Visit our new site at

Sunday, December 31, 2006

A New Year's Eve Prayer

As always, cross-posted on InnerDorothy.

Wondrous and Most Gracious God, can we really be at the end of another calendar year? Day upon day, we encounter you in prayer and in worship, in quietness and in chaos. As each day spills over into the next, we follow the pattern of our days as they turn into weeks and months. We pray that we live our moments to the best of our ability, and that we treasure the days we are given, even when those days are filled with struggle.

For some, the past year has been a gift and a blessing. For those who were ordained to their ministries, or heard a call to a new ministry and made an important move....for those who have welcomed new babies, new family members, or even new pets into their lives....this has been a year of new beginnings.

For those whose year has been touched with sadness and sorrow, this past year may always be remembered as the year when a loved one died, or a relationship ended, or a dream had to be reshaped because of circumstances. It may be a year in which some were discriminated against, even in the church, because of gender or sexual orientation. It may be a time remembered for its deep struggle.

Whatever our memories of the year we put behind us this evening, we pray God, be with us just as you have been with us throughout every moment of our lives. By the power of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus to his dearest friends, we know you are close, even when your presence feels elusive to us. Grant us faith in the coming year. Grant us compassion for one another, and hearts ready to listen and to learn in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who taught us to pray together singing..



Don't forget the Wednesday Festival:it's easy! Anyone can play!

All you have to do is click on the hyperlinked words: RevGal Wednesday Festival to create a mail message to the Festival team.

Nominations should be from your own blog or another RGBP ring member's. Please include a brief description of the post (a sentence is fine!) and the URL for the post, too!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

11th Hour Preacher Party

That crazy Jesus kid, always running off and hiding in the Temple...Didn't his parents teach him any better than that?

Good morning, preaching pals! I am actually not preaching today, and while you are all writing away, I will be driving...and driving...and driving to Indiana for some New Year's festivities. However, I've left the table set with cranberry nut muffins, and the coffee is set to start brewing bright and early. I've even put on some water for tea, because I know some of you are bound to have colds and sore throats like I have lately. I hope I've left you all adequately fueled for your preparation. Make yourselves at home, and if you think of it, say a prayer for traveling mercies for my journey, because I've got a long way to go, and a short time to get there, and so on and so forth.

Blessings on your thinking and writing today!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Five: Dream a Little Dream

"In the Last Days," God says,
"I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
I'll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
and they'll prophesy."
(Acts 2:17-18, The Message)

On this final Friday of 2006, it seems appropriate to speak of dreams. A very important dream about a lighthouse played a role in my journey towards ordained ministry, and mine last night were vivid and included a flying church.

Please feel as untethered yourself in responding to this Friday Five.

Tell us all about:

1) a dream you remember from childhood

2) a recurring or significant dream

3) a nightmare

4) a favorite daydream

5) a dream for the New Year

If you're feeling up to it, post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formuation:
<a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>
For a complete how-to, click here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ask the Matriarch — Losing Loved Ones, in More Ways Than One


I’d been taking care of one of the members of my congregation—hospice care. She’d been in the community for about 10 years and a member of our congregation for five. She was diagnosed with brain cancer about six months before her recent death and was in hospice for the last two months of her life. Both of her children were in town and sharing her care, and at least one of our pastoral staff visited her at least every other day—the last 2 weeks, every day. I’d grown very fond of her and her children and care for them deeply.

When she died, I was expecting the funeral to be here—either at the local funeral home or at the church, but the family decided to have the funeral in a city more than 250 miles away, at the church where she was a member for more than 40 years. But she hasn’t been a part of that congregation’s life for more than 20 years—nor have her children. The clergyperson there did the funeral. He had never met her and didn’t allow me or any of our clergy participate in the funeral.

I just don’t understand: why did the children do this? Why won’t that &*%^* other clergyperson allow us to share in the funeral? I am hurt and angry. Finally, how do *I* care for myself, my staff and my congregation so that we don’t feel so bad? The other church is indeed a different denomination that does not allow for female clergy but STILL.

Hurt and Confused

Even when you know it’s coming, this can never be an easy situation, for you, for her family, and for the community who cared about her. The matriarchs agree: There might have been any number of reasons why they held the funeral at her former church. “I’m with you,” says St. Casserole. “It doesn’t make sense to have the funeral away from her context. However, families do odd things as they cope/don’t cope with death. Their decision may have to do with a promise made years ago or be the result of a power struggle in the family. Who knows?”

And you are right to want to commemorate her life. “Funerals and memorials are for the living,” says Peripatetic Polar Bear. “While the family has the first right to decide where the funeral will be held and who will do it, the mourners—including the current congregation and her hospice workers, etc.—have a right and Christian duty to remember her.“

Go ahead with your own
The answer, say the matriarchs in virtual unison, is to go ahead with your own memorial. “Perhaps you all need to offer a memorial service at your church so you can have closure and say goodbye to her,” says Abi. “It will help you, the staff and church to grieve. You can do that without any one’s permission. Let the family know you are doing it, and that you would love for them to attend. They may get more from you all than at they did at the other.”

PPB notes that you can note the distance as a reason for holding the memorial. “Tell the children that because the funeral is so far away, you plan to hold a smaller memorial at your church. If they’d like to come, that would be great. If they don’t mind, you’d like to put it in the paper, so neighbors, etc. can attend. But if they do mind, don’t advertise outside the church. But go ahead and have it. Because it’s not about her; it’s not about just the biological family—It’s also about her church family.”

There are many things you can do to offer your own memorial, too. “At your congregation, where she was loved and known, plan to offer prayers of thanksgiving for her life and involvement in your congregation,” says St. Casserole. She also offers several other ideas for things you can do to commemorate her life:
  • Plant a tree in her honor in the church yard or some kind of memorial which members may contribute to.
  • If she has a close friend in your congregation (other than you) ask that person to plan a memorial type gift in memory.
  • Put an article about her death in your newsletter.
  • Have flowers given in her honor.
  • Pass around a card for people to sign to be sent to her children.

“All these things show care and love,” continues St. Casserole. “And you have creative ideas of your own!”

You’re not alone
This does happen from time to time, unfortunately. Jan notes that it’s often cluelessness that leads to such thoughtlessness, and that sometimes practicality trumps actuality. “Is she going to be buried there in the cemetery of the 250-miles-away church?” she asks. “Does she have siblings who are still members of that other church?” Siblings of older people might have more difficulty traveling a long distance, for instance.

I suppose it falls under the category of things we cannot change. PPB’s been through it, too. “I had a woman commit suicide, and her husband insisted she didn’t ‘deserve’ a funeral,” she says. “We held a memorial. We needed it. He said no to announcing it in the paper. But we held it.”

St. Casserole has seen it happen more than once. “I’ve been kept out of funerals, ignored by the family and ‘allowed’ to give one measly prayer during the service while a pastor, who didn’t know the deceased, blathered on and on,” she writes. “My favorite was when the preacher referred to the decedent by MY name!”

Taking care of you
“We support you in your grief and what you are going through,” writes Abi. “You have brought up what all of us go through when we care for our church members and care deeply. We need to be sure we take care of ourselves when we do our grief work.” After all, you’re grieving too. The shoulder and ear of a friendly colleague can do wonders.

There is also the admittedly meager comfort from knowing you helped make this woman’s last days more comfortable, says Jan. “There is little in knowing that you served this woman and her family well. But it sounds like you did. Blessings to you.”

St. Casserole agrees. “God knows what you’ve done and been to this family,” she says. “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that you were passed by. Take care of yourself and your flock. Some things in ministry just don’t make sense.”

This post brought to you late by the new fancy and difficult to troubleshoot wireless connection at casa de gallycat. Grrrrrr. Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wednesday Festival

Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone has gotten some well-deserved and well-needed rest.

Karen of KC's Kaleidoscope submitted a couple of wonderful Christmas photos, and the first one just needs to be shown RIGHT HERE! The title is: No More Silent Night! (I have a photo of my boy with a drumset like this, from about five years ago. Just wait, Karen!)

Also see here! Karen's second photo invites you to a caption contest, so there's another Way to Play!

Feeling less than your brainy self? Tune up with the RevGals Trivia Quiz! Cathy, our Trivia Wiz, reports: "December 23rd we were the MOST popular Trivia Challenge Quiz! #1. We can do it again, I know it! Go here to have some fun with the best trivial challenge around!"

Now, go get a cup of tea (coffee, whatever) and settle in for a wonderful read. Karen also shares an amazing creative journal of the one year anniversaries associated with her father's heart surgery, recovery and then unexpected death over two weeks last December. She says, "The journal I kept this year was an amazing gift to me to deal with the reopened grief. It helped me celebrate the life I still have. The most challenging thing I did this year was continue in ministry to hospitalized and dying congregation members rather than run back to the newsroom from whence I came."

Teri has posted about serving Communion. Go ahead...take you a BIG piece!

MoreCows has posted a thought-provoking piece about death and the immortality of the soul and invites your comments.

Go ye forth and comment in the comments, delurking to all bloggers!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
Colossians 3:16, NRSV

It's the day after Christmas. Do you know where your children are?

Mine are sleeping late or laid about on couches. But more to the point, the gospel lesson for the First Sunday after Christmas week is about a child who was not where he was "supposed" to be, although one might also make the case that his parents weren't exactly keeping a sharp eye out for him on the journey home from Jerusalem.

The accompanying Hebrew Bible text from 1 Samuel shows us another young person whose call to God's service is apparent at an early age, but in this case one whose mother and father willingly sent him to the Temple.

I love to preach on so-called "low" Sundays, when the faithful remnant turn up to hear the Word of God while others are taking a day off. Sometimes I want to ask them why they are there, and this may be a good text with which to pose the question, affirming their faithfulness. I would love to hear their stories, too, and will certainly share part of mine, about how church was, to me, a home away from home throughout my childhood.

I'll be preaching this week far away from my family and my church home, at The Church of the Sainted Casserole. I'm hoping to engage that congregation in some dialogue about what brings us to church and what makes it feel like the place we belong.

What are your preaching plans this week?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

A Merry Christmas to RevGals and Pals of Good Cheer!

Last night at Midnight Mass the lovely words of John's Gospel rang out:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

I thought with gratitude, then, of my many blessings. The RevGals and the friendships formed in this community are chief among the blessings that pour forth from the Word of God in my life - in many of our lives.

Questing Parson has marked his participation in this group, and his gratitude for it, with a wonderful gift to Heifer International, one of the RevGals' favorite charities! Be sure to click on the link open this wonderful gift and send a thank-you back to QP! Props to him for the most appropriate gift he could have chosen! :)

How are you celebrating the Light in your life today? Today's is an open thread and you all are invited to share, in the comments or in a link to their own blog-posts, your celebrations of the Birth of the Christ and your reflections on it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Eve Prayer

As always, cross-posted at Innerdorothy.

God of humility and innocence, God of wonder and miracle, we give thanks today for your power and presence in our midst. In Jesus – his birth, his life and ministry, his death and resurrection – you have shown us that greatness can emerge out of vulnerability, and that with you, all things are indeed possible.

This morning, God, we ask that you guide our journey to the stable. May all your people gather this night around the Holy Family, bringing hopes, fears, joy, sorrow, delight and most of all love into our circle of adoration. May we hear the song of the angels as the birth is announced and may our voices ring out with praise at the miracle of it all.

Eternal God, in the name of the tiny babe of Bethlehem, we pray for all humankind…for the strong and the weak, for the poor and the wealthy, for oppressed and oppressor. May all kneel together at the manger, seeking help, healing and hope.

God of comfort, swaddle us in the safe closeness of your divine embrace, and bring us peace. May your name be praised and glorified on this day of wonder, and forever more…

And now we pray as Jesus taught us to pray…


Blessings and a Joyous Christmas to one and all!!


Don't forget the Wednesday Festival:it's easy! Anyone can play!

All you have to do is click on the hyperlinked words: RevGal Wednesday Festival to create a mail message to the Festival team.

Nominations should be from your own blog or another RGBP ring member's. Please include a brief description of the post (a sentence is fine!) and the URL for the post, too!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

11th Hour Preacher Party - Christmas Eve Insanity Edition

We're closing in quickly on THAT DAY, the church day to end all church days, the festival of many services - Christmas Eve! I'm preparing for four services, and that means at least two sermons. How much time will you be spending at church today? How many sermons are you writing? What ideas are coming to mind? And the real question...Advent 4 or Christmas in the morning??

In honor of the occasion, I've set out some of the mounds of Christmas cookies that have been given to me this week. The coffee pot is timed to start brewing the French roast early and continuously. I hope you all brought some goodies to share - both food and ideas - because I sense that we may need them.

Bring on the sugar! Bring on the caffeine! Bring on the brilliance!

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Prayer for Holiday Travelers

Eternal and Loving God, Creator of life and Source of Goodness, as we enter this holiday weekend, I'm praying for everyone on our roads and railways and everyone traveling by air. So many families are trying to come together to celebrate, and I pray for safe travel and good reunions all around.

God, bring patience where weather brings travel delays and remind us all that safety is more important than even the grandest of holiday traditions. Bless all who take on the task of carrying folks to their destinations. May they be attentive as always to the precious cargo they carry and the important gatherings that they play a part in creating.

Bless those who remember fondly the loved ones who have died in motor vehicle, bus, train and air accidents, whether in recent times or years past. I know you grieve along with them, and pray that they may they know the comfort of your presence.

As Joseph and Mary joined the crowds of travelers so many years ago, may our own holiday journeys be safe ones, accompanied by the blessing of your Spirit. Amen.

Festive Foods Friday Five

Well friends, we've covered advent, music, and movies/TV--but we here at F5 HQ would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that quintessential holiday topic... fooooooooood.

1. Favorite cookie/candy/baked good without which, it's just not Christmas.

2. Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?)

3. Evaluate one or more of the holiday beverage trifecta: hot chocolate, wassail, egg nog.

4. Candy canes: do you like all the new-fangled flavors or are you a peppermint purist?

5. Have you ever actually had figgy pudding? And is it really so good that people will refuse to leave until they are served it?

Edited to add: Well, I am APPALLED with myself that I forgot to include a question about the crown prince of holiday foods--the fruitcake.

Feel free to add your thoughts on this most polarizing holiday confection.

As always, let us know in the comments if you play. And a handmade buttermilk praline from the reverendhousehold to all those to link directly:
<a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>
For a complete how-to, click here.

And finally--may Christ be born anew in your hearts this Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ask the Matriarch - What did he just say?

It's not really a Christmas-themed AtM this week, but I had some questions that were long overdue to be answered and I wanted to get to them before the end of the year. Here's one of them.

After 25 years in ministry, I have run across a new situation for which I am ill prepared. We had a guest preacher to deliver the sermon for Stewardship Sunday. He did well for the first 10 minutes but then went off on a theologically weak tangent that has caused much angst with my staff and with many of my congregants: He did a lot of guilt-tripping and promising good fortune if one tithed. He ticked off the youth, young adults, ministers and many of the adults. He is a nice guy but did little preparation for his sermon (he said so) and took 35 minutes to unfold it, leaving many confused and hurt. Some, of course, thought it was terrific and commented that we need more of that kind of talk from the pulpit—won't happen while I'm there.

Anyway, do I do any kind of damage control such as a support group, mention it in my sermon on Sunday, etc? Or, should I just leave it alone and trust the Spirit and the congregation's resiliency (which they have). Thank you for your help.

Perplexed Preacher

Well, first off, apologies that we didn't get to this sooner, as you've probably dealt with a lot of the immediate issues. We hope it went okay and are sorry you had to go through this! But here are some general guidelines to help you through this kind of situation should it happen to you ever again or to anyone else. I'm very much weaving the insights of several of our matriarchs in this piece, as we heard from Peripatetic Polar Bear, Jan, Abi and St. Casserole on this and there was a lot of overlap.

Trust your congregation
Abi shared an anecdote about how a guest preacher came in to cover her one week and went off on all manner of theological tangents—including why he objected to women preachers. "The church members were furious," she says. "The lay leader and I told the district superintendent, and I confronted the preacher too. The congregation treated me different after that, were very supportive. They also appreciated my response to the situation as well. We talked about what he said and did for sometime to come."

In other words, and as Jan puts it, "Give your congregation credit. They know he or she is the guest preacher. We once had an anti-war preacher deliver a hard-charging no-war-never-ever sermon to our congregation filled with WW2 vets and Pentagon employees. Didn't go well. But they knew he was a guest and they didn't have to hear him preach every week. Every once in a while it doesn't hurt, though."

Build, don't destroy
Jan writes that if you decide to run a followup sermon, instead of tearing the guest preacher's sermon (or the preacher himself or herself) down, put it this way: "We got some interesting feedback from ______'s sermon and there are many perspectives on giving money to the church, all from different stories and sayings from scripture. Today I'm coming from a different perspective, from the story of [whatever your passage might be]."

Damage Control
PPB offers that you should lean toward one-on-one meetings and avoid putting yourself in the awkward position of "an adversarial relationship with a clergy colleague." She adds that if it's appropriate to do so (such as if your denomination encourages such collegiality), you may want to meet with the guest preacher and "push him a little bit about what he meant in the sermon---see if you can find a way where the two of you can agree" on a revision or appendix to his sermon that could appear in your church newsletter, for example. Or you can provide some feedback on his lack of preparation, says Abi. "Talk with the person as well about what they did," she writes. "Nice guy or not, he screwed up, and on a very important matter for your church. If you are invited to preach on a special topic, you don't come ill-prepared." If it's appropriate to do so, take it higher. But oftentimes, that may be sowing discord, so reflect upon it carefully.

Leave it alone
At this point, it may have blown over. And sometimes that might be the best thing to do anyway, believe it or not--just ignore it. St. Casserole says, "Discuss it privately with staff, but do not mention it in your sermon or worship. You can't correct this by discussing it head-on. Continue doing stewardship education throughout the year. Don't invite this preacher back. When people say they loved him, thank them for being there to hear him."

You can't control them all
Ultimately, this is going to happen to everyone at some point. St. C. notes, "Guest preachers and speakers do this from time to time. I prepare to cringe when a special interest speaker does a Moment for Mission or a special appeal."

Now. If you really want something Christmas-y, I got something from my mom that I really needed to see this week. And since there isn't another Wednesday Festival before Christmas to send it to, I'll share it here: A Christmas interpretation of Corinthians 13. May all your guest preachers this holiday be right on target, and may your hopes for the coming year be fulfilled.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday Festival - late Advent Edition

Oh the Wednesday Festival is here and do we have a line up for you! We have a little bit for everyone here today. Let’s start off with that of the more spiritual news….

From the Department of Theology……

  • Keep See-through Faith from reeling and on her feet. Her church has decided on NO CHURCH on December 24th, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Her remedy? Focus on the lessons and carols that she attended. Another of her posts shares with us God’s obsession with us.
  • Sally shares some thoughts on the incarnation God is truly with us. And who and what is church? Find out her thoughts and findings on that topic too.

From the Pastoral Concerns Division

  • Deb reminds us that for some, the holidays are not a happy time and offers suggestions to how we might help them.
  • Chillyfingers shares a heartwarming story about a special moment that makes being a pastor worth the effort – such a touching story!
  • Emily’s not calling anyone any names, but the names she has been called by those around her! Can you add to the list?
  • Clevertitlehere has a confession to make about boundaries – I bet there are some of us who can identify with these! Don’t just stop there with her – go to her dots and thoughts and make sure you watch the YouTube video of the 12 days of Christmas for a good laugh and entertainment!
  • More on boundaries of a different kind. Go on over to Emily’s and see what suggestions you can give to whistling.

Department of International Affairs and touching stories department….

Mary Beth may be firmly planted right now in the Western Hemisphere, but her friends have gone all the way to China to adopt their baby boy. Check it out here and here and be prepared to shed some tears of joy!

And in the fine arts department…..

  • Moans and groans over at Quotidian Grace’s blog. A communal effort was made many RGBP – do you think it will make into the next hymnal?
  • Move right over to Carmen’s blog to check out the movie list she created for the Christmas holidays. Think I am going to add these to my Netflix queue!
  • And once you get through watching that movie, why not come dancing with MOI! Step right up and see if you can keep up with this elf!

Don’t let this milestone go unnoticed!
Ten years can go by in a flash, and yet so much can happen. Go wish A. Lin a happy tenth anniversary! Woo hoo!

From the RGBP Culinary Institute…..

  • Just yesterday a friend of mine and I were reminiscing about a time at the coast and a dish of shrimp and grits (all you folks who haven’t had grits.. eat your heart out!). We were talking about the fact that we had not found a recipe for it and wouldn’t you know… a fellow RGBP comes to the rescue! Never tried shrimp and grits??? You are in for a treat – go here to find the recipe!
  • And what better to go with those shrimp and grits but…. Bubba biscuits!!! Yessiree….. After a good sip, make sure you use the rest of the brew for these Bubba biscuits. According to Grace 1-4, these would be great for the RGBP 11th hour party.
  • And while we are on the topic of food… let’s look at a little known December feast day, which observes the feast of the lost kitchen implements. Find out when they will go back to their rightful owners

Oh how we love these memes…. And they seem to be making the rounds lately!
ABCs, 123456789….. 10! Seems like lots of folks are doing this one! Check out The Things I Love here at Sacred Art and Set Free and there are more (just add them in the comments so we can visit you!)

Let's not let the festivities end here......
The Wednesday Festival can continue!!! Just add what you would like to share with your RGBP friends. And.... how bout leaving a comment when you go visit. We can delurk and let our fellow friends that we were there!!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Final Week of Advent or Christmas Eve? Edition

Hi Friends,

We are hitting the final stretch! We're almost done with Advent! Anybody else but me glad to think about that, or does that provoke one to panic?

I am trying very hard to make this Sunday's morning worship be the fourth Sunday of Advent, and NOT Christmas Eve, but I do not have a music chair who understands (or maybe she does get it, but just disagrees). Therefore, we will be hearing a lovely four-hand piano/organ piece that is angels, angels, angels on Sunday morning. (That's not the title of the song, but the subject matter. It's a medley of all the "angel" Christmas Carols.) At this point, I'm too tired and worn out to care. Give the people what they want, I say, and calendar be damned!

The gospel lections this week feature Mary and Elizabeth, and the Magnificat.

I was remembering "The Christmas Show" episode of my new favorite television show, "Studio 60", the one that begins with the story of a young unmarried pregnant woman (NOT a virgin), and the guy who stands by her side. Sound familiar?

All through this episode, one character, (a Jew, by the way) wants to celebrate Christmas, and everyone around him simply wants to debunk the mythology of it all. It gets me to thinking: how much of the mystery of the Incarnation do we believe, how much do we debunk in our hearts, and how much do we simply overlook?

These are the questions I will be wrestling with this week. How about you?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Gifts

Here's a question from one of our Ring members who wonders how you do things at your churches.

Do your congregations give Christmas gifts to the pastor and the rest of the church staff? Does it come "from the church" and therefore is paid for out of the church budget? Is it a free-will offering collected and somehow dispersed among staff members?

A wonderful past edition of Ask the Matriarch addressed the awkward offer of gifts and/or favors from parishioners, but this perhaps has a different feel. Please share your church's practice in the comments!

Monday Mission Moment: Legacy and Community Building

There is a famous line in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar spoken by Mark Anthony during his eulogy for his assassinated friend: "The evil men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones." Today's first Monday Mission project contradicts that saying. It is the story of how the Thanksgiving charity program at Wilmette Community Church continues after the deaths of the two men who led the program because their children have chosen to carry on their good work. Thanks to Tripp, who sent us this inspiring story about the continuation of this legacy of mission and service at his church.

Our second December mission story is sent to us by Pam Ostrander. Every inner city neighborhood has derelict buildings that are often havens for drug addicts and criminals, creating more chaos and insecurity for the residents of the area. The Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA have created an inner city Art House for at-risk children from just such a building. You can check out this innovative project on their website.

We need your suggestions for Monday Mission Moment. This feature appears the third Monday of each month. Email your nominations to the Monday Mission Moment -- the link is on the sidebar.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Prayer

As always, this prayer is also posted over at InnerDorothy.

God of Light and Love, we thank you this day for all your goodness and grace, and for all the surprising ways that we encounter you in the living out of our days. We thank you for friendly smiles and heartfelt good wishes especially at this busy time of the year.

We thank you God for one another. For friends who know what we need before we ask…and for all the un-named angelic figures who enter our lives at exactly the right time. Through all of these, God, we are able to experience your gentle, loving presence, and for this we give you praise.

We pray this morning for all those we have named in this place, and for those whose needs remain in the safe sanctuary of our own hearts. Bless each one, and give them strength and faith to face each day, whatever may come.

Today we pray especially for those who find the Christmas season very difficult to navigate. For all who are suffering or sad, lonely or hungry, oppressed or imprisoned, grieving or weeping…God, we pray that your loving presence will enfold and bless them all.

As we anticipate again the birth of the tiny One of Bethlehem, bless us all, and guide our journey to the stable – where we will encounter the birth of Hope itself, the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, the One who taught his friends to pray together singing…


Don't forget the Wednesday Festival:it's easy! Anyone can play!

All you have to do is click on the hyperlinked words: RevGal Wednesday Festival to create a mail message to the Festival team.

Nominations should be from your own blog or another RGBP ring member's. Please include a brief description of the post (a sentence is fine!) and the URL for the post, too!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

11th Hour Preacher Party: Antibiotic Edition

"Do not be afraid!"

The antibiotics are with us.

Both your Saturday hostesses are counting on Better Living through Chemistry to bring us whole into the Christmas week.

But meanwhile, sisters and brothers, Advent 3 awaits. What are your plans? What are your hopes? What is your reality?

Share your thoughts, your questions and your goodies in the comments!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Five: Yuletide Favorites

For this mid-December Friday Five, let's explore some Yuletide favorites.

1) It's a Wonderful Life--Is it? Do you remember seeing it for the first time?

2) Miracle on 34th Street--old version or new?

3) Do you have a favorite incarnation of Mr. Scrooge?

4) Why should it be a problem for an elf to be a dentist? I've been watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for years now, and I still don't get it.

5) Who's the scariest character in Christmas specials/movies?

Please leave a comment if you play on your blog. A visit from St. Nicholas is assured to all who link directly:
<a href="the-complete-URL-of-your-post-goes-here"> what you want the link to look like goes here </a>

For narrative instructions, see this helpful link.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ask the Matriarch - Welcoming the New Year

Can you believe it's almost 2007? My goodness. I'm having enough trouble believe it's Thursday again already. I have a potluck tomorrow, three gift cards to buy before stores close tonight, an eye appointment in the morning and my son calls me at 3 pm saying he wants to participate in tonight's chorus recital after all. So humble apologies for being late, but I had to get some of the "tonight" work done "this afternoon," and still, I'm rushing. Yikes!

On to this week's question:

We are thinking of having a "Love Feast" at our church for New Year's Eve as a way to celebrate the things God has done for us as the local Body of Christ this year, and to welcome and invite new people into Christian fellowship and worship our Living God.

I would be interested in hearing of the experiences of how to do this successfully. So far, we have only read about it in the Methodist Book of Worship. I
emailed Rev. Abi and she had a suggestion that I might like to hear from the
other RevGals.

Well, we didn't hear from the other Matriarchs, but we'd like to hear from YOU! In the meantime, here's what Rev. Abi had to say about it--she also has some great links that I will post in comments later (or she can, if she beats me to it):

The Lovefeast
The Moravian Church is one of the very few churches which has a service in its appointed services dedicated to the greatest of virtues, Christian Love. It is called the Lovefeast, after the practice of the Apostolic Church in which a common meal, partaken in love and fellowship, often preceded the Lord's Supper. These "love feasts" are described in 2nd chapter of the Book of Acts. In our Lovefeasts the common meal consists of a plain sweet bun and coffee, tea, or chocolate. It is served to the participants in the pews. After all have been served, the congregation joins in the Moravian table grace:

Come, Lord Jesus, Our Guest to be,

And bless these gifts, Bestowed by Thee.

Bless our dear ones everywhere,

Keep them in Thy loving care.

As they partake, the participants are asked to pray in love for one another, especially for those seated on either side of them. The organist plays softly during the meal.

The Love Feast is not a substitute for the Holy Communion. In the Holy Communion, the symbolism is that God shares with us, His children. In the Love Feast, the symbolism is that the Christian shares with his or her fellow Christians.

Since love is the greatest power in the world, and Christian love is the greatest of virtues, I have often wondered why more branches of the Church do not adopt the Love Feast as one of their appointed services.

Other than the common meal, the Love Feast is a service largely of music, chiefly the singing of hymns of love and fellowship. Occasionally there is a brief address.

I have been a member of one church that used this, and we then used it at my previous appointment once, last year when New Year's day was on Sunday. We had a regular worship of singing, prayers, scripture and brief sermon. Then we had the Love Feast with the Moravian cakes, coffee, tea and the prayer noted above.

For New Year's Eve at my previous church we did an early evening service due to the older ages of the members. It was a brief service of prayers, scripture, and sermon. They were invited to write down their sins from the previous year which we then burned or tore up. And then we used Wesley's covenant renewal:

Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray:
Let me be your servant, under your command.
I will no longer be my own.
I will give up myself to your will in all things.
Be satisfied that Christ shall give you your place and work.
Lord, make me what you will.
I put myself fully into your hands:
put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and with a willing heart
give it all to your pleasure and disposal.
Christ will be the Savior of none but his servants.
He is the source of all salvation to those who obey.
Christ will have no servants except by consent;
Christ will not accept anything except full consent
to all that he requires.
Christ will be all in all, or he will be nothing.
Confirm this by a holy covenant.
But I have also used the Covenant Renewal Service too.

What other things are we doing to prepare for / celebrate the new year?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wednesday Festival

"Well, rockin' around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop
Mistletoe hung where you can see every couple of tries to stop
Rockin' around the Christmas tree let the Christmas spirit ring
Later we'll have some pumpkin pie and we'll do some caroling"

Welcome to the revgalblogpal's Wednesday Festival. Hope you are ready for a rockin' party.

First let's sing Christmas songs. Apparently the Friday Five started a good ol' caroling time: "You will get a sentimental feeling, when your hear voices singing
'Let's be jolly, deck the halls with boughs of holly'"
Praying on the prairie tells us the redeeming value of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Quotidian Grace is challenging the RevGals and my other readers to write a song worse than Christmas Shoes with QG's Sappy Christmas Song Competition. For me it brought back a romantic memory of Christmas Caroling.

Mary Beth at Terrapin Station wants to tell us all about Mary, more about Mary and then even more about Mary. If you can't tell, she's been reading, writing, and thinking about Mary a lot.

At this party we do arts and crafts. Carmen (In the Open Sapce) has been wastin' time, er she means she has been making billboards I wish I could see. These two have some ideas to use next year at your church. 1-4 Grace has posted several things, including pictures, that her church did for their Advent Workshop this year. How about a "Living Nativity display"that was done by St. John's Rev Abi's church? These might be good to “file away” for next December. "Jesus, you do such good work using a hammer, your daddy must be a carpenter." "How's everyone else doing with their crafts?"

"Yeah, rockin' around the Christmas tree have a happy
feeling merrily in the new old-fashioned way"

What would a Christmas party be like without food and drink? Move over Paula Deen, 1-4 Grace has made us some really good Cheesy Beer Biscuits and brought along the recipe. She says they are good for your last minute holiday entertaining. They'll taste like you worked on them all day! Salt for the Spirit brought a lemon Curd Coffee Cake.
Cathy Knits brought cookies called, Cranberry hootycreeks .

Some of our partiers want to talk about Advent. Jorge Sanchez has resolved to pare down my wardrobe as an advent resolution inspired by the Rule of Benedict then, I recognized God relieving my burdens through this actions, and finally I realized I was quite attached to my ties, but not really to much else in my wardrobe. While eternal echoes is longing for something more at this time of year.

Meanwhile if you go into the multimedia room you can watch a Lego Christmas movie that Carmen (In the Open Space) brought. Salt for the spirit has brought The Muppet's Christms Carol,

If you go into the living room you can join in some serious discussion on various subjects.
Eternal echoes has entered the Posada chain blog along with the Psaltry.
Pam has an excellent post on valuing the other . Eternal Echoes has posted on an Sacred Center contemplates birth and death asking "what constitutes the bare bones of my life?" A church for starving artists writes about addictions

You will get a sentimental feeling, when you hear voices singing
"Let's be jolly, deck the halls with boughs of holly"
Yeah, rockin' around the Christmas tree have a happy holiday
Everyone feeling merrily in the new old-fashioned way

Thanks so much to everyone who participated! Let me know if there are any errors or broken links. And if we missed you, or you want to add something to the rockin' party leave a comment with a link below! And remember to nominate yourself or another revgalblogpal's post for the next Wednesay Festival by monday at midnight.

PS Blogger's Elves are being mischievious again, it has taken all morning and then some to get this done and posted. "Come here you little elves, when I catch you there will be no Christmas presents for you under the tree." Ya'll excuse me, I've got some elves to catch, they stole my bible study notes for tonight, also.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: The Halfway There Edition

Hello friends. Well, two Sundays of Advent left, strictly speaking. This week is St Stoic's Christmas Pageant, so the congregation will get very little Advent, since basically I just show up and say some prayers.

What lectionarily homiletical gems are the rest of you working on this week?

And here's another question for you: When does your church do the Christmas pageant, (if they do one)?

Another question: Is anyone else planning to go to the Festival of Homies this year in Nashville?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Meet n' Greet: The King is Wearing Invisible Clothes Edition

What do you mean, you can't see this week's Meet n' Greet? Fine, I'll write it without the invisible keypad...


Sharing a Journey - These "reflections on a journey of faith" are written by Kievas Fargo, "Former Catholic, progressive Christian, scientist (but not a Christian Scientist), vegetarian, dog-loving, computer geek." For more about the journey be sure to click on the "About My Journey" link.

Theology on Tap in the Burg: A ministry in Harrisburg, PA Theology on Tap aims to provide a casual gathering space for young adults to discusss their faith and the issues that shape their lives. All viewpoints and perspectives are welcome. No doctrine or particular theological beliefs are espoused or expected. We invite open and honest dialogue and ask all gathered to listen with an open mind as we discuss how our faith impacts our private, social, and professional lives.

The Story Midwife - This is one of the blogs of Trish Bruxvoort Colligan: "one woman's thoughts on spiritual direction, mystic-hearted living, and the sacred ordinariness of life." I love, Love, LOVE the title picture.

Mine Unbelief: One pastor's life - nothing extraordinary, but not exactly normal either. A blog by Shalom that even with its few posts seems to echo what a lot of us have written we have felt before.... and the proud owner of a 'Does this pulpit make my butt look big?' mug!

Be sure to go over and greet these wonderful new members of our community!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday Prayer

Cross-posted as always at InnerDorothy.

Gracious God, Source of life and love, we thank you for this day and all the blessings in it. We thank you for the sense of awe and wonder in this season of Advent. We thank you for familiar words of scripture that inspire and guide our journey toward the stable of Bethlehem.

Thank you God for the faith we share in our communities...for the support and care we offer one another...for the times when we laugh together and the times we cry together...for occasions in which bread is broken and souls are nourished.

We pray that, as a community of faith, you will help us to find our voices, so that we might proclaim the good news ushered in by the birth of Jesus. In the complicated wilderness we live in, you call us to proclaim your Love, your Peace, and your Justice. Guide us, God, as we seek to faithfully live out this call upon our lives.

We pray for all in need of your grace and healing this day. Bless each of these, your children, and enfold them in your peace.

Bless us, most Wondrous God, and may the Spirit’s blessing be our guide, comfort and strength in this season of Advent waiting, and may your love enfold each one of us. And now, as Jesus taught his friends, we sing together...


Don't forget the Wednesday Festival: it's easy! Anyone can play!

All you have to do is click on the hyperlinked words: RevGal Wednesday Festival to create a mail message to the Festival team.

Nominations should be from your own blog or another RGBP ring member's. Please include a brief description of the post (a sentence is fine!) and the URL for the post, too!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

11th Hour Preacher Party: Preaching Peace?

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

It's the second Sunday of Advent tomorrow, for those of us observing the season, and the way seems to point to peace.

I'm not really sure we understood what the angels meant by peace.

I am sure, however, that my day points to chaos and commitments, some for church, others for family. My sermon is essentially where it was on Thursday, thanks to my commitment to Friday as a Sabbath day. So in between grocery shopping, a call on a new member, a concert featuring my daughter and niece and a sleepover of said niece, I will be fleshing out what is an outline at the moment.

Thought for the day: I'm not really sure we understood what the angels meant by peace.

What does your day hold, preachers? And where are you headed with your message?

I have tea and cocoa on offer (see above about grocery shopping is you're wondering where my ever-present coffee might be). I don't suppose anyone wants to pick up donuts?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fa-la-la-la-la, La Friday Five

Reverendmother here... those of you who read my blog know I have a love-hate relationship with the 24/7 Christmas music we're subjected treated to in stores and radio (in the U.S. at least). It gets too sentimentally sticky-sweet sometimes, yet I find myself unable to resist it. Nothing says "it's Christmas" to me like John Denver and Rolf the Dog singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." So...

1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song.

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better)

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss.

5. A favorite Christmas album

An extra shiny candy cane in the stockings of all who link directly:
<a href="the-complete-URL-of-your-post-goes-here"> what you want the link to look like goes here </a>

For narrative instructions, see this helpful link.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ask the Matriarch – Are We There Yet?

Dear Matriarchs,
This will be my fifth Advent in ministry, and I am still trying to negotiate the shark-infested waters of choosing hymns in December. Although I grew up primarily in a nonliturgical denomination, I have come to love Advent as a season of preparation for the new. Holding a hard line on the hymns my first year may well be one of the reasons my musician quit a few months later. Could you share your wisdom with regard to cleaving to Advent versus allowing the Baby Jesus to come just a little early?
—Advent Lover

I don’t know why, but I just had an early-80s flashback to “Hold On Loosely” by .38 Special. And to completely derail this, I had the sixth-grade mondegreen that it was “hold on, loose-leaf.” I thought it was about losing homework.

Sorry. Back to the present. That was also my era of Christmas pageantry and knowing every Advent-Christmas-Epiphany hymn by heart. Sure, the lines are a little blurry, what with retailers getting all festive and eggnoggy right after the Halloween decorations come down. If we get too preoccupied with “He’s here!”, we risk losing sight of what it means to anticipate, wait, hope during that period of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.”

The tightrope
So how do we strike a balance, especially when choosing music to set the atmosphere? Jan suggests assuaging the “Can't-Wait-For-Christmas musicians by sprinkling in some ‘Christmas-Yet-Advent-y’ choices.” That is, not “Jesus Christ Is Born Today”—but look at some other, perhaps not obvious elements past the first lines of the hymns. “We sang ‘Joy to the World’ on Advent 1,” says Jan, “weaving it through the service (verse 3 instead of the Gloria) because the words speak to the ‘already here/not yet’ aspect of the coming of Christ: ‘Let every heart prepare him room . . . ‘ Another hymn that is definitely a Christmas carol yet (sort of) Advent-friendly is: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”

You don’t have to keep ‘em separated, though. “Okay, some of you hardliners for Advent are going to think I am heretical and sacrilegious,” says Abi. (We love you either way!) “I do not keep Christmas hymns out through the month of December. I pick my music by the theme I am preaching. So if I am preaching on hope, the music goes with hope, if it is a Christmas hymn, then we sing it.”

Bring comfort
And she gives a persuasive argument for doing it this way: This is the time of year that unchurched folks come wandering in. Sure, there are the 20-somethings coming back to visit family and the nonchurchy spouses paying their annual visit. But there are deeper opportunities for connections at this time. “Having preached in a service where there were people who had not been to church, didn't know Jesus, we tried to gear the preaching, the music, whatever we did toward them using the idea of a ‘felt need,’” says Abi. “We did light the candles, but even rewrote the liturgy for that to reflect the felt need and language they could understand.” She also has some thoughts on worship and offering praise and adoration that I’ll let her save for another post, but the point of it was that singing is about praise, and God won’t object to music programming as long as it’s sung joyfully.

I have to admit that I connect best with Christmas music I know. I went to an advent lessons and carols service last year that was beautiful, but not the one I remembered—it was later that I realized it was different from a Christmas lessons and carols service. So it was a little weird for me to walk out of church confused because I had only recognized one hymn, O Come O Come Emmanuel. But mostly, it didn’t matter, because the service on the whole had been so beautiful. Abi, also, remembers “being deeply touched when I went to an advent service for the first time…I believe the liturgy, the bells, smells and whistles touches something deep within the core of human beings. I believe that it is the five senses being touched. So how can we make the service be that experiential for people? That may provoke some thought for addressing all parts of the worship—including, but not limited to, the hymns.”

A matter of perspective
Karen agrees. “There’s a lot to be said for reviving/preserving Advent as a distinct season of preparation for celebrating the Incarnation of God in Christ. There's not a lot to be said for an annual pastor vs. congregation power struggle over Christmas carols before 12/24. The more I reflect on my own experience and observations, the more I think the Advent hymns vs. Christmas carols battle is usually not about Advent at all but about Who Is In Charge.”

During Advent, you have their attention, she continues. Use this time! “We insist that we save any mention of The Birth until Christmas Eve, then we have 12 days to unpack the whole doctrine of the Incarnation when no one is paying attention. How is this really helpful?”

Karen adds that you could make the argument that the best preparation for Christmas is exploring the mystery of the Incarnation deeply over an extended period of time. “There is a lot of incarnational theology packed into those Christmas carols,” she says. “People love singing them. Why not use this?”

So hold on loosely, but don't let go
The matriarchs encourage you to not be hardline—especially if you have the liturgical freedom to exercise a wide latitude in how you observe the movement of the liturgical year. Says Karen, “We can get creative with this in ways that our Episcopalian and Lutheran kindred can't. Hint: This is a good thing!! Go for it!” And heck, I’m Episcopalian, and I’ve seen some beautifully creative liturgical practices throughout the year. (My mother, a dyed-in-the-wool high-church organist, still cringes at the thought of tapping djembes during the processional.)

One last note: Abi sent a list of helpful links she has on hand for this matter and I was not able to reproduce them in a timely fashion, but I’m sure she will share them in comments. Speaking of comments, how do you toe the line between Advent and Christmas?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wednesday Advent Festival

Greetings wonderful friends! And happy first week of Advent! There are lots of goodies this week, so let's get right to it. . .

Where would the RevGals be without lots of great Advent Sermons and other reflections?

Reverend Mommy submitted
her very first video to Sermon Spice

Tripp at conjectural navel gazing
preached using the words of Bono...sang the tune and everything in his sermon. Who'd a thunk?

Gannet Girl at Search the Sea offers
these reflections

Jennifer at Ordinary Time would love some comments on her
Advent Sunday Sermon

Scott at Nachfolge preached
"Ready for...What?" AND worked in a Grey's Anatomy reference - and wants to know does he get points for that?

Steph at Narrow at the Outset is realizing that she should go ahead and start showing her nunliness now that we're in this holy season of Advent — or at least start off
with some good intentions. But, two days into Advent and two days of reflections ... so far so good!

Milton at Don't Eat Alone is keeping a journal during Advent, which means writing everyday. One of his posts this week is a moving short story, called
"Waiting Room."

Gallycat shares a meme full of fun Advent/Christmas questions.

Do You Need Some Christmas Gift Suggestions?

Reverend Mommy offers her
"Yeah, Right" Wishlist

Quotidian Grace suggests a Christmas Gift Idea from Joel Osteen.

There are of course other winter activities. . .

. . . like
walking in the snow. At this time of the year, it helps slow Inner Dorothy down in the midst of all the rush.

And of course the ever-present Christmas music

which Reverend Mother
blows off a little steam about its 24/7 presence.

This is a fun time of year to try out some new recipes for those holiday parties,
Jennifer at Ordinary Time shares two that sound yummy: No Knead Bread and
Carnitas. Mmmmm, I'll be right over!

For those of you with too much time on your hands, perhaps you want some suggestions for books to read. Scott at Nachfolge is working his way through 100 books he's read and
posted #65-61 this week.

There are of course other things to think about than Advent and Christmas.
Reverend Mommy offers
a proposal and a prayer for unity among UMC.

Carmen at in the open space found a
place to make your own “motivational” posters online and had some fun.

Deb at Unfinished Symphony is
thinking about God's mercy.

And I am starting a process of cleaning out lots of stuff and
offering some free books to those who want them!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated! Let me know if there are any errors or wonky links, Blogger was being bad as usual (how do you regular Blogger folk manage?) And if we missed you, leave a comment with a link below!

Blessings this holy season of darkness,
Christine at
Sacred Art of Living

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Advent C2: Peace, Peace.

Well, now that we litugical calendar churches are knee-deep in Advent, how are we holding up? This week is (in some traditions) Peace week. How do we preach peace in a world constantly at war?

At our Presbytery meeting last month, we had a presentation on the genocide in Darfur--just in case we had forgotten about it, as much of the world has. I can't get the images of burned villages, crying children, and women glassy-eyed from the trauma of gang rape out of my mind. As someone else asked somewhere else: Jesus died for this?

And yet. And yet. We are reminded in the Luke 3 lection that every rough and crooked place shall be made straight, and it echoes Isaiah's prophecy that "every valley shall be exalted" (Can you tell that I've been listening to Handel's Messiah?)

So Peace Week it is, and peace it shall be.

How are you approaching Advent 2 this week?

Monday, December 04, 2006

**Subliminal Message Meet and Greet

Happy Monday (no such thing) one and all!!! Truly mornings where I feel like this (did you get the license of that liturgical truck?) are why I take Mondays off.

Since I am hanging around watching (using for all it is worth) children's programming I thought I would give you folks out there something new to check out considering how welcoming others in the name of inclusivity and 'welcomingness' (relax grammar-phobes, I did that on purpose) is one of the top three accepted reasons for procrastination (the other two are posting on your blog and sex - not necessarily in that order).

There are a couple of folks I want you to meet. Unfortunately a computer (handler) glitch is going to keep us from meeting someone more thoroughly today (I'm too lazy to go over to the office).


desert spirit's fire! (with a name like that we know she's not Presbyterian) In her own words: Desert Spirit's Fire is an ecumenical celebration of God's Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ, a festival rejoicing in all creation, and a whimsical view of my frequently passionate theology (told you). Just a brief review of her blog revealed two other blogs she has created (now THAT's procrastination). Welcome Leah Sophia!

33 Names of Grace: As is often the case we really get to know a blogger when we read their first month of entries. Michelle started in December of 2005 and her very first post explains the title of the blog. Be sure to check it out (there is no subtitle for me to cut and paste in my typical lame fashion). Welcome Michelle Hargrave!

What a fun coincidence that both of these women have most recently blogged about gratitude. Thank you.

Well, I think I have blessed all of you enough today (my coffee is ready). I must now prepare my mind and spirit for some theologically and spiritually uplifting exercises (I'm going to Target).

Peace, friends. (Peace, friends.)

** To be read in a manner similar to Kevin Nealon from the pre-Farrell seasons of SNL. If that is not helpful then just read the big print out loud and the tiny print silently (don't get fired).

Sunday, December 03, 2006

November's Trivia Challenge Winner

It's hard to believe that November past by so quickly and, as of this posting, Happy New Year! A new month means we have a new Trivia Challenge winner and this time it is Frodo, and he has a blog which needs us to go over there and make his site meter go off the charts (and yes, he does have site meter so he WILL know).

This past month, Trivia Challenge has decided to offer virtual prizes and folks, they are good ones. Even Frodo has one - he decided a cheesy snow globe would be a good one (don't worry, I didn't STEAL this - he still has his) know you want one.

Oh yes, you, too, can have one of these if you play Trivia Challenge and earn a few points. (I might work towards a money tree - but it will be quite some time before I can get my hands on that one).

Let's look at some stats here...

101 players played during the month.
1. frodo (726 points, 5 wins)
2. zorra (656 points, 2 wins)
3. kievasfargo (615 points, 5 wins)
4. PresbyG (564 points, 1 wins)
5. semfem (555 points, 3 wins)
6. Satchel Pooch (515 points, 2 wins)
7. DawgDays (499 points, 0 wins)
8. circlibmm (487 points, 0 wins)
9. SrSteph (460 points, 1 wins)
10. ThePowerOfThePoodle (416 points, 1 wins)

If we had 101 players during the month, that means almost 1/2 of the RGBP group played. Not too shabby - huh.

And, on ONE DAY - we were ranked 3rd one day in the number of folks that played - we are oh so close to being #1 - wonder if we can do it folks? I challenge you all to all go and play - we can do this, I know we can.

Frodo, tell you how you got to be #1.

RGBP folks - go see Frodo - blast site meter through the roof for Frodo!

Sunday Prayer

God of Wonder and Hope, we enter now the season of waiting and the beginning of a new church year. I pray that in these weeks of anticipating the birth story, we will find time for entering into the still, quiet place of our souls. It is here that the story will come alive for us again. It is here that you will place upon our beings the things that you hope we will ponder in our hearts, just as the woman Mary did so long ago.

God, as we reflect on the coming birth, we pray, nudge us toward your best hope for us as your people. What are you inviting us to do and be in this time before us? In these weeks of Advent as we step out of the consumer-driven chaos all around us for times of worship and devotion, bless us God, so that we might remember what - and whom - we are waiting for.

We await the birth of the Anointed One, of course. But perhaps within ourselves, we also await the re-birth of dreams that have been on the back burner for too long. Or maybe we are waiting for the courage to mend broken relationships, or at least bring them to a better sense of closure. Some may be waiting for the tiny baby of Bethlehem to birth within them a new reason to hope - for a better life, for justice, for peace.

As we ponder these things in our hearts, O God, we need your Spirit with us for guidance, comfort and strength. Stay close, O Holy One, as we journey together through this season of watching, waiting and hoping. Amen.


Don't forget the Wednesday Festival: it's easy! Anyone can play!

All you have to do is click on the hyperlinked words: RevGal Wednesday Festival to create a mail message to the Festival team.

Nominations should be from your own blog or another RGBP ring member's. Please include a brief description of the post (a sentence is fine!) and the URL for the post, too!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

11th Hour Preacher Party - Slightly Late Edition

Good morning, preaching pals! Perhaps you've noticed that I'm not exactly an early riser, and I neglected to open the doors in the wee hours of the morning before bed as I usually do. Nonetheless, I'm here now, and the table is set with coffee and cranberry nut muffins. Help yourselves, and add to our weekly feast as you will - with both food and sermon ideas.

I'm not sure exactly where I'm going this week, but I'm focusing on the Jeremiah passage and doing a bit of Advent education. How about all of you? How are you ushering in this season of waiting?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Five: Adventually

Although it comes as late as it can this year, Advent is upon us. Some of us grew up observing it, while to others (including this childhood Baptist) it was even more foreign than Lent! Over the past twenty years, I have grown to love Advent as a season of preparation, although as a pastor I find it harder to practice it at home than at church, even when the church might prefer I make it the other way 'round.

Here are five questions about Advent for this first of December:

1) Do you observe Advent in your church?

2) How about at home?

3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn?

4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.)

5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen?

Let us know in the comments if you play. For advise on posting a direct link to your blog, go here!

EDITED TO ADD: The first two pink candle explanations I have seen are so funny that I am now offering a prize for the funniest of a handmade candle from my church's fair. Let that be your inspiration!

So you want to post a direct link to your blog entry...

It's almost time for the Friday Five, and I think we all know that a direct link in the comment box will get us more visitors. And who doesn't want more visitors?

Here is the formula you use to post a link within a comment.

<a href="the URL of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

Here's a narrative explanation in relatively plain English.

The first pair of brackets includes the html code and the actual address to which you want people to navigate. I'm going to put the symbols in single quotes here, but you do not use the single quotes when you make the link.

You begin the operation with '<' then put in 'a href=' with no space between '<' and 'a'.

After the '=' insert the link to your blog entry; if you don't know exactly what link to use, most blog posts have the word Permalink right next to the link for comments, or the permalink may be embedded/disguised in a Timestamp (as in "posted by Songbird at 3:30 p.m."). Click on "permalink" or the time, then copy and paste the URL to which it takes you. The URL appears in the navigation box.

Put the URL in double quotes, as in ""

PLEASE NOTE: the URL you paste must include "http://" or it will not work. html is not intuitive in the way your web browser may be. It does not assume the first part of the address. (Thanks to Gallycat for explaining the error some of us have made.)

Once you have pasted the URL, close the operation with '>'

Now you write the text you want to show up as hyper-linked, or in plainer language, the words people will click on to travel to your blog.

After that word or those words, use another '<' follow that, leaving no spaces, with '/a' then '>"
This last bit of code turns off the html coding. In other words 'a' is telling the computer you want to make a link, and '/a' is telling the computer you're finished. 'href=' tells the computer what you're linking *to.*

I hope this helps. When you have achieved linkage, you may claim MadSkillz. ;-)