Welcome to Lent 1 and the season of temptation and spiritual discipline. This week we get stories about the temptation of Adam and Eve and of Jesus, and a comparison of the sin of Adam to the salvation of Jesus (in the RCL). The Narrative Lectionary brings us the Golden Rule, the story of the Good Samaritan, and Mary and Martha. How is your Lenten journey going so far? Are you more in line with Jesus and the Samaritan and Mary, or with Adam and the Levite and Martha? If you’re anything like me, Lent is a time when it’s easy to be worried and distracted by many things… sometimes at the expense of loving the neighbor. mountains-1303620_1920However your own spiritual disciplines are going, remember – every day is a new chance to renew your commitment to your practices.

How is your sermon preparation coming along? Have you invited your congregation into any specific practices this season? Do you have a theme that is guiding your worship throughout this season? This first Sunday in Lent is a chance to remind folks of the importance of spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, worship, and generosity to those in need. You might be using the opportunity to begin a preaching series or a 6-week service project or some other initiative. Please share your ideas with the group!

Perhaps you are reminding your people of the ancient practice of using Lent as a preparation for baptism. In my congregation, we are beginning new member classes this Sunday, which will run for 3 weeks before we receive new members in worship. Not quite the same as a 40-day catechesis, but meaningful nonetheless. What new ministries are coming to your congregation this weekend, or what is in the works for upcoming weeks?

Whether your sermon is well-developed or still in its infancy… whether you have the entire season of Lent planned out or it caught you by surprise… whether you are prepared with a worship order or are still looking for hymn ideas… welcome to the Preacher Party! We look forward to hearing your suggestions and comments. Check out these thinks for additional discussion on the RCL or NL readings. Pull up a chair and enjoy a virtual snack and join on in. I’ve got wine and tea to share (depending on your preference and time zone). Welcome to the party!

canoeistpastor is Katya Ouchakof, co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is a certified canoeing instructor, occasional hospital chaplain, aunt to the best kids in the world, and a devout Star Wars fan. Katya is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and blogs periodically at Provocative Proclamations.

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29 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Temptation Edition

  1. It has been a ‘short’ week this week, in terms of worship preparation. Sunday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon I was on retreat with 25 women in Ministry. An inspiring and encouraging time. Then today I was at a workshop on ‘Being the Church Differently’, which was also encouraging and I picked up a few ideas.
    In worship tomorrow, we are hearing the Matthew and Genesis texts from the RCL. I am preaching on Matthew, and the sermon will be short. It is Communion Sunday and we have a 4-minute video on Lent Event [a Uniting Church in Australia Lent activity to raise funds for partner churches]. The sermon will be a short intro from me, then a video called 40, which is a pictorial representation of Jesus time in the wilderness, then a few words about Lent and a litany from Spill the Beans 3 years ago – Lord, help us say no to the world, and yes to you.
    As the sermon is a few paragraphs from the same readings in 2008, looks like I may be in bed earlier than many Saturday evenings.
    2008 sermon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you’ve coordinated a lot of moving pieces for worship, despite being short on prep time this week! Thanks for sharing your 2008 sermon, hopefully it can spark some ideas for those of us who are still searching for a preaching direction. Blessings to you!


  2. Pearl Down Under – how lovely to hear about your retreat. I had some time on retreat Thurs/Fri and so, I too have had a short week to prepare. I am looking at Genesis – not the set text but Gen 2: 1 – 9 [we are made of dust and start in the garden] and contrasting it with Matthew’s story of Jesus being led into the wilderness to start his ministry there. I want to look at Landscapes – where do we find ourselves – in Lent [using Spill the Beans from 3 years ago as a help but not sticking exactly to their landscapes]. Tomorrow we ask where are you beginning – are you in a garden – or in a wilderness? Who is with you and what is your relationship with God?

    I think we’ll have a short exegesis of the texts – I was quite surprised on Wednesday that my people didn’t know about humankind being made from dust/dirt/earth – from the Gen 2 story….so we’ll use that as a ‘start’ or a ‘beginning’ for us…rather than the story of ‘the fall’ about which I have a particular theology that isn’t helpful to preach/teach/share at this point on our journey when it appears the congregation didn’t realise there were 2 creation stories in Genesis!

    I am full of the cold but I have hot drinks, a bowl of fruit and some ‘gummy bear’ sweeties to share.


    1. Maggie, i am also surprised at times what people are not aware of, even people who seem know lots of the Bible.
      Hope the cold clears.


    2. A great opportunity to tie together the Scripture and the church calendar, and hopefully create some more awareness of both among your people! The contrast between the garden and the wilderness is interesting… thanks for that, I might work it in to my sermon 🙂


  3. RCL here and in the wilderness. I had an illustration from several years ago that worked well as an introduction to Holy Ground. I’m in an interim/transitional position and in the early stages of crafting a new mission/vision statement. I’ve developed a set of questions (2 or 3) for each week of Lent pertaining to the new statement. The entire set of questions have been shared in various formats so hopefully most have had time to ponder/think. The tie-in to the wilderness/temptations/Holy Ground swirls around how tempting it is to only give the easy answer, how tempting it is to want to control God for our own purposes, and how tempting it is to have it all. The questions for this week are printed on cardstock and will be in each bulletin and I’ll provide some time for them to reflect and jot down their ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great use of the word “temptation” – it’s not always about sex or chocolate, but about our desire for control. Thanks for sharing your ideas!


  4. We’re living with Mark at the moment, and I’ve always found the story of the Syrio-Phoenician woman intriguing, so have decided to talk about her. For intriguing read difficult… but thanks to a comment on Working Preacher I think I’ve got a suggestion about what this apparently snarky version of Jesus is up to. (Alyse McKenzie suggests that Jesus is satirizing the attitude of the Pharisees in order to provoke his disciples – but of course it is the woman who responds, in the posture of a disciple at Jesus’ feet.)

    I have hot tea with added spices to share as its a cold and miserable afternoon (dreich is the guid Scots word for it.)


  5. It’s slow going for me with the RCL this week. I’ve done even more reading and study than usual and yet, few words on the page. I finally gave my 7 year old her ipad so I could try to get some work done before taking her to a birthday party, so I’m clearly in the running for mom-of-the-year! Trying to contemplate wilderness and temptation and the post from workingpreacher this week by Karoline Lewis. But nothing is coming together – we also will be doing the Great Litany and healing prayers that we do on first Sundays, so it’s going to be a full service. Do I try to tie all that together somehow, or just try to keep it short (or can I manage both?). Lots more questions than answers and the clock keeps ticking!


    I have LOTS of Girl Scout Cookies! And Chai tea. Please share 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I just looked at my notifications and it seems that every time I comment at the 11th hour party it’s because I’m stuck! Sorry for that! Perhaps I’ll make a point to stop by when I feel like I’m more on top of things and heading in a good direction!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for the Girl Scout cookies – yummy! You certainly do have a full service. Hoping that some of the ideas on this page will help you with your writing.

      And we appreciate your comments even if they’re always about being stuck – we’ve all been there, some of us every weekend!


  6. I elected to use the Ash Wednesday Scripture from the NL, Luke 9:51-62, and will be doing Good Samaritan next week. But right at the moment I’m tired and have nothing particularly helpful to say. I just finished meeting with the family of one of my dearest church ladies to plan her funeral, which is Tuesday, so I have a little breathing room to get that done; but I am having trouble switching gears. I’m also starting a new Bible study Monday morning, so I need to get that done today, too.


    1. Lots happening in your world in the next few days! Luke’s stories of welcoming and following Jesus (or not) can great sermon fodder with the right inspiration. Hoping that you’re able to find a spark of a sermon soon.


  7. I almost have a sermon….but wow. It’s like pulling teeth today. I think I’m going to focus on the disciplines that guide one in observing a Holy Lent (Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal): prayer, self-examination, repentance, fasting, reading and reflecting on scripture, one each Sunday. This week, prayer. But I will also connect the discipline to the scripture readings from the RCL. This week the readings ask us to consider what is sin….Its a bit of a jumble in my brain but maybe I’ll get it sorted out before tomorrow morning.


    1. Spiritual disciplines, prayer this week, related to the RCL readings about temptation this week. Seems like an appropriate connection. Hope that the writing is going well!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I am also using Lent to teach on the disciplines. I’m focusing more on Paryer. Our theme is “Lord Teach Us to Pray”. Tomorrow we are joining Jesus in the Wilderness through Lectio Divina. I am going to the BCP for more inspiration. Thanks.


  8. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), this is “Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday.” I received the packet of information about it, with worship resources, using the theme “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart” — a few days after the presidential election in November. At the time, giving thanks with a grateful heart was the last thing I wanted to do! I wrote to the denominational leader who had written the materials, observing that perhaps when she came up with that theme, she was envisioning a different outcome to the election! She wrote me back and shared a piece she had written post-election for the denomination’s Mission Yearbook that reflected on the need to continue the fight against racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination.

    At any rate, here we are, four months later, and in my sermon I am telling my story about my initial reaction to Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday and trying to connect it to the Matthew text — no easy task! Rather than approach the Matthew story as temptation, I am framing it as Jesus standing up for justice and doing the right thing for the right reasons. He doesn’t take the easy way out and do as the devil tells him and have a cushy life with no hardships. I am “giving thanks with a grateful heart” for women of faith who stand up for justice and refuse to go along to get along. In the last four months, we’ve discovered that there are a lot of us out there who are doing just that.

    And yes, I am preaching in a church that’s open to hearing a message like that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Celebrating the gifts of women by continuing the fight against racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. Stand up for justice like Jesus stands up to the devil. Sounds fabulous. I’m glad you’re in a place that will be able to hear that message!


  9. This morning I joined a group of community organizers who meet periodically at our church to work on prison reform. I got applause for my devotion, which really just means I did a good job identifying the audience… the words were Bonhoeffer’s. Still, it was a good way to start the day!

    Unfortunately, no one is applauding for my sermon work so far this afternoon. Playing around with how the things that tempt us aren’t necessarily evil themselves (Jesus would need to eat eventually… my laundry does, in fact, need to get done) but what makes giving in a bad thing is that it implies a lack of trust (that God won’t provide for Jesus… that the Spirit won’t show up with inspiration until my house is clean).

    Obviously there is work yet to be done! Back to it. Happy sermonizing to all you preachers out there. Blessings in this first week of Lent!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oooo I like your point that they aren’t necessarily evil..I was pulling from working preacher and the hope part is that God is with us so this works as a contrast to that hope.

      I offer kitty cuddles as mine are currently distracting me 🙂


  10. Checking in, late and weary. I’ve been at a Presbytery meeting the past two days. While interesting, thought-provoking, and aggravating by turns, I am mostly tired out.We are focusing on the Psalms of the RCL during Lent, which seems like a great idea now, but check back with me in a few weeks 🙂 I have (pre-Presbytery meeting) reworked a sermon from 12 (!) years ago. It is about how we hide from God, and includes a few paragraphs from Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona the Pest,” which is a favorite. We are also beginning a Lenten Bible Study after church, and I volunteered to teach the first week, so I need to make sure that is ready to go as well. (The elders are leading the other weeks–is this congregation great or what?).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, the good news is that no one is going to remember a sermon from 12 years ago!! Hoping that your Bible study prep goes well. Sounds like you’ve got some good support at your place with Bible study leaders 🙂 Blessings to you as you finish getting ready for the morning!


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