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Saturday, May 12, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: Making Friends With Jesus Edition

Friend for ODC2
The confessional is open, so let me start.

I think of Mother's Day celebrations as what we do in and among families.  I look forward to calling my Mom tomorrow, and then I anticipate making connections with my own beloved grown-up offspring.  There's always the chance that I could get a Skype moment with the almost-two year old grandson.

My confession:  I do not look forward to Mother's Day at church.  There.  I've said it.

There is so much to savor in this week's texts that doing Hallmark-ish Mother's Day Church just has no appeal for me.

The Psalmist's new song makes a joyful noise (Psalm 98), Jesus calls us friends (John 15:9-17), Peter's a power preacher (Acts 10:44-48), and John welcomes us into the family of God (1 John 5:1-6).

What's your take on all, or some, of that?

This week's RevGord-initiated Tuesday Lectionary Leanings got us off to a good start.  There's sermon inspiration there, of course, as well as some discussion of what RevGals are (and are not) doing about Mother's Day at church.  Check it out!

So, Saturday Preachers, pull up a laptop, grab a cup, and open the Word.  You are among friends!

Help yourselves to some Fair Trade coffee or your beverage of choice! Your offerings of food and encouragement are always welcome. Let's put on some sermon-writing music, too, if that would help.  Let us know what you need and we'll do what we can.  

Welcome, FRIENDS!

149 comments:

  1. I have no idea why I am still up at 2 am but here I am, so I'll be first, which has never happened before!

    I am preaching on Jesus calling us friends, and I may rely on a sustainable sermon because I have another big piece of work I need to get done tomorrow (actually today, I guess) and it would be nice to not spend as much time as usual on the sermon. And it's been a hard week.

    Sunday afternoon I am preaching and presiding at our local version of Common Cathedral -- local as in nearby Ivy City -- and I think the sermon I'm thinking of will provide the needed 3-5 minute homily I need for that as well. We'll see how I feel about this later.

    And now I really should GO TO BED. My night owl habit is getting out of hand.

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    1. I always wonder who will actually be up and around in the wee hours when this posts. Thanks for getting the party going!

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  2. Also not really doing anything about Mother's Day. IME that's such a touchy thing, with the potential to hurt unintentionally. I'll wish mothers a Happy Mother's Day at the door, but that's about it.

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  3. No idea why I'm up either since I spent the whole day trying not to fall asleep. Ugh. I am finishing a series on Responding to the Risen Christ: Head, Heart, Hand. This week is "You put your whole self in." I planned that thinking I would work with "Abide in me" from last week and this week since I was off lectionary last week. It was to be simple - we respond to the risen Christ in all aspects of our lives - home, family, work, shopping, stores etc. Tying in mother's day only in the sense of steeping our home and family life in our faith. However, this has been a tough pastoral care week - lots of my folks are hurting - even my step mother is in the hospital. So, I'm making sure I talk about how abiding in God affects how we respond in the rough seas of our lives as well as the even keel times. I've been preaching from a picture map rather than an outline for the last two Sundays. This Sunday will be much harder because the scripture passages I'm using are not stories. I have lots of ideas, but no picture map yet.

    As for Mother's Day, I used to hate going to church on Mother's Day - 5 years of infertility made it difficult to go. Instead of not mentioning it, I am careful to acknowledge the many circumstances that make Mother's Day hard for so many people. This will be the first Mother's Day since one of my families lost a son last October and since at least one lost their mother. I'm always conscious of this day in relation to my own son's birthmother and how it must be hard for her too. I usually address the joy and pain during prayer time. Our kids make bookmarks or cards to give to all the women of the church since we all have taken vows to help raise the children of our church in a Godly way as a part of their baptism service.

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    1. "You put your whole self in" = Hokey Pokey reference?

      I like your approach to Mother's Day and will probably adapt something like that.

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    2. Yep, we are doing the Hokey Pokey at children's time;-)

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  4. Here in the UK, we observe Mothering Sunday the 4th sunday of Lent - I think that helps to tone it down a bit and rescue it from sentimentality but I' am always aware of how difficult it is for many, some of whom simply stay at home that sunday.
    This week, I'm still working through 1 John - and, since the confessional is open - I'm getting tired of love!!! Especially this week when out of love I am biting my tongue and not defending myself with a self righteous colleague. I know it's the right thing to do but it feels crap! BUT back to love....

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    1. "Mothering Sunday" sounds nice!

      Don't you just cringe at the idea that people would stay home from church . . . I started to say "because it's Mother's Day." But I think that it probably happens more than we know when people think "The last place I want to be is church" while I go through this, or on this tragic anniversary, or on Mothers/Fathers Day, or whatever.

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    2. I have always tried to stay as far as possible from church on Mother's Day.

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  5. I have been on holiday for 3 sundays and last week was an all age service where I went off lectionary so I am finding it difficult to get back into the rhythm of preaching on a set text. I was also at a retreat for 3 days this week and was so inspired that I have to resist the temptation to shoehorn into the sermon a whole load of what I was reflecting on this week.

    I think I am going to focus on love as an action not an emotion and how we can pass it on to others (moving from "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you" to "love one another, as I have loved you"). Not too sure how it will work but may have to watch the movie Pay it Forward to remind myself of an illustration - or would that just be procrastinating!!

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    1. Procrastination is just another word for creatively using this time to be open to the Spirit. Or something!

      Let us know how you are progressing. I can imagine that a lot of us are probably doing some variation of the "love is a doing, not a feeling" theme this week. I would love to hear more!

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  6. OK here is what I've got so far. Off out to enjoy the sunshine we have today.

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  7. Hi,

    just starting to write, after 8pm on Saturday evening. last week's education group came up with the theme of joy, so now to write something about faith and joy - the joy is staying connected with Jesus.
    How hard can that be to preach!

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    1. Hi Pearl!

      The joy of staying connected to Jesus sounds pretty wonderful to preach. Let us know if it is/was easy!

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    2. Pearl, several people have contacted me about your Mother's Day Litany, which I posted and linked last year; apparently the link wasn't an adequate flag and they have been seeking permission from me to use it. I have sent them all your way and added directions in bright red on my original post; I hope that's ok. If you want me to delete it, of course I will.

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    3. Robin,

      I noticed some traffic from your direction to my blog, I am happy for people to use it, or adapt, to their situation.

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  8. I wrote an unexpected post about Mother's Day yesterday. I plan to enjoy my family's presence, grit my teeth through the carnations, and prepare a prayer to incorporate the many layers of emotions the day evokes.

    I'm preaching on Acts and John: inclusivity and Jesus calling all of us to friendship. I'm not planning on naming the specific issue of inclusivity -- well, I might use the word "lifestyle" at some point, which isn't exactly what I mean -- at issue for us, but the President and North Carolina may be moving that discussion to the forefront without any help from me.

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    1. The carnations . . . ugh!

      Your post -- The Other Side of Mother's Day -- is very wonderful on so many levels. You touch hearts, Robin, and I know that your prepared prayer will invoke Spirit to heal and to enlighten.

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  9. Good morning pals,

    I will be exploring being friends with Jesus. I will talk about the different kinds of friends we make beginning with facebook and working towards being in relationship in a faith community having agape love for eachother. I don't know if that made since. Time for another cup of coffee.

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    1. Sense not since. Need.coffee.NOW!

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    2. Sounds good, G_G!

      Curious about what, specifically, "agape love" would look like in (or on?) your congregation. As their new-ish pastor, what behaviors will you call them to practice?

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    3. This is the scary part...I feel a prophetic sermon coming on but am approaching with fear and trepidation. In the last 50 years our town has gone from being the richest in the our State to the poorest because the machine shops that employed our people have moved out in the 70s. Now 60% of the citizens of our town are on welfare and living in subsidized housing. There is a perception that the folks on welfare moved to our town because it is easy to get "free money" here. The place that I'm trying to get folks to is this...we did not choose the reality that we are living in rather it choose us, agape love calls us to find ways to help these folk to live the full sustainable lives that God desires for all of creation.

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  10. Good morning, gals. I'm in Chicago to perform a wedding tonight and am FREAKING OUT about the state of my sermon. There has been so much going on with getting ready for this trip and then being on this trip that I didn't get my sermon done before I left, as I'd hoped. Now that I'm here, one of my sons has been very sick with some sort of stomach virus (we think) and I have been feeling really awful as well (head/throat/chest, not stomach, thankfully!). I've got a couple of pages written, which on a normal weekend would be great by this point, but today is a full day and then we drive back after the reception late tonight, to get home between 3:00 and 4:00 am. UGH!

    Anyway, I'm preaching John, focusing on "I have called you friends," and I've got a lot of stuff in my head that I hope I can get out of my head starting ... NOW!!

    I would appreciate any prayers, and I offer mine for all of you!

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    1. Lots of prayers for you, earthchick! May healing and sermon inspiration commence now!

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    2. Thanks, Sharon!! We are back home now (3:25a EST - Oy!) and the wedding went great. Got my sermon written (though I'm not wild about it) and will get up in less than 4 hours to try to polish it up. Going to read through the comments now for added inspiration before I go to sleep!

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  11. earthchick, that just makes my head hurt. Godspeed.
    I've got a wedding this morning, sharing the officiating duties with a UU minister. She's got the hard parts (vows, etc), and my contributions are pretty much coming off the top of my head. We'll see how that goes...
    Where the sermon is concerned, I have an opening, but no solid sense of where it's going from there. I'll be back this afternoon and hope to have something more formed in my head by then. Lots of driving between now and then, which usually helps.

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    1. Yep. Driving is the best. I'm going to be doing some of that in the early afternoon myself and I very much look forward to that.

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  12. I'm going with the "abide in love" passage from John -- what it is to let love surround and guide and pick us up. How faithfulness finds its expression in our lives...the faith we have in God and in love, and the ways faithfulness allows us to keep going. I might use some of my own "bad mother" times as an illustration of how faithful love transcends even our missteps and selfishness, but I don't want to dwell on the "saintly mom" issue b/c like most of us, the people in the pews have such varied and nuanced experiences that aren't addressed by idealizing motherhood. Before I get that sermon written though I have a confirmation class this morning, then a stack of hospital visits, all people who have had unexpected (and undesired)outcomes from medical procedures. Blessings on all of your sermons and ministries this day!

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    1. Oooh . . . Faithfulness is the fuel that keeps love actions going.

      I wish that we preachers who have first hand experience as mothers could get our congregations off of this "saintly mom" thing that idealizes mothers and even women.

      Our prayers go with you, Mary B. It sounds like a challenging, yet very good, kind of day.

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  13. Good morning, friends.

    Usually I reserve Mother's Day for the prayer and often the person who does the children's sermon mentions it. This Sunday, I'm doing the children's sermon. I will not be mentioning it. It will be in the pastoral prayer with many of the things all of you have already named.

    Here is my conundrum. I have spent the better part of 2+ weeks coming out to the pillars, Session and Deacons of my congregation that I am gay and in a committed relationship with a woman. The strategy is to let the news unfold from there, and to some extent it has. I desperately want to respect the culture here in south central PA which is to say, be subtle and not make it a big deal (think one step beyond don't ask, don't tell). However, the writer of Acts and Jesus in John is NOT subtle. They are practically shouting: BE INCLUSIVE AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!!!"

    And so there it is.
    Right now my strategy is to tell the story of the writer of Luke/Acts, the story of the centurion and the story of Peter and let the texts do the talking...

    We shall see.

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    1. Jesus is not subtle! I love it! I guess you could say that Jesus' love is in no way subtle either! Letting the texts do the talking is probably not going to be subtle either, I'm guessing.

      I hope you are writing a book, KZJ. I want to read it!

      And I hope that your church folk are showing you some of that not-so-subtle love that Jesus poured out for us to pass on.

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    2. Wow! Jesus was not subtle but he was fabulous. I'm sure you will find the same fierceness and fabulousness as you preach the good word.

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    3. Kzj, prayers for you and your partner. T'ain't easy but it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. But then again, I lost my parish but that was 10 yrs ago.

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    4. It sounds to me as if you have your sermon in the very struggles you are having. I'm wondering about ways those struggles and what you are going through can be generalized to other people in other situations. Surely there are people who though not gay struggle with being respectful of norms, culture while at the same time being respectful of who they are. I agree with Sharon--the texts will do the talking and they likely won't be subtle. (There's a part of me that wonders if you've been talking through the texts for awhile. When I look back on the sermons I've preached in tough times, I see the subtext really clearly.)

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    5. Oh, so very happy for you and holding you in prayer.

      Tomorrow marks three years to the day since I came out to my session (and put the letters in the mail to the entire congregation), and the John text for tomorrow is what I preached that following Sunday.

      I have been in this place, and it is holy ground you are walking on. Sending love.

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    6. Lifting you and your people in prayer

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    7. At least there's no eunuch this week. :-)

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    8. Thanks Pat, that means a lot.

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    9. Prayers, KZJ, and love to you and your partner both.

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  14. short sermon, but a sharing time earlier in the service and a person is speaking about their experience of joy and faith. I am on prayers of the people tomorrow so the Mothers Day prayer I wrote for field ed while at seminary is part of tomorrow's service.
    here is my take on joy

    good night all,
    hope you find your sermons early this week.

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  15. What a slacker host I am! Today was a rare occasion when I just slept until . . . and then it was 8:00, for goodness sakes!

    Coffee is brewing, and there are fresh carrot muffins over there, raisins and/or nuts are in some and not in others, depending on what you like. There is also butter, cream cheese, and an assortment of jams to go with. Help yourselves!

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  16. Sharon, I hope you enjoyed every morsel of sleep. Good on you!

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  17. wow. I am not preaching again until Pentecost, or doing the children's message, for that matter. felt weird, at the time, but now that I have a terrible sore throat and think I may be coming down with a cold, I don't feel so bad about it.

    However, i do have a wedding this afternoon. so I need a little voice for that.

    On the preaching front, I do feel the Mother's Day conundrum on many levels. I usually do not preach on it, sometimes it gets into the sermon as a side issue, usually there is a prayer petition.

    on the other hand, I've always wanted to preach a sermon on the Mother images for God in the Bible.

    I like these texts, and especially the John 15, about being friends with Jesus. Because being friends with Jesus, in this text, is not about how we share with Jesus, but about what he shares with us.

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    1. Oh, Diane, I hope you feel better and that your voice holds out.

      When I was in seminary -- over 20 years ago now! -- they got a call from a local male-pastored congregation seeking "a woman" to preach on Mother's Day, and I agreed to do it. I preached on Mary and Martha, a sermon entitled, "Can you just stop?" I think it was well-received because, though it fit with the day, it didn't idealize women or mothers. Still, I think that may have been the last Mother's Day sermon I have preached.

      What???? There are Mother images for God in the Bible???? That news has most definitely not reached Pennsylvania Dutch Country! It would make for a good sermon, I imagine.

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  18. Good morning friends. I am very far north at a weekend presbytery meeting. Think. 5 hour bus ride... lots of serious stiff to deal with on the docket. Some personally difficult dynamics for me to negotiate. No sermon ... vague swirling thoughts that keep smacking up against my own unmentionable stuff. Best case is home by 8 then start writing. Ugg! Oh yes and mothers day... as one who was not able to bear children, not my fav. Prayers seriously appreciated, I will need then to get through this day

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    1. Hi Celeste! Sounds like a challenging time.

      Need RevGal PowWow! For now, though, prayers ascending . . .

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    2. RevGal Powow...I love it. The image I have is of the opening scene of the Ya Ya sisterhood where the bedazzled girls read about their (ahem) ancestory and then drink chocolate dancing around a fire. I can totally see us doing that.

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    3. Celeste...My prayers...you have them.

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    4. Thanks all! So grateful for your prayers. Just had a very hard encounter with someone who is pretty toxic. Grateful for the grace to initiate, so wish it was not necessary.

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    5. Prayers surrounding you for an open heart but also protection as you engage with this person.

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  19. finished printing and the read your comments. I am amazed at how many of us Rev Gals find Mother's Day uncomfortable. I too am unable to ahve children, and while we tried to adopt, so few children are available, it didn't work out for us.

    Sharon, Hope you enjoyed the extra sleep.
    Kathrynzj - hopefully people will hear what the Bible is saying
    earthchick and Celeste - praying for you
    everyone, blessings

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    1. Preaching blessings to you, pearl!

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  20. For children's time I'll talk about how lots of people help us grow in our faith and are our "faith mothers" including the youth who help with VBS and people who aren't related to us. But since we are all God's family we're in the same family together. Then the children are instructed to give a carnation to every girl or woman older than they are. It is mass cute chaos. The older ladies get the flowers they want but there is some connection to God and our faith. Then the blessings and burdens of Mother's Day are carried to God in prayer.

    Today has a variety of things on the schedule including test driving a car as a fundraiser. How about that for creative moneymaking? Much better than a car wash!

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    1. Vicar, thanks for the idea for children's time. Yes, God's family!

      In the congregation where I currently serve as interim, the Mother's Day flowers are, of course, a fund raiser. Combine that with "popularity contest" and that describes what we do. You "get" to buy a rose for a special woman/mother and then put the dedication in the bulletin. It presumes many things, including the fact that the woman honored is close-by enough for the giver to give the rose to. Or something.

      I'm a real curmudgeon about this, I confess -- yet again. Lord, in your mercy . . .

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  21. Replies
    1. Nice one! Thanks, Vicar.

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    2. That's wonderful! I may just use that one.

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  22. I am written and posted. Friendship is at the root of it all.here
    I am only preaching tonight. The Bishop has to do Mother's Day. 8>D

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  23. It's not even 8:00 here and my sermon is done! Yahoo! I got by with a lot of help from my Rev Gal friends. Thanks. You'll find it here.

    There's a spot at the end where I link to Mother's Day. A couple of weeks ago, a former Roman Catholic told me how he was looking forward to hearing a woman priest preach on Mother's Day.

    Now to a deanery meeting and maybe some time to work on a quilt. I'll look forward to checking in with the conversation later in the day.

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  24. We're off to doggie school today - the closest one is 80 miles away, but we have to get this mutt under control. I just can't have him going crazy, barking and jumping and being a nuisance every time someone comes to the parsonage door! And to think he was the quietest, calmest one at the shelter!

    I think I'm preaching on being called as Jesus friends. I'd really like to lay some framework about God being relational in advance of Holy Trinity Sunday as well. It's still really fuzzy, but then I haven't been in the shower yet today - and that's usually where I get my 11th hour inspiration. Come Holy Spirit, and wash me again in the waters!

    As far as Mother's Day goes, I'm just doing a couple of petitions in the prayers and welcoming visitors. It is a tricky day to navigate, and then if you make a big fuss for Mother's Day, you have to do it for Father's day too. But I do like to acknowledge the secular high holy days in some way. I usually don't preach on them though, unless the text goes there.

    I did have one request to preach "a sermon on Mother's Day and women leaders in the church" - oh and it had to be 10 minutes long! I'm pretty sure it went over in time length!

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    1. Ramona -

      I found it immensely helpful to in fact keep folks away from the parsonage. No more drop-ins! 'Tis delightful to own two big dogs who bark. Sure they have discipline... but sometimes *ahem* you just don't want folks coming over...

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  25. Ramona,

    Watch the Dog Whisperer. I am not a dog owner but I have learned a lot about doing parish ministry from him. Be calm and assertive! But it has no effect on cats!

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  26. Good morning! After staying up to the wee hours, I slept in til well after 9; the good news is that I woke up feeling energized, and its' a good thing because I have a lot to get done today.

    A few years ago I wrote this reflection on today's gospel for the now (sadly) defunct Witness magazine. My sustainable sermon is loosely based on it and for now, that's where I think I"m heading.

    I have a big project I'm working on for a diocesan committee and my plans to get it done earlier this week were derailed when an unhappy parishioner brought me a long list of complaints to deal with. I've know for a while that there is a portion of the congregation not happy with me, and this person feels it's her duty to bring this before the Vestry. I really believe that the unhappiness is focused in one subset of the parish, but it is still distressing and something I have to address. Ugh. There are some really unhealthy dynamics in this parish and it's hard to separate that out from what might be real concerns. Prayers for dealing with all that would be much appreciated.

    Meanwhile it is FINALLY warm and sunny and I hope I can get outside for at least a few minutes. And that the weather holds for tomorrow. I am looking forward to being at Chapel on the Green no matter what but nice weather would be a bonus!

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    1. It is SO hard not to take those lists personally and not to immediately move to a defensive position. Prayers for you to have a calm mind and presence, a spirit of wisdom and discernment, and a hefty dose of love as you walk this rocky bit of the path.

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    2. Kris, praying for you and for all your people.

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    3. Prayers for you and the parish, Rev. Dr. Mom. That is such a challenge--untying all the threads, helping the parish deal with unhealthy dynamics that likely have developed over time.

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    4. I'm so sorry, adding my prayers.

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    5. Kris - praying peace for you and wisdom as you sort out those dynamics.

      BTW - I actually clipped some of that article from The Witness for my study notes, not realizing it was a fellow RevGal! It was great stuff. It is ok to quote you in my sermon (with credit, of course)?"

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  27. I have mine in note form and would happily preach tomorrow from that, except that I have a bad chest and feel rotten. Dare I take the risk? I think so as the neighbouring school has a "happening" and the windows are reverberating with the noise so I can't think. Not a happy chappy today! Thank goodness we do mothering Sunday here, not Mother's Day so I am free of that. Tomorrow is "jolly jersey Sunday" when we all wear bright jerseys and give in clothes for charities. I will be wearing my Mickey Mouse jersey and only robe up at the offertory. And, thank goodness again, no incense as my chest can't take it. I loathe incense (partly because of my asthma) but this is a high church parish so I kind of have to toe the line.

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  28. I think, after easing through comments here and thus clarifying a little bit of my own thoughts, that my sermon may be about love not as a feeling or an action, but as a state/way of being. I have two scenarios I want to share that illustrate love, or the power of love, or the kind of love God wants from and for us, or something like that. Gee, that's always the problem in preaching, isn't it?...putting the "something like that" into coherent words! Anyway, I have a bit of an idea and now need to do something with it.

    That will occur in and around a run, a memorial service (especially hard as today is the first anniversary of my dad's memorial service), and two work related parties. If I would sit down and work on it, the words would come, I suspect, but for now I am avoiding that effort!

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    1. Betsy, hope that the "something like that" is becoming more concrete. Anniversaries are hard. Thinking of you.

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  29. I have to run to a quick meeting with the president pro tem of this week's Consistory meeting. Should be interesting . . . (sigh) Yet another manifestation of sermon procrastination behavior. I will get going when I get back!

    Is anyone else having trouble loading this site today? I'm getting some error messages and some slow loading that doesn't seem to happen on other sites for me.

    Back in a bit!

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    1. I have had multiple loading problems too!!!

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    2. I've been having loading problems today too.

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  30. Back from the wedding, which was lovely, and heading out to lunch with one of our RevGals. I want to thank you for your prayers last week, when I was in the position re: texts and life intersecting in which kzj finds herself this week. In the end I didn't talk about myself except in the context of an illustration about how we dress for church. I think those who knew already got the connection and those who didn't ... well, they got a sermon about noticing the ways we define others as different and how the gospel pushes us to stop that right now.
    Coming back from the wedding I recorded some thoughts (thank you, trusty iPhone/!), so I think I have a trajectory. Thanks be to God!

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    1. I was wondering how it went. Prayers for you and kzj.

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  31. Checking in a bit late here, as I also slept in and then decided i needed to get some things done around the house. Do we call that procrastination? We could. And we might be right.

    I am going with the chosen idea--God chose us, in spite of--whatever, including those things the world might think disqualify us from being called. It wasn't up to us, it was God's choice.

    Mother's Day will be mentioned in passing--prayers of the people--but I too, have mixed feelings about it. So many people have less-than-happy feelings around the day, and there's no way to minister to all those relationships in one service--I just prefer to stay away from it and instead talk about those things on a piecemeal basis throughout the year.

    Kathrynzj, prayers to you as you and your congregation navigate these waters!

    Prayers, too, for all those with difficult hospital visits, weddings, retreats, and painful memories today.

    It's time for a late lunch--roasted red pepper and tomato soup. anyone?

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  32. FWIW my take on this kind of love

    The hard part about this love is that it is not always a feel good kind of love. This kind of love is kind of like the part of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit where the Skin Horse talks about being real.

    You see, the Skin Horse was very old and very wise "and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

    "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does is mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

    "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

    "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

    "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

    "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?'

    "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

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    1. Vicar, the wedding this morning included this reading. Wow, it's right on point!

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  33. Back from a nice warm day at the ball field (will not complain about hot) and a couple of errands. Shower is next and probably early dinner which is to say NOT sermon writing. I did get some thoughts down earlier - we shall see.

    Love the input from everyone else. The Velveteen Rabbit is good stuff. I always forget it too, thanks Vicar.

    Prayer for all as our work continues.

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  34. It's possible I took a little nap after lunch. And now I'm in charge of doing LP's hair for the Junior Prom. All other dressing is taking place at a friend's house, and I'm trying to negotiate the opportunity to go take a picture when they finish. This is being discouraged, although I'm told by others it's my parental right to take photos and even to embarrass her while doing so.
    Anyway, I won't be back to the sermon until her hair is properly French-braided and I've delivered her to the friend's house.

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    1. Definitely your parental right! And how will she compete with the other kids in the most embarrassing mom judging if you haven't given her good material for an entry? ;-)

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    2. The dad who is hosting the getting ready party asked for my email address so he can send pictures. LP breathed a sigh of relief.
      And now I have no more excuses, must write a sermon.

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  35. Almost done with the sermon, now I gotta bring it home.

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  36. It's possible that I just got a mani-pedi while I was out. Is there no end to the ways I can sermon-procrastinate? On the other hand (ha!), it's an easily justifiable readiness for preaching ritual.

    LOVE "The Velveteen Rabbit"! It's calling to me to use that portion tomorrow.

    Iced tea sounds good to me! Help yourselves to some freshly brewed and iced in your favorite flavor. I'm adding honey and mint to mine.

    Write on!

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  37. Honey and mint in my iced tea sounds heavenly!

    I am getting there, is all I can say. It's about two-thirds done, lacking the conclusion and the last polishing. I am also worried I have gone overboard with the cultural references--the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, DC, a Sesame Street song, 9/11, Remembrance Day, and the movie "Saving Private Ryan," On the other hand, they fit--I'm not jamming them in for the sake of a cultural reference. On the other other hand, a couple may be leading me down some rabbit trails.

    Well, I have to take a break and head out to a community potluck/movie, but I plan to return to this before bed--I'd like to have it pretty much done except for printing before I turn out my light.

    Prayers for those writing and photographing offspring and just starting and relaxing after finishing--in other words, prayers for us all.

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  38. Since we haven't changed anything on the page itself, I'm going to assume the loading issue is a Blogger problem. I'm getting 403 messages at other Blogger sites off and on, so there is something afoot. I'm viewing our blog in Chrome and haven't had any load issues. I'll check some other browsers. Thanks for the heads-up.

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    1. Um, make that a 503 error message. Is that what y'all are seeing, or is it just slow?

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    2. I got the 503 message a couple of times.

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    3. Yeah, both the 503 message and slow loading.

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  39. As usual I am reading your comments as I drink my morning cup of [green] tea. And as usual I am blessed to be part of this community.
    The person who did the church flowers yesterday told me she left a bunch of white flowers on the communion table - we haven't had flowers on the communion table in the almost 6 years I have been here - and I can give them to the oldest mother! This church hasn't handed out mother’s day flowers for few years. When I get to church, find somewhere else to put a vase of flowers!
    I am wondering if next Mother's Day, I should talk about the pacifist beginnings of Mother's Day. Or Biblical ‘family values’ – the real families from the Bible. But, for a variety of reasons, I would rather leave the whole day alone.
    Enough ranting, shower, dress, church.

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  40. As I post my sermon I have the Johnny Cash song "I walked the line" running through my head but I'm singing "I toed the line" I kind of go there, but then I don't. I wonder if this messed up the message of my sermon. Come read it here and let me know what you think.

    I am reluctant to push my congregation too hard because I'm still the new guy, but then there's that whole preaching the gospel thing.

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  41. If you can stand more fuel for the Mother's Day fire:

    Anne Lamott: Why I Hate Mother's Day

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  42. I'm relieved to say I'm finally getting somewhere.
    The interaction with my daughter was very frustrating (her dad brought her home late, we were rushed, she was anxious and thought she looked bad, I had trouble braiding her hair, yadda yadda yadda). The dad who hosted the "get dressed" party offered to email pictures to me, and I accepted that offer gratefully and took off.
    That wasn't the best platform for writing a sermon on love, or maybe it was, but instead I wrote a blog post reflecting on Mother's Day.
    After that, I got back to the sermon, and it seems to be going somewhere.
    Meanwhile, I have Oreo gelato, anybody want some?

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  43. I've tweaked and edited and reworked, and it is what is, I think.

    I also finished and sent off to other committee members a draft of the project we're working on, and interacted a bit with folks running the Postal Worker's food drive (delivering food to the food bank housed in our basement). Now I just need to make some notes for my homily at Chapel on the Green and eat dinner.

    And go to bed at a decent hour!!!

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  44. Sorry for the absence, but I'm finally able to post comments here again. Computer purgatory is no fun!

    Oreo gelato sounds perfectly decadent, Martha! Yes, please!

    RDM, you sound like you are holding up well. Yea!

    I have a draft of a sermon but it sounds awfully preachy. Perhaps it needs to be covered and put in a warm place with the hope that it will "rise" . . . or something.

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  45. We're back from doggie school and I may have gotten a make-over while we were out (self care is important too!). Then I had to run to church #2 to put a message on the newly installed sign - we're no longer the anonymous church on Main Street!

    I tried - I really did - to work on the sermon on the drive back from the city. But the combination of bumpy roads, sun on my tablet screen and no inspiration did me in. So here I sit, still trying to figure out why Jesus choosing us as friends jumped out at me every time I read through the text and trying even harder to put it into a reasonably coherent sermon.

    But I did allow myself a full-lead frappacino just before we left the City, so I should be fueled for late night sermonating.

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    1. You are SO ready to do this, Ramona!

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  46. Replies
    1. BTW, sermon has been redone...thanks to Beloved and her timely advise.

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  47. Hi all - back at my office from the crazy long day of presbytery and travel most of the long way across my big state with a blank page.... and not in a great frame of mind to speak about love. Thanks for prayers. LYMI

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    1. Prayers for you continue as you continue, Celeste!

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    2. Celeste, hugs and prayers. LYMI.

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    3. OK, had to look that one up on Urban Dictionary. Trying to keep up here! =)

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  48. I just put out the herb tea bags and the water is hot. Choose your flavor!

    And -- Brownies, anyone?

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  49. Huh. I think I was on the right track, but somehow got a bit off it. Breathing deeply then back to it.

    How's by you?

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    1. Oh, my, Kathryn! Will this involve a drastic cut? Breathing with you . . .

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  50. Seriously, 9pm and stopping in for the first time today. Had a huge funeral at a funeral home this morning for a 51 y/o woman who died suddenly - leaving a devastated family and friends behind. Had to create a liturgy for the occasion on a days notice. That was followed by a dog walk, some gardening, several meetings, oh. right. and a sermon. plus I had to pack since I am leaving right after church to drive to Chicago to be with my kids. If all goes well, dinner tomorrow night at the Cheesecake Factory with my daughter, her boyfriend, and his parents. Crazy time.

    Hope all is well with each of you as I have not yet read the comment thread...

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    1. Ack, Terri! Thanks for stopping here in the midst of all of that.

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  51. Hi All - I'm part of the facebook revgal community, and a lurker of the blog. I'm coming to the party late, very heavy hearted and in need of prayer. Today, I was called out to a suicide - it was in a neighbouring community, but has an impact on the community I live in - it's the second to impact this community in a month, and I'm discovering that there are people who are connected to both suicides. So I'm feeling called to preach on this tomorrow. It's not your lovey-dovey Mother's Day sermon, but I'm thinking that Velveteen Rabbit reference will help tremendously! Added to this heaviness: tomorrow I'm giving notice to the congregation that I'll be leaving (having accepted a call elsewhere).

    Holding the rest of you in prayer, and hope your sermonizing/other Saturday activities are going well.

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    1. Welcome! So glad you de-lurked with us.

      And wow! What a lot! Thank you for giving us the privilege of holding you and the community in prayer. Please know that you are surrounded by love and prayer.

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    2. Back to Shine - prayers ascending.

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    3. I was trying to say - come on over to Metanoia, after a big sigh over more Mother's Day and suicide.

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    4. Back to Shine, I'm so sorry to hear about all you and your congregation are bearing and will be bearing. Prayers. Let yourself be held by the love that surrounds you.

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    5. Back to shine, I hope you wander over to Robin's blog, "Metanoia" you will find words to ground you and guide you - not neessarily easy words, but good ones, nonetheless. And, also, I will hold you in prayer for your day tomorrow, many points of grief.

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    6. Thank you all - your comments and prayers are a healing balm to my spirit. I did wander over to Robin's blog, and am thankful for those words that she shared. -Erin

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  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  53. It's that time when this RevGal has to call it a night. That 8:00 a.m. worship service, you know!

    Keep the party going and the snack table full. I'll be up early to check in with the latest night owls and the earliest early birds and to look over the sermon with fresh eyes.

    See you then!

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  54. My sermon doesn't seem to have an ending, despite having been basically all planned in my head for a week. Basically I just want to jump up and down and yell "Everyone! He really means everyone! There are no more "those people" - so give it up!"

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  55. God night my friends, may the Holy Spirit have our backs.

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  56. Evening, friends! It's been one of those weeks with a two-day work retreat, then a two-day conference, and suddenly it's Saturday night and the page is BLANK. I do have some thoughts kicking around around friendship, but nothing quite formed enough to go on the page.

    Glad to see things are coming together for most of us out there. I think I'll nosh on some leftovers and then try to knock out the "easy" parts of tomorrow--the prayers and the blessing of the church garden.

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  57. Anybody still here? I am usually a early week sermon kinda girl... but I'm struggling this week. I have been preaching 1 John. this month. My sermon is kinda of a mess. I am kinda throwing myself under the bus so to speak... I get time magazine in the mail and this week on the cover is a woman nursing her three year old ... as I mother of two three year old... I quickly said."Yuck, and then immediately felt bad and judgemental... the article was about extreme parenting... routines, attachment parenting, no telling you child no etc.. I started to think about how hard it must be to parent us .. God's children, how we don't get along, how we are always fighting to be God's favorite, yet God loves us anyway... I get sick of reading stay at home mom stuff vs working mom stuff on facebook, folks saying don't do this, two kid is plenty, that coupled with folks telling me I have my hands full all. the. time... I'm struggling.

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  58. Holly - it may just be you and me out here yet. I'm sorry to hear that you are struggling. I think the stuff about how as God's children we don't always get along is good stuff - and right along the lines of what the writer of 1 John is saying. How many times as a mom have I said, "Little children, love one another." or words to that effect to my own kids! And we 'grown-up' Christians aren't much better. Fortunately for us, God is a much better parent than any of us are!

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  59. Holly - breathe deep.... you are beloved.

    Thus endeth the advice.

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  60. Struggling with the Gospel this week. Just needed to get it done and can't seem to get there.I share Sharon's feelings on Mother's day in the church. It is difficult. I worry about the impact on many and see it as a great day for Hallmark to rack up, but not much in it in terms of church.
    Thus, my sermon is not about mothers! I do have a litany I have used in the past, that gives opportunity to give thanks to mothers and those who have mothered us. I choose to leave it open since some may not have positive relations with their mothers, know their mothers, or remember them. We all have people in out lives who have "mothered" us in some way.
    So, I am abidiing in love with John tonight and hoping for the best.
    I have interviewed for a job at this church and am now preaching there (it was previously lined up, but they wanted to hear me again.).
    so blessins to all and don't stay up all night.

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  61. My own sermon has an ending that's a non-ending. I guess I'll read it again after editing my order of worship for my kindle. Hopefully that will give me a better ending.

    Otherwise, I'll punt - leave it as is, go to bed and let the Holy Spirit fill in the blanks tomorrow.

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  62. I think I am going to call it quits and return in the morning I am going in circles... and I've been bouncing up and down for a month about loving one another... loving in spite of, tomorrow, it is we are just trying to survive and hopefully do the the least amount of harm in life, stop judging and start helping. ah.. thanks for you love ladies.

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    1. Hugs to you, Holly. The mommy wars are ridiculous and painful. You are an awesome mom and pastor. Hold that thought and be blessed this day.

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  63. I give up. A Friend Request is done and I'm going to bed!

    Right after we go put flamingos in someone's yard (youth group fundraiser). The interesting things pastor do as part of ministry!

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  64. Here! Today was my daughter's 7th birthday and my parents flew in from Florida so I have been planning all along to go the sustainable sermon route. I worked on it a bunch this week to fix the parts I wasn't thrilled with, or at the very least figure out HOW I'm going to fix the parts I wasn't thrilled with. I don't feel like dealing with them tonight after a long, good, but tiring day. I'm going to head to bed here shortly, as soon as I can tear myself away from Tetris and maybe after this recorded House finishes up. I'll be back at 5-ish central time.

    I tend not to do a whole lot (anything) with Mother's Day in worship, usually just a diverse section of the prayers of the people. This year I will mention some of the US origins of Mother's Day as I talk about working for peace as love. My stress about Mother's Day is more person this year. My mom is in town and I don't have a thing for her. She always says that's not a big deal, but I actually love getting things for my mom. It's just that this time nothing has struck me. Hmmm...I might just have to test that "I don't need anything if you just write me a nice note" theory.

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  65. I'm still here and struggling too. I've got most of a sermon, even a half-decent ending, but there's a paragraph or two missing in there somewhere.

    No matter where we're at with our sermons though - I'm sure the Holy Spirit will work through us to those who need to hear the message.

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  66. And so we have reached the time of night (and exhaustion level) where I must dub this thing 'preachable'. I was going to be facing the stress of tomorrow with the addition of a premarital counseling after worship with my 7 year old my full charge, without my Mom there to help, but wise Songbird counseled me: leave The Boy at home.

    Duh.

    He will be so. pumped.

    Thank you all for your kind words and your ministries. Blessings upon you and to conjure up what we used to say...

    Remember...
    a) The Holy Spirit has got your back and
    b) If you've got a dog, walk it proud.

    Peace.

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  67. Hi there - anyone still here? Just ducking in for a kids time idea (thanks Vicar!) and now off to put together some notes for tomorrow. i'm getting on a plane IMMEDIATELY following worship to go to my f-in-law's funeral, so to say my head's not really in the worship service is putting it mildly. which is disappointing, because I've so been looking forward to Ruth and Naomi and talking about The Women Who Have Mothered Us. I know lots of people feel rotten on mother's day for a variety of reasons, and I always figure if you can't feel lousy in church, where can you? So I spend some time on it during the sermon and the prayer too.

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    1. I meant, it's OK to feel lousy in church, and have those feelings acknowledged. That's what it sounded like I meant, right?

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    2. Exactly!

      Ken Medema has a song about church that has words something like

      If this is not a place where my tears are understood,
      where can I go to cry?
      If this is not a place where my spirit can take wing,
      where can I go to fly?

      Somehow we've got to figure out how loving one another creates a place for all of that or we probably are not really being the church.

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  68. Back from an afternoon and evening of work events, with a blank page where the second half of my sermon should be. I am not one who can go to bed with it unfinished; that causes me to get no sleep at all. So, I am praying for words--at this point, pretty much any words will do--and soon!

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  69. Good morning to anyone who is still here or up early.

    Praying for all of us this morning. There are those who are facing some big challenges and our prayers are with you especially today.

    And take with you that ancient camp song Jesus sang so well:

    "All you need is love."

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  70. I'm drinking a big mug of TJ's Fair Trade Breakfast Blend and taking one more run at my sermon which is too long and doesn't feel like one of mine. After months of feeling I was hampered in preaching by having a secret, I now seem to feel hampered in preaching by having told the truth. Oy.
    Hoping coffee helps...

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  71. Good morning all,

    I am praying for all of us, especially those whose word will be especially prophetic this morning. I know that we all speak the truth in love, may our congregations open their ears, minds and hearts to hearing the truth that is spoken.

    LYMI

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  72. My friends and sisters in Christ,

    I am praying for all of us, especially those of us whose word will be particularly prophetic this morning. I know that we are speaking the truth in love, may our congregations receive it with the same kind of love.

    LYMI

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