This fall has been a busy season for me. I’ve been grateful for the Sundays I’ve had a guest preacher or have found sustainable sermons to lean into. I can’t remember the last time I “created” a sermon completely from scratch. But as it turns out Advent 3B is one of those years when I don’t seem to have a single sermon to tap into. I have one or two that I have written and preached but neither take me where I want to go this year.

Some of reading in preparation for this sermon writing has taken me to Kathryn Matthews’ Sermon Seeds and her reflection on the RCL reading for Advent 3B on Isaiah. She aligns the challenge of the people in Isaiah with the challenges facing people today, from racism to economic security, to violence against women (verbal, physical, sexual, career, life opportunities), from the sorrow of a lost loved one to the grief of helplessness in all its forms. Matthew’s uses the imagery of Talitha Arnold, God transforms the seeds of sorrow into fruits of joy. God works through every human endeavor to bring forth peace and wholeness, no matter how small and insignificant that endeavor may seem, regardless of how partial it may be, each seed, each fruit, is a movement toward the whole.

Jesus, God’s love in human form, God’s love manifest in the world, reaches deep into the pain, grief, and injustices of the world to bring forth God’s vision of joy, hope, love, and peace. Jesus shows us how to do this, too.

I’m not sure at this point in time how I am going to engage the offerings of Matthew’s thought into my sermon this week, however I hear in them clear connecting points.

What about you? Are you working with the RCL or with the Narrative Lectionary? (For more on these readings check out Tuesday’s lectionary posts, one on each of these). For some of us this is the last Sunday of Advent, a short season this year because Christmas Eve falls on Sunday. How will you make the most of this day?

Pull up a chair, grab a mug, I have plenty of coffee and tea to get us through this day. We’re here to share ideas, help with concerns, hold each other in prayer, and ponder how the spirit is calling us to break open the word and feed God’s hungry people.


The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski is an Episcopal priest serving in Dearborn, MI. A member of the RevGalBlogPals and blogger since 2006, she blogs at


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

29 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Seeds of Sorrow, Fruit of Joy

  1. working on the NL reading from Isaiah, but have added Luke 1: 46-55. i can cope with the different Bible readings in Advent, but it doesn’t feel right without Mary.

    thinking about invitation, i read an interesting article this week, about a church that hosts dinner parties with handwritten invitations given to a range of people in the city
    this matches for me the invitation in Isaiah, and somehow Mary’s song of revolution will make an appearance. The invitation of Advent, is an invitation to embrace a new way of living birthed as Jesus, or something like that. it is after 9.30 pm Saturday night, so i need to get the myriad of thoughts into some kind of …..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I so agree. We had the option of adding the reading from Luke as a Canticle in place of the Psalm, so I did that. There’s a bit too much John the Baptist in Advent and not enough Mary….I hope your thoughts fell into place and your sermon finished…


  2. calling it done. tomorrow i am also telling a story called : All I want for Christmas is rain. It is about a girl’s wish for rain, and her and her family’s joy when ti it is raining on Christmas morning. the presents are left untouched under the tree. it is set in rural Australia, where it is often very dry at this time of year.
    here is the sermon The Invitation of Advent

    tomorrow afternoon is our ‘Hard to be Merry’ service, which is done, except for collating the music – no musician tomorrow afternoon, hopefully that doesn’t take too long.
    time for a cuppa, and bed,

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The choir cantata was to be this week but now it’s next week (they needed more practice!) so I am preaching Isaiah 61 and Mary’s Magnificat. The idea of courage, not as heroic acts, but as of our actions and words coming out of our heart which is the place where we integrate all that we know (Parker Palmer).

    I am teaching my last adult Sunday School class on spiritual practices and I am having them work on a collage to either tell the Christmas story or a part of their faith. I’ve been saving and cutting pictures for quite some time and two tubs of them. For the most part they are not churchy type images…so it should be a good exercise for them to think in different ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am preaching on John and captivated by v. 26 “Among you stands one you do not know.” I think it’s a now/not yet moment because in the gospel Jesus has not yet shown up in person. How do we, as disciples and church, point to (sign) and witness to God’s love when it is something that is not known by so many? How do we participate in something larger than ourselves through our lives of faith?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello, Everyone! I am into week three of the Advent series on longing and “The Journey to Bethlehem.” In my infinite prior wisdom I said this week would focus on “perseverance on the journey” or something like that. I still like the idea since so many of my folks have had such a hard year, but I am not sure where I am headed with this one right now. I’d like to wrap it up so I can go enjoy Saturday!

    Pearl down Under, Thank you for sharing the invitation story–that is really neat, as is the story about rain. I really need to find a way to organize all these wonderful stories so that I can find them when I need them/want to use them.

    Blessings to everyone as we wade into the midst of all this sermonating!


    1. All I want for Christmas is rain, is a picture book. even though the Sunday morning congregations are elderly, they love picture books.
      if you come up with a good filing system for stories, please let me know.


  6. Right now, I’m wanting to go back in time by about 6 weeks to knock some sense into myself for thinking that Advent 3 would be a good time to do a First Person Storytelling sermon. The script was written earlier in the week, but I still don’t have it learned “by heart”… I love preaching occasionally in this style, but wish that I had waited until after Christmas! (I am using the RCL reading from John, and telling the story from a perspective of someone who was baptized by John and joined his group of followers.)

    Plus I still have to write a short “reflection” for tomorrow night’s Blue Christmas service (but at least I have an idea of where I am going to go with that), as well as the prayers (but at least the bulletin is done!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am hopeless at internalizing material these days…my brain just won’t be quiet enough for things to stick. So, I hear you on that. I do hope you find that capacity or some way to secret away the text (on a music stand to reference from time to time?)…


    1. I preached from the Thessalonians passage the last time I preached on Advent 3B….but I’m going with Isaiah this year….I think a message of joy lifted up in the context of so much angst in the world could be quite a sigh of relief….


  7. Woke up this morning with Howard Thurman on my mind. Here’s what he was saying to me as I emerged from the cocoon of sleep and a really weird priest dream: Let the the bells be silence/Let the gifts be stillborn/Let cheer be muted/Let music be soundless/Violence stalks the land:/Soaring above the cry of the dying/Rising above the whimper of the starving/Floating above the flying machines of death….(Form The Mood of Christmas, p. 25) So strange. Went to bed thinking I would be vomiting out 10 minutes of garbage on Sunday and woke up with threads of Thurman’s poem “This Is the Season of Promise” pointing the way to a sermon that gets where I really want to land–on that pivot point between despair and hope that marks this Advent for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m on the tenth day of this respiratory virus, and I’m finally improving but not recovered yet. Our “Advent Promises” series goes with Mary tomorrow, so we’re reading the annunciation passage from Luke 1. I have the meat of the sermon (from an old one), but it needs a new introduction and some more fleshing out.

    I’ve taken my nap already, though I’m not ruling out another. I’ll be using my “rest and drink plenty of fluids” location on the couch to hammer this sermon out, hopefully quickly.


        1. yup. The year I had it my doctor gave me tensel pearls, little pills that stop the impulse to the brain for coughing, because I had horrible, unproductive coughing that gave me laryngitis. I hope that is not the case for you!!


          1. That’s what she prescribed! They work, and I love them. I was joking earlier this week that if I had to have a “productive” cough, the least it could do would be to write my sermon!

            Liked by 1 person

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