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Friday, December 23, 2011

11th Hour Preacher's Party: Christmas Eve edition**

As we prepare for this most holy night, let us begin with prayer

Most gracious God, for our salvation you were born and manifested in a human body: Help us see your likeness in women and men of all nations,races, and cultures, that we may rejoice in our diversity and live together as one; in the name of your child, our Savior Jesus Christ, given to us this holy night. From Women's Uncommon Prayers, Christmas I, source, St. Anthanasius, 4th c.

The days and hours leading up to this holy night are often filled with planning, setting up, meetings, rehearsals, writing, thinking, doing, decorating, arranging, cooking, wrapping, caring for others, pastoral visits,...countless tasks...leaving little or no time for the pastor to slow down, take a breath, and just be.

Let us take that moment.

And then, as you are ready, share with us what you hope to say to those who come to celebrate the birth of Christ in your church this year. Are you preaching on one of the Christmas Texts or on the nativity or the incarnation or some Christmas theme? Are you preaching Christmas Eve and or Christmas Day? (Songbird will be here to host a party for Christmas Day preachers). Me, I'm pondering the idea of preaching on gratitude, and connecting that to the gift God has given us in the birth of Christ...and, yes, I'm preaching both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - and hoping I can preach the same sermon at both services since the congregation will be different....

Perhaps you have been so busy you haven't had a moment to really think through what you hope to say...we're here to share ideas, stories, quotes...and to offer prayer and support.

And, of course I have lots of goodies to share. Cookies, coffee, tea, fruit, and homemade chocolate spice bundt cakes with apple and pears.

Sit a moment. Catch your breath, and share a cup of coffee with us. We're here to help you get through this weekend.

**Friday Five will return next week...


  1. Thank you for the reminder... to stop and pray and remember why I'm in ministry.

    I have Christmas Eve prepped. Christmas Day is another issue...

    But now... bedtime.

    peace - and I'll be back later.

  2. Deb - I, too, have Christmas Eve pretty well in hand but Christmas Day is still under construction. I'll need to look at the Eve text again just to make sure it is where I think it is. Christmas Day I need several short stories, poems, etc that will be interspersed through the service more like lessons and carols style. I'm finding that harder than writing a "real" sermon.

  3. I'm envious of you two being where you are regarding the Eve!...I have a VERY rough draft of my meditation for the early service and a few very nebulous thoughts swirling around for my sermon for the late service.

    Christmas Day...I actually have more of an idea for the sermon, so maybe I will write that one first tomorrow and get it off the plate.

    Will definitely be back during the day proper as I work more on these!

  4. I am starting to panic! It's my first Christmas as a minister and I have 2 Christmas eve services and one on Christmas day. I have set them up so there is no sermon at any of them which I thought would make them easier but the all age talks involve a lot of physical prep which is not done as well as just as many words.

    We are having Mulled wine (non-alcoholic) at the watchnight service (in the middle in the sermon slot) and even that seems to involve a lot more prep that I thought. Glad of an idea from RevGals last year on God loves you no strings attached to use for Christmas (can't remember whose idea it was but Thank You!)

    First there's a funeral to conduct this morning (4th in 2 weeks)
    Is it always this hectic????

  5. I am back from our Christmas Carol service, 23rd December, as so many families are busy Christmas Eve. lots of carols, and a nativity play, unrehearsed and with volunteers from the congregation. [and no sermon!!!]
    No service for me on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning, I had an idea this week, then when I looked at some prayers etc I had collected in a file, I found another idea I had written down weeks ago. so 2 ideas. not sure which way to go.

    been out all afternoon visiting, then carols tonight, so time for a cuppa, and an early night.
    there is rocky road to share, with or without ginger, and fruit cake; and someone gave me some treats tonight as well, will need to take a closer look to see what it is.
    happy prepping. I'll be back tomorrow. [9.25pm Friday]

  6. Good morning - so comforting to know that there are lots of us out and about getting ready for the weekend! On Christmas Eve, we do lessons and carols, and while that takes planning, I don't have to preach a full sermon. I DO have to give a communion meditation which is "done and dusted."

    On Christmas Day, I will preach, and I am using an example from a little boy in my church (with his permission) who misread Yahweh as Yahoo...which is actually a great way to think about how God came to us on Christmas Day. YAHOO!

  7. Good morning Deb and Vicar. I am impressed that you are well prepared as you are. I hope all falls together for each of you.

    Semfem, I am more in your camp of (un) preparedness...

    Tanya, I could be gentle and say that it is not always like this....but truthfully, many years are, and a few are less so. But experince helps to be prepared and to have sustainable sermons in your back pocket to pull out when you need them. The good news is the number of funerals one has tends to fluxuate, a lot all at once and then a spell with out any.

    Pearl, welcome to the party. I hope you are resting well before you begin your Christmas Eve services...

    I have coffee, cinnamon scones....what can I get you?

  8. Morning, Chilly....what a great illustration, yahoo!

  9. Good morning, all~
    My agenda today includes music rehearsals at church for my two younger children (not so young, though, at 21 and 16), grocery shopping, cookie baking and writing a story to use at the family service on Christmas Eve. I'm all set for the late service, and pretty well set for Christmas Day, although I'll leave a little polishing to do during *tomorrow's* Preacher Party!
    I have an idea for the story, but this week just hasn't allowed the space, the time or the mood to write it. It's snowing here now, so maybe that will help.

  10. Good morning Martha! I wish we had a little snow here. Itis frost and cold, however. Inope your tasks today all go well and the sermons come together!

  11. Peace on Earth/Light is the theme for Christmas Eve. I am retelling the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914...and sharing with the kids that Christmas is a global event.

    The previous four days have been over-full and this will be me in a few short days.

    I'll post my meditation a bit later...after looking at it again

  12. Please remember in your prayers and preparations our colleagues in ministry in Christchurch, New Zealand, where there were four sharp aftershocks this afternoon (all over 5 on the Richter scale, and one at 6). I can't imagine trying to finish sermons and services with that going on, and after fifteen months of earthquakes the cumulative toll is hitting hard. As engineers will not be able to check all the churches before tomorrow evening and Sunday, many congregations will worship outside - it will be Bring Your Own Torch for the Christmas Eve services. Read more from an anglican/episcopalian perspective at

  13. If anyone needs a couple of easy readings etc for Christmas Day, I posted two here.

  14. Jemma, thank you for letting us know and for the link. Prayers for all in New Zealand.

  15. Welcome Purple, love the link/photo!

    Jemma, prayers ascending for all. I saw this news on Facebook last night and began my prayers then..

  16. Prayers ascending for all in New Zealand.

    Christmas Eve - all is ready except the script and (ahem) the meditation. I find this the hardest one of the year to write. God broke into the earthly kingdom to provide us the path for eternal salvation. Haven't we been over this before?

    Christmas Day - No sermon, but parts of Communion need to be child friendly, but not dumbed down. I', going to write out some of it so I don't blabber my way into a corner.

    Glad to be in this and in this with all of you.

  17. Christmas Day is Lessons and Carols and a discussion about gifts, so no sermon and the plans are made. Christmas Eve's sermon is on the way. Am using Isaiah more than I normally do on Christmas Eve.
    The part of the service that will take the most effort is that we are doing the nativity story as done to the music of Bohemian Rhapsody with puppets. There are 18 people (ages 8 to 50 something) and all are new to puppeting. We used to have a group, but it faded away. We're hoping this will bring it back.
    Prayers for all of your preparations!

  18. Good morning preachers!

    Bulletins are all done, church is decorated, and the office staff is off today, but I still have two sermons to write. I am preaching Luke at both services on Christmas Eve, and John on Christmas morning. And that is pretty much all I know at this point :( But I know it will come.

    I still have some cleaning and wrapping (well ALL the wrapping) to do. It is sort of a weird Christmas for me because there is no one here but me, and I have been ambivalent about how much decorating and prep to even do. I am leaving after church on Sunday to go see my kids for a few days so that is good, but Christmas still feels a little flat.

  19. Good morning, Rev. Gal Friends! A snowy morning here in New Mexico. Streets treacherous and drivers wild and crazy. My preparations today will have to be in my head as I prepare for Christmas at the shelter with the Bishop. My homily will be later Christmas morning. Am thinking about the shepherds and Mary pondering in her heart all that she had heard. Things settling in. The layers of the Christmas message. At our parish only those who are really committed Christians show up on Christmas Day. There's a deep peace to the day. Right now, I'm longing for that peace.

  20. I am NOT preaching, but I wrote about what Christmas is meaning to me this year at my blog.

    Praying for those in Christchurch and for all who struggle and fear and who shop and preach and bake and wrap at this season. May we remember to breathe in the Good News, breathe out the Love of God.

  21. I am preaching at midnight mass for the first time and feeling ever so slightly over awed by the event. But the sermon is written. It is a focus on Mary, how she was called for what God saw in her and how God sees what He needs in each of us. My aim is to send everyone out knowing how special they each are to God and the world. I hope. The sermon will go on my blog on Christmas day. Http://

  22. The only reason Christmas Eve is in hand is I took advantage of the week the choir sang to work on Christmas Eve.

    While I'm slightly procrastinating, let me share one of my most valued ministry tools. Over the years I have collected/saved various resources for Advent/Christmas even if I didn't need the year I discovered it. That electronic file now has enough depth to actually be helpful. (I have one for Lent/Easter, too but somehow it doesn't have the same depth as the Advent/Christmas one.) It has resources for Hanging of the Greens, Lighting of the Advent Candles, Longest Night, Lessons & Carols, as well as, stories that can become the heart of a sermon/meditation. More than once that file has rescued me when there were multiple crises that drained my time and energy. It's never too late to start your own collection.

  23. Good morning RevDrMom...oh, I so understand the flatness of Christmas, echoes mine last year. I pray you feel the sweetness of God's abiding love lifting you throught the flatness....

    RevAlli, careful in that snow! The higher altitudes of the desert southwest are beautiful in the snow, but it does make for scary travels. Blessings on your Christmas!

    Mary Beth, love to you this Christmas!

    EmmaMajor, I trust the Spirit will fill your words and the hope you desire for will happen.

  24. Vicar, I have always intended to have just such a file, but I am not so organized, it seems. It's awesome that you are!

  25. Purple - love the pic and I may just borrow the idea behind the 'present' poem for my children's time. I can't wait to see your meditation - I'm thinking about using the 1914 Truce for my Christmas Eve meditation, but am stuck. Maybe you'll help me get unstuck

    marciglass - I would love to see a video of your Bohemian nativity rhapsody! It sounds so cool.

    I have the bulletins done for Christmas Eve and Day, just holding out on printing until later today in case I need to change/add something. Jan 1 is our Lessons and Carols, so it's done too. For Christmas Day, I'm preaching John - well, I'm telling "What if God was one of us?" - the story of the man who wanted to shelter a flock of birds in his barn but they wouldn't go(got it from, if you're interested.) It's the Christmas Eve sermon that's got me in knots.

    Today's schedule is sermonating, baking, sermonating, shut-in visits, baking, sermonating....I really want to get all the sweet stuff made today and the sermon done. The challenge is to make sure the sermon doesn't end up sugary-sweet! ;)

  26. Terri - "Save as" and "copy/paste" are my friends! It's all on the computer. It's even easier now that when I started that file if you use Evernote which will clip web pages and save them for you.

  27. Christmas Eve is wel in hand. So well thqat I actually have a text (which I may or may not use). Of course it helps that I am recycling from 3 years ago (isn't that one of teh benefits of changing places?).

    ANd Friday is my day off so we are taking the kids to the new pool/splash park/

  28. We will video the Bethlehemian Rhapsody and I'll post the link!

  29. I just saw this poem on the elca clergy FB page and it make me laugh, and reminded me of all the hands that go into Christmas Eve worship. It's written by Becca Middeke-Conlin. I just had to share it!

    Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the land
    pastors were struggling trying to finish their plans
    The Chrismons were hung on the tree with a bit of flare
    Even through they are old and showing a lot of ware

    The bulletins were edited and ready to go
    But the copier was flashing "Toner is low"
    Christmas cookies had appeared: snowmen in little hats
    Nobody seemed to care that the pastor was getting fat.

    When from the sanctuary came quite a bit of chatter,
    The altar guild was arguing about a banner that was in tatters.
    Up from the chair I sprang, my office door was shut with a crash
    And I looked from some Tylenol in my medicine stash.

    It was dark as night, the sun had set long ago,
    But I had four hours to choir practice to go.
    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
    But quite a few parishioners that I hold dear.

    The little old ladies have quite a quick wit,
    And I knew everything would be done lickity-split.
    More rapid than at coffee hour these helpers they came,
    And I knew God had called them here, each by their name!

    Now Doris and Verna and Lucy and John
    And Eva and Sammy and Patty and Tom!
    Came to the rescue, searching like bloodhounds
    With coffee in hand they were bulletin bound.

    They copied and folded and mutilated too
    All the bulletins were ready, swift work with this crew
    And I knew I had just seen incarnate God's love
    as they pushed me in my car with a bit of a shove.

    "Go home, take a nap, it will all get done
    for a overworked pastor is not a lot of fun.
    Come back to sing, the choir needs your voice
    As we proclaim to the world 'you all should rejoice!'"

    As I was ministered to I was filled with the Christmas spirit
    But really I knew that all this was the work of the Holy Spirit
    Tomorrow I'll be ready to preach, I'll be ready to proclaim
    A Savior has been born to you and Jesus is his name.

  30. Just finished decorating the Sanctuary trees. We have folks from the congregation bring in ornaments, but it needs supplementing to help them "drip Christmas." Now to focus on the meditation.



  31. I have spent most of Advent carrying round the text "May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". For me this has been the spiritual equivalent of 'don't panic & don't moan!'.

    I think , mostly, I am ready - the sermons are written and blogged (sorry I can't remember how to do a link!) .

    Now praying for the stillness to lead people in worship and rejoicing, but so grateful that this was all God's idea, not mine. Six services in 14 hours is mad (3 Christmas eve, 3 Christmas Day) - but I wouldn't want to be doing anything else...Joy & peace, sisters.

  32. Like someone above (Vicar, was it you?), I'm interspersing little meditations/sermonitos in between lessons and carols. I'm reasonably happy with them individually, but I would like them to hang together better, somehow. That may or may not happen.

    I still have one sewing project to finish, two gifts to purchase (if I knew what they were going to be, that would be considerably easier!), and all the wrapping.

    Clearly, I should get off the computer.

  33. Ramona, thank you for sharing that poem! delightful!!

    Vicar - huzzah! (note to self, take the time to cut and paste...hehe)

    Welcome Ruth, and thank you for sharing that quote/reminder.

  34. Ramona, I stole the poem for the women clergy of my diocese. It is perfect!

    I am not preaching. Last year I had to do EVERYTHING because our rector was ill. This year I am not preaching and all I have to do is help with communion and celebrate one mass. But my non-church family had decided to have their Christmas on Christmas Eve--Grrrr. This means I go to Christmas Dinner at 2 and begin the round of 3 services at 5. And they told me that retirement was going to be easy!

    Jemma, prayers ascend for you folk down under. They will also be at all services from our parish here in Texas. I will also try to pass it on to all the churches in the diocese. TEC cares!

    Tanya, Christmas and Easter will always be hectic--it is part of the life, but it is also part of the rhythm of ministry. Vicar has some really good organizational tips that will really help from the start. You will learn to prepare for these seasons. In the northern hemisphere we have the added pastoral issue of people dealing with SAD depression and children with sugar overload in addition and your pastoral load will always be heavier than usual. And yes, there is always a funeral the week before Christmas and one during Holy Week. But rejoice and be glad. It is what God called you for. Just grin and bear it and always take the Sunday off the week after such feasts!

    The Merriest Christmas to you all. May the Incarnation fill you with the holiness of the season.

  35. I may have hit the outer limit of "I will not over stress this season" ... sick since Tuesday morning, no energy and not certain I will have a voice by then- I can't pull off a Christmas Eve sustainable character narrative and song. I have a title and an Ann Weens poem... I don't think that is going to cut it... I also have images of the congregation gazing in horror as I blow my nose for an hour and cough.
    We do a major free community Christmas Eve dinner before so I have got to get my act together soon. But I have been saying that for a while with no resulting sermonating...

    Christmas day will be fine- it's casual - no sermon- inviting folks to share blessings and where they have been aware of God's presence -a story - the Christmas Candle and the delightful Youtube vid of the Alaska town doing the Halleluia Chorus

    That is my whine for the day... Now off to get my picture taken receiving much needed kitchen gifts from our local hospital for our weekly free community meal.
    be back soon - with I hope some focus

  36. After some surfing and some baking-meditation, I have a outline. No time to write though - I'm off to do the last 2 shut-in visits of the month! And a last minute run to the store for anything we might have missed for Christmas dinner. I'm still getting used to the 'step back in time' schedule of a very rural parish - the stores all close tomorrow for the holidays, so if I miss anything it's a 1 1/2 drive to the city or do without!

  37. All is as ready as it will be. Christmas Eve meditation Peace on Earth.

  38. Thank you all so much for this ministry. I really feel overwhelmed right now. I feel like like I need a "Baby's First Christmas" ornament --- it's my first Christmas under appointment and my first Christmas away from my family. Everything is new, and while it was exciting to put the services together earlier this week, I am now hitting a wall with these sermons and trying to figure out what-must-be-done and what-will-be-left-undone. I hate everything that I've written for Christmas Eve and I am stumped for Christmas morning... although I do have a very long Children's Sermon planned (reading "Jesus the Word" by Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones).

    Purple, thanks for the kitten in an hammock picture. I can't wait until the services are over so I can take my dog and drive the three hours to my family Christmas. THEN I think I'll feel at rest.
    (And the virtual fire on your page, too... that is certainly calming to have in the background!)

  39. Hey Muthah! Welcome.

    Celeste, when I have been solo clergy and in similar state of cold/illness I have given as much of the service to lay people as possible, even having someone else read a reflection from "Sermkns that Work" or some other source, (I'll even email you mine)...and havong others distribute communion, doing only what I had too...and, of course, informing folks why...anyway, it may not be possible for you to give away so many pieces of the service, but I do hope you feel better.... And that your peeps inderstand.

    Purple, I'll be over in a it.

    La Peregrina, fear not! You are not alone, and all will be well. Somehow it just is, regardless. It's that Incarnational reality! And sometimes the sermons I hate the most end up being the very sermon the congregation needed to hear...go figure.

  40. La Peregrina, I can empathize. I started my first call on a Nov first Advent/Christmas was a blur.

    A very wise pastor friend told me: we plan to the utmost of my ability...and then what happens is under the blowing of the Spirit.

  41. Greetings all - when I stopped by this morning I was wincing to see how far along all of you were, as I headed out to finish my Christmas shopping. But now, that is done - the 13 year old, 10 year old and 7 year old all bought for, got something for the spouse and the grandparents. Totally bagged pretty much everyone else. I did what I could do, which for many unbloggable reasons wasn't much.
    As an associate, I don't have to preach but do have to attend and read at three services tomorrow evening, getting home after midnight, and then I am preaching Christmas Day in the morning, after I am sure getting up very early to see what Santa brought. Need to polish up that sermon sometime, finish wrapping, write cards for the many staff that make all this possible.
    So, not bad. But I am tired and stressed anyway. I send my blessings and prayers out to all of you, and I am very glad you are all here. Hard to explain this community to others, but it sure is real, and I give thanks for you!

  42. Mumpastor! Welcome! We're glad you are here, too. Looks like we all need a cup of tea...or, if you want something stronger, a glass of sherry....

  43. ramona, love the story; tempted to include it on Christmas Day, but may keep it for next year - in the amazing 'Vicar' file.

    I have changed direction for Christmas day service. This is our biggest service of the year, and lots of people who are 'occasional' attenders. we have a nativity scene in the church, so I will speak about each person in the scene; and how God came to a variety of people.
    we also have a children's story, each character spoken by a different person.

    Christmas services seem far more manageable now that Christmas eve carols are a night early [23rd], which means no service on Christmas Day. and the first Sunday after Christmas is Carols and Lessons, which I get from a book. so no preaching for either of these services.

    Now to get moving on Christmas Day service, in 24 hours it will all be over.

  44. The good news here is almost all the errands are complete, and I have a plan for the last five things we need in the house. The bad news is this and going out to the church took all day, with a side journey into an email ministry crisis. (Issue won't be resolvable today or tomorrow, but at least there are people on the right side of it.) Therefore, I have not done my writing. I have, however, written an outline/summary, and at least I can build from that.
    Next year, I think I'll do this planning earlier in the year. I did all of Advent *except* Christmas Eve back in early November. That was purposeful, but next year, the plan will be different.

  45. Pearl, sounds like you have a good array of Christmas and church celebrations, hard to believe yours will be over just as those for us in this hemisphere are just beginning. Many blessings!

  46. marciglass, if you're version is anything like this bethlehem rhapsody
    it will be awesome! Now to see if my technical people can download this to play in the morning; maybe the call to worship???

  47. Just starting. As I was driving around today, I begin to wonder about Mary. What was her Christmas Day like? And the day after and the day after that. Thought I might play around with the Mary part of the story and the pondering and then pull the rug out and say "It's a story. A lovely story. But it's just a story. We don't really know about any of it. And yet I think it points to some important truths about God and us and God and us together. Dare I do this on Christmas Day? Feeling a little like my heelish first grade classmate who shattered my Santa Claus illusions. Just wondering at this moment and wishing that I had a file like Vicar's. Hang in there Peregrina. It all does work out.

  48. Good morning - well its Christmas Eve morning in Beijing. Thank you for your prayers and care for the folk of Christchurch. I'm away from New Zealand but have friends and colleagues there and can't imagine adding earthquakes into the mix of Christmas preparation. Here the co-pastor is preaching, so for me today it will be cleaning a couple of hundred candle holders and hopefully a wee nap so I last the distance with services tonight and tomorrow morning. Go well everyone

  49. Well, my house is clean(er) but my presents aren't wrapped and my sermons aren't written. I'll be sorry tomorrow. I'm toying with the idea (mentioned by someone here but I don't remember who) of doing one sermon for all three services, even though the gospels are different. I've been reading Borg's "First Christmas" and thinking about some of the themes he touches on...we'll see.

    What I really want to do is put my feet up and watch a movie, but I probably shouldn't....I will fix myself some dinner though.

  50. RevAlli, I think you can do it, remind people that there is a profound truth of Gods love in the Incarnation, even if we can't be certain about the details of the birth itself.

    Jemma, prayers and blessings for you and all you care for...

    RevDrMom....I am preaching one sermon for the late service and Christmas Day, but for Christmas Day I may alter the end to include something about the mystery of the Word..,won't change the over all sermkn much. I always feel that these BIG feast days of Christmas and Easter overwhelm the text anyway, so I end up preaching on the gift of the Incarnation and the gift of the resurrection...and maybe a nod toward the words in the texts...

  51. So....let's see...I have a draft of the sermon, I have wrapped most of the gifts, done all the grocery shopping, some of the house cleaning, and some of the baking...

    i have had my panic attack, temper tantrum, and melt-down

    I think I am almost ready. Lol

    Perhaps a cup of tea? Anyone???

  52. looking at what some of you are doing for Christmas Eve, I am starting to wish we had a quieter, reflective service during these few days.

  53. Pearl, my early service has a childrens pageant and no sermon, and it is oind to be anything ut quiet and reflective....I do nope that the later service is quieter and trust that Sunday/Christmas Day wikk be ...

  54. Bound to be anything but quiet....(sigh auto correct)

  55. Shut-ins are all visited for the year, and my last bit of baking for the day is in the oven. I'm making goodie bags for my organists and custodians. I have extra fudge if a chocolate fix would help....

    I'm totally unmotivated to write my sermon and it look like my file cabinet threw up all over my desk, which is completely destroying my mojo. So, I'll read Purple's sermon and watch the Bethelem Rhaposody (thanks Pearl!) and pray for the Spirit to come.

    I have to get this done tonight!

  56. I'm Ramona, I checked off the last shut-in visits...except for a few that are going to try to make it to church tomorrow, but I told them I'd call in the morning to check in and go visit if they aren't able to come.

    So now, sermonating and doing laundry in prep for packing. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

    Wondering if it's foolish to tackle Christmas Day first, and also wondering if my new congregation has already heard the Christmas truce story...I've never preached it before, but it's tugging at me in a strange way this year.

  57. Semfem, even if they have heard it, they havent heard you tell it...follow the tug, I say!

    Ramona, I hope the mojo comes!

    I once heard a sermon on Christmas Eve about the stripes on a candy cane (red for Jesus crucifixion/blood, white for resurrection?) and then the priest gave everyione little candy canes....

  58. Why I write ahead of time:

    Went to mil's for 2 days. SIL's mother died Sunday, funeral was yesterday, she and BIL are exhausted. MIL had heart surgery 2 weeks ago today, came home Tuesday, and went back into hospital this afternoon. We had to leave before the final resolution of the day - her heart surgeon wanted her transferred out of local hospital and back to cardiac center an hour away.

    I have no idea now where my family will be for Christmas Eve/morning. One adult child has to come with me as my own five week recovery is still kind of iffy, but the others may go back to be with my MIL.

    At any rate, I have a monologue sermon for tomorrow night based on a story I wrote years ago about the innkeeper who is a midwife. And a very short sermon for Christmas morning based on some discussion here and on Quotidian Grace about how we learn the Scriptural story from the carols, esp. from the seldom-sung verses.

    I just hope we can get to 1/1/12 without further encounters with the medical profession.

    I'm going to go make some cream of wheat for supper (almost 10:00 pm) if anyone wants some.

  59. Rats - I wish I hadn't read Purple's sermon. Mine doesn't sound nearly as good as hers. Slogging on...

  60. oh, Robin. Writing ahead is wise for just such contingencies. But I'm sorry you're dealing with so much right now.

    Sewing project is done, wrapping is undone. But these sermonettes need some attention. Glad to have your company.

  61. This year we're having only four Christmas Eve services, plus Christmas morning, so I have no sermon to write! I'm in charge of the children's service, which this year will include an "impromptu" pageant (costumes handed out at the door, etc). Very fun...and probably a little insane. The Head of Staff will preach the next three. All I have to write is a communion prayer, which I'll only pray at two of the services (HoS will pray at the later two). Christmas morning we are sermon-less as I'm using a poem or two, The Clown of God, and a carol sing.
    HOWEVER...I do have a wedding homily to write! There's nothing quite like the pressure of doing your best friend's wedding, unless it's the pressure of your best friend who is a minister and all her family and friends are also ministers' wedding, and she picked Song of Songs for her text. Wedding is Thursday, but I leave Sunday after worship, so I'd better be done by then! So...I should get writing now. and also check on the laundry.

    I have green bean casserole if anyone wants some!

  62. Robin...prayers continue for you and your family. I'm sorry you all will be in different places for Christmas....I do hope all will be ok with your MIL.

    Ramona, hang in there! You will say what your people are yearning for, even if you are not sure what that means, the spirit knows n nonetheless...

    Esperanza, we are here!

  63. Ohhhh Teri! I am sure all the right words will come to you! The pageant sounds fun!

  64. I think it's as done as it's going to get tonight. They still don't hang together as well as I would like, but there's good news in there.

    As I said Tuesday, it's an unexpected gift for supply preaching me to get to lead a Christmas Eve service. So I am grateful. And praying that our tightly-scheduled children-switching plan will go as envisioned.

  65. Rough draft done. I'll probably fiddle with Silent Night (punny aren't I) more tomorrow. But at least I have something to preach, even if I still like Purple's better!

    Now to relax a bit - tomorrow's going to be a busy day: gifts to wrap, a little baking and Christmas dinner prep, bulletins to finalized and print. And of course, worship to bring to our newborn King!

  66. Esperanza, a gift indeed! To have thus oportunity to supply!

    Ramona, silent night is ot punny, it is what we all yearn for!

  67. Well, my friends, its been a day! Marthat wikl be here tomorrow leading another preacher's party for Christmas Day...I'm sure I will be around. But for now, its bed time! Blessings, all! And, Merry Christmas!

  68. Thank you, Terri, for your encouragement of us all. Have a blessed Christmas--all of us! It is what it is all about.

  69. If Terri is going to bed, it must be time for me to settle down for focused work! I'm still around for awhile tonight since my morning should not require anything early.

    Can I just say I really like Patrick Stewart as Scrooge? of course, I like him as Picard, too.

  70. Haahaa Vicar...I was watching that Christmas Carol/ scrooge too, and thinking I liked it as well. But ow I am lying in bed, offering one last check in before lifhts out!

    RevAlli, you're welcome. (now, can you send some of that snow our way...seems odd that Arizona and New Mexico have more snow than Michigan!)...

  71. I loved him as Picard, Vicar. Loved.
    The next part of the party is scheduled to post at 1 a.m. Eastern Time. I'll be back in the morning!

  72. And if Vicar's getting serious about working, it must be time for me to show up!

    We have three services tomorrow, but our director of youth and family ministries is doing the first one, for kids and families. I'm doing the second and third, pretty much identical services at 5 and 10 pm. The very cool part is that all of them are joint services with a neighboring Lutheran church. Their building is under reconstruction and since they have been holding services in a school this fall they are homeless during the school winter break. I'll preach and do opening liturgy and my Lutheran colleague will preside at the table tomorrow. Sunday morning and Jan 1 he preaches and I help out, presiding at the table on Jan 1. In a way iit's like being a part of a team again, but with a lot more work on details - figuring out whose traditions to keep at some points, whose keep at others, where to mix them and make all new ones. It's been very cool though.

    My plan has been to use a theme similar to what pearl mentioned a bit earlier - looking at all the different people who were a part of the story of the incarnation, all the different kinds of people God used to bring love into the world and share love with others, from Mary & Joseph, to Zechariah and Elizabeth, to angels and shepherds - unwed parents to a priest in the temple, heavenly messengers to earthy workers, everyone had a part in this amazing story of God's gift of love, God's act of love in coming to earth as one of us. These diverse and varied people, as diverse and varied as each of us who will gather to worship in this building and worship spaces all over the earth, had a part in bearing God's love in Christ Jesus into the world.... And we do, too.

    So multiple all that by abut 7 and I'm where I want to be.

  73. Thank you all for the encouragement! Grrr... things still aren't how I'd like them (and I've got to go Christmas shopping for my sister in the morning), but I did take a break this evening to bake sugar cookies with a friend I hadn't seen in years. I don't want to work on my Christmas morning sermon after the Christmas Eve service tomorrow, but perhaps I'll have to... And I thought I worked ahead!

    Blessings to all of you. Sending Holy Spirit love...

  74. thank you all for being here. I feel less alone, somehow. I have almost nothing actually written since I work 60hrs/week at a different job and 20 or so at the church...of course,who am I kidding, I could be a full-time pastor and still not have much written, but in my fantasy I would be better organized! ;-)Christmas Eve is "lessons and carols" with a homily and communion. The communion bread is rising and I am praying that my spirit will as well. Christmas Day is brunch and a shorter service. Again, thank you all for this community.

  75. Cool! I bet I'll get to jump right from one party to the next, but I'll still be working on the same sermon. Angry Birds and a 5 pm service start time are leaving me very distracted. I will finish before bed, though, because my parents are in town from Florida, so tomorrow we'll be hanging and playing, and making the church "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake since I forgot to order one this year. Good thing my mom likes decorating cakes. I'm not that good at it.

  76. I'll probably still be up as well ... I know, that is a huge surprise!

    I actually own the Patrick Stewart Christmas Carol. I bought it having never seen it because I loved Picard. Tonight when I turned on the tv, it happened to be on. I just think he's a terrific actor.

    I wish I had him coming to do a Joseph monologue for Christmas Day. But since that doesn't even exist on YouTube, I guess I'll keep at my feeble plan.

  77. Anonymous, thank you for posting! We're glad to have you here. Blessings to you as your preparation continues.

  78. YAAAHOOOO!!!! (Hey I really like that!)

    I finished my Christmas Eve sermon (a daunting task -- all the annual visitors will wonder when the church got a female pastor... well, we didn't. I'm the only one in town!)

    Christmas Eve we are looking at the ways that God re-directed the lives of an unlikely group of people - from Eastern magi to a carpenter to shepherds. And how their responsiveness to God in their everyday lives made them eyewitnesses to the birth.

    Christmas morning we are taking the creche and adding in the "main characters" and talking about them. We have a kid-friendly creche so the kids (if there are any) will get to take the pieces from me and arrange them. Then I'll talk about who at the time of Christ was NOT in the story (religious leaders, Romans soldiers, Gentiles). And I'll also talk about who we "add" to the Christmas story that is not a part of the narrative (everything you can think of culturally - Santa, St Nick, trees, stockings, mistletoe, The Grinch, presents, ugly sweaters). I'll hand the kids those things and see where they think they belong in the picture. (If there are no kids, I'll just drape them around.) So yes - making room for the Christ.

    I have only Christmas Day bulletins to do and then I'm really and truly DONE.

    I only have peanut butter sandwiches to offer. Oh. And pudding that my daughter (who just had 4 wisdom teeth removed) is tired of eating... I have done no baking, no cleaning. Please shove aside the clutter and have a cuppa tea. And know that I wish you each a joyous celebration!

  79. Sermon fail. I just couldn't wrap my head around it and I have nothing written. Nor are the presents wrapped, although they are sorted out into piles for each person.

    Tomorrow will be a long day, I guess.

    Not feeling the Christmas spirit. Not at all.

    Robin, prayers for you and your family--all will be well and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

  80. Rev Dr Mom I'm sorry this year is that kind of Christmas.

    Robin I hope things calm down too!

  81. I think I've done as much as I can for tonight since I changed a couple of things in the service but didn't upload the changes to dropbox so I don't have the actual service available. At this point I have too much stuff but cutting this stuff is easier than getting more stuff.

    I'm checking out of this party. But I'll be around tomorrow, too, I'm sure.

  82. Blah. Fell asleep. Guess that IS my usual MO, except that instead of writing now, I just want to pack it in and write tomorrow.

    Time for self-discipline. I'm transferring to party #2 and we'll see how things go.

  83. (RevDrMom) sigh...I'm sorry this year feels so "bleh"

    I woke up to find a light dusting of snow on the ground.

    And, I still need to work on my sermon. So, I'll see you at party #2


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