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Friday, January 04, 2013

11th Hour Preacher Party: Epiphany edition

 And just like that, the Christmas Season draws to a close. My goodness. I hope you had some time to rest over the days after Christmas and before Epiphany arrives. In fact resting is one of the themes that accompanies the Feast of Epiphany, a theme called Women's Christmas - which is celebrated on January 6.

Here is what I know about it: 

Today is a special day in Ireland when we celebrate the women who worked so tirelessly during the holiday period.
Nollaig na nBan or the Feast of the Epiphany, as it is more commonly known, marks the end of the Christmas period.
Traditionally in Ireland, women would finally get a much needed rest after catering to everyone during the festivities.
In the south especially, women would gather in each other’s homes and local pubs for a few stolen hours of gaiety while the men looked after the brood.
To me, this is a wonderful holiday as it reminds us, as Irish people, about the strength of Irish women, especially mothers. (Irish Central> )


Along that theme, Jan Richardson offers the image below of the wise ones,  from a new retreat that she's designed for Women's Christmas 2013, which you can download as a PDF at no cost. To download the retreat, visit Jan's post  here.





 On the other hand for a wonderful discussion on the texts for Epiphany check out the Tuesday Lectionary Leanings.

So, what are you pondering this week as you prepare to preach tomorrow? Epiphany and wise ones? Isaiah and light? or something else? What ever you are thinking about we are here. And, if you are struggling, as I am, to know what you want to say, we are here with you for that too! We are an all inclusive community expanding ourselves and our communities by sharing our insights, stories, wisdom, thoughts, concerns, worries, hopes, joys, and prayers.

And with that pull up a chair and grab a mug - I have plenty of delicious coffee and tea. I also hope to have some bakery fresh products (donuts? coffee cake?) to share and fruit, too. Later there may be homemade slow cooked beef stew....but always we have plenty of love and support. So, what can I get you?


156 comments:

  1. Wow...first one in the door! I have some delicious chocolate cake for anyone who is still up for sweets. Also some wild rice soup that uses up leftover bits of turkey and ham.

    A few children's time ideas. On Tuesday someone posted a wonderful service for blessing of homes at Epiphany, starting with chalk blessing. A few years ago, I made an explanation of this, followed by blessing and distribution of chalk the entire service and it was very well received by the congregation; if any are tight on time, you might think about doing this as the main sermon! Also, the story Old Befana (beautifully illustrated by Tomie de Paola) is wonderful; it lends itself either to a straight reading or to spreading out a few of the parts.

    As for me, I think I am starting with the idea that Jesus didn't need to receive the gifts; the wise ones needed to give them. I am going to use that funny little piece about what would have happened if they'd been women instead of men as a lighthearted way of getting into the obvious impracticality but significance of the three traditional gifts. Alas, that concept of our needing to give is about as far as I have gotten, especially since I don't want to re-do the stewardship season.

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    1. Oops...that should have been that the chalk blessing, etc. was the entire sermon, not service!

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    2. Betsy, I may do the chalk blessing as my sermon - as of right now I do not know if the kids will be in worship or if they will have Children's Worship (an area of poor communication I am working on)....but whether they are in worship or not will determine the course of my sermon. I also like the idea of exploring giving and the need to give....

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  2. I am showing a wonderful video on Bethlehem. it is also communion this Sunday
    We will hear Luke 2: 22-40 - but so many options, not sure where to go with it - as it is 8pm on Saturday night, that means deciding very, very soon.

    Maybe just go with the first idea, which is what would need to happen for you to be able to say with Simeon: Now dismiss your servant in peace.
    time to get to it and write something.

    and Betsy, a piece of chocolate cake sounds wonderful.

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    1. pearl, I am envious of your ability to show videos in worship, can't do that in my context....but from time to time it would be an awesome tool. I also like the idea of exploring what it means to "go in peace" -

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  3. I'm going with the theme of journeying. I'd love to quote the Journey of the Magi, but it would be lost on this congregation. However, I am exploring the idea of the call to journey, the change that entails (going home another way) and the Herods that threaten us. Hey, that's the magic three points!

    Chocolate cake sounds divine. We have an uncut Christmas cake! Will probably take it on holiday in a few weeks as I'm still fighting the good fight with weight. Holidays aren't for fights though - and if I haven't lost any by then I think I'll give in. But perhaps you'd all better eat the cake instead!

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    1. Oh, three good points to develop and turn into a fine sermon!

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  4. well sermon is written, very short, but the video earlier in the service goes for 5 minutes. also it is still holiday time here, and we are expecting hot weather again tomorrow, so a slightly shorter service will be fine.
    thoughts on Anna and Simeon are here

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    1. Thanks, Pearl. I left a comment on your blog. I appreciate this sermon and the way you develop it around the idea of what completes our lives?

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  5. So it's morning here. I have just finished a week of vacation, returning on Wednesday to write newsletter articles and plan/officiate/preach at a funeral yesterday. I already feel as if I have worked a full week. And am certainly not ready to return to worship and preaching tomorrow. sigh. Oh well. I need to start thinking about my sermon. I have it in mind to use the story Esperanza shared a couple of weeks ago - about the teacher who used her Groupon purchase for a free bus to transport second and third graders around town doing good deeds for people - gifting others with kindness. But I have thought no further than that. Maybe another cup of coffee is in order first. Then I will think.

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    1. okay, so it was first and second graders....but here is what Esperanza posted:

      "A friend had a groupon for a party bus that expired the end of the year. So she loaded the bus up with 1st and 2nd graders and took off around the city to do random acts of kindness. Caroling at the nursing home, cookies to firefighters, passed out quarters at the laundromat, left more quarters on top of the bubble gum machines at the grocery store, bought someone's food at McDonald's. The bus driver refused a tip at the end of the afternoon, saying "you've reminded me that there's kindness in the world. This is the best drive I've ever done."

      I think it works to illustrate the idea of gifting and going another way...and in so doing revealing something of the face of Christ in the world, God's love made manifest.

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    2. I love this story, and it may well find a place in my sermon. The recipients of those favors were affected, as was the driver, but I bet the biggest impact was on the young children doing the giving!

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    3. Yay, I'm glad that story is coming in handy. It was the mom of one of the first graders that cooked up the idea. She happens to be a junior high teacher. I've already used it once, and since I preach several different places, it may just show up again!

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    4. Is that someone you know? If not, where did you find the story? I'd like to give it some sort of attribution.

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    5. i think it was someone Esperanza knows. I'm going to say "A friend of a friend..."

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    6. Yes, I know her. Friend from a former church. In San Antonio.

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    7. Thanks! Nice to at least be sure it isn't apocryphal (though the sentiment would be good just the same).

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    8. I saw it on facebook, it must be true!! (hee hee). Seriously, I did ask her permission to use the story in a sermon, and she was happy to grant it. Her name is Brenda.

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  6. Good morning, preachers! My spiritual direction peer supervision group will be over for our monthly (or so) meeting in an hour, so I have walnut coffee cake and a loaf of blueberry bread to share. Then it's off to Little Church Far Away to get organized for my open house for the congregation tomorrow.

    My sermon focuses on vision via the magi, with the title "Enlarge Our Vision!" -- my more-or-less theme for the year.

    But truthfully, I woke up this morning feeling something at a loss. Over my Christmas vacation and then being sick the last few days, I've had a lot of time to think about how my congregation (75% over 60, many in their 80s) as a whole really sees church as the family to which to turn when their own disappoint them, and as the the place to which to go on Sunday morning for solace and reassurance. The small group of younger (40s and 50s and early 60s) folks are unlikely to be joined by their elders in any significant mission effort, and are already themselves fraying at the edges. Everyone contributes mightily of their time, talent, and treasure to the maintenance and worship of the church; who I am to tell them they need to cast their nets a good deal wider?

    I could say a lot more, but I see that I already have a blog post here rather than a comment. I guess I could summarize by saying that I serve a classic rural, insular, elderly church that in 15 years or less will not be here if things continue on the same trajectory, and that I am torn between whether to focus on meeting their immediate pastoral needs and or to encourage them to look outward and engage with the world.

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    1. Robin, you are wise to ponder this. It is a tender balance to continue to offer some degree of challenge to congregations like this while also tending to their real-in-the-moment needs and concerns. I do think that we cannot stop offering challenges to engage in the world around us, regardless of age, but also balancing that charge with the love and compassion they need as they look toward the end of life. Maybe they can't look any further than the next community meal or fundraiser or small outreach opportunity - but that is what is within their grasp? And it's still something...I guess in these situations I try to focus on a strength and lift it up, no matter how meager, and offer a challenge to build it stronger.

      Of course none of this may be of use in your context, so I am just thinking out loud about my own experience with this same question. Praying for you as you ponder this.

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    2. Robin, I have been pondering similar thoughts. My context is not quite as far along as yours - we still have a decent 40-50 something group, but we're complicated by being located in a community that's declining as well. It's one of the rare places where the demographics of the church (mostly older, very few young adults and children) mirror the demographics of the community. It's hard to see what mission outside the doors would look like; there's an emphasis on getting inactives more active (not an emphasis on reaching out to outsiders, because frankly most of the outsiders are part of other congregations in the community); emphasis on pastoral care. My folks are engaged in their community, but both the church and the community are on the slow path of decline.

      I hope you do make your reflections a blog post - I'd love to read it and join the conversation.

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    3. Welcome Ramona, and for your thoughts on this as well. I wonder if there are any denominational initiatives people can participate in? I once had a congregation use only Fair Trade Coffee, purchased through a denominational sponsored Fair Trade initiative (Episcopal Relief and Development, Bishop's Blend coffee). We could talk about how we were making a difference in the world just by the cup of coffee we were drinking in coffee hour....it was meager, but it was something. And it was reflected in the budget...

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    4. Ramona, my church is in a very similar community. And Terri, I love the idea about participating in denominational initiatives. One of the things I hope to do this year is bring more of the world to the church -- even if most of my folks are in no position to go far or do much, they can certainly expand their knowledge and prayer lives.

      So . . . blog post next week!

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    5. My parish is very similar--and as far as I can tell, for the most part doesn't want to be more engaged in the larger world. Add that to the fact that they see the world through a much more conservative lens than do I ...and I wonder sometimes if I am the right person to be ministering to them at this point. I am doing some serious discernment around that. Meanwhile, I try to love them and challenge them and be there for them.

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    6. RevDrMom, that's the best one can do.

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    7. Rev Dr Mom,

      Ditto ditto ditto.

      I'm posting again in the hope that some of you will see this by email. I did just post a blog entry on this topic, and would love for it to generate some conversation.

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  7. Good morning, preachers! I am enjoying my new, warm, fluffy robe - it's a deep purple, and as I pass by the mirror, I think I kind of look like a wise man...am hoping that some lipstick and a little attention to my hair will fix that.

    I am preaching tomorrow from Matthew and am challenging the congregation to find the courageous humility to look for the wonder - to admit we don't know everything there is to know about divine things, but let's search for God together. Let's look for the bright spots. In part, it's a selfish sermon because my DMin project is coming up and will involve spiritual formation groups built around searching for the Spirit - taking on disciplines that help us search and then - gasp - talking about it! But, nevertheless...I do have a good title, I think...Dancing with the Star! Let's hope it's not a low scoring effort!

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  8. Chilly, love the image! and the title is great!

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  9. I have been on vacation between calls for the past 2 Sundays (and Christmas Eve!), and I'm still off tomorrow thanks to RevGal Jan (of ChurchForStarvingArtists) who will preach tomorrow before I begin my new call on Monday. I am looking forward to the opportunity to sit in worship and observe the community before I begin. Of course, a charter member of my new church is actively dying right now, so I'm jumping in a little bit early, and will likely spend my first week planning a funeral--very different from the beginning of my last call, where there were no deaths for the first 18 months I was there!!

    So, if I were preaching tomorrow, it would be something about new things--about the season of Epiphany being a time when we look, blinking into the light, at what God is doing in our midst. I would want to wonder together where we can see God in our midst today, and how we might incarnate the good news in our community. I loved how succinctly Christine Sine put it on her blog (GodSpace) the other day: " "The light of God has not gone out of the world, but it certainly has not gone out into the world as God would desire either. How do you think we can change this?"

    But instead of writing a sermon, I'm headed to an unfamiliar hospital, and then to unpack my office, and to get a pedicure, and to ponder this new thing.

    I'll be making potato leek soup for dinner, though, so come on over!

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    1. Blessings on the new call...light...and all that will be revealed!

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    2. Oh Teri, what a way to begin...with a big, important funeral right off the bat. I had that happen here, too - but NOT my first week. I may know the hospital you are going too, spent many many hours there with parishioners...regardless, will image you there and hold you and the family in my minds eye and prayers.

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  10. Using the Isaiah text and pairing it with Isaiah 43 (I am about to do a new thing text). Something along the lines of being in exile (Isaiah 43) which would also describe the church today and having to "arise" in order to inhabit the Isaiah 60 text (post-exile...or looking to the future).

    All this in 5 minutes. We have ordination/installation of ruling elders. While I was on vacation the Mission committee met with one of our college students who is doing a 6-8 week trip to Guatemala for his Master's degree. We will be taking a special offering on Sunday to help with expenses and so he will be presenting for about 5 minutes as well.

    Glad I picked short hymns!

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    1. WOW Purple, what a full day! All very wonderful "new"...

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  11. I know this isn't really the place, but I'm not on Facebook . . . I'm trying to put together a collection of hymns for the parish and to make them all inclusive language. Mary's boy child -- 'man will live forever more because of Christmas day." I changed it to we but as my (non-PC - can't see the point of inclusive language!) husband pointed out, it is the angels singing, so the we doesn't make sense. Does anyone have any suggestions? I've managed most of the hymns but there are one or two that have defeated me.
    I'm determined to stop all these women singing together that they are brothers!!!

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    1. Pat, good for you. I do think this important work! Ideas anyone?

      The Episcopal Church has a number of hymnals engaging in inclusive/expansive language which you can find here

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    2. Thanks Terri. The problem is that the hymns I'm stuck with are still copyright so I can't get them on this page!
      The other one is "In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
      as he died to make men holy, let us live to make men free. . ."
      I've put in all instead of men, but it doesn't sound so good!

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    3. The Lutheran Church (ELCA) printed a new hymnal a few years ago that is inclusive language. It is called Evangelical Lutheran Worship (or ELW). Perhaps you could borrow one from a Lutheran colleague in the area for a couple of weeks?

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    4. Don't know where I would find one in Cape Town! But thanks. I'll keep a look out.

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    5. What about "As he died to make all holy, let us die to make all free"?

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    6. Yes, that's what I put. I guess I just need someone to agree with me...

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  12. Rather quiet at the preacher party today. I've printed my sermon title, "Struggle, Gifts, Rejection." Hoping to unpack the idea that even Jesus did not have an easy childhood... an experience common to many (all?). Yet there are gifts in the midst of struggle. And where we put our focus matters...

    I've got mounds of laundry to sort, wash, dry and fold in the midst of writing today. It's a familiar routine for "sermonating". I've got a pot of fresh ground French Roast coffee to share, a crockpot of meatballs in BBQ sauce, and an unopened box of Frango mints in dark chocolate. Help yourself!

    Oh, and I'm finally working on an official blog to yoke to our church website. Still debating my blog name..... Ideas? Maybe "soul shimmers" or "soul wiggles" or "spirit songs" or....? ~Anne

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    1. I like soul wiggles....makes me smile and think at the same time...

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    2. Definitely soul wiggles!

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    3. Soul Wiggles. Creative title catches my eyes.

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    4. My soul frequently wiggles . . .

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  13. I'm preaching magi and the theme I have so far is "What star are you following?" I read "Breakfast with Buddha" a couple of weeks ago and one of the passages in the book stuck with me. The main character was at Notre Dame University and pondered how the decor of the hotel (ND sports) and the passion of the athletic community made it look to the outside observer that the real religion there was football. He then goes on to ponder what his religion really is. I translated it to 'what star is he following' and then I thought 'what star did Herod follow, what star did the priests follow?"

    The last time I preached this text I was on internship. I do have a sermon that would work with a lot of revision (and I mean a lot!) - the context is so different and the point of the sermon won't work as well in my community where there aren't a lot of outsiders.

    It's a start anyway. The holiday-shortened week was pretty busy and I still have a couple of things to read/listen to, so my idea might change.

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    1. Not preaching tomorrow, but I have written in that title on my calendar for next year, just in case - thanks Ramona! I love that idea.

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    2. I like the title and the illustration and how you plane to unpack it!

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  14. Good morning, party people! I'm an infrequent partier here these days, but I am preaching for a colleague who is out of town, so I get to pop into the party! Wooh!

    I've had...shall we say..a bit of drama lately. I was supposed to preach tomorrow, then spend this next week getting ready for the visit of my daughter WonderGirl and her beau, TallDarkPhilosopher from California on 1/13. Instead, due to a medical situation involving my parents I will leave as soon as worship is over to drive 350 by myself to my hometown to care for my dad next week, drive back Friday afternoon, and have one whole day to prepare for the visit. But, on the other hand, I am lucky that my parents are still on this earth and that I can help out my family in this way, so no gripes.

    I woke up this morning with one of those annoying medical things that we ladies sometimes get--an urgent but not life-threatening problem that hurts but won't kill me. And, I do not drink cranberry juice, so off to the walk-in clinic I went.

    I am glad I have a Sustainable Sermon for tomorrow, influenced heavily by BBT's sermon Home By Another Way. As I am making my own pilgrimage "home" tomorrow, I may weak it a little bit, but I am just waiting to feel a little better before I dive in.

    I have water, water, and more water if anybody wants some. Ahem.

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    1. There is some serious injustice in that, Jules. Hope you get some good drugs and are on the mend soon.

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    2. Ugh on the medical stuff - there are cranberry capsules with no flavor you can get for when you feel that coming on - fyi. I keep 'em on hand all the time. Prayers for a blessed time in preaching, safe travels, and peace with family stuff.

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    3. Amy, I am never without OTC Pyridium. Never. But the cranberry pills (and juice, for that matter) seem to have mostly anecdotal supporting evidence for me. In other words, they don't help me. Usually if I can get the little purple pills down and practically drown myself with water, I can flush it out. This one, however, seems to be a doozy :(

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    4. Jules, I hope the meds and water work and you feel better soon. Also prayers for you as you tend to your parents next week and then rush home to be with your daughter! What a week.

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  15. I know I am avoiding writing when I am considering going for a run-- an activity I don't especially enjoy--to be a viable delay tactic! However, I sure have been inspired by what all of you are writing about for tomorrow; if only that inspiration would morph itself into a sermon **while** I run. My iPad does lots else; why not an auto-sermon app?

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  16. Good morning everyone!
    I am preaching Matt and Isaiah, but it is heavily focused on Isaiah at this point. All the exclamation points and imperatives. Arise! Shine! Look up!

    What if the magi had decided that 3 people couldn't make a difference? I think the need to live with Isaiah's imperatives and exclamation points is easily drowned out by the despair of the world around us.

    So will also talk about lighting candles to curse the darkness and how light is never just a personal benefit. It casts light in other people's darkness too. You can't hoard it.

    And then we're doing the Star word thing again too.

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  17. Just finished reading Barbara Brown Taylor's sermon on this Sunday's Matthew Epiphany text, "Home By Another Way" found in the book by the same title. She says there is a James Taylor song on this text. Think I'll search for that... Maybe it'll provide some inspiration.

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  18. okay gals... the new year is off to a... well i had to have baileybean put down. in a nutshell he's sick. brain is mis-firing. his aggression increasing. his pain too. second time in 6 months to do this with one of my boys. the house is annoyingly quiet...

    the sermon is started. might be short, but my guess is the community will understand why. pretty bland sermon, but i don't have the mo-jo for something phenomenal... well as if, as IF it were up to me anyway. god's got it. i should wrap up the sermon, drink my caramel coffee and then dear ones, i'm rearranging the living room furniture. something about forcing myself to work off that energy of grief that builds up within... dang.

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    1. Oh, no. I'm so sorry, HC. So very sorry.

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    2. me too Jules, me too!
      isn't there a spa on that ship... you'll probably find me there, often.

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    3. Poor thing. Such a sad thing.

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    4. Adding my sorries here too, HCL.

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    5. What heartbreak :-( And two in such a short time...

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    6. Oh HC. I am so sorry. My heart is breaking for you....so very sad. Too young, he was. But you gave him an awesome life....

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    7. HC I tried to comment on your blog, but Blogger is oppressing me today. In a short while you will be with friends who have been through this. We can raise a glass to BB, Tanner, and so many others!

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    8. So many friends sending pets over the rainbow bridge this week...so sorry!

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  19. Good morning everyone! I haven't been here in a while but I'm planning to do so more often. As always, your wisdom on the Epiphany texts is exceptional.

    I'm going with Isaiah and Matthew.

    My theme is searching. The wise men searched with passion for the awaited Messiah despite practicing an entirely different spiritual life themselves. They didn't just search - they put their very lives at risk for this child.

    Two possibilities from there....

    1. Do we search with that much devotion, or do we hope we'll run into Jesus along the way? I compare it to when you're shopping and the sales staff asks if you are looking for anything special and you say "No, just browsing." Are there times when we are just browsing for Jesus?

    2. Some moments in time - such as the birth of Jesus - are above the typical boundaries that people put between themselves and others such as culture, ethnicity and religion. Perhaps the devotion of the wise men was a recognition that this was one of those moments. The path of human history would change because of this birth and the wise men were grateful to be a part of it.

    that's what I have for now. That, and good decaf coffee.

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    1. Just browsing for Jesus - very thought provoking!

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    2. Hey Sue! Welcome - so good to have here today....browsing for Jesus is indeed thought provoking....

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  20. Good morning preachers!

    I love Epiphany and I love this text from Matthew, but I feel totally without inspiration at this point. I took off from Christmas to New Year's Day which was wonderful (and BUSY with my kids visiting) and even though I started the New Year at full steam I am having a hard time really getting my head (and heart) into it.

    We will do a chalk blessing and have King's Cake at coffee hour, and we are bringing diapers as "baby gifts" which we'll send to the local diaper bank. Somewhere I know I have a good Epiphany sermon but it is not on my laptop nor on my blog, so sustainable doesn't seem to be an option.

    Now off to search for that illusive inspiration!

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    1. Dang, RevDrMom - I am so in the same boat with you...

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  21. I'm not preaching tomorrow; instead, I'm working on four keynote talks for a middle school youth retreat next weekend. An Epiphany sermon sounds far easier at this point!!

    The theme text is Hebrews 12:4-11 (I'll wait while you go look that one up, it's a bit obscure), and then theme is "Discipleship is Nothing Without Discipline." Cheerful, no?

    I've got the first one pretty done, the third is pretty clear in my head though not on paper. The second one is unclear but on paper, and the fourth is a total mystery. I need movie clips for each, likely, and I am so not a movie person. Sigh. I'll be here all day. And all night. And all next week.

    Hot tea, leftover Christmas goodies, and clementines to share.

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    1. Why can't I edit my comment?
      Text is Hebrews 12:4-13

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    2. Esperanza, sometimes blogger seems to freeze and won't let me go back and edit something. It's so annoying.

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    3. Same thing happens to me consistently, and it drives me nuts.

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  22. Just starting--the party and the sermon. Lots of good ideas hear this morning. I'm going with Matthew and "This Little Light of Mine".

    Three weeks ago, our kids did a big, bright cloth banner signifying the Light Christ brings to the world. This Sunday, our kids will give everybody a piece of that banner as they go into worship. Think I'll move from the story of the banner, to the light of Christ to Christ's lights and let "Little Light of Mine" carry it through.

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  23. I've been on a Scottish Island since New Years Eve. Got back today and, because I didn't want to have to write a sermon, I've written a series of Epiphany Reflections that we'll intersperse with Epiphany Carols tomorrow. I'm also encouraging folk to take "the church" into the new year with them by coming forward and taking a word early on in worship which I hope will accompany them through 2013 (there are a few blog posts on similar ventures). I'm hoping that stories will unfold as folk journey through the year with the word they receive - we'll see. So, an easy Saturday for me. Lots of left over Christmas goodies to share.

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    1. Very cool idea, Liz, for people to take a word to accompany them through 2013. What are some of the words you are using?

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    2. Terri,
      Words like: love, peace, joy, believe, wonder, enthuse, enliven, dare, persevere. I have 90 words and made 2 copies of each - that should be enough for all who come tomorrow.

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    3. I love that idea! I may work that in. I have gotten several of those here today; now I need actually to put them together into a sermon. I have the intro done, but that is always the easy part for me.

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    4. I also love the idea of the reflection words. I'll either keep the idea for next Epiphany, or perhaps use it for Lent?

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    5. love the words....! I think I need to do this sometime.

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  24. So I left the party late this morning to exercise. After a 45 minute vigorous workout I then decided to take down all the Christmas decorations including the tree. The house is now relatively back in order....which is more than I can say for my sermon....sigh

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    1. So many kinds of avoidance behavior . . . =) But look what you have accomplished already.

      Thanks for hosting today, Terri!

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  25. I have a random question

    I know it's Philippians where Paul talks about our citizenship being in heaven but I think there's another place where he (or maybe not Paul) says something about being "strangers in a strange land" or something like that. Does that ring any bells for anyone besides Heinlein fans? Sarah

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    1. You can go here and do a word search - there are several possibilities, Ephesians, for example...

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    2. Terri that link goes nowhere. Where were you intending to send me? Sarah

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    3. Darn - made that link from my iPad - will try again oremus bible browser

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    4. Okay, it works now. Sorry about the first one. (dang blogger and iPad interface failure)....

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    5. I've already tried Oremus. It had nothing. That's why I was trying for crowd sourcing help here. Sarah

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    6. Not quite Paul, but there is Exodus 2:22," And she bore him a son, and Moses called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land." Don't think this is quite what you're going for though, is it?

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  26. Whoo hoo! I "think" I just started a new blog account. Let's see if I can use it here instead of the blog we created for our youth trip last summer. I am now officially "Soul Wiggles" blogger. I promised our techy guy at church that I'd have it ready to link to our church website by the end of the month. Profile done!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hmmm, but the photo didn't show up....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a Word Press blog now. My summer one for the youth trip was a blogger account. I wonder if the difficulty now is moving from one to the other on this page? I'm stumped. And eventually I need to start working on a sermon. No sustainable sermons on Epiphany in the file! How is that possible?! So starting from the beginning. Not a bad thing to do...

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  28. Done! At 1:00 pm. What shall I do with the day?

    Thanks for hosting, Terri.

    This little light of mine you'll find here.

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  29. Checking in here late today.

    I don't know if this has been referenced yet in this discussion or Tuesday's, but there is a good compare/contrast of Isaiah and Matthew in Walter Breuggemann's "Off by Nine Miles". It's about Isaiah's prophecy that seems to pinpoint Jerusalem, and then Jesus is actually born in Bethlehem, and the differences between those locations. I'm using a lot of that in a sermon I'm calling "The Very Big, Very Surprising Nine Mile Difference."

    For purposes of the church sign, the title was "A Geography Lesson"!

    Thinking about ordering pizza. What's your pleasure?

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    Replies
    1. Mmm - sounds good, Sharon. Sticky barbecue or ham and pineapple would be my pizza of choice! Please.x

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    2. Hawaiian for me, too! Sounds like an intriguing approach to the sermon.

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    3. no pineapple for me (allergic)...but pizza is always yummy.

      And, love the title!

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  30. I'm basically in the same spot I was a few hours ago, but I've done lots of online "research" about Bert and Ernie. I think I'm using them as two different approaches to "discipline" as a way in to talking about spiritual disciplines. I think.

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    Replies
    1. hey esperanza - I think that could work well! Bert and Ernie...

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  31. Boy, do I hear you, esperanza. My fingers are moving and my brain is turning... but I just don't have any traction or momentum yet.

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  32. I've run, I've taken old electronics to the e-waste collection, I've spent way too much time watching a Labrador puppy cam, I've rearranged a cupboard and cleared out a few items so that some new glasses will fit in, I've listed a couple items for freecycling. Not surprisingly, the sermon has not written itself during this time. I wonder if an would ever get anything done if I didn't have sermon avoidance to motivate me!

    Terri, I want to take a look at yours for motivation; the title sounds in line with my theme. Three cheers to those of you who are done.

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  33. So I have about 1300 words that should turn into something preachable after I do some editing. Time to walk away for a bit.

    I spent the afternoon installing my new Dragon voice software and am using it for the very first time to write the sermon. It's kind of weird and kind of cool – my DH looked at me funny when he walked past my office and I was talking myself, and I'm having a hard time adjusting to thinking and saying my sermon but not typing. And I can't quite figure out how to incorporate the parts I already typed earlier. But, given that over the last two weeks my carpal tunnel has been agonizing in both hands, I'm thanking God profusely that I don't have to type!

    Think I'll read the posted sermons and then maybe get back to work.

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    Replies
    1. DH here has been training his new Dragon that he just got today. He's been using it for 18 years now and loves it.

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    2. some weeks I use dragon in writing a sermon. to include parts I have already typed, or quotes, I add them in manually. I find some weeks typing works better, some weeks speaking works better for me in sermon prep.

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  34. I posted mine Arise!.

    I will be asking them to do an interactive reflection on 2012 and then "wipe the slate clean" and think about 2013. We are a tiny congregation so easy to that during worship. The elders have already done this exercise.

    Using a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon I found, quite by accident, and everyone will be receiving a copy of it as well.

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  35. OK, Bert and Ernie keynote has a first draft. I'm going to stop and have some supper of some sort and brainstorm the very fuzzy one.

    I think we've had this discussion before, but I can't remember the solution. If I want to use a YouTube clip in a presentation, is there a way to do that without the internet in the room?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Esperanza, I have no idea....anyone???

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    2. I use RealPlayer - it's free and once you install it, it's really easy to download clips.

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    3. Ramona, you're a life saver! Or at least a rescue from boredom for all of those middle schoolers. I shall go check it out now.

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    4. Very cool! I have used RealPlayer, but the video clip I was trying to use was a big challenge and I didn't realize it would replay YouTube clips....just didn't grasp that one...sigh

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    5. Keepvid.com is great also - easy to use!

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    6. Amy, I have not heard of Keepvid.com, will need to check it out! Thanks.

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    7. On Firefox ther is an add-0n called "Download Helper" that I use to not only download YouTUbe clips but also to convert them from mpp4 to WMV so I can use them in PowerPoint.

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    8. Thanks, Amy. I'll check it out too.

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  36. My new obsession for procrastinating is Angry BIrds Star Wars edition. I was never much of an Angry Birds person til I downloaded this one on my iPad, and apparently I am addicted.

    But I do have a sermon. I found two old Epiphany sermons and used one of them as a starting point to talk about Matthew's version of the Christmas story, how it is different and what the magi could offer us--models for being open to seeing unexpected things, acting without fear, recognizing that Jesus came for everyone.

    Not thrilled with it, but it will do.

    And now having printed the chalk blessing and made sure everything is in order for tomorrow, I shall watch some Downton Abbey--working through the 2nd season on amazon prime in preparation for season 3!

    Happy Epiphany everyone!

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    Replies
    1. I haven't played that version of Angry Birds...but I have been terrible addicted to the game in the past....I may have to check out the Star Wars...no precious don't.... :-)

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    2. Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime? Maybe I will have to break down and get it! I'm still waiting for season 2 to come out on instant view on Netflix!

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    3. Between Star Wars Angry Birds (me) and Downton Abbey (dh), you have covered much of the afternoon's amusement in my household...both are quite distracting! I did get a bit more written, and now I am going out to dinner with my family. Once again, I will leave the iPad set to auto-write, in the hope that this time something appears while a I am out.

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    4. Oooo! I just watch the 7 episodes of season one on Netflix and was very disappointed that season 2 isn't there. Do you need a subscription for Amazon Prime?

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    5. I want a tablet with auto-write!

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  37. ACK!

    My sermons are usually 1300-ish words, and I'm at 1800 words on this one. I'm stressing that it's too long. And it's Communion Sunday. And I'm hungry.

    Snack break!

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    Replies
    1. Oh my Sharon. Often I am able to edit viciously when my sermons are too long....but every once in awhile I really struggle to know what I can cut and still keep the thread I'm working on...snack break will surely help. And, I have tension tamer tea (Celestial Seasonings) if you'd like a cup. :-)

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    2. Can you save your surplus for me? Mine are always so short.

      If the tea doesn't work, I can share a sip of my scotch.

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    3. It's not too long if it is the Word of God for the people of God. People don't mind church going long occasionally if they are engaged.

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  38. home from Church, and read a few of your sermons. this is truly a creative and diverse group. I am so grateful that I am part of it.
    blessings for those still writing.

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  39. Dealing with post-vacation re-entry here, and getting the wheels turning again is a challenge! The time change is not helping either, as I slept until about 2 this afternoon.

    At first I thought it was just a sermon I had to write, and was thankful I made some notes about what I wanted to say before I left. Then I remembered that we're presenting Bibles tomorrow, so need to work on that too. Reading a book for the children's story, so we're fine there. THEN I remembered I need to prep for a premarital coaching session tomorrow after church, and that's the largest looming task now.

    Of course, none of the three has been even begun yet. Whee!

    Preaching the magi, and pondering how the truest and best gifts reveal something both about the giver and the recipient.

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    Replies
    1. Oh my SemFem...I know re-entry is rough. Hoping all comes together for you quickly and easily. You should find plenty here to spur you along that theme of gifting!

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    2. Missed seeing you tonight semfem. Of course, now I am just starting to sermonate. Let me know next time you are out this way.

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    3. Loved seeing the photos on FB Megan! Looked like everyone had fun. I should be out your way the first weekend of February (at least I think so), if not sooner.

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  40. Anyone have a word processor they really like for use on the iPad? Basic one is okay. I was going to download the Pages app, but reading the reviews on the latest version makes it sound like there are a lot of new bugs. I am using the notepad for writing sermons; however, it is not the best for that purpose--especially since I can't do a word count--and I know I should get something more functional.

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    Replies
    1. I write my sermon on my laptop, save it as a PDFand email it to myself, then I open it in iBooks. I have not tried to write, save, and preach all from the iPad. Because I hate writing anything long on this little keyboard...

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    2. Betsy,
      I like the pages app on the iPad, and haven't had any problems with it!

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  41. However, I have not had any problems with iPages - I use it for many other things. You can transfer the document from iPages to iBooks, I think. And, iBooks is a very stable medium for preaching.

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  42. Betsy, I don't have an Apple, but I write on my laptop and then transfer to Google docs. That seems to work best for me - I can still make minor changes after the transfer, and don't have to fuss with tablet word processors!

    Speaking of...I am ready to send this baby off to cyberspace. What Star Are You Following? is posted on my blog...now to get my order of worship/sermon over to Google docs.

    And then I can finish watching 'How to Train Your Dragon' - appropriate viewing after all the Dragon training I've done today!

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  43. Okay friends, it has been a full, long day and here in the Eastern time zone morning comes sooner than I like (because I stay up later than I want too)..anyway, thanks for partying with me today. I'll keep you all, and your various concerns, in my prayers.

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  44. Canadian Chris HAdfield is currently the Commander of the ISS and wrote and recorded a Christmas song form the station. HEre is the story and the video he made

    I was going to use that for Children's Time instead of the chalk blessing but then I saw on FB that someone had taken the song and merged it with time-lapse video of the earth from the station and so for CT tomorrow I am showing this one.

    THe Chalk Blessing can wait for another year..this is current.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow...the song and images are fabulous! Definitely, the chalk blessing can wait.

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  45. 150! Woo-Whooo. Way to go ladies, gents, friends, and watchers.
    Hope you are doing well. I am doing a brief sermon, as we have communion also and then presenting chalk with the chalk blessing for Epiphany and 2013.
    I literally bought the last box of chalk at WallyWorld yesterday.
    Had a few left from last year, so I have just enough for my tiny group and some for the homebound as well.
    Preaching on light and the importance of sharing light with and to others. And then I am crashing for a bit. My aunt passed away and the service is early Monday, so I have a busy week ahead. And I still need to get the tree down.

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  46. I think I'm finally finished enough to take a quick nap and then get going for the day. Hoping that loooong sleep Friday night will sustain me until it's all finished...

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

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  47. Have had this one very well formed in my head the last few days, so I put off actually getting on paper until very late (or very early -- this morning). I've got about a third of it down and have about an hour until the rest of the house starts waking up, my goal "done" time, but not often what I hit.

    I'm definitely having the vacation re-entry problem, not helped by the fact that this was a mid-week to mid-week vacation. I haven't done one of these in a years, and I don't like it at all. Thursday was my only day in the office which really throws me off my schedule and game. Even with a more traditional week long vacation that ends with the weekend and starts me back on church on a Monday, anymore, I seem to need two straight weeks at a time to really get out of the groove then be ready to get back in it when I return.

    Oh well. That wasn't in the cards this time, so back to John the Baptist I go...

    ReplyDelete
  48. Ever write a sermon and start to think, "Ooooohhhh -- I'm about to step in it all!" Yeah -- that. Here goes nothing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stephanie, actually, yes. A couple of times....prayers for you and hoping you step into love.

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