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Friday, May 25, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: On Fire Edition


It's here!  It's here!  PENTECOST is finally here!  Can I get an "Amen"?

If you were suffering through the Easter lectionary like I was, you are ready like I am for a big ol' tongues of fire, rushing wind, out-pouring of languages Pentecost celebration!  I am so ready.

Too bad hardly anyone will be there to celebrate with me.  Ho hum.  I hope our gals and pals in the non-US parts of the world will have sanctuaries bursting with excitement and Spirit.

What sorts of sermons and creative ideas are brewing?  The options seem endless for children's sermons even.

We had a lot of fire burning at my church this week leading up to Pentecost, but in a good way. We held a fundraiser by smoking 8-10 lb pork "butts" (some people call them shoulders, but this other name was WAY more fun to say in church for the last 6 weeks) for folks who had ordered and prepaid.  My husband and another man spent 48 hours at the church around the clock tending fires and cooking 110 roasts for 12-16 each over 4 grills.  They were awesome.  Others spent time, too.  The wind-spirit carried the smell throughout the neighborhood.  The flame cooked the meat.  The money will re-stock our benevolence account so that we can continue to serve our neighbors in need.  Definitely a sign of life, spirit-life reaching out beyond the too-often insulated community of our church. 

Where's the Spirit carrying you this weekend?  How is the Spirit equipping you and your church for where you will be sent?

Join the party in the comments.  It will be a wonderful weekend!

161 comments:

  1. Huzzah for community renewal through pork butts and barbecue flames!

    In honour of Pentecost, I've brought rhubarb coffee-cake for everyone this morning: bright magenta jewels surrounded by gingery sweetness, still warm from the oven!

    I've been struggling all week to bring Pentecost into focus for a loss-filled, grieving congregation--searching for some illustration from long ago or far away--then I realized that Pentecost unfolds, literally, right in my own back yard.

    Today a crew of volunteers will arrive to assemble a new greenhouse for our farm. Tonight we'll have a bonfire to celebrate--and in it we will put the bones of a dear heifer we lost in midwinter and had to bury above-ground in a purpose-built high-heat compost pile. All that's left, now, are her bones. We remembered that, for our ancestors, a bonfire was really a "bonefire" in which they reduced the bones of butchered animals to ashes and then used the ashes to fertilize their crops. (Sorry of this is TMI for anyone!) Just as the fire will transform our terrible loss into a source of nourishment, so the Holy Spirit's fire touches all our other losses and griefs, transforming and healing and binding us back into the circle of God's Beloved Community.

    (That's what I've got. Now, can I write it up before the work-crew arrives? We'll see!)

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    1. That's lovely. I had know idea a bonfire was a bonefire.

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    2. This is a beautiful, powerful Pentecost story. Thank you. And the coffee-cake sounds yummy.

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    3. Not TMI at all, but a wonderfu lesson for me anyway.

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    4. It's hard to top a bonefire. Not a problem for the rest of you, but that sermon's going to be preached right up the road from me! :-)

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    5. That's a different spin for "fire in my bones!"

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    6. I like the bonefire information. In my farming community, I just may be able to weave that in on my Pentecost sermon on dry bones and Spirit breath.

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    7. What a great story, Maine Celt. Thanks for sharing the back story of bonfire.

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    8. I'm a lurker because I'm not a blogger, and I just finished my Pentecost sermon, but your story of the heifer and bonefire is powerful -- and in back of my head I'm wondering what I'll say at the funeral of a 32-year-old suicide victim on Tuesday, and I may just borrow your words. Thank you. Elizabeth

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  2. MaineCelt, a different way of dead bones offering hope.

    I am not preaching this week, the Sunday School is leading worship, and I have no idea what they are planning. After a short break for morning tea we will have our annual congregation meeting, which I expect [hope] will be short. reports have been handed out, only one nominations for 3 positions on council, and the budget is not forecasting a deficit; so hopefully all smooth and easy.

    Pentecost is a wonderful celebration, so in some ways I wish I was leading worship tomorrow, but it is an 'easy' Sunday for the Sunday School to find ideas for as well. Maybe trinity Sunday will have a Spirit focus this year?

    I won't be staying up with you tonight, all the best for those writing today.
    [8.45 pm Saturday here]

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    1. Sit back and let the Spirit bless you with some Sabbath rest!

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    2. Agreed! Enjoy being led in worship and the movement of the Spirit!

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  3. Hi, I'm about half-way through a sermon where I deal with some of the names of the Spirit --looking back on the time when my dad was first entering nursing home cae and the role my mom took in making sure he got what he needed; I said she had become his Advocate. So I want to use that imagery without ignoring the Day of Pentecost story.

    I'm feeling a little meh about it though. Probably the juxtaposition of wanting it to be a celebration of a day, and the fact that it is memorial day weekend, and so sort of a "low Sunday" here.

    thinking about getting some pinwheels for the children's message.

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    1. I like thinking about the names of the Spirit. I feel like I have a lot of different Spirit names and metaphors sprinkled throughout my liturgy and even sermon title. I can't decide if it's distracting or diverse. I guess it depends on how I deal with them. Maybe I"ll lift that up even just in my opening welcome.

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  4. probably will bring you some blueberry pancakes a little later...

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  5. Good morning, EST'ers and good night, Pearl. :)

    Plugging away on a sermon that goes at the Spirit from John's angle rather than Acts. More of a faith training/strength building than an anniversary event.

    Second service contains a baptism and communion - not to mention a dip in attendance so I'm not going to kill myself on this thing. Baseball practice 9-11, then I'm not sure...

    Blessings upon you all!

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    1. Remind me that I also plan not to kill myself on this one, please.

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  6. Good morning. Pentecost is one of my favorite church days - everybody wears red and we celebrate. So, I'm a little bummed that it falls over Memorial Day weekend too. The good news is that I have a lot of my sermon done, but if I were looking for inspiration, I'd look here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrsJiTBuNjY This is a video of a 21 year old who got a double lung transplant - Ellen Degeneres interviewed her. The joy of just being able to be filled with breath seems somewhat appropriate for being filled with the Spirit.

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  7. Hello, everyone! I've already written three sermons this week (a mid-week worship for Members in Discernment--hi, MaineCelt!; an annual remembrance service at a funeral home; one for future publication with a badly scheduled deadline), so I'm here with a sliver of an idea and not one word written. It's been a good writing week; the Holy Spirit really had my back. Praying that will be true for another 24 hours...
    My Domestic Goddess rescheduled from yesterday, so I'll be heading out when she gets here. Likely destination: The Holy Donut, a new place here in Portland. The donuts are remarkable. There are tables and couches, so I am going to give writing there a try. I'll bring back donuts, I promise! Sweet Potato Ginger, anyone?

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    1. Sweet potato ginger donuts? Oh wow, that sounds incredible! Have one for me, 'k?

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    2. Oh...holy donuts are my weakness! The Spirit will come through one more time, I am sure, but sorry you have had to write so many sermons.

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    3. Yes please for the donuts! Blessings on squeezing out one. more. thing today. May the Spirit fill the well of your pen (or tap the keys of your keyboard).

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    4. OH yum! I'm sure such delectable donuts will be just the inspiration you need!

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    5. Sweet potato ginger donuts? That sounds amazing!

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  8. Hi pals,

    I'm going to preach on the dry bones of Ezekiel. In these past weeks I've been meeting with folks in cottage meetings and I've been hearing a lot of mourning for the way things used to be. Kind of like what Mainecelt wrote about her congregation. However I see a lot of potential for this church. God has blessed us with the resources to make the church into something new. The dry bones will come to life, let's have visions and dream dreams as to what they will look like when they are formed.

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    1. The dry bones sound perfect for your congregation. I love this reading, too, on Pentecost and have selected it along with a shorter version of the Acts story (cutting our most of Peter's sermon). I will end up working with both, I think. At least that's what's in my head. I want to emphasize the continuity of the Spirit. Not that the Spirit wasn't with anyone before Pentecost, but that the Spirit did a new thing for the followers of Christ at Pentecost.

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    2. I'm going in the same direction. The Ezekiel passage just tugged at me. One of the things I've heard a lot of in the ten months I've been here is mourning for the way things used to be for both the church and the community. Our county's population is declining, and my folks are pretty realistic about things not going back to the way they were, but still there's grief and maybe a quiet desperation? Frankly, it's something I've been struggling with as well - how do you do 'missional church' in a community is so very different that the usual missional context we learned about?

      Yet the Spirit blows here, just a strong and as relentless as the South Dakota wind! Let the visions and dreams come!

      I can't wait to read both of your sermons.

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    3. We're doing the dry bones, too. I think I am going to borrow the gift idea from Tom Long's Day 1 sermon as well but I haven't really decided. I do plan to celebrate the first packing and distributing of groceries. For the last seven weeks, folks have brought specific items to help the families of children who would normally be getting breakfast and lunch at school. When the organizing committee got down to counting on Wednesday, we discovered that we have enough for 35 families to receive: a big jar of peanut butter, two boxes of breakfast bars, four cans of fruit, four cans of vegetables, three cans of meat, four cans of pasta, two cans of soup, twelve desserts and twelve snacks. I am so proud of these people, I could just burst!

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    4. I am proud of your people too! Please tell them the news of their compassion is spread as a witness to God's love.

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  9. I'm cheating. We don't have church on the 4th Sunday of the month, so we'll be celebrating Pentecost next Sunday. Oh, the joys of free liturgy!

    I'm decorating a bit. Red streamers. We'll have birthday cake. Probably a flour-less chocolate cake with a warm chocolate drizzle.

    I'm using both the Tongue of Fire passage and the dry bones passage. For myself, I started crying when I read the dry bones story. I've preached it, prayed it, held it, but today I feel like dry bones. Waiting to be knit back together by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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    1. Prayers for the gift of renewal and self care. Come on, Holy Spirit.

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    2. Prayers for you. May this weekend bring your rest and the breath of life.

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  10. Not preaching this week because the Bishop will be here...two baptisms and two adults being received. We'll have red balloons and a dove kite; it's also the last day of church school so we'll be recognizing the teachers. But even with all that I'm worried about attendance -- the town's Memorial Day parade starts right around the corner at 11 am. Ugh.

    I have work to catch up on, though, to say nothing of household chores long neglected so I'm hoping to be productive today and then enjoy Monday as a real extra day off. And I'm thinking about next week's sermon which will actually be 2 sermons, one for Sunday and one to be preached on an interview the next day (trying not to get my hopes up to much but it is in a place that I would REALLY like to go.) So lots of stuff in my head.

    Glad for y'all's company today! Come Holy Spirit!

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    1. Prayers for you as you tend to what needs tending, your house, yourself, and your coming interview.

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    2. I'm so glad you'll have a real day off. Sounds like you need the down time and wiggle room. Let your bones wiggle this week.

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  11. Yes I am so excited that Pentecost is here! I am preaching the sermon through a dramatic monologue delivered by Joanna, a witness to the resurrection, who, as a child, loved hearing her father tell the stories of old, in particular, Ezekiel prophesying to the dry bones. How was she to know that one day she would witness the fulfillment of that prophecy when the Holy Spirit comes and gives hope to all people...and then things really get exciting!

    We have a "Happy Birthday Church" banner swinging in the wind outside the front church door. There will be balloons, kites for the children's sermon and, of course, birthday cake.

    May God bless us all on this glorious day!

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    1. Oh! I hope you'll post Joanna's witness! It sounds wonderful!

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    2. She Rev, I will post the sermon to my Blog. Excited and nervous!

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  12. I've been on vacation...most of it was good. I did get about 3/4 of my sermon written before I left. Last year I preached Ezekiel (which is one of my favorites) so this year...Acts.

    Using images of chaos, communication, and the woolly bear caterpillar from the Frozen Planet series. This congregation certainly lives up to the moniker of "God's Frozen Chosen" and so that is what I titled the sermon. Hoping for a little Pentecost thaw...lol!

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    1. :LOL! Gonna look up the Frozen Planet woolly bear caterpillar now.

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    2. Right? We all want to know more about the caterpillar! Glad your vacation was (mostly) good. Blessings as you finish up.

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    3. I'll post when I am done. I think there is a segment on the BBC, which produced the video...

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  14. Welll, i am thanking God that the children let me sleep in. We have had a lot of late nights with all the cooking action at the church this week. My husband has been MIA with that project for 2 days straight, but we've been hanging out there pretty last each night with him, other folks who stop by, and our "besties" in the church wh

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    1. Sounds like quite the project but it certainly benefits a needed ministry.

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    2. I love that fundraiser - so unique! And it's right up my husband's alley. Did I mention he's getting a smoker. I just may have to borrow this one!

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  15. Preaching Pentecost to the stodgiest, stuffiest, buttoned-up-est congregation on my little circuit. Maybe that's why I can't get too excited about it?

    I have about half a sermon written, about the different works of the Spirit, and how they are also our "Spirit Work," but it's sorta dull. Hoping for inspiration. We're reading Acts, as well as a snippet of the Romans (the Spirit intercedes...--really what better news is there than that?) and some of the gospel. I usually don't try to tie so many together, but that's what I'm doing this week. I really love the Ezekiel too, but there just wasn't space for it. May reference it anyway. Is anyone doing anything with the creeds? Maybe someone mentioned it in Tuesday's post?

    It's been a week for hubby (two BIG funerals) so I'm on my own with the girls today and have been much of the week. Weary of that, too. Come on Spirit, liven me up!

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    1. Prayers for you as you muster your excitement! Although mine aren't the stuffiest that's sort of how I'm feeling about Pentecost on Memorial Day. Probably the people who come will be the stuffiest.

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  16. Pentecost blessings to each of you.

    I pray that the Holy Spirit will come in surprising ways for each of us on Pentecost (except for maybe how it came to MAMD when the communion Table silks caught on fire!).

    We have red material draped across the chancel, Spirit Dove banners, and red candles. I will be sharing worship with our youth but still preaching.

    The congregation will find out tomorrow that our most beloved and seriously talented organist/pianist is moving back to North Carolina. Due to a delay in his contract they will find out about his leaving and say farewell all in one Sunday.

    Our small town congregation does not disappear as much on Memorial Day weekend. I will be celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit but definitely remembering many families who have lost their children to war.

    MaineCelt your bonfire story is hauntingly beautiful. I don't know what your congregation is grieving but I pray the Spirit will bring healing in a surprising way.

    I am grateful for a weekend free of taxi-cab driving to cello and dance, and the long weekend for my cello boy to sleep and let his body heal. I am grateful for all the prayers lifted yesterday.

    Sweet Holy Spirit!

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    1. Oh my. Prayers for you as your work with yours on that quick transition with the organist. Not easy at all.

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    2. I hope your son has a peaceful, restful and healing weekend. Blessings to you both.

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  17. I haven't written anything on my sermon yet, but at the Thursday women's Bible study a woman asked why we care about this story enough to do up a big celebration every single year. What's so important about it that it gets an annual remembrance? There's the question I'll be answering in my sermon, thankyouverymuch. I love that Bible study group that unknowingly practically writies my sermons. I had some plans along that direction with Acts and Ezekiel anyway, but she definitely gave me focus. I liked some thoughts I had about how Pentecost forms community. The original Jewish Pentecost festival had turned into (and still is today) a celebration of the formation of community through the giving of law. For us it's the celelbration of the formation of community through the giving of the Spirit, but not just the forming of community, the sending of community, too. I'm cutting the reading at v. 13ish, but then picking up later in the 40s for the definition of what the community does. We got a beautiful letter from a homeowner who was the recipient of a small mission team of our church a couple of weeks ago. She thanked the church, their families, and the Spirit for sending them in love. I'll be reading the thank you to the church as part of my sermon.

    But first some family-type stuff around the house and nearby. Then a wedding sermon to edit from a previous one, then a wedding, then the reception. It's out on farm and very kid-friendly so we're all going to this one.

    Blessings on what's happening, what's going to happen, and what needs to happen, but isn't yet1

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    1. Blessings, indeed. And my bible study peeps definitely help me in the sermon writing process.

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    2. I miss those sermon-bible studies! I really need to get a group started here. What a great way to tap into what the scriptures are saying to your congregation.

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    3. What a great question to ask....I'm filing that away for next year!

      Miss my bible study group at my previous parish that helped me that way!

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    4. We do a midweek meal and study as well. Love the honest questions and passionate discussion! And yes they often give me a jump off place for Sunday. We call it Gospel and Grub

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  18. It's late on a Saturday here and I've been working on the construction of a large (1.5metres high) jigsaw of flames that slot together to reveal a descending dove. An artist in the congregation designed it and cut the foam pieces - my job has been to colour the pieces and try and work out how to attach them to a surface and then to the altar. One of the things about being a congregation that hires a room on Sunday morning is that you can't do much practicing of these things (unless you're really organised and I only got the pieces on Friday!) so I will have to wait for the Communion table to be assembled tomorrow morning and then try to improvise a way of holding it all together (isn't that a good metaphor for pastoral ministry!)

    This is my first Pentecost with this congregation - a genuinely diverse congregation (over 17 denominations in the last survey). I was out of the country getting medical treatment this time last year so it does feel like a celebration to be with them in all their multilingual glory this Sunday. We have a bunch of people planning to read scripture in their mother tongue during the Acts reading - the reader will pause and people will read in their own language 5 - 6 verses of Scripture that describe for them God's mighty deeds.

    As some of you have written though, it is my own dry bones that need some life breathed into them. It has been a harrowing week and I am daunted by the prospect of leading worship with joy and energy tomorrow. Come Holy Spirit indeed!

    Praying that you will be inspired in your writing and preparing today...

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    1. I hear that. Prayers for inspiration to overcome your harrowing week.

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    2. Jemma, I'm praying for a gentle wind to breath life into your dry bones

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    3. Thank you friends. It was busy, all busy, before church and then we were reading Scripture and people stood and started to read in the languages most familiar to them, and there were goosebumps and by the grace of God a sense that something beautiful was happening.... And suddenly I could be so much more present and joyful... Blessings on those of you in time zones where worship hasn't happened yet

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  19. My sermon is written! not yet printed because I'm afraid it would get packed. Movers arrive Tuesday. More later when I'm taking a break but someone is at the door.

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  20. I hope I didn't miss the blueberry pancakes! YUM!

    This week we are "celebrating" the third Consistory meeting in as many weeks. That, plus a specially-called mid-year congregational meeting . . . I don't think I need to draw a picture for you RevGals. STRESSFUL! And the winds we are feeling are the winds of change. Please pray with me that they are indeed Spirit-breathed gusts of . . . whatever.

    So, for me, a re-work of a sustainable sermon that ended with Ann Weems story "Happy Birthday, Church!" It can easily be googled if you aren't familiar with it. And, thanks to She/Rev and her Bible Study group, the beginning of the sermon will probably somehow answer the question "what's the big deal about Pentecost" by identifying the low expectations that people bring to church. Those will likely include the low expectation of not attending church on a church "holy-day" because of the "holiday weekend."

    /rant

    Pass the donuts please!

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  21. I'm really excited about everything tomorrow. We had an amazing prayer workshop today when about 6 of our number received the Holy Spirit in prayer. For tomorrow I have had the Sunday School put red, orange and yellow handprints on large pieces of paper and card and have put them up all over the sanctuary. The congregation are bringing gifts for the church's birthday and will bring them up at the beginning of the service. We will also have a big cake and re-lighting candles for the children to try to extinguish (just pray they do re-light!). Then we are admitting 15 children to holy communion and having liturgical dancers. Also a time for a couple of those prayed with today to share briefly.
    For my sermon I have bought a whole lot of streamers (about 40 - red, yellow and orange) which I will distribute amongst the congregation. They will then hurl them at each other and pass the throw on so everyone is connected with much laughter. From this will spring my sermon (only in note form today) - the Holy Spirit links us, brings joy, can't be put out, comes from a direction we least expect, etc.
    After the service, cake will be shared and a few hours later I get on a plane for UK to visit my daughters, one of whom I haven't seen for over 2 years!
    Whew - no wonder I am not sleeping!
    Still wondering if there are any revgals near St Andrews, Scotland or Leamington Spa.

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    1. Pat, my suggestion last week may have been too late in the thread for you to see, but I would recommend you join our Facebook group and post your query there. A group of Scottish RevGals met up just last week! Here's the link: RevGals Facebook group.

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    2. I'm not on Facebook and for various reasons don't want to join at present.

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    3. Okay. I'll post a query there and ask people to come here if they live in those areas. Can you remind me when you are going and what you needed? (Accommodations? Sorry, don't remember from last week.)

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    4. Thanks. I leave tomorrow, arriving Leamington Spa on Monday. To Scotland 7th-17th June. I don't need anything - this is purely social!

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    5. Oooohhh! I will be purchasing red, yellow, and orange streamers when I run out to the store momentarily. Thanks!!!

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    6. Pat, if you'll send me an email (revsongbird@gmail.com), I'll put you in touch with one of our RevGals.

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  22. Rhubarb coffee cake sounds yummy.

    If there ever was a time when my congregation has been functioning under the power of and needs to continue to be filled by the Holy Spirit it is this week/weekend. Yesterday my small congregation (average worship = 60 - 65)came together to host almost 300 people for the hardest funeral I ever hope to do - 4 year old and 30 year old mother, father is in a coma. On Monday, we will cook 800 hotdogs and run games and music for one of the nearby neighborhoods as part of our community outreach efforts.

    We are (I am) pretty spent and need some reviving. I haven't started my sermon yet - can you say internet procrastination? I had already planned to talk about how much more God can do through us than we can do by our own power. Plenty of right now illustrations - just need to figure out what to say and what not to say.

    On a personal note, my son just left this morning for his summer internship. Just in the big city (we live in the suburbs), but the house seems really empty right now. He was home less than 2 weeks, and my attentions have been drawn elsewhere this week. I guess you could say I've got some big time "let down" going on.

    The thing is, when I'm weak is when I let the Holy Spirit work best, so bring it on HS - I'm a ready.

    Finally, I have quit "writing" sermons and have begun to draw them in pictures as suggested by http://preachbyear.com/. It has made a huge difference in eye contact and connection w/ congregation. Also, it is less stressful than feeling like I've got to get words on paper.

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    1. Interesting technique. Do you draw while preaching? Or map out the sermon in advance and work from your drawing?

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    2. I draw a picture map of the sermon - mostly stick figures on a single piece of paper for my eyes only.(I don't draw well enough to share anything that would have meaning for others.) The idea is to be able to do it without even the picture map in front of me, but I haven't gotten that far. The pictures keep me from reading too much. The words are all in my head - I think in words/paragraphs not pictures.

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    3. Oh, Midwife, I am so sorry about the loss and grief you and your congregation are experiencing. I am so glad that you are there for them and that God is there for all of you. Come Holy Spirit.

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    4. I'm going to check that out. thanks.

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    5. Praying for you and your people. Of course you are feeling spent. May the Holy Spirit fill you and your people as you continue to reach out in compassion and hope

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    6. Prayers for your congregation and for you, Mid-life.

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  23. I do love checking in here for inspiration. You all are wonderful and I've got several places to go now and get inspired.

    Meanwhile, I have a 'sermon' outline of bubbles in my mind-mapping app that I will put into a manuscript. (And hopefully will be less tied to it than last week...) I've also got some images of bones, a story to include and a good worship leader who makes my life much easier. I'm also getting a cold or a return of the last one which was only a week ago. -sigh- so it would be nice to finish and go lay down to let my body heal.

    this week's good news was yesterday when I went in for a 'call-back' views of mammogram and got an 'all-clear' from the new views. I think we all wait for the day when its our turn and I know too many people still fighting the good fight. When will they find a 'cure' to this disease? At least it is so much better than when my friend's mother died of breast cancer in the late 60's. (Prayers welcome for a friend who now has stage IIIB and 3 young girls!)

    Blessings to all of you who have fought the breast cancer fight, are wrestling with the spirit's wind this weekend and trying to revive dry bones!

    Love the pork butt fundraiser idea, BTW.

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    1. Praise God for your good news!

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    2. A parishioner who has been pronounced clear after lung surgery and chemo has been having headaches. She went for an MRI on Monday and got the results Thursday evening. She does not have brain cancer! I can tell you, though, that she and I practically held our breath all week. I felt like dry bones waiting for the results. Seeing her grin when she got them was a picture of the Holy Spirit bursting forth, bringing life once again.
      I'm so glad your call back was good news.

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  24. Come and get your virtual, and holy, donuts! Chocolate glazed with vanilla, still warm! Maple glazed! Very Berry! Glazed potato!
    That place is amazing. And when I ordered iced coffee, they brought me a cup full of *coffee* ice cubes. Heaven.
    No WiFi there, so I wrote on paper with a pen. Apparently I don't think my computer works without the Internets. Ahem. Now to type things up (and brew some coffee for my own ice cube trays).

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    1. I don't know about my computer, but I know that I don't work without the Internet. It was so spotty yesterday and I simply couldn't write the wedding sermon I was working on without being able to bop around looking for inspiration. Thank the Holy Spirit that it works today - or I'd be driving to a hot spot.

      Hmmm...Holy Spirit, wind, breath, fire - I guess She flows through cyberspace just as easily as through space and time!

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    2. Coffee ice cubes! Brilliant! !! Thanks SB. I do iced coffee in the summer but miss the full coffee flavor.

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  25. when I see that there are 62 comments and it's not even 1030 Central time, it makes me think my clock must be wrong, and I start to panic about what time it really is. LOL. Glad to be at the party!

    Our theme for Pentecost this year is fire (last year we did languages, which was awesome). The sanctuary looks amazing, with dozens of red candles on the communion table, tons of red fabric draping down the sides, and a fantastic origami-dove-mobile with hundreds of doves. Amazing. And we are having a blended worship extravaganza, with choir, band, and video. Now to write a sermon worth hearing in the midst of all of that! I think I'm doing something about the Spirit setting the church "on fire" with love so we can go set the world "on fire" or something. Metaphorically, obv, as you can tell by the air quotes. :-)

    When it's lunch time, I have the best roasted veggies ever. red potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, carrots....omg. roasted broccoli is one of the best things about spring (before it's too hot to use the oven!). Help yourselves!

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  26. I woke up stressed and came to the party and now I feel pretty energized! Thanks pals!

    It's a crazy weekend. I have a wedding late this afternoon -sermon done; worship tomorrow - sermon to be written; invocation and benediction at Monday morning community Memorial Day service - written; memorial service and committal for the daughter-in-law of a member - service to be crafted and homily written; then it's VBS week at both congregations and I have not seen any of the materials that I am supposed to be leading.

    And I'm beginning to wonder how I'll find the time to write my confirmation camp lessons between now and the time we leave for camp in two week. Oh and there's synod assembly to eat us 3 days as well.

    This is the busiest I've been since I've gotten here - even busier than the week I had 2 funeral on the same Saturday, even busier than Holy Week (imagine that!).

    And to think I was ready for the summer slow down. HA!

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    1. That is an amazing schedule, ramona. Yikes. Prayers for an extra dose of the Spirit.

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  27. Ok - I was just reading over my sermon worksheet before I hop in the shower and - AMAZING - I could actually preach from my notes! God is good, the Holy Spirit seeps into the crevasses of my busy-ness and works when I don't think anything is happening. Is that anything like the Spirit interceding with sighs too deep for words?

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  28. Home from baseball and must shower to bring the body temperature down. The Boy is hanging with Dad until close to 4 so I have time to pull this thing together.

    Will I?

    Actually, I'm pretty sure I will. I'm not in the mood to have it hanging over my head into the night.

    I'm so impressed that everyone stuck to their P'cost plans despite the long weekend. By the way, I am now at 4 parishioners who between yesterday and today asked what I was doing this weekend. "Preaching," I answered and waiting through their explanation of why they aren't coming to church.

    Whatever.

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    1. That made me sound more embittered than I am. My turn will come on Labor Day Weekend.

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    2. Still . . . I always wonder: What do they expect their pastor to say to "I have something better (more important, etc.) to do on Sunday than come to church"?

      Not embittered either, just wondering if they know "where church comes from," you know?

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    3. I'm aiming for 3:30. That's when 16yo comes home earlier than usual. The Father of My Children is borrowing my station wagon to pick our 21yo up from college this afternoon. Which means I'll have two birds in the nest tonight!

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    4. I'm still surprised when people wonder why church is still important on days like Memorial Day...really, people?

      And yeah, can you imagine the reaction if we cancelled church so we could go to the beach? Not thinking that would go over so well. Nor should it....but like Sharon says, what do they think we're going to say when church attendance is so low on the priority list.

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    5. Martha, yay for two birds in the nest!!

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    6. I grew up on the Jersey shore. No one was in church on either summer weekends because they were either opening up their beach cabanas are wanted people to think they were.

      2 birds in the nest - YAY!

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    7. "Pastor, what are you doing this weekend?" only points out how little people understand what it takes to lead worship and preach. They only have to be in church an hour or so on Sunday - and that leaves all kinds of time to do other things (but they still don't come!). So it makes sense to them that we would have all kinds of time to do stuff on the weekend because after all, we only work an hour or two on Sunday! That should leave us all kinds of time to have fun on a 3 day weekend - right?

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    8. We bailed on the fancy Pentecost celebration this year and moved it back a week while moving Ascension up a few days (having already celebrated it with Evensong on the real day). So I don't expect more than about ten at the early service and forty at the 10:30. I even gave my deacon the Sunday off. Then he discovered he had to deacon for the bishop at another church anyway. My godson is here to stand in for him and that will be nice.
      Our seminarian preached last Sunday. He didn't use notes or pictures, but he had a piece of poster board propped in front of the first pew with five or six talking points on it. Interesting technique.

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    9. I am amazed when people ask me what am I doing for Christmas, or Easter, which is a 4 day weekend here - I'll be here, because it is Christmas or Easter.
      I am Part-time, so get about 10 weekends not leading a year, and I do often go away - but not major Christian festivals.

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    10. Martha: Loving the "two birds"!

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    11. Thanks, RevKel! Of course this means a significant line for the shower...

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  29. My goodness, the Holy Spirit is singing this morning. Just sitting down to work and it's after 10:00 mountain time. Like many of you, Ezekial is speaking to me this week. I'm hearing echoes of the hurt and disappointment so many members of our congregation have had with church. Read a great article by Walter Wink in Christian Century (on the ATLA list on Textweek) which is shaping my thinking. He talks about the importance of seeing the future and then living into it. As I read his article and Peter's paraphrase of Joel in the Acts reading, I was reminded of another gem from Joel: without vision, a people perish.

    Green chile cornbread here. Hot from the oven.

    Come and eat!

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    1. Must go find that article--thanks for the head's up!

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    2. Was sad to read that Walter Wink died of cancer this week.

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  30. I want cornbread and am going looking for the article. Have you read Diana Butler Bass's "Christianity After Religion" I'm working thru it while on the treadmill at the gym during the week. it is awesome and speaks to where I am. Not sure the congregation is in the same place. Last week I addressed something I take for granted and got lots of positive comments. Maybe they are just a little behind me?

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    1. Thanks Rev. Nancy. Found an interview with Diana Butler Bass which I'm listening to now. You'll find it here.

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  31. Lots of good energy here today.

    So far I've done two loads of laundry, changed the sheets, mopped the kitchen, cleaned my bathroom and taken a shower and gotten dressed. Lots more cleaning needs to be done, but I'm about to have some lunch and then go over to the church and try to be productive there, too! Before I run out of steam.

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  32. Okay.
    Sitting down to write.
    Seriously.

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  33. I think I'm going with the Spirit as breath...and not just the big-gasp, hyper-ventilating kind of breath, but the regular unnoticed in/out of everyday. The gift of God that makes possible SPEECH...ecstatic speech, sure, but truthful speech, loving speech, understanding/understood speech, careful speech, generous speech -- it involves us in learning, and trying, and failure, and in all these things the Holy Spirit is coach, tutor, translator, prompter, director, cheerleader...
    LOVE the thought of the Holy Doughnuts, I think there will be some cheesy sourdough biscuits here later today, help yourselves, they're best when they're freshest!

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    1. I like the everyday breath idea. Will save it for next year.

      And I will help you out with the biscuits. They sound delicious.

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  34. Amazingly mine is done. I have been pondering is slowly all week -the admin asst is out recovering from surgery and the rector is out for family leave - so I wondered if I would be able to get it all done. TB2G it seems I have the Spirit as inspiration this week!

    Tomorrow I have four Baptisms - Muthah+ will be standing beside me to guide me through this the first time - anything you all think I should know that you learned the hard way?? I know what I learned in seminary with a doll...

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    1. You'll do fine. Take it slowly and breathe. Have the parents hold the child, if you are uncomfortable about holding a baby in one hand and baptizing with the other. I don't take the child until it's time for the walk to introduce her to the congregation. Oh- if you are sprinkling, watch out how much water you use. The first one I did, there were little pools of water in each eye - baby did not like!

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    2. Thanks Ramona! I'll watch the water poolage.

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    3. Don't be afraid of using too much water though....my liturgics professor emphasized over and over that it is not a token sprinkling. Just have something there to wipe faces with.

      Baptisms are awesome ... you'll be great!

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    4. Amy -be present and enjoy! You will do great and you have Mutha for back up. Tell us after how it goes

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    5. Blessings on your baptisms, Amy. How exciting on Pentecost. Be sure and think through microphone logistics (assuming infant baptisms)if it is clipped to your robe.

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  35. I just remembered that in my senior preaching class we wrote poems on the Ezekiel passage. I actually wrote 2, because I was fixated on zombies. It was the last semester and we were all getting a bit silly:

    I offer them here for everyone who's walking the valley of dry bones. The first is "Haiku for the Church":

    Zombies yearning plea:
    “Breathe in us your breath of life.
    Make these dry bones live!”


    The second is an acrostic, called "In the valley of dry bones":
    Zombies yearn xpectantly,
    Wishing vague, unaware thoughts.

    Skeletons restored, quickened.
    Prophecy overruled nature.

    Mortals, long keening,
    Jealously implore.

    Holy grace flows endlessly,
    divine, creative breath.

    Alive!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Ramona - awesome! thank you for sharing these,

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  36. I desperately want to be at the beach. Why am I not at the beach?

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    1. I have written several responses - none are helpful

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  37. Well, I'll settle for being commenter #100.
    And #101.

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  38. maybe #102

    After multiple procrastination attempts God's Frozen Chosen. Complete with the Woolly Bear Caterpillar story.

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  39. Alison-in-FranceMay 26, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    I dropped in hoping for inspiration, and WOW is this group on fire today !

    I'm taking our 3 to 10 year olds tomorrow (all age worship together, then the kids go out for their own teaching time) Ezekiel and dry bones leading in to the way the Spirit gives us all life. I have cardboard skeletons and balloons as visual aids, what could possibly go wrong :-)

    (Fighting the urge to pretend I'm sick so I can sneak off to our local charismatic church and sing in tongues with my hands in the air, as the person leading our worship tomorrow is of very traditional tendancy. Ho hum.)

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  40. so, I took a little nap, had lunch, and watched a couple episodes of Doctor Who, but still haven't managed a sermon. Surely it's in there somewhere....

    I do have mint chocolate chip ice cream for afternoon snacks though!

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  41. I've got the sermon and a cold. Been sneezing all day and think I really need a nap. Burgers and dogs planned for supper and hoping hubby can and will handle all that.
    I've got a little more to finish for worship then to bed. I do plan to read all these neat sermons, but it may be tomorrow.

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  42. Good gracious, what a day! Baptism prep and rehearsal this morning, home visit with a beloved parishioner who is in her final days of life on this earth, vet clinic for shots for our dogs. Sadly our 14 year old did not receive immunizations - vet feared it would stress her system too much, especially after having had two seizures (one grand mal) in two weeks. Made me tear up a little, even though I know every day with her is a gift, not giving her the immunizations made it all the more real.

    now, I know I had a sermon I was working on somewhere...has any one seen it?

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  43. Where is that sermon finder when you need her? Still looking for her or my sermon. Sounds like I have plenty of company at the computer.

    Sorry about your dong, Terri, and your cold, Rev Nancy.

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  44. Would it be great if our sermons had a little button like on my cordless phone base - just push it and voila! there's the sermon!

    I'm making progress - bulletins are done,even with the surprise that we were out of the downloaded children's bulletins. I'm prepped for tomorrow's 8am council meeting (WHAT was I thinking!). The wedding stuff is done and downloaded to my kindle. And my sermon is mostly done - still in search of a decent ending, but at least I won't stress over it while I'm doing the wedding/reception stuff.

    I'm off to get sufficiently 'ministerial' for the wedding. I'll bring back some cake for everyone!

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  45. Well, my sermon is posted. It is a rework of some old Pentecost sermon thoughts, woven into a new sermon. I'm trying to get back in the saddle following five weeks of very focused sermons on worship - I'm calling it Inside Out, God

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  46. Wow, the spirit of God is blowing through this website, 118 comments and it's only 5:17 pm EST.

    Rough draft of sermon is finished. Can These Bones Live?

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  47. busy day around here! tried to comment earlier but 3 phone calls and a dozen emails bumped that off my phone. My sermon is printed. went with the Romans reading and riffed off MAMD and Jan's "What to expect when your church is expecting" I expect tomorrow to be a small turnout. Those who will be here will likely be the grandparents Jan referenced. Hope that I walked the line with imagery that helps them see our present circumstances as pregnant with possibility rather than deathly ill. I have gone all out in the past for Pentecost. Not going there this year. It has been an odd week. Worked with a ministry consultant for 2 days to help me get a handle on managing change and anxiety around here. Learned some surprisingly affirming things about my skills and strengths I am still sorting out. Much of the rest of the week involved a seriously disturbed woman hell bent on inflicting maximal damage at her father's funeral. I was not presiding- I was the one person who could keep her from acting out. I am glad that is over!

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    1. Holy doughnuts Celeste, you've had quite a week. May the spirit carry you.

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    2. Holy donuts indeed! Thanks GG

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  48. Just got home from what seemed like a day-long wedding which raises the question: How many pictures does one couple need? Storm sirens, screaming toddlers who refused to perform and one 2 year old who could do nothing but perform. What? They expect a sermon tomorrow too? No fair. Working off a story about getting lost in a chaotic train station in New Delhi where I discovered my name written on the side of one of a hundred trains. Hope it turns into a sermon.

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    1. I have decided that all weddings need to be on Friday. That way we can stay at the reception until the music starts and still have Saturday to get ready for Sunday!

      Fortunately at the wedding I did today, the pictures-taking went fast and the toddlers well behaved.

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    2. I don't really think anyone should have to perform at any kind of worship service.

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  49. Back at it. Blessed hubby came home after funeral #2 and pitched in as if he weren't exhausted. Now we're both finishing up for tomorrow. Sermon is still ho hum.

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  50. Is it nap time yet? No, time to write a sermon. Sigh.

    Ezekiel woman over here. Starting out with the difference between remembering what has been and mourning what has been - that the Israelites were mourning their valley of dry bones and dreaming of what was when God showed them something new, breathed life into those old bones for a new thing.

    Not really sure where the "function" portion of this sermon will land. Personal or public? Practical or poetic?

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  51. Back from the receptions, but now I am soooo tired. The last thing I want to do is work on my sermon. I'd much rather watch a little TV and take a nap.

    I do have some yummy chocolate cupcakes with almond icing for all of you. They had a small wedding cake and cupcakes for everyone. I'll have to pass that idea on to my daughter.

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  52. We seem to be straggling to the finish line. Sitting here gazing at a sun turned red from the fires in southern New Mexico. It's beguiling. Until I remember the people and animals turned out from their homes.

    Husband took rescue dog Faith to the vet's where she's staying the night. When I was struggling to spit out a sermon, she was vomiting blood.

    She's now in good hands and the sermon is done. You'll find it here.

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    Replies
    1. Oh Allie, prayers for your dog....and you....and all those affected by wildfires...

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    2. Thanks, Terri. Vet says Faith is looking good. Tex, the flirt dog, is desolate. Smoke from the wildfires as bad as last summer.

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  53. I think I just ran into the valley of dry bones. I just can't quite find an ending for my sermon. I've got it posted hereand if anyone would like to read it and give me some advice, I'd appreciate it.

    Really need those bones to get up and start dancing around!

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  54. I was gone much longer than I thought I'd be. I've read everything, but gave up trying to comment on it all, so I'm just chiming back in here now. I thought I'd be able to pop in between, before, something around the wedding I did, but that didn't happen.


    My little notebook with all the information about the ceremony (including the Scripture for the sermon) was missing until about 45 minutes before the ceremony. Dear me. I knew one of their Scriptures was the ol' 1 Cor 13 choice, so I pulled out my old standard wedding sermon. I thought I MIGHT write a new one or at least pick a less used one based on the second Scripture, but I couldn't remember exactly what their choice was. Oh well. Spent a little bit of time at the reception which was WONDERFUL! Just an easy evening out on the couples' small farm - 4 horses, a bunch of chickens, dogs, cats, bees. Everyone in jeans and comfy clothes, including my kids sporting rain boots in the super muddy yard. Perfect.

    Home now and mustering energy to get writing. I'm pretty tired, so if I can stay on track here early I'm going to let myself go to bed before my usual time and sleep a little longer than usual. I'm excited about typing up the letter from the homeowner our mission team served that I will be reading as part of my sermon to see how much I really need to write.

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  55. Hey, y'all~
    We waited late into the evening for 21yo to get home, and the house is now full of his stuff, and he and his sister are having a high-level discussion about Game of Thrones. I've posted my sermon, Blown In, which is not the best thing ever, but I hope will do for tomorrow. My prayers are with all who face challenges, and RevAlli, I hope your dog is okay. Good night, all. Blessings especially to those still writing, I hope you get some sleep eventually.

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  56. Re working a sermon from a few years ago. Thinking of a family in the new church I will serve. The man passed away today and leaves a lovely family. It was a pleasure to spend time with them before his death and I could sense the presence of God's spirit and know of the great love with family there.

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  57. okay, finally have something on "paper"!! it's here, if anyone's still up and wants to read...

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  58. Finally, an ending I like. Now I can sleep!

    Dream the dreams of the young!

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  59. So much for staying on task and getting to a good enough place. I played a lot of Tetris instead.

    However, I am now at that place and ready to go to be, still earlier than usual. I've got 600 words written and all the sections of the sermon defined. I just need to put the rest of the words in their places tomorrow morning. I'm outta here.

    Blessings on any still writing tonight. I'll be back in a few hours to keep at it myself.

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  60. Hello everyone! I have been thinking of you all weekend, even if I haven't been here posting. Now I just want a sweet potato ginger donut, Martha! (Maybe some can come to preacher cruise next year??)

    My son is playing in the State Soccer tournament this weekend, so that has taken my time.

    But I do have a sermon on Acts and Ezekiel. I have determined that the dry bones are the stories in the news of "pastors" wanting to put people behind electric fences, and the church defending priests who molest children, etc.

    I'm so tired of hearing people say, "that's why I gave up on church..." in response to stories like that. So I'm going to tell my congregation that they better go out there and give the world a better story to tell!

    Come Holy Spirit!

    Blessings on you all in the morning! Thankful for you.

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    1. Amen, Marci! We indeed have a better story to tell!

      Congrats to either E or A on the State soccer tournament.

      Good night all! Come Holy Spirit.

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    2. It is A. E's season ended last week. A had a tough game yesterday. Wishing I could be there for his game today!

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  61. I'm back to write. I actually pressed snooze a few times which is against my Sunday morning rules. I do so, however, with the promise to myself that I would stay away from Tetris when I got to the computer. Trying hard to stick to that promise. :)

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  62. Pat, in case you didn't see the comment above, email me for a Scottish contact! revsongbird@gmail.com.

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  63. Happy birthday church! Pentecost is the most wonderful of the year. It is the day we celebrate the Holy Spirit having our backs through the ages. May the Spirit be felt in our preaching, praying and teaching.

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