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Friday, June 07, 2013

11th Hour Preacher Party: This way? Or, that way? Or....

It may be the Season after the Pentecost, seemingly endless Sundays of "Ordinary Time"....but this Sunday is all about resurrection. And Abundance. And, uhm, the authority to preach (or at least Paul's authority...) For more on these themes check out the RevGals  Tuesday Lectionary conversation

I'm not preaching on the texts. Instead I am finishing a five part series reflecting on our worship - the what, how and why - we do what we do. I am, after all an Episcopal priest, and liturgy kind of defines who we are. It's been fun. I am, however a little anxious to get back into the texts and talk about the book of Kings and the Gospel of Luke. But, that comes next week.

So, where are your thoughts and ideas leading you this week? Are you going to dip back into resurrection images?


Or are you pondering images and ideas around abundance?





Or Paul and Galatians?


Or, are you, like me, going in a completely "Other" direction?




One direction that is sure to be helpful is to find your way here, to the Preacher Party! We'll share ideas for sermons and children's time. We'll be here to pray with you, laugh with you, cry with you, be with you. I have a lot of fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, cantaloup)...and fresh coffee and tea - all day long.

Pull up a chair, grab a mug. Let's party! 

124 comments:

  1. It is dinner time in Beijing, and the best thing to say about how this week went was "not to plan". the co-pastor is preaching, and as it is now summer season here we start a one-room, all-age children's programme during the sermon and I'm on for that tomorrow. It's going to be a busy evening at our place!

    No resources or insights to share, but glad of the company of fellow preachers and teachers. And the mangos in our fruit bowl are pretty nice if anyone needs a sweet treat.

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  2. Hi Jemma, I hear you on the not to plan kind of week....or best laid plans are bound to change. I love the idea of a one room, all age children's program. I am responding to the lack of families and children in the summer by adding a very short outdoor service - which I hope will draw families.

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  3. Good morning from Maine-- I'm skipping the farmers' market due to heavy rainfall, the need to finish my sermon, and the need to use up a lovely bunch of rhubarb. Later, I will drop by and offer everyone some rhubarb cake!
    I'm relying on the two widow stories this week. There's been some awful rumour-mongering and much needless fear and anger in our congregation this week, so I'm going to look at themes of scarcity and abundance, compassion and mercy. Of course, the guilty parties probably won't be there, but I can at least address the congregational culture that made it possible for a small wrong to become a big one. UGH. I really love these people, but this has been one of THOSE weeks.

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    1. Oh MaineCelt...I do hope that those present hear your words and understand more fully...prayers for you.

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  4. Good morning, all! MaineCelt, I would LOVE some rhubarb cake!!

    Does anyone else have a problem with blogger eating your post while you're in the middle of typing it? That's been happening to me a lot lately, including just now. Ugh!

    I had hoped to be done with my sermon by now, as I'm preaching a funeral after worship tomorrow and still have to write that homily. I do have part of tomorrow's sermon done - am certainly much further along than I normally am by this point in the week - but the only way I managed it was by not taking a day off this week. Ugh! Hate that. I even tried to make it work by taking a "writing day" at home, but despite all my work that day, no actual words appeared on the page.

    At any rate, I am now hoping words are just going to start flying out of my fingers.

    Looking forward to partying with y'all!

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    1. UGH! Indeed, earthchick. I do hope the words just fly...and, yes, blogger is weird lately.

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  5. Local peaches, local tomatoes, and a delicious-smelling cantaloupe of unknown origin to share.

    I'm unexpectedly preaching because my local Presbyterian church's pastor has lost her voice (going on 3 weeks now; about 15 years ago, she had to be silent for several months. So, it's a serious deal). Something about the two widows.

    I'm impersonating a single parent (really, how do you people manage?) since Wednesday, through tomorrow afternoon. Exhausted from that, and not enough sleep. Distressing news from my home church is on my mind this morning. Prayers for peace, and for grownups to act like grownups, needed.

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    1. Esperanza-- Here's a thought: since both of those widows were, in effect, single mothers, you could channel your own feelings of exhaustion and distress into a pretty potent characterisation.
      (And oh, do I ever join you in the prayer for grownups to act like grownups!!! More than once this week, I've wished I could just send a few of my church members into their respective "time out" corners!

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    2. Praying for you, Esperanza. May all come together and may a little peace prevail.

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    3. It would solve a lot of problems!

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    4. Amen to the sending the adults to their time out corners!

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  6. Good morning! I'm here with tea and bagels to share, and hoping that for once in my life I can get this sermon done early. I've spent lots of time pondering the text, but can't find a direction for the sermon just yet. Still, I can hope, right?

    Tomorrow's a long day with our fundraising supper in the evening - so I'm hoping I'll be able to finish planting a good chunk of the garden this afternoon and spend time with my Love in the evening.

    Prayers for those who've been having *those* kind of weeks.

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    1. Good morning! Yum, bagels....planting is hard work - I've done a lot of it lately. So I am praying you get it done with little strain, sermon and planting both!

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  7. Good morning from Texas, y'all! Using the Widow of Nain story, I'm talking the Death procession going out of Nain and the Life procession headed by Jesus coming into Nain. (Feasting on the Word). The musicians are going to augment here with some funny snippets of music signifying "life" and "death." Looking at all those things that deaden our lives, then showing the video that Kate Huey links in her weekly Sermon Seeds--it's about AWE, waking up to True Life. Using the Iraeneus quote, "the glory of God is a human being fully alive." And then concluding with the idea that the forces of life and death are NOT, as we might think, equal and opposing, but even the most painful experiences carry within them the seeds of life -- because the Holy Spirit is always doing the work of transformation, and all those divine attributes (light, love, laughter, joy, truth, justice, peace) are always available to us...

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    1. Amen, katherine. sounds like a fabulous approach to the texts.

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    2. Dear Katherine, I have used old Irenaeus OVER and OVER and OVER, I feel a great fondness for him -- and I love your idea about procession IN and procession OUT. Wish I could be perched in a pew at your place tomorrow morning!

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  8. I walked to the 8am yoga class this morning - which was fairly strenuous. Walked back, checked in here, and am enjoying a bowl of cantaloup and blueberries and a cup of coffee. I need to edit my sermon...its a sustainable one, completing the series which I offered last year after Easter. It seems to be a pretty good idea to pull this series out every year after Easter - certainly has given me a reprieve from sermon creation - even though I have written and preached a few newbies through out - so instead of a consecutive five part series on how, what, and why we do what we do in worship it has been sprinkled in between other sermons. Both worked well. Anyway, some editing to do, and a bunch of work at the church.

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    1. I love this idea, Terri! May try it myself at some point.

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    2. RevDrMom - it's really fun. I share parts with the music director who talks about prelude, sequence hymns, sanctus, etc and plays a bit to show the seasonal variations. I ask the congregation questions and we usually laugh a good bit.

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  9. morning all (well, evening to some)! I have a funeral around lunchtime today, so I'm finishing up a brand-new funeral homily. It's harder to write one for a service in which very few of the congregation will have known the deceased personally--we are holding the service really as a support to the sister of the person who died, though he was someone we have been praying for for many years.

    This afternoon when I get home I'll be working on the second sermon in the summer series about the theology of our hymnody. I asked people to submit their favorite hymns, and we're singing them all summer long and exploring just what kind of faith we're singing. This week's focus is on The Story--as in, I Love To Tell The Story--and What A Friend We Have in Jesus. Should be a good time.

    I've had a few days of *that* kind of week as well, so really glad that you all are here to keep me from going off the deep end of snark. :-)

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    1. Teri, indeed that's a tough funeral...but what a great sermons series idea! And, hang in there....thankfully weeks like these don't usually last.

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    2. Teri, I really like your sermon series idea!!

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  10. I have been sick all week -- 3 days in bed and the rest on and off bed. I feel weak and dizzy and the last thing I relish is tomorrow's service. But that's part of the job. I am singularly lacking inspiration for a sermon (surprise! surprise!) but have scraped something together. We are into stewardship this month (with a break next week for youth day) and I'm going with the reading from Kings. God's abundant generosity if only we will give God the chance.

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    1. Prayers, Pat. I have been too, so I will lift you up tomorrow. At least I don't have to preach.

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  11. Oh, this sermon gets longer and longer and makes less and less sense . . . I want to say that some of God's interruptions and transformations are like those the gospel story, but more often than not they involve invitations to sojourn in Arabia and get to know God before embarking upon ministry. There! Why didn't I just say that ?! The problem is that many of these experiences in Arabia follow trauma, and I don't want to say that God causes THOSE -- because I have a church full of people who thinks all the bad stuff is God's will. Maybe I need to rethink this whole thing. But I have two people facing heart surgery and I want to give them and their families a chance to see all that hospital time as Arabia, from whence comes knowledge of God and transformation for ministry. Sigh . . . I could write something beautiful if only there weren't, you know, real people with real problems.

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    1. I'm with you in not wanting to say that God causes the bad stuff - but wrestling with the wording since it feels like it is implicit in Elijah's theology. Not sure what to do with it yet.

      Prayers as you write, that those who need to hear words of comfort and hope, will hear them.

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    2. ACK! I hate it when this happens to me. I do hope you (and trust your will) find your way through your own sermon-prep Arabia...

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  12. So good to hear and read where everyone is. This is what I have so far:

    I'm with you, Terri, in the "Other" category. Tomorrow they vote on whether to keep me forever. So, there's that. Preaching Psalm 84 with the theme of "home" and "homecoming"

    Thinking of the various images of "home" in...

    Game of Thrones...
    Slumdog millionaire...
    Me in Binghamton, my dad and brother in WY

    It's not the house, or place, it's the people.Home is the place where we are welcome.

    Finally making my way to the setting of the Psalm, which is the Temple.
    The Temple
    description of temple from Scripture
    sacrifices described in Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Ann Rice

    It's not the building, it's God: Psalmist finds home there, not because of furnishings, but because of welcome into the presence of God.

    Something like that.

    I have locally roasted "Mud Pie" coffee, pineapple from far, far away, and soon, rhubarb bread made with organic oat flour and the rhurbarb grown by the church's handyman.

    Now, to write.

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    1. Prayers for you in these days....and yes on the coffee, please!

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    2. Pat, I've been praying with you every day for the call process.

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    3. O, Pat, I do hope that the vote goes your way.

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    4. Pat, praying for you here, too.

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    5. Praying for you, Pat. Where in Wy is your family? My sister is in Cheyenne and parents in Gillette and I somehow ended up in Upstate NY.

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  13. Hi, ya'll. I haven't preached in a while so I needed to hop on to catch up to where the readings are. Tomorrow is our rector's last Sunday so I doubt if I will hear the readings preached. But it is good to hear about the Widow of Zarafath. Love that reading. But it is a hard sermon to preach when you know that you have parents who have lost a child.

    Prayers for all you preachers out there.

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    1. I walked right out of church when that text came up in the year after my son died. Tomorrow I'm touching upon it, which occurs to me is not a good thing -- evidence of capacity for total dissociation on my part.

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    2. (((((Robin))))) will be lifting you in prayer.

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    3. oh my Robin. Indeed. I'm not preaching on the text, which if my parishioners whose son just died are present will hopefully be a blessing. Although no doubt the text alone will be excruciating.

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    4. Robin- I am grateful that once again your words made me go back and prayerfully hear to what I was preaching through the heart of a grieving parent. Praying for you tomorrow as you preach this hard text

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    5. Thanks for the insights and the cautionary notes. Don't know where to go with this as I preach to homeless and housed tomorrow. A whole lot of grief to go around.

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  14. Good morning...or I guess, afternoon, preachers! I've had two weeks off from preaching, and it's a struggle to get my mojo back, so it seems. I think I am going to do something with the two widow stories...just not sure what yet.

    Spent the morning meeting with the wardens; still dealing with on-going bad behavior. It's like whack-a-mole, truly, and it's wearing us all down. Ugh.

    After two days of torrential rain, the sun is shining! So I want to go for a run--do I go now, or write first? That is the question...

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    1. When it comes to movement, I usually try get a draft done and then go out (walking for me)...but sometimes you just gotta move first to get the juices flowing so you can write!

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  15. Not preaching tomorrow. A complete absence of mojo, around here, this morning. Actually it doesn't feel bad. I cooked myself into a stupor yesterday, so my dream is to spend the entire week upcoming READING (esp Richard Rohr--2 books from the library-- and "The Elegance of the Hedgehog," just started. Meantime I have Augmented Porridge, fresh strawberries (thank you folks in Watsonville CA) and fresh raspberries (thank you some more, folks in Watsonville) and -- if you're really feeling anemic, spinach (thank you, folks in Salinas CA)(maybe I need to add some Steinbeck to my list???)

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  16. Wheee! Just had another whole comment eaten by blogger. BAH. and UGH.

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    1. So! What I was trying to say:

      I'm putting the sh*tty in "sh*tty first draft." I need to wrap this up in a couple more paragraphs but am really not happy with it in its current form. If I didn't have to write a funeral sermon still, I'd be very happy with where I am at this point in the day. But as it is now, I am feeling very under the gun.

      I love this text (the Luke one), and I feel like what I'm trying to say is good and valid and important. It just doesn't feel like I'm saying it in a very inspiring way at this point.

      Guess I'm just going to try to draft out another paragraph or two, then set it aside and get to work on the funeral sermon.

      About to make a big ol' pot of coffee over here, and happy to share!

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  17. Wheeee! - I just found yet another plagiarized sermon online (on my text). I mean, entirely, word-for-word, taken.

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    1. (Not plagiarized from me - I've never preached this text before - plagiarized from a sermon on GoodPreacher, only viewable with paid access)

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    2. oh my word. really....wow.

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    3. Right? What the heck. I mean, there was some good stuff in it, and I can understand using some of the illustrations, and even using the whole format of the sermon. But verbatim copying of almost the entire sermon? I just don't get it.

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  18. All, I am out in San Francisco area (so it is not even noon yet) , going to ordinations at 3 pm today at Grace Cathedral, trying not to get involved/rescue the moving-furniture-at-church-to-prepare-for-new-carpet, and have no idea what my preaching will be tomorrow. However, it renews my faith in the church to look over all of your ponderings and to know I am not alone on the hilltop in San Rafael. Peets coffee, anyone?

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    1. BUT - you are in San Francisco, and you are at Peets Coffee...sigh (jealous)....

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    2. Stacey, great to see you here! You are adept at pulling rabbits out of hats. Know you'll not be mute tomorrow. Susan A-H

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  19. Finally, FINALLY, finished a crappy full draft of my sermon for tomorrow morning. Trying to let it go for now.Going to take a short walk, a deep breath, and shift gears into funeral prep.

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    1. Praying that the walk clears the air and that the funeral sermon gets written easily enough (I have a gazillion funeral sermons, actually I have a couple that build off of the same format...email me if you want one of them. Might make it worse, though, but maybe will give you an way in to that one?)

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    2. Thanks, Terri! (I tried to respond to this earlier, but first blogger ate my comment - AGAIN! - and then it blanked all comments and wouldn't reload. What the heck!)

      Anyway! Thanks for your kind offer to send me one of your funeral sermons. I *think* I have found my way in on this one, though I haven't gotten very far yet (basically have my opening and that's it). This woman was amazing and I am feeling anxious to do her justice. I also had a special tenderness for her, as she and I shared a birthday and always corresponded on our birthdays (even though she had moved away from here years before I arrived). In fact, she would've been 100 this past Tuesday, but she died before her birthday.

      I have lots of good material (and that's actually part of the problem!) and her family is flying in from all over for this, so I just really, really want to get it right!

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  21. Whew. I think I have a lectionary-based sermon that honestly, respectfully, compassionately addresses the current challenges of our specific church. God willing, I hope none of the involved parties do anything to further escalate the situation between now and tomorrow morning when I preach it.
    I found Lia Scholl's article, "Fight, Flight, and Freeze: The Church and Trauma" (The Hardest Question, via The Text This Week) very, very helpful. Others dealing with intra-church conflict this week may find it helpful too.

    Oh, and--as promised--here's some delicious rhubarb-ginger coffee cake for y'all!!!

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    1. Awesome, MaineCelt...will be holding you in prayer tomorrow (and the rest of today)...

      and, yes please, that cake sounds amazing.

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  22. Back in Kapaa on Kauai where I spent my sabbatical in 2011. Preaching and saying 7:00 am (!) and 9:30 am Masses.Talking about holy places, thin places since Nain is very near Shunem where Elijah raised that other widow's son and think those two texts should have gone together, and Nain and Shunem are near Moreh where Abraham built his altar. Also talking about the power of Jesus to transform us, our lives and our world. And belief and hope, especially when we do not receive the miracles we see in scripture.

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    1. but surely being in Hawaii will inspire that holy place, thin place so that all of this just pours out of you?....

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    2. Just talking today to the priest who will be coming there as the new rector (or is there more than one Episcopal church there?), and I am envious! I hope the return there has been good for your soul!

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  23. Went back to my office to search for some old sermons, went for a run, took a shower, ate something. Guess there is nothing left but to write the sermon. Still not feeling it.

    I am enjoying typing on my shiny new MacBook Pro that I've had for less than a week. My first new computer in 6.5 years, and I'm loving it! My old MacBook was a workhorse but it was definitely time for an upgrade.

    #mustwritenow

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    1. sending you writing mojo!

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    2. There is something so great about the transition from 7 year old macbook to new macbook pro, isn't here? I just made that transition about 6 months ago and it is AWESOME.

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  24. Okay, so I have done EVERYTHING but look at and edit my sermon for tomorrow. Seriously. I bought more plants. I got stuff ready for kids in worship. I got stuff for the church picnic tomorrow. I bought a couple of things for me (almond milk, etc). I have checked in here. I have made phone calls. And now I'm going to go meditate. Then. Yes, after that, then I will look at this sermon. LOL

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  25. Compassion as a full body - "feel it in your gut" response has been working on me this week. Brand new in a church that has struggled with practicing compassion for those outside the circle. Listening and asking lots of questions as I try to help them figure out what practising compassion might look like here in this place.

    I am new enough here that we are still in full blown "honeymoon" phase. Since I have never experienced that in any previous church I am enjoying and appreciating it while it lasts.

    Sermon- such as it is -is done and printed. Since Beloved leaves at dawn again for another week tomorrow time to wrap this up and get home.

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    1. Enjoy, Celeste. Sermon idea sounds like a wonderful direction for this time.

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  26. just a small topic for the sermon tomorrow---trust.

    going to use a clip from Star Wars where Luke starts to learn how to use the Force. and going to ask if we as individuals but also as the church truly are able to trust in God instead of making our own plans.....

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    1. So, is too trite to say, "May the Force be with you" ???

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  27. I need a beginning. Pretty sure the rest would all come if I could just have a beginning.

    Maybe one will be delivered with the Thai food, due any minute?

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    1. I wish I had some Thai food coming...pizza is about the only thing you can get delivered around here.

      A sermon beginning would be good too...

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    2. OMG!! I wish I was having Thai food delivered. YUM!!!

      We are making do with hotdogs.

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    3. I'm making sloppy joes. And steamed broccoli. and canned corn. yeah.

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  28. Oy...after 7pm and the only words in my document are the date and scripture references from the Lectionary....going to be a late night here, I'm afraid.

    I am starting to get some ideas going, though, and I think I am going to begin by talking about prophets and prophecy -- what it/they are and aren't--since our OT readings for the rest of Pentecost (on track 1 anyway, which I have committed to) come from various prophets. Hoping this won't turn into a dead end...

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    1. Sometimes in the summer, especially when we are using track one, I just preach on the book (usually OT) itself and do a history lesson placing the day's reading in the context of the entire book....people actually like it, instead of being bored...

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    2. I did it one year with tbe book of Genesis - so many good stories to put in context of the entire book. And last year I did with the series of Samuel books...that was good too.

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    3. That's sort of where I am heading.....with the idea this week that what can take away from the prophets is a great knowledge of what God is like...this week compassionate and loving (echoed in the gospel).

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  29. Kids in bed early (and asleep. Whew. Several weeks of not-enough-sleep were taking their toll. Mostly on me).

    Sitting down to get to work. I guess I should open that blank document, huh?

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    1. Yay Esperanza! I hope you have a peace-filled and productive night!

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  30. Fighting a summer cold and an ear infection. I have drugs as of Thursday afternoon but they are slow in working...and it seems a very tenacious cough has taken residence as well.

    Working the "12 Summer of Sunday's Series" and this week it is 11 Brothers

    As I was scanning the comments...rhubarb caught my eye...I think that helps a cough...right?????

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    1. Oh my, feel better. I had awful crud like that twice last fall....caused me to rethink my diet and exercise and vitamins. Not sure if what I did made any difference, but I have been feeling better. Coincidence? Maybe...regardless hope the meds work and you feel much better!

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    2. One Sunday, my cough had been quiet until I got up to start church. At prayer time I asked anyone who had a cough drop to send it up in the offering plate. I got a pocket full!

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    3. Liz, that is hilarious. I have to remember that.

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  31. Purple- Greetings and healing thoughts from the land of purple. Every time I see a KU mascot ( which is every other house and car!) I think of you. Hope you feel better soon!

    Celeste

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    1. Thanks Celeste...I'm watching my alma mater play some baseball this evening.

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  32. Thai food has been eaten, and it was delicious. Unfortunately, still no sermon. Must. Write. Something...

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    1. You mean the spice did not inspire the spirit? dang. I hope the Spirit speaks and the words flow.

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  33. Hi, everyone.
    We're back from the big trip to Maine for LP's graduation, and I have been revising a draft of a sermon written in three segments over the past week. It's my least favorite way to write, and although the other resident preacher says it's good stuff, I'm unconvinced. I still don't really know this congregation, so every sermon feels like a shot in the dark.
    I'm going to fiddle around with it a little more. Anyone have time to read it?

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    1. sure. texasesperanza at hotmail

      Productive and helpful procrastinating. What could be better?

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  34. I have elected to work with a sustainable sermon from 3 years ago. It was the first sermon after an extended break (a move, and a baby...just over a year of no preaching). I was still nursing said baby and thought that I was getting enough sleep to be a coherent preacher.

    Ah...not really. And clearly out of practice. This one needs some work.

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    1. But sometimes it is really nice to take what once seemed like a good idea and turn it into one!

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  35. I no doubt will do so Terri. Had I thought of the clip before doing up the bulletin it would have worked its way into the commissioning

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  36. Calling it a night over here. Hopefully I'll get some catch-up sleep too.


    The structure of the sermon was fine, but there was a LOT of awkward phrasing and incomplete thoughts. Fixed that stuff, I hope.

    Good night everyone! May your thoughts and words flow smoothly, with the power of the Spirit.

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    1. Sleep well, Esperanza....sending peace-vibes your way.

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    2. hahahaha. I shouldn't have jinxed myself that way. Been up once with each crying kid. Almost had to get the nebulizer for one. Sigh. Daddy can't come home soon enough.

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  37. okay, I have a sermon. It's a tad bit long and may not be as coherent as I'd like, but it's at least preachable. I'll edit in the morning.

    of course, today has put me behind on JuNoWriMo again. I have no idea when I'm going to catch up on that. Good thing no one needs to ever read or hear that piece of writing. ha.

    I wish I could get someone to deliver ice cream. Though I know that would be a huge downfall if it really existed, I still want it anyway. LOL.

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    1. I have ice cream. I'll share. I have all kinds, cherry vanilla? chocolate mint? a cookie dough something or other?

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  38. Welp. I put all the sermon parts into a pot and let them simmer while I got some shabbes shemesh (sun) and took a nap. When I came back all the parts had separated out into layers - I was expecting a rich stew. So I'm - since I can't actually cook the metaphor is falling apart like the sermon - I'm reassembling parts into a whole. (Like Frankenstein?). Like what I have decided to keep but not ready to throw out the rest. Fortunately it's just 4 pm here.

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    1. Wil, I hate it when that happens. Thankfully yes, it is only 4pm there...here it's after 10 and past my Saturday night bedtime...

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    2. But my....some sun and beach sound nice in this chilly Midwest area

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    3. I've decided God is calling me to do what I'm preaching about: believe that God can take meager fare and transform it!

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  39. I'll be 99, my best to everyone. Youth and YA are doing most of service so I just have a little piece. TBTG.

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  40. I'm SO stuck. I've just over 1000 words written, but it's not really saying anything. I got to that point by lunchtime today and I thought I'd get up and move to try and get some new ideas circulating, but now that I'm getting back to it: nothing.

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    1. So, that's usually when I decide to do a teaching kind of sermon and talk about the book of the Bible (Gospel? OT?)and so long as I don't do this very often people usually appreciate learning something more about the book - it's historical context? or some take on it like that...a Bible study sermon. I even ask questions and get the congregation involved.

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    2. Thanks. I usually have some teaching in my sermon, and THAT is what is written. It's the pastoral bits that are more difficult to come by today. I'm working with both OT and Gospel and want to say that God/Christ meets us in the depths of despair, to bring about healing and wholeness - even if it doesn't always look like what we read in scripture. Maybe I'll do something around questions, and congregational involvement though, that's something I don't do much. :)

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    3. There's a Mary Oliver poem that goes like this


      “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

      ― Mary Oliver

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  41. Well,it's been great to party with all y'all. I will keep each of you in my prayers this night and through tomorrow as you break open the word.

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  42. It seems like I show up here with a blank page later and later every weekend! I hope this doesn't mean it's about time I find a different writing strategy. So far, I don't think it's actually hurting my sermon quality, but I can imagine it will. Family life is picking up the pace on weekends as my kids get older. Today we were at a youth triathlon (or occupied by it as I was one of the organizers) all day. My kids "tri"-ed their little hearts out!!! So fun.

    Now I'm here to get my thoughts in order for my sermon about our second core value that was approved as a part of our recent transformation process. I'm using Deuteronomy 6 and Mark 10 (the v. 13 children part, not the verse 11-12 divorce part!) to preach "We value children!" I think I'll work some of the blog post that went kinda viral (viral for church-y blog posts anyway) - - - the one written to the parents of young children - - - into the sermon, but I don't want it to stay there or I'll lose some of my older folks. It titled this one from the Mark passage, but instead of the usual "Let the little children come" I went with the "Do not stop them" where the "them" can be the little children or the "people" (parents?) who are bringing them. We value children by supporting their parents, too.

    So, I need to get this thing organized, then head to bed, then get up to write it in the morning. A good long hymn sing will help, too! :)

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    1. Stephanie, I have a message that I wrote on this topic back in January, if it will help...more than just to the parents, it was to the whole of the congregation...

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    2. It's <a href="http://acupandaprayer.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/growing-in-god/>here</a> if you want it...

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    3. I was able to pull it out of the first one. ;)

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    4. Hey, good to know! It's late and my html coding skills degrade after 10pm (I know, I know, not a very good geek).
      Hope it's helpful!
      The story of the little boy "breaking the bread" was told to me by my sister whose pastor told it to her...he explained that that was the moment that *he* changed *his* mind about allowing children to receive communion before the "age of reason". I love it!

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  43. Thanks! I just started going poking around for it. I'm not too worried about the whole thing, but having something to bounce off of never hurts!!!

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  44. Sermon outline done. Not even midnight. I'm going to head to bed and come back in 6 hours or so and write it out. Peace.

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  45. Very late to the party, and wondering of the missing part of my sermon had mysteriously posted itself here. Alas, no. I have a cool visual presentation for our family service about Paul and following his example of spreading the good news wherever we go (playing off the start of vacation time). However, it needs more intro and meat to use it at the other two services, and all I have is a little side dish. 11:00 PM :-(

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  46. Stephanie, hope it all comes together this morning. That would be very hard for me to do, leave the writing until morning, even though that is the best time for me to write.

    Betsy, I hope you found the beef....(Wasn't there a fast food commercial with the slogan, Where's the beef?").....Someone once told me that some sermons are like a brunch but sometimes it's just cereal...regardless people are fed...

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    1. Thanks, Terri. It's been my normal so long now, I don't know a different way. I used to start writing before bed but I wrote much slower than I needed to and got less and less sleep, not to mention worse and worse quality of sleep because I'd rethink what was written and keep writing mentally while trying to fall asleep. It was bad. I changed up my routine a little a few years ago to demand a midnight bedtime for me (sometimes it stretches all the way until 1:00 a.m. if I'm on a roll or if I'm stuck). To do that and to sleep well, I go to bed with a solid outline. If disaster struck and I overslept or something, I could probably preach from that outline well enough. I'm glad that's never happened, though. The flow, the arguments, the transitions are all laid out, I just get up to put the words between it all. It feels nuts sometimes, but most of the time it's just the way it is. Where I've been slipping is with getting some of the ideas and initial outline stuff down in a document or with pen an paper sometime before Saturday even. Lately I've been sitting down at the computer with nothing written down, jotted, or tucked away anywhere but in my brain, and I don't like that feeling. I like having something to start with on Saturday night other than the direction I chose earlier in the week. Oh well. Almost done. Back to it!

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  47. Well, it's almost 7am here, time to head off to church. End of the year picnic and celebrating life transitions; graduates from High School and College, and four families who are moving this summer, and blessing a marriage, and thanking our Christian Formation Leaders!

    Prayers for each of you as you break open the word!

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