While many of the Revgals are cruising, I welcome you to this weekend’s 11th Hour preacher party!  I am happy to be hosting you from a sunny spot in Texas today, providing coffee, tea and conversation.  And partying!

There is plenty to chew on in the lessons, both in the Narrative and Revised Common Lectionary.  I couldn’t help noticing that both gospels feature Jesus returning to his hometown, to less than stellar reviews.  Jesus goes home to preach, and explosions ensue.  So that is one thing I have been musing about, as I serve so far from my own hometown these days.

But there are plenty more Epiphany themes to consider, more ways the light shines:  In Jeremiah’s call, in the love that never ends, in the persistence of God.

And then there is the fact that Lent is only a week and a half away.  Have you done anything special during this short season-after-the-Epiphany?  I am excited that I will have a baptism next weekend, which seems like a very nice way to close the season.

I’m interested in your sermon successes and struggles, your children’s messages (really, I could use some ideas), your creative calls to worship, and all of the party fix ins’ you can muster.

Come and pull up a chair!  Let this place be your home-away-from-home today.

52 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Hometown Prophet Edition

  1. It should be an “easy” Sunday for me tomorrow as we have the Church of Scotland Refugee Co-ordinator coming to speak as part of worship so I have only a short reflection (which I have written as a sort of paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13) and the Children’s talk – but after a long, difficult week (including a funeral for someone who took his own life – with all the attendant pastoral care needed) I am struggling to come up with a talk for the children on love or caring for others – sounds simple but I feel I have used up all my ideas so any help welcome!

    Welcome back to the gals getting off the cruise today. I hope if you are leading worship tomorrow you have it all in hand – I am sure you will be rejuvenated and bring new enthusiasm and energy to your ministries.

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    1. Tanya – I get you. We had a high profile suicide this week – indeed two in the area but one from my parish and one from the neighbouring. Conflicting with ‘celebrating’ the anniversary of my ordination (which I cant outwardly celebrate because of a tragic death of the son of one our church families on the night of my ordination). And what is the narrative lectionary offer? Jesus rejection and John the Baptists head on a plate!
      Anyway just back from the Guild Buttery morning ( a buttery is a north east of Scotland delicacy – kindof like a large flat croissant but heavier) and about to settle down and seek some inspiration. I have a lovely snowy village to look over out of my window…..this could be a long day!

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      1. Tanya– I will be keeping you in prayer after this tough week! i hope there are lots of 1st Corinthians ideas out there to help you. As for me, I have a box full of construction paper hearts wrapped up that the children will unwrap and (I hope) pass out to others, spreading out the love. That’s it. I hope it works.

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    2. Here’s what I’ll be doing at one of our services, something I do with our students in school chapel once a year:
      There’s a really easy way to make an origami heart using a simple triangle of paper. Have everyone write a message of love and support on a triangle, then teach them to make the heart. I keep these in my office and when I visit someone who is ill, injured, bereaved, shut-in, or struggling, I take some along, or sometimes mail them to people; before they write the messages, I tell them this is what I’ll be doing, and I don’t preview them. These hearts are very much appreciated, and it’s a great way to put legs on love.

      I’ll post a link to the directions in a minute but wanted to get the idea up!

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  2. I finished my sermon early because this weekend and the coming week are going to be frantic. . . on standby for the fifth funeral since January (God help us when we reach the reach the part of winter when most of the elderly succumb!).

    My life has been similar to the story of the hometown prophet; and for the first time, I included material about my myself. I usually don’t do that. Don’t know how that is going to go.

    Have good friends coming in from out-of-town (instead of cooking I am taking the easy way out and we are going out to eat), have a house blessing to do, prepare materials for a ‘time and talent’ presentation, and meet with other faith leaders to define the process for a Faith Leaders Action Group designed to de-escalate trouble between police and the community (think a pro-active group like those at Ferguson). Whew! makes me tired just thinking about it!

    But, on Thursday we leave for the three-week trip ending in West Palm Beach for a week of rest and relaxation (and hopefully warm weather). Of course, will have to stop in Asheville to see the Biltmore Estate, visit with friends in Greenville and spend four days in Disneyworld. On the screen, this doesn’t seem like much rest and relaxation.

    Life . . . and death goes on.

    Here is the homily:

    http://wp.me/p3CZwj-tf

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    1. Gosh, you have a lot going on. You will need that week of rest and relaxation when you get to it! I am glad you have that to look forward to

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  3. Good morning! There are chocolate muffins out there . . . .

    Preaching on Risky Faith — Elijah, widow, slave girl, Namaan, Elisha, Jesus —

    and trying to figure out how to act on it myself. Yesterday my 83yo dad, who lives in the Tea Party sw corner of the state and is on his own this week while his partner visits her dd in CA, came out of the grocery to find an anonymous note on his car, railing against him for voting for a black man (bumper sticker) and for being in favor of “allowing foreigners into our country.” I was quite concerned about him last night — rural area, everyone knows where everyone lives — but he seems fine this morning and is going to the police. If it happened here, I would have some idea about how to generate a community response — but it’s a different world there, and one in which I have no role. I haven’t even called my politically-active brother who lives down there, but is completely estranged from my father and unlikely to talk to his allies about how to conduct themselves where my dad’s politics are concerned.

    So I am thinking about all these risk-taking people, of whom at the moment I am not one.

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  4. Hi– preaching on “Prophet Within, Prophet Without” — I have a memorial today so won’t be able to work on sermon much until this afternoon, as I still need to finish some other tasks which seem to multiply at the end of the week. Memorial is very non-traditional so I am looking forward to it, oddly, despite it being a difficult occasion as it has some creative elements, including candle-lighting for all present and harp/piano, service in the round, and some secular readings, etc. We approved a champagne toast for the deceased at a reception held in the parlor, for which I am grateful (the water turning into wine reading was the week that we approved it– lol!).

    The sitter for the boys is here to help me get ready and I baked muffins this am, to have some time with the children. But now I need to get ready.

    Double sitters today. May there be moments of grace.
    Cold out and fighting a cold within, so there’s that too.

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  5. So many bits are swirling about in my head right now… Husband just left to referee an all-day basketball tournament, so the house is quiet at least. Our congregation is gearing up for a visit from a consulting team to help us discover how God is calling us into our next phase of ministry. I do not think it is a coincidence that the OT passage from the RCL is precisely the passage we are studying this week in our trek through The Story. While that text will be the launch pad for my sermon, I will try to connect it to the Gospel as I challenge the congregation to recognize that following Jesus is very risky business, and we don’t get to decide what success looks like. I’d like to use some photos from our trip last year to Mt. Precipice – it was a very foggy day, and looking down toward Nazareth through that cloud seems like a good metaphor for the way our vision is often obscured. I will try to get some photos posted over on my blog so you can use them if you find them helpful. Meanwhile, there is raisin bread French toast staying warm in the oven, and the butter and syrup are nearby. Help yourself!

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  6. omigoodness, thank you so much for asking for help with children’s sermon. Without that prompt, I would have forgotten that I needed one for tomorrow’s congregation. Whew. So, now I’ll add that to my list.

    For the grownups, I’m reworking an old sermon on the Jeremiah text called “Dirty Jobs,” as Jeremiah is called to do a dirty/thankless job. I reference that show that used to be on the Discovery Channel by the same name. The wikipedia article on the host, Mike Rowe, includes the factoid that he grew up Presbyterian. Fascinating coincidence. And also fascinating that wikipedia includes that.

    We have a birthday party to attend for one kid, and shoe shopping for the other today.

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  7. welcome to all! I still have the coffee and tea on, and also some bagels with cream cheese. I will be doing some tweaking on my sermon, which is “on a mission from God, part 2”, in which it turns out that the mission is a mission of love to the outsider. leading us to scary and surprising places…. sort of like that….

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  8. Working on the NL but a week behind. Going to do another sermon without a manuscript. I feel that I am mostly retelling the story, with pauses to focus in on what must be going through the hemorrhaging woman or Jairus or Jesus’ head at various points. Will work in the notion o somebodiness a la MLK that someone mentioned in the B group. Thinking I will end with naming some of the ways we all need healing, including bad blood between us. Our church is dying. Most of the change agents have left or are (trying to be) silenced. I have been supporting all voices and empowering the ones still trying for openness to new ideas and ones wanting to focus on mission. We can use some healing. We will offer a chance for anointing (something odd for my little band of congregationalists but wanted by many from outside that one strand of the UCC). Will also have a prayer station for people to write hurts on a band aid and stick them on a cross, as well as a basket and paper for people to put prayer requests.

    There is fresh banana bread to go with Diane’s coffee and tea.

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    1. ooh! banana bread! all I have is frozen, over-ripe bananas. blessings to you on your sermon-without-a-manuscript. I have only dared it a couple of times. they went well, but for some reason that hasn’t made me risk it more often.

      praying for you and for healing and resurrection in your congregation.

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  9. It’s our annual meeting Sunday (following the 3rd service). I’m starting with love, and how in this case it’s not the Hallmark Valentine’s Day version but something a lot more challenging. I want to broaden it to be about love expressed through a community and, with a nod to Jeremiah, how God has called us as a church to express that love in particular ways…has known us since we began.

    In the meantime, still lots of holiday candy around here; enjoy!

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  10. My sermon is in a solid draft form….letting it stew for a bit, need to work on the end, which is not yet what I want it to be. Also, packing so I can leave immediately after church tomorrow to drive to Chicago. I am going for a conference on Mon-Wed, but will be able to see my daughter Sunday night and return her dog to her. We’ve had him for our annual post-Christmas visit since, well, Christmas! I’ll come back and post my sermon when it’s done…..

    I love the origami heart idea. Lots of good ideas here today, as usual!

    Thank you for hosting, Diane.

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  11. I am off to bed with 130 origami hearts made with the message “God loves you! Pass it on” written inside each one. I have some larger ones I may get the children to help me make (depending on who is there tomorrow) but there are enough for the children to hand out to everyone after we discuss what it means to pass God’s love on. Thanks so much Betsy for the idea!
    So glad I am not preaching tomorrow.
    I hope the sermon fairy finds you if you need her!
    Good night

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  12. I am really rocking the productive procrastination today. Shoes have been purchased for the eldest (we went to an honest-to-goodness, old fashioned shoe store, where they measure your feet and bring you the shoes to try on). I’ve done lots of judicatory work–emails and such. Gotten in touch with the people who are sitting with our children in church tomorrow (we’re a clergy couple and have to make arrangements almost every week for help with the kids). Mediated several sibling disagreements.

    But, whew, not much progress on anything that is “due” tomorrow!

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    1. The amazing thing is how often a “meh” sermon speaks to the person who needed to hear a particular word; sometimes they hear things that I know weren’t even actually in the sermon. The Spirit has your back!

      I’m mostly done; how close depends on how much more I decide I want to say and to what extent I’m lured by season 10 of Bones on Netflix!

      Thanks for being our host today 🙂

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  13. We are dedicating a new (to us) songbook in worship tomorrow. The choir has been using the book for about a year, introducing a few new songs along the way. Thanks to a generous congregation member we had funds to do purchase for the congregation, with more for other worship and faith formation enrichment ideas.

    I have written a dedicatory prayer for the songbooks and a paraphrase of Jeremiah for the children to read since we have an intergenerational service on the 5th Sunday. That means the origami hearts will also be a wonderful addition as the main focus of the service is 1 Corinthians 13. Now to finish the sermon.

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  14. finally got something down . . . We are currently in prayer around the denomination’s upcoming general conference . . . a gathering that perhaps look a bit like the church in Corinth. So the importance of the prophets who are willing to speak truth to power reflecting Christ’s love as outlined by Paul’s words. And encouraging members in the local church to be open to God’s calling in their life to use their gifts with excellence for the love of God. Quoting Paul (John, Ringo, George): All you need is love!

    This may be the first full gathering of children since our Christmas pageant. So I am going to ask them about how they felt . . . were they nervous. . . where did they feel they had the most courage (several children overcame quite a bit and really stepped up to a new level of confidence). I want to tie it into Jeremiah and God’s assurance while inviting them to let to think about new ways that they can participate in the life of the church (we are rolling out a new family ministry in the coming weeks so this is kind of a warm up)

    Love the origami idea . . . going to find a way to use it – maybe next week.

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  15. Calling it a night, here. I have a sermon, but hoping the Holy Spirit will “preach and reach” thru the entire service since I am totally wiped right now. The memorial earlier today had something like 197 folks instead of the 50-80 that we were told to expect, so we were scrambling but everything went well. This evening, my son somehow fell and hit his nose hard– blood everywhere– but he’s tucked in bed and doing better. My other son, age 3, says to me, “Sing Silent Night” and then, “sometimes when you go to work, mommy, without me I am sad. I want to cry.” A full night. But they are falling asleep and I will figure out the rest tomorrow…or maybe never It’s okay, though. God has this.

    And the origami hearts? I am saving that one. Feb 14th is a Sunday and I love the idea of writing prayers/blessings on the triangle part. Tucking that idea away! Thanks!

    Good night.

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  16. This is not very exciting, but it’s what I’ve come up with for the children’s time: ask them about something that their parents ask them to do that is no fun (pick up toys, make bed, take out trash, etc). Then ask what kind of excuses they try to get out of it (I’m too little, I’m too busy, whatever). Then ask if it would be more fun if their siblings or parents helped them with that chore. Then say that when God asks us to do something icky or difficult (here’s where I need a kid-relevant example) God never leaves us alone to do it by ourselves. God is always there with us.

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  17. This is not a sermon yet, but a bunch of notes that I will be polishing into a sermon. Its focused around Gynnya McMillen. See http://www.cbsnews.com/news/audio-cpr-started-11-minutes-after-staff-found-gynnya-mcmillen/

    http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=110

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

    Reminds me of Psalm 139

    13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

    Psalm 71:1-6
    71:1 In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

    The image of God as forming/knitting in both verses, as an artist/creator. Knitting is an embodied experience. Ask knitters. It is a combined mind body experience. Its tactile and visual. You feel the yarn, the kneedles. You make something warm and comfortable. Knitting is a labor of love. You get attached to the thing you make. That’s why its such a big gift to give someone. But even though you love this thing you made, you know the weak parts, the parts you had to rip out and try again, the missed stitches. You know things about the piece maybe others don’t know or cant see. but despite or perhaps because of that intimate knowledge, you love the piece even more. I like to think of God in this way, as a Grandma. Many of our Grandmas knit/make quilts/bake. They are creators. It’s a warm, cozy, comforting image of God.

    So often these verses about wombs and creation are used to subdue women and to shame them, to coerce women into pregnancy. I believe it’s the opposite, radically pushing against industries and systems that seek to control bodies and diminish them and erase them and subdue them by pointing to bodies as GOOD and touched by God.

    Our culture abuses bodies that God knit together.

    Ways we shame bodies: closeting LGBTQ+ people, sexual assault, domestic violence, state violence

    Diet industry, fashion industry that tries to shrink women into non existence by teling us we cant take up space, we cant age. We cant have a body. And so we tame and shave nip and tuck and primp and preen and smooth and shrink our bodies into the goal of non existence.

    A criminal justice system that says if your body is black the rules the rules are different for you than if your body is white. Theres places you cant go, mistakes you cant make.

    A church that has a history of slut shaming, of modesty culture, purity culture, homophobia, transphobia, which tells us that our bodies and the things that we do with our bodies are dirty and wrong.

    These are all issues of bodies.

    And yet while society calls those bodies evil…and does so FOR PROFIT….God reminds us that our bodies are beautiful and good. And God does this by coming in a body. Every week we consume Gods body with our own body….with real teeth and tongues and esophaguses and stomaches…when we partake in communion.

    God has a thing for bodies.

    God’s thing for bodies is why Im a Christian.

    Our recognition of Gods thing for bodies is why I gravitate towards liturgical traditions….because our worship is embodied and experiential. Its about sights and sounds and smells and touches.

    I cant preach about the way we try to subdue and tame and shame bodies and about Gods great love for bodies without saying Gynnya McMillen’s name.

    Gynnya McMillen died January 11, 2016 in a juvenile detention facility in Kentucky. She wanted some control over her own body, she refused to take off her sweatshirt, she refused to disrobe.

    I cant think of anything our sinful systems hate more than a Black girl with rights over her own body, a Black girl who says “no.”

    And so they fought to subdue her. They ignored that despite whatever reason Gynnya was in juvenile detention, God had seen her and known her, had intimate knowledge of all of those mistakes and God still called Gynnya McMillen and her body good, and said, “This one is mine.”

    The officers at the detention facility ignored that. They sought to silence, subdue, and shrink her body. They did this by physically overpowering her, several grown men. And then wrestling her shirt off her body, her holy precious body that was knit together by God herself.

    And after that shame, after forcing her into that smallness, they left her body alone in a cell to die.

    But even though we failed Gynnya, even when we left her alone to die, Gynnya was not alone in that cell. Because we worship a Jesus who came in a body, and died in a body, and in solidarity with abusers, ROSE AGAIN WITH A BODY IN VICTORY. And that same Jesus who experiences shame and scorn and a broken body was with his beloved Gynnya in that cell.

    God is in the business of bodies. And as the church, the Body of Christ, knit together in our many parts, beloved despite and even because of our flaws, we have the power and the ability to do something about this. And justice for Gynnya and for all of us….rape survivors, closeted queers, girls with eating disorders…has to come from God. And God is in the business of bodies so Gods plan is to use us, the Body of Christ, the church. That’s the plan. God knows the Body is a mess sometimes but God says this is the plan, so here we go.

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