Hello!

Welcome to Advent, first Sunday of a very busy season. Hopefully you are not feeling too frazzled or stressed. If you are, I hope you have great helpers that you can ask at this point of the season for support! Maybe its time to pause and read Rev. Deborah Vaughn’s Edge of Advent Prayer or if you want to connect Barbara Bruneau’s Friday Festival has some good Advent links.

I am here drinking tea and my sermon has a main point, but not much else. I’ve read through both Rachael Keefe’s RCL post about keeping awake to hope and Marci Audi Glass’s NL post about how names have power, both in the book of Daniel and today. I love to see where the RCL and NL intersect, or where they don’t. Truthfully though, I will probably go to bed and work on it more tomorrow. I am personally more of a morning person, and do well to sleep on it.

How about you , are you more of a morning person or a night one? Is your sermon almost finished (are you one of those people who amazingly has all of Lent planned?) or are you listening closely for the Holy Spirit? Grab a chair and tell us about how your advent planning is progressing.


Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY for over seven 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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16 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party

  1. thinking about the Daniel reading, and civil disobedience. The Bible project has a video and picture of the outline of the book. the video is too long to show, here, but i am using the picture of the overview and highlighting some parts.

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  2. Finished. I broke the screen on my iPad yesterday, which means i will be printing the service for tomorrow, haven’t done that for ages.
    before the reading from Daniel 3, i will give and outline of the book, and a little history.
    Hope that motivates faithfulness
    time for sleep in this part of the world.

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  3. I am using the text from Isaiah 64 and am captured by the “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down” words and image. I am working up a series for Advent (in the RCL) on Longing at the manger and “The Journey” to Bethlehem. I am having trouble coming up with any sermon suitable stories of longing, even though I know/hear plenty I couldn’t share publically in this place. I’m looking forward to hearing where everyone else is headed….

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  4. I am cheating a bit and borrowing the texts from next week because this is the only week in advent that I’ll be preaching (next week we have lessons and carols, and the following week the nativity, and then my colleague has advent 4). I love Isaiah 40 so much I couldn’t pass it up.

    Of course, I don’t currently know what I’m going to say about it (and John the Baptist too), but it’s only early afternoon so plenty of time. 😉

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  5. Isaiah and Psalm 80 (RCL) for me. I went back to a sermon writing style I was taught in seminary (one of many styles), Paul Wilson’s four pages. They are trouble in the text, trouble in the world, good news today, and good news today. I let Advent I (hope) be lament and said Advent is not a time to put on our rose colored glasses but to tell the truth about the world. The hope comes from the potter and clay image and being malleable in the hands of God. St. Irenaues’ prayer is the way I ended it. (note: I am going to edit it to make it inclusive.)

    It is not you that shapes God
    it is God that shapes you.
    If you are the work of God
    await the hand of the artist
    who does all things in due season.
    Offer Him your heart,
    soft and tractable,
    and keep the form
    in which the artist has fashioned you.
    Let your clay be moist,
    lest you grow hard
    and lose the imprint of his fingers.
    St. Irenaeus

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          1. I have his book and often turn to it when I’m stuck. That pattern seems to open up some entry points, even if I end up writing the sermon with a different approach. My memory of the “four pages” is this:
            1. What problem was faced by those in the text?
            2. What (similar) problem do we face today?
            3. What was the message/solution for those in the text?
            4. What is the message for us today?

            The order of the pages can be rearranged for style and impact. The way I use it, Page 4 usually remains the last one, but I will re-order the first three in a variety of ways.

            Thanks, Elaine, for the reminder of this helpful tool.

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    1. You posted about this in the FB group also yes? Thanks so much because it is saving me this week too! Also what a great prayer! I’ve been struggling with what the “hope” is and you have inspired me.

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  6. Quick question: I have always assumed that biblical text in poetic stanza form, is always a text that was originally sung/ chanted. Does anyone know if that assumption is a reasonable one for Isaiah 64:1-9?

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  7. AS Advent begins, and the new liturgical year in RCL I have decided to leave the NL and start back into RCL; it’s been a great 4 years, but every year as Advent begins I’ve been sad to miss out on the traditional readings. SO I’m back on more familiar territory.
    That said, I don’t feel at all prepared!
    I am using just the gospel reading – having swithered back and forth all week – playing with both Isaiah and the epistle – but, nothing was feeling quite right.
    We are in the depths of our first Christmas Tree festival – and it has truly been amazing; but visiting with all the different people that have called in to church; and being distracted by finishing the Christmas shopping before my schedule disappears; and planning a difficult funeral for Monday .. and, and, and…
    I planned all of advent last week – because it helps to know what I’m doing if I get a good overview. I came up with God calls; God Comes; God dwells and God rejoices for the four Sundays – plus wrote a new pageant / retelling of the Christmas story for the children’s service – the nativity has got increasingly difficult as the number of children we have got smaller and smaller. So this year, it’s a sort of Lessons and Carols for kids – telling the birth narrative.
    THIS!! This is how I’m distracted!!
    Sigh…
    It’s 6 pm.
    I’m going to leave the words I have written for now.
    And I’ll re-read in the morning.

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  8. I’m torn with what to include in tomorrow’s sermon about the passage of the tax bill. It is tempting to give in to despair. It doesn’t feel right to ignore it. But, what to say? In the past I always encouraged people to write to their legislators, that it makes a difference. The reality these days seems to challenge those words from the past. Are we heard any longer? By whom?

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    1. Maybe a lot more than you want to get into, but some of the problems faced by the writer of Isaiah 64 stemmed from tensions between the returned exiles and those who had stayed in Israel. The Persian colonialists were essentially playing two oppressed groups off of each other–getting them to blame each other for the societal problems. . . . That has some relevance to the current tax bill, I think. (Taking my info here from an essay by Corinne Carvalho on Working Preacher: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3485.)

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  9. Still writing here at 6pm. Our Advent theme is “Holy Darkness.” I wrote a good newsletter article about it, and want to introduce the theme on Sunday as well… but so far my sermon is mostly focused on that theme without reference to Scripture. Should probably do something about that!

    The gist of the theme is, God is present in the dark and in the light. We don’t usually have trouble finding God in the light (at my church, they are used to singing “This Little Light of Mine” as the sending song every Sunday) but we don’t always find God in the darkness – we look for God to take the darkness away. But God created both day and night, and both are good.

    Obviously there are racial undertones to this as well. But for the first week on the theme, I think I’m going to focus on the ideas of darkness and light as day and night. I know that my colleague will bring it home next week and apply the theme to much more practical settings.

    So… to introduce that theme while also being faithful to the RCL readings. That’s my challenge for the next bit of writing!

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