This time of the year is always difficult for me. While we’re preparing our congregations to follow Jesus into Jerusalem and journey with him to the cross, we are also selecting Easter hymns, buying props for children’s sermons, and coordinating celebrations with our parents or grandchildren or whomever we call family in our lives. There is a disconnect between the message I’m preparing to preach this Sunday and the to-do list that occupies much of my day.

zacchaeus-1
Zacchaeus, by Joel Whitehead

How are you finding the last few days of Lent this year? Have you or your congregation been following specific Lenten disciplines? How will you complete this season of penitence and celebrate the season of resurrection?

This Sunday’s texts from the Revised Common Lectionary provide a bridge to the Easter story. The dry bones with new life and the raising of Lazarus foreshadow the resurrection of Jesus and the new life that is promised to all of us. Working Preacher and Dollar Store Children’s Sermons have some great suggestions this week, and there was additional discussion on the RevGals page earlier this week. Please share any insights or ideas that are tugging at you!

The Narrative Lectionary makes the connection between Lent and Easter even more directly, as Jesus tells the disciples exactly what will happen when they get to Jerusalem. Then he heals a blind man and meets Zacchaeus. It’s a full reading! Which story will you focus on this Sunday? Can you find a way to tie them all together? See this page for another thoughtful reflection from earlier this week.

Wherever you are in your worship preparations, your Lenten discipline, your sermon writing, or your to-do list – welcome to the party! I can offer some fresh veggies and hot tea or my favorite dry hard cider. I will be here periodically today, with some significant breaks as I go to the ordination of a friend who has been waiting for about 10 years. In the meantime, pull up a chair, grab a snack, and join in the conversation!


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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20 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: 5 weeks down, 1 to go

  1. 8.30 pm on Saturday night, and time to start writing. The sermon only needs to be short, as i have 2 x 5 minutes DVD’s to include in the service and it is communion Sunday. i am thinking about Ezekiel and the dry bones, and the Psalm – out of the depths. i am pondering questions like: What are ‘the depths’ for us? do we cry out to God?
    in what areas of our nations and congregations life, do we need the life -giving breath of God to bring us alive?
    i spent time today making Butter Chicken, so plenty of left overs, and there is rice and home-made Naan bread.

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    1. Pearl, I left this same comment on your blog…so full of wonderful nuggets and gems of wisdom. Thanks.

      BTW…butter chicken is one of my all time favorites!

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  2. I am using, word for word, a sustainable sermon I preached in 2014…because, like that year, the children will be offering a Lenten play on the raising of Lazarus so I only need to offer a reflection for the small 8am service and perhaps a take-away from the 10am play about the ways we are being unbound and called into new life….

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    1. Terri, the high school youth are doing a puppet presentation of Lazarus and so I am using that for the children’s time as well. I will only need to intro it and provide an age appropriate closure.

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  3. Hi, y’all. This is the last Sunday of our Lenten series on the Psalms, which puts me on Psalm 130. I had though it was a penitential psalm, and chose a lament psalm for last week. But now 130 seems lament-y to me, too. So I need to come up with something different to say than I did last week. I guess this is a predictable stumble for someone who got accustomed to preaching somewhere different every week!

    It’s already been a full day here–a 5K walk at my spouse’s church playground visit with the kids, farmer’s market, out to lunch, nap on the couch. And it’s been a personally difficult week. But it’s about time to get to work.

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    1. Monica, I hope your sermon is coming along. I think your initial thought can still work – to me, this Psalm could almost replace the confession/forgiveness piece of the liturgy, if you take the “out of the depths” like to refer to the depths of our sorrow in our own sin. Blessings to you!

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  4. I am on the RCL with Lazarus and have some sort of a sermon done. I am calling it done at 10:30 pm and will look at it again in the morning. I was struggling for the children’s time so thanks for the point to Dollar Store children’s sermons, Katya. It has given me the prompt I needed. I am off to visit family in Wales (for my Nephew’s first birthday) for a few days this week so have been frantically trying to get everything I need to ready before I go.
    I have custard slices to share ( can you tell I was stressed when I went grocery shopping???)

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    1. Tanya, I hope that the sermon looks even better in the morning than it did in the evening! Safe travels to you. And thanks for the custard 🙂

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  5. On the NL here, with Zacchaeus, and a blind man, and a passion prediction (not in that order, though it is the order I am thinking of going in the sermon). I’ve started and deleted repeatedly, and now I’m out of time, so I’ll be back later. Had a deacon meeting this morning, and then facilitated two sessions of Suzanne Stabile’s Enneagram Journey curriculum as follow-up for the women who started it during their retreat last weekend, and now have a dinner appointment…on the bright side, I’ll probably be home with Indian food to share later! Hopefully I’ll also have some inspiration between now and then. You would think Zacchaeus wouldn’t be that hard. (Though I confess to looking through my files and finding only one previous sermon on him, and I didn’t love it enough to do it again, so…starting from scratch it is.)

    I’m thinking about the idea of being “out on a limb” and how it’s not just Zacchaeus that goes out there, risking himself for a glimpse of Jesus, but the blind man does too, and the disciples can’t or won’t…perhaps because they are held back on the ground by worldly values, while something about the grace at work in the blind man and Zacchaeus gives them courage to reach…and they then encounter Jesus with honesty and find themselves not with their head in the clouds (as some might suggest) but rather firmly rooted in the kingdom of God.
    Or something. There’s not a lot of coherence in thought or word at this point (obviously), but maybe dinner will help….

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    1. I really like the “out on a limb” connection! There are plenty of other life situations that your folks will be able to relate to with that kind of a theme, from asking someone out to a cat stuck up a tree to going back to school or starting a new career… great imagery!

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  6. Hello preaching partners! My friend was successfully and joyfully ordained this afternoon! And now I’m starting the long drive back home. It was quite the trip, but very much worth it to celebrate something so long in the making. Thanks for being patient with me being mostly absent as host today.

    My sermon is focusing on how prophets can do impossible things through God, and that potential for impossibility lies within each one of us. There’s still some writing to do, and there will certainly be some percolating on the interstate tonight, but it will be ready by morning. Blessings to all of you in your preaching and worship prep! Happy almost-end of Lent 🙂

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  7. Now I’m fretting over the weather forecast. Strong thunderstorms, potential hail, potential tornadoes are all predicted to hit our area sometime between sunrise and church time. And I live 45 minutes away from the church. Not that fretting is (a) going to help or (b) getting this sermon written, but that’s what I’m doing.

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    1. Eeks! You must be in Texas! Prayers that you are able to stay safe. As a former meteorologist, I recommend keeping an eye on your local guys and the national weather service. Also new studies are showing that being in your car and driving away from storms (always to the south and east) is safer than stopping and getting into a ditch.

      I am also working on Psalm 130 and have read in multiple commentaries that it is considered to be a lament, a penitential, and a thanksgiving Psalm so I would say you don’t have to think of it as a lament only (or at all really). Hope that helps! I am stuck with trying to figure out where my

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  8. 7:30 out here on the west coast and I am trying to avoid my in-process half-written sermon on Lazarus becoming a kitchen sink sermon — you know where you toss in everything you know about a text and stir 🙂
    Finally recovered from Tuesday’s emergency dental surgery and feeling hopeful!

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    1. Glad you’re recovered from surgery! Save some of those awesome sermon ideas for the next time this passage comes around 🙂

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  9. I am taking inspiration from someone’s Samaritan Woman service. We are reading scripture and then singing verses from Amazing Grace, Oh How He Loves You and Me, and Softly and Tenderly as we journey with Jesus, Mary, Martha, the other disciples, and finally Lazarus. Our Lenten table is changing each week. Today we loose a lot of what we have had and will gain burial clothes. As part of the response, the congregation will have bandages to write on pain and things that are causing us death. Then, they will wrap up the bandage and drop it on the communion table as the come forward for communion.
    Then, We leave for Spring Break. We are taking the Children to Hogwarts in Orlando. My 11 year old gets her letter from Hogwarts today!

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