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Saturday, April 28, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: 21st Century Sheep

I know I'm not the only one who has been wondering this this week, but I'm going to throw it out here one more time.  What in the heck does Good Shepherd Sunday, the Good Shepherd metaphor, sheep folds, and sheep mean to the so, so many of us who live in urban and suburban environments?  And really what does it mean to people who even live in rural areas, but areas where farming, ranching, and caring for the animals that work for us is entirely different now than it was in biblical times?  I'm not going so far as to say that these themes are irrelevant to us today, but I will say that our distance from them in time and lifestyle makes them very difficult.

I'm going to be spending much of the day today at a workshop about ministry in a changing world.  Facing Good Shepherd Sunday just serves to highlight for me how much the world has changed and is changing.

How are you preparing to proclaim the resurrection in your community tomorrow?  How are you being touched by the Scripture yourself?  For me those aren't always the same!

I remember last year RevGal Teri, who blogs at Clever Title Here, left some great facts and remembrances about sheep in the comments for the Tuesday Lectionary Leanings post.  They practically wrote my sermon, so I had to link them here.

One last helpful hint:  Do NOT under any circumstances do a Google image search for "dirty sheep" on any computer that belongs to your church, is inside your church, or could be accessed by people of your church.  Some of what you find has little to do with the Good Shepherd.  Just sayin'!

Come on in and join the party in the comments!  All are welcome!

134 comments:

  1. It's late afternoon Saturday in Beijing and tomorrow is the beginning of the May Day holiday. I'm not sure how many people will be coming to church, but there won't be any Sunday School classes which at our place means the children will be in worship for the whole service. I'm working on an interactive sermon where we look at different kinds of names of Jesus (making a bit of a connection to the Acts testimony and the 1 John reading) and ending up looking at the Good Shepherd, for which our congregation is named. My intention is to talk a little bit about how will we listen for the voice of our Shepherd, drawing on a bit of my New Zealand childhood experience of having a pet lamb who I attempted to train to come when called for our school "lamb and calf day".

    It has been a crazy busy week and the sermon feels like a lot of loose threads at the moment, but I'm hoping it's going to coalesce before the sun goes down!

    Best wishes to those of you beginning your Saturdays. I'd offer to share snacks but the cupboards are a little bare - the other pastor of the household has gone to the wet market to buy some fruit though so there should be some mangos in the not-too-distant future!

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    1. Hmmm... my comment got eaten by an error! Anyway, love the wandering through different names for Jesus! Also love mangos! I bet yours are more fresh than the ones we found at the warehouse store which are now on my counter.

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  2. I'll wait for a mango!

    I'm holed up in my room hoping a sermon worthy of the 'Wholly Sheep' title manifests itself. The second service will include baptizing my niece - awesome... except the audience will include both dyed-in-the Presbyterian-colors relatives who have never heard me preach and argumentative atheists who are coming... well, we don't know why they are coming. I guess they felt it would be rude to just come to the party.

    Anyway nephew is not yet 3 and niece is 3 months so despite the merciful lack of a baseball game this day, it's not exactly my normal sermon writing space.

    Grateful for this opportunity to download and to check in with the community!

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    1. Gotta love family events!!! But for the chance to baptize I"ll put up with any arrangement of folks. Love it!

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  3. I'm a city girl feeling grateful that tomorrow we have a Sunday themed around our denominational summer camp because last year, my first in this congregation, I was babbling about sheep and lambs when a 2nd grader whose family raises sheep showed me who knew something by describing what it's like when a ewe is in labor and has a prolapse. (You just shove the uterus back in.) I thought her grandparents were going to DIE.
    And really, it was great, but I am okay with a year off from Good Shepherd Sunday.

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    1. My husband who grew up raising cattle gave the exact same description in our first childbirth education class. It did not go over well with me, the other classmates, or the educator. A few more cow comparisons over the rest of that pregnancy necessitated the rule "No cow comparisons in pregnancy - - EVER!" for the rest of them. It got extended to breastfeeding and nursing when there was some talk of a corkscrew curing mastitis.

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  4. I'm with you taking a year off of Good Shepherd. Actually, last year may have been my first and only year DOING Good Shepherd. This year I planned a service about signs of the resurrection in our lives well in advance without even consciously noticing it was Good Shepherd Sunday this week. A member of the congregation found an essay (sermon really) that she wrote

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  5. as a teen about 50 years ago called "What is Easter?" It is beautiful, so I asked her if she'd preach it tihs week. Then we built the rest of the service around submitted pictures, original songs, and writings that answer the question "Where do you see Easter? How do you experience resurrection and new life?" I'm not preaching at all really, but will be reading a small selection from one of Dorothy Day's writings as part of our sending. I also spent many hours putting together a slide show combining everyone's pictures into some sort of coherent "visual sermon." Yesterday, after it was all done, so we thought, and I was at church for a bit on my day off, I stumbled upon the VERY newly hatched mallard ducks whose eggs, mama, and nest we have been keeping secret right near our front door. A snapped a few more pictures of the darlings and now a series of pictures that goes from dead garden, to eggs, to mama on the nest, to ducklings is our benediction! LOVE IT!

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    1. WOW - Stephanie, I love this idea!!! I'm thinking of building a Lenten program based on Spiritual practices, ending with "Practicing Resurrection" (inspired by Robin/Gannet Girl) and this is a great idea for developing Easter/Resurrection

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    2. That is SO COOL about the mallards!

      Terri, I'm thinking that next year I'll try to make Lent more interactive and get them actually practicing.

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    3. Thanks! I'm excited about the service, but the eggs hatching just really brought it all together in the end. It's been fun to put together. Another aspect that's been good, in my opinion, has been opening up the "pulpit" to some ideas and theologies that may not necessarily be my own. We have a pretty diverse congregation theologically, but I tend toward the more liberal "less bloody" end of the spectrum. There are some folks who LOVE to send me their favorite email forwards saying, "This would be great for worship." Well, they aren't outside the realm of orthodoxy, but not anything I could say with my own integrity. This gives them a chance to express what is meaningful about the resurrection for them without me having to say something I can't stand behind. The resurrection signs are diverse - - on of my favorite pictures being one taken of the choir two years ago almost exactly when they arrived at a members' house to sing to him as he was dying. It was submitted by the man's daughter. Many in the congregation will have no idea what it is, but many will find their simple at was a witness to Christ's resurrection for someone else. I'm trying to resist the urge to explain too much tomorrow. I definitely err on that side.

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  6. Good morning, revgals. I'm sitting here at a lock-in wondering how on earth I'm going to have a sermon ready by this time tomorrow morning. I'm doing the 30 Hour Famine lock-in with our youth, which is part fundraiser (for World Hunger) and part educational (about world hunger), and also both fun and exhausting. We are all fasting together and are doing lots of games related to raising our awareness of hunger issues, and then this afternoon we'll go out and do a canned food drive together. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull of a sermon tomorrow after such an intense event (I think I thought I'd have a good bit written ahead of time, but this event involved os much preparation that there was simply no time).

    Anyway. I'm preaching 1 John 3:16-24, which obviously goes along right well with the themes of the 30 Hour Famine. So maybe it will come together easily. Here's hoping! I'm at the lock-in until 6:00 tonight, so I won't see y'all again until after that (right now the kids are still sleeping, yay!), and I obviously have no food to share! But I'd appreciate prayers for endurance!

    See you on the flipside.

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    1. Blessings on you, earthchick, as you fast and learn and lead and pray and somewhere in all that find the energy to write, too.

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    2. Prayers indeed, for endurance...and inspiration, and ease of writing.

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    3. I feel your pain. I am now in recovery from our middle school lock-in, and no sermon in sight. But I did get my newsletter article written during a youth low-energy moment in the night.

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    4. I tried several times last night to respond to these replies, but I wasn't signed in properly and on limited brain cells, I couldn't figure it out. ANYWAY. Thanks for the prayers and good thoughts. The 30 Hour Famine ROCKED and I got my sermon done eventually (in the wee hours, but still).

      Blessed to have this community of sisters.

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  7. It's so nice to be back after two weeks away from the pulpit -- we had a guest preacher and then I was on retreat. In my room at the retreat center, someone had posted a picture of Jesus, the Good Shepherd on a little bulletin board with the words from today's gospel -- in Greek. Greek is long gone from my memory, so it took me a couple of days to figure out the text. Today's sermon comes from some of my reflections that week, on "I am," "shepherd," and what it means for Jesus to know us.

    I'm spending today at a program on the arts and spiritual direction, but I'll check in on the conversation later.

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    1. Isn't it crazy how we crave the time away and then love coming back? That's how I know it's really my calling. I think your reflections from the retreat will turn into a lovely sermon for all!

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  8. You are right She Rev, Teri's sheep stuff on Tuesday is very helpful. Thanks for pointing us back there.

    And Teri, thanks for posting it!

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  9. I'm preaching Acts 4 this week. Have about half the sermon. But now I have 4 soccer games to go cheer on and then David Sedaris is speaking tonight. Come, Spirit, come!
    Actually, I am struck by the acknowledgement by the religious leaders that they were wrong and that Peter (as everyone can see) is doing his healings in the name of Jesus. But they can't acknowledge their mistakes. How different would the world have been?
    I'm preaching past where the Acts lectionary ends to get Peter's speech about how he couldn't stop preaching if they tried to make him.
    Anyone have good stories about major public apologies, where people have acknowledged their mistakes? I'm thinking about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. And I heard a story on NPR this morning about the overturning of a murder conviction that came with a non-apology apology. Other ideas?

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    1. President Clinton apologizing for lying about the Lewinski affair is the first thing that comes to mind, but it might not be appropriate for the pulpit.

      I think Pope John Paul II apologized for the Catholics lack of action in the Holocaust.

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    2. Check out Marion Jones' apology after being caught using steroids. It's moving. Video and transcripts should be available.

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  10. Good morning gals and pals,
    I get to preach tomorrow! I get to preach tomorrow! I really miss being a part of the weekly preacher party.
    But of course, I am off my game - I am feeling pretty insecure about my sermon. I have managed to tie Psalm 23 and John 10 and 1 John 3 together in a sermon called "Love and Action" - my point being that we act not SO God will love us but BECAUSE God loves us. My wonderful editor husband believes I need a "funny story". Hmmm. Let me know if you have any funny stories about sheep or the 23rd Psalm...
    I'm off to a new member brunch in a bit and will have lots of yummy food to share I'm sure. Then my youngest's soccer game in the freezing cold/possibility of snow. But that's it. Not a bad Saturday. Blessings to all of you.

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    1. (If you think this is funny, it's all yours. It certainly makes the point that we don't know from sheep, most of us.)

      A city-dwelling preacher in a somewhat suburban church stood talking to the children about sheep, and in particular, lambs. One of the little girls, an occasional attender with her grandparents and great-grandparents, piped up, "We have lambs!" "You do?" The preacher invites the little girl to the microphone. "Tell us about the lambs." The preacher expects something cute, of course, because lambs are cute. But this is a multi-generational, 4-H competing family of sheep farmers -- this suburb is in some neighborhoods still a country town -- and the grandmother in particular already looks worried. "Well," says the little girl, "they can be born any time of day or night, and you always have to be ready." "Yes, a good shepherd is always watching," says the preacher, who can see the grandfather now moving restlessly in his seat, too. "You keep an eye on them," says the little girl, "and you especially have to look out for when they prolapse." The preacher, who read all the James Herriot books, knows what that word means, and she begins to worry, too. "Because when they prolapse, you have to be ready to push the uterus back in," says 8-year-old Betsy, triumphantly! And the preacher responds, "Bow your heads, children. Let's pray."

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    2. So glad you're preaching; wish I could be there!

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    3. Martha, that IS a funny story :) I don't think I can use it but it did give me a good laugh (and a feeling of empathy for you!)...
      Robin, your support, even from across town, means a lot! Someday we will hear one another preach...

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    4. No funny sheep stories, but glad you're wih us today!

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    5. Here's a joke posted below. Just thought I'd share it here, too, in case you don't find it down there.

      A shepherd is out in the wilds watching over his sheep when a big car (4x4 type) screetches to a halt. A guy in a sharp suit, exensive shoes and shades gets out, and explains he has a new sheep-counting phone ap. He bets his phone against a sheep that he can tell the shepherd how many sheep he has. Being a bit bored, the shepherd agrees. The man fiddles with hhis hone and then proudly announces the right number.

      The shepherd asks him which animal he wants, and hands it over - but he's fond of his animals, so he proposes a counter-bet. If he can guess the mans professon, he can have his sheep back. The young man agrees, and is amazed that the shpeherd immediately identifies him as a consultant. bUt its obvious says the shepherd:

      1st you turn up uninvited to do something I don't need
      Next you got me to pay you to tell me something I already know
      And finally, you don't know anything about what your selling, because that isn't a sheep, its my dog.

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  11. Hi pals,

    I will be preaching from the Acts text exploring what salvation and "Lord and Savior" meant for the first generation of Christians. I want to teach the congregation that it wasn't about the Christian tradition trumping all other traditions. Rather it is about claiming "The Good Shepherd" as Lord and Savior over the violent and domineering Roman Emperor as Lord and Savior and the "Kingdom of God" over and against the Roman Empire as the road to salvation.

    I have some great notes, lets see if I can pull them together into a decent sermon.

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    1. That "political" twist is a huge help to me!!! Making note for next year!

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  12. Good morning and thanks for the laughs!

    Tomorrow is my -- I almost said "time of the month" (ack!) -- *week of the month* that I don't preach because it is the Assistant Pastor's turn. There is a lot going on in this congregation where I am the interim pastor, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes up tomorrow, either from the pulpit or around the edges.

    I just made a fresh pot of coffee if anyone needs a refill! Also a flax muffin from a mug for anyone who wants one. They are delicious with butter and fresh strawberry jam!

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  13. I was on study leave for two days and then vacation. I try to have vacation include a Sunday but that did not work this time. I'm in sermon thinking zone as Elvis drives. Off lectionary with the Emmaus story and what it still means to practice resurrection on day 22.

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    1. We're keeping resurrection at the front of our minds as we look for real-life real-time signs of resurrection in our own lives.

      I love Emmaus!

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  14. Wifi at the Ministry in the 21st century workshop! Yea!

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  15. I love Teri's comments from last year, as a matter of fact I used them for the children's sermon and the sermon sermon. However I should have exercised more caution in preaching this sermon. I took the text that week to mean that the audience to whom the text was written were idiotic just like sheep and they need Jesus just like sheep need a shepherd. Well that was my passive aggressive way of calling my then congregation (thank goodness I am no longer there) a bunch of idiots who need some Jesus. Unfortunately they picked up on it. Guess they weren't that stupid after all.

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    1. A good reminder to use the first person plural rather than the second person plural when preaching these things. Only Jesus could get away with 'YOU are dumbass sheep'.

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    2. Gulp. You make me want to go back to my sermon from last year and see. It wasn't my favorite, but I'm hoping I did a "we."

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    3. I reviewed last year's sermon and the pronouns starts out with they they they as I describe the Bible story, then it turns to we we we as I turn to how it applies to us today, but somehow they heard you you you, as I said they knew I was frustrated with them and they were catching the subtext...can't get one over on them. The lesson I learned is it might be wise to go off the lectionary sometimes. A bit of back story...I preached this sermon knowing that a small group in the congregation was plotting to oust me. Needless to say this sermon didn't help.

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    4. I've sort of had this theory that people "hear" through our "wes". (See that "our"? This time I mean MY!)

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  16. Im not preaching tomorrow since I'm on vacation, but I am working on a big grant application, so I'm joining you all in a day of writing. And after reading the comments (corkscrews! prolapses! lockins!) I'm so grateful to be sitting this one out. Blessings, y'all!

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    1. Whee!!!! Hope you are selected to participate.

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    2. Adding my prayers as you're applying! Tell us how it goes!

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  17. I'm halfway to today's writing goal and going to take a break. Who wants some Trader Joe's Breakfast Blend?

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  18. Yes. More coffee please.
    Just spent some time being sociable while handwriting a variety of pieces of the sermon together. Now to see what they become once typed in.

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  19. I'm exhausted. Just got back from a big ordination - 7 priests and 3 deacons. 2 hour drive there, 3 and a half hours of the service, 2 hours back. My back aches, my head aches and I long to sleep. But one of those ordained deacon is my closest friend so I'm off now to her post-ordination party. Thank the Lord I managed to get my sermon and liturgy sorted out yesterday!
    I'm doing Good Shepherd, linking all the readings. Especially hitting the judgementalists in the congregation with "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold" and the all embracing love of the Shepherd who died for us. Would we die for the person sitting next to us? (Don't answer if it's your spouse!) Plus a peppering of love not just in words but in action, ending in the reminder that they choice is ours.
    I could do with some of that nice coffee on offer, thanks!

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    1. Nice work getting done yesterday! What a wonderful day to celebrate!

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    2. Oh my goodness, Pat! Perhaps a long hot bath and a cup of tea? Glad the sermon is done...

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  20. Went to bed late after my 50th high school reunion last night. I wrote my sermon yesterday morning so I am good to go for the 5pm service. I am posting it here. The rest of the weekend I am jammed up. Service at 5, Reunion "prom" at 6 across town, two services in the morning and then hop on plane for St. Louis at 2:30.

    Who has the coffee? I am even willing to drink the real stuff today!

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    1. Phew! I'll have some coffee just after reading that! Blessings on you!

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  21. Well, too long is better than scraping and clawing at no where near long enough. I'm letting this go for now, but will be back later - much, much later. We'll have three kids to get down tonight God bless all of you who do that kind of juggling every day.

    Good luck to all!

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  22. Good morning preachers!

    I slept ridiculously late this morning, and I can only assume that meant I really needed it. And I got most of my "chores" done yesterday so that today would be clear to concentrate on writing. All week I've had ideas bubbling about 1 John and the power of love in action--now I just need to pull them together.

    Because here's the thing--I have a search committee visiting tomorrow, coming from a place I would REALLY like to be. Our conversations so far have been really good, but I know tomorrow will help determine if I get asked for an interview. And my congregation has no idea that I'm looking, and I've never navigated a visit under those circumstances. I'm just praying that the parishioners who can sometimes be a bit, shall we say, passive aggressive, are well-behaved tomorrow. To top it all off, it is the last day for our organist who is retiring, and there is some unrest over the person I've hired as his replacement (who is EXCELLENT by the way and we are LUCKY to have gotten her.) All that to say, I would really really appreciate your prayers!

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    1. Lots of prayers! I pray it will be a day of many surprise blessings and holy moments.

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    2. Oh RevDrMom - prayers for you. I suspect with the organist focus you will have a good cover and all will go really well! I'm excited for you and will pray for you....and, if you want to email on the side we can talk shop about search and interview...I've done a fair amount of it for better or worse...

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    3. Prayers are being and will be said for you and your situtation.

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  23. I've got some watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries in the fridge, in case you're not a fan of mangos!

    Not on lectionary and only the second time in the pulpit since oh... August. It's confirmation Sunday, and we're also welcoming new members and baptizing a couple of wee ones. And commissioning a group of college students for a mission trip. So what's a seminary intern to preach? Jonah of course... because that's what I've studied all semester for Hebrew exegesis.

    I'm about 1/2way done, actually. Drawing comparisons between Jonah and Peter to talk about the way God calls us and calls us again, offering grace so that we might Arise and Go to the Ninevahs of our worlds and so that we might feed God's sheep. Probably tie it together with some Ephesians.

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    1. Jonah. I love it. When you've lived with something for so long you can find angles in it no one else does. I miss that about long term study of one book/chunk/passage. I've had it a bit this spring while in a 14 week study of the Beatitudes with women in our church. I see the applications EVERYWHERE and they're getting the message driven home LOTS when they here versions of it Thursday and Sunday.

      Busy day for you tomorrow!!! Peace

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  24. I love that I'm sitting in a workshop about ministry in the digital age keeping up (mostly) with the blog posts. This is REAL interaction! We know it!

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  25. Coming late to the party, but with a lunch (late for where I am) salad in hand--spinach, bleu cheese, mandarin oranges, walnuts, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing!

    It's Good Shepherd Sunday here, and as most of this congregation has never seen a sheep in the flesh, I am thinking of using another metaphor--the dog who always follows you around the house/yard. I am not entirely happy with that, because I really want to focus more the leading bit and that we trust the shepherd to lead us into new places (we are in the process of implementing a revised strategic plan). So I am not sure what the main metaphor will be.

    I am also feeling under some pressure as I have been invited to a dinner party tonight (a "murder mystery" dinner, which should be lots of fun), and I would really like to have the sermon done before I go in about four hours, but I have not been able to get much of a start. I write a paragraph and delete it, write a sentence and delete it...ugh.

    Love the lamb story! But no I don't think I'll use it either.

    Prayers for you, RDM!

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    1. Hope you have found your start! Sometimes when I can't find my driving metaphor I stop trying to come up with it and just start writing what I really want to say eventually and while writing the metaphor comes out unexpectedly.

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  26. I am checking in for the second or third time today - but my first time commenting. This morning I led a "rogation day" blessing of the community garden. It was delightful. I am in the midst of a four part sermon series (I never sermon series, this is like a first for me) on the "parts of our worship" - it is like a prolonged "instructed" Eucharist or reflected Eucharist. Basically just reflecting on why and what we are doing in each part of the service. Last week the music director and I shared the sermon talking about things like prelude and processional hymn, collects, and opening acclammations. Tomorrow is scripture, sermon, Nicene Creed, Prayers of the People, and our Rite 13 service.

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    1. Very cool. I love bringing the music director into the conversation!

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    2. Oh, I like what you're doing...and I love Rite 13 liturgies! Sounds like it will be a great day!

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    3. OK. Tell us less-liturgicals, what is Rite 13? I could Google I assume...

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    4. Answering for Terri: it's part of the Journey to Adulthood program for youth-- the first two years are called "Rite 13" roughly for kids beginning middle school. The Rite 13 liturgy recognizes that when kids turn 13 they achieve a new status--no longer "little kids" but not yet adults either. It's a nice liturgy--a little like a bar mitzvah. I love the Journey to Adulthood program, but it takes a LOT of commitment to keep it going.

      Terri may be able to describe it better :)

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  27. Two things I hate in a workshop/seminar: Name dropping and being buttered up.

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    1. Where's the like button when you need it?

      Totally agree.

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    2. This guy in the afternoon is killing me.

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    3. You know, it really is ineffective sometimes because every person he name drops is someone with whom I STRONGLY disagree. He thinks it's bringing him crediility, but he's pushing me further and further away from his message.

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    4. That happened somewhat at the study leave event I was at on Monday and Tuesday, not by the speakers, but by some of those in attendance. A bit of a button-pusher for me.

      Intrigued by the conference you are at...is it a local gathering? regional? Our presbytery is so non-technology....

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    5. So this was a workshop put on by our presbytery featuring folks from a strategic planning group with whom they have contracted for our own presbytery strategic plan. The Church Development Team of presbytery has worked out a way to get funds from the denomination to support cohorts of 4 churches at a time to work on strategic planning/transformation. Today was a mini-seminar that certainly had some stand alone value, but was definitely also advertising/invitation to join the cohort transformation process. The cost to each church for what will essentially be 18-24 months of consulting and leadership coaching is $560. My congregation will be in. They just don't know it yet. :) We don't have that in the budget anywhere, but I'll ask a few members to just "sponsor" the process. It'll be easier than messing with the budget especially since the first cohort starts June 8.

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    6. Thanks for the information. Sounds like something with lots of potential.

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    7. I think it does have potential. Or at least I did until I read my father's project management blog about strategic thinking in small businesses instead of strategic planning. I don't know what possessed me to look at his blog - - way outside my usual reading material! - - but for some reason I did tonight and now it's poking a whole lot of holes in the idea of using this sort of process in smaller churches. I'm artificially deciding "smaller" includes my 220 member church since I'm sure our structure/budget/etc is what would compare to a small business in his writing.

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  28. For once, I got to sleep late, there's no meeting or training requiring any significant driving, AND I'm not preaching tomorrow. I call that a blessed Saturday!

    Even though I'm not writing a sermon for tomorrow, I do need write a talk for Chrysalis (high school Walk to Emmaus) and make more progress transcribing dissertation interviews. Interviews are much more fun than transcription!


    Meanwhile, we need dog food. And we have a birthday celebration later today. So while I will spend time with a keyboard that has letters on it, I will not spend all day with it. Because I said so. :)

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    1. We will miss you, but I'm glad you will be doing something diffferent and still good!

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  29. I've been SAHM and doing supply for almost a year now and I'm THRILLED that supply gig season is upon us! But, less thrilled that I've got Good Shepherd sunday ;)

    Okay, so I'm doing the shepherd stuff (raise your hand if you read the wickipedia about sheep ;)

    And, I'm focusing on three sheep facts...1, sheep "know" the voice of their shepherd; 2, if sheep aren't moved they overgraze the land and eventually die; 3, sheep that lose their flock can become stressed. (I actually did grow up on a dairy farm...so not sheep, but agricultural nonetheless)

    Then, relating how these things are true of us as the church--we are called to follow Christ's voice, how do we recognize that voice (through actions); that voice calls us to movement and change (part of which stems from Christ's inclusion for ALL the sheep) and if we don't move and change we die; and we need to do the work in community, because it is when we fall away from community that we are beset by fear and anxiety.

    Then, I'll talk about Peter--his growth and change, from denial in the midst of isolation to speaking the Gospel in the midst of the other apostles.

    So that's roughly what I've got so far...I'm staying away from anything remotely "personal" because I don't know the congregation and my mom died suddenly at the end of March and I need to stay in a place of head with this one.

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  30. I'm back from my church's community dinner. It was good for the most part, except for dealing with a couple of people's boundary issues. gggrrrr. Luckily beloved was home when I got back and we took a long walk to clear my head for more sermon writing.

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  31. I'm getting a very late start today after last night's middle school lock-in. Note to self: schedule next lock-in to for a weekend with a guest preacher, or hymn sing, or some other form of worship that doesn't require a lot of pastor-preparation. Sometimes when I' sleep deprived I get headachy and nauseous. Yay.

    I'm just not feeling the Good Shepherd thing, either. But I went to a synod workshop earlier this week and the assistant to the bishop who lead the devotions talked a little about how wolves in America don't attack people (at least there are no documented attacks, ever). Those are NOT the wolves that Jesus' listeners would have been familiar with. Apparently European and Asian wolves (which are now exterminated for this very reason) aggressively attack humans. So the Shepherd is in just as great of danger from the wolves as the sheep. He went on to talk about the wolves that attack our faith - the only example I remember is scarcity thinking as a wolf that preys on our faith in God's abundance.

    I don't know, somehow the wolf information made the whole passage read differently for me. It becomes a passion-prediction.

    So very glad my staycation starts tomorrow afternoon!

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    1. Sounds like despite your exhaustion, you have a good direction. Staycation will be here soon!

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    2. Ramona, the wolf information is proving very interesting to me too...perhaps interesting enough to lead me away from what I was thinking before...do you have a source for that information about different types of wolves attacking humans more or less than other types?

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  32. A first for me: calling in sick to a supply preaching gig. But I have pneumonia, which seemed to call for it.

    I was looking forward to writing my sermon but now can't remember a single thing that might be helpful to any of you.

    Peace, preachers.

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    Replies
    1. Healing prayers coming your way...hope you feel better soon!

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    2. Definitely time to do it! Feel better!

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  33. Yay! I looked back at the Tuesday leanings from 2011 and found a funny interpretation of the 23rd Psalm for students. Since my husband is in the process of writing the final for his physics class and we have a number of college students studying for finals, I think it will work. Thanks to LMM who posted it!
    Esperanza, hope you feel better soon! Yikes.
    Prayers for all. I am off to do some housecleaning and enjoy some Thai curry. Husband cooks a big meal every now and then on a weekend, and tonight's the night! I'll try to save some for you all. I saw he bought some pastry dough as well, so dessert will be yummy. Y'all come on over :)

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    1. I remember that Ps 23 now that you're mentioning it. Fun!

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  34. Back from a fantastic day on arts and movement in spiritual direction. Yesterday was a Presby workshop on stewardship. I need a day off in which to absorb all of it, but -- guess not!

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    1. Arts and movement in spiritual direction is right up my alley! Fun!

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    2. Robin...sounds wonderful (the arts and movement) the other one...not so much.

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    3. Very cool! A day off would be nice wouldn't it?

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  35. First draft of sermon is done. Please feel free to stop by and comment. It is a bit on teh academic side, however I think that is just fine every once in a while...I hope.

    The Good Shepherd is My Lord and Savior.

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  36. As a UM, the twitter feed on our General Conference has completely distracted me. If some of the sub-committee and committee votes hold up through the "real" votes of the whole body next week I may need to talk to some of you ELCA and Episcopal folks about switching. I don't think I can get TULIP-y enough to be Presbyterian. ::sigh:: Back to work on the PhD stuff, I may actually need it.

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    1. Don't worry. Most Presbyterians aren't TULIP-y either. Although he's pretty much the "father" of our theology, none of his writings end up in our Book of Confessions. And really TULIP is his followers not him, too, but as a whole IT doesn't show up in our confessions either.

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    2. Vicar, I would commend my denomination to you, but I don't suppose there are enough of us there.

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    3. I don't even remember what TULIP stand for.

      On a more serious note, sorry the Methodists are moving in the wrong direction.

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    4. I hear it starts with Total Depravity.

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    5. I fear we Methodist are moving in multiple wrong directions. It will be more clear next week when the whole body is considering/voting than it is now when everything is in committee & sub-committee. But some of the committee & sub-committee work has been brutal.

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    6. the only part of TULIP I believe in is the I--Irresistible Grace. all the rest is...well..tulp. #presbyterian

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    7. after it was all said and done tonight someone started #whyweareunitedmethodists on twitter to remind us of our good. brilliant response to the day!

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  37. Not preaching tomorrow but stoped by to browsee. Here is a gratuitous sheep joke:

    A shepherd is out in the wilds watching over his sheep when a big car (4x4 type) screetches to a halt. A guy in a sharp suit, exensive shoes and shades gets out, and explains he has a new sheep-counting phone ap. He bets his phone against a sheep that he can tell the shepherd how many sheep he has. Being a bit bored, the shepherd agrees. The man fiddles with hhis hone and then proudly announces the right number.

    The shepherd asks him which animal he wants, and hands it over - but he's fond of his animals, so he proposes a counter-bet. If he can guess the mans rofesson, he can have his sheep back. The young man agrees, and is amazed that the shpeherd immediately identifies him as a consultant. bUt its obvious says the shepherd:

    1st you turn up uninvited to do something I don't need
    Next you got me to pay you to tell me something I already know
    And finally, you don't know anything about what your selling, because that isn't a sheep, its my dog.

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  38. too good, I would love to use this but am afraid how many consultants I might insult!!! Certainly will pass it on. thanks.

    Back to edit my draft and see what the family has in mind for supper, I didn't cook last night and don't plan to cook tomorrow, am wondering what I can get away with now...

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    Replies
    1. I should add a credit to the Alpha course for the joke. The guy who tells it is himself a consultant.

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  39. It has taken me ALL DAY but I think I have a sermon on 1 John, using one of my favorite theologians, Madeleine L'Engle.

    I quit posting sermons a while ago, but I just posted this one on a blog I started a few months ago and then never posted on. Feedback appreciated!

    Here it is.

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    Replies
    1. Dr Mom - I love this - it has helped me to gather my thoughts together and work out what I'm trying to say - and I want to read more Madeliene L'Engle.
      Blessings on preaching x

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    2. Thanks for your comments here and at the blog--I'm still getting used to Wordpress and I don't think I knew I had comment moderation on, but they are all showing now :)

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  40. Done...but not a bit happy with it. In seminary we joked...a good paper is a done paper. Perhaps I'll apply that analogy as well.

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    Replies
    1. Works for me. I bet it is better than you think...

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  41. Home from the workshop/seminar and have read around what is posted already. I'm looking forward to a night of not much sermon prep. I sort of wish the beer my husband brought home yesterday was a kind I like. Ho hum. Maybe I'll just have to open a bottle of wine instead. I head out tomorrow afternoon to a two day Synod meeting. I'm being installed as vice moderator of an assembly in our denomination that maybe defunct in a couple of years. I may get the distinct honor of being the moderator who puts the synod to bed.

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  42. Hello friends, sounds like the wheels are turning and sermons are being ground out...for many of us. My day was spent on a beautiful drive through the hill country to a church I've never been to before, to support our newest deacon as she was commissioned. Which reminds me, I need to figure out the details of her installation tomorrow, in addition to the sermon.

    I've been pondering the good shepherd for a few days now but don't quite have that SPARK that will give me a sermon. I feel like I'm on a verge of a breakthrough but I almost don't want to risk waiting for it...I really would like to finish early enough tonight to not be up super late.

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  43. A shower and a nap does wonders for curing headaches! I re-read my notes before the shower (do some of my best thinking there) and came up with an outline that unpacks the 23rd Psalm in light of Jesus' life abundant saying in v. 10.

    So now back to work. But first, my wonderful husband, who came to the lock-in after he got off work and stayed during the wee hours, is now fixing a wonderful dinner with grilled portabellas - my favorite! Yum!

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  44. I decided to go with a sustainable sermon after looking a my schedule a couple weeks ago. I knew this would be a tough one and I had decided to take it a bit easier after Easter.
    The week wasn't as bad as I thought, but I'm still glad I made that decision. I'll post it as soon as I make this edit.

    I do love the sheep stuff you are coming up with. I will enjoy reading more tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile, by only 'nod' is a re-write of ps 23 in the pastoral prayer.

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  45. I've got it up. I wonder if there is a way to do a "blogroll" sort of sidebar to which we all add our posts on Saturday or Sunday. It would make for easy reading later. ah well, here's mine I'll be watching for yours.

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  46. Nancy, I'm pretty sure the blogroll on the main page updates with the blogs containing the most recent posts at the top. On Saturday evening and Sunday pretty much anytime, it is probably pretty easy to use that to find posted sermons. It doesn't list the title of the post/sermon, but the order changes, I think, based on who has posted most recently. I don't think it's alphabetical anymore. Now I'm going to go check.

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    Replies
    1. Yep. Nancy, I found you right at the top! Hope that helps.

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  47. People should also feel free to link to sermons from the Facebook group. They show up better there than on the Facebook page.

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  48. Well the 3 year old and the 6 year old are fast asleep. The 6 month old? Not so much. She's smiley and happy and TOTALLY off of her schedule for the baptism tomorrow. I feel bad for that preacher... oh, crap.

    Oh well - she's cute and cute always plays well to a crowd. Back to polishing that sheep sermon... kinda like polishing a turd....

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    1. I've even had cranky babies play well in baptism. Screaming at the water on their heads gives me a chance to riff a little on how disruptive baptism is, how unsettling to our ideas of fair and what is deserved grace can be. Baptism reorients our lives in a godly direction and reorientation can be scary enough to make us cry!

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  49. Well, we're going to have a cranky creature unless I put myself to bed.

    Good night all - and good luck.

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  50. Still working. Had to figure out how to dowload printer thingy to my new laptop. I had the CD, but it is no where to be found and so I had to go to HP site and find the correct printer (there are 7 with the same name) and then spend time in the downolad mode.
    Finally had success with the printing and so back at it.
    Thanks for the tip Sherev. No searches for dirty sheep here.
    When I was teaching I did a search for South Carolina and wildlife...I taught SC History and we studied about our state animals..Well, the first thing that came up was a site for Chippendales at Myrtle Beach. I wanted to die...right there in my 3rd grad class

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  51. Hey there 1-4! I'm heading to bed because I can. No sermon to write/preach since others have contributed the speaking parts of worship. Blessings on those still working! I'll check in tomorrow morning to see how things wrapped up!

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  52. I'm still here 1-4. Reading, thinking, reading, thinking, hmm...hopefully some writing soon!

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  53. I'm finished. Both with my sermon and just plain worn out. My bed never looked so good.

    Since July, when I took this call, I've been carefully teaching vocabulary to my congregation: "Kingdom of God" has been a biggie, and last week, "shalom." So this week I couldn't resist teaching The Lord is my shepherd, I have life abundant.

    Blessings on everyone still pondering. I'll be back tomorrow to read any new sermons posted.

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  54. Okay, Little Sheep, let's hit the hay.

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  55. Good morning preachers!!! The virtual coffee is on (the only kind I really drink). May your day be filled with blesssings as you preach, teach, feed, baptize, confirm, welcome, bless, and send!

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  56. Okay, I'm going to see if I can post a comment this morning....

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  57. Wheee! I can post again.

    Am feeling giddy and caffeine-fueled after a packed weekend leading our youth in the 30 Hour Famine and then coming home to finish my sermon. Am preaching 1 John and tying it to the 30 Hour Famine and hoping it is intelligible. Our kids are going to share about their experience of the Famine in the worship service, and that feels more important to me than the sermon itself, so I'm praying for them and hoping they inspire the congregation as much as they've inspired me.

    Blessings, y'al! Hope your Sunday is joyous and holy!

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  58. Hey send some of that caffeinated energy my way. I'm feeling a bit tired, a couple of rough nights sleep and I feel like the wind has been knocked out of my sails. Come Holy Spirit come, blow some of your mighty wind my way.

    Have a great day proclaiming the good news!

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