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Friday, June 03, 2011

11th Hour Preacher Party: Looking for Inspiration

We use projected artwork in our worship service each week and this week posed a problem. I'm going the Ascension route instead of Easter 7, and the pictures are... well... I don't know.

Too much.

Too floaty.

Too feet-y. (OK, this Dali one isn't as bad as the others)

So, the artwork isn't going to be my inspiration this time around. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't, but with the Ascension it just couldn't be for me. The depiction are more literal than I can look at without snickering. Instead I'm finding inspiration in the season. Summer is upon us. Vacations are coming (or unpaid leaves if your spouse works for the state government in The State Next Door). Road trips are upon us. "Are we there yet?" we hear in my car and thousands like it across the country. "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" sounds an awful lot the same to me.

Where are you finding your inspiration this week? What images (visual, verbal, or experiential) are calling your sermon out of you?

Join the party in the comments and share from what is offered. All are welcome here!


  1. usually I lurk, but tonight I'll go first. Just returned from a week of vacation and to an outline I wrote out before vacation. I want to pump out a crappy first draft so tomorrow won't be so painful.

    Preaching on Acts 1:1-14...the ascension. Sermon title is Hello and Goodbye...I ripped it off from Scott Hoeze's text notes from 2009 at Calvin Seminary's preacher web site. The Ascension is both a goodbye to Jesus post-Easter incarnate and a hello to the presence of Christ at the right hand of the father (ala Apostle's Creed)...a goodbye to time spent in jerusalem, and a hello to the presence of the Holy Spirit and preparation for Pentecost and the journey to come. I will probably work in something about our mission trip comissioning which will happen later on in the service. Also ruminating on the fact that in Germany and the Netherlands Ascension Day is a holiday...yet, for us Americans we barely celebrate it nor know what to do with it...wonder what Hallmark chotchke's we might see?

    I have plenty of coffee! Blessings to all those ruminating and listening for the Spirit!

  2. Lost in 1 Peter, late to dinner, entranced by this text I've never grappled with before. Going to bed hoping my dreams include the little evils we encounter and inflict. Meanwhile choking on the ash of the Arizona fires.

    Suz, take you up on the coffee tomorrow morning.

  3. I have been on retreat for 4 days this week, then at a meeting yesterday and this morning. I decided to concentrate on the Acts reading, and thinking about being a witness. I did write some notes at the retreat for this Sunday, but looking again, it is a series of questions – now to turn it into something approaching a sermon rather than a meditation.
    It is 5.45 pm, and I have just noticed that Sister Act is on TV at 7.30 pm - can I write a sermon and cook dineer by then???

  4. done! though the movie will now be half over. At least I should get an early night.


    There is dark chocolate and I am about to boil the kettle. can I get you anything?

  5. I'm up even earlier than the too-early-for-a-Saturday-morning alarm, my body won't let me go back to sleep for those few more moments of sleep before dropping the older kid off for the SAT.

    The text for the sermon this week is Acts 1:1-14. I've chosen to use the extended play version since Easter 7 & Ascension are the same except for shifting the beginning and ending points.

    If I can fit it into the day, I think I'll get helium filled balloons for children's time. We'll let them go and watch them ascend all the way to the high peak of the sanctuary ceiling.

  6. Good morning, friends. I have one more dance with the Gospel of John on my card, 17:1-11. There's been a lot of love at my congregation the last 4 weeks, at least coming from the sermon, and I think this is leaning towards divine love over divine power and us as beloved children of God being the ultimate beneficiaries of that dichotomy.

    Or something...

    Freshly ground and brewed coffee here as well as New York bagels, yogurt, granola and fresh fruit - dig in!

  7. Good morning! Revalli, I've in Arizona and in the path of wildfire smoke...hope they get it under control!

    I am having than you party for the search committee tomorrow, so I've been busy cleaning, and prepping and shopping. Today I have a memorial service followed by a meeting with a couple inquiring about a commitment service. Then I will do the prep cooking for the party tomorrow. Busy!

    Anyway, I was able to get a head start on my sermon, focusing on prayer and the Gospel of John.

    But first, coffee! Like the vicar, I did not sleep well...

  8. Sometimes I do a very poor job of noting sources in my notes for sermons. I found an ascension story for which I do not know the source (and have noted that fact) and posted it on my blog.

    You can find it here.

  9. I am supplying the same church all summer. this is the first of 11 weeks, and I discovered on Tuesday that they had canceled Pentecost in favor of Youth Sunday, which could not be scheduled any other time. I can live without ascension but not without pentecost, so I moved Pentecost up.

    Trying to preach on the Acts text, which is REALLY hard when I'm not feeling the Pentecost spirit yet.....need to be done by eleven, or I'll have a 4 year old revolt on my hands.....had so many false starts last night and only have a page done.

  10. Good morning, suz! I think those post-vacation sermons are the hardest. Sounds smart to get working last night. And your start sounds good!

    I hope you breathe clean soon, RevAlli.

    Oh sorry you didn't make the movie, Pearl, but the early night should be good. I'll head over to read a little bit later.

    Balloons are always fun!! I like them for Pentecost. Reminder to me - get balloons for Pentecost.

    I'll take a bagel, kzj! I preached through all that love 3 years ago and it was ENOUGH John for me. Yikes. It was harder than my Lenten discipline that year. I'll celebrate with or for you that you're about at the end.

    A full day, Terri! I hope you too get some clear air soon. Doesn't it seem like people are just hanging on waiting for the pastor to come for all their big things? I think it makes for a busy first few weeks or months, but it's a way to get to know a lot of people pretty quickly!

    "Canceled Pentecost" I love it. Or I don't, but I love the phrase. In fact it might make a good sermon title and illustration, if not with the place you're preaching now, one in the future - ways we try to cancel Pentecost, how it is impossible to cancel the Holy Spirit, dismissing what happened ("they must be drunk"). Hey wait. I could preach that sermon. I still have Pentecost coming!

    Well, welcome everyone. I'm going to be a bit of an absentee host a little bit this morning. I'm off to go run in a 5K race in a neighboring town. It's my second ever and the goal is to finish still running. I think I can! I think I can! I'll see you very soon. Keep partying!

  11. Good morning, preachers! I'm visiting my parents this weekend, so the sermon had to be finished early. But, I just could not stay away from the preacher party. We are honoring high school graduates tomorrow and my sermon title is "The Disappearing Feet." Vicar, I, too, have used that story - and make the point at the end that Jesus gives our earthly lives heavenly potential.

  12. hi! I'm not preaching this weekend, but thinking about this weekend as it was last year at this time when I became solo pastor at this church for the summer.

    Now we're in interim.

  13. sorry, just hit enter too soon. anyway, this weekend there's a big reception for my mother-in-law, and we have relatives coming in from Chicago. So, we're cleaning today, and getting ready for that.

  14. Good luck She Rev!

    And thanks for the offer of a celebration when I finish preaching this stretch of John. Coming right after the PCUSA's vote to ordain gay clergy who are involved in a partnership it was great timing. That said, I am looking forward to moving away from it after a vacation which will include The Boy, the dog, my Mom, my sister's family AND the one and only Songbird (and 2 out of 3 of her birds too)!

  15. It's true, we're getting ready for a visit from kathrynzj and her clan, so even though it's Children's Sunday tomorrow and I don't have to preach, I'm working on next week's Pentecost sermon so I can play next Saturday. (And no pressure. I'll only be preaching in front of one of the best among us...ack!) I got started on it yesterday and hope to get something shaped today, then revise during the week. It is *not* my style to write them early, so we'll see how it goes.
    Meanwhile, coffee's hot, laundry's in, dog is snoozing and I am writing.

  16. ah, Songbird, we are together in pre-Pentacostal preaching, then!

  17. good morning all.

    I am thinking I will start with the my-gosh-they-still-don't-get-it "NOW are you going to restore the kingdom?" and maybe draw some contemporary theological parallels -- the haste to identify an EVIL EMPIRE or "imperium" and "what Jesus is AGAINST" and then think our job is done.
    And I'm wondering if I can wrap it up, answer that Dumb Question, with the end of the Gospel -- "ONE" -- and make a really strong pitch for diocesan ecumenist, maybe it's time to earn my raisins?
    Noting your Ascension and Pentecost liturgical plans, friends, and a warning -- cuz I've seen helium balloons used as you suggest -- unfortunately they tend to explode without warning and for no good reason during the ensuing service and it's very distracting. Just sayin'.
    Contemplating the red-light restrictions on the Glycemic Index diet and having to decline not only treats but COFFEE -- [snivels]

  18. I am another one not preaching this Sunday. We have a visit from the Conference Minister who will preach about laughter and fun, which I hope will be received as gospel by our congregation. That means I get to go out and freely play with the kids during their annual Ascension Day celebration (balloons, bubbles, kites, etc.) in the usual Sunday School time at 9:00.

    It almost feels like we have cancelled Pentecost next Sunday because we have to do the business of paying for the cemetery maintenance (special offering), dedicating some building parts (ramps, etc.), commissioning our congregational care team to do their work, and we are also celebrating Communion. When I go to tie it all together in a sermon or perhaps a few sermonettes, I think I can make that about the Holy Spirit shaking things up.

    Today, though, I'm doing some much needed spring cleaning that just never got done. I hope that addressing what may be lurking in some corners will calm my allergies a little.

    I do have some waffles hot off the griddle and real maple syrup if that fuels your body and soul.

  19. Susan, I am thinking about the sound of the wind and the descriptions of what it's like when a tornado is coming, that it sounds like a freight train bearing down on you. We're way too likely to sing about the Spirit falling afresh on us as if it's gentle mizzle or a refreshing breeze. I'm wondering how people would receive the Holy Spirit if it came like a storm?
    It's one of the reasons I love that Pentecost hymn set to Aberstywyth, "Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow." It has a gravity that I think we sometimes miss when we're all happy about Pentecost. Are we willing to have our lives changed? Did Peter and the others even have a choice? How many people were just knocked flat by the whole experience?
    (Sorry for being a week ahead on this, all the rest of you.)

  20. What is a story of someone who started with good intentions but the thirst for earthly glory (greed) ultimately brought them down?

    Looking for something current - Mark McGwire and Enron are a bit too old news. And John Edwards is too icky.

  21. I almost went with that angle, SB! Instead, I'm going with the opening phrase, "all together in one place," and talking about the literal and the figurative "all together in one place." I think.

  22. well, I'm up, if not exactly moving. I was planning to work out this morning before writing, but it's a little on the humid side inside my house so I have to decide if I can deal with that and then also make time for a long cool shower afterward...I have a church dinner party tonight (it sometimes feels like I have one every week, even though I know that's not true, LOL!) so I have to make mashed potatoes this afternoon, which may also necessitate a quick trip to the grocery store, so I'm hoping to be done by mid-afternoon....

    I'm working on Acts, particularly on Jesus saying "you will be my witnesses" and then the angels saying "well, what are you standing around staring at the sky for?" my title is "Jesus' Feet" and has something to do with a vague idea I read somewhere (working preacher, maybe?) that we often want to stare up at the sky looking at Jesus' feet going up into heaven, waiting for him to come back and fulfill our expectations, when we should be looking at the footprints he left going out into the world. Maybe I'll even make a connection to the fact that he washed feet...our feet..and so we ought to be looking at where our feet are going instead. or something.

    In children's sermons this week: we are doing a series of children's sermons on why we do what we do in worship, and it's a communion sunday this week so we'll be talking about communion, and how it's a time when we gather around the table and God teaches us what hospitality and sharing and celebration are really about, so that we can take that learning (communion as Practice) out into the world and live like that at every table.

    How I will tie together the children's sermon and the other sermon remains to be seen. Perhaps instead of "how" I should say "if".....

    now, to decide whether to exercise or not...

  23. I am going off-lectionary and talking about Scripture tomorrow. Partly because we need to talk about how we use Scripture and partly because the KJV turns 400 this year. I made a special request for the reader to read from the KJV, and the liturgy includes verses from same. For Children's time I am taking a stack of all my different versions in. I have a KJV that was given to my Great-Great Grandparent in the late 19th century that will be in the stack.

    Oh and if you want a totally different Ascension picture click here

  24. @kzj this example might not resonate with your people, but that's pretty much what happened to Mubarak. it started so well, but then he wanted more power and more power and more....and that was his downfall (eventually).

    Strangely, I can't think of any current sports figures or non-icky political figures. weird.

  25. kzj, this may be too icky as well, but how about Tiger Woods? I'll keep thinking...

  26. Tiger is too icky, for sure.
    Teri, I thought of Mubarak. I think I read a recent Newsweek article about him that was saying something similar - it started out with the best of intentions.

    Of course I am totally surfing the internet looking for this illustration rather than typing the rest of the sermon around it.


  27. Crismon Rambler - I'm counting on the exploding balloon for the evacuation and early dismissal ... :)

  28. Mubarak did begin well--I mean, he took over in the midst of a crisis, when a well-loved president was assassinated--and he brought some stability and sense of safety, he dealt with Israel, he played nice with the US, he increased the bread ration...but when power and money went to his head, it was all downhill from there. sigh.

    Ok, for real, I have to get moving. back later...

  29. Lots of good progress being made at the party so far today! I'm finishing a funeral homily for a 1 PM funeral. After some other activities, I hope to get cracking on a sermon...hopefully something with 1 Peter, although all the ascension talk out here has me wondering if I missed the boat. Blueberry pancakes and fair trade coffee to share here.

  30. The Newsweek article says the death of his grandson was the death of him leading well.


  31. Gord, we have a stained glass window that celebrates the presentation of the KJV; you remind me that I ought to use it in a school chapel talk in the fall. How cool to have that old bible!

    Off to the diocesan EfM graduation service this morning, with my husband as one of the graduates. We'll like seeing him on Monday nights again, after 4 years of the course.

    We are celebrating our parish school's 50th anniversary at all 3 services tomorrow, and as the school chaplain, I'm the preacher. Trying to figure out a sermon that will speak to 3 very different sets of people; at least I have a good beginning, so I am not (yet) feeling hopeless. Would they notice if I just stopped there?

  32. really? i would put the death of his good leadership much much earlier than that. like at least 15-20 years ago. he retained power and control, but he was not a good leader. but that's my opinion and observation....he chose his own power over the changing reality of the world and his country, and so I believe the seeds of his downfall were planted and watered a long time ago, and only bore fruit in the last year or so...

  33. Does it count that I'm writing liturgy for next Sunday?
    I've never had Communion on Pentecost Sunday, which gave me the opportunity to write a prayer of confession on Pentecost themes. Sort of fun, if confession can be fun.

  34. @kzj--ok, I read the article, and I have this to say: nonsense. that author is trying to make a sympathetic character out of a man who ignored the plight of his people and ran his country's economy, political system, and infrastructure into the ground. I am all for putting a human face on people and not forgetting that we are all created in the image of God, but the complete lack of awareness of choices that made Mubarak from a president into a dictator make that article worthless, in my opinion. the egyptian people deserve better.

    now I really am going to work out, because I have a bunch of angry energy to burn off! LOL.

  35. I remember when I read it in February I was surprised at their take on it. So grateful for the time you spent there (also glad you're no longer there).

    Work out in peace!

  36. Glad we have you visiting, Chilly and Diane! Have a blessed time with your family.

    Kzj and Songbird, have a great time combining clans and playing together.

    Hi Crimson! I'm working with that same question and going sort of in the already, but not yet direction which brings us to work on embodying God's reign. Sort of. I think. Sounds like you've got a good direction.

    Sharon, sounds like a bunch of fun tomorrow! Enjoy!

    Oooh, Teri, I like the footprints vs. feet thing. You could use that Dali picture for sure! And communion is one of the footprints Jesus left, a sign he was here and that he's still among us as we celebrate the sacrament. Celebrating communion IS walking in his steps especially whenwe walk away from the table to the rest of his ministry, too.

    I've been thinking about doing something with KJV sometime this summer, too. I think it will be a non-preaching service, for the most part with readings of sort og the "best of." Thanks for the picture!

    Welcome, Mir. I remember from Tuesday that there are some other 1 Peter people, too. Do what works for you and yours!

    Hi Betsy! I notice that when it feels like I have multiple differing audiences I tend to zero in on one and hope for the best for the others. Not necessarily good, just what happens. Good luck!

    I finished my 5K. Thanks for the support! I shaved about a minute off my time from 2 weeks ago which is grwat, especially since this course had a late of hills.

    The sermon plan I have is a pretty big retweak of my one from 3 years ago. I didn't think I'd have time to work on one since we had an interesting week "releasing" a program staff member from work. It didn't end up taking as much time during the week as I thought, so I will be working the old one over a little more. I had some better ideas during the week. For now, though, I need a shower and can play with my kiddos. Yea!

  37. Welcome back She Rev - congrats on shaving some time off.

    I'm heading to the shower myself. Sermon 3/4's of the way but definitely need a brain break. Maybe some lunch too.

    Anyone want to order a pizza or something?

  38. Good morning Gals and Pals! My next to the last sermon for this congregation is done, and ready to be preached tonight. Unlike SheRev, I was inspired by the Dali painting to preach about feet. I was able to tie in three of the readings - Acts, Ephesians and Luke.
    I will be sorry to leave these lovely folk, but I am looking forward to decreasing my commute from 55 minutes by car to 12 minutes by bicycle.
    We have homemade peace ice cream on the counter waiting to get just a teeny bit soft so we can spoon it out to share! Blessings to all on your preparations.

  39. ok, I'm back, having worked out my righteous indignation and showered...and of course now I'm hungry. looks like I'll be having the leftovers of the pizza I ordered yesterday. mushroom and black olive from papa john's...there's plenty!

    I still have a blank page/screen, and about 5 hours to work with. so...let the writing


    no, really, now.

    I guess that means I have to stop playing on the internet, huh. (sigh)

  40. MumPastor, I NEED some of that Peace Ice Cream. Yum. (But if it's really Peach that'd be great too.)

    I'm leading Children's Church tomorrow and have been given a curriculum about...Rosa Parks. I don't believe I'll be using that. Our practice thus far has been to look at the day's gospel with the kids, so they hear it again when return to service. So, while I'm not sure how to make that incredibly talky and convoluted gospel something accessible to the 3-10 set, I'm going to try.

  41. Love the ideas here this morning. We have our "unity service" with the 3 congregations who meet in the building. 3 languages, 3 cultures, 3 theologies (the toughest match). At times the theological differences make me glad we each preach in our own language! anyway, a 5-min homily on Jesus & Peter on top of the water. I've got it ready but have 2 memorial services next week, one for my best friend from HS. SO need to get to work on those today.
    Loving this weather, so unusual for DC. Wish I could live somewhere it was like this all the time, but am unwilling to move to San Diego..

  42. Blessings to all you who have provided ideas before I had a chance to sit down.

    I'm on lectionary this week, preaching about how the Ascension and the John text where Jesus prays for his disciples help us to believe that we too can do what we're called to do. It's the next to the last in a series on Becoming the Church.

    I covet your prayers, because my EP is visiting for the first time. This is a church I was sent to close but that has refused to die, so there's some resentment here toward him. At the same time, I'm awed at all the ways my congregation has found to demonstrate to him that we are alive, abiding in God's love, and growing in both faith and numbers

  43. Hi preachers. I'm getting a late-ish start after a morning spent training new Eucharistic Visitors and setting up for tomorrow's Joy Mass (a children's liturgy) which will take place in the parish hall rather than in the sanctuary. I'm *only* preaching at the 8:00 service (about 15 people more than likely) and honestly I find it harder to be motivated and yet then feel guilty for feeling that way; that group deserves (and expects) a decent sermon even if they are small in numbers.

    So I'm working on John with a little Acts thrown in. My thinking so far has been influenced by the piece David Lose put up at Working Preacher titled "Left Behind."

    Not preaching on Pentecost because I'm taking a week of vacation starting Tuesday and going to see the grandbabies. Yay!

  44. ok, so I have an idea that is probably going to get me into trouble. But I can't have been the first to think it, right? (that's right, I'm coming to the revgals for usual.)

    so...the disciples ask jesus "is this the time when YOU will..." and he says to them "YOU will be my witnesses." This kind of reminded me of how often we expect others to do things for us when really we are the ones called to do church people that want the pastor to do everything AND be the christian for them all too...
    Can I go there? I don't want to end up comparing myself to Jesus (cuz WOW would that be bad, on so many levels) but I think the comparison of the disciples to the rest of us is probably fair. our task isn't to watch the feet float into the sky, waiting for them to come back and do something for us, but to follow the footprints into the world and be the body of christ ourselves. or something. (yeah, it needs some's only 1pm!)

  45. Welcome, MumPastor. Glad you found inspiration the Dali painting. After a little "chat" here with Teri, I think I may have, too, but hopefully someone will remind me of that next year. I'll take some of that "peace" ice cream!

    Mary Beth, I think I might skip Rosa, too, as much as I have deep admiration for her. Maybe when it felt like it fit instead of something that was handed over. That said, it might work with my "already" and definitely "not yet" sermon theme with the Ascension.

    Blessings on you, Nancy, as you work on those memorials, especially the one for your best friend. Prayers for you!!

    And prayers for you also, Suzy, as you deal with death or rumors of death in entirely different ways.

    I'm off to take my son to a birthday party. Be back soon!

  46. Mir,

    Glad to have the company on 1 Peter. Feeling quite alone. Have a few hours between airport runs to write the sermon, but like Teri, I have a blank page at the moment. Don't know quite where to start though I do want to explore the notion of evil as an opportunistic infection.

    The Arizona smoke is still hanging around. Just read that the fire is 0% contained.

  47. She Rev, thanks for your thoughts about Ascension art--I'm with you! Taking an intensely literal approach to sacred texts can be as tricky and perilous in the realm of art as in the realm of preaching. I sense this is why, as an artist who works with the scriptures, I have found my work becoming increasingly abstract in the past few years. As I go deeper into the scriptures, I often find that an abstract style is, for me, the only response I can make to the mysteries I find within the texts.

    Stories such as the Ascension pose particular challenges and invitations, and this week's gospel readings (Easter 7 as well as Ascension) certainly gave me lots of pause for thought as I reflected at my drafting table as well as on paper. I'd be delighted for y'all to stop by "Ascension/Easter 7: Blessing in the Leaving" at The Painted Prayerbook and see the art and the words that emerged from the wrestling!

    Blessings and gratitude to all the RevGals this week!

  48. Gord: Arrgghh! what a photo. I was hoping you actually had something I could use, but had a good laugh instead.

    I am beginning by talking about how hard it is for us to picture the Ascension because we have seen space and know heaven isn't out there- so where did Jesus go? I'm mixing in some chat about the retirement of the space shuttle program.

  49. Just had a terrific retreat with my confirmation class. They are more than ready to be confirmed next Sunday. I am so proud of them and how far they've come since the confirmation class began.

    That said, I'm going to go with a sustainable sermon that I rewrote earlier this week. Now I shall nap.

  50. We also have a Rosa Parks window in our church (we have many, and a lot of them are non-typical!); when I've used her story for chapel talks, I emphasize that she was simply tired: tired from a day at work, tired of having to move to the back of the bus, tired of not being treated with dignity. The kids seem to identify with those feelings, and to appreciate the inner determination she showed despite being tired. I don't know if that take on it is helpful to any of you, but I thought I'd mention it. I think I can point you to a picture of our stained glass window too, if you want a visual that's a bit different.

    How word verf is "story"!

  51. She Rev, congrats on the improving times on the 5K!

  52. Well I should go for a walk. I ducked out on a good one with a youth b/c I knew I'd never get everything done. SO she and I may walk later this week. But I'm finishing up for the service tomorrow. AND finished the keynote presentation (powerpoint ala mac) for Executive Committee.
    Now for those funerals...

    best to all. Loved the unusual ascension pix. May have to sneak it into my solstice service later this month.

  53. well, I'm on the witness theme, too.

    did you know this? looked up witness in "The verb is c.1300, from the noun. Christian use (1382) is as a lit. translation of Gk. martys (see martyr)." it seems significant somehow, but not sure yet.

    I just saw Shane Clainborne speak this week, and his life story is just such an awesome witness itself, I'm going to start with that. And then, I was thinking along your lines, Pearl, of asking the congregation to think about/share ways they have been witnessed to, ways they have witnessed as individuals, ways the congregation has been/could be a witness.

    great story Vic -- thanks. Not sure it works this time, but I'm certainly tucking it away for SOMETIME.

    Pretty sleepy, though. We'll see how long I can work before overtaken by my afternoon nap...

  54. I too am struggling through 1 Peter, and am wondering about linking the John passage with 1 Peter with the thought that before leaving Jesus prayed asking the Father to protect them once he left. Showing us that even Jesus handed his anxiety over to God just as we are told to do in the 1 Peter passage.

    Begining thoughts, still totally stuck on a all age activity that fits, any suggestions, or coffee would be appreciated as I think it's going to be a long night!

  55. I am just back from an ordination at the other end of the diocese. As I was the preacher, you can imagine how much time I have spent thinking about tomorrow's sermon!
    Acts is my starting point and I'll talk about the latest rapture non-event a little, maybe expand on that whole phenomenon. I have a story about a priest I used to know who would do workshops on the signs of the end times. And then I'm just going off on the fact that we aren't supposed to worry about what isn't here but work at what is.
    I trust the Holy Spirit will descend a week early, although I might have used up my HS allotment with today's sermon.

  56. Ok, here's how I"m doing the sermon time. I'm going to ask them to write their witness ideas on post-its and put them on pillars around the sanctuary. ("witness is a pillar of our church" get it?) and then, after communion, ask everyone to take one written by someone else that speaks to them. I'm not sure this will work, but havent done an interactive-type sermon in a while.

    speaking of Shane Claiborne again (still?) here is a list of witness ideas from his Simple Way community page in case you are curious.

    how's everyone doing? I'm off to my nap now - and then get to see Claudia Schmidt in concert tonight! So may not check back in but have a great night.

    Oh, and Sherev, almost forgot to say thanks for the invitation - I have the same reaction as you do to those (silly) ascension art things...

  57. I took an accidental nap, which means I will now be cooking for the dinner party and simultaneously writing a sermon. I can do that, right?

    I have half a both words and content. the trouble is that everything I start typing in the second half sounds preaching and boring, so I keep deleting it. But one of these minutes I'm going to have to keep something and just move on and hope it gets better...

  58. Good golly. What a day. B.U.S.Y.
    Funeral done, meeting done, food prep for search committee thank you party done, sermon done.

    I've been prone to making mistakes in sermon lately, the re-learning curve for weekly, if you are inclined, please check what I wrote: so I don't look like an idiot...

    I'll be around to you read yours when I have a minute...hope y'all are doing well!

    SheRev, how was the run?

  59. Hey, revgalpals. Good to be here though its almost midnight in Scotland. I've been at Guide camp this weekend but got early release because I have three services to preach tomorrow. So, reeking of woodsmloke, I have re-purposed a sermon
    Not too sure about it but too tired to do anything else tonight. If you have any suggestions I could tweak in the morning.
    After 3 hours sleep last night due to excited teenagers, I need to do better tonight. Love and peace ice cream to you all. :)

  60. Margaret, if you are exploring the rapture idea a bit, it's worth knowing (I think I have this right) that the concept comes from a Roman (?) tradition of people from a city going out to meet a VIP...and then accompanying that person back into the city. There is no sense of going up/out and not returning! That idea is a fairly recent interpretation. This is a shift in understanding that opens up all sorts of interesting avenues. All of this comes to me via a theologian/priest/professor in our parish.

    I've finished my last errand of the day and I'm about to be home alone for the rest of the afternoon and evening, which means I have no excuse for not moving my sermon along. Drats...

  61. Here I am...stepping into the party rather late, although I did start reading the comments over breakfast today. After some long errands and a quick dinner, here I am, facing a sermon but also some big projects for synod assembly next week.

    Vicar, I loved the story you posted. I did have some rough (VERY rough) thoughts last night about Ascension that I quickly jotted down, but I am seriously considering making that story the jumping off point for everything else.

    Now, if only I'd started that when I had energy to do such a thing, instead of now when a nap sounds so lovely. :)

  62. voila! I have sermon! or at least I have enough words to be done. I feel kind of meh about it, but it will have to do at least until after the dinner party. Feedback is welcome!
    now I have to go make mashed potatoes and gravy....I'll be back later, and I'll try to sneak some dessert out of the party when I come back!

  63. Ack! So sorry for being gone so long. The birthday party pick-up/drop-off turned into one long trip and then, well, life just happened around the house.

    Supper is done here with some leftover spaghetti, local YUMMY Italian sausage in the sauce if you'd like any. My husband is firing up the outdoor fire pit so we can make Smores for dessert. With ingredients purchased at Sam's we have PLENTY for everyone!

    Thanks for your thoughts, Jan. Last year when we had a license, your art graced our worship services OFTEN! I forgot to renew when it was up a while ago, but as we head into ordinary time and we no longer have "live" art in the sanctuary, I'm sure I'll purchase it again. We have an artist in the church who creates a new canvas each Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. I try not to put up TOO much that draws away from that during those times.

    No suggestions just yet, Revem, but I can provide you with that virtual coffee! I'll be around for much of the night, I think.

    Hi Juniper and Margaret! Margaret, I touched on the rapture stuff a little last week (after being gone myself the weekend it didn't happen). I'm hearing echoes of it again in this passage, too. Don't know if I'll draw it back in again. Might be beating a dead horse, so to speak.

    Welcome semfem! Selfishly I'll admit it's kind of nice to have you back with the late night crew!

    Liz, I understand the woodsmoke smell, I'm about to go douse myself in it, too. The fire and marshmallows are waiting outside!

    Terri, the run went pretty well. I didn't know the course, and it turns out it had a few hills - - beautiful Wisconsin farm country. So, in the end, unfortunately, I did walk a little bit of it. However, the good news was that even with walking a bit (maybe 1/8 of the last mile) I still came in almost a minute under my last race two weeks ago. I'll take it! It's my last race for a while because I'm now doing a training program for a 10K. Hope to sign up for one of those at the end of the summer.

    So, off I go to wash a baby before we go outside for the campfire. She is covered in spaghetti sauce.

    Will bring Smores back for all!

  64. MMMMMMM s'mores! Thank you She Rev! Sermonating in the church office definitely makes me miss the days of sermonating at home with snacks close at hand...even if the "new normal" is healthier for me...

  65. Just watched The Princess Bride with The Boy - first time for him. Very fun. I'll finish tucking him in and then hope the sermon has rested long enough for an ending to manifest itself when I look at it again.

    Please, please, please....

  66. Woah. Could I possibly have a sermon??? (well, duh, that tends to happen when you borrow a story that fills up the bulk of the sermon...which feels like cheating in my second week...but it still preaches the good news, right?)

    Watch me second-guess my way into a less effective sermon.

    Time to work one of the other big projects and then take a second look at this draft.

  67. kzj - Glad the movie was fun!

    semfem - - Just put your hands out where I can see them and step away from the sermon.

    I'm going to break my usual custom and go read around.

  68. Hi everybody!

    It has been one heck of a day, but I'm finally here! And your ideas got me going. I'm on Acts/Ascension, which I've never preached. But several of your comments have come together for me.

    Thanks, Suz for "hello and goodbye"; brought up memories of Beatles' song. Will use that to illustrate disciples' confusion.

    Vicar, thanks for the story will use that, too.

    And will work in Harold Camping, too, with the question the disciples ask.

    Now to let it simmer a bit.

  69. There's a scene in the live action Peter Pan (2003) where Peter Pan and Wendy are standing on the window sill just before taking off. Peter's feet are a dirty mess and Wendy's feet are almost glowing they are so clean. If you look at the trailer for the movie on YouTube the scene is at the 40 second mark.

    The image keeps hanging with me. Somehow there's something to going to Jerusalem and beyond that gets your feet dirty while staying "where you are expected to stay" keeps your feet clean. Peter offers Wendy a life of not growing up and yet Wendy takes the mothering skills she has to another place and puts them to work there.

    It may be a stretch but I can't shake it loose even while I can't quite get it to take shape either. I'm hoping putting it here will help me either let it go or get it developed.

  70. Oh, and I got a call from the children's sermon volunteer. She just noticed it's her turn, and she said she won't be ready. Guess it's my turn.

  71. SheRev, don't you love being the default?? Not!

    My time alone ended up not being such, as I joined younger son and SIL for dinner. I whiled away the remaining time checking out hotels for our vacation in a few weeks; that's an overdue task and it is very important and I really needed to do it, right then...right?

    So, it's the night crew for me!

  72. Morning service is over. I remembered just before I left the house that as it is a communion Sunday that we offer home communion. Managed to grab the kits, and one person is being visited today. Some people are less tressed about short notice then others.
    Now to get ready for Messy Church this afternoon, check that I know how to do the blow painting, and get a short talk together on Pentecost. Focussing on the breath of God – kites, balloons windmills, etc. I think I will take a recorder with me.
    Songbird, don’t be sorry for being a week ahead, I am glad a few of you are Preaching Pentecost this week; I love the idea of cancelled Pentecost, and the tornado rather than the gentle breeze.
    lunch, can I get you anything?

  73. well in the midst of a pretty good Saturday Cooking Frenzy, these are the notes I made for tomorrow morning

  74. I finally have a sermon!

    No prayers yet so I'm not actually going anywhere

  75. Well, the sermon is more brain than heart, but last week relied heavily on the heart so this one is for the academics in the crowd.

    At least that's what I'm telling myself so I can go to bed.

    Good hanging with you all today. Blessings upon your continued work and preaching!

  76. OK. I've now broken my rule about reading before I've written, and I remember why I have that rule.

    Time to get to work on the tweak of my sustainable sermon. I planned to use one, but my original reason didn't really leave me needing it. Now I have to either let myself still use it, or get my fingers to typing!

    I think I'll work on the tweak still, but then if the inspiration for others persists, I might tweak more than planned.

  77. I ended up heading the ascension route after all. Such good inspiration here today and those initial inklings from 1 Peter were lost somewhere. I ended up borrowing heavily from a fabulous paper from a seminary professor. I think it'll preach. Thank goodness the Holy Spirit has got our backs!

    Blessings to all who are still writing - sermons, prayers, etc.

  78. Finally--after a week with the notion of evil, I'm done. Think I now understand C.S. Lewis' reluctance to revisit Screwtape. Too much looking inward at an unseemly side of me.

    Mir and Revem--looking forward to seeing where you've gone with 1 Peter.

  79. Okay She Rev...stepping away from the freshly revised and printed sermon...and got a lot done on another huge project that is coming up tomorrow.

    Now, however, I am getting the heck out of the church building and heading home. Must. sleep.

    Hoping the Holy Spirit will visit those who need her still! Blessings on all pondering, preaching, and proclamation tomorrow.

    (oh drat...children's sermon? hmm...bubbles.)

    word verf: baconju?!?!

  80. OK - - finally opened the document. For real.

  81. SheRev, are you and I holding down the fort here?

    Just got off the phone with a parish member who is having a bone marrow transplant this week; she goes inpatient tomorrow. I have an eye infection so haven't been able to visit her this past week, but we have had wonderful phone calls :-)

    Gotta get that sermon done, however. I'm taking far too much time doing estimates of numbers of various sorts for the 50th anniversary, and not nearly enough actual content. This is the moment at which I always think, "Why didn't I make better use of my time earlier?"

  82. How is everyone? Long week on this end. Not preaching tomorrow, but dealing with the all-too-son departure of the head of staff.
    He is tired, frustrated and put out with the whole "clique" situation in the church where I serve.
    He just has announced officially.
    So, Sunday may not be too much fun.
    Sigh. Prayers appreciated.

  83. Oh, and prayers for those who continue to write sermons.

  84. It looks like us still writing, Betsy.

    Prayers for you and all that tomorrow brings, 1-4.

  85. Good morning ladies, it's 5 am and the sermon has had time to percolate.
    The result is basically saying by holding onto our anxieties we limit our ability to cope with the stresses that come as a result of being a follower of Christ. Once we recognise the magnitude of God we can hand over our worries freeing our hearts and minds to be aware of the world around us and work to resist the evil and bring light into darkness.

    I think... it still isn't sitting as comfortably as I'd hoped.

    That said everything else for the service done, communion, all age activity (Guatamalan worry dolls) and prayers.

    All that's left is getting this sermon to bed down.

    I need coffee, anyone else want some while I'm making.

  86. From here it sounds like it's getting pretty close, Revem. The coffee will get you the rest of the way. I'm sure of it.

    I've got half of a new sermon accidentally, so I guess I'll be writing a new one tomorrow. I'll still pull from the other a bit since I have the same general idea. Oh well. It means I'll have a deeper sustainable sermon bag, right?

  87. Prayers husband just got call from our 16 y.o. son who is at a multi-school organization beach party; all we know is that one of the girls was drinking and has been taken to the hospital :-o The beach is an hour away, but dh is driving kids home, so he will be there shortly and I'll find out more (don't even know if the girl is from our hs).

  88. Oh Betsy, prayers being sent up and out, hope all are ok.

  89. OK, so I'm 905 words into a new sermon that I like, so I'm heading to bed. The rest will come in the morning, likely with heavy borrowing from that one I planned to borrow from in the beginning. All is well.

    Will need to worry about a children's sermon in the morning since the volunteer backed out on me tonight. Not too fired up about that, but such is life.

  90. Yes, Betsy! Prayers you, those involved, and anyone who gets those late night phone calls!

  91. It's one of the 7 dh is supposed to drive home...alcohol and pot, taken to the hospital by the paramedics. No one seems to have emergency contact information for her parents; I would far rather they first hear from me (though I've never met her or them) than a call from the hospital.

    And though it's not my first concern at the moment, I will admit to a bit of relief that my husband said our son does not appear to be intoxicated in any way.

  92. Will continue to pray for all, glad to hear it's not potentially a life threatening situation.

  93. Betsy, I hope that things turned out well last night. I went to bed hearing my baby coughing in her crib (nothing major just little coughs) and thinking about how her middle of the night "antics" used to drive me crazy, but how they are nothing compared to the road ahead of us as they all grow up. Still praying for you as I'm waking up and getting back to this sermon.

    Anyone else up? I'll throw some coffee on. I'll warn you that it will probably be strong. I don't make it much, but that is what folks usually say when they drink it!

  94. Well, funny. I didn't end up using one word from my old sermon. I'm just a couple of words shy of 1400 words with a wrap up sentence or two to go. Perfect for a communion week when we're also receiving new members. I don't have a plan for the children's sermon, but I think I might work with "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth" maybe think of people who are being Christ's witnesses in our equivalents of these places. Help them imagine themselves as witnesses in their own world and maybe someday even beyond?

  95. the dinner party went until late...very was well past 11 when I got home. crazy.

    I've done some tweaking and while I still feel like parts (well, one part in particular) is clunky, it'll have to do, because Sunday Morning Is Here.

    if there's going to be coffee for this tired preacher, I have to leave my house in 6 minutes. uh-huh....

  96. OK, Gals and Pals, here we go, keeping in mind that the HS has our backs, praise be. Fridge is bung-full of Very Wholesome Food, and I've actually found pantyhose that don't crawl off of me during the liturgy, PRAISE BE some more.
    Word verification is "snonres" which sounds like what happens when you are really really tired and try to make s'mores.


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