Greetings, Preaching Friends!

It’s that time again: the eleventh hour. These seem to come regularly, approximately once a week or so, yes?

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Peacock feathers, Austin Zoo, 2018. Photo by Monica Smith

Revised Common Lectionary preachers have yet another resurrection appearance, as well as some other options, which are discussed in Tuesday’s RCL post. Narrative Lectionary preachers are pondering Saul/Paul’s conversion story from Acts.

What else is happening in your congregation? Special events? Children’s sermons? Whatever you need help with, please ask. Whatever you have to share, please offer. Let the Preacher Party begin!


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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53 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party

  1. Yay for an early preacher party (at least early in Pacific Daylight Time). I have an outline in my head and about an hour to see what I can get written before the family heads out to the coast for a Friday night TV taping (Battlebots!), hotel stay, and Saturday fun day (Aquarium!).
    So–The sermon isn’t until Sunday afternoon, but I would like to have a good start before I leave today.
    Using the RCL Gospel passage, I’m asking: What are your locked doors (fears, hurts)? What is your piece of grilled fish (How have you experienced Jesus)? What is your witness? (What do you have to tell others? How can you do that?)
    I may use a story from when we went to a Battlebots taping 2 years ago. There was hubbub and excitement and my then 7-year-old was telling us about the bots and their creators when suddenly one of the creators slipped in and was sitting with us in the stands asking my son about himself and his interest in Battlebots. He gave him a pair of safety goggles. When we got home, my son had to figure out how to talk about the encounter with his friend’s favorite bot creator without giving away anything that happened at the taping. It reminds me in a small way of what it might have been like for the disciples.
    –Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we’re going to be posting the party earlier, in order to be more inclusive of our non-U.S. friends.

      I love that illustration, though I actually have no idea what Battlebots are; it makes a perfect parallel, I think.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I started off with a plan to talk about the importance of studying Scripture by focusing on Jesus talking about the law, prophets, and writing. I ended up teaching about it instead and moving on to the idea that Jesus is apprehended not by academic study but by sensory experience — hearing, seeing, and touching — and that we are called to hear, see, and touch him in others, and to proclaim his love by doing that. I guess it makes sense. It’s kind of a Bible study sermon, but we need that once in awhile.

    Tomorrow our session (council) has a meeting with our systems consultant. We have a lot of work to do, and I’m more concerned about that, and about the ramifications for the session meeting on Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My congregation responds well to sermons that I think are too “Bible study,” so hopefully yours will, too. I like the seeing/hearing/touching idea, also.

      Prayers for the session meetings.

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  3. Saturday 5 pm here, and some thoughts, but not really coherent, on Acts 9 – Saul and Ananias. i am starting with some bits of information, such as the name Saul/Paul, the people were known as ‘The Way’, idea of commission/call, not all conversion stories are like Paul’s, …
    for me Ananias is the Hero of the story, Paul didn’t have much choice about what happened to him, Ananias had a decision to make that would impact more than his own life, and he had good reason to question the wisdom of God’s call.
    not sure what the ‘big’ idea will be for tomorrow, but maybe it will be lots of little ideas that hopefully stretch people’s view of this familiar story.
    I think it is time for a snack.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes! I think I’ve preached on it once as “the conversion of Ananias.” He is crucial to the story.

      And I cannot seem to get a sermon finished before 10 PM on Saturday lately. We’re all in this together!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Saturday 7:00 AM, preaching on 1 John 3:2, “Dear friends, now we are God’s children, and it hasn’t yet appeared what we will be. We know that when he appears we will be like him because we’ll see him as he is.” (CEB) We are Christians, we are still practicing; but if we are to be like Jesus, we need to see him as he really is. Not just a sanitized nice man giving away bread and fish.In order to see Jesus we need to work on the ‘frame’ we view the world through. I’m hoping the congregation will help me preach this message by telling me how they would describe Jesus, where in scripture is their image coming from and how can they be like that? Syrian attack will get folded into the Prayers of the People lifting all the soldiers, leaders and innocents affected by this move.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I think Syria will be in our prayers rather than in the sermon.

      I love working with images of God and Jesus in Scripture, so I love your approach here.

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    2. I don’t remember if it was in the RevGals group or one of the other clergy groups I’m in but I feel like I just read a blog post about frames and looking at how we as clergy and congregations frame stuff.

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  5. Preparing for pulpit supply tomorrow. Focus is Bearing Witness. Referencing Mary Oliver – “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention; be astonished; tell about it.” Planned on Connecting this to the Poor People’s Campaign; will of course now also be speaking of Syria. And yes, astonished indeed.

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    1. This quote from Mary Oliver goes well with the direction I’m going with my sermon as well. Would love to hear more of your thoughts on tying it into what’s happening in Syria because I’m having trouble finding the words…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll be speaking mostly about the Poor People’s Campaign in the sermon, as it turns out. But what I would have said about Syria would have been along the lines of paying attention to / being astonished by these events in their broader context – how we are retaliating for the current atrocities without acknowledging our own complicity in refusing immigrants and deporting refugees, in our role in sustaining war and providing chemical weapons, and our turning a blind eye to the way we poison our own citizens through lead-tainted water, etc. These are things we must pay attention to, be astonished by, and tell about.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am using the passage from Acts, but I am also referencing the healing at the gate. What should a church be about proclaiming the gospel and bring the wholeness for Christ.

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  7. Preaching Luke and using a story Rodger Nishioka shared at the NEXT church conference in Kansas City last year. (I didn’t get to attend to but was able to watch in online…thanks NEXT.) Attempting to weave experiences, meaning, and the senses into something…

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  8. well hello there!!
    It is 3.30 Saturday afternoon
    I have exchanged emails with our mission partner church, which is in North Lebanon, right on the Syrian Border. They are all in shock; praying for friends, colleagues and family members across the border. (Please Pray for Rola and her congregation in Tripoli Lebanon and all in the National Synod of Syria and Lebanon)
    Tomorrow is our Annual Meeting, I am crafting something about being all God’s Children – all over the world; possibly borrowing from what bookgirl said (above) about asking what are our locked doors, and how can we unlock our doors and invite others in as they too are God’s Children….
    I am seriously weary having had a fabulous sleep over with fellow revgal Teri for her housewarming party; a quick lunch with the grown up children and grandson; before coming home and putting together the powerpoint I began on Wednesday with the 2017 retrospective for the business part of worship tomorrow….

    Just brewing some tea
    and looking for a sugar fix… before I try to gather together all the myriad threads that are tangled up in my brain….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Prayers for your friends in Lebanon, and all God’s children who are in harm’s way. And prayers for your sermon to shape up easily.

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  9. It’s 12:31 p.m. here, and I’m just sitting down to put it all together – bulletin and everything. Have been pondering the text from Acts – Ananias and Paul. In light of yesterday, thinking about how in Christ, Paul was called from ways of violence. Also, how Ananias is to deal with one who frightens him, who is so different that he is. Not sure where I’m going yet.

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  10. Sitting on the back porch, which I spent about an hour clearing of pollen yesterday afternoon (any other Georgia RevGals out there?), even though I know it will just be yellow again in a few days. But it’s just too nice of weather to be stuck inside. I’m working on the Gospel RCL passage. The thing that really struck me on this reading was the NRSV translation of verse 41 “While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering…” I find that such a richer image than other translations that are more along the lines of “they were so happy they didn’t believe it.” I’m working on the idea that disbelief and wondering commonly lead to fear, but that can hold us back from fully experiencing life (and in this case, resurrection). Even though they don’t know what’s going on, the disciples manage to have joy, which opens them up to Jesus’ then giving them understanding.

    My church is facing some big questions about our future and there’s a lot of disbelief and wondering and fear. There are some questions we can answer, but lots more than we can’t get the answers to until we live into them, so how do we have joy even while still in disbelief and wondering?

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    1. That is the same line that grabbed my attention, but I haven’t gotten much further than that!

      Also, Central Texas RevGals are in solidarity with you and your pollen-covered porch (and car and driveway and everything).

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  11. I am just returned from the local library’s fundraising Tea, and facing Paul”s conversion on the road to Damascus , receiving great hospitality in that city, and our bombing of Damascus last night. Not even sure where to begin as this is fairly strong Trump territory. Searching for a grace-full sermon, leaning towards preaching on Be an Ananias, taking a risk and extending hospitality to the Other who comes to you powerless and at your mercy.

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    1. I was in Damascus in 1998, and it was a lovely place with lovely and hospitable people. It’s awful to see the photos now and imagine the horror for those who live there.

      Be sure and read the comments above; there are several folks focusing on Ananias.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello! It’s been a long time since I’ve commented here. I’m equal parts excited and nervous about our service tomorrow. A member of my congregation is one of the four finalists for National Teacher of the Year and will be meeting with the President in a couple of weeks. She has asked if we would write letters/notes that she would deliver to him. I decided to make that part of our worship service tomorrow because it seemed to me to be a very prayerful and faithful thing to do. I’m using the Psalm 4 and I John readings to set up a time of reflection and corporate confession before we turn to writing the notes. Mine is a progressive congregation that will have lots to say, even more so now since we began bombing Syria. Who knows if he will actually read them? My bet is that he won’t, but this will be more for us than him, anyway.

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    1. Wow, that’s a lot going on. I like the idea of writing notes in the context of worship, and I agree that it will mean more to the writers than the recipient.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s 11pm here, and I confess that after a really fabulous party last night, with a slumber party that didn’t really end until after lunch today, I took a nap. And then I did some cleaning because I am hosting an open house for the church tomorrow afternoon. And now I have no words written, and I’m debating what to do about that. It’s the second week in my “Teri’s favourite texts” series…I have Isaiah 43 “see I am doing a new thing” and Romans 8 “nothing can separate us”. I titled the sermon “the Seven Last Words of the Church” which, I suspect we all know, are “we’ve never [always] done it that way before.”
    So the question of the moment is manifold. What am I going to say? How am I going to start? Should I go to bed and write it in the morning, or try to do it now? (The bonus of an 11am start, when I live 1 minute away!)
    As you might expect when I’m in-between parties, I have a lot of snacks. Almost anything you might want (aside from meat) is probably in this house, so help yourself. 🙂

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    1. Hi Teri,

      It’s 11.30pm where I am, and for various personal reasons (none nearly so worthy as yours), I’m just starting to write as well. The line that has jumped out at me from the RCL Gospel is when Jesus effectively says, “Anybody got a sandwich? I’m a bit peckish”. I don’t really have anything further than that, but it sounds to me like your house full of snacks in-between parties and providing hospitality and building community is giving witness to the resurrected Christ.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 11:40 now and no words written yet…I’m not as tired as I normally would be, thanks to my late afternoon nap, but I still can’t decide how to begin, so I’m thinking I might sleep on it after all.

        I super love the resurrection appearances where Jesus is sure to eat. I mentioned one last week and pointed out it’s like the disciples didn’t see the sandwich go down his esophagus like in the cartoons when a ghost eats, so he must be real. LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The answer for me is always stay up late to finish (er, start), but I have to get going earlier than you do in the morning. And my brain doesn’t really work until noon anyway.

          Those are two of *my* favorite scriptures, too!

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  14. We just cancelled worship because of the blizzard that has closed roads and threatens to continue through Sunday morning. I’ve never cancelled worship before, so I am feeling a bit guilty. I had planned to live stream the message on the church FB page, but the sermon on Acts 3 has not been writing itself, so I’m tempted to just abandon it … but guilt, guilt, guilt! (Can’t I just Facebook live the one on 1 John that I have in the archive?) Okay, I’m heading back to the drawing board. The sermon title is “Why Do You Wonder?” and it has some strong connections to the Luke passage. Why don’t we expect God to show up and do amazing things? And what part does our repentance play in God deciding to do just that?

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    1. One Sunday when we cancelled (the only Sunday I’ve ever had to cancel, actually), I put the script of the whole service on the website—like copy-and-paste the bulletin, the prayers, the readings, the sermon, interspersed with YouTube videos of the hymns. People could then basically do the whole service at home. Lots did and told me they really appreciated it.
      I just put it on the same page where I normally posted the sermons, so it was easy to find.

      So….could you just tweak and post the sustainable sermon, along with the other parts of the service, and let people read it as they worship at home? Especially in a storm some people find their internet isn’t quite good enough for video anyway. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  15. How is it going out there, preachers? I think I’m about halfway through, so this preacher party is definitely going to the 11th hour (local-to-me time). Feel free to keep posting/commenting/complaining/gloating that you’re finished. There’s room for everybody.

    Liked by 2 people

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