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Saturday, January 08, 2011

11th Hour Preacher Party: Special Days edition

Baptism of Christ, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
It's one of those recurring days in the church calendar, the Baptism of Christ or Baptism of the Lord, depending on your tradition. At the Preacher Party, we sometimes hear frustration with those days that come up every year, with only a little speck of difference between the way the gospels tell it. Sometimes that sends me to art or music for further inspiration, and the image above certainly has me thinking. (Who are those little people down in the font-like river?)

What do you have planned for tomorrow? Will you have a modern-day baptism to lead into the telling of the old story? Will you ritualize a remembrance of baptism for the congregation? Or are you headed in another direction altogether?

Sorry for the late start today! I promise Fair Trade coffee and those delicious Molasses Glazed Donuts from Tony's to make up for it. Join us in the comments and let's get each other to the other side of this one.


  1. My plans made earlier in the week are a hash, unfortunately, so after leading a book group this morning, I have a whole sermon to write. It has a title, but hopefully by early afternoon, it will have a point I'm pursuing!
    I'll be in and out this morning, back with you to stay around lunchtime.

  2. well...we are going with Epiphany this Sunday...last year SP focused on New Years, and left me to choose either baptism or Epiphany. Our MM had special music for Epiphany which sealed the deal...and now I am scratching out something. Have to try and get it finished in a couple of hours as the rest of the day is crazy...and tonight is a family retreat!

  3. oh..all we have is leftover pizza (not very weight watchers of me...) which anyone is welcome too. also free trade coffee.
    SB, pass those maple glazed donuts over here!

  4. We have a similar issue with music, but despite my telling him that we were doing Epiphany on the 9th, my sub for last week preached about the Magi and used a dictionary to explain Epiphany to the kids. So I am moving on to the baptism, which I love to preach, but the choir will be bringing us one last Christmas anthem.

  5. yes, we are doing Baptism of Our Lord, but not baptism or baptismal remembrance (although I've done that in the past).

    I kind of have a sermon, but it gets a little ranty, so I have to fix it. Don't know why it's so ranty. I mean, baptism of our Lord is a gracious message...

    I have a lot of people I need to connect with. (I've been gone.) I have a funeral on Monday also.

    Also, I need a good children's message. ideas???

    and, I have a cold. I think I'm getting over it, but I woke up sneezing and stuffed up again. what's that about?

    hey!!! thanks for the donuts. delish.

    I have the blueberry pancakes, in a little while, if anyone's interested...

  6. Hmmm. Also am being driven by the needs of the music director to sing Epiphany anthems, despite the fact that I specifically said we were doing Baptism of the Lord in order to tie in with the ordinations/ installations of deacons and elders.

    So: the sermon title is "Gifted." Will talk briefly about the magi and the significance (practically speaking) of their gifts, and the fact that the big "gift" required for ordination is baptism. A mishmash, but, hey, gotta go with the flow.

    And the word verification is: angsti. Yup.

  7. Hi Pals,

    My MM is also doing epiphany themed anthems but I had my epiphany sermon last week. Oh well.

    I will be preaching on baptism of Christ tomorrow and how the baptism was the epiphany of Jesus' active ministry. Well I think it will go in that direction. We will see what the sermon looks like once it is done.

  8. Oh yeah. And the title? It's all I've got. That's why I'm here!

  9. Mag,

    Love the tie in between the gifts of the magi and the gift of baptism. I'll see what I can do with it in my sermon.

  10. Since my people heard an apparently lengthy discourse on myrrh last week, I really have to move on.
    For the children, what about talking through what we do at baptism and letting them "baptize" a baby doll? Then explain that even though we just got finished talking about Baby Jesus, he was baptized as a grown-up, etc.
    I often hear that our kIds don't know basics about church and prayer and such, so I want to take any opportunity I can get to teach our two sacraments. I realize my idea is no help to any Baptists or Disciples among us, because we wouldn't want to immerse the baby doll!!!

  11. blOh Songbird, how very Godly Play-ish of you to baptize the baby doll. Go for it!

    MM, I love how you mash up Epiphany and Baptism....

    Diane, feel better. Didn't you have a children's sermon for epiphany last year with following a star balloon? Does anybody remember that?

    GG-go for it!

    Also, lengthy discussion on myrhh? Am I missing something?

    632 words in and it's not even 9:30 am. Yay.

  12. Supply preaching. I wanted to do something with Epiphany and gifts for this congregation about to begin the call process, but did not get a timely response to my request for info about what they did last week. As a result, it turns out: no Epiphany for them at all. Instead, two weeks on the marks of the church, this one on sacraments, specifically baptism and our identity as God's beloved sons and daughters.

    I am going to talk a bit about my own baptism, which I in fact remember since I was in my late 20s, and how clueless I was about what I was getting into -- clearly God at work.

    I am still in bed on the computer, but I think I could go down and produce some poached eggs.

  13. Songbird: Thanks for a fantastic children's message idea! I'm also meeting with several (unbaptized) children & their families to discuss baptism, so the children's message will be a helpful lead-in!
    For the sermon, I'm playing up the interaction between John and Jesus as a moment of each trying to care for & serve the other. Title: "Cleaning Each Other Up." Also adapting Is 42:1-9 as a blessing. (That's as far as I've gotten!)

  14. Inital thoughts on Tuesday went in the direction of focusing on baptism. The Spirit had other ideas as I wrote on Thursday. The Isaiah text is front and center.

    Title: God'd Song. One commentary suggested there is a heartbeat, rhythm, a song which reverberates throughout the Servant Songs...and so the sermon was born with that image.

    It does lead into the Matthew text as the end of Isaiah talks about new things "coming forth". I am not using Isaiah as a prediction of Jesus but allowing Isaiah to stand by itself.

    I may even play a snippet of music which has a significant beat to it. We will see.

    And...we are predicted for anywhere from 10-15 inches of snow between this afternoon and Monday morning.

    Pizza always works :-)

  15. Good morning, y'all!

    I am not up tomorrow, but I do have a funeral to preach this afternoon. I finished a draft of my sermon around midnight last night and now I need to spend sometime honing it. I'm not feeling great about it yet.

    Thank you to those of you who encouraged me and prayed for me last week, as I prepared to preach at my home church. It went really well, beyond my expectations, really. My parents were so pleased and proud that they ordered several DVDs of the service, to send to some of their friends. I'm very glad I accepted the invitation to preach, even though I had wanted to just relax and enjoy my vacation.

    All right, back to my sermon prep. Wish I had some yummies to share, but our pantry and fridge are both still pretty bare following our trip.

  16. Good morning! It's so good to be back at the Preacher Party. My sermon is almost done - it's called "Fleshing it Out." It's kind of last week's 'word made flesh' scripture with Jesus' baptism. I like my ending - not sure about the rest. Am also hoping to finish up Robin Meyer's "Saving Jesus from the Church."

  17. Good Moring everyone! I'm just getting started on actuallly writing. I got a mid-week call to supply this Sunday, so I got a late start on my sermon prep work.

    When I sat down to work, I got intriqued earlier with the John-Jesus conversation (only) in Matthew which opened up the questions why did Jesus get baptized and just how did that filful God's righteousness?

    Yesterday, I started to play with an actual 'conversation' between John and Jesus. As I went over it in my head, the point started to be more about John's confusion: What! You want ME to baptize YOU. It's supposed to be the other way around!

    I don't see how the two lines of thought mesh up. But I guess I'll start writing and see where it goes.

    I'm finishing up the last of my morning coffee - now room temp. But at lunch time I will have heirloom tomatoe, basil pesto and mozzerella sandwiches to share.

  18. back again. sigh. I'm getting really tired of saturday night preaching right now.

    I don't know if it was last year, but yes, I did have an epiphany children's message one year with following a star balloon. If you want to connect with baptism, the children can follow it to the baptismal font.

    I love your idea, Songbird. However, in the interim I thought about something I did long ago where I had the children up around the baptismal font and talked about what happens at a baptism, and told them that the their parents, godparents and the congregation make promises to them. Then I'll have the congregation do that again... having each child say their name, and asking the question, do you promise to .... guide this child, etc. and have the congregation say, "we do."

    now, back to sermon.

  19. Hi, Friends! I am not preaching at all tomorrow, and I am grateful because I'm one of those for whom the baptism of Jesus shows up more often than I can think of new ways to preach about it.

    For children (and of great interest to adults, I have found): if you are doing Epiphany or are willing to go down that road for a moment, explaining marking doorways in an Epiphany house blessing and blessing chalk for folks to take home and do it themselves is easy.

    I still have lots of Christmas sweets around and offer them gladly!

  20. oh yeah, and my sermon: we were at Kennedy Space Center last week and remembered the 1969 space landing with the famous "One small step for a man."

    And I connected this with Jesus' baptism, which doesn't SEEM like a big thing, but is a part of God's great mission to love and bless the world.

    And then the connection to our baptism is this: that our baptism is also about this. Not just about the promises God gives us, but about each of us becoming a part of God's plan, god's mission.

    So, why does my draft sound so lame?

  21. How many games of Zuma's revenge does it take to get the sermon out of my head and onto paper. I'll let you know.

  22. good question, G_G.

    Well, I got a sermon. we'll see how it goes at the early edition tonight.

  23. Hi everyone. I am just back from a funeral, and from a meeting with the jr. warden and sexton about yes,God help me, another looming crisis in our heating system. Please, God, let this stop. Long story short we have to replace steam pipes under the floor of our 19th century building. Can we say $$$$$$$?

    So we're doing the baptism of Jesus tomorrow. We had an Epiphany service on Thursday night, so the magi have been dispatched :) Playing off the fact that yesterday was the 5th anniversary of my priestly ordination, I'm going to go with the theme of Jesus' baptism as his "ordination" for his ministry and how our baptisms are our ordinations for ministry -- since we are ALL ministers of the church. Not new or original I know, but I'm not sure my congregation has much familiarity with the concept of "baptismal ministry" and we need to work on it.

  24. Hi all! After my big debut last week I am heartily grateful to have no responsibility tomorrow beyond attending liturgy committee, taking part in discussion, and presenting the beginnings of the Lent special services committee's discernment. Which is made trickier by the fact that people beyond me aren't picking up on an email conversation begun by one member challenging one of our directions from last Sunday. But it's a small and friendly group so I am trying not to stress about it.

    Slept way late, took teenager out for usual mom-son brunch and now I have a massage at the massage school...hopefully better than the last one. Made sure it was a different student.

    Earthchick, I am so glad! What a great reward for your courage and generosity.

    For those having to manage Epiphany-baptism mash-ups it may help to know that traditionally Epiphany celebrated three manifestations of Jesus as the Chosen One: magi, baptism, and first miracle at Cana. Reflected in the, to me, lovely old hymn to Salzburg, "Songs of Thankfulness and Praise" (especially when it's changed to God in flesh made manifest, v. in man). I used that on Thursday mass in the chapel and brought in that day's Gospel, Luke's version of Jesus first act analogous to Cana in John, i.e. the synagogue proclamation of Isaiah and saying he--like us--is anointed by the Spirit to bring good news to the poor, etc.

  25. Baptism of the Lord for me- and the children's sermon will deal with all the uses of water- and will lead to the cleansing we receive in our baptism.

    And oh yes, I will have a small water pistol in my pocket to spray the kids with at the end and then send them down to Sunday School and let the SS teachers deal with the repercussions. :) (Sunday School teacher knows and evevn told me where to go to get the water pistol...)

    Sermon title is: Remembering Whose We Are and will end with the opportunity to come forward to remember their baptism.

    No words on paper yet- as I walk by the computer doing laundry I type in a few thoughts... Hopefully the HS will take those thoughts ands help me put them into sermon form by the end of the day.

  26. Spent most of the week on end of year financials and getting ready for a session meeting. Not so much sermon prep.

    Epiphany here, using the Isa text with all nations will come, referencing God's promise to Abraham that all nations will be blessed through him, and we are supposed to be shining forth the light to which they come. Ok, maybe this is another 3 sermons in one and that's why I can't write it. Time for another cup of tea.

    and REALLY wishing I hadn't used that mirror reflecting light with the kids a few weeks ago!!!

    G_G, let me know, Bejeweled Blitz here, going on, well, let's just say I'd be best to stop counting.....

  27. I'm on to tea from coffee, at least for now. Ate an early lunch and am finally at computer, but not writing yet. I'm on Acts 10; a story I LOVE. So I'm going to tell the whole thing which should take most of my time, then during the "sermon" merely (hopefully) reflect on the implications.
    Our denom has a "conversation" in the afternoon for this region about same-sex covenantal relationships. I figured the Acts 10 was the perfect text to go with. Since we are one of the few open/affirming churches, we have lots to share, but will we?

  28. I have a baptism tommorrow morning, so I'm going with Baptism of Christ. SB - I love the children's story idea. Our children really appreciate a hands-on learning experience (like the time I set up a picnic blanket with a basket of bread and juice to illustrate communion) - so I think they will enjoy this too.

    Sermon - Ack!!! I've got zero on paper at this point.

    I'm thinking of looking at humility. Jesus humbled himself before John despite John's resistence. It was necessary for Jesus to find that place of inner-servanthood before he began his ministry.

    He needed to believe and to experience true humility - not humiliation, which is something else entirely - but humility, the kind that gives the gift of perspective. Sometimes I wonder if he needed that perspective before he began calling his disciples. Without it, would he have presumed that he could do his ministry alone? I doubt it, but perhaps that could be a good way to illustrate that Jesus *still* isn't spreading the good news alone - he needs all of us too...

    sorry - stream of consciousness going on here. Time for more tea....

  29. It's a record! I think I might actually have a working story sermon (and BEFORE 2:00?!!!). I just posted the rough draft at my blog, Ramblings of a Jesus Freak,

    If any of you can take the time to check it out,I can use suggestions!

    Diane, I love your children's sermon idea. There's a team to do the children's sermon, so I'm not responsible, but I'll hold on to your idea just in case the children's sermonator doesn't show! Thanks!

  30. Hi, y'all, I'm back. I forgot I had a couple coming in to discuss wedding plans after the book group. Thank goodness they were early and I didn't leave!
    First time doing pre-marital counseling since my own separation, so that was a little strange for me.
    I was ready to start writing when I heard the news about Congresswoman Gifford (Arizona) being shot, and now I am reading what news I can find about the situation, praying for those involved.

  31. Both kids have stuff today so I'm jumping on long enough to send posts to email.

    I'll be back.

    later, much later

  32. Hello everyone! I missed you last week even though I was on vacation. There isn't much in the house, but later I can offer up some yummy Korean soup.

    I was welcomed back by a head cold, a blizzard, and the forecast for more snow my hopes for a snow day are threatening my feeble work ethic. Especially since I suddenly am being asked to do Epiphany at one church and Baptism of our Lord at the other. So I'm really pondering Magdalene's great idea of gifts and giftedness as a way to possibly only writing one sermon instead of two!

    Also just found out a beloved shut-in died last night, which is both a blessing and a grief.

  33. hi, back briefly before going in to practice.

    for some reason feel more nervous than usual.

  34. also praying for those in Tucson, including the congresswoman. unbelievable.

  35. Re-engaging with the world after an Officer's Retreat and nap. Thank you ABC Family for Ice Age and now Happy Feet. My hands have been full with said retreat and an upcoming staff transition so the sermon... needs help.

    Connecting baptism with the Ordination/Installation of officers with a sermon titled 'Yes, You'. The funny thing was we realized the church signs reads: "Yes, You Rev. Johnston"

    So much for tv provided respite - the dogs are whining. Off to the dog park to wear out everyone except me, I hope.

    Prayers ascending for the senseless violence in this world. Damn.

  36. Well, so far I have a heading...totally distracted by FB and all the news about the Gifford shooting and the Palin-target rhetoric.

    Lord,have mercy.

  37. RDM, I'm with you. I can't get my head on my sermon at all.

  38. I got a sermon, but it seems lame now. practice and perhaps lots of revision in order before the edition tomorrow a.m.

    but for tonight, this will have to do.

  39. Sorry I didn't stop in earlier. There was major sermonating to do so I could have it ready to preach to my supervisor. He liked it. Yeah! I didn't have to make any revisions, so you can find it over at my place. It's a bit late off to confirmation class.

  40. Friends, I'm having trouble getting my mind on my sermon. Anyone else?

  41. Back from the funeral, just had a late lunch and am now catching up online with the news of the shooting in Arizona. So distressing! I just read that the Congresswoman is expected to pull through but that a young child has died. :(

    Lord, have mercy.

  42. I'm struggling too... no words.

  43. Ironically, the sermon title I published in the bulletin is "Put it into Words," something I could use help with right about now.

  44. Stupid question: When did it get dark? Geez, I feel like I am really out of it. My email told me of the breaking news but Iam just now following the links.
    I think I've got my words, brief tho they are. I'll be wishing for something this short next week after spending all fri-sat at church retreat then a full sunday. what was I thinking? I should have made THAT sunday communion... Next year, I'll remember that.
    best wishes to all for tonight's writing. I'm off to check news and joining in prayers for congresswoman and others.

  45. way behind schedule for preparing the sermon this week - we had the Bishop and confirmations and baptism last week (gospel was slaughter of the innocents so the Bp preached on Ephesians adoption language), we had our big Epiphany service Thursday night since our parish is Church of the Epiphany. Tomorrow will be baptism of Jesus and I'm talking about Jesus' participation in a human ritual as a way of identifying with those he loved so much...also tying it to the referendum in Sudan since we have a group of Sudanese parishioners, and how we are all invited to identify so much with our Sudanese brothers and sisters that we participate in this election with them in prayer. Even though we do not "need" to vote, as Jesus did not "need" to be baptized, we stand in solidarity with them by prayer and love, as Jesus stood in solidarity with humankind by participating in baptism. It is, after all, the righteous, if a little bit illogical, thing to do. And God calls us to do righteous and illogical things all the time, doesn't God?

    It's a bit of a stretch, but it's what I've got after a major party at my house for our Vestry last night and a Vestry retreat all day today. Just call me tired out.

  46. I'm back from a presbytery meeting and have next to nothing written. I know where I want to end up and have been semi-excited about it, but I'm less than semi-excited now. Not even in relation to the day's events (local and national). I'm just not feeling very motivated.

    The short version of where I'm going - - I'm announcing a 6-9 month mission/outreach effort in which our congregation will partner with a local non-profit "school" and summer day camp program for youth and young adults with disabilities (autism, Down's syndrome, to much more complex medical and developmental issues) to build a garden (food-producing and just general beautification) and green space on their property. They will provide most of the funding and a professional landscaper (who happens to be a church member) to do the major land prep and heavy lifting "stuff." We will provide the other volunteer labor, seed starting, who knows what else. I am fired up about this project and am excited to announce it. I'm a little down that I had planned to have 4-5 congregation members tapped to be commissioned as the main leaders of the effort. I've got 3 and don't know if I'll have more. I do have 2 other project leaders identified, too, so I guess I really have 5 leaders, but not the 4-5 for the core team. I've got one more call in right now, but I'm expecting a positive response. How bad is that?

    Anyway (this isn't the short version anymore is it?) - - I'm preaching the baptism as the start of Jesus ministry and as a "model" (I hate that word) for our ministry, too. First he had to leave home (went down from Nazareth in Galilee) - - we have to get outside of our 4 walls, our "home." Next, he and John had to work together to fulfill all righteousness (there's an "us" in there) - - we have to work together. I'm calling it "Flying Together" because an amazing artist in our congregation painted a Christmas painting for our chancel area that is a subtle sunrise over a lake with a flock of geese taking flight up out of the water. The geese are actually aluminum flashing spray painted gold fixed "3-D" to the oil painting on canvas. Hard to describe, but beautiful.

    Our music and arts director "riffed" off that for our Wed night service and stretched fishing line diagonally across the chancel (from the communion table to the side wall) to which attached simple origami birds on which we wrote our hopes, dreams, prayers, and promises for 2011. We left that up after the Wed night service and will invite Sunday morning folks to add to it. It looks awesome.

    Daughter - - A totally non-judgmental, meant-in-love request - - Could maybe the water pistol be skipped this week? I'm just thinking that in light of a school shooting in Omaha, NE that left an administrator dead and the shooting today in Arizona, maybe even toy guns don't need to be a part of worship, especially the children's message. Truly, I don't mean this in an ugly way, but I wonder if the timing is off for that bit of fun.

  47. Holy cow. I'm so sorry. That was ridiculous. I'll be quiet now.

  48. She Rev-
    No offense taken! I hadn't heard of the shootings until just a little bit ago. I have a wonderful spray bottle that will work just as well and won't bring up the idea of guns in worship.

    And... I just looked at the water pistol I bought and its actually a cap gun. Go figure! And the caps weren't included! Must have been a God thing.

  49. Sermon rough draft done. Here it is:

    Now to write some prayers, liturgy, confirmation class.

  50. Awesome, Daughter. Thanks for not taking offense!

  51. Funny how things work; I'd been sort of excited about my sermon topic all week, and now that I have it written, I'm much less excited. Well, I still the the topic is good, but my execution of it may be lacking. I'm afraid it might be heard as me laying a guilt trip because I'm asking people to consider their role as ministers--even in doing the mundane things like providing coffee hour.

    I guess I'll let it sit for an hour or so and see what I think...

    SheRev, fwiw, I agree about the water pistol, and Daughter, I think the spray bottle will nicely make your point!

  52. well, the early edition is preached. My voice is totally shot so I need to shut up for the evening, something I think my husband will be grateful for.

    I did not get the shooting in the early edition, as Diana Butler Bass recommended. I did add to the prayers.

  53. God_Guurrlll: Your sermon covers the same points that spoke to me this week. I'm trying to convey the same ideas through story. It's kinda amazing to read yours and hear everything that's been rattling around in my mind all week!

  54. It's a lot easier to tell people to preach something than it is to be the pastor and preach it, especially on short notice. Not that I don't agree with her, Diane, but still. To add something to a prayer is one thing. To re-form or completely form a new sermon in a very short period of time is not everyone's gift or even always within the realm of possibility for those of us who are manuscript preachers. I'm wrestling with this myself.

  55. Hi, all. This is my first time coming here on Saturday night. I am so glad this place exists.

    I am nearly at my wits end and just had a wire pop out of my permanent retainer, so can't even comfort myself with food!

    Since my hubby and I just hosted our annual open house party at the manse last night, I am still exhausted, but thought I had my sermon worked out earlier this week. Now that I look at my ramblings, I am very uninspired and now becoming frantic.

    My thought was that the theology of baptism seems to be changing from a salvation-act to well, a lot of things: a beginning, a community commitment, a theophany of the trinity(which is now also changing to a relational model, rather than a 3-in1 mystery) and a human ceremony of something that the Divine has already done in us but we need to take the time to recognize. All of these ideas lead me to want to know what the congregation thinks happens at baptism, including what the children think. So I was going to just point blank open up the floor. Now I am second guessing myself. Comments please!

    The one thought that is new for me this year is that baptism cannot be done to,or for one person. There have to be at least two people involved and God too. So could that possibly a new aspect of the trinity and one that represents how we are in relation to God in all our ministry. A new way of looking at others-centeredness?

    Also, on Tuesday, took out the prayer of confession from the bulletin with the intention of encouraging each worshipper to come to the baptismal font to repent and touch the physical element required in baptism. So, I have to end up there with sermon.

    Don't know if this will help any of you, but I could use your comments.

  56. Kathleen, welcome! I love exploring the idea of the act of Baptism as relational. It gives you a chance to educate but also to inspire. Even when we look at Baptism as something that marks what is already true (this child/person belongs to God), which is definitely my way of looking at it, something *happens* in the act, and perhaps it's the movement of God's Spirit not only in the person/child being baptized but in all who are present. (Can you tell I'm Congregational?)

  57. Okay...I too had enthusiasm earlier in the week for the Acts text, and time and the shootings today have taken the wind out of my sails. My plan was to talk about our transition from Jesus-as-a-child with the Magi last week to all-grown-up Jesus; how baby Jesus is a lot less demanding and rewarding than grown-up Jesus. Sounded better before today.
    And I have to turn off the tv because I'm tired of yelling at news snippets that are (already) talking about the federal judge that was killed and ignoring the child. It was horrific all the way around, but somehow that really hacks me off.
    Venting over.
    I'm off to dinner before I write some more: teriyaki pork tenderloin, steamed broccoli, and spinach salad. Happy to share.

  58. Anne, I imagine they are talking about the judge because they have permission to discuss him and don't have permission to discuss the child. If that's any consolation. There were nineteen people injured or killed, so that's a lot of families to notify appropriately.

  59. I know, Songbird. It's the offhand mentions that get me...I don't expect to hear any details or even learn the child's name. But the local station is talking about those two to the exclusion of anyone else. Permission to share information aside, all the victims are important.
    Ranting again--I'm sorry.
    For some reason, I'm just really wound up about it. And my sermon? It's a shambles.

  60. Welcome Kathleen! Good to have you with us!

  61. This may seem out of step but, unless a tragedy like that shooting happened in or very near to our community it would NOT be part of the sermon--especially when it happens on Saturday (another "unlkess" would be if it fit in naturally with the them/message of the sermon). And then it would because the sermon was almost wholly reworked to respnd to the incident. Prayers maybe but not the sermon.

    Or maybe that is just me

  62. Friends, I like many of you am struggling. We ordain/install elders and deacons tomorrow and it directly follows the sermon. If I take Diana Butler Bass' suggested tact - and it is a good one - then I fear I end the sermon in a place that makes it quite hard for the immediate transition that is needed to the ordination/installation.

    Still working...

  63. Hi All - checking in after a full day of new officers orientation and then ice skating with my little guys. Now finally to my sermon which had a weak start early this morning, but after catching up on posts here I went to look closer at the news cycles to see if there's anything that absolutely must go into the sermon...

    Still intending to preach on baptism, was planning on doing a bit of teaching on the purpose and point - thinking about identity and the way our baptisms mark God's claiming and naming of each of us as God's own. Perhaps it will connect with the idea that we are God's before we are anything else - including political or anything else... It's a peripheral note but still an important one...

    The sermon title is "Walking Wet" - which I'm sure I picked up from somewhere but can't really remember where...

    I guess it's time to brew some tea and start typing. Lately I've been hooked on Mary Twining Spiced... And I think there's Trader Joe's cookies... I'm offering for the later-night crew, since it looks like it's gonna be one here...

  64. Gord, I think the difference for those of us who live in the U.S. is that one of these people is a Congresswoman, a national public servant, and we can't help making the comparison to our own. I know I've been haunted today by the thought that this could have been our Chellie Pingree at the Hannaford half a mile from my house. We have this idea of what kind of country we live in, and this event threatens that idea, and it's a good question what our faith has to do with our citizenship and our relationships with people who are different due to race or national origin or political persuasion or religious affiliation or lack thereof.
    The other thing that struck me as I watched the press conference at 8 is that the law enforcement people really knew some of the victims. The web of community has been damaged directly.
    What that has to do with Jesus, I don't know, except that when I'm upset, I want to believe God cares! So that's where I'm going at the moment, with reminders that our shock at the way one person treated a lot of other people today has a parallel in the shock we ought to feel at how people treated God's Beloved Son. I hope it's going to end up in a place that challenges and comforts, both, maybe because that's what I need tonight.

  65. I've been a bit out of the loop today. We don't have cable or satelite, so I haven't gotten much about the shootings. I'm looking for suggestions on how to 'check the news cycle' (as revjulie puts it) via the internet. MSN didn't give me much today.

    I'm with Gord on this. Most likely, I'll put it in the prayers. Of course, I'm supplying tomorrow and have no idea how news like this will affect the congregaiton to which I am preaching.

  66. I see your point SB (and obviously we each make our own decisions) but part of the issue is that I have no idea a) how many people have heard of these stories or b) what impact it makes on them.

    Meanwhilee I am struggling to come up with the aplication piece. I am preaching on The J&J SHow as we look at the relationship between John and Jesus. But what does it have to do with how we live as faithful people today? The b est I have thus far is that sometimes we need John's apparent harshness to call us to account. But that don't sound all that uplifting....

  67. Gord, today's events affect the sermon-writing. They will not likely make it into the sermon...but the Virginia Tech shootings a few years ago did. Songbird's comment about this is right on, I think-it could just as easily been one of our local congresspersons at the Food Lion.
    That said, I think I'm just on the wrong track with my sermon and need to start over. And it's really too late for that. But here I go...

  68. Oh right, Children's TIme! I got zip. I may default to talk about baptism but little else in the whole service is talking about baptism. And somehow John the Baptist doesn't strike me as a chhild-friendly character

  69. At first I wasn't but now I'm with you, Songbird.
    I cannot preach on baptism - and the vows that come with it - without addressing today's events.

    Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior, trusting in his grace and love?

    Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love?

    Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world?

    How do I preach on baptism and not address that we have witnessed the power of evil in this world practically firsthand today - and yet vow to renounce it.

    How do I preach on baptism and not address that obeying His Word and showing his love are action verbs, especially in the light of an event that is dangerously close to stunning us into silence and inaction?

    How do I preach the Good News in the shadow that has been cast by the news of a 9 year old girl's senseless death?

    Our nation's rhetoric has once again driven someone who is unstable to do the unthinkable and although we may not be in Arizona, there is still blood on our hands and ONLY the waters of baptism can wash them off.

  70. I also might add that I am a bit disappointed that I will have to jettison my Matthew Schoeffling (Jake in 16 Candles) illustration.

    I have always thought Kathryn Schoeffling had a beautiful ring to it.

  71. Oh, kjz, he was so cute! I had a little crush on him too.
    And sb is right. That will preach, and maybe give me a place to go to resurrect my sermon as well. Thanks!

  72. And we'll have chocolate chip cookies from the oven any minute now. I'm having mine with cocoa chai.

  73. I just read Diana Butler Bass' article and I am torn. I think she is right in many ways, but I wonder if tomorrow is too soon to preach about it? Before we know more about what happened, before we have a chance to back off the rhetoric that is zinging around the internet tonight? I just don't know.

    And the practical reality, which SB alluded to, is the difficulty of crafting a sermon that speaks to this at this late point. I don't think I can do it. Maybe that is a cop out, I don't know.

    Finally, in my congregation, political opinions will be all over the place. I believe this issue transcends politics, but some won't. I just know that I have to tread lightly and what my heart cries out to say won't necessarily be well received. For me that's another reason to give it some more time.

    It will be in the prayers for sure. Our prayers of the people already contain a section where intercessions for the victims and for an end to this madness will be appropriate.

    And blessings on you preachers who will tackle this tomorrow.

  74. kjz, those really are some great thoughts.

    Y'all, I don't know the Diana Butler Bass reference y'all are making - can someone do a little linkydo? I've inferred what she's said, but I'd be interested in reading what she actually wrote.

    We include stuff like this in our prayers and only address it homiletically after we've had time to process it more thoroughly. There have been a few times when something so huge happened that it totally changed my preaching plans - September 11 is actually the only one I can think of right now. Other events - the tsunami of 2004, Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti - I did not address immediately. I would say maybe within a month. I feel like unless I have a clear and compelling word to say about an immediate event, it belongs in the prayers more than in the sermon. But I'm open to the possibility of clear and compelling words coming to me.

    At any rate, I'm interested in reading the DBB reference.

    And now - on to my Sunday School lesson and prayer prep.

  75. Thanks, SB! Good article, and very thoughtful comments. It will definitely be informing my prayers for tomorrow, at the very least.

  76. Earthchick, I am usually right there with you. For instance, I did not - and still have not - used the Chilean miners as a sermon illustration.

    In this case I have written to vent and then cut out political references (including blasting news channels and pundits) and put it solely on what does it mean to take our baptism vows seriously - to reflect the light that breaks through the darkness - even when it is just so damn dark!

  77. I rarely relate events from Saturday into a Sunday sermon, but y'all have got me thinking.

    It was very dangerous, but also very necessary that Jesus would leave his safer Galilee to go to the Jordan to be known and recognized as a John the Baptizer ally. He purposely went to the people and put himself in a position of humility to make his point that that is where our God is.

    Our baptisms signify that we commit to going where God goes, whether it be a Congress on the Corner meeting or down the River to pray. We recognize that it is dangerous,but also necessary to go into the community leaving the safety of our comfortable homes to be God's loving presence in a world that would destroy itself otherwise.

    Also, found so dental wax at Walgreens, so pass the cookies when they come out of the oven!

  78. Kzj, I think what you shared is a perfect way to include it in a sermon without losing where you have been feeling led to preach. In fact I think it completely adds to what you're saying. I with the others struggling with inclusion. I'm usually more like Earthchick, one who waits a week or two or more to include major news events unless the Spirit is strongly moving. Right now all my thoughts to include it seem very forced, so I doubt I will, but we'll see once I get started writing.

    On that note, maybe I should get started writing.

  79. in substance I agree with Diana Butler Bass, although Saturday to Sunday is very short notice to re-write a whole sermon, which I will not do. Like Gord, though ,there are many times when an event will get into the prayers but not into the sermon. I wouldn't have made the MLK association, myself.

    What troubles me is people who make connections about the shooter's motives and our over-the-top, hateful political rhetoric. I agree that our political rhetoric is hateful and over-the-time. But we actualy don't yet know the shooter's motives. What we can say is that this was an evil act, and makes it more important than ever than those commissioned by Christ to Share His Light take that commissioning seriously.

    I have made reference already in my sermon local news articles of the last week regarding poverty in our community and some hateful remarks about us/them sterotyping regarding some groups in our community. and how there's no us/them in Christ. some sense, like earthchick, I think it's to early. but in another, like songbird, it's not too early to name evil and our hope in the overcoming of it.


  80. Based on the dental wax, I assume that's Kathleen/Anonymous? Glad you can have a cookie! And thanks for those thoughts, they are very helpful.

  81. What I think we can safely name is our shock and grief, and that it's terrible when disagreements lead to threats (there have been previous threats against both the judge and the congresswoman), and that when people get riled up about issues, as people have been in our country, we need to remember whose we are before we make our own statements.
    Or something like that. :-)

  82. these conversations have been very helpful. the substance of my sermon won't change, but I perhaps have a glimmer of a way I can refer to this in my sermon tomorrow.

    I also think that it's possible in a couple of weeks that there will be a fully response.

  83. Well, so far, I'm just not feeling it in the sermon. I've got a piece of my middle going fairly well, and it would just feel forced at this point. I don't like that. I'm thinking it's prayers for me. Right now, though, I need to take a break to let the iPad recharge a little. That's what I get for playing on it at my presbytery meeting all day today!

  84. I redid my sermon, and actually, I've never done that before at this late hour. But, I had an idea so I went with it. I'll post it tomorrow.

  85. A story that needs telling (at least I need to tell it):
    I attended an Anglican funeral with the homily given by a local Baptist pastor. Apart from the statement that the deceased, who attended my church for years and had joined the Anglican church a couple of years ago, didn't have a relationship with God until said Baptist pastor led him in a deathbed round of the sinners' prayer, this pastor also said that God does not love us until we repent of our sins.
    I'm still reeling. I actually looked at the people behind me to see if they heard it the way I did, although I hope not. And I think it's making its way into my sermon, as an illustration of the way we create division between us. Just have to be careful about how I identify it; a couple of my people heard it and will know who I'm talking about, and the issue is really less the pastor and more our human nature.
    Now for those cookies...

  86. Well, I have a draft (Put it into Words), and I'm going to put myself to bed. This certainly turned into a different kind of Special Day Preacher Party. Thanks to everyone who shared thoughts about preaching the current situation, or not.
    I'll be back in the morning with fresh coffee!

  87. I really appreciate the thoughts everyone has shared. Here I am, newly a preacher, doing supply in a congregation whose reaction I cannot yet gauge. It's been so helpful to read the variety of viewpoints. I'm going to incorporate the events of today into the prayers of the people and make the connection to our baptismal identity there, leaving the sermon as is.

    SB, I read your sermon and it's wonderful.

  88. RevAnne, what a poor homiletical choicer for a sermon, especially when you are a guest in another denomination!

    I think I see whe DBB is coming from/going to. BUt in my mind there is something different about a MLK or Kennedy assasination, or the Columbine shootings, or 9/11, or the moon landing (to use a more positive example) then many of the other "breaking news" events in the world of 24 hour news (30 years ago we would hardlly have heard of the shooting by now). However, it does depend where you are going--kzj's approach certainly works if one was preaching on baptism vows.

    And you know what is really sad? HOw easily I could come up wiht major yet disastrous news stories and how difficult it was to think of one beyond the moon landing...
    I think there is a sermon illustration there (or maybe a couple on a few different tacks)

  89. Ugh. I have some scattered thoughts and that's about it. I have a feeling once I can get started it will write itself, but that beginning is very elusive right now.

    Right now I'm thinking I will include a reference to the shooting in AZ, but I suppose that will depend on what actually happens when I am writing.

    The sinus headache is slightly better, but I'm still hoping against hope for a snow day...

    (on the bright side, my team won a very exciting football game tonight!)

  90. Oh, Rev Anne, that sort of thing just does me in; not that I think there's ever room for that sort of exclusiveness, but at a funeral it makes my blood boil.

    I'm not preaching tomorrow, but I sure am holding in prayer all of you who are. When really big things like this happen, I try to include reference to it in the sermon even if there's not time or information to shape my thoughts around it in a bigger way. I figure it's on everyone's mind, and by acknowledging the horror in my own words (which we have a little less room for in the prayers), I sort of free people to give it a brief focus and then let it go for the moment. Does that make sense at all?

    I agree with the sentiment that this hits close to home for every American. I think the fact she was going about her very job as a congresswoman, meeting and listening to constituents when it occurred, is especially threatening. Even if it is sometimes an illusion, we value the appearance of accessibility and "of the people" in our representatives, and mayhem like this calls into question whether that can be safe anymore.

    This has no bearing on anyone's sermon, but maybe it will be a little boost in the God-is-good category for the late nighters: I listed a sofa for free on the internet and got 20+ replies. We'd give it to anyone, but deep down I wanted it to be someone truly in need. Kept trying to call one woman; I have no idea why her response, which gave no details, leapt out at me. When I finally got her, it turned out she lives a block away from me and was on the lookout for a sofa for a sober living facility. We feel good about it going there, and it just felt like a God thing :-)

    Good night, friends, and blessings as you write and preach.

  91. Back from my shower and have more-charged iPad. It's time to get writing. For real.

  92. Well, the presbytery meeting left me pretty darn tired. I've got a few words down and a general direction. I'm going to hit the hay here before midnight and get up in a few hours when I have some rest under my belt. I just hope the baby cooperates. It's a risk I'm willing to take tonight.

  93. Good night, She Rev...I hope it goes as you plan...

    I have an opening now, so that's something...just trying to intertwine two different Scripture readings, which I don't like doing but don't really see a way out of this Sunday.

  94. Songbird - went and read your sermon following the continued comments on how to include/recognize recent events in the space of worship. Had decided that anything I put in my sermon would feel "tacked on" but loved the interplay of your personal experience with today's events. I think by including that, it softens and makes very relevant the inclusion of the shooting. You are addressing, not just one incident, but a perennial problem we have as humans. Excellent!

  95. My skills at actually checking the check box for email is lacking. I've just arrived back home to work on the sermon having not been able to follow the discussion. So here I go reading the comments.

    And, since I'm watching it as an aid to sermon prep, does anyone how it is that the channel Ovation is showing Firefly? I'm not complaining it just doesn't seem to fit their normal set of shows.

  96. It took me awhile to work through all of the comments. What a great discussion! I am so glad to be a part of such a reflective, thoughtful group.

  97. And, now I'm wondering, am I the only one here now?

    word verification: blessedr

    yep, that's the truth

  98. Ok, since no one else is here now, I'll post one more time rather than leave that 99 comments hanging over my head distracting me from finishing a sermon

  99. See, Vicar, you aren't the only one still here :) I'm doing my classic trick of "procrastinate on tying everything together at the end by playing games." Hope it's going better for you.

  100. And sorry I stole 100 from you.

  101. semfem! just when I thought I was all alone, there you are! I really care more that its NOT left at 99 than whether I get 100.

  102. At this point, I do not have a fully formed sermon but I do have notes. I'm trusting that the Holy Spirit really does have my back.

    Blessings on your Sunday

  103. Vicar and semfem! You showed! Now I'm back with almost 5 hours of sleep and a fully charged iPad. I'm ready to really write. I hope. Here I go.

  104. She Rev blessings upon your further writing. I am going to leave mine alone now (I think). I did NOT sleep well, that's for sure.

    I stuck with the emphasis on our baptismal vows and pulled out any reference to political rhetoric. There will be opportunities for a sermon on how we use our words during public discourse at a later time. I was also reminded of this great L'Engle quote:

    “We do not draw people to Christ
    by loudly discrediting what they believe,
    by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are,
    but by showing them a light that is so lovely
    that they want with all their hearts
    to know the source of it".

    Blessing upon all of you this morning/afternoon/evening and prayers continuing to ascend for those lives impacted in Arizona and our country.

    No worries, preachers - the Holy Spirit has our backs.

  105. And prayers also, for you kathrynzj. The Spirit's got your back, too. (But don't you hate it when she comes knocking all night in the form of no sleep. I do!)

  106. Sounds like I should have gotten here with fresh coffee a *lot* sooner. Sorry for the low sleep night. I was up a lot layer and more than usual myself.
    Thank you to those giving sermon feedback. I'm still new at the church, working on building trust with them, and this feels like vulnerable material of a different sort.

  107. I'm here, and finished...I did grab some sleep here in my recliner, which was actually better for my sinuses than trying to sleep in my bed.

    The sermon is a tad long, but then again, it does include a decent-sized reference to Epiphany, quite a bit on the Baptism, and a mention of Arizona that is carefully de-politicized (I hope).

    May the Spirit come through for all of us--but especially for those relying on her more than usual today! Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation this day.

  108. thanks for a wonderful party, Songbird (& all). Prayers that the Holy Spirit gives us the right words...


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