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Friday, April 19, 2013

11th Hour Preacher Party: We're in this together, edition



Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.
It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves – you may believe this or not –
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers
somewhere
deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.
Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.
Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
          tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
          is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
          until I came to myself.
And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand,
I have flown from the other window of myself
to become white heron, blue whale,
          red fox, hedgehog.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.

Mary Oliver From Five Points
Volume 6, No.3 2002




It's been quite a week in these United States, from the bombing at the Boston Marathon to the lockdown in Boston/Watertown and the capture of a 19 year old boy, one of two perpetrators of this week of violence. My heart feels strange, like it is perched in dark trees flapping and screaming. 



"These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb...the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them....for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

That sustainable sermon I thought I was going to preach this week, well that one seems ridiculous now. (What about you?...)

God, who restores my soul and walks with me through the valley of sorrow, help me to find words of mercy, words of comfort and solace, words to help us find our way to still waters...where we can be pray for this world. Words to relieve the suspense and remind us that we are one with God, and God is one with us. 

And somehow God will redeem the tragedies of this world, this life, and bring forth God's healing love. God, acting in and through the actions of love and compassion of all who carried others, helped others, gave for others...God's love and mercy revealed in the least expected ways.

Oh my.
So, where are you going with your sermon this Sunday? Do you feel called to address this directly? Or will you choose to say something else in the sermon time and address the events of this week in the prayers? Or do you live far away and the events in the USA have barely made the news? Or, are you facing your own issues and concerns of violence and injustice? Or....?
Are you thinking about the story in Acts? Or the 23rd Psalm? Or Revelation or the Gospel of John? Or are you using the Narrative Lectionary or off-lectionary this week?
Share with us your thoughts, your worries and concerns, and your hope. In the midst of trial and tribulation, the preacher party is place of sustenance, inspiration, and love...an oasis in the abyss.



I have coffee. Lots of coffee. And all varieties of tea. I am also sure I can whip up most anything else your stomach desires....we'll hang together to help our heart's desires, too. Pull up a chair, it's the 11th Hour and we're here to do this together, even if we don't feel much like partying.





100 comments:

  1. “You've faced horrors in these past weeks... I don't know which is worse. The terror you feel the first time you witness such things, or the numbness that comes after it starts to become ordinary.”
    ― Tasha Alexander, A Fatal Waltz

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  2. Richelle E. Goodrich
    “In a world full of commonplace tragedies, only one thing exists that truly has the power to save lives, and that is love.”
    ― Richelle E. Goodrich, Dandelions: The Disappearance of Annabelle Fancher

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  3. I'm not preaching this week, and California is far enough away from Boston that this week's news feels kind of unreal out here. So I might not have even noticed what a challenging homiletical assignment y'all are up against, except that the Facebook chatter from my preaching friends gave me a wake-up call. So: I just wanted to come over here and say: I'm praying for you. Especially for the 11th-hour partiers who don't feel like partying and don't know what they're going to say.

    And to share this for the Whovians among us: http://everydayimpastoring.tumblr.com/post/48381865247/preaching-on-the-boston-bombing-with-the-appropriate

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    1. I was off at clergy conference all week, but returned tonight and got completely caught up in the breaking news of the capture...that, and I have a seminarian friend who is the Episcopal priest in Watertown, her church is just two blocks from where all of this was happening....so, combined it became very real to me.

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    2. Thanks, Rachel. I love "every day I'm pastoring...."

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    3. I dropped by to say something similar to Rachel in particular to those of you in the Boston area. I grew up in the UK during the IRA bombing campaign, so I have a feeling for the level of fear and insecurity events in Boston have probably caused many people. Prayers for those of you called to preach grace and peace into this situation.

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    4. thank you une precheresse for the prayers and understanding.

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    5. 10! Thanks Rachel! You can keep your Antonia Banderas, I want David Tennent to bring me my sermon :)

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    6. We are definitely invoking Antonio here today. Original Shrek is on the TV, with the Puss in Boots variety to follow. kathrynzj is writing a sermon on Psalm 23, and I'm working on an assignment (due today) to write a piece of liturgy or sermon illustration on ... wait for it ... The Good Samaritan. My original thoughts seem pretty lame when I consider the "other" we are contemplating just now. It feels like an opportunity to name our bigotry and to open our minds and hearts, reminding us that one Muslim or two are not all Muslims, are not Islam in toto, anymore than Westboro Baptist is all Christians (or any, actually). So the opportunity is there, but I am rusty on this kind of writing. Please know you're collectively in my prayers as you prepare for tomorrow, whatever you are preaching. People are looking for comfort, whether or not they've been touched directly by the week's events, and they need exhortation, whether they like it or not. And that's the bottom line just about every week, isn't it?

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    7. Right on, sister. So true. Off to exhort and comfort in equal measure...

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  4. So we're in Beijing, but the congregation has a large proportion of American members. It is also the Annual General Meeting at the conclusion of worship, so I'm trying to preach briefly. And we are the Congregation of the Good Shepherd - so if we had a patronal festival, this would be it. And in New Zealand this week, my home country, equal marriage legislation was passed which is the culmination of many people's work and hope and is, for many, a beautiful and hopeful sign and for some a thing which generates fear and anxiety. I feel weary just thinking about it all! I can not quite work out what my homiletical task is, which is complicating the writing!

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    1. Hi Jemma,so much good news in your context, even though it is complicated by the varied responses of humanity. I understand the complicated nature of trying to preach in such a way that you are compassionate to all the variables. Maybe the task at hand is to acknowledge how complicated life is - especially as some are celebrating, some are dreaming, and some are grieving all at the same time regarding the same issue? And maybe the task is to find where God is present in all those variables, leading us like a good shepherd, to safe places...and so, even when we can't see where that safe place is, we can follow Jesus, trusting in God's good love?

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    2. Thanks for the encouragement Terri. In the end it was the line from Psalm 23 "Surely goodness and mercy follow me" that became the centre of my sermon. I was helped by Brueggemann's discussion of how active that verb is - more pursuing than following. I connected it with first responders and all the gestures, large and small, that humanise what is brutal and show us goodness and mercy (often running right into the valley of the shadow of death)

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  5. I took the idea of the shepherd as comforter and the reality that everyone needs comfort/shelter at one time or another. Then, quoting "Wrinkle In Time", I'm going to invite folk to name their "light bringers".

    http://reverendjoy.blogspot.com

    My sermon is actually done, b/c it's my 3 y/o's b'day today! Pizza, ice-cream and chocolate cake anyone?

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    1. Joy, yes! I think that is a good approach to take - who are our light-bringers? (and yes, please, birthday food!)

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    2. Joy, I also love the idea of light-bringers. Our gathering hymn is a lament hymn, and our sending hymn is, "Christ, be our light" (shine in our hearts, shine in the darkness..). Also reminds me of the Fred Roger's quote I've been seeing on facebook this week, where his mother told him to always look for the helpers when things were scary. Happy birthday celebration!

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  6. So it is morning. The sun is shining here and after a week of heavy rain and flooding it is a welcome relief.

    I am home for the weekend, in between a week of clergy conference and before I head off to CREDO for 8 days. Part of me wishes I had taken the weekend off....sigh...trying to switch gears from Rob Voyle's Appreciative Inquiry teachings to the tragedies of this week and a sermon while doing laundry and preparing to pack has me going in too many different directions.

    So, I think I will, after all use that sustainable sermon, but add to it a bit of a reflection on finding God in the midst of the chaos - in the hands that help, in the people responding with love and compassion - and in communities pulling together as one....which is what we do when we come to worship, we come from many different places but are united for time as one in prayer...and then sent out into the world to bring that sense of unity, oneness, love and compassion, to others.

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  7. Jumping in to the part for my first time! Let me share some trimmings from my second attempt at cheese-making that just made a lovely breakfast along with left-over naan.

    Watching the events in Boston from here in Canada, I have been following the happenings but without a sense of immediacy. I will be including the victims in Boston in the prayers (including the suspect who was arrested and the one who died since aren't they victims as well?); but also the victims of bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Sermon is focused on sheep. Are we sheep? What if we have questions and doubts like those who questioned Jesus - are we still sheep then? What about times when we don't hear the voice of Jesus - are we still sheep?

    I heard author Marina Nemat speak yesterday - very inspiring - and today's project is to find a way to incorporate part of her message into my message. When she was in prison in Tehran and being tortured, she felt completely cut off from God; and yet God was still there waiting for her when she was ready to hear God's voice again. So yes, she was a sheep even when she couldn't hear her shepherd's voice. (or something to that effect...)

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    1. homemade cheese? yes, please. Kate, sounds like you have a very helpful approach to the text - one that will offer people both words to think about and ways to take action - even if that action is being attentive to the possibility of hearing God's voice.

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  8. This week's plans were disrupted last week, because one of our PCUSA mission co-workers is in the area and we got the opportunity for her to preach this week. I can't decide if this is a blessing or a missed opportunity for me as a preacher...with Boston, Chicago under water, Texas, the China earthquake...is it best to simply have the woman who works in South America direct our attention to places we rarely think about, and then to mention all the week's insanity in the prayers? Or do I need to find a way (probably in writing) to address all that has gone on this week through a gospel lens?

    This is a congregation that is very good at local mission but has a harder time opening up to the wider world, I think (though I haven't been here long so it could be that I just haven't seen it yet)...so perhaps the missionary is exactly the right thing for this moment. Sort of an oblique way to connect to all that's going on in the world.

    Anyway, I'm away at Presbytery today but if there's wireless I might pop in to see you all in the midst of the meeting if it's boring! In the meantime, I'll leave you with this: we've been underwater for 3 days and now there is snow on the ground. SNOW. (probably best I'm not preaching as that just makes me bitter. lol.)

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    1. Teri, my daughter described the chaos in Chicago with the flooding and how difficult it is to get around with roads closed. And now snow, ack! We had the same, including a little snow and ice this morning...crazy.

      I think it could be a welcome relief for your congregation to hear stories from other parts of the world and hopefully acquire some connections. A letter might be an appropriate approach for you, as the Pastor to respond to all of this. So will the prayers. Sometimes I start off a service (like I may tomorrow) with a very intentional prayer for the tragedy at hand - reminding us that our entire worship time is a time of uniting us in and through prayer.

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    2. Teri, say hi to my mom today--she's a greeter at the Presbytery meeting--held in my childhood church (or at least at the address of my childhood church, which was more or less knocked down to build the new building)

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  9. Focussing here on the imprint on others th elives of Peter and Dorcus had and how our faith should shape the imprint we leave. Challenging my folks to think be fore they act.

    As a community I am also trying the lift them and be possitive in the midst of the challenge being church is today.

    After a week away training - glad God has helped me this morning get the sermon under control so I can enjoy the lovely day outside this afternoon....me and the pooch will be going for a long walk!

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    1. Shuna, focusing on the positive is a good approach - there is enough in the world to beat us down, let the church be a place to help us feel whole and loved.

      I hope you enjoy that walk!

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  10. I am again supply preaching on short notice. Regular pastor has a nasty virus . I have a sermon title" Yea though we walk..." and a heart filled with shadows of the valley of death. And yet God is with us and so we do not fear. In this transition sabbatical time I have been writing and preaching on credo, the intersection between what we believe and act. Leaning on that God space of do not be afraid while naming some of the shadows.

    Thanks for hosting Terri!

    Last week I was able to announce my new call to my home congregation at the same time it was being announced in Hays Kansas. Yes we are moving to north west Kansas on I70 May 19th. University town with a great medical center and arts community . World's best Pastor search team. Crazy far from our families and yet it feels really right and good. Husband says the place " does not suck" which is actually very high praise . I began this non traditional self defined and funded 3 month sabbatical on Jan 15, with no job to return to and no assurance of what would happen at the end of that time. I needed this time and trusted that God knew I needed it as well. New call became public on April 14... 3 months.

    Will check back later after I get some coffee .

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    1. YAY for you Celeste and this new call! How exciting. University towns are always dynamic communities.

      preaching on the intersection between what we believe and how we act offers a crucial perspective! What difference does what we say make if it doesn't change how people live their lives?

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    2. Sounds great Celeste! When we moved from New Zealand to China after a congregation with an awesome search team called us, we also felt the crazy far from our families and friends, but it felt really right and good. Three years on that is still the case. Every blessing in the transition.

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  11. Congratulations Celeste. So glad. Why is it we always have this vague sense of amazement when God shows that God is indeed in control!?

    Prayers for all of you as you deal with Boston. It's far away here, but we are all so aware of it.

    I am going with "My sheep hear my voice". Using Philip Keller's book A Shepherd looks at the Good Shepherd and moving on from that.

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    1. Pat, I am unfamiliar with Philip Keller, but that approach sounds like it will unfold some important perspective. Thanks for the prayers.

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  12. I'm just popping in to see if anyone has a great children's message idea. My sermon is long-ago finished (half recycled and half new) and then updated again last night in light of the week. I have something I could do with the children, but it's not great.

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    1. It might work to ask the kids if they have ever been afraid of the dark? Then talk a bit about fear and how God is there with us in our fears. And that from darkness comes light and new life. Maybe plant a seed in a pot of soil and say, just like this seed is going into the dark soil, one day it will grow roots and sprout a stem and then grow into a flower (or vegetable, etc). God is always with us and transforms our fears and the darkness of the world into new life. And, we get to help God do this by helping others. When we help others it's like planting a seed...?

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    2. One of my favorite children's sermons works for Good Shepherd Sunday. Pick a handful of kids with backs to congregation. Point to people from the crowd to call out the child's name. Ask the kids to turn when they hear the familiar voice of mom/dad/grandparent. Has worked every time. Sometimes I have also picked an adult child there with a parent - fun too.

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    3. One of my favorite children's sermons works for Good Shepherd Sunday. Pick a handful of kids with backs to congregation. Point to people from the crowd to call out the child's name. Ask the kids to turn when they hear the familiar voice of mom/dad/grandparent. Has worked every time. Sometimes I have also picked an adult child there with a parent - fun too.

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    4. check out onthechancelsteps.wordpress.com
      it is an excellent children's sermon site.
      I am talking about Tabitha with the kids and the making of clothes that showed God's love. Then blessing the knitting minstry's shawls, which wrap people in God's love.

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  13. One possibility is to have some family pairs line up (parent child, spouses, siblings) mixed up and with their backs to each other. Have someone in one group say a few words, and have the matching person from the other group call out/raise hand. They will know each other's voice even without being able to see...you can take it from there. We know the Good Shepherd's voice, and the Shepherd knows our voices :-)

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  14. I am in CA and I will be addressing the events of the week starting by talking about my (our) weariness with tragedy; in the past months, in addition to national crises, we have faced the sudden death of a teen and of parents in two families with young children, and we are worn out. In reply to each one, I have the refrain "Raise me up, Jesus!" there will need to be some stuff in the middle--ah, the stuff in the middle, that's always the problem, isn't it?--and the end will point toward the time when all our tears are wiped away. Obviously, I have quite a bit of work to do!

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    1. Betsy - this is one reason I posted that quote at the beginning of this comment thread - “You've faced horrors in these past weeks... I don't know which is worse. The terror you feel the first time you witness such things, or the numbness that comes after it starts to become ordinary.”
      ― Tasha Alexander, A Fatal Waltz

      Because so many of us have faced unrelenting tragedy. So, yes! Raise me up, Jesus! and connecting it to Revelation, excellent.

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    2. Yup, that quote really resonated for me, and it may work its way into my sermon. We don't want to build walls of uncaring around ourselves to protect ourselves, but it hurts to keep being open. I think part of the answer lies in being conduits who hear, care and respond but are also able to pass the burden on to the only one big enough to bear it.

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    3. Exactly - the risk is we become numb and build walls OR we become frozen by despair BUT we can also become a conduit for another response of compassion and hope!

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  15. Here is a resource on Christian Forgiveness with a variety of prayers, sermons, and reflections on a Christian response to violence

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  16. Good morning everyone!
    The bulletin uses the 23rd psalm as liturgical inspiration, but John and Acts are the scripture in the bulletin I thought I'd be preaching.
    I think, instead, I'm going to the Psalm. Maybe Tabitha's community will make an entrance. I might even go back and re-visit the disciples locked in an upper room after a week of tragedy.
    Blessings to you all, especially those directly involved in any of the many tragedies this week.

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    1. Marci, it could be a very powerful reference to look back at the disciples locked in the upper room - connected to the 23rd Psalm and Tabitha - God's hope and healing presence in the midst of grief, fear, and despair - are we able to see that in our lives today...are we able to be Tabitha's and rise up to God's healing love?

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    2. Have a draft now. Back from a day on soccer fields.

      Am hoping the disciples in the upper room were reading psalms instead of watching CNN.
      And I compare the widows in the Acts story to people this week who rushed in to tragedy to show love. The resurrection piece, for me, right now, is that life is stronger and more beautiful than death and tragedy.
      And I'm quoting poets, so that always helps.

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  17. I have the "early" service tomorrow, Book of Common Prayer all the way including the readings, very convenient -- and the Epistle is that killer passage from James about how "the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God." Now is that a gimme, or what?

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    1. Hey Crimsom! Welcome. So, not the Revised Common Lectionary? Well, that passage is fitting for indeed the wrath of human beings does not work the righteousness of God....

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  18. I have to preach this afternoon. The sermon was not coming until about 2 hours ago and I finally have something about bombs, explosions and first responders hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd. The explosions in West are not far away and we had many young volunteer fire fighters who lost their lives. Tough sermon to write but I think it came out ok.

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    1. Very sad time for you all in Texas, in fact all of us as we acknowledge the many global tragedies that befall humankind every day...prayers for you Muthah+ as you break open the word and bring Good News into these times.

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  19. Gosh... I am preaching again after a rather long time and feeling very, very rusty!! And this will be my first sermon as a ridiculously-excited-high-time-I-finally-got-to-this-point probationer-nearly minister at this wonderful church where I am blessed to be attached.
    [and breathe...did I say I was excited and already having a fabulous time? re-affirmation of calling, anyone? *grins*]
    *ahem*

    So, I'm going for the psalm and gospel passage.
    Last week fish and fisherfolk, and a call.
    This week sheep and shephered, and the characeteristics/ qualities of who we're called by.
    You can find it over here.

    Will be thinking of folk touched by the happenings in Boston in our prayers post-sermon... and in the meantime, my own prayers ascending for those of you preparing to preach who are in a much more immediate context.

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    1. Nik, I concur, working in a call that one feels is a good fit is so much different and BETTER than being in a call that is just okay...so happy for you and your excitement!

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  20. Hello--and thanks, everyone, for so many good resources and suggestions.

    I'm plum worn out from this week, and haven't even started the process of getting my sermon down on paper. I am using the 23rd psalm, but replacing the other lectionary scriptures with the first chapter of Genesis (which the kids will act out, hopefully with some much-needed silliness, during Children's Message time) and John 1:1-5. My goal is to blend an Earth Day theme with a response to the week's fear and violence, celebrating Creation and using the 23rd Psalm as an image of Creation's Goodness Reclaimed. I want to lead people towards an understanding that, in the face of fear and destruction, love combined with creative action is our most faithful response.
    Which is all well and good, but I haven't written anything yet--except here. It's a beautiful Spring day on our farm and a hundred projects beckon, so it's really hard to make myself sit down for more than a few minutes at a time! I expect I'll be part of the late-night party crowd tonight!
    Fresh-baked banana bread and a nice hot pot of tea for you all...

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    1. OH right! I forgot all about earth day! ACK!!! you are going at it with a good holistic approach! Blessings...and yes, please, a slice of banana bread and a cup of tea - YUM!

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  21. Hi Everyone,
    It is our pet blessing week - we do this near earth day each day. So there will be animals there which adds a certain level of hilarity to everything that happens.

    That said, I am going to talking about Boston and focussing on suspicion and prejudice, esp in regards to religion, toward the suspects when we know so little about their real motivations. It's week 2 of Revelation series. So I'll be focussing on the gathered congregation, washed in the blood of the lamb and rejoicing.

    Childrens time, am mopping up end of Sunday School Lenten special offering (oops, forgot that on Easter) so it will not really "go" with the rest of the service exactly.

    Lots of family stuff brewing in the meantime, so I'll see how much I actually get done today. And sometime I have to bike for an hour - that spring tri is coming UP.

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    1. Jennifer - that bike ride will be a true piece of grace in this week of angst, I suspect! Revelation is an interesting book to be reflecting on in these times....

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  22. Hello everyone!
    I made banana bread, but the kids in the pit orchestra (at Reedy Girl's high school) scarfed it ALL. Every single crumb. So instead, I have a fresh pot of Rooibos tea and some Walker's Shortbread... mmmm.... shortbread!

    I don't preach regularly, but I spend time every week reflecting and praying through the Lectionary. I was thinking about how we decide when we can hear God. Like the 'Sheep-pig" Babe, we demand OUR password. Anyway... For what it's worth, here's what I'm offering...

    Sheepishly Dependent

    Blessings on all you preachers! I'm off to do tasks related to the musical this evening. :)

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  23. I don't necessarily feel a need to address every horrific incident homiletically, so I've decided to stick w/my original sermon theme and address this through prayers. On the third Sunday of each month we have a healing liturgy, and as with Sandy Hook a third Sunday follows the Boston and Texas tragedies. Since the litany of Healing tends to be somewhat individualistic and lacks places for other petitions, I'm crafting a litany for the healing of the world. Blessings and guidance to all who struggle with this.

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    1. Hi Cynthia! Delightful to "see" you here!


      On the one hand I agree...on the other, as one who ended up sitting in the pews following the shooting in Tucson of Gabby Giffords, I realized just how much people are yearning for someone to help them make sense of this crazy world. When the preacher ignores it then the feeling conveyed is that we are a people immune to tragedy. On yet another hand I do not wish to add the spectacle that the media imposes on us with their response to tragedy...so how to feed hurting, hungry people? I think the healing liturgy with a litany for healing the world is a wonderful response.

      I have, in the end, decided to use the sustainable sermon I planned, but I do connect it every so gently with the events of the week - through the idea that gathering as communities of faith in prayer is a response to such tragedies and will help us make sense of them as we come to recognize the ways God is active and present.

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    2. Hi, Terri! I do agree that a helpful, healing word from the pulpit (or aisle!) can be very helpful to people. And I struggle with that. Part of my issue this time was that I also had a funeral this morning and wasn't sure I could do justice to the Boston topic if I had to start over. It will get mentioned; just won't be the focus. Since I just returned from the National Workshop in Christian Unity I'm tying in how we hear the Shepherd's voice so differently, yet coming together in prayerful response to tragedy is an important and unifying act for Christians. Blessings to you!

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    3. Oh, Cynthia, ugh! I didn't have a funeral and even I couldn't go back and re-write my sermon...but I think all of what you are considering will be useful and helpful response - the words of the prayers will convey your thoughts on the matter, giving a theological perspective....

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  24. I am going with Earth Day, and leaving other stuff for the prayers. Now I just need half a sermon on Earth Day, because I have a story that will fill the back end.

    Preaching Earth Day is a challenge in a denomination that often makes national statements bereft of any understanding of the nuances of issues while living in a province (and really a whole country) that is highly dependent on resource extraction to form an economy. I think I will start by naming that reality--and then start to look for the nuance.

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    1. Gord, sounds like an excellent plan - naming the reality - I suspect the nuances will reveal themselves to you.

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  25. I'm late to the party. Today was the Association meeting (New Orleans area UCC churches) and that lasted all morning and half the afternoon.

    Then I came home and decided I *needed* to watch my nieces state championship soccer game online (they lost). And I thought I had a sustainable sermon I could work from, but it's not anything I can use.

    And . . . (sigh) . . . I find it very challenging to preach among Hurricane Katrina survivors after there is yet another heart-wrenching national tragedy -- Newtown and Hurricane Sandy and now Boston all in the past 6 months -- when they are still recovering and cleaning up from that seven years ago.

    Since the "Day of Dedication" in the gospel was a commemoration of rebuilding after horror, it seems a natural, though. Stay tuned . . .

    Thinking of going to pick up a pizza. What can I bring anyone?

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    1. Oh Sharon, I so hear you on this! Prayers for inspiration, may the words flow through you.

      and, uhm, sure! I'd love some pizza....

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    2. Sharon, we're on the same wavelength tonight with pizza! I opted for delivery. :)

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  26. Just back from TJ's with sesame-honey covered cashews. How are you guys doing? I'm tooling around on ted talks trying to find...something... Better get to some actual writing soon.

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    1. Oh LOVE TED talks - got them on my iPhone in podcast format and listened to a bunch when I drove to Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I also love to listen to NPR "Fresh Air" interviews and found the interview with conservationist biologist Tor Hansen on the evolution of feathers to be fascinating. I preached using that as an illustration last summer...if I can find it...I'll link to it....well, I can't find the sermon but here is a link to his page

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    2. Both TED talks and TJ's cashews are on my favorites list :-) I managed to find a need to stop in at the latter (TJ's, that is, not cashews...) on my way home from a class, all in the interests of good hamburgers for dinner!

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    3. Well, I heard something interesting about the imperative to community as demonstrated by the behavior of bacteria, but darned if I can work it into my sermon. So, just started typing and got somewhere I have 1000 words if you count the fact that I'm reading the scripture a second time in an alternate translation (and I certainly AM counting that! please tell me you do this too!) so I'm halfway-ish. Been at the pool typing while 10 year olds swim and burn off some of that 10 year old energy. Now home to throw some food into them and hopefully type some more while they play some more. We'll see...

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    4. Every word counts, regardless of where it came from!

      I am trying to convince myself that I need to get back to the sermon--which I do--rather than doing pressing things like turning out on all my favorite solitaire games.

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    5. Oh solitaire games - man i had to give up most of the internet games - I could NOT control myself!

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  27. Good evening (EST)! I haven't preacher-partied in quite some time; it's helpful & reassuring to read everyone's processing of sermons & life events. I'm going to lean on the breadth of worship to offer a response to Boston (e.g. passing of the peace, prayers).

    I'm working with the Gospel of John in April and May, and I split last week's gospel lesson in two, which means tomorrow I have Jesus asking Peter, "Do you love me?" I've decided to aim for an interactive sermon -- trying to go easy on myself, spiritually & emotionally tired -- by asking folks to add verbs onto Jesus' list of "tend" and "feed" that they believe are important responses to loving Jesus.

    Now praying for the Spirit to add flesh to these sermon bones!

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    1. Rachel, welcome to the party. I so hear you on the spiritual and emotional tired. On Facebook I also added (earlier today) creatively tired...I do really like the verb idea for an interactive sermon! I plan to do really simple summer sermons and this is an idea I need to remember!!!

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    2. Rachel -
      I did an interactive sermon last week in which I asked the people to talk to someone else about: Where they saw someone tending sheep, where they saw sheep being fed, and What is their call to live into Following Jesus into the works they had witnessed or imagined.
      It was my first interactive sermon and it got a lot of positive feedback in person and through emails in the week.

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  28. I am thinking I might start off (I'm preaching James from the BCP reading, not from the shared lectionary) by quoting Beverly Harrison, whom I heard say, way back when, that anger was the engine, the motor, of all moral action. And then I'll see how that thought goes into dialogue with human anger and God's righteousness. It will need to be REALLY brief -- like 5 or 6 minutes -- still turning it over and over. Did anybody else watch "The Young Savages" this week? on whichever of the Ancient Movies channels it appeared. Press on, sisters, the Spirit has our backs!

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    1. LOVE Beverly Harrison. Will be curious to see how you develop this one, CR.

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    2. "The Power of Anger in the Work of Love" was the name of the essay and it's a classic. Thanks for that reminder today. I got a little angry publicly today. Not sure how much of the fuel was love, though. <-- true confession

      Meant to say earlier: Thanks for hosting today, Terri!

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    3. Oh Sharon - I always feel worse when I have had a public display of anger, not better. I hope you feel, well, better? Even without the "love?" Thanks for sharing the article title. I will need to check it out...

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  29. I have been lurking here pretty much all day, but gotten nowhere other than being briefly intrigued by a commentary in Feasting on the Word. BLAH. I'm seriously wanting to take up Revelation, both as a break from the standard "good shepherd" discourse (although it does get there, from a different direction) and as a way to address the events of this last week. My church is in the Northeastern U.S...not close to Boston exactly, but it's definitely in our sphere of influence.

    But, feeling very out of it right now. My brain is clearly still on vacation. No clue how I am going to start this sermon, and that's always the key for me. (I do, however, know how I am going to start the sermon for two weeks from now, so perhaps I will procrastinate by writing THAT sermon.)

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    1. Semfem, I too need a way to start my sermons, and if I have that I am usually okay...I do hope your brain engages, even if it takes writing the other one first....

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  30. No supply gigs for me this week, but I'm praying for all of you. Tragedy surrounds us, yet we are embraced by the Good Shepherd. Many blessings to each of you.

    And homemade cookies, too. Here, have one.

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    1. Esperanza - cookies! Yes please.

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  31. Whenever I arrive late to the party, I realize how much help this place is. Now I want to redo the chidlren's time. ah well, we shall see. Scout sunday so will have a few folks from other churches visiting with us tomorrow. and lots going on after church. wasn't sure how to address this week, but it fell into the message easily and we'll see who shares what during the interactive parts.
    My best to all still writing. I'm am ready to rest and read a bit.

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    1. Hi Nancy, welcome! I hope the interactive parts go really well!

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  32. Our Sunday school kids helped plan the liturgy tomorrow, writing prayers, etc., with Earth Stewardship as the focus. They've done several projects on our rural 18 acre property, and we'll be celebrating the wildlife habitat certification they applied for and earned (and planting sunflowers & blessing trees after worship!).

    Sooo...I was already feeling a poverty of inspiration to connect all that with the texts, and also want to acknowledge the several tragedies and loud anxiety of the week--finding a word of hope. Maybe the 23rd Psalm is the route to go (although the kids had chosen another in its place, there's room to do both!).

    Come on, Holy Spirit...

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    1. Ann, what a wonderful way to engage the kids in worship - I think you may have found some inspiration in your idea to include the 23rd Psalm...yes, come Holy Spirit...

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  33. Stopped in to the party this morning, then had to run to church for a number of responsibilities. Now I'm back, and trying to rewrite what I thought I had ready to go. Needing to start over... I'm grateful for the ideas and simmering of the thoughts written here. Trusting the words will come... soon, I hope! Balancing the global tragedies along with our own bishop's tragedy which I've been closely involved with as a member of our synod executive committee. Pork fried rice anyone?

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    1. oh dear, so many tragedies make life so very difficult...praying for you soulwiggles....

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  34. Okay, well. It is time for this party host to call it a night. I will hold each of you in my heart and prayers for tomorrow. May the Holy Spirit be with you, a mantle around your shoulders, the breath between your words...

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  35. You ladies NEVER cease to inspire me! As a baby preacher, it's refreshing to hear about the manyfold directions y'all take Scripture.

    I am taking about the image of the Good Shepherd and what that means in the midst of tragedy and violence. I'm making a special point about how God is the Redeeming Shepherd who goes after lost lambs - a reminder that God's love will stretch to those who have done great evil in the hopes of redeeming them, too.

    I'm in a rural area that experiences a LOT of xenophobia. So I think it's particularly important to have the message of far-reaching grace this Sunday.

    Blessings on all y'all

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  36. I worked on the rummage sale all day and I am tired! Fortunately, the rummage sale afforded me ample time to ponder my sermon. I have an adult baptism at my early service, need to mention all the trauma and drama of this week, acknowledge earth day. I am drawn to the last line of the John pericope..."the Father and I are one." And, I also can't get Bobby McFerrin's 23rd Psalm out of my head.

    Thanks to you all for being there...it is 8:59 pm in the San Francisco Bay area and time for this early bird to snooze and hopefully, dream about sermon!

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  37. Midnight and I think I've got something that'll preach. Title: "The Coyote and the Shepherd." Sermon opens with a vignette of coyotes singing in our woods on a dark summer night & how wild and challenging their songs are...then moves into a discussion of Good Shepherd imagery and the way early Christian art celebrated lambs and shepherds and feasts in the face of Roman oppression & horrible persecution. Conclusion: we're called to live into this countercultural vision instead of being ruled by the Empire's vision of fear and conspicuous consumption. Shepherd and Coyote both call us, challenging us to hear the songs in the darkness and sing out with our own wild, loving songs.
    (That said, I am now going to sleep as hard and fast as I can, coyote or no coyote. Six hours until I have to be up again!)

    Blessings to all weary writers this night.

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  38. I'm calling it a night, too, out here on the west coast. I still need an ending but I am fried - hopefully it will come tomorrow.
    Many blessings all and thanks for being here today!

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  39. Anyone still up writing with me? I thought I had more than I do :-( That will work at the later service when I want to conclude with the hymn "Guide my feet, Lord" but the singing won't go over at the early service. So, I have more messing around with words to do.

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  40. Is anybody using the Pink Floyd version of Psalm 23? No, I didn't think so...

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  41. Here are the Prayers of the People I am using tomorrow. ALthough I am not sure about the Hebrew at the beginning, it may get cut.

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  42. Still up. One of my best friends, who is a parish member, just got news that her mother who is far away has had a very serious stroke. The sermon will work itself out; talking with her was what needed to be done.

    This is 99; someone in the morning can hit 100!

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  43. I'll be 100, I suppose! Although it would be better if I were already finished and fast asleep, I am still here after an involuntary nap. But I do think I finally have a beginning--let's hope so!

    Solidarity with all those who are still up and writing!

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