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Saturday, June 23, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party

I just got home from our community's American Cancer Society Relay for Life.  A few months ago, when I was asked to give the opening invocation at the Luminaria Ceremony, I never could have guessed how poignant the opportunity would be this week. Just this week we have begun to mourn the death of a beloved member of our church and this community who died on Monday after a two year battle with melanoma.  Just this week we have struggled to wrap our brains and our faith around the news that a woman who was making strides in the treatment of her ovarian cancer is now diagnosed with brain cancer.  And just this week we have found ourselves rejoicing and giving thanks that another member of our church family received the "all clear" news from his doctors following clear PET scans.  What I thought was going to be a sort of routine "civic spirituality" prayer turned into something completely different for me, and I didn't even realize it until I got up there to lead the prayer.




Preaching can be like that, too, can't it?  Whether it's the crazy coincidence of a well-timed lectionary passage or words that are heard that we never realized we spoke, preaching can turn into something completely different, something poignant, that we never even expected.  Thank GOD for the Holy Spirit!


Where are you as the task is before you today?  Are you tossing and turning on stormy seas?  Are you staring up at Goliath wondering how you ever got chosen for the task?  What obstacles are in your way?  What gladness or unity can you sing about this day?


The party is open.  All are invited.  Join us as we point to the hope in darkness.


(I took that picture tonight as I walked the track in the Memorial Lap.)
 

163 comments:

  1. OK, just had to get that one in. I'll be here off and on as I write today, an unusual situation for me but necessary as I did not get the sermon written before vacation. And now that I'm back, I can't sleep, as I am on Seattle time where it's 3 hours earlier than here. I will be very unhappy with myself when I wake up.

    Jesus invites us to make stormy crossings but offers us peace in the process -- Be still in the midst of chaos and know that I am here, asleep on my cushion.

    I have a lot of experience with the stormy crossings part and almost none with the peace part. What on earth am I doing in the pulpit?

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    1. "What on earth am I doing in the pulpit?"...what everyone one of us are doing! Looking for a word of hope and finding it in unexpected ways.

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    2. That peace is the hope we are promised. We just don't always get it when we feel we need it. I think that's something people get and even need to hear, in case it's elusive to them, too.

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    3. I'm feeling a bit that way myself, Robin, but for much different reasons...but it is still a bit unsettling.

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    4. Funny. It must be that kind of week (or maybe it's that kind of call or we're that kind of people); I've asked the same question once or twice this week, too.

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    5. You're in the pulpit to tell the truth. That is gospel.

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    6. Wil, thanks for reminding us of that. I for one need to hold onto that thought.

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    7. Even--especially--when it's excruciatingly difficult to do so.

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  2. The picture and your words are beautiful, She Rev. Thank you. Prayers for your congregation and your pastoring of them.

    I am in Traverse CIty, Michigan tonight getting ready to drop off my daughter at Interlochen for three weeks of ballet. I am driving back home tomorrow so my sermon, which is partially finished, will most likely be written in my head as I drove home.

    Along with dropping off my daughter tomorrow, my husband is dropping off my son at Meadowmount in upstate New York for seven weeks. This is my cello-boy who has been struggling with a recent Crohn's diagnosis. I would covet prayers for his health to hold during this time away.

    Definitely preaching on the stormy seas. And I plan to tell the story of the original recording of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" as my gathering in story.

    Blessings to each of you RevGals. May the Spirit work in surprising ways this weekend.

    Peace.

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    1. Kelley, prayers for you as your chicks are out of the nest this summer. And prayers for Matt!

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    2. Thank you, Kelley! I add my prayers to Marci's as your flock scatters for a while.

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  3. Alison-in-FranceJune 23, 2012 at 6:40 AM

    Thankyou Sherev for the much needed words and picture - and the reminder that it doesn't depend on us.

    I'm off in a couple of hours for an interchurch weekend in the mountains - lots of time by the pool, and a walk in the mountains, and for reasons which escape me, a year ago I agreed to be the speaker.

    I have to do 3 sessions - so this evening at bedtime I'm telling the story of the Samaritan woman (John4) from the point of view of her neighbours. Tomorrow in the middle of the walk, I'm doing a little meditation on the water of life (the idea is that our walk is the "visual aid" leading into Jesus being tired and thirsty), and then to wrap up on Sunday afternoon (if anyone gets out of the pool to listen) I'm talking about the water of God's presence not being just for Sunday.

    Suffering from major stage-fright at the moment (and I have yet to pack and make a picnic). Could definately do with the Spirit working in surprising ways !

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    1. I would sign up for an interchurch retreat...in the mountains.
      You will do just fine. Great way to structure the meditations.

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    2. I agree that your meditations are crafted beautifully for the whole weekend. I think this sounds absolutely lovely! Prayers for your strength and peace over the weekend.

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    3. Prayers for a wonderful retreat and calmer nerves. I love your meditation theme.

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    4. Your retreat sounds as if it will be deeply moving to the participants.

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  4. I'm headed north for our Conference Annual Meeting, where Matthew Fox will be leading worship this morning. My sermon has form and a beginning and an ending but needs one more illustration, particularly about a storm of life that is emotional in nature. I'm hoping it comes to me somehow, somewhere or from someone!
    I'll be back around dinner time and "see" you all then.

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    1. Matthew FOX! That will be great - have fun!

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  5. Alison-in-France - love those. You'll be great!

    I'm kicking into sermon writing time, with the addition of The Boy (Age: 7) who is usually at his Dad's house on Saturday mornings. He is wiped after a week of double sports camps so my guess (hope) is he will be in 'chill' mode. Officiating (And receptioning) at a wedding this afternoon so now is the time for sermons to be written.

    I did this Mark text MANY times in my youth ministry days so I'm trying to get the 23 year old me out of my head. She is very bouncy and yells a lot. :)

    Good to see folks no matter what time zone we are in. Blessings!

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    1. Funny. Next week's gospel lesson was the passage Anna Carter Florence chose for our first year preaching class to present as we learned to read Scripture in public. She chose it because it was one of the lectionary passages for the summer when we would all be out on our first internships. All I hear when I hear the story is my dramatic 25 year old voice dragging out, "for tweeeeeeelve yeeeeeeears."

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    2. @kzj: LOL! Sounds like my labrador retriever! Good luck on finding the older you.

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  6. Well, i have a beginning....I was too wiped out last night to get it done, which is the best method for me--all at once, late at night, while my daughter sleeps. So today, I'm writing with my kid along for the ride. It's 7 a.m. and she's already bored.......

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    1. I'm not at all afraid of some TV in a situation like this.

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  7. It's early road time for me today. Denominational meeting at which we will be dimissing a church which is a first for this group. I have no idea what the tenor of the meeting will be. This particular item is the last item on the docket...after being there six hours. My approach is to deal with the "elephant/hard stuff" first.

    Back to preaching. David and Goliath for me. We are reading the Mark passage as well and I had thought I would weave them together, however I did get some writing done yesterday and it seems to be all I Samuel.

    Is it about God being on the winning side?
    Is it about trusting God?
    Is it about fighting giants?
    Is it about violence wins battles?
    Is it about...

    I'm planting the seed that this story may not be "true" but there are "truths" in for us...and use metaphors which this congregation struggles to use when reading the bible.

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    1. Prayers for you and all at the meeting. I, too, would want to address it closer to the start.

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    2. Blessings on your meeting today, Purple. I can't believe the dismissing of the church is the last on the docket. Do you think people will stay to the end? I am the chair of an Administrative Commission which is closing a church. It is a very painful process. Prayers for this church as it's season ends.

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    3. It seems to me an overlooked aspect of this story is his trust in his own experience. He is uncomfortable when they dress him up in all the "proper" armor, and heavy weaponry, removes them, and faces the challenge in shepherd's clothes, and a simple slingshot, representing his own experience, his own gifts.

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  8. Not preaching this week, due to voice problems. Seems that I have been stressing my voice. Trying too hard to speak loudly when I ahve a cold etc. So after a visit to a GP and ENT, I am going to a speech therapist next week to start learning to talk properly, so that I don't damage my voice.
    which means 2 Sundays without preaching or leading worship, and 2 weeks with minimum talking, and only in a small voice. Which means working by e-mail.
    Tomorrow we celebrate UCA anniversary, and there is a 10 minute DVD in the kit, so that will be in the 'sermon' spot. Even though Worship is prepared for tomorrow, and sent out for various people to lead, I am still working at 9.30 Saturday evening, printing off special envelopes for an appeal to raise funds for some roof repairs. Almost finished.

    Hope your Saturday is as bright and sunny as it was here today, and that the words flow.

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    1. I hope you find rest of some sort in your forced break! Peace to you this night.

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  9. Good morning, everyone!

    Thanks for the inspiring photo, SheRev, and may God bless you and your congregation during this time.

    I'm traversing the treacherous waters with the others in that boat. Something about this story seems unfinished to me, not settled, not solved. The disciples' fear didn't go away when Jesus calmed the storm. It seems that they shifted their fear ("terror") from the storm to "who is this Jesus, anyway?" Even resurrection, and post resurrection appearances of Jesus, didn't seem to dispel their fearful approach to life. The big shift comes at Pentecost, which seems to me to be way late! Hmmm . . .

    Those are my thoughts before coffee. Going to make some. Now.

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    1. Thank you, Sharon!

      I think you're hitting on something about how the move to accept (or live into, one of those horribly preacherly phrases) the peace the Jesus proclaims is not as easy as it sounds. But he still proclaims it. It's still true. It's still here. And that's the first part of coming to trust in it.

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    2. This same conversation dominated our BIble study this week on this passage, Sharon. Maybe that is the key to the passage...we continue to live with fear. It is the nature of who we are but Jesus offers peace. And some things in life we fear are almost too painful to easily dismiss.

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  10. good morning, SheRev. those were inspirational words you shared! I actually have a sermon sort of written, on Luke 1 (we decided to do John the Baptist and a sort of Christmas in the summer). during this week I've been contemplating that decision, especially in light of the storms up in Duluth.

    But, I'm sticking with it. I have a funeral on Wednesday for a man who had been battling cancer for many years. I have a week with many meetings, and a wedding next weekend. We are getting ready to vote to call a new senior pastor, which means more transitions for me.

    in the meantime, thanks for the party! SheRev, I appreciate your hospitality

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    1. You are welcome, Diane.

      I think there is something to the prophetic message of JtB in preparing the way tha can work with what is going on in Duluth. The roads need to be cleared - - the hope will come in all the people who will make that happen. I don't have it clear, but there feels like there is something there.

      Blessings on you in all the transitions that are a part of your minsitry right now.

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    2. Nice image, thanks. I am also preaching JtB, have confirmation at one church and money woes at the other, I think John can indeed speak to the ways we are being cleared and primed for those whom God is bringing to us. Hmm. Didn't mean to make that sound passive. Just trying to give God credit for the ministry.

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  11. Good morning!
    I am reading both the Goliath passage and Mark's storm. What I see to "connect" them is Jesus asking the disciples what they are afraid of, and David showing people what he wasn't afraid of. Quite the contrast.
    That said, I have two words written down.
    And I am going to an Enneagram workshop all day, which will be great. But not good sermon writing time. Check back after I've been all enneagrammed up!

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    1. I like the connection you have found. Blessings as you get enneagrammed.

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    2. Yes...great connection, Marci. Two words is a start! Your workshop sounds great.

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    3. I love enneagram workshop days, but am drained afterwards. Prayers for you as you do the work and then write.

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  12. Relay for life closing is beginning in my community.I also was blessed to lead the luminary lighting prayer. The honorary chair is the clerk of session of a tiny church I moderate. She was crying as the light spread through the fairgrounds because she was so grateful o be standing there blessed by a clean health report. Then husband and I entered the new cancer prevention study CSP-3, tracking those who do not currently have cancer for the next 30 years. Since we both have a family history, we were glad to be part of research to fight this disease.

    Today is my 30th college reunion 3 hours away. It will be a very long day as I am preaching tomorrow but I am working on balance in my life and not letting work dictate every decision.

    I want with the unexpected gift of naming our fears so Jesus can deal with them. Our leadership approved a plan to start a project some will be against. At our last meetings, many named that their fear was of this congregation and its fear driven reaction.We asked what are we afraid of and what would we do if we were not so afraid?

    Off to reunion we go ! Blessing preaching pals!

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    1. I'm thinking I'm going to sign up for the CPS-3, too. It's so easy. Why wouldn't I?

      I love your direction with fear naming! I'm going back to this passage next week since we're doing something different this week. I think that is a good way for me to think about what is striking me when I get there!

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  13. I'm up and still sermon-less. I kept hoping it would come over the past two days, but no...we're off lectionary this summer, doing a "people's choice" series. This week I'm addressing the question of prayer--what does it do, does it "work," how and why do we do it...I've decided to use that James passage about "the prayer of the righteous avails of much" (sayeth the king james), along with Moses speaking face to face with God, like a friend. Hoping to go toward prayer isn't magic, it's relationship-building...but need to address the idea of "praying-for" as well. not sure how it's all going to fit together just yet. Biggest challenge: how to start???

    but first: I'm headed to the farmer's market, I have an important phone call to take at 9am, and I also have to get ready for tomorrow's mission trip reporting luncheon. You can find me at Costco buying massive amounts of tortillas, refried beans, and brownie mix. lol.

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    1. Teri - prayers for you today.

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    2. I had a long conversation with our youth and families director, who THANK GOD is also studying to be a spiritual director, about how I have a hard time saying to be people in the congregation that I am praying for them. Not because I don't pray for them, but because I mean something very different than I imagine they hear. I don't sit in my room and craft words of prayers like I do for Sunday worship. That's just not how I pray, but I think that's what they expect. It feels misleading to say it when we mean different things although I believe what I "do" is prayer. My praying for is not words spoken or written; it's a focusing of my spirit, my attention, a paying attention. It's different. At least it feels different to me. I think working on that praying for piece would be interesting. Thursday

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    3. SheRev, thanks for articulating that...that is exactly how I pray for people, too, and I have had the same thoughts about what I'm doing not being what they expect or assume I'm doing.

      Teri, great sermon idea. I have struggled a lot over the years with what prayer means, etc., and the best think I ever read about it was a book written from the perspective of process theology...I'll have to find it in my office b/c I don't remember the title.

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  14. So, I have commpleted the liturgy and sermon for my third funeral in week, knoowing that a fourth funeral is probably coming...sigh.

    I am doing a teaching series this summer - an interactive Bible study of sorts with the congregation, inviting dialogue as we consider our readings. The last two weeks we have looked at 1 Samuel. This week we are going to consider Corinthians with a hat tip to Mark and Samuel. (How can I ignore Jesus calming the storm? or David and Goliath?)...my homily is written, easy since its teaching...it's about 800 words, leaving room for people to add commentary without being too long of a sermon.

    Now I'm off to exercise and get ready for the funeral.

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    1. Sigh is exactly right, Terri. I'll sign with you.

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  15. So, my day will be going in a million directions. Right now I can hear my husband, thankfully, working with the 5 year old on his letters. Yipee! He got on board! I'm not needing my son to read this summer before kindergarten, but I think I'm realizing that some temporarily impaired hearing over the last year has affected his speech and letter sound recognition. Working on it this week just a little each day seems to be helping already.

    Next on the calendar is officially becoming a minivan mom. I am thrilled! We're heading to the dealership to do our final wheeling and dealing as soon as I'm up and reading.

    The first trip in the van will be to St. Paul to visit with the congregation member just diagnosed with brain cancer on top of her ovarian cancer. I believe it is untreatable. She has been dealing with the ovarian cancer at least as long as i have been here - 4.5 years - and has never let me make a pastoral visit. Through another member yeseterday she asked that I come this time. It will be the first I'm really talked to her. (My husband and kids will use the time to test drive the car DVD players and drive it all over everywhere.)

    At some point after that I need to work on my wedding/vow renewal homily. This is a young couple who had their official wedding 3.5 years ago with just her family there because they needed to be married for visa/residency stuff

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  16. I mean, they planned to be married anyway, but in order for her to live with him in Scotland the big shindig had to be delayed. Today is finally the big shindig. If any of our Scotland ladies want to look them up, they live and own a little shop in Edinborough called La Beau Boutique. No clue where it is. :)

    The wedding and celebration are tonight, of course, which is why I am THRILLED we are having outdoor creative worship tomorrow. Hope is on my brain this week. Our youth and family director will read "Butterflies Under their Hats" by Sandy EIsenberg Sasso in what will seem to be the children's sermon, but it will turn into the whole proclamation when I start interrupting her along the way with quesions that tie it to real life and the promise of hope in Christ. We are very excited about this. We're starting a process of congregational transformation so this will be a part of a whole season of a lot of sermons to pave the way. Living out of hope instead of being paralyzed by a dependence on luck is the general theme. It's going to be fun!

    I'm also going to pop some "bubbles" of those concerns, questions, and somewhat snide remarks that are bubbling up as we get started on all this. She is literally going to blow bubbles at me while I pop them one by one to dispel myths and rumors. The service is outside on our front lawn so we will also spend time listening to the sounds of our neighborhood, praying for what we hear and the people moving around us. It's all put together so there really isn't anything I need to do today. THANKS BE TO GOD!

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    1. I love the idea of the bubbles and popping them as a symbbol of dispelling myth and rumor! Brilliant. I hope people take it with a good sense of humor. And, what a gift, to not have to do anything else today - that pastoral care visit will be quite enough.

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  17. I woke up this morning to the news about Monsignor Lynn being convicted of child endangerment. Then I ran across an article a parishioner had given me about the venomous anti-gay pastor in North Carolina and remembered the words of another parishioner sorting out what being a Christian means. Found myself playing with just what it means to be in that boat with Jesus.

    Thanks, Sharon, for pointing out the shifting nature of the disciples' fear. Is the first fear predictable in the face of raging waters and, at the same time, ungrounded (After all Jesus was in the boat)? I'm wondering if the second fear is understandable and maybe even well placed. Remembering Hebrews 10:31--"It's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

    I find myself often preaching the Gospel of Tranquility but I'm wondering if I need to be preaching in a different voice. Maybe finding a place for Holy fear.

    Not much time to play with these thoughts this morning. Have a diocesan meeting in an hour. Will be part of the late in the day party today.

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    1. Revalli - the idea of "holy fear" is a good one - even if you can't get there today, ponder it for the next oppotunity!

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    2. My different conversations all over the Internet sort of get jumbled sometimes, but elsewhere this week we were talking about the gift that comes through fear - the realization of God's closeness in the midst of fearful times.

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  18. I'm remixing at least three sermons about Job suing God. Next week's sermon keeps trying to write itself - saying vagina in the pulpit with the woman hemorrhaging vaginally. Back to the mixing bowl. And thanking God that I know Job as well as I do!

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    1. I have that same problem sometimes, when next week won't leave me alone but this week is only 24 hours away!

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  19. Praying for you all as you prepare - I sooooo wish I could be in a place that mixes things up liturgically every once in a while. We'll get there eventually I hope. I keep remembering the Vicar's words about a congregation having a female priest for the first time - letting them settle into that before pushing too much. Our whole diocese is there right now and will be for years still.
    My house has three staging areas today: Youth mission trip next week, General Convention July 4 -13, NavajoLand Mission trip July 13-20... then a few days of camping on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to reflect.

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    1. Goodness, Amy+! prayers for you. We'll meet up at GenCon for sure....and maybe even have time for a cup of coffee. Blessings on all your travel!

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    2. It will all come together though, by the strength of God. That camping trip sounds beautiful

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  20. I'm mourning the loss of one of our congregation's matriarchs this morning. A fierce, witty woman, detail orientated, full of vision. She's been declining for some time and has suffered significant memory loss for the past couple of years, so the mourning has been going on for awhile. It will be a large congregation on Monday and I have the challenging task of preaching a funeral for a woman I know, but never knew as she really was.

    Tomorrow, we are worshiping outside. So there's the logistical challenge of worship and potluck - it's my first ordination anniversary, so the pastor's husband is grilling the burgers and dogs. And there's still a sermon to write and a funeral to prepare for.

    I'm preaching Mark. I loved the Lectionary Leanings link to "Stilling the Storm." Her question "How's the weather in your world this week?" caught my imagination. Since we'll be outdoors, I think we'll talk about the weather in our lives. I think I'll also incorporate David Lose's blessing at the end of the sermon.

    A busy weekend and I have yet another trip to the City and doggie school to attend - 5 hours that I would rather spend working at my desk! I just have to look at it as an opportunity to figure out how to work from my tablet! Previous attempts has not been very successful...

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    1. oh...and did I mention that I am also providing guitar accompaniment to the hymms tomorrow? I wish I played more frequently. I'm not worried about playing the right chords, I'm worried that my uncalloused fingers will not be able to last through 5 hymns.

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    2. I hear you! goodness....prayers for all on your plate this day.

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    3. Blessings to you as you juggle much. I love when we worship outside even when there's some grumbling that comes with it.

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  21. Fear not, Amy+, the changes are already happening. 8>) you are there.

    I am not preaching this week. I would love to preach on fear--that is what both the Gospel and David and Goliath have to deal with. It would also a be a great day to take on bullying.

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  22. Anyone else strike a deal to work for 45 minutes and then play Lego Batman for 15? Just me then?

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    1. I may be striking a similar deal, but with lego harry potter....although, I have no other people in my house. hahahaha.

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    2. love the idea. But a deal like that would totally cause me to lose this day...sigh...I do hope to get the dogs walked. That will be an accomplishment...along with everything else. I trust that you wil be able to have the foriitude to stay on task with that deal!

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    3. I just said no to a "cuddle on the couch" ::world's worst mother::

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  23. Good morning preachers. Looks like the party is off to a strong start!

    It has been a kind of rough couple of weeks for me...three weeks ago I had a wonderful interview at a place that seemed like a great fit for me in a place I love, much closer to my children. But last Friday I found out that I didn't get the call, which is a MAJOR disappointment. And I am dealing with a really conflicted parish right now...although it is actually just a segment of the parish that is unhappy but they are loud and share their negativity broadly. So there was some drama at this week's vestry meeting that included my jr. warden resigning in a way that (intentionally or not) highlighted the ill will some people are feeling. Some of this (a lot of this) comes from some old and deeply ingrained patterns of unhealthy communication, and some of it comes from unease with having a woman as their rector. So...it's been a week. The good part is that we already had scheduled a consultant for vestry to help us work on healthy communication and having her there after the drama (which she missed, thank goodness) was very, very helpful and at least helped us end the night on a positive note. And I think (hope and pray) that the vestry members "got" what she was conveying about how we can communicate and be with one another in more healthy and constructive ways.

    The other good thing is that last weekend I was at the church my daughter and son-in-law attend (which happens also to be the place I was ordained) to baptize my younger granddaughter. It was wonderful and healing for me to be in that place and with such a holy honor of baptizing my grandchild. And in just one more week I have a whole week of vacation and will return to spend time with family. SO ready for that.

    And preaching...yes, thanks for letting me vent first...building on a sustainable sermon on "why are you afraid" which if I can get it down, it apt for where this congregation is.

    Thanks for being here preachers! I cherish your company!

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    1. Ah, so sorry to hear about both - hopes dashed, and hard current situation. You will be in my prayers (which I mean in the she-rev, holding you in spirit sense).

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    2. Rev. Dr. Mom,

      I'm so sorry about the dashed call and about the negativity in your current parish. Glad you had the weekend in a healthy place as you baptized your grandchild. Pulling for you.

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    3. Well, rats! I hoped that would be the one for you. I'm so sorry, RDM. (((you)))

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  24. Trying to get my sermon written this morning, as I have a mid-afternoon wedding out in the country to officiate, and an event this evening I would like to attend. So my plan is to have the sermon at least mostly written before I have to leave for the wedding, and then finish/polish when I get back, so I can go out this evening with a clear conscience. It may be too much to hope for!

    I am using Job and Mark--God is in charge! But I see in this moment the disciples finally understanding--or beginning to--what Jesus is all about. He's not only a good teacher and a healer--he's the child of God, and this is a hint of what God's realm looks like.

    My illustration came to me in an association of ideas--sailing with German friends, I read a plaque on the boat and understood it without having to translate--I got it, I was thinking in German--that was my first experience with really feeling I knew a language. I'm using that to talk about the disciples beginning to understand who Jesus was.

    Of course (speaking of translation) getting all that into aa coherent sermon is another question!

    Prayers for those sending their chicks out of the sent for the summer, conferenceing and retreating today.

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  25. I have gone for a different take on David and Goliath - not so much David the underdog but Goliath the underdog. Much of it is based on a sermon illustration I found this week that talks about the 5 smooth stones David takes with him: God love you, God knows you, God treasures you , God forgives you, God is with you. And how we can use these to fend off our own Goliaths.
    I have posted it early on my blog (which was woefully out of date!) www.revshuna.wordpress.com
    Blessings to all still to finish their sermons and to those who will have already delivered theirs I hope God was with you and spoke through you!

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    1. Love it! Makes me wish I was preaching on David and Goliath!

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  26. Stephanie - such a gorgeous picture and reflection - thank you.

    So, I really AM the only one in the world preaching on Corinthians... We are doing this visioning process this summer, so I'm doing three weeks on community. This one is community and conflict.
    What I want to say:
    -conflict is to be expected
    -digging in is harder, but better, than running away or covering over
    -and then, an idea from FotW - because of The Way Things Are Now, we tend to confuse passion with fanaticism. How does a conflicted situation change for us if we can acknowledge the passion of another without accusing them of fanaticism? No one needs this message more than me, btw.

    That's all I got so far. Hoping it will flesh out over the day. Going to get my picture taken for the professional photo directory. First one we've done here, so first time I get to take the Official Fancy Robe photo, which I'm secretly looking forward to. (Well, not so secretly, now!).

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  27. So, I just posted a new profie picture, and this is my test to see if it's working. As you were.

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  28. On the third page and I still haven't really said anything yet. I'm not going to fret over it though... much. It will get done and it's summer. Who doesn't appreciate sermon lite in the summer?

    Fixing late lunch for The Boy and me and then it's time to get the wedding brain on. Church members so the reception is mandatory. I may check in way later.

    Blessings upon all of you as you write.

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  29. Sherev - say, are you for sure doing the narrative lectionary this year? Thinking about it....

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  30. Two thoughts on the gospel from the brilliant NT theologian priest in our congregation (incomplete because I can't recall all he said to me):

    1. Jesus is getting out of Dodge, in the middle of the night no less. He is in trouble because the authorities think he is getting his power from evil spirits--as opposed to the Holy Spirit--and is in real danger. In calming the storm/chaos, he is giving evidence that his power is real and from the True Creator, not any lesser evil spirit. Or something like that...

    2. There is some parallel here to the story of Jonah, sleeping on the ship while the storm rages. Interesting.

    Anyway, maybe those will trigger something for someone in need of any small handle to grasp!

    I am doing the family service. I think I will be re-telling the story from the perspective of the disciples, complete with some props. Flashlight, life vest or life preserver...I need to ponder what else will bring it alive. I have some great instruments to help create storm sound effects, too. I think this is one of those stories that can serve as a point of hope and strength at so many points in a person's life, and I want to convey the story itself well enough for listeners of all ages to remember it. That, more than offering them any interpretation, is my hope; I can dream, right?

    Prayers for so many of you in challenging times; may that same True Creator be working in new ways to bring healing and hope.

    I ran in our Relay a few weeks ago; it was for my sister who is undergoing chemo now and my dad who died of cancer a year ago. The best part was seeing the Scouts from the troop that meets at our church suddenly notice, in the midst of setting up luminarias, that it was the priest who kept running laps past them :-)

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  31. Just started having some iPad-Blogger communication issues, so I can't comment on individual posts for some reason.

    Yes, Juniper, I am doing the narrative lectionary for sure.

    Welcome to all others who came since I was last here. The party is rolling right along. Anyone looking for help with children's messages or anything else.

    I stopped into the chapel at the hospital to sort of collect myself. Car shopping in the morning, a visit into a difficult hospital room, trying to transition to a wedding this afternoon. I'm blessed by the hospital employee who is Muslim who stopped in to pray his prayers. He blessed me with the reminder to stop what I'm doing, what I'm thinking, what I'm worrying about and just sit in the presence of God.

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    1. I have that often...disappearing text that appears a word behind what I'm typing, and a comment box that freezes and won't let me type. Frustrating!

      Delete
    2. I have been having the frozen type problem; I have assumed it is an iPad issue. It happens when I try to put my cursor back earlier in the text, or if I scroll up to check on an earlier comment. Usually goes away if I hide the keyboard and then bring it back up. Very annoying!

      Delete
    3. Ah, I love the chapel in the hospital. I often stop there myself...I was thinking about your difficult visit today.

      I think I might try the narrative lectionary thing, too. I was worried about it, but if it REALLY isn't working, I figure I can always switch back, right?

      Delete
  32. ok, so what should have been a quick round of errands getting ready for tomorrow turned into a whole day. Finally home, one the couch, trying to figure out what to say. Seriously considering starting by telling a story about the time a friend was so frustrated at an airline employee that all she could say to the woman behind the desk was "I'll pray for you!!!!" Pretty sure that's not what we mean by prayer...hahaha. Might be a good way in though...maybe. I'm telling myself that if I can get finished by a reasonable hour, I can either catch up on the Daily Show ('m 2 weeks behind) or play Mario Kart. :-)

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    1. I love that story as an entry point.

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  33. Teri, may not help you but when I talk about prayer I like to use Maty Oilver's poem, The Blue Iris. And I also like to refernce Paul in Romans 8, about not knowing how to pray as we ought ut the Spirit intercedes?

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  34. Third finreral over. Back for a moment to feed dogs before I head off for a parishoner housewarming. A family from Liberia whp I really like, not an invitation I could turn down even thought it's been a crazy busy month! I'll be back later, burning the midnight oil!

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    1. I've found African hospitality (and food) to be a soul refresher.

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  35. I'm doing pulpit supply (the second week in a row) for part of a congregation in the middle of a split. A former pastor will be coming in to shepherd them through the next phase of their journey starting next week, which will be some much-needed consistency. Since this isn't my day job (which has been bonkers), I'm playing catch up yet again. Oh, and did I mention that my hubs is celebrating his bday today? We had no time together for Father's Day last week, so it was important to give him face time today...

    So... on to sermon. I'm following up on last week Ephesians 1:15-23 with the second prayer in Eph 3:14-19. Last week, focused on God's power in Christ and through Christ in the church. This week is about accessing (being rooted and grounded) and witnessing (through faithful lives and gracious hospitality). I'm mostly there - just need to make sure the bits and pieces that I wrote all week connect well. And I really would love not to be printing at 1am like last week.

    Anyone else working this shift?

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    1. Here with you too! Only 244 words down--600 to go. I'll be here for some time. Glad for the company.

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  36. I'm back and tired out, but need to finish my sermon. I'm still minus one story and need to either find something or make up an illustration in an artful fashion. And then also write the parts I have in my head but not on the screen. But first dinner, I think.

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  37. I in the same "boat" Martha. Just back from our denominational meeting which took a surprise turn (at least it caught me off guard) in that we did NOT approve dismissal of the congregation. So my thoughts are processing all that was said and what happened.

    Sermon...um...2/3 done...not sure where the other will come from or at what hour.

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  38. Sermon done and pdf'd and sent to the iPad...I hope it is heard as I intend it, as reassurance that it's natural and okay to feel fear but we don't need to be afraid b/c Jesus is with us, helping us deal with whatever is eliciting the fear. And that when we let fear take over we often act in unhealthy ways.

    Had a conversation with the parish secretary this afternoon; seems the just-resigned jr. warden came in to drop off his keys and actually said to her that if I were a man he'd be able to come discuss what is bothering him with me, but he just can't confront a woman. Not too much I can do about that one. ARGH. I actually did not expect that from him, although I know that it is true of others.

    So very ready for vacation...one more week.

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  39. Do I get to be comment 100?

    Back from puppy school, I'm ready for council, got my music together. My sermon seems to have taken a different turn. I tried to write in the car, but I just can't juggle the keyboard and type and be in a moving car at the same time. But I did re-read my notes and write in my head. And maybe nap a little.

    On to write the sermon. Maybe I can even get to some funeral prep yet tonight!

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  40. 102 and it's not even my dinner time? We are chatty today!

    I have little more on the sermon, but I did get a video returned, go to a large gathering of Bassett hounds just for fun--and it was...talk about the ultimate chill dog, especially compared to our Lab--and take a nap. Need to go running yet, plus a Target trip. And, oh yeah, the sermon :-o

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  41. well, I practiced the energizers and put together the slideshow for tomorrow's mission trip luncheon, but didn't manage a sermon yet. sigh. almost 7 and still staring at a blank screen. this must stop, seriously. on the bright (?) side, I ate such an enormous lunch that I don't feel the need to make dinner, at least not yet....

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  42. I'm taking another run at the sermon. Okay, really, it's the first run since yesterday. I got myself all set up with the laptop on the little lapdesk with the built-in fan. But the cat is jealous and managed to scratch both my pinky and my thumb. Clearly I'm doing something wrong here.

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  43. Got a lot of writing done this am, then off to other things, then the long drive down to my church. Now I have GOT to pull some kind of ending together.

    Also preparing to deal with a lot of Stuff. My first wedding couple is coming in tomorrow before church for a final discussion of their plans and my son's best friend is getting married next week-end. I will probably be blogging this week about what it's like to have had your son die of suicide in part due to his break-up with the woman he hoped to marry and then have to preside over wedding ceremonies for congregants and avoid all others. My husband and I went to two weddings the first year and have not gone near one since. My heart is beginning to crumble to pieces as I imagine the boys who once played together gathering next Sunday to celebrate the second wedding among them, but tomorrow morning I will put on my bright and congratulatory face for the young couple whose sacred story is now one I have been invited to help shape.

    My own little storm-tossed boat, I guess. And yes, in preaching about Jesus' presence in murky waters, I am once again way out ahead of my real life felt experience.

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    1. Robin, your last sentence inspires me as a very good definition of (active) faith. And very descriptive of how hard faith actions are. And they are sometimes excruciatingly hard. Holding you in prayer . . .

      Delete
    2. Robin,many prayers for you, that God somehow surrounds you in a coocoon for long enough to get done what needs to be done, and that without diminishing their joy, some of those who participate in these weddings as they come along will recognize and appreciate the price you are paying.

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  44. Forgive the brag (ha!), but I may be the Queen of Procrastination today. Finished a book, grocery shopping, made a covered dish for the neighborhood picnic, went to the picnic, and now I'm home. I also watched one catch-up episode of Jon Stewart and it was great comic relief. Now, down to business. I hope I'm not the only floundering (so to speak).

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    Replies
    1. you are definitely not the only one. the 300 words I have written so far are...umm..well, the beginning of a terrible sermon. so...hmm...Jon Stewart....

      Delete
  45. I don't consider myself a fearful person.
    But I keep looking at this Goliath text and just can't proclaim that people shouldn't be afraid of giant philistines wearing hundreds of pounds of armor.
    Are we really being called to be like David?
    Maybe I am being too literal.
    But I am wondering if this story is told to show us something about David that sets him apart from the rest of us, not something we should emulate.
    Same with Jesus and the storm, for that matter. Are we being called to rebuke the wind?
    Might be a long night.

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    1. Marci, my favorite take on David and Goliath (preached probably nine years ago) was that the five smooth stones from the wadi could be associated with qualities we use to overcome spiritual challenges. He was equipped with exactly what he needed. What are the five smooth stones we need? I think heroic folk tales, which is what I take this to be, are all about the symbolism. No, we don't need to be literally like David and take on gigantic physical enemies. But we all face things that we may perceive as beyond our powers to fight.
      I'm not sure how that ties in with the Mark story, though.

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    2. Yeah, I know. I tend to play stories "straight". But I just can't do it with this.
      Am afraid to read the 5 stones sermons that people are posting here because I'm afraid I would just preach those instead! Glad to be in good company tonight.

      Delete
  46. Just to be certain: Is "the lake" the Sea of Galilee? I had a storm experience on a lake just about that same size, so I'm hoping it is.

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    1. Thanks, Marci! I was looking around and couldn't find that explicitly stated.

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    2. And, for what it is worth, he is going from the "right" side of the lake to the "other" side, the foreign side.

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  47. He's been teaching a large crowd from the boat all through chapter 4, "on the sea."

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  48. I have a serious problem. My sermon isn't even finished and I'm already bored. That does not bode well for listeners. (sigh)

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  49. Sermon done (finally)and posted as Five Smooth Stones.

    Martha, my thought process was along the same line as your comment about David and Goliath.

    Just for the record: Saturday all-day presbytery meetings two hours away are not on my bucket list.

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    1. Purple, that sounds awful. And did I read somewhere else in the comments that you didn't dismiss the church in the end? Ugh. How awful for everyone.

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    2. Correct...we did not dismiss. And then we adjourned the meeting. So. Much. Wrong. With. This. Picture.

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  50. Yay! Sermon is done (mostly). How is it that I can never really put it away but have to fiddle with the ending? Anyway, Tornados, Water Towers and Other Storms of Life.

    Now to proof my order of worship against the one printed in the bulletin. And maybe get the family prayer service for tomorrow evening done, maybe even a start on Monday's funeral sermon.

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  51. Oh my GOODNESS I have a major case of Isuckitis tonight. Sadly, getting my picture taken and then going swimming did not cure it. I guess I'm just going to have to start, and write my way out of it. Unless you all can concoct another distraction for me....

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  52. Juniper, you do not suck. So say we all.

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    1. Thanks you guys. 9:36 and I'm just shy of 400 words. But at least I'm finally TYPING!.

      Delete
  53. So all of a sudden my Norton virus protection has determined that my blog is "fradulent" as well as this blog and, well, I imagine any blogspot blog - fradulent websites. A huge warning page comes up warning me not to enter the site...an hour ago this was not happening, now it is. Very weird. anyone else getting such a warning?

    (Obviously I ignored it, since I am here writing...)

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    Replies
    1. Terri, I had that happen once but I have Kasperskey.

      Delete
    2. Looks like a lot are facing this tonight. For some it seems to have resolved by itself. Will see what tomorrow brings.

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  54. Done and done. Almost forgot that I needed to prep the interstitial liturgy bits. But that's done, too.

    Might be in bed before 12, which would be lovely. That 1.5 hour commute makes for an early morning for this night owl.

    Leaving behind some ice cream for everyone. The sort that magically changes to your favorite flavor!

    Prayers for all in pulpits and pews in the morning.

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  55. What a busy busy bunch we are. I finished my david and Goliath message which is probably too long. They haven't had a good 20 minute sermon in weeks and will probably all be asleep when I'm done. I may not be far away..
    D and SIL moved into their apartment today so I spent the afternoon over there. Made some good progress in the car talking it out with her, then deleted my edits. "Brilliant!"
    I will probably look at it again tomorrow, having a farewell party for the homeless man we've been letting sleep in the church. He is returning to another city.
    have to meet with a neighbor to review what I'm saying to the county board tuesday
    and my best friends mother is at the hospice house in her last hours and I'm on for the funeral - sigh. I'm starting to sound like the rest of you.
    Well may god bless is one and all!

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  56. Hooray for magical ice cream. Thanks!

    I wrote most of my David and Goliath sermon yesterday, thanks to the prize-winning babysitter. (Seriously, she made the beds, put the dishes in the dishwasher, picked up toys, AND took care of the kids. And she's 13.)

    Said babysitter's birthday was today, so we stayed up past the kids' bedtime to attend. Subsequent bedtime was ugly. Sermon now needs help, and I'm not exactly in a sermon-y frame of mind.

    Glad for the company.

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  57. dear sermon: you suck. I was wondering if you could magically improve while I have some ice cream. I'll be looking for you...sincerely, preacher who is bored of you.

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    1. Ice cream can be magical that way! (Is it chocolate?)

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    2. Look at it this way: even if the sermon does not improve (and it is almost certainly better than you think it is), you will at least have had the pleasure of the ice cream!

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  58. Mine is finished as it's going to be and uploaded to Kindle.

    I am praying (almost typed "prayering" which is also good) for you all tonight -- for sermons and challenges and sadness and things that overwhelm. Lots of that here today and I am so grateful that we can be in this boat together.

    I would also appreciate your thoughts and prayers for my interim ministry congregation. Lots of *energy* is swirling around some tough things that will get discussed at an after-church congregational meeting tomorrow. There will be more to say after that is all over with.

    Shalom, my friends.

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  59. Hello everyone--lots going on out there! I'm struggling to get something down on paper about David and Goliath after my thoughts have been churning all week. When really what I should be doing (if I were done with the sermon) is packing for camp and vacation and going to sleep. Yawn. Come, Holy Spirit.

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  60. Preaching for the first time since Easter (I'm the associate). We secured an interim minister the first week in May and he has preached every Sunday since. (Senior resigned in January and I was by myself until Easter so I was happy to take a break for a few weeks!)

    I liked what someone (sorry I can't account for who) said on Tuesday in the Lectionary Leanings about David and Goliath and "how the previous generation didn't deal with the problem, and when a young person came in with an idea, he was immediately saddled with all the tools of that previous generation, but of course he had to throw off that burden in order to go out and approach the problem in a new way. Question was, of course, what burdens or old-ways-of-doing are we church people laying on the next generation, and how can we instead help them lay aside the heavy armor that keeps us all from moving so we can follow the Spirit?"

    I think it is fitting for my congregation as we are not necessarily dealing with an older generation - rather our old selves as we look forward to what is next and where the Spirit would have us go. I've tied in a illustration of Mr. Potato Head taking off things that don't fit anymore and putting on something new along with a mention about my recent blogging about my 30th birthday experience. I blogged about 30 things that have shaped me who I am today - and in the sermon mentioned that I don't have to keep all those "things," I don't have to throw them all away either. I just have to be willing to listen to the Spirit, to be who I am, even if it is a shepherd facing a giant - because that is who I am (we are) called to be.

    I'm ALMOST DONE - I really need to be DONE DONE before I go to bed and get a good night's sleep - I have a full day until 730 or 800pm tomorrow and then a funeral on Monday and Church Camp (I'm the director!) on Tuesday! Prayers for you all - and thanks for keeping up the momentum! :D

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  61. Family prayer service is done and waiting for final edit before uploading, tomorrow's worship is uploaded. Now to go over everything we need for tomorrow's worship.

    And my funeral family loaned me the book of memories they made for the deceased when she first started losing her memory - something for her to read and remember, which has turned into a lovely way for me to get to know her better since I met her after the memory loss.

    Tomorrow's going to be a busy day! Prayers for everyone sermonating and preaching, presiding and leading worship - may God calm the storm around you, calm the storm within you and speak peace to your soul so you can see the One who is sitting in the boat with you.

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  62. Done. At last. It doesn't go as far into the landscape of fear and faith as I would have liked, but it's a start. Maybe I'll flesh it out as I preach it. You'll find it here

    Thanks, Terri, for the encouragement early in the day.

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  63. I'm going to call this done, and hopefully good: That Moment When....
    May you find your ending soon and your sleep as well!

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  64. 8:45 PST...anyone still around? I have gathered my props, and I multitasked by thinking in detail about the sermon while I ran. I will be around for a while more if anyone needs company, encouragement, or some wonderful little chocolate mints that Trader Joe's had at Christmas and I have just rediscovered in the back of a cupboard :-)

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  65. Still here with Chai tea struggling with the conclusion - but the Chai Tea is good and there's plenty to share! :D

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    1. Didn't post it earlier as I didn't know if you would see it, but I love your Mr. Potato Head example! That is going in the mental file to pull out another day :-)

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  66. okay, I'm done. but it's so terrible I'm not posting it. I'll be struggling to walk this dog tomorrow...sigh. Bunny Tracks ice cream (it has peanut butter filled chocolate bunnies in it!) is not helping, so it'll have to be good enough. I'm not good at letting enough be enough, but this time it will just have to do. I don't have the energy to re-write, and am not sure it would come out any better...so, holy spirit, do your thing. please. pretty pretty please!

    bunny-tracks ice cream for everyone! :-)

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  67. Still here too...procrastinating by working on the blessing thing we're doing tomorrow for the deacons' oil stocks. But energy is fading fast, so I need to make the most of it.

    Teri, that just means it'll be one of your best ones, right? :)

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  68. Calling mine 'done' too. Once again, it appears it is the familiar texts that have so many of us banging our heads against the wall.

    Immagonna walk my dog proud tomorrow. All are welcome to join me!

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    Replies
    1. I think the familiar ones are the hardest because usually it means I'm trying to hear it myself in a new way or I'm trying to help others hear it in a new way. Neither is easy.

      Walk it, sister!

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  69. Hi there - who's still up? I'm getting unstuck slow but sure. Why, why, WHY did I think it was a good idea to preach from Paul?

    But, hey I have ice cream too! Cinnamon/Banana/Honey - dairy free cause that's way we roll around here but DElish! (Three cheers for the ice cream maker I got for mothers day).

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    Replies
    1. My prayers are with you in your Pauline choice, but I in no way envy you. The Spirit totally has your back!!!

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  70. Hello all! I'm about to wrap things up here, click print, and scurry off to bed. I'm doing pulpit supply tomorrow in two parishes. I'm regretting my commitment to always vesting given this weather and the sunburn I acquired yesterday evening (the churches want to be liturgical, but the minister is older and doesn't do well with liturgy.) Oh well. I'll have extra aloe/lidocaine if anybody would like to borrow some!

    The homily isn't the greatest, but it'll preach. I was so very uninspired this week and wished that I had gone with the nativity of JtB. The secretary, however, gets mad when I change texts on her (and so do the lectors.)

    Oh well. That's life. Soli Deo Gloria.

    Peace to you all!

    (I don't remember how to link. Here's the rough link: http://codymaynus.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/a-sleeping-christ/ )

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  71. Well, I really thought I'd be back from the hospital in time before I had to leave for the wedding to check back in one more time. I popped in for a tiny bit to read, but not much else. Sorry about the hostess failure there.

    We had a BEAUTIFUL night for a wedding/vow renewal. The whole event was on the property of the "bride's" family. The couple was married in a very small family service about 3 1/2 years ago when Scottish visa requirements moved them a little quicker than they hoped. They were already engaged, but the wedding was not in the season they had hoped for. Time passed, finances changed, and only now were either of their family able to afford (in costs or in travel expenses) the simple, but beautiful wedding they had been dreaming. It was AWESOME all around. I had a WONDERFUL time dancing and playing and laughing with church members (and a few long time visitors) like I never would in any other setting. I met some LOVELY young ladies from Edinburgh and one from Liverpool. We had nice chats about church in general. The evening (for my husband and I) wound up with a lovely rendition of a Mumford and Sons song (LOVE!) and OF COURSE Loch Lomond. I was disappointed at how many Americans didn't know it. I thought that was standard even outside Scotophile groups. Apparently not. Oh well. I sang my heart out.

    Now it's time to go to bed, only slightly later than my usual Saturday night, but with less to do when I wake up. I'll catch a few of you in the morning. Many blessings on your sleep and your rising. May the Spirit lead you where you should go in the morning. Peace!

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    1. No failure at all. You danced and played and laughed and sang. Party enough for everyone!

      Thanks for setting the table here and putting up the decorations and for your encouraging words as we got ready for today.

      Super party!

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  72. Up and at 'em--did my usual MO of falling asleep and waking up just in time to write. I probably have half an hour to finish off David and Goliath and go get ready for church, and I'm 638 words in, so I think I can do this if I don't stray too far. Ugh.

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    1. Done! Off to quickly get ready for church. Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation this day.

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  73. I bet you're almost done, semfem!

    I'm up and looking over my notes for today. I don't have much to worry about, but since we're bulletin-less I just want to make sure I know what's going on when, since well, I'm doing it, but a few other key people need me to stay on plan. I've got my general thoughts for my bubble popping. I've got my part of the dialogue sermon in my brain. I just need to stop at the drug store to pick up a few more eye shadow things for when the kids mark everyone with glittery signs of hope at the benediction. I can't wait for today!!!

    I hope that you are all blessed for, in, by your worship today!

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