In the beginning, it was a Saturday. One preacher emailed another, and they realized they were both online, and they kept sending little words of encouragement via the Internets. And it was good. God said so. And it crossed their minds that other RevGal preachers might need the same sort of cheering up as Saturday afternoon turned to evening, and thus the 11th Hour Preacher Party was born on July 1, 2006, and became our virtual banquet table.

One of the evening-long email festivals took place while my daughter and I were watching Shrek 2. Somehow the notion arose that a completed sermon delivered by the voice of Puss in Boots, Antonio Banderas himself, would be, as the MasterCard ads used to say, priceless. That movie also provided an illustration for this Sunday’s Luke text, a lesson about who belongs at the table for a celebratory meal.

As Rachael Keefe wrote in our RCL feature this week,

“The key to it all is a healthy humility. Not a humility that negates or devalues anyone. Instead, a humility that recognizes all as equals before God. A humility that values all human life and tries to see Christ in all.”

We’ve been throwing this party for more than thirteen years now and doing our best to value and welcome all. It’s been a place to make friends and get help and let off steam. And even though more of our collective conversation happens on Facebook these days, the party continues. What are you preaching this week? What ideas do you have for a children’s message? What’s keeping you from sitting down to write?

Let’s help each other find a good word this week!


Martha Spong is executive director of RevGalBlogPals and a clergy coach. She is co-author of Denial is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith), with Rachel Hackenberg, and editor of There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, a collection of essays by members of the RevGalBlogPals community, and the forthcoming The Words of Her Mouth, a collection of psalms written by women faith leaders.


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 to the specific post. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

29 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: At the banquet table

  1. I love the stories of where it all began in RevGals. And I miss the late Saturday nights connecting with folks across the world at the Preacher Party, nudging the comments up to over 100!
    I’m not preaching this week but popped in to offer some sustenance – I have two kinds of soup – carrot, courgette and ginger or Thai sweet potato and courgette – can you tell we have an abundance of courgettes in the garden? (I’m in Scotland)
    I look forward to checking back in to hear your stories and find words of wisdom to read. Thanks

    Liked by 4 people

  2. hi All, Scotland here too…
    I have “everything left in the fridge” to eat
    tomorrow I am preaching for the congregation who I hope will vote to have me as their next minister. This has been a long time coming; the sermon is all but done, and I will post it to my blog and link it in a little while.
    I have stuck with the lectionary (RCL) using the Hebrews and gospel readings. The theme of God’ s Welcome and Jesus never changing seem to be just right – I hope I still feel that way tomorrow morning!
    Once we are done with Sunday we do a quick turn around and head to the airport for five days in Rome – we are both more than tired and more than ready to get away. (Hence the need to empty the fridge)
    We have friends coming to stay over and look after the dog and her puppies.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. i have been asking the people in the Parish “where do you sense God?” tomorrow i am using their images and a poem in worship – they make up the sermon. Then a beautiful communion liturgy from Iona with Jesus talking with the disciples about where they have seen the kingdom of God. I also announce tomorrow that i will be on leave for 8 weeks from 1 October – a mix of Long service leave and annual leave. time for a break, and i will be doing some work on our recently purchased house prior to moving in.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Betsy, no sermon as such. for about a month i have been asking for contributions, this one from a few weeks ago: On Sunday, 1st September, we will be thinking about, and celebrating, the places we see or feel or where we are particularly aware of God. I have asked you to bring a photo, painting, song, poem, whatever that has that connection for you. Someone has already told me that where they live, there is an occasional breeze that reminds them of the Holy Spirit. I am guessing some of the bush walkers may have a rock or space that is special to them. One of the children who worships on Friday Night has told me she is going to paint. Another person has told me of a song. No need to carry the rock out of the bush, or to try and bring part of your house to worship – a photo would be great.

        I have chosen Psalm 8, a modern Australian paraphrase, and psalm 23 as the texts. i have included a poem someone sent in, then the photos go on the screen with some of the comments people sent with them, then the song ‘what a wonderful world’ – that’s it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am working through the lectionary psalms this summer. Tomorrow a major focus of my sermon will be Psalm 81: 10 b – Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. I will use baby birds and our own Aurora-Claire as illustrations.
    One more Sunday to preach, and then I am off for the next three. It feels like a long time since I have had a break.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For the last 6 months, we had mourning doves nesting on the crosspiece that holds our very large church bell in a niche; when they find a spot they like, they stick with it, and they lay eggs quickly after each set of little ones leave. It was kind of frustrating because we couldn’t ring the bell (and, full disclosure, we finally evicted them a week ago), but it gave us opportunity repeatedly to watch nest-building, sitting and waiting, then parents feeding hungry chicks and finally fledging. I don’t think I’d ever fully appreciated how much time and energy those parents spend on babies! I hope the sermon strikes home for some of the hungry hearts in your congregation.

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  5. I’m also focusing on Hebrews and Luke, and the themes of hospitality and humility. I’ll be guest preaching for a friend, who’s out of town this weekend. So far I’ve got some reflections on seating arrangements at weddings – which is what takes the settled pastor out of town. Need to transition to the concept of radical hospitality, but haven’t figured out how exactly to get there. I’ll certainly be back later today!

    Also, many thanks to those who have posted their ideas or sermons here or on the RCL page. I’ve been getting lots of inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m using Labor Day propers tomorrow, for our U.S.A. holiday on Monday. I’ve been pondering why we value some occupations more than others, both in prestige and pay; nothing works unless everyone works together. Unfortunately, I have very little idea where I’m going with this, so right now–after yard work, laundry, and texting with my sister as procrastination–I’m praying for a clear way forward.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I like the perspective you’re taking. Teaching or driving a bus or making coffee or being an accountant can be just as much of a divine calling as a call to ministry. And none of us can manage to do everything. Why do we believe that doctors should be paid more than the nurses or aids who actually administer meds and change bedpans and give sponge baths?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Matthew 6:19-24 (don’t lay up treasure on earth; you can’t serve two masters); 1 Cor 3:10-14 (laying a foundation someone else will build upon); and Ecclesiasticus 38 (the skill of crafts-people). From the Episcopal lectionary for Labor Day. The Matthew passage is a bit of an odd choice for the history of Labor Day, since it could be interpreted as suggesting people shouldn’t worry about what they’re paid
        I’ve talked about my firefighter son getting lots of gratitude for his work, but the fire engine factory worker, red curb painter, turnout gear tailor, hydrant piper, etc. not being recognized; they should be included too, and paid well for what they do that makes his job possible and safer. Part of the difference is historical inequities for women, immigrants, and people of color, and some has to do with education or risk, but we still let those disparities continue. I think we have a long way to go in truly respecting the dignity of every human being; we make small, consistent steps in that direction by being intentional about opening our eyes to identify and thank people for their vocation, whatever it may be.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I am also relating Labor Day to the sermon, though I skipped to the lectionary for next week because I had a great Labor Day sermon written for 2016 that still applies. I have adapted it and am using it again, but the overall focus is the commitment that those who started the labor movement had to make and the consequences they had to face are much like what Jesus tells us we have to face as Disciples. I’m doing long-term supply preaching so it’s a new sermon to them and I preach for them next Sunday too, so I don’t have to worry about taking scripture from anyone else. I hope you found your connection!

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  7. I started thinking about the gospel but have switched to Jeremiah. I think the image of drinking from cracked cisterns is really powerful – all the ways we look to sustain ourselves that don’t fulfill us. I have a baptism tomorrow and so I want to tie in all the love and hope and time and effort these parents are going to pour into this child and then maybe imagine she’s going to become a teenager one day (or maybe just a strong willed 7 year old) and they are going to wonder ‘ where did I go wrong’ or ‘what the heck is she doing getting a tattoo or a nose ring’ or ‘why does she talk to us like that’ and then maybe God’s frustration in this passage will all of a sudden make a lot of sense to them….and maybe use that as a metaphor for God’s enduring love for us, God’s heartbreak at the ways we try to fulfill ourselves with what isn’t life giving and God’s continuing commitment to provide living water and true sustenance. …

    So, I am still in the rough outline stages, but I think I can make this preach.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Martha. A little Saturday night encouragement is always helpful because its usually at this point in the idea that I think ‘that won’t work’, then spend an hour or more looking for something else before finally realizing that’s where I’m being called.

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