So, it’s coming up on the 2nd Sunday of Advent already. Do you know where your presents are? Or, are you content with presence? If the latter is true, welcome to the 11th Hour Preacher party, where today we feature John the Baptist in the wilderness, the prophet Malachi, with his refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap, guaranteed to make you fit for the presence of God. Alternately, you can hang out with Baruch, or you can sit in prison with Paul, who, even so, is confident that God has begun a good work in us and will bring it to completion…. someday, somehow….You can find an insightful commentary and discussion of the various texts here.

Today, I’m serving blueberry pancakes, orange juice, fair trade coffee and good earth tea (cinnamon). I’ve got some holiday treats as well, kringla, lefse, krumkake. Do you have some holiday specialty you’d like to offer?

I started out thinking about the reading from Malachi. Then I changed my mind and worked on the gospel. A little later I changed my mind again. I didn’t leave John entirely, but I was drawn to include some thoughts on Philippians. My congregation is in the midst of making some tough decisions, and I thought it might be good to remember who it is that began a good work in us so long ago… and trust that he will bring that work to completion.

How about you? Been changing your mind much this week? Or repenting? Tell us about it. And have a cup of coffee too.

92 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Change Your Mind Edition

  1. I have a number of cookies, brownies and extra goodies…egg nog(with or without rum).I am working on the word Child this week as John prepares the way for the child who will change the world.Also working on Malachi's message of preparation for what is to come.All tied into how we think of out prepartaion for the child to come and what the child will bring to us.Fresh out of the oven Cherry-choclate chip cookies. I will be at a Ladies Luncheon tomorrow noonish, but will be around early AM and late PM.

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  2. I'm off to a Peruvian Mission preparation group today so am just making a vague sketch of my sermon now before returnign to it much later. I've got a batch of fresh baked mince pies if anyone wants one!My vagues sketch so far is to combine St Nicholas' day with the John the Baptist theme. We have a family service and so I'm talking about both Santa Claus and John the Baptist being men who tell others about Jesus and how we too can be like them and tell others about Jesus by our words and our lives.

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  3. running late this week, almost 9.00pm and about to start putting words on the page for the sermon. Have an idea in my head, so am hoping it comes onto the page easily. This Advent looking at preparing, this week is making room, even building a stable for children's time, thanks to some handymen in the church and a large sheet of cardboard or two. next week repenting – cleaning up to make room, and advent 4, bringing in the new.

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  4. Good morning all. Tomorrow is a Family service so no sermon as such but I am going to do a couple of things to draw the kids in. Whilst playing 'People get ready' they will bring up Christian Christmas symbols and hang them on the Christmas tree. Then with reference to 'Refiner's Fire' I fuse glass as a hobby, so I will show them unfused rough glass and then lovely smooth fused glass – fit for purpose and with it's sharp edges smoothed away.

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  5. Need 3 sermons, a pew sheet & possibly (depending on whether baptism family return call to confirm)an order of service too. Friend due in an hour. Shall I panic now???

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  6. Inspired moment…Have informed Evensong lady that from henceforth we will use the Eucharistic lectionary for Evensong, as there is absolutely no overlap in congregation…This turns a monthly 3 sermon Sunday into a manageable 2 sermon Sunday. Not proud of messing with Lectionary, but pleased with attempt to abandon SuperPriest!So…2 out of 3 sermons done, together with pew sheet.Time to go and fetch Clare. Will have to do some more later, but for now this is a good place to be!

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  7. For those preaching Malachi, I came across this 6 years ago (!) on a lectionary list I subscribe to… I don't know who submitted it, but I do love it.A group of women in a bible study were looking at this verse from Malachi, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3), and they wondered what on earth it could mean. One of them decided to find out about the process of refining and purifying silver, and promised to report back to the women in the Bible Study at their next meeting. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities… She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy—when I see my image in it.”

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  8. wow, welcome everyone! it's early here; I'm pouring coffee, though. 1-4 Grace, thanks for the cookies, and the egg nog (may wait until I'm a little farther on the sermon, tho. Sarah, tell us about the peruvian mission prep group; sounds fascinating. Patty — welcome, and I'm impressed that you have the next three weeks mapped out! (may I borrow?)Kathryn, 3 sermons sounds like a lot!and Mags — thanks for the illustration!

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  9. Magdalene, thanks so much for that story – it's beautiful.I have two sermons to write today, both from Luke.Have just finished putting together power point for service to show off new projection system so it must be time to start writing.Having had lots of different services for a few weeks now – that didn't involve preaching, it's hard to get back into the groove.Reckon I'll be here most of the day.

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  10. I'm chanting the litany at an ordination this morning. Then there's lunch and later a dinner for the new deacon (who will be coming to my church!). We have lessons and carols at the main service so I only need a homily for the 8:00 people. It is snowing and black ice is predicted for the early morning hours so even that might never get preached. So if I get a chance to replace the circular needle young dog ate yesterday, I may spend the afternoon by the fire knitting a prayer shawl. I've finally got the basketweave pattern memorized.

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  11. Good morning pals,I'll be preaching on Baruch and Luke tomorrow. It's communion Sunday so it doesn't have to be a full out sermon.I'm thinking of comparing advent preparation to the preparation of a church during interim time. How a church goes through a time of turning(repentance) from it's old ways to a prepare for a new way.

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  12. Welcome to Margaret, Liz and God_Gurrlll. What lovely plans you have for the evening, Margaret. GG, it sounds like a good day to have a shorter sermon. We have communion every Sunday, so the sermon is normal length anyway.Blueberry pancakes, anyone?

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  13. Good morning, and thanks for the coffee! I don't have any special holiday treats to offer except for a few small Reese's cups (if you can pry them out of my hands!).I am preaching John, title "Be Prepared!" and am not much further in my thinking than I was on Tuesday. Still have the song Scar sings in The Lion King stuck in my head – Be Prepared! It's very ominous, and I'm thinking how John's words, too, have a note of warning in them. Am working through what it means to prepare in the way he calls for as opposed to the other types of preparations we get caught up in this season.Personally, I am feeling very caught up in that type of preparation right now (the "buy gifts, get the house ready, host company, run everywhere, make stuff!" kind of preparations).

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  14. The bulletin has both Malachi and Luke so I'm preaching one or both of those, I think. This week brought a letter with disturbing news which makes sermon writing difficult. Meanwhile, my kids have things today that will keep me away from the computer for most of the day. I think that means I'll be here for the 3rd shift of the Preacher's party.

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  15. welcome to earthchick and Vicar! blessings on your preparations today. I know how you feel, earthchick, although our celebration is going to look very different this year. I'm preaching tonight, and we're also going to a special service for those who are grieving, with my husband and mother-in-law.

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  16. I'm back on lectionary! But finishing up Christianity 101…This week it's Communion, which actually fits nicely with Malachi and Luke…talking about peace and reconciliation, gathering around the common table to share a meal.I'm using Babette's Feast as an illustration (Although I know that's getting a bit old), and also the holiday tables we will be gathering around.I got a good start yesterday and am about 2/3ds done…I want to be done by lunchtime as we are meeting friends for lunch and then there's a friend's art show opening tonight…Mags, what a great illustration!I have maple cream sandwich cookies to offer to go with the coffee…

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  17. 1-4 Grace, is it too early for me to have cherry chocolate chip cookies? Send me the recipe! I'm going with the Eliz and ZEch story and leaving John for next week with his brood of vipors…just can't think of spending 2 weeks on crazy uncle John. But don't have much to say on Eliz and Zech's story either. I keep thinking about God's promises and salvation being for THIS life, not just hte next, but can't seem to avoid backing myself into the prosperity gospel corner, or alienating childless couples. *sigh*Magdalene! what a wonderful story, makes me think maybe I'll preach malachi instead. I have coffee to share, and later today I'll bring some hot cider. PRayers for you preachers today to find the HS hovering above you!

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  18. Thank you Magdalene! You just allowed me to finish my sermon! I am preaching on Malachi and Luke's John story and baptism and repentance and love. That about covers it 🙂 Great Bonhoeffer quote from Workingpreacher.org helped get me going. Here it is if it helps anyone else:The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for every one who has a conscience. Only when we have felt the terror of the matter, can we recognize the incomparable kindness. God comes into the very midst of evil and of death, and judges the evil in us and in the world. And by judging us, God cleanses and sanctifies us, comes to us with grace and love. We're off to cut down our Christmas tree after the two youngest girls get back from violin lessons, and then later, I'm off to MediumCity to preach and lead worship. I'm glad it's a communion weekend.I just tried mixing coffee with my normal hot cocoa (for digestive reasons). Yuck! If you enjoy it, I will make you a fresh cup, but I am sticking with frothed skim milk, hershey's special dark, and sugar. How does one grow to enjoy the taste of coffee anyway?Blessings on all preparations.

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  19. My theme this week is Birth Means Re-Evaluating Priorities. I am starting the sermon with a reference to (and projecting) this adThen it naturally flows into the Malachi and Luke passages since the role of the prophetic voice is to challenge us to re-evalute our priorities and our actions.The question in the end of course is. Are we willing to be refined? Are we willing to change our priorities (if that is where the re-evaluation leads us)? Are we ready to turn and go another way?

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  20. I'm a newbe here. Preaching this week that has been through a devasting loss the week before, I just didn't have the energy for refiner's fire! I think I'm preaching on the end of the song of Zechariah, "By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."Want to preach on some grace in Advent. Here's trying to finish it up!

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  21. Thanks God Guurrlll about the connection to interim ministry. I am in my first parish doing interim ministry after a cut off from the previous pastor because of illness and this is a good time to connect looking at how God is refining us for what is to come next. There is hope for the future in the midst of grief over the lost pastor, but there is also some conflict to sort out and definitely need for better communication throughout the congregation.

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  22. I love all the comments about the refiner and refining! the end of the silversmith story makes me a little regretful that I didn't stick with Malachi — there are unbloggable things going on in my church right now, and people really need to see each other's faces. (sigh.)and understand what God is refining us for, and what kind of purity God is looking for — a purity in love, an ability to see each other as sisters and brothers.

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  23. well….it's mid-day already and I just dragged myself out of bed to face this sermon. We too have unbloggables going on, and i AM preaching Malachi. I love the silversmith story–thanks Mags! I have also been trying to restrain myself from even thinking about saying that the current things going on (which involve people either leaving or saying they're leaving the church) is "refining" as I think that would be both unwelcome and eisegesis. So instead I'm trying to think about what refining means for us as a Temple being prepared for God's presence…or something. I added through verse 6 to the lectionary reading so that this week's theme would be "the promise of justice" but I don't know if that will work now (it did when we planned it two months ago, before the craziness!)…I have absolutely no food in my house, and very few clean dishes, and no energy for either of those things. I am in need of a vacation, but instead for now I will mooch off of your generous spread of yummies and try to write a sermon before tonight's christmas party.

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  24. What a beautiful start to the day. I'm drinking my first cup of coffee and wondering where the first paragraph I have on the page will go. I'm with Andrea and God Guurrlll in making the connections about preparation and the interim process we are going through right now. As of right now, I'm preaching the luke passage and really don't want to have one of those "change my mind" sermons later today!! I also have to admit that I'm feeling very conflicted about preaching and lighting the "peace" candle on this Sunday after the president announced will send more troops to Afghanistan. After working at the VA hospital for a year, I'm well aware that most in our country (and churches) tend to forget we are a country at war. Anyone else struggling with this "Peace" week?

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  25. oh, I just want us to remember, in the midst of everything, about god's love that overflows. that's all.no pointed references about people's leaving or not leaving, or that being refining.just lots of unbloggable meanness, much of it directed at the pastors.so, no, I'm not going to talk about refining in that context, or at all.how is everyone else doing?

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  26. I finally got a beginning and am now plugging away. I found a way to make the "Be Prepared!" song from The Lion King work (sort of). We'll see…(earlier I said I was preaching John, but what I meant is that I'm preaching the JOhn the Baptist text, i.e., Luke).Need. More. Java.

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  27. Magdalene thank you for the silversmith story it's fabulous and fits great for me. Diane, the Peru day was a meeting of those of us going on a Mission to Peru next August. Our diocese is twinned with the Anglican diocese of Peru and this is my first time but not our first mission as a diocese.It was a good day of learning (or re-learning in my case) some basic Spanish and getting an idea of what work we might do next summer.Sermon has a bit more to it now. Jacket potatoes in the oven!

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  28. Hello everyone, I'm checking in for the day. I have a few thoughts about Malachi and Luke, but there's a few other things to attend to before I can get to just focus on sermon writing.First, I have a difficult phone call to make that I'm currently avoiding with all my might. I don't know if I can get my courage up in time and it's threatening to take over my whole day. Help!Second, there's an Advent event tonight at St. Larger I must attend, and there's cooking to be done–chai for the event tonight, and coffee cake and egg dish for tomorrow's brunch.I know that's not a lot, but it seems much bigger than I am right now.

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  29. Hi all….I too hadn't heard the Malachi story and love it, Mags.No preaching tomorrow or for a long time to come…still grieving the sudden loss of the community where I was worshipping and ministering even though I don't regret the actions of integrity that led to it.Just spent several painstaking hours grading but now it's almost done–will just have to grade and add in their final papers due next Friday. Hanging on by the skin of my teeth, as are my students and colleagues, for the end of the university semester–very Advent dynamic, I guess.Now I get to work out and maybe get a coffee with my sweetiepie. Good luck to everyone still writing.

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  30. It's a cold rainy afternoon here–almost cold enough for the rain to turn into snow. We had the annual Christmas fair this morning (which in this parish is actually a Christmas tag sale) so I'm getting (another) late start. Preaching on Luke with refs to Malachai; was feeling inspired earlier but not so much now. I think I will run out to the grocery store now in case we get snow and/or ice later, and then hunker down with the sermon, hoping NOT to be up as late as I was last Saturday!Love the story about the refiner!

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  31. Diane, I *always* appreciate prayers, but it's actually semfem who was asking for prayers b/c of the phone call she was needing to make.semfem, I hope you were able to go ahead and get it taken care of. I know how crippling that sort of thing can be.As for me, I am feeling rather unfocused. Word-wise, I am roughly halfway done, but I have no sense of where I'm going from here…

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  32. Near here we are having a new road built in readiness for all the visitors that will be coming to the 2012 Olympics. It is straightening out the old bendy road and is cutting through a very steep hill. A great visual aid for the Luke reading.

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  33. earthchick, no luck, but thanks for the sympathetic words. Still procrastinating by finding lots of other things to do.What I hate most about something like this silly phone call (warning: possible whining ahead) is that so many of you and so many of my colleagues are going through far worse situations, with challenges much tougher than this one phone call. I admire the tough decisions that so many of you have made (Sophia and Cheese come to mind as recent examples). And yet I can't just buck up and get it done. It makes me feel so weak and wimpy and inadequate to be a pastor.

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  34. Oh, semfem, I'm sorry for what you're feeling! I swear, I will let a simple phone call grow all out of proportion with reality. I let it weigh on me, and then it gets harder to make, and the longer I don't make it, the bigger it gets, and the more I delay, the worse I feel about it, until I am nearly paralyzed. And it does make me feel inadequate – what kind of pastor am I, that I can't even make a stupid phone call? – and then that makes it even harder to go ahead and make the darn call!There are other things in ministry that can put me into this cycle, but probably none as much as an unpleasant phone call, esp. if the phone call is overdue.Do you do yoga? Are you familiar with Warrior I? I like to think of that pose as preparing me to face challenges head on. If you aren't familiar with the pose, maybe you could look it up online and give it a try, maybe take a few deep breaths and set an intention for yourself like "fearlessness" or "courage."Hope it's okay that I've stepped over from empathy into advice-giving. It's just that when I've been in your position I've needed more than just empathy, so maybe this will help.Go you! You can do it!

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  35. Hi folks! Sermon posted here.Was steali… er, borrowing a bit this week… Jan's Advent Door is great as were Gord's inspired words.Loved the Bonhoeffer quote brought up earlier in the week – normally I wouldn't use such a long quote, but my… the guy was amazing. Tricky week: we've had a murder in our parish and tho' the folks aren't members, they are known to the folks in church – neighbours etc. Decided the intercessions were perhaps the better place to address that situation and the family concerned.May the Spirit inspire those of you still writing!

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  36. oh! sorry semfem, praying for you. i just couldn't get the right names and prayer concerns…ok, back from the remembrance service, now, getting ready for the early edition…I'm goin' in..

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  37. Hi gals and pals! I'm just popping in to say that I miss everybody and I miss the Party. I went to a service celebrating the life of a colleague who died this week suddenly while recovering from a seemingly successful minor surgery.It was my first time in Public (ie, a gathering of Church Folk) since the news of my departure went public. Several people did the "head-tilt-puppy-dog-eyes-frowny-face" acknowledgment from across the room, but many more came up and offered a hug and an invitation to worship with them for the duration. In the balance of things, I'm glad I went, although I was nervous about showing up and being clergy kryptonite.God is good.

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  38. Hi Everyone! It feels like ages since I popped in on a preacher party. Earthchik, I love your recommendation to do Warrior I before going into difficult situations! I will have to try that!My sermon is done, but I'm not sure how I feel about it. It has a pretty decent opening, a strong ending, and a great illustration within it (that I was tipped off to by the workingpreacher.org podcast for this week, having to do with a scene from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.)But I think this may be a week to ask my husband to do a quick read-through to let me know if it's too meandering in between the good stuff.Semfem, hope you've maybe made your phone call and are now breathing easier! May you have a restful and relaxing Saturday evening.Blessings to all as you work and prepare for tomorrow morning!

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  39. Cheesehead, I've been thinking about you loads today, wondering where you were and hoping you'd drop in and let us know wazzup. thanks for doing that and know that we continue to pray for you and want to continue to journey with you. you are so gracious and gifted. Hope no one minds me speaking for the community though I know each is more able than I am.Anyway, I really must start writing. Its gone 11pm here.

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  40. AAAAAAAAA!!! I still have 0 words written, though I have a slightly more formed idea than I had this morning…but the 0 words means I'm not going to make it to the christmas party tonight. That makes me sad, as it's one of the best parties of the year. Obviously the Holy Spirit is tired of me going to parties and wants me to sit and wrestle instead…but really? I could really use a party. sigh.

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  41. Thank for the kind words, folks, and prayers for you Semfem. Sometimes it's harder to do a smaller thing than a dramatic one!(Witness how long I put off catching up on my gradebook).The prayers are much appreciated-I think I shared in the book discussion but not here that we found out the reason the archbishop wasn't doing background checks–he is a convicted felon himself using his confirmation name as an alias! (Not sex in his case but money–high level scholarship fraud, and though he was probably the mastermind he turned state's evidence and his Nigerian flunkies got the jail time). They disbanded the jurisdiction but the parish is still operating and the sad thing is that some clergy still worship him. Not to mention how bad this makes the Independent Catholic movement and religion in general look…So I and a few others are now contacting his probation officer, the state attorney general and the local philanthropic community trying to ensure that investigations happen into church finances and, much bigger ticket, the AIDS residences he runs–with his partner as treasurer!Cheese, so glad you had a good experience and supportive colleagues. My son HockeyBoy is making bacon and raised waffles and I'm sure there will be enough for cyber guests. Also Ghirardelli hot chocolate with whipped cream on top.

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  42. i flew the coop and left boonieville, and went to spend time with dolcejava. is it a bad thing that as soon as i turned of the freeway for the turn to boonieville… i started crying. i got out of my vehicle and into the house and started sobbing… so empty without him.and i have nothing written for the morning… thoughts that must come to paper soon, so i can have big glass of wine and sleep away the blues…

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  43. just back from worship, am packing up and going home with a meh sermon that my mom is going to hear tomorrow….will be back in touch with you all and check your updates as soon as I'm home.Reubens for dinner, anyone?

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  44. Okay, I have a draft up here. Still might rework the ending and/or paragraphs leading up to it.Now to go do a bunch of mommy stuff and then some menu-planning for dinner guests (tomorrow night). We haven't had guests over (other than family) in ages, and I'm hoping we're up for it!

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  45. cheese, we're glad you came to the party. virtual hugs here.Teri — we'll be up late here, trying to figure out to give my sermon that special something that it lacks right now.earthchick, – i'll be right over to read yours…

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  46. OK. Almost 1am but I finally have something that will have to do for the morning service, posted here. I too borrowed the Bonhoeffer quote.Think I'll sleep some and then go to work on the afternoon service. Thank goodness the evening service is a community carol service. We're hosting but no address to prepare.

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