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This evening, as I soaked up this view, accompanied by the lapping of waves and the call of oyster catchers, the words of God to Job were ringing in my ears: Where were you when?…as God lists the marvels of creation and lends some kind of perspective to Job’s suffering. Creation – and the God of creation is beyond our imagining, full of mystery and majesty.

And then the  evening news brought details of another shooting , this time in Munich. The world is so filled with violence and hatred, with racism and injustice. We want to turn that question on God: Where were you God?…when black lives are being assassinated, when families celebrating festivals are mown down, when countries are caught up in the aftermath of a military coup, when …the list is endless.

And God turns the question right back to us. Where were you? What are you doing to bring God’s justice? What are you doing to show love and compassion, to make a difference in a broken world?

Where is your preaching going this week? Share your struggles here as, together, we attempt to find God’s word of hope and peace and justice for our world today.

Reflections on the RCL can be found here. And resources for the Narrative Lectionary are here.

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Liz Crumlish is a Church of Scotland Minister currently working on a National Renewal Project. A Board Member of RevGalBlogPals, instigator of Spill the Beans and contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, Liz blogs at journalling

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30 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Where were you?

  1. Friday evening for me, sitting down to start writing, before a houseguest arrives late tonight. Hoping that something comes together but have no real start except for one verse that has stuck with me all week.

    “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.” – Col 2:8

    So, what to do with that? Hoping that the Spirit does some in-spiring soon!

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  2. Saturday evening and no sermon writing for me. I have a weekend off, slept in, shopping, cooked a slice. visitors coming for lunch tomorrow. I had planned to clean out the freezer but maybe Monday.
    Prayers for those writing today.

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  3. Good morning from Alabama! I’m not yet out of bed, and things don’t look hopeful in that regard as I’m feeling lazy at the moment. Hubs is making stuffed biscuits and caramel latte if anyone is interested.
    I’m sermonating over Luke and am struck by a comment I heard from the Pulpit Fiction podcast. They said (I’m paraphrasing) the Lord’s Prayer in Luke is a request. It is really pleading with God to hallow God’s name. And what will it look like when God’s name is holy? People will forgive, their will be food for the day for all, their will be justice.
    To pull in from the Psalm, righteousness and peace will kiss each other. These verses describe to me how the world would be if we were to really live the Lord’s Prayer.

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    1. I’m thinking about how the Lord’s Prayer is a plea not for our nation or any other earthly establishment (not to “make America great again”) but for God’s kingdom to come! And what would that look like? Everyone would be fed, etc – as you mentioned. What would it look like if it came true? And do we really want it to come true – do we think about it’s meaning when we pray it?

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  4. I’m really intrigued by this portion of verse 4 in Luke: “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.” Am I reading in that latter part of the sentence the notion that forgiveness of debts owed to us may be commonplace? This may be in regard to trade, but why not draw on that as a place of understanding the concept of what it means to forgive? It opens up a way of looking at forgiveness as being understood that it may well be a part of the “transaction” between people, families, and communities. Transactions and interactions come with certain risks and unknown outcomes, even when we think we know what we’re getting into. Perhaps accepting the risk is understood as part of what it means to live and work in community, so that on the occasion when a transgression occurs it is understood as a consequence of calculated risk.

    I need to mull this over a bit, but I’m inclined to see this as a way to have a conversation about forgiveness that removes it from the oft-associated realm of being on the receiving end of grievous harm. Mulling…. and eating strawberries. Want some?

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    1. Yes, I think it implies that forgiveness is commonplace… but since various translations use “debts” or “sins” or “trespasses,” it’s hard to know exactly what is forgiven. I like your trade angle – seems to be quite relevant for the moment! But my folks primarily know the prayer from a different translation, so it wouldn’t resonate as clearly unless the sermon did some intense word study… and I think it’s a little too late on Saturday to get in to that 🙂 If you do it, let us know how it goes!

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  5. I went for an early walk, and then upon my return my progress was derailed by my neighbor’s cat escaping her house. He finally ended up trapped in my garage, after three people chased him down the street from yard to yard and back again, and then it took her another 20 minutes to scoop him up. Fancy Feast had no allure.

    So now I have had some breakfast and am about to retreat to our AC bedroom to write a sermon for Monday night’s Presbytery meeting on “the maintenance of divine worship,” one of the “six great ends” of the church according to the PC(USA). I have been reading and taking notes for 3 weeks, but I really don’t have it yet.

    Tomorrow I am preaching “Pray Boldly” on Luke and dissecting “Give us this day our daily bread,” and then a memorial service homily mostly on the journey through grief. This is a tough one — the lady in question, matriarch of a close family, died at the age of 55 five months ago and, as circumstances would have it, I was the one person with her when she died. I think the service has been delayed for so long because of the intense pain her sisters and children are feeling, but despite efforts at contact, they did not surface until a couple of weeks ago.

    Two long days ahead.

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    1. Thinking of you, Robin, as you tend caringly to the family suffering the loss of their anchor.

      I’m interested in hearing more about what you want to say about praying boldly (I hear echoes of Augustine’s “sin boldly,” is there a parallel?). Boldness before God is edgy, in a good way. 🙂

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      1. It came out of a lectionary group discussion about the man pounding on his neighbor’s door persistently — or insistently or brashly or boldly or audaciously or — I love this one — with importunity (KJV), which apparently includes a dash of impudence. And a recognition that “Give us this day our daily bread” is a bold thing to say to a majestic God. Not even a please!

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  6. This will be my first Sunday preaching after 6 weeks off recovering from surgery. I have a sort of sermon prepared based on the Lord’s prayer but not much more done for tomorrow. I am still struggling with tiredness – the big difference between feeling fine doing very little and then going back to work and realising how tiring it can be! But I am looking forward to going back tomorrow. Now to sort out what to say to the children although I think they might have 6 weeks worth of news for me so not sure if I will need much of a talk.
    About to go for a walk to clear my head as that is my resolution after my operation. A walk every day. I have discovered all sorts of unknown paths near my house 🙂

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  7. Wow! Y’all have such great ideas! I’m focused on making prayer personal for my folks, who may or, more likely, may not pray regularly. So, I’m thinking about creating a handout template of the Lord’s Prayer, much like a mad lib, where everyone can fill in the blanks for each section.
    “Our Father = ________________; hallowed be Thy name = _______________” etc. If they were writing their own prayer, what words would they use? then I’ll just give background on the words, and emphases of them, such as the word GIVE being pretty commanding, (as Robin mentioned above). I’m going to encourage them to fill in the blanks as I talk, so as to nudge (nag) them into actually doing the exercise and not putting it off.
    Thoughts, friends? Have any of you tried this before?
    I have coffee and nothing else. Will go scrounging in a while…

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  8. I have supper on just now – a honey chicken pasta with tomato and herb flat bread. Plenty to share. What else do you need to help the words flow?

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  9. Having spent Lent last year working through the Lord’s Prayer, slightly avoiding that tack. Instead, I’m pondering prayer as listening to the heartbeat of God – nice phrase pinched from a book by Philip Newell… thinking about relationship and God’s hospitality: prayer as God’s invitation to come and sit awhile, to spend time together, in conversation and in companionable space.
    As a way in, I may tell a story I came across about a parent and child – child is very sleepy, and eventually parent carries wee one to bed. Little one pipes up ‘I can hear your heartbeat’…parent holds wee one close, and says ‘and I can hear your heartbeat too.’ Prayer/ relationship with God, is a little like that?
    I have a very gracious house-guest who has taken herself off for a long bath while I write…
    In the meantime, Mediterranean veg roasting in oven, to be added to baby herbed potatoes and grilled salmon… help yourself.
    I’d best get writing!

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  10. I’m checking in here, taking a break from sermon-writing mid-day Saturday to say that I’m tired. This has been a rough month. I caught myself angry at Jesus first thing upon waking today. This whole unanswered prayers problem– where is the beautiful vision of Psalm 85 in our world now? We need God’s mercy, that justice and peace kissing each other reality, to show up here.

    Earlier this week, my vicar and I attended an interfaith vigil and community dialogue around racism and community policing practices. In the face of Kabul, Munich, Baton Rouge, and all the other places where violence has wracked our world, Monday night’s vigil feels like a tiny crumb of hope in a world starving for peace.

    Hm. It looks like I’m throwing out my half-written draft on Luke and starting with Psalm 85. I need it; maybe our congregation does, too. I can wrap up with Jesus’s promise that God’s Love for us as a parent means we can keep pounding on the door. God listens, God welcomes our pleas, and God gives us the Holy Spirit– God’s presence in our midst– to sustain and empower us to work for the full flourishing, the salvation, of all of creation.

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    1. I’m keeping the Luke draft and landing on Psalm 85 as the hope that I witnessed emerging in Monday night’s community dialogue. God’s righteousness and peace bear forth justice with enough “daily bread” for all.

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  11. I dropped by to get inspired by the flow of ideas in this group, even though I will be preaching on a totally different text. Continuing our Favorite Bible Stories series, tomorrow is David and Goliath. I’ve had a couple of approaches drifting through my mind all week, and I still don’t know which I will use.

    One is from David’s vantage point, how Goliath must have looked impossibly big, and in fact David couldn’t have prevailed on his own. But the size of the enemy didn’t give David license to give up, just as the overwhelming presence of evil in our world doesn’t give us license to back off and do nothing.

    The other thread I’ve been tugging at looks at the story from the viewpoint of David’s fellow soldiers and how they must have reacted to seeing this young kid set out to do what they couldn’t or wouldn’t. What does the story say about putting our faith in power and weapons (and money and influence and whatever else we trust in that isn’t God)?

    I’ll continue to ponder while I make some deviled eggs for the all-church picnic tomorrow.

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    1. “the size of the enemy didn’t give David license to give up, just as the overwhelming presence of evil in our world doesn’t give us license to back off and do nothing.”
      Thanks for this 🙂

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  12. It’s 8:45pm for me and I think I’m getting close. Last night I started a draft about my visit last fall to Munich (the 4th or 5th time I’d been there) and how it feels when tragedy strikes close to home… and then woke up this morning to reports of a terrorist attack in Kabul. So did some significant rewriting including portions of my devotion from last week on feeling compassion fatigue. Tying in to the line in the Lord’s Prayer, “your kingdom come.” Plenty of description and emotion so far, need to find some good news and wrap it up!

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  13. it’s nearly 9pm, so time to start working….it’s pouring rain and lightning is flashing…I’m preaching Jeremiah 42, on the theme of hope in the face of fear. God knows that the people have no intention of obeying, but God still offers them the hopeful word. Jeremiah knows he is being used, but he still faithfully prays and relays what he hears. the people hear the hopeful way and turn away from it to their own fear-filled way. how often do we do that?
    subtext: are we about to do that in this country in November? is that what’s really happening underneath all the racist and sexist BS that I really hope is white heteropatriarchy’s last gasp?

    Probably that will remain subtext, though who knows. If I wake up tomorrow to more horrifying news, all bets are off.

    I have chocolate caramel crunch ice cream from a local dairy…chocolate ice cream with caramel ribbon and pieces of waffle cone! help yourselves…

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    1. Thanks for the ice cream! I have some hard cider to share… not sure that they go well together, but since they’re virtual snacks anyway, I’ll enjoy both 🙂

      The subtext you mention in Jeremiah is similar to what I found in Colossians this week, as I mentioned in the first comment in this thread. Seems timely, and even if you don’t explicitly state it, I bet your people can put two and two together. Happy writing! Hope it comes together quickly for you.

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  14. I wrote this sermon a long time ago, knowing this would be my first week back from vacation and time would be short. I’m working from the premise of “brazen beseeching,” but noting that what God wants to give us in abundance isn’t necessarily what we specifically request, such as “three loaves of bread.” What God wants to give us is the Holy Spirit. You can read it over at pastorsings.com (sorry I forgot to copy the exact link). Heading to bed and praying for each of you.

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