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Friday, November 09, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: Widows and Daughters edition

Image: Ruth Agmon, Ruth and Naomi - the Dialog,
from Art in the Christian Tradition,
a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN
    


We're coming to the end of both this Year B and the very long Season after Pentecost. I always look forward to the end of one year and the beginning of another. I am already deep into thinking about Advent and plan to go on a pre-Advent retreat beginning Sunday afternoon. I am excited to be going with two of my ecumenical clergy women pals, one Lutheran, one American Baptist, and me, Episcopal. Alas, before I can get to that retreat there is much to do. In my context I will have two baptisms on Sunday morning as well as Commission a lay team from the congregation who are about to make a trip to Africa to work out our partnership with another church to build a school. The school will educated children from the church and local community. We are very excited about this project!

All of this means that my head is muddled as I think about my sermon for tomorrow. Shall I focus on Ruth and the earthiness of human life and love? (probably not exactly :-) ) Shall I focus on the atonement theology of Hebrews. I. Don't. Think. So. (remember what we have going on? Resurrection, yes. Atonement, not so much I think). Or shall I focus on the Gospel and profound giving of one who has little? Some of you have the option of preaching on 1 Kings, too...I did that over the summer...it's a good text IMHO.

I suspect I am going to tell baptism stories - mine, my daughters, our sons - as a way to speak about being and becoming a part of community. This could easily tie into Ruth, I think....

What about you? Are you feeling muddled like me? Seriously, I mean, all of this AND it's Veterans/Remembrance Day....Will you even address that one, and if so, how? (I will say a prayer for those serving in the Armed Forces from the Book of Common Prayer before we start the service). Do you have clearer thoughts about your sermon than I do? Maybe yours is even written! Please be sure to share your sermons, I do love reading the variety of directions we go in!

Regardless, here we go! The party is on, Sunday is coming.

I have plenty of coffee, tea, homemade chocolate chip cookies...and uhm... not much else. But I will gladly share what I have. Pull up a chair and let's have a party!

74 comments:

  1. Got off to a good start last night - preaching on the gospel - connecting the exploitative Temple authorities and the widow with the institutions that exploit today - all in the name of peace with it being Remembrance Sunday in the UK.
    But first, off to coffee morning then wedding, then preaching at an anniversary service. So I should be back with the late night preachers this week.
    Some home baked treacle scones to share and freshly brewed coffee. Do help yourself.

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    1. Good Morning, Liz (morning, here anyway)! What a fabulous connection you have made for your sermon - love it. Also, I love scones, so yes, please. (treacle?)

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  2. Our service is largely focused on Veterans' Day. Yes, I know . . . but having been here a year and gotten to know people, I find it impossible to tell an 80-something that we are going to cut short his remembrance of all who didn't come back, or to deprive a career navy man with stage 3/4 cancer of a last time to hear "For those in peril on the sea."

    So I am using the call to worship, prayer of confession, and pastoral prayer to direct our attention toward matters of peace and those who have served in all ways the world over, enemies and friends alike. And, you know, God, in lieu of country.

    I have never been part of a church before in which Veterans' Day got more than a nod in the pastoral prayer -- and maybe the welcome. It's a whole other world out here in rural Ohio.

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    1. I really understand. One parish I served had all the veterans stand on the Sunday around Veterans Day so the parish could see who they were and honor them. It was a good portion of the parish.

      I usually do have us sing that hymn, but tomorrow we have baptisms and so much else...and we have sung it twice this year already. So I hope my prayer at the beginning of the service and a note in the announcements will suffice.

      For me it is a tough balance, there are also those in this congregation who are uncomfortable with merging secular, war, etc. with church....

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    2. The redeeming quality of Eternal Father Strong to Save is the strong Trinitarian theology. We have so many Jesus only or God but not so many where the Spirit gets equal standing. And I'd much rather have this hymn with good theology than God Bless America!

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    3. Agreed! Singing baptism hymns today....

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  3. Well, it's morning. I'm here. I'll be here most of the day, except for some time this afternoon when I have a baptismal rehearsal.

    Now, to see if I can make some sense out of my scrambled thoughts on the day and the texts.

    Coffee? I have plenty.

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  4. Two communities, two very different sets of needs, two very different homilies. That's my challenge for the day. Baptisms, gathering in of pledges, and a simmering clash of operational cultures between the mission congregation I serve and it's mama congregation in one community; and a congregation of homeless including many vets in the other community; a manuscript sermon in one and a pick-up homily in the other. Dual track thinking today. But my deck is clear. Only a morning walk and then a day of reading, reflecting, praying and writing. I'm going with Elijah and the widow and the mutuality in the moment.

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    1. RevAlli, you really do have a lot going on...how one informs (or deforms?) the other?....a morning walk sounds delightful...and I do love the Elijah text.

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  5. The idea of preaching on the widow's mite seemed like a good idea because our Consecration Sunday is next week. However, the sermon fairy has not yet visited me. Today has been busy thus far and is not going to slow down. I've done zumba, cleaned the house for the boys to watch Star Wars with their friends tomorrow night, and made pies for the roast beef dinner. Boys are playing with friends, hubby is sleeping since he has to work overtime tonight (of all nights...). Keep him in prayers, he just found out that his mom has been diagnosed with cancer. Blessings on your day!

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    1. Megan, oh my. Many prayers ascending for you and your husband. May the sermon fairy arrive and sprinkle inspiration and may your husband find comfort in a community of prayer.

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  6. Goodness, what a slow party today...is it the lack of sustenance? Shall I run out to the store? :-)

    I'm heading off for a baptism rehearsal. I'll be back soon.

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    1. Not lack of sustenance or hospitality. Just a crazy day. I think I am putting off doing this sermon. Time to get on it. Thanks for hosting Terri!

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  7. Busy day...but when it slows down I will finish sermon on Ruth and Naomi. I am focusing on the power of community and the phrase "Naomi's son".

    We had a good Presbytery meeting today with a focus on covenanting together within the Presbytery to get to know each other and be a body of support.

    We are doing a simple remembrance of veterans at the beginning of the service.

    Blessings on each of you.

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    1. Welcome RevKel and thanks for sharing your sermon direction and idea for Veterans Day...

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  8. Wow, where is everybody today?
    I am updating a sustainable sermon (copyright Vicar of Hogsmeade, I do believe), but in between I'm doing laundry and tidying/re-tidying my house, which went on the market Wednesday. It's already under contract (Huzzah!), but still being shown a lot until the building inspection makes everything definite.
    I'm going to try and get 'er done before a showing at 5:15 boots me out of the house. Blessings to all preachers, here or wherever.

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    1. Congratulations Martha on the contract - that is amazing! I hope all goes well.

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    2. Martha- I was working to get my house ready to sell- not there yet, but soon please soon! So happy for you that yours is under contract. Hope you have final closure on it soon.

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    3. Wow, Martha, that's good news! Hope the inspection goes well.

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  9. I've been feeling a little stuck b/c the congregation I am supplying for has the preacher pick a reading from "another source" to pair with the Gospel at one of their three services. So, I got locked into a concept that I'm not sure I love b/c I had to pick the reading before I was ready to commit to where I was going in the sermon. Soooo, my draft is done, but I think it may be too heavy.
    Anyone want some yogurt for a snack?

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    1. Ack - that sounds tough, Joy! Yes please yogurt - I am famished and dinner is not for awhile...

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  10. Still doing house stuff. Be back soon for sermonating

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    1. Celeste....looking forward to your return!

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  11. All done!!! Well, I still need to drop over to the church and fold the bulletins, and think about a childrens talk, but the powerpoint is done, the bulletin is printed, and I have a sermon shaped object. Since Remembrance Day seldom falls on a Sunday (it is a National Holiday here in the great white North), I feel honour bound to attend to it, we are also in the middle of our Stewardship campaign. I hope it isn't too much of a stretch, but I'm hanging it all off the question "What have you done with what has been saved?" I'm pointing out that the freedoms we enjoy came through great cost, but that we didn't earn them ourselves, they were a gift and we have a responsibility to attend to their use. We have to be careful not to fall into the folly of the Pharisees who seemed to have a superior, show it off attitude and only did the minimum. This allowed me to hook into the Gospel, and go with our fall Stewardship theme. It seems to hang together, but I'll do some more editing later on.

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    1. WOW - done and all of that, too! YAY for you!

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  12. I am just sitting down to start. Too late for me! We spent the day outfitting a new friend from Kenya with warm clothes for the winter.
    Now, am tired from the shopping.....oy!

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    1. Oh my, Karla, shopping is exhausting! Tea?

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  13. Feeling really rushed at the moment. Spent more time at church than I anticipated...and have much to do. Here is my sermon as it stands now Baptism Yearning.

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    1. This may be the most boring (read, suckiest) sermon ever...but it. is. all. I. have. in. me. (retreat cannot come soon enough). So be it.

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    2. Oh Terri - I know that feeling. All will be well. Happy for you that you have a retreat coming

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  14. I'm back - all preached out. But need to get going again . Proudly displaying his poppy our PM (UK) was touting arms deals in the Middle East last week. That surely needs a mention in the sermon. Remembrance is empty if we learn nothing. I'm drinking more coffee here - it's just after 11pm and I have very little typed up - just a lot of ideas floating around my head. However I am grateful for those. I'm grateful too that the Act of Remembrance part at the beginning of the service is written and, because of the silence, the kids go straight to youth hall.
    So - just a sermon. Do-able surely?..

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  15. I've been thinking of this sermon since summer...addressing some of the election behaviors. The congregation and community (as well as state) is GOP. I wrote this on Tuesday so the outcome of the election would not sway me one way or the other.

    I used the Shema text and the Mark text from last week.
    It is here Habit of the Heart

    We have been having gorgeous weather for November and it will shift this evening. I've spent the day in the yard, both watering and trimming back plants.

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    1. We will have one more day of lovely weather, and then rain and cold arrives. Alas, It is November. I'll be over shortly to read your sermon....

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  16. Tomorrow is veterans day, elections fall out day ( the end of the world as they have known it for many of my folks) and of yes- the day the congregation votes to dissolve my call at my request. In Presbyland. Since the congregation voted to call me - they must also vote to let me go. Lots of long talks with folks for the last few weeks why "No " is understandable and yet not really an option. I am done here. My last day in the pulpit is Dec 2. After that, I am looking forward to getting our house up for sale and going back to my home town in the UP and a time of Sabbatical. Writing/ re-finding my voice, time to work on some social media stuff that I never feel I have time to play around with and figuring out who I am when I am not a over-functioning, overly responsible church pastor.

    In the mean time for tomorrow I will be sharing some of what we did for Election Day Communion- powerful and healing. I am using the Greatest Commandment and Psalm 146 ( do not put your faith in Princes(or Presidents)) Hope it comes together quickly - 6pm and I am just sitting down after a full day of house stuff and bringing yet another carload to the hospital thrift store.

    I do have a poppy and a copy of the Flanders field poem to read. We have WWII folks still with us - one who was a prisoner of war and came back to be a classical musician and university professor.

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    1. I hope all goes well. How odd that they have to vote to let you go, BUT of course they can't really vote to keep you - it's not an option. Does the process of having conversations about why No is not an option help with the process of letting go? Seems like it might.

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    2. My goodness, your plate is full. It sounds like your sermon is coming together. Blessings on your day.

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    3. Terri- what I am doing is not "normal" I am not going to another church, I am not retiring, the church is not voting me out... The voting system is in place for those kinds of transitions and as a check and balance where a no vote might mean reconsideration or weather there still was a call to complete. This congregation in its history has voted "no" at least 3 times to pastors who wanted to go- the records show the pastors stayed and then left within no more than a year... Hypothetically, if the majority voted "no" - the presbytery would meet with me and the congregation to help discern if there was still a call. From my side- the answer is clear, but I have also learned to avoid saying "No way" to God.

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    4. O, wow, Celeste, what a complicated thing this notion of call is. I think your shift in direction sounds exciting (and nerve-wracking and awe-inspiring with a bit of holy fear mixed in). Prayers and blessings on your way.

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    5. Know that I'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

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    6. RevAlli- oh yes- all of the above! And yet this non traditional Sabbatical really feels like a the next steps in this crazy journey of attending to God's call. I have often said I am a minister only because God has a wild sense of humor.

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    7. Thanks Purple! God knows I could not be doing this on my own

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    8. Celeste, my prayers are with you. It is hard to be a pastor when you are done.

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    9. Celesta, adding my prayers. I can imagine folk wanting to vote no just to keep you. It's a big ask but you know Gods contrariness. I hope you achieve some kind of peace tomorrow. X

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    10. Vote is done- yes to my request - with lots of tears. Today was hard for many reasons- Very grateful for RevGal prayers! Now back to getting the house ready for sale...

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  17. An over-caffeinated preacher chiming in here. Spent most of the day returning from several days at the grandparents' house, with the two preschoolers. A bad accident traffic tie-up added 2 hours to our already-too-long trip. Ugh. They are at home with Daddy in charge, and I am at Daddy's office trying to work/catching up on facebook.

    Doing pulpit supply allows me to recycle a decent sermon from a few weeks ago on the rich young ruler and Job. (The person for whom I am substituting doesn't use the lectionary.

    Since I've been away all week, the cupboard is bare. I had an apple, a tangerine, and Oreo cookies for supper. You're welcome to the same!

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    1. Esperanza, what a nightmare - traffic accident tie-up. They are tragic and awful. Pulpit supply is a pretty cool gig, indeed! Hope the rest of the night goes well.

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    2. We escaped the highway and took an epic detour. I guess there's no way of knowing if that was shorter than sitting on the highway or not. It felt better and reduced the "I want to go HOME"'s from the back seat. Someday I will learn that traveling on a Saturday is not a good plan.

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    3. esperanza - I've done that too. always wonder if the detour is worth it...one never knows. At least you are home safe.

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  18. You can only do so much in one sermon. Right?

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  19. Done...
    http://reverendjoy.blogspot.com/

    Relieved...not my favorite sermon ever...but it's done.

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    1. Here's a link to your sermon Joy

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    2. Thanks! My internet is being spotty tonight!

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    3. You're welcome. No problem.

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  20. Wow, it's been quiet here today! I have been locked away at a youth retreat myself...it's really a sleep-over event, but I have no supply tomorrow so I am home til after church. Truth be told, I came home to sleep last night, too, since my role of "spiritual director" doesn't demand much when every one is asleep.

    So I wrote most of my sermon yesterday, thanks to inspiration from Martha. But I'm not happy with it's current state, so I need to fix it pronto and GO TO BED.

    Very grateful that I get an extra day off Monday AND a week of vacation beginning next Saturday. Going to VT to celebrate my *baby* son's 21st birthday.

    Anyone else still up?

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  21. Well, friends. It's time for me to call it a day. Night, all. Blessings on your day.

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  22. I really meant to come make comments during the day. That just didn't happen. However, it is early for my "usual" pattern to be completely finished and I am!

    Blessings on your Sunday!

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    1. Yay! You are done! Not being a natural rev night owl my brain hurts when I see you are fighting sleep to finish. Rest well. And yes its a challenge to pastor when you know you are done

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  23. Finally done. The Widow of Zarephath and Elijah bound together in need and hope. A long day spent not writing and then a quick finish. Here it is. Glad I'm preaching this week and not next week. This is a great text.

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  24. Just showing up! We had our third and final Transformation Retreat this weekend. They've been once a month since September, and this has just been the big up front work of a longer process. They tend to wipe me out before worship the next day.

    I'm on the Narrative Lectionary so we're in Jonah. Jonah, Veterans' Day, 2 baptisms, stewardship dedication day... Lot's of stuff to put in one service. Veterans' Day doesn't get a WHOLE lot of time with me, I'll include it during the Prayers of the People, and I picked "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" as the last hymn right after that. They'll go out on a veteran-y note so hopefully the ones who think I don't do enough will at least have it as their last memory. :)

    There's a group doing a sort of dramatic reading of the Scripture, and I've called my proclamation a "Baptism Meditation" instead of a sermon. So, I'll reference the Jonah, but I'm going to pull from even more water and call stories than just that as I reflect more on baptism. The oldest of the siblings being baptized is almost 5. She was born to her 16 year old mother in my first week working here. The younger brother is about 3 months old. The mom, the kids, the grandparents, the great-grandparents, the dad - - in many different ways and experiences, they have all been through a LOT in all of this. I'm thinking about how persistent God's grace and God's presence is. Even when Jonah runs away God follows him to the depths of the ocean. No matter what difficulties this little family has faced and will definitely face in the future, God will be with them. The waters of baptism promise that. I've made my title something like "the water that never dries." Then for those who aren't being baptized - - the call at baptism never ends, God persists in calling us to minister in God's name, to speak God's word, to invite others into discipleship, that water never dries either. God persistently calls us to follow and expects us to commit to the divine cause. The waters of baptism are as much about being drenched in the grace of God as it is about being marked as Christ's servants in faithful ministry.

    That's the plan in 1000 words or less. :)

    I had the task/blessing of making two baptismal blankets for these two kids today. Usually the sewing/knitting ladies keep a little stash, but I forgot to check the stash until Thursday. That's when I discovered there weren't any in the stash. Oops. A whole lot of crochet stitches later I have two adorable blankets for two kids. And three kids of my own who are jealous. Guess I better get working on something things for them. :)

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  25. I'm just getting back from a trip to the BIG City (not to be confused with the City 1 1/2 hours away) - 5 hours one way but Diana Butler Bass was worth it! Great conference.

    Bad planning on my part. I should have scheduled a supply preacher. I didn't. I should have got my sermon done before today. I tried -really I did - but no luck. Add a difficult drive home due to a storm that came through about 4 hours earlier than projected and I'm in a pickle.

    I did manage to get a sort of outline made. I'm going to tweak it, go to bed and get up early tomorrow to look at it again. I don't usually preach from an outline, so it's a good challenge for me. And it's Women's Thankoffering Sunday, so as long as I say some good things about the women's groups and the ministries they do, I think I can get away with it.

    Anyone else still plugging away.

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  26. Working on Ruth part 2. Trying to avoid any and all political talk. I live in an area with political opnions different from my own.
    Focusing on the redemptive power in the story and the trust in the unknown.
    Very jealous of the pretty kitty cat napping beside me.

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  27. I've still been around, but I'm heading to bed now. I've got about 561 words, a little more than half of what I need, and I really need to bring it home to keep it to 1000. Keeping things very short is very hard for me, but it needs to be done for the morning worship activities. Nigh-night!

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  28. 7:30am here and I'm trying to finish up. Sermon seems too harsh. It's about our governments lack of commitment to peace. Need to inject some love.

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  29. This is what I have to offer. Remembrance Sunday is always difficult to balance expectations and the gospel.
    Terri, thanks for hosting the party!

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  30. Thanks for this blog!

    I've been pondering today's sermon all week - and here I am about 20 minutes before I have to leave for worship w/no sermon in mind. It's our annual meeting, after worship, Veterans Day (prayers and a sending hymn to recognize), two parishoners in the hospital - one in ICU, family waiting to see if he will come to after his 83 year old heart stopped 2x, catechism tonight and I'm suppose to drive up to a global mission/hunger leaders meeting in MI tomorrow and Tuesday....so God, I have way too much on my mind to birth a sermon.

    I've been ordained 7 years this month - I remember reading a book about women pastors in my 1st year, about sermon writing/birthing, and I was surprised and relieved to discover that I wasn't the only one who struggled most of the week.

    So, as I go off, I am relying on God, who has never left me w/out a word to preach, remembering that 3 weeks ago I woke up w/a totally different sermon on my heart than what I'd outlined...and parishoners told me it was one of my best ever. Praise God that we are preaching God's Word, not our own. In all humility, may I never forget that truth.

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    1. Welcome Joene! I hope you have bookmarked us and will come back again soon! This is a great community of women who support each other in all our different ministries. I am holding you in prayer, trusting that you will hear and speak the Word the Spirit will put on your heart and lips.

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  31. I've finished up and started editing. I had about 200 words that I need to shave off, and I'm on a hunt for 100 more. Not bad at all. Then I need to see if I can find my baptismal liturgy already on my iPad....

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  32. Praise God! "Do not be afraid," came to me after I'd posted the above...preached about the setting of 1 Kings, then today - the post election fear, the congregation fear - down re giving, no one on the ballot for president or deacon at today's annual meeting. Our call is to trust God, who is present and does provide. The sermon ran about 12 minutes and was a good lead into the meeting.

    We approved a new constitution to replace the one from 1989, elected a president other than the 2 people who have been for 20 years, and elected 3 who have never served before. I am full of optimism and hope for the little congregation where I serve, that they continue to be faithful, trusting God with the little bit of flour and oil they have.

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