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Saturday, September 22, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: Choosing Greatness Edition

PEACE

Remember back in gym class when the class needed to be divided into two teams, and the two team captains got to form their teams by taking turns choosing who was the best ... then the next best ... and so on?

Do they still do that?   

Still, judgments do get made, and people get ranked and chosen (or not).  Even Jesus reveals what it takes to get to be (chosen?) first in his realm.

So ...

Are you taking the measure of the good woman (wife?) in Proverbs?

Are you challenged to reap the harvest of righteousness recommended by James?

Then there's Jeremiah's advice to let God be the judge!

Great scriptures this week -- you choose!

WELCOME to the 11th Hour Preacher Party!

If this is your first time here, please let us know. New friends are always welcome!

If you are a regular party guest, we have been expecting you!    

The coffee is hot and Fair Trade. Help yourselves!

The snack table is open for treats -- sweet or savory.

Please share great (you judge!) illustrations, stories, children's sermon ideas and connections to current events.  Post a link to your sermon if you would like us to take a look.

Let the party begin!

111 comments:

  1. I have far too many snacks around--fudge, chocolate cookies, chips, Australian licorice, and more--so if you are a sweets in the morning person (or up late like me)--grab a handful!

    I am preaching on Proverbs; it will probably be a more didactic sermon than usual, but I think I can get away with that on occasion. The assorted material I have about the passage (thanks, Wil!...among others) really is darned interesting. I just wish I had it all pulled together, because Saturday is jam packed. Instead, I am busy playing a new solitaire game...

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    1. Good morning, Betsy, and thanks for the snacks. Sweets + early morning coffee = YUM!

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  2. how short is too short for a sermon??? 9.15 pm on Saturday night and I have 437 words, it does need an ending, but just not that into it.
    Betsy, is Australian licorice different in some way?
    I must stop procrastinating and hope some life is breathed into these words.

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    1. We know we'll hear about a too-long sermon. You can tell us if anyone thinks yours is too short!

      Many blessings!

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    2. So long as you make your point and give them a little food for fodder, you're done. Someone once said to me - sermons can be like a full multi-course brunch or they can be just a bowl of cereal - either way people are fed.

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    3. I don't know how to describe the difference, but yes, Aussie licorice is different! We can buy it here, but this is the genuine article, brought by our Australian exchange student :-)

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  3. Good morning! I have a long day so the sermon is done; I just re-read it and I'm ok with it. It's drawn from Mark and entitled "Welcome Wonder" - when Jesus calls us to become like children, he calls us to become people of freedom, independence, and wonder.

    This morning I'm off to a UMC workshop on Passionate Worship and this evening it's back to the county fair, where we participate in a ministry of driving folks in golf carts from parking lot to fair entrance. And in between there are some very sick people to visit.

    I'm happy to share whatever breakfast the Methodists produce this morning.

    Have a great day, everyone!

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    1. Robin. Thanks for that - I think you have just given me my way in. Children do wonder - I look forward to developing that thought today. I didn't expect to be preaching this week so, although I rarely write before Saturday, it is percolating in my head - not so this week - have to bring something together quicker than usual. so glad you're all here to help!
      While I write I have blackberries turning themselves into jelly - happy to share.

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  4. Good morning, french press coffee and peanut butter toast anyone? I'm supplying again this week at the parish of the holy grain silos (it's literally in the middle of a corn field and there are silos in the parking lot).

    I've been playing around all week with a rough paraphrase from Krista Tippett's interview with Jonathan Sach's last week, "reconciliation can only be achieved when the victors realize that there are victims to their victories". I'm reading the James and the Gospel through the lens of this quote and working with the idea that the Gospel rejects the notion of winning and losing--because if one wins another loses. In fact, in my reading of James (and research into the historical interpretations of the community the epistle was addressing) I'm putting the notion of winning and losing into the framework of conventional and foolish wisdom. In this contentious and ugly election season (I'm not sure there is any other kind of election season) I think this preaches...

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    1. Last week I gave essentially a mini-sermon before the Prayers of the People based on that interview, and spoke about how we are called to enlarge our vision. It seemed especially important after the week that preceded it and in this election season. I'm looking forward to reading your sermon!

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    2. I will have to check out that interview, Joy. It sounds inspiring and challenging.

      Ahh . . . the joys and challenges of preaching and pastoring in an election season, and I agree that this year seems especially difficult. I confess that I find myself in "fight or flight" mode a lot.

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    3. That quote from the Tippet interview is fabulous. I may have to use it as it just fits right in with the draft I just wrote. We'll see. My sermon is on the way-too-long side so I have to cut some of it....

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    4. It's a rough paraphrase and I don't think I'm going to have time to listen to the podcast again before tomorrow...would someone please talk to my two year old about the importance of a nap? IF he naps it will go up on my blog--if not, I'll be working from outline tomorrow!

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  5. OK, done. shortish, but over 900 words, and I am reading a poem earlier in the service as well, so overall I think it will be OK.

    mountain of peace

    time for a cuppa and some sleep, it feels like it has been a long week, not sure why.

    I'll come and say Hi in the morning

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    1. Sounds perfect! Sweet dreams, pearl!

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  6. I am preaching on James and Mark tomorrow about how God's realm puts us in our place, contrasting that with the place we take for ourselves and the places where we would like to put others. Or something like that.

    I have just returned from a two week vacation to Texas (my birth state) and have two more weeks here (in eastern PA) before finishing my interim ministry and moving to Louisiana (my adopted state). I am strangely calm and excited about that, as opposed to all-out panicked. On the other hand, I'm "just" leaving for now; the "move" will come when the house sells.

    The good news is that there may be a ministry thing for me to do down there; a couple of options are in play. The other good news is that there is a house showing each of the next three days. So -- (the "fun" news) -- I go to spruce up the place.

    I may also make a quick trip to the grocery store. Anyone need anything???

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    1. Sharon, peace does seem to be radiating through your words. Good luck on the showings in the next few days. Here's hoping some of the people who walk through your front door will fall in love with your house!

      Great news on those ministry options. The plural is always a good thing.

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    2. Sharon, I'm so excited for you! Blessings on all that unfolds.

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    3. Sharon- can't wait to hear how this unfolds. Blessings dear one!

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  7. Goodness Sharon, you are walking in faith these days! But I suspect your sense of peace is well-founded and will stand you in good stead for what is ahead.

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  8. I have what I think is a solid draft that poured out of me this morning. I spent some time last night reading, reflecting, and organizing a template of the sermon building off of a theme. I am not usually that organized - usually I just pick up a thread, find an illustration that works for that thread, and start writing...allowing what is going to unfold come out. Sometimes that is a very Spirit led process...and sometimes not. :-)

    Anyway, I'll see what I think of the draft when I come back to it in awhile...but first - breakfast! Bacon and scrambled eggs using fresh garden harvested potatoes, tomatoes, and green pepper. And, of course, more coffee!

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    1. Passing my plate for some of that goodness, Terri! Great to see you here and thanks for your encouragement.

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    2. Send some of the over here - and send the Spirit, too! Congrats on having a solid draft already!!

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  9. Good morning from The Holy Donut! I'm leaning on a sustainable, though updated, sermon this week. This morning, I'm working on the lecture for my Introductoon to Christian Worship class, which meets on Monday afternoon. I came here with my books to avoid the temptation of the Internet...ahem.
    Anyway, I am open to ideas for a Children's message about the way the disciples argued.
    I'll be back later when I've finished my "homework."

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    1. Hi Martha! You are really enjoying leading your Christian Worship class. They are fortunate!

      Children's message ideas, anyone?

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    2. You could maybe do something about the idea of giving without getting anything in return...there might be some fun ways to illustrate that (perhaps even giving each child something small--eg a cut paper heart--and asking them to give it to someone else?)

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    3. Is there a place really named "Holy Donut"?

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    4. Karla, there really is. Let's make a date for you to come here, and we'll go.

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  10. Starting Stewardship season here. This year, the committee has recruited people to stand up and speak for about 5 minutes about stewardship - how they understand/practice it. Then the preacher will tie their thoughts in with the readings that day for another 5 minutes or so. Today is the first one of those, so we will see how it goes. I have asked the committee to listen critically and give me feedback afterwards.
    I'm tying the stewardship talk into the Proverbs reading this week, throwing in a bit about Jesus' wife (-: and the Bride of Christ image we use for the church as the perfect wife in Proverbs.
    First, I will go give the Personal Reflection at the funeral of a friend today. I have neither the reflection or the sermon written yet, so I'll swap some cinnamon rolls for some chocolate and go settle into my writing chair.

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    1. You are too funny, Amy, about Jesus' wife. I saw that on Colbert (or was it Stewart?) this week. Wouldn't it be great if the fascination that Jesus might have been married could translate to some enthusiasm in the church for being the Bride of Christ? Nice lectionary connections.

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  11. Tomorrow is the third (and last) Sunday of our stewardship season. The idea is to celebrate success but we are not sure how successful it has been so I am walking a bit of a thin line. We have a guest speaker for 5 mins - and I hope she sticks to her time (always a worry for a control freak like me!)

    Children's time will probably be talking about the trip to Iona last weekend (AMAZING!!!) I bought a Puffin puppet - now I just need to work out how to build that into the talk (one suggestion on the bus was that there is a Puffin in the bible - Moses was huffin and puffin when he climbed Mount Horeb) but I think I will just use it to link into talking about "thin places" - places where we feel closer to God. (Had an amazing Donkey puppet a few weeks ago and talked about the talking Donkey in the bible -lots of skeptical face!)

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    1. Puffin puppet sounds so cute, Tanya! You will have some fun conversations with that!

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  12. Week Four of a James series for me. Sermon is mostly written, unusual for me, but I was reviewing my notes yesterday, got an idea and started writing. It's really rough and I'll have some major editing to do, but it's good to know that I have something ready.

    Because today we have to go and do our parental duty and work concessions at the volleyball tournament - one of the joys of being a junior parent and hosting the after-prom party. And we have to finish putting the garden to bed. And I have to pack for the synod conference, since I'll leave right after worship.

    Considering how busy today is, I'm not in too bad of a place as far as getting ready for worship. I think I might kinda like this Friday-sermon writing thing.

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    1. What a full day, ramona! Hope to see you here later.

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  13. hey. I'm in and out today, (mostly out). Not preaching. having a hard time concentrating. trying to figure out a children's message, on James.

    will be back later and try to interact with everyone more....

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    1. Hi Diane, glad to see you.

      If you come up with a children's message, please let us know!

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    2. I think it is hard to find a sermon for adults from James, let alone for children! Good luck.

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  14. Good morning, good people! And happy fall, y'all! I love, love, love this season. I do not love, love, love the day and weekend I have ahead of me!

    I wish I were on lectionary with y'all! We are doing a sermon series for the whole fall, on life together - basic practices of being church together. Tomorrow I am preaching on prayer. That's right - prayer - one little sermon on one big topic. I'm having a hard time figuring out where to grab hold on this one. We are selecting texts each week (I'm using Luke's - "teach us to pray" and Lord's Prayer, along with Paul's "pray without ceasing), but still these are topical not textual sermons. A totally different approach for me!

    Anyway, I'm kind of in full-on avoidance mode. Been sitting at the computer doing everything BUT my sermon.

    Meanwhile, this weekend is full of many other things - a wedding, a funeral, a farewell party for a church family, etc. UGH!

    I do at least have chocolate chip pumpkin muffins to share. Help yourselves!

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    1. I know what you mean Earthchick. Prayer could be a month of sermons.

      I'm always looking for thematic type ideas (no sense in re-inventing the wheel). If you get a chance...what are the themes for the worship services?

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    2. There would be so many ways of walking through the basic practices of life together, but this is what we came up with (with most of the credit going to my husband/co-pastor - he sketched out some themes, and I suggested some changes until we came to something we both felt good about).

      Each sermon title starts with "Life Together" and then focuses on a specific practice. We are doing this series in conjunction with an all-church small group experience using the Unbinding Your Heart book by Martha Grace Reese:
      Life Together Growing (this was the opening sermon to set the tone for everything)
      Life Together Praising
      Life Together Praying
      Life Together Discerning (includes listening, reading Scripture, etc.)
      Life Together Befriending
      Life Together Inviting
      Life Together Giving
      Life Together Equipping (includes teaching, discipling, mentoring, etc.)
      Life Together Caring
      Life Together Serving
      Life Together Staying (based on the Benedictine value of stability - the other two values listening/obedience and conversion/growing being covered in other sermons)
      Life Together Doing Justice, Loving Kindness, and Walking Humbly with our God (a wrap-up based on Micah 6:8, which is a central text for our church - our church slogan/part of our logo)

      That will take us to the beginning of Advent, when we'll get back on the lectionary.

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    3. Thank you for sharing this idea, earthchick. I have dreamed of using the Martha Grace Reese book with a congregation. I'm inspired!

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    4. Thanks, Sharon! We've spent the last two years taking 20% of our congregation (some core leaders) through Unbinding the Gospel, and I'm excited that we're now at the point of offering the experience to the full congregation. There are a lot of good resources and downloads on the gracenet website, including curriculum for including children and youth in the Unbinding experience. There are even 6 weeks of sermons to use in conjunction with the 6-week study, with the idea of freeing up the pastor(s) for focusing on the small group event. But we are "rolling our own" so to speak. Feels strange to me to try to tailor someone else's sermons to my congregation.

      Anyway, we are kicking off the small group event on October 7, and I'm excited to see how it goes! I'll keep y'all posted.

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  15. I'm taking the line on the vulnerability of children both then and now. And that sometimes they are distinctly unlovely. So Jesus is calling us to love the unlovely and vulnerable. It's all a bit ponderous but then I have been feeling pretty sick all week and totally exhausted -- stress in the parish. I just want to sleep, and sleep, and sleep. I need some of that Spirit, Terri!
    A parishioner has just given me a lovely box of home-made biscuits as a thank you for burying her (unchurched) son and I'll get far too fat if I eat them all, so please have some!

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    1. To go with those delicious biscuits, I have some honey butter or some Italian Plum Jam that my daughter made.

      I hope you can take good care of yourself and feel better, Pat. Don't you wish that parish stress could be eased by chocolate or biscuits or something delicious like that?

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    2. Definitely -- except that then I'd be the size of a house!

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  16. Everyone is working hard today. I'm more in the procrastinating stage. But I only need to do a 5 minute reflection as we have Young Adults sharing their created worship based on the YA conference in June. I'm excited to have them lead and grateful that because of it, I slipped away to the Eastern Shore for 3 days this week!
    the next 3 weeks are crazy! Like is true for most of you. I love the James ideas and preach from it next week. Joy, I love the ideas you've shared! will you be posting a sermon?

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    1. Nice, Nancy! What a blessed day to look forward to tomorrow!

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    2. The Eastern Shore must have been lovely this time of year...haven't been there for years, and I think it might be time for a visit (I went to high school there and loved Ocean City and Assateague.)

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  17. Back home with more reading to do, but I did all my errands, so there's a sense of accomplishment nevertheless. One of those was to pick up a bestseller at Trader Joe's that I just heard about last night: Cookie Butter. I hear you can spread it on toast, pancakes, waffles, graham crackers...hmmm, where to start?

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    1. Anywhere, right ? ! ? ! Do report back!

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    2. What IS this cookie butter that I hear people talking about? Cookie flavored butter? I'm confused!

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    3. 1) My only available receptive surface was some high-quality multi-grain bread, which I toasted lightly.
      2) Cookie Butter is delicious on it. It has a sort of gingerbread flavor.
      3) The ingredients do not bear close examination.
      4) I will almost certainly eat some more.

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    4. Cookie butter is awesome. So,far the best thing I have found to convey it to my taste buds is a spoon...direct from the jar. But then I am not particular!

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  18. Mine is up Okay Jesus, I Think I Get It

    is that too arrogant of a title?

    Still working on the end, which lead to the title, so those pieces may change. Thankfully we never print a title so I'm not locked in to it :-)

    Now. I have to go do some work at the church. Like a bulletin board. sigh.

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  19. Hi everyone...trying to get something on paper at a busy Panera. I've been away part of the week and thinking hard about the Mark text, and have some scattered thoughts about fear and squabbling and a very different social picture of children. Hopefully this will congeal into a sermon sooner rather than later, as I have a social gathering to attend this evening. Loving seeing what everyone else is working on out there!

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  20. Good afternoon preachers!

    Lots of good ideas floating here! I am a bit torn between James and Mark; I preached on James last week so I may go with Mark this week influenced by Working Preacher commentaries on not being afraid to ask the hard questions. In many ways that is a fitting topic for my congregation.

    May need to make a *bux run for a skinny mocha....and I also have some bulletin board work to do, Terri. We have a new "outside" bulletin board that needs to have some welcoming and informative stuff on it.

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  21. Mine's up.

    I have a question for y'all. I just returned from a workshop on Passionate Worship, much of which was excellent, some not so much (but the latter stimulated great discussion, mostly having to do with theology found -- or not -- in contemporary music).

    There was a great emphasis on sending people out of worship with something to DO; that there should always be a takeaway to the tune of discipleship in the form of action.

    I think that my preaching tends to be more reflective and, if pressed to think about it more (which now I have been), I would say that I am much more interested in helping people see possibilities for being rather than doing. Not that I am in the least opposed to doing -- but I guess I am more interested in offering my congregation ways of interpreting what they are hearing than in exhorting them to do.

    Any reactions? (While I go out and DO in the form of visitation.)

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    1. For me, it's both/and. Really don't they go hand and hand (understanding, seeing possibilities, living out those possibilities)?

      My preaching does fall on the side of sending people out to do--not always something specific but living intentionally gospel values, recognizing that just coming to church is not all that is required of us. We need to be people of practice--prayer, study, action, it's all part of the picture.

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    2. Robin,

      I tend to go with reflective sermons, I think. Church is one place where there is time to think - I leave 2 minutes silence at the end of the sermon. hopefully the reflection helps people think about what they do and how they interact.
      I used to put a piece in the notice sheet each week, and sometimes t was a practice for people to try out - though not sure how many people actually tried :)

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    3. A nice way to reflect on the purpose of preaching and what is the desired outcome of a sermon. Mine this week is very much reflective, now I'm thinking that it's too much that way. Back to it!

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    4. Robin, I have changed the Charge at the end of the service to Invitation and Benediction. I generally say, "Your invitation as you leave this service today"...and then I generally add a reflective type question based on the text. This is one area where I tend to follow the Spirit's lead and sometime during the worship service it will come to me.

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  22. Yesterday I enjoyed some time in a nearby town and a really great sandwich with RevDrKate. Last week has been pretty intense with funeral and transition stuff. Tomorrow there will be a significant meeting after worship on the state of the church finances and the members vision for a future. Feels weird to no longer think of that future as "ours" and yet know it is time. We have a guest vocalist tomorrow who tends to go long so with the after worship meeting, I need the shortest sermon possible... back at it. I just picked up Mockingjoy and the latest Spencer Fleming from the library - I would really rather be enjoying the fall sunshine reading in my backyard.

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    1. Are you making new plans? Do they know? What's next?

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    2. Sharon, yes they know. Dec 2 is my last preaching day. Nothing lined up yet for what's next. Church pastor somewhere that is not driven by fear. I am in the search process. It is time and we are ready. Can't wait to see you and compare stories in January

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  23. Solving my time conundrum by combining sermon and Time with Young Disciples on welcoming others the way we would welcome Jesus. Not optimal but for tomorrow it seems like the best option. Now to make it work.

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  24. Putting together a brief (3-5 minute) sermon for the Day Shelter where I work. Heavily influenced by "Reading the Gospel with the Damned" thus focusing on Mark and the children.

    Just got back from getting one of the worst haircuts of my life. Briefly considered chopping off my head and then made a call to my colorist. Fingers crossed that she has time to fix it before I go out in public tomorrow. I knew it was bad when he took the electric clippers to my bangs.

    So glad I don't have to write a manuscript sermon with this haircut!!!!!!

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    1. Oh, dear. That's not a very nice way to feel. I hope things improve!

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    2. Ouch! Good to have a back-up person to go to. Fingers crossed!

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    3. Hairdresser couldn't fit me in but assured me her associate could do the job. He did. Fabulously. Don't have to cut my head off or wear a paper bag over my head tomorrow. Now on to thinking about Mark in the context of the stories I've heard this week.

      I think it's a mark of maturity and security that I didn't break down in tears with the first hairdresser. That's a state I've only come to recently but glad to be in this state.

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    4. YEA! So glad you have that taken care of.

      I think that breaking down would have been totally understandable, but kudos that you didn't!

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  25. Soup for lunch Yum!

    I'm preaching off-lectionary on growth and growing pains... why it hurts so much to grow in new ways

    I was wondering if anyone can remember where I might have read this? (And I may be messing it up...) Sometime in the last week or so, a preacher talking about talking to children about baptism and communion, and being asked why we talk about death and resurrection so much. The preacher responded by saying that we do this over and over so that when death comes in the end, we won't be as scared as we've had practice.

    Hmmmm.

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  26. Whew, I just finished a draft! Off to the social gathering, and hopefully I can get it even more preachable after that (in addition to the other small things I need to complete before tomorrow).

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    1. Yea! Have fun, semfem, and we'll hope to see you later.

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    2. Sorry we missed you! I had to leave early to sermonate myself.

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    3. Ugh, I'm sorry we missed you too, Megan!

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  27. I'm basically off tomorrow, just visiting a 50th anniversary celebration at a church where I served for two years. They specifically asked me to bring the children, so I am. They also invited me to do the children's sermon (is that any way to treat a guest, I ask you!). Theme of the service is "remembrance." Hmm.

    Blessings to all of you working diligently. And not-so.

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    1. Esperanza, I would feel welcome to be asked to do that.

      Ideas???

      *Some* of us still don't have a children's message together.

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    2. I find it the most difficult thing of the entire service.

      I'm going with the "remembrance" theme...how do we remember things--note on the phone, camera to take a picture, string around finger (I'll have to explain that one), Bible as our remembrance of who we are and whose we are. Hope it works with the rest of the service.

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  28. Sermon draft waiting to be edited on the theme of being like children who are never afraid to ask what they want to know. Signs printed. Other sundry tasks attended to.

    Now my dilemma (and not a new one)...NO ONE will sign up to host coffee hour. All summer when we had just one service I provided lemonade, cookies and fruit (and heard grumbles about "where's the coffee?") I have announced/pleaded/begged for volunteers to sign up for the fall. Two weeks ago we had an ice cream social and there were enough left overs for last week, but no one has signed up. So do I provide it or let it go? Hospitality or enabling? Which is more important? I've generally come out in favor of hospitality (hence the summer lemonade) but I'm tired of it and I'm not sure I'm doing this congregation any favors.

    I was actually in the car on the way to the store to pick up some food and changed my mind...am I wrong to do this?

    Back story--shrinking and aging congregation used to clergy who TELL THEM WHAT TO DO or do it for them. For three years I've been trying to change the culture to little effect at least in part because I hate to just let things go--although many have "gone." Long history of passivity. We have a largish endowment that lets us keep going with a huge deficit each year and lets people feel like all they have to do is show up. Argh.

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    1. Perhaps I should send that question to the Matriarchs....

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    2. RDM, we've been dealing with this exact same problem!! (with the coffee hour) Like you, we (clergy and staff) have felt caught. It seems important to offer the hospitality for visitors, but it shouldn't fall on the staff. How to get people to step up is difficult - the older people have been doing it forever and are just tired; the younger people are busy and maybe are used to having services provided for them (maybe an overstatement).

      This would be a good question for AtM!!

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    3. Three possibilities spring immediately to mind (although that is a fantastic question for AtM, I hope you'll send it):
      1) Let it drop and see what happens. If you can stand it.
      2) If you can think of one or two or better yet three people who are more tuned into the idea of hospitality, invite them to be in charge of calling volunteers. Sign-up sheets are not, as you have seen, very effective in passive congregations.
      3) Or start with the people who complained about no coffee. Smile sweetly and say, "I know you wished we had coffee over the summer. Would you be willing to be on the coffee team to make sure we have it from now on?"
      I think it's fine to stop enabling. Otherwise you'll soon be the plumber and the janitor and ....

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    4. Bwahahaha.....I already am part time plumber and janitor. Among other things...

      I've tried #3 to no avail.

      No coffee tomorrow; we'll see what happens.

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    5. My mantra is "I don't do their homework for them"...I'll help, encourage, invite.

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    6. Pulling for you and the yet-to-be-revealed coffee mavens.

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  29. I should have written the sermon earlier in the week. I knew I should do that, and yet I didn't. Lots of other things, and some procrastination, and a sense of not quite knowing what it was going to say just yet...but now, after a totally (and in every way--mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically) exhausting funeral this morning, and some random stuff that just had to get done before worship tomorrow, and a nap because I could not keep my eyes open to read the scripture, let along write about it, it's after 6pm and I have nothing. And I'm still so tired that I'm pretty sure I could go to bed right now.
    On the bright side, I'm probably done crying for a while.
    On the dark side, I do not want to write a sermon. But I must.

    I'm on Mark, thinking about how we define greatness or success, and probably going somewhere about the two silences in the story--something like if the disciples had not held that first silence, they would have had no need of the second. Or something. The choir is singing Seasons of Love from Rent, at my request, so I have to end up with something about "measure your life in love." Pretty sure I can get there--it's the previous 10 minutes I'm concerned about.

    Thanks to a late night of cooking last night, I have more hummus and baba ganoush than you have ever seen. Help yourself--I don't like pita, but I have an assortment of veggies to dip! (and, if you're even remotely local, consider this your invitation to come over and get some. seriously.)

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    1. Sounds like a really strong framework for a sermon. You are probably further along than you realize.

      The hummus and baba ganoush are gratefully received. I read today about drying zucchini and yellow squash to use as chips for things like that. Wonder if anyone here has tried that?

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  30. Wrote part on Thursday and the last part this afternoon. I've let my practice of Sabbath on Friday slide quite a bit. I claimed it this week.

    Questions You Dare Not Ask...Or Do You?" is up.

    I was so tempted to say part of the sermon this way...
    It is possible to be first in God’s eyes…
    -we will be first to Jerusalem
    -we will ride asses into Jerusalem

    But I am using donkey instead.

    Philly sandwiches for dinner...Orders anyone?
    and a little low-carb vanilla ice cream as well.

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  31. OK. Calling it a night here. Sermon is mostly done - think it just needs a story or illustration of some kind - hoping one will filter through sleep. Otherwise we'll just be a bit shorter than usual.
    I DO have 12 jars of home made blackberry jelly to show for my procrastination today!
    Hope others can finish up soon.

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    1. Oh, the procrastination activities. You wouldn't believe how (uncharacteristically) clean and straight my house was for today's realtor showing. There was even mopping involved!

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  32. almost lunchtime, worship over and small attendance again.
    in the past 3 years our average attendance [annual] has gone from 53 per week to 50 per week. but this year, especially this winter, numbers have been very low, average 40 per week for the winter months [which are not cold compared to where some of you live]. Hopefully just a seasonal thing, otherwise we will need to do some thinking about what is happening - which I will need to raise it with Church Council.
    oh well, that is off my chest now :)

    blessings for those of you still writing.

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  33. Done, and it's fully texted and on my blog (just click on my name :) Anyone want celebratory libations--otherwise known as caramel sleepy time tea?
    http://reverendjoy.blogspot.com/

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  34. An amazing thing happened to me tonight. I spent 3+ hours in the freezing cold driving a golf cart around the county fair (part of a local ministry) and somewhere in the sea of mud that was the huge parking lot, I lost my keys. All of my keys, to two houses and the church. And my flash drive. I know that only because when I went to the fair office on the off chance that someone had found them and turned them in -- someone had! They are covered in mud - but some lovely anonymous person happened to look down in the dark and see them, and picked them up. An actual miracle.

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  35. Blessings on each of you. Get some sleep and walk that dog proudly in the morning. I am soon off to bed.

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  37. Football season is not sermon writing season for me. Just after 10:00 p.m. and I don't anything of my sermon written yet (not too abnormal), but I don't even see myself starting for another 30 minutes or so until the last game I care about is over. Good news is that I actually have an outline (sermon synopsis?) that has enough words in it to be 1/4 of my sermon. Nice. For every word written I just need to write 3 more. THAT is doable. So doable, in fact, I'm thinking about just watching the last of this one game in bed (read: fall asleep) and write it all in the morning. I THINK I can do it.

    We had our church's annual festival today which is where some greater ambivalence than usual is coming from. I was there most of the day today. I was there a bunch of yesterday (my day off). I had 3 evening meetings this week. Writing a sermon is just one more thing in a busy week.

    I'm doing the narrative lectionary so I'm on Joseph's dream and family reconciliation this week.

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    1. I love that part of Joseph's story. What fun to be able to tell it!

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  38. "Unasked Questions" is posted here. Here's hoping the exercise at the end goes over well in both congregations - old Norwegian and German Lutheran congregations are not the participatory sermon type. Baby steps.

    Off to bed. Blessing on sermonating and preaching!

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  39. I'm starting to panic, as this is very late for me and still no end in sight. I still have to prepare for tomorrow afternoon's funeral, youth Sunday School, and youth group, as well as write a letter of recommendation for one of our youth for NHS. GAH.

    I'm starting to think I'm trying to do too much in this sermon, but I'm not sure how to rein it back in!

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    1. ack! sending you good writing vibes -- I'm certainly not using them, so they're all yours! I hope you get some rest soon.

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    2. Well, somehow your vibes helped, because I just finished my draft. Not super-thrilled with it, but maybe it'll do.

      (FWIW, I'm not preaching the funeral - just doing prayers and other duties - so it's not as terrible as the list of tomorrow's activities looks, but it's still weighing on me! )

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  40. I have the number of words that equals a sermon. Of course, they make little sense, don't really go together, and say almost nothing, but at least it's the right length. I wish I could preach just the last sentence ("And it is here that we find the true measure of success—not whether we won or did the best or got the most, but whether we loved.") and nothing else, but I'm pretty sure people would want to know how I got there. sigh. Sometimes there's just too much...right now, life feels like too much. I can't take one more thing, so the sermon will have to be what it is. I'll try to walk it proud. And now I'm taking my exhausted self to bed, to hope that 7 hours of sleep will be enough to gear up for tomorrow's 11 hour day.

    I heart you all so much and am so glad you're here. I don't know how I would survive without this community!

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    1. Oh, Teri, I'm sorry for your rough time right now. I so know what you mean by life feeling like too much. I've been feeling a bit that way myself lately, and it sucks!!

      Walk that sermon proud, and may the Holy Spirit give you everything you need to make it through tomorrow!

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  41. I am back for the late night; with all the deliciousness of two potlucks literally under my belt today, I feel like all the blood is going to my stomach rather than my brain! I am satisfied enough with what I have written, but I need more of it. I must be imagining that it will suddenly show up, like writing on the wall, in my solitaire game, because I am spending more time looking at that than the sermon itself.

    Anyone else still up?

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    1. I'm here and headed to the shower to see if I can get perked up for working on Sunday School, funeral prayer, recommendation letter, etc., etc.

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  42. Well, I didn't get the illustration I was looking for. but maybe that's because JEsus' illustration is enough! I have enough to preach though - and I'm grateful for that. Time to shower and go and deliver.
    Posted here
    Blessings on preaching and hearing today. and thanks, as ever for you companionship on this journey. You ARE the greatest!

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  43. I'm back to fill in my outline. The sleep felt AWESOME, so I'm hoping I can stay on track and just write so that it was worth it.

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  44. I lay down in front of the TV and fell asleep for the duration. That was the best night's sleep I've had in awhile, but it makes me a party-pooping party host. Thanks for keeping it going.

    Reading back through all the posts and praying for each of you as you offer your gifts to your congregations today and giving thanks for those who have already preached and led worship.

    God bless you and yours!

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