sheep-goatHappy Saturday, preachers!

This week we celebrate/face/puzzle over Reign of Christ (or Christ the King) Sunday, and whether the Son of Man is coming in his glory to call us out for being sheep or goats, or Jeremiah is offering up challenging prophecies, it’s tough talk in both the Revised Common Lectionary and the Narrative Lectionary.

Maybe you’re skipping all that, U.S. preachers, and having Thanksgiving Sunday?

The sun is barely breaking over the horizon here in South Central Pennsylvania, but it heralds a busy day at this preacher’s house. The coffee is ready, and pumpkin streusel muffins are on the table. Help yourselves. Use the comments below to tell us about your sermon, your day, your ideas for a children’s message, or really whatever you like. Let the party commence!

101 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Crown Him Edition

  1. Wow! Can’t believe I’m first up – it’s just on noon here, and I am finally sitting down to see if my midweek musing still works!
    I confess to being a little bemused over this Thanksgiving Holiday thing… my only experience is from watching sitcoms – and many Thanksgivings over on the Friends set: Chandler in a box; Joey with the turkey on his head; breaking all Monica’s best china…
    It makes me a little jealous that we don’t an an equivalent celebration.

    I am in the NL, so looking at Jeremiah – concentrating on the ch & reading for the sermon;
    the first reading comes just before one of our youths comes to speak about a trip to Peru next year – he is going there with the Vine trust to work with street kids, and is giving a talk and asking for help with his fundraising. I’ve titled his section “Never too Young” which goes perfectly with the Jeremiah intro (what a gift!)

    We had a leisurely breakfast – so plenty smoked bacon, free range eggs, black pudding, potato scones, tomatoes & mushrooms and rich coffee waiting to be finished off on our table

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  2. I am off lectionary this week, looking at the liturgical year – lots of readings and lots of singing and no sermon.
    in the midst of trying to edit a report someone else on a committee has written, which is too brief. but almost time to give up for the night and go to bed. [just after 11 pm Saturday here]

    and tomorrow is our quarterly Messy Church!

    god bless you all

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  3. We are up early and awaiting a Sears truck delivering a divided box spring, because the one for our guest bed did not fit in the stairwell. We have our first overnight guests coming on Monday, so we were spurred on to get it done.
    kathrynzj has taken some vacation this week, but I have had a busier week than usual, which is what happens when you start the year with one church in the family and end it with two. We’ll get some time off together after Christmas. I had every monthly meeting and a funeral and two previously scheduled home visits and a parishioner in the hospital, and today and tomorrow we are celebrating the church’s 60th anniversary with a luncheon and hymn sing (today) and a recreation of the first worship service tomorrow. I am preaching on Ephesians 4:1-16, which is a new one for me, using the same title as the first pastor (“Jesus Calls Us”), but with no idea what thoughts were in the heads of the people who founded the church. 60 years is just long enough to be beyond living memory of adults involved at that time. In fact, the gentleman who we buried on Monday was the last living charter member.
    It’s been quite a week and nothing close to the 20 hours I’m contracted to work as their interim pastor.
    So, coffee! And, onward!

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    1. sounds like a fun weekend – even if you’ve been too, too busy!
      I like the title – what immediately comes to mind is “Jesus Calls Us – still”
      What a privilege to bury the patriarch too….

      mm… coffee in the virtual world is good for folks like me who are supposed to limit it!

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    2. Dear Martha – wow, that is crazy busy! Praying for you amidst it all. How frustrating to not have vacations overlap.
      When I hear that title I think of the hymn, of course…o’er the tumult, of the vain world’s something or other. Thinking back 60 years, what was that tumult then? (I am just watching Mad Men which brings me back there) What is it now? I know your preaching will be awesome as always.

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  4. 6:20 here and I have been up writing up the midweek Advent ideas to send to two ministry teams for their approval. As they are simple, inter-generational, and it relieves them of the burden of coming up with ideas, I think they will go for. it.

    Miraculously, everyone in the house is asleep. Usually one of the dogs wakes me up at 5 every morning. She obviously has me well trained because I woke up anyway and took advantage of the very dark quiet to put an advent plan in place.

    I am in the NL and I believe that the sermon will be more about Jeremiah than Thanksgiving, although Thanksgiving and stewardship figure heavily throughout the liturgy. Most of the thoughts I have had throughout the week are along the lines of God isn’t Santa Claus and God does see and care about justice.

    Usually a beginning is the very last thing I come up with. But, inspired by a simple God is NOT Elf on the Shelf post on the NL page, I actually have a beginning. I am using one of the dog-shaming memes. A golden retriever has a sign around her neck: “I ate the Elf on the Shelf” and a German Shephard wears: “I helped because he is kinda creepy.”

    If any other dog lovers are there, they will like it. If they aren’t, I think people appreciate the chance to laugh, which I don’t always give them in a sermon start.

    We have a work day at the church today. Boy wonder has basketball early afternoon. Meeting with a couple getting married in December later this afternoon. I hope things come more together in my head at least for a sermon so it isn’t a long night tonight.

    Off to wake up the pack of (slacker) hounds still sleeping. There will be a fresh pot of medium dark roast Guatemalan coffee ready in about 10 minutes. Plenty of mugs. Sugar is on the counter and milk is in the frig.

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    1. I am searching for the Elf on a Shelf post you mentioned, and I cannot find it, although I am sure it is in plain view. Can you post the link?

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  5. Box spring delivered, butter softening for the pumpkin bars to take to the luncheon later. (Yes, we opened a big can of pumpkin for a small recipe this week, have to make use of it.) Now to the sermon!

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  6. Early morning here. A wonderful Sitter from Ghana arrived an hour ago and is reading with children…I am going to shower, do some ironing, and get myself over to the library in Rockville to get the sermon done…plus there is a tapas restaurant downtown that is right next to the library, so maybe if possible, I might go for lunch as a treat.. The library opens at 10 and I will have until 2:30 or so. Am focusing on Thanksgiving for the sermon…The thankful leper — turning back– to say thank you. It resonates much with me truly…may reuse/rework something because I don’t have much time and it is Stewardship Sunday tomorrow– though I’ve touched on money heavily for the past two Sundays, so I really just want to do the Thanksgiving piece. We shall see. Haven’t had breakfast yet, but we have coffee going here. New sitter tomorrow, so I need to get that ready too…so there isn’t chaos in the morning. Bills paid yesterday, so I am thankful and feeling a bit more in control of life, so to speak. There is nothing like being able to pay for expenses– the feeling of meeting expenses– to make one feel exceedingly grateful– for the month. Yes. And I’ve had the pleasure of having a wonderful conversation with the sitter early this a.m. about “community” and what family means in Ghana and how living situations are different in America (our perception anyway) and communal ties and church. We also commented how thankful we are just to have a place to lay our head. She comes from a very large family (38 children) and many social ties. We pray for her and others every night. She is a very faith-filled Christian and a true delight, despite the harshness of life…so we have this joy in common. Joy in the struggle. The boys and I really like her a lot…and they do not see her much now since they “graduated” to the toddler group/classroom. Her husband is very ill/debilitated in her home country so we lift up prayers for him as well.

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    1. Your sitter sounds like a jewel. What a wonderful relationship for her and your family to share! Enjoy your time at the library.

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  7. Supply preacher was congratulating herself, about a month ago, for successfully avoiding a preaching gig on Christ the King Sunday. Then my in-town colleague called…”I’d love to go see my family for Thanksgiving. Would you be available on the 23rd?” Sigh. I don’t really “get,” in a soul-deep kind of way, Christ the King Sunday. My head understands it, but my spirit is left flat. I don’t really think it speaks to people in our culture, especially at this time of year. So. Thanksgiving Sunday it is.

    I have a very crummy introduction on 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 and a few inspiring stories to close with. And nothing in the middle. My pottery class is having our kiln opening party (with champagne!) and potluck lunch (a non-church potluck! Who knew?) today, so I need to get cooking. Breakfast first.

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      1. See, that’s sort of my problem. I tend toward either the domestic or the nature metaphor myself. So why in the world am I talking about conduits and culverts?

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  8. Good morning, preachers! I’ve been sitting here for three hours and the sermon is written — thanksgiving/stewardship. I love Christ the King Sunday, but reality this year forces our attention to stewardship defined as an expression of gratitude, so that’s where I’ve gone.

    Now . . . a house to clean and that room to finish painting — unenthusiastically, as the upstairs furnace (yes, we have two; don’t ask) went out last night so it’s pretty chilly up there. Trying to remember my own just-completed sermon! — after all, if we didn’t have a downstairs furnace and heat didn’t rise, we’d have to pay week-end repair rates.

    Oh, and all kinds of reports for a session meeting on Sunday. Suddenly painting a cold room looks really good.

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  9. I am pretty sure that heaven has a library because the library is heaven 🙂 Free books! By Eve Ensler, Bill Bryson, and another called “Timesx2″ about alternative families…See? Oh my, procrastination strikes again…still, I can’t think of a better way to get my brain working…about lepers and thanksgiving and a Jesus that also turns around in his tracks. No more pillars of salt (someone else who truns around, but that doesn’t work out so well–). I know that I should be focused on sermon writing but I really want to read a chapter of a book that was recently recommended highly about a woman who wins a fullbright scholarship to study in Damascus Syria called, The Bread of Angels.” The book is wonderful intersection of spirituality, Islam, Christianity (in the Middle East) and recovering from a broken heart, as if that were possible. And a monastery built in the cliffs. Lots and lots of Christian references. See? This is so distracting! Support your local libraries 🙂 Free Wi-Fi Heaven, truly. Manna for soul. Now, back to lepers after I read a blessed chapter of this Middle East journey.

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  10. Here are some great thoughts I’ve had so far about Ephesians 4:1-16.

    “These words were written to a first century church, possibly by Paul, possibly to the church in Ephesus, but that part doesn’t matter.”
    (Hmm. I really don’t need to say all that.)
    Strike through “possibly by Paul, possibly to the church in Ephesus, but that part doesn’t matter.”
    “These words were written to a first century church.”
    (#CaptainObvious)
    Strike through “These words were written to a first century church.”
    (Delete whole paragraph. What was I actually trying to say?)
    #editing

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    1. That’s my crummy introduction: a lot of blah blah blah about how I choose sermon titles. Which is not in the least interesting or informative or transformative or any other kind of “ormative.”

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  11. Been struggling all week with the relationship between the sheep and the shepherds on the one hand and God’s promises on the other hand. All the while holding in my heart the students brutally killed in Mexico as a result of a mayor not wanting his wife’s speech disrupted, the cruel threats of congressional gridlock in response to Obama’s immigration legislation, and, closer to home, a member of the police leadership structure promoting a course entitled “Killology” designed to teach police how to treat citizens as the enemy. What I’m struggling with is the role of sheep/citizens in shaping the behavior of the shepherds. More Ezekiel than Matthew. All a mess.

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  12. Oh Martha! That sounds oh so familiar to my “going in a million directions” mind. We’re doing Thanksgiving and stewardship this Sunday. Kids were given bags with an item they were to ponder and create something they could bring back tomorrow as their gift and added to the pledges that will be dedicated as well. I’m doing some final pondering of Psalm 65 as I copy and collate and staple family advent devotionals for folks to take home. Wanting so much to just be thankful tomorrow and stand together in some quiet space of awesomeness and then really shout for joy that we are part of God’s creativeness! Mug of coffee is now cold, but chicken nachos are being created at home to eat as we cheer for Ohio State! Ya’ll are welcome to a plateful!

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  13. I’m looking at how we are both sheep and goats. I’ve been preaching all month about being prepared, being active, at least trying. Planning meeting last week — “we can’t do it – there’s no point trying.” Aaaaargh! So there will be another call to action tomorrow and then I push off to Zimbabwe for two weeks for my sister’s 70th birthday. It will be great to be back in my homeland and I have put in a special request to the Almighty for a loud, terrifying, ear-splitting thunderstorm. That’s what I miss most!

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  14. Finally settling in with thoughts and a keyboard. The congregation made its goal of hosting the rotating shelter this week (after we lost the lower level to the flood of 8/11 along with all the contents–8 feet of water!–and all mechanical and electrical service and the elevator). 16 women and 14 children, 11 of them under the age of 5. We will dedicate stewardship pledges, celebrate Thanksgiving, distribute a few hundred pounds of food to a local food pantry, and care for a long-time member whose grandson murdered her daughter, his mother this week. I spent yesterday working to keep a family from falling apart over the stress of a bullied teen and limited parenting skills and hanging out while the police stopped by and then I worked on resources for them while taking lunch orders for our homeless guests.

    Finishing up a series in a series (slow down, step back, look up). We are finishing our step back sermons, paying attention to what we value after we slowed down to notice. This is the “therefore” sermon to turn us from what we think to what “is”–to look up for the coming Christ event and look up (pay attention) to our reality, not just the Norman Rockwell or Currier & Ives paintings in our heads. Using the Matthew passage for what God values.

    So yeah, I’ve got these two paragraphs. Grabbing my yarn and a hook for a while…

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  15. All I’ve got so far is the possibility that stopping from time to time to recognize and give thanks for our blessings might be a good vaccine against the kind of delusional complacency that Jeremiah is preaching against. Not quite sure how to develop it, though.

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  16. I am making peace with my decision to re-use a perfectly good sermon (adapted, of course) so that I can go to the grocery store and cook something for our potluck at church tomorrow. I have one recipe that I haven’t used in a long long long time (because I hardly ever truly cook) and given that this is our stewardship/thanksgiving potluck and that I encouraged the church to do this, I really think that I should try to cook again, even if it’s hard for me to do. So– I am going to prepare for church in a different way– a perhaps more challenging way– and I am going to put my limited time/energy into making this chicken casserole dish that has water chestnuts and mushrooms and almonds (but I will leave those out because of allergy concerns). Maybe this is a way of prayer too. And I will try to compose a prayer. Secretly, I wonder how this sermon that I preached many years ago will feel in my mouth— it seems tender…closer to my heart than it seemed then….and I wonder how if will “feel” in my heart too. But the theme of it is about being thankful not just for blessings, but for things averted as well. ..the narrowly missed health crisis, the time that the home didn’t burn down (when I accidentally left a candle burning), the shoe that didn’t drop, the “whatever” that didn’t happen….

    And now an awesome quote–and challenging– from Stephanie Saldana (with a tilde? above the “n”) author of The Bread of Angels:

    “It is right, I realize, that saying in the Talmud and the Quran. Whoever saves a single person, it will be as though he saved an entire world.”

    And this too: “Maybe life takes us to a certain point and we cannot go back again without betraying the life we have been given, the person we have become.” Stephanie Saldana.

    Signing off here…because it’s lunchtime…and grocery store run is needed too before sitter leaves. I hope this is a good choice for this week. We shall see. Another experiment.

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  17. Hello preacher friends! Would you believe I am STILL working on ordination papers? This is really the last day I have, and as usual, focus is hard to come by. I want to hit send on Monday morning so I can enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with the girls. (four days off of work in a row looks very very nice). So, I am trying to figure out the difference between a “lesson plan” and an “outline” for the Bible study I did this fall on the Psalms – I am supposed to provide an outline for the study and a lesson plan for one session. My outlines (which I use as lesson plans) are very detailed, and I am getting bogged down in how much to include. Any ideas out there, preacher friends? Two of the four papers have been approved by the reviewers and have made it into the “final ordination papers” folder on my desktop. In four hours, there need to be two more in there. And, of course, I have to do some kid ferrying in about 20 minutes.
    Blessings to all!

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  18. It’s almost lunchtime here, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I am on vacation next week, so I had to get everything ready for 11/30, and it’s DONE! So is everything for this week, except the sermon, of course. Birthday party this afternoon with the boys, and then to work on sermon, and food for potluck tomorrow.

    Not much to share at my house – perhaps a grilled cheese sandwich?

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  19. Here’s a question for those needing (ha) another distraction. What do you think of a part time pastor that instead of doing 30 hours a week, works 3 of every 4 weeks? We are not there as a congregation (I’m still full time for the year ahead.) But I’m wondering what I might suggest for the future that would create a situation of choice. Do we become the church that ‘does’ everything ‘free-ministry’ from our brethren not-too-distant past? Rather than just putting stress on employees to get more done in less hours. Opinions? When you have time that is….
    It must be my sheep-goats text prompting such dramatic choices, right?

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    1. A colleague in our Presbytery arranged his 3/4 time call in that way. Once people got their heads around it, I think it worked out well.

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    2. When I served an 80% call, I was off one Sunday a month (including only one Sunday in 5-Sunday months, so it worked out over the course of the year). It was great to be able to do other things with that Sunday morning (go to worship elsewhere and sit by my husband!) but I still worked every week, 80% hours. Simply being absent on Sunday helped the congregation understand that the call was part-time. This was in a multi-pastor congregation so may not translate into your context…

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  20. I think I may have a direction–heading straight into (or maybe against) Christ the King–not as a solitary being but as the reign of the Body of Christ–appearing both in need and in responding to need. Not the solitary shepherd who binds up wounds but the community of shepherds. Still a murky mess but at least a direction. Now to reread the Gospel of Matthew. Wish it were a bit shorter.

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  21. working on the RCL texts… and thanking God for Leo Tolstoy and his story ‘Papa Panov’s Special Day’ – which, after a wee preamble, I am basically going to tell. It encapsulates the Gospel text so perfectly. Finishing with a prayer based on Ephesians asking that our hearts be enlightened so that we see Christ around and among us…etc.
    I’ll be teasing out ‘a different kind of king’ earlier in the ‘setting the scene’ part of the service, and have a poem to read between the Ephesians and Matthew texts.

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  22. Hello, everyone, and thank you for hosting, Martha!

    I’ve spent part of today, and also the past few days, at the hospital with a church member who became critically ill all of a sudden Tuesday. The family is having a very hard time taking it in and so there have been some intense conversations. At the moment, I’m in introvert recovery mode.

    Oh yes, the sermon. I did manage to get some early morning writing done and that work still looks like a decent start. I’m on the RCL Reign of Christ (Matthew, Ephesians) texts.

    A candidate for settled pastor is coming in Dec. 7, and my last Sunday as their interim pastor is January 25. I have 9 sermons to go. Yes, I’m counting!

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  23. I have very little voice today but I do have lots of goodies from Christmas Fayre. Thankfully, sermon can be short tomorrow. We’re hearing about a ministry with those with addiction challenges. I have an American intern this year, so I’m going to a Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. I’ve spent too long replacing things in our remodelled kitchen today. Now I must spend some time with Jetemiah.

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    1. I’m with you on the too little voice. It’s been getting worse all week, though I don’t feel bad. Here’s hoping for a recovery for both of us, pronto!

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  24. I’m back! We had a slightly lower than expected turnout at the luncheon (Penn State game on TV, some husbands stayed home), but it was nice. We followed the meal with a time of sharing, devotions and favorite hymns. I heard a story about the founding of the church that will help with my sermon, so there’s that, too. Dinner soon – Chinese leftovers!

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  25. Struggling with what to say about the Jeremiah text. Thinking about modern day issues that call forth prophets as a way to help my people “get” what a prophet is, and how much we like to ignore them because we know better. Climate change is a big one that seems to fit. We really do need to listen to the prophets who proclaim “amend your ways.” But we want our 2-3 cars, and all our energy sucking electronic toys, and it’s such a hassle to recycle, etc, etc. And somehow we think we are safe from the effects of it all.

    I am also thinking about each of us in the congregation and how we make objections to God’s call – I’m too young, too old, don’t have enough time, not talented enough, don’t know enough scripture, don’t know how…

    But neither of those makes a sermon. Took some time out to watch the Badgers beat the Hawkeyes and now need to get cracking! I have mint dark chocolate M&M’s and one dried cherry scone left – but can always make tea – I’ve got decaf and caf.

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    1. I’ll help you with those mint M&Ms, Sylvia! Not much help to offer on the sermon, though… Does it help to think about what was going on in society at the time? Our excuses won’t matter much if our country is conquered and we are taken into exile… being young or old or busy or uneducated will be the lease of our problems then…

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  26. Back from birthday party. Stuffing and green bean casserole made and at church ready to go in oven. Husband is grilling supper. Children’s time is done. Now just to get sermon done. :/ I think I’ve got good thoughts – just need to get them on paper.

    Good thoughts going out to all of us still working.

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  27. Supper cooked and cleaned up. We have leftovers, if you’d like. It was…um…it doesn’t have a name! Squash, beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, Mexican spices, chicken.

    Sermon is…not done, nor cleaned up. 😦 Bedtime for kids is coming soon, so hopefully I will get on it quickly.

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  28. Nothing. Not one word. Just a hunch. A direction. A tone. Stalling. Delaying. A blank screen to match my blank brain. Guess I’ll go back to Matthew and hope that He will be with me even to the end of the page!

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  29. Well, I’ve always kinda liked Christ the King Sunday, thought I’m not certain I can really articulate why. Been doing some reading in a book by Musa Dube–Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the Bible and it seems sort of odd to preach on kings and kingdoms next to thoughts about decolonization, etc. Always helpful to see others struggling too!

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  30. Four year old finally went to sleep TWO HOURS past bedtime. I’m finally finished, and the sermon is printing. Good night, and thanks for a fun party, everyone!

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  31. Looks like I missed a fun party! I spent my weekend cooking for tonight’s potluck and preparing a few things for the worship service. We had a dinner and service-around-tables tonight, and tomorrow we are having “unexpected Sabbath”–no service! A few people are upset, and didn’t come tonight and have been vocal about going to church somewhere else tomorrow. But the 75 people who came tonight had a fantastic time. We had so much food we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We had a jazz combo providing music for both dinner and worship. We prayed and sang, we heard Jeremiah 1 (I had to cut the chapter 7 part for time…) and reflected a bit on how insignificant we feel in the face of the world’s challenges, and yet we too are called and equipped. We shared communion in the form of pie-crust-cookies (pie crust and cinnamon sugar baked in strips), which we each broke and shared with each other–because Christ was recognized in the breaking of bread–and apple cider, because it is the beverage that graces our tables at this time of year. It was great.
    And now I get to plot what to do with my unexpectedly free Sunday morning. Sleep in? Read a book? spy on/visit another church? Watch Netflix in bed?

    I do have lots of leftovers–pie crusts, an apple-pomegranate crisp, and two vegan soups–potato corn chowder and chili. So for those of you needing a late-night snack, or for whom it’s already tomorrow dinner time, help yourselves!

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  32. Late night, central time zone, kid and dog finally asleep, quiet (messy) house, listening to the rain, and still in the reading stages of this sermon. I know nothing about sheeps or goats or this tradition of Christ the King Sunday, but I have good books and commentaries and you smart ladies on the internets. I am appreciating all your thoughts and am thankful for the suggested sermons/poems/stories. I certainly hope they’ll spark something. I mean, that along with the Holy Spirit and stuff, too. Happy sermon crafting to all the other late nighters!

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  33. I too am DONE! Not the more political sermon I had originally envisioned, but… here’s a bit near the end:

    God is not a security blanket, or a wizard with a magic wand. God is the source of all life. And God longs for us to have abundant life, healing, peace, and joy. When we accept those gifts from God, we change. It isn’t like the flick of a magic wand – poof, you’re perfect now! But we do change for the good when we welcome God in.

    It seems so simple, but the powers of sin are strong. And so we gather together in this place, not as a vaccination against evil, but as a strengthening of mind and spirit, an opening of our hearts to God’s love. We sing, we pray, we listen, we pray for ourselves and for the world, we share a sign of peace, we give of ourselves to God’s work, we are strengthened as we eat together at the Lord’s Table; and then we are blessed and sent out – filled with the spirit of new life.

    It works best when we continue those practices during the week – prayer, blessing, hearing God’s word, giving of ourselves for the sake of others, sharing healing meals and conversation with others. The more we practice these things, the more they become normal for us.

    I also do more editing in the morning over my Thomas’ whole wheat English muffin, coffee and fruit. Thanks for being here y’all.

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