How are you all doing?

I am currently at the point where I squeaked the bulletin out Friday (this)  morning and am just now doing the work of looking at the RCL for my sermon. Its been a busy week, well more like a regularly busy week after a a super busy month, so I feel like I’ve been coming from behind for a while.

Currently, I’m Mulling about jealousy in Genesis 37.

Particularly I’m thinking of generational wars, of how blaming millennials for everything, especially the dying churches, is a big thing.

I’m also thinking how we’d love to throw millennials down the pit, those of us who have been doing the work for years. Joseph was the youngest. Therefore I think he was born in Canaan and adapted easily to where they were. Whereas his older brothers, many of whom no doubt helped with the household’s actual move, are overlooked .

As a white Presbyterian in the US, I continue to come to terms with how privileged my mainline religion has been for so long. Now that we are no longer the favorites, how to do we define ourselves? Are we more than the favored religion in America? (I hope so)

Then in the back of mind I’m also concerned about how jealousy is alive and well when we complain about soccer or the socioeconomic reality that people have to work or get some much needed rest on Sunday.

How do justice and peace kiss each other? How do we get to Psalm 85:8-13 from Genesis? How does God get us from jealousy to reconciliation? Because the Bible is Thr story of how God works for reconciliation, always, no matter what. Where are the changes wrought here?

As you can see I have about 6 or 7 sermons percolating, so I’m going to have to buckle down to one idea for the sermon.
How about you folks, how are you all doing? Share where you are and how you doing the sermon thing tonight.

 


Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY for over six years. When she is not dreaming up projects and ideas, some of which creep into the church, she plays with her three boys-boys or goes and visits her husband at the library, while he works, to read


 

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28 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party

  1. For once not waiting until early Sunday morning to post. I have been watching Charlottesville, VA footage and feel the need to preach on this Sunday. Not sure yet how to get it in the lectionary or how to bring it up without alienating my entire congregation…anyone else trying to tackle this?

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  2. Just got home from the prayer service in Charlottesville (live about an hour and a half away). I’m not able to stand with them tomorrow, but needed to add my presence and voice tonight. I should be sleeping, but instead I’m struggling with how to preach this in my congregation. Rev. Blackmon asked us “where are today’s prophets, where are today’s dreamers?” I’m wondering if I have the courage, the strength and the wisdom to respond. Working on the Gospel text, particularly hearing Jesus say “be not afraid
    ” Fear colors far too much of our lives, and evil in our world preys on fear, feeds it, magnifies it. It flourishes in the torchlight that was swarming in C’ville tonight. Jesus and the scriptures tell us over and over “fear not.” We need to hear, heed and take those words to heart in this time and place. Gotta throw a bit of the Romans in there, too. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” OK – I have tomorrow, well actually today to polish it up but I think it’s there. Night all.

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  3. Our congregation is having Peace Sunday (including an international food festival) a date picked in January but timely given this week in the world. We have friends and colleagues living in Korea, China and Japan who are very much in our minds this week and even here in New Zealand we are watching what is happening in Charlottesville and praying for colleagues and brothers and sisters in Christ who are standing for peace and justice and against white supremacy. I have not yet worked out what to say in the children’s talk tomorrow but my office is stacked full of boxes ready to set up prayer stations between the 7:30am and 9:30am services.

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  4. Kings and Matthew, and the idea in my mind is about the noisiness and chaos of the world, and how we need to step aside at times and be with God, be still, focus on God rather than the waves or those who would kill us.
    also the idea that we may feel we are on our own, but we are not.
    playing ‘You are Mine’ by David Haas after the sermon as part of our reflection time
    we are also in our mission planning process for the month. thinking about what we do well, what we would like to be doing, and what resources we have.
    Saturday evening here, and dinner is [hopefully] almost ready. chicken pies, potato, pumpkin and peas.

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  5. IF YOU WANT TO WALK ON WATER, YOU GOTTA GET OUT OF THE BOAT
    Matthew 14:22-33

    May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you, our Creator and Sustainer.

    In today’s gospel of Matthew it was pointed out that the wind was very strong and the waves were very high, but Peter did not notice them at first. In his excitement at recognizing his Lord he stepped out of the boat and walked on the water. When he realized what he was actually doing and he instantly sank. Glub! Glub!

    Did Peter sink because he didn’t have enough faith as Jesus accused him when he said

    ‘oh ye of little faith’? (Matthew 14:31)

    I don’t think so.

    The first thing I think is important to clear up is that, at least to me, “faith” or “belief” doesn’t mean belief in an expected outcome, but rather trust in another person. Believing in Jesus does not mean believing that we’ll be “successful” (however we define that!) in whatever it is that Jesus is calling us to do. Nor does having faith IN Jesus imply blithely signing off on a list of statements ABOUT Jesus, His teachings, His examples, and His call to us. Having faith in Jesus means a willingness to follow Jesus; to have faith isn’t an activity of the brain so much as of the heart. In other words, faith is about doing. A faithful person eventually gets to the point where they can say to God, “I don’t know where you’re going, but I know that wherever it is, I’d rather be drowning with you than anywhere else.” In my own life, that kind of trust in Jesus comes from knowing Jesus. The kind of trust I have in Jesus has come as I’ve experienced Jesus’ generosity and mercy. That process of building confidence, of getting to know Jesus so deeply that I can trust Jesus is part of what I call the “journey of faith”.

    When I say that faith is ‘doing’, what I mean is that I believe faith begins with action, with taking a step, with taking a risk. The best intentions in the world don’t do much without action, but taking that step, even with mixed or unclear intentions, just might give you the experience of meeting God on the road, in the dark valley, or at sea.

    So, if you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.

    But there is a lot of risk in doing so.

    Water Walkers Will Face Storms
    When you are serving God, and trying to be obedient to Christ, you will have to face storms of trials and difficulties. Even as you sit here today, you may be going through a personal storm. And in almost every instance, it is hard to see God’s hand and love as you weather those storms. Maybe it’s financial problems, or problems in a relationship; you might be having family problems, or problems at your job or school. We all have storms in our lives. Anyone who tells you that leading a true Christian life is smooth sailing – that life is easy or your worries disappear – doesn’t understand what the Bible teaches about serving the Lord. 2 Timothy 3:12 says,

    In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

    Remember, the disciples were in a storm because they were trying to be obedient to Jesus. Matthew 14:22 says

    Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side.

    And they did, or at least they tried to. And many hours later they had not made much progress. So remember first of all, obedient water walkers will face storms.

    Water Walkers Recognize God’s Presence
    Jesus wanted to be alone to pray, He sent the disciples ahead without him. To them it was no big deal – they used boats for fishing on a daily basis. But this huge storm blew in – bigger than most storms. Matthew says that the boat was “buffeted” by the waves. It was so violent that the disciples could barely keep the boat upright.

    I can imagine that they wished the sides of the boat were a little higher and the wood a little thicker. Deep in the night, the storm was getting really bad. I can imagine that at that point they weren’t worried about making it to the other side – they just wanted to stay alive. The disciples were in great fear and deep distress. It is about this time that Jesus decided to come toward them.

    It’s interesting – Jesus wasn’t in a boat and the disciples didn’t recognize him. It’s also interesting that being boat-less didn’t seem to slow Jesus down at all. The disciples were convinced he was a ghost, so they were terrified and cried out in fear. But Matthew wants us to know that sometimes it is only with the eyes of faith that we can fully recognize when Jesus is present.

    Often, our own lives are tormented by waves of disappointment and doubt. And we are usually no better at recognizing his presence than the disciples were.

    What was Jesus up to, walking around on the sea in the middle of a stormy night? He saw the disciples straining at the oars because the wind was against them. Yet when Jesus came to the disciples on the water, he was not just doing a neat magic trick. He was revealing His divine presence and power.

    It is interesting that the disciples took the boat out in the first place at Jesus’ command. They would have to learn, as we all do, that obedience is no guarantee of being spared adversity. But as the storm gained their full attention, Jesus decided that it was time for the disciples to get to know a little bit more about the one who was really piloting this storm.

    Basically, Jesus wanted them to be able to also trust him in the storms. The problem was “they just didn’t get it.”

    God was visiting them while walking on the water but they didn’t see it; for us, Jesus often comes when least expected – in the middle of a storm. I believe that extreme stress can be a frequent meeting place with God. These are those divinely-appointed defining moments that come into all of our lives. And, if you’re not looking for him, if you cannot acknowledge that He can be there in the storm, you might just miss him.

    Twelve disciples sat in the boat; we don’t know how the other eleven responded to Jesus’ voice. Were they confused?

    Did they respond with wonder?

    Disbelief?

    Or perhaps a little of each! But one of them, Peter, was about to become a water walker. He recognized that God was present – even in the most unlikely place, and he rushed to meet his Lord, oblivious to the risk – never questioning that Jesus was walking on water, only realizing that he was there.

    Water Walkers Know the Difference Between Faith and Foolishness
    Peter blurted out to Jesus,

    “if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28)

    Why doesn’t Peter just plunge into the water? This is not just a story about risk taking; it is also a story about obedience. That means we will have to determine an authentic call from God and what might simply be a foolish impulse on our part. Courage alone is not enough; it must be accompanied by wisdom and discernment. This is not a story about extreme actions; it’s about extreme discipleship! This means that before Peter gets out of the boat – he had better make sure Jesus thinks it’s good idea. So, he asks for clarity,

    “if it is you, command me…” (Matthew 14:28)

    Peter had enough faith to believe that he too could share in the eternal mystery and power of the Savior of mankind. That if Jesus commanded him to do something, no matter how difficult or extreme, he could do it.

    Water walkers will face storms. Water walkers recognize God’s presence. Water walkers acknowledge the difference between faith and foolishness.

    Water Walkers MUST Get Out of the Boat
    Put yourself in this story; picture in your mind how violent the storm must have been. It was strong enough to keep seasoned professional fishermen struggling just to avoid being capsized. Imagine the size of the waves, the strength of the wind, the darkness of this night. These were the conditions under which Peter was going to get out of the boat. It would be tough enough to try to walk on water when the water is calm, the sun is bright, and the air is still. Imagine trying to do it when the waves are crashing, the wind is at gale force, it’s pitch black and you are terrified!

    Put yourself in Peter’s place for a moment. You have a sudden insight into what Jesus is doing. Jesus is inviting you to go on the adventure of your life. But at the same time, you’re scared to death. What would you choose – the water or the boat? The boat is safe, more secure, and certainly more comfortable. The water is rough and the waves are high, the wind is strong; there’s a storm out there. And if you get out of the boat – whatever your boat happens to be – there’s a good chance you might sink! But if you don’t get out of the boat there’s a guaranteed certainty that you will never walk on the water. If you want to walk on water –you gotta get out of the boat. I believe there is something – some voice inside us – that assures us there is more to life than sitting in the boat.

    You and I were made for something more than merely avoiding failure. There’s something inside us that wants us to walk on the water – to leave the comfort of mere existence and abandon ourselves to the higher adventure of following God. So, let me ask you a very important question:

    what’s your boat?

    • your boat is whatever represents safety and security to you apart from God himself;

    • your boat is whatever you are tempted to cling to, especially when life gets a little stormy;

    • your boat is whatever keeps you so comfortable that you don’t want to give it up even if it’s keeping you from joining Jesus in a miraculous and transforming journey;

    • your boat is whatever pulls you away from the high adventure of extreme discipleship.

    Do you want to know what your boat is?

    Your fear will tell you. Just ask yourself this: what is it that most produces fear in me?

    Fear of failure or loss of dignity?
    Fear of judgment or making a mistake?
    Fear or being seen as a fool or fanatic?

    In what area(s) of your life are you shrinking back from fully and courageously trusting God? Fear will tell you what your boat is. Leaving it may be the hardest thing you will ever do. But if you want to walk on the water, you gotta get out of the boat!

    Remember: Water walkers will face storms; water walkers recognize God’s presence; water walkers know the difference between faith and foolishness; water walkers get out of the boat.

    Water Walkers Face Their Fears to Grow
    So, Peter goes to the side of the boat. The other disciples are watching closely. They wonder how far he will take this thing. One can imagine he put one foot over the side, carefully gripping the edge of the boat. Then he put the other foot over the boat; he’s holding on for dear life.

    For a while it’s as if Peter and Jesus are present on the water. Peter is beaming with delight. Jesus is thrilled with his student – like master, like disciple. Then it happens – Peter saw and felt the wind. Reality set in, and Peter surely asked himself, “what was I thinking?” He realized he was standing on the water in the middle of a storm with no boat beneath him – and he was terrified!

    Nothing had really changed. The storm shouldn’t have been a surprise – it had been there all along. What really had taken place was that Peter’s focus had shifted from Jesus to the storm.

    We are all the same. We start something filled with hope, then reality sets in. Setbacks. Opposition. Unexpected obstacles. We see and feel the wind.

    It should be expected. The world’s a pretty stormy place. But somehow trouble still has the power to catch us by surprise. Because of the wind. some people decide to never leave the boat. If you get out of the boat, you will face the wind and the storms out there. But you should know there is no guarantee that life in the boat is going to be any safer, it is just more limited, finite, full of fear and doubt.

    Peter faced a choice, as we all do. The choice to follow Jesus – the choice to grow – the choice to overcome fear. You’ve got to get out of the boat a little every day! Here’s a deep truth about water walking: the fear never goes away, it is always lurking there.

    Why? Because each time you want to grow, it will involve going into new territory, taking on new challenges. And each time you do that, you will experience fear again. As you see in this story… you will always have choices…

    risk vs. security
    exhilaration vs. comfort.

    Yet, every time you get out of the boat, you become a little more likely to get out the next time. It’s not that the fear goes away, but that you get used to dealing with fear. And each time fear loses its power to destroy you. On the other hand, every time you resist that voice, every time you choose to stay in the boat rather than heed its call, the voice gets a little quieter and further away.

    Then, at last you may not hear its call at all.

    Water Walkers Master Failure
    As a result of seeing the wind and giving in to fear, Peter began to sink into the water. So here is the question: Did Peter fail? Before I offer you an answer, let me make an observation about failure.

    Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us, or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes.

    Did you know that:

    • Before Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio that finally worked, he tried 200 unsuccessful times.

    • When Thomas Edison was branded a failure in his attempts to create a light bulb he said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

    • Before James Dyson invented the perfect vacuum cleaner he went through 5,127 prototypes.

    So… did Peter fail? Probably.

    He took his eyes off the Lord and sank. But I think there were eleven greater failures sitting in the boat. At least Peter got out of the water and walked toward Jesus – and even for a short time he DID walk on the water.

    Peter did not fail because he got out of the boat. The saddest failure is to never get out of the boat! Water walkers see failure as an opportunity to grow. As soon as Peter asks for help, Jesus was there.

    “Lord… save me.” (Matthew 14:30)

    Jesus helped him physically by pulling him out of the water. But he also helped Peter grow by pinpointing the problem:

    “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

    I don’t think Jesus was being harsh or critical here. Jesus made this comment to Peter while they were still out on the water alone. Jesus didn’t embarrass him in front of his fellow disciples. The problem was clear: whether Peter sank into or walked on the water depended on whether he focused on the storm or on Jesus. Whether he focused on his own limitations and doubts or believed that Jesus would help him overcome these limitation and doubts.

    It was Peter’s willingness to risk failure that helped him to grow. Failure is an indispensable, irreplaceable part of learning and growth. Failure doesn’t shape you; the way you respond to failure shapes you.

    Jesus is still looking for people who will get out of the boat.

    So, why should you risk it?

    • it is the only way to real growth

    • it is the way true faith develops

    • it is part of discovering your reason for being and answering your own calling.

    I believe that there are many good reasons to get out of the boat. But there is one that stands above them all. . .

    the water is where Jesus is.

    Jesus is not in the boat!

    The water may be dark, wet, and dangerous. But remember, Jesus is not in the boat.

    Peter’s request was,

    “Lord, if it’s you, command me to come to you.” Then Peter got out of the boat and came toward Jesus. (Matthew 14:28)

    Because Peter did this – he came to a deeper understanding of his master than ever before.

    So, how about you? When was the last time you got out of the boat?

    The call to get out of the boat involves discomfort, often disappointment, perhaps some failure, fear and sometimes suffering. It is always a call for a task too big for us. But there is no other way to grow closer to God!

    So where are you this morning?

    • Huddled in the boat with a life jacket and your seat belt on?

    • One leg in, one leg out?

    • Out of the boat, but fearful, still clinging to the edge?

    • Or looking with faith into the eyes of Jesus and walking on water?

    Let us pray.

    Lord Jesus, help us to walk with you wherever this life may take me. Help us to recognize whatever it is that:

    Help us to seek you,
    Help us to trust you,
    Help us to obey you teachings,

    Help us to face our fears and trust whatever the storms of life may be, You are there, guiding and redeeming us.

    Amen.

    Delivered at Saint John’s Worthington and Parts Adjacent, Worthington, OH; 13 August 2017

    Liked by 2 people

    1. added this to the end to address Charlottesville:

      The call to get out of the boat involves discomfort, often disappointment, perhaps some failure, fear and sometimes suffering. It is always a call for a task too big for us. But there is no other way to grow closer to God!

      We saw the underbelly of American the last two days in Charlottesville, Virginia. People who now feel that they have ‘permission’, even support from people in the government, to spew their hatred and bigotry and racism openly and violently. We saw armed militias carrying Confederate flags marching in goosesteps, white supremacists shouting angry slogans, members of the KKK no longer hiding under bedsheets, but openly proclaiming their part in the election of the president and right to return America to a white, Christian nation. Hatred consumed these people; something that is NOT a Christian value.

      And most tragic of all, we saw a young person from Maumee, Ohio, deliberately drove his car into a group of peaceful counter-protestors, killing at least one innocent bystander just trying to cross the street, and injuring scores of others, some who may still succumb to their injuries.

      But we also saw a group of people of faith joined together (Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists and others) singing This little light of mine in love and fellowship to counter the vitriolic chants of the ultra-conservative Alt-Right, Neo-Nazis, KKK, nationalists, white supremacy, armed militia, and people angry because Charlottesville wants to remove a statue of Robert E Lee from a park called ‘Emancipation Park’.

      Most of us cannot make any sense or see any justifiable reason for the actions of those who chose to create discord and spew bigotry and hatred and xenophobia. But, those people of faith chose to take the risk, get out there, arms joined together in solidarity, and do what was right. They chose to get out of the boat! – to risk life and limb to present to the world what the love and teachings of Jesus really are.

      They got out of the boat!

      So where are you this morning?

      • Huddled in the boat with a life jacket and your seat belt on?

      • One leg in, one leg out?

      • Out of the boat, but fearful, still clinging to the edge?

      • Or looking with faith into the eyes of Jesus and walking on water?

      Let us pray.

      Lord Jesus, help us to walk with you wherever this life may take us. Help us to recognize whatever it is that:

      Helps us to seek you,
      Helps us to trust you,
      Helps us to obey your teachings.

      Help us to face our fears and trust whatever the storms of life may be, You are there, guiding and redeeming us. Be with those who have died and are injured physically and emotionally from this horrid incident in Charlottesville. Wrap your loving arms around them and the rest of the nation, reminding us that

      The greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

      And give us the strength to get out of the boat.

      Amen.

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  6. Complicated. I have been serving as temporary supply to a congregation whose pastor has been on medical leave all summer. Last week it was revealed that he will not be returning, and this Sunday he will be speaking to the congregation. I am preaching for about three minutes on Jesus walking toward us in the storms of life, and then it is all his. Maybe. His condition saps him of energy and words, and he will have already done the call to worship and children’s time, so I may have to respond on the spur of the moment, with no real way to prepare in advance.

    Today I am pondering the prayers of the people as my only way in to what is happening in the nation and world, and not wanting them to become a political speech, not wanting to distract from the very real challenge to the congregation, and yet wanting to say: hiding in a concrete shelter or failing to confront the KKK does not constitute participating in God’s new creation. Or maybe . . . I need to take that course I saw online yesterday about prayer as protest.

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  7. finished, not quite what i was planning on writing, but close. this will be followed by a song by David Haas, which starts – I will come to you in the silence.
    overwhelmed by ? pondering the nature of life through 1 Kings and Matthew readings.
    very nearly time to sleep [11.05 pm Saturday]

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  8. I’m guest-preaching at my son’s church in Vancouver, BC. If I were preaching at my home parish, I’d be speaking directly about Korea and Charlottesville, fear and Jesus’s faithfulness. I’m not sure how much of that belongs here, so I’ll be listening prayerfully today as I spend time with my son.

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  9. 8pm in Scotland and it’s time to get to work…I spent my day at a training seminar (well, mostly traveling to and from said seminar, and then a few hours actually in it), and came home to the news from Charlottesville. I don’t quite know how much of that to address here since it’s such a different context than the one I now live in, but I suspect it’ll work its way in somehow.
    We are nearing the end of the intergenerational series…it’s Jesus welcoming the children tomorrow. I’m thinking about “whoever doesn’t welcome the kingdom like a child will not enter it”…maybe being both about how we welcome children/lowly/outsiders and also about being like children (status-less, curious, accepting, etc). I’m not sure yet how that’ll play out though.
    I have Scottish berries just picked yesterday…raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. You bring the whipped cream and it’ll be a party. 🙂

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  10. I actually finished (a pretty good) message on Joseph and dreams and the future on Thursday. Took yesterday pretty much off, as is my schedule, and planned on using today to plan fall themes.

    I have been in tears all day. I have friends and colleagues in Charlottesville, I lived there for a while, I’ve been doing some in-depth work on racism recently–my pretty-good sermon just went on the shelf. I have no idea what I will say tomorrow morning, things are still happening so fast–I will wait until tonight to write.

    But O, my sisters and brothers, my heart is breaking, and how can I speak to the congregation tomorrow? I know Spirit will give me something…some words of comfort and courage and strength and ways to conquer…but right now my heart is in ashes.

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  11. Fear. Terror. Courage. Writing from Charlottesville, these words keep reverberating in my heart and head. One dead [so far], 30-50 injuries at the hospital, who knows how many more, a law enforcement helicopter just crashed, and night is coming. My message [let’s hope it becomes something like a sermon] builds on Ecclesiastes: a season for everything. Some seasons come upon us without asking, some seasons we can choose. May God’s people choose the seasons of peace and love, and reject/resist the seasons of war and hate. Pray for us all.

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    1. Hi. Wrote my sermon a couple days ago, tweaked it a little this morning without a view of the news, went to an ordination and sat down to catch up after dinner. Right. Now I have written a second sermon, having seen some footage from Charlottesville and caught up. Second sermon’s main point of view: God’s word says that every one who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Jesus did not come down from heaven as a white man, but as a Middle Eastern Jewish man. God does not prefer white and God does not make any distinctions between us based on race or creed (there is neither Jew nor Greek…) So neither can we. Not everyone who mentions the name of Christ has been paying attention to God’s character in this matter; white supremacy often calls itself a Christian culture. It is not, for it is not based on Christ’s (God’s) true character. We have to speak this truth, for how can they call upon Him to be saved if they have not truly heard what Jesus is like? But this feels a little bit like Elijah felt when he had to deal with corruption in his society. It feels a little bit like the disciples felt in the midst of the rush of wind and the choppy dark waves in the night. It feels a little bit like what Peter felt when he stepped out onto the waves. It feels like fear, like doubt and fear. And when Elijah and Peter felt fear and doubt, God showed up. The clergy who walked and sang today carried the light of who Christ really is into a dark place. Just like Peter grasped Jesus’ hand, the clergy linked arms. The church of Jesus must witness to the true love of God for humanity, all of it without distinction, and to do that we must help one another. Let us pray for God to help all of us as we confront evil in all its forms. The sermon hymn this week is Eternal Father, strong to save. I ask them to sing it as a prayer for all who are struggling against the chaos and evil of this world……….. Pray for this nation, sisters. Amen.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Tomorrow I am supply preaching at a church on their ninth week of a sermon series based on Richard Rohr’s book, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. This week is Step 9: Make direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. The gospel verse is Luke 15:19 from the prodigal son.

    I am feeling called to preach on making amends from the fallout in Charlottesville and historically in our nation to our addiction to white supremacy through the lens of the prodigal son story. Love, have mercy. Lord, have mercy…

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  13. I’m working from Matthew. It’s our Back-to-School Blessing of the Backpacks Sunday and I’m struggling with how to balance making that celebration what it needs to be (we have used this as an opportunity to reach out to the community, and I’m really hoping that we have new visitors in worship) and confronting what’s going on in Charlottesville. My focus had been generally on the fact that living as a Christian calls us to step out into uncomfortable situations / try new things – I was going to relate that to kids starting a new school year and having courage to be themselves. But now, I’m thinking I will pivot within the sermon to talking about the risks that all of us are called to take in order to truly follow Jesus.

    For what it’s worth, if this is of interest to anyhow, here are some of the notes I’ve jotted down:

    Ship is often used as a symbol of the church
    – the “vessel of salvation,”
    – in general, this is a positive symbol

    But in the light of today’s scripture and in light of the events of this weekend, particularly the vile demonstrations by white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA – the image of the church as a ship can also be a powerful corrective

    Too many times, we, like the other disciples, want to just stay on the boat – especially when the wind and the waves are up, when the storm is brewing
    – Jesus coming towards us doesn’t seem like a comforting figure, but instead a confronting specter
    – we just want to stay on the boat – where it’s safe, where it’s familiar
    – we may get jostled around a bit, but at least we’re here – safe and sound and protected

    But that is not what we are called to do
    – we, like Peter, are called out of the boat
    – out of the security of these four walls – of the folks who think and act (more or less) like us – of the familiar – where we can be satisfied with our prayers and our study
    – we are called into the storm – out onto the rough waters themselves

    Our feet may be unsteady, we may notice the wind and start to sink, but we are called to step out
    – to confront the storm – to speak out against evil – to refuse to stay shut away behind closed doors and locked portholes

    It may mean stepping farther away from your friends and your family, but it will take you closer to Jesus
    – closer to the kingdom that he calls us to embody
    – closer to those that he calls blessed

    Some of us are already out there – on the waves, feeling swamped and overwhelmed, maybe wishing a boat would come by
    – but Jesus reaches out a hand

    I’ve got bad news for you – it’s not safe in the boat
    – it may feel safe, it may feel steady and protected
    – it may be safe for a little while
    – but the only true safety – the safety of a love stronger than death, of a light stronger than any darkness – is with Jesus
    – and to get to him – you are going to have to walk on water, you are going to have to brave the storm, you are going to have to get out of the boat

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m glad you’re going there even though / especially because there might be visitors. After all, we ALL might have visitors among those who are reeling from what’s unfolding around white supremacy. How terrible it would be for those who are in that situation to show up and not have Charlottesville and racism and white privilege be an important piece of the worship service! If I were visiting somewhere today and got the idea it was “business as usual” from the pulpit … well, I don’t know if I’d walk out during the service on the theory that if I left I might miss it, but I wouldn’t stay for coffee hour and wouldn’t come back.

      Peace to you as you strike the right balance for your situation.

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  14. Yep I’m back at the sermon today. (Due to Charlottesville and my white American context) Definitely rewriting about how Joseph’s own bros betrayed him and how the Nei-Nazis are baptized into our church esp as a white woman. Singing This Little Light of mine all day and will def sneak it in tomorrow.

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    1. Just remembered that we already have This Little Light of Mine set for the hymn right after the sermon tomorrow! (Originally picked because it would be kid-friendly). The Holy Spirit is at work.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I’m not preaching tomorrow, but I just dropped by to let the 11th hour preachers know that I’m praying for you all especially this week. May the power and wisdom of Christ be with you all, especially those who are facing late nights because you’ve discerned a need to go back to the drawing board with your sermon, or those whose voices shake because you’re not sure how your congregations will receive the word you have to say, or you’re not sure of the exact right words yourselves. Have courage!

    Liked by 5 people

  16. As a sermon listener, I want to say that I am praying on my knees for all of you and for everyone preparing to preach. Such a crucial and painful time to bear the Word and a message of hope.

    My rector preached a brave and prophetic sermon several months ago. There was definite pushback. I was proud and grateful to be a member of the Vestry and be able to support him. I hope that you all have strong and courageous leaders to back you up as you lead.

    Liked by 3 people

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