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Saturday, August 11, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: Ser-lympics Edition

Will that title get us in trouble with legal folks? I hope not.

As I have been watching the Olympics quite a bit over the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking about what it takes to be good at what you do, what these athletes who make it have in common. I don't have some ground-breaking insight. I didn't uncover something brand new or undocumented. I did, however, notice for the first time that we're not all that different from these athletes.

Stop snickering. It's true. For us preachers, the "relentless return of Sunday" is our training ground. It is here that we are challenged to persevere even when we don't feel like it, stay committed when others think we can't, work through distractions that tell us what we are doing is all for nothing. The difference between us and Olympians is that our challenge comes back again and again week after week, sometimes more than once a week when special services come up.

Preacher-lympians, let's run this race today with perseverance and faith, trust and hope that the God of us all run with us. Join the party in the comments. We'll have runners and supporters (insert athletic supporter joke here), sprinters and marathoners, and hopefully someone to set us up with a carb-load as this is another Bread of Life week! Hope to see you round the party today!

91 comments:

  1. Having avoided the "bread" readings so far this year by preaching on Ephesians or OT readings, I have decided to tackle John this week along with the 1 Kings reading. Somehow combining the bread needed for the journey we travel and using the theme I know many of you have already used this year of Getting what you need rather than what you want.
    I've got plenty of Diet Coke to share - stocked up as it was on special offer!
    Off to meet a couple about a wedding now. Back soon.

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    1. I'm doing the same basic texts. Mostly working with 1 Kings, but using the John stuff as supporting material. I'm going back to last week's John, though, sincde I wasn't around, I don't think the supply preacher used it, and it feels weird jumping in the middle of the whole bread of life thing if I'm not going to carry it all the way through anywhere.

      I'll take a Diet Coke!!!

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  2. I'm off lectionary tomorrow as we are celebrating South African Women's Day and I'm preaching on some valiant women. So far I've managed to avoid John but next week I'm on again. Unfortunately I'm off on a week's retreat tomorrow afternoon and get back Friday evening which means I really ought to get that sermon also prepared this afternoon. And the day after I get back I have a large funeral - so that's 3 sermons this afternoon and it's 14:15 now! Oh dear.

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    1. Wow! You had a lot to do today. I hope you got it done or at least are to a point where you can feel a little more relaxed.

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  3. Thanks Stephanie. There are times when it certainly feels like a marathon and then days when it is an all-out-sprint.

    I am off lectionary the entire month with the theme "Why do we do what we do?". This week's title is "Thinking Outloud: Why worship?" It is not a Reformed worship history but more along the lines of Diana' Butler Bass' writing on belonging first.

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    1. Gee. I know someone who loves that belong first stuff. Actually, I was a Church Basement Ladies production on Thursday, and that was sort of the theme of the play. It was set in 1960, so I kept giggle aout DBB every time they said the line - -"It's a lot easier to act your way into changing your thinking, than think your way into changing your acting."

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    2. Being retired, I don't preach often anymore, but I've also been thinking about Diana Butler Bass's idea of first belonging, then behaving, then believing.

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  4. Gosh, where is everybody today? LP is getting ready for her second week as a CIT at our UCC summer camp, and I need to leave around 1 to drive her there, so I'm trying to get started before she goes. Sadly, the idea for my sermon is already kicking me in the butt before I've written a single word, as I meant to talk about how we talk to each other on topics of great emotion, and of course I blew up over how it's impossible to find anything in her cluttered room, which is only the surface of the larger mother-daughter-soon-to-leave-home issues in our lives right now. So, aargh!
    Those amazing donuts did seem to help a little.
    But we are out of coffee, and I definitely need more.

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    1. (martha) - and there's the first three minutes of the sermon...
      I hate it when that happens.

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    2. Funny. You could always tell when I was getting ready to leave home for something because my mom and I had our BIGGEST fights.

      Hope you got more coffee. :)

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    3. Amy, it's the middle three, but it's in there. :-)

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  5. Quiet here today! I so enjoyed a walk on a morning cloudy and cool enough to require a sweatshirt.

    I'm on Elijah and I think that my general thesis is that the bread of angels supports us when all seems lost and prepares us to hear the voice of God. Communion Sunday, so it needs to be shorter than it's going to be on the first go-round.

    My neighbor brought tomatoes and grapes over: come and share!

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    1. Oooh. I wish it was communion Sunday for us, since I'm also going with Elijah. I remembered today that I was going to have my husband make a bunch of loaves of bread to hand out half pieces to everyone during the hymn after the sermon. I remembere this afternoon. Guess THAT idea will get saved for three years later.

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  6. Good Morning Rev Gals!
    I am back after a crazy summer, and I have missed you.
    I am preaching John and 1 Kings tomorrow. And the connection I see between them at this point is that Elijah and the religious officials who see Jesus are having some perspective problems. Elijah just won the great Prophet Off and now he is cowering in fear? Fear messes up his perspective and causes him to forget that God will provide.
    For the religious leaders, they just can't redefine terms to begin to understand. "Bread? How can he be bread?"
    Not really sure where it is going from there.
    First I'm going to sit with a family at the hospital while 10 year old Mikayla has a spinal tap. (Prayers appreciated).

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    1. Prayers ascending from Californua for you and Mikayla and her family.

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    2. praying here too - hopefully done by now.

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    3. Thanks. The procedure went well. They should know more tomorrow. Mikayla was fine through it all. It was the family who had to watch helplessly from the sidelines who were worried!

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    4. Spinal taps are not fun to watch. A very helpless feeling. I am sure they are thankful you were able to sit with them, too.

      I'm thinking about God-the-nag who won't let Elijah just sleep when he has a call, something to do. He fills him with bread/cakes (very filling since it sustains him for 40 days) and sends him on his way. Works well for us as we're still working through a transformation process that would be easy to skip, just keep doing what we're doing, just keep resting, AND starting some new adult Bible studies and small groups - - bread for the journey.

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  7. Is everyone on vacation? Mine starts Monday, and I am so ready....

    Meanwhile, I SWORE I was not going to do John and the bread of life again this week, but I feel strangely drawn by Elijah under the broom tree and the bread of life. And I am preaching tomorrow afternoon at "Chapel on the Green" in nearby Ivy City and that fits better for that context and do I really want to write two separate versions vs. a longer and shorter version? I dont think so. So let the Holy Spirit blow where she will.

    Martha, I know the angst and the surface blow-ups at that stage of parenting...it is so hard, especially when it is the last chickie to leave the nest. Hugs to you and LP!

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    1. I think we probably have a lot of vacations. I was gone the last two weeks myself.

      I totally understand the desire NOT to write two separate sermons! I say, go with what's speaking to you that you can adapt to both places.

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    2. No vacation here, just family reunion followed by General Convention followed by more family. Then there's work. ;-)

      Today was the stewardship workshop with a lot of emphasis on gratefulness and prayer. It may add a little spice to the menu but I'm sticking with Elijah and the bread of life. I like marciglass' notes about Elijah resorting to fear for his life and the Jews just not being able to change the way they have always seen Jesus.

      I, too, have two places tomorrow so I'm going for short, I think. Also have a home communion. Long day topped off with a cook-out with clergy friends. A weekend full of feeding and being fed!

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  8. I've been gone for a few weeks up at Drew University working on that DMin. And, may I just say that I am glad to be home? I am preaching Ephesians tomorrow and talking about "growing into" this body of Christ with the head of Jesus. In fact, I'm calling the sermon "The Big Head of Jesus" and noting that like my kitten and her big ears, we have to grow into it. Also, in dealing with anger and forgiveness, particularly in today's political climate, I found some inspiration here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/08/08/2259027/wheeler-strongly-disagree-with.html

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    1. Good for you, DMin worker!!! I'm giggling just a little because when I worked at the seminary bookstore for workstudy we always called the DMins the demons because they drove us crazy with their out of this world requests. I'm sure you're not one of them. In fact I'm sure Amazon has taken all the fun out of a seminary bookstore job.

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    2. Ha! The demons! That's good stuff. But, of course, I was an angel during my time on campus.

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  9. It's John for me--and the Jesus who meets our every hunger and thirst with himself. People have been sharing their stories with me and I feel the need to let this Jesus of John 6 encourage, comfort, and lift them up.

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    1. Isn't it wonderful when the text just lends itself right to what is needed. Good for you for letting the HOly Spirit connect their stories with THE story.

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  10. We have been out house hunting. Not preaching this week. Thanks for all your prayers in the search for a new place. We found one that is much nicer than the last for only $45 more with nice management. The minute we walked in we knew it was the right place. Deo Gratias.

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    1. YAY!! so happy for y'all - traipsing about in this heat is not. fun. at. all.

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    2. Yippee for successful house hunting!!!

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  11. I'm sitting around trying to get over a cold and avoid it becoming a sinus infection. But I should probably start working on something, since sermon thoughts have been swirling in my head ever since text study on Tuesday (before I got sick!). I'm preaching David and Absalom--not pretty, but necessary for the overall David story, which is coming to an end.

    Hoping I will be well enough tomorrow to preach--but I'm handing everything else off to our deacons. I could possibly ask someone else to preach, but it hardly seems fair to spring that on someone, since it is this really tragic story.

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    1. So sorry for your stupid summer cold and especially its stupid timing. Not that there's good timing for a summer cold anyway. Well, feel better! And blessings as you work with David adn Absalom!

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    2. Wait, there's a way to prevent a cold from becoming a sinus infection? Please, share!

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    3. It's not foolproof by any means, esperanza, but I am trying to decongest and expectorate my way out of this one...drinking lots of fluid and taking lots of medicine. Not antihistamine which dries up your secretions and not cough suppressant...I'm trying to MAKE my nose run and my lungs cough to get this stuff OUT!

      This means a ton of nose blowing and going to the bathroom, but I'm hopeful if not hopelessly optimistic that it might just work. :)

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  12. Holy cow...can I ever procrastinate! What I've noticed the last few weeks is that if I sleep til I wake up and then go for a run I am FAR more likely to just be starting my writing at mid-afternoon...I need to get a grip on that trend. Meanwhile, since posting last I've opened a document and added a heading, taken a package to the UPS store for a return, stopped by the Hallmark store to get my mother a birthday card (and oogle the Christmas ornaments) gone to S*bux for a skinny latte, and fixed myself a salad for a late lunch. Perhaps I need to get down to serious sermonating.

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    1. Christmas ornaments in August? Do they keep them up year round at Hallmark or is it really starting that early?

      Sermonating early is overrated. :)

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    2. Hallmark "debuts" their Christmas ornament collection in July. I started buying an ornament for each child every Christmas (and as years went on, for myself too) and I'm continuing the tradition for the grandchildren. Just looking today though!

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  13. I'm in the same place as most everyone else. 'Cept I have nothing left to do today (hopefully) except write. I've played with some crazy sermon titles and lots of questions since returning from vacation and feel the need to be more 'normal'. . which sounds like boring. I wonder whom is really bored? (me?)
    Concentrating on 1Kings 19. It is a good story and trying not to turn the opportunity to preach about depression into the only thing I say. sigh.. oh for a grounding theme...

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    1. This week is going to be a "normal" week for me too after a summer that has had way less normal than creative. I think there are a good number of folks who will appreciate normal, but then there are people like me who have sort of seen that creative week after week can be sustained and is life giving. We're going to be sort of moping tomorrow. I think I"ll use this year of the Narrative Lectionary that starts in September as a way to fold more experiential pieces into worship. It's been fun this summer!

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  14. Blogger ate my comment! Rats- Anyway - preaching on Christ shaped community and using the experience of leading discussion for our presbytery using MN Council of Churches process "Respectful Conversations" Maybe as much as anything I am preaching to myself in this time when all kinds of conversations so quickly go off the rails. Back at it. Sometime soon I better get going on the funeral for Monday morning...

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    1. Bloggers been eating my stuff all day. Finally seem to have a good connection now. Sounds like direction is VERY timely!

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  15. I'm not preaching this week, God BLESS that deacon I say, but have just taken 20 beautiful two-cheese biscuits out of the oven, and, friends, though I says it as shouldn't -- ANGEL FEATHERS!!! Truly! Wish you were here to enjoy them while they're hot!

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    1. And God bless your biscuits! (That sounds very different when I type it than it did in my head.)

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  16. Please remind me to never, ever preach on Ephesians again.
    Ever.

    Never. Ever.

    Thank you.

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    1. If I ever hear about it ahead of time, don't worry. I will. Holding you in prayer.

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    2. You're making me glad that I backed off on that idea, even as struggle with the whole bread of life thing again!

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  17. I am having horrible troubles getting Blogger to listen to my typing on my iPad. Unfortunate since most of the day I have been far from a real computer. I'm hoping it'll start working better now. Miraculously or something.

    So, it's been super quiet around here. Sorry I've been such an absentee host. In addition to computer issues I spent a few hours with my family at the county Farm City Day. It's a pretty neat affair where one of the farms hosts an education day. We got a tour of the cow barns, milking parlor, calf nursery, calving area, etc etc. Antique tractors were on hand for climbing and a cool old thresher and bailer pair. Free lunch! Free ice cream! All the free milk you can drink, although they may not offer that next year after my family alone took care of like 15 little cartons. My kids are such milk drinkers!

    This is my first sermon back in a while. I was gone for a couple of weeks (during which I met more RevGals IRL than I ever thought I would!!!!) for vacation and continuing ed. The week before I left we had a creative outside service. I may have preached the one before that, but before that was VBS week, etc etc. I haven't had a lot of normal sermons this summer, so I'm a little out of practice.

    Anyway, I'm heading back to read posts. Welcome - - even though the day is more than half over. Does anyone need anything?

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  18. I need an end to my sermon... Can I just say Paul says "Act like Jesus and don't be a jerk" ? Probably not...

    thinking about something I read earlier in the week Brian McLaren in his HuffPo piece Fertile Summer for Violence ended with
    "We are increasingly faced with a choice, I believe, not between kindness and hostility, but between kindness and nonexistence."

    The stakes are high - Kindness as not just "nice", it is life or death. For churches, for our nation, for the world... and on that cheery note I will get back to work.

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    1. Seriously tempted to end my sermon with McLaren... and then the jerk line anyway. :)

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    2. kzj- let me know how that works for you ;-)

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    3. Working in the McLaren piece now. Thanks for the heads up on it.

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    4. I'm thinking the "jerk" line is brilliant ... especially because as I type this I'm on hold with customer (not) service and "jerk" sounds like a much better option

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    5. Took out McLaren, putting in "Act like Jesus, don't be a jerk."

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    6. I managed not to be a jerk. But that might have more to do with the fact that the "right" customer service was closed and did not answer the phone. Which means I'll have to talk to them *after* the sermon ... which means I should take a nap first, too because that will increase the possibility that I will actually put in action what I have already preached.

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  19. Celeste, the Brian McL comment sounds like a good way to end any sermon. I think mine is lame, but I figure just telling the kings story and showing how it can apply to us may be enough. I'll go back and edit for 'lameness'
    I don't post from my iPad, sherev. I wish it would work better tho. I hope to someday eliminate the computer, at least the laptop and only check in with the desk top for backups. wouldn't that be nice?
    Also, would like to hear your ideas about the narrative lectionary for fall. I strugle to keep the creativity up and the congregation is pretty open to it if I don't 'dry up'.

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  20. Ugh...I have a draft but I think I"m about to go back and rewrite the last part b/c I'm pretty sure it's drivel.

    Soooo ready for vacation.

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    1. Me too... but I just came back from it. :(

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  21. I have a draft from yesterday on the bread of heaven, which I have so far avoided. (Ephesians must have scared me more, kathrynzj!). I have been dragging all day today, though. Sooo tired. I took a nap, which didn't help. The two cuties did not help at all. Their worst escapade was sprinkling fajita seasoning all over the living room. One of those that will be funny later. Much later.

    So, I'm not exactly in a pious frame of mind. Luckily, I'm going to the least pious supply congregation tomorrow. Not coincidentally, they are my favorite. Also not coincidentally, they always take me out to lunch (out of six congregations, they are the only ones. Explain that to me).

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  22. I really am not excited about what I've written so far. But at this point I need to plow through and hope the Spirit sprinkles the Holy Dust on it. Just think lovely, wonderful thoughts...

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  23. Add me to the list of needing a better ending. Not happy with the last phrase...I'm off lectionary but posted it anyway. Thinking Outloud: Why Worship?"

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    1. To be a fly on the wall as your people think out loud with you...

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  24. Purple,I look forward to reading yours, love the title. I've got a draft, it's better than it was, that might not be saying much. ah well. it tells the story, now to work on really knowing the details of manna so I can tell it well.

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  25. I've got a draft, but I'm almost afraid to read it again. Maybe after ice cream. Ben and Jerry's S'mores, anyone?

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  26. Does that Ben and Jerry's come with a hymn sing?

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    1. Hymn sings for everybody then!

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    2. More fun at your church than most, I'm thinking.

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  27. Okay, here's mine: Before You Speak. Seriously, next week, no Ephesians.

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    1. Seriously, I like yours better than mine even if they say mostly the same thing. Yours says it well

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  28. I did bread two weeks in a row so I thought Ephesians was a better choice than bread for 3. I wish I had chosen a vacation or a hymn sing or a youth Sunday or a "Remember your baptism and be thankful" day at the lake or ...

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  29. Anyone else preaching on Ephesians?

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    1. Tomorrow only.
      Then... never again.

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    2. Plenty of us, most suffering with it. ;-)

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    3. Good to know that I'm not the only one sssstrrruuuugllliiiiinnnng...

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    4. 11:39 est and I just cut two pages so no, you're not the only one struggling.

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    5. I just don't know what I was thinking. I almost feel like I could read it and say, "Well, there it is folks. Amen."

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    6. I have a friend who sometimes writes his sermons with the exact number of words that were in the reading. He says something to the effect of, "If that's all it took the Spirit to say it, who am I to try to say it in more?" It's a neat discipline to try sometime, but not necessarily one that would work in EVERY worship setting. :)

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  30. Oh my. 10:25 p.m. and I'm just opening the blank page. So hard to get back in the swing of things. I'm looking forward to preaching again tomorrow, but unfortunately, that excitement has not yet extended to actually writing the sermon to preach. It's somewhat in my head, but there are a lot of blanks in it still. It's an outline, really, but I need a little more than that. It was a strange first week back with only two days actually in the office at it's biting me in the rear now.

    Oh well. I have an hour and a half to get something typed. Then I get to go to bed.

    Who else is still up? Looks like Leanne at least.

    semfem - - I hope you're nursing your cold and already in bed. No sleeping in your chair tonight. You need a good, real bed. (And yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I know you now!!!)

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    1. Yep, I'm still up. And about as far along as you are. I keep finding things to distract. :-)

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    2. I'm here, too. I'm almost ready to hit print. That does not necessarily mean I'm ready to preach, if you know what I mean. I'm hoping that the Holy Spirit will make this sincere attempt at the imitation of Christ more palatable than imitation cream cheese (or whatever bad substitute you can name).

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    3. My Internet connection pooped out last evening, which not coincidentally, helped me get the sermon done so I could get to bed by 11 pm (in a proper bed!). Whew. Still, I was so exhausted after just one service...after two, I cancelled my afternoon appointment and went home and took a nice long nap. Still feeling crummy, but at least I can rest now.

      (And YAY! I'm excited to have met you too She Rev!)

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  31. Lots of things to distract. My latest distraction is thinking about why I'm getting distracted from writing this particular sermon, as opposed to every other sermon (as if my reason for distraction might be different each time).

    What I've come up with - - - I think I preach great sermons to the church. I think I preach crappy sermons, or really, more accurately, no sermons to the people in the church. In other words I preach to the corporate Body of Christ, but not the individual members of it. I started to realize this while I was away and with the help of the results of a survey our congregation took for the transformation we are in. I think sermons to the church about being the church, the body of Christ in the world, are missing from a lot of "all about me and Jesus" churches, but I'm beginning to realize that swinging the pendulum in the other direction isn't much better. Here's the problem, and maybe a scandalous one to admit - - I'm not so sure I'm confident enough in my own experience and understanding of a personal faith to preach about it. Hmmmm.... Decided to try to go more personal with this sermon about 1 Kings and John instead of so corporate, but talking about being fed personally by the bread of life, the cakes that will sustain for 40 days at a time, feels very very foreign to me.

    Rev Nancy's sermon was a great start to read. Now to try to write my own without unintentionally lifting hers. THAT'S a challenge (and why I don't usually read until mine is done).

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    1. Maybe don't worry about how many days. Can you talk about being fed by the bread of life at all?

      I remember one Children's Time I asked the adults to raise their hands if they believed God worked in people's lives and almost every hand went up. Then I said leave your hand up if you have experienced the presence of God in your life. And a lot more hands went down than I expected. It shifted my assumptions about people and their experiences of God. It made me remember a conversation about helping people identify or recognize God at work in their lives. Sometimes people don't "name" experiences as God at work because they fail to recognize it so we have to intentionally share our experiences so others have something to help them recognize their own experiences.

      I have obviously moved into rambling which is a sign I should go on to bed. I hope there is something helpful in that.

      If not, it is another comment.

      Blessings on your Sunday!

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    2. There is something helpful in that. Very much in fact.

      Two days ago, recognizing that I really need to work on and nurture my personal faith and recognition of God's presence and activity in my life, I started to jot things down in a separate journal at the end of the day. I've been trying to pay more attention, not to the great parking spot I get and calling that a "God moment," but the little words, the sights, the hugs, the acts of grace I experience but rarely connect to God who is either in them or like them or moving through them - - as simple as my 5 year old pointing out that I must be tired because I'm grumpy (the loving correction of God); my new haircut that rightly or wrongly reminded me that there there is, I am, a new creation; the grace of my spouse who very easily and justifiably could have been furious that he had to drive all the way home from work 90 minutes after he got there to let me in the garage after I locked myself out and my car in. Being more attentive is feeding me. Looking for things that connect my intellectual and all-too-communal faith to ME is feeding me in ways I haven't been fed in a long time.

      I'm not sure that my own example is the best to preach right now. It feels too new, too intimate, too raw right this minute. I might write about it soon, but I don't think I can preach it, but your idea, Vicar (and your support, Leanne!) is right on. The cakes lasted for 40 days, but the bread of life comes daily, hourly, every single second of every single minute. It doesn't have to last for 40 days, because it is fresh and new every morning. We can be fed every time we are hungry.

      Thank you, friends. With that. I will go to bed!

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  32. Good morning, preachers!!! I know I'm not the only one up, but we all have our different routines so some are praying, some our showering, some are enjoying that early pot of coffee. I'm writing, of course, but I'm right on track.

    Blessings to everyone as we prepare to let the Word of God be spoken through the words we have crafted. Peace to you all!

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  33. Good morning all. Blessings friends as you bring God's challenging and life changing Word to the people and places you serve. As for me, I need coffee ( and I am coveting Martha's donuts or Eileen's angel biscuits)

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