water bubbling up through the rocky journey of faith. Photo by Terri
Water bubbling up through the rocky journey of faith. Photo by Terri

 

 

My all time favorite text, the woman debating with Jesus, resulting in the longest conversation in the Bible between Jesus and anyone.  I love this reading on so many levels, such richness to delve into. So many layers to unfold. No doubt I am preaching on this text. I think I will use some of the thoughts from Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.” In this book she speaks about her research on shame and what it means to authentically own our life stories, thus freeing ourselves from the secrecy of shame, and becoming a more whole person in the process. This book speaks deeply into my life and resonates, I think, with the woman at the well and her encounter with Jesus, who leads her to embrace her authentic self, without shame.

There are many other directions one could take with the readings for the third Sunday in Lent, whether one is preaching from the Revised Common Lectionary or from the Narrative Lectionary. Where are your thoughts leading you this week. Or, are you like many of us, so busy with other “stuff” that you haven’t even begun contemplating. Or, are the ideas you had weeks ago when you chose the reading for this week, not just a jumbled mess and you dread the work involved to sort them out? Are you already completely exhausted, and still there are weeks to go until Easter? I for one hit a brick wall on Easter morning and from that point on, until say, the middle of August, I. am. done.

This is the Saturday morning preacher’s party, but everyone is welcome. Share ideas, offer support, pray for us, bring us virtual sustenance. Coffee is flowing in my house, and I have lots of fresh fruit and homemade (but not by me) cookies. Pull up a chair, sit awhile, let’s party.

 

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126 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Women, Wells, and well, more…

  1. goodness! First comment – I’m never early to anything 🙂 So, I’m working diligently on this Friday night because after a lonnnngggg week I’m really in need of a real day off and determined to take one tomorrow. I’m loving this story and it’s riches, but really wishing I had three weeks to preach on it – seems like an awful lot to pack into one week. Anyway, wishing all of you well on your Saturday sermonating. You’ll have my prayers!

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  2. Good morning, Terri. I preaching on Water from the rock and from the well, using Exodus and John from the RCL. Not quite sure what direction I’m taking yet. I had hoped to get to it earlier in the week since I’m hosting an all day conference on Resourcing Mission today but that didn’t happen. This has been a full on Lent so far for me but it cheered me to realise that next week, we reach the mid point. I’m hoping to write for about an hour just now before I head off to church – and that should give me a good start to mess with later on tonight.
    I can offer some fresh berries and cereal and hot Scottish Breakfast tea to share.

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    1. Oh yes, well, water from the rock, well, springs, water flowing – one of my favorite metaphors. Tying them together with these two readings is rich! Indeed a very full Lent for me, too. I hope you got the writing done that you hoped for. Fresh berries, yes, please!

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  3. late getting started tonight, due to Safe place training today and a storm tonight. the storm was lots of rain and hail – Choco vine looking shredded etc. Then after a slightly late dinner, a call to let me know there is water in the church buildings. so been there for an hour.
    I love the John reading, but going a different direction this year, thinking about naming things – from the exodus text.
    How do we name other people? How do we name situations?
    The woman comes in as one ‘named’ by shame, but not her actual name. I am also including this vimeo clip http://vimeo.com/22823852 of the woman at the well. someone mentioned another version of the same thing on Facebook, but I am using this one as the person speaks more slowly. So at 8.45 pm on Saturday evening, I need to write 5 minutes or so to go with the video.

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    1. Pearl, I’m sorry about the water issues you are facing – makes the reading very real, water is life giving but comes with such force it can change every thing. Naming is powerful, too, and yes, the woman in our reading today is also powerful. Praying for your water/storm damage and repairs and for your sermon writing, too. Thanks for sharing the link to the video.

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  4. I’m going with the living water. Trying to be positive — inviting people to come to the well. So easy to take the path of criticism so I am focusing on meeting Jesus and receiving healing and wholeness. I need the well myself as I know I am skirting burnout. So I’m taking the simple path with the sermon and shedding a whole lot of responsibilities onto my council. Hard when I am a control freak and know they probably won’t do their duties!

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    1. Praying for you, Pat, and the edge of burnout – I hope you find the respite you need and some refreshing living water. I know that in the community I live in people are so very busy, it’s hard for them to take as much interest and invest as much time into the church as the church needs. I struggle with how that makes me feel, trying to not over-function myself, not let things die unless they really need too, and hoping people will step up and do what they can. It’s exhausting just to think about…so prayers for you, too. And, I hope your sermon revealed itself to you and at least THAT came easily.

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  5. Pat, I hope you get the time you need at the well, and I pray your council will recognise their responsibilities and surprise you.

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  6. It’s a dark, windy, spring morning here in SE Michigan. I’m up early to get a head start on the sermon before I head out for the 8am yoga class. Then, it’s home again for a day of writing. I have pages of notes and a general idea of the direction I want to go in, but that does not mean the writing will go easy and well. sigh. We shall see.

    So much exhaustion, all around, and prayer concerns. Know that I will hold each of you in mine. May we all find rest and renewal and the living water we need to carry on with grace.

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  7. This will be my third Sunday in a new parish, so, still getting to know the folks. I like them. It is not a wild and crazy congregation by any stretch of the imagination, but they seem open and interested. I have moved the font to be a little closer to the aisle and filled it with water (it’s usually closed up and a little out of the way) and I’m going to suggest that they touch the water on their way out, and then imagine themselves leaving their jars behind as they go out to tell the world to come and see. I hope that isn’t too much for them, LOL, but I don’t think it will be.

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    1. Love this idea! Our font is always in the back just to the side of the center aisle, but I think I will borrow your idea tomorrow and move it right to the middle. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. My day off evaporated (no pun intended) Thursday night and yesterday as hour after hour went into trying to repair my laptop — which has already shut down this site four times as I’ve tried to write this sentence. So here I am, filled with the anxiety that plagues me when tasks are left till the last minute. I did write an outline last night from which I could preach if something else comes up today. The WATW is my favorite and most personal text, but I’ve been having a hard time focusing. “Wade in the water” has been the music in my head all week, so the sermon is going in the direction of God troubling the waters to move us out into the world to proclaim good news.

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    1. Oh goodness, Robin, I hear you on the angst from computer issues and sermon writing…I hope you are able to get it figured out. I love that song, it will make for a good background in your thinking as you prepare this sermon!

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  9. I’m on the NL, so we preached the woman at the well a few weeks ago. Please, those of you encountering her tomorrow: don’t fall into the trap that assumes she is a sinner. The text doesn’t say that, even if you read it at its most literal. There are any number of reasons she could have been at the well at noon, and her five husbands make her more likely a victim than a harlot. And there are dozens of other interpretations (the five occupying nations that were settled in Samaria that created the “mixed race” Samaritans being my least favorite, and the contrast between Nicodemus at midnight and the woman at noon being my fave…). This is your chance to redeem her as you would the Magdalene–from centuries of patriarchal abuse. 🙂

    I have Peter denying he knows Jesus…and I’m still pondering how to start. I think I have a sense of where the sermon is going, but not where it begins. And of course I couldn’t decide where to put The Door (the prop we are moving around each week as a visual symbol of being at the threshold of something) until the sermon was written…aka, it’s still sitting in a corner waiting for me to write the sermon and tell someone where to put it.

    I also have to put together next week’s devotional today (since it didn’t get done earlier in the week–thanks, jury duty!)…and get ready for a funeral on Monday morning, and the MidLent MidWeek service on Wednesday. All that stuff needs to be done today, ideally, because we have an important council meeting on Tuesday and I’m leading a women’s retreat for another church on Saturday and that stuff is going to take up my attention during the week.

    I wish I had food to offer, but I don’t yet. Later today there will be roasted cauliflower and some unknown amazing dinner. But for the early part of the day, I got nothin’….kinda like my sermon opening. haha.

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    1. Teri – exactly what I am thinking about the woman at the well. I hope to convey her strength, formed from being a survivor, which enables her to have the courage to debate Jesus, the result is that this is the longest conversation Jesus has with anyone in the Bible – and it’s with a woman, a Samaritan no less, and he sees her for who she is and loves her as she is. It’s such a fabulous story.

      I have a desire to write a narrative for Palm Sunday on the Passion according to Peter. Last year I did the Mary trilogy, this year I may do Peter and then one from Judas – would that not be powerful, pondering the story from Judas’ perspective? With the idea that he’d come to realize what he had actually done be accountable for his behavior?

      Anyway….I hope your Peter reflection comes to you and inspires you.

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    2. Teri, I am going in those same directions – pointing out that there is really no basis to regard her as a sinner, or damaged goods (after all, Jesus doesn’t suggest she repent….), and highlighting the differences between her and Nicodemus – as well as their very similar deep thirst for the real, for the living water. But then I will be shifting gears to talk about our recent mission delegation to Colombia, and the wonderful shared conversations about theology, Bible, idolatry, challenges, etc., despite our very different circumstances. Kind of a stretch, and having to miss most of what’s available in this marvelous story….Anyway, Teri, glad you pointed out that it’s time to redeem this nameless woman. Interesting how generations of male scholars love turning women in the Bible into sinful whores (Mary Magdalene, anyone?). Peace, all….

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  10. Good Morning Gals and Pals! We have a sermon series on the parts of the liturgy during Llent/Easter and I have this week: Lessons, Psalm and Gospel. It’s king me that I don’t get to spend the full time on this Gospel. Reading Schneiders’ work on this in seminary was so exciting! I know I will find a way to work it in, maybe just to talk about the myriad of different ways that we all approach the gospel readings of the week.
    I’ve been reading more Hatchett commentary of the prayer book this week than any other commentary on the gospel – and I have been loving all of the connective parts: which parts we got from the Roman catholics, which parts from the Scottish church, which parts have remained from our Jewish roots, etc. For instance, I did not know that the Lutheran’s adopted the BCP version of the Coverdale Psalms because of the rhythmic success in worship – at least according to Hatchett.
    Lots to cover in a sermon – hopefully will leave us all thirsting for more.

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    1. Hi Amy, I do a similar sermon series in the season of Easter – when I am wrung out from the year. It’s been a useful way to engage, teach, and talk about how we practice our faith in worship. But wow, do I hear you on not being able to preach on these texts – that would totally kill me! I hope it goes well enough for you and inspiration strikes anyway, because the Holy Spirit is like that, she’ll have her say no matter what.

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  11. Thanks for the reminder, Teri, about the woman – and to focus on her redemption and discovery of preaching gifts, rather than her domestic arrangements – whatever they may have been.

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  12. Here’s an old Good Friday reflection–I know we’re not there yet ! But I’m prompted to offer it by all the water talk here. The episode with the woman at the well is not the first, nor will it be the last time Jesus is thirsty and needing a drink. A lot of us focus on the woman in the story, and rightly so (she has been so maligned as Teri so aptly points out); but if I were preaching tomorrow I might, for a change, focus more on the thirst of Jesus. Just a thought. Here’s that old piece for what it might be worth…

    http://sicutlocutusest.com/2014/03/22/i-am-thirsty-a-reflection-for-good-friday-john-1928/

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      1. Years ago I did a series of first person dramatic monologues reflecting on the Seven Last Words of Jesus, and used the Woman at the Well as the one reflecting on the thirst of Jesus…. It’s a good connection.

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  13. Not preaching this week. J is. I am going to plan the rest of the garden. Lots of herb and tomato all in planters and pots. Guess I need to go down to the well for the water. Have a good sermon prep day. Perhaps it will rain and I will not have to carry water.

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  14. My mind has been pondering thirst and longing all week…how we want to be known, find ourselves and our calling, feel satisfied in the deepest ways. How it aches not to know our identity. My hope was to have my sermon start off with my teen son playing “Go down, Moses” on his bass, because that tune to me conveys so much longing, but I am not sure that’s going to work; while on his skateboard a few days ago, he nearly got run over by a car (that then drove off, leaving him lying on the ground, which has brought up all sorts of uncharitable emotions) and though he is no more than scraped and banged up, I’m not sure he’s up to it. Which is a long way of saying that I am splashing about in shallow waters here, trying to stay focused and find a sermon!
    I have some nice strawberries if anyone wants a snack, and some cheery daffodils to brighten up the table 🙂

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    1. Goodness Betsy, yes a near hit is traumatic, even if the damage done is physically minor. How lovely it would be, though, if he would play that piece – a great idea! I do hope the next great idea comes your way and inspires you!

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  15. I’m having a rare lazy Saturday morning. Breakfast with the spouse (he cooked)+ no kids in the house = much needed moments of peace! Especially appreciated after the hectic week I had last week.

    I’ve already preached on Peter’s denial and Jesus’ faithfulness twice – Wed am at the nursing home, and Thurs am at our monthly conference pastor’s meeting. I’m still in search of an ending, but I got good responses both time I preached. Maybe it’s just me. I’m still not preaching from a manuscript so here’s my outline – http://ramblingsjesusfreak.blogspot.com/2014/03/third-sunday-in-lent-one-of-those-days.html. If you have an idea for the ending, I’m all ears!

    On tap for today – a little housework, some beadings, some office organization and maybe some sermon-tweaking.

    For the RCL folks, here’s the link to my sermon outlne for the woman at the well: http://ramblingsjesusfreak.blogspot.com/2014/02/known-and-loved.html

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  16. One of my greatest broken ankle frustrations has been connected to sermon writing: I tend to do most of the “writing” and revising in my head on long walks, so that the actual writing at the computer is usually a fairly short exercise. It’s also much easier to preach without notes when I’ve been designing and rearranging the sermon in my head all week.

    I guess I’ve finally gotten to where I can do most of it in my head as I drive around all week , because I’ve got this one down in writing:

    http://metanoia-mrc.blogspot.com/2014/03/water-for-journey-sermon-exodus-and-john.html

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  17. I find myself thinking about the water itself, and the way that Jesus seems to “improve” water. Water to wine. Water used for baptism. Water (spit) mixed with dirt to create healing mud. Living water…

    The water prized for survival becomes something different, something more, something meant for celebration and thriving instead of simply surviving. Perhaps all of his interactions with water are glimpses of the kin-dom of God.

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  18. In my seminary class on John, we did a dramatization of this text. The woman had “Hi. My name is” labels stuck all over her, with labels like Samaritan, married 5 times, living in sin, woman, etc. As Jesus talked with her, he peeled off those labels one by one, crumpling them up and dropping them on the ground. I’m using that image to talk about insiders/outsiders, about the labels we wear, and about how we wear no labels (good or bad) in front of God.

    But it’s early yet, not even noon. All that may change before I’m done.

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      1. Exactly. It’s not scriptural, but many of our members have read that into the text… just as we add our own “creative reading” of the facts when we label one another. It is the Gospel that frees us from all those sticky labels.

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  19. Continuing in my series on the Lord’s Prayer. This week is “”Thy Kingdom come, THy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread” — which is a line longer than I wanted but I ran out of weeks in the series to have “Give us this day…” on its own. And really daily bread for all IS a sign of the Kingdom coming isn’t it?

    But the big question that comes to my mind is “do we really mean it when we pray those words?” Do we REALLY want God to break in and transform the world? Are we REALLY willing to submit our will to God’s? Are we aware how revolutionary that prayer is?

    My early thoughts are here:
    http://ministerialmutterings.blogspot.ca/2014/03/looking-forward-to-march-23-2014-lent-3.html

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    1. Hi Gord, I think many people will say, of course I want this, and really believe that they do…however the living into is difficult and we tend to obscure our motives behind defensiveness – so that our inability to really DO this is masked behind all the other things that serve to distract us from being attentive to what is really going on. We are unable to see what is really behind our action or inaction.

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  20. I’m not preaching this week. Too much preacher’s wife and not enough preacher lately! Two baby showers at my husband’s church today.

    Enjoy the woman at the well. I love everything I’m reading here. She was my senior sermon text, many years ago now.

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      1. One was for the daughter of the Lay Leader. The other (I was one of the hostesses) was for the wife of the youth minister. So, yeah. I needed to go to both. They just aren’t my favorite thing. They were both nice, but I’m glad they are over.

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  21. By the way – In my creative procrastination this morning, I figured out that I can get a report from Amazon of all of my purchases from 2013 for tax purposes. It downloads as an Excel file in which I was able to delete all the non-work expenses and reimbursable orders, so that it left a really good record of work expenses.
    Had lunch with my lovely niece, the girl with the elephant tattoo, and am now back to get this on paper. I have leftover hummus, pita and greek salad if y’all are hungry.

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  22. I was the Broadway musical last night, Sister Act. Funny…and I laughed a lot…which was so needed. Headed back west on the interstate…stopping off for a commissioning service…and then should arrive home by 8 p.m. Thankfully, i have words on a document…I hope they make sense as I am preaching NL text.

    Have fun everyone…

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  23. Finished painting the garage, front door and shutters. The house looks lovely. Wish I could say the same of my sermon! The woman at the well is a personal favorite. That just makes it all the harder to preach on for me. She’s too special! Perhaps I’ll return to it after a celebratory trip to a local yogurt shop with the two princesses who both got amazing report cards this week.

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  24. Have any of you seen the dvd ‘Water – the great mystery’? It puts a whole new light on living water. It speaks of the memories water retains and how water is affected even by words. If I had time and a suitable congregation I’d have loved to explore that.

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  25. Good afternoon preachers! Trying to get my sermon mojo going here. For a nice change I had no meetings or demands on my time today, so I went to the gym first, for a Pilates class and some time on the treadmill. Which was great. But it is hard to get myself into working mode now…

    I sort of decided to preach on the OT texts during Lent, partly b/c John is my least favorite gospel. So I think I’m going with the Exodus reading but still on water and thirst and how our thirst is assuaged. Not sure yet where that is going to take me.

    I love the suggestions above, esp. the labels on the WatW. And moving the font–I’ve moved ours a couple of times, but I was considering moving it to the very center tomorrow, too.

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    1. Interesting that the Gospel of John is your least favorite – I think it is my favorite…although only parts of it. I always want to change “the Jews” language to the people, the neighbors, etc. since most of the people were Jews…sigh. But I also LOVE to preach on the OT, so I get that. Anyway, I hope you found the mojo and the inspiration.

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      1. In seminary I had a NT prof who would change John’s “the Jews” to “the Judeans” because he felt it was a more accurate, less anti-Semitic translation. For whatever that’s worth.

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          1. I’ve always been told to substitute “the leaders” (religious and political, since they were basically one and the same) wherever John says “The Jews.” I’ve been reminding people of that as we’ve read John this season in the Narrative Lectionary: because almost everyone in the story is a Jew in the way we use the term–John is talking about the Temple leadership.

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      2. I might like John better if we could preach it straight through the way we do Matthew, Mark and Luke. And no doubt the language and imagery are beautiful. But Matthew remains my favorite.

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        1. as someone following the NL and therefore basically preaching John straight through, I’ll just say: still my least favorite. Mark is hands down my favorite, then Luke…then Matthew, and John a distant fourth. very distant. He might be a smidge less distant than he was before we started the NL, but…not much.

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          1. That is my experience too. We are adding John 14 tomorrow and John 17 next week and doing Peter’s denial the week after, in part to give people even more of the story. I used to love John, probably because of its poetic beauty. Then I did’t like John at all. Still love the poetry; still dislike the theology of parts of it. Do appreciate it more and like it better through struggling with it. But I really do struggle with some of these.

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  26. Hi folks – RCL here and focusing on Exodus, riffing on ‘is God with us, or not?’
    I may lose the introductory story, as the more I ponder, the more it jars with the rest of the sermon…we don’t *always* have to do humour as an opener…!
    Sermon posted here and comments very much welcomed:
    http://apilgrimsprocess.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/lent-3a-sermon-for-sunday-is-god-with.html

    I’m also pondering pizza, and offer pepperoni and pineapple, with side helpings of slaw and garlic bread…help yourselves! 😀

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  27. I have now started twice and deleted it all twice. sigh. I played some Lumosity games, took a little nap, and read the first 11 verses of the chapter while debating if I needed to include them after all. Still no idea how to begin. ugh. John is so hard… (I say, pretending I don’t have this problem most weeks, no matter what I’m preaching on! It just seems so important to hook people in the beginning…)

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  28. If anyone is hungry I have a vat of spaghetti sauce ready. Tried putting Kale in it this time to boost the healthiness. Now to see if the girls will eat it…… (doubtful, lately they have been going for undressed pasta)

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    1. LOVE putting kale in my spaghetti sauce! So much delicious. Too bad I ate all the kale yesterday and now need a new dinner plan. Wish I could just pop up to your house, except it’s probably colder there too….

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      1. I think we got above -10C today….mind you last week things were actively melting.

        The sauce was well liked by the adults. The non-adults didn’t even try it.

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  29. I have a draft; my focus is on how like the Israelites we quickly forget how much God takes care of us and look to the past (or what we remember of it) b/c that feels safer than an unknown future. God is still with us and calling us and filling us with living water as we go forward into the unknown.

    I keep harping on this theme, maybe too much. But I am in a congregation (as many of us are) that is very much stuck in looking backwards to the “glory days’ and being upset because we can’t seem to recreate them. My challenge is to get people to look forward and trust that our future is bright even if it doesn’t look like the past. Sometimes I’m hopeful they can do it; other days not so much.

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  30. Oh how exhuasted I am today! Besides being 11 weeks pregnant (and more tired than I think I ever was the first time around), my 2 year old was up for an hour in the middle of the night after what I can only imagine to have been nightmares. I haven’t heard him scream like that before. 😦 Poor guy, but then it took me forever to get back to sleep. My inlaws are also in town so they are wanting to go and play…and that just means I haven’t had time to prepare as I should.

    I am preaching the woman at the well…not really sure where I am going with it…I worry I may not make it intellectual enough for my congregation (I’m the associate so don’t always preach)…but I just don’t have energy. Sometimes though I realize that this is where that Holy Spirit kicks in and I say something I didn’t even realize I was saying and someone hears what they need to. Hoping for a burst of energy before the little one wakes up from his nap and I have to go back on “mom duty” for awhile.

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    1. often i find intellectual is not what connects with people. it is something that connects them with teh story.

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  31. I am stuck. I was totally energized for Wednesday’s sermon, but since then had an awful conversation with our financial team who has finally spent a considerable amount of time, energy (and money) examining our financial situation. It’s awful. My own sin is to keep from saying, “I told you to do this four years ago!” when we could have been more proactive than reactive. I can’t find my footing for Sunday’s gospel. (RCL) and I’m thinking of preaching my own story of why being a Christian matters, and how it makes a difference for me and for the other members of my family… aka the power of prayer and relationship with God, to build on our Lenten journey with “Unbinding Your Heart.” I’m stuck, and I’m feeling depleted. I’m a manuscript preacher, and I’m really thinking of just ‘telling my story’ tomorrow without notes. But I “always” preach on the RCL!

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    1. If God gives you energy for personal testimony, that could very well be the thing to do.

      I have enjoyed hearing your enthusiasm for this Lenten journey that your church is on with “Unbinding Your Heart.” I have wanted to do that, or one of the others, with a congregation, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

      Hugs & prayers!

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    2. Money worries and stresses just suck the joy and vision out of everything and everyone; prayers for you as you struggle to regain your center after that frustrating meeting.

      I think your idea of telling your own story tomorrow sounds wonderful, and I wouldn’t worry about straying from the lectionary (and I say that as a hard core lectionary person).

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  32. Thanks for hosting today, Terri!

    Our spring New Orleans Association UCC meeting was today, and it involved a 2 hour bus trip from New Orleans to New Iberia, and then back. The bus was a nice one, and there was a jazz band at the meeting which was in a park (former UCC church camp) by a bayou. The food was amazing, and a dozen people from our church were there. I *LOVE* that it was multi-cultural, multi-racial, young/old, gay/straight. In short, it was all totally delightful. Since last year’s disastrous, contentious spring meeting, this group of churches has gone from almost needing to be “taken in” by another association due to total lack organization to now being really vibrant, active and forward-moving.

    Now, here I am with a blank page and Exodus — was not interested in the woman at the well this year — and a sermon that will talk about how short our memory is. And I’ve forgotten anything that I was going to say about that! 🙂

    To work . . . !

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  33. I am having a lot of doubt and angst about my sermon. sigh….I had the same issue last week, too, and got up early and rewrote portions of it. Not sure of my personal part of the sermon, wondering if I need to cut it or minimize it or just reference it…

    of course Brene Brown would probably say I am just doubting my story…lol

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    1. Terri,

      i wouldn’t change a thing. your story is powerful , and tells of the reality of how shame damages people, and also of healing. and it shows how to connect a person’s story with the gospel text.

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    2. I agree with pearldownunder – this is a powerful story, and it makes a great introduction to the story of the woman at the well. Let it rest, and trust your congregation to hear it well. God be with you as you preach!

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    3. Terri, I just read your sermon. It is powerful, and I would guess at least some of the angst comes in being so vulnerable with the truth of your story. Nadia Bolz Weber said something in an interview, “I try to speak from my scars and not my wounds.” It seems to me that you are doing just that. And in the doing, you give others permission to examine and grow from their own wounds. Can you preach it without tears? That’s where I would get stuck. And then I would be frustrated at myself.

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      1. Yes, I am pretty sure I can preach it without tears as I have told this story many times. But sometimes I end up being a sponge, so if others are feeling emotional I might struggle a bit. I hope not.

        Thank you for the feedback. I do think it is hard for me to gauge because of the vulnerability factor, but I hope that it does exactly what you all suggest.

        Grateful that you took the time to read this and give me feedback. Thank you.

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      2. So I was able to preach it without tears at 8am, but not at 10am. I think most of the congregation was a little weepy and that made me weepy too. Still it was okay, seemed to really hit a chord with many people, including a seeker couple who were visiting. So, still learning to trust my voice and trust my story. Thanks for the support here I was able to do this.

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        1. So glad to hear that, Terri! I just couldn’t tell my story Sunday morning. The first sermon I wrote sounded punitive (most definitely coming from my wounds!) and the second sounded “holier than thou”, which is not what I wanted to convey. I ended up working from the Gospel as I wrote my third sermon (!), with the theme of “it’s a thirsty world and we have water… what keeps us from sharing?” We have a growing latino ministry, and enormous financial concerns right now. And yet not everyone wants to “share” with our latino neighbors. Lots of positive feedback… but it’s a supportive congregation in all but finances. (sigh)

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  34. Just joining in. There is some pretty decent chicken with black bean sauce left from carry out and some banana bread I made this afternoon while procrastinating a sermon. i am on a modified NL. Decided to add in John 14 and John 17 and so am moving the start of the passion narrative until April. I wish I had a way to post the woman at the well sermon from a few weeks ago but for those of you RLs struggling, there was a helpful discussion posted on this blog and at the facebook group for narrative lectionary.

    I don’t want to preach another sermon on many mansions or the way, the truth and the life. What strikes me as I read the text is the “I will not leave you orphaned” and so, I suppose, I will preach with that theme. Most of the bulletin has more of a peace focus, including a big dove for both the spirit and peace on the bulletin cover. I think I can tie it all together but I am not too troubled if it doesn’t as much as I would like.

    I have a lovely blank computer screen waiting to be filled. Too bad I don’t have more than what I just shared with you. Oh well. At least it’s a start.

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      1. Oooohh, great idea! I need an opening and I need to find some sort of mission/justice/it’s bigger than just us connection too. That would do nicely.Thank you!!

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  35. You know that feeling that comes up when it is dinner time and you realize that the only part of your sermon that is written is the first few sentences and you have no idea how to get any of what seemed like great ideas earlier into words now? And that you have spent the day doing all sorts of other things except that which most needed to be done (the sermon)?

    Not happy right now.

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    1. Yes. I know that feeling. It is much easier for me to focus on my sermons when I am home alone…which happens now and then. Otherwise it’s a challenge to mom and wife and preacher in prep. sigh. I hope it comes together for you!!

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  36. I have missed you all and now need your prayers for the community I serve that has been rocked by police violence leading to the death by shooting of one of our members. Struggled with this as I wrote the sermon I’ll be preaching tomorrow at a congregation that supports our Sunday program. I am not touching my blog this Lent (too eager to look for stats, comments, and likes on facebook). But here is the sermon. Sorry to clog the blog. I promise I won’t do it again. Usually I have no Lenten practices. Please pray for the Congregation of St. Martin’s, the people who live on the streets of Albuquerque, and the city of Albuquerque. Thanks. Rev. Alli

    In the arid, barren landscape in the highlands north of Jerusalem and south of Galilee,
    amidst rock outcroppings, scrubby trees, and grasses—a landscape not unlike the land west of the escarpment here in Albuquerque, a landscape not unlike the foothills east of Tramway—there lies a well dug deep into the earth, a well drawing the bubbling, gurgling, clean cool water that runs deep below the arid surface of the land. They call that well Jacob’s well for it’s found on land Jacob was said to have given his son Joseph.

    For centuries, millenia really, folks have come to draw water from that well. For centuries, millenia really, folks have talked about the life-giving properties that water holds. No wonder the stranger stopped to linger there. No wonder he waited for someone to appear with a bucket to draw water from the well. No wonder he rested his back against the cools stones surrounding that old beloved well.

    Then a woman approaches the well. “What’s she doing here,” the stranger might well have wondered to himself. “What’s she doing here in the heat of the midday sun?” Recovering from his surprise at encountering her there, he asks her for a cup that he might drink.

    It’s now her turn to be surprised—a stranger, a man, a Jew asking her a Samaritan woman for cup from which to drink. No wonder she asks him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” It’s scandalous they’re even talking to one another. And yet not only does he ask for water, he also offers her a better more enduring water—the kind of water that will really quench her thirst for good.

    She says to him, “Sir, give me this water….” and that’s just what he does. Right then and there. But look at how he does it. He meets her where she is. He sees her as she is. He loves her into being more. Not by changing the material conditions of her life. Those remain the same. Her history doesn’t change.

    She’s still a woman who has had five husbands and is now living with a man to whom she is not married. She still bears the pain of five excursions into widowhood. She still wears the shame of never having borne a son to carry on his father’s name and to care for her until her death. She’s still living with a man to whom she is not married—a man caring for her out of kindness or maybe obligation.

    But she has changed, this woman at the well. She’s got a new lease on life. You can see the change happening and so can that stranger who meets her at the well. She boldly demands, “Sir, give me this water….” And when that stranger sees the deep truth of her life, equally boldly she declares, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet.” And then she engages that stranger, that prophet, in deep conversation—a conversation in which he reveals not only to her but to himself as well just who he truly and most deeply is.

    Our woman at the well says to the stranger, “I know that Messiah is coming….” And to that the stranger replies, “I who am speaking am”.

    That’s living water deep at work—in the woman at the well and in the stranger she encounters there as well. “I who am speaking am.” He’s not claimed that for himself before. He’s not claimed his status as the anointed one, the Christ, the Messiah who is to come. But here, in conversation with the woman at the well, the stranger–Jesus of Nazareth—claims his deepest identity. “I who am speaking am”—echoes of God who when asked by Moses replies, “I am.”

    Jesus doesn’t grow into or claim his full identity as the Christ, the anointed one, the living God in the warm and cozy and safe environs of his family home. Jesus doesn’t learn who he truly is, who he can truly be, in the temple courts. No. Jesus is called into his true self by a nameless woman in the margins far beyond the comfort zones of his day and place and people.

    I suspect that Jesus and that unnamed woman at the well are not the only ones transformed and changed through encounters at the margins. I know that’s true for me. Perhaps for you as well. People I come to know and care for who walk in different worlds than the ones I customarily inhabit call out sides of me I didn’t even see. People who draw out in me a part deeply buried in the conventions of my life. Folks who see in me something I don’t yet see in myself. Folks who sometimes in their questions, sometimes in their grief, sometimes in their anger and sometimes in their pain lead me kicking and screaming more deeply into the person God has created me to be.

    Today is one such time. The congregation I serve, the people with whom I worship every week are deep in grief and impassioned by outrage at injustice. Our community is reeling from an encounter at the margins, an encounter in an arid, barren place covered with rock outcroppings, scrubby trees and grasses. A place quite like the well where a stranger offered a nameless woman living water. A place just east of Tramway where a week ago today a nameless man was shot and mortally injured. An encounter that, both at the moment and now in retrospect, invites each of us to become what God has created us to be—beloved and loving children of our most loving God.

    Shall we join Jesus at the margins of our world?

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    1. Honest, faithful preaching of the gospel. May God give you the strength and tenderness to support those in your care in the midst of this pain.

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  37. Well, everyone. I am so very grateful for this preacher party. I will hold each of you, and your concerns and worries and stuckness and hope and all – in my prayers. May God bless you, may you be sustained by the water. I’ll stop back by in the morning, but for now, I need to go bed.

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  38. I just stayed up crazy late getting the devotions, a missionary commissioning, and a deacon installation all written up. phew! On the bright side…everything’s ready to just be printed (or opened on the iPad) in the morning. Time to crawl into bed and pray for better-than-average Saturday night sleep! Hope you all are already resting up. love!

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  39. I’m finding company in reading through these conversations in the wee hours. Thanks for that! Preaching tomorrow (today) for only the 2nd time since leaving my pastorate almost a year ago. Going with Exodus, although I love all the affirmation of TWATW above! I’ll have to catch her next time. 🙂 Blessings, preachers!

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  40. I think this may be a record for coming to the party! Sunday morning, 7am; after a very restful week’s leave, I got home Friday, managed to put together the service and a sermon outline; and then spent all day Saturday with 150 other women at a study day on Rahab – excellent teaching, fellowship & worship.By The time I got in last night, and organised dinner – I was too beat to look at it…
    So here I am, with ideas milling round my head, and an introductory paragraph….
    Focus is Exodus: our names and our nicknames… and hoe God continues to bless us even when we moan and whinge. Or maybe even, especially when we moan and whinge?
    Oh yes, It’s also our Annual Business Meeting straight after worship, but I do at least have that written and ready to go!

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  41. I can’t do it… can’t tell that much of my story. I’m so afraid it will sound like I’m “better than..” I don’t have the energy to parse it that carefully tonight. And I can’t sleep, so I’m up trying again to re-write. It’s not going well. My daughter and her husband are here this weekend. I wish I could preach Wednesday’s sermon again. That was worth hearing. Blessings to you, preachers. May the Holy Spirit blow in, among and through us all.

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    1. Praying for you, soulwiggles, and for the words you need to say today. All will be well. Somehow, often, when I preach a sermon that does fit quite right with me, one I have wrestled with and remain unsatisfied, somehow, there is always something that speaks to someone. So I also have to learn to let go of the struggle and just trust the words that have come to me. This may not be the case for you, but I hope you at least find peace with yours.

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  42. Started my sermon with the nametags on the woman (played by my boss) and the matter of her nameless status in the gospel. Developed the idea that the one name we all have in Jesus’s eyes is Beloved. At the end of the sermon, everyone put on “Hello, my name is” tags with Beloved written on them in advance. Worked beautifully. I also incorporated the font idea. Thanks so much, friends!

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