Call The Midwife

 

Last year I became seriously hooked on the PBS television program, “Call the Midwife.”  The story takes place in a poor section of London for which a convent, the nuns who live in the convent, and a team of professional nurse midwives, tend to the people. Episodes offer an ongoing peek into the interpersonal relationships of the nuns and nurses as well as weekly snapshots of women and families in the neighborhood. Only a portion of each episode includes graphic sounds and visuals of the birth process, most of it is founded on relationship building – on forming trust, respect, compassion, and love.

The reading this Sunday from Exodus follows a similar trajectory but grounds the story in God’s hope for all creation – a hope that gives birth to people, nations, and eventually to the birth of God in human flesh. This reading paves the way for all that comes after. I will have to preach on this text.

What about you? Are you being called by Isaiah or Romans or Matthew? Or are you following the Narrative Lectionary? For more on these check out these blogs from Tuesday for the Revised Common Lectionary or Narrative Lectionary. This week’s The Pastoral is Political also addresses preaching from both lectionaries.

Much to consider in the texts this week as we draw to the end of summer. To sustain us I offer coffee, tea, and fresh fruit. Bring us your questions, worries, ideas, and inspiration and we’ll share around. It’s the 11th Hour Preacher Party – let the “fun” begin….

72 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Midwives Calling….wondering who we are?

  1. I hadn’t thought of the TV show.
    lunchtime Saturday and just sent the file through to the tech person for the PowerPoint, good thing he is gracious.
    I am thinking about civil disobedience, and how little things can add up to a lot.
    also Pharaoh wanted the boys killed, he didn’t girls/women as possible threats. how often is it the women who stand up against violence – like the women in Argentina Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and the women who received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in Northern Ireland.
    time to eat lunch, make a few phone calls, go to the gym and write a sermon.

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    1. Pearl, your thoughts lead me to remember the PBS series “Women, War, and Peace” which focused on women who had stood up to injustice in a number of countries: women’s whose accusations caused the first Hague trial for war crimes caused by rape (Serbia/Croatia); women in Columbia and Liberia, and two other places I am not recalling at the moment. Civil disobedience!

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    2. Leymah Gbowee is another woman who received a Nobel peace prize for her civil disobedience/divine obedience
      “This is not a traditional war story. It is about an army of women in white standing up when no one else would—unafraid, because the worst things imaginable had already happened to us. It is about how we found the moral clarity, persistence and bravery to raise our voices against war and restore sanity to our land.”
      Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War

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  2. Good morning! Early here, but I’ve been up for awhile, thanks to a screech owl who must have been perched right by my window, and a getting-ready nightmare about this afternoon’s wedding. Thankfully I have no dresses in my closet bearing any resemblance to the one I came up with in the dream!

    I have an overfull week-end ahead, thanks to a session meeting after church and two events in connection with certification week-end for the spiritual direction program in which I trained some years ago, plus the aforesaid wedding. Thinking about time and energy allocated to those seeking deeper relationships with God and those for whom God is at best tangential, and what we have to share in each set of circumstances, and how we do it, and . . . .

    And — oh — the sermon. I am returning to the first one I wrote for last week, the one about Joseph and being called to dream and think out-of-the-box, and how God has greater plans for us than we do for ourselves, as we prepare for a visioning day in three weeks. And pondering how after the angst of writing a second sermon last week in response to the events in the country and world, and trying to get it just right for my context, no one said a word except the one parishioner to whom I mentioned it, which tells me what, I wonder.

    Kind of wishing I were a coffee drinker. Have a great day, everyone!

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    1. Good morning, Robin….I am holding you in prayer as you move through this day, finally get through this wedding, and then, for the rest of the weekend. I find that coffee helps most mornings, I drink a decaff/reg blend, so it’s less the caffeine and just more the soothing process of sipping something warm and flavorful that I appreciate. (OH who am I kidding, it’s all about the caffeine).

      I find, after almost 15 years of being a priest in a congregation, and 13 years of that time being the Rector, that I am getting tired of the relentless schedule. I hope that entering the Spiritual Direction program this fall offers me a good change in focus and direction, even as it will add more to my schedule.

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  3. civil disobedience done, there is a baptism tomorrow, so about 20 extra people . I try and do something special, but this week is a regular sermon, if such a thing exists. too tired to do anything else. Monday is the beginning of 4 weeks annual leave, and I am looking forward to that.
    when I return we will be on the Narrative lectionary, a new experience for me.
    I have shredded wheatmeal biscuits with butter if you are interested.

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    1. Pearl, I appreciate your observation of civil disobedience in the Exodus text. It affirms the direction I have in my mind for Sunday’s sermon (as a guest preacher), which I’ve titled “The Problem with Legality.” Just have to write the actual sermon now … plus some back to school shopping for the kiddos. When I return to the party, I’ll likely bring fresh Starbucks. 🙂

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      1. Oh yes, please. I could use a strong beverage from Starbucks. Thank you. I think the civil disobedience perspective is important. I’m not quite going there with the sermon, but making reference to conflict in the news – racial, ethnic, religious.

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  4. Although I often use the lectionary its not a requirement where I am (French baptist church) and back in July I decided to structure tomorrow’s service around psalm 30 (having attended a summer school on the psalms). Rather than a single sermon, I’m structuring the service into 4 “chunks”: Praise, Thanksgiving, Disorientation and Joy (analysis thanks to workingpreacher, though the titles are mine and disorientation comes from Bruggemann). For each one I’m including some relevant songs, prayer, and a short comment (though the Disorientation comment is longer and will pass for a sermonette), and we will have communion in the Joy section. I am planning to introduce the Disorientation bit with an icebucketchallenge clip, and make the observation that sometimes life chucks a bucket of cold water all over you… Looks good when I explain it like that, but it has still to gel for real…

    Responsible for whole service as pastor is away. We are deep in summer vacation time here, so trying also to keep it simple and short!

    Tomatoes from my garden to share.

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  5. I have a rough draft of a sermon, something I can work on the rest of the day. So, now I am going to go to a yoga class – where I may end up inspired to write something all together different. Back soon!

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  6. Thank you for hosting, Terri.

    I hope that I can spend some time this evening refreshing a sustainable sermon on the RCL Gospel story. My daughter from NYC is here, and my day includes a healthy, healing dose of mother/daughter time. Be back later!

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  7. The State Fair is in full swing, so I am having trouble being motivated, knowing the congregation will be small tomorrow (all right, being honest, also wishing I could spend the weekend at the fair too). The Summer of Stories continues for me (one more week after tomorrow!) and so…we will hear Exodus 1:8-2:10 and Matthew 16:13-20 tomorrow, along with a children’s reflection on “rescue!” and an as-yet-undecided story about living out our faith, and the actions that become our confession of the Son of the living God…finding ways to bring life and build one another up. I’ve heard a few concerns this week about our day of service coming up, that carrying out acts of service might be “works righteousness” and so I my reflection on these stories will speak to the place of service/care/rescue/bringing life as how we are participating in Jesus’ ministry. The sermon will, however, have to be addressed tonight after my nephew’s 2-year-old birthday party! Blessings on your days.

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  8. Thanks for hosting, Terri.

    I’m recycling a sermon from 6 years ago on the Exodus passage. Of course, it required some rehabilitation and updating. I feel pulled to include Ferguson in a major way, but I’m settling for a minor way. This is only my second time to preach at this congregation, and I don’t know them very well. I have a feeling that preaching about women and using only women as examples may be pushing them well beyond their comfort zones, sigh.

    Otherwise, it’s laundry and housecleaning day around here. That, and alternately soothing the “nerbus” kindergartner-to-be and explaining that we still have two days till it starts, so you don’t need to put on the new clothes today.

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    1. Oh, sweet – the kindergarten angst. I understand the need to walk gently into terrain that will hopefully move a congregation without shutting them down. Prayers for that! But also I have found that sometimes following my instincts into the prophetic realm is just what the congregation needed. Preaching sermons like that make me a little jittery, so it requires some fortitude.

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      1. Yes…I’ve done it before with supply congregations, with fear and trembling (and a warning to their regular preacher, who replied “bring it!”). I just don’t have a sense of these folks, nor do I know their regular preacher very well. And perhaps, I’m a chicken.

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  9. Terri, I love the connection you made above to the midwives TV series. Love that show too!! I’m not preaching (again!) tomorrow, and even though the lay preachers in my congregation have been doing a bang-up job–just amazing– I find that I miss the weekly task and blessing. So I lurk around here out of envy! I love the Exodus passage, and wrote this sort of sermon on it for my blog. http://sicutlocutusest.com/2014/08/22/you-dont-have-to-be-a-woman/

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  10. This is the last week of questions from the congregation….and it’s a question about why it seems like God in the Old Testament is mean and smiting, and in the New Testament is loving and forgiving. I decided to ask several readers to do a conversational-style friendly debate incorporating readings that illustrate both mercy and “tough love” from both testaments…it’s posted here. It’s a little long, and I don’t know that it adequately addresses the actual theological issues other than simply noting that the question’s premise is flawed. That might have to be enough for this week…

    When it’s lunchtime, I’ve got corn on the cob, fresh from the farmer’s market. Picked this morning…and let me tell you there is NOTHING like corn from northern illinois. Best thing about living here. 🙂

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    1. yum – fresh corn on the cob. And – I really like how you have decided to address the question this week – even if all it does is show the flaws in the question it will get people thinking.

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  11. Stuck. With no sustainable as a back up. I confess that I am freaked out by the fact that the parishioner who has been avoiding church because he has decided that I’m not “Christian” will be there tomorrow as he is providing the music. A beloved or tolerated eccentric, who also may be showing the beginnings of dementia, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he take advantage of his spot at the front of the congregation to make unscripted remarks. A few church leaders are aware of the situation. The Gospel could be a tinder box as one of his charges is that I do not believe in the divinity of Christ–and he has pulled a supposed quote from a sermon as “proof.” That quote is not in the manuscript or any of my notes. Besides, it is something I never would have said because it is so not true. So the source of what he thought he heard is a mystery.
    Do I go with Shiprah and Puha instead? Or launch right into “who do you say I am?” Knowing that this man, from a fundamentalist background, is not open to nuances, Or do I just put this out of my mind and not be reacting to one voice?
    Meanwhile, I sit at my table listening to the rumble of thunder and drumming of rain–a perfect day for a good, juicy novel. Sigh.

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    1. Reacting to one voice is always problematic. Go with what ever keeps people focused on the mission and message of the whole – on your strengths and gifts as a priest and preacher and on the strengths and gifts of the congregation. If they can embrace that then his voice, regardless of what he says, will be diminished. You can’t control what he is going to do, but he just might be his own demise as people recognize his dementia. It’s all sad. But stay focused, non anxious, and purposeful on mission and strengths. My two cents worth….

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      1. You are so right. And I know that. I need to get my inner critic to quit parsing everything for all the possible interpretations that might be heard. I believe that most of these people enjoy hearing a twist that is new to them (or else they’ve never given much thought at all), but there are the few from either fundamentalist or highly dogmatic backgrounds. Maybe I should just lead off with a round of “Oh, how I love Jesus.” Just kidding.

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    2. Have just been thinking about this theme as part of a different writing project… could you go with the Gospel and talk about how Jesus is what makes Christianity unique? The only thing we have to offer that the world cannot replicate is Christ – God incarnate – the Messiah – the Son of the living God! The world can make good music, do good service projects, offer good social groups, but Christ’s grace is what we proclaim that makes us different. Faithful to the text, not specifically responding to the troublemaker, but making your stance clear (with plenty of potential quotes).

      Maybe that says more about where my mind has been lately than where you need to go in your sermon, but hopefully at least the creative juices will start flowing! Praying for you and your complicated situation tomorrow.

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  12. Tomorrow, I am back in the pulpit after what feels like a very long hiatus. And I’ve now realized it’s been more than two months since I’ve preached a normal sermon (by normal, I mean in English, in my own congregation, by myself, etc. – I preached a couple of times while on my mission trip to Nicaragua in June, then led the last of my roundtable sermon events for my DMin practicum in July – other than that, i’ve been on vacation or others have been in the pulpit). ANYWAY! It’s like riding a bike, right?

    I’m preaching the Romans passage and am reworking portions of a sermon on this text from 9 years ago but am also trying to do some substantially new work (that part’s not going so well). I had hoped to be done by now, honestly, but apparently I forgot how my sermon process actually goes. Am also trying to make the shift from vacation brain to sermon brain. Argh!

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    1. it is kind of like riding a bike….the first time back on (or in the pulpit) always feels a bit rough, need to find balance again and pace and all that. But also, sounds like you have had a great summer.

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  13. We went to pick The Boy up at camp. Kathrynzj says her sermon is all set. Mine, thanks to my challenge to all preachers everywhere, is nowhere. I had originally planned to use a sustainable, and then to adapt said sustainable, but at this moment the tone feels all wrong. So I am trying to get a running start before we leave for the Peach Festival at kzj’s church, which has the advantage of being a dinner we don’t have to cook ourselves! This is my last supply Sunday, then I have one off, and then I start an interim, so for the next 12 months, I will be back among you more regularly. Hurray! (I think. As long as I don’t find myself with nothing at 5 every Saturday.)

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    1. Martha, that often happens to me when I try to use a sustainable – too much is within the previous context…sigh. I hope inspiration comes from the Peach Festival and not having to cook dinner. I, on the other hand, will need to fix dinner. sigh.

      YAY for the interim and for being back among us.

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  14. Just tweaked the one I wrote yesterday on Romans 12, and here is the children’s message, to boot: http://pastorsings.com/2014/08/23/whats-your-superpower-childrens-message-on-romans-121-8/ We will be completing a spiritual gifts inventory as a congregation, as we try to refocus ourselves into a gifts-based, rather than structure-based church. I know, I know, culture change takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. In other news, though, 22 people showed up this morning for a work day that only got announced last Sunday, and we filled the trash dumpster as well as hauling off a pickup truck load of recycling. There’s much more to do, but two classroom that had been “dump it” storage areas are now ready for use as classrooms again, the nursery has been moved from the basement to the main level, and two large storage closets have been cleaned out. Amazing! One of our farmers has apples coming on, so she brought apple muffins and fresh-pressed apple juice. There was plenty. Help yourself – the muffins are more like cupcakes. Oh, here’s the sermon: http://pastorsings.com/2014/08/23/gifts-that-differ-sermon-on-romans-121-8/ I am just pinching myself to have it done before dark on a Saturday!

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    1. a wonderful sermon! as I sit here exhausted from officiating at a funeral this morning and a chaotic wedding that took a lot of energy to pull together and make it look effortless this afternoon, my temptation (get behind me Satan) is to ‘borrow’ yours (with credit of course) and/or crib together a couple of commentaries with some life examples thrown in and call it tomorrow’s message. My wonderful husband cooked a dinner of salmon, onions, baked potatoes and corn on the cob. There is lots left over so y’all are welcome to join us at the table. Blessings.

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  15. Here is my effort from 6 years ago – http://somethingtostandon.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/subversion-for-sake-of-kingdom.html. Wish I could just use it again. Unfortunately we’re just reading the gospel this week. And our congregation has experienced so much loss this past wee while – I conducted 5 funerals this week – with 2 more already slotted in for next week – one of the drawbacks of practising territorial ministry as we do in the Church of Scotland. It can be a real privilege but it can also be all consuming as it has been recently. So, at 10:30 on a Saturday night, I have words for a baptism, words for a reflection on peace and no sermon. I was really struck this week by David Lose’s ” In the meantime” post about having to up our game if we profess Jesus as the Christ (and not just a good man). I’m suffering from a lack of reflection time this week – just have lots of jumbled thoughts in my head. Of course it might help if I opened the document and started writing – it is possible they would emerge in an orderly fashion – isn’t it?

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  16. Anyone need some extra energy? Apparently our 4 year old has some to spare. The transfer process is a little faulty, yet.

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    1. i would love some extra energy. while you perfect the transfer process I will shower and head off to Sunday morning worship.

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  17. worship done.
    beautiful child baptised.
    a phone call to make,
    then 4 weeks annual leave. going to the North West of Western Australia for 2 weeks, an area called the Kimberley.
    next service I am leading is 5th October
    blessings to you all,

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  18. Wow, my first time at this party!. i’m preaching the Exodus text in several weeks after a 2 week break from the OT, so I’m enjoying the links and ideas offered here without the angst! Tomorrow I introduce storytelling with Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, and the following Sunday we worship outdoors at a local campground with all the Labor Day campers (something totally new)! Thank you all for being so awesome!

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  19. Well friends, it’s been good partying with you. I am calling it a night since I need to be up early and have three services followed by a meeting. I hope you all sleep well and have a great day tomorrow.

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  20. Tomorrow I am going from Paul and the Renewing of your Minds and asking folks how their lives/selves have been changed by God. So today I reread stuff from my first year of seminary on sanctification–because that is really what I am talking about.

    It does strike me that for those of us who grow up in the church the question of how God has changed us, how our lives are different because of our walk with God is sometimes/often difficult because we don’t have the comparator of those who come to faith in later life.

    ANd what do I do for a Children’s Time to go with Sanctfication??????

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  21. I was in danger of going to bed at 7:30 when I heard that a church member’s house had been struck by lightning and had a devastating fire…now I’m wide awake after a couple of hours of phone calls. I haven’t made any edits to the sermon, though–I think I’m going just let it be what it is.

    Of course Gord had to go and mention the children’s time. I have to come up with something, I suppose…

    I’mna ponder that from my pillow and see if inspiration strikes, since sitting on the couch just has me obsessing about an email (which I turned on just to check if there was anything about the lightning/fire situation…but there wasn’t, there was just this one unrelated yet frustrating message that is now monopolizing my attention).

    Happy resting, all.

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  22. Anyone still partying? I’m putting the finishing touches on my sermon on Romans. Figured there might be a few last-minute preachers still online, maybe in the western part of the US 🙂 Hope everyone has figured out their issues around the text well enough to lead worship in the morning! Many blessings to all!

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