“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”    –Jesus, John 10:10

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An abundance of water, enough for a waterfall, in Texas, in late summer!   –Photo by Monica Smith, 2016, Pedernales State Park

That John text isn’t in this week’s lectionary readings, but there is an abundance of things happening and things to consider as we craft a sermon. Texts from the Revised Common Lectionary and the Narrative Lectionary offer us different directions and opportunities to hear the Spirit’s voice. (Commentaries and discussions are at the links). If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the week that things probably are ramping up program-wise, as the Labor Day holiday is passed, school has started, and the whirlwind has begun. And if you’re in the United States, the 15th anniversary of the September 11 tragedy may need some attention.

What are your plans, preachers? For the sermon? For the day? For the snack table? I’m bringing a Texas Sheet Cake, tradition of my people, to a potluck party tomorrow. Feel free to partake today.

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Monica Thompson Smith is a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, serving as a pulpit supply preacher in South Central Texas. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.

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69 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Abundance Edition

  1. I love Texas sheet cake! I will add a huge bag of pears that my husband brought home the other day.

    I’m going back to last week’s texts and preaching Psalm 139 (all of it, not just the lectionary part). I was saving it for our Confirmation service in a few weeks, but it turns out I won’t be preaching that service, so I’m preaching it now instead. We’ll be baptizing one of our soon-to-be confirmands (yay!) and celebrating the ministry of our preschool.

    So it will be a busy Sunday. I am still figuring out how to include the Sept. 11 anniversary in all of that, since it’s such a joyful service in so many other ways. At the moment, I’m thinking I can connect it to that disturbing “enemies” part of the psalm…something like…knowing that God knows us so intimately lets us be honest with God about our anger, but then we’re also turned back to examining our own selves. And inviting God to turn us in other directions. Not quite sure yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The pears sound delicious, thanks!

      I love Psalm 139, especially for a baptism. I think September 11 and the “enemies” verses will probably work. It totally depends on your context as to how much attention you need to give the anniversary, I think. Perhaps just a mention in the pastoral prayer would be sufficient for your folks.

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  2. I have an outline, that is a few dot-points, to fill in after dinner tonight.
    looking at Luke and thinking about ways in which we think of ourselves as lost.
    But are the parables about being lost or someone searching for that which is lost.
    The joy of finding that which was lost, and
    Why did Jesus tell this story in the first place?

    then there is this post from Facebook this morning, about why some young people come to church

    what have we lost?
    who can we welcome to the party?

    of course in the next few hours as i do a few chores and have dinner,t hat might all change 🙂

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    1. The answer to your questions is “yes!” We are both the lost and the seekers of the lost, all at the same time. I think. I might change my mind later, too 🙂

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  3. I have a funeral today and a hospital visit. I also have a sustainable sermon I can tweak if I need to. I last preached it in 2007 – good golly that was a life time ago. But I hope to write something that gets a little deeper. That sermon was kicking off our stewardship campaign that year and launching a year long theme on “growing in faith.” Not bad, but needs a lot of editing to work here. Writing a new one from scratch may be easier. If only I could get some inspiration and a hook that gets me into where I think I want to go with the text. That’s the challenge and not much interior space to access that hook…

    Thanks for hosting, Monica!

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  4. I am about to leave for Messy Church. I have already visited 2 members of my congregation this morning who are not expected to see out the weekend and written most of the service for tomorrow. My sermon is based mostly on Nadia Bolz Weber’s visit to Edinburgh and related excerpts from Accidental Saints. I will not have much energy when I get home from Messy Church so I hope it is mostly ready to go. I don’t know what I am doing with the children tomorrow morning but I am sure something will come up before then!
    I have cough lozenges to share – and I hope they help my voice hold out today and tomorrow!

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    1. Whew, Tanya, you have a full weekend, and it sounds like a full week to come. Blessings to you and your folks. And hoping the throat lozenges do their work.

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  5. looks like many of you are having busy Saturdays. I sprained my ankle on Monday night, and it is going well, as long as i am not on my feet 🙂 I may need to look at sitting for some of the service tomorrow, not sure my foot will cope with 2 services.
    Earlier in the service I am including a beautiful version of Amazing Grace sung by two Australians –
    Gurrumul and Paul Kelly.
    And here is the sermon: Lost and Found

    blessings on your day

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  6. Bacon and wholemeal rolls are on the table with a large pot of tea to share….
    I’m just back home from holiday and already have a funeral to arrange, so I’m glad I have most of my Service prepared. Going with RCL and have a baptism for a baby of a family who don’t come to worship very often as well as a new member joining. It’s also our dedication of the Guild…It has been tricky to fit all this in and fit it together…. ‘Time for all’ is play bricks, introducing the theme of building in many different ways….. so I’m welcoming everyone and talking briefly about the importance of a contribution to life in the many different ways and tying that in with that one lost sheep or coin. Praying it works. ….
    .

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  7. The focus of the service this Sunday will be “We Remember”. Since my year long preaching party has been in Gospel of John, the text is John 7:37-39. In the midst of human decision may we remember the living water that flows from the heart of our Lord and Savior. May we stop in the midst of decisions to drink from this river of life and find our thirsti quenched, our soul revived. Also to remember always “we are not our own, in life and in death we belong to God.” Death or evil never will have the last word, God will.
    May we always remember to love. Blessings to all of my colleagues and friends on this journey of ministry!

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    1. Oh! I just am catching up with you. Hooray for the Spirit! I’ll check out your sermon in a few minutes. I suspect it was easier to write a new one than tweak the old.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it works well as-is, but if you’re more comfortable with the replacement story, that sounds fine, too. Congrats on getting done! And thanks for the bread. Yum.

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  8. Hello friends! I have a favor to ask. Would you please tell me to go write my sermon? Just cannot get motivated…

    I’m planning on using the Luke text, continuing a series based on Eric Elnes’ book, “Gifts of the Dark Wood.” This is The Gift of Being Lost. I have a childhood memory of running away (when I was mad or upset) to the little playhouse next to my dad’s store, and how wonderful it was to be found. But I think I’m stuck because “lost” resonates so with 9/11.

    Can’t get off FB and Twitter to do anything. Cold brew iced coffee here; also, watermelon.

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  9. I wrote mine between 1:00 and 3:00 am a couple of days ago when I couldn’t sleep. I was afraid to take a peek at it this morning, but it’s ok. Basically a meditation on liminal space (Exodus and Luke), inspired by Karoline Lewis’s piece in Working Preacher.

    Tomorrow, as for most of you, I suspect, we are back to a full morning, with two services and Sunday School. With the adults I am working through Animate (they had done one section of it months ago, before I came) and we are talking about spiritual/religious/Lillian Daniel. I hope I can sleep tonight!

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  10. I am filled with too many thoughts, and having trouble pulling them apart – I have lots of lost and found stories. David Lose has a great one on his blog I may use, especially given that tomorrow is the 15th year since the 9/11 attacks (the word anniversary just seems wrong, somehow). I see in the news feeds that President Obama has declared these days as “National Days of Remembrance and Prayer.” And yet, while there are numerous stories about places to pray and worship, even my denomination doesn’t have an actual prayer or liturgy for us to use, one that ALL of us across the churches (and interfaith) can pray together. I know it is a divisive time, and I don’t want to get into politics. I don’t know why this particular year is hitting me so hard. I’ve seen some prayers from the 10th anniversary, but I guess I was hoping, if we are indeed supposed to pray together, that someone would have posted resources? Google isn’t being my friend this week. Any suggestions?

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    1. And I’ve actually been looking, off and on, over the last several weeks. Obviously, I can write something myself. I was just really hoping there would be something that my very tiny congregation could share along with other churches.

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      1. Sharing your frustration. All I can find is a list of hymns – and those don’t really make much sense to me. Right now, it looks like our remembrance of 9/11 will be confined to my pastoral prayer and the electronic sign outside our church that says “Thank you all First Responders for your service – we are praying for you!” It feels so lame, but there it is. That’s all I can offer.

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  11. I was at the PC(USA)’s Congo Mission Network Conference this week, which took 9 hours of driving each way to attend. I’m exhausted emotionally and physically…with little to no energy, imagination or enthusiasm for worship tomorrow. My heart has been so impacted by what I saw, heard and learned…I’m struggling to translate that into a message to my Midwest all-white upper-middle class congregation that doesn’t sound like, “Folks, we just really don’t get it.” (Or if it does, that we aren’t hopeless to change.) Planning to use the Luke passage as an image of a border-crossing God…geographical, emotional, social, etc. etc. But first, I have to get my headache and nausea under control and my heart back from the Congo and into the writing.

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  12. It seemed like such a good idea to tackle Timothy for a few weeks, back when I was laying out a sermon plan in June … now I’m not so sure. Praying for clarity and focus to get this thing written in the next four hours, before I go on a bowling date with my husband (couple care! he’s been feeling neglected, and this is a fundraiser for one of his pet organizations … so, yeah, better go!) Yesterday, my “official sermon writing day,” was spent receiving over 100 mosquito bites at the graveside service I officiated, then installing new computers in the homeless shelter we just opened, and having a long and intense conference call with my four siblings about our mother’s medical care.
    But I did make a peach cobbler, to which you are welcome, and I wish you would also take some of these tomatoes and jalapenos, because there won’t be time to make salsa this weekend after all.
    Now, to Timothy – something about Paul’s calling experience, and mercy, and grace, and discipleship and probably repentance.. or not.

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    1. I’ll make the salsa, and thank you for the peach cobbler!

      You’ve had a full week, it sounds like. I”m sporting mosquito, chigger, and fire ant bites today, so I’m in itching solidarity with you. (100! Did you count?!?)

      Good luck with Timothy. I think I avoid him, so I’m impressed that you’re tackling it.

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      1. I stopped counting when I got to 100. The welts! Grateful for some high-potency anti-itch cream in the cupboard. I have kept one plantain weed growing all summer, because the leaves make a great mosquito bite poultice, but when I went to pull some leaves, they had all been chewed up by bugs. What does that tell you?

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        1. I got chiggers apparently while walking on a gravel path in the park. (I don’t know if you have them where you are; they generally are found in grass). We are specially gifted 🙂

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          1. Dealt with chiggers growing up in southeast Kansas. The little bugs actually burrow into your skin and eventually die. Mom used to put Clorox on them to kill them before we scratched ourselves into a bloody mess. My sympathies for your itchiness!

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  13. Oh man. God is good. It’s in the can.

    Thank you, sisters, for your words of encouragement. AND Eric Elnes for his gorgeous book, which is changing my life.

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    1. Um…do you have a link for the recipe? That sounds good, too. I used to have a recipe that included brewed coffee, but I can’t find it now.

      Now I”m having trouble focusing on sermons! Thanks for sharing the story.

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  14. 100 mosquito bites! Chiggers! These plagues must stop!!! For us it is Fleas! Fleas! We are still combing them off our INDOOR cats, who were not medicated because INDOOR cats. We found the outbreak when we returned from our 58 hour beach vacation a few weeks ago, which is an abomination to the Lord. Cats are now medicated, like the dog, who, thanks be to God, has no fleas at all, but is suffering from some *other* kind of insect bites and now is being treated with twice-daily steroid/antibiotic spray. I had to take him to the vet this morning then race back to attend a funeral at kathrynzj’s church for a beloved pillar. We are about done after two weeks of cat-combing, daily vacuuming and daily sheet-changing/linens-laundering, and anxious non-deep sleeping due to the cats being in our room, which might be why I found myself thinking, “Wow, that was a great funeral homily. I wish she could do mine.”

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    1. Bah! Fleas! I’m sorry you have an infestation. I think I’ll take my chigger bites and be happy.

      I’m glad the funeral homily was pleasing 🙂 and that you made it in time.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Spent the morning at a wedding for a couple that I met at my bi-vocational job. They’ve been together 10 years and wanted to make it “right”. It was a really refreshing celebration because it was beautifully simple. Invite 40 people or so, head to the local park, get married, then have a picnic together. After the wedding, I headed to the nursing home while I was in that part of town and visited some folks. Then off to Walmart (yuck) to grab a few essentials where of course I spent much longer visiting others. Then on to the church office to run bulletins. Forgot to add something, so created an insert for it. Dropped bulletins off at the churches (I have two every Sunday). Then homeward to finally sit down and ponder my thoughts for tomorrow. 6pm and I’m still crafting and re-crafting it.

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  16. I’m here!!! Time to get this party started. LOL. 😉

    I thought I was going to make an emergency visit to the ICU this morning, but before I could even get out the door I got a call saying the person had died. 😦 And only a busy signal at their house so I can’t even leave a message.

    Had a really lovely wedding today, at a farm about 90 minutes away. The farm used to belong to President Polk! It was gorgeous, the people were lovely, and I just got home (I skipped out right after the ceremony because…well, 0 words).

    I’m beginning year three of the Narrative Lectionary, so working with Genesis 2-3. The title is “What we don’t know we don’t know”…There was an idea there at some point, but since I have yet to come up with a beginning, I’m still sitting with a blinking cursor on a blank page.

    I do have Talenti salted caramel gelato though…

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  17. Hooray! Teri’s here! It sounds like you have an impending funeral, too.

    The snack table is full this week, so you should find something to go with your gelato easily. The blank page….well….

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  18. 8:20pm here at my favorite coffee shop/wine bar, which closes at 10, so that’s how long I have to finish up this mess of a sermon 🙂 I wrote a lot of words earlier in the week and earlier today, but I don’t think they were very good words. Trying to tie in identity-forming events (where were you and how did you respond on 9-11?) with being found, and overwhelming events (increasing violence and the social media to tell us about it… where is God in all this?) as being lost… and when we are too confident in our “found-ness” we sometimes create false gods out of our sense of security (golden calf, nationalism). The ideas are there, the words just aren’t very good yet. Blessings to anyone else still writing/finessing!

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    1. Or maybe when we’re too lost, we get scared and create false gods when we get impatient waiting for God to find us, not realizing that we are already found. Or maybe that’s my sermon to myself 🙂

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      1. Yes, I think this is true also, Monica… but I’m feeling led to call out the parallel to worshipping the golden calf and worshipping the idol of nationalism. America is a Christian nation about as much as the Israelites were followers of YHWH when they made the golden calf. Hoping I can pull it off…

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  19. I heard there was Texas sheet cake over here – Yum!! Then I found the peach cobbler and salsa-makings… what a generous table today. Prayers for all preaching tomorrow – I’m celebrating at the big service and spear-heading a big event, then hopefully settling into a routine for fall since Sunday Schools started last week.

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  20. well….I have successfully eaten all of the gelato (oops…I mean, it was only half the container, but still…oops)…lucky for you, there’s another container of the caramel cookie crunch flavor!

    And for all that ice cream, still no ideas about a beginning. Or a children’s sermon, which I had conveniently forgotten about until a few minutes ago.

    I’m not panicking (yet) but it would be nice to have an idea…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Back from bowling and getting ready to tie up the loose ends with Timothy. While I was at the bowling alley got a message from some poor lay leader who suddenly discovered he’s leading worship tomorrow and could he please read my sermon from three years ago on Luke 15? Well, of course. And if it’s helpful to anyone else, you can find “Getting Found” here: https://pastorsings.com/2013/09/15/getting-found-sermon-on-luke-151-10/
      Children’s sermon? Oh snap! I had one somewhere earlier in the week…

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    2. My text study buddy is reading “Runaway Bunny” for the children’s sermon. It fits really well with the Gospel.
      I’m ELCA, and we’re introducing “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday to the congregation this year as the children’s sermon – basically I’m telling them that when they do good stuff, God is working through them. So how would they feel about skipping the sermon and hanging out with a couple of members who will help them put together school kits for Lutheran World Relief? I don’t phrase it quite like that, but that’s the gist of it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. 15th anniversary of the attacks on NYC and DC falls on a Sunday when the Gospel is about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and eating with sinners. And we have readings in Psalms about mercy and in the first letter to Timothy about overflowing grace.

    So, of course my sermon title is “Unforgivable” along with a challenge that we pray especially for the repentance and redemption of those who need it most, those who are the most lost.

    And a reference to Deut 22:1-4 about returning a neighbor’s lost animals, with the idea that, in praying for redemption, we’re helping to return God’s lost people.

    And as I finished it, I thought about the grace my daughter has shown me. Though she had no idea that my distance was not by my choice, she forgave my absence in her life. And now I’m going to see her for the first time in 14 years.

    It’s a good thing next week is a vacation week for me. It’s going to be pretty emotional.

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  22. well good morning all – I think this is the latest/earliest start ever for me. Those of you who follow me on FB will know my plans were changed rather dramatically by a storm and I was stuck on lovely Arran unable to get home.
    I have been there to meet the builder who is renovating our house there. I needed to deliver various things and see progress etc. A quick overnight and home…. hahaha. So, realising that there was weather coming in I went early to the ferry to see if I could get on an earlier boat. Sadly not. Then my afternoon one was cancelled and I got a slot on the evening sailing; but as the ferry came in the captain announced he was not going out again as it was too rough. We were told to form a queue and get booked for Saturday instead. As I had arrived early, I was head of the line…. and we few were given the last places on the 2pm Saturday sailing (all the morning ones already full!)
    I felt so sorry for those behind me – but phew. sailed on time yesterday and got home at 6.00 pm.
    I had written the bones of my sermon “Perfection to brokenness” on the iPad – having had the foresight to print out readings; service outline and some pages from Spill the Beans.

    So now it is 6.00 am and I am ready to get this thing written – if anyone on the other side of the pond is still up – “Hello!!”

    Liked by 1 person

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