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Last summer I purchase three rose bushes on clearance, $5 each, and planted them in my backyard. They were very scraggly and I wasn’t sure they’d survive. I was delighted when a few weeks later they not only showed signs of life but began to bloom.

This third week of Advent is sometimes known as “rose” Sunday with an emphasis on Mary. In the RCL, the readings, unless one uses the Canticle “Magnifcat” for the psalm, make no reference to Mary, but continue the story of John the Baptism. And the reading from the Narrative Lectionary is from Isaiah, proclaiming a year of the Lords favor. Tough choices for those of us in the USA, some who may indeed see this as a year of the Lord’s favor, but for many it has been a very difficult year, with no reprieve in sight.

I’m preaching this week from the RCL and working off of both Isaiah and Matthew considering what it means to be prophetic. I’m telling the story of St. Lucia who spurned her pagan bridegroomย vowed her life to Christ. The spurned bridegroom turned her into the government officials who, because Christianity was illegal, imprisoned her, tortured her, and killed her. A tradition rose up in her name which became popular in Sweden, on Dec. 13, St. Lucia day, a young girl dresses in white and serves the family coffee and buns, modeling Lucia’s life work of service to the poor.

Where are you going with the texts this week? How are you considering the prophetic voice of God as she manifests in the world today, in your context, with the people you serve?

 

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The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski is an Episcopal priest serving in Dearborn, MI. She has been a member of the RevGalBlogPals since 2006 and blogs at seekingsuthenticvoice.blogspot.com.

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51 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: a rose by another name

  1. It’s cold here in Dearborn, MI. It’s been a tough, bleak week for us, politically. I have an ordination service I have to attend in a few hours. My sermon, at least at this moment, is a rewrite of a sustainable sermon. It’s not very good at all, but it may be all that I have in me. I’m just so, well, discouraged. But I’m pulling up my boot straps, I have a fire in the fireplace and delicious cup of hot coffee, and I’m pretending that life is much better than it is. Perhaps with that effort I’ll manage a more inspiring sermon. sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good morning!

    Last week-end I listened to the Interfaith Power and Light Webinar on addressing climate change issues in the wake of the election, and then went to a nearby church for a Lutheran Synod-sponsored discussion on race and culture. How convenient that Isaiah is prophesying renewal and restoration of creation and humanity! So I am talking about those events, which is going out on a limb as there is a lot of discussion right now in the church about being political, missional, engaged in the world, any or all of the foregoing, or not — and while some folks are excited about all such prospects, others are very leery. Meanwhile, today I am going to do that rearrange-the-living-room thing in anticipation of getting the tree tomorrow afternoon, a tree which my or may not end up decorated. Watch FB for updates!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Inspiring, Robin! I have come to believe that as preachers we need to stand clear in what we value and believe in. If we speak from our values and beliefs we invite others to consider if they hold similar or different values and beliefs. This can be done without threatening others, which is why I have started using myself as an example, using “I” language instead of you, we, or us. It’s left me feeling a little more vulnerable but so far I’ve been able to say some pointedly “political” statements without any one getting too angry, at least not that I’m aware of. Anyway, I hope your sermon inspires more than threatens. I look forward to seeing your tree, we just happened to get a good one this year, perfectly shaped.

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  3. Just about to go to bed. Sermon is written. We are hearing both Isaiah mad Matthew from the RCL. Thinking about expectations, what did John expect? What do we expect of Jesus ?
    Also linking in with international human rights day. I went to a Write for Rights session this morning writing letters with Amnesty.

    Good night, sermon is on my blog, but I can’t link from my iPad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am not preaching this week (thank you choir cantata)!

    A little gift of wisdom for all of you here today (and in the upcoming days)

    “May God give you grace never to sell yourself short,
    grace to risk something big for something good,
    and grace to remember that the world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.” – William Sloan Coffin

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I have French Vanilla coffee and pinwheel cookies hit from the oven to share, alas not much in the sermon department! Using the Isaiah word pictures this advent and lighting the candle for Joy this week. Thanks Elaine for the benediction…I’ll be using that and along with musings about What did you come to see? also, in the midst of the desert. In the darkness of long long nights we do have the joy of the annual Pageant which is always a hoot. Pull up a chair and let me know how many cookies you need!

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  6. Having determined to preach my first Advent series on the theme of longing, tomorrow’s will be on “longing for faith.” John’s confusion about a Jesus who doesn’t quite match his expectations will be central.

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  7. hi there everyone! I’m just in after a chaotic but happy Messy Church; followed by the weekend’s grocery shop. It’s a little after 4 pm here in Scotland and I need some words!!
    However… I saw that wondrous phrase “sustainable sermon” and think I might have one.
    We follow the NL, but next week is out nativity service so I’m jumping ahead a week to preach on Mary and Elizabeth
    I saw something interesting in the FB group earlier in the week about the ‘real’ Mary… so I hope and pray it’ll not take too long!

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  8. I’m here early today because I want to do other things later….and because there is apparently a huge snowstorm coming, and if I wait until it starts snowing, I might feel like waiting to see if there’s any possibility of cancellation….lol.

    I’m working on Isaiah 61 and the theme of Embodying the Promise…living as if God’s promise is true, now, already…I’m not really sure how that’s going to play out but I”m hoping it’ll come together in the next hour or so.

    I’m trying my first attempt at crockpot dal makhani right now. It looks right, and it tastes pretty good, but it’s too tomato-ey. ah, well…it’ll still be delicious, and you’re welcome to it. I’ll be making rice soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. That same snow storm is headed my way too….due to hit in the morning…but no cancelling for me, I live next door. Just small attendance for others. Ah well, its winter. I like the theme of living as if God’s promise is already true, and how to see that in light of the world we live in….curious to see how you unpack it.

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      1. I’m curious about how I’ll unpack it too. HA.
        I paused to run, shower, and hang out with a friend for a couple of hours, and now I’m back. The snow hasn’t really picked up yet so I’m forging ahead…but even if I lived next door, I would watch the same way, because I think the real issue isn’t about me getting to church but about the majority of the congregation being elderly and often being the type that insists on coming…if there’s a request from authorities not to be on the roads, or if the parking lot isn’t plowed, or if the roads are bad and we think three dozen 80 year olds are going to try to come anyway, it feels irresponsible not to at least consider the possibility of canceling.

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  9. Almost right after I typed that, my phone started going crazy because now it’s a winter storm WARNING, which includes words like “only travel in an emergency”….my motivation for a sermon is significantly lower than it was even half an hour ago.

    I know I’d have to post something though, so I should still be working…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. sadly, no. I grabbed a couple of potentially useful paragraphs from a 5-years-ago sermon on Isaiah 61 but that old one reads like it was part of something else that was going on at that church, and also was not my best work. (ha) So I have 200 potentially re-useable words, and need 800 more….

        Liked by 1 person

      1. yeah….it isn’t really snowing much yet, so for the moment I’m assuming it’s for tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚
        the one other time we’ve cancelled, I put the entire service–including the liturgy, prayers, youtube videos of the hymns, and the sermon–on the website, so people could “worship at home.” That was much appreciated, and I would do it again.

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  10. I’m using my denomination’s Advent resources, focusing on the theme word for each week, and of course this week it is joy… I want to talk about Mary, and how her initial puzzlement and confusion turned to joy. Along the way, hopefully we can look at Mary and see the real Mary, as Julie mentioned…
    We are under the same “Winter Storm Warning,” Teri, but I’ve already been told (this is my first winter in a new call) that we never cancel church services–one of our members insists on coming and doing the shoveling/snow blowing so there is no reason to cancel church. Also, I live close enough to walk (if I really really had to), so I have no excuse for not writing mine… Sigh. Even if it’s just the two of us, we will have service tomorrow!
    I have coffee cake if anyone needs a pick-me-up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup. No cancelling church here, either. I live next door, so absolutely no excuse. Of course I may be the only person there, but….I like the idea of Mary’s confusion turning to joy, the unexpected grace, and what does that look like in a “real” Mary?

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    2. those are the same people who end up blocking the roads when ambulances need to get through, or getting into situations where they need to be rescued. It drives me nuts. “never” is a ridiculous thing to say. This may not be the time, but never? really? Sunday worship is not more important than the safety of the people. and for all the times we say “make good choices” there are going to be people who insist that it’s sunday and they have to go to church…even when they shouldn’t be out driving their 84 year old selves in their non-four-wheel-drive cars, or walking down their icy driveways…

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  11. Well, I’m back from the ordination where I heard an engaging sermon – that’s always a nice surprise. Now I’m working on mine and watching the skies darken and light snow flurries begin…winter. I plan to tweak that sermon and then go on the treadmill for awhile and read a novel.

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  12. Only a brief reflection to write today, tying the Advent readings to the kids’ Christmas program. Want to say something about Isaiah proclaiming hope for a Messiah, and John the Baptist following in that tradition, which Mary did too through the Magnificat… then we’ll sing a version of the Magnificat, then the kids are on.

    After worship we have a congregational meeting (to approve the budget and leadership nominations for 2017). Snow is just starting, and I’ve had a couple of questions about cancelling, but this would not be a good week to cancel. Except that I’ve got a cold, so it’s tempting. But the congregational meeting would have to be rescheduled for January, and the Christmas program would have to be next weekend, meaning we would basically miss half of Advent and some of the kids wouldn’t be able to be there. So I’m hoping that the snow plows can keep the roads cleared, and we’ll just go ahead as scheduled, with lots of cough drops for me.

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    1. Here’s hoping the snow is not so bad that people can make the meeting and the kids program. I always hate it when these good events are compromised by the weather…feel better, I’ve had two colds already. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  13. Sending wishes for warmth and safety to all of you dealing with the snow; they’re calling for less than an inch here, and not until Sunday afternoon. Preaching on Isaiah and Matthew. Will talk about major landscape renewal – e.g., landfills becoming parks (like Ariel Sharon Park, or Freshkills in Staten Island). If this is what people can do when they set their sights on restoration, just imagine what it might look like when God does the same! Advent calls us to that imagining, a la Isaiah, but also to questioning, a la John the Baptist (if you are the one, why are there still so many deserts out there??) and to our own participation in the challenging and creative work of restoration, in our lives and in our communities. That’s where I’m heading; hope it makes sense once it’s all on paper….

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  14. I just saw a church cancellation on FB – wow. Usually the avalanche of snow here is east, where that church sort of is — my church is west and I’m kind of in the middle, so I am hoping that this is alarmist weather reporting.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks for hosting, Terri! I’ve been out all day with our daughters at a birthday party. It was in our previous location, so though it was fun to see old friends, it was a little emotionally fraught.

    I’m using a sustainable sermon, and though I keep meticulous records, which have given me the all-clear to use it in this congregation, I still have the niggling sense that I’ve preached it at this place before. Maybe not the sermon, but the concept. I will investigate a little more and then resign myself to the niggling. It’s not like I have another idea at this point on a Saturday night.

    It will definitely NOT snow here tomorrow, so I’d best get to work.

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    1. It’s been my experience that people do not remember the illustrations and concepts we’ve preached in the past. They might remember that they’ve heard something before but may not remember where, when, or who. Besides, if it was good enough to preach once its probably good enough to preach again. ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you had a fun day, but I totally get that emotionally fraught state, I feel it every time I leave Chicago and drive back to Dearborn….even all these years later. sigh.

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  16. Snow won’t be here until Sunday afternoon into Monday morning – thankfully! I’m preaching the lectionary texts from Isaiah and Matthew keying on JB’s question, Are you the one? about all of the ways we look for “the one,” including some very unhealthy ways we use to try to fill that “God-shaped hole,” when Jesus is indeed the one, close nearby, and in the process of healing the world, leading to the joyous landscape Isaiah paints. It seems to hang together reasonably well!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Well, it’s my bed time. I’m grateful to have spent this day with all of you. I will hold you in my prayers for tomorrow, for safe travel and storm safety for those in the path, for each of you and the people you serve, blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

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