We have an ice cream truck in our neighborhood. Last night, it played the following songs: “You Are My Sunshine,” “Deck the Halls,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” along with some others. It was quite the mashup of tunes.

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Photo Credit: RGBstock user Lusi

And this is quite the mashup of Sundays: Mother’s Day (in the U.S.), some of us will observe Ascension Day on Sunday, 7th Sunday of Easter, maybe recognition of graduating seniors. Revised Common Lectionary preachers can find resources and discussion on this blog post, and Narrative Lectionary preachers can go to this post. Maybe you’re off-lectionary and need to bounce some ideas off of a colleague. Here is the place for doing just that.

Share ideas, ask for help, be a little silly.

Peace (and the Spirit) be with you as you prepare to bring God’s word to God’s people. Amen.


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.


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

52 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Mashup Edition

  1. The congregation I’m serving does not have a tradition of worship on Ascension Day, so I will work the account of the Ascension into my sermon on the seventh Sunday of Easter RCL texts. I’m planning to focus on the gospel, especially on Verse 18, “as you have sent me into the world, so I am sending them into the world.” The image that has been hanging out in my mind this week has been the completely outrageous action God has taken in entrusting the gospel to the likes of us, who are so prone to mess things up in any number of ways. I’m not sure where I will end up going with that, other than pointing ahead to the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. But it’s only Friday afternoon in my time zone, I have a lot of time yet. And in keeping with the picture in this post, I believe that the Cherry Garcia is all gone, but I have some Urban Bourbon ice cream to offer.

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    1. I like your idea of God’s “outrageous action.” I think we stand in a long line of unlikely candidates that God called nevertheless (or because of?).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. We have Saturday worship this week, which will be nice on Sunday when I get a Mother’s Day of Sabbath, but it also means I have to finish the sermon!
    I’m preaching Philippians 2 in Narrative, and focusing on how hard it is to empty, and to keep empty space in our hearts, in our grief, in our churches, etc. Somehow my plan is for the emptying to be the key to allow us to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.
    If the rain stops, I’m going to pick some rhubarb and make a pie. Should have enough to share.

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    1. Somewhere (helpful, I know; one of her earlier books of sermons) Barbara Brown Taylor says that we have an empty space inside ourselves that we try to fill with all manner of things, when it in fact is the “throne room of God.” And when we fill it up, there’s no place for God. Or something like that.

      I’ve never had rhubarb pie, but I assume it would be good with a scoop of vanilla.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A ha. A combination of an old sermon (without citation, shame on 2001-me) and Google has this, from pg. 67, “Home By Another Way,” Barbara Brown Taylor:
        “I am convinced that 99 percent of us are addicted to something, whether it is eating, shopping, blaming or taking care of other people. The simplest definition of an addiction is anything we use to fill the empty place inside of us that belongs to God alone.
        “That hollowness we sometimes feel is not a sign of something gone wrong. It is the holy of holies inside of us, the uncluttered throne room of the Lord our God. Nothing on earth can fill it, but that does not stop us from trying. Whenever we start feeling too empty inside, we stick our pacifiers into our mouths and suck for all we are worth. They do not nourish us, but at least they plug the hole.”

        Liked by 4 people

      2. “That hollowness we sometimes feel is not a sign of something gone wrong. It is the holy of holies inside of us, the uncluttered throne room of the Lord our God” (Barbara Brown Taylor, “Settling for Less,” Christian Century, 18 February 1998, p. 169).
        I found it!

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  3. I’m preaching Acts from the lectionary. They prayed and cast lots certainly does not seem like discernment to me. I still have some work to do and found a Japanese Haiku which might be what I need to tie it all together.

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    1. I’m having the same trouble with the depiction of discernment. I think I’m going somewhere about how hard it is for us to change and do something different..but then I’m stuck in the “how do we know it’s the right thing?” question of discernment. It is intriguing that Matthias disappears after this scene–was he really the right choice? did he go about his evangelizing in a non-attention-grabbing manner?

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  4. I am tackling the casting of lots, too. I actually find it liberating. Instead of worrying about whether it’s the right choice, we can leave it to God to do the right thing with it. It frees us to imagine that our lives do not have to conform to others’ expectations of what we “should” be doing but that the Holy Spirit is with us in whatever we do, however we got there. So do not be afraid!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. hi all,
    it’s a sunny afternoon in Scotland; I snuck two lovely days on the Isle of Arran with my sister; we got back late morning, she is away back down to England and I have a sermon, that I kind of think I need to preach, but not sure I have the courage!
    I am going with Ascension – mostly; Acts 1:8 – “when the Spirit comes upon you…”

    It’s challenging because I’ve been reading in anticipation of our General Assembly, which begins this Friday, the Strategic Plan and Ministry Report does not pull any punches about the current lack of numbers; 21st Century challenges and reality of secular living.
    My question to them is – are we really resurrection people? Ascension people? are we looking forward or back? out or in?
    What is the Spirit doing in us today?

    I’ll post it to my blog shortly and you can tell me what you think!

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    1. “Forward or back, out or in?” Those are really good questions, if we’re courageous enough to answer them honestly. Thanks, Julie.

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  6. For those who are working on the Acts text, your comments reminded me of a sermon preached by Mary Hinkle Shore while I was in seminary. She used that text and preached a first-person sermon from the viewpoint of Matthias. I looked around to see if it was still online somewhere, but couldn’t find it, so I don’t have a lot of detail to share. What I remember is being completely drawn in by the description of how prayerful the process was and of the sense of honor and responsibility to be joining the other 11 apostles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh, wow. That would make a fun first-person sermon to write. I haven’t done one of those in a long time. Thanks, Barbara.

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  7. I am just home from four hours of visitation, funeral mass, and luncheon in memory of my beloved spiritual director – wonderful homily and so many tributes — and am feeling quite inadequate to any task in ministry, but I guess I will
    have to preach anyway.

    I’m preaching on the gospel, on how God protects us and propels us into
    mission. It might be a bit convoluted, since one can only conclude that God doesn’t always protect us as we would prefer. I was going to mash in Acts (love that metaphor!), but I gave up. Maybe I will find a way to include something of what Kristine Johnson says above (thank you!) — that it may seem chaotic to us, as in the casting of lots, but God is propelling us into mission even when we are clueless.

    I

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    1. Emotionally exhausting day! am thinking of combining as well … and weaving in discernment with the cast of lots … individual discernment to serve the shared mission …
      Lots of walking with the Spirit on this …
      We’ll pull it out (I don’t go from script … more from outline) … so that can either make this go awry or … flow.

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      1. Scripts don’t prevent one from going awry! I think discernment is a good and straightforward direction for this passage.

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  8. I have been thinking about my mother, and her prayer life. Later in life she suffered with dementia, but loved my playing old hymns for her on the piano, especially her favorite, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” She remembered all of the words, and would giggle whenever I hit a wrong note. Although Jesus addresses God as Father, I think of him praying for his disciples in the same way mothers care for and worry about their children. I am liking the idea of Jesus continuing in prayer for us all.

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  9. I am i Phillippians 2, and am thinking about having the mind of Christ Jesus. Anthony de Mello has a guided meditation called “The Hazard” that I’m probably going to use. It kind of ties in with what Marci is doing above with the emptying.

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  10. I had planned to preach Ascension but could not get anywhere with it at all. Thursday until today midday o was at pur national assembly with the theme of building the Church with living atones so I’ve pulled together a kind of mash up which I think qill preach and speak to people.
    Tbh too tired to worry about it now. Is ‘good enough’ a thing for sermons.

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    1. I love that living stones metaphor (1 Peter, is it?). Those stones ground us where we are, even when Jesus has ascended/left us again.

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  11. With all the varied themes attached to this Sunday; Ascension, last week of the Easter season, Mother’s day, and some deep grief from a recent death in the congregation, I have really stressed trying to find a cohesive direction. I really appreciate the idea of a “mashup” and am starting there, acknowledging the confusion then settling on the Ascension lectionary. Are we still standing around looking at the sky? Thank you all for the many bits of inspiration. I’m heading out to dinner with a friend so not much to offer here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You never know when the Spirit will speak–this week, in the strange musical lineup of the ice cream truck! Enjoy your dinner.

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  12. Our daughters and I have just returned from two hours of “fun” (um, fun, I mean) at their school’s Spring Jamboree. I’m fairly certain that I am sunburned; I know for sure that I am hot and sweaty and really just want to sit on the couch for the rest of the day. Alas, this sermon is going to have to get written.

    How are things going for everyone else?

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  13. It seems I’ve always preached the gospel lesson for Ascension, so I’m going with Acts this time. https://pastorsings.com/2018/05/12/be-my-witnesses-sermon-on-acts-11-11-for-ascension-c/
    Mother’s Day will get a nod with a special litany before the children’s time. It’s been one of those two-weeks-without-a-day-off weeks, because I had a funeral on my regular “day off” and the rest of the week’s schedule couldn’t shift. My beloved is taking me to a new restaurant for dinner as an early Mother’s Day gift – we will have lunch with his mom in the memory care unit tomorrow, and then I plan to play in the dirt! Seems like I can never get any gardening done before Mother’s Day! I have fresh strawberries and asparagus available for the virtual table. Help yourself!

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  14. The congregation I am service as an Interim has just elected its search committee so I am focussing on the Acts passage with a not to John. I am about to wrap the sermon up and wondered if anyone has a prayer for a search committee. I thought I had one but can’t find it and I am not feeling very creative.

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    1. Yes, the Acts passage seems a natural fit. I’m no help on the prayer for a search committee. I’d likely wing it, but that may not be advisable in your situation.

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    2. In her role as chaplain to our rector search committee, The Rev. Mary Jo Schuetz has drafted this prayer and asked to share it with our congregation. http://www.sjec-midland.org/samples/blog/rector-search-prayer/

      O God of patient and gentle strength, who knows our needs even before we ask, may your loving presence guide us as we seek the next rector for St. John’s. Give us an open spirit, discerning hearts and clear minds, that we may trust your will for us and become ever more united in your son our Savior, Jesus Christ. Inspire our conversation, deepen our prayer, and make us a community of humility and grace. Raise up for us, we pray, a priest and pastor who will boldly proclaim your Gospel, faithfully administer your sacraments, and serve your people with love and compassion.

      All this we ask through Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

      I do not know this person nor this church, but this is a lovely prayer for a search committee.

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  15. As I’ve been working with the gospel for tomorrow, I’ve been taken by how Jesus is praying for us as he sends us into the world to do his work. That has engendered images of so many occasions when I have felt the presence of God while being in precarious positions while doing urban ministry for the last 40 years. The parish I serve is a merger church of African American, Caribbean, and African. For the last year or so, my fellow clergy person and I have been finding ways for our people to come to know each other more deeply by giving them opportunities to share their stories with one another.

    Tomorrow, I plan to point out the portion of the gospel where Jesus talks about praying for us and tell one of the stories that came to me this week. Then I will ask the congregation to form groups of 3 or 4, with the caveat that they must be with at least 1 person they don’t know well. I will ask them to take 15 or 20 minutes to answer the question, “When have you been in a difficult or scary situation and could feel the presence of God with you?”

    Since the majority of the congregation have been refugees over the last less than 40 years, and many of the others came to Illinois from the Jim Crow South, it should be an interesting and heartfelt time of storytelling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Prayers that it goes well! My people (a quite different context than yours) are great storytellers, as long as it occurs during the coffee hour!

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  16. Hi, all. It’s been a while since I preached, and this weekend is no different, but I am still preparing a Sunday School lesson. I’ve been invited to lead an adult class for the next two Sundays on some of the topics in my new book. It’s a great invitation – and I’ll have material to use if I have other opportunities like this one. But I am rusty and it’s taking longer to jell than I would like.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m going to begin talking about the article in The Atlantic about one space or two spaces following a period in an English sentence. It is a lighthearted way to talk about division and the subtitle of the article is something like, “a study that shows that half the people are correct. And so are the other half.” The article concludes by saying that we have more that brings us together than divides, and focusing on that is what’s important (and it lists things like democracy, justice, etc). From that I’m going to reflect on Acts and the election of Matthias through the power of the holy spirit and prayer…that early church was forming itself through a spirit led process and some were in and some were out, or so it seems. Matthias was chosen and Justus was not, but who knows what happened to either one of them? We never hear of them again. It’s just as likely that Justus had a vibrant vocation sharing the good news of God’s love in Jesus as Matthias did, they just conveyed it in different ways. Because when the spirit is in action, lots happens, and there is a way for everyone to express them selves and how they believe in God. This is revealed for us in 1 John when we hear that Jesus is praying for the disciples (us), praying that they (we) will have the spirit filled capacity to live the truth in love – loving as God loves, loving everyone, loving as an action toward justice. The Gospel of John unpacks for us what this truth is, it’s the Gospel imperative to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, tend the sick, visit those in prison, to go out and serve others. And then I’m going to connect all of that to some spirit filled happenings in the parish, which are producing anxiety in some and excitement in others – which means that these things probably really are spirit filled and spirit led.

    Or, that’s the plan. Since I have no manuscript it will end up being what it is….

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    1. I do think it’s curious that we never hear of either of those men again. Not sure what to make of it. I wonder if, at the time of writing, they were in fact well known and nothing more needed to be said about their legacy, because everyone knew? Or maybe they faded into obscurity as quickly as they had come to notice. Intriguing…

      Liked by 1 person

  18. It’s about 10 pm and I’m sitting here staring at an almost empty page. *sigh I’ve chosen the gospel text. The only thing that I know for sure is that I want to share that prayer is an act of love. In those holy moments in the upper room, Jesus thinks of us. The new(ish) praise song “He Knows My Name” has been running through my head this week, so I think I want to include that as well. Guess I better go put a few thoughts onto that page!

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    1. I’m not much further along than you are, though I am a time zone behind you. The party will stay open as long as needed!

      And I love “prayer is an act of love.”

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  19. Hi Friends, joining the party in the literal 11th hour. I`ve got a cup of water and thinking about how I also tie in the upcoming baptisms for next Sunday into Ascension this week. I`m thinking these two candidate have not stood with their heads towards heaven but are part of the faithful in prayer preparing to go out and be sent. Our church is also doing a visioning Sunday on the 27th rather than a traditional worship and I spent a good 15 mins in prayer with a shut in this week about it. Felt very much like this waiting period before Pentecost. Now, how to bring it all together….

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  20. Preachers, it is just about the eleventh hour of the night in my time zone. I’ve printed the sermon. I’ve even thought of a children’s time in case some children show up tomorrow (I think teaching the kids to cast lots is a fine idea, right?). I’m going to brush my teeth and crash.

    For those of you who are still working, know that the Holy Spirit has your back and will use your words in ways you cannot even dream of. Blessings, friends.

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