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Saturday, July 02, 2011

Long Weekend Preacher Party

Hello, preachers!

Here in North America, two major countries are celebrating civic holidays on either side of this weekend.

A belated Happy Canada Day!!! And an early Happy Fourth of July!!!

Here in New England, a three-day weekend usually means low attendance. How about where you are? Will you feel pressure to mention or reflect on the civic holiday?

At my house, 4th of July is all about the strawberries, and I have fresh ones to share, along with Fair Trade coffee and a fridge full of perfectly chilled Diet Coke.

Please join the conversation in the comments. Let us know what's up with you, and if you're in other parts of the world, what's going on in your hometown.


  1. First weekend of the [winter] School Holidays, so attendance may be a little low. It is the last Sunday before I go on holidays, and I have four Sundays off preaching! Tomorrow, worship will be Harvest thanksgiving with a difference – because this is an urban area and it is midwinter. People have been asked to bring food for a local youth service we collect food etc. for all year round. I will be asking people about what they want to give thanks to God for. Reading some verses from Paul’s letter, and some cards to give people that they will be encouraged to give to others. The cards say ‘I thank God for you’.
    Another interactive service with no preaching, which is unusual for me, two weeks in a row. I hope the interactive style gives people a new way of thinking about their lives and living out their faith.
    About to make fried rice for dinner, there will be plenty to share around.

  2. Hi, Pearl! That sounds like a great way to approach Harvest Thanksgiving.
    I am thankful that I will see my 16yo today after being apart for 10 days. The Annual Meeting of the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ overlapped her departure for our UCC camp. I've been enjoying photos on the camp website all week and am eager for the full report.
    All of which means I tried to get ahead on my sermon, but it is by no means complete, much less polished. So I will be in and out all day and will return for good when she goes off with her dad this evening.

  3. Good morning, all! The Boy returns home today and so I am trying to make the good start I was able to get tomorrow into something that can be finished tonight after bedtime and do it BEFORE he arrives home.

    No lectionary this summer and this Sunday's sermon request is 'Thru the Eye of the Needle: Understanding Grace and Obedience'. Initially I was doing a lot of scholarship for these, but in the sermon and in worship, no one wants to hear a term paper so I've downshifted to the basics and follow up with an email to the person who requested it.

    Cop out? Yes. But I think it's a smart one in part for my own psyche. Nothing like working extra hard on a sermon and then showing up to a light crowd due to everyone else being away.

    Love this pic of the fireworks in DC. Thanks SB!

  4. So I am struggling in writing this sermon. This is my first Sunday in a new appointment. Of course the lectionary is always difficult on the first Sunday in July. My mom suggests that I write some fluff sermon really introducing the congregation to me and my family rather than tackling the gospel. I'd ask for prayers for divine inspiration today (in the midst of moving) and for all the pastors starting at new churches tomorrow. Thanks, Megan

  5. Megan,
    Prayers absolutely ascending for discernment and guidance in writing the sermon and a blessed beginning to your ministry.

  6. I stayed up to midnight last night, but I have a pretty rotten sermon as a result. So I'm hoping to repair it this morning. I have a busy day ahead of packing for a short trip ahead, laundry and some sort of exciting adventure for my daughter. I hate killing her Saturday with my sermon writing!

    I'm doing Matthew and while I have the bulk together, the hook I chose just isn't holding together.

  7. Hi Megan, Prayers as you start a new placement. After reading your comment, I looked up the service I led here, it was mid July 2006. I introduced myself, and talked of how I was looking forward to being there…, early in the service. In our system we don't lead worship until 15 days after the placement begins. It gives some opportunity to meet people and find out what happens around the place before preaching.

    I have now finished for the evening; kettle is boiling if anyone needs a cuppa. Hope the sermon writing flows for you all today.

    9.45 pm[Sydney, Australia]

  8. Megan, many blessings as you begin your new placement. It's always a struggle to know how much introducing to do on that first day. Does something in the gospel help in that direction, give you an impulse toward or away from your mother's suggestion?
    Susan, I try to think of that as time for a child to relax after a busy week. ;-)

  9. Megan,
    Last year in my first Sunday at my new appointment which was actually July 4th, I preached on Spiritual Freedom and told some of my faith story. Praying for you in this exciting and terrifying (at least it was for me) time.

  10. well, I tried to write something yesterday, but was thwarted by my inability to consistently stay awake through the online defensive driving course, which meant it took an extra hour or two for me to complete. So I'll be hoping desperately to get something written this morning, as I have a busy afternoon. a friend is getting an MRI to figure out if he has a brain tumor (the suspected problem) and I'd like to be available to them after the test. And there's a wedding this afternoon. AND, what will surely be the highlight of my day: the David Crowder Band is playing (for free, as it's during worship!) at Willow Creek tonight, so I'm headed over there. It's only half an hour away, and free, so I can't pass up that opportunity.
    So...I'm working on the gospel...being yoked to Jesus, etc...I have basically no breakfasty food, sadly. hard boiled eggs...that's about it. talk to me again at dinner time when I have beautiful local lettuce for a salad and wonderful organic kale that's growing in the church courtyard!

  11. This year I was struck by Matthew 11: 28 - 30 and it's similarities to the poem found at the statue of liberty, so I did some research on the poet Emma Lazarus. There's a great NPR podcast about her. Preaching on "duty to repair the world" and "blessed to be a blessing" using Genesis 12: 1 - 3.

    Songbird asked about pressure to mention the holiday. The tradition I inherited in this congregation was someone singing God Bless America - cringe. So this is my response to that - we can only ask God's blessing on our own nation if we understand that all blessing is for the purpose of blessing others. We are also singing "This is My Song" which I hope counteracts the God Bless America mentality.

    I'm about half way finished, but first I have to go to Freedom Fest at one of the communities our church serves and pass out water and church flyers.

    Orange juice and muffins on the sideboard for anyone who would like them.

  12. Hi, Teri and m-lr!

    My cupboard is shockingly bare after a week at home alone: yogurt, ice cream and the aforementioned strawberries, which are local and in season, one of the great beauties of 4th of July in Maine.

    And I'll admit it. I love the 4th of July, and I've struggled with how to mention it or not in worship over the years. Sometimes I go all the way there and talk about the difference between our identities as Americans and Christians. A couple of years (in different places) I've talked about America as a Utopian vision (failed, that is).

    But what I can't resist is singing the songs, because I LOVE to sing them. I've experimented with ways to assuage my Christian conscience and come to the conclusion that unless you have a place to go to after and sing songs, I would just as soon front load a patriotic sing-song. So tomorrow we will come together at 9:30, and just after the announcements we will sing three favorites, and then we'll do what we usually do after the announcements, which is light the candles and move to the Call to Worship.

    I'm actually reading all of Matthew 11, because given the missing weeks in the cycle, we've lost all sense of where Jesus is and what he's doing, and last week I was away and a lay person read a sermon prepared by one of my colleagues to be used in local churches during Conference Annual Meeting. I need to lay my ground work for the rest of the summer.

    If anyone comes to church, that is.

  13. Hi Pals,

    I have no idea what the crowd is going to be like tommorrow. In the town where my church is located we have a lot of summer people and so the Sunday's where I think it is going to be light, it's not.

    Last year July 4th "some people" got upset at me for not having a patriotic hymn. So this year we will sing a patriotic song as the final hymn.

  14. SB, yes, "if anyone comes to church, that is!" So many of my peeps will be out of town (even my own hubby), we'll be lucky to hit 20. I usually treat July 4th like Mother's Day, Father's Day and the other holidays - I mention it in prayer and move on. But, tomorrow, I am using "America, the Beautiful" as part of our morning prayer. The congregation will sing, I'll pray, they'll sing, I'll pray, and so on. As I studied the words, I realized I could make it work... but I have to say, I like this idea of a song fest prior to worship actually starting.

  15. Seriously, Chilly!
    I'm on my way to get my daughter, be back later!

  16. Megan, blessings and prayers this week! I feel you because I'm in the same situation... first Sunday in a new place, lots of nerves and not enough time to unpack or anything else!!

    Yesterday I had a parishioner stop by the parsonage for no other reason than to give me a printed out e-mail forward asking all churches to spend 4-6 minutes on their knees, repenting of America's sins, in light of NY's new gay marriage law. I told him that unfortunately the sermon & service were already planned and the bulletins printed. He looked unhappy and left. Sigh.

    But even though I was accurate in saying that the sermon was "planned," it's actually not done being "typed"... this is the project of the day...

  17. Thank you all for being here on Saturday mornings. I have often read along and been kept company by you, and these last few weeks have been welcomed when I commented.

    Now that I have served the last Sunday at my church of three years, what am I doing this week? Pulpit supply for a friend, and wondering why I chose to talk about sin to a bunch of strangers. I'm looking forward once again to your wisdom and company.

  18. I too love the firewworks picture; I just put my son on the train to go to DC to visit his bf from high school who is interning for a well-known senator (from my former state) there this summer.

    For the second year I am commemorating Independence Day by using a liturgy from the 1789 Book of Common Prayer which is the liturgy that would've been used when my parish was founded in 1797. And singing one patriotic song. Doing something historic gets me off the national holiday hook a little bit--it worked last year anyway. Last year I used the propers for July 4 but since the 4th isn't till Monday I'm on the lectionary and waffling at this point between Matthew and Paul. We'll see where the spirit leads me as the day progresses. This is the first Saturday in many weeks that I haven't had meetings or a funeral and I'm looking forward to morning sermon prep and a more relaxing evening. I hope anyway.

  19. Here's what I have for tomorrow. I am working on a massive floor cleaning project that I started last night...needed to finish the sermon up so that I could get on with it!

  20. We have a "fill-in" accompanist who asked to chose the hymns for Sunday & its VBS Sunday so we won't have any patriotic hymns but I'm not sure will be much of anyone there to notice. I'm using the VBS curriculum to put together the sermon so it will be a potpourri. If we manage to get out early, everyone will think it was terrific. So, sad to say, that may actually be my primary goal. I'll be back later. I'm too tired to keep working on it right now. I'm going to lay back down because my day is open enough that I can. I'll see you later.

  21. OMG, I think I broke a record this morning. It's not even noon and my sermon is finished. I usually don't start writing my sermons until afternoon after a morning of study and reflection.

    I decided to do a sermon on immigration reform in honor of the 4th of July. Come read all about it here.

  22. Good morning - getting ready to go get my boy after a week (6 nights!!) at camp.

    On my mind this morning - friend Kirstin Paisley who died yesterday WAY too young. Thanks for mentioning her at the FB page. Anyway, it kind of brings a different sort of meaning to "all you who are weary."

    And, thinking of Megan - congrats on your new call! The good thing is, you're gonna be there awhile, so whatever doesnt get said the first day will get said later.

    I did not do my usual reading early in the week, since i wasnt prepping either for my congregation's bible study (summer hiatus) or for lectionary leanings. so, i'm feeling a little thin on exegesis, which is probably ok since we have both a habitat for humanity mission moment and communion in additon to regularly scheduled programming.

    for those of you heading in Roman's "what makes us do what we do" direction, I was cracked up by this story Dolly Parton told on a little bio they did of her on OVation last night. AFter her grandpa, a holy roller preacher, told her that Satan made her bleach her hair: "Oh, no, sir grandpa. I went and got the bleach and came home and did it myself. Satan had nothing to do with it..."

    Still sort of all over the place and mostly thinking about how much I'm looking forwad to seeing my 9-yo after a week at camp! I'll be back later, I am SURE.

  23. GG, I got my sermon done early too. I will post it at

    I took just the 'come to me" portion of the Gospel. As a lesbian, I was NOT going to take on the Genesis reading in a church not my own!! I don't like the smell of tar in the morning!

    I am preaching for the next 3 weeks. Much fun! But the readings are really abysmal. No wonder clergy take their vacations in July!

  24. Vicar, did y'all do Shake It Up? We had VBS Sunday last week, and we had the kids and leaders do the Closing Celebration as the sermon. So kids led basically the whole service, plus we had some hymns and I wrote some curriculum-inspired liturgy. It's probably too late for you to plan to do it that way, but we love love loved it here...

    I accidentally took a little nap and I woke up with something resembling an opening, so I'm going to start writing and see if the whole sermon will just come out...

  25. Daughter is in the kitchen scrambling up some eggs, and I'm sure she'll share some with you.

    Mentioned the Independence Day thing in a riff on separation of church and state in our announcement bulletin (included in the order of service) and am otherwise mentioning it in the prayers only.

    I'm preaching on Rebekah, focusing on that last line: "So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." Talking about relationships as loving comfort - seemed rather unusual in those ancient times when marriage seemed to be about strategic alliances - and very subtly (I hope) riffing on the tremendous variety of ways loving relationships can be affirmed by God. We're talking about God's gift of human sexuality in Adult Forum this month, in all its glory, so this sermon ties to that. A little risky in this part of the country, but sometimes a gal's got to get a little bit of her prophet on.

    Megan, prayers and blessings for your new call! I like what Songbird asked - I usually find what's rubbing on me in the texts and feels itchy against my skin is what I end up preaching on. You might take a look at the Psalm and see if anything percolates. Spirit will visit and give you what you need for this sermon, and it is the first of many conversations, so you will build and grow. Always tough to talk to folks you don't really know yet...sending a virtual hug!

  26. Hi All,
    I'm a lurker who would love to join the ring, but I just don't blog enough. I thought I'd be so presumptuous as to jump in with a prayer request though - I've JUST been told that all the plumbing in the manse needs to be replaced and I need to have the manse ready for Monday so they can fix it all. It's a massive job, and requires moving about half the house into the other half of the house, which I have to do on my own. This came about because of an emergency where we discovered that the septic pipes had corroded through and were spewing fumes into the house... hence the short notice.

    So that's what I'm doing along with getting ready for a baptism/communion combo tomorrow, and preaching on the Song of Songs/having a healthy sexuality - which has never been done here, but which is very much needed.

    Prayers and blessings for all your needs: grief, cancer scares, first sundays, reunions and sharing stories with family members, and of course sermon writing, etc.

  27. Juniper, Kirstin's been on my mind, too. Here's a link to her blog, Barefoot and Laughing, for those who are not on Facebook.
    Back to Shine, you go, what a great topic!
    Muthah+, RDM and Mibi,welcome!
    Diane, it sounds like you handled that situation well. jill, so glad you joined us, too.
    G_G, amazing!!!
    Vicar, glad you have an easier Saturday than what you usually describe to us.
    Teri, I envy the nap. Maybe later.
    We're home from camp, where my daughter had a wonderful, grace-filled time. I'm so grateful for Pilgrim Lodge and what it has meant to my family. After lunch I'm going to take a run at finishing my sermon, but for now I'm listening to the sound of the piano after a very quiet week here.

  28. Teri- We did use "Shake it up!" but so many of our families are gone this Sunday that we can't put together enough to use their closing as written or even loosely adapted with kids. However, it will be used by me!

    I'm hoping to get the kids to do the "Shake it up" responses during the sermon, too.

  29. My unplugged-for-a-week child has now retreated to her computer, so I'm going to close my eyes for a few minutes, then turn my attention to my draft. Hope it's going well out there!

  30. I have a draft! phew, just in time to shower, get lunch, and get to the wedding. :-)
    I think this is the earliest I've ever been done when doing the Saturday-writing-thing.
    I also think this may be one of my more boring sermons, which is too bad since I say in the beginning that Ordinary Time does not equal Boring Time! ways to spice it up, make it more interesting, or flow better, are always welcome.
    I will likely be back for the late night party to edit and/or re-write.

  31. TOmorow I am talking about human nature in light of Paul's "I do not do what I want to do". I am sure a Flip Wilson reference will make it in (well since the sermon title references Wilson already I guess it is a given). Can we choose to do the good without Christ? Why do we continually find ourselves drawn to "sin"?

    I am thinking that I will start with a story about the diet/exercise discussion so many of us have with physicians. Or maybe the "you should really floss more" lecture I so often get when I get my teeth cleaned.

    Back to Shine, I can't imagine prepping for that sort of project on short notice. Or on any notice to tell the truth.

  32. Gord, I'm thinking/ writiing very much along the same lines.


  33. And prayers for all who are asking them, and even for those who are not.

    Prayers requested here. A much beloved (male) high school teacher under arrest for sexual contact with a minor girl. My daughter and her friends (new graduates) are all pretty devastated.

  34. I'm revising a wedding homily for this afternoon. It is basically done... I just decided I didn't like how I ended it. Actually I could just talk off the top of my head, but I'm always afraid that I will go too long. So I'm writing it.

    Tomorrow before the sun comes up I'm headed to Oregon to be with family. My BIL has ALS (Lou Gehrig's) and we are gathering to offer a time of love and encouragement to my sister and BIL. Please pray for joy and peace for them.

    <3 all you Revgals

  35. Mags and unfin, prayers all the way around.

  36. Hmmmm... what's left for the preacher party smorgasbord? Well, some very tart and ripe plums, a bit of cheese bread and some minibels. Not great fare. I have been slow in shopping for groceries because I know Bearded Brewer will hit the store when I leave. Then he and the girls will have all the freezer foods I won't buy. So the cupboard is kinda bare.

  37. Yeah for picking up kids at camp! I have a happy, very very very tired boy playing video games here, too.

    The car time gave me some time to listen again to that working preacher podcast. wow, do I zone out when people start talking about law and sin! but I did like what someone said at the very end about "you're going to wear a yoke anyway, so which one will you choose."

    still not sure what to do about 4th of july.

    and is it wrong that I dont know who Flip Wilson is?

    ok, gonna go mow the lawn and I'll see you gals later.

  38. I am quite thrilled to report that everything is printed. I'm off to see what fun the girls and I can create!

  39. My children gave me a standing ovation for having everything completed so early in the day.

  40. Vicar, go you!
    Juniper, even elderly me was a very little girl when Flip Wilson was on TV. So you're in the clear.

  41. I only remembering reading about Flip years ago and learning the "Devil Made Me DO IT" phrase (I think my first intro to it may have been in a Ramona and Beezly book). Then this week I was reminded of it as I was prepping the sermon.

  42. So, I am preaching little homilies this summer, most of them without the text. This week I actually wrote it out, but don't know how closely I will stick to it.

    For the most part I am working with Genesis, and doing some teaching on scripture/Bible texts. I begin this one with a brief review of the movie "Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood" - which segues into a comment on Family Stories

  43. Silly me,
    Ramona's older sister's name was Beezus, not Beezly. Mrs Beazley was a teacher somewhere---Riverdale High perhaps?

  44. @gord - me! me! call on me! I know that one! she was the doll from that show All In the Family that had the rich little girl Buffy in it. Oh, how I loved, loved, LOVED my Mrs. Beasley doll.

    OK, just about done everything I can think of to procrastinate (except change the sheets on the bed, but really, one must draw the line SOMEWHERE) and now I'm gonna go try some actual writing.

    Vic, you are an inspiration. I"m giving you a standing ovation, too.

  45. I too give Vicar a standing ovation! Hurrah and brava! (Now can you share a little of the mojo??)

    Checking in the middle of a weird day, filled with moving (sort of) and graduation parties, where it would really really help to just pound out a sermon in an hour right now.

    It's Matthew for me and I am pondering the yoke image and how it's a lot easier to carry a burden when the yoke fits and you are yoked to a good partner (perhaps Jesus?)...and it's a lot harder and more painful and damaging to carry a burden when the yoke doesn't fit and you are yoked to the wrong partner.

    Also pondering how reluctant we really are to lay our burdens down. Among other things.

  46. I would wonder what "sort of moving" is like, but then I would be distracted from the work I should be doing...

  47. semfem, it's the other kind of yoke! Like the one you use to spread the weight out when you're carrying two buckets: like so
    Doesn't that make more sense?

  48. Having a farmers market supper: mixed greens salad with radish and tomato, a bowl of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and a hearty whole grain bread toasted and topped with mayo, cheese and tomato, sefed open face. A glass of carrot juice on the side. Want some?

  49. So it took me longer than I had hoped but I have a sermon complete and formated, using both Paul and Matthew and a definition of sin taken from this week's FotW theological commentary--and surprising even myself I have a little July 4 theme in there. Which I hope will not offend anyone since I talk about the way as a nation we do those things we hate and don't do those things we want (i.e., live up to our ideals for freedom, equality and justice).

    I also rummaged through my office until I found my preaching bands...which I own just for this special service--instead of normal vestments I'm wearing a cassock and academic gown (Geneva robe-ish) and preaching bands since that is as close to what my research tells me a priest would've worn in 1797 as I can get.

  50. Seriously Songbird?? It has to be that particular type of yoke? It couldn't be either the "two buckets of water" yoke or the "two oxen yoked together" yoke? Uh oh...

    Maybe it's a good thing I haven't really started writing yet.

  51. Well, since my link didn't work, I guess it didn't give a picture of anything. But the idea I'm responding to is being yoked with Jesus, which gets a little bit like that famous Footsteps story. And of course it's hard to go too soft with this because he's the same guy who tells us to carry our crosses, which are considerably burdensome. I'll try to find the reference that I used in the past to the bucket type of yoke (which is what the picture was supposed to show).

  52. Hmm, I guess now I'm wondering if the Greek words for the two different concepts are different and we just happen to have the same word in English for them both. Which would be important to know in the story.

    I guess I was marinating the idea that Jesus doesn't take away our burdens--but he also doesn't leave us to bear them alone.

  53. Oh, gosh. I can't read it in Greek! Ack. I just have notes to that effect from some old sermon. Whether it's a two-bucket yoke or a two-oxen yoke (big difference notwithstanding) is that the whole chapter is about people being unable to see who Jesus is, blinded by their reference to expectations of a Messiah and attention to the Law. His yoke is healing and love. Those cities he fusses at are the places where he's been healing the blind, and the woman with a hemorrhage and raising a little girl from the dead. Again, and this is my interpretation totally, not to be attributed to any particular scholar, he's talking about putting on a way of being. We're all yoked for some purpose, right? Be yoked for his purpose, which is mercy and forgiveness and love, and he will give you rest.
    Or something like that.
    Hey, I may have a sermon!

  54. There you go Songbird!

    (for any curious souls out there, my Greek-English lexicon says that "zygos" is simply figurative of any type of burden, not any one particular instrument of distributing that burden.)

  55. And yet we're all King James-y, Messiah-ish with our yoke fixation, aren't we? :-)

  56. I have to confess that you totally lost me there, Songbird!

  57. That "come unto me, all ye that labor" stuff is in Handel's Messiah. We fixate on the yoke because we've heard that rendering of the passage sung and read so many times. But really, your Lexicon is saying, it's simply a burden. I guess what I'm saying is don't get hung up on the yoke. And maybe I'm just telling myself that.

  58. In other words, resist the urge on the 3rd of July to preach a term paper on yokes. (This is not a warning to you, semfem.)

  59. Got it, Songbird! As someone who has never heard Handel's Messiah all the way through, and did not grow up with any real influence from the KJV, I really had no idea what you were referring to!

    Although I think I will use the yoke imagery sparingly...after all, it's only my sixth Sunday preaching in a farming community...what could go wrong?? :)

  60. It's the back half of the aria that starts out with a verse from Isaiah about Christ as a shepherd feeding his flock.

  61. apropos of absolutely nothing but...

    has anyone else heard that the preacher's stole is a symbolic yoke as well??? (although one colleague has suggested that it was the modern equivalent of a priestly ephod)

    NOt sure that will help anyone with their sermon though

  62. Well, I thought I had a decent sermon about burdens and yokes and now I'm not sure. My point (I think) is that *4th of July alert* rather than encouraging us to be independent and self-reliant, Jesus encourages us to depend on him. Now I'm thinking I need a bit more--now that we depend on him, now what? Hmm.

    And this pulpit supply gig (which is in the town where I live) has the most extra prayers and pieces of the service to put together than any other place I go. Harumph.

  63. esperanza, that sounds *very* annoying. Would you like some Ben and Jerry's "Late Night Snack?" Or their "Red Velvet Cake?" Because I think it's that time of night now.

  64. Songbird - I've had that aria running through my head all week. All those runs...

    Gord: Yes, I've heard about the stole being a symbolic yoke.

    At the moment, I'm meandering around law and grace (perhaps the effect of my one year internship in a Lutheran congregation - certainly unusual for this Anglican!) and following Christ in ordinary times. I'm preaching in the church up the road, so a familiar parish but not my own. Both easier and harder than doing the usual gig... learn learn learn.

  65. I think it's that none of them are printed in the bulletin, so I never get them done ahead of time. The "harumph" might be directed at myself. But I'll take some Red Velvet Ben & Jerry's in any case.

  66. Checking back in after a long day away. I have spent too much time on facebook noting how many people/families will not be in worship tomorrow. This is not good for the finish the sermon mojo needed at a time like this.

    The Boy has returned home after a week with his Dad and even after a late night dip in the community pool is still. up.


    Oh well, I am over in Mark watching a camel try to get through the eye of the needle as part of our sermons by request series. And yes, we are singing O Beautiful for Spacious Skies - and that's it.

  67. kzj, if they want My Country Tis of Thee, send them my way. :-)

  68. Will celebrate the fourth in church on Monday with a special service from "Lesser Feasts and Fasts" (designated for weekday services, not Sunday) including a verse from "My country 'tis of thee" acapella...and one of our high school kids playing the Battle Hymn of the Rwpublic, outside as people leave.

    But in church tomorrow all we will do is sing, "o beautiful for spacious skies," as the final hymn...and I will probably wish e eryone a happy healthy safe fourth...

  69. kzj, sounds like your day has gone like mine. A HUGE number of people/families will be gone, including all of the usuals who are there when everyone else is away. It kind of takes the wind out of my sails, though I guess it shouldn't.

  70. Sticking with the way I had it, mostly. Decided the additional part was another sermon entirely. I think I have the prayers and fussy bits together.

    The good news is that this pulpit supply gig is a mile away. Less driving time = more time to fix something in the morning. Kids willing.

    Blessings to everyone still working. There are fresh chocolate chip cookies on the countertop--help yourselves.

  71. I don't know what to expect for attendance; I can only predict based on regional trends. ;-)

    But hopefully I'll have a good word to say to those who do come to worship, Not The One We're Looking For.

    I'm headed to bed. Blessings to all who are still writing! I'll be back with a fresh pot of coffee in the morning.

  72. Wrapping up here and will check it again in the morning. Gotta love one service at 9:30 instead of two starting at 8:15.

    Blessings upon your evenings and mornings.

  73. I've just wrapped up too, thanks be to God! Now to do (hopefully only) two more loads of moving stuff so I have a place to sleep tonight and a way to take a shower in the morning.

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation to come.

  74. Gosh I hadn't even thought about it being a holiday weekend. Pulpit supply usually means a low crowd, and throw in a holiday weekend and it may be me and the liturgist. Oh well, preach like the place is full, right?

    Sermon is finished but needs practicing. At least this church starts worship later than what I am used to. I'll go over it a few times in the morning. Prayers for those still working.

  75. Wow. I just popped in to see how we are doing and y'all are exegeting the heck out of the text.
    My offering is homemade bread. Wheat with mixed oates. I made it for communion Sunday, but we will not need a lot since it is a holiday weekend. Help yourselves and enjoy some strawberry marmalade to go with it. :)
    Hope all is well and y'all are finding some fun in the midst of it all.
    I am not preaching tomorrow, only helping with liturgy and communion, and teaching a youth Sunday school class (if any happen to show up) about Ephesians.

  76. I've returned from my busy afternoon and evening to edit...I obviously have gone for the two-oxen yoke rather than the carrying-buckets yoke, because it seems more like the following-a-teacher-by-taking-on-his-philosophical-yoke option, which will lead straight to stoles being a symbol of submitting to the yoke of Christ. It seems like the only way for the burden to be light is if Jesus is the other animal pulling the weight.
    Anyway, I'm off to read my sermon and see if it just needs editing or is going to be deleted and re-started. It sounds like I'm partying alone tonight since everyone was finished early--nice work, all! (and for me: thank goodness the summer schedule is starting so I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn for a couple of months...)

  77. Well, with a few of the regular late-nighters heading out here I am just arriving. I did stop in to read about 30 posts ago, but now I'm here to write. I haven't whined about it here to you all (unless you are also on Twitter) so here goes - - my iPad was stolen yesterday! Either it fell out of my purse at a store and wasn't returned or it was lifted from my purse (or front seat of my car). I don't know which of course, but I know it's gone. I'm probably sinfully sad that it's gone and just sick over the money that was spent that is lost. I paid for it out of my continuing ed/professional expense budget so I feel horrible for losing the church's money - - maybe even worse than I'd feel if it had been my own. I guess this is the good thing about being a late sermon writer - - at least I didn't lose my sermon on it. Ugh, but I hope I have digital copies SOMEWHERE of the sermons that were stored on it. I have gotten behind in posting them to my blog and haven't plugged the iPad into the computer in a while.

    So, all that aside, I've got to write something about Genesis. I'm feel less than motivated for many reasons mentioned - - low attendance, patriotic baggage. I've always tried to head the fight off at the pass by picking "America the Beautiful." It's one I can live with easier and even joyfully. I hear it as a prayer of confession or petition instead of a declaration. This year instead of singing it as a congregation, though, we are going back to a tradition that has been on hiatus for the years I have been at the congregation. One woman has always sung it on the first weekend in July, but her husband was sick for several years and she couldn't get to worship in the morning. He died this winter, so she will be singing for the first time in about 4 years during worship. Big deal. She's singing it as the offertory.

    Other than that my prayer of confession acknowledges the secular holiday to some extent -- confessing our short memory of God's relationship with humankind. God's faithfulness is longer than the age of our nation, but goes to the time of Rebekah and Isaac, Abraham/Sarah/Hagar, and even farther. Not confessing love our country so much, but exclusive love of our country.

    Hopefully this will lead me into a sermon that will also address the longevity of God's promises - - promises that extend from generation to generation, promises that take years to work out, but are being worked out just the same. I think it will be an intro sermon into the next 3 weeks of the Isaac and Rebekah cycle, some in common with Terri.

    Now to face the blank page....

  78. Wow. So little done. I think I'm going to go get the laundry started and get myself to bed because I'm going to need to get up and get working right at my 4:00 a.m. "call time." Something will come together since I have decent idea of where I will go, and, again this one (right or wrong) will be more of an intro into the rest of the cycle. I'm experiencing a similar lack of motivation to sink a lot of time into this one when hardly anyone will be there. I know that's not right and horrible pastoral theology, but it's honest.

  79. Yoo hoo? Anyone else back? I got here not quite two hours ago, and I'm wrapping things up. Thankfully the kids were all up late so it's still a quiet house. Hoping to be done in about 20 minutes or so. Then I hit print. Back to juggling papers (sigh - - and I promise that was my last whine)

  80. Hi, Steph! Drinking coffee here, eating strawberries and humbly remembering that my family never went to church when it conflicted with the Wimbledon Finals. :-)

  81. Well, I've just read all the posts as I ate my breakfast (yogurt, pineapple, shredded wheat). And now I'm having a huge anxiety attack about not even one patriotic song. We're doing African American Spirituals, and I'm mentioning the holiday in the prayers.

    Hoping the low attendance will save me.

    Preaching Paul.

    And Steph.... that is really, really tough. So sorry. Hope today is a better day.

  82. I'm sure this isn't the right forum to ask in, but I'm wondering what happened to jan from a church for starving artists... the blog disappeared two weeks ago...

  83. Oh no, She Rev! That's terrible.

    The low attendance isn't all in the pews...I was invited *five* different places to preach this Sunday. Everyone is on vacation!

    Have a good day, sisters!

  84. Re: A Church for Starving Artists: technology wins again. Evidently, Jan accidentally deleted her blog. Try

    Blessings on all of you preaching and proclaiming this day.

  85. Sunday morning,and like others I'm wondering how many (how few) will show up today. Sigh.

    Terri, I love the idea of a service tomorrow...I would do weekday services for lots of holy/holidays, but I fear in this community no one would attend. And maybe it's not just this community but a larger cultural trend.

    Anywho...happy preaching everyone. The HS has our back no matter what.

  86. Oh, Sherev, such a bummer about your ipad!

    I have a sermon, a visit and a nursing home vespers service between me and vacation....and have begun the senior slide, or whatever the pastor-almost-on-vacation equivalent is. am needing that boost from the HS, so thanks for that revm.

    See you all in a coupla weeks.

  87. I have to give credit to mid-life rookie - your mention of "This is My Song" and the concept of blessing led to my sermon. Thanks!


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