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Saturday, November 27, 2010

11th Hour Preachers Party: Only God Knows! (Advent 1A)

(winter sunset somewhere south of Tucson, Arizona, taken by mompriest)

Our text this week have a hint of the apocalypse - of one being taken and one left, of not knowing the day or the hour, of only God knowing what is to come. In many ways these texts have been misused and misunderstood through the ages. And yet for us they usher in the season of Advent.

This is the time of waiting, of the deep dark starless night, of indigo blue, winter,a time of preparing for the Incarnation, of wondering "how will the Christ be born anew in us this year?" Indeed, no one knows the day or the hour when Christ will come and turn our hearts to God.

Some of us are also thinking about the "16 days" campaign, Sixteen Days of Activism to End Domestic Violence which begins on Sunday. For more information go here.

And, as if that were not enough, those of us in the US are finishing our Thanksgiving weekend, a time of feasting and family, and giving thanks for the many blessings of life.

So, a lot on our plates! Where are the texts taking you this week? How is the Spirit speaking into your ponderings and prayers?

Pull up a chair and join our party! We come with coffee and tea. We bring generous hearts of sharing ideas, of helping when one is stuck, of reading your sermon and leaving comments (if that would be helpful), of offering prayer, of being here late at night if that is how your sermon comes together. I have a delicious spread this morning - homemade cinnamon rolls and pumpkin bread with cream cheese icing, apples, pears, and bananas. Join us.


  1. Hi RevGals,

    10.00pm and printing. Tomorrow I am partially off lectionary. Isaiah 2 and Luke 1: 5-25, the story of Zechariah in the temple and Elizabeth. A great monologue form Elizabeth's perspective from Candles and Conifers, an Iona book. looking at hope, and how God's kingdom is so different to our experience it seems hard to even imagine.

    Tomorrow afternoon is our first Messy Church,and we have no idea how many people will be there. so lots of food, craft etc. hopefully the forecast storms don't appear.

  2. oops, forgot the link.Advent Hope

    blessings as you work and I sleep.

  3. My company all leaves after lunch so I won't be doing much sermon work until after that. I'll be back later. I haven't figured out how to work a new car into the lessons. :-)

    Meanwhile, thanks to the embers from last night's fire, this morning's fire is crackling along and warming up a very chilly house.

  4. Hi all,

    Got hazelnut cream coffee to share!

    I'll be on lectionary with Isaiah and Matthew. Yep I'm going there with the apocolyptic text.

    Most years I've spent advent speaking against the hub bub of the season. However I realized that I'm just as deep in it with everyone else. So this year I am going to talk about how the frenzy of the season is really a manifestation of our deepest longings. I hope it preaches.

  5. Good Morning, pearl - messy church sounds awesome! I hope it's fun. And I love the Iona materials for Advent/Christmas and Holy Week/Easter.

    And Good Morning to you Margaret - a fire sounds like a delightful way to begin this chilly morning!

  6. Morning God_Gurll...I think your sermon will preach well!

  7. I wrote last weekend because I wanted to spend the week with friends and pseudo-family...I haven't read it in five days now, so I'm not even sure it's coherent. But it is done! I'll be driving home this afternoon and plan to re-work or edit (or re-write) if necessary this evening. Until then, help yourselves to peppermint candy ice cream, dark chocolate with mint (Divine, of course), and leftover green bean casserole--in no particular order, and at whatever time you feel like eating them!
    And comments, critique, and thoughts are welcome over here. Technically the sermon is on Psalm 122, but Isaiah 2 will also be read (responsively) so that makes an appearance too....

  8. Good Morning Teri, safe travels. I love peppermint ice cream...yum! Will be over shortly to read your sermon,

  9. trying to finish, 1/3 of it written... mostly introductory Mtw stuff. *sigh*

    got unexpected company last night, they are sleeping upstairs. the doggies are running about fully energized fighting over a toy.

    monday a funeral for an adult child of a member, who spent their life in an institution... b/c back in the day folks did not know what "to do" with down's syndrome babies... *sigh*

    feeling the pressure. coffee pot needs a good cleaning, but i've got huckleberry pancakes to share, and lots of turkey to be eaten later! bawaa haaa

  10. Hi, everyone.
    The beauty of being organized a little early is I know all my Advent bulletins are done. The ugly of that is I wrote it all up a couple of weeks ago and I have no idea what I was thinking of when I chose this week's sermon title.
    So I'm hoping that despite this beautiful, sunny day, I will get in touch with what I meant when I chose "In the Darkness." I'm a little sorry I didn't specify Romans instead of Matthew, but I suppose it's not too late to add Romans to the sermon, since I have not written one.single.word.

  11. G'morning all. I have just brewed a fresh pot of fairtrade bolivian coffee. Anyone else need inspiration from the cafe?

  12. Hello all.

    After reading Brian Stoffregen's commentary on Matthew I decided to opt for a tiny hint of his and do Matthew's genealogy (1:1-17), focusing on the women who appear-- Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba.

    I'm actually finished, but am spending the day writing, because I'm doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and, God help me, I have something like 16000 words to write by midnight Tuesday. Eek!

    Here's the last paragraph of my sermon:

    I believe these four women—the woman who achieves pregnancy by trickery, the prostitute who bargains for the lives of her family, the woman who seduces by her innocence and hard work and love of her mother-in-law, and the woman who was raped by a king—these four women take their place in Jesus’ family tree as a sign to us. Though they may seem to be the least likely candidates to be a part of Jesus’ genealogy, they are a sign to us that, with God, nothing is impossible. They are a sign to us that, no matter the brokenness in our own lives, God stands ready to redeem. They are a sign to us that Jesus will take his stand alongside the least and the lost, the sinners and the sinned against. They are a sign to us that the Savior whose birth we await in this Advent season stands ready to save us all. Thanks be to God. Amen.


  13. preaching off lectionary this year during advent...using igniting christmas and advent sermon seeds and preaching the wonder of advent/christmas....different angle for me and hoping it preaches.

  14. "happy writing all!" is what I meant to say...

  15. Magdalene, I love that conclusion and the sermon idea that precedes it.

    Teri, the ice cream and chocolate sound fabulous, even at 8 AM!

    God Gurrill, I may take a run with your idea about the activity of the season reflecting the intensity of our longing. I'm starting out with how much I like predictability and order, and thus how disconcerting I find all the "we don't know when" stuff.

    Just occurred to me that it's ironic that this season of uncertainty is one that my tradition marks with such a clear and definite timeline by means of Advent. Those candles on the wreath are about as much of a countdown as one can get!

    Turkey, turkey soup, cranberry salad, veggies, potatoes...all leftover here, if anyone would like a repeat of Thursday's feasting.

  16. Magdalene, beautiful conclusion, it will preach, sister!

    I've only finished my introduction and some phone calls. Does anyone else have the problem of "suddenly" discovering it's advent and no one is in charge of the advent candles?

  17. Off to the church to set up Advent Wreath and nativity (mostly empty for this week), will have to write later. So far there's been a lot of Advent cleaning, which feels appropriate, if procrastinatory...

  18. Hello everyone
    I am on all weekend as Senior Pastor always visits faraway family for Thanksgiving. So though we are now in the Mitten State to the north where we have been since Wednesday visiting and merrymaking, we are driving south to BigChurch tonight so I can preach at 5:30 on the way home and then go home, unpack the family and turn around and drive back the hour to BigChurch tomorrow morning bright and early. Zoom Zoom!

    We have chosen Advent word themes this year, and this week is Wake! and so I am talking about how we get numb to what the incarnation is about, and what it means to really wake up. Thanks to Robin, I have a great quote about the sometimes painfulness that comes from having to wake up to reality (duly referenced Robin from your Advent blog!). I hope it will all preach. It has all been printed and all is ready. Time for one more game of ping pong!

  19. I'm at church to finish up what I mostly wrote on Wednesday. We are following Ruth in Advent (4 chapters, 4 weeks, bingo!) I'm excited about riffing on fullness and emptiness and letting God turn our hearts toward Bethlehem this season.

  20. Hey everyone! Welcome welcome! I am in the middle of helping my daughter pack for her move tomorrow - so I have not been able to welcome everyone personally - but welcome to the party!

    I continue to take breaks and check in - keep the party going, 'k?

    And, is it time for diet coke?

  21. A little Rock Band to go with all the goodies that have been put out, perhaps? Son #2 and two friends are rockin' out in the other room, and I've realized there is no way I'm writing with that going on (convenient excuse, eh?). From the ridiculous to the sublime, as in half an hour I'll be taking him to his harp lesson...

    Pearl, have you blogged about Messy Church, or would you say more here if you have a chance?

  22. I've got a draft, that may be the manuscript. Kids are leaving in 40 minutes to see Harry Potter, oh dear, should I go?

  23. We've got fresh coffee and plenty of leftover pie! And I'm glad for the leftover turkey as well, which means I don't really need to worry about fixing dinner, since I expect I'll still be working on this text come evening.

    I had a good day of study on Wednesday, but haven't actually written a word yet. Lots of interesting thoughts on mountains and houses and swords and plowshares running around in my head; now's the time to try to get them to march in a straight line, so to speak.

    We don't normally follow the lectionary at our place, but the preacher for whom I'm substituting told me to pick whatever text I want, which is, most of the time, a freedom too far for me. If I were on for all of advent, I think I'd follow this outline, but as this is a one-off sermon, Isaiah it is.

  24. I think my sermon will preach but it has a lame ending. I guess I'll move on to worship and SS prep and come back to it and see if later, a better end comes.
    I skipped the movie BTW. Harry Potter will have to wait.

  25. Finding myself as busy as everyone else, I suggest there is a red/green team and a blue side, and they both have something to say as we wait in advent. These are two different ways to responding to our hope. But they need to connect and learn from each other. For the blue side I use Luther's "I'll plant an apple tree today", but I am trying to find a story to catch the imagination of the red-green team and slooooow them down.

    word verification: desses - those really shortlong items some skinny folks can wear with leggings.

  26. What do you do when you need inspiration? or a rev up? Tea? Coffee?, Walk?
    I'm open to ideas.

  27. I always take a walk when I need inspiration - it almost always works!

    taking a short break from packing to have a diet coke....and thinking it was not so wise to turn on the automatic oven cleaner while also packing up a kitchen = way too hot in there....sigh

  28. for those curious about messy church

    I will try and remember to blog on how it goes today.

  29. Oh, dear. I'm hardly any further along than I was three hours ago, and I feel a sore throat coming on! Hitting the vitamin C hard and praying it doesn't get significantly worse between now and showtime tomorrow.

    (word verification: herful)

  30. seriously. met w/funeral fam. made sure houseguest is comfy. doggies begging to be walked... but my sermon is meh meh bleah.

    better have a cup of tea,
    then walk dogs,
    then heat up leftovers.
    perhaps some down time this evening?

    oh a gal can dream...

  31. looks like there is need for much inspiration today/night....shall we all go out for walks? And then see what happens - my dogs would certainly appreciate it...

    or, is it too late for a walk and we need to go for some tea and dark chocolate?

  32. Oh boy. These last few days have been doozies. A bad digestive ailment got me right after Thanksgiving and I'm still weak, wobbly, and achy. Fortunately I wrote some introductory thoughts down earlier this week. Going with Matthew and some contrasting words about preparing for Christmas vs. preparing for Christ.

    I'll pass on the food offerings, but have ginger ale to share. :)

  33. Pearl, thanks for the Messy Church link; that is so cool! Prayers for yours to be a wonderful gathering of community and love.

  34. It is 8 PM here and I have to say I am feeling really blocked up. I've done some reading, studied, brainstormed pieces. But I just don't have any idea where this "HOPE" themed sermon is. Been following a tragic story from my hometown and officiated a funeral this morning. Guess I'm a little emotionally drained.

    A little comedy TV perhaps...or some sleep. I HOPE this sermon shows up soon! Add me to the list of those needing some inspiration!

  35. Rough draft finished. I dropped Matthew altogether. Hope the congregation won't notice me not reading it even though it's in the bulletin.

    I've included a snippet of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" to illustrate the longing for peace, harmony and love. Please stop by here and let me know if it preaches.

  36. Believe it or not, Lifetime Movies are getting me into the Christmas Spirit...and it is only in the Spirit of the season that I seem to be able to find the "HOPE" I was looking for.

    There are sermon seeds in there - PTL!

  37. Checking out my draft from late Monday night. The intervening days have involved lots of Thanksgiving and family but way too little sleep. Two babies--one teething, one sick--in unfamiliar beds has led to a very tired mama.

    Thankfully, my draft is better than I remembered. Or perhaps I am not so picky this late in the week! I'm off lectionary for a pulpit supply gig (my last of 2010, barring something unforeseen). Working with the idea of waiting and hoping being intertwined and each necessary to the other. Isaiah 11 is the primary text.

    We have a bunch of very ripe pears to share. They are delicious, and we need some help eating them before it's too late!

  38. Esperanza, so sorry about the lack of sleep...I'm sure the sermon will be just what the folks need to hear...

    but also, I made a pie with apples, pears, and cranberries...which is delicious. Or if you don't want to make pie, trying cooking the apples, pears, and cranberries with a little butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice...and scooping it over ice cream...that's one way to use up ripe pears!

  39. Both of those sound really good. And I think I have a pie crust in the freezer that my mom left. Hmm....oh right. Sermon.

  40. You know those figures about giving, how 15% of people give 85% of the budget or something like that? Well, I think the proportions apply to my sermon: 15% of the sermon (the end) takes 85% of my time! I wrote most of it pretty easily, but I'm dragging on the ending, and the last two sentences or so--which is all I really need at this point--are taking forever.

    Turkey soup, anyone?

  41. Turkey soup sounds just right for my stomach as it slowly gets back to normal...thanks Betsy. :)

    Well, no progress on the sermon, but I did write my candlelighting reflection thingy and got caught up on Facebook. Multiple times. That introduction from earlier in the week is decent, but not really exactly right.

    Glad folks out there seem to be either finishing up, or getting things in hand for tomorrow...

  42. Teri,

    Thanks for the feedback. I changed the last paragraph and it seems to flow better.


    the word verification is fangoas. I can't put it in a sentence but it tickles my funny bone nonetheless.

  43. God_Gurll, you're welcome. Oh, and that word verification is a silly beast...seems to have a kind of intuition sometimes....

    Anyway, I've enjoyed hosting this party with all of you. It's not really late here but I have to be up early tomorrow to help my daughter move...yeah, no preaching gig for me, I'm doing the mom thing.

    I will keep you all in my prayers this night and tomorrow - may the Spirit speak through your words and have your back in all ways.

    I'm leaving out the pie (apple,pear, cranberry and pumpkin, along with tea - so help ourselves - and last one up get the lights, 'k?)

  44. She Rev, where are you? It's your hour of the evening...

  45. I think her sermon is all done! Since she didn't preach it from last week...but she said she had to tweak hmm...yeah, where is she?

  46. I knew there was a reason I tend to have a tub-soak on Saturday night. I get sermon ideas.

    I am going to start the sermon by asking who has ever been afraid of the dark. then talk about light vs dark, transitioning into day vs. night and how we know when day has come. Then we get to hope, which is one metaphorical use of daybreak (and also the first candle of Advent).

    To close the sermon time I am going to invite the congregation to discuss these questions amongst themselves (an experiment, we'll see how well they buy in to that idea) They won't have time toatalk about all three but I figure if they have three alternatives they will be touched by one of them.....right?

  47. Reporting in to say that despite various family distractions (happy ones!), I finally have a sermon, In the Darkness. And now I am off to bed! Write well, or sleep well, depending on where you are in the process.

  48. G_G - - I LOVE your idea about the frenzy manifesting our longings. I LOVE it! Can't wait to read. Well, maybe I can. I'm reading the posts in order even though it's 9:00 p.m.

    Magdalene - - I'm going to read the geneaology and preach from it on Christmas Eve. Tossing out the traditional reading of Luke this year. We'll see if I have a job come January. (Kidding, mostly) Or at least preach from its existence - - who is included, what does that say about from where the baby comes, and for whom the baby is born.

    Oooo! Rev Irrev, I like what you're doing, too!!

    Lots of fun ideas over here. I am thankfully not really writing a sermon tonight. Last week we had a nasty ice "event" Saturday night in to Sunday morning so the only people who made it to church were the folks with "jobs" - - choir, bell choir, nursery attendents, etc. With less than half the usual worshiping congregation on what was supposed to be our big stewardship push, I decided not to preach my sermon and save it for this week. This week is a holiday week, so we'll still be low, but at least not as low as last week. I hope.

    So, tonight's task is only taking out the SLIGHT Christ the King references and putting in SLIGHT Advent 1 references. It has meant a sort of shortening of my Advent season to some extent since I will mostly lose this week to the stewardship theme, but oh well. You gotta do what you gotta do.

  49. I'm trucking along...894 words...most of them usable, I think!

    Stubborn headache will not quit.

  50. Hee hee!!! I'm here! That post I left not too long ago was actually written a couple of hours ago, but I forgot to post it. Since then I have played way too much Monopoly, Angry Birds, and a dumb restaurant game all on the iPad. Ahhh...we knew it couldn't just be used for good!

    I think I'm trying to hard to tweak what I should just let stand as it was written last week. I'm going to give it a real try here for about 20 minutes and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. I don't want to overwork it just to make it fit Advent when it really wasn't written for Advent.

    Know what I mean, Vern?

  51. Wow-ee-wow-wow. Where was I this week when got a makeover? Niiiiiiice.

  52. Yeah, I also was taken by surprise when I went to textweek. Looks nice!

    Done. I don't think it quite conveys the intensity I want at the end, so I'll have to pray my voice and presence do that. Prayers for the same for all of you; the Holy Spirit has our back.

  53. 2 AM some sleep. Have scripture introductions done. Now to write the succinct, on-target, get Advent off on the right foot, meditation.

    I think I need a slice of that pie first!

  54. 7.00pm Sunday evening and just back from Messy Church. A lot of fun, and some people from church had friends and family come as well - which is the idea.

    It was fun, slightly chaotic, highly organise, but also flexible. 45 minutes of craft want really fast. in fact the only slow part was at 4.00pm, waiting to see if anyone would turn up other than the Messy Church team.

    if you are interested in something like this, check our the Messy Church website. we had a group of four organising this, and about 15 people on deck for the setting up, running and cleaning up. I doubt we could have done it with less. the craft was all pre-cut, thanks to some people at church who couldn't be her today and wanted to be part of it.

    we are only running once a quarter, just because of the planning and time commitment.

  55. Whew. I grabbed maybe five hours of sleep in there, then finished up with 1131 words. Not the way I wanted to finish, but hey, it's done and I can sleep and recover in the afternoon.

    Pearl DU, glad Messy Church went well!

    Hope everyone else is finished!

    Blessings on all pondering, preaching and proclamation today.


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