That’s my title. That’s all I have written. I confess that in the sure and certain hope that you, too, have miles to go before a sermon comes out of the printer. Let’s write (and party!) together.

Revised Common Lectionary folks are fluffing up their rocky pillows with Jacob, considering the weeds and the wheat and the interpretation thereof with Jesus, and pondering flesh and spirit with good ol’ Paul. More reflections and discussions can be found here.

photo by Monica Smith, 2014
Some farmers and ranchers consider these weeds and mow them off. Other people take pictures of them. Red phlox and bluebonnets. Photo by Monica Smith, 2014

Narrative Lectionary preachers are walking in the light and the dark with 1 John. Some good reflection on that from  Tuesday can be found at this post.

What about the rest of you? Sermon series? Children’s time? Sunday off? This supply preacher is having a busy summer, which means my colleagues are taking care of themselves and using those vacation days. It’s been a heavy news week–how is that affecting your preaching?

Lectionary-approved procrastination activities include: weeding the flowerbeds and/or garden, planting “good seeds,” finding your flashlight for walking in the darkness, scouting out pillow-shaped rocks, remembering who borrowed your ladder…any others? I trust you have your own favorites!

Let’s share some snacks and some ideas. Welcome!


69 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Consider the Weeds

  1. I’ve not preached in three weeks and I had two weeks away – so trying to gather the motivation to write this sermon is taking a lot out of me.

    On the other hand I have pages of notes, a decent intro story, and idea of what I want to say. Now if I can just muster the motivation to sit down and write it.

    First though I need this headache that I’ve had for three days to cease. It’s just a little, annoying, fatiguing kind of headache – but it means my thought process is distracted. Let’s hope that it’s gone in the morning.

    Thanks for hosting, Esperanza!


    1. Sorry about that… I was trying to post on my phone and it died.

      I’m in MA with the RevGals REVive event (which is wonderful!) and am, therefore, not preaching this week. (And I have vacation next weekend, so that’s two Sundays off for me. Ahhh! Refreshment!)

      But I just had to write, Esperanza/Monica, to tell you your list of lectionary-approved procrastination activities made me laugh out loud. Well done, my friend. Well done.


  2. This week’s question in the “Faith Questions” series is about “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”…and arose from a blog post I wrote that said that the question on the PCUSA survey (the question being cited by churches leaving the denomination, claiming that pastors don’t believe in jesus or something) that asks how strongly you agree with the statement “only followers of Jesus can be saved” is an unreformed question, and that within the Reformed theological tradition, the answer is “disagree” because the words “only” and “can” limit God’s sovereignty to our choices.

    now I *get* to preach on it.

    I’m reminding myself it’s a privilege.

    over and over again.

    I haven’t quite decided how to tackle it…I’m hoping that by morning I’ll have more ideas than just the scripture pasted into a blank document, which is all I’ve got right now!


    1. I love this series you are doing. I wonder if anyone in my parish would offer questions and participate in such an exercise? I also think you have a great start on an answer to the question you have for this week.


      1. Terri, I’ve done this in two different churches now and it’s been a great variety of questions each time. I invite topics, scriptures, and titles–with a bulletin insert that says something like “have you ever wished you would open the bulletin to see ________ as the sermon title? Or wondered about a particular scripture text? Is there a topic you want to know more about?” etc. Both times I have gotten more requests than I have weeks to do them.


        1. We don’t title our sermons in the Episcopal Church, at least no place I have worked has done that….but I could adapt this for use….I’m thinking some of the long fall of ordinary time might be a good time to try this, when I’m back to full length sermons. 🙂 Thanks for sharing how you phrase the request, I appreciate it!


          1. The first time the series was titled “People’s Choice” and this time “Faith Questions.” I’d be happy to send you the bulletin insert we used if it would help you out. 🙂


    2. I agree with your blog post, too. So you have your conclusion…just need, er, a beginning and a middle, right?


  3. working with a contemporary reading from Spill the Beans. the tension that is inside each one of us. looking at the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – patriarchs of faith who are very ‘human’, as well as the Matthew reading.
    but first an ordination, and as Chairperson of the Presbytery that means I am leading.


  4. 8.40 pm Saturday night
    ordination over, dinner eaten, checked Facebook, checked emails, checked Facebook again.
    still no sermon. I have some ideas written down, but tired after this afternoons service.
    OK time to write


  5. life is complicated
    10.15 pm, and it is finished. not brilliant, and not what I was thinking of earlier in the week, but it is.

    I recommend Spill the Beans resource, [written by some RevGals] but it will move to the NL in September. good worship resources as well as Sunday School material.


  6. Amazingly enough, all my prep work seems to have paid off. I have a solid draft of a sermon. This means I can go to yoga and let the sermon process for awhile. It also helps that in the summer I only preach tiny sermons of about 800 words.


  7. Good morning all! Peer supervision group for spiritual directors coming to my house this morning and I have a lovely cold breakfast for them – but it’s really chilly out! Ice cream social this afternoon at a neighboring church – hope it warms up! And a 60th birthday party for a friend tonight.

    Somewhere in there I have to finish the sermon, one in our series on prayer — this one is on prayers of thanksgiving. I had already planned to include a section on times when it’s difficult to pray gratitude, but that’s become more imperative as the former pastor’s daughter died by suicide a few days ago. Hoping that words which will be genuinely helpful rather than hollow take shape at some point today.


    1. A tough week all around of prayers of thanksgiving, but especially for you and your congregation. Holding you in prayer.


  8. Good morning, preachers! I’ve gone for a walk in an uncharacteristically cool morning (mid 70’s), which was nice. Breakfast is ready: peaches, cereal, and milk. I’m hanging with the kids this morning while hubby works on his sermon, then we’re trading mid-afternoon. So it goes around here.

    What can I get for you?

    I’m particularly looking for a children’s sermon idea. And then if you could remind me to take any props with me in the morning, that would be nice too. (Can you tell what I forgot last week?)


  9. I took Paula Schmitt’s idea from Tuesday – the weeds are not our problem but God’s. Mix in a bit of our call to be loving and tend God’s plants, plus the fact that Jacob seemed a bit of a weed to be burnt but he fulfilled God’s purposes in the end and there you have it. Not brilliant but I have been otherwise preoccupied this week by the twins so my mind still is not really on the parish!

    But the twins are doing fine. Off oxygen and one set of tubes and beginning to learn how to regulate their temperature. The parents have been able to hold them for the first time today and I have a wonderful photo of my son sitting with his shirt unbottened and two little babes nestling against his chest!


  10. Thinking about some of our RevGals enjoying each other’s company this week at REVive in Massachusetts, where the wonderful Mary Luti shared her gifts.

    Monica, thanks for hosting today. I love your procrastination list! If it wasn’t pouring down rain here, I might take a walk around the lagoon at the art museum where there are ornamental grasses, flowers of all kinds, and often a brown pelican lurking.

    I have preached on the wheat and weeds a few times, so I am probably going to use some of that, rearrange, and make it short. It’s Communion Sunday, too. I like Teri’s take that we are tempted to limit God’s sovereignty to human choices. I also heard somewhere a connection between this parable and our belief that we can target to kill “bad guys” when in fact innocents are always killed too. And there is surely some connection with the immigration crisis, if only to wonder whose crisis it really is anyway.

    Need coffee. Offering blueberries.


  11. I’m departing from my usual sermon these days and doing a few Sundays of “Story Sundays”, a summer smorgasbord picnic approach of readings and very brief reflections, with Story One: the alternate first reading (and a brief reflection); Story Two: the Gospel reading; Story Three: a children’s book, read to all with visual media accompaniment; and Story Four: a faith story from my life or someone else’s life. So tomorrow, I will invite the congregation into some stories of the holy and unholy places and experiences we encounter: it will be Jacob’s Ladder and a bit about recognizing holy places and moments; Wheat and weeds, and a reflection on what’s happening in the news and resting in God’s presence, prayer and resisting the temptation to “weed” others but to nurture the holy; ‘Let There Be Light’ by Archbishop Desmond Tutu; and the story of my first experience serving communion in a very surprising place and time, a “thin place”.

    And then I will go on vacation for two weeks! Blessings on your ministries…and thanks for your ideas!


  12. Thinking of you all. I have the ‘skeleton’ of a sermon. I had fleshed it out earlier in the week but have stripped it all back and I am going back to the bones today in light of the tragedy of flight MH17 and the Israeli attack on Gaza.

    I feel deeply called to preach on God here with us and God who knows us and our sins/our weeds. [tying in that God comes to Jacob despite the person we read that he is when he is forced to flee]. God who creates all his children in his precious image and whom alone shall be the judge in HIS time and not ours. I want to say something about evil in the world, about the bad that is all around despite the growing kingdom and about not judging…..I can’t quite find the words but what I want to say is that we have no right to condemn others as ‘evil’ as ‘wrong’ as ‘bad seed’. We are not the landowner – however much we might want to be. We are ALL God’s beloved children and, as humans we all fail, we all do wrong. Some wrongs seem unforgiveable and awful but it does not make the person who failed ‘bad seed’ – just a fellow child of God who we all do.

    I am using Kushner’s quote on when bad things happen to good people but it doesn’t seem right to not say how saddned we are that the conflict in Ukraine has cost more innocent lives – and that until we lost Western European lives in Ukraine we perhaps didn’t care about the cost of the conflict on innocent people living amonst the weeds of war. I want to say that in Israel/Palestine it would be wrong to think of one community as ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’ but that what people are doing is living in fear and acting in fear and retaliation surrounded by the weeds of injustice and hatred….and yet, in my heart I also want to stand up for a Palestinian community living in persecution and deliberately targetted not because of what they do out of fear, but because a small proportion of judgemental zionist jews do not beleive any one should live in that place except for them. arrgghh….back to the bible and to prayer for me I think.


  13. I am starting by talking about Jacob, and dreams, and God’s presence in unlikely times with unexpected people. From there, I am passing out paper and inviting the congregation, right then and there, to write short letters to the children in the refugee centers. I’m putting up some easel paper with appropriate Spanish phrases for English speakers who would like to write in Spanish.

    This is inspired by this project: . It’s part of an area interfaith call to a weekend of prayer and compassion for refugee children. I’ll probably invite those who want to pull out their smartphones or tablets to go straight to the website and write a note there.

    For ideas about what to say, check out this short and lovely video: .

    I don’t plan to address the politics of how they got here or what happens next, just that they are young people who are here now who need love and reassurance. There will be some people who are uncomfortable with this, but I think it’s a beautiful, simple way to act out our faith on the spot, and it hope it will encourage folks to continue to hold these children and the families they left behind in prayer.

    For the party, I have some fabulous cheeses and crackers to go along with them. Went to the Hollywood Bowl last night and our friends sent me home with leftovers 🙂


  14. I *think* I have a sermon! I happily pass around a big bowl of stovies [it is a big like a corned beef hash and is often served at Scottish parties late at night – filling, warming, comforting and plenty to share around.


  15. Some random thoughts I plan to incorporate: not glorifying Jacob, and still God was with him; our understanding of the nature of God is incredibly lacking; including something about the Acts passage (as supporting material) when Peter got out of prison and knocked on the door of the place where they were likely all praying for him to get out, but they didn’t believe it/ didn’t really believe God would answer their prayers in the affirmative; during children’s moments, I might use an idea I saw online (can’t recall where, maybe here?) to have a basket of smooth stones, then have the children walk around the congregation with some stones as I ask people to share where they plan to be in the coming week, then as each one speaks, a child will hand them a stone and say, “surely God is/will be in that place.”


  16. Getting a late start here in Canada’s Banana Belt…

    I am off-lectionary for the summer. We are doing a “hard questions” series (congregants submitted questions) and I am contemplating the most difficult of them–“Why does God make my life so hard?” Of course I am starting with the idea that God does not “make” anyone’s life hard; our lives are sometimes difficult because the world is not what it should/could be–people do not treat each other well, do not treat themselves well, etc; that God does not step in change things with a magic wand because we have free choice–otherwise we are puppets–and that we become better people through how we deal with the frustrations, setbacks and downright heartbreaks of life. I’m using a reading from Job (“Curse God and die”) and the beatitudes.

    Other ideas/suggestions welcome!

    Other than that I am doing least favourite household task.


    1. Now I’m very curious about Canada’s “Banana Belt”??

      Sounds like you have a good plan. Job in particular can speak deeply to those who are suffering.


      1. Yes, I love Job.

        I live in the southernmost part of Canada–we are well to the south of a good portion of the US–and we also have a lot of fruit and vegetable growers here–thus the nickname.


        1. I live across the river from you, just outside Detroit, and people here refer to the area as a “banana” – but they mean weather wise – most bad weather coming from the west splits just east of Ann Arbor and ends up going north or south of us…in a kind of banana shape….


          1. I have never heard that before, Terri – and living in Ann Arbor, I am now pondering (procrastinating) what that point in the banana should be called….?


    2. Martha, I got a similar question but in the traditional “Why do bad things happen to good people” formulation. I put it off toward the end of summer because I didn’t want to deal with it. lol. So I look forward to reading yours!


  17. I preached the weeds-and-wheat three years ago, and it is still one of my favorite sermons.

    I’m up and moving after a late night talking with a friend. About to get to work…hoping an intro to this “Particular Way” sermon shows itself sooner rather than later. (I titled it with the idea that I might be able to get into how John 14 makes particular claims, not exclusive claims. We’ll see how it goes.)

    Again I’m reminded of the downside of the sermon series: being the only one preaching a text on any given week is so much harder!


    1. particular vs. exclusive makes sense.

      My struggle with sermon series has been that my enthusiasm doesn’t ever last as long as I’ve scheduled the series for!


  18. Hubby and I have switched places, so I’m finally getting down to writing. Dear Matthew, why couldn’t you have left the parable alone? Your explanation is not helping matters any. Sincerely, me.

    Also, I’m afraid I have three sermons here on this outline.


    1. My sentiments exactly – could do without the explanation that Matthew includes….tempted to not read that portion 🙂 since I’m not really preaching on the Gospel anyway, – mostly the Romans text.


  19. Monica, took your procrastination to heart today – even though I’m not preaching – and went to the beach to seek out some pillow shaped stones. Lots of beautifully coloured ones on the beach I found.
    I preached on the gospel 3 years ago: and, if anyone is desperate, there may be some themes that chime for them. I’ve also posted a reflection I wrote for Spill the Beans that might be useful. Thanks, Pearl, for your plug – it’s a fun resource to write!
    The annoying thing is that, since the weather has turned rainy since lunchtime,move felt like writing! Why doesn’t that happen other weeks when I should be writing? Anyway, I have some ideas for next couple of Sundays when I will be preaching. Time will tell if they’re useful when those Sundays come!
    I have some rice pudding, made with non dairy coconut milk in the slow cooker, so looking forward to supper. Come and share.


    1. Hooray for working ahead a bit! And I’m glad you found some interesting stones. And trying not to be jealous that you’re that near to a beach. Enjoy the rain!


  20. Huh. I think I found a fourth sermon in here. Maybe I’m ditching the other three for another time. It’s getting a bit crowded. 🙂


  21. Supplying tomorrow 2 hours away – and then an interview there. We’ll see how that goes. There is an expectation of a children’s sermon if there are children present – so for that part, I will remind them of Dory’s Song in Finding Nemo – “Just Keep Swimming” and how that fits into the Gospel for tomorrow. If there are no children, then it’s a paragraph close to the end of the regular sermon 🙂
    Adult sermon is not terribly exciting, but I’m not worried about it. I do not feel great pressure about this congregation. The bishop has asked me to be in their process as they search for a priest, I think because I genuinely care about them, but I’m not sure about actually serving there. Just keep swimming, right?


  22. We just got back from a relaxing weekend at a BBQ festival – or as I call it “watching meat cook.” My spouse has gotten into BBQ Pitmasters in a big way. This particular festival doesn’t have much other activities beside the cooking, but it IS on a lake. So I got to indulge my ‘beachin’ fantasy – cool breeze, sun, the sound of lapping water, cool drinks and music. It’s not tropical, but it’s as close as we get here in South Dakota in July!

    I worked on my sermon mentally on the drive over, and now I just have to get a outline together to preach from. I skipped around on the NL and am doing Ruth. I love this book, and since I’ll be on vacation for 2 weeks in August when it’s on the schedule, I decided to do it now. I did a major project in seminary on Ruth, so it’s been fun reading my own work as part of my text study.;

    But first, I have to handle the Sunday School weeds that seem to keep popping back up. Long story short – there was a meeting, only one person came, even though the meeting was announced in the bulletin and newsletter (I forgot to send out emails). So we discussed stuff. Unfortunately, that one person is not actually on the board even though I thought she was and she thought she was. I thought I had it handled Thursday, but came home tonight to a message from the ‘non’ member. I’m sure she’s hurt. I’m not really sure why such my minor mistake in notification can morph into such a big problem…Ugh. I think this is the least favorite part of my job.


    1. Sometimes the weeds seem to grow much faster than the wheat, and more vigorously, that’s for sure.

      Glad you had a relaxing day, and I hope the Ruth sermon comes together quickly.


  23. Preaching sisters and friends, I have hit the wall. I’ve printed the sermon, going to gather my stuff (including the children’s sermon stuff this time!), and head to bed.

    Prayers of blessing to you, and to those who will hear the word tomorrow. Peace to those who are fretting. Encouragement to those still working.


  24. well….I have about a thousand words that have danced around the question. So now to find a non-“preachy” sounding way to bring it around, tie in the scripture, and somehow get to the point.

    I think I need an ice cream break.


    1. Teri, I switched weeks/texts and am preaching weeds and wheat this Sunday (just back from vacation) I love your ‘sorting hat’ illustration and the whole take on your sermon. I’d like to quote sections and attribute them to you. May I? This is a really good work and exactly how to deal with this text this week I think. Let me know if you get this. Not sure how else to contact you. thanks


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