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Saturday, July 13, 2013

11th Hour Preacher Party: Who's Your Neighbor? Edition


Our congregation is celebrating a summer of favorite things, and I'm preaching each week about a favorite thing of mine, inspired by the lectionary gospel text.  This week's favorite thing: "Neighbors"!  What's not to like about having good neighbors? What are the challenges of being a good neighbor?

I offer you this true-story illustration:  

One Sunday, 25+ years ago, I had a minor, yet debilitating, vehicle malfunction as I was passing a restaurant where many of my fellow church members went after church for dinner.  I had a six year old daughter in the car with me, and I was eight months pregnant. In July. In Dallas, Texas.  

In the mid-1980s, there were no cellphones.  So, I took the six year old and went into the restaurant to look for a pay phone to call for help.  I made several phone calls to some phone numbers I could remember.  I could not find anyone who could come and help us out.  

One such futile phone call was to my own church, where I was a layperson, and where I had just worshipped minutes before.  There was a mission committee meeting in progress. The committee member I spoke with said no one could come until after the meeting ended!

I was holding back tears -- and hungry -- with no money.  During this whole time, I thought I could see church members eating at tables in the restaurant.   Without staring, I couldn't be certain. And I didn't want to interrupt their meal with my woes.  Several of them -- days later -- asked me if I was having some trouble there that day. They had wondered if maybe something was wrong. 

While I stood in the restaurant lobby -- in full view of concerned church members -- trying to figure out what to do, a stranger approached and asked if we needed help.  After a short conversation, he offered to give us a ride back to church.  We gratefully accepted his offer.  

Who's been a good Samaritan to you?  
How will you make this story relevant to your world in 2013?  
Or are you using a different story/text altogether?

Welcome to the Preacher Party!  

Gather 'round, cyber-neighbors and preacher-friends!

Let's work out sermons and worship elements and to have some fun.  

There's always plenty of Fair-Trade coffee -- hot or iced -- or share your own summer beverage of choice.  

This is a great place to meet new friends, ask tech questions, share an idea, ask for prayer, &/or just check in with an anecdote or some inspiration.  

Ready . . . Set . . . Write on!

102 comments:

  1. It's Saturday lunchtime here, and time to really settle into writing. My husband and co-pastor leaves tomorrow morning at 7am for an eight day silent retreat in a neighbouring territory. He is busy leaving things ready for me to try and make the week as easy as possible.

    I am thinking about neighbours as a relationship that doesn't go one way. That the point of the story isn't that we go around helping people, but that being a neighbour also opens us to the possibility of receiving help (self-sufficiency is not a Gospel value!). And that neighbourliness isn't all about the helping either. I was struck when listening to a podcast of an interview with Father Gregory Boyle when he talked about service as the hallway - but ultimately we belong in the ballroom together celebrating as equals. So clearly I need to move beyond random thoughts and into some writing that might help this all become a bit more coherent.

    Current plan is to listen to that part of the podcast again while making some paper houses for the children's talk tomorrow (who are the red house's neighbours? We don't just have neighbours etc).

    It's peach season here - help yourself - there's some with very pretty rose pink flesh in the bowl right now.

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    1. Good morning -- or rather, afternoon -- Jemma.

      "Self-sufficiency is not a Gospel value" is a gem of a sermon nugget. Thanks!

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    2. Sharon, I may have overused that phrase as I have young adults who tell me their woes and then say, with a sigh, and a roll of their eyes before I even say much of anything, "I know, I know, self-sufficiency is not a Gospel virtue!" I guess it has to be held in tension with their need for individuation, but I also like to tell them that appropriately asking for help is an important adult skill (even if many adults have not yet developed it fully!)

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  2. Replies
    1. Yeah. I haven't ever told it in a sermon.

      I will tuck in here the additional pain that the chair of that mission committee was my (now) ex and the father of that unborn child. (sigh)

      Big fear: Now I am a pastor and "The Good Samaritan" is as well-known as any gospel story. I have preached on it a few times over 20 years.

      What if we still don't get it?
      What if I still don't get it?
      How many ways do we revere the idea of neighbor and still not do being the neighbor?
      What if the highest expectation that people have of church life -- and their own discipleship -- is that they will get s "feel good fix" on Sunday so they can make through another week?

      Better stop there . . . for now . . .

      I actually have a GOOD story about a church that did get it. Blog story calling!

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    2. Gosh, that's awful. Awful. I am so sorry.

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    3. Thank you, Robin.

      This (apparently) is what it looks like to be facing the big 6-0 birthday. I spend more time lately wondering what has been accomplished, what is left to accomplish, what really matters, and what (if anything) works.

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    4. I know, It really was. Thanks, Martha.

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    5. Same birthday coming up here; same thoughts.

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    6. Sharon, thank you for sharing such a poignant and painful story. You have such an incredible gift of hospitality... makes me wonder if you've always been that way or if this story (and others) might have prompted you to be the opposite of what you experienced. Thanks for being you.

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  3. We have guests coming tomorrow to speak about a Presbyterian school in Liberia recently founded by a church in OH smaller than ours! So I get to read the gospel and say something about neighborliness as relationship a la Jemma and sit down.

    I've got black raspberries to share this morning :)

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    1. In the tradition of Jesus himself, the story speaks for itself. Nice, Robin!

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  4. Sharon, you are such a gift.

    Thanks to your example (and Martha retelling it to me) I think I'm going to read the Luke text up to where Jesus is about to tell the story and then tell modern day illustrations over and over again, then end with the Gospel.

    It's summer. Why not?

    We'll see how it reads after I piece it together.

    Fresh fruit and bagels to share...

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    1. Thanks for receiving. Your kindness means a lot, Kathryn. I don't often put that story out there.

      I love your sermon idea! If Jesus did it with a story, there might be something to that way of teaching. =)

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    2. Kathryn - I really like that idea. Now where to collect the stories?

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  5. I'm at a continuing ed event but still preaching on Sunday. (sometimes you 'save' a Sunday for something else and that is the case here).

    This week in #6...six stone jars a la John 2. I told a wedding story, a reading from an Iona book, and ended another wedding story from Fiddler on the Roof. It needs a little editing but mostly good to go.

    I am trying to walk every morning at this event...the chef and his staff prepare the most amazing buffets and then there is the dessert table. I am sure there is still some of the 7 layer chocolate cake left over from last night if anyone wants an early morning chocolate fix.

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    1. Love those "saved" Sundays, Purple.

      "Mostly good to go" is worth celebrating. Yea, you!

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  6. Good morning all!
    Sharon, such a powerful story. Kzj- true story- car full of seminarians slightly late for a conference, passed a woman whose car had stopped at the intersection of a busy road. We had enough people to have pushed her to a safer place. But we were late and she had a cell phone... I still remember we didn't stop to help though we made " good Sam" jokes the rest of the drive.

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    1. Celeste, I have those stories, too, about missed opportunities to be the neighbor. Interesting how hard they are to forget when linked to a Jesus story.

      There must be something about this story that makes it show up in Sunday School from the time we were toddlers. I wonder if that's still the case today?

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    2. Malcolm Gladwell (either in The Tipping Point or in an interview he did at the same time--or both) talks about a study which showed that the sense of being in a rush has a large impact on whether we stop to help or not. I referenced that study on my blog this week and will talk about it in my sermon tomorrow examining why we don't stop...

      You can read about the study here. It used seminary students

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    3. Thanks, Gord, for adding this.

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  7. Good morning preachers. Thinking about Amos here...partly because I like Amos and we've been talking prophets this summer and partly because I don't think I can say anything fresh about the Good Samaritan right now. Not sure where I'm headed with Amos though...felt more inspired earlier in the week so hoping that comes back.

    Woke up feeling sluggish. I need to go run but I feel entirely unmotivated. But it is a reasonable temp outside now and this may the last day for a while when that happens....

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    1. Welcome, RDM!

      Praise God for the Amos option, right?

      See you later, I hope, after the fun run.

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  8. Good morning friends!
    My espresso is brewed and I am working on the sermon before I pack for the Presbyterian Youth Triennium. Will leave after worship to head to Purdue for that.

    I'm preaching Good Samaritan, somehow for the first time. And am focusing on the verb aspect of being the neighbor, rather than the geography of where would my neighbor live. It is not just a physical proximity, but is sacrificial action.

    I'm going to reference this story.

    http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9454322/why-stayed

    It is about an ESPN producer who met some inner city kids doing a story and couldn't walk away after the story was aired. Get out your kleenex.

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    1. Hi there, Marci!

      I hope you will bring back, and share, some stories from the Triennium.

      "Sacrificial action": yes!

      Taking tissues to go watch the video.

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    2. Wow.
      Read this even if you don't think you're going to use it for a sermon.

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    3. Marci-
      4 of our kids and our youth leader will be at Triennium. They are so excited! Tomorrow is our big commissioning service and celebration.

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    4. If you use the official commissioning service, I wrote it!

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    5. Oh my goodness, that espn story will preach all by itself.

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    6. I just want to show that clip instead of preaching

      Sarah

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    7. What a humbling and inspiring story. Thank you so much for sharing, Marci!

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  9. Good morning! Today is Dairy Days - the biggest event in one of the small communities I serve. So I will spend the day going to rummage sales, a community meal, an ice cream social, a street dance, capped off by the best fireworks! What a sacrifice! Seriously though, it's a full day of being on call for pastoral care. There's fun to be had, but it's work too.

    I had hoped to have my sermon done before now, but I feel like the robbers have beaten me up and stolen my sermon-mojo. The Good Samaritan is really kicking my butt!

    I do have a sermon I could use, but I really wanted to do more storytelling. I like kathyrnzj's idea of telling a series of stories - can I consider the stories shared here fair game?

    In the meantime, I'm still searching my faulty memory archives for an example from my own life.

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    1. Ramona, the stories shared here are fair game. Go for it!

      Wishing you a a speedy and potent return of your sermon-mojo.

      Let us know how it's going.

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    2. Ramona, here's another one I'm playing with...

      Elizabeth Smart was taken from her home on June 5, 2002 by a mentally challenged drifter who had spent time working on the family’s home. For nine months she was marched around the area where she was taken and even though her pictures were everywhere – taped to light posts, in every storefront window and she was on the news every day for months – non one saw her.

      From August to October they walked through the neighborhood. They wore white robes, and the women had their heads covered and veils across their faces so that only their eyes showed. People saw them… they were used to seeing him – a known homeless man, or maybe a crazy fundamentalist, definitely a loser - better to avert their eyes.

      Just months after Elizabeth was abducted a police officer approached her in the public library and asked to unveil her face. Her abductor informed the detective that it was against his religion to allow anyone to see his wife’s face… the detective walked away.

      In February they had made their way to California and her abductor was arrested… for robbing a church. He was released.

      In March, nine months after her abduction, a biker drives past the party of three and calls the authorities who make an arrest and set Elizabeth free.

      What do you think? Which one of these… was a neighbor?

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    3. Thanks! I'm adding that one to my collection.

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  10. Here are some links that might help if you're looking for sermon illustrations:
    First, a story Diane Roth shared three years ago - Chris Hedges and How to Save a Life;
    Second, on a lighter note, a story some used for the Children's message then about some softball players - On Sportsmanship;
    And one more, this time from me, and who knew when I wrote it that the Boston Bomber would be in the news again this week? One Name at a Time - I think the story works even without the bomber angle.
    Can you tell I wish I were preaching this week? I've got a whole set of other thoughts I may blog later in the day, but right now it's time to build a fort with The Boy.

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    1. Fort building... yet another way to be the good samaritan to the sermon writer in the house. :)

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    2. Here's another possible piece to the story pie...

      On April 18, 2010, Guatemalan immigrant Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax came to the aid of a woman being threatened by a man wielding a knife. Tale-Yax struggled with the attacker, but was eventually stabbed and left to die on a Jamaica, Queens (NY) street. The woman and the attacker fled in different directions while he lay bleeding. Video surveillance filmed portions of the attack and its disgusting aftermath.Cameras showed that one man photographed Tale-Yax with a cell phone. Eighteen others saw or walked right past him. All refused to render aid or contact authorities. The closest anyone came to helping was a man who shook the body vigorously, but walked away after seeing the pool of blood. Firefighters arrived fifteen minutes later, but by then it was too late. Police are still looking for the suspect, described as a 5’6” male with a medium build, wearing a green short sleeve shirt and dark pants.

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    3. In the same vein, a story from Hartford, CT, in 2008: Hit and Run.

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  11. The classic Princeton seminary study where seminarians walked past, even stepped over, a person in pain to hurry to preach their sermons on the Good Samaritan, is an interesting way in. One place to read about it is http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2011/06/from-jerusalem-to-jericho-on-hurry.html. Dr Tom Long talks about the impossibility of living up to that story, using a couple of heroic examples as well as that research at http://day1.org/1051-meeting_the_good_samaritan

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    1. They key to that research is that the factor that caused them to hustle over - or not see - the person in need the most, was their busyness. If they were told they were running late, they were most likely to skip over the hurt person or claim they hadn't seen them at all.

      My original sermon title was 'slow down' and I was going to use that illustration as an opening.

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    2. Here's another one for you KJ.

      Heidi Neumark (ELCA pastor) shared this story today. Take and read.

      "I remember one cold, snowy, winter’s morning-- a fond memory in this heat. I was trudging through the snow to church realizing that no one was going to be there to shovel the piles of snow on the sidewalks around our church. The person who usually did it could not get there and there was no plan B. Or rather, I was the plan B. It was a lot of shoveling because our corner building meant two blocks. As I neared the church I saw unbelievably that the job was almost all done. And who was my helper? It was my neighbor- the Pentecostal pastor next door. The pastor who opposed the ordination of women. The pastor who preached hellfire and brimstone. The pastor who refused to join with other clergy in the community to work on social issues because he believed that this earthly city was run by the devil and there was no point in wasting time and energy on that when souls needed saving for the world to come. The pastor I felt theologically superior to. This pastor of the storefront next-door who only would have had to shovel about 10 feet of snow in front of his building had instead chosen to shovel 10 times that amount—for my sake. Which of these do you think was a neighbor?"

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    3. Love this story. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Good Sermon-Writing Saturday, RevGals and Pals!

    Thank you for receiving the above story so graciously and compassionately. As hard as that was that day, what remains mostly is how real is the possibility that, somewhere/sometime, I have been the "star" (villain) of someone else's painful story of being passed by or passed over.

    There was a death in the church Thursday night, so I have a family meeting with them this afternoon regarding arrangements. The "way" here is so different from anywhere I've ever lived that I rely heavily on the Diaconate to help. One of them is meeting me at the house today.

    Getting hot here, so I'm switching from coffee to iced tea. Any variety with any add-ins -- help yourselves!

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    1. That is helpful, Sharon. I'm sure there are many more times I've walked by someone in need than there are times I've stopped to help.

      Actually, I have more experience being the person left for dead on the side of the road, and receiving grace and life from strangers.

      Only rarely am I cast as the Samaritan.

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  13. Another story -

    I found this at Lectionary Tales "Mr. Lyle, a Division I college athlete in New Hampshire, decided to shorten his athletic career for a chance to save a life. The University of New Hampshire senior was told that he was a perfect match for a 28-year-old suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Cameron was told that the patient had only 6 months to live without the transplant. The hope is that the bone marrow donation will extend his life by at least two more years. The young man who needs the transplant was told that chances of finding a non-family match for bone marrow were one in five million!For me this gets right up there with miracle status! Asked about giving up his career when he had a shot at national honors Lyle said, “It’s just a sport. Just because it’s Division I college level doesn’t make it any more important. Life is a lot more important than that, so it was pretty easy. It was kind of a no-brainer. You can’t measure life against anything. When you have an opportunity to save someone, you gotta go for it.” The procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital is no easy thing. Lyle reported, “Basically they’re putting needles in my pelvis between one and two hundred times, taking all the bone marrow out. So I can’t lift more than 20 pounds for three to four weeks. It took the whole second half of the season out of play for the championships.” In the final throws of his career, last weekend at Stony Brook University in New York, Lyle had a personal best in the hammer and his best toss of the season in the shot put. He cleared out his locker Monday, calling it a “sad” experience. He slept at a hotel in Boston the night before heading to the hospital for an 8 a.m. procedure on Wednesday, April 24, 2013." http://lectionarytales.org/2013/04/26/july-14-2013-luke-1025-37/

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  14. I love these stories. I preached the good samaritan earlier this year as part of another event at church and used the princeton study as an illustration--it can be very powerful.

    This week in the hymn series is "Eternal Father Strong to Save" and "On Eagle's Wings" so I'm using psalms to talk about how God is our rock/fortress/strength/protector/comforter/etc. Main difficulty I have is how to talk about that stuff when there's so much crap going on--a couple new cancer diagnoses, the Trayvon Martin trial, the Boston marathon bomber indictment, the fires in AZ, the oil train explosion in Canada, a long-term job lost, 70 people shot in Chicago over the holiday weekend....and on an on. I don't want this to become a theodicy sermon, so I have to figure out how to just preach straight-up-grace. More challenging for me than it probably should be.

    I'm off to djembe class--leaving early today because I have no idea how I'm going to get there since there is a street festival happening in front of the school, and in their parking lot! Hoping I can find some parking within a reasonable distance to carry an almost-heavy instrument, sans case (the case costs as much as the class, so one thing at a time). I'll be back at dinner time to write something and to serve up delicious kale-based dishes to all who ask. I have an abundance of the leafy greens just now!

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  15. Teri, it is challenging to preach straight-up-grace. Theodicy vs. Grace: The difference between a solving the life (evil happens) problem and living fully and freely in the midst, perhaps?

    Kale, how many ways? Looking forward to the leafy greens buffet for dinner!

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  16. Forgive me for interrupting the sermon-writing flow, but here's a brief announcement...

    Prayer Vigil for Ken & Dorcas George: Sunday, July 14, 6 pm CST

    Join family and friends of Ken and Dorcas George in a virtual prayer vigil for his healing, strength, and courage, and for those who love and support him.

    Many of you know that Ken has been very ill for a very long time with a series of still-undiagnosed ailments. Their church family will be gathering at their Wisconsin home on Sunday evening, and you are invited to join in wherever you are, for as long as you are able. The actual event will be at 6 pm Central time, so please adjust to your local time zone.

    Dorcas is a long-time RevGal and has been through so much in supporting her husband and partner in ministry. Please join me in lifting them both up to the healing love of God. Please share this as you feel appropriate.

    ***

    Now, back your regularly scheduled writing, partying, coffee drinking...etc. xo

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    1. This is a wonderful idea, thanks. I will certainly join in.

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  17. I have a rare Sunday off from pulpit supplying--it's my busy season. Enjoying the day by cleaning the kitchen top to bottom and refereeing toy custody arrangements.

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    1. Sounds like a fun day, esperanza. Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. It's now 2:30 pm and I have neither gone for a run nor written a word. Ugh. For whatever reason I woke up in a dark mood this morning and I've been trying to shake it by...procrastination? Watched as episode of "Chopped," spent some time on FB, read some commentary on this week's readings....that one is useful, potentially at least, ate lunch.

    I've lost my Amos mojo apparently, and I'm rethinking the Good Samaritan after reading a bit of "Conversations with Scripture: The Parables" and the Jewish Annotated New Testament comments on the Good Samaritan and what "neighbor" meant in the Jewish tradition. Now I must write and get this thing done.

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    1. "Chopped" is primo sermon writing procratication activity. Good choice, RDM!

      Let us know how it's going, OK?

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  19. Taking a break from Dairy Days. These town festivals would be more fun if I wasn't the pastor. I feel like I have to be 'on' and to talk to everyone. Oh well - next week, we're going to a festival 4 hours away, and staying with some friends. So I'll get to enjoy myself!

    I've got a good outline and more than enough stories. Now I just need to flesh it out. Thanks everyone for the help!

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    1. Thank you for your help, too, ramona!

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  20. I am at a place where I can pause the writing. I will be away from the computer for a little while making a memorial service preparation visit.

    Keep on! I'll be back in an hour or so . . .

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  21. sorry to be so late to the party today! My whole sermon revolves around the realization that I have more often been the person lying by the side of the road than I have been the Good Samaritan. (and I tell three short, personal stories, to drive home the point.)

    And that the foundation of our ability (or maybe even desire) to reach out to our neighbor is this realization.

    Sharon, thank you for sharing your story. And, all the others, too.

    And I'll be using this little break to pray for Ken and Dorcas.

    I preach an "Early Edition" at 5:00 tonight.

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    1. Many blessings upon you this evening, Diane.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  22. Well, after more procrastination, I have a draft. It's not as different from my previous GS sermons as I might like, but it will have to do for now.

    And woot, it's a barely 6pm. I was really worried this was going to be an all nighter.

    Need to go print the PoP and then reread. Back later. Hope the Holy Spirit is doing her thing!

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    1. Well done, RDM!

      I have it on Good Authority that you can most definitely count on the Holy Spirit. She's as dependable as She is awesome!

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  23. Kathryn and Sharon - thank you for getting my engine going. Sermon is two paragraphs from completion. Couldn't have done it without you. Glad I didn't have to try.

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    1. It's a pleasure, Rev. H.

      Hearing that you are that close gives me some incentive to hop to it!

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    2. You're welcome. Thanks for offering to coem ove rhere and do the children's sermon for me tomorrow.

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  24. I'm actually going to talk about Deuteronomy along with the merciful neighbor story. Theme: in what way is the "commandment" a blessing? Telling this story of my great-uncle- consider the setting two white men in their 30s and two teenage Native Americans in the 1950s in rural North Carolina. This is how my dad told it to me a few weeks ago, following my uncle's death:

    Sometime in the ’50s, Uncle Max and Cousin JE Dunlap went to Fayetteville to help JE’s sister on some project, maybe a move or building a porch. On the way home by way of Raeford, they came upon a couple of teenage Indian (Native American) boys selling watermelons. They stopped and discussed the virtue and price for a few moments before JE remarked what a nice farm it was and if they owned it, angling toward an invitation to come bird hunt. One of the boys said, “Mister, these watermelons are the only thing we have in this world.” Max and JE bought them out without further negotiation.

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  25. I titled my sermon after Mister Rogers, "Won't you be my neighbor?" But the inspiration I was feeling as I wrote it is dim. Wonderful batch of stories referenced here as grist for the mill.

    My story of being rescued by "Good Samaritans" was driving to northern Manitoba to teach VBS with 3 other young women. Our van blew a tire, I discovered the spare was flat, the nuts were rusted on, and the tire iron broke when we tried to use it. (even though my husband had taken the van in for a check-up and specifically asked them to check the spare)

    We sat by the side of a deserted Canadian highway for nearly 12 hours (pre cell phone days) before we held hands and prayed together aloud. We had barely uttered "amen" when an old rusty pick-up truck with two big, burly, shaggy men got out. Long story short, they drove us the 200 miles to the next town (crammed in the back of their pick-up cab). We kept praying these unlikely looking rescuers were the "Good Samaritans" that God had sent. We really didn't want to consider any other possibilities.

    I've already shared this story with my congregation, so I won't be using it this time 'round. We're doing a big bluegrass worship tomorrow, so expecting lots of guests. So, the pressure's on!

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    1. Just because it's been told before doesn't mean it can't be told again ... you just admit that some people already know the story because you've told it before and it fits perfectly so you're going to tell it again.

      Sarah

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    2. It's a wonderful story! Because it is your story - and not a generic illustration - I agree that it would be powerful to repeat. The Hebrew Testament does it all the time!

      There are a few others in this thread, too, that might fit for you.

      Many blessings!

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  26. I have returned from an awesome class with a brainwave that this week's and next week's themes are connected--this week I have the god-will-save-you-from-all-harm stuff, and next week I have all the cross hymns. So...this week I go for the power-grace thing, and next week I can say "remember how last week we talked about God's power? well...power is made perfect in weakness." Or something.

    Of course, that doesn't help me get started for this week. I am in need of an opening. As usual.

    For dinner I've decided on baked sweet potatoes topped with kale, black beans, tomatoes, and goat cheese. Come on by.

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    1. Yum, yum, and more yum!

      Raising my (Iced tea) glass to you: "Here's to great beginnings!"

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  27. Why is it that the familiar ones are so hard to tell? I'm about to give up. I have probably 2 sermons - one a telling of the stories shared here today, and the other a rough idea for a dramatic retelling of the Jesus parable. I certainly have enough words for 2 sermons.

    I think my struggle is if I just tell the stories, will the congregation hear the Good News of the Kingdom of God? Or will it just be a bunch of stories that bring warm fuzzies and remind them to love the neighbor. I'm Lutheran and the former seems suspiciously like law (and as one of my profs reminded us - we need to make sure we end with gospel!)

    Sometimes, I wish I didn't pay as much attention in class!


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    1. I share your aversion to warm fuzzies. (What?! Fuzzies is not an approved word? Ha!)

      Right now, I'm hearing Jesus ending with the gospel in the story itself -- that it is good news that Jesus not only instructs us -- but trusts us -- indeed, counts on us -- to "go and do likewise."

      My own ending sounds platitudinous. (It's a word if there are not red squiggly lines, right? Well, there you go!)

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  28. The sermon committee here has determined I'm done. I am reading verses 25-29, then reading these stories:
    Elizabeth Smart
    another story
    The Muslim giving the Christian baby milk
    Sharon's
    Then reading verses 30-37.

    In between each is the refrain: What do you think? Which one of these… was a neighbor?

    Right now this seems great. Tomorrow morning, I'll hate it but it will be too late.

    Thanks Sharon for getting us started and hosting today!

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    1. Thank you, Kathryn, for the stories and ideas you have shared today, especially your sermon idea. Indeed, I like your idea so much that I'm doing the same thing with slightly different stories.

      I am going to do it without Kindle, just Bible for the story.

      For Christmas, I'm going to ask for a sermon committee that lives in my house and builds forts and stuff!

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    2. Thanks to both Sharon and Kathyrn - I used the same format and plugged in some ideas rolling around in my head this week and a few of the stories shared here. Some times sermon writing is a community effort and I am so grateful for the community here!


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    3. Kathryn, I hope you'll remind of this when GS roll around again in three years :)

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  29. After I printed the prayers and checked on things at church I made myself go for a short run. Wow is it muggy outside but I feel so much better. Still have to reread the sermon .... but first some dinner.

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  30. Tweaked and posted here

    I am making a file copy of all the great sermon illustrations shared on the Good Samaritan story.

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    1. There's a great idea, Purple!

      Going to read your tweaked and posted sermon right now.

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  31. I've been out and and about today, but you all are rockin! I am doing Good Samaritan too, but I'm going at it from the viewpoint of the beaten guy...and talking about the importance of receiving help as a neighbor...in addition to giving it.

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  32. Hello, Lea! Great to see you.

    Your idea fits with the myth of self-sufficiency that was mentioned up thread, in case that's helpful.

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  33. True this:

    I was sitting here watching it get darker outside of my office and thinking it was time to gather up stuff and leave by about 9:00 (CST), and I was having trouble finding my keys.

    The church doorbell rings. I'm not expecting anyone to show up here for anything, and -- I kid you not -- I *SERIOUSLY* consider not going to the door. I do look out of the window and discover it's the homeless man that comes by sometimes for food. I also consider not going to the door at this time of the evening/night. Seriously.

    I did go and greet him and he did ask for food. So I got him one of the "manna bags" that our church provides for just such requests -- gallon zip lock with canned meat, fruit, crackers, fruit cups, napkin, water, utensils -- nice!

    I can't believe I actually considered passing by that chance while getting a "Good Samaritan" sermon ready. (sigh)

    I found my keys though!

    This time next week, I will have internet at the apartment, so I can hang out there for the party.

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  34. Now what?

    Does the verdict change anything for you preachers?

    How do you handle this one?

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    1. More than likely in the prayers of the people and I will have to be the one to raise it. Sometimes we have quite a few "joys and concerns" and sometimes none. But never, do those joys and concerns move beyond the bounds of the congregation, family, or community. big...big...big sigh.

      I just may pass out cards with this
      Write a prayer concern for
      1. a personal joy or concern
      2. a community joy or concern
      3. a United States joy or concern
      4. a world joy and concern

      collect them...and read every one of them.

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    2. I imagine that will open it up, Purple. I hope you can let us know how it goes.

      I'm considering a quick meeting of some of the Deacons to see if they want to do something special, some way. Ours is a multi-racial congregation in a gun-violent city. How can we witness to peace?

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    3. I was writing the "so what" portion of my sermon as the verdict came out . . . you know my sermon suggesting that we are supposed to be total fools in the Kingdom of God, seeing all as neighbors. I feel like things exploded. I basically admit my struggle in figuring out how to see both Trayvon Martin AND George Zimmerman as neighbors and suggest that we've got to pray what Anne Lamott calls the greatest prayer—"Help!" trusting that we serve a God who can help us learn how to stand in the tension, seeing one another as the presence of Christ even with the glaring, painful, hideous faults we bear.

      I hate standing before a congregation and saying "guh, I dunno," but guh! I dunno!

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    4. Clearly acting the neighbor would not involve shooting an unarmed kid who looked like a gang member.

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  35. I guess everyone is watching the events unfold on TV or enjoying some post-sermon-writing relaxation. Either way, peace be with you.

    I'm going to pack it up and head out.

    It's been a joy, my friends! Thanks to each of you!

    Prayers for rest tonight and abundant blessings tomorrow.

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  36. I literally finished a sermon on God's protection/power/love...and then turned on the FaceBooks to discover the verdict.

    And now I have no idea what to do. How do I preach a sermon that says that we can trust God's power when the reality is that unarmed teenagers get shot and the shooter walks away? I don't know whether to do a complete re-write, to slip in a couple of lines, or to leave it for the prayers of the people.

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    1. I started typing a response and then I realized I was giving a Wesleyan/Arminian response to a Calvinist question.

      Regardless, your sermon is good enough which is the real question. That is the real answer. And they are lucky to have you as their pastor. :)

      Sarah

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  37. Preachers, I hold you in my heart this morning.

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