mum2It’s Homecoming weekend in the suburb of Dallas TX where I have spent the last week enjoying some time with beloved family.  The unexpected?  A surprise visit from my niece who is a freshman at Texas A&M.  Also unexpected:  her younger sister came down with a cold, and then I caught the same virus.  We are all better now.

Tonight, I am looking forward to the Homecoming game — Go Dragons! — and all the “Friday Night Lights” fun of Texas high school football.  The younger niece will be crashing (clashing?) cymbals in her high school band drum line and wearing one of those mums.  It’s her first.  From a boy!

Revised Common Lectionary preacher that I am, I see that the rich man’s eternal homecoming took an unexpected (to him) turn when he ended up needing salvation from Lazarus.  Where is God With Us when we face the unexpected?  Especially the unwelcome unexpected?

What of the people who are looking for “home” on a Sunday morning when they come to their church?  Some expect predictability; some crave a blessed surprise.  The gospel of Jesus seems to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”  All of those people are in our pews.

May God bless all of you preachers who dare to bring good news that calls people to re-connect with authentic self and eternal values.  May some of that good news splash on each of us as well.

Please do make this space your sermon prep home for awhile as we work on worship and preaching things together.

For a couple of hours in the late morning / early afternoon, I will be flying home to New Orleans.  I have no doubt that all of you will keep the coffee pot going, the snack table filled, and the encouragement flowing freely.

Welcome to the party!

132 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Unexpected Homecoming Edition

  1. Good morning! I’m just making a brief start on sermon writing before I head off for a Curling Bonspeil. I have about an hour to work and then will be “playing” until late afternoon. But it’s getting started that is the hard part. Right?
    I’m preaching on the gospel – Lazarus and the rich man and all that strange stuff!
    One of the things I’m planning is to stick some pics of poor people on the (glass) doors of the sanctuary – people will pass them on the way in. Later on in the service, we’ll bring those pics forward to the table and make them a part of our prayers for others.
    Meanwhile, hubby is in the kitchen making poached eggs on toast – we need a hearty breakfast before a day’s sport. There’s also cereal and hot tea or coffee to share. Help yourself!


  2. I like the homecoming parallel.

    We’re pushing the limits today with me officiating a family wedding 3 hours away… that starts at 6. Somewhere on the fb page there’s a whine about how that happened.

    Working on NL text, focused on the I Am part, but right now working on the PowerPoint for Sunday school.

    Sharon, travel safely and enjoy!


  3. the outline was written by lunchtime today [saturday], which is early for me. then an afternoon meeting that went longer than planned, and it is 8.45 pm, and I am about to start writing the text – or do I just write a few more notes and ad-lib?
    this is the first Sunday back after illness [asthma and lung infection] and study leave, so going without a written sermon may be being a little too confident, seeing I very rarely do that.

    working with teh rich man and lazarus, looking at parables, and in what way the story is about money, and the ways it is not – because it is also about ignoring those in need. I will post it when finished.


    1. RevPearl, so glad you are able to be back in the pulpit and confident enough to consider going without a written sermon. When I have done that — and it is rare — it has worked out well. I hear a holy nudge for you to go for it.

      I look forward to seeing your sermon soon!


  4. gosh!! It’s nearly 1pm and I haven’t started!! Took advantage of a special offer and some business that needed to be done – and me and my sweetie took oursleves off to a country retrteat for a couple nights. Left things pretty weel sorted, so knew that today *all* I need to do is the message!!!
    It’s Harvest Festival here, so I’m jumping out of the lectionary in favour of the parable of the Rich Fool…. thoughts flying round – my garden has a glut of fruit & veg, which we have been tring to give away for weeks – but people seem reluctant to accept it. So, am I too a Rich Fool in another guise?! Mulling this over, while warming through some marrow and squash soup made from said garden!!


  5. Good morning!

    I love that every time I post a comment, or refresh the page, I get a new picture at the top. I just saw my feet in a circle of feet!

    I am up and getting ready to say good-bye to my sis and her hubby and my younger niece. Except for having that dang cold for most of the week, I enjoyed seeing them and hanging out with them and, especially, the homecoming game last night. I did get to see my niece march in the band and play cymbals. I found out that there is so much more finesse to it — even choreography — than merely crashing two big brass disks together. Another stereotype goes down.

    When Laura (my niece) asked me to stay through homecoming game night, I could say yes because I have a sustainable sermon that I feel good about.

    Regarding sustainable sermons: My seminary professor of New Testament said: “If a sermon was worth preaching once, it’s worth preaching again.” I suppose the converse is also true! Having a good sustainable sermon when you need one is a gift of traveling through a few years of ministry. Tweaking to fit the current congregation and situation is encouraged.

    More on that later . . .

    How about some coffee? It’s hot, fresh and Fair Trade. Help yourselves to that, or hot tea. There’s a variety of bagels and cream cheese, too. Enjoy!


  6. Good morning, all! I came home early from a get-together last night so that I could write about relationship and community. Some irony there! I am on the narrative lectionary, using Moses and Aaron to talk about how God does not expect us to go it alone, and provides us with partners and communities in mission. I was having a hard time with it all week, but have finally decided to use the sermon to challenge them to a couple of specific things, as a church and in partnership with other local churches.

    For this morning, I am off to Mum Pastor’s church, and the church to which I belonged back when I was UMC, to hear Craig Barnes (President of Princeton Seminary and my pastoral care professor at Pittsburgh) speak on “Worship as Conversation.”

    Have some muffins!


  7. I am NL and touching on the call of Moses. Toying with the idea Moses was called to a particular mission and his call might or might not be the same as our call today. I am starting the sermon with several “did you know” facts like this:

    • Before Walt Disney built the empire he has today, he was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

    We’ll see where it goes from there.
    First up is breakfast: natural bacon and eggs…any takers?


        1. Ha! You don’t watch Disney Junior?? It’s not a bad show–little girl plays doctor with her talking stuffed animals (a la Toy Story). If you are in need of procrastination, here’s the official link:

          The cake, currently in my imagination, is going to be a rectangle with Doc’s face on it.


            1. It is one of the least objectionable things I’ve seen. Still too much pink and purple, but at least the character has a brain and some imagination.


              1. I would trade you — despite being a horrible cook and not artistic at all! How about a round cake with licorice hair for her braids? Though I too would make a rectangle cake and likely just find a Doc candle or something and call it good.

                (And I agree–Doc McStuffins is not the torture to watch that some other shows are!)


  8. Good morning! I’m off to a dreaded Saturday morning council meeting – and this one is the joint meeting. We have to discuss what we’re doing with the changes in our denominational health insurance because of the health care act. This is also traditionally the joint meeting where they discuss my compensation. It’s an uncomfortable time – they send me out of the room to talk about it, then call me back.

    I”m always anxious, but this time I’m worried sick. And I don’t really know why. Mostly it’s because my depression is rearing it’s ugly head and I’m always overly sensitive/negative when I’m depressed. Add in some unbloggable family stuff….well, I’m just worried.

    Sermon writing will have to wait for the afternoon. I’m preaching Michael and All Saints, because that’s the text in our pre-printed bulletins. I have no idea what to do. I noodled it a bit this week, and a sermon on angels doesnt feel much like a sermon -more like a lecture. Where’s the gospel? Anyone else out there preaching angels this week?

    I’ll check in later after the meeting. Hold me in your prayers! I need it.


    1. It’s never good to find the words “dreaded Saturday morning council meeting” together.

      FWIW, I have yet to hear the good reason why the pastor is asked to leave for those discussions in a church! If ever there was a pastoral moment . . . . It feels too much like a corporate model to me and not like ministry together. Of course, you can’t change that, and neither have I been able to very often.

      Hugs and love to you, Ramona. I’m not preaching angels; I am sending some your way. Be on the lookout!


    2. I’m also preaching St Michael, also not sure where to go with it. I’m thinking about Jacob (seems much more preachable), and something about angels as a symbol (sign) of God’s continuing desire for connection, love, care for and with us.

      Or something like that. Being fully known (gospel!) by a God who continually seeks connection with us. That oughtta preach, right? *sigh*

      And yes, this was selected by the congregation where I’m filling in too. Angels? gosh.


      1. Ramona, I had to preach on angels once. It wasn’t easy, and yeah, some of it turned out to be like a class (I called it “Angelology 101), but I did find some connections to us… So… If there’s anything at all interesting to you in what I did, feel free to use it. “Applications’ come two thirds of the way through. I have not mastered linking my blog to this site, but here’s the URL if you can cut and paste:


    3. I just said to my mom and hubby this morning that I currently have a lecture and need a sermon! (Also on Michael and All Angels) Hopefully we will both find them.


  9. I’m here earlier than usual today, because instead of drumming class I have a wedding. It’s quite the production, let’s just say. And it means leaving my house at 3:30 and not returning until probably after midnight, when I’ll collapse into bed for a few hours before church. I also have houseguests (again: wedding), so I need to write in a pretty compact amount of time.

    I’m on Moses in the NL, God’s name is a verb, etc. I need an opening and then I think the rest will come, since I have a vague idea where I’m going. (of course, it’s possible that if the “where I’m going” idea was less vague, the opening would be more obvious too….chicken egg!)

    I am craving waffles, but don’t have any of those. so…tea and fruit it is. Enjoy! 🙂


    1. Good morning, Teri!

      Your day sounds good and busy. “God’s name is a verb, etc.” would make a great sermon title, IMHO.

      I’m craving waffles, too, and will gratefully accept the tea and fruit.


  10. Sitting here with revgal Robin this morning listening to Craig Barnes talk about Worship as Conversation – how cool is that? She says hi. I am running this weekend – as soon as this is done I am headed to the junior high youth retreat 1.5 hours away and then back tonight so I can be in worshipo in the morning. I do have some great good news to share – the job description I wrote based on my gifts and the church’s mission was approved and I will now be the Pastor of Discipleship and Spiritual Growth rather than the nebulous Associate Pastor. I am excited about all this means. Blessings to all in your preparations and travel!


    1. Ooooh, goody! I was hoping you would check in, MumPastor. VERY cool, indeed.

      Way to go on defining your work and your gifts to carry out your church’s mission. WooHoo! We rejoice with you.

      ~~~ Waving to you and Robin ~~~~


  11. I am preaching to the internet again this morning and am going to try to do something with Lazarus. My parish is in a wealthy part of town. It is important to teach that the whole world isn’t like our burb. There are some good stories out there to share.


  12. I have been out of town and out of touch for two weeks. I took materials with me to a conference this week to work on the sermon, but then didn’t do the homework; too much fun with oldest in NYC. Interim out of town, so back into the pulpit I go, ready or not.

    Prayers for all of us as we sandwich in real life and real ministry. Safe travels, Sharon – I’ll bet you got to see some “Light-up” mums at the Dragon game!!


    1. Hello, Amy!

      I saw mums the likes of which I can’t even believe, much less describe. One thing I found out is that some of the students without mums had made the decision to donate to charity a comparable amount instead of spending it on that. I have mixed feelings. My niece’s mum was really cute and not the kind that covers the whole girl. The festivity is fun. How much is too much? That’s always the question. It’s certainly the question in the RCL gospel reading this week.

      Waving to you and Mutha+ from my airport gate in your neighborhood.

      Prayers for your re-entry sermon, too.


  13. My flight is about to be called. I just love being able to enjoy all of you while I sit in the airport.

    I just posted my sermon on my new-ish, but still under construction (sort of), blog. It is Heckuva Job, Rich Guy and is a sermon I preached 3 years ago when I lived in PA. When I get back to New Orleans later, I will likely do some revisions.

    Now, let’s see if I got the linky in there OK.


    1. OK, how did you make the link say actual words instead of the http address? I know you can just paste in the link, but what if I want it to say something clever?


  14. I am so glad to come in here and read all the posts – It is 5pm here and so far all I have written is the heading at the top of my page and printed a story from the WONDERFUL Spill the Beans ( I have been at a presbytery resources day today leading workshops and now find myself with not a lot of time! Anyway – thanks to you lovely Revgals – I now have some ideas and whilst Ihave missed out on all the cake…my dear hubby is picking up takeaway on his way home…I might just be able to enjoy my saturday evening! Blessings on you all!!!!


    1. revalli, I am thinking that another Mary Bjorndahl will be at St. Michael’s tomorrow and will be greatly supported by your words.


  15. made pancakes for my guests…picked up the bride’s reception dress from the seamstress (who lives in my neighborhood)…now sitting in front of the computer again, desperate for a beginning. I have to be in the shower in 2.6 hours….


    1. .I am just sitting down to write snd I really don’t want to. I don’t feel well. My sons arr fighting and I feel little hope in the situation (big bro seriously bipolar and hurt little bro again). When I feel little hope it is hard to write a sermon. At any rate, last night I read green eggs and ham to my younger son. Thanks to Dr Suess, I have a tenuous beginning. That Sam I Am. Best I can come up with so far.


  16. How did it get to be noon? Sharon – thanks for hosting! Sound like you had great family time!
    Greetings to all who are juggling the demands of family/church/life

    My dear husband is having the time of his life in Pierce NE at a huge once- in a- lifetime auto auction. Not buying anything – his idea of a perfect day is to hang out with car people. I am here trying to write while recovering from driving over 1200 miles in 3 days followed by 2 very long days of meetings. Tired puppy

    Preaching Luke as I have been this season. This is the first time I have been part of a church with significant oil money. This county I have found has one of the biggest oil out puts in the nation. We just did a giving analysis and found that our small group of 90 years olds cover a greater percentage of the budget than all the folks 20-45. This is a church that has historically been inactive in seeing and serving community needs even while it boasts many community leaders. Odd dynamic. My general idea is to help them to see the great chasm that has become “normal” and how we might create bridges to relationships. That means I need to start though…


    1. wow, Celeste. That’s a lot. We are in the midst of an oil boom here. The amount of cash flowing through the town is ridiculous. Some amounts are coming the church’s way, but I don’t think it’s proportional to the royalty checks people are getting. And, as always, people who are poor are getting left out all together. Blessings as you delicately put all that together.


  17. I’m back from the council meeting and relieved that most of my anxiety was – as my spouse reminded my as I walked out the door – ‘my stuff’ and not congregation stuff. It’s so hard to know – my internal sensors get overloaded with the free-floating anxiety that comes with my depression, it’s impossible to tell if there’s external stuff I’m picking up on. I guess the good thing is that it helps to know what your baggage is….even if it’s hard to keep it securely packed.

    Anyway the meeting went well, and they actually didn’t send me out of the room this time. Much better. And I got some unsolicited words of affirmation which I really needed to hear.

    So there’s still the sermon. I think I might take the afternoon off, do something fun. And then come back to the sermon. Maybe stepping away might help me think.


      1. Took the afternoon off and enjoyed a long nap. Almost as good as a pedicure. And I’m delighted to discover the noodling I did earlier this week is about 500 words and might be coaxed into a sermon.


  18. Had fun with Mum Pastor. Congratulations to her on a wonderful new job title and an actual job description. Excellent presentation by Craig Barnes — much of it ground he had covered in seminary, but how wonderful to reflect on it two years into ministry! And the senior pastor at Diane’s church pointed out, and MP helped me find it on her computer, that I was quoted in Christian Century! (One of my rants against the phrase “I can’t imagine.”) So I am now fed by both words and a delicious lunch, and I am also famous.

    Now, yeah, the sermon . . .


    1. Tea sounds like a great idea. It’s hot and humid here too. I still have yet to start on decorating the cake. Birthday girl and her sister are a bit high maintenance today. Of course.


  19. I’ve got 1389 words…that will work. I’ll post it later…it needs to simmer for a bit before I go back and re-read. I wish I was a “sit down and write” but I am more of a “write a little…do something else…inspiration comes…and write a little more”.


  20. Procrastinating birthday cake decorating is much like procrastinating sermon writing. I’ve gotten the living room cleaned, including the baseboards (!). The parsonage’s ugly chandelier is beyond hope.


  21. I am going with Lazarus. Our congregation has a long standing ministry with the Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy. After “serving dinner to” the clients for more than ten years, our parishioners are now invited to dinner “with” the clients. They love it, bring a salad (the clients make the rest of the meal) and are still struggling with what it means to US to sit with the clients. We so often want to slip into talking about THEM. What THEY do, and don’t do, never about what WE do and feel and understand. There is something in there about the view from below, which offers a very different picture. I am thinking of doing some word play with us and them and Lazarus and the Rich Man, just to confuse and hopefully enlighten things.

    Got some of my traditiona Saturday afternoon Paris tea, but could use a cookie or two to go with it!


  22. Lovely to be with you all. Sharon, you do a great job of welcoming us and setting a tone for us in your opening. I’m preaching on Lazarus and the Rich Man and how we see the world. Sermon includes a shout-out to our dog, Annie, whose focus on chasing tennis balls is extreme. I think it works, we’ll see tomorrow how the folks hear the old, old story.


    1. Way to go, Sally-Lodge, for letting Annie share some part in the good news story.

      Yeah, right? How many ways can you say, “God loves you. Believe it and act like it!”? (Every week . . . 🙂 )


  23. I’m joining the party late today! I’ve been thinking about this passage from Luke all week (which doesn’t necessarily mean that I know what to say) and I decided this morning to do my other tasks first rather than putting them off til after I wrote. So I went for a run, got coffee hour supplies, made and distributed some posters for our blessing of the animals next weekend, and made a stop at St. Arbucks for my afternoon treat (skinny latte), all interspersed with some procrastination reading blogs about running and eating vegan.

    I’ve started the sermon and I sorta know where I’m headed. I hit the “you can’t serve God and wealth” part pretty hard last Sunday, but it’s hard to avoid talking about our relationship to wealth and how it affects us and how we see (or don’t see) others around us. Hoping I can do it so the congregation doesn’t just glaze over thinking “here she goes again!”

    Meant to make a pot of vegetable soup today, but never did…maybe I’ll start it for tomorrow.


  24. Enough procrastinating! I need to get this thing written.

    Perhaps getting tomorrow afternoon’s nursing home worship put together will ease me into the process…


    1. See above for a nod to your procrastination, Ramona. Especially effective when it’s church-related, and extra points for “nursing home” connection. 🙂

      I’m still here . . . waiting and ready . . .


  25. Totally Mindless Trivia Question: One of the RevGal pics that pops up looks like someone holding steel wool. Washing dishes for Jesus? Or is there some other obvious, or not so obvious, story there? Anyone know?

    Obviously, someone is spending a lot of time on the blog today and still hasn’t tweaked her sustainable sermon. As party host, I cannot seek, nor can I accept, the title Procrastination Princess. Still, I am very, very good at it.


  26. Argh! I have been all but done for the last hour-plus, but I keep writing, erasing, and rewriting an ending. I dislike everything I come up with!! Blergh. I might have to call it “Saturday done” and hope I wake up in the morning with one very clear and very beautiful closing paragraph!!


  27. Procrastination Report: cake is partially complete. Parsonage chandelier is still ugly. (I have attempted to put decorations on it at church-related parties, to draw attention to it, in the vain hope that someone would say, “Good gravy that’s an ugly chandelier; we should replace it”). Alas, no. In further procrastination efforts today, I shopped for a new one online. It may be my “gift” to the parsonage. 🙂


    1. There is a minister in my annual conference who does not give his tithe to the church budget but spends the tithe on parsonage improvements. He says that he’d rather just go ahead a get things done than wait on the church. He doesn’t have to worry about if it will be approved or what quality or taste etc will influence what they do. He just does it and turns in the receipt to be credited as an “in kind” donation.


    2. Excellent, Monica! Extra points for “shopping.” Bonus points would have been awarded if you had gone to QVC, today’s secret procrastination destination.

      Um, is there a sermon percolating in there anywhere? Just asking . . .


      1. ooooh, no, not preaching this week. *That* would have sent me straight off the edge, Sharon. Supply preaching has its perks, and this is one.

        Sarah, this is a UMC parsonage, and we’ve never not tithed before, but we have made substantial contributions to the parsonages we’ve lived in, admittedly for our own benefit, but also for those who followed us. It is much, much, much, much quicker.


        1. I’m UMC and so is the guy I’m talking about! I tithe too. I kinda just stared at the guy when he was telling a group of us his version of “tithing.”


          1. At first, I thought he meant that they he meant since he is part of a clergy couple that he tithed and they used his wife’s tithe for the parsonage since she is not in a church setting and does not have a parsonage. Then he made it more clear. He doesn’t ever give any money to any church he is appointed to and he spends the equivalent of a tithe on parsonage upkeep or improvements. He does not consult with the trustees he just does it. I was sitting there thinking “I hope I never have to follow you.”


  28. Sermon links so far:

    Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 103:1-5; 20-22; Hebrews 1:1-9
    Angelology 101 by sicutlocutusest

    Luke 16:19-31
    Is it Just About Money? by RevPearl

    From the Shadows to the Light by RevAlli

    Dives and Lazarus by Muthah+

    When the Quest for Certitude Becomes the Excuse for Not Acting . . . by Terri

    Something to Stand On by reveac

    Heckuva Job, Rich Guy! by Sharon

    Psalm 25: 1-7 and Exodus 2: 23-25; 3: 10-15; 4: 10-17
    Moses, Moses: Did You Know? by Elaine

    This is when I really wish there was a preview function for comments here. Lots of linky code. (Fingers crossed!)

    I’m updating this with others that come in. If I have missed yours, or someone else’s, please let me know.


  29. Just showing up to the party and starting to figure out what’s going to go where in this sermon. I’m on the Narrative Lectionary, and I think I’ll read a little, preach a little, read a little, preach a little, read a little, preach a little. The story jumps from Jacob’s ladder dream last week to the revelation of the name of God and Moses’s call this week. In fact, the lesson has a little bits from Exodus 2, 3, and 4, so I’ll do little mini sermons on each all connected together really. The Chapter 2 part gives me a chance to catch us up on the story. The Chapter 3 part lets me dig into the way God is revealed in this story (in the name that is lmitless and mystery – – love kzj’s final post on the Narrative Lectionary thread this week). Then the Chapter 4 part lets me talk about what it’s like to be invited into intimate relationship with God (a bit terrifying, but buoyed by community to do God’s will). I’m intimidated about a WHOLE sermon on God’s name which was where I thought I would be going, but I’m thankful I found a way around that!!!

    Now, to get something written before the season premiere of SNL with Tina Fey in less than an hour!!!


  30. Done for now. I’m going to sleep and hope a better ending gets delivered via the Holy Spirit. My spouse was being silly about what he knows about angels – which gave me the perfect ‘in.’ Sermon-writing over dinner – gotta love it.

    Praying the Spirit to wing her way to all who are still writing, just beginning writing and all of us who are angelos to our congregations in the morning – proclaimers of good news.


  31. Well, party go-ers, this RevGal is T-I-R-E-D — yes, that’s the word for me!

    I have enjoyed very much being your party host and the recipient of your sermon gifts.

    Don’t forget to check in on the RevGalBlogPals Facebook page tomorrow. You can de-brief there about highlights and challenges of the day and post a link to your sermon there, even if you already posted it here.

    Many blessings as you serve your congregations tomorrow and through the week. And, remember, the Holy Spirit has your back!


  32. The birthday cake is as done as it’s going to get tonight. A few last touches to add tomorrow. Seriously, cake making is not my calling. Good thing I love the little stinker. And this kitchen ain’t gonna clean itself.

    Blessings on all of you who are baking up some sermons for tomorrow.


  33. Not getting anything done on my sermon, but I have completed and application to hopefully be nominated as a commissioner to General Assembly next summer.


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