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Saturday, May 19, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: Can I Grab Your Attention? edition



One afternoon, while running errands, my husband and I saw this peculiar looking goose/duck. Apparently it lives with a group of other water fowl, primarily ducks, along a waterway that runs through town. The bird is an attention catcher.

Our readings this week grabbed my attention. First I have wondered about the democratic sounding text from Acts - the methodical manner in which the disciples choose the one who was to replace Judas. No one was grumbling about the terrible thing Judas did, just a simple - "Judas turned aside to go to his own place..." and so a replacement was needed. I'm finishing a sermon series this week, but if I were preaching on the text it is unlikely I'd choose this portion of Acts.

I might, however, preach on 1 John, and what it means to "have life." Or the Gospel and what it means to "be known." Life and being known, as God gives life, and God knows.

Well. Maybe.

So, what has grabbed your attention? What is stirring in your thoughts as you prepare to preach? Do you have a good idea that excites you? Or are you struggling to break open the word this week?

Where ever you are in the sermon-writing process, we are here, paying attention, and offering any support we can. I have some delicious fresh cherries, a couple of papaya, and some fresh brewed espresso. (Or coffee or tea, your pick).

Pull up a chair, what can I get for you?

101 comments:

  1. Thanks, Terri, for hosting today.

    We have Confirmation tomorrow and the youth picked the scriptures and theme. We have a little bit of Noah and a helping of Jesus' baptism and temptations from Matthew.

    In the 8:00 worship service, they will be introduced before the other pastor takes them to their traditional breakfast, and I will preach something on the gospels, a sermon that I hope will be interactive. In the 10:15 worship service, there is a handbell and narration piece on the story of Noah, and I hope to include the confirmands in the interactive sermon from the gospels.

    It's probably obvious that there is work yet to do on the sermon part -- that's why we're here, right? -- but first a funeral to attend this morning.

    Holding out my cup for some of that coffee, please!

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  2. Good morning, Sharon! Here, a steaming cup of fresh brewed coffee....I'm still waking up and getting my eyes to focus! You have two very full days!

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  3. Hey, y'all! I'll be gone all day, first a committal and some small tasks at church, then a long drive to a University town to the North to hear my daughter in the All State Chorus Concert (yay!), then the long drive back.
    Liddy Barlow posted this video link on Tuesday about Ascension, and you won't want to miss it: The Ascension and Mary Poppins.
    See you later!

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    1. Thanks for the link, Martha. Have a good day, travelling mercies!

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    2. Martha,
      Enjoy your daughter's All-State Chorus. And congratulations to both of you. My "cello boy" was in All-State Orchestra this year. It was a fun trip.

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    3. Have a wonderful day and safe travels!

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  4. Hi all

    I am going off lectionary and preaching on Jesus' prayer that we'd all be one. I have been to several cottage meetings where I've been getting to know the congregation. I hope to weave those conversations into my sermon. Holding out my cup for some coffee plz.

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  5. I'm preaching on John -- we celebrated Ascension on Thursday and I was grateful for the Mary Poppins idea then. A bit of a sobering revelation to realise most of my congregation didn't know Mary Poppins - generation gap and culture gap I think! But enough did.
    I have a rather garbled sermon prepared on being in the world but not belonging, protection and being one. Actually I'm still feeling really ill so they are lucky to get anything! I'm more concerned that in 8 days time I have 18 hours of flying and airports to get through and worried I will still be ill. Any of you gals near St Andrew's, Scotland or Leamington Spa?

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    1. Pat, healing thoughts and prayers. If you haven't already, I would recommend joining RevGalBlogPals' Facebook group and posting something there. It's a great place to make a connection with people who might not read the comments here everyday.

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  6. Hi Pat, I'm sorry you are ill - I do hope and pray you feel better before travelling! And, we do have RevGals in Scotland, not sure if they will be checking in today - but I believe Nik, is in that region. Perhaps a few others...

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  7. Good morning, Terri!

    Tis' the season of "all things of recital and/or concert" and I have trips back and forth between Dayton and Cincinnati for dance and cello events (all day today and all day tomorrow and husband is out of town).

    We are celebrating the Ascension (a few days late) and celebrating all graduates on Sunday, as well. I am preaching on the Acts 1:1-11 passage and focusing on the "now and not yet" aspect of Jesus leaving the earth physically and the "not yet" of the Pentecost experience. I am tying that into the "now and not yet" of being a graduate in transition (High School and College) and the promise for all that God is still with us even though we can't see him. Also preaching about "looking up" in terms of God's promise of presence no matter where we are.

    No food in sight yet, but sipping on some green tea! Blessings to all.

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    1. Good morning, RevKel! Travelling mercies for you as well! Sounds like you have a good plan for your sermon, the "now and not yet" concept.

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  8. Hi, all. Our rector's father died yesterday so I am picking up the preaching duties. We are doing the Ascension and the readings don't seem to be doing much for me. Even the event isn't making me rise. Got anymore coffee??

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    1. Muthah - I just made some fabulous espresso with steamed soy milk - may be just what you need. Sorry to hear about the rector's father.

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  9. It's been a busy week and I haven't had a lot of time to think about this week's readings. But so far I am feeling mostly uninspired. I am doing baptism prep in a few minutes and then hope to get my head into sermon prep. May inspiration come between now and then!

    The baptisms, btw, are next week on Pentecost, and our bishop will be here as well. Tomorrow is our seminarian's last day and his parents AND his bishop (from a distant diocese) will be in the congregation so I feel a little bit of performance anxiety there...reasonable or not.

    Back in a bit!

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    1. RevDrMom - I totally understand how you feel! YIKES. BUT, I have every confidence that you will do just fine and have the words that need to be said.

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  10. Got my coffee -- going to "get outside of" a (homemade) yogurt and (homemade) granola parfait here by way of breakfast, noting that it's time to make more of both -- then off to "old" St. Curious to do one final task, a run-through refresher on church small linens for the Altar Guild... jump back in the car and drive thirty miles to "new" St. Curious to catch the end of "Messy Church," help clean up, and visit informally w. the wardens.
    Preaching at the New One tomorrow, so I'm glad of the "in the wake of a significant departure" theme in the readings. Secondary theme out of John, "tucking in all the loose ends."

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    1. Goodness, Crimson, you are in the midst of significant transition points. Prayers for you, but I am sure all will be well!

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  11. I've got a graduation service this afternoon. They still do baccalaureates here. This school holds theirs right before the commencement, so I'm doing invocation-sermon-benediction, and then invocation and benediction for the commencement. To be followed by a whirlwind tour of the graduates' open houses.

    Good thing I saw pearldownunder's lovely Ascension story in the Tuesday blog. I'm preaching Ascension (thus avoiding John in his various formats) and Abba Sayah's parable was exactly what I needed. Sermon's mostly done, but I'm probably going to re-work my introduction.

    The guys are off to doggie school today,so I'll have some quiet before I have to head off to graduation.

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    1. WOW Ramona, what a day...glad you found the inspiration you were seeking and have the sermon well under way. Blessings for this time of writing, and for the day ahead.

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  12. My sermon is done - but that isn't saying much since it is a re-do of a worship reflection that I have done many times before, just nuanced to include how this particular congregation does certain parts of the worship service. This will conclude my five part series reflecting on worship - why we do what we do. But to get thorugh it I had to make some espresso with steamed soy milk - anyone interested in a cup?

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    1. Do you have that series posted anywhere. I would really like to read it. I'm taking some confirmation kids to camp in a few weeks and our sessions will go over why we do what we do in worship. I'm writing the lessons myself, so it would be great to glean some ideas from you.

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    2. Ramona, I haven't posted it anywhere - although I may put it on the church website eventually. But I'd be happy to email it to you. my email is mompriest at gmail dot com, if you want to send my your email address...

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  13. Back from baptism prep, which was good. There are two baptisms next week and I've started having the families come in as group for prep (which is a new practice for me in the last year or so) which seems to work really well and also has the potential for making connections between families.

    So I'm thinking to talk about prayer this week. I pulled up my sermon from three years ago which was on prayer but in retrospect doesn't seem to go anywhere although the way it sets up the background works, so I might give that another stab.

    The other possible direction for me is the part about being sent back out into the world. OTOH, my congregation hears that theme from me a lot; OTOH, at clergy conference this week we had a great speak who reminded us of the power of acting on the social gospel and our need to do that MORE as we seek to remain relevant in the world (not the way he put it but that's part of my take away) and I might have something more to say about that. But maybe that will be another week. We'll see where the spirit leads me.

    Meanwhile it is a GORGEOUS day outside and I'd really rather be out there than in here :( So very ready for warmth and sunlight.

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    1. I'm glad the prep went well. I too lkike to rehearse and prep the whole group - for all the reasons you suggest. I once worked for a church that had so many weddings that we did premarital work as a weekend workshop with all the couples, also as a way for them to get to know one another.

      It seems to me that either approach to the text will work. Perhaps if you focus on prayer you can use the dismassal as the "prayer" that sends us out into the world?

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  14. I admit it, I had to go back to bed. I am sure it was the soy milk, Terri! ;>0.

    I think I am going to do something on "What are we doing standing around looking at the sky?" It seems the snarkiest of the lines in the Gospel so I can at least begin there.

    I will post this when I am done.

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    1. Every time I read that line, Muthah+, I hear my grandmother: "standing there with your eyes rolled up like a hen drinkin'"....

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  15. Not a fan of soy milk, muthah? I admit I like it better in iced lattes than hot.

    I think a sermon that begins with those lines can't help but be fabulous! I look forward to reading it.

    I have left over pizza, reheated, for lunch. Soon I am leaving for an afternoon vocal concert by one of our local groups, many members of the parish are in the group....so, I must attend. It will be lovely, I'm certain.

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  16. Unexpected week-end off, as my daughter's graduate school graduation is at noon tomorrow, earlier than she had told me and a conflict with church. I decided to skip the Presbytery meeting today - a six hour round trip -- and work on my yard and gardens. What gets done today is all that will get done this summer. It's beautiful out and I'm sorry to miss a presentation I'd actually looked forward to and a drive with a good friend, but it's wonderful to have a totally non-pastor week-end.

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    1. Robin, congratulations on your daughters gradutation! Regarding gardening, a few weeks ago, I made a similar decision to skip a meeting that included a long drive to and from...in order to stay home to some work in the yard, which otherwise would not have been done in the forseable future - so, yay for you for taking the time to enjoy this day!

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  17. Alison-in-FranceMay 19, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Printing out a sermon that attempts to address the question of "I don't feel lovable, so how can God love me". Although its almost written itself, its also pushed me to face some of my own demons again - and is way more personal that my usual sermons though not, I hope, in a self-indulgent way. Our High Schoolers planned and are go-leading the worship, and the sermon topic was set by them.

    First of the seasons cherries from the garden to share !

    (I also spent the afternoon doing this year's token gardening (9 new tomatoe plants and 2 new basil plants planted - so we'll be OK for essentials !)

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    1. Allison, interesting that a theme set by the HIgh Schoolers led to such a personal response in you. That could bode very well!

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  18. Good afternoon (EST)! My head is still feeling the effects of sun & freshly-cut grass at this morning's soccer tournament, but I'm determined to put words to paper before an evening commitment. Also on the "to do" list today: prepping logistics for a congregational meeting after Sunday worship.

    No takers on John 17 this week? I'd be interested in hearing others' thoughts. I'm intrigued by the movement of it: the transfer of belonging & protection & joy between God, Jesus, and the community of faith. I'm seeing Jesus as a Holy Conveyer Belt, a role that we are asked to carry on in relaying God's grace into the world.

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  19. Hey Rachel welcome! I hope you recover from the effects of outdoors....Jesus as a Holy Conveyor Belt, I get that - feel that way, indeed!

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  20. We're going with Ascension this week. It's my last Sunday for a couple weeks (deacons want more preaching practice, which I am happy to give them, it means I preach three times a month), so I'd like it to be very well-thought out, but... Had a busy week in the community here, and with my community commitments (which the church supports), I had no time to work on the sermon this week. I also have a grant report I should be writing, but that will probably have to wait until Monday. There's only so much the brain can do.

    I had thought of doing a sustainable sermon, but of the last four years, one was very topical for that time in the church's life, one was a "house church" discussion, and last year's has a very vivid metaphor that I am sure everyone will remember. So I may take the bare bones of the one from two years ago and build more on that.

    The words that keep popping out at me have to do with knowledge and knowing--Acts being a history of the early church, Jesus' words, that only God knows when the end-times will be, understanding the scriptures. I am thinking about the difference between knowing and understanding--knowing is about facts, things, places, while understanding is about ideas, concepts, people, relationships. I know when the bus comes if I read the schedule; but I don't understand how combustion engines work. Something like that, I am sure I will find a better metaphor than the bus!

    Trying to get the sermon done this afternoon as I have another community event tonight; if I have it done tonight, then tomorrow I can work on the grant report. Too many jobs, not enough hours or energy.

    I have fruit platter with dip for the potluck, but I'm sure no one would mind if we sampled it...

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    1. fruit platter! yum!

      Sounds as if you have some really good ideas for your sermon - I hope it really does come together well, and fast!

      I hear you on the brain over-load, seems I can only multi-task on so many projects at one time before something has to wait.

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  21. EEEEEP!!! I had a great (at least in my mind) narrative sermon all prepped and ready to go on Ascension, when I realized that everyone at church has prepared for 7th of Easter. So, John 17 for me and I'm totally uninspired, even after looking at the last sermon I preached on this, and going outside and pushing the lawn mower around. OK, focus.....focus......focus

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    1. YIKES! Perhaps you can do a teaching sermon on the Ascension, with a hat tip toward to readings for easter 7? and wrap you good ideas into it that way? (Or not, since that could be even more complicated than its worth). Regardless, I hope inspiration strikes! I have M&M's if that will help.

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  22. Hubby is gone for the weekend, so it's making juggling work and my girls interesting. Today's funeral is done, so on to working on tomorrows sermon in between refereeing two busy girls. Confirmation tomorrow, so I'm thinking about walking through the vow they make, and what discipleship life can look like. It's a bittersweet time, my parish has no more younger kids to go through confirmation (except for mine). So the congregations are mourning a bit, even as they celebrate the confirmation of these two youth tomorrow.

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    1. PS - it is tough when we face that age gap - perhaps though more young ones will come? I hope all goes well with your complicated role of parent and preaching prep today.

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    2. P.S. ,
      My two children (Middle School and High School) were the only confirmation age kids in our congregation this year and last. It is sad. But we have a growing group of middle school girls who will be ready next year. I have asked a local clergy colleague with whom we practice shared ministry to help with my kids confirmation so they have someone other than their mother to teach them! Blessings on your congregation and confirmations.

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    3. RevKel - good idea to have your colleague wotk with your kids...

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  23. Thanks Google for eating my post. sigh

    I'm uninspired by John 17 but preaching it as simple encouragement to have Jesus praying for us. maybe I'll drum up some energy before tomorrow.

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    1. Hi Nancy - welcome! Inspiration is what you need? Well! Let's see what is in my candy dish, perhaps there is something that will help...dark chocolate? jelly beans? I have a lot here, I'll pass the dish to you and hope something jumps out!

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  24. I'm heading off for the concert - the choral group....will be back in few hours - keep the party rockin' while I'm gone. I know there is inspiration to be shared here!

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  25. well Terri you know dark chocolate is always inspiration!

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  26. Hi folks,

    After a lovely bike ride and a gorgeous nap, I got my sermon mojo going. Drawing on a sermon I preached several years ago I talked about how a church can be united in an ethic of love, even if there is disagreement over certain (ahem) things. Even though my church is open and affirming, there is still some pain around the process that took place several years ago. I try to acknowledge this in my sermon. Please feel free to stop by and read my sermon and comment, don't forget to bring your chocolate!

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  27. Doing Easter 7 here... I got some bare bones down on paper last night and spent most of today chasing a week-old Scottish Highland calf with crucial medication, trying to get close enough to apply it without the calf's mama spearing me with her magnificent horns. WHEW. Calf is now dosed, (literally a matter of life or death!) so I can settle in to sermon writing...I think.

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    1. woaj, you have had quite a day! Glad the calf got its meds and you can settle into a different kind of work.

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    2. Dear MaineCelt, that sounds like a metaphor for preaching itself -- trying to get close enough to give them what they need without getting trampled and gored! Fingers crossed for you AND your "beasts"...

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  28. MaineCelt, wow you had a busy day!

    I'm looking for that sermon mojo. I've got a nice 15 minutes of sermon and don't feel like I've said a thing. this is not good.

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    1. RevNancy, that happens to me, too...but sometimes it's the best I can muster under the circumstances, and then it ends up that people like it...go figure. I hope you either find your mojo or can let it be...

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  29. I am heading out the door to the next thing which will have me back home late. I've already done garage sale stuff and met with funeral family. I couldn't get a post up from my phone but I'm hoping that while I ride with someone else I can read some so I can fix the ascension/graduation sermon that feels more leaden than light.

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    1. Geeze, Vicar, it seems that you are in good company with sermon struggles this week. Maybe we just find out who has a sermon that rocks, and then all preach that one! The RevGal sermon....? ANyway, hoping you can have the brain space to lighten yours up....

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  30. Working on Acts (a little rambling at the moment). I'm writing on Discernment, how hard it is to know the will of God, so much so that the disciples resorted to rolling the dice. How after Pentecost we as the church practice discernment by moving between conversation and prayer and back again, holding the hard choices until a direction emerges.

    So I guess it makes sense that the sermon seems to move back and forth a bit too!

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    1. Hi Revlisa, actually it does seem appropriate that sermon is going back and forth - that is a characteristic of discerning time...

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  31. I have, reluctantly, decided to go the Sustainable route. The confirmation class is leading worship at 930 and 11, so I only need a sermon for 830, but it still has to be shorter than usual so I can get out in time to meet the confirmands before worship for last minute prep. I spent the week finishing my book manuscript, going to meetings, dousing a few fires, and preparing for confirmation (and I still have the actual confirmation ceremony part to prepare). Last night was a confirmation lock in, today their session meeting/worship rehearsal, then clean up...I got home at 3pm, grabbed a tiny nap and a shower, and am now out to a church dinner party. I just can't take it. The thought of coming home and writing a sermon makes me want to burst into tears. But I do have a guided meditation from 3 years ago on the text for tomorrow (we are using the Emmaus Road story, for confirmation purposes). It pains me not to write a new sermon, and not to be able to tie it together with confirmation even for the small part of the congregation that will attend the service the confirmands are not leading....but it pains me more to try to fit in one more thing. Though everything about my life and work feels very precarious right now, I just can't make that effort. So....sustainable-meditation it is. It's a lovely meditation and it will be fine, but I'm fighting feeling like a bad pastor or a slacker, even if I have worked 2 straight weeks without a full day off. sigh. It's amazing how even the slightest hint of not-good-enough or of evidence that my situation is not stable can lead me to doubt myself even when I should know better. My therapist is going to have a field day this week. In the meantime...I have to go to a dinner party. I think there's going to be amazing dessert, so I'll be sure to bring some back for everyone later!

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    1. Teri - YOU ARE AN AMAZiING PASTOR! I know this to be true. But I do understand how our feelings and circumstances can undermine our self understanding. I do hope there is a fabulous dessert! And, going with that wonderful sustainable sermon is just perfect. Thank goodness you have it in your back pocket. love to you.

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    2. No one can possibly think you are a slacker with that schedule, but I totally get that we are often our own worst critics. So be easy on yourself...you have a LOT on your plate! And I know the Holy Spirit will be with you tomorrow!

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    3. No way are you slacking off, Teri. Practice self compassion and put your heart into the meditation that is available. It will shine.

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    4. okay, so the dessert was this incredible trifle with angel food cake, some kind of tart creamy substance, and raspberries and blueberries. DELICIOUS. I brought you some virtual trifle, because I have plans for the actual leftovers. hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

      Thank you friends. I so appreciate you, your kind words and support. The situation right now is so complicated and unbloggable that I barely know how to keep going every day. sigh. At least sometimes there's trifle in the midst of the crazy.

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    5. I think you are right on track for the moment: focus on the wonderful trifle, not the confidence-sucking other stuff. May the Spirit sustain you.

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  32. I finished a draft on Jesus praying the high priestly prayer as sort of another Lord's prayer and a model for us (influenced some by David Lose) and then went and did some church related errands to be ready for tomorrow, including donuts for hte 8 o'clockers who usually don't have coffee hour but will want a chance to say congrats to our seminarian. Now I need to tweek the ending of the sermon. And hopefully have some time to unwind before bed.

    Fresh mango here to share--it is delicious!

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    1. RevDrMom - sounds good! donuts, too...yum. I am eating homemade tacos with a mango salsa - sweet and spicey! I'll share.

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    2. I think this is the direction I'm going too, Rev Dr Mom. I'm SO tired of John - glad next week is Pentecost!

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  33. WEll I left the house at 9, got home at 4. And none of that was time to reflect on our relationship with money--the sermon topic for this week. Instead there was a funeral for a 15 year old suicide with over 400 in attendance (service was at 11, it was 1 as I left the committal, and then it was 2:30 when I left the church) followed by a drop in at a memorial gathering for a 90 year old church member. Frankly I need a nap. Sermon thinking will wait until after supper.

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    1. Oh Gord, indeed you need a nap. What a sad day....what's money in light of the 15 year old? sigh. prayers for you and your community.

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    2. Gord...peace to you. What a difficult day. I do my best sermon thinking after supper! :)

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  34. Reading these posts has me realizing why pastors burn out. Everyone is busy! It makes my 1/2 day church yard sale seem minor. I also had vacation for 5 days last week so still feel pretty good.

    My sermon may be better, or maybe I'm just getting used to it. Terri you are right. Often when I think, "that was my worst ever" someone will come and say,"that was just what I needed". HS hard at work. Let's hope the HS isn't on vacation tomorrow!

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    1. My husband laughs when I tell him my sermon is 'worse ever' and says that means the congregation will like it.

      I guess not only do pastors over-schedule, we are too critical of our own work as well.

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    2. right, when I bemoan the extra suckiness of my sermon, my husband rolls his eyes and says, "You always say that - and they are usually just fine." ...and sometimes I am so tired I just believe what he says no matter how I feel. Of course the opposite is equally true - I think I have a good sermon, and it turns out that preaching it feels like a total flop. lol sigh

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    3. You know, my preaching professor told us that would happen!

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  35. Back from the baccalaureate/commencement and 3 graduation parties. At the last one, my husband said, "We can't go to any more graduation parties today - I'm full." I can't go to any more because I need a nap and some TUMS - oofph.

    The last party sent home a doggie bag, so I have enough pulled pork sandwiches, graduation cake and bars to share!

    Now to get moving on the final details for tomorrow. Can't I just preach the same sermon tomorrow that I did at graduation today?

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    1. Ramona--I totally just flashed to the Vicar of Dibley episode where Geraldine goes to everyone's Christmas lunch...and when she finally gets home and is ready to rest and digest, people show up with the leftovers. lol.

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  36. Ramona, I do love left-overs! Also, I hope the final touches don"t take long.

    Nancy, I hope the sermon is actually done...enough.

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  37. Sermon is done and posted:Christmas Reversed. Thanks again to pearl for the story. Now to get the order of worship finished and off to kindle-space so I have something to preach from tomorrow.

    Maybe I'll take pity on my hard working husband who is mowing the church lawn even as I type this and go start printing the bulletins.

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  38. yay! glad the sermon is done, ramona.

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  39. Sermon done, oh hallelujah: "Playing the Odds." Opens with a vignette of my cousins and I daring our unremarkable selves to run out and put a penny on the railroad tracks, then using counting rhymes to choose who'd do the deed. Then, a discussion of the Acts passage and how two unremarkable, obscure guys end up as carriers of the Good News. Sermon closes with a reflection that the Church grows, and renews itself, through all the odd and un-famous, not-so-flashy people who keep showing up, keep reaching out, keep offering others a taste of the resurrection. WHEW!

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  40. Let's get this party pumped back up! Who's in or coming back for the late night round? Anyone? Anyone?

    I have had a long and varied day that started with an early morning 5K race. Oy. Now it's 9:30 pm and I need to settle in to write my sermon, but I'm having trouble with the settling in part. The first problem is that it's way to humid up here on the ground floor of the house. I need to head to the basement and cool down. I did already get the laundry started which is an improvement over some weeks.

    I've got an outline on my sermon from a few days ago when I couldn't sleep one night. Now I just need to put some flesh on the bones. By outline I mean like 5-6 sections titled and in order. I need words now. Oh my. It'll happen.

    The perfect distraction is looking back through my FB timeline (I know there are a lot of haters, but I LOVE it for stuff like this) to figure out what I was doing, thinking, saying exactly 2 years ago, the night before my 3rd and final child was born. Labor came on suddenly in the middle of the night and she was born less than 3 hours later, so it is kind of funny to see the things I thought I'd be doing "tomorrow." Funny.

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    1. Oh, stephanie, you also have birthday to celebrate...fun. but, yes getting humid here, too, and no A/c in the church...oh well. I hope the sermon falls into place easy peasy.

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    2. Unfortunately birthday is slipping to the bottom of the list. Luckily it's her second so she won't notice. Her brother and sister will be righteously indignant on her behalf. Or at least they will be if they don't buy into the story I'm telling them about the trip to the mall being not JUST for a children's ministry event, but also her birthday celebration. The parents raised $350+ at a bake sale a month ago for the kids to spend building bears at Build-a-Bear for the local family emergency shelter for women and children fleeing abusive homes. A ride in the big blue youth bus, a trip to Mall of America, seems birthday enough for the little one who won't even know it's her birthday. It's about all she's going to get unfortunately since we've got worship/Sunday School in the morning, that trip in the afternoon, then I have the once a month, ecumenical service that it is my turn to lead. Oh my.

      I forgot to actually mention the sermon I'm thinking, but haven't started writing yet. It's on the Acts 1 passage. I was really struck by the conversation we were having on Tuesday about how easy it for us to do what Jesus said we should do at the Ascension - - wait for the Spirit. We just can't handle giving up that kind of control the kind of giving up we have to do in order to follow the Spirit's lead instead of our own. So like the disciples, desperate to know how the next steps of ministry will go, we are quick to set our own parameters, tempted to narrow things down not just to two choices, but two choices that are VERY familiar, two choices that look like like us or what we would like to do, two choices that are extremely similar to who we already are. And then on top of all that we completely remove our God who seeks relationship with us from the final decision - - leaving it to chance by the impersonal method of lots. I will point out that the only other time casting lots is mentioned in the New Testament it is when the Romans are deciding how to divide up Jesus' clothes at the crucifixion. Not a glowing recommendation for that form of decision-making.

      From there I intend to go a little bit into discernment instead of decision-making (the difference I will focus on is that discernment is based on cultivating and drawing from a deep and abiding relationship with God) before taking the opportunity to introduce to the congregation a mission discernment process we will be undertaking in the summer and early fall as a part of a church transformation opportunity through our presbytery.

      There's the plan. Not too tough, but it does need to get done.

      First, though, a shower since it is so humid and I can't stand sleeping feeling sticky. Sleep will come in 2 hours no matter where I am in all of this.

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    3. Read MaineCelt's sermon summary above and remembered the last piece I will include in mine; it's sort of the look toward Pentecost. It's the good news, the look forward to the promise that comes with the rush of the wind. Even when our attempts to take and/or keep control of everything cut God out of the picture, God can still find a way to blow onto the scene in amazing ways and work wonders with what we offer.

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  41. I'm done...time to call it a night. but, please keep the party going! and, blessings on your day tomorrow. Thanks for partying with me today.

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  42. Girls are (finally) asleep, done with frantic call from one of the confirmation students about what he's supposed to be doing tomorrow in the service (how long have we been prepping for this???), and the sermon still hasn't fully come together. But it will, if I just let go of the anxiety and get some sleep. Happy sermonating, everyone!

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  43. I finally got time to read over mine again, then posted it on my blog. Cannot believe how late it is! It's about Matthias and what's-his-name, Witness to the Resurrection.
    My daughter and I had a great evening, but I think I'll be sorry when the alarm goes off.
    (Not really. Just tired.)

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  44. I'm finally checking in! Home from a soccer tournament. Pawned the boy off on another family for the rest of the tournament tomorrow because the rest of the family is in Seattle for another tournament. Good day, though. And now I'm giving my sermon another look. I can go with what I have now, but there is still something to be said, and I'll try to coax it out. Blessings on all of you!
    Thankful knowing I am not alone on Saturday night!

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  45. You're not alone! I'm up for a bit longer. Not too much, but then I wake up again at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m.. Thoughts are with you!

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  46. I lOVE reading through Lectionary Homiletics (for example) and finding a good sermon and then scrolling down to the bottom and seeing that it is one of you! Just found your Ascension sermon, Marci Auld Glass! Nice job.

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  47. I am finally home. My head hurts. This sermon will have to do or the Holy Spirit will have to inspire me in the morning because I've already printed it. I'm only writing this to you because I'm waiting for a kid to arrive home (she has mere minutes left before doom). Blessings on your Sunday!

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  48. I am just getting here, perhaps the last one up tonight. I had a day of errands, and a church meeting, and jogging, and a non-church meeting. But the best part was sending my son off to the prom; he and his girlfriend looked so joyous and lovely, just how the world should feel when you are 17/18. I managed not to get choked up--I am a cry at the drop of a hat type gal--but I have spent the last hour looking repeatedly at all the photos we took and wondering where this young man came from.

    Family sermon tomorrow, and I am doing a sort of strung out thing starting with the community formed as we share communion, and Jesus as the host and giving himself, and his prayer for the community he had formed, and somehow ending up with inviting them to write short prayers for those graduates we will be honoring at the next service and then leaving their prayers as an offering on the altar. I sure hope it works better than it sounds here! There are some of those gaps/leaps that I hope will be covered by meaningful silences or (more likely at a service with so many kids) a spontaneous comment that I can use as a transition. Talk about needing the Spirit!

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  49. I'm here, after a long day with a training session and a good dinner out, then some sermon-related reading, an impromptu nap, and now finally I really must start to make some progress.

    Unfortunately I just remembered that the children's sermon was supposed to be helium balloons for the kids to let go in the sanctuary (going up like Jesus did on Ascension). Said balloons are languishing forgotten in my office, not inflated with anything. Sigh. Oops.

    We're doing Easter 7, with the exception of the first reading--I swapped out the Matthias reading and swapped in Ascension. Preaching on John. Really liking David Lose's take on it as the OTHER Lord's Prayer and riffing off of that--what does it mean that Jesus is praying for us?

    Need to make some headway and get a least a little sleep, since I just remembered that tomorrow afternoon is busy too with a community concert and lunch with parishioners beforehand.

    Hoping everyone else is either sleeping or already leading worship and preaching fabulous sermons (depending on what time zone you are in)!

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  50. Good morning, all! Will keep each of you and your various concerns and activities and sermons in my prayers today.

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  51. Whew, all finished and just printed. I think I can squeeze a little sleep in before I need to get up and get ready for church.

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation this day!

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  52. Good morning. I'm back to write. It was good sleep last night for the most part, so here comes the sermon!

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