RevGals took a traditional
RevGals took a traditional “pheeto” at Big Event Edinburgh.

Dear RevGals and Pals,

The apostle Paul wrote, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world.” (Romans 17:8)

I thank God for all of you, and the way we come together week in and week out, to talk about the word we will proclaim, to offer one another encouragement, to share ideas for children’s messages (always helpful!), and to feast at the virtual table.

In real life, RevGals have gathered in recent weeks for a pilgrimage to Edinburgh and Holy Isle, to have lunch in Maryland, via FaceTime across continents and in phone calls, emails and texts – not to mention on the never-sleeping forums of Facebook and Twitter. We started a RevGals Pinterest this week, and a Tumblr to celebrate the publication of our book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).

Maryland RevGals gathered this week.
Maryland RevGals gathered this week.

Have I given you enough means for procrastination yet?


Then whether you are starting from scratch or well underway, check out our Revised Common Lectionary or Narrative Lectionary posts from earlier in the week for inspiration.

If you’re planning to preach about the week’s events in Baltimore, check out these blog posts by or featuring the voices of RevGals and others:

Wil Gafney – Call the Wailing Women to Weep For Us

Rachel Hackenberg – The Luxury of Talking About Race

Elaine Besthorn – On Baltimore… (an aggregation of quotes and photos)

MaryAnn McKibben Dana – Good Morning, #Baltimore (including many great links)

Fells Point, Baltimore
Fells Point, Baltimore

Odyssey Networks, featuring RevGal members Wil Gafney, Karyn Wiseman and Karoline Lewis – Preaching Reflections on Freddie Gray and Baltimore

I also recommend reading:

Derrick Weston (a blogging pal of many RevGals) – Charm City Blues: Baltimore and trauma-informed community

If you have found other helpful resources, please do share them in the comments, and I will add them in the post.

I’ll be here to keep the coffee fresh, the Diet Coke cold, the coffee cake sweet and the popcorn hot.



105 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Thankful for You Edition

  1. I fully intended to be finished writing by tonight because of a busy schedule tomorrow. Alas, I have nothing yet. Thanks for getting us started Martha! Please pass the popcorn – I’m going to work for a while tonight to see what I can actually get on paper.


  2. I have an introduction to something that might be a sermon, or it might be completely unrelated. Hard to tell yet. I’m mish mashing in my brain vine & branches imagery with Body of Christ imagery from 1 Corinthians.

    I also have a bit of a busy schedule tomorrow, and the grownups in the house are still trying to shake the lingering fatigue from the Stomach Bug Unpleasantness of earlier in the week. The children have had no such long term effects, of course.


  3. I have yellow cake with chocolate frosting to share – one of my very favorite combos & WAY too easy to mix up at home. Please help yourselves.

    I have a piece from Teri Peterson (I think) about the aspens all being one organism around the earth – all connected to the same root system. I also have Rachel Keefe’s writing that she linked to in RCL Leanings. Between those two things, I think I have a direction. Thank you both!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that’s me! I was wondering who was having fun with it as I was seeing the little dropbox notifications on my screen. It makes me so happy that it was you!

      Monica, the article I first read about it several years ago is here:
      (not quite connected around the earth, but it feels like it when you’re standing in it)
      and here is the Wikipedia article:


  4. Got back from vacation on Tuesday, with a cold, and had a wedding rehearsal tonight and wedding tomorrow. NL for me and the text includes my confirmation verse from 1970 – Romans 1:16. From the NL Facebook group I got the idea of writing the sermon as a letter to the church and am tempted, but I also feel like I need to spend some time orienting people to Paul. There will be extra visitors in church on Sunday because one of our life-long members is 100 and we are celebrating after worship. I’ve been messing around with the text but I fear most of my work will get done after the wedding tomorrow. No invite to the reception so I’m hoping that means that I can skip it. The rehearsal dinner was at the church and I got good time with the families there. Thanks for listening to my rambling. Now back to work…


  5. I have one of the largest funerals in the history of the congregation tomorrow morning. The deceased is a retired legislator who holds the record for most number of years in the state house. It has me stressed. We also have our preschool recognition Sunday during which our preschool kids offer musical prelude and special music. Lots of visitors.

    For Sunday, I’m reading the children’ book, The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn and pairing it with John’s letter. I will be talking about how we are imprinted with (kissed by) God’s love and are called to kiss the world with that same love from within us. It probably only makes sense if you read the book first. It is a story of a momma raccoon that gives the baby a raccoon a kiss in the palm of his hand to take with him every where he goes including as he starts school, so we won’t be afraid and will know that she is with him at all times. I highly recommend the book…and I think this will come together in a way that speaks to the visiting preschool parents and grandparent. I’m about 2/3 finished so I’m taking tonight off to have a pint of stout and watch a movie with my husband. So, all I have to offer tonight is skinny pop popcorn and locally brewed, Brick Top Brown Ale.


  6. I am in a service station on the M6.. the main road north/south from England to Scotland
    I had a truly lovely visit with my parents in North Wales yesterday. All is stable, and as well as can be expected. Dad has now been put on a very low dose of morphine, which is helping, but also heralds a new stage in these thin days.
    I will be home in another couple hours. I had prepared the services sheets before I left…. But that’s all.
    I love the idea of Paul’s writing to churches… and there is so much in these first verse of Romans (in NL)
    While I was on Holy Island with the Gals last weekend, my sub did an amazingly good intro to Paul… which gives me the head start I hope!
    I’ll check in again once I’m home and at the desk. Hoping the thoughts will have percolated a little more while I do the last leg of the journey
    Ive just had a full English breakfast… Some delicious bacon left over!


      1. so… I’m home; we’ve caught up; had lunch… lit the fire (it’s really cold today)
        I have a few words of utter drivel written…. and then spent an hour procrastinating by adding stuff to my new pinterest page….

        I do have a kind of idea… but it is not really firming up into anything substantial…

        I want to talk about the role of letters – and how special they can be – I have letters of thanks and expressions of kindness that I’ve saved over my years in ministry. In our world of emails and texts the joy of the written word cannot be underestimated…

        but I am stuck


        1. I wrote a newspaper column some years ago about the gift letters can be, and in response I received a beautiful letter from a retired pastor living in another part of the country. He covered pages with memories spurred by my brief essay. It was very touching. I love to get snail mail.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. yes – me too…. I have more words now. and think I need to go get a cup of tea and have a think about it…. I want something visual… tactile. Because that’s the biggest difference (for me) between the printed word/ screen and a lovely letter on paper… which has given me the germ of another idea!!
            back later!


  7. another late start for me. today [Saturday] I have caught up on some paperwork, made jam [choko and ginger – some of you may know choko as chayote] been to the gym, and now settling in to write, 9.00pm. tomorrow I have included the creative reading form Spill the Beans [thank you whoever wrote it] , and as there is also communion, I am figuring a short sermon will be better than a long one.


    1. You’re very welcome, Pearl. The wonderful thing is that I usually forget that I’ve written things and then, when I look at Spill to prepare the week (especially when I’m late getting there) it’s a wonderful surprise to have something ready to use!


  8. Saturday morning here. We are up early every day now with our new puppy, or perhaps i should say kathrynzj is, since she takes the first shift. It’s not even 8, and we are both working now that he is napping. I have 1 John and Acts as my texts. Events in Baltimore are much on my mind. My church is about 90 minutes up I-83 and just outside Harrisburg, which has its own race-related troubles. Local newspaper articles ask if this could happen again here ( and when people from the area will visit Baltimore again ( The structured racial divide is carefully drawn here. We’re supposed to be identifiable by our capacity to love, but instead we’re awesome at making excuses for not loving certain people. That’s on my mind as I prepare to write.


  9. A NL girl, so Romans for me. By a minor miracle I managed to get my sermon written on Thursday. So having a lazy Saturday for once.
    I have gone down line of supporting each other in faith through prayer and encouragement. I have ‘rewritten’ Paul’s words as a letter from me to the congregations assuring them of my love and support. Going to open it as a letter mid sermon. Earlier in the service I have letters from members of the church in Malta with which we have a relationship. These include one from a Nigerian migrant who is now an elder there. The letters are ones of introduction. Going to get volunteers to write replies.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. done, Romans week 1 a fairly basic introduction, but hopefully the creative reading will help people hear the introduction to this letter from Paul.
    almost 11pm, so time to say goodnight to you all and put on the kettle – help yourself to tea or coffee.


  11. I’ve had so many meetings, conferences, continuing ed, some fun, some work. But today (Saturday) I slept until past lunchtime after coughing a lot during the night. Feeling wrung out but grateful for all I’ve been involved in and glad too that I am weaving worship around someone else preaching. TBTG. Going to ask congregation in our sharing time about real letters that you write and put in a mailbox as a way into Paul writing to the churches. Fortunately I prepared before I left for meetings at end of week, as I’m good for nothing today! Thanks for hosting party Martha – and for all those links!


  12. NL here too, and I have this vague sense of something about mutual encouragement. The title in the bulletin is “Called to be Saints”…and the hymn after the sermon is “Breathe On Me, Breath of God”…and somehow I have decided to incorporate the communion into the sermon. I’m sure the mutual encouragement thing I was thinking about has to do with saints being those who build up the Body, and that all we who come to the table are empowered to be saints because we are “filled with life anew” to live according to God’s will, which is to love/encourage/have compassion/etc etc.

    But exactly none of that seems to actually a) make sense or b) matter at all or c) be forming into a sermon. It is also the celebration of another year of our homeless shelter ministry, as the shelter system closed for the season on April 30. That means the volunteers, a central staff member, and probably several guests will also be present in worship and for the luncheon afterward…so I need to be extra careful that the message speaks to a wide variety of situations. Mutual encouragement does seem the way to go, but I don’t want anyone to fall into the whole thing of “I got so much more than I gave” (gag).

    I’m pondering making blueberry scones. I don’t have any cream though…I do have soy milk and regular butter and plenty of eggs. Surely I can make something work, right?


  13. At the moment I have a sermon/rant about how we [as humans] find it so easy to exclude others as being ‘different’ but actually what Christ teaches and what Acts tells us is that ALL are welcome to be branches and bare fruit – even those who are sooooo different in so many ways that even they might not expect it.

    I feel somewhat called to speak about how families of children with additional needs often feel they aren’t welcome and indeed, in some churches, are not made to feel welome. Whereas in my church they ARE welcomed, and baptised, and loved and seen as branches of the vine BUT our building doesn’t let people know that because it is not welcoming to people with disability or indeed anyone who doesn’t know to go in the side door and up stairs or down stairs – or that we have a ramped access but it is past the parked cars, down the side where no-one else goes…..we are weeks away from our elders hopefully approving a brand new church building which will be wheelchair accessible throughout.

    hmmmm. Tricky. There is a chance the elders may not approve the plans so I have jumped the gun and not given them their place, and there is a chance that by speaking about how the church family accepted and loved me and my daughter [who has ASN], it singles out my daughter as different when that wasn’t there before.

    oh…and I have made a vine out of old amazon boxes sellotapes together for the children to add their branches on – so they can see how pruning and grafting works – but it keeps falling apart and branches look desidedly ‘wobbly’ which is funny but not quite what the writer of John’s gospel had in mind!

    I have grapes to share – red and white and dark purple too [help yourself but please leave a small bunch for me to serve at Sunday Club to the kids in the morning].


  14. I’m preaching on Acts – something to do with paths less traveled and the Holy Spirit… I’ve got a decent start, but I’m not too sure where it’s all going. I was hoping to have the sermon wrapped up early this week, but wound up on a couple detours. It’s a busy day, filled with baptism prep, a funeral, and a teething wee one. So now that the wee one is sleeping, here’s hoping the Spirit will drop by and help me write my way down this path a little more!


  15. Boy, am I having a hard time getting this together. I am preaching on Romans/NL, and haven’t a clue about how to approach it. It is communion Sunday, so thankfully it can be shorter than usual.

    I have iced coffee, and will have dinner to share later, since I know I will be one of the late nighters. Meanwhile, it is time for a break to clean (ugh) and plant some flowers (yea!).


  16. Home from pottery class (which is very therapeutic–I thought one class would satisfy my curiosity, but here I am taking another). Fun, but doesn’t get a sermon written, usually. Next on the schedule is a birthday party for a 6 year old, which is blessedly scheduled for only 2 hours (the optimal time frame, I’ve determined). It’s doubtful much sermon writing will happen there either.

    I’m glad Tracy is making supper, because I don’t think it’s happening here. See you at the late night party.


  17. It is a glorious day here in NE Ohio so I’ve had a nice walk and don’t even mind picking up and vacuuming the house, since windows are open and sun is streaming in. The cats are delighted. I was going to completely recycle a sermon but, not surprisingly, that didn’t work, so instead I have used the beginning to move into a pretty simple invitation to pray, study, and serve — as ways of tending your own vineyard of faith. Only one more sermon until the Festival of Homiletics! I am SO in need of inspiration and of worship in which I can actually participate and listen..


    1. I too, am counting the days. It has been far too long since I sat in worship and listened to a pastor share God’s word and blessings. I can’t wait. Why does everyone seem so surprised when we say we are going to be in worship all day long for 4 days – sounds like heaven to me!


  18. I had plans to write a sermon, I swear.

    And then it turned out that my deck is being stained today by a couple of dudes. So I am all distracted and there is the crazy paint smell wafting in. One cat is hiding because there are men’s voices, the other is practically glued to my lap.

    So…yeah. I still don’t have any ideas about Romans 1 and mutual encouragement, but I am encouraged by the thought that between communion (which I have listed as part of the sermon) and the celebration of the shelter season, I really only need about 800 words.

    meanwhile all I can really think is how RGBP is kind of a modern Romans 1. Pretty sure my congregation would not be edified by such a reflection.

    Must be snack time.


  19. Hello, again. I’m back from a church event and passing out mid-afternoon jelly beans.
    The sermon I’ve been planning is not yet so much what you would call written. I find that disturbing, to say the least. Ahem.


  20. Continuing with First John, but preached about loving brothers and sisters last week so focusing on fear (v. 18) this week and abide. Morning women’s program sparked connection to God abiding with us in the places we (try to) hide ourselves, and another connection to abide reminded me of camping – not much space or privacy, nothing we can hide from God.


    1. I love it when camping can come into sermons! You can’t hide your snoring or your body odor or your sunburn from people you’re camping with (and often not from the folks in the neighboring campsite either). It takes patience and love and endurance and love and honesty and love to get through a camping trip with a group of folks. Great analogy to what the sacred community must have in order to abide together, and things we can’t hide when we abide with God.


  21. After some internet issues and emergency pastoral care with a friend in crisis, my blog post about our book is finally live:

    Now it’s time for sermon writing (finishing, really – I do have an intro and an outline but no idea how to conclude) and creating a children’s sermon. Why are those always so hard for me? On RCL, toying with the idea of asking kids to draw what they think God looks like, and sum up with “God is love” from 1 John, and showing my picture which will be a big heart or people holding hands or something loving like that. Unless one of you has a better idea???


    1. Does your children’s sermon need to be on I John? If so, can you get your hands on “What does Love Look Like” by Janette Oke? (Local library maybe?) In it, kids draw pictures of love and the concluding scene is a girl who draws a cross–well, the 3 crosses on a hill. It’s pretty good. Otherwise, I think your idea works.

      There a bunch of good vine/branches ideas various places online if you go that route. I think I’m going to make a vine out of a brown grocery bag, have green leaves/branches and have the kids write their names on them, then add some ‘grapes’ that they put good deeds on–some of the fruit they bear.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the ideas. Since the sermon is on Acts, mostly I was trying to have the children’s message be on Something Other Than Acts. (Who wants to explain what a eunuch was to 3-year-olds anyway?) Maybe I’ll get creative at home tonight with brown paper vines…


  22. Back from the birthday party, staring at this introduction, wondering where I was going to go with it.

    It’s definitely pizza night at the preachers’ house. Anyone want to stop by?


      1. On a bonus note: when my husband went to pick it up (pizza delivery is not available in our wee burg), they had accidentally given it to someone else. So he had to wait for them to make ours, but then they gave us half off the price. Since it wasn’t my time being wasted, it sounds like a great deal!


  23. Well, I was going to do something clever tying John 15 to 1 John 4 … then after our Wednesday Bible study on 1 John 4, I thought maybe I should just focus on the “perfect love throws fear out on its ear” theme … but the bulletin was already printed with John 15 for the sermon (our new secretary is extremely efficient!). So I’m trying to rework that whole Grape Jelly thing I posted earlier this week in the RCL thread. And what I really want to do is go watch The Big Lebowski again, just so I can hear “The Dude abides” – which is the only pop reference I know about ‘abiding.’ The good news is that I mowed the lawn this morning for the first time this season with my little push mower, so I’m not dealing with guilt over wasting a beautiful day at the computer. And I’m no further behind than usual on getting these words to organize themselves in some fashion that makes sense. I have plenty of words, but they’re just a mess at the moment. There were extra grilled zucchini and carrots from dinner if you need something to nibble on. Sorry, we’re out of ice cream.


  24. While talking to my grandma on the phone, she suggested I say something in my sermon about May Day. (my grandma doesn’t go to church, hasn’t in probably 60 years…and there was a period when I was newly ordained when she sent me literally every angel-shaped thing she saw. I had a whole box of angels of varying sizes, shapes, colors, and purposes. srsly.)

    anyway, May Day, which in my grandma’s mind is the opposite of “protesting everywhere” (I only burst her bubble a little with the actual history of May Day…), because it’s a time when you take baskets of flowers and hang them on your neighbors’ doors, to bring more beauty to life. I actually do remember doing this as a child (I lived with my grandparents in elementary school)–we would make cone baskets out of construction paper, glue on handles made of ribbon or fabric or paper or whatever we had handy, and fill the “basket” with flowers (or with paper cut out and colored flowers) and leave them on the bedroom doors, and take them around to our friends and classmates.

    And then I thought: is that a way in to Mutual Encouragement?

    I’m going to see what happens if I start writing that.


  25. The irony does not escape me that I yearn to read right now more about writing than actually writing. It has been a long day. Association meeting hosted at our church which mostly just required my presence and greeting, but I am so sleepy this evening. I am adapting a sermon from a while back and including prayers for Baltimore and other situations in other ways throughout the service, as I addressed some of this last week too. We’ve also had the deaths of two long time members…many of our older folks are in frail health and…well.

    I think that the best thing that I might do is to go to get a good night’s sleep so that I may engage well tomorrow.

    But I wanted to stop by this evening and say hello.


  26. Is it stretching too much to make the John text a communion text? I keep wanting to do that, but then it seems like a stretch. I know it’s not the strongest communion passage in John, but…there seems to be some sort of connection, if only I could articulate it.


    1. I’m not on the RCL so I’m not sure, but is it the vine/branches text? If so, no, it is not a stretch at all. The liturgy in the front of the new hymnal actually uses that passage for the pouring of the cup at the table. When we do the kind of communion where we hold the little cups until all have been served, the signal-to-drink words are “Jesus said ‘I am the vine and you are the branches, the one who is connected to me will never be thirsty.'” Seems like you could make a good case there.

      If that isn’t the text this week…sorry. 🙂


      1. Yes, vine and branches it is. I guess I should go check out that liturgy instead of reinventing the wheel! Thank you!


  27. So the afternoon got TOTALLY derailed. I took a fall and ended up at the ER for stitches in my toe, and Xrays – no broken bones, thankfully. My right side feels like I’ve been run over, and my right hand is really swollen. I fell on concrete. :/

    Anyway – trying to cobble together a sermon and bulletins while I am achy and sleepy isn’t working too well. And sorry about supper – that went by the wayside after the hubbub this afternoon.

    Here’s to the late night partiers.


  28. My sermon is titled, “Connected to the Source.” I have a beginning:

    Today’s gospel lesson is the last of the seven “I am” sayings in the gospel of John. Jesus says,
    “I am the bread of life” 6:35
    “I am the light of the world.” 8:12 & 9:5
    “I am the gate for the sheep” 10:7,9
    “I am the good shepherd” 10:11,14
    “I am the resurrection and the life” 11:25
    “I am the way and the truth and the life: 14:6
    and finally today’s gospel: “I am the true vine.” 15:1,5

    I’m thinking about all the ice storms we had when we lived in Duluth. Then the wind would come and the branches would come down. And all of those branches scattered in yards? Dead. We have to be connected to the source.


    1. … and from the opposite perspective, if you’re connected to the Source, there’s no telling where you might go or grow. I’ve been digging up plants from my garden this week that are several feet removed from their “parent,” but the roots spread underground until the new little plants sprouted. Left untended, a single plant could easily take over the whole yard in a year or two!


      1. Nice! That’ll make a great segue for my sermon into a direction I hadn’t planned on going… but now I can. Thank you! Not sure if that goes to canoeist pastor or the Holy Spirit? The answer is probably, “yes”. 🙂


  29. I struggle with preaching on Pauls letters, and this week has been no different, but I figured it was OK, and the sermon is only one part of the service. Then at the end of worship a critical comment has derailed me – and it wasn’t about the sermon.
    someone else suggested I should tell you all I was applauded at the end of the sermon – reality is the person was clapping because it was time for a hymn. 🙂
    going to a refugee discussion at the local Catholic Church this afternoon, then looking forward to a day off.

    blessings for those still preparing.


  30. Completely distracted by (1) crummy news from a meeting today; and (2) adorable pictures of my month-old adorable niece, who, I may have mentioned, is adorable.

    I think my previously written introduction is actually going to become the conclusion. Which is great. But now I need an introduction.


    1. Hooray for adorable kiddos! One of our staff members has been bringing her 2-month-old to the office since returning from maternity leave… I call the baby the newest member of our pastoral care team. Who doesn’t love baby snuggles?

      Here’s hoping some introduction inspiration comes to you soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Well, I wrote an introduction this morning before the day, and now as I look at it I really wonder where I was going. Hm… Preaching vine and branches…and not really sure where I want to go with it. I’m still pretty new at this place, so will probably focus on community, connected-ness – to one another and to God. Praying inspiration strikes quickly!

    My 3 year old was in a ‘mood’ today, and ended the evening getting in trouble for shooting his dad in the eye with a toy launcher from one of his pirate ships. Which means I need to get this done ASAP and try and get some sleep because he will be up with night-terrors tonight (over-emotional/over-tired at bedtime).


  32. I have something that vaguely resembles a sermon, but without saying anything terribly meaningful. And it is about 300 words too long. So…do I talk faster? Cut something? Cut it all and try to say something worthwhile? Cut it all and not say anything at all, just having people tell their stories of practicing resurrection and doing the mission challenge? (currently that last bit has to go in the middle of the sermon, so it’s not completely out of the question…)


  33. I have something that vaguely resembles a sermon as well. The aspen tree bit did the trick and was much better than my own “I’m a crappy gardener” story.

    Communion connection is going to happen at the table. This church “loves” the way I do communion, which is hilarious, because I do it differently every time I go there.


  34. Sermon is coming along, there’s a good intro and a couple good points and a decent conclusion… will need to reread again to make sure that they actually connect to one another. Focusing on the Ethiopian’s question: what is to prevent me from being baptized? Then doing a brief study (based on a confirmation lesson from last fall) on all the reasons he shouldn’t be baptized. What can we learn from this? Beloved, let us love one another, for God is love (tying in to the children’s sermon on that theme). Here’s hoping it all flows as smoothly as I’m imagining at the moment! Anyone still writing?


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