Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The 100 Word Sermon

A few folks had asked me to post this - it's from a few years ago. As a fund raiser at an auction, the highest bid item was the right to select what Sunday I would preach a 100 Word Sermon! They fought over this! Hmmph!
Anyway, the winner, a mom, picked, of course, Mother's Day. So I did it - here is the result. By the way at our auction last fall we auctioned another one of these, I am waiting for the winner to tell me when I have to do it!
I had fun with this....

100 Word Sermon

You are wondering, can it be done.
Will it be good? Will it be fun?

You know, this is hard to do
Preaching this gospel, can my words be few?

Jesus promises the Spirit to lead us and guide
To help us love, in Jesus, we abide

I will not leave you orphaned, I am coming to you
The promise of our Lord will certainly do!

The Spirit of truth, the Spirit of love
Sent by Jesus on the wings of a dove

I must stop now, hope it’s been fine
That’s all – it’s a blessing, that’s just ninety-nine.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Holy Holy Week, Batman!

I said on Twitter/ Facebook / Lkendin / Plaxo that this was not the Holy Week I envisioned. Of course that prompted lots of responses. Most were reminders that perhaps someone a couple of thousand years ago said the same thing.
Not that I am Jesus. Or crucified. I am just reporting.
It began the Thursday before Palm Sunday. I had the AWESOME privilege of Celebrating Eucharist at Coast Episcopal School, where we had a "Palm Thursday" service. It was really great. Their chaplain, The Rev. Liz Jones, who was my Rector when I was a Curate out of seminary, at St. James in Greenville, had prepared them so well. Liz was out of town attending her daughter's graduation, so asked me to step in. I was so blessed to do so! The 6th graders (the top class at this school) did the Passion Gospel, not just reading it but acting it out also. They were really fantastic. Great time.
Later that day was at the doctor with my LW (lovely wife), once again. She has been battling terrible headaches and sinus "issues" for months. Had an operation in the fall, and was hospitalized after that for complications. Things hadn't gotten any better, she is obviously allergic to something(s) down here, has started allergy shots, but meanwhile her face swells terribly along with the headaches. After months of trying different ways to deal with it, we agreed to surgery on the frontal sinuses. Since we wanted to go on vacation the week after Easter Day, decided to do the surgery the Monday of Holy Week, our understanding was a 2-3 hour surger, out patient, home later Monday, and some discomfort and pain post-op. We could not have been more wrong.
Meanwhile, my daughter comes down with a stomach virus, while at home watching a friend's baby that often stays with us.
So here I am Thursday afternoon and Friday - trying to think and began writing Holy Week sermons, still working on the liturgies (we were doing some real different stuff for our first Holy Week in our new buildings), sitting in the den as the LW is in the bed suffering from more headaches, and daughter is puking her guts up, needing my attention a good bit (and rightfully so). I was not feeling good about all this.
I managed to get Palm Sunday sermon done, and able to communicate to the secretary to use same bulletins as last year for MT (Maundy Thursday) and GF (Good Friday) services. Saturday was more of the same, with daughter still pretty sick and LW not able to get up much.
Palm Sunday was fun and good. I preached on the Philipians passage. Passion Sunday is a favorite of our parish and we began the procession this year in the center of our recently constructed outdoor labyrinth. My son played guitar as we processed and folks actually sang (Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna to the king of kings!). At the doors of the worship hall, we said another collect and switched to the more traditional All Glory, Laud, and Honor.
Monday was surgery. I did ask a dear friend who is a retired priest in our parish to take the Monday evening Eucharist, in case I got delayed at the hospital. Boy, was that an understatement! My poor LW's surgery took 6 hours! It's very meticulous going, working on the frontal sinuses by entering in through the eyebrows, avoiding nerve bundles (and of course, the brain!), but the doc felt great about all he had done. No question of the need to do it, lots of thick mucous that was not draining. He put in stints to create bigger "drain holes" from the frontal to the nose, which should stay in a couple of months to make sure scarring does not close up the holes. Since the operation took so long, felt LW should stay overnight with some pain management too.
My daughter has by now recovered, and as a soon-to-graduate nursing student, did me the huge favor of spending the nite in the hospital. Brought LW home Tuesday afternoon, got another retired priest to take the Tue night Eucharist.
Tuesday night was miserable - LW in much pain and discomfort. Looks HORRIBLE from all the bruising from the procedure. Breaks my heart to see her suffer so.
Wednesday I keep a promise to my son to take him to the DMV to take his driving road test for his license. He's ready - we've spent a lot of hours on the road. While we are there get a frantic call from LW, daughter has sliced her finger open cutting some cheese and they are on the way to an Urgent Care clinic, probably need stitches. My LW has NO business being out of bed but off she goes with daughter. My son passes (yay) the test and we head straight there. We are not happy with the care at this place (wound is deep and on the joint so we prefer stitches, they offer glue) and then go to the ER. I finally convince the LW to go home and go to bed, so the newly minted driver takes her home. This event will take a lot out of her. 5 stitches later, daughter is ready to go home. The ER visit has taken forever, of course, and our Tennebrae service has already started. This is the first time for us to do Tennebrae, EVER, at our parish and I had to turn it over to the very capable hands our our Deacon and Verger. They did a great job. I learned that doing the whole thing can be too long, so if we do it again we will take the shorter version I think.
So now I am oh-for-three on Holy Week services, have no sermons done for the rest of the week (although I did sketch out MT, GF, and a little of Easter Sunday while in the waiting room for 8 hours Monday morning). And Wednesday night turned into a terrible nightmare for LW, tremendous pain and discomfort, no sleep at all, misery. We go straight to the doctor's office and he decides to admit her to get a handle on things. Thank you!
We get her checked in and when my daughter is able to come up, I arrive at the MT service 2 minutes before kickoff, sermon somewhat done. It's a nice service, I think the sermon is an interesting one, I took a very different approach this year. I am disappointed in the turnout. I know I shouldn't worry about numbers but so much work goes into these Holy Week services that it does disappoint me to have such a small turnout. Maybe Foot Washing just is too gross for folks to come participate? But isn't that kinda the point?
Back to hospital until about midnight, daughter stays again, LW is only slightly improved.
Electronically I edit and update bulletin for the Easter Vigil - it's a biggie! I have crazy ideas about baptism and rearranging space that I am very excited about. We had reoriented the worship space for Lent, turned chairs to a semi-circular seating, moved the altar to a different wall, etc. During Holy Week I turned the chairs again, this time to a choir-type seating (facing each other). The center aisle quite wide and in the center is where the Tennebrae candles went, the Foot Washing stations were, and Veneration of the Cross was to take place - and then the baptisms at the Vigil.
Early Friday morning I write GF sermon, think a little about Vigil homily, finish proofing Vigil bulletin and Sunday bulletin, go to hospital to hang out with my poor wife, still not better, go back to noon GF service to find my Deacon is ill and won't be there, Verger and I do the service, it goes very well, go back to hospital until time for the 6 pm service, do it all again, go back to hospital. Thankfully my sister-in-law and mother-in-law spend afternoon and evening at the hospital, a big help.
My oldest daughter arrives in town to help out, and she spends most of Saturday at hospital. LW is improving. Saturday from 10 to about 3 we setup church for the Vigil, move the altar and chairs, clean up the buildings, cut the grass, prepare to light the new fire in the center of the labyrinth, mop and sweep and you name it. A great group of St. Pat's folks are on hand to do all this work. I meet with baptismal families for rehearsal, then head to hospital for couple of hours.
The Great Vigil of Easter was one of the best services we've ever done. We do the salvation history lessons by using storytellers and they all did a great job. In the center is the Paschal candle and a huge wash tub for baptisms. Stories are told by candlelight, and then I baptize a baby, a 4 yr old and 6 yr old. The older two are siblings. I baptized the baby first, dipping the shell into the sanctified water that was blessed in the tub. Then the siblings stepped into the tub, the older girl giggling, the younger boy smiling. Liz was on hand to help and she baptized the girl, who giggled the whole time, and then I did the boy as he laughed. It was FABULOUS!
Following the baptisms, the first Alleluias are shouted, all the lights come on, bells ring, you know the drill. I called the congregation's attention to look out the back windows, and there illuminated was a cross made out of the floor beams of our destroyed church on the beach. It was quite a moment!
After the 2 1/2 hour service, all family went back to the hospital where we did "birthday" for our oldest daughter, who turned 25 on April Fool's Day. Cake was shared with nursing staff. LW is lot better. Got home about 12:30, started writing Easter Sunday sermon, while replaying the Butler-Michigan State game which I had recorded. Stopped about 2 with it half done, got up at 5 and finished the sermon, headed to church for a very nice Easter Sunday celebration - packed house, pretty outfits, glorious service, wonderful Easter egg hunt on the grounds put on by one of our families who work so hard to offer this gift every year.
Back to hospital, sending my kids home to cook Easter dinner and the first meat we will eat since Lent started, LW and I wait for the doc to send her home. Have a good visit with him and finally she comes home, 3:00 on Easter Day. We enjoy dinner and then put her to bed.
As I said in my Easter Sunday sermon, I could not have been more proud of the St Pats people who worked so hard to pull off Holy Week. We know how to do HW at St Pats, and it's way not about me, obviously. They all did their jobs and did them well, and for most of the services, I was only able to show up just before kickoff yet everything went extremely well. My secretary, for whom this was her first Holy Week as secretary, did an amazing job with all the bulletins. Altar Guild, choir, vestry, many others worked to make the place shine and do make sure the liturgy went off like clockwork.
This is a long post, but it felt good to get it all written down. Way more importantly than Holy Week is my LW's ongoing health battle. As I write this, she's not well yet. She's better, for sure, but long way to go. I covet your prayers for her complete healing, for strength, for Peace. This has been a long ordeal and I cannot see the end of it yet, so I ask your prayers for me as well.
God bless you all - and remember - The Lord has Risen Indeed. Alleluia!