; molasses cookies; apple raisin pie; cinnamon rolls; orange cranberry bread - yeah I have been busy doing something) - what can I get you?

  51. I'm now in the strange position of having Sunday's sermon finished, but not tomorrow night's!
    I spent the past hour wrapping because my kids are out, and now I'm pooped. Looks like it will have to wait for morning.
    To all who are coping with end of life issues, my heart goes out to you.

  52. Oatmeal/white chocolate/cranberry cookies? Oh, yum! Where do I get in line? Thanks for hosting, Terri.

    Verif word is "sighst" which sounds to me like a German version of what many of us are doing about now, something between sighs of despair and relief while trying to clear our vision.

  53. Hmm, okay, I went the funny route but it didn't work out so well. So I'm off to the land of Sweet and Sentimental.

  54. Pas to Kathy - That is exactly my theory with Christmas Eve. It's the only chance to get to some of them. I save the Lessons and Carols for the faithful remnant who show up the first Sunday of Christmas.

  55. Well my friends. It's been a day...and an other preacher's party.

    I will hold each of you in prayer tomorrow, Sat. and Sunday as you break open the word and celebrate the love of God made flesh.

    I will pray for those of you celebrating new life even as those you love are coming to the end of this life.

    I will pray for those of you who are suffering, struggling, broken, lost, worried, filled with despair - and still, still, opening the Word of peace, of hope.

    May the grace of God be with you -

    ...and remember the Holy Spirit has your back.

  56. Just looking for my beginning, then I think this one will write itself. Finally got House Hunters turned off so that will help.

  57. Finished before dinner time, very strange, but maybe we will get the tree put up at home tonight.
    here is the 'sermon', which links with the children's time/activity. I ask what is important about Christmas, and [hopefully] the answers are Jesus, then tree, decorations, food, family, presents, holidays ... all the things that we have to celebrate the birth of Jesus can make the Christmas story hard to see.

    What makes Christmas?

    Christmas Eve here, hope your preparations go well.
    about to make chicken salad if anyone is interested, there is plenty.

  58. I'm dropping in to say, "hi." I have 12/24 in hand but 12/26 is nothing. I may tweak 12/24 tomorrow but I may not. I would like to not write on 12/25 for 12/26 but I don't know how realistic that is. Nonetheless, Merry Christmas

  59. Ugh. I fell asleep and still have nothing written for Christmas Eve. Let's see what we can do here...

  60. Hmm...1069 words and I may have a Christmas Eve sermon! Yay!

  61. Hello, middle-of-the-nighters!
    My kids want to do one last blast of shopping, and we also need to get a few things at the grocery store for tomorrow. (Yes, I shopped already, I just forgot a few things.)
    And I need to do something for the 11 p.m. I say I'm adapting an old meditation, but I'm not sure I'll stick to that once I start writing. I just know it's about angels.
    Coffee, anyone?

  62. hi folks,

    here it is xmas eve morning and not a word of my sermon written. ugh! I need some inspiration and fast. Where's teh Antonio Bandaras when you need him with sermon in hand.

    back to the sandmines.

  63. I was up way too late last night and have Way too little to show. I'm having a hard time getting the thoughts in my head to sound as good on paper. Oh well. I'll get to that later. This morning is all about decorating the birthday cakes for Jesus. This is not my gift, but I do enjoy it!

  64. Working on Christmas Eve, but thoughts of Christmas 1 keep intruding. Can't seem to keep them straight and separate! only need a short one for lessons and carols, but want to give the gospel to those who only come once a year! AND it's my first Christmas Eve in the pulpit. no stress. nope. Lots of chocolate macaroons and brutti ma buoni here to share -- guaranteed gluten free!

  65. Glad to find the party and know I can always 'drop in' here. many thanks!
    C.Eve is done, just some words of transition really, but after Sunday's (19th) choppy service, I've been paranoid all week and working to making this one SMOOTH.
    Today I'm working on the 26th. I'm using resources (Thank you Lavon Bayler) everywhere I can, just need a short meditation to follow up all the singing.
    Still need to go out, shower and all that stuff. (sigh) Tomorrow I cook a turkey for the 1st in many years. should be fun. ?

  66. daughter woke up nauseous this morning and feels awful. I can't come up with anything "new" this year for Christmas Eve. Maybe I just need to sit with what's been done before and see how God speaks to me. 3 hours until I need to be at church for the pre-prep . . .

  67. Yipee - I figured out Xmas 1! I have a baptism and was wondering how to work the Slaughter of the Innocents into that. Think I'll ignore it. I'm taking apart psalm 148,literally. I took each thing, "sun", "moon", etc.. put them on scraps of paper and will have kids help me hand then out to the adults. I'll call out "moon" and whoever has that has to come up with a way the moon praises God. I'll end with the question, "how do all peoples praise God?" Somehow I'll work in the baptized!
    and worshipful Christmas Eve everyone.
    Blessing for a sucessful

  68. akpastor -- great idea! I like it a lot!

    OK, I finally finished Christmas Eve (with a couple hours to spare!) -- focusing on the interruption that the shepherds received and how often we miss God-with-us because we don't like interruptions.

  69. AK Pastor, I love your idea!

    I'm done with the sermon; it has lots of repeating phrases (family service), so now I have to get those down smoothly. First, though, it's time to decorate the tree!

    Blessings to all as we enter into the joy of the Incarnation.

  70. Just dropping by to wish you all a blessed Christmas.

    Hubby may be down for the count - so I may end up flying solo. Have the start of my reflection, but will add a little more if he is not up to speed in the next couple of hours.

    Details, details, details abound. May the Spirit help us keep them straight!

  71. Christmas service is over, ad libbed the reflection after the ' children's ' talk.
    for a congregation that averages 50-55 each Sunday, 75 at Carols on Thursday evening, and 130-140 this morning.
    As one of the RevGals said this week, hopefully enough to give people something to think about.

    God bless those of you still preparing.

  72. Hi - not preaching this weekend (lessons and carols tonite, sponaneous pageant on Sunday), so just dropping in last minute to say hi. On our way to the 8pm service and then home to lots of wrapping and other readiness stuff.

    Thinking of you all with gratitude and praying for peace, hope, joy, love for all of you in the coming year.


  73. Ha! The word verf for this comment is


    which somehow seems funny on a christmas night!

    juniper again (too lazy to sign in for some reason)


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