Some people have already begun work on their sermons for this week. Imagine that! There are helpful pointers and discussion on the NL and on the RCL from the Tuesday Lectionary posts

Are you trying to find that new angle on sheep, shepherds and the Kingdom? Or are you wrestling with that age old question of inclusion and authority. Can you really trust someone who comes late to the party such as Paul, especially with his chequered history?

Early or late to this party, you are welcome. As you toil to find the right words for the people you serve, let's share food for the journey. Perhaps you'll find that piece you are missing. And it may just be that you hold the key to helping someone else corral their scattered thoughts. We can be sure that the Holy Spirit rounds up our thoughts as we prepare. So pitch in, introduce yourselves and the community you serve and, together we'll feed those sheep,

 

 

91 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Shepherds or Wolves Edition

  1. For the first time in a long time I’m actually done before Saturday! I spent a lot of time in my sermon talking about the messiness of lived experiences, that if Jesus was a shepherd, he’d be dirty (and not pristine like in all the paintings), and what it means to recognize the voice of Jesus.

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    1. Anna, so glad you’re done. And I like your direction – recognising Jesus in something “dirtier” than we might imagine. Thanks for sharing that thought.

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  2. Good morning from Scotland. I slept late this morning after the RevGals Continuing Ed event in Edinburgh. I have a wedding this afternoon. But, other than that, I have nowhere else to be than at the Preacher’s Party. I look forward to meandering through these texts with you.

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  3. Is it bad that I want to simply take the Bible notes from Spill the Beans and use them verbatim? We usually have an all age on the last Sunday of the Month but with Easter having also been all age I wasn’t going to. But with being away at the BE Edinburgh and having had two very difficult funerals this week bookending my time in Edinburgh – my brain is frazzled and all age without a full sermon seems easier…
    That and I also want to pick up from last week when I preached about the migrants in the med and to do an ‘update’ and have a special prayer section focussing on the situation there.
    So yup! Going to cop out and use the STB notes – which take the slant I want to take anyway and I get to use my fav quote from The Life Of Brian with out the tutting from someone who told me that that particular film was blasphemous – they will be away! Thinking of segging from Paul and Barnabas’s celeb status into the reality of the situation in the med and the ‘angels’ doing what they can to help.

    My coffee cup is empty so off to fill it! Be back later to see how everyone is getting on. Blessings to you all.

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    1. Shuna, it won’t be the first time those notes have been used verbatim. And if they fit the bill…. Cut yourself some slack after a heavy week!

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      1. Thanks Liz – Have made a few tweaks and have written a bit more that will encourage folk this week to be extraordinary. Away to see if I can download the video of Sandy MacDonald speaking about his ‘Dr Who’ son now for using with the Scouts….looking forward to seeing the Tardis in situ!

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  4. Good morning! This has been a busy week for me, beginning with the joy of a trip to see our 24-year-old play his graduate clarinet recital, including a baseball game on a freezing night in a beautiful ballpark, followed by flights home, the arrival of our new puppy and all the things that follow on a new creature in the house. My first post-vacation act for church is to write a sermon on the Good Shepherd texts, and especially John’s gospel. My guess is I’ll be talking about the puppy. 🙂
    More after coffee…

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    1. martha– there’s a fine sermon title there “The New Creature in the House.” I’ve never had a puppy to deal with, but I imagine a sermon on making room and the upheaval that can come when we make space for new creatures (i.e. Jesus, yes?) in all forms…and love that takes precedence over our imposed structures and routines.

      Your post just made me think about new creatures….What is the new creature that we need to make space for? Where is love being released or caged…etc.

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      1. Sadly, there’s a previously chosen title on the church sign … and in the bulletin. Oh, vacation. Glad I had it, but re-entry is tough. But I’ll make a note!
        My direction is about discipleship, I think, and following the shepherd, but also about the way we need to expand our viewpoint of who is in the flock with us.

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    2. Martha, it’s always fun to introduce a new puppy to the congregation. And there is the story of the sheepdog driving the tractor in Nikki’s parish!

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  5. I am in the third week of a series on 1 John, so this will be the promised sequel to look at how the author describes life (love) as community after I challenged us to rethink who we name as brothers and sisters and see that being a family of God means knowing names and stories. Up/In/Out, identity and obedience and imitation are all swirling around in my head. Hoping to finish a draft before I leave to go to our synod bishop’s farewell and Godspeed later today.

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  6. I did a sermon on Ps 23 comparing the herding style of the Border Collie, who herds by coercion and intimidation, and the Kuvasz, who is raised with the sheep and basically acts like it’s one of the flock except when they need protection. I used the metaphor to explore Incarnation.

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  7. There was a wonderful sermon posted on FB called “The Shepherd Who Casts Us Out”, which was the perfect starter. Indeed, when I read the John passage again there was that line we so often miss, that the shepherd comes to call the sheep OUT into the world, which is where abundant life is. We get stuck in those lovely sappy pictures of a squeaky-clean Jesus holding a freshly-washed lamb – and miss the part about being called out to be where the shepherd is. In a congregation which has dropped dramatically in the last year, and which has NO outreach of any kind, and no sense of mission in the surrounding community – it is a good way to do a little provocation, especially since they say they want a future.

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      1. Liz, in that sermon he put it bluntly in terms of Jesus ‘casting us out’ – the word used in Greek is the same one as for ‘casting out’ demons – hence we become ‘out-cast’. There were just a plethora of directions that could go – but I decided to run with the church being the ‘pen’ and that Jesus comes not to protect us inside the sheepfold, but to call us out into danger and often adversity – but also the place where abundant life is….the Chinese notion of danger and opportunity at the same time..hope it flies on the flagpole 🙂

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        1. Isn’t that from one of the other portions of the chapter? I semi-famously wrote a sermon a few years ago that turned out to be based on the wrong year’s lection for Good Shepherd Sunday. It was all about “my sheep hear my voice” when that wasn’t the passage at all. I’m working toward an emphasis on the “other sheep you don’t know about,” which I have verified is in this year’s lection. 🙂

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          1. I believe it’s John 10:1-5, – so instead of John 10:11-18, I’ve used 1-18, and focused on the ‘called out’ bit in the first few verses – However, the sermon I quoted did the same, and it was listed as sermon for Easter 4B…..playing with the lectionary…always fun.

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  8. I have been staying up too late surfing through articles and listening to music and chasing link after link. And, my hounds have taken to waking earlier and earlier, which means waking me up at 5 am as well. That and a busy week, though not like some described here, make me tired, which kills my creativity and motivation. I am on the NL but a week behind. The Peter/Cornelius story works really well with the UCC’s weekend of prayer for marriage equality and with the migrant deaths in the Med. Sea, not to mention the migrant/refugee crisis on the US/Mexico border. Even ties in with #BlackLivesMatter. I have the pieces and I can see how they would all work together but my motivation is ZERO. Today, I have to work at the Public Library’s book sale, in our basement, make lunches for the sack lunch program for the hungry at our church, go to Boy Wonder’s soccer game, find/buy travelling team socks for tomorrow’s games, do laundry and grocery shop. I have tix for a play tonight that a could be friend is directing. All would be fine without the pesky sermon writing task.

    I am whining so I will stop. Help yourselves to scrambled eggs with salsa (medium heat) and cheddar cheese.

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    1. Lynn, kathrynzj is a week behind, too, due to Youth Sunday, so I am listening to her telling the story into her voice recorder. She’s pretty sure just telling the story will make most of the point.

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      1. I hope so because what I have done so far is pretty much that. I have decided not to stress. The liturgy and the songs pretty much suggest what I hear the story saying.

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  9. I have the outline of a very boring sermon on John 10. I’m going over to my husband’s office in a few minutes to spice it up, I hope. He has a wedding later today.

    Please join me in crossing all available appendages that the tummy bug really did stop after visiting only one family member.

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        1. He is amazingly darling … when he is not trying to gnaw on the legs of the dining room table. (Which is in fact a time-honored tradition begun by our Bernese, Molly, back in the day.)

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  10. Found a bunch of photos of shepherds/shepherdesses/ and good shepherd (old) images online…and might use as part of worship, depending on whether my tech person can help…

    Kids are at park with grandparents and I am cutting poems, reading, and trying to think about sermon.
    Need a children’s story. If we can do the projected images…I might do a mini-lesson on shepherd/shepherdesses in Christian art…exposure to this, in any case. I wish I were more tech savvy…

    Sermon title, chosen ahead of time, is on 1 John 3:16-24…”This is how we know what love is…” and on sacrifice…. Does sacrifice always hurt? I don’t think so. Does laying down one’s life always imply pain? I don’t think so. But it does imply relinquishment. I love a K. Tippett piece on listening that was sent to me today…It talks about a special kind of listening that is an example of love…and I think that I could relate that to how, when you become “attuned” to another person, you listen to them on a different frequency that invites their soul to sing…or perhaps they sing…and we *finally* hear their song. The shepherd knows the sheep…the sheep knows the shepherd’s voice… if the listening isn’t there …well, the sound is just a whole lot of bleating.

    My parishioner wrote to tell me that he would project the images that I sent to him in a silent loop for the service. Whoopee! That means that I have a children’s story– if I can introduce art to them– or at least a piece of early Christian art of the Good Shepherd. I wonder if I found one of the earliest images…mmmm.

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  11. I’m using the NL, so trying to find something wise to say about “Prophets and Teachers” which is the title in the bulletin. Sometimes I think it is not a good idea to put titles in the bulletin… I am not preaching to my congregation today, but doing pulpit supply for our host congregation. Unfortunately, what I find myself writing, while appropriate for some people in that congregation, would be hurtful to others (to whom it would not apply). So I am trying to find a new direction.

    My blogpost on The Book is up (at rainbowpastor/bogspot.ca) and tweeted and FB’d too–thanks for the retweet, Martha!

    Also have laundry to do, and would like to read and maybe get some personal writing in!

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    1. Sermon draft is done, laundry in. I’m going to let the sermon “settle” a bit while I get a late
      lunch and read more of TAWITP.
      I’m going with the idea of call and how it can change our lives.

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  12. I’m back from a wedding. We were able to have it outside today, pretty amazing for Scotland at this time of year. I’m willing to serve drinks if anyone would care for some. After my trip to Edinburgh, I have Rhubarb and Ginger gin and Aberlour single malt whisky.

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  13. I am just back from the church where I was conducting a 25th anniversary wedding vow renewal and now I really have to get stuck into the service. I have about 80% of a sermon based around some of the thoughts on Pilgrimage from the BEE in Edinburgh this week, but still to work out prayers and children’s talk and all the other little bits that can take me almost as long as the sermon sometimes. It is 7:30pm here so I had better get moving
    But first dinner – uninspiring ready meal as I didn’t shop today and didn’t think ahead enough to defrost anything. Better than nothing but not up to the standard of the cruise or the conference – I have been spoiled over the last fortnight!

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  14. Just discovered your online community this week, and you have been a blessing already! Many thanks. Trying to build the service around following the shepherd’s voice. Starting the sermon with bits about voice recognition in animals, then segueing to the idea that shepherding in Jesus’ time wasn’t really about a pen or a final destination, but a journey of following the shepherd’s voice from pasture to pasture. And – what does this mean for us as a church? How do we become less of a pen, and more of an oasis along a journey that happens outside our walls? How do we welcome in sheep not yet of the fold, but part of God’s universal flock?? In the meantime, though, have to go and help paint fellowship hall! Blessings to you all in your preparations….

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  15. My first draft is garbage. So my second idea is to intersperse Psalm 23 and John 10, because clearly some of the power of Jesus’ “I am the good shepherd” comes from extensive shepherd imagery for God in the OT/HB. But then I don’t want to say that Jesus is the fulfillment of that good shepherd imagery, to the exclusion of the HB tradition of Yahweh being good shepherd. And now I’m babbling and quite possibly have painted myself into a corner. Maybe my first draft is not as stinky as I thought…

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      1. Oh, the first draft is full of interesting Bible Study factoids that never arrives anywhere. The second idea has potential (which will have to wait until children’s bedtimes), but I’m just wary of over-Jesus-izing (now *that* is a good word) the Psalm.

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        1. Or there’s this…”My friends Martha and Kathryn just got a new puppy………..Jesus is the good shepherd.” There! All I have to do is fill in that blank spot.

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  16. I need to call it a day here. Too many late nights this week putting the world to rights with other RevGals. I’ll leave hot tea and coffee and some snacks as well as prayers that the sermon fairy gets to those who need her soon.

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  17. Well, the sermon title has been out on the sign for days now. I’ve been working the sermon in my mind since Monday. I’ve had sad news and glad news all week, down one minute, up the next. Somehow this is impacting how I approach Psalm 23 for tomorrow-last time I preached the psalm was 2008. I’m doing a ‘teaching style’ sermon-sharing the Hebrew radap-the God who pursues.
    But, before I start on draft one; the written version, time to go get coffee or wine and some leftover Easter chocolate-I’ll share a piece or two.

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  18. I’m avoiding shepherds and sheep – good themes but I wanted to try something different. There are lots of chances to preach on shepherds and sheep throughout the year, not so many to preach on the Acts of the Apostles. So that’s what I’m doing. So far I have thoroughly described/explored what it means that the disciples were speaking with authority even though they had no education or training or real authority in society. So what? I don’t know. I was thinking something about the priesthood of all believers, but haven’t been able to make that tie in. Where’s the Gospel and why does this matter for our lives? If I can answer those questions, I’ll have a sermon!

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    1. Don’t know if this will help bring something to mind or not. When I was working in admin in our national office, we sent out two couples at the same time – one to Argentina, the other to Zimbabwe. The couple which went to Argentina was in their 30s, had degrees down both arms including theological training. They lasted six months, disappeared from Argentina and didn’t surface again for a couple of years. We later discovered they had gone to family in the US. Coming home to Canada would have meant they had to repay the church for costs of moving. The other couple was in their late 50’s, basic high school education, both had been alcoholics. They went off to Zimbabwe and ended up staying not three years but about ten, They started AA groups, built homes and schools, hospitals – travelled all over, and were much loved for their preaching of the gospel into the bargain. It was a lesson in what makes for good disciples, and that ‘authority’.

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  19. Well, I’m definitely not preaching tomorrow. I have been sick all week. The church hosted a concert this a.m. in addition to the usual breakfast and lunch for the homeless. Then a wedding this afternoon. I have no steam left to preach. So….. I just printed index cards and inserted them into the bulletins; they ask for people’s questions about faith, the Bible, the Church, this church, etc. Instead of preaching, I’ll put the questions from a basket and answer as many as I can in the “sermon slot.”

    Now, if I could just get someone to prepare an teach my confirmation class….. uff dah. I’m so tired.

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    1. Carly, I hope you feel better in the morning. I like your idea and admire your bravery. I may have to try that next week. Our Assoc. meeting is 3 hours north so it will be a long day next Saturday, followed by a concert that night that the top giver and basically nice person is sponsoring and playing in. So, off to the concert I go. Unless I get something on Romans done early next week (throws head back in laughter at such a ridiculous notion), that would be the perfect time to try it. But what if no one asks a question? And what if it is something that I have absolutely no clue about? Should be a good experience, that will have me growing.

      I bought some Throat Soother tea. Would you like some? There’s also plenty of Chinese carryout – potstickers, chicken curry, pork lo mein, Hunan tofu. Help yourself. We didn’t get any fortune cookies. I hope that isn’t a sign.

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  20. Late to this party – but if the shepherd is always present for the sheep – how is Jesus present for us? How are we present for others? That’s where I’m going. Thanks for the posts!

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  21. I am also in week three of 1 John, and here’s my homilletical problem: a young woman, who moved to our community in February, has been making the rounds of all the churches, hitting us all up for financial and other assistance to the point of becoming a problem. The other pastors in town have cut her off. In my conversations with this young woman, I have learned that there is quite a history of mental and emotional illness, and I have urged her to seek help from the county, but she prefers not to. Members of our congregation who have tried to help her feel she has taken advantage of them, and they are wary now. So preaching this business of laying down our lives for brothers and sisters who are in need, when this very needy woman is on everyone’s mind, is taking me a direction I hadn’t planned to go. Sometimes a handout isn’t really helpful. Sometimes the real sacrifice is an investment of time in sharing life with someone whose needs are much deeper than material ones.
    My husband is baking his famous whole wheat bread, so when it comes out of the oven, I’ll let you know!

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    1. Pastorsings, sounds like you have a concrete example to work with but sensitivities to navigate. I hope there are open hearts and minds to hear.

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  22. Ack. It’s the clergy couple nightmare: vomiting child, Saturday evening. My husband is going to stay home tomorrow, and his lay leader will read his sermon.

    My garbage sermon from earlier today is looking pretty appealing right about now.

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  23. Finis! Using the 23rd Psalm to write about grace and gratitude, which one of the speakers at the PC(USA) stewardship conference last month described as the Presbyterian charism. I spent a big chunk of the day leading a retreat on the Sabbath at church — a difficult task as one of the participants was not quite getting what we were doing, so that what I had hoped would be a beautiful and peace-filled day became a real challenge to keep on track. Well, I hope someone got something out of it. Meanwhile, in the intro to religion college class I teach, I was introducing the idea of pilgrimage on Friday and when I began by asking the students what sorts of things tourists (as opposed to pilgrims) do, the first answer was “deface property.” No wonder I am tired!

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  24. Our boy had a Little League game under the lights tonight, so I am really just now getting back to it. I stopped at a point where it seemed like the sermon was 70% my pets and 10% the church’s situation and 20% Jesus. I need to make some adjustments, but I would really just like to go to bed.

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  25. Second version is done and much better than the first. Still a bit lacking in the “so what?” department, but the rest of it is more artistic and less Bible Study Lecture.

    Hoping that my *very* frequent handwashing will do the trick so I can avoid this plague on our house.

    Good night, dear friends.

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  26. Good Morning from Forfar in sunny [for the time being] Scotland.

    Sermon is written. I was out at an 80th birthday last night and wasn’t sure how awake I would be this morning so all I need to do is update prayers of intercession to include news from overnight.

    I dithered about all week about what to use, would I do an exegesis of the John passage and explain the whole gospel background and then the John epistle background. At one point I was looking at a 25min sermon [which given everything else – just was too long for my people]. Anyway…I gone back to basics and written a narrative lasting around 7-8mins about a modern shepherd up on the hills watching over her sheep. It talks to the psalm, the gospel and, I hope, the epistle. It talks of love and care not only from the shepherd but within the flock. I have followed that with a time of wondering [no answers] about ‘if Jesus/God is the shepherd, what kind of sheep are we? What kind are we individually and as a flock?’ I am praying that as we move to gather around the table – the message of the epistle and the love that we are called to, moves by the Spirit into those who find themselves in communion not only with the Shepherd but with the other sheep in His flock.

    Passing round breakfast pancakes and fruit juice for those who are still writing/tweaking/updating in light of recent events where you are. My prayers are with you all x

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  27. Good morning. Putting the kettle on, making hot tea and coffee for those who are up early to do,some tweaking. May you be blessed with good words, open and kindly listeners today and know that the Holy Spirit has your back.

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  28. Good morning! Saturday night is always a little too short, isn’t it? We are definitely suffering a bit of puppy whiplash at our house, and I’m not even the one who took him out in the middle of the night. I just keep telling myself it’s not his fault that both his mothers work on Sunday.

    I went to bed thinking poorly of my sermon but have had a chance to work through it again this morning. It now has more Jesus and less puppy, which seems fitting. 🙂

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    1. This was in my Facebook feed this morning, from Thom Shuman whose Lectionary Liturgies blog is always wonderful. Gave me a little giggle before I head off to church:

      the Mall is my shepherd,
      I shall always need more.
      It makes me lie down in mattress stores;
      it leads me beside coffee shops;
      it restores my greed.
      It leads me down paths for the sake of its sales.

      Even though I walk the aisles of outlet stores,
      I am not afraid,
      for you are at my side
      your credit cards and coupons – they comfort me.

      You prepare a feast for me at the food court
      in the midst of shoving shoppers,
      you anoint me with cappuccinos,
      my latte overflows.

      Surely stress and debt shall follow me
      all the days of my life (and my kids),
      and I shall live at the mall
      every day of my life.

      (c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

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