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Saturday, January 21, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: "One Fish, Two Fish, I Fish, You Fish" Edition

one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish
I see fish.  

Fish I see.

Fish as big as fish can be.

Jonah hiding in a fish.
Jonah saved by prayer and wish.

Jonah preaches and saves a a town.
God's mind is changed all around.

Simon, Andrew with boats in the sea
With James and John called Zebedee
Net strange work with you and me
In Jesus' call:  "New fishing for thee"

Which way will you go
As you go with the flow?

A fishing lesson at Galilee's sea?
Is that your preaching cup of tea?

Or will you tell a big fish tale?
Bring light to Jonah's time in the whale?

Perhaps you have another way
Something else you're called to say?

A children's message I seek -- or two
I'll put some coffee on to brew

Bring a snack you have to share
And, pretty soon, we'll all be there!

* * * * * * *  
And always:

"Be who you are and say what you feel, 
because those who mind don't matter, 
and those who matter, don't mind."
(Dr. Seuss)

* * * * * * * 


  1. Good morning Sharon - and other Revgals. This will be, for me a day of writing and packing. I have a number of projects to complete before I take off for New Orleans - as Scots, we feel the need to explore the port before cruising, so we leave on Tuesday! The excitement, at the moment is weighted firmly by all that meeds to be accomplished before then but, once on that transatlantic flight, there is no turning back!
    Preaching on the gospel and on jonah - I just wish I could remember the ideas that seemed good earlier in the week. First, though, breakfast of berries and yogurt. And I'll put the slow cooker on for dinner so that I don't have to worry too much about that later on.
    I remember last time we used this text, I think it was Songbird who suggested the Sesame Street clip of Bert and Ernie calling fish for children's time- it went down a storm here!

  2. Good morning, Liz, and thanks for the reminder for the great idea for children's time! What's in the slow cooker?

    I woke up to some yet-to-be-determined amount of snow on the ground. A week from today, I will wake up in balmy Baton Rouge at the home of my teenager-hood where spring will have already sprung. I will get to spend a few days before heading to New Orleans for the cruise.

    Good morning to all and welcome to the party! The coffee is fresh and hot and there's oatmeal with whatever "fixins" you like. Help yourselves!

  3. I am up but certainly not awake. I have an all day meeting that is located more than an hour away from me.

    I'm wondering what has such claim on our lives that we would drop everything and go? And have we redefined "follow" with "I've been following that in the news" or "I follow her on Twitter" to the point that we need to look more closely at what Jesus was saying?

  4. Good morning, Vicar!

    Wow, we do have some different ways of using that word "follow" don't we? That is fertile ground, there.

    I am finishing up a 3 week sermon "mini-series" (?!) on "The Business We are In" in response to some vehement assertions in council meetings that "the church is a business!" This week, it's very tempting for me to say that we are in the fishing business. But maybe we are in the business of being ready to be caught.

    Still pondering that and whether to shovel snow now or later.

  5. Storms and shaky power today, actually a good day to watch something scary.
    But, alas it is a Saturday so we must sermonize. I do not preach tomorrow, but have a out of town preaching gig on the horizon.
    Coffee sounds lovely, does anyone have muffins ready yet? Coffee cake? Cheese toast?

  6. I am also up but not quite awake. We will be reading the entire book of Jonah in worship tomorrow, which means time-wise my sermon needs to be shorter, but also means I have a lot more material to try and cram in. Still trying to find ONE idea for my focus.

    Vicar, there's a great cartoon around online portraying Jesus and a fisherman. Jesus says, "No, I'm not talking about Twitter. I want you to actually follow me." Great illustration for today's Gospel!

  7. I have notes. I have ideas. Now for those to come together in a coherent fashion.

    I am being pulled off center by an email, from a local pastor, in which I need to decide how to respond. It is both a theological issue and a practical issue. Grrrrrr on many, many levels.

  8. Good morning, Beth and Grace!

    I barely got the car moved to the legal side of the street for plowing, so I'm walking down to the local store for some half & half (have to have it!). I will bring you all back some donuts. They are freshly made on site!

  9. Purple, good morning to you!

    Prayers for a wise and courageous response to the email in question.

  10. Good Morning! Sharon - so fun to come to here today! And, Liz, I love that Sesame Street clip - and may use it, although I can't actually show it so would have too repeat it myself and describe the scene - which may diminish the whole idea too much.

    Other than that I have not. one. single. idea. for the sermon. not. one.

    On the other hand we have snow. And a deep freeze. And, I have lots of coffee. And, not much else I have to do today.

  11. Sharon, loved the start, thank you. In fact, may I post some of it on my blog today?
    I haven't been very faithful to blogging and barely have the church website up to date. Made it thru the church retreat last weekend and the MLKjr reading/service on Monday and have just focused on getting done what I must and getting to the gym everyday. Now we have ice and a little snow, but hopefully an afternoon trip to vote in the county caucus will lead to a trip to gym.
    I am using mark and corinthians and taking off from a Feasting quote, "How on earth do you preach a text that seems to have proven wrong?"
    we shall see how it evolves today.

  12. Welcome, Terri and Nancy!

    Nancy, you are welcome to use any of that if you want. I was in a silliness mood last night and just let it happen! And, "How on earth do you preach a text that seems to have proven wrong?" -- quite the provocative question, that one. Do let us know how the evolution unfolds!

    Terri, I also love the Sesame Street clip. We don't have congregational video, but we do have wireless, so I may just take my laptop up front and show it to the kids.

    Coffee is plentiful -- thanks, Terri! -- so help yourselves to another cup. And grab one of those delicious corn muffins that just came out of my oven. There's butter, cream cheese, and a variety of delicious homemade jams that were gifts from some congregational happy homemakers. My favorite is the maple apple jam.

  13. Thanks Sharon, i've posted it and it will stay until I have something worthy of replacing it. (That could be awhile.)

  14. warm corn muffins and homemade jam - yum!

  15. Yes, that idea about Bert and Ernie came from me. I actually told it as a children's message some years ago, and gave out Swedish Fish to the children as a reminder. I have a lovely pewter boat that I put on the worship center, and will do that again. I had a lot of other lovely plans for tomorrow as of a week ago, but I've been sooo sick, nothing has come to fruition, and I'm in the midst of rehabbing a sustainable sermon, which makes me sad. We have a great day planned: receiving seven new members, followed by a hopefully all-positive annual meeting (there's no telling with Congregationalists, however). But since I've been literally out of the office since being sent home by my preaching group on Tuesday morning, I haven't been able to arrange various ruffles and flourishes and can see that tomorrow morning will be very stressful (including needing to re-run the bulletins because I left out one of the names of a new member!). Trying now to get a church member to set up video capabilities, which we don't ordinarily have, because with a cough and sore throat (shiny new symptom!!!), I can't do justice to Ernie's fish yell. Worst case scenario, I will show it on my laptop for the kids to see and hold the microphone near it so the rest can hear.
    So that's where I am, trying to get all needed errands into one car trip with my daughter's assistance: bank, candy store, Starbucks (we are out of coffee and my 16yo is *dying*), drug store for more Robitussin and a few grocery necessities. Yesterday I received so much love and goodness from others when I hit the low point of illness, I am bowled over. As I wrote on Facebook, "If love could cure what ails me, I would be well now."

  16. Wow, way to kick it off, Sharon - thanks! Our annual meeting is this Sunday and I have incorporated small reports by each of the Elders into the worship itself. Therefore, the sermon tomorrow is actually a meditation and actually it can be less than that.

    SO what I am working on this morning is the 1st of 2 papers that are part of a lectionary study group that I am in. It meets for a week and this year it meets right after BE5 so my stuff is 'due' a week earlier.

    Advent1, Year C is on my desk right now.

    In the meantime, gorgeous snowfall here and the dogs have already been out and run. Please pass me another cup of java and a handful of swedish fish.


  17. there's following and following, and there's fishing and fishing, too. Just reading (that "grand Old TEstament prophet") Habakkuk, and Chapter I throws the whole image of fishing for people up into ambiguity... because that's what the Chaldeans (that bitter and hasty race, KJV) are portrayed as doing, and it ain't pretty.
    Glad I'm not preaching tomorrow! But there's some of Ma Rambler's home-made sourdough bread in the kitchen, and some of Ma Rambler's good friends home-made raspberry jam open, also BUTTER, and espresso in the little pot if you'd like a latte.

  18. Good morning preachers! I slept in and awoke to a lovely snowfall--our first real snow since the freak October storm. I don't have anywhere else to be and I'm enjoying watching it fall.

    I talked about listening for God's call last week, and I'm thinking along the lines of the Vicar for this week--what would be compelling enough to make you drop everything to be part of it? That's about as far as I've gotten in my thinking...

    Earl Grey tea here....

    SB, I hope you are feeling better and the sore throat is diminished by tomorrow!

  19. Martha, I really hope your newest symptom is very temporary and that you feel lots better soon. Your plans for tomorrow sound plenty wonderful and just think, a week from today, you will be soaking up some sun!

    Wow, Kathryn! Homework done ahead of time and thinking about Advent 1C already. I bet your dogs love this snow! It's a beautiful one!

    Crimson, welcome to you and thanks for the bread and jam. YUM!

    RevDrMom, that question is tapping me on the shoulder, too. I'm dreaming of a church business meeting (council, consistory) where people eagerly deal with the "usual business" (finances, minutes, building) in a big hurry because they want to get on with other business -- like sharing faith, dreaming dreams, giving away time, talent and treasure, healing ministries, welcoming children and youth . . . (dream on!)

  20. oh the sermon has a rambling beginning... and middle, but I seem to have forget where I was headed with it. still in pjs and robe. dogs are sleeping. no snow, no moisture... dry, dry, dry. but tonight there's a chance of flurries.

    be well Martha... don't over do and push it right?!

    Terri... stay warm and enjoy the cozy day!

  21. Martha, ohhh, I knew you were sick, but not that sick. ick. I hope you feel better tomorrow. I totally remember the swedish fish idea and have always meant to use it too....but I am not sure where I would take the text since our kids leave for Children's worship and it isn't our custom to offer a children's time reflection by the, if do this it will be for people ages 11 to 90. sigh.

    RevDrMom. I may instead, go along your line of thinking.

    And, HC - staying warm here - sunny day even with the very cold temps.

  22. Working with Jonah and Mark and thinking about my farmer dad whose three sons (and daughter) went off to pursue other dreams. Since I'm incapable of backing up with a wagon on the back of the tractor, I don't think he was expecting me to farm. Staff upheaval this week has added more to my plate and more worries. Woke up feeling hopeful so let's see where that takes me today. Blessings on your sermonizing.

  23. I loved the start today. A bit of silliness is just what I needed this moring! I even read it to my husband - who looked at me like I was crazy.

    I may be. Vacation starts Monday and is so close I can taste it. And this last week has been so crammed full with everything-I-must-do-before-vacation. I'm down to this week and next weeks bulletins, the newsletter, and tomorrow's sermon. Then I can turn my attention to packing!

    I had a great idea earlier in the week comparing Jonah's reluctance to the fishermen's dropping everything, but I can't remember where I was going with it. I really need to start these early ideas down!

    Maybe coffee and a shower will help...

    Sharon, can I use the first part of your 'fishy' post as my sermon opener -with appropriate credit of course?

  24. Martha, I hope today brings you healing (and coffee soon). I've switched to Irish Breakfast Tea, unusual for me, but totally delicious for this cold day. I even took the step of bumping up the heat because I get cold just looking out at the little layer of ice and snow and GREY sky.
    Came back for motivation from y'all as I try to navigate the 'hinges' of my sermon. This is the problem when I decide to use 2 texts - and I know better...

  25. Good mornign all!

    I am working with Paul and eating meat and supporting our brothers and sisters in faith. And this seemed like a good idea at some point, I know it did...

    For Children's Time I am going to talk about Christian Unity. Any tips on how to do that???

  26. Gord, that's right - the week of prayer for Christian Unity began on the 18th....maybe for children's time you could offer different color/flavor gummy worms? and use the Sesame Street illustration? tie in both the Gospel and Christian Unity and Children?

  27. Once heard a pastor talk about Christian unity by having 2 zip loc bags. One filled with marbles, and one filled with grapes.
    He took the bag of grapes and talked about how like grapes we Christians are, that when we get bumped and bruised by life, when we get next to each other we get to be broken down, and mixed together and it makes us all of one being, how the Holy Spirit works on us, making us one body...something like that.

    He took the bag of marbles and rolled it around, talking about how life bumps and bruises us, and as the pastor manipulated it, and nothing happened, the marbles all stayed separate and unchanged. he talked about how Christians are not like marbles, hard, and separate, and unchanged by each other, or by the Holy Spirit. He held up the grape "goo" and the marbles, wondering which one is unity in the Christian sense. Maybe this will help, or mabye you can make more of it, as it was a lonnnggg time ago when I heard this!

  28. Thank you for the props Sharon, but these papers were assigned in June and I am staring 2 down here in January. Not too impressive at all.

    BUT the finish line is somewhere that is warm so that is a beautiful thing.

  29. Still at home and wretchedly sick. Grrr !!!. Reminding myself of wise words offered earlier. All will be well. I can't force the getting better process. Moderating for another church annual meeting tomorrow. I am staying in nola till Sunday so ours will be right after I get back. I regret to say it is my least liked day. Sharon-would love to hear any wisdom that breaks through "church has to be run like a business " when that only means slash the budget...
    Back later to check in on you all


  30. hi Anonymous -- can't resist this -- if you let the bag of grapes BE, gently, in a warm place, you get something far more wonderful still in a day or two, no?

    Now I'm not saying it'd make a children's focus, but still...

  31. That marbles and grapes idea is an interesting one! And I am enthralled by the Bert and Ernie bit; can I find that on YouTube?

    Tomorrow Is our annual meeting and I am preaching at the family service; very few of those folks will come back for the meeting, so I want to do something that conveys a sense of what the church is...much more than the building. I was thinking of doing a Wordle right there, having them supply words to describe the church; even the little non-readers would be intrigued, I think. Even better if I had a helper who would then take the laptop into the church office while we continue to worship and print it out so everyone could take home a copy. But now I have that Sesame Street idea in my mind too, and am wondering about using that instead.

    In the meantime, I need to put together the slide show for the meeting. Lots of photos; I just need to resist the temptation to start cropping and fixing them all, because that will take forever and make very little difference!

    Sharon, thanks for the great rhyme to start us off today.

  32. Oops...just saw that the link to the clip is in the very first post. So much for my memory after reading 26 more!

  33. Welcome Hot Cup, Pastor Lynn, Ramona, Gord, and Celeste. So happy you all are here!

    Anonymous, the grape goo sounds like a memorable image . . . and . . . well, like it could be grape jam if heated up with the right ingredients. That's where my mind goes!

    A warm finish line indeed, Kathryn. That's an "eye on the prize" incentive if ever there was one.

    Ramona, you are most welcome to use the fishy thing. I'm delighted that you want to!

    Celeste, oh my goodness! Home, sick, and "looking forward" to moderating a church annual meeting. And you are so right: "Slash the budget" is a favorite piece of work in our "business" -- along with worry about it, beg for money, and generally get anxious.

    The only wisdom I may have gleaned so far is that God has business with us. So, then our business is to hear what that is, decide to be about it, and let God do the leading. But that seems very woo-woo, vague and inaccessible to Joe and Mary Pewsitter. "Isn't God your job, Pastor?"

    Hot tea all around for healing and comfort!

    Lunch anyone?

  34. Oh, Celeste. So sorry you're sick.
    We succeeded in our errands, so there are Swedish fish aplenty! We have both the big red ones and the little multi-colored ones. The latter will go into little cellophane bags (bought at the candy store, in a great victory of economy of my energy) to be filled not by my sick hands but by 16yo. The former are her reward for helping me. :-)
    Her other reward: Starbucks Blonde Veranda coffee with "nuances of soft cocoa and lightly toasted nuts." We have a new favorite coffee.
    I'm going to rest now and work on my sermon later.

  35. Just starting and have only a rumbling of an idea. As I was reflecting on the Jonah and the Gospel readings, what jumped out was the word "Immediately". I thought to myself, "Yeah--they jumped in but then what happened." So I re-read the whole gospel through the lens of what the disciples do, feel. Don't know what I'll do with it but think that's where I'll go--a life in discipleship.

  36. Finally awake here, with springish weather, temps in the 70s.

    I am doing Christian unity and using Jonah and Mark. Our presbytery is in process of realignment, with both presbyteries in our state dissolving to form one "new" presbytery, and the schismatic group (IMHO) met in Orlando this week, so much food for thought. Wrapping it all in discussion of repentance, from both texts.

    And I'm trying to figure out if I can get a signal to do Sesame Street for children's time.

    Coffee, cereal with yogurt to offer.

  37. oh, and I am so JEALOUS of all you going on the BE...... no funds for this part-time supply pastor.

    However, I am talking with a search committee, and it looks promising. Prayers appreciated.

    Healing prayers going up for all you who are sick!

  38. Now I'm wondering whether our wireless extends to the sanctuary...that would spoil my Bert and Ernie plan, whether at laptop or projector level. Oh, well, I'm the Queen of Making-It-Work-No-Matter-What. It will be fine, somehow.

  39. Troubled by a 16 yo pushing limits this week - no lasting damage but there was police involvement *sigh*
    I hate having to be the prison warden in my own home. I have a sustainable sermon that is OK so I'm trying to beef it up and be at peace with using it.
    Looking forward to BE5.

  40. Amy, such struggles are hard on the mind that needs to write, or beef up a SS. prayers and wishes.

    I like the grape story, we don't use real wine so it would fit our communion sunday.

    I'm trying to decide to do a 'decision' ending. I'm not much for 'altar calls' and this would be a commitment card inviting everyone to some level of commitment. I think we really need it, but am feeling like I'm the one that goes out on a limb. geez. and wondering if the ice will still keep people home tomorrow, and...
    well just wondering - opinions anyone? how do you 'call people'?

  41. Amy, you have my prayers.
    Rev Nancy, I've done something like that, for the talent and time portion of stewardship, and people really liked writing on those cards. It gave me a sense of where people were, too. I like things that get people either in motion (as in when we remembered our baptisms a few weeks ago) or writing a response instead of passively listening. But I did grow up Southern Baptist, so the altar call has resonance.

  42. I grew up American Baptist and wonder if it's my background coming thru. But also know that we are poor commiters.. by waiting for adults to decide to be baptized or to indicate to me they want to move their membership, things are easily pushed off the the next week and the next and the decisions are never made.

    I thought that with all the congregation 'new-year' decisions on projects and priorities the timing would be good. It's just nerve wracking in a different way.

    thanks for your words that are affirming.

  43. Hi to Amy+, RevTSB, and RevAlli!

    Hugs to you, Amy, and hang in there. There is lots of laughter and sun in your very near future!

    Nancy, the nice thing about commitment cards is that they can be a significant commitment and still be somewhat private and anonymous. Sometimes it helps to get a few people ahead of time to be the first to respond. I've been mostly pleasantly surprised when I've tried this kind of thing with congregations.

    I'm making some more tea for you party preachers. There's hot tea for those who are healing from colds and there's iced tea for those who are anticipating umbrella drinks soon and very soon! Or vice versa. You choose.

  44. Ha! Funny. I was (moderate wing) Southern Baptist and then American Baptist, too, on the way to UCC. Probably because of that background, for me, too, there is something wonderful about a tangible way to respond.

    I don't remember if I shared this a few weeks ago: For New Year's Day, I gave everyone a little piece (1x2 inch) of magician's flash paper. It's a little pricey and a little goes a long way. I had them write on it something they wanted to give up or let go of to be ready for the new year. Just about everyone came forward to a "burning bowl" to let go of their paper, each time with an awesome flash.

  45. Does anyone have, or have access to, a Frederich Buechner library? I'm looking for his definition of repent, or repentance. Thanks!

  46. Though not as sick as Martha has been, I'm sitting here hooked up to my friendly nebulizer, wondering if my voice and cough will make it through worship tomorrow. I also have to figure out what to do with one recovering child and one sick child. And that sermon. I'm also rehabilitating a sustainable sermon.

    Trying to rest and get stuff done at the same time. Blessings to all of you. Off to watch Bert and Ernie now...

  47. Amy - prayers and hugs. I've been there. It's not the way we want to be as moms, but sometimes the way we have to be to protect our kids from themselves.

    I love the grapes and marbles. I'll have to remember it for next time around.

    My sermon is maybe done, but it's not where I thought I was going. I wanted to talk about the difference between Jonah's nd the disciples' repsonse to God's call, but the point I was trying to make eludes me. In the mean time, I realized that the only times Jonah shows up is in September of Year A and today (unless you do Easter Vigil or Day of Mourning). So I couldn't resist just telling Jonah's Fishy Tale. Maybe next time around I'll remember the connection between Jonah and the Gospel.

    It's the best that I can do with a brain that already left for vacation, and several other pressing projects left to finish before I leave. I envy everyone going on BE5 - I'll think of you at my sister's house in FLA.

    Sharon - alas, the change of topics neans I can't use your fishy rhyme after all. Thanks for being willing to share.

    I'll be back around at suppertime with my famous Vegetarian Chili to share - a hearty meal for a cold January day!

  48. RevTSB, I have a pretty complete Buechner library. Where should I be looking? Let me know. I'll look and post. (Anything for a diversion right now.)

    But you'll also hear a really good discussion of repentance on this week's Sermon Brainwave Podcast which is on the Text This Week.

  49. esperanza, the Vicar of Hogsmeade was commending to me a friendly nebulizer just yesterday. Unfortunately that was after I saw the doctor. If this doesn't get much better soon, I'm calling back on Monday and ask about getting one. (Yes, I've spent my pedicure money on meds this week. And then some.)

  50. Esperanza, I'm so happy you could make it here! Prayers of thanks for your sustainable sermon option and your friend the nebulizer. Prayers of healing for you and your sweet children.

  51. Hope everyone gets to feeling better. I have corralled my notes and thoughts into something of a sermon. I've got a 2 hour drive ahead of me so I might try to post my sermon later on this evening.

    For Buechner definitions use "Wishful Thinking".

  52. RevAlli,
    Thanks! I think in one of the ABC books. And thanks for the heads up about the podcast.

  53. Sharon, it was lamb tagine in the slow cooker - and very nice it was too. I've more or less packed for BE5 (and New ORleans) but not done much else - been really distracted by fb today - goofing around. However, a wee discussion there has led me to go with Jonah rather than the gospel, so a completely different tack from the one I was anticipating. But, since Ramona points out how seldom Jonah appears, that seems the right direction t go. It's coming together pretty well, so far, if I would just stop being diverted!
    I'm sorry there's so much illness around for revgals this week, prayers for healing and rest. Hoping to look in later but not until I wrap this up!

  54. Well...after much distraction I think I have a draft. I'm going to run out the store, meditate, and then I'll be back with tea and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. I need to review the draft, after it percolates for a bit, then maybe I'll post it. (Dang, I do not want to go out in the cold...but, I must).

  55. Martha, our girls already have one, so it was an easy prescription. I'm finding it gives more, and quicker, relief than the cough syrup he prescribed at the same time.

    I'm saving Jonah for next week, lectionary rebel that I am.

  56. Thanks, Vicar, for the use of "follow." That could really help me with a way in. I know where I want to end, and that's about taking the follow seriously, very seriously. I've been on a bit of an anti-institution rant this week, and my point has sort of been that Jesus didn't start his ministry by building a church, but by calling the disciples to follow. That's what he wants more than any of us propping up any kind of building or institution. He calls us to be disciples that DO. Social media versions of "follow" will be PERFECT as a way to start thinking about that. I even "follow" Jesus on Twitter.

    I should have read further before I started typing. Thanks, Beth, for the hint toward the comic strip. I found it immediately!

    Prayers for all of you who are sick!

    I've got a lot before me still before tomorrow. Our AWESOME church administrator was on vacation this week, and I have completely forgotten how much I depend upon her. I had a not-so-awesome administrator when I started here, so used to do all my own bulletin prep, etc. I've already done and printed (but not folded, I don't know how to work that machine) the paper announcement sheet. None of the worship stuff is ready as of today, though. Luckily my husband is the lay reader tomorrow, so no one but him is waiting on me to finish the liturgy, etc. I'll get it done after the kids head to bed. I've got a good plan for where I'm going with the sermon, so I'm not too worried there.

  57. Well, I have a service printed - TBTG for sustainable sermons! Leaving on Monday for BE but unlike Liz I am not yet packed and there is still a lot of work needed for magazines etc. Why do I leave so much to the last minute???

  58. SheRev, thanks for some good ideas for my "The Business We Are In" sermon.

    Terri, looking forward to those cookies!

    Liz, the lamb sounds good and so does packing for a trip as sermon distraction. Be back in a few!

  59. Relieved that tomorrow is Youth Sunday and I have no involvement beyond showing up.

    Spent much of today driving and mourning at the funeral service for a young (31) pastor in our Presbyterian killed in a head-on collision Tuesday night as she as driving to a session meeting. She had just been installed in October as her congregation's first pastor in a long time and she is the only child of her parents.

    I only met her a couple of weeks ago, and was so looking forward to getting to know her as a colleague and friend.

  60. Oh, Robin! How very sad! Prayers for her family, her congregation, and for all those who missed the chance to know her better.

  61. Robin, that is incredibly sad. I am so sorry. How awful!
    I am currently working on the worst excuse for a memorial service ever. At the beginning of our Annual Meeting we light a candle and say a word about people who have died the previous year, but it's been expanded to include people who have their services in our church, whether or not they have a connection to the church. So this includes someone from a neighboring town whose service ended up happening in our church simply because Neighboring Congregational Church was being painted. I was on vacation, so I am scouring the obituaries online to find something to say about a complete stranger. I think this has to change.

  62. SB,
    LAst year we started our annual meeting by remembering those who had been baptised, married and buried in the congregational life. But no service, we (I) simply read out the names with a pause between each category.

  63. Robin - so very sad. Prayers ascending.

    I have the bulletins, calendar and newsletter ready for copying. I think I'm ready to finalize the sermon and upload everything to my Kindle. I just got it for Christmas and used it in worship for the first time ever last week. It worked well enough that maybe I'll forget about the paper copy backup.

    The countdown is begun - only 2 services and a confirmaiton class stand between me and vacation!

  64. well,and then, also... my sermon is posted: On Being Found

  65. Good evening everyone! Loved catching up on all the conversation I missed today. The Holy Spirit thankfully worked pretty quickly this morning, and I got my very short (5 min) sermon done in a flash. I figured out that Jonah is the ONLY book that ends with a quote from God, so I went with the idea that God always has the last word. I'm looking forward to seeing how our program administrator decorated the altar--she was going to drape fabric like water and cut out some gulls to hang on the curtains. I'll add my big fish and boat that I made out of paper (stuffed, not just flat). Should be a wonderful service, with the text broken up between a dozen people.

    I've got breaded pork chops in the oven, if it's dinner time where you are. Blessings as Sunday nears (or has arrived) once again!

    P.S. Robin, could you share the woman's first name? I would love to lift her in prayer among my young clergy women colleagues.

  66. Thanks for all of the ideas, everyone! And prayers for Martha and all who are under the weather.
    Our congregational meeting is tomorrow too. The cruise couldn't have been timed better. Can. Not. Wait.
    I am weaving Mark and Jonah together as well, and offer this Anne Lamott quote that I'm sure most of you are familiar with--but it fits Jonah well.
    "You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."

  67. I am sitting in my teeny tiny weekend manse, watching the snow fall and wondering a) if anyone can get to church tomorrow, and b) how many days it will be before I can get to my weekday home and job. I'm well stocked with food, fuel and books, though, so maybe I'll have an unscheduled retreat.

    Meanwhile, I'm marveling that so many of you are getting ready to board a ship while we're all thinking about the Jonah and Mark readings. Bon voyage, and special blessings to you, Robin. My congregation will add our prayers.

  68. Beth, her name is Elaine Dutton.

  69. marciglass - thanks for that quote - I saw it somewhere earlier in the week but I'd forgotten about it. I may just add it to the sermon which is posted here
    Robin, so sorry about your colleague. (hugs)

  70. wow - two great pieces that may help my draft: the idea, as Beth reminded me, that God has the last word...and the Anne Lamott quote.

    And, Robin, I will hold Elaine in prayer and lift her up tomorrow morning as well.

  71. I know better than to hop on here so late on a Saturday, particularly with so many good (and in sync) ideas and my sermon headed in an entirely different direction. I'm also using Jonah & Mark, but found myself drawn to the pace. Everything happens so fast on all sides -- Jonah, God, Ninevites, Jesus, the disciples -- everyone seems to be in such a hurry. I went with the sermon title, "Quick! It's God!" and we'll be discussing kairos & chronos during the sermon (that is, if they actually answer the reflection question this week -- apparently no one in my congregation made New Year's resolutions, so that question fell on it's face a few weeks ago. At least the sermon was shorter.).

  72. Hello, Fissle, Suzy, Marci, and Beth. Welcome to the party!

    It got dark outside while I wasn't looking. Those pork chops sound good, Beth, as does your unscheduled retreat, Suzy.

  73. FIssle, love the sermon title!

  74. Robin, how tragic...prayers for her and for all.

    Amy, what a very difficult situation to be in; I hope that this will be some sort of turning point, and that you have strength to endure no matter what comes next.

    SB, I am having the same worries about the wireless reaching where I need it to. My husband, who is a network guy, suggested a low tech idea: we take a longer cable, plug it into the wireless router (?), and simply move the box closer to the church. It doesn't have to be in the church for me, just closer. Probably too late for this idea to help you for tomorrow, but maybe another time.

    I am going with the Wordle idea, now that I finally have it working on my Mac. I really need to figure out exactly how I am going to use it, rather than imagining my general idea is enough prep!

  75. My dear daughter is currently tying ribbon on little bags of Swedish Fish. I love her.
    What she can't supply is an ending for my sermon. That's in my hands. I think I need to change my location. To Mexico.

  76. Sermon posted WOW

    Leaving some space in the worship service as I have also incorporated our annual meeting into the life of our worship time...worship-ful work...guess I could of used that as a title as well.

    Robin, prayer for all in your presbytery.

    Maybe a diet pepsi/ice cream float??? Any takers?

  77. Rev TSB, I've looked everywhere for Wishful Thinking. I know we had it but don't know where it is right now. If inspiration comes, I'll post.

    Robin, so sorry to hear about your colleague.

    Now I have to get to work. House guest has arrived and I very much want to play. Am making the turn from "immediately" to switchback trail life of discipleship. Don't know where to go next but a part of me wants to go back to the question, "What possessed them?"

  78. Oh my gosh, I literally LOL'ed when I watched the Bert & Ernie clip! I'm soooo using that for children's time tomorrow. Thanks!

    Sermonizing on Mark's rushed literary style ("immediately" this happened and then "immediately" that happened), raising the question of why Mark is full of urgency ... but why we lack a similar spiritual urgency, despite all of our rushing.

    Peace of mind, healing of body, and happy preaching, RevGals!

  79. Those of you worried about your wireless not reaching the sanctuary: there are sites that let you download YouTube videos (one of them is, so that then you can play them later without an Internet connection. I did that frequently at my former church which lacked wireless when I wanted to show a video to the kids.

  80. This may be too late, but Buechner on Repentance from Wishful Thinking:
    "Repentance: To repent is to come to your senses. It is not so much something you do as something that happens. True repentance spends less time looking at the past and saying, 'I'm sorry,' than to the future and saying "Wow!"

  81. Thanks for the fix for the YouTube videos, Liddy. I'm going to do that!

    I have a bunch of disjointed things that might be string-able into a sermon. Going to try that now.

    I'll take one of those Pepsi floats, Purple!

  82. Yes, thank you, Liddy! Problem solved!

  83. My best to all the late nighters, I've done another edit and am calling it quits.
    Counting on the HS to have our backs as usual.

  84. I'm back and finally getting down to work. First I need to finish the bulletin. All I've got so far are the hymns. Time to write liturgy. I think I also need to pick y second scripture. I'm leaning toward the epistle, but Jonah could work, too. I like the urgency in 1 Corinthian though. It sort of goes with my anti-institution feel.

    My husband got called in to play ith the Methodist bell choir tomorrow since one of their players got sick today. He'll leave our house just before 7 am which means I have to be completely dne before then. That's not always the case. Just a little more pressure on my night. I think I can do it, though.

    Finished my dessert, ice cream with melon and pineapple mixed with rompope on top. When you cruisers are in Cozumel there's a rocking excursion called "Salsa, Salsa, and Margaritas." Cooking, dancing, and a couple of drinks if you want. It is AWESOME. They introduced us a couple of weeks ago to rompope, the Mexican eggnog. The seven sisters shop (???) at the port is the only place that carries it. It's worth the $7. I'll chek on the shop name, but the guy at the duty free shop knew who had it. Just my little Cozumel hint. I swear, next year I am in.

  85. OK - there's still things to finish up, but nothing that can't wait until after worship tomorrow. I need to chill a bit or I'll never get to sleep.

    Praying the Holy Spirit hovers over any late night sermonators out there!

    And everyone going to BE5 - have fun! Maybe I'll get to join you next time!

  86. Hope everyone is hanging in and doing okay. We are between storms, the election primary is over and since I am tired of both reports, I am watching my DVR of Grimm

  87. I'm heading to bed. I think this is the latest I've stayed up all week (other than when the cough kept me awake). Here's my offering, with more new material than I would have expected: I Will Seek Other Seas. I'm excited by all the hymns we will sing tomorrow from our new Chalice hymnals, none of which were in our old stinky UCC Hymnals (Jesus Call Us, Lord You Have Come to the Lakeshore, and I Have Decided to Follow Jesus), even if I won't have the voice to join in and sing them.
    Good night, all, and blessings!

  88. Liddy, thanks for the tip; my problem is solved for tomorrow, but that will save me some stress down the road.

    I discovered that I can print remotely from the sanctuary, so I can print the Wordle while we are still in church, have someone grab it and make copies, and then we can pass them out as folks leave. If my content is lacking, at least I can wow them with technology ;-)

  89. I'm still working with anyone who is out there.

    I enjoyed reading your sermons. Good word!

    Made some de-caf coffee for a warm up if you need it!

  90. Yeah -- I'll add my thanks to Liddy. I have wish, ed there were something like that forEVER, but I had no idea there really was. Thanks!

    I'm definitely still here, Sharon. I just finished the worship slides/large print bulletin and lay reader script. The best thing on that lay reader script was that I could create it, hit print, reach over to grab it from the printer, and hand it to the lay reader, my husband. Perfect.

    Now I hope he'll go to bed soon so I can actually focus on my sermon instead of the stuff he picks on TV. I think it might be time for me to go work in another room for a while.

  91. I'm finally back!

    I'm fishing for a sermon ...

  92. Hi Vicar and She Rev! Still hard at work, I see!

    I have a sermon of sorts. A little preachy-ish for my tastes but it's blessedly short. There's a baptism, too, during one of the worship services, so with that and the Muppets, some good news will be shared.

    I'm going to get a couple of hours of sleep. Then I will be up extra-early to make sure I can get the vehicle on the road after today's snow.

    Many blessings and God's peace to each of you as you prepare your offerings for tomorrow. I am so thankful for all of you and your wisdom, humor and prayers today.

    I will be back with coffee in the a.m.!

  93. The dishes are done, the leftovers put in the freezer, and the final touches on the sermon. Maybe not what I dreamed, but what I've got. Morning in the day shelter we will focus on what's in those nets. Here's the focus for the afternoon bi-cultural service: Switchbacks on the Trail. You'll find it at:

  94. So, I haven't done anything since I was last here. I shut the computer down and got myself ready to go work in our room while my husband watched TV elsewhere. Only when I got it all ready, he decided to go to bed. Oy vey. That distracted me for a while (laundry for tomorrow, getting ready for bed, blah blah blah), so I'm just now coming back. I remembered that my whole sermon idea started with a middle of the night scribbling-in-the-back-of-my-journal session on Tuesday night, though, so hopefully finding that gets me going. I've got 25 minutes until my usual midnight shut down time. I think I can get enough down on the computer to hit that goal and still finish up tomorrow morning even when my husband is heading to the Methodist church.

  95. I'm glad to discover I have more of a sermon than I thought I had!

  96. I guess I should have said ...


  97. And just because it's hanging out there - - -


  98. Still working here.
    Decided to pull off of Jonah and Corinthians to talk about end of the world prophecies and how we delight in the idea that God will destroy us as punishment...but that, in reality, God does not delight in destruction, but instead simply wants us to hear, to know, and to follow God and God's way for us.

    Robin, praying for you and your whole presbytery.

  99. Good night, friends. May any remaining inspiration come quickly and sleep come readily!

  100. So much for my midnight cut off. I got way too distracted by mindless TV. I finally got my way in down now, though, so I'm going to head to bed for a couple of hours. I'll be back around 4:30 a.m. central. Way too soon, but I did it to myself. I feel an early bedtime coming on tomorrow.

  101. Back! I gave myself an extra 30 minutes of sleep which I hope was worth it. It was all kind of restless since the "baby" was making a lot of noise in the monitor last night. I don't know what her issue was. Never fussy enough to go do anything about, but never really solidly asleep either. It'll be a long morning for many of us!

  102. Good morning, friends!

    The internet wasn't so good at the house today, so I'm checking in from church where -- praise be! -- there is wireless in the sanctuary for the Muppets today!

    Way to go, preachers! Go forth and fish!

    And remember that the Holy Spirit has your back.

    Peace to you all.

  103. My son just booted me out of my warm comfy typing spot so he could watch Blue's Clues. Maybe that will force me to wrap this up. It's all on the page somewhere. I just don't think it's in the write order and some of it needs a little clarification/tightening. I've got 10, and most 20, minutes. GO!

  104. Hehe Sharon - that's no way to refer to your congregation! (Muppets in the sanctuary) A blessed day to all and restful holy naps.

  105. Bit late to the party, but I wanted to report that my impersonation of Bert & Ernie went over really well! The only hitch was that when I described Bert and asked who Bert's friend was, the kids all shouted, "ELMO!"

    Sad... kids these days!


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