I looked up while walking home in a rainstorm this week and saw this reminder….

It’s that time again—time to write a sermon. Sometimes it feels like we just did that…

This week the various lectionaries give us a lot to unpack, whether it’s the RCL and Jesus apparently telling us to forsake family ties, or the NL with the 2nd creation story and the difficulty that western culture has heaped on the word “helper”…Or maybe you’re in Creation Time, thinking about how we care for (or don’t) this world God has entrusted to us. Or maybe you’re starting a new series to go with a new season or school year (in the northern hemisphere) or to align with springtime coming at last (in the southern hemisphere). Or maybe, like here, it’s one of the Sundays for an infrequent formal communion, and so there’s not much time for preaching at all and you wonder how to fit it all in.

Whatever you’re unpacking this weekend, you are welcome here! Pull up a chair, grab a snack (virtual snacks are all good for you!), and join in the fun as we bounce ideas around, commiserate a little, and wait for the Spirit’s sermon fairy to appear.

Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland. She lives along the beautiful Firth of Clyde, and she may or may not be counting down the days to her holiday (which conveniently coincides with her birthday). She is co-author of Who’s Got Time: spirituality for a busy generation, a board member of RevGalBlogPals, and a contributor to There’s A Woman in the Pulpit.

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22 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: unpacking edition

  1. How did I get so far behind!? It’s past time to start dinner and I’ve only spent one unproductive hour on sermon work. And I haven’t send the texts to the lector. I really wanted to start breaking out of the rut. Preaching on psalm 139. I just couldn’t face this week’s gospel text. Two weeks ago, on my birthday even, Pray as You Go did a meditation on 139, so I’m listening to it several times.
    There is, though, the enticing scent of my mother’s version of Boston baked beans in the slow cooker, getting ready for our annual congregation/community barbecue Sunday afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent plan. A few weeks ago there was one about the syrophonoecian woman and it asked “what do you think your mission is right now? What do you think the syrophonoecian woman would say about that?” And I was like “omg that is amazing and I have to remember it for when that finally comes up again.” Sometimes just one sentence in their prayer is so thought-provoking.
      I hope you find your Psalm 139 groove!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I switched texts. Last week I preached on Philemon, “Coming Home.” This week I am preaching on the Hebrews 13:1-8 passage featured last week. It is full of good advice for leading the Christian life. We are installing elders on Sunday and I thought it would work well as advice for leaders and congregations. Title: “Remember Your Leaders.” I did use Psalm 139 in the prayer of confession, remembering how close God is to us in all things.


  3. P.S. If you’re interested, here’s how that prayer of confession worked out.

    Unison Prayer for Forgiveness (from Psalm 139)
    O Lord, you have searched us and known us. You know everything about us: when we sit down and when we rise up. You know all our ways, the good and the bad. Even before we say a word, you know what is going to come out of our mouths. Such knowledge is so amazing that we can’t fathom it. You are with us everywhere we go. We can’t hide from you, not even in a dark place, because the darkness is like daylight to you. So we offer ourselves up to you, O Lord, and ask your forgiveness for the times we haven’t been the kind of people we wish we were.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I managed to get a draft about Genesis 2 written last night, hallelujah! I don’t have much time as we have formal communion, and a guest speaker to talk about a mission we are supporting with a retiring offering, so I really only have about 8-900 words to play with. That is, shall we say, NOT ENOUGH to unpack the things I wanted to say about this text. But nonetheless I have focused on the idea of partnership between God and humanity in creating the world good…and then I’ll be asking people to think about times when it has felt like we’ve done that as a church—the bright spots/strengths/moments or projects or whatever when we’ve had a real sense of doing what God wants us to do, or working with the spirit on something. I’ll ask people to write those down and put them into the offering as a way of giving thanks…and then I’ll use them in our ongoing visioning too. 🙂
    Today I’m out playing with a friend in Edinburgh—we are going to the zoo in hopes of seeing the pandas, and then hopefully on to a Harry Potter walking tour in the afternoon, which I’ve never done but I’m sure will involve some spurious claims about the Elephant House that I will be forced to debunk under my breath, haha.
    I’ll bring back some snacks though!


  5. Saturday night, and i have already worked 50 hours this week, and yet there is still a sermon to write and 2 services to lead tomorrow morning, and a funeral on Tuesday to prepare. Monday is my day off, and i met the funeral family last Monday, so i was hoping to get the whole day off this week, which will mean working tomorrow afternoon.
    I am on the NL, so this is week one of a new year, Genesis 2 – i am not sure i have the energy for the full exegesis of where this fits in the Bible and when it was written etc. I did put some of that in the newsletter.
    I ma thinking about dust, and how Adam was made from ‘adama’ the earthling for the earth. thinking of starting with the phrase for Ash Wednesday service – Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Amen. also Teri’s comment on the NL on Tuesday “god plays in the dirt, makes things and brings them to show off to Adam, and together they make a whole world, ” finishing wiht teh song by Grungor – beautiful things
    so now to actually write something.


    1. In The Inclusive Bible translation by Priests for Equality, the first human is called “earth creature.” The creature has neither name nor gender until there are two. I love it!


  6. I am starting back with the NL this year. Focused on the helper issue as I do not think very many people truly realize the depth and breadth of that word. I’ve used ezer then to think about how we can be ezer’s in the church in what I hope are some concrete ways. Time will tell. Errands today too…laundry and OZ needs kitty litter.


  7. Almost noon on Saturday and it’s still very rough. I’m on RCL, attempting to tie the lessons together through Psalm 139–particularly about how God “knit me together” since I am a knitter. Fallback is an old Sermons That Work, but I’m really hoping to pull this together…if only God would pull the tangled yarn out of my brain.


  8. I am so glad I had already decided to use the sermon from 3 years ago on the Luke passage, but I’m tweaking it a bit to emphasize that following Jesus means devoting ourselves entirely to just that, so that we don’t give a particular form of discipleship more importance than our relationship with Christ. Maybe I explain this better here: https://pastorsings.com/2019/09/07/know-the-cost-sermon-on-luke-1425-33/ This week has been very difficult. Three nights in a row of intensive meetings and another intensive gathering (I’m doing the food so our usual food preparers can participate fully) tomorrow after worship. This will be a conversation on how our church is responding to the Minnesota UMC vision to be inclusive of both traditional and progressive congregations, particularly in regard to human sexuality. We have had two prominent families leave in recent weeks, because our church is “getting too liberal.” One of those has set up a program for children to occur at the same time as our Wednesday night programs, basically cutting ours in half. This couple intends to participate tomorrow. Taco salad, anyone?


  9. Jeremiah, Philimon, or Luke? Repent, change your ways, and follow God’s desire for you; or change your ways and let your slave go free – the Christian thing to do is restore full personhood to all people so change your ways; or when you change your ways and follow Jesus, which means following God, your family members may not agree with you and you will have to decide if you align with family or God? (Well, actually I would never say that. I’d say, following God may set within you different values and beliefs from your family members, let them be who they are, love them as best you can, and follow God so that you live fully into your values and beliefs. This is the only way to walk between the lines. It is not an either/or).

    I preach without a text and have been facilitating sermon dialogues all summer with the congregation. Tomorrow is my first Sunday back to preaching, but still without a text. I am organizing my thoughts…looks like I’m going to say something about the challenges of faithfully following God even when others do not understand or hold different values than I do.


  10. Hi All,

    I am two weeks ahead since that’s when we’re doing what is officially tomorrow’s ELCA God’s Work Our Hands Sunday and I want to use tomorrow’s texts and materials then. So I am stuck with the dishonest (or creative or generous or whatever he is) manager. It turned into a meditation on the dilemmas posed by trying to use power and wealth for good in ambiguous situations. And as I write this I realize that I might need to hammer that home a bit. I started with hotel employees looking the other way as hurricane cats arrived with their humans last week — a Clergy with Cats FB page story. Tomorrow is a ridiculously long day — 2 worship services, a committee meeting, a personnel evaluation, a pastoral visit, a confirmation class, and a council meeting. Not sure that I will emerge from the bedroom on Monday.

    I am making lasagna in a bit for a party tonight if you’d care for a bite!


  11. My meditation is called “Discipleship Costs.” I’m going to use an ordinary object — let the congregation pick it, and we’ll explore all the hidden costs we can come up with. Then somehow I’ll bring it back to Luke. And Philemon. It’s been quite a week for me… happy preaching, y’all!


  12. this was on a NL facebook group:
    I find this footnote from The Inclusive Bible interesting: The two trees represent the tension between unity, seeing all things as interconnected (the Tree of Life), and dualism, seeing things as right or wrong, black or white (the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil). Paradise is here depicted as the state of living in unity with all things; eating the fruit of dualism—seeing all things as separate, and ourselves as alone—is indeed death. (Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible . Sheed & Ward. Kindle Edition.)

    I added another paragraph. time for Sunday breakfast


  13. Crazy busy week this week, and I find myself starting, once again, at the 11th hour, from scratch. Ugh. Jeremiah. Title: Refusal to Yield to the Potter. it’s after 6 p.m. Here we go …..


    1. I didn’t make up any time. Ready to outline after I procrastinate a little longer. Working exclusively from psalm 139, with a glance at the potter image and maybe the surrender implied in the gospel. The whole psalm is too much for our accustomed responsive reading, so sticking with the lectionary for that but opening sermon by reading the whole thing from Psalms for Praying, which will take up a third of the preaching time. Trying to home I’m on mystery, wonder, being known and never alone.


  14. I’m in a series on Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs. I am introducing the congregation to one new song each week. This is a song I want to use for the RCL Readings but they are not comfortable with the song. This week, using the UCC Worship Ways Prayers—thus focusing on healing people…veterans, homeless, neighbors, children, visitors, and so on.
    Using Jeremiah 18 —the potter themed songs, but the sermon title is “Won’t You Let Me BeYour Servant Too?” Which is also our closing song.

    Talking about reshaping and revitalizing our vessels in the midst of challenge/tragedy and the willingness to ask for help, accept help, and give help—especially with those we’d prefer not to get/give help to.

    Soaking dry clay, having fresh clay at tables to be formed, and a few vessels repaired and repurposed.

    Liked by 1 person

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