IMG_3011 When I think of Ordinary Time, I think of green and of trees. I understand why green; I’m not sure why trees. I took this photo as I set up for worship at our late September church camp worship service in the midst of Ordinary Time. This week, we finally come to the end of the long green season, anticipating Christ the King and the end of the church year next week and Advent right after that (Yikes!). How many of us are in the midst of preparing for Advent even as we still have to preach this week?

Are you ending a stewardship season? Are you finishing an Ordinary Time series (as we are at my place)? Are you preaching the Revised Common Lectionary or the Narrative Lectionary (both with Isaiah, I think)? There are good discussions this week. Whatever you are doing, come and let us know. Bring your thoughts and your questions. What will you preach this week? What are you doing for children’s time? How do we preach and pray in a world that does not feel ordinary these days? What ordinary or extra-ordinary Word does your congregation need to hear this week? Let us listen together.


Wendy Lamb works as a commissioned pastor in a Presbyterian Church (USA) in Southern California and teaches college English classes at a local community college. She occasionally blogs at Bookgirl.


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45 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Last Week of Ordinary Time

  1. morning all. I am toiling with a terrible head cold and feeling vey under par. I am also only five weeks into this new call, and to be preaching about the apocalypse so soon feels a little scary. Following the RCL has its moments. However. it is what it is, and this may indeed be the week to hang my colours to the mast.
    If this is so, then I guess I will need to decide (again) what my view of the end of days is.
    Am I alone in swithering back and forth?
    Occasionally I think yeah – sure God will destroy it all and take up the chosen.
    Then I think heck – God will save anyone who calls on God.
    And then I think – who on earth I am to think I actually have a clue what the real answer is?

    I remember having a conversation with another student many, many years ago, about these passages. He had asked me if I was saved. To which I had replied well of course! Are you?
    And hie replied that he hoped so. With no surety.
    It was the first time I properly encountered the concept of an elect as an actual reality – he truly believed that some would be chosen and others, who appeared to be equally blessed would not.

    I do not know exactly where I am going with this – but praying that the Spirit will turn up and do her things with me sometimes soon. Preferably before my cold relief drugs wear off and I need to take another nap!
    I do also have a big pan of soup on the go for anyone who needs a bit if comfort food

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  2. Good morning from South Central Pennsylvania! I’m supply preaching tomorrow in a church I know only by a brief sketch of their current situation (the pastor departed a couple of weeks ago and no interim plans are in place yet). It’s been over a year since I preached anywhere other than my spouse’s church, which is a very comfortable setting for me since I have been worshipping there regularly for the past couple of years. The congregation uses the RCL, and this is a set of texts I have only preached once that I can remember, nine years ago. I’m looking back at that sermon to see if there is anything I can mine from it; it focused on the community of faith giving each other a hand up when things fall apart. I also have some ideas about the long view of God’s making things new when we can only see destruction, but not knowing more about what the congregation is currently going through, I feel tentative about that approach.

    I’m having a conversation after worship with their leadership about possibly filling in through Advent, so this is a bit of an audition. This morning I’m trying to get the rust off by engaging in familiar preaching routines and enjoying the two person Preacher Party at my house. 🙂

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    1. I hope the practice comes back quickly. I like both the themes you’ve mentioned. The community coming together and God’s long view both sound like a good places to go in this situation, even if you keep them more vague than you might otherwise. –Wendy

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  3. In NL and it’s a jam packed worship service. I joked, sort of on Facebook, that it would be a six word sermon. It will also be a bit of a jarring service in some ways as all our special things are fun and joyfilled…and then this text which starts with such doom and gloom. I am not going down the road of this is the Messiah we will celebrate at Christmas. I always remember what my OT professor, Dr. Robert Coote said, “The OT can stand by itself.” I’ve got an idea for a way in about how expectations disappoint. Time will tell.

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    1. We try so hard to theme services and sermons, don’t we? And then some weeks all the things are happening whether we picked them or not (and joyful is good) and they feel incongruous (and the Spirit somehow fills in the theme). –Wendy

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  4. Kind of a jumble of things tomorrow: a baptism and the in-gathering of pledges for 2020. Then, these reading! At the same time, there is anxiety about someone who has taken shelter from unseasonably cold weather in our prayer chapel which is open from 7:30 am – 9 pm. But the time-activated door can always be worked around by someone inclined to do so. I am gearing up for another lengthy debate at our upcoming Vestry meeting, even as I think of the baptismal vows we will repeat tomorrow morning. “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”

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  5. I’ve decided to talk about my visit to Iona a couple of years ago and the way things there have been built and rebuilt as a way of looking at how God makes things new. It’s my hope to paint a parallel picture to those in Isaiah and Luke that leaves some space for hope in whatever the congregation’s future will bring.

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  6. AS it stands now I will be talking a lot about fear (and the anger that grows from it) as a reflection on recent political events in Canada and more specifically in Alberta — fear of change or fear of the need to change or fear of the good old days not coming back. But my sermon title also refers to Joy so I need to work that in somewhere. So really I guess it will be talking about the fear/anger/turmoil of the transitional period as we get to a new way of being

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  7. Just finished, early for once! Hoping to join a NaNoWriMo “coffee crawl” writing spree later. I have taken an “Al Gore 5 Minute Climate Change” video (you can search it) and used it as the basis for preaching the Isaiah text “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth.” Wondering how science became politics, then acknowledging that this happens when people’s livelihoods are on the line. Imagining someone who makes spears and shields for a living reacting to Isaiah’s peaceable kingdom with “WHOA! What are you doing to me?” Throwing in a few examples of how climate change can produce refugee crises, even genocide. I did share that video with my worship committee and session before going ahead with the sermon. Got a positive response. In some other church it might not fly. P.S. For those not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s National Novel Writing Month.

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  8. I have been pondering and planning Advent for multiple hours this week, and now I have lots of plans and thoughts about Advent and…very little about this week’s texts.

    For the first time in my 20 years of preaching, I’m going to preach on the apocalyptic texts in the RCL. Luke and Malachi. We’re singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” because there’s a verse in there that comes straight from that Malachi passage. Other than that…I can recommend the Sermon Brainwave podcast from Working Preacher this week. Their discussion is helpful.

    We’re having tween drama over here today, but we’ve just made a trip to our local thrift store for cheap entertainment, along with a convenience store stop for snacks. Hopefully this improves our collective disposition.

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    1. We had tween meltdown over piano practice this morning. Now we’re getting ready to go for ice cream. I’ve been all Advent all the time this week, and the planning is coming well, but we still have to get through this week and next. I love that you’re singing Hark the Herald.

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  9. Looking at the Post title….
    If this is the last week in Ordinary Time does that mean that the rest of the year is non-ordinary? Extra-ordinary? Weird? (TBH the whole phrase “Ordinary Time often sparks those thoughts in my head)

    Then it occurs to me to ask what makes something ordinary or not ordinary?
    Then I ask if life as one following The Way ever calls us to really be ordinary?

    Then I remember this has little to do with my sermon…

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  10. I got home about 3:00 this afternoon from our Diocesan Convention, where we spent time learning about ways to dismantle racism, and was exhausted. Not only a lack of quality sleep, but mentally and spiritually exhausted. I didn’t get much time to work on my sermon prep before leaving on Thursday, so I feel like I’m at square one (really, I’m farther along, just fuzzy brained!) and struggling mightily with these texts. A nap was necessary to even be able to focus on research and now it is nearly 7:00!

    Before heading out of town, I attended tour of the new police station in my city. Workmen were busy painting, doing electrical/technology wiring, landscaping and the like. The state-of-the-art facility will open early next month. I wonder how that experience, where the hope and wonder of a police department, can impact my sermon?
    Hmmm…

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  11. Wishing I was further along, but little ones deserve family time on Saturdays even when I haven’t finished my sermon for Sunday so sitting down now to flesh out some ideas. I’m preaching on Luke from the RCL and thinking about how God sees things differently than us. Jesus’ reaction to the disciples fawning over the temple reminds me of the meme ‘McKayla Maroney is not impressed.’ Jesus is just not impressed with the same things we are…but, here’s the thing, what we think of as so impressive and so important, these things cannot bear the import we give them because they are temporary and fragile (even beautiful temples), and they have this tendency to crumble. However, in the midst of the rubble, what we discover is that within us, we have what we need (through your endurance you will win your life).

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  12. Not too sure . . . I was watching the impeachment hearings all day Wednesday as I wrote, so I would watch for a while, then think: Oh, I should write some more — and then repeat, all day long. I ended up with 2500+ blithering words, which have been severely edited! I am doing the last in a four-part intermittent series on Lutheran worship, so I am using Isaiah and Luke to talk about how we are sent –with the good news, which is Isaiah’s depiction of shalom. Meanwhile, our first service is experimenting with a coffee-house discussion format. They are still doing the sending theme, but they chose different texts and are depending a lot on conversation. I don’t think they quite understand what it means to prepare a sermon, be it a solo effort or a conversation, so we shall see.

    Most looked forward to: Between services forum on immigration. We have an immigration attorney coming in to speak to technicalities, and I am going to lead a conversation about what the ELCA means by having declared itself a sanctuary church (pretty much anything you want it to mean). Our folks are not nearly as excited by that development as pastor and staff so, again, we shall see.

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    1. I love that you and your spouse can share your sermons. Somehow that’s something that my husband and I have never figured out. Early on in our relationship, we discovered it went better if we didn’t try to talk about our sermons before we delivered them.

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  13. Appreciating all your posts. Running in my mind all week has been the acronym (from AA, perhaps?) F.E.A.R. = Forgetting that Everything is All Right. Seems to summarize Jesus’ message: no need to fear; we are always in the hands of the Holy One, hands that bring peace, mercy, and justice.

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