Where I am, it is hot as the dickens. Even the squirrels are finding refuge in the shade and moving as little as possible. I love summer. I yearn for it all year. I don’t even mind the heat. But this year everything feels off. There is so much violence in the world and appropriate angst. I’m growing a bit numb, I admit. But the numbness doesn’t help, it leaves me feeling dull.

Our readings today push us into contemplating struggles, suffering, and hope. At least that is my take from Genesis, Romans, and even the Gospel of Matthew. I could have gone with the text from Exodus, but chances are that’s about the same….

I am leaning a bit into Joan Chittister’s book, Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, for my sermon fodder this week. I’m taking her idea that struggles can be transformational and even hopeful and talking about that inner sense of peace that comes from focusing on God instead of all the many things that one might focus on, instead of idolatry of….

My sermon is basically written. I’m thinking about returning to preaching without using a text. I preached this way for many years, but haven’t done much of this kind of preaching in long while. So, I’m thinking about it. We’ll see how well I can internalize what I want to say between now and Sunday morning.

What about you? Thoughts, ideas, struggles, hopes…for this Sunday?

This is the Preacher Party and I’ll be here all day. Pull up a chair I have iced tea to go around and if you’re in a colder climate, I can put the coffee on too.

The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski is an Episcopal priest serving a congregation in Dearborn, MI. She’s been a blogger and member of the RevGalBlogPals since 2006 and blogs at


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34 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Struggle and Hope

  1. I love that book of Joan Chittister’s, and used it when I directed an ordination retreat a couple of years ago. I have a sermon, but it is recycled and I really don’t like it. So even though it is 7:45pm on Saturday here, I have just opened a new blank document to see if I can begin again.

    It is wintery here. The fire is lit. I’m looking forward to lemon, honey and ginger to round out the evening. If anyone else is cold I’ll happily share!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always interesting to consider that when I am freezing here in the upper Midwest of the USA other regions on the planet are in the heat of summer, and vice versa. Enjoy your warm cuppa. I hope that sermon came to you anew.


  2. 8.30 pm Saturday, and t the heater on. i have a sermon to write, and i can’t find a previous one on these readings. thinking about Matthew:
    Jesus commissioned the disciples to heal and liberate
    what values do we privilege
    ‘actions speak louder then words’

    three dot points, now to put some flesh on the bones.


    1. Holding you in prayer as the words reveal themselves to you, fleshing out the three points. I’m going back to mine for edits and more flesh, or if I’m following Paul’s thinking, more spirit. lol


  3. Today it is hot. Yesterday not. Which pretty much sums up Scottish Summer – a bit if this and a bit of that.

    I prefer the heat as my joints hurt much less when I am truly warm.

    I am struggling to put together what I want to say / need to say / will say…. this has been such a difficult time nationally – two terrorist attacks; a strange General Election with unexpected results which will I suspect lead to some difficult changes over the next few weeks (including even (dare I say it) a no confidence vote which will lead to another election come the autumn – it really does feel that precarious) and then this week – the nightmare scenario of Grenfell Tower – where people witnessed the death of family, loved ones, neighbours, colleagues… because of its ferocity the people trapped were able to phone out, but not get out – so terrible, terrible things were seen and heard. I can’t even….

    We started the NL Psalms mini series last week, and this week is Psalm 13 – a song of lament. how apposite.

    I want to lament at the top of my voice
    I want to cry out
    It is communion – I want to call our people together in a group hug; a group cry of anguish. But we are Scottish. This will not happen. (It’s my Irish gene’s influence!)

    I have some good notes
    So I will, I am sure soon be able to actually create something that works.

    Salad leaves; smoked salmon, sweet little prawns (Shrimp) ripe juicy tomatoes are all waiting on the table to be consumed.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am preaching Acts all summer. This week the healing story of a man who only asked for alms as Peter and John were headed into the temple to pray. And a followup text from chapter 5 with a general proclamation about the miraculous works. In the People’s New Testament Commentary by Craddock and Boring there was an excellent excursus on miracles which helped immensely. I also used part of Eric Elnes’ book The Darkwood Brew on prayer (and an article he wrote on huffpo.) Sermon title is: Prayer, Miracles, and Quantum Entanglement! It is a rough rough draft and today’s task is to smooth it out into a preachable sense.


      1. Terri, this is an interim ministry. They are about 1 month away from a small addition and remodel project. I am using Acts to help remind them that ministry is not all about what happens in the new space we will now have…it will be easy for them to fall into “build it and they will come”!


  5. I’m up early in inland Southern California, hoping to get a good chunk written before the children get up (and the heat hits hard). Enjoying an open window right now. I wrote an introduction and random thoughts this week. Now I think I want to throw out the intro, but the random thoughts should be okay.
    I’m preaching this week and next, planned in January around my colleague’s daughter’s college graduation to give me a chance to preach twice in a row. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but this week was the beginning of summer vacation and I am home with the kids who don’t start camps and such until after next Sunday. They are perfectly capable of doing their own thing while I do my own thing, but solitude I have not. Except the early morning. My coffee should be ready. Time to write!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hot here too (France) and in the middle of second-guessing myself. We’ve been reading Mark as a congregation since January, so tomorrow instead of preaching, I’m putting the congregation into small groups, giving each one a different text from Mark and asking each group to agree 3 words describing Jesus as they see him in the text they have been given ! We will then put the words together and use them to make a word cloud. This is in response to a request from the pastor to ‘do something different with the sermon’ as part of a series of experiments in doing different bits of the service differently from usual… It should work, I hope…

    I think that part of my 2nd guessing is because I’m an exiled Scot, so, like Julie, events of these last few weeks in the UK are lying heavy on my heart, but I am aware that for the congregation they are more in the category of “sad news from elsewhere”, so I am trying not to project too much. It is the 2nd round of our (French) legislative elections tomorrow, so that will inform our prayers of intercession (along with prayers for the leaders of all the countries represented in the congregation)

    Iced-coffee with sweetened with maple syrup to share


    1. What a great idea!! And yes, it has been a rough week for the UK. One of my parishioners is from England (Manchester), has family there, and a daughter in London….its all very disconcerting.


  7. On my fourth rewrite. Commemorating the anniversaries of the Pulse and Charleston murders, and acknowledging the Alexandria shooting and lack of justice for Philando.

    There is a deep-seated loathing of blackness and black people in this country. It is at best a disease, at worst a demonic affliction, perhaps both. It feels overwhelming but we are neither helpless nor hopeless.
    Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. (Matthew 10:1)
    Jesus has authority over death, disease and demons and that includes white supremacy, racism, homophobia and all the hatreds and hurts that infect and plague our world, including toxic masculinity that batters at home then terrorizes in public. And he has given that authority to us. They are ours to destroy. Jesus called his disciples, empowered his disciples, then he sent them out to do the work of the reign of God. That work is now ours: Proclaim the good news, ‘The reign of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Just finished my sermon on Sarah’s laughter and the humor of the “Did not… did too” between God and Sarah. Now to craft a prayer that takes in this week’s anniversaries, heartbreaks and tragedies, coupled with a remembrance of fathers.


      1. If the Holy Spirit is on her game (and she usually is), we’re good to go.

        I wanted to share a moment from Rev. Dr. Barber that I heard this morning and it struck me. He said (paraphrasing here) “Speaker Ryan said, ‘An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.’ We must proclaim that not as a moral directive only for the members of Congress, but for all in this nation.” Amen!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Late afternoon here. I’m home from a week of chaplaining at our presbytery’s camp. It was fun but exhausting. I’m working with the Genesis text, focusing on hospitality. My thinking is where it is on about Wednesday of a normal week, so I have a ways to go. My spouse both cleaned the house and mowed the yard while I was gone, so I am feeling quite grateful. (He did leave the clogged sink drain for me to address, which I think I can, given a little bit of time).


    1. I did that one summer, it was very exhausting. I decided to never do it again. Besides my son, who was there too, hated it….sigh. At least you have a clean house! Now I hope the sermon writing comes easy. I would probably preach about the experience of being at camp…what signs of hospitality where there?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wish I had a sermon to post…Had a funeral this morning and now in the middle of a writing using Exodus passage (19:2-8). We are commemorating Juneteenth tomorrow and honoring the enslaved persons known to be in our church. Am doing a shared sermon with our church historian. Struggling and praying the Spirit will show up.


  11. Struggling with how to work the events of the week into what I had originally intended to say about Sarah laughing at God. On the other hand she laughs because God’s promise is ridiculous and I’m thinkable and impossible at the time. And looking at what’s going on around us it seems that the promise of God for peace, justice, reconciliation, love, also seems pretty ridiculous and unthinkable and impossible. I can only fall back on the hope of God’s promise that are disbelieving laughs will one day like Sarah’s turn into the laughter of pure joy when we see the promise fulfilled.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I could use your good vibes and prayers! At the 11th hour I decided the sermon I had already written on Matthew 9 did not speak to the pain and needs of the people. So I just started a sermon using Romans 5. I’m really grateful for this community the ideas that are shared. In the midst of trying to speak truth to the pain and reality of our social climate my mind is really on the fact that I should be getting my first foster care placements in a matter of days. Thank you dear sisters for continually reminding me that I am not alone, and I am not the only one sitting in a Starbucks on a Saturday evening. Blessings to all!


  13. I am working on Matthew this week, a week in the lectionary I must have used for vacation several cycles in a row. I don’t have anything in my bag to pull from. Our mid-week lectionary Bible study had a blast talking about what Jesus meant when he told the disciples to find people in the town who are worthy to host them. We wanted “worthy” to be one of those words that has a better translation or hidden meaning so that it didn’t sound like we thought it sounded like. As we were getting ready to part after our time together one woman said, “I just keep wondering if we are worthy.”

    That’s where I’m going. Instead of aligning ourselves with the disciples and putting ourselves in the place to judge the worthiness of others, I want us to wrestle with whether or not we are among those who accept the startling, challenging, unexpected kingdom of heaven when it comes near. Considering the missed opportunities for justice in the US this week, I can’t see how the white majority is worthy. So what does it take to be worthy? It doesn’t take perfection, but it takes a willingness to lay down one’s own power or sense of authority and recognize another authority, the authority that comes from Christ himself, is near and in charge. It takes the humility of welcoming the stranger to teach you and point out your sickness and your demons so that they can be healed and cast out. We aren’t worthy if we aren’t willing to be changed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. oh, thanks for those last few sentences. I think that’s what I’m trying to say. Well, that’s what I would be trying to say, if I’d get to work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love what you have said, Stephanie. So many of us do not feel worthy. Worth comes from within and through the power of knowing to whom you belong.


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