John the Baptist
John the Baptist

The readings for this third Sunday of Advent offers opportunities for reflections of justice. This is true whether one is following the Revised Common Lectionary or the Narrative Lectionary. God speaks through the texts, through Isaiah and The Gospel of John, through prophets and (perhaps) the wildest prophet of all, John the Baptist, and calls God’s people to wake up, be aware, take notice, of God’s action in the world. God’s action is always about setting right the ways creation has veered off course. God’s action is about justice and love.

This has been true through out time, and particularly so, this year. Certainly for us in the United States, God is calling us to wake up, take notice, and do something about the injustices in our own backyards.

What readings are speaking to you this week? What moves you? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the many variables that come our way as clergy and preachers? Whenever I find myself with a rare slow day I take advantage of it, knowing full well that it will not last long. And so, have you had any time for rest?

The preacher party is in invitation to rest a moment in the company of your peers and colleagues, others who know just how you feel, regardless of what that might be. Pull up a chair, grab a mug, have a cup of something refreshing, and sit a spell with us. You will find food for your soul, and maybe a few words for your sermon.

75 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Justice is…

  1. finished the sermon before dinner tonight, now to check over it, and hopefully make it a little shorter. I also want to get a final version of the Hard to be Merry Service done, so I can get it copied at church in the morning, ready for the afternoon. I need to have an early evening, as I had a severe gastric virus earlier in the week, and am still not back to regular energy levels yet.

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  2. interested in the ‘Hard to Be Merry’ service; I serve a homeless and minimally-housed community as well as pastoral care to caregivers and those who grieve and am always looking for material to help them deal with loss at the holidays. Would you mind sharing?

    Blessings

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  3. Working on both the Sunday morning worship and Blue Christmas service (which is tomorrow afternoon. I keep switching from one to the other which is not the most efficient way to work, but thoughts for the other keep coming to me whichever one I am working on. They ar both progressing (slowly) but I will need to go get dressed soon to go to the Old Folks Christmas Lunch. At least that means I don’t need to cook today.
    Thinking of talking about Christmas lights and Jesus light of the world with the children – would love to have a prism to talk about God’s light coming into us as one colour and shining out into the world in many colours but I don’t seem to have one so that part might need to wait for another day.

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  4. Good morning! Impressed with what all you have accomplished. Pearl, your sermon is very good. I am going to make use of that Brueggemann article too/ I like your tying in of the joy week in Advent to the cry of the prophets annd our doing justice, That clicked for me and it will likely be helpful for your congregation.

    I have our churh bazaar today, a wedding, and a basketball game (which I will miss) in addition to writing the sermon for the wedding that starts in 6 hours and, tonight, writing tomorro mornings sermon.

    Influenza A made its appearance in the house, via Boy Wonder and his schoolmates. I used time I had planned to visit some of our homebound (canceled because I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to take the chance of exposing them to flu) to get services done. I should have been working on the wedding sermon but the next two Sunday services are complete and the final revisions made for Christmas Eve. Only have next weekend’s Longest Night service to plan.

    I have some 12 grain bread from the bakery and some jalapeno bacon from a local farmer. Help yourself to bacon and eggs!

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    1. I hope all in your household are well again! And that this busy day and all the work you have before you are not too taxing on your already limited energy. It’s great that Pearl’s sermon has become helpful for you and a few others here this morning.

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    2. Lynn, I am headed to the walk-in clinic with our youngest in a few minutes, afraid of that very thing. We had the flu LAST Christmas, which seems cosmically unfair. Maybe it will be something else, but she feels pretty crummy.

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  5. Off lectionary and preaching on Joseph, due to our Bible Study. “Did You Have Other Plans?”

    Last week our session visited the church with which we have been considering a merger. This week theirs is supposed to come to ours. I hear that most of them “have other plans.” (Yeah, I could lay it on thick in the sermon, but I’m not going to.) My own congregation has been telling me in no uncertain terms that they “will. not. move.” When this is all over, I will have a book about how congregations insist upon dying. Meanwhile, I will keep preaching on how God offers invitations to something much bigger than we can imagine.

    Meanwhile . . . .Thinking about Christmas Eve sermon. After seeing the movie, I was going to call it “The Theory of Everything.” Then it occurred to me that Jesus is not merely the theory, but the solution. So the current working title is “One Simple, Elegant Equation.” Of course, I have no idea how to write the equation. For the second year in a row, I am going to have to call RevGal chemistry folks, as I see my grasp on Christmas veering into the physical universe, a topic on which I have no grasp at all.

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    1. Oh my. It’s so sad when people would rather be territorial than creative and inspired. But it happens all the time. A church in my area is closing the end of the month for the very same reason. Sad.

      And chemistry – that was never a subject I understood. I would be lost. BUT I think it’s a great idea for your sermon!!

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  6. Thank you for hosting, Terri. As I mentioned above, youngest is sick today. Oldest had three separate illnesses within 10 days the past couple of weeks. I am a preacher, not a nurse! Thankfully, I am not preaching tomorrow, or we would be scrambling for a babysitter. What is on tap for tomorrow is an Open House here at the parsonage for hubby’s congregation. Depending on the verdict from the doctor, we may be postponing that. Youngest asks for your prayers that she won’t have to get a shot.

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        1. Just coming back to the party. Watched Frozen with Boy Wonder before putting him to bed and me back to work. I am very sorry to hear your daughter has the flu. I hope that the rest of you manage not to get it and that she isn’t down for too long. It is so hard to see our kids feeling so sick, isn’t it?

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  7. Pageant tomorrow. Have hired a sitter for today (and tonight) so that I can attend march and demonstration in D.C. at noon. Tonight is a another event with a different minority community, a new tribe so to speak. Feeling that I need to do this– like a kind of pilgrimage. I still have much to learn in both regards. Praying for energy for the day. Praying for meditation on the way to and from D.C. twice today which will involve 4 hours of travel (to and from 2x). May courage be with me to feel uncomfortable in both settings and learn from that. And then words…may the words come at a later date so that I may journal about this… Reading about a pilgrimage walk from France to Spain and trying to imagine the writer’s stops as stops/stations in D.C. if that makes sense. Another colleague recommended it…and so transposing one pilgrimage (dream) on another (reality).

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  8. Thank you for hosting today, Terri!

    I am getting ready to go to a hospital visit and a hospice call. Both are dear women of this church and their struggles weigh heavily on all of us. So, sermon will wait until later.

    The scenario for tomorrow is that the congregation is coming off of a very high weekend where they enthusiastically called (unanimously, in secret ballot) their new settled pastor. We all knew this day was coming, and we have all been working hard in this interim ministry to make it just such a great event. So tomorrow might be easy as pie, or there might be a let down. For sure, it’s the beginning of lame duck season and the gracious hand off.

    Perhaps it’s the perfect day to preach on John the Baptist!

    I’m drinking hot tea this morning. Help yourself to your favorite flavor!

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    1. Sharon, May grace and peace abide in this closing days of your time with these folks. I know they will remember you fondly, even as they grow in relationship with their settled pastor. Blessings on your day.

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  9. I’m trying to figure out a good way-in to a sermon on Isaiah 42, focusing on light. I have plenty of ideas for the middle of the sermon, but the beginning has been elusive for three days now.
    In addition, I’m trying to decide what modern “messenger of light” (aka saint–though not necessarily on any saint calendar) to pair with Simeon and Anna for a Bible Study after worship.

    And of course, I’m coming down with a cold, and am fighting the desire to go back to bed. I only have a couple of hours, because I need to be at a concert this afternoon, so I really have to be finished by 1 in order to shower and go…and won’t be home until late. three hours to get it all done…and what I really want is a nap.

    I have tea, coffee, and Tom Yum soup…help yourselves. Feel free to stop by with kleenex. lol.

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  10. I have just completed my marathon climb (sponsored) up scaffolding to paint the highest point outside the church. Every muscle is aching now and I shook for about an hour afterwards, but I feel great about overcoming fear and it was awesome to have the parish chanting “Go, Reverend, go! go! go!” It was terrifying but the men guiding me were wonderful. (Hope they don’t report the swear words they heard from me!) Glad we don’t have “health and safety” here or someone would have freaked! I had already written my sermon (joy and giving thanks in all things) so won’t use the experience tomorrow but am thinking of using it for my Christmas message. Especially having to stand on the shoulder of one of the men because I was too short coming down to reach the lower rung of the scaffolding!
    The downside is that the person who was going to guide me and support me all the way is in hospital having sliced off 7 fingers in a machine at work. How does one cope with something like that? But I told him I would do the climb for him and that is what got me up and down again.

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    1. Wow! Good for you…and good for your church community. Often others inspire us to do what we couldn’t muster the courage to do on our own. But in the end, you were the one who had to do the climbing and the going up high, and you did it 🙂

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    2. Oh my goodness – that is a tragic accident for that man. Countered by your gracious care and bravery – a bundle of mixed emotions. How wonderful that you made the trip up that scaffolding and that your congregation cheered you on!

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  11. As soon as I read the RCL Isaiah passage for tomorrow, I knew that it was time for me to preach on racism and fear and devastation in our cities, and so I’ve been wrestling with how to do that, which of course first requires me to make some sense of all the thoughts in my own heart and head. I asked a number of people to talk with me this week on the topic, from a retired police officer to a black young adult male, so I could hear perspectives beyond my own. Fear and a sense of otherness/separateness were the factors that kept coming up, so that’s where I will be starting, with the goal of ending up with the hope of the day when God’s kingdom is fully known and our call to live into that right now. I’m kind of overwhelmed by this, but I’m trusting it will come to me. Then, on Thursday, I remembered that at the later service, I will have a whole bunch of our K-5th grade choristers in the congregation, which requires a very different approach, so I think that means a second sermon. For that one, I’m considering starting by asking everyone to talk to someone else and find one thing they have in common and one thing that’s different about them and then work from the idea that both aspects are to be celebrated and viewed as sources of community, not division. Or something like that.

    I have discovered the wonderful world of microwave mug cakes…anyone want one? This is actually my Christmas gift for my co-workers this year: I’m finding appropriate mugs for each one at thrift stores, adding a mini-whisk, and putting in a baggie of the dry ingredients plus a recipe.

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      1. Here’s my favorite so far:
        http://www.thenovicechefblog.com/2013/02/chocolate-peanut-butter-mug-cake/
        If you search “microwave mug cakes” you will come up with loads of recipes. The ones I like best seem to be those without an egg; search for oatmeal Nutella mug cake for another great one that is egg free and maybe a tiny bit healthy with a bit of oatmeal in it. They are quick to make in a regular size mug, and a better choice for me than making a whole pan of brownies!

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  12. Just settling in for a long day with La Virgen. Having been hobbled by Faith (our white cattle dog who ran straight into my knee, I have no other options. Good thing of it too since I’m still looking for a way to tie together the reconciling work of Guadalupe, the disconnects and injustices of our justice system, the extent of the torture, and the joyfulness of a brown virgin that comes to a brown people in a joyful flurry of flor y canto in the midst of winter and the midst of extermination and oppression while at the same time linking her visitation to the concrete lives of the people of our worshipping community. This is the fourth time in four years I am preaching on this day. I love it. Just have to get the tension right.

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    1. Oh I am sure you will manage to get the tension right for your congregation – and I’m sure it will be insightful. That said, I am so sorry about your knee – my dogs do that to me, too, and it hurts! Take good care.

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  13. Working on my NL sermon, trying to remind us that we are all privileged in some way that we are not always aware of, and so we are as often the unjust as we are those seeking justice…
    As part of my ahem preparation for writing, I did write the Friday Five: http://rainbowpastor.blogspot.ca/
    I have some Lindt dark Chocolate, cheese and crackers, and coffee to offer!

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    1. Indeed, Martha – seeing the ways we are both privileged and seeking justice can be a challenge, requires us to be intentional about learning, becoming aware – self aware and other aware, in ways that are not readily apparent unless we are intentional.

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  14. This came in this morning’s email by Richard Rohr. The poem fits beautifully with tomorrow’s lessons.
    Read at the following poem by John of the Cross aloud slowly, meditatively, resting in the awareness of Presence within your own soul’s womb. (It came center justified, but I can’t make it do that here, sorry.)

    If
    you want
    the Virgin will come walking down the road
    pregnant with the holy
    and say,

    “I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,
    my time is so close.”

    Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime
    intimacy, the divine, the Christ
    taking birth
    forever,

    as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us
    is the midwife of God, each of us.

    Yes there, under the dome of your being does creation
    come into existence externally, through your womb, dear pilgrim—
    the sacred womb of your soul,

    as God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is
    His beloved servant
    never
    far.

    If you want, the Virgin will come walking
    down the street pregnant
    with Light and
    sing . . .

    “If You Want” by St. John of the Cross, translated by Daniel Ladinsky,
    Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
    (used with permission)

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  15. Not preaching tomorrow – so planned to make sure all the other services until Epiphany were written. But a pastoral call intervened. At least I wasn’t fretting about how the sermon would be completed and could simply be with a grieving family.

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  16. Going with the “who are you” question asked in John 1, trying to tie in John as witness to the light and our role as followers of Christ in a world where we still await Christ’s coming. Have a good start but plenty of work yet to come this afternoon/evening.

    Distracted by the song running through my head from Les Mis (“Who am I? I’m Jean valJean!)… but I can’t really use that as an example since I used Les Mis as a sermon illustration a few weeks ago. The song will still probably be going through my head as I preach tomorrow!

    Is there a connection between who John is, and who we are, and the RCL lesson from Isaiah 61? Or is to presumptuous to put ourselves into the role of someone who can bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, etc.?

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    1. I think it is always helpful for us to imagine that we are someone in scripture – it can open up the passage to us knew ways. The Ignition Exercises encourage people to do this as part of the “exercises.” So, not presumptuous at all. Wishing you well in your unfolding words.

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  17. Hello, all. Both preachers at my house are telling the same story tomorrow, even though we’re in different lectionaries, about what happened last Sunday when we traveled to Massachusetts for a Vespers service at our daughter’s college, a service that had a protest against racism going on outside the doors. I have written a version of the story to be published next week on another blog, and having parsed every bit of the experience and then polished it until I could see my face in it, I can’t write it again. I think I have to tell it. That’s outside my wheelhouse; I am a confirmed manuscript preacher. So, yikes! I can do it, right? (I talk without a manuscript in my everyday life all the time, so…)
    All this not writing means a lot of domestic busy-ness, so there is beer and potato soup in the crock pot (featuring farm share potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, topped with a Sam Adams Oktoberfest), and next on my list are molasses ginger cookies, which I am happy to share.

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    1. I am a manuscript preacher too, and it is the style best suited to my gifts. But like you, every once in a while I am called to preach without a text, and it strikes fear and even frustration on my heart, though I know it is the right approach at those times. So prayers for you, for fluency of thought and clarity of words, that you and the Spirit convey the story and the heart of this experience!

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    2. Molasses ginger snaps! YUM!!!! And, yes you can tell this story without a manuscript. Just make sure you know how you want to end it so you don’t wander around, lengthening the sermon until an ending finds you.

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  18. When I saw Mary’s song in Luke offered as an alternate to the Psalm today, I jumped at the chance to preach on it – another first in this new journey I’m on. The sermon notes are centered around Joy – Mary’s song of joy, the Advent Sunday of Joy (yes, including the pink candle), and our Joy (as described by Paul in 1 Thess), always rejoicing, thankful in all circumstances, no matter what. Connecting that back to Joy in the midst of sorrow, suffering, oppression, Joy as distinguished from happiness, Joy that comes from God magnified for us in the tiny baby. I’ve made a big pot of soup – mixed dry beans and fresh vegetables – so please help yourself to lunch while I take a wee nap and then finish typing.

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  19. As we’re having an all-age service next week, with hay bales and straw covering the sanctuary space, and a glittering starry firmament, etc, I’m using the alternative too, like Jill… and going for the Magnificat and joy. Doing an initial reprise of Advent so far, then probably going to get a little political, which could be ‘interesting’ … probably should crack on, but would rather drink gin. But won’t. Perhaps when I’ve finished, to help me sleep, right?
    About to make cheese toasties, which I’m happy to share 🙂

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  20. The preacher party is quiet today. Maybe you are staring at the screen before you like I am. Having crafted three and a half services this week, I’m feeling a bit drained of creative energy. I thought I had an idea for direction, but it seems to have disappeared. I have a large bowl of peppermint crush “hug” kisses from the staff/council party we hosted here earlier this week. If you don’t help yourself I know I’ll eat more than I should over the next couple of weeks. O come, O come, Emmanuel!

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  21. Yay! Finally found my sermon mojo. On a roll! John the Witness – testifying to the light – the invitation to receive him from Richard Rohr’s poem above – and words of …. confession? question? justification? Instead of challenging the current “Black Lives Matter” – talking about our hard and intentional work to welcome our newly immigrated Mexican neighbors with a latino outreach and ministry. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve been having these conversations throughout the last three years. What have we learned? Where have we failed? What are the joys to be celebrated?

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  22. home from morning worship. I started with Rachel’s poem from Tuesdays lectionary leanings, and then asked people to think of one place this week
    • where you were aware of the joy of living or
    • where you held light for someone or
    • where you were part of God’s dream

    after a minutes thinking time, some great responses – daughters face at being engaged; taking grandchildren into the city to see Christmas windows; being part of a group sitting in Politician’s offices praying for the release of children in detention; visiting a sick relative…
    all focused their responses at joy of living, but I was able to reframe some into being light, and hopefully the sermon connected God’s dream of justice with at least the work being done to have children released from immigration detention. these modern day prophets were arrested, but released without charge.

    now a short rest, then back for a 3.00pm Hard to be Merry service.
    blessings for those still preparing,

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  23. Well friends, it’s time for me to call it a night. I have a very long day tomorrow (like who among us doesn’t???)….Blessings on your day tomorrow. Keep the party going, and last one up. turn off the lights, ‘k?

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  24. I’m home from going to my friend’s concert (which was very lovely) and then helping her prep for her first ever sermon tomorrow (her church’s pastor is out due to injury, so they are having church members fill in between supply pastors). Her sermon is quite good and I sort of not-so-secretly wish I could just preach it myself. lol.

    Since I napped rather than writing earlier, I’m back to try to get something down. Good news: I may have held the cold at bay. Bad news: I’ve had a crazy stomachache since mid-afternoon. Hoping it goes away as the cold has done (so far).

    Now to get the sermon going. I can’t believe I’m struggling so much with my favorite prophet. Isn’t that always the way? sigh.

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    1. Stay healthy, Teri! My husband is sick and I’m hoping his germs stay away… this is not a good time for a pastor to get sick!

      Sometimes our favorite passages are the ones that are hardest to preach. If my sermon isn’t good enough, maybe someone else won’t appreciate the passage as much as I do…

      I’m going with John not being the light, but testifying to the light, which is also our role. We are not the light, but we testify to it – we prepare the way for baby Jesus in Advent and for the second coming of Christ in our lives all the time. Does that help at all? Blessings in your writing!

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  25. 5.00 pm Sunday afternoon, home from the Hard to be Merry service, and exhausted – which comes from having a virus earlier in the week, and a knee that has gone out in sympathy. It would be the Sunday with an extra service. Oh well, a day off now before dementia unit carols on Tuesday.
    I guess most of you are still asleep,
    blessings on your Sunday.

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