A lost son. A bitter brother. A forgiving father. “There was a man who had two sons…” which could evoke images of Adam, or Abraham, or Isaac. Where are you going with this Revised Common Lectionary Gospel passage? It is so familiar, it can be difficult to preach. On the other hand, it is so rich that there are dozens of sermons just waiting to be preached! Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Perhaps you’re preaching on the celebration of the Passover in Joshua, or forgiveness in the Psalm, or the new creation of 2 Corinthians. Discussion of the RCL passages began earlier this week on this page. Where is your sermon taking you?

Narrative Lectionary preachers get the greatest commandment today, along with some confusion about the relationship between David and the Messiah, a warning against the scribes, and the generous gift of the widow. There must be at least four sermons in there, each tugging for your attention. Some ideas were shared here earlier this week. Which sermon will you preach?

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As we pass the halfway point of Lent, you may be finding yourself in the middle of a sermon series, or focused on your personal Lenten discipline, or wrapped up in preparations for Holy Week. Our UK sisters are celebrating Mothering Sunday, while our US colleagues ponder the direction of this election cycle. What are you working on today? Which Scriptures and themes speak to you? Please share your ideas, your virtual snacks, and the support of this community! Blessings on your writing and your preaching this week.

 

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79 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party – Half-past Lent Edition

  1. working with the RCL gospel reading – the man with 2 sons. Stages on the Way has a reading of the gospel in 3 voices, younger son, father and older son, which I ma hoping means people will listen with new ears.
    i was on retreat form Sunday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon, and been unwell for most of the week, which means the past few days I have been working from home, and napping, rather than going to meetings and church activities. and as the cold is leaving, so is my voice 🙂
    almost finished finding people to lead prayers that i would usually lead, and stand by people for the communion liturgy if my voice disappears.
    i am using the beginning of an old sermon, about how this story is all wrong, and then moving into our response to the party we are invited to. i tried finishing it earlier today, but just wasn’t working. so i hope it is almost there, just need to reword some of the slabs of quotes.

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    1. Retreat sounds good, but unwell doesn’t. Hoping that things come together for you quickly, that your people hear the Word, and that your health can sustain you through worship!

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  2. I have Irish Coffee and a message about God’s extravagant love to share. I think folks be needing a break from all the uphill climbing to the cross, so I will be pointing out that the parables in this section of Luke speak more to God’s incredible love than to or about us. I’ve heard this section preached in the past with an emphasis on the dereliction of the Prodigal, but this Sunday I will focus on God and what this story tells us about love.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shorter than usual, but with communion and little voice I don’t think anyone will mind.
    Is this for real?
    which will be followed by a great prayer from Spill the Beans “Who would have thought
    that you were a party God:”
    finishing much earlier than usual this week, becasue I haven’t been able to leave the house. it also means more rest before the morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. March has blown in like lion in my neck of the woods – leaving a gorgeous snow covered world. Four squirrels are playing in the backyard, my dogs are sleeping under the table, and the cat is on the table watching the squirrels. I have an excellent cup of coffee and a 100% reusable sustainable sermon – that never happens. Actually, I have edited the sermon to make it shorter, since that is my thing these days – shorter sermons. And, I am pondering how to make the point more pointed, meaningful, less pablum. I am using the Parable of the Prodigal Family (Luke) and the idea of radical grace.

    Thank you for hosting, canoeistpastor.

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    1. You’re welcome! Glad you can have a more laid-back prep day, with only editing to do rather than creating. Blessings to you.

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  5. I have bits and pieces, but I’ve been haunted all week by my own brother (elder), coming in the guise of the younger brother (the addict). There is a crisis of drug overdose deaths around our community, and this parable must have something to say to them. Zero tolerance is not a Christian value? There’s always a way home? (Except when there isn’t.) waiting for my own stuff to get out of the way is taking too long. I may end up telling them the parable of my own big brother after all…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It sounds like your personal story could be a powerful one to share this week – if you feel safe doing so. Praying that the Spirit will guide you one way or the other, and quickly!

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    2. What a heartbreaking story you have to share, Rosalind, but one that many would benefit from hearing. And I agree with you that zero tolerance is NOT a Christian value. There must be a way home if God is love.Blessings to you as you prepare and preach.

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      1. Thanks Alana – it’s coming together. Just to be clear, my brother is still living, albeit in a group home for adults suffering brain damage from substance abuse. Difficult stuff – but that’s what preaching’s for, right? To find the gospel in the pigswill.

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  6. Poached eggs and orange juice, anyone?

    When I was in seminary, Craig Barnes was thinking and talking a lot about the elder son, so that’s where I headed this week, although it turned into a pretty standard sermon on God’s abundant grace in the face of our perceptions of scarcity. We have Wednesday night services in Lent, so I have also been preaching short meditations on prayer practices. Last week was imaginative gospel contemplation and this next one is on the examen.

    And I am off in a few minutes for the inaugural walk of Cleveland Contemplative Walkers! It’s cold and snowing lightly at the moment. We are going to invite people to contemplate the first big walk they ever made — personal, fundraising, protest, whatever. I remember mine, a walk to raise awareness of hunger, when I was a high school senior. I remember it because at 17 I could blithely hop out of bed in the morning and walk 20 miles, whereon my big toenails turned black and fell off.

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    1. We could always stand to hear another sermon on God’s abundant grace! Blessings in your walking today, and thanks for the snacks 🙂

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  7. I don’t know how this is possible, but in 16 years of ordained ministry, I’ve never preached on the Prodigal Son before.

    This week has been full, really full. My title is “Home,” and I think I have a beginning sketched out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, Monica, it’s about time for you to preach on this passage! 🙂 Hoping that it comes together, and that the finished product still fits the title.

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  8. We held our Spring Coffee Morning today and I have been at the church hall helping on the cake and candy stand; chatting with folks who don’t get to church, but can get to coffee…
    I have brought lots of goodies home from that cake table too….

    Now I need to produce some words of wisdom. I am so not feeling it.
    My mind is blank, and all I really want to do is nothing. I could happily take a month off and do nothing.
    I seem to remember that I felt like this last year too, as winter waned and spring began – so maybe its seasonal…

    On narrative – so the reading is stupidly long and could be many different things.
    We have a guest speaker fro m the High School making a short presentation during the service – which means I need to be brief really… sigh…

    it is half past two and I have no words….

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    1. Sounds like a good event this morning. I’m sure something will come to you for the sermon, though I understand – sometimes it’s harder to prepare a short sermon than a long one. Blessings in your contemplation and preparation!

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    2. Here we are – short and sweet enough…
      It’s not feeling great; but neither is it terrible…
      Last night news broke that our government is once again messing with pension savings – making the rich get richer and the poor poorer…. but I can’t even begin to tackle that one….
      suffice to say, the poor widows will have nothing but their two pennies left before long

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  9. Working on the prodigal here – hoping to get it finished soon so that I can go cross country skiing with my family. We have dinner out with friends tonight so hoping to catch the spirit in the next few minutes. I don’t want to have a late night tonight. Going to use the phrase prodigal love and talk about this “extravagant, reckless, wasteful” grace/love that is God- which are words from the Oxford English dictionary from the meaning of ‘prodigal’.

    I have some jasmine green tea or apple porridge to share, for those of you who are still in a breakfast time zone…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the tea! Hoping that something comes together in time for you to go skiing. You’ve got a good start with that wonderful definition of God’s love.

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  10. Heading to the coffee shop for some cinnamon twists to share. I’ll be meditating on the prodigal with a wonderful long quote from Buechner that retells the story in familiar language. Forgiveness it will be this week, simply because it’s a word I myself need to hear again and again.
    “Not Your Typical Dad”

    Happy preaching everyone.

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  11. I am doing a sermon series on the Last Week, using Mark and the Borg/Crossan book. We are on Wednesday, the story of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet and the betrayal. I had already planned to go with the love in the anointing. One thing I have struggled with is to find the Good News in these texts or to make that feel relevant. Love and grace always are, of course, but I feel as if I have been more teaching than preaching. Maybe it is because I feel little hope with my church. Right now I am just annoyed as crap with many of them, who, dying (as a church), openly mock those with life and try to turn us away from all mission. The last, complaining about our including the people who come to pick up lunches on Sat and Sun at our church in potlucks, etc at the church. Never mind that we do it at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. I want to scream. So, I am sharing here so that I can move towards a place of love and grace. I know there is something in this anointing story that can speak powerfully, at least to me. I want to find a way that gives a word of love and hope to people and not just leave it as a story in Jesus’ last week. Sigh. And, there is a ton of family stuff today as well. That is a joy but when this revelation will make its way to my heart/mind/laptop is another question.

    Scrambled eggs and coffee to share. YOu will have to supply your own toast because I am not having bread this lent (except for a couple of falls off the wagon).

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    1. Teaching about love and grace can be as moving for folks as preaching on it. Different styles work for different people. Hopefully your sermons this Lent have been helpful to someone in your congregation. Even in difficult times and difficult congregations, God’s love has a way of breaking through to those who want to hear it! Blessings and peace to you.

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  12. Inspired by Pearl Down Under’s ideas. How do we respond. I thought of the song, “I Can Not Come to the Banquet” and played with it a bit.

    How will you respond to the invitation? Will you respond as in the song, “I cannot come to the Banquet”?

    I cannot come to the banquet,
    don’t trouble me now.
    I have just gotten married and bought me a cow.
    I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum.
    Pray, hold me excused, I cannot come.

    Or perhaps like the older son who might respond like this:

    I cannot come to the party for this foolish one,
    Who has squandered our money and tore down our name,
    He comes a dragging his sorry self-back home,
    You throw a grand party, so NO I cannot come.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Feeling humbled and excited. For the second week in a row I have a sermon done early that I am pleased with, and I can’t tell you how long it’s been since that happened. We are using the lovely communion liturgy that Liz C. wrote.

    I am working on the next three weeks; next week because I will be gone and need to have it done, and the HOly Week stuff, well, just because………you know.

    Thankful for the fresh breath God has blown into my spiritual and leadership life.

    I have left over cinnamon rolls from breakfast, and 4 kinds of chips and pretzels from a boys’ sleepover. Please eat it all!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I’ve written it – the Swan Whisperer was out on Tuesday so I took full advantage of his absence to press on (the disadvantage of being quasi-retired and married to a retired man!). But I think I’m going to add in a whole section of mental dialogue that Little Brother might have had with himself – I had never noticed, before this year, that he wasn’t actually sorry – he just thought he was being a darn fool being hungry when his Dad’s servants got more than enough to eat. So he went home, quite prepared to be a servant if that’s what it took. But I’m also mentioning the difficulty of accepting that kind of forgiveness…. maybe he couldn’t handle it and insisted on going to live above the stables with the other servants…. who knows. I have a feeling my podcast and my script are going to differ, somewhat.

    Also, it is Mothering Sunday here in the UK, so I have a longer-than-usual children’s talk describing (for the benefit of the adults!!!) the origins of the festival, and why we use the day to celebrate Mothers Day. I have serious issues with Mothers Day, but none at all with Mothering Sunday!!!

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    1. I always say that a sermon isn’t done until I’ve preached it – there is always tweaking that can happen, and new revelations that come to light! I hope that your new additions add to what you’ve already written.

      Also, blessings for your Mothering Sunday celebrations!

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  15. I’m working on tying in the Narrative Lectionary reading with showing understanding and kindness to your neighbor (re:everyone) as a countercultural act especially in the divisive political climate in the States. Right now I’ve got about 600 words but no actual flow. I do, however, have some yummy lemon and ginger tea with plenty to share!

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    1. Thanks for the tea! Your topic sounds wonderful and timely, so hopefully those ideas will work themselves into a natural flow.

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    1. Meaning, how did we get to a place where a son wants to take his inheritance before his father dies, and basically disown his family, and where the brothers are resentful toward one another rather than friendly or loving? If so, that is a fascinating question, and one that we don’t hear very often.

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        1. i wonder if this is how we respond to unearned, lavish, over the top love. sometimes we cant believe it, so we think of ways to ‘deserve’ that love. other times we try and run away from it.

          another group I am in is looking at a similar question:
          Radical spin?
          This misunderstanding father
          What if we ask why the kids were disconnected
          What if we aportion some problem to the father – not blame, but an inability to understand the mindset of a different generation?
          He learns through experience and has to help the children learn.

          Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m with the Narrative this week and noting that when Jesus combines the two commandments, he doesn’t want you to separate them. If you love God with your soul, strength, mind, etc, you’ll love your neighbor.
    And if your neighbor widow only has 2 small coins, you’re not doing either the neighbor thing or the loving God thing very well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Marci on the same vein as you, and I wonder where I got that from! The Narrative Lectionary Facebook page has a fantastic thread discussing the text.
      I have also pondered if there was a kind of mutual understanding between Jesus and teh Scribe who questioned him. Both gave good answers as far as the other was concerned. But the of course Jesus puts the boot in, push, push pushing the authorities.
      We have been watching the Lumo Project film of John’s Gospel as our Lenten Bible Study and this is having a profound effect on how I am ‘reading’ the text each week in Mark. but that is a whole other blog post to share at some point!

      It’s evening here, so ten Sauvignon Blanc is open, if anyone fancies a glass!

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Hello, friends! I just finished a funeral and graveside. Still have my sermon to complete 🙂 I am preaching RCL but including all three of the “Lost” parables and preaching on the bigger picture of being “Lost”. That’s all I’ve got for now. Blessings on your sermon writing and Sunday preparation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A busy day for you, Kelley. Hearing the 3 “lost” parables as a set can definitely bring deeper meaning to all of them. Hoping it unfolds well for you.

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  18. Sermonizing put on “pause” for lack of substantial progress. I’m making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies instead. The first pan is out of the oven, and there’s still dough in the bowl. Your choice, help yourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The best kind of procrastinating! Thanks for sharing the fruits of your writer’s block. Praying that the sermon fairy emerges along with the scent of freshly baked cookies 🙂

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  19. We’re wrangling with the widow and her tiny little coins over here. I’ve preached this one a bunch of times, but don’t seem to have enough to say about her this go-round.

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    1. Wrangling with the widow and her coins is better that wrangling the widow over her coins 😉 Happy writing to you and KZ!

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  20. I’m another one who’s never preached the Prodigal Son in 17 years of ministry. It’s my husbands favorite parable and he always snatches it up. He’s such a fan he has a poster of the Rembrant painting framed in his office. However this year he decides I should preach it — ahh. Then on top of that we had our denominational day of prayer this week at our church and the guest preacher preached on this text — double ahhh. Everyone loved her sermon so I feel I’ve got great shoes to follow.

    However, I have lots of Coke a Cola for caffeine me (and others as needed), some gluten free pretzels, Gluten Lance crackers and some Lindor Truffles to share. Hopefully my house will be quiet soon (as the boy is heading to a movie) and my husband is tired. Then maybe then I might get something related to a sermon done.

    The Pearl from down Under gave me some additional thoughts and perhaps some fillers. I’ll be around a lot tonight, I’m sure.

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    1. Way to grab the prodigal parable this year! Glad you have some good inspiration to get you started. Thanks for sharing the snacks and blessings on your writing!

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  21. Sustainable sermon here– well, a modified and shortened one… My children are away for a long weekend with their grandparents, so it is super quiet and I need to rest more than anything. I’ve preached several lectionary cycles on the prodigal, but I wanted to re-visit it and found that I keep wanting to focus on the elder son, despite loving the Father’s response and something Henri Nouwen writes. Tomorrow is going to be packed and I was moved to write messages of hope/blessing on about 90 rocks to invite folks to uncover a touchstone for their journey…(the stones will be placed message side down on some tables around the sanctuary) and folks will pick them up when they return to their seats from communion. Also we are going to try to do some collage after church as part of a Lenten study. The point being that worship prep has taken a lot of extra time this week with everything else going on and I am crazy tired. So– sustainable sermon– it will be.
    May God forgive me..but I do think that it will work well. (hopefully).

    Here is the Nouwen quote that invites reflection:“the return to the Father is ultimately the challenge to become the Father.” Nouwen strikes a nerve when he questions, “ It feels good to be able to say, ‘These sons are like me.’ It gives a sense of being understood. But how does it feel to say: Do I want to be like the father? Do I want to be not just the one who is being forgiven, but also the one who forgives; not just the one who is being welcomed home, but also the one who welcomes home; not just the one who receives compassion, but the one who offers it as well?”

    It strikes a chord because we often stay stuck in our assumed identities– whether prodigal, elder son/daughter, or something else. Being called to the way of the Father (God) is to become more fluid in those identities and to grow– not in a spiritual dictatorship kind of way, but in the way of tenderness, welcome and spiritual companionship because we remember that we have screwed up too. (like we remember that we were once strangers living in a strange land…(“remember you were strangers in the land of Egypt…”)

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  22. Just read a poem by Mary Oliver that I think may end up in my sermon. It’s called “Moments” and is in her book “Felicity”.

    There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
    Like, telling someone you love them.
    Or giving your money away, all of it.

    Your heart is beating, isn’t it?
    You’re not in chains, are you?

    There is nothing more pathetic than caution
    when headlong might save a life,
    even, possibly, your own.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. alright, I suppose it’s time to get to work. Using the NL and basically preaching Marci’s sermon–loving God and loving our neighbor are a) not optional, b) not separable, and c) are the lens through which we are to interpret all of scripture and tradition….and d) here’s an example of how we suck at it, a widow not being cared for, even as money pours into the treasury (and is apparently used to line the pockets of the few).

    I’m hoping to fit this story in, because I’ve been saving it up for this week (also posted in the NL Facebook group): http://fusion.net/story/264532/michigan-inmates-donate-flint/

    I need an opening, and then I think it’ll all be relatively quick. But did I spend time this week thinking about an opening? no. why not? i have no idea.

    Which is the same number of ideas I have for starting the sermon.

    I have chocolate…and will happily trade some ghirardelli for some inspiration. 😉

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  24. I’m preaching on the parable of the prodigal son, but I named the sermon “The Parable of the Party Pooper,” and will talk about the other son who missed the party.

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  25. Now I’m trying to figure out if I can use a story about my grandmother for the closing without crying. If I’m wondering that, I probably shouldn’t, huh?

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    1. Yeah. I’m leaving it out. The sermon would be better with it, but not if I cry, which given my current state, I would. So it’s a bit shorter than my usual, but I don’t suppose anyone will complain about that.

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      1. No one ever complains that a sermon is too short. If your’e not ready to share the story about your grandmother, or not sure about it, there’s no need to share. Hopefully the rest of your message will lead your congregation to think of their own family stories that might resonate the theme, without you sharing yours. Peace and blessings.

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    2. Water leaks from my eyes more than I’d like (what I’d like that answer to be is “water never leaks from my eyes”). It helps my congregation know I’m human and not a robot. For what that’s worth.

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      1. I know…it’s not “my” congregation, though. And I’m in sort of an overstressed/fragile place right now, and I’m afraid it would be downright sobs instead of leaking water 🙂 I’ll play it by ear. Thanks. I’ve cried before in a sermon; I’m sure I’ll do it again. But hopefully not today.

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  26. This is my first Sunday as Interim with a congregation whose last interim resigend due to health ten days ago.
    This is communion Sunday. I chose Joshua and the People of God leaving tghe wilderness and entering the Promised Land. We are reflcting on Covenant and remembering the covenatn to be the People of God especially when we are wandering. Being called out set aside and as we participate in our Rememebrance of Covenant, we make one today.

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  27. 11:20pm and I just typed “amen.” Hoping it’s a good-enough sermon. It’s really hard to preach something so well known and so beloved, especially when we so rarely actually do what it says. Imagine if we loved our neighbors…

    Did I plan a children’s time? no. of course not. because why would I do that? Hopefully I’ll wake up with one….

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