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Saturday, December 22, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: And so it begins...

...Or maybe it continues.

Even those of us who are Saturday writers* are RARELY just getting started when we come to the party, but especially at this time of year.  This time of year we have been going non-stop for several weeks and the sermon-writing, worship-planning schedule is full.  So, instead of a rip-roaring, horns and loud music party, I'm thinking maybe a calmer, candles and intimate conversation party is right for today.  (But if I'm totally off base, feel free to pump up the volume.)

This year I've been turn to the O Antiphons more than ever before.  I have found them to give words to my longings in a year that I have a lot of longings for the world.  Today's "O" is this:
O King/Ruler of the nations, 
The ruler they all long for, the cornerstone uniting all people:
Come and save us all, whom You formed out of clay.
I love that image of unity as we gather in this place to work together on the task of preaching and leading others.  May it strengthen us for the day(s) ahead.  It is truly a blessing to me that we are united in this gospel ministry, and I look forward to hearing from my sisters and brothers today!

*If you need a good distraction, as we all seem to like, check out the Ask the Matriarch discussion from Thursday.  Thanks for getting that started, earthchick.  I didn't chime in there, but I might include my own thoughts below.)

159 comments:

  1. Hello there,
    I'm thankful for a great chancel choir who will lead worship Sunday morning. So the "only" thing I need to work on is Christmas Eve. We will have a Longest Night Service Sunday night, but I think that is ready to go.
    Christmas Eve, I'm talking about the shepherds, and the fact that they didn't keep the news they heard to themselves. It is easy to say "we're only shepherds, nobody wants to hear what we think". Or to say "nobody would believe this crazy story about the angels, so why bother?"
    I think this sermon will be about testimony. Trying to get my congregation to believe that testimony is something they have to do. Right now, I have people who say "sure, testimony is important, as long as it is a safe space to share" or "sure, I'll share when I know I won't be judged". I keep trying to remove the ideas of safety and no judgment from the way we practice our faith. Maybe the shepherds will help me with that.

    Blessings to you all.
    Marci

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    1. Marci, I like that, a lot. I've been playing around a bit with the whole 'War on Christmas' thing. Why do we get so miffed when folks say Happy Holidays? Is it because we want secular Christmas to do the job of proclamation (Testimony) for us? Ain't gonna happen (even if the lady in Walmart does say "Merry Christmas" - so now what?

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    2. I've also got a testimony theme going for Christmas Eve's family service, although it's cloaked in a story for all ages. (Which I am still -- ahem -- writing -- ahem.)

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    3. Love that, Marci, the risk in testifying.

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    4. Thanks. I think this sermon is a follow up to my Blame Game post to Mike Huckabee (which is at www.marciglass.com)
      Who should the church be blaming but ourselves if people are leaving? The Gospel message of love and life and grace and joy is such good news and is so compelling. So if the fastest growing religious identity is "none", it seems like it is our fault for not testifying to the truth but instead making a mockery by our narrow minded, prejudiced, self serving rhetoric that is seen around us.
      So I'm going to tell my congregation that if they, like the shepherds, have experienced God, they need to not keep it to themselves, or else Westboro Baptist will speak for them by protesting at funerals of first graders.

      Okay, now to go actually write some of that before the youth group run in the local jingle bell run later this morning.

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    5. :) Sometimes I end up writing a huge chunk of my sermon here in a comment, then I cut and paste and put it in Word. Maybe annoying to others, but for some reason the switch of the writing space seems to help when I'm stuck.

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    6. Go ahead and write! That's powerful stuff! Preach it!

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  2. Off to bag pack wh Girl Guides at local grocery store. Will chime in later.

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  3. finished, now to print.

    Loud Love

    I think I also have 30th December service finished, thanks to Brian Wren. we are using one of his Scripture and Song services.
    still some finalising to do for Carols tomorrow evening, and a fair bit left to do for Christmas morning service. at least I have Monday :)

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    1. pearl, sometimes your time zone difference scares me! Blessings as you work through what's left.

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    2. Fantastic! We don't do a Christmas Day service, and many times I think we should, but obviously I have thought that strongly enough to actually say it out loud. :) Still not quite ready to give up my pajama and couch potato Christmas morning.

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  4. Re-engaging with Mary, Elizabeth and the Magnificat for tomorrow. Then I need to do a slightly longer than meditation something for Christmas Eve. VERY much fighting the battle of not looking beyond those two things quite yet to a delicious vacation filled with fantastic events coming up at 12:01am on Christmas Day.:)

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    1. I like the sound of that vacation. :-)

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    2. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there.

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  5. I'm heading out momentarily to get my last ever Saturday sermon-writing Holy Donuts. Back soon to say more.

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    1. Martha, thinking of you as you mark all of these "final" moments. I want a holy donut!

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    2. What a bittersweet season you are having Martha, knowing the great joy that is to come, yet marking these "lasts". Prayers for you. There is a great rap song by Dre Da Flame that has a line "I am so holy for Halloween I was a cheerio!" My daughter decided a cheerio was a bit too much, so for Halloween she was a Holy Donut :) and her friend a donut hole.

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  6. I just over what I wrote on Thursday, and while I think one part of it is a little disjointed, I still like it! I need some time to tackle household things today. This December has just been odd, and I am the least prepared for the arrival of family all of the celebrating that I've ever been. Anyway, I'm preaching from Micah about the word of God coming into the world in unexpected places and in unexpected ways. I've asked one of our children to read the scripture (the word coming from an unexpected person).

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    1. That's a great way to use Micah. It's especially great in small towns or small churches that may feel off the map.
      I doubt you're alone -- actually, I know you're not, given my lack of preparation -- on getting the household stuff ready. Christmas will still come, somehow, yes?

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    2. I like that Chilly - great idea. And yes, a out of sorts December indeed.

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    3. We don't have any people coming to our house (in fact, we're surprising the kids with a flight out of town Christmas afternoon), but I'm still stressing about the mess of my house because of the folks who will have to come in to take care of the cat while we're gone!

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    4. Glad I'm not alone with Micah, though I have no direction at all. Sigh.

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    5. Chilly, that sounds fantastic!

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  7. Hello, again! I'm fueled by Gingerbread coffee and a lovely donut. I hear the place may start franchising around the country, so you heard it here first. (They'll be on Anderson Cooper Live on Monday. Not that any of us will be watching TV on Monday.)
    It's a little crazy here as I grade the last two papers (turned in late, not good), write the last sermon and the last story (late Christmas Eve is done), await the arrival of my two older children and panic over how much still has to happen before we wake up here for the last time next Saturday.
    All of which is to say, tomorrow is my last Sunday in my current call. There's a liturgy of farewell and a goodbye brunch, but I go back on Monday to lead the Christmas Eve services. After that, I'm finishing out the year with vacation. All very emotional!

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    1. ((Martha)) - holding you in thought and prayer for the next few days and weeks as you move through endings and beginning....

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    2. I want a donut place! I want a donut place!!! Peace to you as you wrap up your time there.

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    3. Peace to all of you as you go through these next days.

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    4. Thinking of you, Martha. So much tenderness in leave-taking.

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    5. Prayers for you as you end and begin, Omega and Alpha, with incarnation mixed in the middle.

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  8. Well, for better or worse, my sermons done. I posted the one for tomorrow: The Rhythm of Life Claims My Soul

    It has a couple of good illustrations in it, I think. But mostly it is a resting sermon - fewer words when our souls are so full.

    I also have my sermon completed (minus last minute tweaking) for Christmas Eve. I tell an incarnational story about bread and sharing bread and being the hands and heart of Christ.

    Now I am off to clean house, make food, grocery shop and prepare for my daughter's arrival today. We will have our family Christmas after church tomorrow. By Christmas Day at noon I will be all done, the house will be quiet, and I have a week off! Whoo hoo.

    Blessings all, and love to you too!

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    1. Wow! Good for you on all of it, Terri! Blessings and love to you, too!

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    2. Terri - I love the idea offering a resting sermon for when folks souls are already full.

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  9. I am usually a Thursday sermon writer, and so Sunday was pretty much finished by Thursday, with some tweaking yesterday. I'm on the Annunciation, and handing our copies of a Fra Angelico painting and the Tanner painting as "Family Pictures." The challenge was to turn what I had in mind into a sermon rather than an art history lecture, and to make it accessible to a congregation in which I am probably the only person excited about the reopening of the remodeled Cleveland Art Museum.

    Christmas Eve ideas were struggling to emerge in my head for weeks, but yesterday they came together and poured out for "A Shepherd's Story." I had read that shepherds (are?) were usually youngest sons with no other prospects. Sounds like a Biblical theme to me! So the sermon is about: God appears to the least, who walk in darkness, and is proclaimed by those who serve the least (sheep).

    It's cold and dreary and the ground is covered with snow for the first time this year, so you can go outside for corn seed with the juncos or come on in for chocolate muffins!

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    1. I absolutely LOVE using art as my jumping off point in preaching. I've been slowly increasing my use of it not just as illustration, but as interpretive help in preaching. Good luck!

      Robin, your shepherd thoughts work well with Marci's up at the top - - the risk in those youngest, least sons telling their story to others.

      I'll take a chocolate muffin, thank you!

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    2. Love that Shepherd's Story idea, Robin!!

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  10. I've got a sermon to work on for tomorrow, but that will happen tonight. It don't have as clear of a picture as I'd like for it, but I'm not too worried yet. I was going to go with the Annunciation and the Magnificat and hit on justice and reversal -- a pretty heavy one. But after last week ended up necessarily heavy, I just wasn't up for that this week. I guess it could have been a continuation, but after a week of a lot of mourning and difficult conversations around the nation, I think I need to start moving a little more toward the hopefulness of the season. My theme has been "The Longing of God" (for obedience, partnership, restoration in previous weeks). This one will be God's longing for relationships - - both human-divine and human-human relationships. I'll talk about the incarnation as God's work to stay in relationship with us and highlight the Mary-Elizabeth (and even in utero Jesus-John relationship) as the model for strengthening our relationships in Christ in difficult and joyful times.

    Christmas Eve is mostly done - - Family service completely, and candle light service (which THANK GOD we do at 6:00 p.m.) mostly. Many thanks to Martha who gets credit in our bulletin for Rumors of Joy. I'm adapting it a decent amount, of course, to make it local and sound like me, but the work is still largely hers. Thank you for sharing, Martha!

    Other than sermonizing, which will happen after bedtime, I've got my son's first "big kid" karate class (he graduated out of the preschool program yesterday so we're starting right in this morning), visiting Santa at the local art/frame store with the kiddos (I got them to write letters last night that include the "Santa" presents I bought yesterday - - whew, this Santa junk is exhausting), and hopefully lots of wrapping. I want that done today.

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    1. You're making me glad that we've avoid the Santa junk so far...

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    2. I hear you. We don't do it up huge, or we haven't anyway, but now that the kids are picking up more Santa stuff from friends and TV and all that, I feel sort of roped into keeping some of it up. It's not a LOT, but I'm sort of a lazy about holidays. I HATE Halloween for all costume making/finding junk.

      And hey! I want credit for giving a cool gift! I don't let Santa give whatever my favorite gift is. :)

      In the end at least the Santa stuff is kind of cute. We aren't too too crazy about it at all, but one year Santa didn't bring anything they asked for because we didn't coordinate the Santa visit with the shopping, and they asked for some totally random stuff they really didn't even want. Learned my lesson that year.

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  11. I think I'm almost ready for Christmas Eve (modified lessons & carols with mini-meditations for each lesson). However, I have diddly squat for tomorrow. I'm working with Micah and have been doing lots of interesting reading, but...nothing particularly inspiring. My title is The One of Peace. Hmm.

    Off to be counter-cultural with our daughters--a trip to the library and pizza for lunch. No shopping for us today!

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    1. Love the library and pizza plans! I took the kids to the library Wednesday night and totally raided the "Christmas Around the World" shelf. Fun to have all sorts of stories and traditions to read this week.

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  12. I don't remember if I even liked it or not, but here's my Micah sermon from 3 years ago. I see some folks trying to figure out where to go with Micah.

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  13. I'm preaching Elizabeth and Mary, one of my favorite stories. I was so excited to see it in this lectionary cycle! But now, I'm just dry. Nada. I haven't done my usual sermon prep due to two very unexpected deaths in the community this week - one from my congregation. And I have 3 or 4 hours to get something written before we leave for the City and the last of our Christmas shopping. Needless to say I'm looking for inspiration here!

    Otherwise preparations for this week are well in hand. I have the bulletins done for tomorrow, Christmas Eve, and almost complete for next Sunday's lessons and Carols. Christmas Eve at Church A is the SS Christmas program, so I only need a short meditation and I found a perfect poem by Ann Weems: O Lord, you were born! I need to flesh out the meditation for the service at Church B. And I have to finish January newsletters. Dear Santa, could I please, pretty, pretty please have a church secretary for Christmas?

    The plan was to take some time off between Christmas and New Years. The plan has been slightly altered by the family prayer service and funeral on Wed evening and Thurs morning. I'm still hoping to have most of the service/sermon done before Christmas, so I can still have a bit of vacation.

    Prayers for you all in your sermon and Christmas preparations.

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    1. So sorry about how your plans have been disrupted and hope you are able to make time to just be and have true vacation. Holding you in prayer.

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  14. good morning - it's early here. I'm one of those attempting to write sermons early in the week, which this week just did not happen. bad timing, but we have a remodeling done that finished yesterday - have some wonderful friends coming by today to try and help set things to rights - we'll see how long that takes as we are shifting STUFF in every room. So, I have an idea about King Wenceslas, which we are singing, and love and how helping others encouraging others to help others....but that's about it so far. Sounds more like the childrens time in my brain, than a sermon for the big kids.

    Christmas Eve - I am blessed witha music director who loves the lessons and carols, so he plans the whole thing. So, all I have to think about right now is Sunday. Besides moving the house, I mean. I think I'll be back for the night shift :)

    Longest Night was last night which had a funny energy about it, but generally went well I think.

    Blessings to you all, esp those of you looking forward to vacation going as planned, and not as planned.

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    1. I love "Good King Wencelas"! What a great sermon idea! I am so storing that up for next year - or maybe 'borrowing' it for Christmas Eve!

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    2. Our Longest Night was smaller than I thought it would be, but is always the exact size it needs to be. It was probably prime Christmas party time.

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  15. Tomorrow, I am the narrator (scripture reader) for the Living Nativity that we/they are doing during the morning worship service along with a choir mini-concert. So, no sermon for me tomorrow.

    Christmas Eve we are sharing worship, and combining choirs, with the Metropolitan Community Church of New Orleans which uses our space for their Sunday afternoon worship services. They also have a new female interim pastor (she's only been here 10 days!) so she and I are leading a worship service of lessons, carols and candles. She and I are each offering a short homily (very short) about welcome and hospitality, relating it to the original story of who welcomed the baby Jesus.

    A child will be lighting the Christ candle.

    I confess that I don't feel altogether festive this season, but then again, it's still "waiting" season, right?

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    1. I don't feel very festive either. Every year about this time in Advent I think, oh next year I really need to do Advent better and remember to do ___________ (fill in the blank) and somehow it never happens and I feel flat as Christmas approaches. Ugh.

      Your combined service sounds lovely!

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    2. RDM, that describes me exactly! I take comfort in knowing I'm not the only one...

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    3. Definitely still the waiting part. It sometimes stinks to have to be pushed into the festive part before everyone else. We got to do joint services with another congregation last year, and although it was hard for some of our traditionalists to combine and compromise on "theirs" and "ours" I loved it!

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    4. Me, too, and I make that same pledge, Rev Dr Mom. I thought this year would be better; new call, etc. Nope - still not there yet. We've got work to do tomorrow before we get our tree up. :/ And our kids have been giving us major fits.

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  16. Good morning preachers!

    I'm going with Mary and Elizabeth tomorrow. All Advent I've been roughly using David Lose's theme "the hope of Advent" (even worked it in a little bit last week in my "Rachel Weeps" sermon) and I'm going for that again--hope comes from unexpected places. I pulled up my sermon from three years ago when I remembered that practically no one was in church that day because it snowed, so practically no one heard it. So i'm going to use it for a starting point. Hurrah for sustainable sermons. As for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, who knows? I sometimes thing sermons are superfluous then. Both times I am reading the Christmas story from Tomie DePaola's book of bible stories instead of the standard gospel. I did that last year and it worked well.

    Al the bulletins are done and printed, and the office is closed until January 2 and staff on vacation. Next Sunday we are having lessons and carols and no sermon so I just have to get through these 3....

    On the home front I am woefully behind in all things domestic/holiday related. WHY do I do this to myself? The shopping is done and most of the presents are wrapped, but the tree isn't up. the house is dirty and many groceries must be bought. Fortunately my family isn't coming until the day after Christmas. At the rate I'm going I may be decorating the tree on Christmas day. (That is another whole story b/c I CANNOT get my nice fresh-cut tree to stand up securely even though I have the mac daddy of Christmas tree stands, to borrow the phrase of one of my good seminary friends). So that is my task as soon as I get this sermon DONE--getting the tree UPRIGHT.

    I have ginger tea to share....a ginger donut would be lovely with it, i think.

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    1. We do lessons and carols the week after, too, so even if I am working (this year I'm not) it feels like vacation!

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  17. Thanks all for your comments...I'm coming in a bit late to this party. Tomorrow is our Lessons & Carols Christmas Program, I need to go later and set the tables up (I volunteered as a mom) and make a french toast casserole for tomorrow's brunch after worship. Gift wrapping later as it is just me and the cats home today.

    I want to preach on Luke for Christmas Eve...I haven't yet according to my sermon summaries. I didn't have a direction, but appreciate the comments about the shepherds being the youngest and w/least possibilities...I will go do some research.

    I don't want to take the Christmas Eve sermon in a decoration of directly addressing the tragedy of a week ago Friday, or our gun debate or our fiscal cliff...kinda went there at the mid-week service w/Isaiah 43. Words of hope and promise in the midst of exile/crisis.

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    1. That's what I'm even thinking about this week. I don't want to go to those places two weeks in a row - - not that there aren't plenty of dark places to go, but I need to get us to hope so that those who can celebrate and will celebrate don't feel unnecessary guilt for it.

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  18. Hello preacher gals and pals! I am actually preaching tomorrow, and I got to preach and lead the Longest Night service this week already, so two sermons in one week, a very rare event these days since I normally preach about once every two months. So, I have about 3/4 of a sermon on Mary and Elizabeth. I've preached this text three times before, but I am coming at it from the angle of our Advent theme of "stop, look and listen" - my word is "listen"...it's hard, I have too many ideas and yet they aren't tying together very well. My three girls have been arguing all morning, my husband is still asleep after a week of grading 300 finals for his freshman physics class, and my parents show up in four hours, and the guest room is still torn apart and smelling of fresh paint, which makes my dad ill. SO, I am feeling, shall we say, a bit under the gun! Hoping I can tie together listening to others, listening to God, and Mary and Elizabeth, and Charlie Brown's Christmas where Sally messes up Hark and Hockey Stick (I am leading off the contemporary service with that clip, and my sermon title is Hark?!). Yipes, better get going! Blessings to all as you prepare.

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    1. Sounds great! I played with Charlie Brown's Christmas clips two year ago, I think. I love that movie!!

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  19. I work backwards most days. Meaning the script for worship on the 30th is done. I'm on vacation...yay...and so the congregation is leading the service. "Behind the music"...is the theme and I've written a service based on the story behind 5 Christmas Carols.

    Christmas Eve is done. I am preaching a set sermon. With each Advent Candle part of the Christmas story is read, then a short poem, and I'll have a few words after each candle to bring it all together.

    That brings me to this Sunday. Preaching mostly Micah and I wrote yesterday but the middle needs some serious work. A little self-care as I am off to a movie.

    Nothing to share from the kitchen. But, if I were cooking I'd be whipping out a batch of Peanut Butter Balls.

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    1. I work backwards, too, so all I have left is tomorrow's sermon and getting costumes out of the attic for the spontaneous Christmas pageant at the 4:00 Christmas Eve service. Tomorrow's sermon is my least developed idea of all of them, but somehow these things always work out, so I'm not worried.

      (Bring on the peanut butter balls!)

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  20. ...um....that should say "I am not preaching a set sermon"

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  21. MP, Michelle Francl wrote a reflection on Stop, Look, Listen for People for Others (linked in the sidebar on my blog) some days ago, if that's any help to you.

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  22. I am a happy camper because my sermon work for tomorrow was almost done on Thursday! I work with a colleague who has an amazing singing voice, so I have put together a PowerPoint of images to go with her singing Mary Heard the Angel's Message (in the Voices Found hymnal #4 or sung to a couple of other familiar tunes). It is nice to change it up just before Christmas; we have done this before and people seem very receptive to something different on this Sunday. I also like that fact that each of us--plus the two musicians who will accompany her--are using our particular gifts in ways that combine to make something better than any one of us alone, and that is always a fabulous thing to model. If it would be helpful to anyone, let me know and I can probably figure out how to get it to you.

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    1. I love that! So fun to do things outside the norm (especially when they are well received.)

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  23. Wow, what a party going on here already!!

    As for me, I went to bed last night with a complete first draft for tomorrow - practically unheard of for me, and it has made all the obligations of today so much more manageable seeming. On my docket today: prepping my kids for a duet of "Once in Royal David's City" for the Christmas Eve service - their first time singing alone at such a large service, and this is more nervous-making for me than anything I could be doing myself; additionally, I have baking/cooking to do for tomorrow, our family's Christmas feast with out-of-town family, plus still trying to get Christmas cards in the mail, presents wrapped, house picked-up, preparing for a youth Christmas party tomorrow, and begin prepping to leave town in a few days. Yikes! Good thing I sort of got a jump on the whole sermon thing!!

    Anyway, I'm preaching Luke, both the visitation and the magnificat, and I reworked some pieces from a couple of older sermons on the text, but totally reframed things, working up a bunch of new stuff in it as well. I'm singing the Canticle of the Turning with three of our youth girls right after the gospel reading and before the sermon. I've been thinking about how these girls are about Mary's age in the Luke text, and how I can't be too much younger than Elizabeth was. Anyway, in the sermon I ponder the contrast between all the words we've been inundated with this week (about gun control, mental health, motive, God) and the words that Mary sings - how she who is not a priest, a prophet, a rabbi, or a ruler dares to speak for God and dares to claim that this promised salvation/redemption/reversal/turning has already happened.

    Anyway, I was feeling good about last night but will revisit later today, and who knows what I'll think then!

    I was so grateful for all the thoughts people contributed to Thursday's AtM discussion - very helpful for me, and has given me some new ideas about how I might make it work to get at least a draft done earlier in the week. This week that meant sacrificing my day off (Friday) to writing (in addition to taking Wednesday at home as a writing day) - so only 3 weekdays in the office, which is not the usual model I think I can sustain. But I didn't use my whole day off to write, which was great, and I knew that during this season I wasn't going to be able to protect that day very well anyway.

    Phew! Didn't mean to write a book here!!!

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    1. Nice work getting done early when your day is necessarily packed with other things. The direction sounds wonderful.

      Back to the AtM discussion - - If preaching is part of the job, it needs to be part of the time allotted to do the job. I found this MUCH harder when I was not preaching weekly because on the weeks I preached the rest of my job didn't stop, so sermon writing really was tacked on and stole parts of days off. Now that I'm doing it weekly, though, I just make sure the time I spend writing "counts" (in my head, really) to my total for the week. If I write on a day that is usually "off" then it means some other time that I am usually "on" will get traded and off.

      I'm a Saturday writer, but for now, a Saturday night/Sunday morning writer. I've tried to change it because I assume I won't be able to maintain this forever in terms of the lack of sleep it requires on Saturday/Sunday, but it's never worked for me. At one point a few years ago my husband pointed out that I was really grumpy on Saturdays when I was trying to steal away time to write in the middle of the day. When he pointed that out, I quit trying to write in the middle of the day. In a sense I consider my "days off" from Thursday kid bedtime to Saturday kid bedtime. Saturday night I'm back on. It's just what works. I don't let the sermon writing cut into family time. I don't work with it at all until the kids have gone to bed, and my husband and I know that is just part of my work-week which is why I have more flexibility at other times.

      When my body can no longer sustain it, I guess I'll have to change, but I'm done trying to "fix" it until then. It works.

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    2. She Rev, that's kind of where I am, too. I'm discovering that making sure the reading and ruminating occurs early in the week effects how Saturday night/Sunday a.m goes. If I try to worry too early on Saturday, it has the same result your husband describes. ;) It's funny, early in my ministry, the Saturday panic was because, in my inexperience, I had trouble figuring out what to say and how to say it. NOw, it's just lack of time until then!

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  24. Sorry Robin, I am looking at your blog and can't find the link! If you are back here and can email to me, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm at 1600 words, which isn't enough for this congregation, even if it is for me! Let me know if you need my email.

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  25. I'm headed out for my exit interview. I've got a draft, but it's lacking the final word. Still, I'm way ahead of where I usually am on a Saturday. So that's good news. I'll check back in after.

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    1. Nice! Maybe your exit interview will give you your final word. Peace!

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    2. It confirmed the final word, anyway. :-)

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  26. Now, I feel festive!

    Inspiration struck and I have a sermon! Yay! It's still a little rough - but Do you know?"what you want the link to say goes here is posted. Terri - I gave you a shout-out in my notes - thanks for the Caryll Houselander quote. I'd never read that and the image just captured my imagination.

    It's always such a good feeling to have the sermon done so early on Saturday. I need to go back and read some more of Thursday's AtM discussion on earlier sermon writing. I always think I should write more during the week - just write - but I never do. I'd like to change it up a bit so I can enjoy the Saturday Preacher Party.

    Off to shower and get ready for some downtime with my spouse. I need it! But first, I'm going to backtrack and read the new posts since I last posted and the new sermons.

    I'll try to pick up some Christmas Cheer for everyone while I'm shopping - or at least a bottle of chokecherry wine to share!

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    1. Yeah for inspiration! It seems to have come in a bunch to the gals early this afternoon.

      Delete
    2. Love Caryll Houselander - gonna have to find my book!

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  27. Sorry - the link looks funny, but it works, so I'm leaving it!

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  28. My gosh! What a preacher party! I wish that I had something to bring to the party. I've been struggling/working for over 10 days on Mary/Elizabeth. I can't get the mothers of Newtown out of my head. Just a few minutes ago, my husband said, "Well then go there." Not sure what it all will be, but I think Stephanie has a piece of the puzzle in the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary. Don't think I can do this without tying in the Annunciation and Gabriel telling Mary about Elizabeth. All a mess in my head right now. Fortunately I don't have anything Christmas Eve and already have Christmas Day in my head. Rambling. Sorry. Praying for some order.

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    1. Alli, I was having this same issue with Mary and Elizabeth for the last several days as well. Thinking of how Mary and Elizabeth both had babies that ended up being executed, just as the mothers of Newtown did.

      I ended up not really going there full-on in my sermon, but towards the end I try to paint a little picture of Mary singing her song over those children in Newtown, and singing comfort over the grieved, and singing with all who dare to hope, etc.

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    2. Oh wow. How have I not even let my thoughts go here yet? We'll see if I end up there tonight.

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    3. Just read a magnificent article in Currents in Mission and Theology by William Swanson that really put it all together for me. I would DEFINITELY recommend the article "The Magnificat and Crucifiction: The story of Mariam and Her Son". Worth spending the time reading it now. I found it through Textweek and accessed it through EBSCO. Think I'm about ready to write. Going to listen to A Stable Lamp is Lighted first.

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    4. I'll have to see if I can get to that. I've never heard of EBSCO.

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    5. Stephanie, you can get EBSCO articles via Textweek. I am now a member via my seminary (GTU) but used to pay dearly for the service. If you want, I can download the article and e-mail it to you. Let me know at sahcdsp@yahoo.com

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    6. Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll be OK. I know about ATLAS, but I had never heard of EBSCO.

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  29. I have a draft, using the reworked body of my sermon of three years ago with a different beginning and end. I'll look at it again tonight, but I think it is good to go. I hope so anyway.

    Meanwhile, I'm sitting here writing in my jammies and I hear a knock at the door, and it's two old friends from the Cape stopping by. My house is a wreck (!) and it smells funny b/c the oven is running the cleaning cycle, and my tree is laying in the middle of the living room floor...but I was thrilled to see them anyway, and we had a nice chat.

    Now....time to work on the tree!

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    Replies
    1. I like friends that can stop by announced and see the house a wreck!!!

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  30. I've just printed off the sermon I wrote 2 days ago without even re-reading it. I am so tired I can't even think.

    Today started with me panicking with dizziness and a pain in my chest and left forearm. Eventually was brave enough to go to the doctor who said low blood pressure and probably a pulled muscle (how???) but not cardiac. Whew!

    Then straight off an hour later to do a wedding (28 in the bridal party including three 3 year olds!).

    Then I ended up with a dying parishioner. Poverty strikes. She is in the last stages of lung cancer (I doubt if she'll last 24 hours) and is in terrible pain. Since yesterday morning I have been trying to get her pain relief (she was just on paracetamol). She has a doctor (but too poor for medical aid) who promised to come and 28 hours later still hadn't appeared and was not answering his phone. Tried a hospice - has to be referred by doctor. Tried an ambulance to the government hospital -- has to be summoned by a doctor. Tried phoning the said hospital (where she had been diagnosed just a few weeks ago) and told no doctor available. Meanwhile she is in a semi-coma and groaning in agony. At last I tried one of my lay ministers who is an emergency services chaplain and she sourced morphine after we (that is the family and I) had got the all clear (by phone) from a doctor friend of the family at another hospital. Hope it doesn't all land me in trouble, but we couldn't leave her in such agony. I have learnt a great deal in the last 24 hours about the health system here and how under-resourced the poor are. And this lady is by no means as badly off as some . . .

    All of which has left me drained beyond belief and with the knowledge that I could easily get a phone call in the middle of the night. But at least she will die in relative dignity.

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    1. Oh, Pat. What an ordeal for her. I'm so glad she had you to call. Now get some sleep and some pampering.

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    2. Pat, my goodness. Take care of yourself, too.

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    3. Pat, thanks for being an advocate to someone who desperately needed someone.

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    4. 28 in a bridal party?!?!?!? Are you joking??? Yikes.

      Sorry. I know that's not the most important part of your post. So glad you were able to minister in a way that was needed.

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    5. Thanks for standing in the breach today. Prayers for all.

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    6. Wow, just wow, to all of it. 28 in the wedding party, and especially the ordeal with the sick person.

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    7. Thanks to you all for your support.
      Yes indeed -- 28 plus bride and groom!
      Lady still alive as far as I know.

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  31. OK. Back from bag packing- what a busy store. Then had fun at our youth church bowling party. Now seeing what I need to add to service where the young folks will perform their Nativity. I'm wondering if a shortened service will be OK and think it probably will.
    So now I need to work on Christmas Eve services and Christmas Day. (Strangely, I'm quite well on with Epiphany!)
    I've just declined to visit a bereaved family on Wednesday so that I can have a day off before I get caught up in funerals at the end of the week. They have managed to fit me in to their busy schedule tomorrow - I also offered Monday - but would have been quite happy that I didn't spend any time chilling "at this busy time". Funny how folk don't expect ministers to take any time to be with family like everyone else. But - enough of a moan.
    I've given myself a break by ordering our grocery shopping online. It should arrive in about an hour. So id best do some work before that needs unpacked and put away.

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    Replies
    1. I have never had anyone complain that a service was too short. :)

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  32. Library books returned and new ones checked out. Pizza in tummies. Littlest taking her nap (thank the good Lord and all the angels above). Oldest playing by herself in her room (ditto). So, it's the perfect time to...take a nap, or do laundry, or put the ham in the oven, or...oh, right, the sermon.

    I am quite sure I'll be joining you late tonight.

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    1. I vote for nap. (I need to do laundry, too, because on top of all this worship stuff going on, we have a surprise trip to FL happening Christmas afternoon. I plan to pack myself and the toddler tomorrow afternoon. My husband will pack himself, but the older two kids will want to pack for themselves as soon as they find out at the end of present-opening. It will also keep them busy in the couple of hours that we have from that time 'til we leave for the airport.)

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    2. Laundry won. We're leaving (in the car) the day after Christmas. I will undoubtedly have to do more laundry between now and then...

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  33. another thought this morning on the Mary's song - she sang about God, not about her rights, not complaining about her situation, not demanding that someone look after her or help her.

    I hope to get to look at some of your sermons later today, though I have to finish the carol service for tonight - mostly done by SS teacher, I just need to top and tail the service. no services on Christmas Eve, which means I have time to write a Christmas service. Like some of you I feel very disorganised this year, not sure why.
    we have lessons and carols on Christmas 1, which all done, so after Christmas I will have some time off. we will visit Husband's family a few days after Christmas; his father is in hospital at the moment, and may not be home by Christmas.
    8 am Sunday here, so time to shower.

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  34. Back from visiting Santa downtown which thoroughly tired out all three kids. Perfect! Now that my husband is out picking up more wrapping paper, I'm hoping to knock out the wrapping while everyone sleeps.

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  35. Think I have Sunday's mostly done... Only wishing that the UMC hymnal had better Mary hymns or that I had a member of the congregation who could sing "Breath of Heaven" or "Mary Did you Know". Now on to a very brief (think 3 minutes max) meditation for the Children's Christmas Eve Service and a slightly longer meditation on light for the Candlelight Christmas service.

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  36. Not preaching tomorrow - but get this - I read something earlier today, probably here about Micah and feel the need to write up a wee reflection on that passage before I can get on with Christmas Eve and Day reflections. How crazy is that? But I'm going to o it and see if that frees me up for everything else I need to do.

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    1. I have heard of this phenomenon. I have not lived it, but I have heard of it.

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    2. I totally get that Liz. I blogged twice this week about things that weren't my sermon. But I think it cleared my thoughts so I could get the sermon done in relative speed.

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  37. Wow I see its been a busy day at the 'party'. 101, I just missed it. I'll never catch up with you all. I do have a sermon, it needs more edits, but I just decided to wrap presents today. Now it is time to get back to work.
    We do have a dramatic reading; 1st person is a rich 1st century man who has 'overheard' the women of his household talking about what that woman, Mary said... the other is a rather poor woman from our century who gets to read Mary's words in church today and wishes they would be true. I hope my reflection doesn't take away from what I think the dramatic reading can offer. It may feel heavy, so I'm going light as suggested in Feasting Homiletical. Here's hoping.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds great. Did you write the dramatic reading? I'd love to read it!

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  38. We are some partying preachers today! I've been a domestic goddess today - cleaned house, laundry, wrapping gifts (no small task with two cats with bow fetishes) and....get this...baking cookies! Even worked in a nap, so I'm feeling pretty good. I think I'm ready for tomorrow - Christmas Eve still looms, but we do mostly lessons and carols and communion. All I have to do is an invitation to communion - 5-6 minutes. Although, you know, sometimes I find the shorter things to be harder to write.

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    Replies
    1. I know what you mean about the shorter stuff, but still - - you're almost done!!

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  39. I'm working on an intergenerational church school event. It's pretty well planned, but I'm fleshing it out and making a bulletin of sorts. In the middle of working on said piece, while trying to throw my cat off the table, I spilled a glass of diet dr. pepper on my laptop. Sigh. Spouse got it shut off, opened up, and dried out. It worked for a moment, and then blacked out. Meanwhile our pastor's spouse who is also a pastor with services tomorrow and Monday is in the other room having my spouse look at his computer. So pray for sick computers today. (I'm okay working on a different computer in the office; just worried about the laptop which I use extensively at both my part-time church job and upcoming university gig, and which, while old in computer years, is newer than this computer and has functions I don't have on this one).

    Working with Elizabeth and Mary and blessings and praises. Don't know if we'll go to the grief or not. Since it's interactive it may depend on whether anyone in the class wants to go there. I have a slide show I'm pretty pleased with that uses The Canticle of the Turning--which will be sung the next hour--with images from the Vanderbilt site of the Visitation and photos from our church year.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Oh my. Sorry for all the computer problems. That stinks!!!

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  40. Making good progress, thanks to Daddy coming home and me leaving to work in Daddy's office. Just need a closing story or illustration or something interesting.

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    1. I recommend trail mix and clementines as brain food.

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    2. Shoot. That's my problem. Kids ate all the clementines this morning.

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  41. Tomorrow we are talking about the Anunciation and whether or not Mary could have said no. And for the Children's time we will have a brief chat then watch this:
    http://youtu.be/oqnS0hjb2B8

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  42. I am just now ready to write. (Well, not ready, but you know what I mean). Our church council president said he'd handle worship on December 30th, so we didn't need to get pulpit supply. So, I continued merrily on my way until I got a panicked email from him this morning, reconsidering his decision and stating that he didn't think "amateur hour" was a good plan after all. Suddenly, my day became liturgy-bulletin-powerpoint for December 30th rather than write-sermon-and-visit-baby-and-watch-movie. My stress level shot through the roof and I am desperately trying to remember "Be Not Afraid." 45 minute drive home, then writing at home on "Being Mary."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. So, so frustrating. I'm writing on Mary with you, too. Actually, I'm not writing yet since I'm here. :)

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  43. It's been a rough week at our house with several meltdowns (both me AND the kids!). I am so far behind with domestic prep I'm not sure it's going to happen at this point.

    I'm frustrate by my inability get into the season. Advent used to be my favorite season, followed closely by Christmas, but in recent years it's just hard because I feel so apathetic about it all. I thought it was depression related, but this year my depression is more under control and I feel no different about the season.

    Enough whining. For tomorrow I have nothing but a title: "How Can This Be?" Seemed relevant earlier in the week. :) Fortunately we're doing Lessons, Carols, and Candles for Christmas Eve; all that's left it to print the bulletin. But so far nothing for 12/ 30 or for 1/6/13, and I leave after church on 12/30 to go see family for the week. Deep sigh.

    Prayers for all still working!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deep sighs are the same as prayers. I'll add my sighs for you.

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  44. Just saying hello. Visiting a friend's church tomorrow. Preaching again next week. Blessings all!

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  45. Anyone have some peppermint ice cream?
    And a brownie?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caramel sea salt gelato? Girl Scout candy?

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    2. Huh... never heard of those, but sure.

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    3. I missed the window for getting peppermint ice cream at our store, and I'm TICKED!

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    4. I do as a matter of fact have some caramel sea salt gelato in my freezer--one of the things about for my kids' visit in Grocery Shop Phase 1 (tomorrow Phase 2 at Whole Foods).

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  46. I am amazed at how many look at my sermon blog, most weeks it is similar to the number of people in worship.

    so far this morning, church, moving furniture ready for tonight, grocery shopping, lunch - now to finish off the Christmas eve eve carol service for tonight, at least there is no sermon, just an opening prayer, lots of carols and a play, mostly arranged by others. so my part is welcoming and opening, leading prayers and a blessing; and fruit cake and punch.
    for prayers I will hand out strips of Christmas paper for people to write, or draw, their prayer, which will be looped together in a Christmas chain. Here it is about 90 F, and humid, and I feel like a nap - will have to wait for Christmas Day. Hopefully later today I will get to look at Christmas morning service.

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    Replies
    1. It's all of us who are still preparing when you're done preaching! :) Blessings on the rest of your holiday offerings!

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    2. Here is it about 11 F - enjoy your warm weather! Even some humidity would be good at this point!

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  47. It is what it is, but it is done. I am still so filled with grief. Kept playing and replaying "A Stable Lamp is Lighted" as I wrote this. You'll find it here

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    Replies
    1. I don't know this Stable Lamp. A song? Holding you in the light of peace.

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    2. Such a beautiful song. Every Christmas at my home church. If you google either "a stable lamp is lighted" or "and every stone shall cry," something or other will pop up.

      This party is amazing!

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  48. So, kids are all down. Bedtime was a little later than usual because they slept 3-3 1/2 hours, waking up at about 5:15 pm. But everyone is in bed and quiet, so all is well. It's time for me to figure out what I really want to do tomorrow. I can do this.

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    Replies
    1. Looking forward to hearing what you have. I love the quiet after all have gone to bed and before the morning bustle begins.

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  49. Back from our last - LAST - Christmas shopping trip! And with enough time to go out for a drink or two as well.

    My son says the darnedest things - he and my spouse decided that they wanted a big TV as a combined Christmas gift. Keep in mind that they have been longing for aforesaid TV since I was in seminary, and our apartment was too small for a regular TV! Finally, finally after years of waiting, we have it.

    He looks over the box and says, "What!?! It's not 3D. I wanted a 3D TV." He and spouse argue and debate the relative merits of 3D, LED, LCD and TV amenities for a few minutes and spouse says, "I can't believe you're whining about this" and then Son says, "It's just a first world whine." I had to smile - at least he knows that there are bigger problems in the world!

    We discovered a small winery in - of all places - a mall. They do custom batches and specialize in fruit wines. I brought some lovely chokecherry/blackberry wine (no whining allowed) to share with anyone celebrating sermon completion or hoping for some inspiration.

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  50. I'm headed to bed, but in case anyone is interested, here's a link to my sermon for tomorrow: Love is Real. I hope it touches on all the places that need to be touched. We'll say our goodbyes, but I still have to do the services on Christmas Eve, so it's a little odd.

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  51. Thinking of you on this last Sunday in Advent and on into Christmas Eve. May God's presence be with you as it was with Mary and Elizabeth.

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  52. Sermon is edited and sent to the iPad, tree is up, lit, and mostly decorated (I have way more decorations than will fit and need to decide tomorrow which others are "musts" this year). Grocery Shopping Phase 1 done; Phase 2 tomorrow at Whole Foods (wow did I have to buy a whole bunch of stuff I just don't keep in the house anymore!)

    House is still a wreck, but at least I am making some forward progress!

    Happy Advent 4 everyone. Martha, thinking of you on your almost last day--hope it is a good one.

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  53. Wow...not quite 9 PM PST and 150+ comments! I have had a lovely day out interspersed with some frantic cleaning; now I just need to go over stuff for tomorrow and call it a night. One of the outings was ice skating, which I haven't done in many years; I didn't fall (to my surprise) but I have a feeling My legs may be complaining tomorrow :-o Prayers for all as we head into the Christmas stretch.

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    Replies
    1. I hope your legs survive! I know that anticipatory feeling.

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  54. I went to take a bath because it's later than it has been in a while with still pretty much nothing on my page. I know what I want my "focus" and "function" to be, but I just haven't been able to figure out how to make my sermon anything more than these two statements. I had trolled the internet long enough, and nothing was helping. A bath (and frankly, getting rid of the JUNGLE that has been growing on my legs recently) may have helped a little. I'm extending my usual midnight bedtime until I have 800-1000 words. I think starting with and Advent recap will help, especially since I'm seeing this sermon as the turning point between the OT prophets and the NT gospel. It's the first NT word my congregation has heard proclaimed in worship since August since we have been on the narrative lectionary, so setting up how we move to Jesus from the prophets, and including Mary as one of them, and tying my whole Advent theme together again, might help me. Maybe. If not, at least it gives me somewhere to start and I can cut it when I'm done if I don't need it. I think it will work, though.

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  55. That sounds both ambitious and fabulous; I hope the pieces are now falling rapidly into place!

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    1. Thanks. It was ambitious and they are falling into place, but I'm going to bed now with about a third to a quarter written. This is going to be just fine. I can see that now, so I can sleep. Dear God, I hope, though, that I don't oversleep like I did last week! I actually feel like I could wing this if I needed to, but I DON'T want to. I'm hopeful that finally oversleeping for the first Sunday in 10.5 years of ministry will actually just strip that nightmare from my life. :)

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  56. Back to finish and I put coffee on for anyone who drinks it! (This includes me today.)

    Peace and blessings to you all as you proclaim today! Special prayers for Martha as she bids farewell and others who are holding delicate emotions.

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  57. Well, done. Not my favorite, but it's done. Not horrible, just not my favorite. I like the recap of all of Advent which puts them all together. I like that. Off to shower, feed kids, get dressed, and get out the door. Peace!

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  58. Thanks, y'all! Much excitement here, and meanwhile, the new Preacher Party is up!

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