Happy Saturday and welcome to the preacher party! This weekend you have the opportunity to preach on ALL THE THINGS if you so choose. Perhaps a wiser preaching strategy is to select one or two of the things, and leave the rest for another year… but with such rich preaching opportunities as we see this week, it can be hard to settle on a particular focus!

 

In the Revised Common Lectionary we have Paul freeing a slave girl from demon possession, which gets him thrown into prison. (I wonder what happened to the slave girl?) The Psalm has creation praising God’s righteousness, which works well for those of us living in climate zones experiencing a change in season at this time. Revelation 22 promises the return of Christ soon (which could make a person wonder whether the battery on his watch ran out, or whether God’s concept of time is really so vastly different from our own). John 17 brings us back to Jesus’ final night with the disciples, and his promise (command?) that they all will be one. See more discussion here.

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The Ascension was officially observed on Thursday, but some of us will be celebrating it during our worship this weekend. What does it mean that Jesus ascended to heaven and left his disciples to fend for themselves? What should we make of this one last Sunday in the Easter season, with Jesus already ascended, but without yet knowing the presence of the Holy Spirit, who will be showing up in style on Pentecost next week?

 

The Narrative Lectionary uses a long selection from 1 Corinthians 15, which tells us about who Paul was, and who he understood Christ to be. It is a dense passage, theologically speaking. It can also be inspiring and enlightening to those looking for guidance on where to find Christ in their lives today. And then, of course, there are familiar lines about eternal life. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) There’s some discussion on this page.

 

In the USA, many of us are expected to preach about mothers and mothering, since Mother’s Day is Sunday. Allow me to reiterate the reminder to be attentive to those who have recently lost their mothers, those who never knew their mothers, those being raised by two fathers, those who desired to be mothers but never had the chance, those who have lost babies in infancy or to miscarriage, and anyone else who may find Mother’s Day difficult for countless reasons. As preachers, we have the unique opportunity to open our congregation’s understanding to the vast experience of motherhood that exists in the world, and to help them find a Mother God in the midst of it all. If this is your preaching course, blessings and courage to you!

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Julian of Norwich is celebrated this weekend. So are college graduations, and in some of our congregations, confirmation or other rites of passage. Many of us have recently been at (or will soon be attending) regional or national gatherings of our church bodies. Perhaps you are in the midst of a sermon series or you have a guest preacher at your congregation this weekend.

 

Ascension, resurrection, demon possession, prison breaks, Julian, mothers, creation, life transition, church polity, unity… Wherever you find yourself today, whatever your level of preparation, welcome to the party! Pull up a chair, help yourself to a cup of tea, and happy writing.

 

 

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66 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party – The Everything Edition

  1. Good morning all!
    It’s a cloudy but dry and warm day here in my part of Scotland.
    I’m thinking about the 1 Corinthians 15 passage. Death, dying, resurrection.
    What we believe and what we hold on to.
    I have a close friend, dying slowly
    I have parishioners dying slowly, or fighting chronic illness, or facing terminal diagnoses
    The passage speaks, loudly, glaringly, discordantly and I am a little lost in it all.

    Somewhere in all of that I know there is a message of hope. My challenge is to sift it, separate the strands and bring a message of hope. Real HOPE.

    My kitchen table has all the fixings for traditional Scottish breakfast….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Praying that you will find the message of hope, both for yourself and your congregation. It sounds like the NL passage is particularly relevant in your situation.

      Thanks for sharing breakfast with us!

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      1. I think this is lovely and not at all too much, though I do wonder whether you’ll be able to preach it without crying, especially toward the end? I would have a hard time with that, and I’m not in the same grief you are right now…You might want to practice several times and have a glass of water or something handy in case it hits differently tomorrow morning.

        I think you can enjoy your evening and rest well knowing you have something ready to go. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. wow, beautifully said, I’m right there with you. This week was the 3rd anniversary of my daughter’s death, resurrection is on my mind. Thank you, love how you framed this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What a difficult week for you, Gale, in the midst of a long, painful journey of grief. Praying for God’s tender consolation for you.

        Like

  2. Good morning. We are looking at Ascension tomorrow. I am not quite sure where I am going with it this year but have decided to re-use last year’s kids’ talk [using the plastic resurrection eggs to place ascension into the context of the bigger Easter story – Jesus is risen, Jesus physically with the disciples but not for ever].

    So far I have a very basic ‘exegesis’ in the ‘sermon slot’ but hoping that some fresh air, family time and prayer will transform it into something more ‘tangible and practical’ without losing sight of the fact that very few of my congregation seem to know the stories of Ascension, Pentecost etc [having not followed RCL for some time].

    I have cheese scones…help yourself! There’s butter in the dish, preserves in the cupboard above you, and cream cheese in the fridge.

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    1. I found a really good ‘head start’ on MinistryMatters which gives 3 clear points on what it means for us to be Christ’s physical body here on earth, whilst still keeping it really simple for my folks who are new to this story/concept/theology – I have adpated it a lot so that it works best for my people and place, but I thought I would share a link in case anyone else finds it helpful.

      http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/5046/ascended-into-heaven

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Keeping the sermon simple so as to focus on educating your folks about the post-Easter stories sounds like a good plan for you. Thanks for sharing your ideas and your scones 🙂

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  3. Good morning all, I found a great prayer for Mother’s Day by Rick Warren that addresses all the situations that might be among our congregations tomorrow. The pictures that accompany it are a bit cheesy but the words are certainly usable (IMHO). Blessings on your sermon prep and your preaching tomorrow, I have a smoothie and some muffins to share. http://rickwarren.org/resources/a-prayer-for-moms

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    1. I would like to echo the folks who have said to be cautious on this day. We cannot possibly mention every circumstance that occurs. This prayer glaringly omits women who have placed children for adoption by choice, and those who were forced to, and doesn’t mention those whose relationships with their mothers are strained or broken. I’m not trying to be a debby downer, just please, please be cautious.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My contribution to the party: soft-boiled guinea fowl eggs! Guinea hens are seasonal layers, and–after letting them lay enough to sit in–we’re enjoying a special treat for breakfast.
    Feeling like my sermon is a tangled skein, just now… working with the passage from Acts, attempting a focus on Love and Liberation, but our congregation is rocked by the death of a very dear member and most people are focused on grief. I’ve also planned a dramatic reading of Julia Ward Howe’s “Mother’s Day Proclamation” from 1870. Originally, I had this idea to tie it in at the end of the sermon, but now I’m really not sure if that works or not. Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm.

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    1. I printed Julia Ward Howe’s ‘Mother’s Day Proclamation’ as my bulletin column this week. Already had one person comment they had never seen it before and never thought about how Mother’s Day started. And this person is a thinker.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hoping that you find space within the worship service to include all of your inspired ideas! And praying for your community as they grieve.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. 240 words mainly about the existence of modern day slavery. now to slide the sermon across to expectations, and how other people’s expectations burden us.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am preaching Paul and Silas in jail and what does it mean to be saved. I’ve been sick since last Friday, I fly out for General Conference tomorrow afternoon and I have a whole paragraph written. Please pray for me and the Holy Spirit to inspire me.

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  7. Expectations and freedom
    Done, for tonight anyway. almost 11 pm on Saturday night, the water is boiling so help yourself to a hot drink. early in the service i will mention some things from the news this week like the fire in Alberta, the National budget was put out this week, an election will be called tomorrow for 2nd July, and Mother’s Day. then the Mother’s Day prayer I wrote over 10 years ago, then on with the rest of the service. this is my first Mother’s Day here, and i am told they hand out flowers – ugh!! for personal emotional reasons and also allergies.

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  8. 1 Corinthians 15 and the resurrection according to Paul for me. Bubbling up has been a sermon of 2 parts: doctrine and why it matters. So far the concept is boring even me so there’s plenty of work to do!

    Warm maple-glazed donuts and hearty brewed coffee are my offering to the table. Good to see you all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s never a good thing when you find your own sermon boring! Hoping that those donuts bring you some inspiration for a creative way to make your points.

      Like

  9. You’ll find other Mother’s Day prayers and resources on the RevGals Wiki page, “Mother’s Day, or not.” https://revgalblogpals.org/mothers-day-or-not/ pearldownunder shared a great prayer several years ago that many of us have used or adapted. I’m updating the wiki this morning to add new links.

    Meanwhile, I’m working on my second Ascension sermon of the year, because I’m swinging back from the Narrative Lectionary to the RCL. My basic concept using the Luke reading is that the disciples knew Jesus in particular ways – as a teacher, a friend, a feeder of crowds, an amazing storyteller, a martyr, a miraculously reanimated man and now, what? the? heck? We may have other views of him (some of the common ones being shepherd, king, and so forth), but like the disciples we may have trouble expanding our view beyond the embodied person of earlier stories. What images of Jesus feel most familiar to us?

    I have a good story to use, one I wrote up for this year’s Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual, in which my daughter, on moving with me to a new church, was baffled by the stained glass window of Christ the King, holding an orb and scepter and standing on top of the Earth. Her vision came from our previous church, where the windows showed Jesus carrying a lamb, or surrounded by children. That’s my hook. The rest is yet to come. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the additional Mother’s Day resources, Martha. Sounds like you’ve got a great direction for your sermon. I love the story about the window theology. Blessings in your writing!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. 7:30am Sunday morning here and it’s a ::: head desk ::: morning for me too, still trying to make the message flow. Come Holy Spirit Come (and hurry up LOL)

          Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m going with John today, that they may all be one. I’m trying to put meat on the bones of “love is what connects us, brings us together, and keeps us in unity.” What does that kind of real love look like. I may use the idea of the 5 Love Languages to flesh out how we are to be love in our community.
    We’ll see how this unfolds!

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    1. A focus on unity, with love as the basis for that unity – sounds wonderful. I hope you find the words you need to flesh it out.

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    2. I am going with John, too. I just need a hook. I also love what David Lose talked about on his blog regarding remembering this is a prayer that Jesus prayed, for us, back then and now. It’s senior Sunday, so we have a little celebrating, too.

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  11. When I get around to working later tonight I’ll be doing something with 1 corinthians 15…The sermon title is “Re-Membering” and I’m planning to do something about how important it is to remember our story, because it feels to me like that’s basically what Paul is doing–recapping the story for people who have forgotten and so become divided. When we are together we remember better. Whenever I break bread at the communion table, I always put the pieces back together, very deliberately, as I say “when you eat this, you Re – Member me.”
    I’m thinking of starting with an exercise we did in a seminary class one time, asking people to sing Amazing Grace from memory, as much of it as we can. What almost always happens whenever I’ve done this (from the class through several other experiences in the past 10 years) is that we hesitate a little between verses but then someone sings a word and we all remember what comes next, so we can keep going together in ways we couldn’t if we were on our own. I can transition from there to something about how we need each other to remember what story we are part of, and that communal remembering also puts us back together, over and over, as the body of Christ to live out the story in the world.

    I think. I might have other ideas during the day. lol.

    I’m giving a Bible to a newly-confident reader (first grader) during the children’s time, so I’ll be able to talk about the importance of reading scripture and learning what God has done so we can participate in what God is doing now.

    First up on the schedule is a 10 mile run. Thankfully it’s sunny and breezy today, unlike last weekend! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Re-membering Christ’s body – beautiful imagery there. You could tie in the young Bible reader also, as newly joined into those who read and remember the Word. Lots of possibilities, I hope that the thoughts come together well for you during the day today!

      Like

    2. I’m usually a lurker here, but this is just what I needed–thank you! I’m struggling with Mother’s Day and all that it holds, and was focussing on “they sang hymns” as the way that Paul and Silas gave their witness. We’re singing “I Was There To Hear Your Borning Cry” and I will work on God as mother and life-long presence. But, I think we’ll also sing “Amazing Grace”!

      Liked by 1 person

    3. oooh, I love the story part. This is helpful for me, too, even though I am going with John, but it fits with unity, etc. Thank you .

      Like

  12. Preaching the Ascension text from Acts. Had an outline but forgot to pick it off the printer yesterday. Am sitting at the edge of a cornfield in terrific wind at the Jr high track sectionals. As boys go last, this is going to be a long, long day. For anyone doing Ascension, on re-worship, there is a letter from Theophilis that takes about 90 secs to read. I’m going to read it after the Acts 1 reading.
    Lots of yogurt smoothies, gatorade and water. Help yourself.

    Like

    1. Here’s hoping that your outline comes back to you and that you find some inspiration in the track meet on a windy day! Blessings as you prepare to share the story of the ascension with your folks.

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  13. The Seven Stanzas of Easter by John Updike as mentioned on the Working Preacher podcast in case it’s helpful:

    Make no mistake: if he rose at all
    It was as His body;
    If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
    The amino acids rekindle,
    The Church will fall.

    It was not as the flowers,
    Each soft spring recurrent;
    It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
    Eleven apostles;
    It was as His flesh; ours.

    The same hinged thumbs and toes
    The same valved heart
    That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
    Out of enduring Might
    New strength to enclose.

    Let us not mock God with metaphor,
    Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
    Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
    Credulity of earlier ages:
    Let us walk through the door.

    The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
    Not a stone in a story,
    But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
    Time will eclipse for each of us
    The wide light of day.

    And if we have an angel at the tomb,
    Make it a real angel,
    Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
    The dawn light, robed in real linen
    Spun on a definite loom.

    Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
    For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
    Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
    By the miracle,
    And crushed by remonstrance.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I think I’m done. I’ve tinkered with this sermon more than usual. I have tried – hope I succeeded without committing heresy – to tie together Jesus’ prayer that “they may all be one,” the fact that we are worshiping among the beings from All Beings Confluence (https://allbeingsconfluence.wordpress.com/) and the fires in Northern Alberta.

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    1. Preaching on unity in Christ and unity with creation – sounds wonderful, and the artwork is inspiring. Thank you for sharing this project with us!

      Like

  15. The sermon is on the Acts passage, about how everyone in the story was annoyed. (Can you imagine the fellow prisoners, having to listen to hymns at midnight?!!). And God can use even our negative emotions. Or something. Ho hum.

    I have to figure out how to install a deacon tomorrow (I mean, I know, but it’s been 7 years since I’ve done such a thing, and my books are already packed up, so I’m downloading the parts I need).

    I still need to figure out a children’s sermon, too.

    And I’m reeling a bit from the death of a colleague, who was also a friend, yesterday. And some unbloggable things going on, too. I’m more than a little bit distracted.

    Like

    1. Wow, you’ve got a lot going on. I hope it all comes together for worship tomorrow in time for you to do a little self care. I like your angle on the Acts passage. Blessings in your writing and preparation!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Prayers! I was thinking about annoyance as well…the girl speaking the truth and still annoying Paul which makes me think of that one person/parent who is always in your head saying the truth whether you want to hear it or not. As for the Children’s Sermon I plan on pulling in Mother’s Day here and talking about how all kinds of people can be mothers. I am going to pull in some of the women from Rev. Patty Lawrence’s “A Litany for Mother’s Day”(https://revgalblogpals.org/2015/05/08/friday-prayer-if-youre-wondering-how-to-pray-on-mothers-day/) and just read it to the adults if no kids come up.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. 1 Corinthians 15…a little bit challenging for a week I’ve spent mostly doped up on pain meds (had a knee scope Tuesday). What I’m leaning toward is including verse 58 in the reading and pondering how having the right beliefs leads to having the right actions. If you don’t believe in resurrection, then death is to be feared, and everything we do tends to be about avoiding it…and death takes many forms, including ostracism, extreme poverty, lingering illness, etc. If we believe in resurrection, not just of Christ but of ourselves, then there really isn’t anything to be afraid of, because even though we die, death does not have the ultimate power. Thus we can live fearlessly and lovingly.

    The challenge will be how to say this without a certain fundamentalist member, who denies that he is afraid yet continually talks about how we’re going to be swept away in the coming judgment because our country now allows gay and lesbian people to be married, grabbing hold of it and insisting that not only do we need to have the right belief about resurrection but we also need to hold the correct belief (read: his) about Genesis 1, Biblical inerrancy, and the sinfulness of being LGBT. Many of us do not agree with him on any of those things, and I don’t think we need to agree with him. Yet I think the correct belief about resurrection is essential.

    Like

    1. Hm, that’s a delicate balance to strike. Hopefully you can focus on how believe in the Resurrection is right belief, and anything beyond that is secondary. The Resurrection is the healthy food and sleep and exercise and lifestyle that guides our Christian life. Believing in the inerrancy of Scripture and a heteronormative interpretation of Genesis is about as important to that life as getting a haircut. Praying that it all comes together well for you!

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  17. I hope the writing is going well for everyone! This week my colleague is preaching so I’m working on the prayers and some other things. For now, it’s off to do a hospital visit. Then I’ll take some time to catch up with an old friend, so I’ll be back online in a few hours. Until then, happy writing, brainstorming, problem solving, and theologizing to you all!

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  18. Sermon adjusted, and service of installation finished. Children’s time is still percolating. Maybe that’s where I’ll nod to Mother’s Day? It’s a pulpit supply congregation, and I don’t know them well enough to know if one of the kids has a troubling mom situation or not…odds are, there’s probably at least one. Hm. Still thinking.

    But now I’m going to take a break for some of that self-care canoeistpastor, and check a fluffy ebook out from my library. Kids are watching tv. Husband is (!) packing boxes in the home office. I’m not watching him on purpose, because I am quite certain he doesn’t pack up to my standards 🙂 As the things he’s packing aren’t fragile, I’m letting it go.

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    1. Hope you’re enjoying that self care time! Good choice to keep out of the office while things are being packed to a different standard 🙂

      A nod to Mother’s Day in the children’s sermon could work even with a troubling mom situation, if you frame it by talking about an ideal mom, or what it’s like for you to be a mom, or something more generic. Many of the kids probably made some kind of craft in school for their mothers, so maybe you could have them tell you about it. Good luck, whether you go this route or take a different angle!

      Like

  19. After family communion and visitation earlier in the morning, I preached John 1 for the funeral of an 18 year old high school senior killed in a car accident earlier this week, and now, having napped, I am returning to the Ephesians text for Ascension (our congregation’s namesake) and struggling to find words. Appreciate the ministry matters link and Martha’s question about who we say Jesus is. I have coffee on for anyone who needs it!

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    1. Oh my, what a full day for you, and a complicated time for your community to be hearing about Ascension. I hope that things fall into place soon. Prayers to you, and thanks for the coffee!

      Like

  20. Ascension for us – I’ll be riffing on beginnings and endings a little, starting
    with a poem on said theme.
    And, having had a great elders’ retreat today, with story-teller and poet pal,
    who is happily staying for the weekend,
    I’ll be asking her to bookend my sermon with her poem, found here:
    http://praythestory.blogspot.co.uk/

    It has not hit 1am – and I’m now done. Result.
    I’ve some spare pepperoni pizza, and Lemonmasu [as opposed to tirimasu]
    do help yourselves 😀

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    1. Glad you finished writing before it got any later! Thanks for sharing that poem with us. It is beautiful, and will go well with your beginnings/endings theme.

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    1. Feathers were made to be ruffled 🙂 Your message is clear and strong, and true to the Gospel. Preach it!

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  21. I am taking a risk and venturing into the deep end preaching about Mother’s Day. I am speaking about how having respectful conversations about this day informs the work we do on all relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Way to brave the difficult topic! Praying that all goes well, and that your sermon can inspire ongoing conversation.

      Like

  22. I think I might be done. Or at least, done enough. I have basically an 800-word version of my first comment earlier today. lol!

    I was thinking of getting ready for bed, but a cat just sat down on my lap on the couch, so I guess I’ll do some tweaking. 🙂

    Like

    1. Hooray for being “done enough”! And for some feline encouragement to tweak a bit more 🙂 Blessings on your preaching!

      Like

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