Our children this year are using a Lenten curriculum called “No Chocolate Know Chocolate” (Leader Resources). It uses chocolate, and its production from a cacao pod to a chocolate bar as a metaphor for growing in faith as Christians. It’s cute and effective even for adults since I bring chocolate bars to church and ask folks to consider the real purpose of giving up something or taking something on for Lent. (Hint, it’s not so one can “suffer”).

Following the RCL my thoughts for this second Sunday in Lent are going along the lines of “what does it mean to be nourished?” And I’m planning on using the Psalm as my primary text and the idea that nourished souls trust in God because they have faced challenges. Or, it is through facing challenges that we come to know God most fully and thereby also have a deeper sense of hope. Or, if one never faced any challenges how deep would/could one’s faith be? I may also tap into Philippians and the “imitate” Paul/Christ idea. This makes me think of Mary Oliver who once wrote that the way one becomes a poet is to imitate the poetry style of someone you like, writing poetry just like their’s until your poetic voice emerges. Imitate Christ until one can live a more Christ-like life….which is ultimately a life of facing challenges and growing in faith and hope.

You can find some good conversations on this blog on both the RCLΒ Β and Narrative Lectionary.

Regardless of the text you are using or the direction you are contemplating (or not, exhausted or burned out or tired as you may be) this is the Preacher Party. Pull up chair, grab a mug, there’s inspiration to be shared, and virtual food and coffee aplenty!

80 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Nourished Souls

  1. Am I first? Wow!

    I feel accomplished so far – bulletins and stuff done, sermon begun, and I’m not sick! In this one woman operation, that’s pretty good.

    I’m on the NL, so It’s fighting over who sits at Jesus’ right hand, and blind Bartimaeus. Think I have an idea where I’m going.

    Chicken noodle soup, and mac-n-cheese to share. It’s a comfort food kind of night.

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  2. Terri, I love the concept of nourished souls! May I draw a little on that? In our Thursday night group, we discussed lamentation and doubt. So much sermon good fodder came out of that. I’m looking at doubt as a piece of faith rather than faith’s opposite. I haven’t gotten much beyond that yet, but I’m excited about the possibilities.

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    1. Yes, actually it came from one of the writers in “Feasting on the Word” for this Sunday, the Psalm portion, I think, although it may have been Genesis. I really caught my attention because if one is too depleted one has a hard time being present to God, if one has never been challenged one might have a superficial understanding of God, etc. and it can align with being nourished on good food as well as being spiritually nourished. Not sure I am going in that direction but it certainly stood out for me. It might be a good portion for opening up a theme on doubt, however?

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  3. I did the chocolate Bible study a few years ago, everyone enjoyed it and we had a wonderful chocolate buffet instead of the usual Easter bfast! This has been a tough week, 2 deaths of lifelong members, one funeral today, another Monday. Also on NL, pretty sure I’m leaning towards a discussion sermon, I ask questions and congregation share stories. The theme will what have we requested from God?

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  4. back from leading the elders in a retreat day. the day started badly, as I found my car and house keys were in my husbands car – he had left an hour earlier to attend a meeting. One of the elders happily transported me.
    the elders appreciated the space and time to reflect, we had some laughs; i found out none of them had grown up in this area and 4/12 of us have birthdays this month. [thanks BE 9 for the idea] .
    after lunch i gave them 3 marshmallows and 6 toothpicks each and asked them to make something that told people something about them, their ministry, and then in groups – something about the church.

    a few things to organise now before writing a sermon on Luke 13 – Jesus and the mother hen image of wanting to gather us under her wings, but Jerusalem said NO!
    When have you felt that nurturing from God? When have you felt safe and loved?
    what stops us from accepting what God offers to us?

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  5. morning all!
    I have had a stupid busy week- with out of town meetings and extra obligations, all of which have been useful/ interesting./ enjoyable but none of which enabled me to do anything at all about Sunday. Mercifully I had all the music for Lent and Holy Week chosen a couple weeks ago, so at least my lovely organist had hymns for the choir to practise!
    PLus I wrote a congregational study guide for Lent – so I have a paragraph on the passage which will get me started.

    However, this means that at 10.20 am I have just created the order of service and sent to the reader, prayer leader and organist – at least, having chosen the music/ written the commentary I had also chosen the theme – so that helps!
    We use the NL and Spill the Beans; I am picking up on the boldness required both by James and John in their request and in Bartimaeus in his shouting for help… asking the question, “who do you think you are?”

    I have smoked salmon; tattie scones; fresh coffee and hazelnut chocolate to share….

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    1. Good heavens! That is a lot of work…I hope the sermon finds space to come forth through all those other things you are working on! I always have difficulty allowing a sermon to form when my brain is already on overdrive….

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  6. finished, well partly copied from 3 years ago in another congregation and added some new content. pictures of mother hen and chickens will hopefully make up for any shortfall in the sermon πŸ™‚

    for those in the wintry areas, we face another hot, humid night – currently 24 C and 87% humidity and it is 10.30 pm Saturday night.

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    1. Pearl this has been so helpful to me.. thank you for posting, I used some of the quotes ..
      it has been a very challenging week and I think week to come.. your words and thoughts so inspired me.. thank you!

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  7. I have all the Scouts, Cubs and Beavers PLUS all the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows [over 200 kids] all coming for Founders Day/Thinking Day. It is turning into a bit of a nightmare to be honest – what with all the flags, politics, collections etc etc etc.

    We are talking about foxes and chickens. About ‘chickening out’ or ‘being courageous and brave like a mother hen. We are talking about ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ and not letting bullies frighten you from going where you want to go in life.

    I am desperately trying to tie in a message for 170 under 12 year olds, 30+ teenagers/20 somethings AND a message for my congregation [who are mainly over 70yo] who are just one week into a visioning process and stewardship campaign and trying to look at where we want our church to be in the future, what it will do, what it will look like and what kind of building do we need to do that in. arrgh. It has been a really ‘full on’ week and I have worked 12 – 14hour days since Sunday just to get everything done. I still have the sermon to finalise, prayers of intercession to write and Monday’s funeral to write up [3hour visit with family done].

    I am going to spend an hour getting the powerpoint together and hope that as I choose images & put together the ‘whole’, somehow the HS will tell me what she wants me to say in the sermon/reflection.

    I have custard and choc chip brioche buns and a big pot of coffee – please help yourself.

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    1. I have a reflection. And prayers. And even a powerpoint with everything on it.

      Whole service is running around 15mins over, but I reckon that is just the way it is going to be, in order to have 11…yes 11 flags brought into the sanctuary [inc 2 Queens colours], and then at least 6 sets of promises repeated, alongside at least a bare minimum of prayers, readings, reflection and offering.

      RevGals – pray for my sanity and remind me how I said how wonderful it would be to have young people at worship. gah!!

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  8. Saturday morning here in Dearborn, Michigan (Midwest USA, near Detroit), just barely 7am and not yet light outside. I write a draft of a sermon yesterday, don’t like it one bit. It’s not bad, just not what I want to say. However I need to leave in a couple of hours to go into Detroit to the Episcopal Cathedral for a diocesan clergy gathering with PB Michael Curry followed by a diocesan wide worship service with our bishop presiding and the PB preaching. I will be gone for at least 5 hours – a huge hole in the day. And its supposed to be 50 and sunny here, so I don’t really want to spend it all indoors, even if it is with the fabulous PB. oh well. I’ll work on the sermon a bit this morning and see what comes of that. I am so uninspired these days, I got nothing, which I’m sure is why the notion of “nourished souls” is so provocative for me….I need some of that filling up of the well….

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  9. Wishing I had a sustainable sermon to rework this week! It has been a weird few days–just as I launched the 5 church Lenten study on conversations on race/racism (which went well), there is an eruption of fear due to a homeless man using our open chapel for refuge. Is the fox in the hen house or is it a chick looking to be taken under the wings? Where is the line between sensible safety precautions and avoidance of discomfort? Trouble is, I expect our homeless guest to be in worship on Sunday, so how can I talk openly about this challenge?

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    1. Well, you can talk about hospitality…? More than a cup of coffee, hospitality (in the way of St. Benedict, for example) is a life value, everything, every action, has the intention of hospitality behind it….hospitality is welcoming, loving, seeing God in the other – no matter who that other is. Yup, we live in dangerous times and we still need to be wise, but there is a fine line between being wise and letting fear be our guiding principle instead of hospitality.

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      1. Yes, I guess this is where the rubber meets the road. We have had an intentional focus on hospitality for the past 1 1/2 years or so. Some good work. Now, do we really mean that we welcome EVERYONE?

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  10. I am hoping today is all about cleaning house, changing beds,and doing laundry. After nearly three weeks of being sick, things are a disaster. But we have two people in hospice close to the end, so I don’t know.

    I am preaching a pretty instructional sermon on the word glory, which makes a brief appearance in the RCL epistle. I got waylaid by that word a couple of weeks ago, and about the whole idea of there being “Bible words” whose meaning we really don’t understand. So: the character Glory in Marilynne Robinson’s novel Home, weightiness (kabod), value (doxa), new creation (Philippians), and a mother hen’s wings (gospel). And a few other things to complete the kitchen sink. I have no idea if anyone else will find it intriguing, but I had fun with it.

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    1. Fun! I do this from time to time, too – focus on the meaning of words we use all the time but may not really know what they mean…I’m glad you are feeling better and I hope you are able to clean the house and do the other post-illness regrouping, which will only make you feel better!

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  11. So glad to enter the party today. I’m serving up coffee and poptarts. Maybe tonight I’ll have something more exciting to serve like eggs and toast (great dinner food).
    My sermon is Abraham. Title ‘Humble Heir’ and that’s all I have so far. Yesterday I sat and gave myself the first time to be sad, mad, sad and enter into some real mourning. My daughter’s baby died in utero at 25 weeks on Ash Wed she was delivered and I did the funeral for Baby Faith Elisabeth. Back home I preached last Sunday, did the preaching for the 1st ecumenical service and did the first Lenten study. So, yesterday was a gift to take time to mourn. I also cleaned like crazy-there is healing in cleaning.
    So, today I think I’ll take time to reflect on the words in Feasting, NIB, and listen to thoughts from my amazing sisters in the pulpit. I trust the Word always comes through no matter what. But, I do need to do the work too. I think I want to focus on the power of doubt to draw us to the One who we question. I also think I’ll spend some time reflecting on the lack of fan fare needed in following. Just as Jesus said to his disciples “Let us rise and be on our way.” So, as far back as Abraham, that is the request rise and be on our way…not sure how that works or doesn’t but…
    love to the sustaining sisters of this site.

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    1. Monica – I am so sorry for your loss. I pray that you and your daughter [and all those who mourn baby Faith] will find space, time and support to grieve over the coming weeks, months and years.

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    2. I am so very sorry to hear this. My daughter has had three miscarriages since June, not the same as your daughter’s loss…as mothers we feel this loss for ourselves and our children. Prayers for you and your daughter.

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      1. Thank you so much. We know we will heal as long as we remember. That is part of the power of our faith. Remembering is who we are as people of the covenant. And the gift of sharing our stories is what sustains us.Especially those who have had miscarriages need to have the space to share this loss because so often these losses are met with silence and I think that is more painful for mothers who lose their hoped for baby. Prayers for your daughter during her time of difficulty too.

        In the meantime we have to do our job as pastors and continue to share good news. (The hardest part at times)
        So, my prayer is what is the good news about Abraham that the people need to encourage, challenge and sustain for this Sunday. It will come together. Anyone else preaching this text?

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          1. Prayers for wise counsel and good news for your family. May the current medicine gifts bring about joy for your family. Hoping to hear blessing news in the months to come.

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      1. Thank you Teri. Prayers are our life blood. and they hold me now as I try to talk about Abram and faith. The thing that hurts is Faith is the name given to our grand daughter and it hurts just to say it. Perhaps, that is the truth about our faith and our walk with God sometimes it hurts just to say it. And sometimes it hurts to live it. And sometimes it hurts to know its truth-faith in God is from everlasting to everlasting. And when we (I) remember that, then saying, living, speaking Faith is joy and the hurt is mingled with wonder and love that fills our hearts with peace.
        Sorry for the ramble that just came to me.

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          1. Dear Teri,
            Thank you so much for your response. I had these words as part of my sermon but only had them there, ‘in want and in wait’ of the HS to indicate if it was appropriate to share. Your words were HS words to grant me permission to share them as part of the sermon. The sermon is no that great but, it was what God called for today. The congregation was grateful to hear me speak of our loss and it gave them permission to speak as well. I’ll see if I can get the manuscript organized to put on my blog and maybe share with the usual Sunday thread. Thank you again for your kind words. Blessings for an amazing week.
            Monica
            PS one day I hope to you wonderful sisters.

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            1. I am so glad the morning went well. I hope you have some time to rest and care for yourself today–this is a hard journey and you are walking it so courageously, so be good to yourself along the way!

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  12. I am just sitting down. Things are percolating, but no clear thread. I have vacation head, which isn’t until two and half more weeks, so I am not feeling particularly focused on Lent and the gospel. More fun to think about if I need new sunglasses (haha). Plus, we forgot we have a mission moment where we invited two guests to speak, which I KNOW will take 15-20 minutes rather than the usual 5-7. So, this shortens my sermon considerably.

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  13. Well, I have successfully whittled the morning away – not particularly unproductive, just not in the ways I’d hoped. The good news is I have hymns for a few week,s, and Good Friday Tenebrae planned – yea me!

    This afternoon is cleaning and cogitating. And a little reading.

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  14. I’m pondering the repeated question, “What is it that/what do you want me to do for you?” and the different answers and reactions. But that’s as far as I’ve gotten. It’s a lovely, warm day outside, and I’d rather be somewhere else. I’m also planning today to clean out my 17-year-old Neon and deliver it to its new owner (our church secretary’s teenage son, who is in the automotive class at the local high school and can thus work on some of the things that have worn out in it). We have put all but the first 47 miles on that car, so it’s a lot like saying farewell to an old friend. The one wrinkle is that I can’t find the title, so am going to have to order a new one before we can complete the transaction, and that can’t be done until the county treasurer’s office opens on Monday.

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    1. What a lovely way to share an old friend….weird how our cars can become such a part of us….I think you have some good questions for your sermon and, like you, the weather here is lovely and I am having a heck of time being indoors….I think a walk is in order, which will hopefully clear my head. Hoping the same for you, a clear head!

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  15. I am weaving together strands: Christ our mother (Julian of Norwich), refusing to be mothered (clinging to idols, i.e. masculinist theology and language and exclusive understandings, Abraham as the ancestor of Jews, Christians and Muslims, and the parallel between the Gospel and Quran on killing the prophets. Looks much more linear and cohesive in this post than in the manuscript.

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  16. So I’ve read (I think) all the lovely sermons posted here, always appreciate the varied approaches to the text and the insight offer up. Thank you for sharing!

    My sermon…sigh. It’s in a better place now than it was earlier today but I just can’t find the interior voice to really speak through the way I’d like it too. I know this is symptomatic of being depleted and it too will pass, but it so makes heading into tomorrow feel all the more like I’m dragging my feet. (off I go to tweak it some more, oh wait, there’s tea and girl scout cookies)….

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  17. Hi everyone. I’ve just returned home from being gone for 3 days, so two small people want my attention and their Daddy is quite ready for a break. I was at a really good conference, but now I have spinning conference-head (much less fun than vacation head). I only returned home with about 1/3 of a sermon, which I had hoped to bring home completed.

    So, after bedtime tonight, I”ll be tackling the blind man at Bethsaida passage from Mark. The person for whom I am substituting tomorrow is doing the 5 Senses series outlined at Working Preacher. This week is “sight.” I think I have an idea of where I’m going; just need the time to get there.

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  18. I have just come off a week of relentless doing… Non-church job had me serving as program director for a conference that required scripting 3 plenary sessions and troubleshooting 4. Plus some church work in between. Which was the end of a month-long stretch of cramming 8 days into every seven. Thus, as of about noon today, I hit the writing wall.

    I went out to a park and enjoyed some sunshine. I did our taxes and enjoyed family dinner. Now, I just want to go to bed. But I’m pretty sure the congregation will actually expect something to be said in that space reserved for a sermon. I’m not a morning person at all, even if I were to go to bed now, I can’t trust that I’ll come up with something after a night’s sleep (which means i probably wouldn’t sleep).

    I have some delicious fresh strawberries to share…

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    1. this was me last week. I ended up going to bed at 9 and getting up at 5 and it turned out surprisingly well. Usually I’m the nothing-before-10am type, but I could barely keep my eyes open so I had to sleep first. slightly nerve-wracking but worth it in the end…

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  19. home from worship, both services were well attended. now a funeral meeting with family of someone from church – and i cant put a face to her name 😦 hopefully they show me some photos.

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  20. 9.24pm central time. I have a title and some random ideas for this whole uppity-james-and-john business. The title is “no guarantees”–as in, James and John behave in an almost entitled way…and then *even Jesus* can’t say who gets what they want. Just because they’ve been witness to all this amazing stuff and heard all Jesus’ words doesn’t mean they’ve actually seen anything. so we see Jesus ask them “what do you want me to do for you?” and they ask for glory for themselves….and then the same question to Bartimaeus is answered with “let me see again”–and when the latter is granted, it says Bartimaeus followed him on the way.

    I’ve been pondering the old saying that going to church doesn’t make you a christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car. But on the other hand I’ve also been trying to encourage people to put themselves in the place/community where God has so frequently promised to be encountered….and also I don’t want to give any sense that there’s something one can do to earn Jesus’ favor…

    It’s pretty late to not really have any idea where I’m going, isn’t it?

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  21. I’m now seriously considering quoting about half of MLK’s sermon The Drum Major Instinct. It’s on this very text, and says basically what I want to say…and would keep me out of saying things about Trump v. Pope….

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        1. I decided “not.” It’s my first time to this congregation, so I have very little knowledge of who they are. Oblique references to difficult issues is all I’m putting in. Your mileage will almost certainly vary.

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  22. OK, I’ve reached the I’m-getting-lightheaded point of exhaustion, which is not a good sign. I’m printing and figuring out the details in the morning. It’s a pretty standard service. Teri, I’m leaving the light on for you.

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  23. Good morning preacher friends. Some of you were definitely burning the midnight oil! I fell asleep before 10am and managed to sleep until 5:45, but woke up hating my sermon. sigh. No time to fix it however since I have to be at the office in half an hour. So it is what it is. I will be holding all of you in my prayers this day, may God’s spirit fill your words and feed your people, and may you find rest at the end of this day knowing you have been a good and faithful servant.

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