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Saturday, December 17, 2011

11th Hour Preacher Party: Four Candles Edition

Good morning, preachers! Here we are -- can you believe it? -- looking at the last Sunday of Advent, all lit up by four candles.

Mary's story has me singing "Let It Be" along with the Beatles. A true child of the 60's here!
I still find inspiration in Mary's response to the challenge-blessing that shows up to transform her life. This year I'd like to be the angel in that play, the one who gets to break the news, share the joy and begin to chase away the fear.
Alas, I am not the designated preacher on Advent 4, nor will I get to play a role in the Sunday afternoon children and youth Christmas play. My own offering this weekend is a Mary-inspired meditation for today's "Blue Christmas" service.
Who's got baking to do and gifts to wrap?
Who's looking forward to a little time off after Christmas?
What about Christmas Day ideas?
This party is for you!
So, come as you are and share what you have!  Especially welcome are warm cookies, cool children's sermon ideas, embryonic sermon thoughts, deep or light questions, pressing prayer requests, and hot coffee.  
Give us a link to your sermon so we can share the joy of completion.

C'mon, let's get this party started!


  1. It's midafternoon in Beijing and I'm wondering if the sermon is far enough along to make a nap a viable option! I've been thinking about what inspires people to work for those things that often look impossible. This week I watched a BBC series about animals on the edge of extinction and the people who work to protect them (Last Chance to See). I was also inspired by ring member Johanna Harader's "How shall this be?" sermon posted at Spacious Faith

  2. 8.30pm, Church dinner tonight, and I managed to leave early to start writing for tomorrow morning. I had an idea of where I was going, but... Tonight we played a game where you are given an identity [which you don't know] and you ask yes/no questions until you work out who you are. the person leading tonight asked me for three lesser known characters in the christmas story. I chose Anna, Zechariah and Herod. very few had even heard of Anna.
    Anna and Simeon is the reading I had chosen for tomorrow, so now to do some more research on Anna, as the group tonight [about half the Cong] told me it is my fault they hadn't heard of Anna :)
    I was thinking of the bucket list - Simeon was now ready to die as he had seen the Messiah.

    also what if we really were celebrating Jesus birthday, rather then the celebration of birth, but a celebration of him, as with our birthdays.

    time to get to work!

  3. Good morning, Pearl & Jemma, and other early birds!

    Pearl, it sounds like your congregation is very ready to learn about the lesser known Bible ancestors. What a fun opportunity!

    Jemma, indeed! You remind me of that musical theater hit "To Dream the Impossible Dream" and how it is that sometimes it just takes root and won't let go.

    I'm pouring myself a cup of coffee. Help yourselves!

  4. Sharon, I am thinking next Advent, or maybe during the year sometime, looking at some of the people named in Mathew chapter 1. I think someone blogged about it here not long ago.

    here is this week's offering. Anna and Simeon
    two short reflections, a play and a poem.

    there is some rocky road, dark chocolate with ginger, cherries, dried pineapple and marshmallows.
    please eat some so I don't eat it all :)
    Chamomile tea also on offer.

  5. Just did the math on the the days vs. # of worship services which has given me the adrenaline kick I needed (8 days, 7 services).

    I've been excited about Advent 4 for weeks which means it will be a knock-down drag out to get it on paper. The title is 'Why Not?' and I hope to start with the ideas that we are fools for believing in such crazy things as angels and virgin births and the like. I'm wondering if the death of Christopher Hitchens might fit in there.... although he would have hated that.
    Basically the sermon will start with 'why believe all that stuff' and end with 'why not'.

    The challenge will be the balance between edgy and chicken soup for the soul.

    In the meantime I have a few bills to pay, a run to the store and post office to make and a stop at the church to check in with pageant rehearsal.

    Basically, my day is a lot like YOUR day... except my comment went on too long! Thanks Sharon for kicking us off!

  6. There's chilli cherry chocolate here for those who need a little pep for the writing and a weary RevGal signing off for the night. The sermon's done but will get a final read through in the morning before it gets printed. A wee spot of gift wrapping now for the seasonal thank yous and then, I hope, long and restful sleep. Go well those of you whose days are beginning

  7. Hi Sharon! I'm up looking at what I already wrote, and hoping I can complete before a pre-baptism meeting at noon.

    because, you know, I have to preach it at 5:00.

    My title, "the miracle of yes."

    Mary-s yes but then God's yes to us in the incarnation.

    I'm thinking about making belgian waffles for the first time this morning. anyone want some?

  8. My task is a 500 word reflection on God's love to all generations (Psalm 89), making reference to non-lectionary Matthew 1 (both Joseph and his family tree), all to make room for a hymn sing from our new Chalice Hymnals. We'll sing one verse of five old chestnuts, one camp song (Pass It On) and four Christmas carols).
    This weekend also holds a Sunday afternoon Christmas pageant. I wrote it, but I'm not directly involved in producing it, which is actually kind of fun. My daughter and I are going to be at the rehearsal this morning just to provide some music (to be offered by choir members tomorrow). Then it's home to try and get work done (reflection and newsletter stuff for me, homework for her). Our goal is to finish in time to watch a movie before it gets too late tonight. She's the only one in the family who hasn't seen the first Sherlock Holmes movie, and we have plans to see the sequel after Christmas with our favorite people.
    Meanwhile, my furnace did not kick on this morning, so it is crazy cold inside. I'm on the calendar for a furnace check-up/maintenance in early January. Hopeful it can wait until then. At least it responded when I pushed the magic button.
    Now, coffee!

  9. By the way, the genealogy itself is 331 words, which is why I'm not reading it. ;-)

  10. Yay for magic buttons! SB, go down there again and push it to see if my sermon revs up!

  11. Stopping by for an early morning "hello!" Yet another sustainable sermon for tomorrow, so I am finally beginning to look ahead to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, for which I will have to produce new sermons for the first time since my mid-November surgery. I'm feeling rusty in more ways than one - but so many in my congregation are contending with physical ailments that the terms "incarnation" and "embodiment" have a much deeper meaning this year.

  12. Good morning - Cafe Bustelo coffee here and hoping it kicks in fully soon! Kathrynzj, I love the quest for balance between "edgy and chicken soup for the soul"

    I am mostly done with the sermon calling it "We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming..." and talking about the power of God's interruptions. I'm ending with a reading from Dr. Seuss' Yertle the Turtle when the Turtle Kingdom is brought down by a turtle burp - imagine what the burp of a baby could do. Or something like that.

    Am hoping to spend the day doing a little wrapping and I have done very, very little and am feeling scroogish.

  13. I am preaching on the annunciation story. I've got notes...and wondering if we sometimes want everyone else's "yes" to be the same as our "yes". Mary is graced (favored)...what does it mean to be graced?

    We are hosting a "Quiet Day" for the community this afternoon...simple activity stations for rest and renewal.

  14. Purple, I would like to know more about this Quiet Day and particularly the activity stations. Thinking ahead towards next year.

  15. Chilly, I kept it extremely simple. We have four stations: art, finger labyrinth, music, and silence.

    Art includes a collage, pastel chalks, and colored pencils. We have one large finger labyrinth and one small one which uses a stencil. There are 2 CD players with a variety of music to choose from (with earphones) and then an invitation to sit in silence.

    There are a few instructions/questions to reflect on at each station.

  16. I don't usually join the party this early and certainly not when I'm on vacation, but when the vacation comes in order to do the wedding of my brother-in-law a sermon still is needed. So, I've got about an hour of time away from the rest of the family to come up with said sermon. The good news is that the bride and groom picked 3 Scripture readings, all of which I have preached at weddings before. The bad news is that about a year ago I lost my jump drive with all my wedding sermons on it. Must start over. Sigh. I've got the bones of one of them rolling around in my head, so hopefully it will make it down to my finger tips quickly.

  17. Good morning friends
    Today is our community Christmas tradition called heart to heart. Gifts for kids, food for households, husband and I will staff the giveaway table piled with quilts, books staffed animals, candy, family friendly games and more. Unrehearsed pageant tomorrow so I have had time to wrap and buy gifts for that project. It is almost the only wrapping I do this season. Decorated the tree with mother in laws long boxed ornaments. Look forward to checking in later. Sharon, not doing blue christmas this year but it has been one of the most meaningful in years past. Pearl, were you the one with dark chocolate cherries and ginger? Oh my... time for one more cup of coffee before we go

  18. Hello, good women! Looks like you all have been very busy already! I've been up for awhile but apparently I need a long ramp before I'm actually ready to start sermon work. So here I am.

    I've been very excited about Advent 4 but have currently lost my focus and hope I can get it back. I released two new knitting patterns this week which I have been WAY EXCITED about, but has also taken a lot of time, energy, and focus. A minister has no business trying to pull off that kind of feat during this busy season! Anyway, I'm trying to get over the excitement of pattern release day and settle down to my real work.

    As I've said so many times y'all are probably getting tired of hearing it, my husband and I have been preaching from hymns and carols for Advent, and tomorrow I am preaching Away in a Manger, my very favorite Christmas carol. My kids are also singing it in worship (with the children's choir), and my family is lighting the Advent candle, plus we are welcoming new members. There's a lot going on.

    Tonight is my boys' first piano recital followed by a Christmas party at the home of a church member. I don't like to schedule stuff for Saturday night, but it couldn't be avoided. So here's hoping I get some focus, some inspiration, and some words - right away!

    I have some homemade salted caramel pear butter to share. It's delicious with toast and tea. Have some!

  19. So much going on so early - and so many great ideas already. Diane, I love "the miracle of yes' and Chilly Fingers 'the power of interruption'! I feel inspired by workingpreacher's gospel commentary on what it means to be favored and the David Lose commentary, so that's probably the direction I'm going.

    I'm starting to feel the pre-Christmas prep stress. I've stared at the computer screen for three days trying to come up with the order of worship for my first Christmas eve in the new call. I can't find any of the previous bulletins from my congregation to guide me on their traditions. And I neglected to keep copies of bulletins myself, so I'm starting from scratch.

    I was up late baking cookies for the youth bake sale today. I have extras - chocolate chip, toffee chip, molasses spice and cranberry-chocolate-chip-oatmeal. Cookies are ok for breakfast, right? They have eggs and grain and some fruit.

  20. OK. I've got a general outline and direction, so I'm going to call that good. Time to go back upstairs to our hotel room and see what's happening with the fam. Then my 6 year VERY EXCITED flower girl needs to be shuttled to her hair appointment. I'll have more time to work in the lobby there!

  21. Good morning, everyone! Thanks for the yummy treats that are out there for all to enjoy. Salted caramel pear butter is new to me, Earthchick, and it sounds absolutely decadent!

    Celeste, this is my first Blue Christmas service, something they started last year. As such, the "tradition" (including the order of service, etc.) is in place so I'm trying not to wish that I could have had more to do with the planning of it. I don't think of myself as having control issues . . . but . . . =)

    SheRev, best wishes on this special day and your wonderful role in it. Technology lost is really awful, isn't it?

    Thanks for telling us about Quiet Day, Purple. How did that get started? Do you have a group in your church that comes up with the plan?

    Yertle the Turtle brings back some childhood memories, Chilly. I had a Yertle the Turtle board game as a young child. Dr. Seuss seems to find a powerful place that is "somewhere between edgy and chicken soup for the soul" doesn't he?

    Good morning Kathryn, Songbird, Diane and Robin! Great to see you here today!

    And a big HALLELUJAH! for sustainable sermons, magic buttons, Christmas pageants, Belgian waffles and even for time to sneak in a few errands.

    To quote Kathryn: "Why not?"

  22. And also waving to Ramona! Thanks for the cookies. And, if it makes you feel any better, I'm still scrambling to finish up Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    If I had a magic button, I would make it erase all church meetings (elders, consistory, VBS . . .ugh!) for the holy seasons of Advent and Lent.

    Dream on!

  23. Tomorrow is our community's main Christmas service (because most people will be away on The Days itself). We are starting with an all-age service, led by your-truly. I'm doing all the linking bits, announcing the hymns and contributing a 10 minute talk on the Angel's words to the shepherds (Luke 2:11-12). As most folk will be away next week, everyone is getting a gift tag on the way in, to write their own name on. During the service we'll do a lucky dip and everyone will get a tag with someone else's name on it. The idea is to pray for that person over the holiday season. (This felt like a good idea yesterday. But today I have to cut 100 ribbons and thread them through 100 holes, so I'm regretting it.) Our children's group has painted glass yogurt pots and will process in singing with lit candles in them.

    After the service we're having a 4 course sit down lunch for 100, with "contributions" between each course (Junior High nativity play, Senior high dance, various skits, community singing, and a quizz.)

    Feeling slightly frazzled at the prospect for now, but I just printed the sermon and will try to ignore the urge to rewrite it.

    DH just walked in and said "we need a baby Jesus". The Junior High group that he runs is contributing a multi-media nativity and are supposed to be filming the manger scene in the church car-park this evening. Except they forgot a rather essential prop ! Just wrapped a doll in a towel.

    My daughter made choc chip cookies.

  24. I'll have some Belgian waffles and the salted caramel pear butter, please.
    I wrote until late last night so I would be able to edit this morning. We've got a church couple having a 50th anniversary party today and I doubt I will have much energy when its done.
    I'm preaching "Occupy Bethlehem?" and drawing on the Time magazine article that came out AFTER I decided on the sermon. (TBTG)

    I'm not sure I"m ready to post it, but here it is. I'll be back later.

  25. SUCH a busy weekend/week for so many of us. The Wii that I bought off my friend is now sitting in my office. I will NOT hook it up in the name of making sure it works... no I will NOT.


    Putting in time in the church office until 12 and then home to get stocking stuffers done in order to ship some of them to family in Boston.

    No Wii.

  26. Sitting in the hair place watching my daughter get her 'do done. I've got my intro for the sermon and a little more fleshing out to do. Apparently I need the same scolding kzj just offered. No wifi. No!

  27. hi, back again everyone! waffle for everyone!

    I think I have a sermon, short though it may be (for me). No big 'stories', but the day is full with installation of officers of the church, a young woman singing "Breath of Heaven", a baptism at 10:00, etc. So, shorter may be better.

    earthchick, re: the patterns, what are you making this Christmas? I'm trying to make a shawl with bobbles for my mom.

    will be back a little later.

    Ramona, I love the David Lose commentaries, but I have to work hard sometimes not to just say, "I think what he thinks."

  28. Here are the instructions for the Quiet Day.

    This is a first for this church. I am trying (really hard) to get people to stir their creative juices...but this one came from me. Hopefully next year they will have more of an idea what to expect. The community is invited as well (small rural community).

    My idea came from Shalem Institute which has Quiet Days all through the year (google works to find them).

    Waffles...yum...thanks...they work for lunch, right?

  29. I have an unseasonably quite day compared to the last several Saturdays. Tomorrow has the musical special service for the later service so there won't be many at the earlier service. I need a sermon regardless of the number gathered. I'm working on Xmas Eve and Day and New years day, too. So I'll be in and out through the day.

  30. I always forget to "preview" so I can login and check the email box until after I hit enter

  31. Allison - I love the gift tag idea. I'll have to remember it for next year.

    I have a rough draft! Yea! The HS really does live in my shower - I do the best sermon work in there. I need to let it sit for awhile and work on transitions, but I'll post later.

    Diane- funny you have someone singing "Breath of Heaven." I'm thinking about singing it during offering as well.

    Now to move on to finish the bulletin, decide if I'm offering special music tomorrow or not, and get the prayers ready. One congregation has their mini-Childrens program during worship, so that means 2 different bulletins this week.

    But it helps that I at least have something to preach before I leave for the bake sale.

  32. Diane, every year I say I'm not going to knit any Christmas presents, but this week I find myself making a pair of baby booties for my husband's grandson-to-be, a pair of mittens for my stepson (meant for his birthday last February but I didn't like the way they were turning out), and a shawl (the Back Bay pattern from the BHK Cooperative) for my mom (meant for a Christmas present last year! oops!). I will definitely finish the booties and the mittens, but I think I'm counting on the drive home to Georgia the day after Christmas to make major progress on the shawl.

    What pattern are you using for the shawl with bobbles? Sounds cute!

    Well, I have gotten a start on my sermon and it seems to be going all right, I guess. I hate feeling the pressure of needing to be done in time for tonight's events. Argh!

  33. Hi Allison, Rev. Nancy and Vicar!

    Such creative ideas and I'm grateful for all of them!

    I've been working on some things for Christmas Day but everything feels either stale or stereotypical.

    At this particular moment, I'm feeling a littleirritated that there's some sort of ceremonial (I guess) parade of the emergency vehicles through our little town (up and down all streets) with sirens and horns blaring and lights blazing. I'm afraid I've either missed an important holiday commemoration or am missing a national emergency (I hope not!). It's rather scary, actually.

    Maybe I'm just a little jumpy or something. That chamomile tea is just the thing!

    I'm headed out for the Blue Christmas service. Will be back toward the late afternoon.

    Write on!

  34. I'm home from the morning's festivities (you should see the rolling camel for our pageant!), and we've had lunch. It's tempting to sit around watching a video with my daughter, who isn't usually home on Saturdays, but I probably ought to start writing.

  35. hello friends! We have the lessons and carols service tomorrow, so no preaching here...all I have to do is write some prayers (by which I may mean "pull out the prayers from a previous lessons and carols service and rework them") and read one of the lessons. Plus I get to sleep in a little tomorrow, because we won't be having the early service, so only 2 to do tomorrow! woohoo! Between that and the dropping of the late night christmas eve service, we too are at 7 services in the next 8 days. We can do it! I believe. Especially if someone is going to keep offering waffles with salted caramel pear butter. mmmm....

    I don't have any of those to offer, but I do have some frango dark chocolate mints for an afternoon pick-me-up!

  36. Good afternoon preachers!

    I have a draft, having taken the sermon I preached on this text six years ago, and reshaped it around the Madeleine L'Engle quote I used here Tuesday:

    This is the irrational season
    When love blooms bright and wild.
    Had Mary been filled with reason
    There'd have been no room for the child.
    ~Madeleine L'Engle

    I'm going to let it sit for a bit and then do a final edit. I"m still sitting here in my pjs and I need to get dressed and do some chores; I had a productive day yesterday, but I still have a lot to do: whatever decorating is going to happen, some wrapping, some cleaning.

    We have no pageant, and no lessons and carols, so it seems less hectic than it might--and I honestly have mixed feelings about that. Tomorrow we will bless our creche and "green the church" after the service in preparation for next weekend.

    No goodies here, alas, but I do have some roasted vegetables to share!

  37. Sharon -
    My guess is that was Santa... not a national emergency. But by all means keep us posted.

    I have about an hour before The Boy returns from his Dad's house. I have wrapped the Wii safely and securely away from mii.

    Church will be FULL both the service and the pews as thanks to a 20+ member winds orchestra up in the front, our choir will need to be in the pews. Did I mention we have a baptism at 11? SO... do you sit the family in the front row - so they can see - and also where their ear drums will be blown out?

    The good news - sermon can be 10 minutes or less (please, preacher, please). So there it is.

  38. Started the morning by visiting a parish member who is a few weeks out from a bone marrow tx and in critical condition; I was very proud of my just turned 17 y.o. Son who came with me to donate blood for her, his first time, and see if he can donate platelets. Thisis the second BMT in our parish this year...what a process.

    The salted caramel pear spread sounds amazing! Polished off with the chocolate mints, too.

    Blue Christmas service Monday night is all set; I will not officiate this year as I am not sure how I will responding the wake of my Dad's death last spring. I am looking forward to it, though. Prayers for all who have similar services coming up, and for everyone in this busy holy season.

    I am thinking about announcements in tomorrow's sermon: how we get them, what they say to us, whether we respond, and when we are called to be the announcers. Lots of ideas, absolutely none of which have made it on to paper!

  39. kzj, can you seat them behind the choir, as a buffer?

  40. hi everyone, checking in again. about to go and practice for the early edition.

    Sharon, may I say that I really really like the idea for a Blue Christmas? tell me more about it.

    Earthchick, the pattern is from CEY and is called Highlsnd Fling. first time I've tried something like this.

    does anyone need anything mid-afternoonish?

    I won't be up for reading sermons until after the early edition at 5:00. I'll try to check in on you as well.

    Ramona, I'm praying for the HS to show up during the sermon, as well....

  41. SB, they take up the entire choir loft. Seriously, I'm surprised the windows didn't break during rehearsal.

  42. The Boy is home. Feeding/walking dogs is next. Sermon formulating slowly on scrap pieces of paper in my head.

    All will be well.... right?

  43. Right, I meant seat the family behind the choir, if the choir is in the front pews.

  44. I made a mistake last night and drank coffee at 5pm... so I stayed up until 4:30am. Fortunately, I was productive during that time!

    In my sermon tomorrow I'm using different icons of Mary to reveal what it is we claim about Jesus -- fully human and fully divine. I'm a bit nervous because I'm afraid of being "too Catholic" for this Methodist church, and I'm also afraid of being too artsy/high-falutin' in a blue-collar town. But the good part is that it is an illustrated sermon (we're projecting the images in one church and I'm printing 8x10s for the other church) that is born out of my deep passion and love for icons and early church controversies... so hopefully that will shine through even if it is a bit "catholic" and "artsy."

  45. Hello everyone! It's pageant day for us too tomorrow...which is a good thing, it means I hopefully won't be up too late tonight writing a sermon. However this means I have that nagging feeling all day that I have forgotten to do something BIG. Irritating.

    I moved Mary to last Sunday, hurrah!, and am now pondering Christmas Eve and Day. It would be lovely to get at least one of the three sermons required for next weekend out of the way now. However my puttering seems to be going in all other directions right now...anything except sermonizing...maybe I should head home and work on all the wrapping, knitting, packing, and laundry that needs to happen in the personal realm!

    I do have some gingerbread coffee to share with anyone who needs a little caffeine hit right about now!

  46. Also, Songbird, on Matthew 1, I know you don't have a lot of time to read 331 words of a genealogy, but when we read it last week the congregation supplied the "was the father of" (or you could say "begat," which is more fun but less accessible!) while I called out the names. That kept people engaged and had the effect of showing the looong sweep of history. It also highlighted the women's stories --- e.g., "and his mother was the wife of Uriah" breaks up the pattern and draws attention to the women.

    Good luck getting shorter tomorrow!

  47. La Peregrina, what a neat idea!! Love it. Will have to file that away for some future Advent.

    Well, I have a draft, which is hard to believe, but it seems that this sermon nearly wrote itself. Which is scary because I don't feel all that in control of it. But I'm going to let it simmer for awhile, while I get boys ready for a recital, then go to said recital, then go to a party, and then come home. And then I will look at it again and hope it doesn't suck!

    See ya then!

  48. La Peregrina, that is brilliant.

  49. Back from the bake sale. One thing I'm discovering in SD is that buildings that are not in constant use don't get heated as much as they should be when in use. I'm chilled to the bone after 2 hours in the community center.

    Cold AND unmotivated. I need to review and edit, but I want to just wing it and curl up under a blanket on the couch. Please??

    BTW - bake sales are horrible fundraisers. I did the math while baking cookies last night - given the number of youth and the amount they were asked to bring, the total possible amount to be raised was about $200. Not much to show for 2 hours work (not to mention the hours everyone put in making the goodies for sale!). Why do we do this?

  50. Hey, RevDrMom, Teri, La Peregrina, and SemFem! Good to see you!

    I'm back from the Blue Christmas service. This is the church's second year to do this (I've only been there 2+ months) and is sponsored by a grief support group in the church. The other pastor and I led what they had put together and it was nice. I offered a short non-manuscript meditation on how the "perfect family / perfect Christmas" manger picture wasn't the last word - there was tragedy and loss after that - and even the cross didn't have the last word but rather God always has something more. I was trying to walk that previously defined line between edgy and chicken soup for the soul.

    People (and family groups) could come up and light a candle for a loved one. I would like to see more response things like that in "regular" worship. It's the remnant of the Baptist altar call in me from a previous liturgical life!

    I'm tired from that, and ready to put out some fresh coffee, leaded and unleaded, depending on your need for rejuvenation or rest. Sprinkle some cinnamon in it and pretend that you are at the local coffee shop!

    I also picked up a winter picnic at the store -- rotisserie chicken, potato salad and cole slaw -- so help yourselves to that too.

  51. In all of the variations of sermon procrastination I have now accomplished a new one: I installed more memory in my old, slow laptop! It's not as slow anymore!

    There's no one here to tell so I'm telling you in order to share my joy. It only cost less than $35 and 2+ hours since the "memory" store is too closely located to the mall and I went to the grocery store while I was out and about.

    Now back to the sermon writing which seems anticlimactic after all of that adventure.

  52. Hurray for more memory, Vicar! I need to do the same for my church's pretty up-to-date but it is SLOOOOOOW.

    We did a Blue Christmas service last year and I really enjoyed putting it together. I'm at a different church this Christmas so we didn't do it, but I am definitely holding onto the liturgy for re-purposing. I'd like to do it again, maybe next year. Last year I used a Charlie Brown Christmas tree as a sermon prop.

    Getting a few things done very sloooooowly here.

  53. Greetings, Favored One is still about 200 words longer than I wanted. And I do need to edit for time with the first service including a mini-Children's program. I'll let it sit a bit and come back later. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Now to finish the prayers and announcements. Maybe I'll actually get to watch some TV and relax this evening.

  54. It feels so lame to be doing a 5-600 word reflection on Advent 4. But that hymn sing is going to take a chunk of time, and there's nowhere else to find it and still be out in an hour. I have a draft, but I'm not happy about the whole situation. And since I'm the one who planned the service, I have only myself to blame. Ugh.

  55. Sb - right. Put the family behind the choir. Yes. I just hope they can see ok.

    Also, your Advent 4 will be lovely and appreciated and just fine.

    The Boy has been home and occasionally I throw something into my sermon document, also my head. I have an idea with the dating thing (in the 6th month) - these are the things worth remembering, the ones we date.

    Right now it's all still a hodge-podge but I'm confident that hodge-podge could be a sermon... some day.

    I'd also like to watch Jimmy Fallon host SNL. If I dvr it I will never take the time to watch it.

  56. Finite! Theotokos what a celebration!

    No treats to share (which is a good thing since I've already had peanut brittle and sugar cookies this week)...but I am working on perfecting a quick and easy shrimp stir-fry.

  57. I'm going to let it rest at 616 words. Pizza is coming. Be back later.

  58. Hooray, Vicar, oh now having a faster laptop!

    SB, they will appreciate your 500 words (first time I typed that, it came out as 5000, which no one would appreciate!) as an acknowledgement that there are other pieces to the service...and those other pieces are additional opportunities for the Spirit to speak if your words aren't quite what you hoped.

    I got two major presents out of the way in one trip, with a fabulous parking spot to boot, and then wrote a bit of my sermon while I waited for a doctor's appointment. Only 80% left to go ;-)

  59. May I rant for a minute?

    Whine, whine - I know DH got up and went to work at 6 this morning, but I'm still working and he's been home since 2. It is too much to ask that he cooks dinner tonight?

    Whine, sniffle, pout...

    I don't want to cook and we're out of frozen pizza.

    Thanks for letting me get that out of my system.

  60. Songbird, when I saw your update, I heard this song, "Pizza, oh pizza, oh, pizza, pizza is coming, or Yes I know" (to Freedom is coming)

    sorry about that.

    done with early edition. should have been a little shorter.

    but I am done done done

    be back with you a litle later

    popcorn, anyone?

  61. oh, and La Peregrina, I too loved your idea and will file it away for future use.

    just want to know, how you display the icons, make them big enough for everyone to see.

    that would be my one stumbling block.

    but I think visuals are great!

  62. LaPeregrina, love the idea about icons!

    We did a Blue Christmas liturgy a couple of years ago at my previous parish. I have a pdf I'd be happy to share if anyone would like to see it--I cobbled it together from other sources and it could be adapted. Just email

    I wanted to do it tomorrow, but with the greening fo the church and ECW holiday boutique it seemed like too much for those who would be likely to attend...will plan better next year.

    Our ECW (women's group) did a "bakeless bake sale" this year--just send out letters requesting donations instead of baked goods in the spirit of respecting time and waistlines--because their last few bake sales did so poorly. And they raised about $1000 which I admit shocked me.

    Sermon is put to bed; thinking about decorating the table top trees I chose in lieu of one big tree, which seemed like too much effort for just me (no kids coming home this year, alas.) Couldn't bring myself to skip having a tree at all so we'll see how I feel about this choice as the week goes by.

  63. It's late in the day...another long one for me. But I have found some time to sit quietly and get a sermon's short but I'm calling it A Tender Time

    I have a couple of things to do, but I'll be around later to read your sermons...and catch up on the party!

    I do have homemade oatmeal, cranberry, white chocolate cookies to share...

  64. Is it too late to call what just happened to me on the couch for a couple of hours "a nap"? Ack! And does oatmeal go with popcorn, or vice versa? Shrimp stir fry also sounds good!

    Ramona, not an unreasonable rant reason, if you ask me. But don't ask me. I'm single!

    Hi Betsy!

    Going to read some of your wonderful sermons now.

  65. This comment has been removed by the author.

  66. Not preaching tomorrow, but being preacher's wife with the Open House for the congregation at our home. I would rather be preaching! Cooking is basically done, but we have a looong way to go in the cleaning up department.

    ramona, he should definitely fix dinner. Without being asked. (yes, I do live in a dream world).

    Blessings to all of you as you work tonight.

  67. I'm it around here, when it comes to cooking, and prepping for Christmas, but my 16yo daughter did stun me by loading the dishwasher tonight and (with instruction) turning it on and running it. This is one of those years that I don't have a lot of enthusiasm for doing the home part. My sons will be here (one the 22nd, the other not until Christmas Day), but I'm most looking forward to leaving town, all of us, after the church parts are over!

  68. Hi Esperanza! At first I read that you had a "long way to go in cleaning up the APARTMENT" and was marveling that you are inviting the congregation to come together into such a cozy space. Have a fun time!

    I have a covered dish to make for a congregational Christmas party dinner tomorrow. In the morning, I'll throw some stuff in the crock pot for a potato casserole thing, take it to church and plug it in before the 8:00 a.m. service.

    Speaking of early church, I am going to go ahead and put it to bed. Wake up time is in less than 8 hours. Will I ever get used to the 2 worship service routine and quit stressing that I won't wake up in time?

    You all will be in my prayers tonight and tomorrow. I'll make the early coffee for any of you who are around tomorrow a little before 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

    Thanks for a fun Advent 4 party!

    May God bless each of you in wonderful ways!

  69. La Peregrina, I'd love to see what you did - it sounds wonderful.

    Tomorrow afternoon I'm doing the welcome, opening prayer, and first reading at a nearby church with which our choir shares a Christmas cantata program. I'm going to start by introducing the O Antiphons - the prayer is based on 3 and 4 --- that will be similarly new here, I think.

  70. Everything is printed for tomorrow but I'm still trying to work on 12/25, albeit, a bit halfheartedly, since that deadline is not close.

    The comments about the dirty dishes and the potato casserole reminds me that the leftover crockpot potato casserole stuff in the fridge needs to become the not refrigerated dirty dish. Of course, it's still in there because I keep putting off cleaning out the scant remnants. Obviously, my procrastination habits don't lean toward cleaning out the fridge!

  71. SB my reflection is ridiculously short, and I don't have the hymn sing as a reason. I am hoping that most people will appreciate a slow, quiet, short, reflective piece....I could be very wrong....but I am too tired to do uch about it. I suspect yours is fabulous, even if short!

  72. Boy in bed and both Frosty's have been watched (torture, both of them). Now it is The Time to Focus.

    Why not?

  73. So, almost forgot to write the short candle-lighting reflection. Whoops! But now it's done and is printing. And all the other bits of work (at least the ones I remembered) are wrapped up.

    I think I'm heading for home, finding some supper, maybe knitting a bit, and heading for bed soon! If I see the Holy Spirit out and about, I will remind her that her presence is requested with a few of you.

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation this Sunday (and Saturday where applicable).

  74. Rev Dr Mom - I love the 'bakeless bake sale' - I'll have to suggest it to our youth leaders!

    I'm going to try to edit out a couple of hundred words. I'm not usually too successful at that. Maybe if I re-write as an outline and preach from it. That should help me get the verbage down.

    DH decided we didn't really want fish (the only thing thawed out), so he went to the local pub and got takeout. Yay! But I still had to do dishes. :(

  75. What's the schedule for the preacher's party next week? Are we starting early for folks working on Christmas Eve sermons? Carrying over for Christmas Day? Procrastinating minds want to know, well, mind anyway

  76. Vicar, yes, there will be two Preacher Parties. Terri will be your host on Friday, the 23rd, and I'll be with you on the 24th.

  77. Thanks Songbird! I'm trying to make sure I have all my parties lined up :)

  78. Goodie - 2 parties! I'm sermonating on the 23rd (and probably finishing on the 24th!), but Christmas Day will be a carol sing with readings (as opposed to a "lessons and carols").

    I managed to cut about 100 words. I think I'm done for the night. I have to get up earlier than usual - it's time for the son's monthly appearance at the church with the early service, so I have to allow extra time for him to shower. So, I'll re-read and print then.

    Blessings and prayers of inspiration to everyone who is sermonating!

  79. Hi there,

    Anyone still up?

    Had a good start on a joseph monologue (I'm doing the christmas story from the perspective of the guys this year) earlier this week, but I've had a weird day so am just getting back to it. HOpefully I'll be able to flesh it out a little more - so far all I've got it 450 words, so a bout a third done.

    but NO IDEA about childrens time, except to maybe talk about what did Jesus learn from his dad? Or else surprised by God? Or else drag out one of my nativity christmas books? what about you all for kid's time?

    Hey, earthchick do you have the recipe for that pear caramel butter? that sounds amazing!

    PURPLE! I'm TOTALLY STEALING the quiet day idea next year.

    Ok, Joseph. It's just you and me, buddy. Bring it.

  80. I'm back from the recital and the party. The recital was so nerve-wracking but my boys did great and I was a proud mama. The party didn't offer much food-wise, so the hubs and I just ordered a pizza. I've looked over my sermon, made some changes, and am calling it good. Or, good enough.

    For Juniper and for anyone else who is interested, the recipe I used for the salted caramel pear butter is here (it's for the slow cooker). You can also do it on the stovetop, and that post links to those versions. It was SO easy! I can mine in a hot water bath, but you can also just refrigerate it. I highly recommend the recipe!

  81. I decided I liked my wisp of a message enough to post it, wistfully. It would have been a good idea to develop further. Here it is: All the Generations.
    I've missed being with most of you on the lectionary this Advent, but I'm also pleased with how the Sundays have gone, so I guess my plan was a good one.
    My prayers are with you all tonight and tomorrow. Good night!

  82. I am here, after a dinner break that wonderfully included clearing leftovers from the fridge!

    For kids sometime this week: I had a great time in chapel telling the story from the perspective of Joseph's donkey, a cow in the stable, and a little lamb out with the shepherd's. Sort of like the Friendly Beasts carol, which we then sang. Very simple to do.

    I included a bit in my sermon wondering if God tried anyone else before Mary. I could probably do a whole sermon on that, but I don't want to dump the rest. 60% there and hoping the rest will come easily (dream on).

  83. Blessings on you all as you preach tomorrow (or today or yesterday). How amazing a circle of Rev Gals that wraps around the globe.

    Betsy, hope that the Blue Christmas gives you strength.

    La Peregrina, would love to hear the names and begats roll out from your people and from you. Thanks for sharing.

    Rev. Dr. Mom, thanks for the reminder of the irrational season.

    Where are those Frango Mints?

    No preaching for me tomorrow. Just a great build-up of anxiety as I prepare for the Bishop's visit to the homeless shelter at 8:00 am on Christmas and leading and preaching at the Christmas Day service at my home parish. Moments like this remind me why I do have faith. (What other choice is there!)

  84. Busy group here. I've avoided coming back until I had more editing done. (it was a great 50 wedding anniv. Party at church)
    Thanks for the comments to all who stopped by my blog. I think I'll put the edited version up later. I cut a little and connected the stringers (I think-hope).
    Now I've opened all your sermons in tabs and will read until the dryer stops. The rest will be my 'worship' time tomorrow afternoon.
    Glad to know abut the parties for the weekend. And thanks for the pear butter recipe, Earthchick.
    Blessings to the late nighters and warmth for the cold in SD.

  85. Turning in, with as much of the Open House prepared as I can do it. (It starts shortly after worship tomorrow, to allow those who don't live in town to attend). Hubby cleaned, I worked on the food.

    Yep, I would much rather be working on a sermon!! I'll hang out with y'all on the 23rd, though.

  86. ramona, we're doing a similar thing for Christmas day. I'm trying to make sure that the readings don't make it too long while we sing 9 carols! (hmm maybe we should pull out a carol or two?) A bit of irony that on the day we celebrate the birth of Christ we'd better not linger long at worship.

  87. Purple, I love your sermon; it is in part what I am striving for, only much better than mine! And I see I wasn't the only one wondering if Mary was God's first choice...

  88. I just looked at the clock and decided that I should be smart enough to put myself to bed since tomorrow's stuff is ready to go.

    Blessings on your Sunday!

  89. Well, it's preachable but knowing what I know about the service tomorrow... too long.

    Going to get jammied up and then give it another go.

    Hard to believe how much is going to fit into the next week, yes?

  90. Hmmmm..... cutting this is going to be harder than I thought. One more attempt - then bed no matter what.

  91. Okay, I can't cut no mo'.

    From what I've been reading there are no dogs out there tonight to walk proud. Try to stay healthy everyone - we can do this!

    Be blessed and remember the Holy Spirit has our backs!

  92. Done. I ended up liking the ending, and I have to pray it redeems a weak middle.

    Here we are, servants of God...fill us with your Holy Spirit!

  93. Good morning! Any one awake yet? Or still?

    It's a cold day in Northeast PA and still dark. Four candles lit and the coffee is hot and ready. Help yourselves!

    Blessings, preacher friends! I wish we had a place to celebrate the after-party!

  94. hi, I'm up and looking at my sermon again, praying over it and saying 'it'll do.'

  95. Sharon, thanks for the fresh coffee! I'm reading over my brief reflection, and wishing the snow had stayed. It's so darn cold! The world ought to have at least that dusting. The good news here: the furnace started on its own this morning. :-)
    God be with all of you today.


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