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Friday, December 30, 2011

11th Hour Preacher NEW YEAR'S EVE Party

"And the last shall be first." I'm pretty certain a New Year's Eve Preacher Party when the last day of the year leads to the first sermon of the next isn't what Jesus was talking about, but it just seems like it fit so well.

Welcome to our last part of the year on the last day of the year! And what potential we have for the party, too. I giggled this week when I visited The Text This Week and found a gazillion of options for this Sunday. In what direction are you going?

  • The Wise Guys and Epiphany? (Children's time suggestion might be a Chalk Blessings.)
  • New Year (Maybe an interactive sermon time with discernment of what God might be calling the church to join in the New Year)
  • Holy Name of Jesus (Children's time idea - - Bring a baby name book, or if you have the capability do on-line searches in real time, looking up name meanings of the kids. Then talk about what Jesus' name/s is/are, why he has it/them. Another variation might be to talk about who gives people their names.)
  • Mary, the Holy Mother of God (I gotta admit, this one is about as foreign to my Presbyterian-self as it could be. Yet this post that I found via friends on the Incarnation has a lot to say about the woman who brought the incarnation into "caro.")
  • and last but not least, good ol' Christmas 1B (I LOVE LOVE LOVE Simeon and Anna. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Anna, but it's actually Simeon who reminds me of my husband's grandmother. She was so excitedly awaiting great-grandchildren in her life that the quilt she gave us upon that blessed child's birth, on her own birthday I might add, was graced with a label saying "For my first great-grandchild, with love, made in 1995." For those who don't know me that was not only 10 years before my baby girl was born, but the same year her father, the oldest grandchild, graduated from high school. Grandma was waiting a long time! In our congregation we will be singing the Song of Simeon as the prayer after communion.)
There are LOTS of beautiful options for this week, and I'm certain there are even more directions in which we are being led. What are you thinking? What is the Spirit saying to you and your church? Where do you need help from the community?

And then there's that totally non-pastoral question - - how in the world does writing a sermon fit into your New Year's Eve plans?

I'll start the morning off with the requisite fair trade coffee. I think my husband will be making pancakes, too. But, later in the evening we'll have to pop open our bubbly drinks of choice. I do drink champagne, but am totally looking forward to my favorite sparkling apple juice, too!!! The party to which we go offers both!

In the meantime, join this party in the comments. Looking forward to saying "Hi" to everyone who drops in!


  1. I am doing the Three Wise Guys and Epiphany. Does anyone have a good story about being lost and how someone found their way home (i.e. star, music, light, etc)?
    It can be your story or someone you know or a link to a story.
    I am down with a sinus infection and need a good way into the sermon.
    My title is Loadstar. So think in terms of some special way you (or whomever) found their way home using something out of the ordinary.

  2. came back home today after a few days with friends [she is also a minister], and trying to get my head around the fact that tomorrow is Sunday. we are doing carols and lessons, so I really just need to run through it, so I ahve it in my head a bit better, after relaxing and shopping.

    1-4 the only story that springs to mind is Hansel and Gretel, may not be much use.

    must get to work, so I can watch the fireworks in 20 minutes, which will be 9 pm. I don't think I will be awake for the midnight fireworks.

  3. watched the 9 pm fireworks [on TV] while the service was printing. now I think I am all done.

    I looked at Simeon and Anna on Advent 4, great reading. advent 4

    there is still rocky road and Christmas cake for any who need an energy boost.

    good night all,

  4. Hi, Stephanie and others! I'm doing the Name of Jesus tonight and tomorrow.

    also sitting here with a torn ligament in my knee and a terrific-looking knee brace I can wear.

    1-4 Grace, I don't have a story for you (off the top of my head), but take a listen to a song on James Taylor's album "Never Cry Wolf." It's called "Home by another Way", and is the story of the three wise guys.

  5. Hi, Stephanie and others! I'm doing the Name of Jesus tonight and tomorrow.

    also sitting here with a torn ligament in my knee and a terrific-looking knee brace I can wear.

    1-4 Grace, I don't have a story for you (off the top of my head), but take a listen to a song on James Taylor's album "Never Cry Wolf." It's called "Home by another Way", and is the story of the three wise guys.

  6. Stephanie, thanks for sharing the story of the blanket. I too have one of those stories. My grammy made each grandkid (there were 10 of us) an afghan for when we got married and even 4 baby blankets for the group of us. My grammy was 70 when I was born so she was only able to live to see one great-granddaughter. She died the fall before I was married, but that afghan and the baby blanket are two of my most prized possessions. You brought tears to my eyes as I read your post. Thank you for inspiring me. I had planned a horrible cacophony of the Wesleyan covenant prayer, Matthew 2 (along with my annual gifts of the magi children's sermon) and reading of Anna and Simeon. I think my original plan was to talk about how sometimes it takes us a while to find what we are searching for. Haven't started a word of the sermon, however. Had two major funerals at church this week and am waiting on pins and needles for a medical report to come back.

  7. I'm doing Simeon and Anna--starting off with a little story in which God is looking out across the created cosmos and struggling to make sense of humanity, loving them but perplexed by the strangeness of their limitations. God unfurls a cosmic scroll and writes a New Year's resolution: "Number one: spend more time with my family..." (after that, we jump into the story of Anna and Simeon.)
    It's probably been done before, but it feels fresh enough that I think our folks will enjoy it... Hope so!

  8. Good Day Sisters,
    For 2012 I intend to create a blog so I can join you. 1-4 Grace- earlier this week I heard a story on the radio from a man who was a missionary to the native Americans of the US southwest years ago. He and friends were traveling a narrow and winding canyon trail to bring supplies to other missionaries when the sunset and darkness caught them while still on the trail. There was a high probability of getting lost and the temperatures were dropping rapidly. They stopped and prayed for guidance. Right after they prayed they noticed the smell of donkey dung and remembered that two times a week the mail was brought down that trail via donkey. They followed the smell of donkey dung and safely reached their destination. This may not be useable for your sermon, but it made me smile when I heard it. Blessings on your message.

  9. Stephanie, I have to say that I love all of your children's message ideas. If there are any children in worship tomorrow, I'll be using the baby name book and Jesus' name.

  10. Finally feeling "up to par" today as I was "gifted" with the flu thing Christmas Day.

    Three little lines in a worship book caught my attention: Why doesn't Anna have a song? Mary does, Zechariah does, Simeon I headed in that direction.

    Maybe a little morning hot chocolate...

  11. Good Morning all you lucky people. That's how one of G&T's professors started every class.

    I have one and a half sermons outlined. Trouble is I only need one, but I'm not happy with either yet. I'm incorporating Mary and Joseph at temple, Simeon and Anna into a modified Wesley Covenant service. Talking about Holy Living. Wow, that's a lot. I'm thinking that's why I'm not happy with it - trying to do too much. It will come. Need to refocus. Hoping to be finished by noon.

    I have orange rolls from a can, hot tea, and orange juice from a bottle to offer for breakfast for those of us on this side of the pond.

  12. Good morning 1-4! No great getting lost stories here. Or at least the one I can think of didn't result iny finding my way he, but being found. I'll save that for help on another day.

    Good night, pearl! I hope you'll tell us how 2012 is when you wake up!

    Hi Diane! I have loved all your name questions on FB this week. They totally made me wish I were preaching holy

  13. And again. I won't continue if it does it again.

    Anyway, loved your questions this week,Diane. Very sorry about you leg! That sounds so painful!

    Prayers for you, Megan, after your busy week, and I'm glad the Spirit is already working through this community for inspiration. Blessings on you!

    I haven't heard it or done it MaineCelt, if that means anything. I like the idea.

    Lisa, I would TOTALLY use the donkey dung story!!!

  14. Shoot, it auto-corrected Lida to Lisa, but then froze again. My son's iPod will not be my device of choice today.

  15. Gee what a way to up the post count!

    Purple, I can't wait to hear about Anna's song or why she doesn't sing.

  16. Our professors always started with "The Lord be with you," but it felt more like "Shut up! We're trying to start class." Hopefully more than one sermon is better than none at all. Prayers for your focus this morning.

  17. Good morning preachers!

    I am preaching on the Holy Name. I have a sustainable sermon from six years was my first ordained year, and while the bones are good, wow does it need some revision. It's on the power of being named and includes a big reference to Madeleine L'Engles "Wind in the Door"--third week in a row for L'Engle references -- hope that is not overkill but I love, love, love her writing and it has been so important in my own spiritual growth.

    I have no plans for tonight...pondering whether it is worth even buying a bottle of prosecco when I will only drink a bit of it. But I will have Hopping John and greens tomorrow. You can take the girl out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the girl!

    Happy New Year's Eve everyone.

  18. RDM - great minds think alike - I'm doing Holy Name and focusing on the power of naming to make someone or something our own and to set it on its path of purpose. Adam names all the animals that God creates, God (re)names Jacob Israel, the angel names the baby during the pregnancy..names are both identifiers as well as affirmations of purpose. What higher purpose than saving his people? And what is the power of naming in our own lives, for good and bad?

    New Years' will be quiet around here. Our oldest parishioner (105 years of age) is slipping toward death, so I am waiting for the family's call. He has been anointed and prayed over and may or may not make it into 2012. So no champers for me, sad to say!

  19. Welcome Rev Dr. I don't think three weeks is overkill. I think that's a series!

  20. Morning All. I am trying to make something about the newness. I do love the story of the great-grandmother, though. I know that my mother waited for the 5th generation to be born before she would let go of her life at 97. We have a wonderful picture of her with her great-great-great grandchild.

    Think I do want to talk about going home by a different route, though. The Church seems to be going home by a different route than I have ever known in my life--perhaps looking at some of McLaren's stuff or Tickle's stuff. The newness for the Future Church is quite appropriate for us in this diocese as we prepare to get our property back after schism and as we reorganize ourselves--but more importantly make room for the longing for Christ that is among our younger church population.

    Perhaps this is my "Anna's Song", a desire for the baby not to be thrown out with the bathwater and yet challenging folks to that diologic faith that is not a matter of either-or belief, but on relationship.

    It's comin'....

  21. Sounds like a wonderful direction, Mary. Prayers for you as you keep vigil this night.

  22. I'm doing a lessons and carols, so no sermon for me this week - just a few very short meditation/transitions from readings to carols, with a longer meditation on Simeon and Anna.

    No wait - I do have a sermon to write. After meeting with the couple for the small private wedding tomorrow, they want a short sermon with their gospel reading. Rats! So I'm writing today on John 15:9-12 and how God's love and Jesus' command to love one another informs our all of our life, including marriage.

    DH works today and I work tomorrow, so I think any New Years celebration has been cancelled.

    Did you hear that professors from John Hopkins are proposing a new calendar that would keep Christmas and New Year's day on Sunday? What a terrible idea!

  23. Just one slice for us tomorrow, and on the eve of The Big Parade nearby, so it will be a light Sunday, I expect. That is giving me a sense of freedom which I am enjoying.

    We are doing Holy Name. I plan to start by asking people about how they got their names, inviting some stories (and, yes, reducing the length of what I need to write!). I want to talk about the power of names, and how a name has that power in connection with a person, not just as an isolated word. We are baptized in the name of Jesus, using our given name...I am not exactly sure where I am going with that idea, but I know it is important to me!

    Two days before my dad died, as he lay in a mostly unconscious state and I sat by his bed, he suddenly said his full name in a strong and clear voice. I affirmed that indeed that was who he was, and he said that yes, it was. He had served a few years in the military, and I had the strongest sense that he was reporting for duty at the gates of heaven. His name, specifically, was an essential part of that; God knows him by name, and here he-a unique and beloved child of God--was, ready to claim his place in God's kingdom, with a confidence that the God who had blessed him by name in baptim was now recognizing that same name.

    Anyway, that's what I am working with. Cookies, anyone?

  24. I finished what I started earlier this week. Not exactly sure how this "Simeon and Anna" congregation will hear this.

    The Lost Song.

    Suggestions etc appreciated.
    Taco salad for anyone?

  25. I'm going with the Matt 2 Epiphany text although all the naming stories would be great since we have an infant baptism. I usually pair the Wesley covenant service with the Baptism of Jesus since I prefer to have the covenant service when there are more folks present and lots of folks are gone on the first Sunday of the year unless it is the 6th or 7th and school is back in.

  26. Betsy, what a great story; the power of being named and known by name to God is where I'm going. That's why I love the L'Engle story about Proginoskes, the cherubim who is a Namer, tasked with naming all the stars in the universe so that God will know them by name, so much.

    Revisions done. No one signed up for coffee hour tomorrow, so I suppose I should go buy some milk and cream and get the left over Christmas cookies out of the freezer. I hate that no one wants to take responsibility (an on-going issue here) and I hate the poor hospitality that no coffee hour seems to demonstrate.

  27. Betsy, I think that's where I would have gone in the end if I had been preaching. I'm such a name geek and love studying naming trends and reasons.

  28. I, too, baptize with just first and middle names with the idea that we receive the family name of God on the sacrament. I know some use full names to signify the totallity of the person's life and God's grace.

  29. @MainCelt: Would you say more about the story, God's New Year's Resolution? Is it original? Did you find it somewhere? Would you be willing to share? Thanks so much!

  30. Wow! 5th generation, Muthah+. That is amazing. Isn't it interesting how people will literally hold onto life like that? My own grandmother died pretty young (younger and younger it seems as I get older and older) at 69 after battling lung cancer. We could tell she was just holding on until her 4th child had her first baby. Once all her "babies" had at least one baby, she could go.

    Geez, why can't I ever make these kinds of connections when I'm actually preaching some of these texts. Must file away so I remember next time around!

    Hi Vicar!

    RDM - - The coffee hour dilemma. I so get this. I try to be sort of hard-nosed about it - - if no one is going to sign up then we just won't have coffee that day and folks will (if not immediately then at least after a week or two) miss it and sign up. What stinks is then that pull to make it so if anyone is visiting that don't think we just worship and run, because ordinarily we don't. We have to practically kick folks out of the building when there's coffee on hand.

    Thanks for posting Purple. I'm running over now to read!

    Sorry for the strings of posts from me. I don't know what the story was with the iPod Touch I was using to post. My iPad is somewhere in the process of being fixed. Thank goodness for full replacement protection plans. On the drive home from an out of state wedding a couple of weeks ago, my husband unknowingly leaned on the screen full force with his elbow. Result=big huge shatter on the screen. Everything still worked, but the screen was a mess, even to the point of little bits of glass starting to fall out. I sent it off to be fixed or replaced last Tuesday. I assume it will be back in hand by the time I'm home from my cruise on the 12th. 'Til then I'm way lower-tech than I have been in a while. Kind of nice! (Except of course for the books I had on it to read on the cruise. It did mean a trip to the bookstore this morning to buy some new reading material, though!)

    Can I get anyone anything? I'm working hard a cleaning my room up so my mother-in-law will have a decent place to stay when she comes to take care of the kids mid-week while we travel.

    I'll be doing the baby name children's moment even though the preaching pastor is working more with Simeon and Anna. I like the name stuff too much to skip it!

  31. Preaching tomorrow for the first time in a while, and writing on Saturday for the first time in over a year! I'm doing Anna and Simeon too, and have lots of ideas that will not solidify into anything. So, I'm back to rereading notes and my commentaries, deciding on a way in and seeing what happens.

  32. I'm doing SOMETHING with naming but nothing is on paper yet... as I have a couple of 500-word pieces of writing I have to get "out there" first. Forgive me sisters, but I foresee a mighty raiding of your treasury of good ideas before tomorrow morning!
    Maybe something about the act of naming and the ways it can be USED to assert "power over" -- or, blessedly, to convey "power to"?

  33. Happy New Year RGBPs
    a bright clear sunny morning here in Sydney, to start the New Year.

    I have done the Baby name thing last year [?] and it went well. Today is lessons and carols, and no sermon.

  34. Crimson, what you just said reminded me of a story my husband's cousin's wife told at brunch the other day. (Follow that?) Anyway, she and her husband (the cousin) are both Lutheran pastors, but she serves at a campus ministry. She will filling in at a church right before Christmas teaching a Confirmation class. I'm not sure what the lesson was all about, but I remember her telling us how it went. She was talking to the youth about how God told Moses God's name and seemed to be saying something about the importance of that - - how maybe the divine name had been withheld until that point because of the potential for misuse/misunderstanding - - that maybe people would think they had power over God because they knew God's name. (I'm not sure I have her understanding of that quite right, but the idea is there - - knowing someone's name gives more power or even just equality in the relationship.) Well, as soon as she taught this the kids in the class (where she was subbing, remember) asked her, "Well, do you know our names?" She sheepishly said, "No," and bless her heart, they all just stood up and walked out. No names, no power to call them back.

    Happy New Year to you, pearl! I was fairly certain I had heard the baby name ideas float around here before. Last year or even before.

    Hi Julie! Welcome back to the party!

  35. RDM, Madeleine L'Engle is one of my personal saints. I'd love to hear you preach about her any day.

  36. RDM, we have had pretty good luck for coffee hours (which in our parish tend toward brunch) with two things: a once a month potluck, and a matriarch who is a beloved force of nature who calls and asks people if they are willing to sponsor (pay for) or host one (often pay for and bring everything, but some pair with a sponsor who isn't up to the shopping). Many people are willing but have their hands full with food or don't have calendars handy when they pass the sign up sheet at coffee hour, so a phone call at home works better for them. JAT.

    I am unsure as to why the sermon that seemed so clear in my head all week and overflowing with ideas is now deader than a door nail ; all my inspiration has up and gone. If only I knew its name to call it back! (Love that story...)

  37. All this discussion about naming reminds me of a sermon my home congregation pastor did. He was fairly new to our church and is very into the high tech stuff. Anyway, he went to the mall with his video camera and asked all sorts of people to tell him how they got their names. For the beginning of his sermon, he showed various people talking about how they got their names and what their names meant. It was a great way to talk about how much importance and value we place on names and why Jesus' name was so meaningful.

  38. I have tinkered with the sermon enough that we are going to see a movie in the theater to celebrate NYE! I'll probably check back later when I'm putting the prayers together.

    FWIW, I say preach Madeline L'Engle every chance you get. She is the first one to teach me how to think theologically about all of life.

  39. SheRev, what a GREAT story! may I use it?

  40. Magdalene-- I sent you a FB message with the story of God's New Year's Resolution. It's original to me as far as I know, but I'm sure I'm not the first writer/preacher to come up with the idea... I'm happy to share it and let others use it as needed, though!

    Anyone want some salad? Mixed greens with pears, scallions,
    pomegranite seeds, feta cheese and some tasty bits of leftover chicken breast. I brought enough to share!

  41. Well, I think I'm going to have to bow out of the party for a little while. We have a standing party invite with some parishioners who fly in Maine lobsters every year for 8. We're heading out shortly with our baked brie and fresh baked bread to bring to the appetizer potluck. I'll pop back in when I return home, not too long after midnight. We all poop out right after the clock strikes 12, especially this year, I'm guessing when most of us will be at church before 9:30 a.m.!

    See the late night crew if there is one later. If not, peace and happy new year to you!

  42. It's yours to use, Crimson! Sounded right up your alley!

  43. home from worship. great attendance, just over our average, yet this is New Years Day, and people generally won't be back at work until Tuesday; because NYD is a Sunday, Monday is a public holiday, but most shops are open both days. and it is in the long summer holidays. Many people take Christmas to New Year off.

    those who are out celebrating, hope you ahve a wonderful time seeing in the New Year.

  44. Hi everyone!

    I am using the New Year's texts, Ecclesiastes for the Call to Worship and the Matthew text to lead into reading a story that will be the combo children's sermon and "regular" sermon: "The Shoemaker's Dream" which is a Russian fable about a shoemaker that dreams that Jesus tells him that they will meet in person. The next day, several people in need come to him and he addresses their needs with practical compassion but is (of course) disappointed that Jesus didn't make good on his promise. That night, Jesus tells him that he came in all the people he met that day. The book I have was given to me in my first call by a parishioner who wrote the text for the book.

    We are also using small pieces of magician's flash paper for people to write on there something they want to let go of as they begin the new year. There will be a candle (safely placed) and when they let go of their paper over the flame, it dissolves in a flash. You have to let it go, though, which is the point!

    Brewing some fresh Fair Trade de-caf coffee for anyone who is still working on stuff. Help yourselves!

  45. Sharon, what a special book for you to have and to share!

  46. hello all, sermon done, after a fashion, other writing done, after a fashion...please keep Larry and Kathy in your prayers...Larry may not see the New Year in, after a long and gallant battle with cancer.

  47. Prayers for Larry, Crimson!

    I'm still slowly putting words on paper and feeling more and more discouraged by the process. There is an outline, and there are some words, but do they work? I've gotten some random feedback from folks here - some good, some not so much, so I think I am putting way more pressure on myself than is good. I just took a 10 minute break, and now am back at it. I'll take some decaf! I also made chocolate chip cookies (bought the dough), so if any of you are still writing, help yourselves!

  48. Late to the party, I am - it has been a crazy day. Thanks to Ramona, who on Tuesday gave her lessons and carols out - I am using those. It includes Simeon and Anna, and the three kings,and since we "cancelled" Christmas candlelight services because of snow, it will be a nice end to the season. Communion, too.

    I made Posole for New Year's - I can warm some up for late nighters!!

  49. Happy New Year to all the Gals and Pals of RGBP. Hope 2012 will be filled with many blessings.

  50. The movie was great then we went to eat. The girls are now looking for our DVD of the mask of Zorro. I think they may last longer than I do through that movie since I have to be at church earlier than they do.

    Blessings on your Sunday!

  51. Happy New Year! I just got back from my annual New Years Eve party with live lobster from Maine and now I'm heading to bed. All I have to say is praise God for ecumenical services tomorrow. Peace and blessings to all!

  52. Rev TSB, if I had one bit of space left in my stomach, I would be all over that pozole! I hadn't had it until a few years ago when a church family gave me as a Christmas gift a bag filled with the ingredients plus a gift card for the meat and perishable veggies. Now it is a favorite.

    I finally made my sermon work. I am counting on some goodwill in the hearts of all attending, however. Blessings to all of you as the new year begins.

  53. And the party kept going after I went to bed. Blessings on you all who got less sleep than I did. Whew!

    Well, I guess it's that time for us to walk 'em if we got 'em. God's grace and Spirit be with you all!


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