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Saturday, August 25, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: Hard Sayings All Week Long Edition

Between a rock and a hard place
"Between a rock and a hard place"

"Truly, truly, I say to you, 
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man 
and drink his blood, 
you have no life in you." 
(John 6:53)

This has been called the original "hard saying of Jesus."   F. F. Bruce declared that to be so, anyway, and he wrote the book actually entitled The Hard Sayings of Jesus.  According to Bruce: "The implication is that [the disciples] not only found it difficult to understand, but suspected that, if they did understand it, they would find it unacceptable."

How are you doing with this one, preachers?

Or are you going with 1 Kings or Joshua or Ephesians . . . or . . . ???

Because I am finishing my current interim ministry at the end of September, I'm all "out there" for a possible next placement.  There is some interest from "a place" (another interim), and they want a DVD of a sermon.  And so it will be this sermon.  No pressure or anything!   

There have also been hard sayings all over the news this week.  Really hard sayings.  Shall we go there?  Will you open up and unpack any of that in your sermon this week?

Let's keep the coffee and conversation flowing freely!  Anyone have bread-like wonders to share?  Fresh produce?  Other gifts of the flesh or spirit?  

Welcome to the party, preachers and friends of preachers and not-this-week preachers!  So glad you are here!

138 comments:

  1. I'm here -mid-afternoon in Beijing and while I might be tempted by a mid-afternoon sandwich, there's not really any easily accessible (or easily bakeable) gluten-free bread for my coeliac digestion... Not sure what the bread of life means in that context! So I'm talking about the scandal of the Gospel - yet we are here: abiding/dwelling. Making a bit of a reference to 1 Kings and Psalm and "to whom shall we go?". As you can tell, it's still too many dot points and squiggly arrows but I'm hoping it will become preachable as the afternoon progresses!

    I remember administering the chalice in a quiet church to a member's grandson. His indignant shriek of "blood! Nana, did that lady say blood?" always comes back to me when we get to these Johannine passages and the offense of this teaching.

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    1. Oh my, Jemma, I'm gluten free too! I don't like much of the ready-made GF bread, and it's pricey. I usually just go without bread, but this week -- thinking so much about bread! -- I baked this recipe and it turned out great! It was fairly simple once the GF flour mix was made. And then I had a tuna sandwich with fresh tomatoes. What a treat!

      Let us know how it's going as your sermon takes shape!

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    2. Thanks Sharon. The kind of ingredients needed for gluten-free bread can be very difficult to find here, but there are lots of other amazing, naturally gluten-free things to eat! But bread is hard to avoid given this series of texts from John.

      Persisting with the dwelling/abiding themes, and it's slowly taking shape. Home and place are such potent ideas in an expat community. Stopping for some dinner now, hope feeding the flesh will help the spirit along!

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    3. Oh...the story of the member's grandson is priceless! Out of the mouths of babes.

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  2. Supply gig this week and I'm up and at 'em with some nice iced toddy coffee (the cold coffee maker thingie was my birthday gift from my wife :) Anyone want some? Or perhaps some nice blood and body?

    I'm torn b/c I have a nice (easy) sermon focusing on the armor, but I am really wanting to talk about the hard choice in John--"do you wish to go away". So, I may join the two by asking the question--when things get hard do we choose to go away, or do we put on the armor and stay? Of course, my dilemma then is that my sermon will be too long...sigh, that is often my dilemma (I blame it on spending my college years attending a service with an American Baptist pastor! There are definitely some traditions in which my sermons would be considered short!)

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    1. Thanks, Joy! Iced toddy coffee for everyone!

      Sermon-wise, I'm headed in somewhat that direction. Was thinking of starting off by congratulating everyone for being there, given that they could have given up a long time ago. And there are so many "reasons" to give up on faith covenants and community life. My dilemma: I'm fairly certain that I have been preaching that same sermon (theme) for awhile now! But then again, Jesus seems stuck on it, too!

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    2. Sharon, who was it that said everyone has just one sermon and everything else we preach is variations on the theme? My sermons are just about ALWAYS about community (you should hear me riff on why Leviticus is really about forming community ;)

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    3. So true! I would love to hear a tirade on Leviticus from you!

      Mine lately (I think) is: "Don't give up!" On God, Jesus, life, church, things of the spirit, abundant life -- all those promises. How obvious is it that I'm preaching in faith what I am also hanging onto? (blush)

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    4. Joy, hope you do raise your question and bring going away and an armored stay together. It's a sermon I need to hear. Be sure to post it. And I agree with Sharon that it would be fun to hear your Leviticus rant.

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    5. I dance between texted and extemporaneous, so if this one ends up texted I will most assuredly post it! I actually LIKE Leviticus...it was a bit of a hobby in seminary. It's interesting how rarely Leviticus comes up in the RCL ;)

      Sharon, I've been totally bumming about folks bumming about the church "dying"...I'm thinking I would like to hear your sermon! It's challenging to preach a theology of abundance when rumors of our deaths are so wildly abounding.

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  3. Good morning, preachers! I'm preaching Ephesians in a casual service in Fellowship Hall in which we're going with Powerpoint the whole way for the first time. Our very few children are going to play the African instruments they got to practice with during our summer program, and with the title "Sing and Give Thanks" I'm going to try to blend Paul's insistence on in all things and at all times. We've had a great celebratory summer, but this past week our 48yo secretary died of a heart attack, so there's a lot of all things and all times to pack in.


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    1. Oh, Robin, how sad about your church secretary. That is hard for a congregation, as well as her family and friends. Prayers for all of you.

      It sounds like a wonderful worship service! Fun for all ages!

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    2. Peace to you and your congregation, Robin.

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  4. I have two sermons percolating right now--both Very Important, if you know what I mean. This week I'm working on a sermon about Sabbath (part of the People's Choice series I mentioned in yesterday's Friday Five), using both the commandment (from Exodus AND Deuteronomy) and Luke 13 about the woman healed on the Sabbath. I'm also working on one for next week about the Emmaus Road story, and the importance of sharing our stories and our tables. Or something.

    But before anything can be written (I wish I had written the first yesterday, but inspiration didn't strike until I was sleepy, and then I decided to mull over it in my dreams instead) I have to go to church and paint a re-purposed Sunday School Classroom with the 9th and 10th graders. We are making them a room out of what used to be the kindergarten classroom. So....I'll be back at dinner time. Perhaps with leftover pizza and donuts in tow!

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    1. What a fun day with the kids, Teri! Enjoy! We will appreciate your stories and any leftovers there might be.

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    2. I hope the painting went well and that you also have some good leftovers..

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  5. Thanks, everyone, you have my mind going and I haven't even looked at the texts yet. No manuscript for me this week--I'm doing a short (2-3 minute) impromptu sermon at the homeless shelter and I never write for them. I just think about the text and the lives of the people I've talked with this week--a man wanting to draw closer to God but hearing a lot of nonsense, one of our volunteers dying of cancer, someone who has almost saved enough money to buy 7 new tires for her rv, two women who were almost raped, challenges of life on the streets.

    I heard a wonderful sermon about putting on the whole armor of God. Kathy McAdams, the current director of Common Cathedral in Boston did the sermon 9 years ago in Palo Alto. Unforgettable.

    Good luck, Sharon, on your auditioning sermon. I imagine hard things are sometimes what a congregation in transition needs to be reminded of.

    I'm spending the day getting ready for my annual Women's Equality Day party. Since it falls on a Sunday, I'm having the party this afternoon. Red, white and blue cheesy decorations and theme but each woman is bringing the story of a woman who shaped their life. Not sure how many people are coming since this is New Mexico and people don't RSVP. But bring your appetite and the story about a woman who shaped your life. It will be fun to hear from you.

    ps Next week I'm going to preach love songs from God. Wondering what your favorite love songs are.

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    1. Happy Women's Equality Day party! I feel especially festive about that occasion today. RevAlli, you have just inspired me to celebrate annually beginning next year. It's on my calendar. What a great idea!

      Love songs . . . so many . . . but let me date myself and say that Beatles love songs have a special place in my life. Favorites: "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" - "Something" - "In My Life" which feels more like a love song to life and love itself than to a particular love interest.

      Those crazy Beatles! Back in the day, our parents thought they were the sign of the end times, or at least the end of decency and civilization. Now they are elevator music!

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    2. Thanks, Sharon. Looking forward to hearing about your celebration next year!

      Thanks, too, for the Love Songs. Maybe I'll do a separate list on my blog of the love songs I collect this week.

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    3. Alli - wow, you have a lot going on. If I lived in NM I'd come to your party, sounds fun!

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  6. Please celebrate with Martha Spong that her blog post "Old Husbands' Tales" is on the religion page of the Huffington Post.

    Thanks, Martha, for saying it so beautifully. I'm so glad your good word is getting a wider audience.

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    1. Sharon, thanks for linking! There are three RevGal members featured on HuffPo Religion right now. I linked to all our posts at the RevGals Facebook group. If you're reading the Preacher Party and you aren't a member of the FB group, we hope you'll join!
      I need to wrap my head around a sermon, which is on Ephesians -- yes, I know I said I wasn't going to preach another one -- but it leans heavily on an old one, so it shouldn't be hard to write.
      She said hopefully.

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    2. Proud of all or our RevGal writers who spoke as prophets this week.

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  7. Woot woot! I'm preaching this week! The sermon series our church is doing is the Matthew version of the Sermon on the Mount. My bit is The Beatitudes. I have to do some more work on it so I'll be back. In the mean time, I put the coffee in a thermos so that it would stay hot. It's free-trade and organic! Help yourself! :)

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    1. Thanks for the coffee and for sharing such amazing enthusiasm!

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    2. Sharon I only get to preach about 4 times a year... thus the enthusiasm. :)

      Someone pointed me to the Presby resources (http://horizons.pcusa.org/biblestudies/1112beatitudes/beatitudes.htm) which I have found thought-provoking.

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    3. So glad this is your time! Preaching is not my favorite thing about ministry -- I like it well enough, but I don't love it -- so thanks for splashing some of that excitement on the rest of us.

      Thanks for the resources, too!

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  8. Got a clear idea - about SOlomon praying for us long before Jesus prayed for us and what it means that we as Gentiles pray to his God and (for those of us who do) towards the temple. Got a good start at the beach and need to finish up. Something happened in the middle and I lost track of time...

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    1. Welcome, Wil! Intriguing as always! Hope to hear more later.

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  9. Good morning preachers! Not preaching because I'm still on vacation, but popped in to say congrats to the RevGals who have post up at HuffPo today! Way to go!!!

    Really loving my vacation which ends in a few days, so off to enjoy some more of it!. See you at our Tuesday lectionary leanings!

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  10. Preaching for the second time in the Bread series. This week is the last so I'm pondering what Jesus is up to when we have been carbo-loading on all this bread? Then going to what we need the strength to bear personally, as a congregation, as a diocese, in society. I am definitely using Martha's Old Husband's Tales to address the last part. As an RN I feel especially compelled to unpack the myths in a biological and scientific fact way and then talk about the theology of treating women as less than. I am fired up and ready to go - just gotta get it on paper!

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    1. Go for it, Amy! I like "what we need the strength to bear" -- nice!

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    2. The carbo-loading is esp appropriate this weekend - the Hotter 'n' Hell 100 mile bike race is this weekend where I grew up. It's actually a milder than normal weather weekend, but the race goes on this weekend in August every year no matter what the temperature is.

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    3. Hey, Amy, my family is from around there too. Hottest place on the planet, I'm convinced.

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    4. Yep - the always the hottest spot and the coldest spot (at least as cold as TX can get). Seems like they always have the highest temps and the most ice.

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  11. Hello everyone. Some thoughts are coming together for Sunday after reading your comments and remembering the work from earlier in the week...but before I can work on that, I need to spin together a short wedding homily for this afternoon. Ugh. Hard to get moving today.

    Be back later, I hope.

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    1. Sending you energy for the journey, semfem!

      Catch you later!

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    2. Thanks Sharon! Well, after my light bit of whining, I turned around and hammered out that wedding homily. WHEW! Maybe I can get something in shape for Sunday now--at least so I'm not starting from scratch when I get home.

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  12. I'm working with Solomon's temple and Paul's armor and...the Alberta Tar Sands oil pipeline. Because Solomon and Paul both hint at insufficient containment systems. While people here in New England are worried about a type of oil that defies containment (and could therefore devastate our fisheries and watersheds), these scripture passages both point at a God who defies containment, too. Solomon's temple, in all its glory, cannot contain God. Paul's captors, with all their military training and complex armor, cannot stop the power of the Gospel even though they put apostles in chains. Nobody wants to think about the reality of an oil spill... but I'm hoping the congregation will warm to the thought of an ever-flowing, unquenchable GodSpill all around us. (Now, if I could just get the words to...uh...flow!)

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    1. Nice connections and I love "GodSpill", MC!

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    2. "God Spill" - love that turn of phrase!

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    3. The preferred term now is Oil Sands, not Tar Sands (although I remember when that was the term used in the industry here in Alberta decades ago). Or of course one could talk about "in situ bituminous sands" (or somthing like taht) as was used at the UCCan Gerneral Council meeting this month.

      ANd we have 2 pipelines to worry about, the Keystone XL across to Texas (so the US can export the oil) and the Northern Gateway to a poor choice of harbour on the Pacific coast in BC (so Canada can export to Asian markets). BOth have the potenettial for a spill much more troublesome than a God Spill. I would welcome a God Spill

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  13. Afternoon coffee break time:

    Fair-trade chocolate (light or dark)
    Also FT coffee (dark roast, caf or de-caf)
    And some fresh strawberries.

    Help yourselves!

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    1. DeCaf and dark chocoalte for me please - one of my favorite afternoon breaks!

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  14. Great ideas all around today. Anyone have a good worship-focus children's message? We have 1-2 children so I try to make it something everyone will appreciate. I'm preaching the alternate psalm 84 along with a quick run to John 6 for one more tap into 'hard words'.

    We did some worship planning for September this week that gave me hope about leaving the carbs behind. Meanwhile, I need to do the same as I have another 10 days off my foot (surgery). Then need the energy to get back to the gym...

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    1. Back to the gym, huh? Wishing you all the energy you need for that!

      Children's message idea, anyone?

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  15. BTW GREAT article Martha. I'm sending it to everyone! Now to find the others, off to FAcebook, which entails a danger while still writing...

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  16. Ephesians is the text. We also have Blessing of the Backpacks. I'm working with the notion that the armor are tools of our faith like pencils and paper are tools of education. But pencils and paper alone won't make you smart or increase your knowledge. You have to read and better study habits tend to influence growth in understanding. So for Christians we have to add Spiritual Disciplines like prayer, reading Scripture, acts of Christian service, etc. to grow in our faith. We'll see if I can actually articulate that with any depth.

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    1. I think you articulated it well, Vicar! Perhaps a personal testimony or a story about someone who has grown by using the tools?

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  17. Mine is the same sermon with a different title: Solomon’s Theology, Solomon’s Catechism. I'm somewhere between 75-90% done. There are a couple of paragraphs moving around and a couple (?) yet to be written.
    Thousands of years before Jesus prayed for us, Solomon prayed for us. He was light-years ahead of his time. In a time when most folk wouldn’t marry outside of their tribe or clan – Solomon did, too much so – and perhaps as a result, Solomon had a vision of a God who was bigger than he was, bigger than his family, bigger than his nation, bigger than folk who thought they had a monopoly on God. Or perhaps, having so many people in his family from so many different places opened his eyes to God in the world beyond the world which he knew. Solomon believed in a God who was not his alone, a God who would be the God of people he would never meet. And so Solomon prayed for us alternately standing and kneeling with his arms outstretched towards the temple building.

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    1. Very inspiring, Wil! You are at a good place with your sermon, it seems.

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    2. Oh my, thanks Wil...I may have to go back and add a sentence to my sermon, about this expansive way of Solomon... since this ties in so well with what I was thinking about...

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    3. So, Wil, I did quote you...if you have time check my blog and make sure I did so accurately. Or, let me know if you'd rather I didn't quote you...thanks!

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    4. Thank you Sharon. Glad to help Terri. The quote is fine.

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    5. Really loved knowing your thoughts on this when I heard it read at the service tonight. It opened it up in a whole new way than how I had read over it this week. Thanks Wil

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  18. I decided to look at the alternate Psalm, Psalm 84, in the context of "this teaching is difficult, who can accept it...do you wish to go away" Through the message, I'm hoping people will allow themselves to grieve the reality that "we are no longer in Zion" while also starting to engage the reality that when we repeatedly "sing" of a time that was or try to confine God to a building or time period, we leave people out. And we limit God. I've actually created the service to feel like a memorial for the church when it held more of a power position in our culture.

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  19. ahhhhh.... I have a beginning, a middle and a Communion tie-in... but no ending.

    pressing on...

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  20. Hello, again! I've been pondering the wisdom of a nap, and thought I would ask for your opinion. Is 4 p.m. too late for then re-gathering oneself to finish writing?
    And let me crowd-source another question. I'm using brief references to some parables to illustrate the use of simile and metaphor in scripture. What's the first parable that comes to mind for you?

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    1. Lost coin, love the sweeping searching woman image for God

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    2. Martha
      1. Congratulations
      2. ALWAYS the right time for a nap!
      3. Sower sowing seed and it falling on all different kinds of ground.

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    3. Parable of the unjust judge (a.k.a. "persistent widow")

      Also, I second the emotion of #2 above.

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    4. parable of the grounds (or the sower and the seed)

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    5. Napping was a fail, but your suggestions were awesome. Thank you! I'm trying to wrap it up before dinner time, but that's fast approaching.

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  21. Ok, my "Moments for the child at heart" will be about favorite places to be...related to Ps 84, the psalmist' favorite place in the temple.
    any idea of how to wrap it up?
    or a visual/tangible piece to it?

    sigh, just not with it today, back to an edit. I think I'm still in "Baptist" mode as Joy said earlier. But its 'legit' (cough, cough) my dad was an American Baptist preacher. (I may never be able to use that word properly again!)

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    1. Another word goes over to the dark side!

      I try to regularly thank the "caring adults" who bring the children to church. Perhaps you could thank them for sharing church as a favorite place to be. (?)

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    2. NICE, thanks Sharon, I like that.

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  22. Hi all - Good conversation so far and I continue my rejoicing that I've ducked the lectionary in August. Instead, am picking up some of the david story, so tomorrow is David and Goliath. Thanks to whoever had the idea of Things You Didnt Learn In Sundya School earlier this summer, because that's the tack I've taken and it's born suprisingly rich fruit so far.

    Have extra kids in and out all this weekend - a little overwhelming for my only, he had to go and take a nap while the other 2 are playing a board game. So, theoretically, this would be a good time to work on putting tomorrow's service more together, but I might take a nap myself. Or do some(more) dishes. You gals with multiples - how do you keep on top of it all??? I admire you even more now.

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  23. Ok, I need to be reminded... Text words vs. length. About how many words equals 15 minutes? The Lead Pastor where I'm preaching generally rambles for 30 minutes. I would like to be closer to 20 minutes. (The congregation always wakes up in shock when I'm done and they haven't finished napping... LOL)

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    1. I usually shoot for around 2000 words, and I think it's probably in the 14 minute neighborhood.

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    2. I've found that, on average, it's about 100 words per minute.

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    3. thanks - helpful! I knew this at one time, but I couldn't dredge it from my memory...

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  24. I have labored over this all day. Posted it...a little too personal, perhaps? Maybe you could let me know if this is too much about me and needs to be edited (or rewritten with a different focus) for the congregation? I'd appreciate it.

    Shoulder to the Wheel of Grace

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    1. I think it's personal in a very powerful way.

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    2. Not too personal, IMHO, I think you invite your listeners to personalize our own faith from beliefs we were taught to actions that give life and create community. You respected your Mormon roots, and that is a good reminder to me as I work on my own sermon.

      I was deeply moved by your sermon.

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    3. Ok, thank you. I do think I may tie in a bit of what Wil said about Solomon, it will strengthen my point about the expansiveness of God...(thanks, Wil, if I do, full credit will be given).

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  25. Annoyed. Almost done to discover that there (a) is no milk in the house and (b) there are no frozen mice for feeding the snake. Yes. We have a snake (belongs to the college girl).

    Wishing I had a witty title "Of frozen mice and milk"

    Anyway - a break to buy mice and milk it is...

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    1. Very funny! But probably not such a laugh occasion for the hungry snake. (Do snakes laugh?)


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    2. Dunno about that. But they do hug. (Back from buying mice and milk... not from the same store, LOL.)

      Now. Back to timing and editing. It is, as usual too LONG.

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    3. When I was in college I had to feed a grumpy centenarian carnivorous turtle who believed he could still catch his food. I had to spear his pinkies (baby mice) on a toothpick and wave 'em around, but not too fast because he was an old geezer. Not to slow or he'd take a real pinky. Memories. Sigh.

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  26. Okay...I think I have flow... (and red lentil dal with brown basmati rice if anyone would care for an early supper).

    Armor, to Amor, to community, to Eucharist, to eating the body and blood, to the absurd and repugnant to the Armor...circular but I like it that way!

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    1. (Passing my bowl. Thank you!)

      Circular is good. Looking for some kind of sermon flow myself at the moment.

      Write on . . .

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  27. I am thinking about the role of buildings in the life of faith. All too often we still use that "House of God" language to describe our churches. What does that mean to us? ANd what does that language do to our understanding of God? of the world? of how both intersect?

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    1. Hi Gord!

      And what to do with "dear ones" who consider "the sanctuary" the place where God actually lives? Recently it was suggested that a potentially contentious church meeting should be held in the sanctuary "so we will be in God's presence" -- ack! No amount of persuasion would sway that belief!

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    2. It's one of the things about hiring a room to do church in - much harder to tangle up the place and God's dwelling presence. I am, however, preaching about dwelling and abiding and don't either want to make it such a personal thing that there is no sense of the community together being built into God's dwelling.

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    3. I think it's important to think of the sanctuary as God's abode. It doesn't have to limit God:

      Now Solomon is talking about people going to Israel, going to Jerusalem to the temple that he built. That temple is no longer standing but its Western Wall is. And I encourage you at least once in your life to make that pilgrimage. It is a holy place. This is also a holy place. Where the people of God are gathered, there God’s Spirit is. And, God in Christ Jesus is present in a particular way through the sacrament of his body and blood. God is in this place. And we are the temple of the living God. Our bodies are the habitation of the most high God. God dwells in all of these places and more...

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    4. I think you are right Wil. For many the sanctuary IS where they meet GOd most regularly. But at the same time many seem to accept it as the limit--which leads to the worship of the sanctuary/building rather than of the God we hope to meet there.

      At the same time I think that the role of the Temple (First and Second) in Judaism prior to the sack of Jerusalem in 70CE is not fully inderstood by many Christians. Imagine the rethinking of their faith that was needed to move to post-temple Judaism.

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    5. Gord, I spend a bit of time with that transition when I teach intro HB, particularly how it made room for the evolution of Christianity as a primarily gentile religion.

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    6. Thanks Gord and Wil--your words here totally changed the direction of my sermon to go in a way that will speak more fully to my people.

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  28. I am late to the party.

    Hi all! Loving the RevGal representation on HuffPo today. When so many are saying *@!* ignorant things to have smart friends who can speak truth to power. Thanks for hosting Sharon!

    Preaching John- Rick Morley's reflection Bloody Truth on the Leviticus 17:10-14 and blood being holy sparked something for me- the question is can I communicate that in any way that makes sense to any one else but me.

    Oh we are in the dog days of summer here. School started and distractions abound. Back at it.

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    1. Hi Celeste!

      I liked Rick Morley's take on that, too.

      Right now, I'd rather be at . . . say . . . a Jimmy Buffett concert. Or on a deck chair somewhere.

      Just sayin'!

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    2. Jimmy and singing along with good friends or somewhere surrounded by sparking water - just sayin'

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    3. and it looks like I will say in a sermon what I have said every time someone uses the "We need new blood " line.
      Zombies and vampires also need new blood-
      and they can never get enough because they are already dead...


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  29. Finally back to stop in to the party. Being gone three days this week wreaks havoc with sermon writing. I did get words written on Thursday so now time to read through and see what happens. I'll be finishing up three weeks of "Thinking Out Loud". Also preaching an extra service tomorrow at a near-by lake service and recycling an earlier sermon for that one.

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    1. Welcome back!

      Summer service by the lake. Sounds very nice!

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  30. Hi gals and pals! I haven't partied with you in far too long - in fact, I haven't preached in far too long! We had some vacation this month as well as a guest missionary speaker, so the last time I was in the pulpit was a month ago, and that was a "sermon in the round" that I prepared with the youth following our mission trip. I have had a hard time getting back into my usual sermon prep rhythm, which was thrown off further by the fact that we had a big funeral today and that consumed most of my time, attention, and energy until it was done late this afternoon.

    So here I sit, 6:30p EST, on the top of page TWO of the sermon. ARGH! And EEP!

    Plus, I'm totally off lectionary, preaching a text that apparently almost no one preaches. It's 2 Kings 7:1-9 - any of you ever preach it? It's too bad it's not in the lectionary because it is an EXCELLENT preaching text and I'm excited about preaching it. I mean, if I can come up with the words.

    It's the story of the Syrian siege of Samaria and how it was lifted. The Syrian army had surrounded the city, cutting off all their supplies so they would starve to death. In the middle of the night, God scared off the Syrians with the sound of chariots and horses and a great army. BUT NOBODY IN THE CITY KNEW IT. Some lepers sitting outside the gate decided to desert to the Syrian camp in the hopes of having their lives spared and getting some bread. When they got to the encampment, they discovered that the army had fled and left behind everything - tents, horses, donkey, loot, FOOD. They took their fill and then said, "What we are doing is wrong. This is a day of good news; ... therefore let us go and tell...."

    I love it that the people in the city thought they were in bondage - surrounded, besieged, starving - though in actuality they were already freed, and with an abundance of food. They were saved, they just didn't know it yet.

    My focus is on how the victory of God has already occurred - liberation, abundance, salvation - but it is the word of it, the announcement of it, the sharing of the good news of it, that allows it to actually take hold in people's lives. How are we like the people in the city, living like we're starving and in bondage, when actually we've been set free and are provided with plenty? How are we like the lepers, availing ourselves of God's provision, but needing to share the good news of it?

    In other words, this is a sermon with a heavy evangelism thrust. Not my people's favorite thing, but it'll preach, right? Have been reading Brueggemann's excellent book Biblical Perspectives on Evangelism, as well as his book Testimony to Otherwise (which deals directly with this remarkable text). Anyway, I would highly recommend this text as an off-lectionary preaching option!

    Okay, then. Wow. I didn't mean to come in here and just go on and on after being away for weeks.

    Anyway, WAHOO to our RevGals HuffPo writers. That's just AWESOME!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That will most definitely preach, earthchick! You've got it going on!

      Let's take back "evangelism" because good news is good news and that, EC, is good news. The idea that we might not know and then might not tell -- wow!

      Thanks!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Sharon! So much! I think my writing juices are finally flowing - writing some stuff out here helped! - so I'm starting to feel pretty energized about it. Thank you for your encouragement!

      Delete
    3. It is a good text. I have preached it. In church and in synagogue.

      Delete
    4. I thought you might've, Wil! It's such a great text - and a shame it's not in the lectionary!

      Finally got it finished up and hope I've done it justice!

      Delete
  31. Posting Thinking Out Loud: Where Do We Go From Here?" which will be introducing the practice of discernment to the congregation.

    Hope to get a chance to read back through the comments...several more things on the "must-get-done" list first.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I think I'm about 3/4 of the way through.

    I need to stop for an iced tea break. Help yourselves to a variety of iced teas (green, black, herbal), your favorite sweetener (or not), and lemon and mint, if you like.

    I confirmed the person who will video my sermon tomorrow. I also found out that reference checking has been going on. No pressure.

    Anyone have any desserts for the snack table? I could use some comfort calories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love some of that tea - sounds great!

      I have some homemade vanilla ice cream I'm happy to share in return!

      Delete
    2. Martha, it's going to be exciting one way or the other!

      Homemade vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate? Heavenly!

      Delete
    3. Ohhhh, exciting....reference checking....video recording! Prayers ascending.

      Delete
    4. Who needed desserts? I have pretzel M&Ms and they have totally screwed my calorie/fat count for the day. Please come eat them.

      Delete
  33. I have some homemade pasta sauce for those who have yet to do supper. Even better, some of the ingredients came from our garden!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yum! Thanks!

      And aren't gardens wonderful?

      Delete
  34. okay, painting is finished, I grabbed a pedicure too, and brought home some pizza and donuts and dr. pepper. it's all yours...except maybe the DP. haha!

    You have all been crazy busy today! I hope some of that inspiration will come my way soon, since I still have a blank screen at 7:19 pm. And I need to eat dinner...cheesy bean and rice burritos, I think (aka, easy and quick).

    So....hoping a Sabbath sermon springs into existence so I can get some sleep before tomorrow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Inspiration coming your way in exchange for sharing your D.P. so generously. You know you will, too, share! (and thanks)

      Long day for you. May Sabbath sermon and sleep be yours to perfection!

      Delete
  35. Here's my sermon: As If. I took a good chunk from an old one and moved it into a different direction where Ephesians is concerned. In fact, I think it's kind of the sermon I hoped to preach on this text six years ago, but never did.
    We've got lemon tart and Americone Dream to share. Who's in?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In! And if Stephen Colbert was to make an appearance to serve up his signature ice cream . . . (snap out of it!)

      Virtual snacks are the best, especially when there are so many!

      Delete
    2. Geesh, giving up ice cream in our house makes virtual the only ice-cream I'm getting nowadays! Thanks, I'll have two scoops.

      Delete
  36. Here's my sermon http://reverendjoy.blogspot.com/2012/08/sermon-for-16b-you-cant-light-your.html

    Or you can just click on my name...

    It's pretty much the most explicitly political sermon I've preached...yippee, skippee. I hope they'll ask me to supply again in the future.

    I'm going to go have some popcorn now...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it will be the first of many political sermons you preach! I liked it.

      Enjoy your day tomorrow!

      Delete
  37. I'm calling it a night, RevGals!

    Sermon is done and I leave you with snacks, good company, and the Holy Spirit who's got you covered. May God bless your preaching and the lives of those who hear the Word tomorrow.

    Thanks for a fun party!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Back! The couple is wed, merriment was made, wings were eaten, and I am now showered and ready for bed. Except for writing the sermon. [yawn]

    I did get prayers and other stuff done earlier, but now I need to figure out what exactly I really want to say about Solomon to finish out that trajectory--we're going back to complementary readings next Sunday instead of semi-continuous.

    Glad others seem to be finishing up out there or getting the beginnings down...

    ReplyDelete
  39. okay, I have a sermon! Or at least something with enough words that it can be considered a sermon. I think the person who asked the question is going to be disappointed that I didn't give a how-to in my sermon. But sometimes that's just not where the text (or context) takes us, so oh well. Perhaps I can use the children's time for that instead....

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm done... College girl is home just for the night to be sitting with the fam smiling at me. :) And after I preach, I drive her back to campus. That is, AFTER she feeds her snake (the frozen mice errand?) and packs up her harp.

    I will be in bed earlier tomorrow night, I'm thinking.

    May your words be Spirit-driven!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'm wrestling with the disciples being upset with the difficulty (or the harshness, as translated in the CEB) of Christ's teachings, that many left him because of it, and Christ's response, "Does this offend you? Do you want to leave?"
    I'm wrestling with this and the question of what we do with the parts of scripture that don't make sense to us or make us uncomfortable. Do we ignore them? Do we walk away from the faith altogether? Or do we stay and wrestle with them, seeking understanding of what God is saying or doing there?

    In the mean-time. Husband's "Guys' Weekend" continues on: They're currently playing NCAA football on the XBox and talking about the Red Sox/Dodgers trade this afternoon.

    So, basically, all is well. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  42. In addition to finishing the sermon and printing it, as well as prayers, since the last time I posted here, I have managed to put together ppt for the backpack part too because I realized that had fallen in the cracks. Glad that happened early enough to handle it! Thanks for keeping me company while I relearned the tricks of ppt.

    Now I am going to bed. Blessings on your Sunday!

    ReplyDelete
  43. It's 1:30 in the morning and I just came up with a kick-ass children's sermon idea.... but it requires a fog machine to simulate God's presence in the Temple, so it's a no-go for this year :-(

    Finished with the adult sermon (and ready to wing the children's sermon --- I'll still have them face-down imagining what the priests felt and talking about different body postures for prayer). But still wishing I had some dry ice... ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  44. Slept, woke up at 3, and spent two hours writing extensive notes that are almost a manuscript. On a topic other than what I had originally planned. But something I think will be more meaningful to my congregation. So...good, right? (Better if I can finish up and get a few more hours of sleep.)

    ReplyDelete
  45. Whew. Sermon printing now, and I think I can get another hour of sleep.

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

    ReplyDelete
  46. Sharon, thinking of you this morning. Hope all goes well.

    ReplyDelete

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