Sunday is nearly here, colleagues – how is your sermon coming along? By the first weekend in October, your school-year ministries are probably in full swing and you may be looking ahead to special services for All Saints or even Advent already. But first – this weekend, the Gospel needs proclaiming! What direction are the readings taking you?

256px-the_mulberry_tree_by_vincent_van_goghThe Revised Common Lectionary brings us the parable of the mustard seed. In this case, faith can move a mulberry tree, which seems much less impressive than the parallel versions that move mountains. Then the topic of slavery comes up, which is complicated at best. How are you handling this reading? The Old Testament options are from Lamentations or Habakkuk, both books that show up rarely in our communal worship. We continue to hear Paul’s wisdom for Timothy in the Epistle reading this week. Which of these readings is the focus of your sermon this week? See here for additional discussion on these readings.

The Narrative Lectionary brings us to Exodus with the Israelites, awaiting freedom from slavery. This is a jump from the end of Genesis, in which the children of Israel went to Egypt of their own free will, and were cared for by their own brother. How much of the story can you tell in one sermon? What themes will you draw out for your listeners?

823644006_c7423e6afd_bOther commemorations this weekend include World Communion Sunday and the feast of St Francis. Are you celebrating one of those, either independently or in dialogue with one of the sets of lectionary readings? Perhaps your worship will include greetings from ecumenical partners, or a blessing of animals – or both! What does your community find meaningful at this time of year? Many blessings in your preaching, friends! There’s not much food in my pantry or fridge today, but I still have a plethora of green beans from the garden to share. Enjoy the snacks, the company, and the encouragement, and happy writing! Welcome to the party!



canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and blogs less often than she would like at Provocative Proclamation. Katya enjoys knitting, Star Wars, board games, time with her family, and of course, canoeing.



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24 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party – Mulberries & Animals Edition

  1. Starting the service with Habakkuk, and thinking about what we would ask God. then looking at the Luke reading. tomorrow is also the last of 5 weeks of stewardship spots and communion. the middle of a long weekend and the middle of school holidays and Daylight Savings starts tonight, so an hour less sleep.
    i am making small handouts with “This much faith is all you need. Luke 17:5 ” and a dot a bit bigger than a mustard seed. i also have mustard seeds to hand out. i had hoped to stick them to the cardboard, but i think i will run our of time.


  2. I have a bad cold, head and chest congestion…so I pulled up a sustainable sermon and rewrote most sections…there is a good chance that I will be handing it out tomorrow for people to read since I do not think I will have the stamina to preach it. I wonder if this hangs together well enough? Is the argument solid enough? I’ll be tweaking it all day, I suspect…but, I’ve posted the draft, check it out if you are able. moving mountains


    1. Sorry to hear you’re feeling icky. But the sermon looks good! There’s something about hearing the word proclaimed in community, rather than reading it individually… I wonder if there is a church member who could read your sermon aloud if you don’t have the stamina to preach it? Either way, beautiful work, thank you for sharing. And feel better!


    1. This was very helpful to me. I have been thinking along the same lines, but I was getting stuck on the “what now?” piece and you’ve given me some ideas. Hope your short sleep is very restful!


  3. I have to get something written ASAP because we are having worship tonight, with a potluck dinner…and I still have to make something for the dinner. I’ve been thinking about Passover and especially the last line “You shall tell your child on that day, ‘it is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.'” My working internal title is “the past is present.”
    I think I’m going to borrow from Walter Brueggemann’s 2011 lecture to the Celebration of Biblical Preaching, in which he talks about the sub-version and the dominant version, and how faithful living requires constant re-enacting/re-performance/re-membering of the sub-version, because otherwise we end up caving to the dominant imagination (and Exodus 12.12 says God strikes down all those “gods of Egypt”–the gods of empire). I think it’s a nice link from there to sacraments, at the very least.

    I don’t have a ton of time to work with (either in writing or in preaching), so I need a good beginning….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say you already have your good beginning! Brueggemann is always inspiring, and your interpretation sounds both faithful and meaningful. Hope that the sermon is coming along quickly!


  4. Quiet day! We ( which is to say mostly husband and son) have been clearing out third floor in preparation for renovation. Who knows when the contractor will ever show up?

    I liked my Habakkuk-Luke-Habakkuk sermon when I wrote it yesterday, so I am not looking back. Blessing of Animals in afternoon, and in between a family meeting for funeral #3 in 10 days, which is on Tuesday. I am having surgery on Wednesday. Secretary: Why don’t you just schedule the next one for on your way into the OR? I told her it would give me something else to focus on.

    Prayer appreciated. This is a reconstruction of the reconstruction following mastectomy. What a mess. I always said I might do it if enough time passed that I forgot most of the pain of the first round. I guess 5 years was how long it took. I am taking two weeks off and hoping for an easy recovery and beautiful fall weather.


    1. Sounds like a much-needed quiet day in the midst of a couple of busy weeks! Glad that the sermon is out of the way so you can focus on other things today. Prayers and best wishes for you in your surgery this Wednesday.


  5. Good morning preachers! My liturgical ministry at my new multicultural parish this year is musical, playing guitar and singing for a Saturday evening Portuguese/English mass and leading a group for a new Sunday evening Spanish mass. Hence my preaching will happen via blog and I am excited, as well as nervous, about beginning the 31 day writing challenge today ( if anyone wants to link up) with a “Black Lives are Sacred” theme inspired by our own Wil Gafney. Hoping to draft a bit of an organizing plan today as well as the first entry on this lovely feastday of St. Therese the Little Flower, matron saint of us ordained Catholic women!


    1. Musical ministry and preaching via blog, writing every day this month – quite inspiring! I hope that it all goes well for you and that you’re able to get whatever plans done that will help you be prepared for the month ahead.


  6. Posted over on FB, but thought I’d drop by here, too.
    I am stuck. I have not had a normal work week since August 15, thanks to CE/extra meetings/travel and the resulting adjustments to calendars for both jobs. I’ve managed to preach my 4 of those last 6 Sundays, but it’s gotten harder every week. Even with a strong flexibility/adaptability streak, the constant shift of focus and ever-deeper pile of emails in multiple inboxes has left my creativity tank really low. If anyone has a NL reflection/outline/starting point they are willing to share, I’d be super-appreciative. I’ve been looking at the Working Preacher stuff and have a few thoughts…


    1. No sermon starters for you, but prayers for your creativity to return, and quickly! Hoping that you can find something to refill your energy tanks.


    2. OK, actually, with some brief reflection… can you just tell the story, with commentary? “Last week we left Joseph and his brothers in Egypt, where they were saved from the famine in Israel. 400 years later, the Hebrew people had grown so numerous that the Egyptians were afraid of them so they enslaved them all. Then Moses was born, and these really awesome midwives saved his life, and then he was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, and then he killed a dude, and then he met God in a burning bush.” I mean, the point of the narrative lectionary is to learn the biblical narrative, and there’s such a gap between last week and this – if you can just tell the story, that might be enough!


      1. That’s where I’m headed, I think. Did that last week, with an extemporaneous close (very rare for me, but had run out of time to put it on the page when the closing finally arrived). I’m leaning toward the importance of remembering, teaching, passing along the stories of God’s faithfulness. Since it’s communion Sunday, there are some nice connections to the remembering as a means of proclamation that will tie the service together. And it gives me an excuse to stay short, er concise 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Laura! I’m late to the sermon writing party tonight, but if this is still helpful, here’s my opening paragraph (the rest is only in notes/outline form so far)
    In the story of our lives, some moments are so monumental that we feel compelled to mark them in some way. And it seems the most common way we mark these monumental moments is with the ordinary everyday task of eating. Think about it. When people get married, they have a big feast. And every year after, most couples seem to celebrate by going out to dinner. After the birth of a child, we celebrate each successive year with a cake. Graduations, confirmations, baptisms…they all usually involve food afterwards. Even a funeral doesn’t feel complete without a meal. Somehow, an ordinary ham sandwich almost feels sacred after we remember a loved one’s life and entrust them to God. If it’s important, we’re almost guaranteed to mark it with a special meal.
    Today we have the most monumental story of the entire old testament.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. it is Sunday morning here in Scotland – and I’m guessing (praying) most of you all over there are sleeping peacefully.
    I did not get to sermon writing until this morning due to life being just too much of everything.
    It has been this way for weeks – I think I really, really need to time out – which I have mercifully now scheduled for the last week of October, followed by a week of Study and retreat… so, so need this!

    Anyway – I did not know where to start, but the very helpful thread on the FB page about world communion Sunday sparked an idea – we use the NL, so I have focussed on how we all mark celebrations and anniversaries; family traditions and rituals…. taking them from that first Passover; to the last Passover Jesus celebrated, to our own celebration of communion.
    The whole thing is following a theme of Promises over this season (as found in spill the Beans) – today is Passover Promise – but I am subtitling that God’s Promises.


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