Forgiveness and judgment, destruction, going where God calls us–it could be this week’s news, or it could be this week’s lectionary readings! There is lots to consider, and great thought-provokers and idea-inspirers for the RCL and the Narrative Lectionary. Be sure and read the comments, too–even a children’s time idea is lurking in there.

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So partiers, what are you working on? We’ll hear your woes and triumphs. We’ll share our snacks. We’ll commiserate and rejoice together.

80 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: 7, 77, 7 x 70

  1. I have the first part of the first two paragraphs and a handful of notes on a scrap of paper. I guess that’s better than some weeks!

    Idea that is child friendly (also mentioned it in the Tuesday post) if you are doing the Exodus passage: Dolphins of the Red Sea, from Rabbi Marc Gellman’s book Does God Have a Big Toe? (which I can’t recommend highly enough). Here it is reprinted in a blog: http://rabbiandrewjacobs.org/tag/rabbi-marc-gellman/

    Way too much stress in my life right now and I am feeling rather like an Egyptian with chaos swirling around me. Praying for a pillar of fire to help me find a clear path through.

    I have some lovely grapes in the fridge and a nice watermelon on the counter to start out the party 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the children’s idea (great book), and it sounds like you’re on your way. We have just been through a time of great stress (at least, I hope we’re almost through it), so I know what you mean. Peace to you.

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  2. Good morning. Thanks for hosting Monica. Betsy, love that book! I have almost a whole day reserved for sermon writing. Just a few errands to run – like picking up our 16 year old’s birthday cake for the party tomorrow! We’re on our second week of the NL, so going with Abraham and God to a land as yet unseen. A wonderful passage to be preaching ahead of our Scottish Independance Referendum!
    We’re planning on building a cairn around the font – it will remain there for a few weeks as we journey through the NL looking at Covenant and will be a prayer focus as we navigate whatever journey is required post Referendum. Lots of ideas to bring together. But first, a walk on the beach.

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  3. Good Morning. We have messy church this afternoon. I was up late finishing writing the story of Moses from the perspective of a few frogs last night for that.

    It also means I will be out from lunch time so before that I have to write a sermon for tomorrow (fortunately I was organised enough to write most of the rest during the week). It needs to incorporate something on the baptism I am doing tomorrow, the lead up to the Scottish referendum this week, and an introduction to Stewardship of time(with a short Lectio Divina type exercise) in under 10 minutes. So theoretically it shouldn’t take long to write!

    I am craving chocolate croissants so I might just pop down to Lidl and buy some (for energy, you know). anyone else need anything while I am there?

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    1. I’ll take a chocolate croissant, thanks! You have a lot going on this weekend, and a lot to tie together tomorrow! Wow.

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  4. Wow, I thought that before 6:00 am I might be first! I’m up because we have a day of prayer scheduled to precede our visioning day tomorrow, and in an ill-advised moment of wanting to model life in community, I signed up for the first and last slots. At the church. Most people signed up to pray at home. Sigh.

    Because of the visioning day, I am off lectionary, preaching Noah (feeling engulfed), Resurrection (requires death first), and feed my sheep (get out of this building and DO something). Three sets of a reading, a very short reflection by me, and a little conversation at table – worship in the midst of our visioning day. I have to go back and tweak my parts later today. Hard to get the right blend of reality and hope.

    As for me, hoping I don’t fall asleep in the middle of setting a good example.

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    1. Many blessings and prayers for your day today and the visioning day tomorrow. May God speak clearly, and people listen well.

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  5. It is my son’s 11th birthday today and we are going to be spending the day at a soccer park over an hour away for a tournament! Nothing fits him better, unless it were a basketball tournament. It is 40 degrees! I have a fresh pot of Guatemalan coffee on. I am doing Abram and Sarai – concept of journeying to the unknown and being blessed to be a blessing. I hope to flesh out an actual sermon or decent outline between Jesse’s games. THis may be a weekend learning to preach without a manuscript! There is an underground railroad tour of our church all day so I didn’t decorate but I am so stealing the idea of making a road with painter’s tape. Good for a kickoff, too, for We Make the Road by Walking. Love the idea of a cairn too. If I put something like that in, maybe the sermon can be shorter? A wee sermon (for my Scottish sisters)?

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    1. 40 degrees! Wow, it is supposed to be “cooler” here today (high in the 80’s), which will be a welcome relief. I like the road idea, too! A wee sermon sounds like just the thing for your weekend.

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  6. Morning, preachers!
    I’m preaching the Red Sea this weekend, and I’m using that quote Anne shared on the fb group about leadership moving at the speed of trust. Here’s the quote: “Relationships are the currency of faith communities. Things get done at the speed of trust.”

    I’m also using the Red Sea poem from Unfolding Light that someone else shared. (http://unfoldinglight.net/)

    I notice that the cloud leads from the front for a while, but then leads from behind. And leading from behind is tough because you have to have faith in the people who are at the front.

    Now I’m off to a cross country race.

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    1. The cross country race seems apt. Maybe you’ll find more sermon fodder there. Thanks for sharing those two items, also.

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      1. a few years ago at the city meet, the lead runners took a wrong turn. A kid from our church, in the middle of the pack, knew what the course was and went the correct way. He “officially” won the race, even though he wasn’t the fastest. He was the one who knew where he was going.

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      1. I have used the quote too this week – and kept thinking about it. Thanks for sharing it even if we don’t know where it originated

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  7. oh! I have laboured over what to say tomorrow. It feels enormous. I have resisted all year mentioning anything to do with the referendum to my congregation. But tomorrow it feels important to say something. I have a sermon. It doesn’t feel right at all – it feels like there is something missing… and, I’m not sure how to share it with you all, as I don’t want it on the blog yet either – I have a lot of local Saturday afternoon readers
    I would really like some feedback though!!
    This week for Scotland – for all the UK is momentous. And it has caused many folks to lose many nights sleep…
    Pray for us sisters in this week

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    1. Included it in our prayers of the people. As American Presbyterians, we continue to honor our Scottish heritage (especially on Reformation Sunday when we have bagpipes and shortbread). –Wendy

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  8. I had been looking forward to preaching again after some non-pulpit work time this summer. I only wish I felt better about these sermons. Why did I think (or agree with some commentator?) that a little time spent with Romans was a good thing? True, it is a good thing, but it is hard to do it justice without feeling like I’m just lecturing. ugh. So I’m returning to an even more interactive sermon tomorrow with small group discussions. I know some hate it, but they love hearing from each other. crazy but that’s how the spirit works in our midst, right? I have a 90th birthday party to attend this afternoon for a parishioner so I had better get back to my bare bones outline. ..

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    1. I find non-narrative texts to be very challenging also. But it sounds like you have a plan. And have a great time at the big birthday party.

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  9. Good morning! About 20 minutes, then time to shower and head off to a college football game with my husband, and his cousins visiting from Germany. We get to see our daughter (a junior at college). Stopping at a local orchard/bakery for a pie for tomorrow, and donuts for today’s road trip. I will share, hopefully seasonal apple spice and/or pumpkin.

    I have a thread of a sermon idea, hoping to weave into a full blown sermon. Preaching on Matthew and forgiveness…a quote “Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed.”…

    I’m ruminating with that quote and the idea of having a small notebook to write down all the wrongs done against me, to keep track…and buying and passing out small notebooks (found at a party store) and inviting the congregants to use to keep track of wrongs against them…write, not use smart phone because a recent psych study showed that students remember lectures better when they handwrite notes versus keying them in…

    the absurdity of trying to keep track of wrongs, which keeps us from being fully present and alive in the moment.

    I don’t know where the sermon will end up, but thanks for listening as I think aloud.

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  10. I’m preaching on the call of Abram, thinking of how we are all called. And wondering what specific examples I can include for older adult vocations. I’m thinking about saying something like “retirement is not a vocation.”

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  11. Preaching my first sermon ever tomorrow. Today: 8 am soccer, skating lesson graduation, baby shower for a mom from my kids’ school, Angels Baseball game with church group tonight, and spouse came home from work early yesterday flattened by a cold. Sermon is done and even rehearsed from pulpit (thanks be to God). At some point before tomorrow a prayer needs to be written and maybe a time w/ children (need to check on that). By Sunday at 5 need to take an exam for snow online seminary class I’m taking. Not sure when that happens. Everything seems important. Something may have to give.

    Temps here expected 100+.

    Not really whining. It’s a good day. Just not ideal timing. On the other hand, I don’t have time to fret about that first sermon ever.

    Grace and peace to all sermonizing today.

    –Wendy

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    1. We have kindergarten cold germs floating around our house, so I feel you on that one. And the 100+, which we’ve had until…well, today. Well done on getting the sermon finished and rehearsed (I never manage that). If you need to fret, check back here. We’ll listen!

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    2. Blessings on your first sermon! I remember that day, 13 years ago, with fondness. I asked the senior minister of the church, “When do you stop being nervous?” He answered, “About the time you should get out of ministry.”

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    3. That first sermon is so hard and also so thrilling! Remember that this is the Spirit’s work, in both you and the congregation and in the space in-between you. And drink lots of water at that game; I’m in the heat with you and it is brutal 😮

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    4. Oh that brings back memories – I also rehearsed my first ever sermon (don’t think I ever rehearsed again!) I still have it, tucked in the back of my bible. Every so often I take it out and remind myself where I started, and where God has taken me since – awesome!

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  12. I’ve been away a while. Took a week’s leave and, on the first day of the leave, fell sick with a vicious flu (plus I suspect a bit of a breakdown from stress) and spent 2 weeks in bed. I’ve been back a week but still feeling very dizzy and weak and, on top of it all, have sprained my back. As my daughter says, “That’s what happens when your body starts cashing in its IOUS.” Fortunately I am able to take replacement leave next week. But that means I needed to write two sermons this week. Thank the Lord for sustainable sermons! So I’m going with the Red Sea (the best way out is always through) and then next week manna.

    Trouble is forgiveness would have been great too. . .

    So much material this week.

    Looking at the posts, we all seem to have this huge stress problem. . .

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    1. My body does that too. Sometimes it demands it’s own vacation, sometimes it takes advantage of one I have planned. Hope you are feeling back to yourself soon. I’m glad you have some sermons in the file cabinet that will be suitable.

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    2. I like your Red Sea description – you have to go through to get out. More concrete variation on the theme of “it’s about the journey” since you don’t ignore the destination, you just realize that it might be tough to get there.

      And I have to admit, when I first glanced at your post, I thought “next week manna” was “next week marijuana.” You’re probably safer sticking with manna from the pulpit 🙂

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  13. Preaching the parallels of the Israelites standing at the yam suph (red sea, sea of reeds, sea at the end of the world) and thinking it is impossible to cross – and us standing at our own yam suph – whatever seems impossible for us. That God moves of the waters in birthing a new world, birthing a new people, and over our baptism waters birthing us as new people in Christ. My weekly message was about the Rice abuse news and the comments I kept seeing about “why did she marry him?” and “why didn’t she leave?” and how abused spouses face a very real yam suph when confronted with acknowledging their abuse and taking action. Just a few thoughts swirling around that might spark some creativity for those who are in the 11th hour sermon prep! Blessings.

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    1. Thanks for those thoughts. We all have something that seems insurmountable, I suppose. It sounds like you have a great plan!

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  14. After a sabbatical over the summer this is my first time back in the pulpit. Our lectionary inserts proclaim Holy Cross Day. I’m quite sure I’ve never seen that used before. But excellent lessons and I titled the sermon, “The Holding Cross.” I had given one to my husband last spring, but then we gave it to our daughter as she left for Colombia as a missionary. So I ordered another one earlier this week and I’m hoping it will be delivered today so I can use it as a sermon prop tomorrow… passing it throughout the congregation with a theme of holding onto Jesus. That’s as much as I’ve got. A wedding this afternoon and a presentation for teaching the Faith5 to parents and children also need my time today. It’s been a very full first week back, and I’m trying to regain the rhythm of balancing all that we balance in ministry. With grace. Of course.

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    1. Hey Ann is that you? This is Tina just south of you! How is your hubby doing? Well I hope. I was hoping to preach on Abram and Sarai leaving on a journey to an unknown place, just stepping out in faith. Especially in regard to the positive vote our council took to invite Pastor Neddy and company to use our space. Alas, the council went all money on me and wants more information, etc. So now I’m trying to write a sermon that is uplifting and encouraging folks to step out when God calls. Even as I am feeling less than hopeful and deflated.

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  15. “So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

    What? What’s that all about? Where did that come from? I’m going on a hunt and will be back after I’ve found some answers. Maybe you have some answers too. Would love to hear what you think before I sit down to write.

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    1. Right, one of those times I wish Jesus had been a *bit* more clear. Or maybe I just don’t like what he’s saying…we can’t truly and deeply know and receive forgiveness ourselves until we have experienced how difficult it is. Just a thought. I’m not sure of it at all. Can’t wait to hear what you come up with.

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    2. Yeah, my response to that line – read by me, from the pulpit, moments before beginning the sermon – will be voting for it to top the list of “things I wish Jesus had never said.” That’s how I plan to start the sermon.

      Not sure where I’m going from there, but toying with the idea that we are tortured when we don’t forgive others because holding that record of wrongs tears us up from the inside. The point is summarized well in Romans, that God can judge but we should not, so we should offer forgiveness freely to one another. We can’t understand God’s judgment, but we can at least understand that God has the authority and we don’t.

      Or something. How’s your search for answers going?

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  16. From my former professor and favorite source on the parables Luise Schottroff in her book “The Parables of Jesus”: The “so” in the parable application in the Greek text of Matt 18:35 concentrates our attention on the necessity of human forgiveness and at the same time contains the huge difference: God is not like this king. In the end, God will exclude the unmerciful from salvation, but now there is time for repentance.” (202) Schottroff goes on to quote a passage from Midrash on Exodus 22:24, “Come and see what a difference there is between the acts of the children of humanity and the acts of God: They begin fighting when someone cannot pay a debt. But God is not so: In God’s creation the day borrows time from the night and the night from the day without any quarreling and backbiting.”

    Throughout the chapter on this parable, Schottroff keeps pointing out that Matthew is referencing a world where people are thrown into utter darkness if they don’t pay their debts and taxes. A brutal world of high and low finance. Jesus calls people to another world–a world in which “financial debts and guilt will be radically forgiven (A world in which there are no “under water homes”).

    I’m going to chew on all of this as I attend my first of a series of classes on creativity and design in Santa Fe which is an hour away.

    See you all later.

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  17. Back from Messy Church which was chaos but wonderful. About 70 there which is on the high side for us. I am exhausted but happy. Glad I got a sermon at least mostly written this morning. I am not happy with the ending but if necessary can preach it as is. I will get up early and look at it as now I need to put my feet up and watch Dr Who.
    I can colour in my visual representation of how I spend time while I am at it. That sounds like about the intellectual level I can handle tonight – colouring!
    Busy but productive day. Thinking of those of you who are still fighting to birth your sermons!

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    1. Coloring can be wonderfully therapeutic! Lets the fingers be occupied while the mind wanders. Glad you have a moment to rest.

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  18. Back in the saddle (barely) and from Cowtown USA no less. I’m celebrating and reflecting for the first time since I arrived in Ft. Worth. We do a 30 min spoken word Mass in the chapel focusing on the saint of the day on Wednesdays at Brite Divinity which draws all of 4-8 people. (Talk about starting over in my preaching ministry!) I’ll be celebrating Hildegard of Bingen.

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  19. Starting NL for real- last week was youth mission emphasis – Noah showed up last week with the flood recovery work our youth did in Colorado. But now I start preaching in this new cycle and honestly I am feeling a bit lost, off balance and wondering if I can just go back to RCL.. Appropriate really – one of the reasons I committed to do this new thing is that I am encouraging my very traditional congregation to do new things and think and identify themselves in new ways. So tomorrow we name that reality that when we start new things there may be moments that we want to turn back to want is familiar. On to it-

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    1. Even if Abram didn’t want to turn back at times, I have a funny feeling that he heard about it from Sarai. 🙂 Good luck in your new adventure.

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    2. Don’t. Go. Back. I am really loving it; this is my second year. Check out the Facebook page if you haven’t already. Get “Spill the Beans” if you haven’t already!! It is a bit challenging sometimes, but I think it’s turned out to be a good thing here. I don’t get much feedback, but no complaints either!

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  20. Well, preachers, it’s quite the party already. What can I get you? Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven. They’re for a party this afternoon, but you can have some before we leave. I was going to make brownies, but the hummingbirds ate all the white sugar this week. They are migrating and very hungry! So, cookies it is. Help yourselves.

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  21. Thanks for all your prayers for Scotland ( and the UK) this week. I have been so distracted by the Referendum that I had to post this: http://liz-vicarofdibley.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/what-if.html to kinda get it out of my system so that I could approach the text from another perspective – too many undertones of our journey! But it seems to have worked. The sermon is almost done and I have prayer reflections to give folks to take away for this week. As well as pebbles for cairn building in worship. Now making up party bags for my daughters birthday party tomorrow afternoon. Although I often wish I could be organised earlier in the week, I love a Saturday that revolves around worship.

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    1. I’m creating invitations for our daughter’s birthday party in a couple of weeks! Why/how do we put all this stuff off until Saturdays? Glad you’ve gotten the sermon and service almost finished.

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  22. So, I have gotten sidetracked, sort of. I’m on NL using Abram’s journey. I thought I’d use one of the suggestions from Spill The Beans for children’s time – which was to adapt “going on a bear hunt” – so I’ve been researching the geography of that area.

    In so doing, I discovered the coolest thing. There is a path which one can walk that take that journey, and a whole website dedicated to it. Fascinating even if you aren’t going to walk it. No, violence against women is a scourge because it establishes a hierarchy of power. It is a means of ensuring submission. It assures the persistence of inequality through terror.

    Can’t offer much to eat, but you can come enjoy our unseasonably cool temps, and sit on my patio or in the church parking lot to look at the flooded park, the water from which covers the sidewalks around the church on two sides.

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    1. I had to dig out a pair of jeans just now because of our unseasonably cool temperatures. Not enough rain to get excited about, but I’m glad y’all got some. Now I’m off to check out Abram’s journey–sounds intriguing.

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  23. So I’m joining the party as one focused on preaching on the Holy Cross Day theme. I’ve been thinking all week about the persons who stood around the Cross that Jesus died on – the three Mary’s, the guard, the beloved disciple, John, the two “thieves”, …But then I discovered the Ground Zero Cross which has become a symbol of hope and comfort and healing and off I went with that. Its significant this year because the Courts finally and completely threw out the suit from the American Atheist Association who wanted the Cross out the 9/11 Museum because it was too religious for them. The judge ruled that the separation of church and State is different from Religion and Public life. This Cross represents history and does not reflect a religious symbol that interferes with the Constitution. My focus now is more on the idea of the witness of the Cross to the world and what it speaks to each of us.
    The number 14 also factors in with tomorrow’s theme at the church I’m preaching at. SO, I’ve been doing a lot of 14 connections. It’s September 14 in the year 2014 on the 14th Sunday after Pentecost and its the 14th anniversary of 9/11. I only realized this as we are celebrating a 14 anniversary of something else unique to this church.
    And to add more – I’m the supply preacher! The regular pastor was suddenly pulled away due to a death in his family.

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    1. Hm. I’e never heard of Holy Cross Day until today. I learn something new all the time around here. Sounds like a great supply preacher day.

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  24. Good Afternoon

    I have three baptisms tomorrow and am focusing on Moses and the Sea Parting. I have finished my sermon which is wonderful as we are still having to drive (three hours) to the city where the church I serve is located. We are moving in two weeks and I am looking forward to leaving the long commute behind although moving is bitter sweet – we love living where we are, but the church could no longer afford full time ministry and so I had to move on….the new church has felt like call though and that has sustained me through these difficult logistic times.

    Here is the link http://heatherjoandavies.blogspot.ca/

    I hope it works

    Wishing you all blessings as you share the good news! H.

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    1. Three hours is a very long commute. Glad it will be over soon, though it’s always hard to say goodbye. Blessings to you.

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  25. So not interested in writing a sermon. I spent two quiet hours this morning at the cemetery with the parents of a young man who died 1.5 years ago; today was his 18th birthday. Talked, prayed, sang, remembered, cried. And I’ll be going over in a while to be with my mom; my stepdad of many years died two weeks ago. It all makes preaching feel rather inadequate.

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    1. Liz, great synthesis of your other post and the task of preaching in community. Looking forward to hearing how your sermon was received and learning how the election turns out.

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  26. Sermon Title “Wise Thoughts and Actions” not feeling much of either. But got some important things done. Have a draft. Now to wrap up worship. work on the story for SS and go back to rehash the ending of the sermon. if it wasn’t saturday I’d have a coffee…

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  27. I have some home made spaghetti sauce to share! Also some orange-chocolate Chip muffins. Now who has a Children’s Time idea to go with God calling Abram and the first week of Sunday School?????

    For the sermon I am talking about land, whose is it, what if there are conflicting claims…

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    1. Yum, thanks for the spaghetti sauce. There were a couple of children’s ideas above, not sure that they are helpful for your subject.

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      1. I think I will take a different tack for CT and talk about what promised land we are heading for….gives me an excuse to use “Free To Be You and Me” since it won’t really fit with the sermon

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  28. Whew. At a party longer than we thought we would be. It’s very unusual for us to go to a party on Saturday night, but there we were. A celebration of a lot of difficult work done by the Personnel committee.

    So, how are you? How’s the sermon? How can we help?

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  29. Well, preaching friends, I’m turning in for the night. I’ll check back with you in the morning. Sleep peacefully. The Holy Spirit will show up in the morning, she promises.

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