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Advent is finally here. The new candles wait to be lit. We’ve shared liturgies and traditions. But, whether you’re still celebrating or recovering from Thanksgiving or St Andrew’s Day (in Scotland), Sunday beckons and there are Candle Lighting ceremonies and sermons to be produced. In the RCL Isaiah leads us down paths of peace. Is there a place in your service to mourn that that is only a far off dream today? The gospel scares us into believing lest we are “left behind” and I wonder, for how many of us, was that a familiar refrain in our formative years? There is a wake up call in Romans, echoing the theme of the gospel. Are you focussing on one or more of these texts? Or does your Advent journey take a different route? There is also the opportunity to pay heed to World Aids Day somewhere in the midst of bringing light. Too much choice? There is always an amazing array of creativity around this table. So pull up a chair or lean over someone’s shoulder and reach for what you need. A bit like a pot luck supper. Bring what you have to share and take what you’d like and join in the supportive fellowship. Let us know whether Advent marks a new beginning for you, a time of Spiritual discipline or Spiritual chaos. Let us hold the Christ light for each other as the journey begins.

86 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: And so it begins…

  1. I’m on the NL and had to write my sermon today so I can drive home five hours tomorrow and decorate the new advent wreath. We got a beautiful new oak stand. It has only four candle platforms, though (no center candle), so I had to do some research, during which I discovered that it used to be that the light itself represented Christ, and the center white candle is actually a fairly recent innovation. I’m sticking with that. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I wrote on Daniel and essentially said that while we like to think we’re Shadrach/Meshach/Abednego, we’re more like Nebuchadnezzar, trampling people down to get our way. But God can prepare the world for in-breaking by turning our hearts to a new way even through the fire. Or something. It’ll be posted here in the morning: http://clevertitlehere.blogspot.com. I’d love some feedback!
    And now to enjoy my last evening off before going back to it…. I’ll check in tomorrow night when I get home and see how y’all are doing! In the meantime, somebody PLEASE take these brownies off my hands. We put peppermint bark (homemade) in the middle before baking. O.M.G…

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    1. Teri,
      Look forward to reading sermon – hope the drive back isn’t too exhausting and filled with plenty of calming scenery? Those brownies sound amazing. I’ll get my cinnamon coffee on to enjoy with them.
      We, too got a new Advent Wreath stand this year. Looking forward to using it.

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    2. Great sermon, Teri. I love what you said about “waiting for God’s next surprise.” May I borrow that phrase? I will credit you! Of course!

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    3. I love learning that the light of the four candles represents the light of Christ. I think that may actually undergird my sermon. With each passing Advent week our world is illuminated by our increasing awareness of Christ’s light and presence. Thanks, Teri. And thanks for the brownies;)

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  2. Saturday morning and although I have some general ideas and thoughts nothing that really stands out yet! As well as all the starting of Advent stuff we have a baptism of a sweet wee baby girl.
    And a new pulpit fall to dedicate!
    Though it isn’t one of the readings I have the refrain from Ecclesaistes running through my mind “there is a time for…”
    Will focus on the gospel and Isaiah passages.
    I am about to have French toast and smoked bacon for breakfast, always happy to make more!

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    1. Julie, nice to have new beginnings evidenced in Baptism and new pulpit fall – especially in contrast to Glasgow tragedy. Even more important to speak of hope in Scottish churches tomorrow.

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      1. yes…. since i first posted I have had the news on and indeed that has run through my mind constantly. Signs of hope… the wonder of people running in to help, with no regard for their own safety; the mercy that wasn’t an accompanying fire…. and how we never, ever know the answer to the question – when will it be the time?

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  3. Late afternoon here and I have a few false starts but nothing to run with yet! I’m thinking a lot about the Advent antiphon “Lord, we are the people who long to see your face” and the family in our congregation waiting to see their baby who has been in the NICU for two-and-a-half weeks. We have the Christmas programme next week, so I’m feeling the need to preach some kind of definitive Advent sermon which is probably exactly the problem. Maybe I don’t have to parse out expectation, longing, preparation, peace-making and hope in one sermon!?!

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    1. Jemma, with so much going on, it’s tempting to try and get it all in, isn’t it? Have appreciated your updates on FB page on the family with the baby in NICU. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to pray collectively and specifically.

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  4. 8.30 pm Saturday evening, tired and about to write. i ahve a few ideas, but do need to see what flows. unfortunately i haven’t read much this week other than the text, so feeling unprepared.

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    1. Patty, thanks for sharing. Doesn’t seem disjointed at all – leads us nicely through the harsh reality of life that many know to the possibility of hope. And I love that you are giving folk symbols to take home and ponder. Blessings on your Sunday and the bits you have to finish up tonight.

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  5. Well, I’ve been to the men’s breakfast and to the gym. Still on the list today- picking up poinsettias and then putting them and the Chrismon tree in the sanctuary. Sermon got underway early this week and shouldnt take too much work to finish ( it IS the season of hope!) and Communion liturgy is written. Think ill grab some lunch before I do anything else. Tomato and Red Pepper soup on offer with bacon sandwiches.

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  6. This advent we are looking at the role of the angels and tomorrow will be the angel appearing to Zechariah. I will also be speaking a bit about angels in the bible as a whole, and we have communion so there is a lot to fit in. Communion liturgy is almost done (thanks Liz for sharing earlier in the week!). Now I am taking a break from the computer to write the gift tags for the Angel tree (for women and children supported by Women’s aid)
    I have left-over profiteroles from last night which I am happy to share (probably not a good idea for me to eat them all!)

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    1. Tanya, I love your angel advent theme – storing that away for next year. And tying in the angle tags with gifts for Women’s Aid is brilliant. Happy to help you with those profiteroles!

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  7. I am jumping ahead to Isaiah’s message from Advent 2 this week. I am comparing the stump of Jesse’s new growth with a certain heroine from “Catching Fire.” The quote from President Snowe about the only thing that can quench fear is hope has resonated with me. Singing my favorite advent hymns tomorrow and lighting the advent wreath so it should be a fabulous service. Now I just have to write the rest of my sermon and drive the three hours back from family since we were away for Thanksgiving. May you have a blessed and productive sermon writing day!

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  8. Well, I DO have a title!!! We are on a getaway in Vermont, and I thought I would have tons of inspiration and time to work on this, but so far, after doing lectio and musing and reading and praying (as in HELP!!) not much is pouring out. Sigh. Maybe on the four hour car ride home?

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    1. Karla – a title’s a good start. Hopefully, others who are posting here will add to the inspiration. Congratulations on your getaway.

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  9. Wrote my first sermon for New Small Church before dawn yesterday so I could relax with husband’s family and on the drive home today. I’m using the Annunciation text because I wanted to focus on greetings, perplexed-ness, questions, courage, and the question: to what are we being called to give birth? I’ll clean it up later. Safe travels to everyone on the road today!

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    1. Annunciation seems like a good place to begin in a new setting. Hope you can relax on the drive home. And look forward to hearing more about what you’re being called to midwife.

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  10. Off to church for decorating. and looking for an end to my message that includes the sharing of the congregation on the reactions of Zechariah and Mary. I’m adapting the Af. Am. lectionary to talk about hope as a needed ingredient for justice. I will look to these finished sermons to help. thanks and see you later.

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  11. I’m just beginning to stir the pot…kinda late this week, w/Tday sermon Wednesday night. I do love Rev. Megan’s use of Catching Fire. Saw it last night!

    I’ve been toying w/the Black Friday (&Saturday) sales w/cries of last chance, i.e. Five Hour Dash – 50% off. Compare and contrast w/ the ‘no one knows the time’ but be prepared of Matthew. Created limits and scarcity compared to God’s abundant grace, and unknown time limit. Yet, our end time could be today. Are we ready?

    Not terribly original, I know. Like I said, I’m just beginning to stir the pot. I also have First Communion celebration, so I can tie that in…preparing in class, but never being truly prepared beyond trust in the words “given for you.”

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    1. Ooooh – lots going on there. Joeneherr. Love those contrasts you are making. And we don’t need to be original – just faithful. Blessings in your continued preparations. And then the Spirit does what she will…

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      1. Thanks for the reminder that we only need to be faithful, not original. I was struggling last night with a pageful of platitudes (highlight/delete, highlight/delete…). Somewhere in my reading this week I saw that the first Sunday in Advent, whatever year in the RCL, focuses on the apocalyptic. I, for one, am weary of it. I feel like we’ve been crying “Wolf!” since 9/11/01, at least in the USA. So, I’m trying to find the balance between “be prepared” (and I cannot think that phrase without hearing Tom Lehrer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSwjuz_-yao – in my head) and “give it a rest with all the alarmist crap, already!” Do I sound grumpy? I’m really not ….

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        1. I hear you pastorsings. It IS wearying dealing with the apocalyptic. Hope you find a way through it. Lots of hopeful paths here today.

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  12. A day of the unexpected. Just heard about the Glasgow pub — clearly my daughter in St Andrews didn’t know about it when I spoke to her this morning. Then in the early hours of this morning 4 young men from our community, speeding in a car, hit a kerb and rolled the car. They are lucky to be alive and I spent the morning visiting and anointing them. Three of them lined up in the trauma ward, still covered in blood. (The fourth in another hospital.) Two have since been discharged with broken bones but otherwise all right but the two who were in front are much worse and there is a question over whether the driver will walk again. So tragic and so unnecessary. Indeed, as Patty said (great sermon!), we never plan for these things.
    Now I’m finding it difficult to focus. Wrote something yesterday – but now do I mention the accident (we are a closed community, all will know the boys) and Glasgow? Do I even feel up to re-writing though I’m not to enamoured as to what I wrote.
    Espresso coffee needed – care to join me?

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  13. Unexpected indeed! I suppose folks will expect some mention. But it just hammers home the unpredictable nature of life and the constant, dogged presence of God. Prayers for you, Pat, as you work out what to do with all that.

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  14. Happy Advent-Eve!

    Not sure how it happened but I had a good deal written on Wednesday this week. This morning finished the ending of the sermon.

    I am approaching this NL text in the spirit as shared on the podcast for Working Preacher. I found noisemakers at the Party Store (in the city where I celebrated Thanksgiving) and inviting the congregation to use them when they hear the repetitive words of harp, lyre, drum etc. I have even used that a couple of times in the sermon. We will see how game they are.

    Set to watch on more game of football (our in-state rivalary called the Sunflower Classic) and then I will hit the road, along with 47,392 other people this afternoon.

    Here is a link: http://fpccozad.blogspot.com/2013/11/sermon-three-wise-guysor-three-guys-who.html

    It may need some tweaking after I get back home but I also know I’ll have a cat sitting on my lap for most of the evening demanding some quality petting time.

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    1. love this phrase: ” Advent is a theological space, which allows us a quantity of timeโ€ฆa space if you willโ€ฆto breathe in how God comes to us through a baby.”
      May I use it next week?

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  15. Elaine – Yay for being further own than normal. Hope you have a good journey and don’t need to tweak too much so that your cat can have your attention.

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  16. I am feeling almost lazy, reading about all the events and things that people are doing! I have a guest preacher tomorrow for World AIDS Day, so am improving the free and shining hours by working on worship planning for next year…hope does spring eternal, doesn’t it?

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    1. Martha, what a great use of time freed up. I don’t think I’d be so diligent. Love the energy and creativity that folks share at the preachers party.

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  17. Rewrote in the end but still not too happy with it. I fear I sound a bit like – Repent! The end of the world is nigh! Except that we don’t know when it will be nigh. Oh well, I have a bad headache so am off to bed. It will have to do. Goodnight – or good day to all those who are starting their days now.

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    1. Pat, hope you rest well and that you are more comfortable with it tomorrow or at least assured that it is what God wants your listeners to hear.

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  18. It is a sparkling winter day, I’m home with my Beloved for the entire day, and my mind if flitting everywhere except along whatever path my sermon ought to take. It’s my first Advent with this congregation and I ever so much want to do it “right,” bringing the best balance of their traditions and my own gifts and inspirations… yet I’m also conscious of the fact that the story has enough power all on its own, and mostly my job is to set up a frame and then get myself out of the way.
    I’ve got a title– “Farmer Flash Mob”– and a rough sketch of the basic message, but nothing beyond that. My idea is that, to get through Advent, (and to balance the challenging Rapture imagery of the RCL Gospel reading with Isaiah’s call for peace and justice), we need both the subversive, joyful creativity of a flash mob and the patient stewardship of a practiced farmer. Now, can I fit all this into ten minutes or less, so there’s enough time for communion and all our Advent extras? And can I still spend enough time with my Beloved so we can check some projects off our homestead to-do list? We’ll see!

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  19. I am going with circles tomorrow. ANd I have three things that circles mean…
    1) the cycles of life, the cyclical nature of life
    2) the eternal, unending nature of love, of God
    3) the wheel of fate turning (and crushing some underneath it???)

    Now to figure out how to draw all of those into one sermon..

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    1. Gord, that sounds like a good mixture of reality and hope – sometimes the circles are relentless, but sometimes they carry us through supportively – or something. Hope you can marry them up.

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  20. Just enjoyed a dinner of cauliflower with cheesy mushroom sauce. Mmmm.
    Now tweaking sermon and communion liturgy to take account of tragic helicopter crash in Glasgow – a tragedy shot through with amazing stories of courage, hope and compassion.

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  21. It’s getting late here in the UK, So I’m going to leave you preachers across the pond to party on. I’ll be back early in the morning – and may even catch some of you late nighters! – and check out what’s happening. I’ll leave out some energy snacks.

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  22. Well, mostly okay, though a dip at the 3rd point as I got bogged down in Matthew…I suspect I shall wing that bit from the pulpit when I get there… c’est la vie!

    If Julie’s earworm was ‘Turn, turn, turn’, mine was ‘People get ready’.
    Looking at Isaiah/ Ps 122/ Mat. readings linking in with both advent and our quarterly communion. Way too much going on for a shorter sermon…
    Anyway, here ’tis –
    http://apilgrimsprocess.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/people-get-ready-sermon-for-advent-1-a.html

    At this point in the evening, I can offer some rather scrumdiddlyumptious home-made choc-peppermint slice with a steaming pot of tea… help yourselves ๐Ÿ™‚

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  23. There’s a bit of sour cream apple pie left for anyone who wants it while I try to bring all the bits of this sermon together. I learned this afternoon, while my husband and I shopped the local small businesses, that my district superintendent and his wife will be worshiping with us tomorrow. Sacraments of baptism and communion, Advent 1 – can’t think of a better day for him to visit!

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  24. Stopped in to read earlier today, and attempted some of my own writing, but I’m just getting back to it now. The pregnancy hormones of the first trimester are raging, and it’s all I can do to stay awake and get the very basic of work done these days.

    I’m really not sure where this sermon is taking me, but I’m taken with the idea that peace and nourishing the nations/food production are linked. With a fresh layer of snow on the ground, it’s really the wrong time of year to talk about food production, but then with the festivals and feasts coming up, there is something to be said about food justice. I feel like I’ve been preaching apocalypse for the past couple Sundays, so perhaps it will find its way in there, but I wouldn’t mind a break either.

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  25. Almost 8 pm and all I have is a heading…just back from Thanksgiving in Vermont around 4:30, and slow to get writing! I had a wonderful Thanksgiving–all four of my kids and I were under the same roof for the first time in over 7 years. Plus my daughter’s in-laws who truly feel like family, and LOTS of delicious food and even a little snow.

    I’m thinking about getting ready for Christ vs. getting ready for Christmas, but beyond that, well, we’ll see.

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  26. Just now sitting down to check out the draft I wrote on Monday. We’ve been away celebrating Thanksgiving and beginning to clean out my grandmother’s house–a monumental undertaking. We are all four fighting a cold, and the older daughter is complaining of a tummyache: “my tummy won’t be still.” That sounds ominous (yet what a perfect description of an upset tummy!), and our usual rescuer on Sunday morning is out of town.

    The draft is on Isaiah, something about how our preparation brings peace, and peace makes space for our preparation. Or something like that. I will confess that the apocalyptic element in Advent just doesn’t do much for me. I can (and have) preached it, explained it, and tried to live it, but it fails to move me spiritually. Themes of preparation, working for the kingdom, hope, expectation…that works. Which isn’t that far off, just without the impending sense of doom.

    Hoping to be done quickly, so I can put my stuffed up head and cough to bed and avoid the bronchitis I fear may be coming (talk about impending sense of doom!). No shaking hands for me tomorrow!

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  27. home at last…advent wreath decorated, dinner in the oven (though it’s 9pm, so…well…late dinner today!), suitcase mostly unpacked, kitties petted…about to read the sermon and see if it’s any good. I remembered that we’re singing a setting of the Shema right afterward, so I guess I should find a way to work in the trust-God-against-all-odds angle after all. But we’re ending with Canticle of the Turning which I think is going to be perfect.

    Must come up with something brief to say to the children RE the wreath, advent, and fire (this week’s element). And write prayers. And relax, because I’m really feeling the “wish I had a couple more days to veg” right now….I suspect I’ll be up late with the latest Clare Fergusson mystery. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  28. Busy, packed, fun 3 days… and now I’m trying not to pay the price too badly.
    I am going to read a story about Hanukkah. And then I’m going to tell them that this is when Daniel was written (we’re Narrative lectionary). And then I’m going to read them the fiery furnace. And then I’m going to hint at the future stories that will be told about this congregation.

    And then I’m going to hope that folks forgive me for that sermon. ๐Ÿ™‚
    And serve communion.
    Another place where we tell the story.

    It’s either brilliant or a total debacle.

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  29. I left at 2:30 AM today for the airport on vacation. Just six hours earlier I was doing a commendation of the dying for a dear, dear member of the congregation. He will most likely die while we are on vacation. But they will wait for the memorial service until we return in 6 days. Sad that we will not be present at his dying, but flight and room reservations made months ago could not predict this holy time. Meanwhile, tonight we arrived in Sedona after a long day of travel, I edited the sermon my young preacher intern had written and sent to me two hours before I left town…..! And now with Southwestern chicken corn chowder and a glass of wine to warm me, I am ready to declare “VACATION!” I will be praying for our council and young preacher as they lead worship in the morning as we worship at the Lutheran church here in Sedona. Blessings to all of you preaching the word on this first week of Advent! Let the hiking in the red rocks begin!

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  30. Reading the comments and just remembered that because my computer died right before Thanksgiving I don’t have most of my Advent materials. Crap. Nor can I print prayers of the people.

    Ugh.

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  31. having re-read the sermon and inserted a few more sentences here and there, I think I’m going to call it good enough. I wish I’d taken more of the elemental angle, but perhaps that part of the theme will develop as the season progresses…

    and having made and eaten green bean casserole (yes, just that), I’m stuffed and tired and ready to crawl into bed with a book.

    I brought the peppermint bark home, but left the brownies. the bark is like crack, only better. have some. please.

    I wish I could put a picture in a comment–I’d put a photo of my advent wreath efforts! maybe I can put it on FB….in case any of you need further procrastination tools. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  32. Hard to write a sermon about being prepared when I feel so unprepared myself. Although there may be a message there.

    Making some late night ginger tea if anyone wants some.

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  33. Gotta call it quits. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit has our back on these things but… I’m pushing it.

    Blessings on you all.

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  34. About to call it quits here, too. I think it is approaching preachable, and counting on the Holy Spirit to have my back…all our backs!

    Sleep well.

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  35. Good morning all! Home made bread and a fee range egg for breakfast….. And the one cup of coffee I am allowed. And now, to reread yesterday’s musings before I commit them to paper!
    Blessings all

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  36. Good morning, everyone. I’m happy to report that the tummy upset resolved with a good night’s sleep. The cold has not departed from me overnight. The sermon is here, the Spirit is here, and we will worship. Blessings to everyone!

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  37. Pleased to report that the first service of the day is done. Still the apocalyptic text to look forward to for the next service. I know all your labours, however rushed in the midst of everything else that we do, will be used and honoured by the Spirit this day. Blessings

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