Christmas is over, that much is clear. But the calendar is otherwise confusing: Epiphany Sunday? Baptism of the Lord? Check our Revised Common Lectionary post for some insights (and this time, definitely read the comments). Narrative Lectionary preachers have some possibilities from John 1 to consider.

27008-baptism_of_jesus

What else is on your plate? Packing up Christmas decorations? (I’m about 1/3 done). Snacking on leftover Christmas goodies? Or are you ready to move on with the New Year’s Resolutions?


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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37 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Christmas is Gone Edition

  1. My sermon title is “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.” I’m playing with the idea of baptism as the start of a new life in Christ, whether the one baptized is an infant or old enough to understand the meaning of the sacrament. Tying it in with the start of a new year and the notion of a chance to start over. Not done with it yet, so at this point I can only hope it’s going to work. Hi, Monica! I too am PC(USA).

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  2. Preaching on Matthew 3, coming of the Magi, and Luke 2, Anna and Simeon. I looked at last Year’s sermon on the Magi – i wonder can i repeat it?? and add a bit in about Anna and Simeon. something about how do we respond the Christ.
    i am including Star gifts [Star words] tomorrow morning. The people who were at the Wednesday monthly communion service liked them, so i am hoping it goes well tomorrow.
    a lady is dying at the moment, not sure which day it will be, and i am on staycation next week.

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  3. calling it done Some of it is straight from last year, some additions. tomorrow also Star Gifts/Words and communion.
    the kettle has just boiled, and there are plenty of Christmas chocolates in the house still.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Pearl! I’m so sorry about the person who is dying, and the poor timing of it. That seems to happen more often than not. Thanks for the tea and chocolates!

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  4. Good morning, all! I haven’t been here for awhile due to endless computer problems, but today I’ve got a blazing fire going and a dog snoring next to me on the couch and an outline I need to fill in. So come on over!

    The sermon is entitled “When God Beckons” and the texts are the magi and the baptism of Christ. God beckons with a celestial event, God beckons from the wilderness, to what revelation of God does God beckon us? We are starting a year of renewal events and studies, beginning with the adult School right before worship, and I want to set the tone for that process. Circumstances may defeat me, but I plan to be faithful in what I am called to teach and preach.

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    1. My computer returned home from the hospital just in time for me to post this last night, so you have my sympathies for computer troubles. It’s amazing how disruptive it can be.

      Blessings to you and the congregation as you follow where God beckons.

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  5. I’m doing a little bit of Epiphany (the gathering hymn and sharing of Star Words) and the rest of the service will be Baptism, including the baptism of a baby named Henry. I don’t usually publish titles for my sermons, but if I did, this one would be “This Changes Everything.” I’ll talk about how Jesus’ baptism launched his public ministry, and how our baptisms launched us into a lifetime of following Jesus, often into inconvenient places. One of my illustrations will be from an article I read a few years ago. We often picture the dove that came down from heaven as gently floating on a light breeze. But that’s not the only way that birds behave. Sometimes they dive bomb us and won’t leave us alone. I’m going to talk about the Holy Spirit dive-bombing all of us in our own baptisms, forcing us to turn around and see the places where God’s children are hurting, forcing us to realize that this is where we are being sent in mission, forcing us to realize that living as a follower of Jesus is not always sweetness-and-light but more often is hard work and sacrifice. This is the life into which we welcome young Henry. And yet it is in that very sacrifice that we, along with Henry, find our deepest joy.

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      1. Leftover fudge here.

        I like thinking about the behavior of birds, which I had not considered in relation to the descending dove.

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    1. “Set Free” for the whole year? Or just this Sunday? Either way, I like it! There are so many things that hold us captive, and freedom is good news indeed.

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  6. The offering for lunch will be a savory creamy potato soup with hot Italian sausage, a hearty slice of multigrain bread and tons of butter.

    Please pull up a chair as I wrestle with the divisiveness, the evil intent, the resistance to what the Magi were hoping to find. Where do our good intentions to follow Christ, love in the world, meet with subtle and not so subtle push back? Are we caught in the status quo? Or are we willing to journey in ways that help us keep our intentions?

    My working title is “Funding Refugees.”

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  7. I am wondering: Do you all preach with anyone specific in mind? I found today that I planned and wrote the sermon with a high senior senior’s face before me — she does some of our Powerpoints, and she watches everything I do and say with great attentiveness. I think she is taking it all in with great seriousness, and she may well be trying to sort out some important things in her life. I find that I am intuitively drawn to her — not just a mini-me with that long brown hair of 50 years ago, but as someone to whom this is all fresh and new and who really wants to follow Jesus.

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    1. Sometimes I do preach with someone in mind, not that the sermon is directed only toward them, but that I’m thinking about how someone in particular will receive it. I’m glad that high school senior has you as pastor for a while.

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  8. This is the first time since starting my internship in September that I am sermonizing on a Saturday… Not quite sure what happened this week…

    Anyways, Baptism of Jesus meets our monthly communion service, so I am preaching on sacraments, basing it around Augustine’s definition of sacraments as a visible sign of God’s invisible grace. I’m not done yet, but it is shaping up to be a very incarnational sermon – God made matter (tie in to Genesis reading), God became matter, so matter matters.

    With the communion liturgy, plus a liturgy to re-affirm our baptismal vows in the service, I’m going to have to be succinct with the sermon!

    I have leftover fruitcake to share!

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    1. oh, wow. Now I wish I had planned a sacraments sermon. Incarnational theology is my happy place, so I really like all of this. Good luck! And….um….thanks for the fruitcake, I suppose. 🙂

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      1. Incarnational theology is also my happy place, so this sermon is making me happy – I hope that it also resonates with the congregation.

        And it is homemade fruitcake that has ripened in rum for the past 2 months – nothing like the store-bought doorstops that most people call fruitcake 🙂

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  9. Find myself wondering about the Holy Family’s reaction to the gifts and what they might have done with them. Then there was the “gift” of the unintended consequences of getting Herod all riled up so that they had to flee for Jesus’ life. Do the Magi add anything to Jesus’ story? Hmmm. Maybe I should just use a sustainable. Have some homemade shortbread (a gift, not made by me).

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  10. Feeling trapped by my title at the moment, stuck it in the bulletin before I really had any idea of what I wanted. Trying to mishmash together epiphany and baptism under the idea of “covenant.” *sigh I think it’s time to ditch the title and just work it out. We’re doing a reaffirmation of your baptism (UMC, it’s in the hymnal), worked the children’s sermon into that idea, I’m intending to use Star Words during my sermon, but we’re closing with Wesley’s covenant prayer. How to fit my sermon into the middle of that and possibly bridge the gap between it all?!

    I bring some chicken noodle soup to the party today. My 10 year old is catching a cold and it’s frigid outside (tonight we’ve got -30 windchill happening for the second night), so it seems just about right. I’ve also got some chocolate cake for dessert.

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  11. Not sure how this will work out in the morning but thinking about the Genesis passage (word becomes reality, speaking creation into being…), and Paul’s question “whose baptism” added to the fact that we will again share star words and I just started reading Rachel Hackenberg’s “Sacred Pause” all have taken me down the road to ask what is the meaning and the power of the word ‘Baptism.’ What does it mean to those of us who are the baptised? to those who are seeking? to those who call themselves the ‘nones’? Want to explore the power of words a little, and this on in particular. My hope is to engage an interactive conversation, not just my thoughts. Not sure what attendance will be in the morning with the super cold weather and a large number of folks with the local “crud” that is going around. But maybe a smaller group will be more willing to share. Still fine tuning the notes.

    Braved the cold and went out for Mexican with a friend this afternoon so just snacking here this evening, but am happy to share my frozen mini-eclairs!

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  12. Just read about the star words last night and am going to try it out for my sermon. I need it to be shortish, since we are also doing installation of officers and even though I was reminded that “everyone has gone through the motions for all of the different positions we don’t need the whole thing” I am doing the whole installation liturgy (From DOC Chalice worship) to remind them that God is always working in us and that they are called to be leaders not just “go through the motions” of being leaders. My intention with both is to challenge people to think about how they are using/not using and can use the gifts of God.

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      1. Ooooh, I love cutout cookies and have not had any this year. Thank you! And I agree that it doesn’t hurt anyone to hear the installation service. In my tradition, the lay leaders and pastors take the same ordination vows, and I always hear something different, and differently convicting, each time they are repeated.

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  13. Baptism tomorrow – I got to meet the baby today and he is delightful. The other candidate is one of the parents of the children I minister alongside & know well, so they asked lots of questions during the prep class this morning. It was great fun. Preaching/Teaching on Baptism. Epiphany was fun earlier today!

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  14. I spent the week at the bedside of my 38 year old brother in organ failure. I am doing Star Words for the first time in my new congregation. I do not have everything I want. I am up late because my supplies did not come in while I was out of town. Sigh. I am excited about Star Words. What does the Holy Spirit have in store for this congregation?

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    1. Christina, I just now caught up with this comment. Many prayers for your brother, and for you. I hope things went well this morning.

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