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Saturday, November 12, 2011

11th Hour Preacher Party: While We're Waiting Edition

Good morning, gals and pals!  For those of us following the church calendar, we're just about a week away from the end of the world.  What are we going to do while we are waiting?

Well, for one thing, write sermons and plan worship.  And, for another, eat breakfast and drink coffee and tea (I hope).

So today we're (possibly) while we're waiting for the end of the world, some of us are writing sermons about those three servants and all of those talents.  Perhaps some others of us are writing about the One who will come like a thief in the night.  Are you perhaps in some stage or another of writing on Judges, chapter 4?  Or Psalm 90?  What are you doing while you're waiting?

And what are you doing while you are writing?  I hope you will join me for breakfast and throughout the day.  I have toffee caramel coffee (Courtesy of Lutheran World Relief) and blueberry pancakes, because I hear that blueberries are full of antioxidants.  Bring your own additions, and we'll feast on throughout the day.

While we wait.

Join us!


  1. I preaching Judges (or rather Deborah is preaching through and for me) in honor of our veterans. And it will be my farewell (for now) from my sabbatical parish.

  2. Still struggling with the Parable of the Talents. Trying not to promote the Prosperity Gospel and concerned about whether the master is suppose to be read as God or not (I've been reading things on both sides of the argument). I am also concerned with how to read the parable in light of the Occupy Wall Street movement. All in all, struggling.

  3. Hi RevGals and Pals,

    It is almost 9.00pm, and we have just finished dinner, very late for us. Fortunately, not much left o prep for tomorrow. It is Breakfast Church in the morning, and we are reading psalm 111, and thinking about what we give thanks to God for.

    I am intrigued with some of the discussion on this week's parable, so may think about ti for next week.

  4. Third time trying to submit an entry on blogger. Grrrr.

    Thanks for the prayers and good thoughts last week. The leave taking went well, full of love and grace.

    Tonight Beloved and I are going out of town for some R & R.

  5. Good morning, friends. I am preaching Thessalonians and made a meager start yesterday (I don't usually write on Friday - my day off - but I needed to get the jump on things). I am leaving in an hour to run in my first 10K (nervous! excited!) so am here hoping to get kickstarted for the day. I'd love to get in a solid hour of writing before heading out, because by the time I get back, it will be midday.

    I have some spicy herbal tea to share, and I'd love some blueberry pancakes!

  6. Good morning! It's Saturday, so naturally there's a reason to go to church, in this case the Fall Clean-Up this morning. I'm going to pick up good donuts and take them over to the church. (That was a shocking suggestion on my part last year, one which led to a really nice time of fellowship.) I have a start on my sermon, which is a week ahead of the lectionary as we are on to Reign of Christ and doing Thanksgiving Sunday next week. I'm contemplating, in light of the sheep and the goats, the way we worship earthly power in all its forms while Jesus incarnates an entirely different sort of power. The Psalm has a line about God being a great King over all the other gods, and those last four words are my sermon title. What do we worship and where will it leave us? Coming into the pleasure of God or thrown into the outer darkness? The world is FULL of terrible sermon illustration possibilities re: our adulation of worldly power. FULL. I wish current events weren't so very suitable to my topic.
    Anyway, I'll be back later to share those fab molasses glazed donuts from Tony's here in Portland.

  7. I am just returning from 7 days of study leave. I will be off lectionary for a couple of weeks. We are starting Advent Conspiracy this week so our people will have some time to actually implement the principles during Advent.

    Still need to stock the fridge...donuts sound great.

    Good luck earthchick!

  8. well, good morning, everyone. Have some coffee and some blueberry pancakes. Wil, I think it is so cool that you are preaching as Deborah. Will you post your sermon?

    Megan, I am still struggling with the Parable of the Talents, too. i sort of have something, due to our fall-long emphasis: "Shine!", but I'm struggling with some of the same things you are. I haven't spoken/preached much about OWS.

    pearl, welcome, and glad to have you join the conversation, which is, at least in part, on this parable.

    God_Guuurrll, glad your leave-taking went well. lots of blessings.

    Songbird, you are so right on the bad sermon illustrations in Current Events. (and, we had clean-up day last week...) looking forward to your donuts!

    earthchick! wow! you are running! I am so impressed! will be interested in know how it went.

    Purple, study leave sounds so fantastic. I am looking forward to Advent (myself).

    I sort of have a sermon, myself, but am afraid to look at it, because I fear it might need a lot of tinkering. In the mean time, I'm also leading a Bible class for third graders and their parents.

    I'm putting the pancakes on, and will be back shortly.

  9. Waiting indeed! I got suckered into substitute teaching for a youth leaders' training this morning and now, while I listen to happy voices in other rooms, I wait for the first participant to show up...
    I guess if no one shows it will give me a few more hours to work on my Joshua 3 sermon... But I'm currently frustrated at being asked to fo this two days ago and now having an empty class.

  10. I decided finally to definitely go with the third servant's fear of the master as my main staring point for looking at the parable this week. The illustration of lenses has come to mind, and I'm hoping a budding photographer friend of mine can help me out. My main point being the way you anticipate/imagine God becomes a lens for how you see God working in the world on a large scale and your own life on a small scale. If you're scared of a big mean angry God , then you will see thing only punishment and anger, etc., the reacting with fear, inaction. If you recognize the generosity and inexplicable trust of God in us, then you will see God's blessings abound and risk doing whatever you can to be a part of them. I'll work at lot with our images of God at first, ending with Jesus as our most accurate image of who God is and how God acts.

    However, long before any of this I have my second funeral of the month at 3:00 pm. I tried and tried to get in touch with the second brother, but never touched base with him until last night, so I will be printing the bulletin myself this afternoon. Not a big deal to many of you, I know, but I don't know how to use the brand new copier that well yet. I haven't touched a button on it since it just got installed on Thursday.

    Heading out to a spin in at the local yarn shop in a couple of hours. This is the first they've had since I returned from my arts and sabbath retreat a month ago, and I'm dying to learn more by watching and hanging with the ladies. A couple of expensive car repairs and the baby's broken leg have set my plans to buy a spinning wheel back a little bit, but I'm sort of hoping someone in the group will have an extra wheel they're willing to lend or even rent to me. If nothing else the shop owner has mentioned letting me test out the wheels for sale as I decide which ne to buy eventually.

    Glad things went well, G_G!

  11. Welcome, La Peregrina and SheRev. I hope your morning goes well La Peregrina. Or, that you have sermon prep time. :).

    And SheRev. It sounds like a very full day with the funeral, and bulletins, and spinning, and baby broken leg... praying for you.

    I'm kind of nervous at looking at what I wrote yesterday, as it may need extensive review, and I don't want to do extensive review (whines).

    I have a love/hate relationship with this parable, and I need to manage how much of myself I insert.

  12. Good morning preachers!

    I am preaching Matthew, perhaps with a shot of Thessalonians for good measure. Everything I've read this week talks about the willingness to take risks and to be without fear (fear being the element that held back the one-talent guy) and I'm feeling called in that direction.

    Here's the context for what I'd like to include: My parish is small and has long-term issues with stewardship. The congregation is also elderly and struggles to grasp what it means to have a real vision; they are a very un-empowered group for lots of reasons. We have an endowment (currently ~$2.5 mil although it has been as high as $5 mil in the past) that keeps the place running (our pledges only cover about a third of our budget), and every once in a while people freak out that it's going to run out (which of course it will, but not in the near future). To make matters more complicated, we are receiving another $1.5 million bequest from a parishioner who died this summer. This is of course both a blessing and a curse. I will be presenting a proposal to the vestry this week for using this new endowment that included tithing it for outreach, setting up a scholarship fund for high school students, and using the income from the rest for capital expenses. My mentor has encouraged me to consider taking a big hunk (maybe $75,000) and investing it in a ministry to give it a real jump start, and that and the tithing part is what I'd like to put in my sermon with a real push to take risks, to do things we've never dreamed possible, to really USE this money to advance God's kingdom and not just put it in the bank so that we can sit back and feel secure.

    I am wavering though because I'm not sure the sermon is the best or most appropriate way to present these ideas. My alternative is to preach on the theme without mention of the new endowment funds (which have not be announced to the congregation yet although the finance committee has been discussing them for several weeks) and then to refer back to the sermon when we talk about the funds at vestry and with the congregation. My concern is that my very conservative congregation will want to simply put the money in the bank to draw on over the years, and while that is great insurance to have, I'm pretty sure that it's not the best way to do ministry, nor is it necessarily better for the spiritual health of the parish.

    Wow, have I gone on way too long! and maybe more than anyone wants to know. I know that this kind of "problem" is one that many would like to have, but honestly, having an endowment in this case really allows us to be lazy and uncommitted and that is not good.

    Now i just need to start writing and see where it all goes...

  13. wow, RevDr Mom, I will look forward to hearing how this is all going and your progress.

    how about a cup of coffee, though?

  14. She Rev - thanks for your comments. I may borrow them for an outline for my sermon. And I envy you on your crafting time - I'm in the mood to bead, and a couple of hours at a craft store sounds heavenly!

    RevDr Mom - my humble 2 cents, my home congregation had a similar bequest several years ago, and we also kept it secret until a plan was made to invest it in the kingdom and not in keeping the door open. I know my pastor used that time to lay the foundation for wise stewardship, so I think your idea to preach on the theme is a good way to go.

    As for me, I'm baking Amish friendship bread while working on my sermon - chocolate toffee and vanilla cranberry. The sermon is proving crochety this week. I've already written 2 half sermons and I'm not happy with either. Hubby suggested that since two halves make a whole, I should just preach both first halves and be done with it! ;)

    The problem is that this Sunday is the women circle's Thank-offering Sunday and the text does not lend itself nicely to that - unless that is, I go with the old traditional interpretation that all the commentaries tell us NOT to use!

    I'm still playing with preaching on Judges instead and preaching on how God used Deborah, uses women's hands, blah, blah, blah. And I'm still toying with the idea of just reading stories from the women's main orginazation about how the quilts, and health kits and such are made and stories about who gets them and the difference they make in lives and just forgo a sermon altogether. But we just had a mission speaker a few weeks ago, so I don't know if that's too much.

    I'd really like to be done before 5, so I can have an evening with my guys, but it probably doesn't matter - all they'll notice tonight is football!

  15. I'm actually preaching on Psalm 90--I know, my preaching prof said not a good idea to preach on the Psalms, but this one really moved me this week, and my congregation is definitely doing a lot of fretting about teeny tiny things. So the sermon's just a gentle reminder that our days are short, that we are always in God's hands.
    I never specifically name worries of the congregation in my sermons,though (for instance, this is a mill town whose mill closed 5 years ago and everyone's very fearful that this town is slowly going to die out). Do other people make specific mention of things like that? Should I start gently noting things like that in sermons?
    I've only been in this call a couple of months, so lots of things are new!

  16. Sara Anne, similar situation exists for the church I serve. I have found it helpful to name what is and what is not.

    It opens the door for hopefully some healthy conversation and potential for ministry outside the walls of the church.

    Note: easier said than done...the people I serve would like it just to "go away and not think about such things".

  17. Hmmmm. My last comment didn't get posted.

    I am finished. I am not really pleased with it yet so I won't post it until later.

    It is a cobbling together of St. Martin's feast, the 3 slaves, my bible study and the induction of the acolytes (all 30 of them!)

    Now I am off to a bible study with the bishop at Integrity and then to confirmation at St. Martin's. No rest for the retired! 8>)

  18. Just got back from the monthly Pancake Breakfast.

    We are doing Veterans' Day tomorrow. I have little to do except to make every effort to steer the focus back to Jesus Christ at every opportunity that presents itself. There is an 81yo gentleman who has a tradition of speaking at considerable length on this day, there is a great deal of patriotic and military music -- let's just say this is taxing every ounce of my own inner tension between my Hauerwas orientation where church and nationalism are concerned and my very genuine desire to honor community and service in a small, rural setting where the many secular opportunities that the city provides for this kind of event simply do not exist.

    New ideas for future national holidays are bubbling up in my mind (probably no one else's), but the fact that this is only my sixth Sunday here and that I am a bit preoccupied with Friday's surgery has meant - ok, bring it on.

  19. For those of you pondering what to say today, and if you are also considering including something about the Occupy movement of any of the current issues before us in the US, you will find my friend, Janine's reflection useful and informative.

    I am only now starting my sermon prep. sigh...

    GG- enjoy your time away

    Purple - welcome back and love idea of preparing for Advent, doing a bit of that myself with our Shop Small Alternative Market taking place in the church next Sunday night, hosting local artists and vendors

    Robin - I hear you. As often as possible I move those patriotic services to a weekday service and keep Sunday focused on God and the wider world we live in....but, that takes some time to move into and may not work for you folk.

    Sarah Ann, I think it is a good challenge for us to preach on the Psalms now and then - so good for you!

    Well, hey! everyone. I guess I better get to my own sermon...sigh

  20. Oh, and in particular, Janine references the Psalm and the Gospel...just an FYI

  21. Am pondering the link between I Thess "for God has not destined us for wrath" and the Matthew. Want to focus on how we are to "spend" what we have in service to God, but need to clarify that the master in the parable is not necessarily an image of God.

    Cheese and crackers here to share.

  22. wow, out for a Bible class with third graders and parents, and look what happens!

    I really enjoy these. AT the end, we spirit the kids away and the parents write in the Bibles their children will receive, and we get to talk. Invariably, the parents will say how helpful the class was for THEM. they got a better sense of the narrative, how it fits together, etc.

    so welcome to ramona, Sarah Anne, Terri, Robin, Muthah+ and Rev TSB. wow, see what happens when you're gone for a little bit.

    thanks for the cheese and crackers.

    Robin, I hear you on all those patriotic holidays.

    Terri, thanks for the links. I wish I didn't have to preach at 5:00 this afternoon.

    Muthah+ I know how you feel. I kinda feel bleh about my sermon right now. However, i'm just going to print what I have and start practicing, and see what happens from there.

    I think for my part it feels very very full in worship tomorrow. We recognize Veterans, albeit briefly. At 10:00 we are giving Bibles to third graders. And then we have the continuing theme of "Shining in our service", where we are going to ask people to drop a very short "time and talent" sheet in the offering basket (kind of a symbolic effort).


    anyone want a hamburger?

  23. Hi Diane,
    I will post it with the rest of them on my faculty page where the link in my name here should take you. I do wonder how my colleagues in PA will deal with the hurt and betrayal of children on Penn State's campus. I've been living under that shadow as well. It has made the news here - HI is a big football state (as it has in Israel because the axed former president is Jewish).

  24. Well I have a draft, and it focuses on the parable and following a lot of what was said both in FotW and Working Preacher, talks about not acting out of fear but rather stepping out in faith and being willing to take some risks as good stewards. Only in the last paragraph do I mention the bequest and then I don't give an amount and simply say that we will be presenting a proposal to the vestry and that my prayer is that we will dare to be bold and not to act of fear. And I close by asking for the prayers of all that we can do so.

    It's longer than I usually go by 100-150 words so I'll try to do a bit of pruning after I let it sit for a while. And then I'll see how I feel about it.

    Robin, I share your feelings about patriotic holidays. I have already taken some flack over flags here ( I didn't change a single thing but that didn't matter!). Our prayer shawl knitters make red, white and blue shawls for veterans and we will bless those, include petitions for veterans in the prayers of the people and sing "America the Beautiful" at the offertory. And that's it.

    SaraAnne, I sometimes name the fears and issues but I don't usually dwell entirely on depends both on the text and the issue (not very helpful, I know.)

    Ramona, Amish Friendship bread sounds delicious!

    I'm about to go have some hearty vegetable soup -- plenty to share and only 1 WW point per serving!

  25. Here is a bit more on preaching the Psalms from Ellen Davis in "Wonderous Depth", she writes: "...I have come to the conclusion that the problems is, they (the Psalms) are poetry...somewhere around tenth grade poetry ceased to be fun and began to be formidable...I want to suggest that becasue each psalm is a well-crafted poem that they are endlessly interesting to preach..." She then goes on to describe how the psalms propel her into the story of scripture becasue the Psalter speaks in first person most of the time, engages us directly in a prayer, or a cry, or a song to God. The Psalms move us into a personalized voice within the scripture story. She then quotes fifth century monk john Cassian: "(the monk) penetrates so deeplyinto the thinking of the pslams that he sings them not as though they had been composed by the prophet (David) but as though he himself had written them, as if this were his own private prayer uttered amide the deepest compunction of the heart...Then indeed the scriptures lie ever more clearly open to us..."

    anyway the book has an entire chapter on preaching the Psalms...

    see how well I am avoiding my own sermon prep...

  26. Sara Anne - my preaching prof said it is always good to reference local concerns when ever possible, it provides a local link between the scriptures, sermon and community. But then, he also recommends preaching on Psalms ocassionally.

    No progress yet on the sermon, but I did go through the mail and write thank you notes and a get well card. I've got to stop procrastinating...hmmm...want to start baking... need to write sermon...want to do almost anything else...need to write sermon...

  27. thanks Wil. I will look for your sermon after this weekend!

    I too am avoiding sermon prep. I think trying too hard to tie all tings together, when what I really want to do is just do the text, and of course my stuff keeps getting in the way, too.

    I like what I'm hearing from you Rev Dr. Mom. Stepping out in faith is hard.

    Amish friendship bread! yay!

  28. Hey friends. I'm back from my 10K and now all I want to do is nap! I think I'll take a quick one and then get back into the sermon. I did get some good work done before I left.

    Terri, thanks for the beautiful quotes about preaching the Psalms. Good stuff! I love preaching the Psalms, though it's obviously a different ball game than preaching other types of texts. Sara Anne, Psalm 90 is especially rich. Blessings on you as you preach it!

    SheRev, I hope you can find a wheel to rent or borrow!! My spinning shop does rent wheels (I rented mine for a few weeks before deciding to buy it), so I know some places do it. Spinning is one of my great joys in life. Excited for you!

    Anyone else here preaching Thessalonians?

    All right, little nap now, and I'm hoping the Holy Spirit will be whispering in my ear!

  29. Terri, thanks for the link to your friend's blog. Very helpful. I'm beginning to see the Occupy Movement as a prophetic voice. Thanks, too, for the words on preaching and praying the psalms. I love the Cassian quote.

    Sarah Anne--I love to preach the psalms. They speak so deeply about things divine and human.

    I am with those who still don't have a word written. Second week in a row of abbreviated preparation. I have a hunch about direction but don't know how to get there and don't have my message honed yet. A long afternoon and evening ahead.

  30. hi guys. I do have a sermon, practice and re-wrote.

    don't be mad. I have to preach in 2 hours, so I have to have something.

    Sarah Anne -- I love the psalms, find them challenging to preach, but well worth it.

    anyone need a mid-afternoon snack or beverage?

  31. Apparently the morning wore me out, because after lunch, I went to sleep. And after a nap, I took the dog out for a walk, hoping that the cool, sunny afternoon would bring me to peak clarity and focus.
    Now I'm fixing coffee.
    I still like my idea, it's just that I've written very little, and I'm at that stop on the creative journey where I think, "If I can sum up the sermon in a blog comment, how will it ever expand to be a sermon?"

  32. SB, maybe the other side is "if I CAN'T sum up the sermon in a blog comment do I have a specific point?"

    Out of curiosity, anyone have a Children's time idea???????

  33. boy, Songbird, have I ever been there.

    wish I could get a nap, or maybe that this week was fall back again....

  34. Gord, sorry I can't help you. This week the "giving Bibles to 3rd graders" takes the place of a children's time.

    thank goodness.

  35. Hi Sarah Anne,
    Good to have a buddy preaching on Psalm 90 as well! In its current draft, I'm playing on the prescript of the psalm attributed to Moses, and focusing the psalm as an image of Mount Horeb... in our own short life, how can the work of our hands prosper God's vision....

    or something like that. Here's hoping for all these pieces to become a beginning middle AND end ;-)

  36. Ok - I have one draft with 1137 words, most of an ending. I have another draft with 1208 and no ending and yet another draft with 597 words and no middle and ending. And yet I have nothing I like!

    I'm tempted to chuck them all and wing it in the morning. I wish I was that brave.

    I'm also tempted to do a line-by-line teaching on the text and be done with it. Let the congregation hear what they want from the teaching points.

    Oh Holy Spirit...a little help, please!

    On the plus side, I have warm Chocolate Toffee-chip Amish Bread if anyone needs to nibble.

  37. I feel like what I've got so far is rubbish (and minimal rubbish at that). Preaching the eschaton to liberal mainliners is tricksy! And I'm feeling a little brain-dead. Bleh.

    I wasn't able to nap and HS didn't whisper to me at all. I have felt really scattered and tired and uninspired.

    Mostly I'm wondering what's for dinner.

  38. Ok. Although it has been an afternoon of pulling teeth, or rather just pulling on me...I have a draft. I don't really like it, but it's what has come out of me:

    No Country for the Status Quo in God's Country"

    and, thank goodness we never publish sermon titles...because even I am thinking, "Really? That's how I sum it up in one sentence?"

    Then again, maybe it works. I'm taking a short break and then I'll be back. I welcome comments and feedback and critiques, too.

    PS - glad my little offerings earlier were helpful to some!

  39. I'm not very far yet, either. Woke up feeling bad, and after a trip to the dr. (sinus infection and allergies) and the first dose of antibiotics, I'd like to nap. Feeling the pressure, which doesn't help.

  40. RevDrMom - I like your approach to this, well done, it would seem!

    Earthchick, how was the race? Did you say and I missed it?

    Ramona, sometimes I just go with the one that seems the most finished, whether I like it or not...and sometimes it ends up being exactly what people needed to hear, I just had to get out of the way of thinking the sermon needed to be something else...does that make sense?

  41. Oh, I just realized I didn't say! So busy blabbing about it on Twitter and Facebook, I didn't realize. Heh.

    It was good! But hard! It's the first time I've raced 10K. I trained for it, but until today, the farthest I'd run was 6 miles 6 weeks ago (as opposed to 6.2 in the race). It kind of kicked my butt and I am feeling worn out physically and mentally. But I also feel like I accomplished something pretty cool.

    If I could accomplish a completed sermon manuscript, though, now that would *really* be something cool.

    Thanks for asking! :)

  42. earthchick, wow! good for you! thanks for sharing.

    all that, and knitting too.

    Terri -- I'm going in to preach the early edition, and will read your intriguing title afterward.

    as well as collect ideas for supper.


  43. I tried writing yet another draft and threw it away. Bleh.

    I'm going to read Terri's sermon and then go make dinner and get away from all this. Pork stir fry will be ready in about an hour. Maybe I'll think better after I eat.

    Earthchick - congrats! I am in awe!

    Terri, thanks for the suggestion. I vaguely remember my preaching prof saying the same thing. I think I'll take your advice.

  44. Diane, I hope the preaching goes well.

    Earthchick- yay you! I do hope the sermon comes with out too much effort...

    Supper for me (don't laugh)...Campbell's bean with bacon soup, a slice of whole grain bread toasted with butter and cheddare cheese, and a glass of carrot juice. Bean with bacon was one of my mothers favorite soups and sometimes I just have to have a bowl...

  45. ISTM that one of the possible readings of the parable of the talents is that at some time we are going to be held accountable for how we have utilized what we have been given. It also seems that one of the greatest "things" most congregations have is their building. Are we willing to us our buildings in risky ventures where the payback is uncertain?

    As it happens, next Wednesday our Council is being asked to consider a request from the local HIV group. They hold a twice weekly drop-in for sex trade workers, a place for a meal, distribution of harm-reduction supplies (which I assume mainly means condoms), a chance to talk with someone who can help you find a way off the street, etc. They can't really afford to pay rent as they have limited funding. And some may query having "that sort" of people in the building (mind you some of them may be reluctant to go to a church too). AS the geography of the city goes, we are in a perfect place for this sort of thing. And the congregation has been wrestling for some time about what it means to be a downtown church rather than a church in the downtown

    Is this a call to use our "talent"? And how can I work that into the sermon and not seem heavy-handed?

  46. Earthchick, good for you! That is a big accomplishment.

    I am very excited about tomorrow, not just because I don't have to write a sermon and with only one service I don't have to get up early, but because our preacher is Fr. Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries and an amazing leader in gang intervention. I cannot recommend his book Tattoos On the Heart strongly enough; it is like a booster shot of the gospel! We are having an all-parish brunch after, catered by Homegirl Cafe; having eaten there several times, I know that will be good. Fr. Greg is going to spend some time with our youth group afterward, and I know that will be a powerful experience for them.

    In the meantime, I am enjoying a day of nothing :-)

  47. Betsy, that's so great! I have heard Greg Boyle speak and he is passionate and articulate and terrific.

  48. Betsy - wow! Awesome.

    Gord. Yes.

  49. For those of you who know my secret RevGals identity, you may know that I have been deeply impacted by child rape scandal unleashed in PA. I'm mindful of not letting it overwhelm the sermon, I'm not preaching in PA after all, and saying an appropriate, relevant-to-the-text prophetic word for this community and not (just) for me. I found a way to do that. I'm writing way later than I normally do. It's midday Saturday and I usually have a draft on Thursday or Friday. But it is coming together. Pray for me today and tomorrow - two services. And I agreed to sing the Mass. On second thought, pray for the congregation.

  50. Wil, prayers that the Spirit ministers to you and through you in your words and worship tomorrow.

  51. prayers for you, Wil.

    Wow, Betsy, your guest speaker sounds awesome. He will be coming to our area later in the school year. I want to hear him, and also to read his book! tell us about your service tomorrow!

  52. Home from all my stuff. There weren't any spinners at the spin in. Apparently that group is more active in the winter than the Monday evening one I'll try that one a week from Monday if I can sneak away. The store owner did let me try one out anyway and said I could could test others, but I was out of time. Another time. I'll get more serious about it after the new year. It will come soon enough.

    Have some ideas about starting my sermon, but will get to it shortly when the kids all go to bed. The funeral went well. Saturday funerals make it REAL hard for me to drum up excitement for Sunday morning.

  53. Home from all my stuff. There weren't any spinners at the spin in. Apparently that group is more active in the winter than the Monday evening one I'll try that one a week from Monday if I can sneak away. The store owner did let me try one out anyway and said I could could test others, but I was out of time. Another time. I'll get more serious about it after the new year. It will come soon enough.

    Have some ideas about starting my sermon, but will get to it shortly when the kids all go to bed. The funeral went well. Saturday funerals make it REAL hard for me to drum up excitement for Sunday morning.

  54. Home from all my stuff. There weren't any spinners at the spin in. Apparently that group is more active in the winter than the Monday evening one I'll try that one a week from Monday if I can sneak away. The store owner did let me try one out anyway and said I could could test others, but I was out of time. Another time. I'll get more serious about it after the new year. It will come soon enough.

    Have some ideas about starting my sermon, but will get to it shortly when the kids all go to bed. The funeral went well. Saturday funerals make it REAL hard for me to drum up excitement for Sunday morning.

  55. Praying for all you preachers. And especially for you, Wil.

    Thank God for those of you called to bring the Words of God. How the world needs them.

  56. Thanks, y'all, for the nice words about my 10K. :)

    My sermon so far sucketh. ARGH. I am really struggling with this one, feeling no real energy or excitement about it. I had been so captivated by the imagery of being children of the light, but now I feel like I don't have anything of substance. *le sigh*

    I do, however, have pizza and shakes to share. The pizza place messed up our shake order (ordered one chocolate peanut butter and one chocolate oreo but got two chocolate peanut butter), so they sent over two more shakes (chocolate oreo) plus cookies and brownies! I can't eat all this! Please help me out!

  57. Pizza and shakes that deliver? I should have gone further with that interview in Ann Arbor 10 years ago.

  58. Earthchick! Pizza and shakes! sounds great! and NO CALORIES, Right?

    I'm not going to mess with it any more.

    I don't know what's wrong with me and sermons lately.

    I have been feeling conflicted about my efforts really since last winter, about the time I preached on the fly when the other pastor fainted.

    Wil, I don't know your secret REvgals identity, but I'm praying for you anyway.

    I will be over to read sermons in a little bit.

    may take a pie break, too.

  59. Hello, folks-- sounds like a lot of us are feeling pretty uninspired, grumpy at the lectionary texts, stressed, or just "plum wore out" as my grandma would say. (I personally find it convenient to lay the blame on the full moon, although I also know that working two jobs and trying to fit in sermon-writing time has something to do with my level of exhaustion.)

    I took a running leap at the parable of the talents and missed. I got up, dusted myself off, and ambled with as much dignity as I could muster over to I Thessalonians. I'm playing with the contrast of Chronos/Kairos and what it means to live as "children of the light." Got my first half done (a scripture-related riff on the experience of waiting for our cows to calve) but can't figure out how to reach my conclusion from here.

    Anyone need some protein? We have some extra coconut-ginger porkchops and basmati rice left from supper.

  60. Stephanie, what's more, this particular place also delivers BEER.

    Diane, that's right! No calories! They all fall out en route from the pizza place to the house.

    Diane, I'm sorry you're feeling conflicted. I am feeling some pretty mixed-up emotions myself right now. Lots of negative self-talk going on in my head tonight (related to my sermon-writing), which is not helping at all!!

  61. MaineCelt, so glad to know I'm not preaching 1 Thessalonians alone! Sounds like you might have a better handle on yours though! I've got myself wandering around in the parousia and can't seem to find my way out!!

  62. Hey, I cooked an actual dinner! We had baked jewel yams, chicken sausages and kale/onion sauteed in olive oil. I feel like Super Mom!
    I'm looking over my draft now. I had to cut out a wandery chunk, but I think I ended up where I need to be.

  63. Earthchick--come on over. I bet, between us, we could write an awesome sermon!

    For the Children of the Light stuff, I'm thinking of working in something from the Jewish mystical tradition, about how God's light infuses every aspect of Creation, including people, but most of us never learn how to recognize it or help it shine out.

  64. Songbird, that sounds delicious, though earthchick's pizza, shakes, and beer are pretty tempting.

    I'm just checking in with the partiers this week. I am without a supply preaching gig tomorrow, which has turned out to be a very good thing. Sick toddler--tummy, fever, *and* a nasty cough. She's definitely not church nursery material for tomorrow. I'm astonished, actually, that no one has been sick on a Sunday I have been preaching.

    Can I get anyone anything?

  65. Also, here's a children's message idea: I'm thinking of taking a big piece of cardboard and writing on it, in big letters, "The End is Near!" (This probably will only work with kids old enough to read.) I'll ask how they'd feel if they saw a person with that sign: confused? Worried and anxious? Sad? Afraid?
    Then I'll flip the sign around. On the other side, it'll say, "The Beginning is Near!" I'll ask how it feels to hear/read that message instead of the other one. Then I'll say something about how God wants us to be ready for surprises, eager to live in new ways and do bold, beautiful things, to make every day a new beginning in our life with God.

  66. I have a sermon that Deborah is pleased to preach for me and it's only 3:45 in the afternoon here. Rest, relax, rehearse. Thank you for the prayers. They are already bearing fruit.

  67. Well I'm back again, and after a nap and dinner, feeling a bit more like sermonizing. Not very inspired tho.

    My parents called; my mom fell and broke her arm today. Prayers are appreciated!

    Any late nighters out there?

  68. Ack, RevTSB, so sorry about your mom! Wil, my prayers are with you. earthchick, you are awesome!
    Here's my effort for tomorrow, but remember I'm on next week's texts: All the other gods.

  69. I'll be over to read soon, Songbird!

    that dinner sounds awesome.
    as for me, I had a grilled cheese sandwich and carrots, courtesy of my husband.

    MaineCelt, I really like "the beginning is near." not just for a children's message. but for any message.

    but, I once had a sermon title "It's Not the End of the World." so....that's tells you something about me.

  70. Rev TSB, sorry about your mom's arm.

    MaineCelt, your children's sermon makes me think of the discussion I had a few days ago with a parish member who is getting a marrow transplant this Wednesday. She is receiving the final chemo now, and we talked about this end being near and a new beginning about to start.

  71. Children's time idea.

    We like to hold on to things very much, and it seems when we give things away it diminishes what we have. Like if I give each child a candy from my bag, the bag will be empty.
    But there are some things we can give away and they don't diminish, like light from a candle. Then it actually is more light.
    Or a hug, giving it away means there is really more love in the world now, more to share. Or kisses that same way.
    What else can we give away and still have?
    the Good news of Jesus.

    Just a thought for this week.

  72. Came up with a CT idea (and my partner thinks it is acceptable)!

    I learned today that the UCCan is testing the idea of a gift catalogue. SO thought I would talk about it with the children and introduce it to the whole congregation at the same time.

    the catalogue can be found here

  73. RevTSB, prayers ascending

    Maine Celt, I like that idea a lot! Hope it spurs some interesting comments.

    Wil, prayers for you, and all preachers.

    SB, I'll stop over and read your offering....

    And then friends, I am going to bed. Sleep well, and many blessings on your day.

  74. Hello everyone, just checking in for the evening. Spent my day at a church event, which went well, but now it's time to produce a sermon ASAP. As usual! It's a pulpit exchange day for me and I am going with the gospel reading. It's bugging me though (as it appears to be bugging many preachers today).

    Complicating matters is the fact that my alma mater is playing the most important game on their schedule's halftime now...and I need to have a sermon finished by the time it ends!

    Lots has been going on here...a full day in many ways! I am so glad to be here with you all finally.

  75. Just now arriving to the party. I peeked in earlier today, but got distracted by an invitation for a long walk and some tailgating (tailgating is its own religion in Baton Rouge). Back to it and holding up so many of you in prayer. So many things to name, but just know you are being lifted up to God!

    We're off lectionary because of Stewardship Sunday and then All Saints. So when I looked at the texts I decided on the bridesmaids instead of the talents. However there are still clearly parallels that can be drawn from both of these, so I've been inspired by some of your comments - like is our congregation taking risks toward a future vision (keeping extra oil in preparation for whatever the future holds)? I also plan to draw on the notion of uncertainty. Our world is so set on telling us that we can determine our own future - buy this and you will be happy, do this and you will be fulfilled - but the beauty of the uncertainty is that we can trust in it. We really can't determine our own future and our own fulfillment, the only place that comes from is trusting in Christ and that means waiting and being ready for his arrival in our lives. There may be uncertainty, but we can be certain in our actions, knowing that Christ will come. Something like that?

    There's also some uncertainty about the future of my position at the church. Basically, because of money. Sad and frustrating. I suppose in the end I should preach on what I hope someone would tell me about this whole situation!

    I have Diet Dr. Pepper over here along with some local satsumas to share for all who still need a snack to fuel the writing!

  76. Rev TSB -- prayers for your mom.

    anonymous -- I am going to file your children's message idea for sharing light for the future. it's terrific!

    how is everybody?

  77. Maine Celt, pass those pork chops. They sound delicious. Though I'm a little afraid to eat--my sermon makes me somewhat nauseous. It's the only one I have.

    Wish I were with Betsy listening to Greg Boyle's sermon.

    Rev. Dr. Wil, curious what you did with the Penn State mess--I found it sneaking into my sermon though I, too, don't live there. Something about the utter darkness of the children and their parents.

    This was the hardest text this year. But I still love Matthew and am sorry this will be the last of him for awhile (am not preaching next week).

    Have a productive evening, late nighters. Prayers with you all.

  78. I'm finally sitting down for the sermon writing part of the day. I'm too tired but I did give a devotional type thing earlier based on the Matthew text so I could probably preach even without notes or manuscript. It might be a good idea to have at least some notes from which to preach in the morning. However, last week I had to edit so drastically (even knowing the difference in time in advance!) I might as well have preached off the cuff.

    Okay, here I go ...

  79. welcome back, RevAlli, and welcome Peace Babe and semfem.

    glad to have you at the party!

    can I get you anything?

    other than a sermon, that is ;)

  80. Anonymous - love the CT idea; am stealing.

    Am also stealing *or borrowing (heavily) from Anna Florence Carter's take on the parable on Lectionary Homiletics.

    Thanks for the prayers for my mom. She's pretty comfortable right now but there is surgery anticipated, and she's worried about the great Thanksmas homecoming of kids and grandkids.

    Hopefully going to tune this up and get done!

  81. Hey hey, I'm still here, struggling along.

    Betsy, I had never heard of Father Greg Boyle, nor of his book - thank you for mentioning them both. I immediately downloaded the book on Kindle and have been reading chunks of it while trying to work on my sermon. It is SO GOOD.

    I'm going to take a little break to take a shower. I'm hoping that when I come back, the HS will have me writing like the wind! I'm only about halfway done and here it is 10:00!!

  82. For better or worse, it's done. What Kind of a Master Do You Serve? is the question of the day. Wish I felt better about this sermon.

    The Holy Spirit has her work cut out for her tomorrow!

  83. Diane - I love the title "It's not the End of the World"! I may have to re-write my other draft around that title and put it back for next time.

  84. okay, the next thing I'm going to do tonight is download the Boyle book. After I read Ramona's sermon. and I'm going to go back and read Anna Carter Florence for her take on this "head-banging-on-table" sort of text. even though it's too late for this year.

  85. Ramona -- re: "It's not the End of the World" - you know how you would blow things out of proportion when you were a kid? (okay, maybe only I did that) and your mom said, "It's NOT the end of the world?"

    sometimes, in those "Little Apocalyptic" texts", I hear a little bit of that.

  86. OK. My husband had to practically rip my knitting out of my hand to force me to come get this sermon ready. I think I have enough pieces in my head to turn into a complete sermon, but I need to get them in order.

    As a transition toward productivity, I'm going to start with prayers for those requesting them. Peace to you all!

  87. RevTSB I went and looked up Anna Florence Carter's take on the parable. wow. that's spot on for what I really want to say.

    Tuesday in my group someone said "what if talents are really equal to responsibility? like you are the manager of the Jack in the Box. The talents (or money) is not a gift to you. It's never yours to keep. When the owner returns all you get is to "enter the joy." It's not like you get to keep the Jack in the Box if you are the manager of the year. The owner still owns the Jack in the Box. But if you're not such a great manager you get fired."

    So if we have been given stuff to grow the Kingdom and we hoard it or bury it instead of use it to grow the Kingdom, why would we think we get to keep it?

  88. Diane - nice imagery with the child parent thing - I've said that to my hyperbole prone daughter. My take was Jesus saying, "It's not the end of the world - oh, wait it is, but that means God's kingdom is here in fullness!"

  89. Vicar -- yeah. I like the way you are thinking.

    I think we get caught up in some aspects of the parable, like the huge success of the two other slaves, and things that's the point. I think the point is more investment. What does it mean to 'invest' in the Kingdom of God or the Reign of God?

    I also play with the idea that the talent is our lives.

  90. Vicar-
    ACF hit it for me too. Now how to weave it in to what I already have. Oh well - after I go fill up the gas tank for my 200 mile circuit!

  91. Earthchick, glad you are getting something from the book. It was the inspiration for my Easter sermon last year; I didn't refer to it directly, but it totally shaped my thinking. Last spring our vestry had lunch with Fr. Greg and then toured Homeboy; the story of the man who showed us around floored me, because he is full of light and love after a life that would destroy that in most of us. that, again and again, is the fruit of the Spirit in Fr. Greg's ministry.

    Tomorrow is our Consecration/stewardship Sunday, and we will be asking for pledge cards. However, I am also very pleased that we will be giving the open plate offering--plus a gift from the budget, plus a matching gift from a parish member--to Homeboy; I love that it will not be all about us.

  92. just read ACF on this and LOVED it. wish I had written it. but I didn't. It's hers. but, I can admire the inspiration, can't I?

    Anyway, I do totally agree with her.

    Go, Anna Carter Florence!

    guys. you are going to have to party without me pretty soon. I'm going to re-read the ole' sermon (once preached) and go to bed.

  93. So, is there a link to all this fabulous ACF stuff on Lectionary Homiletics? Or is it something you need to have access to?

    Just wondering...not intentionally trying to be lazy :)

    I have my outline, but unfortunately it starts with "(find an intro story)."

  94. There is a huge chunk where I am quoting her directly. I am so convinced these are the words of God for the people of God in this place tomorrow. There are too many ways that hoarding/burying are ruling the day so "hiding" behind her let's me say what God has put on my heart but I can't figure out how to say directly. And yet it is pretty direct. So, I just need to wrap up and finish the prayers.

  95. Stopping in to push the comment count. We are recognizing Organ Donor Sabbath. First time for me... ashamed to admit I had not heard of it. One of our members received a donation just before I came almost 8 years ago. He is very private, does not want to be mentioned in any way. His wife brought it to our worship committee and will assist
    I suspect I have too much stuffed in my take on the talents parable. Title is what will you do with your one wild and precious life? Hope it inspires some to become donors and others to stop digging holes...
    Penn state will be lifted in prayers. Still need to include veterans ... this little town sends generations of its children to military service.
    Praying for those still writing and those who need restoring rest.

  96. Vicar, Diane - AFC is really good stuff this week. I just wanted to preach her retelling of the parable. I agree - it is very much what the church needs to hear.

  97. For my sermon, I am wrestling with the situation at Penn State, and playing with the Parable of the talents, and how we can understand it to be a call to do what is right with all that we have been entrusted with...and that sometimes that is action for justice even when that might be at our own risk (many people did not say anything about the abuse that they knew about for fear of their own job security).
    I'm feeling this very strongly, and feel that we all need to be reminded that we are called, as Christians, to action for the vulnerable and at risk in our society. I'm actually almost done, which is a miracle for me at this point in the night! I'll be back to post my sermon a little bit later, when I've had the chance to think and ponder and polish and come up with a conclusion that makes sense...

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  99. Arghh...that nasty cough has come back. I thought it was gone for good! Hopefully it will be under control when I have to lead worship tomorrow. Wish I knew what I'm alergic to here.

  100. I have coaxed the lightest printed copy ever out of the printer because we're out of black ink. I thought one of those 3 cartridges of color was black. Nope. Of course, I was out earlier to get dog food and could have gotten ink, too. At least there is a "lightest ever" print instead of no print. I am so done that if you put a fork in me it would go all the way through. I've got to go to bed. Blessings on your Sunday!

  101. Dang! Just missed 100! Healing blessings on your cough, Ramona.

    I have finished (HUZZAH!) my sermon and just have the pastoral prayer left to sketch out. (I normally do it without notes but, as several of you have mentioned, certain current events shouldn't go unaddressed and I feel the need to pick my way carefully through a minefield of words.)

    I'll post my sermon in the morning. Blessings to all late-night writers and sweet dreamers!

  102. I did some lovely procrastinating disguised as sermon prep trying to figure out my mind mapping app that I loved, but couldn't work.finally figured out the stupidest thing to have been hung up on, put a few bubbles on for the sermon, and now need to really figure out how it all fits together.

    I guess it's also time to talk to my husband about what our pledge will be next year.

  103. Oh sisters, I still struggle. This is far later than I typically write, and I am still a long way from done. I thought I'd caught a good idea earlier, but now that I am fleshing it out, I'm not so sure. I would love to be in bed by 1:00a, but right now that seems unlikely. Ugh.

  104. SemFem - Anna Carter Florence is on Lectionary Homiletics, which can be found on Textweek. Hope that helps!

  105. You can find my sermon here....I published it using my early Christmas present, and all the formatting went out the window...I will dash over to the computer to reinsert paragraphs, so, depending on when you read it, it may or may not have them...I apologize if you read it before the are included.
    Blessings and peace to you all as you finish, preach and proclaim!

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  107. Prayers earthchick! You can do it! College football is such a distraction for me! So I'll be here a while too. :P

  108. Here's a tease: [Remember Deborah is speaking]
    I also had a battle-buddy, a sister-in-arms, her name was Ya‘el Eshet Heber; she was a covert operations specialist, an assassin, she had a license to kill, or if you prefer, to terminate her objectives with extreme prejudice. She was an assassin, but not a sniper. She went in close for her kills. I wrote a song about her, I called her “most blessed among women” after she took down the Canaanite general, Sisera, a notorious rapist. In one of the saddest comments on the whole affair, his mother doesn’t even worry when he is late coming home from the war because she knows it is his custom to violate the women of his enemies...
    Father Wil tells me that there are many folk who long for an Old Testament solution for child predators and rapists, and she counts herself among them in times like these when the news cycle is full of atrocities. Yet even in my day a person who was accused of horrific acts was brought before a judge. Hearing all of the evidence before passing sentence, particularly when that sentence is life-or-death is a sacred duty, and for some that is their call to service.

  109. SheRev, we just finished up that conversation. Tis the season...

    Celeste, hooray for you for having an Organ Donor Sunday. I mentioned earlier that on parishioner will be getting a marrow tx on Wednesday; another received one last spring. We have yet another awaiting a kidney tx, her second after about 8 years with the first. All are from unrelated donors, people who cared enough to offer this gift. In the case of the kidney, after death. Talk about not burying your talent!

  110. How are we all doing? Wrapping things up, I hope...

    I have a few more things to cover in my sermon, but the end is in sight. My football team pulled off the upset, so I'm very pleased there. So as long as I stay awake long enough to finish the sermon, my evening is looking up.

    Anyone else still out there? I believe I have some diet Coke in the fridge if anyone needs some...

  111. semfem, earthchick (if you're still up) and others... just wanted to post to say hi and let you gals know you're not alone. :) I'm putting finishing touches on printed materials and then I will head to bed singing prayers for all the RevGals out preaching tomorrow (today).

  112. I'm still here. Good to know I'm not alone. I think the end is in sight for me, too. My ending is elusive but so close!

  113. I have tried to fit my Julian of Norwich quote in about five different places and I keep cutting it. Sorry, dear Julian, you will have to sit this one out.

    Wil! I just saw your teaser. Looks wonderful!! Power to you as you preach it!

  114. Still here myself! My outline/sermon is mostly done as I am adding the body to the parts that say, "Use XYZ illustration here." Sometimes I get wordy in my illustrations so even if I don't stick to manuscript, I like to have typed them out concisely at SOME point, so I know HOW to be concise on Sunday. Doesn't always happen, but its worth a try! Football of ALL kinds is a religion down here, so if I preach too long I'm testing people to walk out so they can catch that 12:00pm kick-off - MUST BE CONCISE! :D

  115. Yay, a late night party with new faces! :) I too am now pursuing conciseness--I have the sermon done, but it's LOOOOONG. Although since it's pulpit exchange, preaching a long sermon might make them appreciate their regular preacher more. :)

    sleeeepy too...yawn...

    earthchick and PeaceBabe, keep going, you can do it!

  116. Oh, mercy, y'all, I think I'm done with my draft. I've moved things around so much I'm not sure which end is up, but I'm hoping I'll have fresh eyes in the morning. Which is coming in - eep! - 5 hours.

    Blessings, y'all!

  117. Back to finish. My battery pooped out not long after Betsy's last comment , so I went to bed at about parodie's last comment. Now I'm here to make sure it's all really in order and to say it in my a few times and the shower once. I found out why the 4.5 yr old is always tired by the time Sunday School starts. He was already up and watching TV when I got up at 5:20 am. Sent I'm back to bed with the instruction to not even open his mouth. We'll see if that works.

  118. good morning everyone of you late nighters.

    I have the coffee on for you. and want you to know that I'm praying for all of you (and myself) and to remind you that the Holy Spirit has your back.


    good worship to you.

  119. Thanks for the coffee and prayers, Diane!

    I got 4.5 hours of sleep, which is not nearly enough for me (especially after running the 10K!). This is going to be a long day, but I hope at the end of it I can crash early.

    I'm feeling moderately better about my sermon than I was at 2:00 last night. I will walk it proud and trust that HS has my back.

    Blessings on all y'all!

  120. Prayers for all today! Wil, particular ones for you, that your words and your chanting , by the power of the Spirit, point to the Holy One.

  121. Betsy, I want to thank you again for mentioning Father Greg and his book yesterday. I read large portions of it throughout my sermon prep yesterday and it ended up shaping the whole last half. I talked about his ministry and told a couple of his stories to show what I was trying to say about being children of light. It seemed to go over great! And I've been recommending the book to everyone.

    Anyway, as I preached this morning, knowing that you were hosting him, I felt a real kinship with you and your congregation, like we were all in this together (as, of course, we all are, all the time!). So thank you for being a part of my cloud of witnesses yesterday and today.

    Now on to teach Youth Sunday School. Thinking of all of you are still getting ready to preach and to lead!

  122. That is wonderful to hear, Earthchick! I actually told him the story this a.m. of how his book had provided a thought-provoking procrastination opportunity for another preacher (you), which he thoroughly appreciated; I am sure he has been distracted from his fair share of sermon prep, too. But how much more wonderful that it ended up shaping what you said this morning; I am not surprised, as it is that sort of book. As for our connection here, one of his repeated points was that we are one in God's love.

    His words and presence were as inspiring as we anticipated. He is funny and gently self-deprecating and very charismatic in the best way. In other words, much like his writing. Our youth had a wonderful time with him as well; my 13 year old son came awy with lots to think about.


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