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I’ve spent part of this week at a conference for women in ministry. There were lots of stories of gender injustice and discrimination alongside stories of resourcefulness, subversion and transformational love.

Our texts this week also offer narratives of triumph against the odds. In the NL, dreams, differences and deceit give way to forgiveness and reconciliation. In the RCL, isolation and poverty give way to inclusion and acceptance within the abundance of the love of God.

Narratives that speak powerfully into our world today. Which texts speak into your context? How will you use these texts to proclaim another way, the way of a God who is love?

We invite you to share your pain and your struggle as you seek to bring a message of hope for our world and for our communities today. And, against the odds, together we will speak of and reveal transforming love.

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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31 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher’s Party: Transforming stories

  1. Hi Liz,
    starting to write at 8.30 Saturday night again. Lunchtime today Ian and I hosted a BBQ fundraiser for Frontier Services – an agency of the Uniting Church that supports people live in remote or isolated places.

    working on Luke with a dash of Timothy. focusing on what it would take for us to ‘hear’ the message and act on it

    I managed to give away the leftover coleslaw, but we still have leftover BBQ sausages, bread and mars bar slice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Patti, I love to “hear your voice” in the Preachers Party. Hope you can use the fundraiser as a building block for listening and acting on the gospel.
      I love Mars Bar slice. Thanks

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  2. Good morning! I’m taking a cue from Working Preacher and talking about how the rich man’s problem is blindness rather than money. And offering up a couple of local event possibilities in October for learning to see poverty better and learning to envision the future differently. And mentioning the upcoming (and so far completely unplanned) stewardship campaign. Discussion of money has been a real no-no in this church, and has resulted in some . . . uh. . . problems, so I am treading on thin ice.

    But for today, I am off on a 6-mile walk with my daughter through Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens and down to the lakefront. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Cultural_Gardens

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  3. Keyed in a long, thoughtful response, via index finger on my iPad, but I wasn’t logged in, so it’s lost.

    Re sermonizing… What was the sin of the rich man? I think not seeing someone (Lazarus) literally underfoot, so the rich man is condemned to not being seen(Abraham doesn’t grant his requests).

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  4. John Chrysostom thought the sin of the rich man was his blindness– that he could walk right over or past Lazarus every day and not be moved to compassion. I can’t shake a connection here with the story of the (“good”) Samaritan, who did actually see and respond. By walking by without acting, Chrysostom said that the rich man, while dressing himself in lavish purple robes, was “covering his soul with cobwebs, scented with perfumes, but stinking inside.” (I wrote a paper on this dude– can you tell?)

    I was on clergy retreat the last few days, so I’m writing today between a soccer game and coffee with a new friend. Money, class, racism, politics– my congregation is quite diverse. I need to find the words to facilitate the Spirit’s invitation to a dance that will engage us all.

    That’s my prayer for after the soccer game….

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  5. My text study buddy tells me that this is the only parable in which a character gets a name. I need to double-check before including that piece in my sermon, but that would really drive home the point of seeing or not. If someone is important enough to be given a name, then that person deserves your attention and respect as a child of God. Planning to mention #SayHerName which draws attention to Black women and girls who are victims of police violence but are often overlooked in the national conversation about use of force.

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  6. I’ll be preaching the Gospel, with a teaspoonful of Amos. I’m trying to imagine where members of the congregation would put themselves in this story. I have a feeling that they would try to wiggle out of an answer by saying “somewhere in the middle.” I hope to help them see that, especially concerning issues like racism and privilege, we are all much more like the rich man (self-absorbed, unaware of suffering around us).

    So far, it’s an idea, not yet a sermon. It may not grow up to be a sermon until after the wedding I’m doing in a couple of hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve decided to use a traditionally Lutheran “simul” this morning. Because I’m certain that I’ll get a “somewhere in the middle” answer, I’ll probe that until we get to the idea that we are both the rich one and Lazarus. If they seem to be on board, I’ll introduce the phrase “simul justus ed peccator” (simultaneously saint and sinner), and we’ll reflect on times we have been both of those. It will be a short sermon because today is Rally Sunday for us, we’re blessing backpacks, and the choir is singing.

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  7. I have the Children’s Sermon tomorrow, so I’m going to show and tell Lazarus and the Rich Man with the Brick Bible, then read the story of St Martin out of a picture book and talk about the differences, mainly that one noticed the poor person and helped and one did not.

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  8. I am continuing my series on Luke’s stories…so will be tackling this tricky parable in context of it alongside all the other ‘wealth’ and ‘using money well’ stories we’ve had recently. I want to put in something about discrimination, injustice, and inequality and how we see it on the news and yet do not do anything. Not sure where it will be woven in but I think it would be wrong to ignore the Charlotte protests and the Standing Rock movement when they seem to speak directly to this story.

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  9. NL here, so Joseph. Way too much text to try and tackle in a sermon. I think I am going to read the first text, talk about it for a bit, then read the second and try to connect the dots from point A to point B. I think my point is that even though God doesn’t appear to be actively involved in the story of Joseph, it does clearly say that the reason Joseph got through hard times and ended up strong and reconciled with his brothers is that God was with him. I wonder if we can think of things that we’ve gotten through and realized it was because God was with us, and if maybe that also means God will be with us in the future. I don’t know. It seems insufficient. I haven’t been feeling well the last couple days (hay fever is kicking my backside), so I’m a little bit off my game.

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  10. NL here too. I totally agree with revsharkie that there’s lots of Joseph story here, but it’s such a rich story. I’ll probably weave the sermon in between parts of the text/story and use a theme of how God functions in the midst of our dysfunction. I was also thinking of the theme of how God’s dreams are bigger than our dreams, but that feels like trying to pack two sermons into one already crowded story. We’ll see where I end up.

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  11. ⅔ there with the importance of naming and the uniqueness of this parable and how naming someone shows their importance. Now what? Need to figure out how to tie it together and conclude. Going to close the computer for an hour and let the ideas percolate, hopefully I’ll have more direction when I return!

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  12. Long day! But sermon is done. I have a baptism tomorrow so I pulled up a sustainable sermon and tweaked it. Mostly I shortened it…because after the baptism prep and rehearsal I just know that this little one is going to be wild (not bad, wild, but she’s active) and therefore no one will be listening to me… So, 800 words, and just a refresher on the baptismal covenant and what we are promising on behalf of this toddler.

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  13. Our home electricity has somehow blown half out and it’s not a simple circuit breaker kind of thing, so I took the 9-and-7-year-olds to the church for a curriculum planning meeting while spouse worked on electricity.
    Before we left, he was cranky and the 7-year-old was in tears and we hadn’t had lunch (circa 1:00). The first thing that happened when we got to church was the woman who was in charge of a luncheon going on asked if anyone wanted pumpkin pie. My kids eyes lit up. This woman who vocally despises every innovation in worship (including women in the pulpit and communion by intinction and advent not Christmas during advent among other complaints) dished up and brought my children pie and ice cream when they were unhappy and starving and ready to melt down. It was a moment of pure grace. (and I let them eat pie first and then warmed up the leftover pizza I had grabbed from the fridge.)
    Now we have 18-months of children’s curriculum planned and the spouse has called both Edison and an electrician. (Now what to do with 102 predicted temps tomorrow and a pet gecko that can’t get over 85…) Also, I still need to plan children’s church for tomorrow and I couldn’t manage to catch an hour with my colleague planning October worship as we had hoped, but we did okay under the circumstances.
    And there’s still that moment of pure grace.
    –Wendy

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    1. Pumpkin pie and ice cream– how perfect. And how beautiful that it came from an unexpected source of grace ; )

      May you continue to receive exactly what you need in the moment and for the work yet to come!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m on the NL and have basically no ideas re Joseph. I mean, I have them, I guess, just not any ideas that go anywhere. I’m planning to read chapter 37 from a children’s bible during the children’s sermon (right before the choir sings “any dream will do”), so the liturgist only has to read the few verses from chapter 50…but then what will I say about it? No clue…hoping for inspiration to strike in the next 12-ish hours!

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  15. You’ve all gone to bed by now, but I’ll post anyway – I’m flipping the Timothy texts with next week’s lectionary, so preaching on 2 Timothy 1 this week (and I’ll preach this week’s text next week…) because we baptize two babies tomorrow, and it seems a better fit. As I posted the sermon on my blog, I noticed that a sermon on Isaiah 61 from two years ago is getting a lot of traffic today, and I am perplexed. It doesn’t show up in the RCL or the Narrative lectionary any time soon. What am I missing?
    We had our first community breakfast this morning, and there were lots of eggs left over, so help yourself to make a late-night omelette!
    Oh, here’s the link to the Tim sermon: https://pastorsings.com/2016/09/24/a-holy-calling-sermon-on-2-timothy-11-14/ – maybe it will be useful to someone next week!

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