Hello preachers!

It’s an odd mashup this week, with Valentine’s Day and the First Sunday in Lent. Are you observing either, both, or neither? Preaching about either, both, or neither?


Revised Common Lectionary preachers can find some discussion at our Tuesday post, and Narrative Lectionary preachers over here at this Tuesday post.

What else do you need? What else do you have to share? I need a children’s time idea and some decent sleep (quality and quantity). I have some sermon thoughts about a general Lenten sermon on spiritual disciplines and some heart sugar cookies with red sprinkles to share.

Come, join the party!

69 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Hearts, Flowers, and Temptations

  1. I suspect Valentine’s day is not as big here as in the US. Tonight is a church picnic BBQ, so i am trying to write the sermon this afternoon [Saturday]. It is one of those weeks when there hasn’t been enough ‘mulling’ and the idea for the sermon doesn’t feel ready, but if I don’t write now, it will be a late night. this morning was a prayer breakfast for the local ecumenical religion in high school teachers. which was the fourth lot of pancakes this week. I am ready for a nap, but there is a cake to ice – i am so pleased there was a cake in the freezer – a sermon to get to draft stage at least, and get ready to leave in less than 2 hours.
    maybe some of those heart sugar cookies would help?

    Oh, the reading is from Luke 4 : the temptations in the wilderness. what has caught my eye is that the devil uses the word ‘if’. I wonder how often our friendships are bound up with an ‘if’ – which is where Valentines Day may come into it. God’s love doesn’t come with an if.

    We are also commissioning elders and church council members. it is a combined service, so one service instead of two tomorrow, no rushing from one to the other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Valentine’s Day is not a big day in our family, but the advertisers certainly make it seem urgent and imperative.

      So many pancakes! Yes, a heart sugar cookie should do the trick–here you go.

      I like the “if” thinking on the temptation passage…interesting to ponder.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen! Do we ever. I’ve been struck by some conversations with teenagers along these lines. They literally never have any silence, and it’s very counter-cultural for them to try to create it.


  2. home from the BBQ, and i think it is finished, and i think the service is finished.
    If …

    after the sermon and reflection time, I am including
    a Liturgy for Lent ~ written by Katherine Hawker Posted on Pondering.

    then using a suggestion form David Lose to have folks turn to each other and make the sign of the cross on each other’s foreheads, saying, “Remember your baptism, for you are God’s beloved child.”

    then commissioning church council members and elders. so a full morning, but in a combined service.


  3. We are using a Lenten curriculum for our young children called No Chocolate Know Chocolate, which traces the creation of chocolate from the cacao bean – seed to harvesting to making chocolate – as a metaphor for growing as a Christian. We used it three years ago and people liked it. I have a big rain forest mural for the kids and each week they color images from the rain forest: birds, cacao seeds, Mayans farming the cacao plants and harvesting them, and then finally cups of cocoa – the kids color these pictures, cut them out, and glue them on the mural. There’s also a Fair Trade chocolate coloring book that I give the kids to take home. SOOOO, my sermon tomorrow will talk a little about chocolate and I will have small chocolate bars to hand out and since Monday is my birthday there will be chocolate cake at coffee hour. I have pulled up a couple of old sermons and am extracting portions to reuse since I will say much the same this year as I did when I first preached them. Unlike any of the past six weeks, I will be around all day. Grateful that life is moving at a slightly slower pace, for now….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Enjoy the slightly slower place. And now you’ve made me hungry for chocolate! I hope your sermon files can be useful and give you some extra breathing room today.


  4. Good morning from Central Time Zone! I have “slept in” (till 7:00!) and lounged in bed for a few more minutes, which were blissful after a busy week.

    The kids and I have a short trip planned to our local museum, and I suspect we will spend some time enjoying time outside–the weather is nice.

    And I need to attend to the sermon. And think of a children’s idea. And re-learn the doxology in Spanish. I’m preaching at a bilingual congregation. They are very comfortable with English but they do some singing in Spanish.


  5. Trying to get writing early this morning so I can “play” later today. Using the Luke 4:1-13 text for the sermon. Moving in the direction of the temptation of Jesus is really a test of his understanding of who he is (thanks to WorkingPreacher podcast and “In the Meantime” by David Lose). In that way I think we all are tempted/tested to remember who we are at some time(s) in our lives. I have been captured by the last line in the text “the devil departed from him until the next opportunity.” There is always a next opportunity for us to be “tested/tempted to forget who we are. Our challenge in those times is to remember who we are – children of God who are loved beyond measure — even in the midst of the most trying times of our lives. Hazelnut coffee is brewing… Blessing on my preaching sisters!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tempted to forget who we are, to forget where our ultimate allegiance lies…yes, I think that’s a great sermon! Blessings to you on your preparation and your playing.


  6. Wow. I want to worship at Terri’s church! I told my congregation that I would fix a hot meal for them and the people who come for our sack lunch give away for Valentine’s because I want to say thanks to them and show love. I had been think I g about do I g that anyway and Valentine’s seemed a good time.

    I cooked 14 pounds of pork last night for pulled pork sandwiches. I will make a. vegetarian option tonight. Hopefully, the fact that I am doing it will help make people feel supported and appreciated after some tough decisions. That is probably my main sermon.

    The spoken sermon is on Mark 11, the palm Sunday reading. We are doing a sermon series on The Last Week. I have preached this perspective most Palm Sunday’s. Not true of the rest of true book. I will re-read a couple of sermons and preach without notes tomorrow morning. I have been moving awAy from manuscripts but still use notes. This seems a good day to try hands free.

    There is a lot of cheese grits and 3 loaves of banana bread.

    Off to shred pork and then go to a day long 6th grade basketball shoot out.


  7. We have our Annual Meeting tomorrow after worship, so I guess it’s a good day for a text (I’m in the Narrative Lectionary, preaching Mark 10:17-31) that reminds us of giving things up for the sake of our relationship with God. What really matters? That story of the Rich Young Man is such a trick bag. It turns out it has been a long time since I preached it. I don’t remember avoiding it deliberately. It just turned out that way. I’m reading Pat’s NL post from this week and also Kris’s RCL post from last fall, which pointed to this not-recent-but-helpful post at Working Preacher: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=402
    I find I miss the typical intro to Lent of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, but I suppose giving up all you have to benefit the poor, or even thinking about it, could put us all in a wilderness, couldn’t it? For the church I serve, I’m thinking of exploring what it would look like to give up all they have (the property, the building as their meeting place) and to let whatever they could raise from it be given to help others. What would that look like? Feel like?


    1. Almsgiving is a traditional Lenten spiritual discipline, so I think you can work that in to the rich young man. Giving up all that “we” (collectively) have is a different way of looking at that passage; I’ve usually thought of it in individual terms. Interesting. Blessings to you for the preaching and the meeting.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Good morning.

    Still sick . . . day 11 . . . . better than a week ago, but still cobbling together years’ previous sermons, since I do not have it in me to think a straightforward thought. I just found a short sermon on the wilderness from an evening service two years ago, and I think it will mostly do just fine.

    As this new church we also have Wednesday evening services, and as I emerged from the fog yesterday I realized these are all on me — no predetermined texts or music, which I have really relied upon during these first weeks at this new church. Only four, really, as one of the members is largely responsible for a healing service, so I have decided to do a series on prayer, and I have planned texts and titles. Music? I don’t know this hymnal at all and I don’t even know if the music director participates in these services, so will have to consult with him in the morning.

    What a terrible time to be sick — and one of the cats, too!

    I am steering clear of Valentine’s Day. At the church at which I did my internship, they hold a mass re-affirmation of wedding vows during the service. The year I was there, it was 1.5 years after my son had died and, being pretty much irrational about everything, I asked two friends what they thought about a service like that. Ironically, the man who had just gone through a horrific divorce said he thought it was a great idea and that we should celebrate love and marriage whenever we can. The woman who had recently been widowed after a 35-year near ideal marriage said she would be too heartbroken to step foot in church that Sunday if such a service were going on. So . . . maybe I will say Happy Valentine’s Day, and maybe not.


    1. Yes I find the Valentines Day in church thing only slightly less fraught than the Mother’s Day thing. I might mention it in the children’s time, but otherwise I’m ignoring it.

      You mean the Wednesday evening services are just during Lent? Whew, that is a lot to get used to at a new place.

      I hope you can get some rest and begin to feel better. The kids and I are struggling along through some long-term allergies and allergy-related problems. We aren’t sick enough to stay home but don’t really feel well, so you have my sympathy.


    2. There’s a great resource for midweek services by Matt Skinner at workingpreacher called “Sensing the Gospel”. I’m playing with the basic idea for a Lenten class but you might find it helpful for its intended purpose. Good luck, and feel better soon!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. On Tuesday, I thought I was getting ahead for once – yea, me! Then, sick kid WTF, with me coming down with it on Friday. :/ Fortunately the shots they gave me seem to be working. Yea, me!

    Off for a trip to the next town – 80 miles round trip. Also have cake baking to do while sermonizing. Feels crazy.

    Here’s hoping all of you have a good day!


  10. I am mentioning valentine’s day in all age ta!k. Using the idea from Starters on Sunday; “What would you do for love?” We are doing a stewardship season in lent and some future planning so ties in nicely. We are also looking at Deut and the importance of story, of thankfulness and God being with us in the past and God being with us in our present desert time and God going with us into the future.


    1. Stewardship season in Lent–I’ve never done that, but I can see how it would work well. I came really close to preaching on the Deuteronomy passage, so I’m glad someone picked it up!


  11. At the church where I am interim moderator to elect the nominating committee. I am swapping with their loving, who will preach in my Kirk for me. I asked for the text he wanted and he said ‘well it’s Valentines so I will go with 1 Cor 13’ so I thought I would go with the same in his kirks. Except he informed me he had used 1 Cor 13 with them last week. Grrrrr…… 😫 Anyway I am using Matthew 22 and love God love your neighbour instead and have upcycled an old sermon.


    1. Yeah, the 1 Corinthians 13 in the lectionary was ill-timed for Valentine’s Day! I’m glad you found something you were able to use without too much trouble. Enjoy the swap!


  12. Ashes to go got me this year–norovirus at the bus station. Just getting my land legs back. Two days behind schedule. Lots of different directions but no clarity yet. A wandering Aramean–perhaps? Handholds in the wilderness–getting less likely? Psalm 91–intriguing when I view it as an exile psalm. Where does Black History month fall with all of this? Morning mishmash


  13. Sympathies on all the lurgies you all are suffering! I feel as though I should put on a surgical mask to read this thread … 😦
    I got taken with the biblical slinging match between Jesus and the devil, and since one of our Lenten disciplines (prescribed by the Episcopal BCP) is engaging with scripture, I thought I’d take a quick(!) look at how we do that. Starting with the introduction of a brand new game show: Bard or Bible? Because even the devil can cite scripture for his own purposes – and that’s from The Merchant of Venice. I just tried it out on my heathen husband, and it seemed easy enough to be fun, but tripped him up here and there. If you want to borrow without doing the word searching, my chosen Q&A are below.
    Feel better, y’all!
    1. To be, or not to be – that is the question. (Hamlet III,i,56)
    2. In the beginning was the Word. (John 1:1)
    3. Why should the private pleasure of some one become the public plague of many more? (Rape of Lucretia, 1478-9)
    4. Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer. (Proverbs 24:26)
    5. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. (Song of Solomon/Songs 2:5)
    6. They were children of fools, yea, children of base men; they were viler than the earth. (Job 30:8)
    7. What is your substance, whereof are you made…? Sonnet 53, 1
    8. If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain? If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean… (Job 9:29-30)
    9. Though it be honest, it is never good to bring bad news. (Antony and Cleo, II,v,85)
    10. Neither a borrower nor a lender be. (Hamlet I,iv,75)
    11. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (II Tim 3:16)
    12. The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. (Merchant of Venice, I,iii,93)

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Narrative Lectionary…the rich young man…I read an intriguing little tidbit someplace this week (was it here?): we know the man went away grieving, but it doesn’t say he didn’t return to follow Jesus after doing what Jesus told him to do. So we don’t know. I’m also intrigued by the “What must I do…” and “…for God all things are possible” bookends on the story. No idea where I’m going to go with that, though. I’ve been feeling kinda punk all week, too, and am really wishing for another day to rest, but it isn’t to be. The visit I had planned for this afternoon is off, at least; they live in the country and don’t think I can get out there without getting stuck, so I had a nice chat with them over the phone. Now on to the sermon.


    1. While working on my sermon and googling stuff, I came across the old tradition that it is the self-description of the author, Mark (John Mark). Recognizing, of course, that it’s unlikely that the gospels bear the names of their actual authors, etc., etc…. I was still intrigued by that. And it feels somehow right to me.


      1. Interesting…I wonder how that goes along with the tradition that the young man who runs away naked as Jesus is being arrested is thought to be John Mark. At that point he pretty much has gotten rid of everything, hasn’t he.


    2. Pat, I’ve never heard that tradition, but it certainly is interesting to ponder. Sharkie, I often find myself wanting to know the end of the story…what happened after what is written down?


  15. I have mostly been following NL, but am switching to RCL for Lent–mostly, if truth be known, because our denomination made worship resources available for it.
    Pearl, I love the “ifs” idea…brilliant!
    My focus will be on the fact that Jesus could have chosen any of these ways to power–political power, economic power, or spiritual power–but ultimately chose to place his faith in God’s action in the world through him. There’s a parallel, I think, in our own lives–what do we choose as our medium of power over others? We all do, although we don’t like to admit it; there are balances of power in the workplace and school and family and relationships. What would it look like if we gave up all those forms of power? Can we?
    I may tie in Valentine’s Day as a reference to balances of power in relationships–the advertisers’ pressure to buy for your partner and the implication that the one who spends most lavishly therefore “proves” their love, which puts them in the ascendancy over their partner who did not spend as much.
    At least that is where I am now…
    I am craving chocolate now! However, there’s none in the place and I am not venturing out with -11C temperatures,,,,and that’s without the wind chill!


    1. No chocolate! Emergency! Not even chocolate chips? That’s my emergency stash.

      I like the idea of Jesus (and us) needing to give up our power in order to trust in God’s power working through us.


  16. NL and AGM for the Pastoral Charge tomorrow. Valentines does not play into my message although I’m sure the announcements will include something. The story of the rich man and moving to how we use our resources I believe makes a good transition to our meeting.

    I’ve just returned from a 2 week intensive Learning Circle in Saskatoon so my head is full of ideas and new learnings. Today I’m trying to focus.

    Blessed be to all!


    1. Martha Spong (commented up above) is also using the rich man’s story as a way to illuminate the Annual Meeting. If you didn’t see it already, it might give you some further thoughts.

      I don’t know what Learning Circle is, but it sounds fun! Welcome to the Preacher Party!


  17. My kids haven’t gone down for their naps yet and the sitter hasn’t arrived but I popped in here because my “office” is next to the boys’ rooms and I can. Tomorrow is going to be interesting. We are doing “Gifts of the Dark Wood” study, my secretary had a serious family crisis and has been out this week (and probably next week), I am super busy…and today is my anniversary (what would have been my 10th anniversary had my hubby lived). It has been a poignant day– not awful, just bittersweet.

    I have 70 origami hearts to fold (an idea stolen here) and someone helped me to write blessings on them…now just have to fold them…if the kids WILL TAKE A DARN NAP.

    We are using Marcia McFee’s lovely liturgy (pieces of it, adapted to some things I would like to do) and I am preaching on “Delicious Ambiguity” (from a quote that I found about uncertainty).

    And I saved the Corinthians passage about love for tomorrow– but am doing a longer piece broken in two with two readers from the Message (Peterson).

    The quote is by Gilda Radner: “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” — Gilda Radner

    Going to relate to being in the “woods” so to speak. Being in the wilderness. Being in love. Falling out of love. Going thru mid-life changes. And encountering life in all of its precious complexity…

    But the children need to take a NAP! I can’t work if I have to pop up every 5 minutes to run interference on 2 3yr olds.


    1. I hear you on the NAP necessity. I am a mean, mean mama and called off (perhaps only postponed, I’ll have to see) the trip to the playground after multiple meltdowns by the 8 year old. Sometimes being hungry can trigger that behavior, but eating lunch didn’t help. We managed their requested trip to the museum just fine, but things deteriorated rapidly after that. They’re both in their rooms, and I’m hoping she’ll fall asleep for a little while.

      It sounds like you have a good idea of how everything is going to fit together, so I hope once you get a moment to complete a thought, you’ll be well on your way.


  18. I too am feeling rough, nothing serious but something is definitely brewing! Some weeks ago I decided to create a Lenten Preaching Series based on a new book about becoming a disciple of Jesus, and growing into it, by two clergy in our denomination (United Church of Canada) ‘Bullseye: Aiming to Follow Jesus’. Six chapters, six Sundays hmmmmmmmmm, seemed to make sense. Am using the Luke temptation passage, the Matthew Lord’s prayer passage and 1 Corinthians 13 passage as I try to weave it all together.


    1. I haven’t heard of the book, but it sounds interesting and adaptable to preaching. I hope you can find some time for rest in order to ward off whatever sickness is brewing.


  19. A Dios el Padre Celestial; al Hijo nuestro Redentor; y al eterno Consolador. Unidos, todos alabad. Amen.

    There, I’ve got that part down. Now for reworking the sermon (in English) and the children’s time (likewise).


  20. Ugh. Now that I’ve got one whole sermon revised, I don’t like it. And I found another old one that I like better. Ugh. This is why I should just write a new one.


  21. home from worship, lots of positive comments. as well as Lent one,it was commissioning of Church Council and Elders, then i had people stand if they were involved in various ministries, the final on my list being praying for others. then the elders and church council members surrounded the congregation [as best they could] and i prayed a blessing on them and the ministries they are involved in.
    on person who was on the nominating committee, who i think has a different theology to me, told me today how blessed the church is to have me.

    blessings as you lead Gods people in worship today.


  22. nearly 8pm, after a long day at Presbytery. The news this afternoon has me thinking more about things that are not really sermon appropriate than about sermons. And I’m feeling quite tired and so so tempted to just go to bed and get up early to write. But I’m afraid that if I do that, I won’t end up saying anything worth hearing.

    It’s boy scout sunday, which means the scouts will be in uniform and will have a color guard and will do a skit and I have to come up with some way to do a celebration/blessing for their 50th anniversary as a troop. Except it turns out it’s their 51st anniversary and they have terrible record keeping.

    I’m on the NL with the camel-needle business, thinking about how Jesus doesn’t do anything halfway. “keep all the commandments.” “sell everything.” “give all the money away.” “camel and needle.” “impossible / all things possible.” Meanwhile we are constantly trying to force him into an “all things in moderation” approach so we can feel more comfortable, and write off the idea that he might actually call *US* to do something so extreme.

    I don’t have a good beginning, though, so therefore I have nothing. Except a desire to read more political commentary and to do research for my upcoming (in 3 months) trip to London with my dad. Speaking of things that disrupt my focus on God….


    1. Is it bad that I kind of giggled at the 51st/50th anniversary whoopsie?

      I am highly distracted and highly distractable as well. My first grader is amazingly smarter early in the morning than she is late in the afternoon, particularly with spelling words. I’ve been slow to catch on to that, as she certainly didn’t inherit it from me. But maybe the early morning writing thing would work out well for you?


      1. I did a few weeks of it last year, and while I don’t like it, it is do-able. and I might be tired enough to make it worthwhile. It would be like if I’d been home during the day and just taken a nap to ponder the text. 😉


      2. also…I had to go back through session minutes to find out it was not the 50th. lol. In the April 1965 minutes, under the CE report, it just says “a new boy scout troop (#182) sponsored by the church has been organized. (Announcement to be put in newsletter.)”
        that’s it. I read months of minutes to find if there was a formal vote or chartering or anything….and this one sentence was all I could find. We don’t have newsletters from 1965 (or at least not easily accessible to me on a Thursday night) so that was the end of my research efforts on behalf of the church. lol.

        I’ll still eat their cake.


  23. Preachers, I’m about to turn the light off and hopefully drift off to sleep. As I do, I will pray for you and your congregations as they hear the Word proclaimed.


  24. HI All, it’s Sunday morning here in Scotland

    I did pop in to the party a couple times yesterday but didn’t comment – I was on a roll – and a mission to get finished ASAP!

    Here is the sermon base on the rich young man….

    The mission was to get to church while it was still light in order to hang our new lent banner – finished on Friday after a marathon six hours of work from the banner group ladies! I have posted a picture (if you’re interested!) on my church Facebook page http://facebook.com/EarlstonParishChurch


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