out there
One of Leonard Nimoy’s final Tweets read: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.” As Star Trek’s Mr Spock signs off with ‘Live Long and Prosper’, the question is, will his passing make it into your sermon this week?
Is there scope in this week’s readings to reflect on all things Trekkie?
The Parable of the Vineyard Owner in the NL or Covenant and Jesus’ identity in the RCL are just a few of the options we have this week. Can we link these ancient stories with Science Fiction and whatever else is ‘out there’?
There are helpful discussions from earlier in the week: NL or RCL
Whether you are a regular at the Preacher’s Party or a new visitor, please introduce yourself and pitch in. Let us know how your sermon is shaping up, what you’re doing for children’s time or any other elements you are using in worship this week. Tell us what you’d like help with. Together, we’ll get the Good News out there, beyond the horizons.

82 thoughts on “11th Hour Preachers Party: Live Long and Prosper Edition

  1. Coffee is on and there’s hot tea as well. I’m heading off for a day of orchestra rehearsal – lots of Borodin and Tchaikovsky. I’ll check in if I can if there is a decent break. But I’ll be back later to work on my sermon. NL for me – and the labourers in the vineyard. Hoping there will be some fresh inspiration here.

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    1. Sermon was almost done when the news of Leonard Nimoy’s death came – so I decided to push it over to next week, and find a scripture to fit. Out with the lectionary for next week. This week’s sermon is about baggage – tied in to my own real story about insisting on toting heavy baggage instead of using the wheelie bags. I am doing regular lectionary, Mark 8:31-38; Peter ‘rebukes’ Jesus, and Jesus ‘rebukes’ Peter – rebuke is a strong word and it occurred to me that this wasn’t a quiet discussion along the road, the two of them got really going at each other – and I could envision the other disciples standing well back saying “Not getting between those two.” Jesus calling Peter ‘Satan’. Peter is a stubborn man, and he’s got it into his head that he *does* know exactly who Jesus is, and he carries that baggage along – until Jesus says to Peter he has it all wrong – he’s toting the wrong load. With the expectations of the Meshiach who would life the oppression of the Romans, it’s understandable – until Jesus says he’s not that kind of Messiah….there’s another thing that needs to be picked up instead. Children’s time – we’re going to trace our feet and make “footprints” along the road ……

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  2. 8.30 pm Saturday evening, time to stop doing all the other bits and pieces, answering emails etc, and write a sermon. I am working with the NL, so it is the workers in the vineyard, and I have some ideas. with communion, and Lent candle liturgy, I am hoping short will be just fine.

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    1. Welcome Pearl. I’m hoping that when I get to that time on Saturday night, I’ll be finished worship prep. We’ll see! With all those other elements, sounds like short sermon will be appreciated.
      I got a start on mine, inspired by Lenoard Nimoy. Have to leave now. But look forward to checking out what you come up with, later.

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  3. a few weeks ago at a meeting I suggested that sermons were a waste of time , as I doubt anyone remembers them 🙂
    tonight I ma looking at the order of service, between the Lent candle liturgy, the Lent Event section and communion – they add up to more words than a sermon usually does.
    will I be brave and have a very short sermon???
    I wonder what the minimum I can say is, and still be satisfied that I have given people something to think about?

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      1. Tina, here is the reflection. (I wrote it for Spill the Beans 😊)
        Reflection
        Those who have been here forever
        and those who have joined more recently
        have equal status in the eyes of God.
        Those who spend all their time here
        and those who pop in and out as the notion takes them
        are equally loved and blessed by God.
        For God’s love and regard are not rewards to be earned,
        but gifts freely given.
        No holds barred.
        No conditions attached.
        That knowledge is at once freeing and frustrating,
        reassuring and incredible,
        grounding and earth shattering.
        There only one thing for it –
        Enjoy, share and let God take care of the rest.

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        1. You women are all awesome! Liz what’s you’re last name so I can properly quote you in my sermon tomorrow morning. Blessings.

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    1. Sometimes shorter is better. When I write the reflections for CASA, they are shorter than a sermon – and I think sometimes I choose the wording more carefully for the shorter ones 🙂

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  4. It is 12.30pm here in Scotland.

    So far I have a seed of an idea and have ‘cut and pasted’ bits from notes/commentaries etc onto my page to give me some ‘sense’ but at the moment there is no ‘single sermon’ but three concepts – names and who we are, God not requiring action but provoking response [something about Abraham’s covenant, Jesus’ call to take up our cross and Paul’s doctrinal commentart on faith alone], and something woven in there about promises/covenants and new covenants that are for ALL God’s children not just Christians and that ‘them and us’ does us no good.

    Well – I still have just under 12hours til Sunday starts – I am sure I will get there. In the meantime I have tomato soup and brown bread to share with you all. x

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    1. 3pm update – I think I have something. It is still messy around the edges and a big chunk re Romans is still essentially a ‘cut and paste’ from Working Preacher [so I need to take time to think about what it says that speaks to the message I need to share, and how to say that in my own words]. There is progress but it is slow going.

      I have stopped for more coffee and a cookie – please help yourself x

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  5. I really need to mention Leonard’s passing. Son and I watched the Voyage Home last night, the first ST movie he directed. Lots of lovely tweets about his life. Wish I had a LLAP t-shirt to wear tomorrow. Did you read the stuff about the LLAP hand salute coming from the beginning of a jewish benediction? Cool, huh?
    Anyway, if nothing else, there will be a LLAP in my words somewhere.

    I jotted somethings down but am concerned that there a read form to it. Time to go and ‘craft’ it.

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  6. Swim lesson this morning with the boys and a sitter…because we have to have one adult per child. This is a safety lesson with the children who are now 2.5 years. It is to give me confidence in the water when I am alone with them and especially during bath time, as they are flinging themselves on their tummies and, even though I am present, the other one is in the larger room and, well, we are just being careful. My church is meeting at a Methodist church at a later time, as we had to relocate due to flooding and repairs, etc. So this should be really interesting all the way around. I had planned a series on the 7 sins/ virtues (because why those 7? and because I was curious) but with the relocated worship services, which need to be shortened, and the repairs, and the “holding together” as a community which is struggling with the latest maintenance issues, I am going to probably just focus on temptation and keep the sermon looser– since I have no idea how many people are going to venture out for a 12:30 service. Giving a shout out to the Methodists for loaning us their facility temporarily…
    All around– it will be an INTERESTING Lent.

    And I am sick of water. Hence, the desire to actually “play” in it today. Our church has huge generators out front and a container (tractor trailer size) where the water was pumped. Restoration company is helping us…. sigh. Giving thanks in spite of all.

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  7. Good morning! I had prepared a lay-led service for last Sunday, including a sermon of mine adapted into the form of a letter to the congregation, because I was out of town preaching at my childhood church (it went well! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!). Due to questionable weather, the service was canceled, leaving me with the question, “How do you have Lent without the first Sunday of Lent?” I conclude you do not have Lent without Jesus in the wilderness, so we are going to use last week’s service with some adaptations this week (addition of Communion) and we’ll be a week behind for three Sundays, then catch up with everyone else on the 5th Sunday of Lent. It’s a little bit like patting my head and rubbing my tummy, but there it is.

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  8. I’m preaching a series following the landscapes of Jesus’ ministry. Last week was the wilderness. This week is the beginnings of Jesus’ public ministry per Mark. It’s a communion Sunday. I’m working with the ideas of hospitality, healing and wholeness. Those things continue to simmer as I get this steeping sermon into words while the kids are sleeping. I want to fit in a LLAP and something about preserving in memory.

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  9. Ok, now I have a structure and some pieces I want to say and some questions for the conversation but no energy to put it on paper. Too bad my mind doesn’t hold things well or I’d go with an outline. Maybe this is a Sunday to start?
    We’ve made the 3rd partial pot of coffee, Sumatra, anyone need more like me?

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  10. Here’s the video explanation of the Jewish origins of the ST “LLAP” from a benediction where the feminine presence of God comes and blesses the congregation.

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      1. I saw that earlier today and completely love it! I had heard the story a couple of years ago but couldn’t track it down. I’m so glad it has surfaced now. The piece I had not heard before was the feminine part. Isn’t that just awesome!

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    1. Nancy that’s one of the reasons I decided to save the ST sermon for next week. No communion, and more time to maybe even show a video….now for some tea while I make dinner….

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  11. In the NL and doing the generous boss parable. No really new insights to add but I am in the midst of reading the chapter that Amy-Jll Levine wrote in Short Stories by Jesus. Best insight so far is that when we call it a parable about laborers, we pretty much set ourselves up to identify with the workers. We also then see it as an allegory. When allegory comes in, real life fades away. My takeaway is that it matters how we label things. Sort of like how people in favor of access to abortion are cast as anti-life if being against access to abortion is “pro-life.” I may use that example and others from politics as examples of how we label or define things sets the terms of debate. I don’t know. That will either be a fresh entry into a more justice oriented reading or a rabbit hole. I am off to a basketball game but I did make a large pot of chicken and noodles. As it is expected to warm to about 12 degrees by lunch time, it might just hit the spot. Good luck discerning directions for sermons!

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  12. Hi, haven’t checked into the preacher party for a while – it’s nice to see you all again. Thinking about the yes and no that we give to and receive from God. Hopefully something more articulate soon!

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  13. Back from swim lesson… Wow! We actually did it! The first time ever together in a pool (last summer I was too afraid to be with the boys alone around water) Controlled chaos…but really good instructor and another set of twins! We practiced getting in the pool on the ladder and floating (my one son was really nervous until the leader led us in singing twinkle twinkle little star). Now I need to get my mind wrapped around Jesus and the wilderness (because we also need to start Lent from the beginning since being relocated, cancelled, etc, etc) and I am ready for a nap but need to focus.

    We have pita chips and PB+J and apple juice, and string cheese to offer…
    I am so happy that we actually were in a pool together! This is a major step in the right direction!

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    1. So pleased that you could enjoy family time together with your boys! I pray that as the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness she also leads you into a message for your people.

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  14. I’m preaching two different services tomorrow- one aimed mostly towards the adults and one with children sitting up front at my feet. Last night I talked through the children’s one and I feel pretty comfortable with that. It’s basically a Godly Play-like invitation to hear the story of the Genesis text with some wonderings.

    For the 8 am-ers, the same text will (I hope) reveal God as the One who initiates and pursues binding relationships with us that transform our identities and our lives. That’s as far as I’ve gotten in sorting out all the threads I’ve discovered this week.

    But first I have to gather my tax documents and meet with my accountant. She’s an hour away, so there will be plenty of prayer and thinking time!

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  15. I am about out of procrastination excuses so am now settling in to write the sermon and do laundry. Working with the narrative lectionary and the payday question; I have a few ideas but nothing firmed up yet. I’m contemplating something about how we usually see ourselves as the workers–what if we turned that around and put ourselves in the place of the landowner? Not sure if that will go anywhere, or if it will go too many places!

    Because our attendance has been so low recently (pretty alarming, actually), we have begin holding services in the chapel rather than the main sanctuary, which has turned out well. It’s a more intimate space, and it has encouraged me to preach more interactively.

    And here I could use some wisdom. When I say “interactive,” I mean asking the congregation questions and inviting discussion, which goes over pretty well most of the time. But it is beginning to feel monotonous (to me, anyway), and sometimes puts people on the spot. I’ve used a guided meditation, but that isn’t always appropriate. So how do others who preach interactive sermons do it? What other methods of interaction have you used?

    I stopped at the local European Market this morning (see procrastination, above), and picked up some German goodies to make a Bavarian supper tonight–white sausage, sweet mustard, crusty rolls, wheat beer, and Ritter Sports candy bar for dessert… Hungry already!

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    1. I’ve been doing the interactive thing awhile. It is tricky to keep mixing it up. But they have gotten good at responding. I seem to be able to keep some people at bay when they get too vocal, as long as they get opportunity most of the time. Sometimes I break them into “pew groups” with a ‘turn to your neighbor and …’ that seems to give a chance for people to talk who will never speak out in large group. Sometimes I get someone to share from each group and other times, I just let the discussion ride. I usually try to wrap it up with a conclusion, or intersperse a message. It depends. Sometimes I use visuals too. I’m happy you are trying it tho. Everything I read and affirm says we want a voice in our world! why not in church. Do you know the “church in a circle” blog?

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    1. Amy, thanks for posting this link. The liturgy is beautiful and the whole thing is very invitational, encouraging folk to engage with the text in lots of different ways.

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    1. Terri, so sorry you’re sick again. It has been a long winter. I really like your sermon. Good illustration at the beginning – and I love the idea of denying the inauthenticity, the voices that tell us we are less than God created us. Thanks for sharing – and I’m sure it will be a blessing on those who hear.

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  16. While attendance may well be down due to the cold, the roads are not quite as bad. They are saying we should have 36F over night so the ice should melt off the parking lot at my church. It was basically clear earlier this afternoon. So even with freezing rain this afternoon travel should be okay.

    So before I was so distracted by snow and ice on the roads and at outside chance at cancellation, I was zeroed in on the RCL Mark 8:27-38 passage and the phrase “you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Sometimes, I feel like I have both too much to say and not enough to say. I can go on and on in an unkind way but to say it kindly I have nothing. And if I do not say it kindly and pointedly in a way that encourages and challenges, we are all left mad and unchanged. Isn’t that always the task at hand? And those of you who know me know I’d much rather go for the laugh and the fun of it anyway. But if there is only laughter and no change, we haven’t answered the call of God, have we?

    We started Lent on Ash Wednesday with Psalm 51 and the Prayer of Confession “we have not loved you with our whole hearts.”

    On Easter, we want to greet the Risen Christ with our whole hearts having intentionally moved closer to whom God has created and called us to be. Let us set our minds on divine things for that purpose. … and so a sermon can be written before tomorrow becomes today.

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  17. I think I have finally come up with an idea for a beginning. I’m on the NL and I think the sermon will go in the direction of “God values the workers, while so often we value the work” (or something…). The title in the bulletin is “what is right” and I will probably argue that when the landowner says “I will give you what is right” he means if…and he does. i will probably do something with “what I do with what belongs to me” (a reminder that everything belongs to God) and the while “you have made them equal to us” business…
    And I think I may begin with a story of choosing teams for kickball, and how much I hate it because I am inevitably among the last chosen and the longest to sit on the bench. I suspect many people can relate (though if everyone who says they were always chosen last really was, then no one was ever chosen first, I think…), so it might give me a good in for talking about how the person matters for more than the work they do.
    We’ll see….

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    1. At the moment, my sermon starts off by thinking about what gives people value – work, prosperity etc. and what happens when those things are in short supply?

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  18. Hello all, I’m truly at the 11th hour once again. I’m preaching ‘Along the Way’ series with people who encounter Jesus along the way to the cross. This week it is Nicodemus. Gail O’Day is awesome in her commentary on John’s Gospel, but this year I’m focusing on much of what Frances Taylor Gench has said in her book on the gospel. I’m starting out with how all of us resemble Nicodemus in a way, how we become children of God, and how our faith ends up becoming public even if we try to keep it in the dark…I’m afraid this is way too much for one sermon so I have to figure out how to tie things together without losing the focus or the message etc…

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  19. Hello everyone! Home from belly dance recital and back to work on Jesus and Peter rebuking each other. And the internet dress. And how important it is to love each other before you rebuke each other so you can get through the experience and on to discipleship.

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  20. The new electric fireplace in the living room is bad for my sermonating. I am spending more and more time in this cozy space, with my laptop on my lap “working.” Hopefully, the advent of warmer weather will make this less attractive.

    I realized that I wrote a monologue called Reflections of the Worker Hired Last several years ago. When I looked it up, I discovered that I had not actually preached it – I was doing a series on Romans at the time. Ah, the energy of the newly ordained! Anyway, it’s not as good as Dan Bollerund’s Workers-In-The-Vineyard skit but his requires 14 readers, and that’s about half of my congregation at one church and a third at the other, and I just don’t think I can get that many people to participate!

    I haven’t been able to think of a way to include Leonard Nimoy’s passing in my sermon. I think I’ll start my welcome announcement time talking about the Jewish origins of the LLAP.

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  21. Good evening, all!

    It was a long week, church wise and health wise, and I have been pulling things together all day so that I can follow my new plan and take a real day off once we are finished with our session meeting tomorrow. Also, thanks to a conversation with a wonderful RG yesterday, I am reading Failure of Nerve, which might be re-titled My Life as a Pastor. (I do feel a lot better reading that sabotage and criticism are good signs!)

    Anyway, I am preaching on Abraham and Sarah and covenant tomorrow — nothing too pointed but part of my continuing effort to convey the good news that God calls us to leave behind all that entraps and limits us and to move toward a new thing.

    We are headed out for dinner in Little Italy if anyone would like to come!

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    1. Failure of Nerve is a fabulous book-it sure did encourage me at a time I needed it. Little Italy, huh-there must be lots of them around-we have one here on the ESVA (Eastern Shore of Virginia) enjoy! Look forward to reading the new thing God has in your sermon. Share your post when you are done.

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    2. I love Failure of Nerve! To go with that, I love that it was only after Christopher Columbus quit planning for the return that he managed to actually discover anything new to him. When the focus shifted to getting “there” instead of getting “back” there was discovery.

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  22. I have finished, at least for now. No mention of Leonard or the Internet dress, because I just could not figure out how to get there. Also in the back of my mind is the woman who told me earlier this week: “I don’t know how to relate to you because you understand technology.” (Aka, I’m half the age of the woman who was speaking.) sigh.

    Anyway, I wrote something. Unfortunately my internet is down so I can’t post it. I would love feedback, but apparently the universe is telling me something! I ended up, after noting that the landowner sees people not their productivity, suggesting that we imagine ourselves the ones hired last…and then that we imagine ourselves as the landowner, called to share what we have been given and to see people as beloved without regard for what “they” can do for “us.”

    I don’t know what to do since I’m done so early and have no internet, lol! I have the cookies leftover from last night’s catered dinner….panera cookies for everyone!

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    1. At my last church, I had a woman who was 78 who was determined not to be left behind so she had an iPad as when they were first released. She learned PhotoShop and did cards for everyone in the class. She refused to let “old” be a reason and when anyone else in the class tried to use it she said, “Don’t say that. Say I don’t want to learn anything new. I’m older than you are and I can do it!” I loved her and her attitude! She did wonders for that class.

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    2. I hope you do post it when you reegai internet access. I really enjoyed your comments. I did use your comment you shared in the NL facebook group. I ened up doing a first person reflection rom the stand point of the last hired but end with a comment that we follow a God who values the worker more than the work. Or that is what I will do next Sunday as the ongoing snow and unplowed roads led the leadership team to call off worship service.

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  23. Need a couple of options for different crosses that we pick up that might distract us from the way of the cross… something that might lend itself to the scene in Indiana Jones & Last Crusade where the room is full of chalices from which he must choose the Holy Grail. Brilliant thoughts, anyone?

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  24. This is the farthest behind I have ever been. It’s been a grueling week, with two parishioners on their deathbeds – one has had no nourishment for 10 days and only moisture swabs for the past five, and she is still hanging on! Her Alzheimer’s released her for about an hour this afternoon, and she recognized all of her children gathered around her and spoke intelligibly for quite some time before the gibberish returned. She is talking to her deceased family members now, so it will surely be soon. Her poor husband is exhausted. Other emergencies meant I didn’t get a day off this week, and today was spent giving a funeral for a man I never met, but whose family lives down the alley from me, it turns out. As I sit here with Paul and Abraham and N.T. Wright and notes that have been scribbled through the week, … I got nuthin’. Usually by this time on a Saturday, I’m struggling to come up with a strong ending. Tonight, I can’t even get a beginning going. I’m struggling to stay awake. The sermon title in the bulletin is “Hoping Against Hope” and I’m sure there was something brilliant behind that, but I have no idea what it was. If it weren’t so long and academic, I would just read Paul Tillich’s sermon to Harvard – but my context of old farmers isn’t exactly the right audience for that. What would happen if there weren’t a sermon, I wonder?

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    1. pastorsings- I’m here with you tonight! After a week of snow days and school delays, my schedule has been such that I have just returned to the church office in hopes of an hour or two alone to write. No clue how to start, let alone end, and I don’t even have a title to work with! Here’s praying the HS shows up with inspiration for both of us so that we can rest assured tonight. (Or that someone will call and offer to give the perfect sermon in the next 10 minutes so we can both go to sleep!)

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    2. What if you took a gospel reading or psalm or favorite poem even and, after every line or so, answered what you are “hoping against hope?”

      Like sometimes I read things now, after my son and husband’s death, and this little faith-filled voice “talks back” and says, “I really hope this means such and such…but if it doesn’t, can we at least hope for “this”? (and I fill in “this”). Sometimes the result is interesting.

      Todd Jenkins poetry (Tuesday’s Muse) is really neat for this kind of imaginary endeavor.
      Another possibility is to have the congregation name their “hoping against hope”

      For example, I am hoping against hope that life’s deepest lessons won’t elude me. Or that meaning can be made from suffering…or Barbara Brown Taylor’s sketch about the carnival wheel (if you at the bottom, you might get to see the lights from the top) is not an illusion….

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  25. Just a thought that’s percolating for me. I did this Ash Wednesday and think I’ll do it again some Sunday with a thought provoking text. I had the gathered people sit with a text (for Ash Wednesday, the one from Joel) and a few simple questions I posed. They were invited then to jot down notes and perhaps a word of prayer. Then we took time to share observations before moving on. The folks who were there that night loved it. Probably will use it soon, but not on communion Sunday.

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  26. I am turning in and calling it a night. Our service tomorrow which is being held at another church, different time and different place, is now possibly going to be cancelled due to stupid weather and icy conditions projected for exactly the same time as the time of our relocated worship. The Moderator just wrote. Scream! I have the sermon done…though it’s a bit zany. It’s been a zany week. It’s about the 7 sins (as in deadly) and I was just playing around with our vices and virtues…after all, Mark doesn’t actually name them in the wilderness…and well, sometimes our vices teach us to appreciate virtue all the more (we all have a favorite sin to hate– and to love, which is interesting). But seriously, if we cancel worship, then, what??? We already have had chaos in planning.

    God, in your hands, I am going nite-nite. My patience is fried.

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  27. Thank you, friends! I had actually been thinking about asking the congregation to participate in a “hoping against hope” sharing of some sort. If they actually responded, it would be a first! This Romans text is so dense, I want to focus in on just one thing, and leave the rest for another time. Rev H-D, I will pray for you and you can pray for me and I’m pretty sure the Spirit will indeed show up.

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  28. Okay, the 8 am “adult” sermon is written, formatted for preaching, and printed. Strangely, the family sermon is harder to finalize in my mind tonight. I think I’ll just preach the Godly Play Abram and Sarai text, stopping before the baby actually gets born. Add the wonderings and we’ve got ourselves a family service sermon, I believe.

    Sometimes the critics in my head keep me from typing anything at all. It’s hard to remember that this is God’s word, not mine.

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  29. Well, for any silly people who are like me and up way too late, I now check in. Busy week, then spent today helping a dear friend move SO MUCH CLOSER TO ME, and in the snow, so sermon stuff didn’t really get started until 11pm. We are having worship, with communion, and RCL, but no idea how many will show because, well, snow. My Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cup fueled late night sermon frenzy ended up producing a little reflection on Luther’s theology of grace vs. theology of cross as told through the hospital sock jokes of a former student chaplain and the Mark text.
    Now, I will go to bed. I will not, not, NOT stay up any later, not one bit, to watch House of Cards season 3.
    I. Will. Not.

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  30. I love checking in on what happened at the party after I go to bed in my time zone (Scotland) Looks like the Holy Spirit showed up and turned our sweat and tears into something beautiful. Look forward to reading those posted later. Now I’m off to worship. Blessings on all who preach and on all who hear.

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