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Saturday, September 10, 2011

11th Hour Preacher Party: Memory, Honor, and Forgiveness Edition

FORGIVEGood morning, RevGals and especially all of you 11th hour sermonizers!  Welcome to the party!

Ten years ago today, on the evening of September 10, 2001, I was at my next door neighbor's house.  She and I were enjoying a glass of wine out on her deck when we got a call from my then-high school-aged daughter.  Her homework assignment was to poll some adults on this question:  What was the most important and memorable national or international event in your lifetime?

My friend said "the President Kennedy assassination" because everyone remembered where they were when it happened. I said "the Nixon Watergate scandal and resignation" because that event so changed people's trust in institutions and in leaders.

The next day, when the events of 9/11 crashed into our lives, we all had a new life-altering, world-changing event to top the list of events that would never be forgotten in our lifetimes.

How will your congregation honor the 9/11 tenth anniversary tomorrow? In litany, in prayer, in sermon, in ritual? Some other way, or not at all explicitly?

Someone on our church's Worship & Music Committee had suggested going in a direction away from the gospel lectionary text because the forgiveness theme was so very strong.  The Romans 14:1-12 passage is also incredibly inconvenient in its insistence on not passing judgment.  So, of course, I chose those two scriptures!  I did acquiesce to "My Country 'Tis of Thee" being sung as one of the songs, but I requested a substitution for "I'll Fly Away" which seemed like not the best choice.

Our worship service will be casual and interactive and the last monthly outdoor worship service of the season, weather permitting.  We will be accompanied by a wonderful acoustic group.  I'm hoping for sunshine the likes of which has not been seen here in PA in many days.  It will also be the next-to-last worship service we will share before I leave this congregation to begin a new ministry, so those transition dynamics are in play.

What decisions and compromises have gone into your worship planning for tomorrow?
What inspires you or confounds you today?
Any resources to share?  Something for children?

The coffee is ready and I'm putting some carrot muffins in the oven.

Join the fun!  So glad we are here together!


  1. A cold day for early spring. A group from church were on a river cruise nearby this morning, and it was pleasant with the sun shining. By mid-afternoon, it was very overcast.
    Partly written the sermon since then, and will only have the Prayers of intercession to go, this week it is my turn on the roster for prayers. Time for a snack, and think of what to cook for dinner. Hopefully I will have something to share soon.

  2. Good morning. I am in the NT texts as well and have the constraints of it being a Communion meditation. We end with God Bless America tomorrow with the intention to have the meditation land on the reminder that this statement is a prayer, not a given. However, in working through the texts that is not really the angle... and yet the landing strip has already been laid down.

    That makes churning out a sermon a struggle.

    Funeral at 1:30, The Boy home soon after and my Mom needs to be picked up about an hour and a half away @ 6 thanks to the trains not being able to make it all the way back into our area.

    This concludes my vent - in GOOD news, after a summer of off lectionary sermon requests we are back and I. Am. Grateful!

  3. I guess it is morning for many of you, here it is after dinner.
    Sermon is complete, if a little disjointed, as I wonder what would life be like?

    we are singing a hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, O God, our hearts were shattered, in recognition of 9/11 and its aftermath.

    Now to write a Prayer of Intercession, or find one.

  4. Good morning, pearl downunder & kathrynzj!

    A river cruise sounds nice. Right now, rivers in this area of the U.S. have overflowed mightily or are churning way high.

    I'm awake after a some non-characteristic tossing and turning, and the coffee is ready as are those carrot muffins I promised. Help yourselves!

  5. Good morning, y'all!
    I'm heading to church very early for a visioning retreat. Where the sermon is concerned, I have a sort of outline and began to write some portions, but I'm finding preaching on the 10th anniversary daunting. I'm using the gospel lesson and the OT Psalm alternative celebrating the Egyptians being drowned, and I have a complex series of thoughts about how we want God to act, but so do our enemies, and God's real action was in Jesus, who told us to forgive, darn it. Darn it. That's harder than celebrating horse and rider thrown into the sea.
    And so forth.
    I'll be back in the afternoon.

  6. We are having the annual Worship in the Park at 10:30 tomorrow morning. I 'm staying with the this week's texts and going with forgiveness. I know it is a stretch, but I have several who are consumed with fear of ALL Muslims. I struggle with the attitudes, email forwards... It is so strong that I could not ignore the lesson when I read the passages for this week.

    At 1:00 we are moving to the church for a remembrance service. I am using all my elderly veterans and our children in the service of readings, ringing the bell, lightening candles, and singing.

    As I have worked on both services, my own heart has at times been full as I have remembered that day. I'm offering the day up to God to work with and within.

  7. Good morning!
    Not preaching tomorrow...but thought I come in and say hey.
    Off to church for SS teacher orientation...still left over from ice cream social last night, and several night meetings this past week.
    Yup. Guess it is fall and the beginning of a program year.

    Sharon, I would love one of those carrot muffins!
    Take care, all!

  8. Coffee ready to go here! I am off lectionary tomorrow. In addition to the 9/11 anniversary, it is our "Fall Back Into Church" Day - a first for us. I am finding myself glad that we scheduled this event on this anniversary because it has given me an angle. I am using Matthew 5:13-16 and concentrating on being the "light of the world" no matter what. I'll post it later. I'm mainly done - we have been renovating in one wing of the church, and I knew I would be moving my office today.

  9. I am candidating tomorrow - what a difficult sermon this has been to write. I thought I was all set on Thursday, and people who read it have liked it -- but there was some humor in it that as of right now I've dispensed with. It worked for me -- and 9/11 has some very painful associations for me -- but then I thought: no one knows that I am working hard to overcome my own tragedy, and perhaps they would be insulted or think that I was trivializing the day. And as the news coverage has become increasingly intense, I began to wonder whether I was.

    It's quite a challenge, to balance this sober day for us as a nation and world with the reality that most of the congregation is meeting me for the first time, and to balance the reality of the day against the fact that morning worship is not a service of commemoration.

    I'm using last week's text from Paul on love and Micah 6:8, emphasizing that God's justice requires love and humility.

    If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears (well, eyes).

  10. Welcome Martha, Karla, Sandi & Chilly Fingers!

    I am especially grateful today to hear what everyone is doing tomorrow.

    I am finishing up breakfast and then grabbing some boxes, tape and a to-go cup of coffee and heading up to church to pack up some of the too-many books before my last week at this church. I will check in from there in a little bit.

    Write on!

  11. Hi all,

    My congregation will be doing a litany during the pastoral prayer that brings them from remembrance to hope.

    I'm going off lectionary because I preached a sermon on forgiveness less than a month ago using the 70 x 7 scripture. I will be using Marks text on Jesus predicting the destruction of the temple and how that was the 9/11 of his communities time.

    I am also using the Phillipians text "whatever is honorable, whatever is just,...if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." I will preach about how people were willing to help each other out, be kinder to each other etc. For a brief while we were able to put aside our divisions and unite with the world as an interconnected people.

  12. Robin, blessings upon you. The good news in this will be that most of the congregation will understand what a tough Sunday this is to introduce yourself to a congregation. I like where you're headed and the recognition about them not knowing your own heart in this yet is very insightful.

  13. Good morning, Robin! What a blessed day you are anticipating! I applaud you for staying open to new revelations late in the week. Perhaps that is the gift to be found in 11th hour preaching prep, or at least in taking another look-see or two late in the week. Keep us posted!

    Good morning, God_Gurrrlll! Interesting about the temple destruction being the 9/11 of that time. I like your take on the Phillipians text. We (the church) are supposed to be in that mode all the time, but urgency and emergency brings it out in a way that ordinary living doesn't seem to always.

    I'm boxing things . . .

  14. After a week that has been so busy I can barely see straight...and, after a night of fitfull sleep triggered by a headache, I am barely ready for this day. I do have a sermon draft, but it needs work. And, I have a wedding today, so that will take up a good chunk of the day.

    Question, how many of you go to wedding receptions? I've been invited along with my husband, but it just seems to be one thing too many? And, do you, as the wedding officiant buy a gift?

  15. also, if you are looking for some sermon help, check out this reflection

  16. I'm off lectionary to address the 10th anniversary. I am strongly avoiding the language of commemoration. It will be a somberish service to start, but maybe serious is a better word? I'm working the angle of how in the time I mediately after (and in my opinion in many ways still) we have been living out of fear when Scripture calls us to live into hope even when the earth shakes and mountains tremble and buildings topple to the ground. I'm working with a psalm and then also a portion of Romans 12. We read it a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't preach with it. It will be my example of how the community of hope behaves.

    I've got a shocking and perfect letter from his Christian church insurance company that a friend received to use as an example. It gives 3 things the church can do to gt ready and keep safe this Sunday from possible terrorist attacks - station extra greeters to watch for visitors, have staff on alert, and get extra first aid kits (cuz as my friend said, a band aid will fix it all in a terrorist attack). Examples of living with fear don't get much better.

    At some point in the sermon I will describe one by one things we are fearful of - nationally, personally, in the church - and after each one we will sign a verse from a Taize song that declares hope in God and no need to fear. Then after the sermon I have a piece I found somewhere that we'll use as an affirmation of faith. It is verses of "My Hope is Built" interspersed with readings from Rev 21.

    But first! Today is our congregation's Scottish Heritage Festival. I open the day with brief morning prayers. My kids and I will enjoy ourselves there for a while, but then come home. My husband is out of town for the weekend to go to a football game back home. I will use this opportunity to introduce my children to pizza delivery!

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  18. SheRev, I am using the Romans passage from a couple of weeks ago as well. I am tagging that with Psalm 103 and the single verse of Matthew's numerical forgiveness formula. Going in the direction of hope. Laying some groundwork on forgiveness and then using concrete examples of hope in forgiveness that have happened.

    We are having a time of silent reflection for 9-11.

    Any ideas for children's time???

  19. Here's some honesty, Terri. I only go to the reception if I know the couple or parents really well or if I think the food will be awesome! Hee hee. For us it also depends on if we feel like getting a babysitter and if the week before looked like it will be crazy. If they specifically asked me to do a meal blessing well before the day of, I will also go. If it's just a quick invitation like the week of the wedding, not a regular invitation, I tend to assume they are just doing it because they feel like they need to and save us all the trouble. I've only bought gifts for those weddings of people who I think would have invited us even if I wasn't the pastor, which ends up being most of the receptions I actually go to by my other criteria. For others I get a card and write a nice personal message. Not perfect, but it has worked so far. Case by case really.

  20. I set up a sermon series oblivious to this Sunday's day. So I am preaching on the Romans text, from which I get themes of compassion and tolerance. So those, with a touch of forgiveness are the themes of the day. My worship planning team is not concerned with a big 9/11 theme - just a prayer of rememberance will do.

    I don't have word one written and have no good ideas of where to start. We want to go into town for 'Beef Days' and to pick up some much needed pet supplies. And there's a ton of housework to do.

    I am struck by the irony of the Romans text and the "Beef Days" celebration of the local ranchin industry being on the same weekend. Around here, eating or not eating meat is a very controverisal issue - people's livelihoods depend on meat production. Fortunately for me, Paul declares the 'meat eaters' the 'strong in the faith!'

  21. Tomorrow is our "church school kickoff" Sunday and blessing of the backpacks -- thought about moving that but with last week being Labor Day and next week being a local festival that usually means lower attendance, that wasn't really feasible. So our 9/11 observance is comprised of a beautiful litany I found at the link I posted Tuesday for the Prayers of the People, followed by singing "For All the Saints." To me it seems appropriate, and I'm hoping the congregation will feel that way, too.

    I am going to do a 9/11 ish sermon I think; I preached this Sunday three years ago and the forgiveness theme in the gospel really worked, but that was a different congregation and a very different context so I'm going to rethink some things and see where it goes.

    And I also have a wedding this afternoon. I'm assisting b/c there is a priest in the family of the bride, but it will take up just as much time. It's a happy but bittersweet day; the bride's mother died of cancer in December and I know her father will be struggling a bit today.

    And Teri, I'm not going to the reception, nor did I go to the reception for the wedding I did last week. In both cases I know the families through pastoral relationships and don't know the other folks who'll be attending, and I'm enough of an introvert to avoid social situations like that. Nor do I buy a gift. If I were closer to the family I might do both, but as clergy I don't think we really obligated to do either.

  22. Terri ~ Prayers for a healing and productive day for you. What a lot you have to deal with. As it relates to wedding receptions and gifts, my approach is the same is RevDrMom's.

    She Rev ~ I had to read over again several times the part about the insurance company letter. That's just . . . wow! I'm still shaking my head! You gave me a good idea for an interactive question for our outdoor, casual service tomorrow: What is the relationship between fear and forgiveness?

    Purple ~ Hope in forgiveness. I like that a lot. Hope and fear don't live together very well, do they? I'm using some ideas from this site that has some good ideas for children. Since ours is a casual outdoor service, I am including the whole congregation in traditionally "children's" activities. It worked well the last time I did it. The 77 stones in a bowl will be the way to introduce the Matthew scripture.

    ramona ~ So you are saying that it is a big deal for someone to be a vegetarian in your world? Dairy-free was an issue among the dairy farmers in the church I used to serve.

    RevDrMom ~ "For All the Saints" sounds perfect for tomorrow. I happen to like singing all of the glorious stanzas of that hymn.

    I packed up six boxes of books and that was all I could do of that for today. I saw my pastoral history parading before my eyes!

    I'm ready for mid-morning dessert! Anyone?

  23. Thanks for the feedback on what you do as Officiant regarding wedding receptions and gifts. I will sometimes give the couple a Heifer gift card, purchasing something small on their behalf. But otherwise I don't usually give a gift, and yet wondered if that was appropriate.

    Anyway, my headache lingers, and the day speeds by...

    here is my sermon - I know we are all busy, so if you have a moment to stop by and offer comments, I'd appreciate it, since I'm not sure I can think clearly...sigh...but if not, I understand.

    How Many Times

  24. SheRev, I think I got that same insurance letter, it must be in a pile around here somewhere...

  25. Well, I posted our own little 9/11 story. I'll put the sermon up later.

  26. I'm at one of my supply congregations, preaching on forgiveness. I've got a long rambling story as an intro that is probably too long and rambling. And then I have...not much else. I'm touching on 9/11 briefly. It's been overshadowed to some extent around here due to wildfires and evacuations. I'll include both in the prayers.

    I'll be back later. I think I'm making pizza for supper, so I'll make enough to share with y'all.

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  28. Yay Robin. Perhaps the word that you will give at your candidating sermon will be what this community is hungering to hear. What an opportunity.

    I've finished a rough draft of my sermon. Here it is.

  29. Songbird, thanks for the link.

    I've wrestled all week on "how" to put this sermon together. Had to get it done this morning as I will at a college game this evening and into late evening as well.

    Comments and suggestions appreciated.

    Robin, blessings as you candidate tomorrow.

  30. esperanza ~ Wildfires sound very scary! Pizza for supper sounds great!

    Robin ~ Very much looking forward to reading what you have.

    Prayers for both of you in challenging situations.

    All that box slinging has me getting hungry for lunch already. I'm making enchiladas (recipe, pic, and blog entry here) because I could use some comfort food today. I also have iced green tea with lemon, mint and honey to add if you want. Help yourselves!

  31. A kid that was pretty sick during the night (but not as bad as the night before) & a early morning volunteer gig means I'm headed toward a nap.

    The text for preaching will be Matthew when I actually face the task of writing. Somehow I want to mention something that someone else called to my attention. On Sept 11, 2001, in the face of the violence, the most important thing those who had no time left did was say "I love you." They didn't spend their time telling their loved ones to go get revenge. They spent their time saying I love you, all is forgiven, I'm proud of you, I'm sorry, remember I love you. I don't have it worked out yet but I think that goes with the text.

  32. Not preaching this week but remembering the day, for might be a day to talk about language...but then, I've never had a day that wasn't suitable for talking about language!

    and now trying to figure out how best to lay out what may be our last warm day for a while.

  33. Thought I'd drop in although I will not be preaching this week - the bishop is coming (phew) and we're having a confirmation/reception. It's a Big Day.

    If I were preaching, I would struggle with whether and how to include reflections on 9/11, since it did affect us here in Canada and it's been unavoidable in the media this week, but at the same time it's not "our" national tragedy. Weird to work out how to observe. I know some of my colleagues have wrestled with this.

    However, we are observing Holy Cross day, and I'm casting around for some kind of children's chat that might be appropriate: something about the importance of the cross? Something Good Friday-ish? The gospel is John 3:13-17, which should be easy but... Any suggestions welcome!

  34. Hey RevGals! I've been trying to pop by all morning but many other things kept interfering. I have a wedding in just a bit and then after that will get back to focusing on tomorrow. I'm not preaching (my husband is), and our main 9/11 focus will be in the pastoral prayer (which he is also doing). We have the blessing of the backpacks, 3 youth baptisms (which I'm doing), and welcoming new members, all followed by our Ice Cream Social (for our Church School kickoff). It feels very full and lively! Then later in the afternoon I am leading our Youth Program Kickoff (having recently taken over the youth ministry at our church).

    I hope to drop by again later. For now, I have chocolate chip pumpkin muffins to share!

  35. Whoever mentioned living into hope, thank you! I think that's the missing piece for me.

    Went over to church to open up and the dang (1 yo) A/C isn't working...didn't work Sunday either but when the A/C guy came Wednesday it was working. Go figure. So emergency call's comfortable in the church now, but in two hours when it is full of people, maybe not so much.

  36. Hello, Gals! I love reading your thoughts for today & tomorrow. I had my very first houseguests in my new parsonage last night and early today, and it was so refreshing to have them that I feel confident in my sermon even though it's not in final shape yet. I should have visitors more often...

    One of my churches put an announcement in the bulletin last week that this Sunday was going to be "Grandparents Day" with a special recognition for all grandparents. I guess it's better that I had a week's heads up on it, but it now makes for a full service (since I had been planning Sunday School teacher recognition, 9/11, and our normal Exodus worship). How do you all deal with being a small-church pastor who is always the last to know anything?

  37. Glad I called in here to have a look before I start writing - loads of good ideas. Preaching the Exodus passage and Matthew's forgiveness. Hoped to write much earlier this week since I was leading an envisioning retreat today but needless to say, the time got filled up with lots of other things. Feel as though it should be written quickly as I have been rolling it around all week but - we'll see. Certainly the ideas here are helping thoughts to get flowing again. Now I really must begin.

  38. Greetings preacher party pals!

    Lots of important things going on in all our corners of the world.

    La Peregrina - when I first came to just down the road from little church on the prarie - that "but we always do it this way" surprise seemed to happen almost every week... remind yourself and your folks that the first of everything is a steep learning curve (next year will be much less stressful!) Your folks don't want to surprise you - they know this circle of life stuff so well they figure everyone else must knows it too... Ask questions often of those who want this to go well. They will learn to think ahead about what you don't know yet and give you a heads up.

    Robin- tried to comment on your blog. I am looking forward to good news tomorrow! Your new congregation will be blessed by your many gifts.

    My town is dedicating a 9/11 Memorial Park tomorrow morning - Activites begin with prayer at 7am which I will be a part of and continue throughout the day with a candle vigil, lighting of the World Trade Tower beam at the center of the park, bag pipes and fireworks(!) A huge number of my folks will not be in church tommorrow as the main dedication will occur during our worship time. I have included a simple prayer and candle lighting of remembrance and hope near the start of worship.

    All that to say I still do not have a sermon... but do have most of the rest of the parts! Grateful to all who have offered liturgy and worship thoughts earlier this week for this day filled with so much emotion. Preaching on faith and forgiveness.

    Better get back to it before I find some other reason to avoid writing ...

  39. I'm back from a great morning of visioning, well-attended and enthusiastically engaged. I got home around 1 and walked the dog, had lunch, and now it's time to get back to my sermon.
    (It is not time for a nap.)

  40. Vicar, Crimson Rambler, Parodie, La Peregrina, Earthchick, liz and Celeste ~~~ Welcome to all! And thank you for all the ideas, snacks and conversation. I've got sidetracked in the garden; now I need to clean up and get back to Sunday prep things.

    I just made some more iced tea to go with those delicious muffins.

  41. I am not preaching tomorrow; it's the deacon's turn. We are focusing the sermons on our parish visioning retreat next weekend so I am interested to see what he comes up with.

    We will do a prayer service tomorrow night for 9/11. The readings are Micah 4:1-5, Psalm 46, Romans 12:9-21, Psalm 90, Matthew 5:1-11. I think I pirated the intercessions from a Presbyterian website and most of the prayers come from the Book of Common Prayer. We will start by tolling the bell.

    Today was Salvation Army cooking day. A good time was had by all and compliments on the meatloaf.

    I did post a revised edition of the sermon I preached six years ago. Maybe it will help someone, maybe it won't.

    Okay, I am off to the comfy chair with the latest Louise Penny. I just love Armand Gamache! Happy writing to you all.

  42. Back from the church festival. My kids and I stayed MUCH longer than I thought we would, but everyone was doing well and it was hard to tear away. Baby sleeping and big kids are resting. I'm certain that the WRONG big kid will fall asleep. 6 year old loves a nap, but can live without it. 4 year old resists, but gets obnoxious without it.

    Just got a text from my mom in vacation in Maine and can't get the story she told out of my mind. The other residents of the B&B where she is staying are all part of a wedding celebration. 4 folks from the wedding party were walking on the rocky shore last night and taking pictures. The photographer had his (her?) back to the waves when a large one swept him (her?) out to sea. The body still has not been recovered. The guests and family are all beginning to gather for the ceremony now. I don't know any of them, but can't help but offer prayers for all of them.

  43. Back from Beef days festivities. Unfortunately, a nap is insisting I respond to it's call. I don't know how sermonating will go with such sleepiness battling my thought processes.

    And yes, Sharon, apparently being vegetarian in my neck of the woods is a big deal. In fact, I've had a parishioner or two pretty much say that veggie-only preferences are not apprectated. I'm toying with going in that direction for my sermon, but I must tread carefully if I do.

    Well, I need to quit procrastinating and start writing.
    But first...a 20 minute nap is essential.

    I'm jealous of everyone who is done!

  44. Stephanie, how horrific.

    I read a stunning novel a few months ago about a similar event -- in Maine, bride and groom killed en route to reception. I thought it was a brilliant depiction of what happens to families after such an experience.

    Among the wonderful friends I have made since my own son's death is a woman whose 28yo daughter, her only child, was washed to sea by a rogue wave off the coast of Italy. If your mom would like to be a connection between her and the photographer's family, I am sure that my friend would be willing to talk/email with them. One thing I have learned is that it does help a little to discover that others have experienced what seems to be a devastatingly unique family loss.

  45. Hey all. I'm checking in before I engage in the next segment of my day which is dropping off The Boy at his friend's house (after seeing him for 5 minutes) and then going to pick up my Mom from the train station that is NOT the one where she left her car.

    Such is life in flooded PA. I have a sermon written, but I can't tell if it is worth anything. Waiting on a friend for her verdict and then I'll go from there.

    Blessings on you all as you continue to write.

  46. Oh and Terri, my question after getting the mail today is do I still have to go to the reception if they spelled my name wrong on the address of the invitation?

    i hate weddings.

  47. I am home from working at the BIG toy store...
    Sermon on Exodus text.
    Preaching for interim work, possibly.
    Church has been through rough times, sermon is Moving Forward.
    Idea being we go forward with God in difficult times.
    Any thougths on a chidren's sermon with the parting red sea text??

  48. Home from the wedding which was lovely and luckily not *too* hot since the a/c guys couldn't get there in time.

    Stephanie, how awful! What part of Maine?

    Robin, the Holy Spirit has got your back--good luck tomorrow!

    Now must finish the sermon. Or go to Starbuck for a latte. One or the other....

  49. It was on Monhegan Island. News sites here say they were exploring a cave. Just so awful. We do get rogue and wild waves even when hurricanes are far away.

  50. Finished yesterday. What fun. A day of mystery reading, farmers market shopping, and a pet adoption fair with the adopted pet. Enjoying reading all your comments.

    SheRev, your service sounds great. Wish I could be there.

    Terri, like SheRev, I only go to the receptions of folks I know well--with the important exception of those that promise great food and wine(Learned this when I did destination weddings in wine country!)

    I keep trying to link but haven't yet mastered it. Keep getting the message: Your HTML cannot be accepted: Closing tag has no matching opening tag: A. I think my HTML is my hyperlink and I copy and paste it, but I have no idea what my closing tag is so I can't match it. Have tried"/" and "<".

  51. So glad you all are here. I'm writing a sermon as a guest preacher in the morning, then a reflection for our regular evening worship.

    I'm going with "Restorative Justice" and talking about different ideas of what justice is. Did Justice happen with the death of the Egyptians? Or was it a consequence?

    I'm using Miriam's song in Exodus 15 instead of the Exodus 14, because it talks about the intentions of the Egyptians--"pursue, overtake, divide the spoil, (consume them), destroy."

    If we take on these same intentions, then do we call upon ourselves similar consequences?

    It seems to me that to desire and pursue destruction brings about destruction, but not necessarily justice.

    I want to say that justice heals. That justice restores. And that justice repairs harm.

    This seems hard to preach, but I want to equip people with a way to read this Exodus story that isn't just "bad people should die, and by the way we're the good guys."

    And then I'm using the Romans text too, which will be folded into the body of my sermon. First the liturgist will read the Exodus text. Then silence, music, then I'll begin my sermon, and I'll do an "Illuminated Reading" of the Romans after commenting on Exodus.

    An Illuminated Reading is something we developed at Wicker Park Grace, in which I comment on the text while I read through it. Apparently "expository preaching" is something like this. I never heard of expository preaching till I had been doing this for a couple of years at wpg.

    Anyway, this is my plan. Now to write it...with the eleventh hour looming larger every moment.

    Thanks for sharing all your ideas here.

  52. Nanette, I love your take on restorative justice and Exodus!

    Celeste, thanks for the response to my small-church close-knit minus-the-pastor community. I do need to just be patient -- it honestly doesn't occur to them when they insert things into the service that a) I don't already know and b) it might affect worship planning.

  53. Hi, Nanette! I had no idea that's what expository preaching meant. :-) Mary Luti did that with the story of the woman at the well at our Maine Conference Annual Meeting, and it was wonderful. Your plan for tomorrow sounds deep and moving.
    My plan for tomorrow is to finish my sermon, for Pete's sake, and I nee to dive in now and get to it after spending the afternoon resting up from this morning. I'm delighted that dinner is ready, because I babysat for my neighbors last night, and they brought dinner to us for tonight. That is good news.

  54. Done and dusted!

    What a day - moving my office, short nap with kittens who purred so loudly I could not sleep, late afternoon coffee...

  55. Robin, all the best.

    parodie, being in Australia, I did wonder how much to include about the 9/11 anniversary. There has been lots of media covergae already, and there will be more as the day progresses.

    La Peregrina, I wondered about getting a T-Shirt printed with 'don't ask me, I'm only the Minister'. I kept asking lots of questions.

    Sunday morning here, time to get organised and down to the church.

  56. Well, I posted mine. I'm not sure what I think about it at this point, but I'm going to preach it.

    If I were preaching for my home church, I would talk about Cleveland's interfaith service, planned for tomorrow afternoon. on which I spent a good deal of my summer. But instead I am trying to introduce myself and set the tone for what I hope will be a long relationship of mutual energy and creativity in the context of a day which no doubt will bring out every possible response from a congregation I don't know.

    I guess only a long time will tell whether I've pulled it off!

  57. So glad I'm not the only one who goes for the good food, RevAlli! Also, thanks for the encouragement for tomorrow. I've been pretty set on doing this, but I'm slightly less confident about pulling it off. I think I might put my recent habit of preaching without notes aside, though, to make sure I say what I really mean to say. I'll pick it back up next week.

    Just ordered pizza and spaghetti for myself and the kids for dinner. It's silly, but it's their first delivery dinner. My husband is a bit of a penny pincher and doesn't really see the beauty of delivery. However, he's out of town for the weekend, and I'm home alone with 3 kids. I win.

  58. Robin, you will be in my prayers tomorrow. I hope this a call you feel drawn to and that these people are likewise drawn to you.

    kJz... I say absolutely not. :-)

    Supper is here, Chinese, will be back in a bit.

  59. Hello friends, just checking in after a day that feels very long although it really wasn't. One long hospital visit, and then to church to print the pieces of the service already finished.

    Now to the sermon, which I'm totally stressed about. But I think I am going to take a chance and drive the ?? miles to a Starbucks and write there. I am feeling kind of beat up after this week and need some mocha love (and need to just get out of Dodge for a bit).

    I'll check in more from there.

  60. Whew - this has been a real slog this week - so difficult to express what's in my heart and trying desperately not to cause offense. Anyway, it is here

    I'm interested in the thread about the pastor being the last to know anything. That would be frustrating and its giving me cause not to be so irritated when folks here think I have to know every last detail. I do have a T shirt that says: Ask me if I care - not really because I don't but because I want them to take seriously the notion of the ministry of the whole people of God.
    When I visited SC one time, I asked the senior pastor at coffee time - is this decaf? He responded - I don't know, it's team ministry! It was funny and made a pertinent point!
    It's 12:30am here, so I suppose I should get to bed. Thanks for your company again revgalpals.

  61. I am already mourning the loss of the one-service summer schedule and dreading the annual rally day carnival and dunk tank. Our choir director picked a popular patriotic song that makes me squeamish - hesitated to use veto power on the first Sunday back and on something he is clearly passionate about but am now regretting letting that slide. While tempted to preach as a counter-balance to the anthem (God blesses and loves America more), going with the gospel and its radical forgiveness. Staring down a long night and early morning.

  62. Ouch. Hugs to Pastor Lynn. So sorry. I hate it when you have to deal with the passionate music people who make poor choices on music

  63. uhm okay... after a really tough week, and a giant heavy funeral today... i have an intro... talking about fear, working in 9/11 and whatnot... saying that the story of God's people has more to say.

    with that in mind, can i repreach my easter sermon? it seems so fitting... it talks about fear, "do not fear" from Matt. 28 and how that is followed by "go and tell"...

    we have fears yes... but instead of sitting in fear, as god's people we are called to "go and tell" the good things right? isn't that what it means to live as a resurrection people?

    can i just reuse it with a different intro/conclusion? eeek...

  64. Pastor Lynn, I'm also squeamish about patriotic songs in church, but often I'm even more squeamish to confront those who expect the patriotic songs. I try to do education but . . . (sigh)

    Hot Cup, I say go for it! Good news is good news in any season.

    SemFem, a little mocha love from Starbucks is always a good thing! Send some of that our way, please.

    Sweet dreams across the sea, Liz!

  65. Hi friends. I'm back from shuttling both boy and Mom. I'm hoping the sermon is better than I remember it being as I go to look at it again.

    Could use some ice cream... or chinese food...

  66. kjz, sending over, Chinese and then ice cream(vanilla with raspberry sorbet). Anyway I have made a valiant effort to read your sermons, well done, all!

    I am so exhausted, I can hardly see...feeling a little anxious too, hoping I have thought this sermon through well enough to feed my people...just simply too exhausted to work on it more.sigh. Tis what it is.

    So. I am going to bed. Yes, it is 9:04 EDT. Blessings, all on you day. And thanks for the feedback on sermon and wedding receptions/gifts...

  67. SemFem - I wish I could join in some mocha love - I could use some starbucks! The closest one is 89 miles away so I will just have to enjoy virtually.

    We went to one of the local bar and grills for dinner - pretty good food and a nice change for a Saturday night.

    The sermon is mostly done. There's no 9/11 in it, but my community's not expecting it. I'm not really happy with it - when I told my husband and son that at dinner, my son said, "you always say that and your sermons are always good." Yeah! High praise from my 15 year old. I didn't even think he was listening. Anyway, for what it's worth, it's posted here.

    Now to put the final touches on my confirmation orientation for tomorrow.

  68. I have 2 different zucchini cakes to share. (and several large zucchini if anyone wants one or more of those).

    I am focussing on forgiveness with a touch on Exodus as a response to our enemies' suffering that is natural but maybe not what GOd would prefer.

    And 9/11 will show up as an illustration but not as a full focus.

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. kjz, sorry you have so much extra water. We'd take it here, if you can work out the transport.

    hotcup, sorry for your long day, but those are awfully cute sandals in your profile picture!

    As for me...sermon. Right. Looks just like it did this morning. Long day by myself with both girls. Got them in bed early, but having to refocus and recharge a bit before I can get to work. Hubby has been at the office all day working on a sermon tomorrow and a Sunday afternoon funeral (shouldn't there be a rule about Sunday funerals?).

    I'm sure I'll be back later. Leftover pizza is in the fridge--one meaty, one veggie.

  71. Ramona, I hear you on the Starbucks thing! I grew up in a place where Starbucks was plentiful and ubiquitous...then I moved to my first call, where there was no Starbucks in the entire county, although two did make their debut during my five years there.

    Now I make do with the Barnes and Noble cafe that is 30 mins from my house, and whenever I head to a larger city I make sure to make a stop. Otherwise it's slim pickings.

    Speaking of which, the B&N is getting ready to close so I will have to sign off. But I do finally have a beginning page to get things rolling. I share these two links that helped me a lot, for anyone still struggling to find a beginning: (once again I love Delmer's approach to things)
    (wow. an amazing story.)

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation!

  72. Well I'm done, and mine is 9/11 focused--on forgiving so that we can move on. And I'm feeling a little uneasy about it. But I think it is too late to change the focus at this point.

  73. I have never worked on a sermon at Starbucks, but you sisters are inspiring me to give that a try some time soon! I am getting ready to head to bed - but if any of you need something to lighten up the 9/11 questions, you may borrow my two kittens!!! They are wild tonight!

  74. Ugh, can't keep my eyes open. Good luck to everyone tomorrow - which is a phrase I don't usually say in this situation - but with all of the emotions folks may or may not be feeling in our congregations - a little luck along with the Holy Spirit might not be a bad thing.

    Thanks for hosting, Sharon!

  75. I'm also going to have to call it a night. It has been a pleasure to spend today with all of you! I've enjoyed your insights, super snacks and inspiration. There have been some really amazing sermons posted already and I know others are soon to come.

    Prayers are with all of you who are still finishing up tonight.

  76. Ok, I think I've got it. Would it be bad to just hit "print" without reading it? So tired. Still have to write a prayer, though I may wing that.

    Hubby still not home. Almost 10 here. Poor guy.

  77. Anyone else still here?

    I'm having a harder time creating a manuscript than I thought I would. I may be going for notes. What I really want is to go to bed

  78. Hot cup - brilliant idea with the Easter sermon. I might have to look at mine from a couple of years ago when I went this same route.

    My littlest one took a 3 hour nap today. She didn't go to sleep until 10pm. I just decompressed a little too long and with too big of a bowl of ice cream. It was a hot day for September in WI, and I was sweaty, so next a shower then the sermon. I'm definitely going to write this one instead of no notes. I'll get back to that next week. No sure there are many left other than me. Sleep well everyone who is heading that way.

  79. Funny Vicar. I think I'll be the opposite. The manuscript seems necessary when I'm less confident. Don't want to let myself improv when I'm not positive about how I'm getting where I'm going. (It's been a while since we've met here like this. I've missed you!)

  80. Of course I said that and started writing ...

    I know, our rhythm has been off. Good to be back together

  81. Not super happy, but I have a sermon.
    With the children, we are acting out the sermon, complete with a "sea" and a "staff."
    And I am too popped to ponder much more, so I am about to hit the print and LORD I have got to buy paper THIS WEEK!
    Breathe. Help yourself to ice cream, pop-tarts, or granola bars. Breakfast of champions>???
    Sure. Night to all

  82. I started sermonizing out loud while folding laundry.

  83. So is "out loud" working for you?

    I have 300+ written in paragraph manuscript version words, a story, a couple of other thoughts, and some verses from Romans. I hope that turns into a sermon in the morning.

  84. So I guess I have something between a manuscript and notes but we moved communion from last week (when a bunch of people were gone anyway) to this week so having a flexibility is probably good.

    I forgot that I was going to look for a communion liturgy specifically for tomorrow. shoot. guess I'll put my google and textweek search skills to use now

  85. It was working and then Angry Birds popped up somehow on my iPad. It would be going better if I liked my intro. Think I'll sleep on it soon and see if that comes to me more cohesively in the slightly later early morning hours. Didn't really want to do that since I'm single parenting this weekend, but at least I'm showered and my clothes are already clean!

  86. I found what I needed! It is printed now and I am off to bed.

    SheRev I hope your morning goes smoothly

    Blessings on your Sunday!

  87. Hello, SheRev and Vicar if you are still around...I found a neighbor with unprotected wireless so am able to sneak on here!

    I got home from Starbucks and promptly fell asleep in my chair. So much for the power of espresso. Now I am awake (I think) and ready to get the final 2/3 of this sermon done. It's all in the just has to get out on the page. And I have to fine-tune my children's sermon idea.

    I'll be here for a while and hopefully not fall asleep right away again! We can do it, right?!

  88. Okay, 957 words and I'm cruising into the closing we go...

    I realized after my last post that both SheRev and Vicar had already gone to bad...but for all those lurkers out there who are still awake, take heart, you will finish!

  89. SheRev should be back any minute to do her final writing...and other early birds will start to pop in here soon...I've just finished (YAY!) and now going to try and grab another hour of sleep before it's time to start the day. Hoping I don't get in big trouble with my sermon. (!) Cause it's not getting changed now.

    All that blessing stuff again, to all of us. Prayers for Robin and all others who have a lot riding on today.

  90. Good morning to anyone who is still around and to those who are waking up.

    I pray you feel the love and support of this community as you preach and lead and care today.

    There's coffee and oatmeal (with your add-ons of choice) for those who need a little wake up food.

  91. Hello! I was up much later than usual, probably because my husband is gone so I had no pressure to be less disruptive with lights and sound. I did get my outline pulled together completely, though. I could preach it from that, but I think I"ll start writing it out as a manuscript anyway and see how far I get. I need to have the text of the insurance company letter to read anyway, so I might as well at least type up the "trickier" parts where I want to be careful with my words.

  92. She Rev, I would love to hear how it goes! That letter ... it still has me shaking my head. On the other hand, for us pastors, that just means we have work left to do!

    I hope (hint, hint) there will be a place for sharing how it went for everyone today. I'm so very interested!

  93. Sharon, thanks for *successfully* putting the coffee on. I just made myself a pot and then realized that the coffee grounds were still in grinder... nice cup of hot water I have now.

    The sermon is in absolutely no condition (I have a variety of news articles and inspiration notes), but for some reason I feel confident that I know what I want to say. I guess I should practice it and then go!

    Getting back to Liz & Pearl DownUnder, I would love to have BOTH of those t-shirts: "Don't ask me, I'm only the minister" (for all of those days when I am left completely out of the loop on things like "the Board meeting has been cancelled because there's nothing new to discuss" when HELLO! You have a brand-new minister who might have a few things to discuss) as well as the "Ask Me If I Care" t-shirt (for those days when I just can't possibly hear one more description of your toe surgery from ten years ago).

    Blessings to all of you this morning...

  94. What tshirt should we get for those people who call to check up on who we have visited "just to make sure you know" or give a list of things to do and people to see before they leave on vacation. A blessing and a curse because sometimes I don't know, but sometimes the person didn't want me to know and and then sometimes it just feels like I'm being micromanaged. No doubt, I know exactly what kind of pastoral care to provide those folks if and when the occasion ever arises.

    So I've ended up with almost a complete manuscript. Making my final preparations for landing.

  95. I really struggled with this one, and even though I vanished from the party, it helped to know y'all were out there working, too. May God be with all of us as we open the Word today.
    You can read mine here: The Hand of God.


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