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Saturday, July 07, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: Dust Off Edition

It's Saturday again.

Some of our denominations are in the midst of national gatherings and conducting business that is painful. The Twitters are all, well, a-twitter. To those who are feeling worn out by the meetings or watching them or worrying and praying from afar, please accept the invitation to be in community here today as we prepare to open the Word for our congregations tomorrow. There is Good News to be spoken, even in times of strife and conflict. We remember that people didn't like what Jesus had to say, that they thought poorly of him and that he prepared his disciples to face the same treatment and rejection and gave them instructions for handling it.

Shake the dust off as a testimony against them and keep moving.

That's one thing to do when you're an itinerant preacher and another thing to do when you have to live in community not only with church members but also colleagues and ecumenical partners and friends.

It's heavy stuff. And even if our denominations aren't in the midst of contentious debates, we know how it feels. So let's be the source of support for one another today, as we write and prepare for tomorrow.

What do you have on for today?

Share your story, your scripture, your good word and your hard ones in the comments.

I'll be up early and headed to The Holy Donut, because as the gal at the counter told me yesterday, "There is no problem that can't be improved by donuts."

And the coffee is good, too.

Keep the faith, Gals and Pals. We'll get through it together.


94 comments:

  1. It is 12:30 a.m. and the Presbyterians are still at it...projected time of concluding the business on the Friday docket...2:30 a.m. on Saturday.

    There were some brilliant voices and some that were...well...I'll just leave it there. Some of our RevGals are there...awesome!

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    1. Yes, I know our Marci Glass has been there. Also original web ring member NotShyChiRev!

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    2. as one of the presbynerds still watching GA220 at the close of gavel at 1:32am... working hard and long does not always equal working at our best. Very grateful for the faithful work of those who served in so many ways ( including the Presbytery of Twitter- thank you all!) and yet knowing there has to be a better way.

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  2. Purple, you mean you just keep going until the list is finished? Our national meeting is on in a few weeks – The Assembly meets for a week every 3 years, with about 270 people – and it goes from 9am to 9pm, each day. From what I have heard the ‘hot’ issue will be same-gender marriage. There are a few bills before the Federal Government at the moment, and that has some people stirred up. I am not a member this time, so I wait and see what gets reported.

    Sunday, I have been off sick , with very little voice, for 2 weeks, and I just listened to the tape of last week’s service – WOW! Tomorrow - The liturgy is done, and various parts sent others to lead, to give my voice some rests during the service. Now to write a sermon, looking at Mark, the first part. Are we too comfortable and familiar with Jesus, that we don’t recognise how radical, counter-cultural, inclusive etc. etc. that the Gospel is. Hopefully written before dinner this week, so I can get to bed earlier than usual, for a Saturday.
    Donuts look great. I have dairy free pumpkin and date loaf to share.

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    1. pearl, I hope all the efforts you are making will leave you strengthened and in full voice. Blessings to you and prayers for patience with the process.

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    2. Yes, Pearl--the first couple of days have a schedule, but when it comes down to the last full day, we go until the committee business is finished. Because we rarely run on schedule, the last night is always long, though this seems much longer than the last couple of GAs. The last morning has only a few short items of business and worship. There are over 650 commissioners, about 100 advisory delegates, and hundreds of staff, observers, and partners in attendance. It was about 1:30am when the assembly recessed last night.

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  3. Hope your voice gains strength, a pearl downunder.

    I may just have to come to Maine for those donuts. They look beyond good!

    Seems like the PC(USA) has had more dust than usual to kick off this General Assembly.

    I had a funeral on Thursday and one on Friday, and was traveling earlier in the week. Not much done on the sermon, so off to bed to get some rest before a day of sermon writing.

    Blessings to all!

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    1. RevKel, come anytime! I hope you got some sleep.

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  4. Hi everyone. Back from a wonderful month in England and Scotland (wonderful despite the weather!) and now trying to settle back into the parish. Discovering all the things that didn't happen while I was away and now the church secretary and a warden are away so it's difficult to get things going again. But no matter.
    This week focusing on Paul and strength and weakness. Our lectionary has the first reading of David wanting to build a palace for the Ark, so that fits in well.

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    1. Sounds like a great trip, Pat. Welcome back!

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  5. done, now just to print. and it is only 9.20 pm.

    a prophet in town

    Thanks for the prayers for my voice. I am seeing a speech therapist and she has given me exercises, it is much improved, but I have a list of dont's, which includes speaking loudly, or over other noise.

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    1. Sorry about your voice, a pearl downunder. Years ago, when I was still teaching, I had a huge voice problem and wasn't allowed to raise my voice at all. It's amazing how easy it is to silence a rowdy class just by keeping quiet! It was a valuable lesson to me and one I still hold to today. Works in congregations and vestry meetings too!

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  6. Good morning, everyone. I'm currently hiding from the dogs but I think they're on to me. Hoping to get some things accomplished and then might take The Boy to the pool later when he comes home. In certain points in the U.S., may the air conditioning be a blessing on to you.

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  7. Ack, I'm so late! Sorry! My old dog has got day and night mixed up (now for the third night in a row), so I had to sleep when I could.
    I'm supposed to head out in a few hours to drive up the coast and have lunch with my dear Cousin Jack, so I have got to get my head together and my sermon at least started.
    And if you hear I was walking the dog in my pajamas after midnight, that is just a rumor.

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  8. I'm really taken by the scandalous Jesus - "they were scandalized by him" Mark 6:3, Focusing on eskandalizonto: repelling people, giving offense, causing them to sin (don't like that part). All in all Jesus drives folk crazy.

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    1. Wil, that's helpful. "Scandalized" has a lot of texture.

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  9. Morning all. I am still "reaching back" in the lectionary and preaching last week's gospel from Mark. Thankfully, Thursday was a productive day and I am tweaking this morning.

    Sometimes that day-off-holiday just makes the week crazier.

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  10. I was watching the live feed of the General Assembly until it was over late last night, so slept in a bit today. I'm not preaching tomorrow but I'm hoping to get a jump on next week, so that next weekend I can be packing for nearly 3 weeks in Scotland. However, the last few days of GA have me disappointed and angry and I'm not sure I'm in the best frame of mind to preach good news. I have youth group at the local fro-yo-sundae place this afternoon...maybe when I come back from that I'll be better. In the meantime, I'm going to clean my house and contemplate Scotland instead.

    I have delicious peaches to share--enjoy!

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    1. Teri - were you able to hear Rev Tara sing a most healing assurance of grace and Rev. Yena Hwang preach this morning? Closing worship was a blessed balm for my disheartened soul

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    2. yes, worship was great--the prayer, the singing, and the preaching. I'm glad I stuck around the live feed all the way to the end. It was a note of hope that had been sadly missing.

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    3. Closing worship was beautiful. And "our" women were in the light.

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  11. I'm pretty much ditto-ing Teri's comment, except no trip to Scotland and no fro-yo. And I didn't make it to the end of the PC(USA) General Assembly last night. Neither did I get to sleep in, though, so we're probably in the same frame of mind.

    "dusting off your sandals" is pretty tempting right now.

    I've got a bit of an introduction down, on welcoming and being welcomed, but not sure where it's going. Babysitter is with the girls, I'm at hubby's office. Morning is NOT my favorite time of day for writing sermons, so we'll see how I do.

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  12. Sleepy Presbyterians, help yourselves to more coffee. It's Starbucks Blonde, the latest favorite for the brunettes at my house.
    I have to take off and will be back later in the afternoon. I have not written one word yet, but I have bounced back a bit from the One Dog Night, Part 3. I hope it's a productive day for all (and that I flesh out my basic idea while I'm driving an hour-and-a-half each way).

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  13. I had a small pity party this morning because my work as a chaplain means that I don't get to preach... and so I have struggled as I read (and try to pray) for you, my RevGal buds, as you prepare for your Sundays... Pity party over. And a post about what God reminded me is here

    I am genuinely proud of the work you do -- and I am vested in YOUR work today/tomorrow being ablaze with the Spirit's power! Preach on!!!

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    1. I have often thought that would be one of the harder aspects of being a chaplain if you do like to preach. Thanks so much for the prayers sustaining those of us who are preaching.

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  14. I am preaching tonight and tomorrow, so I had better get a move on. I have been down with bronchitis since Tues so I am sounding a bit like Gravel Gertie (for those of you old enough to remember Gravel Gertie).

    I want to talk about what it means to be a prophet even in one's own territory. I think my diocese and our parish is on the cusp of being prophetic to the whole of TEC because of this 'start over' situation that it is in. It is time for them to step up to the prophetic place for the sake of the Church. And while Jesus couldn't do much in his home town, he was able to change the world.

    It reminds me of the experience of going to hear Desmond Tutu speak in Washington, DC with a South African priest. He watched as people stood and cheered at every comment. He leaned over to me with tears in his eyes and said: "I am so glad he is getting the accolades here; he never gets them at home." It was obvious he loved his bishop and admired him, but knew the difficulties of being a prophet in one's own land.

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    1. In the year in which Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Prize, he preached in our seminary chapel; he was a visiting professor for the semester. He pointed out, in his humble but honest manner, that he was a Nobel Laureate, had the ear of the world's leaders, was often quoted in nations far and wide...and yet in his own country was not considered wise enough to vote nor safe enough to travel freely. Without honor in his home indeed!

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  15. Took the time to listen to the sermon at General Assembly closing worship. Feeling much better now. My sermon isn't faring so well, but I'd better get busy. 90 minutes left of babysitter.

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    1. esperanza - I needed that too.

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    2. I'll have to watch it later this week. I stayed up until 12:30 listening to the debate last night. I've included a small part about the GA in my sermon.

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  16. I'm getting a late start today because there was a baby shower this morning at church for the baby I'm baptizing tomorrow and I thought it would be nice to meet mother and baby before the baptism! Seriously, I'd really like to have just one baptism for someone who actually still attends my congregation. It's impossible to do any baptismal instruction when the parents are states away and just in town for the weekend for the baptism!

    I haven't really got an idea of where to go with these texts. I've been pondering how it sounds to the people that God sends them, mostly to bear witness right where they are, which is their own home towns, and they hear Jesus saying that prophets get no respect in their hometowns. Reading the texts also brought a baptismal connection to mind but I've not quite got just what the connection is figured out.

    The noon whistle just blew a few minutes ago - maybe lunch would help!

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  17. My plan this week had been to travel 525 miles to my mom's for July 4th and come back Friday. On Sunday an elder and friend's mother was found dead at her home. I was asked to do the very hard funeral. On Monday I was requested to do a funeral for a man who lived in a group home. While he attended the Catholic church his family wanted a personal service and they have a connection to me through our weekly community meal ministry. And then there was the big Presby meeting that I followed on twitter and the live feed when it worked. Let say this has been a week of "I love the church - I hate the church". I am so grateful for closing worship at GA. Hoping to preach the Gospel tomorrow with hope and saying out loud some inconvenient truth

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    1. Oh, Celeste. What a tough week. (((you)))

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  18. I am preaching this afternoon for my first wedding and tomorrow in a Methodist church as half of a pulpit exchange. Mixed feelings about both but hey, I will show up for Jesus. Tomorrow's is a mixture of Mark and Paul, focusing on the companionship of 2x2 and how we reflect the strength of Jesus to one another in our weakness and vulnerability. I've written this one out, so maybe I'll post it.

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    1. Robin, I like that concept. I hope you will post it.

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  19. I have a sloppy, crummy, too short and boring first draft. Babysitter let youngest take a nap before lunch. I'm in for a loooooong afternoon, so the sermon might not have much chance at improvement.

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  20. Sermon: Twelve Heartbeats

    It is on the Mark gospel from last week. I did include a reflection of our General Assembly as perhaps seen from the woman reaching out to touch Jesus.

    I spent from Wednesday on at Elvis'. Had one of those "when you reach 50 (or in my case 53) tests" on Friday. Headed back later this afternoon.

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  21. I'm struck by the phrase in the Mark text, "They took offense at him." Not his message, but him, as a person. Because the bastard son of Mary could never be a preacher.

    I can't help but think of all the many people, be it because of their gender, race, sexuality, or past, whose voices have never been heard in our churches, simply because the congregation "took offense at them" before they ever had the chance to speak a word that might offend.

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    1. Travis, thanks for joining us. Somewhere above, Wil mentioned that the word could also be "scandalized," which goes one step further. Who scandalizes us by his/her/their very existence?

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    2. Thanks Martha. I've been a lurker for a while, maybe a rare-commentor. I don't preach every Sunday, but when I do, you best believe I come by here. Thanks for your ministry.

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  22. Run...check. Shower...check. Get haircut with son...check. Shop at REI for clearance bargains...check. Buy lunch at In N Out as reward for son who was patient while I shopped...check. Think up more things I need to do before working on sermon...

    I am in good shape, which is a blessing and a curse. I worked from home on Thursday and got a good chunk of the sermon done, along with more yesterday. That is all fabulous, but now I have no inspiration to bring it home! I am preaching on Mark, looking at how Jesus sent the disciples out with few resources of any sort (not even a copy of Discipleship for Dummies!), perhaps both so everyone would know it was God's power in them and also so they would interact directly with people, rather than hiding behind tools and tricks. I know I am speaking straight to myself here :-o

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    1. Discipleship for dummies. Thanks Betsy! that may find a way into my still fragmented sermon

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    2. Oh! I like the "In-N-Out Burger" part!

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  23. I'm home, and I've fed and walked the dog, and now I need to get to it. I've re-read one old sermon, to the extent I could stand it, which is to say, ugh, no help at all.
    I know I had a concept before I was sleep-deprived. Now to try and find it again. It was worth it to have lunch with much loved people and sit on a wharf and enjoy a gorgeous Maine day *and* eat a lobster roll!

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    1. Any more lobster rolls where that one came from? That would make a much better dinner than anything I might plan!

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  24. I went away for a while and now we are very bright and colorful. Have too many ideas and raw feelings colliding in this sermon. Maybe some ice cream would help sort them out...?

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    1. Went with orange sherbet. Hope that does the trick

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  25. I am meditating on what it means to be a good winner this week. Do we only crow and cheer or do we pause to remember those who lost?

    On another topic. It is summer which means smaller congregation (who still often want to sit at the back) but also means a slightly higher chance of visitors. I am tempted to put up the pew ropes to encourage folks to move forward, but also wonder if thaqt can look un-welcoming....

    Opinions?

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    1. Gord, I wanted our small crowd last Sunday to sit closer, so I stood and greeted people myself, inviting them to sit near the front "so we can hear each other when we sing." Some said I wouldn't want to hear their singing, but they all received the invitation with a good grace, or at the very least, they humored me.

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    2. I don't think I would see it as unwelcoming, but it might make me wonder if the congregation is shrinking considerably. That doesn't have to be anywhere near the truth, but it isn't a thought you might want even crossing the mind of a visitor. Those back pew sitters can be so frustrating, though!

      A number of years ago we began a service that is intentionally very kid friendly. From the start, we invited people to sit up front, and folks have been very good about that; I have even watched children lead their parents--gasp up to the front pew :-o A little part of me wonders and hopes that maybe we are shaping a generation of worshippers who won't realize that no one sits there...

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    3. In my experience, the roped off pews result in ticked off congregation members! When we've tried it, the result has been: yes it was nice to be able to hear better and to sing as a community, but we want to go back to our regular seats! The only ones who seem to like it are the organists and other worship leaders!

      I'd try Martha's advice first.

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    4. A button that you press which automatically slides the pews clsoer to the front, once they are filled.

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  26. Yay! Travel Light is done, with time to spare! It didn't go in the direction I thought it would, but it went and as long as it's done, I'm ok with that.

    It's been so long since I've been able to work in the afternoon, I don't know what to do with myself. Maybe I can squeeze in something fun before we leave for the near-by town's 125th party (free community supper, music, fireworks that are supposed to be absolutely amazing!).

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    1. Ramona, that is a fabulous sermon! Both the words and the idea are so beautifully expressed. If there are some days when we all have a dog to walk, well, you have a bird to let fly tomorrow :-)

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    2. Thank you. It's nice to have one come easy once in a while.

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  27. rewrote sermon, in between early Sunday morning phone calls.
    now I think it has one focus instead of many.
    version 2

    now I ma l;ate for a shower, so time to move
    [Sunday 8.10 am]

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  28. I like the new layout! I like the darker green instead of the neon version, too.

    I'm tinkering with a sermon that I thought was done. I can't quite get settled with it. I may end up preaching more from an outline because I like the "bones" it's the details that are not what I want exactly but I'm pretty sure I could talk it out on the fly in the morning. I'd just rather not.

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    1. yes the darker green is much easier on the eye

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  29. Well, I have gotten nowhere on my sermon, but our new RevGalBlogPals button is available (look in the sidebar!) and we have a new header and a new color scheme to coordinate with it. That counts, right?

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  30. sigh. sitting here with half a sermon that seems to be wandering. I have a start and a decent close, but can't find the bridge. Not cool.

    The phrase that came to mind as I read the litany of questions from the crowd... "who do you think you are?" In that moment, it's an accusation - who are you to come into this place, son of Mary

    Which of course echoes Mark 8 when Jesus asks Peter, who do you think I am?

    And it brings out the polyvalent nature of story- who do you think you are? The ones who can't see the prophet? The ones who go obediently and serve? The one who is dishonored? The ones who have sufficient belief to experience healing despite the arguments around you?

    Part of me wants to lean into the fact that this lack of vision and faith follows directly the affirmation of the woman's faith and the admonition to Jairus to believe.

    Must find the focus.

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  31. I have iced chai, for those who need a cool cup of caffeine. I followed #GA220 news on Twitter this past week ... much encouragement and a wellspring of renewed strength for all Gals & Pals in attendance! The struggles and spiritual aching were evident.

    I've been preaching "Sunday School Stories" this summer. Up tomorrow: baby Moses. I'm finding my sermon formats to be predictable because of this series -- 5ish minutes of story intro/context, 5ish minutes of raising questions & sharing good news -- but having some fun despite the repetitious sermon format (one of the ways that I usually play). Making use of powerpoint as a virtual old-school Sunday School felt board.

    Tomorrow's story questions: what are the ordinary items (like a basket covered with mud) and who are the extraordinary people (like a caring/rebellious princess) saving your life these days? And what are the simple ways that you are stepping up to impact another person's life? Almost finished writing!

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    1. Rachel, that sounds like fun! What a great summer series.

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  32. Love the new look and the logo and the button! Thanks for the iced chai, Rachel, a most welcome refreshment on this sweltering day.

    I am not going to touch the "shake the dust off" angle! It would be so very timely, since I actually am leaving this interim position at the end of September. Instead, I'll focus on how we don't feel ready, prepared or good enough (yet) for what Jesus sends us out to do. Still, Jesus prepares and sends and it's God's power that shows through human (and congregational) weakness. That's the hope.

    And I should be done by now. But I'm not. And trying not to pout about that.

    More tea, please! Is there chocolate somewhere?

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    1. I've got Trader Joe's version of cookies and cream ice cream, with their really good Joe-Joe's Cookies. Would that do?

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    2. I probably should ask for Trader Joe's recommendations since one has opened close enough to me that I could go to it without packing a lunch. I'm mean since y'all are on a break right now anyway ...

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    3. Vicar, how many recommendations do you want? I have lived at the heart of TJ land for decades, and I don't think I could move if I wouldn't be near one! Pretty much everything in the frozen desserts, cookies, chocolate, and fruits & nuts categories will be delicious. Good and interesting pizzas and frozen pastas (don't miss the frozen rice, quinoa, and mashed potatoes). BBQ teriyaki chicken and orange chicken, both frozen, are family favorites. They have lots of good breads and snack items; the sweet potato chips are a new favorite of mine and even relatively healthy. Take a look at their greeting cards, a great deal at $.99. Most of all, check out the sample bar every time, because you will meet many new and interesting products there; also, the people who staff them are often quite knowledgeable about the differences among their many products, so ask if you need help. Ditto for the wine; it is so great to have a place where it is not embarrassing to ask for guidance in picking a beverage, especially if you want it to be inexpensive. Most of all, have fun; in general, I find the employees and customers at TJs to be in a good mood most of the time!

      Ah, now, where was I? Oh, yes, drooling over the ice cream...

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    4. Good and interesting pizzas?!? I'll be making sure I get there sooner rather than later. We go through frozen pizza! I can't wait to check out the other frozen stuff too now. Too bad I can't get there before they close

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  33. A question for the more long-term matriarchs. If I remember correctly there was a blog created with the daily meditations for "Ordinary Time" 6 years ago. Is is still "live"? My sermon for next week will be based on one of the meditations I wrote for that book...

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    1. Gord, I think reverend mommy must have taken that blog down. It no longer exists. I was looking at the book yesterday and saw yours! (Because I'm using one of mine as a basis for next week, too.)

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  34. Mine didn't get any better as it sat on my computer. But it's going to have to do. I will confess that it's hard to get motivated to write a sermon for tomorrow's supply congregation. There are usually 6-10 people there, who never seem really engaged, yet are happy that I have come. My brain says it shouldn't make a difference how many people are there, but my weary spirit has a hard time believing that.

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    1. Trust that God has given you the words that at least a few of those people need to hear, even if it is simply that you are indeed there for them. I sure know what you mean, though, about the mental effort it takes to pull it together for a tiny group.

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  35. Sermon finally printed... late for me but it is what it is...was blessed by some powerful prayer time this evening on twitter with the new community of #DreamPCUSA where all are welcome - just what I needed tonight. Blessings friends.

    Oh yes- and my eyes appreciate the new green

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  36. Everything is printed. I'm about 2 hours ahead of "normal." I'm going to try to get to sleep early or read or crochet or watch TV or ...

    Blessings on your Sunday!

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  37. Gals and pals, I finally have a sermon! Here it is: ...shake the dust off your chucks...
    I'm going to look at yours now!

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    1. Thanks to those who mentioned Archbishop Tutu, and to Wil for her insight that the people were "scandalized."
      Apparently for me this week it took a village!

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  38. Okay, I've been around, and now I'm going to hit the sack. Let's hope the dog sleeps tonight. The past three nights he's been whining by 11 or so, and thus far tonight he's peaceful.
    I'll be back in the morning with more coffee. :-)

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  39. As usual, especially lately, as most are going to bed, I'm just arriving. I'm doing last week's gospel this week since I was already off lectionary. I like the story from last week a lot, so I didn't feel the need to skip it just to get back on track when I'll be off again for a few weeks anyway.

    We're prepping for and beginning a big transformation process at church, so I'm going to start the sermon time with a little Bible study type question before I even read the passage. I'll ask people to listen for who is transformed (really or potentially) as this story progresses. Who is transformed and ultimately what conditions make transformation possible? I want to let them chew on that a little and do a little discovering together before I talk about what that means for the transformation we are beginning together. It's something that will happen to us, not something we are doing to ourselves, forcing changes on ourselves from the outside. But even if it's something the Spirit will do in and through us, there are ways we can get ready. There are conditions we can set up that will make our congregation a place where transformation happen. There is work to be done to make it happen. Work that requires courage, work that requires faith, work that requires risk. Work that requires trusting others (the transformation leadership team) to go out and find for us, the one who will call us from sleep to wakeful living. Work that requires looking at ourselves with honest eyes and judgement to see what (unwritten) rules we have put in place that bar others from being a part of our community. For transformation to happen we have to understand that Jesus is going to joyfully and lovingly break every single one of them to transform his Body more perfectly into the Body of Christ.

    Yet even though we have all these things to do to make ourselves ready, ultimately the transformation that will happen to us will happen because the power of new life, the power of healing, will flow out of Jesus into our life together.

    That's my plan. Not too much to really put together on it because the Bible study we do together will be the best part. I always plan for big wrap-ups in case no one talks, but then then talk for a while and I have to cut on the fly. I'm going to try to just write some short thoughts the first time tonight!

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  40. Hello everyone! I'm checking in after almost two weeks away, first at Confirmation Camp and then on vacation for a family wedding. Was back in the office on Friday, which means I had not even looked at the texts until Saturday (in the midst of a long but fun meeting).

    So given all of this, I'm going a route I have never really gone before...the sustainable sermon. For once I actually LIKE what I preached three years ago and think it's relevant for my current congregation. It connects to the three baptisms tomorrow. It won't need hardly any tweaking. I've never done this before, but it seems warranted today so I can still get a few hours of sleep after a crazy week.

    Sounds like things came together for everyone else...anyone still working out there, may the Spirit be with you!

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

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    1. Very warranted. I hope you enjoyed your sleep!

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    2. I hope you slept! I slept, too, thankfully.

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  41. Good morning! The coffee is fresh! Where I am the sun is shining, and the humidity of yesterday has flown. May the day start as well for all of you.

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