That’s right, it’s the kickoff to Holy Week (I sincerely hope this does not come as a surprise to you). Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday, some combination thereof, or maybe you’re doing something completely different: it’s here!

Dwarf palmetto at Palmetto State Park in Ottine, TX. Photo by Monica Smith, 2012

Revised Common Lectionary thoughts and Narrative Lectionary thoughts are on our website.

We will attempt to remain calm, cool, and collected here at the 11th Hour Preacher Party, in order to budget our energy and stamina wisely. But, please feel free to come with questions, conundrums, extra ideas to share, and/or any snack items. If you feel the need to procrasti-clean, please come on over to our house.

Whatever your situation, know that you are not alone! Peace be with you.


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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34 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: The Marathon Begins

  1. Well, I’ll start! I wrote my sermon earlier in the week so I could go out of town to wish my mother-in-law a happy 87th. That meant 6 hours of driving over the last 2 days; I didn’t stay for the family party tonight so that I wouldn’t have to drive back tomorrow and start the week as exhausted as I am right now. And I didn’t pick the dog up, so the cat and I can sleep in tomorrow morning! I don’t like my sermon, which is an effort to place the listener at the Pilate/Jesus parades a la Borg and Crossan, but the correction I need is slowly gelling, and I am hoping it will have formed itself by morning so I can just write it down. I have not a clue for Good Friday or Easter. I picked up chocolate croissants on the way home, so you’re welcome to one in the morning.


    1. Chocolate croissants sound delicious! Thank you!

      I hope you awoke with a fully formed correction to the sermon, and that you can enjoy the rest of the day. I find it difficult to write Good Friday until I’m through Palm Sunday, and likewise with Easter.


  2. A combined service tomorrow morning, so the alarm can be a little later. In the NL, so the entry to Jerusalem and the cleansing of the Temple.
    i am not sure about this, but i have written a first person sermon from the viewpoint of Jesus reflecting at Bethany with Mary. i have occasionally written monologue style sermons, but never as Jesus. here is what i wrote tonight, and a more traditional style sermon from 4 years ago here

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a retired pastor, I am thinking a lot this year about pastors and committed disciples in active ministry who are courageously spending themselves in the works of justice and mercy, and who come to these high holy days with a crying need they may not even know they have, it’s so deep: a need to be consoled, comforted, and closely accompanied by the One they follow and serve. In preaching the events of Holy Week, I used to lose sight of the depths of my own need for this consolation, I was so intent on helping others wring meaning from these days of agony and glory. I wrote this Palm Sunday reflection a while ago with pastors, activists, and committed disciples in mind. I wanted them to know that in every courageous moment of their ministries–from the humdrum daily stuff to their larger public witness–Jesus is especially present to them. I offer it to you, too, in case it brings you any consolation and a place to rest.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Robin, I take a chocolate croissant…thanks. I, too am going with the two parade theme from Borg and Crossan. The title of sermon is Holy Juxtapositions and how many things, people, actions, and ideas are about the contrasting effects.

    For the kids, I am picking up helium mylar ballons at the Dollar Tree (hey, a buck a piece). Of course, each one will get a balloon and it was focus on what happens to the balloon…if we let it go, or if something sharp comes in contact…or just over time. It isn’t what we want to happen. That happened to everyone at the parade…it didn’t end like they thought it would.

    We have ordered enough palms for everyone to process…so I’ll be drumming up ‘business’ before the service to get as many as possible to join.

    I purposely turned down an invite out last night…just to conserve energy and hopefully lay low for the week. I am excited at MT/GF. We are totally going out of the box and showing NBC’s Live version of JCS over the two nights. We have a ton of ambient lighting in the sanctuary so Wednesday will be hanging black drapes over the windows.

    Oh, apparently Easter Egg hunts are quite popular here so that is on for Saturday. The weather says cold and rainy. So it might have to be indoors.

    And then vacation….it is time!!!!!


    1. It sounds as if you have tomorrow well in hand, and good thoughts about the rest of the week! Rest well and hang on for vacation!


  5. Hello lovely sisters. Grace and peace be with you from a rainy morning in Suffolk, Virginia. Resurrecting and reviving a sermon from three years ago as my daughter has a showcase performance with our local university marching band, to which she has been accepted!! #proudbandmommoment It’s a busy week, y’all. Take time to breathe and stay in the moment. What an exceptional calling we have. Praying for all y’all as you enter into Holy Week.


  6. It is 6 pm in Scotland. The ideas I had on Wendesday are dust. It has been a full on week, including a five hour each way road trip; a very big funeral; planning for HW so I don’t totally flake; visting with each of the five new confirmands for Easter Sunday, and Messy Church this morning. And preparing for a parish visit to Lebanon immediately after Easter.
    It is all fab. It is just exhausting!!
    I do not get to go on holiday until May 11th; meantime a search committee is secret visiting in my congregation tomorrw, to see how I do! I have just woken from a much needed two hour nap!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Palm Sunday for me this week. I’ve been struck by thoughts re: the Crossan/Borg thoughts on this event + many others reminding me that this might have been more like a protest march than a full-on parade. In the meantime, this is the first day this week that I feel remotely calm – grief + some church stuff hit me hard on Monday and I’ve been dealing with it ever since. Death is close this year and all I can do is take it one moment at a time. Chocolate croissants sound yummy. Wisdom and peace to you all.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve had a very busy Lent. Just recovered from a bout with asthma that was triggered by a respiratory infection and now allergy season is upon us. I have 8 weeks till my referral appointment to an allergist, and back in January when the women were planning activities for the year I invited them to supper and a movie at my place for last night. The evening was awesome, but the allergies have me dragging.

    We also have a group studying Borg and Crossan with lots of lively discussion. I had a woman say, I’m 62. Why have I never heard this before?! The discussion has taken us far beyond just Holy Week.

    I’m glad I had planned to tweak a sermon that tells the Palm Sunday story from the perspective of to one who loaned her donkey. We have been using stones placed on the altar to set our intentions for lent, and they will again be part of the children’s time and sermon tomorrow. The stones cry out, indeed!

    PS. I have dark chocolate and sea salt covered caramels to offer. They were meant for last nigh but people brought so much that I didn’t put them out. Now you all have to help me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We did “The Last Week” as a sermon series last year, and my congregation was also really energized by it (as was their preacher!).

      I like the stone connection, too! And thank you for the caramels.


  9. Someone somewhere (was it at Worshiping With Children?) suggested strategically placing “cloaks” near the aisles so people can spread them on the way – so we will try doing that this year for the processional. Here’s the sermon for tomorrow: and I should add that I did not use the “Listen to Him” outline provided with the study we’ve been following through Lent – it just didn’t do anything for me (so it would be hard for me to expect it to do anything for those hearing me preach it), and the focus on Jesus weeping has been in the back of my brain for some time, so I went with that. Maundy Thursday we will wash hands and observe Communion around the dinner tables in Fellowship Hall. Good Friday Tenebrae is one of my favorite services of the year, and I don’t preach a sermon that night. Easter sermon is about half written. We have a new organist joining us for Good Friday and Easter, thanks be to God! And I have planned a week of vacation after Easter, so my husband and I have booked Easter night in a hotel that has a hot tub to start that off right! He’s making chili from last night’s leftover spaghetti sauce – help yourself!


  10. It’s just about supper time in my time zone. I’ll be switching over from house work to sermon work. We have some cantaloupe to share, and I’m about to go pick up some tacos. I’m soaking up your ideas and productive vibes–thanks!


  11. Checking in. Palm Sunday for me, with a congregation I haven’t served in nearly two years, but will be with several times in the next couple of months if all goes according to plan. They are struggling, and in pain, having lost their interim to an instantly fatal heart attack in February. Financial challenges and losing half their folks after a vote to be open and affirming have left them reeling, but they are showing up for the parade. They are shouting their hosannas. Whatever lies ahead for them, they have chosen life and love and welcome and celebration over a funeral pall. They are literally laying down their lives to continue to minister in spite of those who believe they should stop. But if they do stop, even the stones will cry out, right? This is where I’m headed as I start writing at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday evening. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayers ….


  12. Help! Can someone tell me where to find evidence of the Roman parades I’ve read about in your reflections? The show of power at festivals, particularly at Passover, that would have precipitated Jesus’ entry on a donkey as a mockery of the Roman power play? I trust it happened. I’d like to read more about it. Thanks!


  13. We’re doing the Passion Reading from Carolyn C. Brown’s Worshiping with Children that has the Passion story interspersed with props and Taizé choruses. We have all our readers and our “Worship Assistants” set, so I am feeling pretty good. One of our young adults was given a scholarship this morning by the local women’s club, so I was at that breakfast while people were folding palm crosses and setting up the sanctuary. I was texting back and forth during the breakfast with a person setting up (Me: please put the wooden cross in back so it can be carried forward during the reading. Them: we want to stage the cross up front and put palms on it Me: no, it needs to be in back Them: we don’t see where it needs to be in back Me: it’s in the order of worship…) it will all be fine, but there was some definite misunderstanding and it was hard not to just be there to answer questions. Also, prayer breakfast speaker: SBC Megachurch Pastor. There might have been profanity in the car on the way back to the church.


  14. Having done Palm/Passion Sunday for the last five years, I’m choosing to focus just on the Palm side of it this year. I’m kind of obsessed with the cloaks spread out before Jesus. What do we lay down before Jesus to welcome him? And “The Old Rugged Cross” is running through my head: “. . . ’til my trophies at last I lay down. . . ” Cloaks as protection (from the cold, from the elements, from our own frailty), cloaks as super-hero capes (thinking we can do it all, save the world). . .


    1. oh, I like that bit. I’m focusing on “The Lord needs it,” with kind of the same idea–what does the Lord need that we think is ours?


  15. It’s 8PM, and I think I have a sermon. Now I don’t know what to do with the rest of my evening. LOL! I’m doing Pulpit Supply at a new-to-me church, so I don’t have the benefit of a lot of local context. The sermon feels a little bit generic, but I guess that’s normal for a new guest preacher.

    I start by talking about how it’s hard for us to get fully into the spirit of celebration because we know what will happen over the next days. Then I provide some background about the two parades, and I make the comparison between the power/politics message of Pilate’s parade and the love/grace message of Jesus’s parade. I conclude with encouragement to watch, in Holy Week, for love and grace triumphing over power and politics, and to be part of sharing God’s love and grace whenever opportunities present themselves.

    I’m grateful to those who mentioned the Borg/Crossan book; I was able to “borrow” it from Amazon with Kindle Unlimited and found it helpful.


    1. Congratulations on a sermon by 8 PM! It is hard to be very specific when you don’t know the people. I have any number of things to occupy you here, if you’d like to head this way….

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I have sustainable sermons for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil, but my Palm Sunday sermon is fighting me. I’m adding the verses about Jesus weeping for the city because “you did not recognize the things that make for peace.” Do we recognize the things that make for peace– whole, enduring, life-giving peace? Will we recognize the time of our visitation from God?

    I preach from a manuscript about 50% of the time. This message feels like it needs to be outlined but not scripted, but tonight that’s taking more work than simply writing the whole thing out. It’s only 8:15 pm here, so I’ve got time to muddle.

    I just had ice cream in a waffle cone: rhubarb crumble with toasted anise seeds.So a bit of Earl Grey tea is all I need. Anyone else need some tea? It’s decaf.


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