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Having just returned from the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, I am reassured that, because of and in spite of our best efforts, the Holy Spirit is still at large in the church. Sometimes she is a gentle, warming breeze. Often she is fierce and fabulous.
As you prepare to preach this Pentecost, how are you experiencing the Spirit? Is she, for you at this time, a comforter, a challenger, a prodder or an irritation? Is she bringing restlessness or is she being elusive?
Please share with us your musings and inspiration as you prepare to preach on this High and Holy day.
You will find inspration in our Tuesday Lectionary Leanings posts for both the RCL and the NL.
Gather around this table from North, South, East and West and together we will find God speaking into all our different languages and traditions, breathing life and love. Please be encouraged to share what you have and take what you need as, together, we bring the enlivening Spirit of Pentecost to our communities today.

42 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Pesky Pentecost Edition

  1. I wrote two sermons this week – one for the funeral this morning, which will be a big and significant event since it is for the grown son of one of our life long members. The son died around Christmas but they’ve waited until his daughter had graduated from college, so today is the day. He was well known and loved. Then, because of the funeral today, and because my husband is home all day today (he usually works Saturday), I also wrote a good draft of my Pentecost sermon.

    It doesn’t always work out for me when I attempt to do this, write two sermons ahead of time. I’m grateful it did, puts me more at ease heading into the funeral and luncheon that follows.

    My Pentecost sermon is working off of Psalm 104. I’ve always wanted to preach on the Leviathan, or rather the idea of God creating something just for fun! I think there’s a good message in that idea for us, being playful and having fun, as part of our relationship with God and one another, part of mission as the body of Christ.

    Thanks for hosting, Liz. Have a great party. I’ll stop by as I’m able.

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    1. Teri, what fun to preach on Leviathan. I hope it’s a good counter to the funeral. And glad you’ve managed to get ahead. Enjoy whatever time you’ve freed up with your husband.

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  2. I’m just off to enjoy a picnic. I need some fresh air after being cooped up in Assembly Hall all week. So I have a flask of warm soup (it’s not too warm in Scotland right now) and ham and cheese sandwiches. I’ll be finalising the sermon when I get back. At the moment, I’m planning to use pictures of Assembly to share those places I saw the Spirit at work this week.

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  3. Liz, a picnic sounds lovely.

    tomorrow as well as Pentecost we have our annual congregation meeting. A group has planned worship, and we are weaving the meeting through the service. thinking about what the spirit inspires within us, or what we are enthusiastic about, both as individuals and as a congregation. Croissants and Gluten free muffins, tea, coffee and apple juice as we talk, and then receive the annual reports and vote for church council. a little later we will receive the budget just before the offering.
    then it says Patty will tie it all together – so I am hoping the Spirit is there in the morning, or I will just skip along to the closing hymn ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Patty, I have similar notes in my sermon! I am re working an old one, and last night I left myself a note that says “add paragraph and ???illustration about prophesying here.” Oh. Sure. That should be easy to pull off! ๐Ÿ™‚

    We are expecting yet more rain this weekend and a high probability of more flooding, so asking for your prayers for everyone’s safety.

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  5. I am literally just in the door from the Church of Scotland General Assembly. I decided to stay in Edinburgh for an extra night rather than keep going yesterday and add the travel onto the last day. I did get a fair bit of tomorrow’s service done last night in the hotel so there is not as much pressure this afternoon as there could have been. I am using the theme of one of the General Assembly reports (Pilgrimage together) as a jumping off point for thinking about the Spirit journeying with us. Now I need to read what I wrote last night and see if it ties together.
    I read somewhere (can’t remember where now) about getting the children to think of themselves like drainpipes directing prayer instead of water. I think I am going to use straws and get them to blow something (not sure what yet) and see how much more effective air is when channelled and then draw a sort of comparison to the Holy Spirit as wind and pointing the Holy Spirit towards areas we are concerned with when we pray for them. Something like that.
    Lots of gaps but at least I have the beginnings of a framework and that is often a sticking point for me.
    Off to stock up the fridge. Anyone need anything?

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  6. Time to sleep, but I do have food to share, gluten free apple muffins and a slice ( oats, sultanas, cherries, pecans, choc chips) both baked this afternoon, help yourself.

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  7. I was in North Carolina at CREDO last week, so I planned for everyone to speak in their native tongues about their Star Words tomorrow. I am planning a short intro and a short exit. Depending on who speaks and for how long, it could be a very short sermon ๐Ÿ™‚ I am hoping people will speak though. I have a story ready with my word.

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  8. Children are at Nat’l Zoo with grandparents…and I am cutting out little “flames” to put on popsicle sticks for the congregation. I plan to speak about “Passion” (the Spirit moving inside us) and how that passion intersects with Jesus/Church. The point being that we each have something that moves us– or nudges us– something that we lose all sense of time in doing– etc. I have the hope of people naming their passions and then holding the flames above their heads as I invite them to share. So if someone says “reading” is a passion, then others can wave their flames if they share the same. I hope to connect folks with their passions and hopefully show how the Spirit moves through the church.

    Not exactly sure how this will work. May introduce during children’s story and have people write on their “flames” and wave at certain points during service. I wanted something tactile for the congregation.

    But I am not expecting many tomorrow. Our church school is struggling so tomorrow’s service doesn’t have church school classes and I am going to need to make the sermon somewhat more interactive. Calling upon the Holy Spirit in a big way today…’cause I haven’t a clear idea yet of where I am headed.

    It’s the birthday of the church and I am so so so sick of hearing about the dying church. I did not go to seminary to serve a dying church, but a living faith and Jesus. In spite of obstacles. Or defiant of them…personal, structural, institutional, whatever. If I am to stay, I need to hold to this.

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  9. Thinking about Dee’s flames and seeing the flame coming from a baptismal font picture recently I’m wondering – how do I get that fire (for real) going in the font? I love show and tell!

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    1. I’m sure there is a way to get flames, google would have something. I remember starting a couple of fires at two different churches. Rubbing alcohol was involved, I think. Good luck!

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    2. Angela Powell
      from my friend and sem classmate, Pam Smith: She placed a stainless bowl inside a stainless bowl with river rocks in to raise the small bowl and provide some air insulation. These two were placed in the hole where the font bowl usually goes. Heavy Duty foil collar around the opening to protect the wood from the heat of the outer bowl (which wasn’t very much at all). Inside the small bowl about a 1/2 cup of epsom salts — gave that wonderful orange red flame — and 32 oz of 91% rubbing alcohol. Important to pour the alcohol in the bowl and put that container away from the action. Then with one of the candlelighters, our acolyte took the flame from the Pascal Candle and lit the bowl. Notes. it will slightly discolor the stainless bowl, it doesn’t get all that hot, it will burn about 30 min. Use less alcohol for a shorter burn time. It is amazing.

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  10. I am excited about Pentecost! My sermon was inspired by KZJ who posted on facebook about not reading any more articles about why millennials are not going to church – that comment came at about the same time as the Pew Research Center’s stats that 23% of us are unaffiliated with anything when it comes to religion. That also means that 77% of us are affiliated, and part of that 77% will be in my congregation on Sunday…and we are wearing red and eating birthday cake. Maybe I am overly optimistic or burying my head in the sand, but I believe in our little rural corner of the world, the Holy Spirit has a power stronger than a statistic. And, quite frankly, all of my worrying over the numbers has done nothing to share the Good News…I am putting on a new attitude, nurturing a new spirit, and loving the 77% of all ages who are in my path week after week…no, I’m not hanging up the evangelism hat, but I have to believe that if we keep gathering together in one place, paying attention to the teaching, sharing with glad and generous hearts, well, if we do our part in faith, the Spirit will do her part too.

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    1. Amen, Lea. Having spent the week with enthusiastic young Christians, I’m coming from a place of hope, too. We nurture what we have and build from there.

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  11. I had hoped that, since I didn’t preach last week, I would be able to write ahead and maybe finally get into that week-before-I-need-it rhythm. Alas, here I am the day before again. We had a great Pentecost Party on Wednesday night, with 60 people, nearly half of whom were under the age of 13, making stoles and streamer wands for Sunday. If we have that many show up on this U.S. holiday weekend, I’ll be very surprised. In these parts, this is the weekend everyone goes to the lake to open their cabins and get their boat docks into the water. For those who show up, I’m working from the RCL gospel text, and the title is “When the Spirit Comes.” I’m hoping to reframe that phrase from expectation for the future into recognition that the Spirit is here right now. That’s as much as I’ve got. It’s cool and drizzly here, so there is a pot of chili simmering. Help yourself!

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    1. Isn’t it typical that a major Liturgical Festival is marked by a holiday that takes folk away from church? I’m sorry you didn’t get ahead but it sounds like today, the weather is at least cooperating with sermon writing.

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    1. Well, aside from the fact that I’m rethinking ever wanting to live in Arizona, I enjoyed your sermon. Love the idea of the playfulness of the Spirit.. and your good words around relationships and community. Thanks for posting.

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      1. I wrestled with this sermon all night. Woke up this morning and wrote another section to it. It’s a little long and I don’t have time to edit it, but I feel better about it. I added a section that addresses how the community I serve is working to build relationship and how it is playful and creative. This is reminder to me of how difficult it is to write two sermons…my head just can’t connect the pieces I want to say in a cohesive way. I felt like i had a couple of sermons going, now I think it works as one. Sigh….

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  12. Quiet preacher party today. I’m just here for a quick check-in and then need to change and leave for a wedding rehearsal for two lovely young women. Their wedding is scheduled outside tomorrow afternoon, and there is rain in the forecast. I’ll have my notes, preaching garb, guitar, music stand, and the altar… to worry about. I’m hoping the rain holds off for the ceremony. Now to finish tomorrow’s Pentecost sermon. The sanctuary is adorned festively, birthday cake is coming, and the balloons are filled with helium and on the altar. I’d love to utilize some marvelous visuals on our screen as this is the last Sunday inside to utilize the technology before we retire at the end of June. I’m still wondering about the possibility of building a fire in the baptismal font, but not sure I can pull off one more additional thing.

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    1. We tried that fire thing…not really planning to….On the Feast of Las Posadas. We had a candle tray set up in front of the beautiful hand-carved wooden altar. After processing from door to door on the church property candles and plastic candle holders in hand, folks processed into the nave, placed their candles and candle holders in the sand tray and sat down to pray. During the communion prayer, a woman leaned over, pointed to the candles in the tray, and asked, “Are they supposed to be burning like that?” (flames were beginning to burst out). We jumped up at once, lunged towards the tray, and rapidly turned over all the candles. No burning altar that day!

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  13. Ezekiel–how could I have overlooked Ezekiel? Dry bones, life-giving breath, hope. It’s a prophesy I feel in my bones. Imagine the power of Ezekiel’s words to a congregation of people living on the streets–air sucked out by the energy it takes just to get through the day; bones brittled by the indifference of folks who drive by in cars without dents or who walk by in suits; bones broken by police pushing them out of the way; bones dried and desiccated by government agencies and “do gooders” and lines that never seem to end running them through “just one more hoop”. There God is saying, “I will put my spirit within you and you will live” and breathing life into those dried up bones. The breath of God in a government blanket shared or an embrace given or even just a cut in line granted. I can hardly wait to play with this tomorrow and to hear stories of the breath of life breathed into the valley of the bones we call the streets of Albuquerque

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    1. I was just playing with the dry bones story and realized my house kind of looks like that valley – I give soup bones to my two dogs, and just collect them in a plastic bin so they can pull them out when they want. There are dozens of them now, scores. The dogs have been having a great time with them today, and the floor of my dining room (where I write) is littered with them. Not sure if it will preach, but it gave me a giggle!

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  14. ok…I have to write something now. The theme for the season of Pentecost is “Moved By The Spirit”…I’m not entirely sure whether to actually start that theme tomorrow or to recognize that half the people would miss it and so wait for next week.

    The last day of the NL until the fall, so I’ve been thinking about Romans 8…thinking of sort of doing it backwards: nothing can separate us…if god is for us who can be against us (and we know that “if” is not a “what if” but a rhetorical device, because nothing can separate us)…the Spirit intercedes for us…sometimes that intercession looks like wind and flame, forcing us out of our comfortable prayers into action…the Spirit makes it possible for us to hear and be heard across all kinds of boundaries, because nothing can separate…and so on.

    I don’t know if that will work or not. Probably not. But we’re having a hymn sing too so…

    I have also been thinking about whether I could work in that the presidential proclamations of Memorial Day (all the way back to Truman, anyway) are calls for a national day of “prayer for permanent peace”–and that our comfortable prayers for peace mean nothing if we stay in the sanctuary together and never follow the Spirit’s lead into the streets.

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  15. Done here. So done. Sermon is ok. I’m catching the last kindergarten cold of the school year, I think. My red dress is ironed, so that must mean I’m ready, right? Thunderstorms are on their way, but I’m going to try to catch some sleep before they arrive.

    Blessings to all still writing tonight.

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  16. Thank you all for sharing in the Party. Praying for the blessings of the Spirit of Pentecost to fall on you and your communities today. I look forward to rounding up the sermons you have posted. Blessings, Lix

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