In the midst of it all….clock

The cancer remission

The new diagnosis

The weather alerts

The spring flowers

The news that horrifies and terrifies

The eleventy million-and-one things on the “must be done this week” list

In the midst of it all…Jesus is here. And in the midst of it all…we still have a sermon to write for tomorrow, friends.

Some direction and discussion for the Narrative Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary took place earlier in the week, if you’re in the need for some inspiration.

The snack table is open for sharing. We have some oatmeal-raisin cookies here–they’re practically health food, right?

Welcome to the party! Ask for what you need, share what you have. Together, we’ll make it.


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50 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: In the Midst of It All…

  1. Thank you Monica for hosting! I am off to sleep soon. Tomorrow is our first Healing Kids Hearts retreat for kids 7-12 who have lost a loved one. This grew out of one of the 3 grief groups we facilitate. Over a dozen kids registered with more who contacted us after registration closed. I would ask for prayer for all the volunteers who will be one on one with kids who are struggling after the loss of a loved one. After that is wrapped up I will be sermon writing from the NL focused in seeing the faces of people we encounter. Looking forward to a 3 day conference/ retreat in Kansas City ( that includes my husband!) Sunday after worship.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have a very intense day ahead of you! Our Presbytery’s camp does a week-long session for children dealing with grief, and it is always a powerful week. I pray that your retreat today will work toward healing for the children, and I certainly will pray for the volunteers.

      Come back when you’re ready to start sermonizing, and we’ll be here to help!


  2. I’m preaching Ananias – the miracle of ‘Brother Saul’ – how God changes our view of the people we fear. Our church is the venue for a Diocesan ordination (one of our team is being ordained priest), so we will be doing a quick change from Easter white and gold, to Holy Spirit red after morning services. It feels like it will be a long and full day – but also an exciting one. I think I am going to cheat on the children’s talk and find all the things in church that will need to be changed to be ready for the ordination in the afternoon – trying to help the children read some of the cues and clues that the furnishings provide!


    1. I love the Ananias aspect to the story. In some ways, his conversion is just as powerful and startling as Saul/Paul’s.

      Enjoy the ordination!


  3. good morning all!
    I have got nowhere with pre-prep this week, apart from choosing the hymns.
    Now I need to sort bulletin and try to read something useful that will inform tomorrow
    My mind keeps going back to a phrase that I can’t quite remember (you know – tip of the tongue stuff) about either being careful what you ask for, or asking for one thing and getting another….
    We are following the NL here – and I have mixed feelings about this gallop through Acts…. so many of the stories and events get left behind.
    But anyway…. her I am, and here I must stay until I have words… lots of words!

    I have brownies and oatmeal raisin cookies
    and lovely Red Bush tea


      1. I love the poem, Julie!

        I think the phrase as I’ve heard it (Texas, so a different context than yours, certainly) is: “Be careful what you wish/ask/pray (any of these) for, you might just get it!”

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks to my early-bird first grader, I am up early, too. Which is just as well, as I’ve already thought of several things I forgot to take care of yesterday!

    In a few hours, I’m headed to the big city for a called Presbytery meeting. We will be electing a new General Presbyter, and I’ve chaired the search committee, so we are presenting our candidate. I don’t anticipate any reservations or oppositions, so hopefully we will be able to celebrate.

    After all that, I’ll be back here to check in with the party. I’m preaching on the John RCL text, and with the idea that the disciples just went back home to their ordinary lives, and that’s where the risen Jesus meets them (and us).

    As for the children’s sermon….I haven’t come up with much. So if you have an idea, please share! There is a little song that my kids learned in preschool that I might teach them. I will have to ask my kids how it goes–they are certain to remember the parts I’ve forgotten!


  5. Sermon/s finished. Tomorrow I only have one service instead of two, this will allow me time to stay at the early service for morning tea. Working with Acts and John from the RCL, I have split each reading into 2, to give 4 readings, each separated by some thoughts on that part of the reading. Hopefully it works. And a monologue from Peter by the good people at Iona, from the book Dandelions and Buttercups.
    no children’s talk this week. Rarely any children, though the adults seem to enjoy the stories. Maybe I will get back to it in a few weeks.
    and as I will be finished at church earlier than usual [hopefully] we plan to go to the farmers market [about 30 minutes from here] and have lunch with friends at their place, about an hour away.
    kettle is going on for a cuppa, and I have some gluten free chocolate slice to share.


    1. That sounds like a lovely, more-relaxed-than-usual Sunday! I considered splitting the John reading in half, too. Enjoy your day.


  6. There’s a LOT of snow out there! Just cleaned off the car for this morning’s trip downtown to a men’s shelter to meet some of our confirmation class, who encouraged the congregation to donate 1300+ pieces of underwear during our Lenten Undie Sundays project and are making their delivery today.

    During this interim, I have been asked to focus in part on stewardship, something this congregation has never really done, and has not understood beyond fall-campaign-pledge-(or not)-write checks. So tomorrow is a feed/tend my sheep stewardship sermon, the first move in a year-long process to understand stewardship more holistically.


    1. What a gift, to be asked/invited/encouraged to focus on holistic stewardship!

      And that underwear should be a blessing to those who receive it.


  7. I’m sitting in a lovely new coffee shop just up the street from where my beloved works, so this is a new thing for me, sermon-writing-wise. And I too am preaching NL, and when I started listening to the podcast, about the healing of the lame man by the beautiful gate, my heart sunk. In some ways I hate preaching miracle healing stories– I had an 84 -year-old man in the hospital this week having a risky cardiac surgery, and I have a 37-year-old woman (married, mother of three) who is battling aggressive breast cancer, and I have a 5-day-old baby who suffered from serious birth-injuries. (Broken arm, breathing problems. Long term implications still unclear).

    Thanks be to God, the podcast folks met me head-on. How do we preach healing when there are so many in our congregations who did not get the cure they were looking for? They helped, and I feel I have some direction, along with my fragrant coffee and Greek Yogurt/ fruit/ granola. (Help yourself!)

    Blessings to all in the study, writing, and preaching.


    1. I hope the coffee shop proved a fertile location for tackling the healing story. They are always difficult, when confronted with real people who need healing desperately.


  8. Love, love, love the Lenten Underwear Sunday, Robin! If you don’t mind, I’m stealing that idea. Adopted two rescue cats yesterday. They’re not litter mates, but have reputedly been box mates for a while. Noah and Nala. Charming, right? We made it home with a minimum of fuss, if you don’t count some very loud yowling on Noah’s part — great lungs, but when we got home, Nala has decided she wants nothing to do with her former bud, so everybody’s separated and grumpy. Rats.
    Is anybody out there using RCL’s John passage who’s working on the little oddity that Jesus said, “Try the other side,” and yet already had fish on the grill? As I’ve grown older, I guess I’m getting more miserly. If we’ve got fish on the grill, why do we need a boatload for the guys? I’m comforting myself with how many people those fish probably fed and Jesus’ example of both abundance for us but provision already in play. Im remembering the scripture from Luke where the question is, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead?” Our Father is generous when we ask but already has prepared what we need. Am I overreaching on this? There are so many options in the John passage, including the thought that we are often looking in the wrong place (without some decent God-search) to find what it is we are looking for. Help!


    1. Hi Pat – I had wondered about that as well with the fish already cooking/go get more fish. Then Jesus asks them to bring some of the fish they caught, so maybe Jesus was taking care of himself first (before taking care of them) – sort of the “put on your own oxygen mask before taking care of those around you” idea. Thanks for this – I was planning on focusing on the feed my sheep part. This will add some extra richness.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. There may be a future sermon in that cat story somehow!

      As for your question about the fish…I’m thinking in terms of dual agency–sure, God can do lots of things for us, but perhaps it is a greater…hmmm…lesson, truth, gift?…that we contribute ourselves also. Interested to see how it turns out for you!

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I can’t take any credit for Undie Sundays — all I did was encourage and help a little with collections and presentations. But it definitely brought the congregation together with humor throughout Lent. And it was a very good thing for the kids from our affluent community to spend a little time at the shelter today.


  9. I spent yesterday (my normal sermon writing day) painting inside the homeless shelter we are getting ready to open. Gave me time to think about the themes of fish and sheep in the John text, and how Jesus uses these metaphors all the time. So I have a title: “Fish and Sheep” – and not much else. Reading commentaries sends me down so many rabbit trails … what is the One Thing my congregation needs to hear? In other news, this congregation voted last Sunday to accept the recommendations from the consulting team that came to visit us a few weeks ago. We needed a 70% majority for it to pass, and we had an 85% “yes” vote. I want to keep the euphoria going long enough to get to work on the strategic plan, but I also want to care for those who voted “no” so they don’t feel left out of the process. And in the midst of this, fish and sheep…


    1. Fish and sheep were ordinary things to Jesus. You’re right–they both show up frequently.

      Blessings to you as you seek after your own sheep, so they don’t feel left behind. But rejoicing with you on the 85%! That’s wonderful!


  10. I meet this day of sermon writing with a mixture of grief and hope–our little worshipping community is closing on the Feast of San Isidro (aka Pentecost). Last week, I informed the community. Tomorrow we let it sink in as we look forward to our new iteration–a “Communidad de fe y fiesta”–that will meet once a month for supper, a conversation about where we are encountering the holy in our lives and closing with compline (which we’ll call “good night prayer”). Like the people in the pews, I feel a deep sense of loss and displacement (where will I worship), but I also feel hopeful–very hopeful. I think communidad is the church of the future–not only for our little congregation in Albuquerque but also for church writ large–church without the trappings. But now I have to hunker down and get that transition sermon written.


    1. May your hope be as real as your grief. It sounds like you’ve done some deep thinking and reflecting on the upcoming changes. I know you will walk alongside your people faithfully. I will be praying for the new comunidad.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, Monica, your introduction today is right on target. It’s been a long week, and my brain is running on empty. But there’s still an entry called Sermon in tomorrow’s order of service.

    This morning I had several members of the local football team raking leaves and hauling branches from my yard as part of a fund-raiser. Now I have to stop in at church to pick up a few things, then a quick visit with a family whose daughter/sister/mother died this week. Then I need to assemble envelopes with flower seeds to be given out as part of our Blessing of the Seeds and Soil in worship tomorrow. In all of that running around, I’m hoping that a sermon reveals itself to me. Right now, I think the idea of keeping our eyes open for whatever new thing God is doing might be the thread that I follow through Acts and John and the seed-and-soil blessing. Off to chase around now; Blessings to all of you as you prepare your messages. I’m sure I’ll see you again as part of the late-night contingent in several hours.


      1. Our choice of the date was much more mundane. I talked to some of the farmers in the congregation and asked when we could do it so that they would actually be at worship, and not already out in the fields planting.

        People have been invited to bring a small bag of soil from their fields or from their back-yard garden. Those bags will be emptied into a couple of large buckets, along with some other soil. We’ll bless it all, we’ll pray for safety for all working in the fields, for favorable weather, for hearts that are moved to be generous with the abundance of the harvest (and for anything else I think to put in the prayer I haven’t written yet).

        During the rest of the service, a couple of helpers will scoop the soil back into small bags. Everyone who is at worship will get a bag of soil for their own field, garden, or yard, along with a couple of seed packets of wildflower mix to plant or to give to neighbors with an invitation to join us at worship.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. oooh, I am loving the Seed and Soil Blessing idea. I’ve never seen it (though I do live in an agricultural community, we are more ranchers than farmers).

          Barbara, we’ll be here as late as you need us! Prayers for a deep breath for you at the end of this week.


  12. Called Presbytery meeting is over, and it was fun!

    I am back home and in my comfy clothes. Now to attend to the sermon.

    There is leftover Italian Cream Cake from the reception, if anyone would like a piece.


  13. I have been highly distractible today… which means I am way late to the party with my banana and leftover malted milk robins egg candies. I am on NL, Peter healing the man at the gate. I’ve got a little intro that connects us to the Acts theme verse I intro’ed last week and fast-forwards through Chapter 2. Then I think I am going to bounce between the reading (third person) and a first person account from the man that was healed. So far it feels pretty good. I wish I’d had time to work on this ahead so I could do it off script…


  14. Checking in here… Finally sitting down to tackle the sermon–“attend” is a much nicer word, Monica!– and dinner is on– sitter is going to watch oven, kids, etc.. while I close myself off in the upper room, so to speak. Sermon title is “Making it to shore” I’ve got John, Peter, fish, etc. Thinking about turning the phrase about being willing to risk losing sight of the shore on its head, ’cause quite frankly, when you are tired of keepin’ on, the shore looks mighty good. I’ve also picked out some of the oddities in the passage to talk about “the new normal”– It’s a phrase that people toss around a lot; some history shows that it was in use after WWI…but as a trauma survivor, sometimes “the new normal” is really a pain in the neck to accept…so there’s that. Fishing on the other side of the boat (let’s not over-favor the ‘right’ side for the lefties among us) and jumping into the water fully clothed (new Adam, or just covering shame?) , having breakfast with the guy you just betrayed, denied, etc, rushing out to greet anyone in love and desire and having them accept you, your history, etc… part of the new normal?

    I also have a Carrie Newcomer song “I’ll go too” bouncing around in my head…’cause the fisherfolk don’t let Peter go out on the water by himself…They go along too… they don’t leave him to stew in his own grief for what is past…maybe they are stewing too…Just a couple of initial thoughts. God knows, after crisis, we’d like to return to normal (go fishing or whatever we were doing before the crisis hit) but there’s a new normal– darn that new normal– but if there is nourishment, if there are friends gathered on the beach, stories, etc…maybe we can bear it… Sure beats fishing alone in the dark. And a full stomach is better than coming up empty…hands down…especially when the guy offering you fish and bread and not a whole bunch of “What the hell were you thinkin’?” is Jesus himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. One thought just occurred to me as I was hammering down thoughts…we speak of betrayal and denial as if it only affected Jesus, but God knows, it affected that whole bunch. If they were really as close to him as they seemed to be and close to each other, then betrayal and denial affects more than just Jesus…So– to put a good news spin on this– the undoing of that betrayal and denial does not just affect Peter (yes, he is given authority but no one can get any one to do anything unless they also have confidence in you) but also the others who are likely witnessing the restoration. There are plenty of examples, I think, of this. It’s not just Peter who is affected and we lose something if we think that he’s the only one. I mean, if I witness someone restoring someone else, then I have to deal with my anger at that situation…and others like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. In the bulletin, I stopped the Acts reading once Paul goes blind, but darned if Ananias hasn’t been haunting me all week. In the midst of all these larger-than-life stories, he’s really an unsung hero of the Bible. I can’t get the contrast between him and Jonah (who I presented at the Easter vigil) out of my head.


    1. ooh, that is a good contrast. I have been frequently known to stand up and say, “I changed my mind. We’re going to read through verse x.” Nobody seems to mind.


  17. I’m late to the party, again. Today has been rough, filled with kids events, fighting kids, fighting with the kids, and fighting about the kids. I’d really like a do over!
    My sermon is mostly finished here, thanks to rachealkeefe and her great post on the revised common lectionaries thoughts Tuesday.
    I offer it for any one it might help.
    I also have frozen Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies, wedding cake from my renewal of vows Tuesday, and coffee for those in need of any refreshment at this late hour.


  18. Preacher friends, I’m putting myself to bed early, in hopes of kicking this allergy/cold nonsense and hopefully waking up with a voice.

    Blessings to all still working tonight. The Spirit will show up, I promise.


  19. I’m here very late in the day just to see what others are doing. I have a very abbreviated first service tomorrow, just a few sentences of reflection. I will expand on the idea for the service in my other church. I noted the remarks above about Jesus telling the disciples to cast off the other side. I read a note earlier this week that spoke volumes to that for me. Seems fisherfolk have a preferred way of casting. Perhaps related to handedness or what works better for them as a team. The implication is that Jesus suggests trying something new. Addressing this is the direction I chose and it fits perfectly for our meeting tomorrow which is about visioning.


  20. Back again, with (maybe) a preachable idea. Background: since there are several kids in our congregation who have been affected by death this week, I decided to read “The Invisible String” as the children’s message. In the “grown-up” sermon, I think I want to make the claim that we are also connected to God by an invisible string, and that when God gently tugs on that string, we may find ourselves doing things we never imagined: witnessing to Christ instead of persecuting Christians, ministering to one we name as enemy, even fishing in a little different place and rejoicing at the spread of God’s kingdom that results. The good news, the best news for us, is that God continues to invite us to be part of ushering in the kingdom, no matter how many times we resist.

    Now to wrap a few words around that skeleton of an outline and see how it looks. I will save any final editing for early morning, though; I often see things I missed the night before.

    Liked by 1 person

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