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Saturday, January 19, 2013

11th Hour Preacher Party: "Look, Gifts!" Edition

Mardi Gras

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;
 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God 
who activates all of them in everyone. 
[1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NRSV)]

From all over the world and across time zones, here we are!

This virtual gathering turns preaching prep into a party just as surely as empty jars, in Jesus' hands, can overflow with the best wine.  Empty vessels? Bring 'em!  Let's see what the Spirit can do with what we've got.  

THANKS for stopping by today!

Stay as long as you want to or need to. 
Pop in and out. 
Share a story or a prayer concern.  
Update us on your sermon progress.
Post a link to your sermon so we can read it.
If you need help, please ask.
If you have snacks to share, please do!

What are you celebrating?  Do tell!

Carnival season has started here in New Orleans and, though I grew up 75 miles north in Baton Rouge, it turns out that's a world away from what goes on here.  I don't know how close to the action I'll get but the celebration crowds (and crowded streets) will apparently impact church accessibility. No one seems stressed about that, so neither will I.  It's a party, after all!

A special invitation to you friends who have not yet posted for the first time:
Today is your day!  If you've been wanting to be more visible here, go ahead and come out and play.  Tell us something about yourself or what's on your mind. We welcome you and want to hear from you.  

I am so grateful for the variety of gifts that you all are, and I am thankful for the community that God is creating here. 

WELCOME!

148 comments:

  1. Good morning preacher pals! Weird to be the first one here. Intrepid husband and I are hosting the 2am-6am shift at the community homeless shelter Room at the Inn. Then we make and serve breakfast for the 11 men and 1 woman. First time for us to volunteer for this multi church ministry in my hometown. Here for a 3 month sabbatical after 9 years. I am preaching Sunday at my home church with a sermon that feels about 3/4 done. Hoping my energy and computer access are both on at the same time. There are some first world challenges in working without a computer or printer at home and no office. I also managed to mess up my ankle last week bad enough that walking even a few steps is a painful affair. C#@p!!! No matter what I will be on a big white boat in 7 days with good friends and lots of rev gal laughter. Healing for body and soul. Will check back later. Hoping for a quiet night here and a productive day on Saturday.

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    1. Thanks for checking in on the early side, Celeste. What a sweet, sweet time you are having in your hometown. Except for the d*^% ankle thing!

      I would like to reserve some deck time with you, please! You have a story to tell that I am so excited to hear!

      Hang in there . . .

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    2. Sharon absolutely! No idea how the story will develop but I am looking forward to talking it out with sisters who get it. See you soon!

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    3. You can rest your ankle and we will fetch whatever you need! Looking forward to hearing too.

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    4. Bless you Amy! I am really struggling with needing help with things I took for granted. Further irony... my Marci Glass star word is Contentment... Oh my. I am feeling far from content right about now. Hope that in a week things are much better. Can't wait to hug you and recreate together.

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    5. Smiling all over my face (stolen from MB) just thinking of it

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  2. The new normal: finishing my sermon while I allow my daughter to rot her brain on TV all morning. She loves sermon days.

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    1. PKs should get some perks, right?

      Good to see you, Sky!

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    2. I tend to feel a little bad when I let my son watch tv when I am working...but then I realize that it is something for him to look forward to so that "sorry...mommy is working, bud" isn't an all bad thing. :-)

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  3. I can't decide if I want to use the 1 Cor or Gospel text. I do have weddings on my brain because I am doing a wedding today and also blessing a couple on their 40th wedding anniversary. The wife is originally from Peru so I'm praying in Spanish even. The worst part of today is that I've been battling a cold all week and it has really settled in making my voice sound funny. Prayers requested for clarity about what I want to preach on tomorrow and correct pronunciations with the prayer and that I don't cough up a lung tonight or tomorrow morning during the services.

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    1. Gentle (((HUGS))), Megan.

      Prayers ascending for healing and clarity and clear speech.

      With two such good texts, it's hard to choose. Perhaps there is a common thread?

      Please feel free to bounce ideas off of this crowd, if you want to.

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  4. Quiet morning here... hope that folks are enjoying the morning. It is finally winter for real. Done with hosting at the shelter for the day. Time for a quick nap then writing. Gathering with family tomorrow for Epiphany in the brief window of all being healthy! Back later. Thanks for hosting Sharon.

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  5. I'm working on 1 Corinthians with the title "Piles of Presents"--something about the abundance of gifts the Spirit has given us...so what are we going to do with them?

    Of course, not one word is written yet.

    First up: a morning meeting to brainstorm about Lent. We'll play a game (to start ourselves thinking outside the box), pray for our church, then read all the lectionary texts for Lent and see if inspiration strikes. I hope they have inspiration because this is my least favorite lectionary year in Lent. The texts just do not lend themselves to any cohesion across the season, in my opinion. Hoping my opinion will be changed by the time I come back! And that perhaps this Lent planning session will inspire something for the sermon I need to write today too!

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    1. Good morning, Teri!

      The Lent brainstorming meeting sounds fun. Please let us know how it goes.

      See you later!

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    2. Since I am doing ALL of 1 Cor 12 next week (gifts and body parts) I await what you come up with...

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    3. Hi Teri - a group of clergy colleagues with whom we share Lenten worship is moving forward with a lenten series (NOT following the lectionary... gasp!). The series title is "Beyond Question" - focusing on the questions that Jesus asked. We were creating the idea and content when a colleague replied that he had published a book last year on this topic - so we're using his title. There are some free resources, and a book available (Beyond Question by Eric Burtness) that reads like a 40-day journal with a question for most days to ponder individually. I think it'll be a fun series. Just offering some grist for the mill, if it works.

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  6. So, inspire by all of you I have added a children's time to my sermon prep. I may not always lead the children's time, may be another leader, but we want to more intentionally connect what is happening in the church with the adults with what the kids learn in children's worship. (Yes, the kids leave for a portion of the service and return later for Holy Communion).

    Any ideas out there today on what one would do with the Gospel? I'm tentatively thinking about identity - in Isaiah a new identity is revealed in the covenant God creates with God's people - like a bride and bridegroom - and in the Gospel Mary, the mother of Jesus points out to him what his identity is and in so doing reveals something about her identity as a disciple. Could also tap into Corinthians an the gifts idea....

    Anyway, that is where I am this morning. getting started very late with much to do after a very crazy busy week. And, no I will not be on the BE cruise because I am cruise avoidant. and sea-sick prone. But if we ever do another land based retreat I am all over it!

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    1. Good morning, Terri!

      I hear a connection that you are making about what we find out about ourselves when we interact with Jesus and open ourselves to what Jesus can (will) do. Gifts of wine. Gifts that create community. Gifts that reveal who we are.

      Let us know how it's going, please!

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    2. This is kind of what I'm doing with the gospel. I'm mostly preaching from I Cor, hoping to encourage the congregation to see its gifts, but using the gispel to emphasize hospitality and abundance.

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    3. Good news, indeed, Robin. Thanks!

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    4. Terri, I came across (sorry can't remember where) an idea for children's story that ties in gifts and miracles.

      After telling the gospel story, I'm going to say that while we cannot turn water into wine, I do know some people in the congregation who can turn the most unlikely things into something special.

      I've got strands of yarn that I'll pull out of a bag, and a prayer shawl that was knit from the yarn. Strands of yarn become comfort, care...

      Same thing with flour and sugar in separate bags...then a cookie that can make someone happy.

      then some talk about how the simplest things are made into beautiful ways to show we care for one another.

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    5. awesome chidlren's moment, Sue!

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  7. Good morning.

    I'm just popping by before we take off for the City. We have to get the annual reports copied - and I told my councils in no uncertain terms that I was not spending 3 days wrestling with our cantankerous copier again. So they voted to pay for the report to be assembled. Our trip got snowed out last week, so day before the meeting...we go. We're hoping to catch a movie while we're there - we've been trying for over a month and every time something comes up.

    My sermon is actually done and I have the happy problem of having too much material. We have our annual meeting right after worship, and we have communion - I love coming together at the table before talking about how we serve - so my sermon needs to be about 5 minutes. So I just have to decide which way I'm going - God's abundance, or how God gifts us to serve. I'm thinking a title of "So what are you bringing to the party." I'll post later.

    Have a great day - may the fingers fly and the words flow and the Spirit pour out!

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    1. Good morning to you, Ramona! And "way to go" on having your sermon done.

      We also have communion and annual meeting tomorrow, so (you are so right!) a five minute sermon is a good idea. We are also celebrating MLK day so there are some nice things about that, too.

      Thanks for bringing yourself to this party. See you later!

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    2. Ramona, you have given me an idea for our children's time...I just had the thought of wrapping a box like a gift and inside the box would be pieces of paper that talk about our gifts from God: gifts of being creative, gifts of talking, gifts of kindness, gifts of being good at math, gifts at being good at soccer or something like that - and some blank pieces of paper to wrrite ideas they may have. Then talk about how our gifts come from God. Jesus is one of God's gifts to us. Jesus' mother recognized his gifts and encouraged him to use them to turn the water into wine an act of hospitality that revealed who Jesus is as a God's gift to us - so that we too can learn to live as GOd's gift to others....or something like that...

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    3. Terri - I have found that "Being a True Friend" is a spiritual gift that children like to talk about.

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    4. Amy, yes, that's a good one too...!

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  8. A cheery good morning to each of you.

    After posting "The Party" late last night, I slept later than usual. It felt good!

    I have no words written yet. It's a new sermon for MLK day using the gospel and the epistle and titled "Creating the Beloved Community" because . . . you know . . . that is so easily captured in one short sermon. (not) But that is what we came up with on our newly constituted worship team and they are all actually participating in the worship service and are excited about it, so that's good enough, really.

    I am on my second cup of French Roast coffee, the kind that goes great with donuts, if you have any of those to share.

    So happy to see you all here today!

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  9. I'm going with the gospel text and this being Jesus's first miracle (at least in unreliable John) and what it says about whimsy and the extravagance of hospitality and necessity of joy.

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  10. Now if I could just finish this cinnamon scone and coffee and get inspired to write it! Blessings to all who labor with texts today...

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    1. I love your sermon direction - hospitality and joy - and I would say that practicing on yourself with scone and coffee is legitimate sermon prep.

      Blessings, CC!

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  11. One of those who has never posted - couldn't come up with a name so I'll give it a shot with "Anonymous." For the past two years I have spent Saturdays with all of you as I began my ministry.
    I was called to this life of ministering at the ripe old age of 67 and have been pastor of a small church for 1&1/2 years now. I am a licensed UCC pastor which means filling in seminary classes when I have time and learning a lot from folks like you as I go. Thanks for being there.
    Tomorrow I will baptize for the first time. And will carry the water idea into my sermon on the gospel. I'm using the idea of the grape kool-aid powder in an empty pitcher that I saw posted here earlier for the children's time. Jesus used the empty stone jugs to make his point because they were what was handy just as he uses us when he needs us even if we don't think we are worth much.
    And all of this has to tie into our annual meeting that follows.
    Blessings on our day.

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    1. This children's idea is one of my favorites - simple and effective.

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    2. Hello, Anonymous!

      Your first baptism is such a special time. May God bless you as you bless your congregation, the Church, and (yea!) those of us in the UCC. So happy that you answered God's call to professional church leadership!

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    3. Welcome Anonymous. How wonderful for you and your congregation that you will be celebrating baptism. Thanks for checking in. I was one of the lurking participants in the preacher party for years. Hope you will continue to join in the party. We all do better together. Blessings

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  12. I'm still worn out from last weekend's youth conference keynoting (essentially four sermons in two days) AND sick kiddos all week. But Sunday seems to roll around regardless.

    I have some good chunks from a sustainable sermon a few years ago, but I need to fill in around them. It was a sermon on a communion Sunday, but tomorrow is not a communion Sunday. The wedding at Cana speaks pretty strongly to me about the table, so I may just keep some of those parts even though we're not celebrating.

    Nothing will get done on it till later this afternoon when Daddy comes home to give me a breather. The sickness isn't too bad--just high fever. Younger one had some head congestion; older one now has chest congestion, which is a bit worrisome for her. The nebulizer is our faithful friend.

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    1. (((HUGS))) Esperanza. You and your sweet kiddos are in our prayers, and Daddy too!

      For what it's worth, in the church, we are never that far from the table, so, in my opinion, any enlightenment (Epiphany!) on that is always timely. If you like what you wrote back then, I hope it's very easily adaptable for this week. You need a break, if you can get it.

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  13. Sermon done - will edit after my shower. It is partial new and partial sustainable. I had forgotten about the sustainable one until someone tagged me on FB week before last with a quote from it. The HS works in very odd ways.

    Yay Ramona for getting the report copied elsewhere - good stewardship of your time!!
    Yay Anonymous for posting - Welcome!

    I have fair trade coffee and french vanilla creamer to pass around the table - please enjoy

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    1. Thank you, Amy+! Fair trade coffee with vanilla creamer = delicious. Sharing that with you in just a few days = priceless!

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    2. Just in case it is helpful to anyone else, here is the quote that was brought back to me a few weeks ago. St. Augustine is quoted as having written: “Our Lord’s miracle of turning water into wine comes as no surprise to those who know it is God who did it. At the wedding that day he made wine in the six waterpots that had been filled with water; BUT HE DOES THE SAME THING EVERY YEAR with the vines… only that does not amaze us, because it happens every year.”

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    3. I love that and it might fit into what I'm *still* trying to do with my sermon. Thanks, Amy!

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  14. Having cooked and cleaned today, I am now getting to the sermon briefly before I go and start dinner. I certainly had lots of ideas floating around my head this week - about the extravagance of Jesus action in the gospel, tied in with the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians and the Stewardship theme that we have going on here. I have opened a document and pasted in the readings - a start, right? But, while dinner is cooking, I have creamy mushroom or carrot and ginger soup to heat us up.

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    1. Yum! Soup buffet!

      A great start, so keep going, Liz. Cheering you on!

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  15. Sermon writing is such a strange process. I never end up where I think I'm going.

    On Monday or Tuesday we send the title and texts to the local paper for its Friday religion column, so I have sort of a plan in mind, but I haven't yet done anything besides peruse the texts a bit and choose a focus. By the time that the sermon is prepared, it's gone in five or six different directions before choosing one -- and I swear, it goes off on its own tangents and then chooses its own focus, and sometimes (like today) I have to insert a line to connect it back to the title I dreamed up days earlier. It's like trying to steer a train to Tampa that decides to take itself to Albuquerque.

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    1. That almost exactly describes my experience, Robin.

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    2. Some preachers do not title their sermons for that reason, or they do it much later in the process. I have found that having a title helps me to focus. It almost always seems possible to weave in those new revelations, or at least one or two of them.

      Challenging, yes!

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    3. Often, I'll just let the train steer itself...even if that means that I am off course of where I thought I would be when I dreamed up the title. I sometimes notice people looking at the bulletin with a "how does this connect" look on their faces...but for the most part, they are used to it by now. :-)

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    4. If it were up to me, I'd give it a title Sunday morning -- not really possible in this community. It's funny, isn't it -- what sets people off?

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  16. I've been thinking about how the servants were invited to participate in this sign. Sure, Jesus turned the water into delicious, abundant wine but, depending on how full the jars already were and the handiness of a water source, filling them to the brim was a time-consuming task that probably required the hands of many.

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    1. That's also a good tie-in with 1 Corinthians -- everyone has a gift to give, and all gifts are needed for the Jesus miracle.

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  17. Good morning, RevGals!
    I'm playing with the idea that the wine is like our spiritual gifts...do we limit how much we use them, or pull back on our giving of them after we've impressed people?
    Ran out of coffee (NO!), so waiting for hubs to get home from work so I can send him out to the store for more.

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    1. A very good gift for your hubs to offer you!

      I sometimes pull back before giving the gift for fear it won't impress. Why bother? Others can do it, and (I think) do it better.

      So many ways to get around what we are called to do with what we have been given!

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  18. Good morning, er, afternoon, all! I am just back from a 2-week DMin class (on preaching!) and am preaching Isaiah tomorrow. I thought this was a brilliant idea, since I had a DMin paper I wrote last year on this very text. And yet, here I sit, without word number one of the sermon written! I've had a bit of trouble recuperating from my time away, travel, emotional/mental drain of the class, etc. I have a funeral first thing Monday morning, so I really need to snap into gear!

    Happy to be partying with y'all today!

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    1. Happy you are here, earthchick!

      It sounds to me like you have all the pieces and they will come together any minute. That's my prayer for you.

      Party on!

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  19. Just got home from a synod council meeting, happily two hours shorter than I was expecting. Hallelujah! Now to finish preparations for four worship services back to back tomorrow. Our regular two, then a new monthly Spanish worship, then on to ecumenical worship for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I'm not preaching for the first two tomorrow; only liturgist, then music and Holy Communion for the Spanish service, then preaching for the last one. Either the Micah 6:8 text or Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Haven't had a chance to even ponder it yet. Pretty sure I'll earn my Sunday nap tomorrow. Annual report is being printed today and distributed tomorrow. I've had waaaay too much coffee already today. I'm looking for something for lunch and my cupboard is bare. Bummer.

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    1. Synod council sounds serious. I hope it wasn't too serious, and "yea" that it was 2 hours shorter than you thought it would be.

      Busy, full day for you tomorrow, soulwiggles. It also sounds like a wonderful day that will surely earn you the most exquisite of Sunday naps.

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    2. I'm on the synod council... and the executive committee of it and the personnel committee as well. We had a light agenda today and that was a very good thing!

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  20. Blogger is being a little persnickety today...sigh...

    Sue, I tried to thank you up in the thread above where you commented - to say, YES! great ideas! love it.

    My sermon is written - and WAY too long - by about 400 words. sigh. so, now to edit it down without losing the important threads..., so to speak.

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  21. The Lent planning session went well, and we came up with a theme/metaphor that I think will work nicely for a congregation-wide Lenten observance...though the details will still need to be filled in at some future (not too future!) time.

    Now I'm sitting at the train station/Starbucks waiting to go home. I have half an hour before the next train...if anyone wants something from Starbucks, I've got it all right here! I'm hoping to at least get an idea before I get home so that the writing can happen in earnest when I get there. Though I wouldn't be opposed to writing now and on the train (25 minutes) too, and being basically done by the time I get home either! I'm pretty sure I just need a beginning and the rest would come...something about how our gifts work together for the common good...and how I'm still new (this is my second Sunday) and it's a good time for us to discern the movement of the Spirit together, so we can better know what calling god has for us in this new time and place. Or something...

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    1. That sounds wonderful, Teri. Nice!

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  22. Good afternoon preachers.

    I have not a word written....but I hope I have a kernel in my head, thinking about signs vs. miracles and how we see (or fail to see) signs of Jesus working in our lives--not just through miracles. OR something like that.

    I spent the morning walking dogs (still pet sitting) and (finally) packing up Christmas ornaments. I need to go up to the attic and reorganize things, but that will have to wait for another day. I am about to leave to do a couple of quick errands and then get back to write. Ugh.

    I think I mentioned here that my mother was not doing well; on Monday she went into hospice care and I am just waiting for the phone call...it has been a roller coaster as her prognosis had changed daily...or at least everyone's understanding of "not much time left." I know she is ready and it is time...but losing a parent is hard, so your prayers are appreciated.

    okay, off to do the errands...back later.

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    1. Sorry to hear about your Mom... these moments on pins and needles make it hard to do ANYTHING else. Prayers as you try to go about your day, and she goes to glory... <3

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    2. I'm sorry to hear that. We are in much the same place with my grandmother, and the waiting is SO hard.

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    3. Prayers to you as you spend this sacred time with your mom. Make sure you allow your congregation to care for you in the same ways you care for them in their grieving.

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    4. Adding my prayers too, RDM. There is never a right time to lose a parent, and there is nothing I know that can prepare you fully. I pray you will be fully aware of God holding her and you through this.

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    5. Prayers for you as you try to focus on the task (s) before you. Deep shalom.

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    6. Prayers for you and yours, RDM.

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  23. I'm not preaching these days... it's a long story. However, I am reading and reflecting on one or more of the texts each week, just to keep me in mental communion with all y'all preachers. :) Anywho, here's my reflection.

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    1. Nice, Deb!

      You have just preached some inspiration to the rest of us preachers. Thank you!

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  24. My sermon is going in lots of directions, none of which incorporate this reflection I wrote a few weeks ago. Oh well. If anyone else wants it, here it is

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    1. (((HUGS))), Liz.

      And thanks for sharing it with us.

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  25. I never use notes, so mine is never exactly what's on paper but here it is. Off to read other's sermons and catch up on blogs.

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  26. Hello friends,

    I'm posting my sermon earlier than usual, because I'm looking for some feedback. My question has to do with the gun control legislation mentioned early in the sermon (on Luke 4:13-30; the gist of the sermon is "good news, bad news, it all depends on where you stand").

    I'm wondering whether the gun issue is too hot a topic to be a helpful illustration. Will it just derail and unsettle people?

    The post is here . Your criticisms are welcomed.

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    1. In my opinion, Pat, it is a good connection between current events and gospel. You approached it respectfully and, I think, fairly. You didn't propose a God answer to gun control, one way or the other, but rather, you encouraged people to see how good news can be received as bad news (as you said) depending on where you stand. I think that's an important word.

      I don't think you went too far. Jesus didn't shy away from hot topics when they came to him. This one has come to you. I think it makes your sermon meaningful and relevant.

      Hoping others will weigh in, too!

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    2. Thanks so much Sharon! I really appreciate your having a look and responding honestly.

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    3. Pat, I found that a really respectful, factual illustration, relevant and topical that leads us straight into th gospel and does not take sides. Thank you.

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    4. Thanks so much Liz. Again, I appreciate your taking the time, and your honest response. I'll be tweaking the ending this morning.

      Peace to all, and let the Spirit fall upon us!

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  27. Whoopee! Got more than a little accomplished during naptime, thanks to two cooperatively napping children. Maybe, just maybe, I can go do something fun when Daddy gets home.

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  28. A children's activity about finding/recognizing abundance???? Anyone??????

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    1. Well, I have done this to show God's extravagant love:

      Bring all the stuff for ice cream sundaes and put it all in a cooler. If you have one of those cute little sundae glasses, use that. Make a big deal out of making a sundae for a very good friend that you like a lot. Ask them what would go in. "Ice cream" And then say we want this to be really good so two scoops, etc. ... putting that in and then continuing with a topping and whipped cream (the kind that comes from a can!) and a cherry. "ooh and ahh" over that.

      If you really liked someone, you would make this for them, if they liked ice cream.

      But what if God was going to make us an ice cream sundae to show us how much God loves us?

      I use a BIG glass bowl for this, and use all of the ice cream in two containers, several toppings, bananas, marshmallows (maybe not nuts due to allergies), more whipped cream and lots of cherries.

      I've arranged ahead of time for someone to take the kids somewhere to eat this after wards, if they want to.

      I didn't originate this, but it's been effective and could probably be adapted with other things. Kids like to eat!

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    2. HOW fun is this Children's Time????
      Maybe this should be my party sermon....;-)

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  29. well...I am just joining the party a little late. I have not a word written....but my title is "I'm Ready to Party!" based on gospel text...I was thinking to tie this in somehow to beloved community because all of my liturgy emphasizes this, but that was Tuesday when I did all that.

    Spent today doing MLK Day of Service, then came home to walk doggies and take a nap......

    Only God knows where this writing is going. Good to see everybody else's comments....and I am lucky enough to get to see a bunch of you in a week, too! BE, bring it on!!!!

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    1. "Ready to party" indeed! Who isn't, right?

      Can't wait to see you, too!

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  30. Oh, my! I am finished *way* earlier than I usually am. But I had good coffee (thanks to hubs!), and incentive in the form of game night with good friends from my current church that we want to spend time with before we leave for my next call.
    You can find my sermon here. I stayed away from the accusatory (are you holding back? only doing enough to impress?) because I want to focus more on the fact that I know that my people are overburdened and that I know that my leaving is going to burden them with more...and the comfort that they may find in the Gospel passage in this place.
    Stop by and let me know what you think.
    In the meantime, I have excellent coffee (Dunkin' Donuts, which, may I plug?, is quietly fair trade). Come on by and have a cup with me!

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    1. Holding out my cup for some of that great Dunkin' Coffee!

      Way to go on finishing early.

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  31. Just returned home from being gone 2 day in order to see Memphis. Excellent, excellent Broadway show in terms of message, musical talent, and dancing.

    Annual meeting tomorrow and I will be using part of my "pastoral letter" in the report. Using mostly the I Corinthians passage with a connection of abundance and grace from John.

    This tiny congregation does good ministry for those in their generation so I am suggesting their word for 2013 is "AND"! We will see how this all flys.

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    1. I love that word! I would love to hear how that goes.

      It would be fun to have an after-party to hear the "what happened" stories.

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    2. Sharon, that IS a good idea. I often come back here on a Sunday afternoon to see of there are any updates! I suppose th FB page might be useful for that.

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  32. Almost 11pm here and just printed a sermon that I think is Ok - we'll see how it looks in the morning. I have tried to reflect on the questions raised in my mind when I hear of Jesus turning water into wine - not least WHY?
    Glad it is written.
    Glad to have had your company.
    Glad to be going away on Wed.
    See some of you soon!

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  33. Hey, Everybodeeee! (Happily flailing arms in greeting like Kermit the Frog)

    Late to the party here, because we lost cable internet/phone yesterday afternoon and only just now got it back. Enjoyed "radio silence" and got a lot of sermon-writing done last night, but I am happy to be connected to y'all again!

    This is my second Sunday in my new church and we, like many others, are having our annual meeting after the service. It's funny to create a worship service and sermon for folks I don't know well yet, attempting to celebrate what this congregation does well and nudging them towards openness and new possibilities.

    I'm preaching primarily on the Gospel passage, ("Brimming With Promise", all about what it means to be hospitable and to open up to God's Kairos in the midst of our Chronos...) but I'll use the Epistle as a lead in to my prayer as we open our annual meeting.

    And speaking of abundance, I have to go edit my sermon down. Seriously. Also, I have chicken and dumplings for anyone who wants some! Also, six jugs of water... ;-)

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    1. Waving back to you, MC!

      Many blessings on you and your new congregation. What an exciting time for all of you!

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  34. Almost 6:30 pm and I still haven't got a word down....been trying to pull things together in my head all day as I do other things, so we'll see what comes out now. EVERYTHING I've done today has taken longer than I expected...I hope to break that trend starting NOW.

    And thank you for all of your prayers...

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    1. RDM, more prayers and hugs.

      I am also without much of anything. But there's still time!

      Ready . . . go!

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  35. It never fails to amaze me how, when I stop playing around and sit down and write, I can get loads done! But, of course,,it's much more fun to play around - especially at this party. Sharon, I need to take some lessons from you in how to make it such a fun party - something you do well.
    Anyway, I have a sermon for tomorrow, posted here
    Thanks to you all for inspiring company.

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    1. You just described very well what I'm doing over here -- playing around! -- and now I need to really write. I think I have a few ideas.

      Thank you for your kind words, Liz. Today has been fun! And still is. And still probably will be for awhile longer, since I still don't have a sermon.

      I'm looking forward to reading yours.

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  36. My sermon is boring. I should have gone with the wine. Maybe I'll drink some and see if any inspiration about Spiritual Gifts shows up...

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    1. Ack! I hate when that happens. The boring sermon, not the wine. I love when wine happens. I guess Jesus must've known that wine is good, right?

      Whatcha drinking? I have about one little glass of Pinot Grigio available.

      And some almonds.

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    2. I decided to drink the last glass of a riesling that's been in my fridge for a few days...if that doesn't work, it's on to the pinot grigio and then possibly the moscato. lol.

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    3. Hmm, maybe wine is my answer, too. Let us know if it brings the inspiration!

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    4. Funny-- My sermon is ALL about the wine, and I'm actually allergic-- can't have anything made with yeast. I'm thankful for sacred texts that are awash (!) in metaphoric meanings. (In solidarity with your wine-drinking, I think I'll have some seltzer. Hey--close as I can get!)

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  37. It is Sunday this side of the pond. I think I should catch some zzzzzzs
    Blessings revgalpals. X

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  38. Last year, I incorporated our annual meeting into the context of worship and we are doing that again this year. It sets our ministry in the context of worship-full work.

    The sermon title may not make any sense to ya'll...but it works for the congregation and I have included a little editorial note from Purple as well.

    Sermon can be found here

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    1. We are doing this next week, with the Body of Christ text in the lectionary (hallelujah). I won't be preaching, though--the various ministry teams will talk about how they were the body of Christ, and how the church grew as the body. awesome.

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    2. I like it! Filing this idea away.

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  39. Oof, things are Not. Going. Well. over here. UGH. I am maybe halfway done with no sense that I have any traction at all. I like the opening well enough, but everything else feels very "exegesis paper." Blergh.

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    1. Yuck. I hate when I veer into Bible Study territory, though every once in a while, it isn't a horrible idea. Hope you find your way through it.

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    2. Thanks, Esperanza! Preaching on Third Isaiah, I feel there's a lot I need to explain about exile and post-exile, but I'm struggling to make it sound less academic-y.

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    3. I struggle with that every week. I am painfully aware that my folks know very little about the Bible beyond what they learned in elementary school, and few of them come to Sunday school or Bible study, so I feel an obligation to provide a little bit. And often people thank me for it -- just last week, someone told me that she is so glad that she finally knows the meaning of the word "epiphany." But I am positive that weeks I go too far, and I don't really know what to do about it.

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  40. A trip to the fabric store (an hour travel each way, an hour at the store. Not the best ratio, but it's what I could manage today, sigh). Now I have sewing projects on my brain and need to get back to that darn last paragraph.

    Friend is saving the day tomorrow and coming over to stay with the sickies. Seriously, she is a blessing. But it would be good for someone to shove the toys over to one side of the living room so she doesn't trip and injure herself.

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    1. The fabric store! And only one paragraph to go. And a friend saving the day tomorrow.

      Sweet!

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  41. So...seriously, those of you who share your lives with others who don't write sermons on Saturdays, how do you do it?? My fiance is here because he is meeting my congregation tomorrow morning (sweet). I am writing a sermon. He is not and keeps puttering around on projects that require my input (and therefore interrupt sermon writing). It's the strangest feeling for both of us and we aren't quite sure what to do!

    The solution would be for me to write a sermon like, NOW and be done. Maybe this is why y'all who balance different portions of life on Saturdays seem to get your sermons done earlier.

    On to writing about turning water into wine...

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    1. semfem, it's kind of cute the way you tell it. I hope it feels like that, mostly.

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    2. I suppose I should have made it clear that he is also a pastor and we serve a distance apart. So our weekly rhythm is to be both preparing sermons separately on Saturday, and we agree that whenever we aren't it feels weird. But it's doubly odd to be together and yet one of us still has a sermon to worry about!

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    3. I'm half of a clergy couple, and when we served in different congregations and were each writing, it was kind of a fun quiet evening together.... sort of like toddlers parallel play. But now that we serve together it's usually one or the other of us. After 30 years together we understand the need for focus and space to think. That being said, we cajole one another to take breaks now and again so our brains can breathe. I just made us hot chocolate. Tonight we both have a sermon to write and neither one of us are able to focus. I think it's the 55 mph winds outside that sounds like our windows are going to blow in.

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    4. 'Nother half of a clergy couple here, and we are also co-pastors. Honestly, I would find it harder if we were both writing sermons (esp. now that we have kids). It's nice to have someone tending to things that I can't see about while I'm writing.

      Honestly, right now, though, I wish it was his turn to preach!! Argh, so tired to trying to put this sermon together....

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    5. I'm half of a clergy couple, too. He preaches every week; I preach about half that often. On Saturday nights when he's the only one writing, he goes in the office and closes the door. I attempt not to interrupt except to say good-night. Serious conversations or decisions that need his input just have to find some other time to happen. And that's a completely different discussion...

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    6. I'm sitting across the desks from the one writing a sermon and doing my utmost to not interrupt in any way since I am on sabbatical and not writing myself. It's a funny thing to be living through a Saturday without the pressure of a preaching Sunday ahead, but it's better to be together, even so. :-)

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    7. Indeed...as strange as it is to not both be preparing sermons apart, it's definitely better to be together. :)

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    8. I am glad your beloved came to visit. We need to get together sometime soon. I find that Saturday nights I sermonate and hubby watches tv. No matter how much I try to write sermons earlier in the week, it takes all week for my ideas to percolate.

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  42. Blessings RevGals! Thinking of you as we continue in the Epiphany season. I, too, am focusing on the water to wine passage in John. Centering on the surprise God has for each of us, how God's surprise is best and sufficient for all.

    Can't wait to see some of you in a week! God's spirit sustain and empower for another Sunday.

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  43. omg, i finally wrote something. It has audience participation! I can probably get away with that on my second week, right? I'm asking people to think about their favorite gift they have ever received, to share it with someone sitting near them, and then for a few to share for all to hear. Hoping to build a little community while we're at it.

    Anyway, I'm pretty sure the sermon is actually terrible. but it's done. I think the wine helped. (or it helped me care less that it's not as good as I want it to be!)

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    1. Not terrible, for sure! I think some good things will come out of it.

      Thank you, Teri, for sharing it.

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    2. I thought your sermon was good. Let us know how the congregation responds to group participation.

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  44. I'm beginning to think it's impossible for me to write a 500 word sermon. I'm down to just over 700. Back to editing.

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    1. Good luck with that. I'm cheering you on!

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  45. I'm off lectionary tomorrow to preach a "wayfaring" sermon that expands the story I told on my blog. It's more personal than I usually do but recently our Bishop challenged the clergy to speak to the ways God has been at work in our lives. His point being that we are showing others how to do it. If we never talk about God at work in our lives, how can we expect others to do it? They all know I had a stroke but not all of them have been in a place to hear me talk about God and the stroke. So here I go.

    Sarah

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    1. Your bishop makes a good point. I know your story will be meaningful and will help them make that connection between God and their own stories.

      Go for it, Sarah!

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  46. It's after 11:00 p.m. in the Central Time zone. I'm not quite done, so I will get up in the a.m. to finish up.

    Many blessings upon each of you as you offer grace and good news to your congregations tomorrow.

    Thank you for making this such a fun party today!

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  47. I'm done, but I'm at a whopping 1842 words, which is WAY too long. Ugh. I could just cut the Tony Campolo "prostitute birthday party" story, which I know has made the rounds but still seems like a very fitting way to think about celebrating unexpected joy in unexpected places. But I hate to lose it and I think that's my best shot at a good takeaway for folks.

    Taking one or two more swipes at this, then I'll print and call it done. And...oops, still have to do the children's sermon. Maybe that red Kool-Aid trick someone mentioned on Tuesday.

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    1. Check that...combining the Kool-Aid trick with the fabulous idea Sue mentioned earlier today. Whew! I have the sermon down to 1604 words and that is just going to have to do.

      Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation today.

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  48. OK -- late and little, but I'm concentrating on the two things Mary says, and the "throwaway line" about "the ones who carried the water, THEY KNEW." The essence of prayer, the essence of evangelism, and the essence of Gospel (THREE POINTS, WOO HOO). Tell Jesus when there's a problem. Tell other folks to do as he says. Haul that water, and you will see wonders that other people miss.
    Oh and if you think what he did with the water was cool -- get yourself up here to the rail, and see what he can do with the WINE. AND WITH YOU. Love to all this morning -- and NEXT Sunday, going to see so many of you FACE TO FACE, and not just through blogger, more or less darkly.

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  49. I think the audience participation went pretty well...people didn't seem unwilling to talk to their neighbors or to share, so yay! Thanks for a great party!

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