I don’t know about you, preaching friends, but I have a tendency to leave the sermon writing to the last minute. This week is no exception. I’ve thought about it. I’ve read about it. I’ve pondered it. I haven’t written a word yet. If this is you too, be assured that you are not alone!

Carper’s Creek at John Knox Ranch Camp, Fischer, TX. Photo by Monica Smith, 2017

Revised Common Lectionary discussion is on this post from Tuesday. Our congregation is on a “sermons-by-request” series, which has been fun. What is your congregation up to in this season?

Snacks on our table include the last of a batch of chocolate chip cookies, some peaches, and some very special “Daddy made it” toast for breakfast.

Come join us, preachers. Bring questions, pleas for help, ideas for children’s times, and a listening ear.


Monica Thompson Smith is a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, serving as stated supply pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Luling, TX. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.

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50 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Last Minute Edition

  1. Gorgeous photograph, Monica.

    So I thought this would be a good week to put my newfound storytelling skills to work. (Thank you Casey Fitzgerald and BE last January!) Do you know how many PREPOSITIONS are in the gospel story? He got into the boat by himself and went to . . . he went by himself in a boat to . . . he went to a deserted place in a boat by himself . . . .

    I decided not to worry about it. Who knows what story people will actually hear? It will probably have a boat and a deserted place and bread, though. And a lot of people.

    Seriously, I went to a training for coaching churches for renewal this past week, and one of the things we heard repeatedly was that “the gifts are already here.” So I’m using that bread and those fishies to talk about that to a congregation in turmoil. Because they ate, and were filled.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Robin. The photo was taken at our Presbytery’s camp. It’s one of my holy places.

      The storytelling idea sounds great, as does the idea of “the gifts are already here.” It’s easy to focus on our lacks/shortfalls, but not always as easy to see our strengths. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. it is good to know that I am in good company with “last minute” … I would really prefer to be not this last minute … but I seem to be. As long as I have dwelled in the text all week … I am fine … But now I have to get wine, bread, baskets, fish, pulled together before the morning!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Blessings to you, whether that “pulling together” is literal or figurative. “Last minute” seems to be my operating mode lately, so you are definitely not alone!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So far I’m somewhere with “Enough”. I’m using the airport story and the blessing “May you have enough” and the challenge that we are Kingdom people , following last week’s sermon, “The Kingdom is…action” where I listed and described all the kingdom work they do. My prayer for them to get a glimpse that they like the disciples need to get to the point that they have Enough and need to make sure everyone else has enough. That is what being Kingdom people is about.
    Now, how to get there? And we are Baptist so this is communion Sunday (my last with this congregation).


    1. “Enough” is a great concept to hold on to. And I think it’s countercultural, at least for Americans. And thanks for the communion Sunday reminder–us too.

      Blessings as you share your last communion celebration with this congregation.


  4. I’m retooling a sermon from last week on SHEroes — this week only using Deborah and the Woman at the Well. And it’s taking me almost as long as if I started from scratch. (SIGH) What I would appreciate your prayers for is that I lost my drivers license. I had it when I left a nursing home on Tuesday. (They require holding it while you use a facility “fob” to access dementia units.) Now I can’t find it ANYWHERE. I know it was in my car. I thought it was in my purse, just loose. Nope.

    OY. VEY.

    It’s distracting me from finishing…


    1. Ack! I lost my paycheck a couple of weeks ago. It *is* very distracting! I hope it turns up soon. Prayers to whatever saint that is that finds lost things. And good luck with Deborah and the woman at the well!


  5. I pray weekly for all of you in your ‘sermonating.’ I will miss church tomorrow, so reading the links you share will be my church. Thanks to you all for the courageous and holy work you undertake, week in & week out.


      1. Been trying to make this comment, but my accounts seem to be wonky and are telling me I already made this comment. Thanks, Mary Beth for your support for all of us and Monica for hosting. Here’s the comment I may be making for the gagillionth time:

        Peace Sunday for us as we mark the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Using the BCP peace readings for epistle and gospel and a prayer which Thomas Merton sent to Congress in 1962 for the first reading. Think I’ll focus on peace makers and shalom and will talk about peace-trekkers like the people of Billings, Montana, who when one menorah-laden window was broken filled the town with menorahs; and the people in a Philadelphia neighborhood who, when a rainbow flag clad house was attacked,filled the neighborhood with rainbow flags; and here in Albuquerque, the story of grocery shoppers who, when a woman in a hijab was accosted by a fellow shopper, formed a ring around the woman in the hijab thus protecting her while other shoppers escorted the bully out of the store. Think I may begin with the old news reals of scenes from WWII (such as Hiroshima), scenes from the CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite, things that flow into my inbox and then imagine another set of news flashes. Just pulling my thoughts together with a morning cup of coffee and a green chili cheese scone. Come on over. Scones are fresh out of the oven.


        1. This is the first time I’ve seen the comment! Sorry it’s giving you trouble. I am a little distracted by the scones, but I really love all the examples you’re giving for Peace Sunday. Thank you!


  6. This week’s sermon is a dialogue so I had to finish it before today in order to get the script to the other readers. I am telling the story of the feeding and have recruited two congregation members – one to interrupt me to ask questions, and one to clarify words and phrases in the text. The Storyteller, the Questioner, and the Greek Expert!

    I have tried to focus on the disciples – in Matthew, Jesus provides the food but it is the disciples who feed the crowd. We too are called to be disciples to carry out God’s mission where we are, and to focus on God’s abundance rather than our fear of scarcity.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m with the bewildered disciples and wondering how what seems like so little fish and bread could possibility feed the multitudes. I’ve read, pondered and prayed and trying to trust the process I’m (and suspect many of us) are in during these last minutes before we walk into worship or at best finally climb into bed on Saturday nights.

    A good reminder that we already have what we need – or most of us that live in first world countries. All shall be well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sure I have what I need for this sermon–it just needs to get on the screen! Ha!

      Trusting the process is a good thing. Thanks to you for that reminder.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Wrestling here! Why was Jacob always wrestling? Even in the womb! How did God welcome, even encourage his wrestling? How did this struggle help him become the patriarch he was chosen to be? What are we wrestling with, and are we willing to engage God in the struggle? How might God bless us both as individuals and as a congregation as we struggle with what we have done and what the future holds? OK – lots of questions. Hopefully this will settle into something that will preach.


    1. Oh, I really like the question about how his struggles helped him become the patriarch he was chosen to be. It’s already preaching!


  9. Preaching friends, it’s just past lunchtime here in my time zone. I still have nothing written. I think I’m suffering from that “this is my last Sunday to preach before vacation” syndrome. I have an idea for the ending, but nothing for the beginning or middle. It might be a late night around here!

    How is it going for you? What can we get you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s my problem exactly: vacation starts Monday morning, but my head and heart are already there and not on today’s task of sermon-writing!


  10. Feast of the Transfiguration, a baptism (my first!), and yes, the Sunday before I leave town for a week. Looking at Jesus through the eyes of the disciples, hearing God’s voice recalling Jesus’s baptism (“This is my son”), then talking about the sacrament we’ll participate in. We see God’s glory in each other and in the world around us “shining like shook foil.”
    I’m at the idea-generating place in my sermonating!


  11. I’m doing Transfiguration as well. I’m struck by the idea that they were in a cloud when they heard the voice…several possible ways to take that, but I can’t seem to follow one much beyond just being intrigued by it. I’ve done plenty of other things today, but none of them lead me in the direction of a sermon! My mind is on vacation starting Monday and younger son going off to college in a few weeks.

    At our short all-ages service, we’ve been doing a series on the Lord’s Prayer; tomorrow is the last day, so it’s “The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.” An article in yesterday’s NY Times about the incredible journeys of the Voyager spacecraft struck me, that these things are going so amazingly far into God’s creation–and yet barely touching the edges of it–and how far God’s power extends, way beyond these missions. I will probably talk about how we so often make God way too small…and yet that each one of us, dwarfed by the enormity of space, is just as precious to God. The Voyager project manager for the last several decades is a parish member, so that’s a perfect way into it. Wondering if I can morph this short sermon into a longer one that will work for the other service as well!


    1. I think there’s potential for two-sermons-in-one! The Transfiguration is obviously beyond our comprehension, as are the limits of the universe.


  12. It is evening here and therefore time to get to work…I am preaching on Timothy and his mother/grandmother, thinking about what it means to be in a long line of people of faith, and about faith as a gift that passes (by the spirit of course) from generation to generation, and about faith as alive in us, not something possessed by us.
    I have only the vaguest of mental outlines, used when I reflected on this text at the nursing home service yesterday. Hopefully it’ll come together though…

    Snack-wise, I have jam that Julie was making last week while she was hosting this preacher party, so I can make toast, or pb&j, for anyone in need of a pick-me-up. 🙂 it’s delicious!


  13. I think I have it written. Not sure about the ending, but too close to it at the moment to make that call. Preaching how the Gospel this week is parable in real life and what it teaches; God is in the desert (presence) and God heals us (bread, forgiveness) and invites us to participate as we are.


  14. Sunday morning here, and i have just shuffled a few sentences around. The sermon was partly from 3 years ago, so that made it a little easier to write, particularly as some of what i had been pondering this week was [surprisingly] the same as 3 years ago. That meant i was finished a little earlier than usual.
    feeding with compassion</a
    this morning we start a mission planning process, which will be run by a staff person form Presbytery; i would appreciate prayers that she captures their imaginations, as some are sceptical about any mission planning.
    time for breakfast – cereal, toast or tea for anyone?


  15. Also working last minute and also preaching on the Transfiguration, although taking a new approach and considering all of the reasons the disciples might have had for “telling no one” about this extraordinary encounter with God. Linking it to how hard it can be for us to talk about our experiences of God…almost there, but not quite. I fear I may be up late putting the finishing touches on it…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Done! It’s not *quite* what I want, but it’ll probably do. Especially since it’s now past 11pm! I’ll sleep on it and maybe make some edits in the morning (read: on the bus on the way to church).
    Since I know it’s just dinner time for lots of you, I’m happy to share the pasta with spinach and goat cheese that I had for dinner! It’s delicious.


  17. Well I was done yesterday until I reread it today. Might be retooling. Not sure yet. I’m preaching the feeding of the 5000 and “bring what you have” including your leaky roof, your stained floors, your too-high utility bills, along with your hopes, your wisdom/strengths, your other resources – bring them to Jesus and let him create abundance. Something like that. It’s hard to write with an abundance imagination with the scarcity of time ticking away.


    1. It’s just hard to write with an abundance imagination, period. I hope it either resolves itself quickly, or rests as-is easily.


  18. Oh, do I know that “If it’s not even interesting to me…” feeling 😮

    Had an experience this afternoon that’s pointing me in another direction from my original thoughts on a Transfig sermon. We live near the finish of a 100 mile endurance race through the mountains. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a priest I’ve never met who is running in it and wondered about the possibility of getting a ride to church in the morning (that’s dedication!). My husband and I drove up the highway to cheer him on at the 52 mile mark; we identified him by his number. I began thinking about how the disciples and Jesus got up the mountain…what was that journey like? Did they, like us, have to turn back, get something, and retrace their steps? Was it relatively easy, like our drive, or grueling with more pain to come, like this priest’s? On our way back down, we ended up 3rd in a line of 9 cars and two motorcycles behind someone going way too slowly and not using the turnouts; what were the disciples frustrations as they headed down (besides not being able to tell)? I think I’m going to play with this for a while.

    In the meantime, I have some pan-seared yellowfin tuna a friend caught, if anyone needs dinner!


  19. Thankfully all I had left was a tweak for today. At the church for a blessing of a couple who was married in November. One of the few weddings etc where the reception is also held at the church. It was the first in our newly remodeled fellowship hall which was finished yesterday! I know…I know! When we set it the finish date was June 10th.

    I am preaching on the Antioch Incident in the book of Acts and using the ladder of inference as a sermon illustration. I learned it at a synod event I attended earlier this year…actually going to use a ladder.


    1. We had our wedding reception in a barely-finished Fellowship Hall, too!

      I”m glad you’re all set for tomorrow, ladder included!


  20. Well I’m last minute as ever….30 mins to midnight my time and I’m just getting started writing…of course I’ve been reading and thinking all week. I’ve found that even if I try to write ahead of time, I still end up making major changes or going a new direction completely at the last minute. The Spirit never seems to speak to me until then, so I’ve kind of given up doing anything earlier lol.

    In regards to the sermon I am relating the Stone Soup folktale to the Feeding of the 5000 and talking about the power of compassion and community coming together. I really like the phrase Robin used “the gifts are already here” as a reminder that we as a church already have the gifts we need to make a difference in our community, we just aren’t using them yet. (This summer I’ve been leading conversations exploring who we want to be as a church and focused the sermons around the theme of being the church and what it means.)

    Well time to stop writing here and write the sermon itself 🙂


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