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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wedsnestival: Cold Edition

It is snowing here! Not very much and not enough to stick, but pretty cold for us. Temp is 31, feels like 23 (according to Yahoo! weather). How's the weather out your ways?

Indoors, meanwhile, your faithful editor has been cleaning her desk. I was inspired by Tripp's post about this. You can read about my cleaning efforts and see a before picture here, and after pictures here.

Before I post ANYTHING ELSE I want to include two nominations from last week. They appeared briefly in the Wednestival post, but Blogger was being EXCESSIVELY OPRESSIVE, so eventually I removed them.

RevMaria wrote a wonderful sermon, hard-wrought, about a request submitted by a member of her congregation. It speaks to us all.

And Sunday's Child recommends an excellent sexual-abuse prevention program she is getting involved in.


Julie is learning about churches as corporations. She wonders what sorts of structures your churches have? Go weigh in at her place, and let her know whether you will be attending APCE this year. A meetup in the making!

RevLaura is a new RevGal, an Independent Catholic priest. She writes here about the wonderful experience of being invited to celebrate a small, private mass in the college chapel where her vocation was born.

Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church, will speak at St. John's Episcopal Church in Lodi, California on February 10, and YOU are invited! Go see Kristin (Barefoot and Laughing) for details.

Hasn't the New Blogger switcheroo been fun? Not!

Reverend Mommy is variously engaged in re-doing blogs (including this one!! woohoo!), catching up on her photos for Project 365, counting down the days until graduation, and eating tomato soup. She has also received a beaucoup of BOOKS for her classes from Amazon! (Oh, I'm so jealous...sort of. I love the beginnings of semesters, new books, new notebooks...finishing the papers, not so much.)

Search the Sea (Gannet Girl) has a new header design, with thanks to Quotidian Grace, who inspired it. And she is writing about church.

Now, Christine at Sacred Art of Living has a gorgeous new blog home....and it looks to have been effortless! I bet that's not true. Go see her at Abbey of the Arts. Connected to that, she is starting a new webring for blogs that explore the arts (whether visual, poetry, writing, song, gardening, cooking) from a faith perspective. Go here for more information and the invitiation if you wish to participate!

Hey, remember the article about the RevGals Ring in the Christian Century? There was apparently some concern at that venerable mag that the bloggy subject was a little "out there," but guess what: The Christian Century now has a blog of its own! Do you think we had just a little influence? Maybe? (I personally subscribed to CC for the first time EVER, because they featured the RevGals and I figured they had to be cool!) Anyway, PolarBear presents this little review.

Lorna shares her not-so-secret addictions and asks about yours. (It's a safe, supportive environment...don't worry.) Her family went to beautiful Ekenäs and she shares here some wonderful photos and thoughts about meeting God in the snow. Daughter finally got to use that Christmas gift snowboard!

Clever Title Teri is featured in her local paper! And not, as she says, for something bad! (Love it!) Go see the great article about her call to the church, stemming from her ministry in Egypt, and a great photo too.

And Gord is planning Lenten worship already! Go Gord!

Rachel at The Big Dunk writes wonderfully about why she LOVES Lent and asks what we are considering for our Lenten practice or discipline. As another non-clergy I must confess that this is the earliest I have ever thought about this, but I am darn glad she posed the question.

Sally has a great post about being a woman in ministry and made in God's image. Also some
thoughts on worshipping in spirit and in truth. And one about a wonderfully healing moment.

Here's a profile of Pam BG.

Pam also has a great post titled 'For Women Only,' but of course the men need to read it, too. It concerns the firing of a Bible professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Why? BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN.

Melissa is a woman who knows how to change a tire!

Kievas is working on reconciling Biblical accounts of violence against non-believers with the Commandments.

Leah is celebrating Barbaro, the Kentucky-Derby winner.

If I missed you, or if you have something to share, please indicate it in the comments! Stay warm, folks!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Cold and Snowy Edition

Sorry this is coming in late--the day just got away from me in this cold and snowy weather.

Our Revised Common Lectionary texts can be found here.

I am concentrating this week on the Isaiah and 1Corinthian texts.

I am always fascinated by the word "tongs" in the Isaiah text. I don't know why. I always picture kitchen tongs or big grill tongs. It seems like such a modern implement for an ancient time. But the idea is this: what the seraph was holding was hot, and scary, and not safe to touch with ordinary flesh. And yet it was pressed to Isaiah's mouth! And then he was told to speak!

In Paul's letter, I'm looking at the second half of the reading, where Paul says "I am what I am, all because of God's grace." We are ordaining and installing officers at St. Stoic this Sunday. It seems to me to be a good time to remember that we are who we are because God touched us with something that we often regard as scary and dangerous--a call to ministry.

Who knows, I might even throw them a bone and we'll sing the song they looooooove, but I find tiresome and overdone: "Here I Am, Lord".

What are your thoughts today/tonight/this week?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday, Monday, Monday!

Meet 'n Greet!

First is Christine at Abbey of the Arts. In her own words: "Nature, seasons, poetry, dreams, mystical tradition, contemplative rhythms, community-building, wisdom of the body and intuition, and the expressive arts. I bring a love of all these things to my work as a writer, artist, spiritual director, and teacher. My spiritual path tends to be organic, which means that a primary practice for me is listening in each moment to the ways my life is unfolding and honoring that impulse as an invitation from the Spirit." Welcome Christine!

Next is Trinity Thoughts at St. Hilary Church In their words: "Dear Friend, Welcome to St. Hilary’s blog site! We believe that God works in mysterious ways in our lives. It is quite possible that God is working in you, perhaps calling you to a deeper relationship with God, and this may be why you wandered onto our site. We welcome you as a fellow traveler." Welcome!

Lt. Paula Jo Ziems at Army Chaplain's Journey is "a 42 year old pastor, wife, and mother (not necessarily in that order) who is a chaplain in the Wisconsin National Guard. This blog will share with you my experiences at CHOBC (Chaplain Officer's Basic Course) and will also contain other random thoughts, ideas, and "God Pauses." Thanks for taking time to read it. I hope you're blessed by it!" Welcome Paula! HOOAH!

Mother Laura at Junia's Daughter is a "Independent Catholic priest; college professor, theologian, and spiritual director; ENFJ, Enneagram 2, AKV; wife and mother of three." Mother Laura runs a house church and has a second blog Catholic Women Clergy. Welcome Laura!

Last, in the hope of building deeper community among the RevGalBlogPals, we are starting a second blog for prayer requests, RevGal Prayer Pals ( ). Using the new Blogger privacy feature, this will be an invitation only blog. To be invited, send an e-mail to Songbird ( and you will be added to the list. For the next week the blog is open to all, but beginning Monday, February 5th, it will "disappear" from public view. It will still be possible to join after that date. The only requirements for "invitation" are ring membership and asking to be included.

We hope to have 7 or 8 bloggers on the team for RevGal Prayer Pals. If you might like to participate, please e-mail Songbird for more information.

Have a wonderful Monday, y'all!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Prayer

As always, this prayer is cross-posted at my place.

Loving God, in these past weeks we have heard stories of your people responding to your call. We thank you for their faithfulness and the lasting inspiration found in their stories. Help us now, God, with our own story. As we come together for worship, we know that we share something special and meaningful. Guide us as we seek to bring the gospel into the world. Help us to turn our intent into faithful, transformed living.

Remind us often, O God, that each of us can make a difference. Each of us can speak a word of peace, justice and love. Set our hearts toward your purpose, and set our feet on the path you invite us to walk. Bless our journey, we pray, and send your Spirit to guide our steps.

As we go into this day, we pray especially for those in need of your grace and healing. We pray for all who are ill in body mind or spirit, for all recovering from surgery, for all who are hungry, for the grieving and the lonely, for those who feel pushed to the margins of our society, and for all who cry out for peace in our time.

Bless us all this day, God. Send us out from here ready to live the gospel we proclaim, for we do it in Jesus' name. 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, January 27, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party

It's that day of the week yet again. Do you know where your sermon is? It's been a rough week here, and I must admit that I have no idea where mine is, or from whence it will come.

Nonetheless, we're open for business here at the RGBP cafe. I've ground up plenty of Caribou Coffee's French roast, and it's set to brew for you early birds. I've also put out a plate of English muffins - my favorite breakfast staple lately - with various fixings: eggs, cheese, ham, real butter, peanut butter, and raspberry preserves. I don't recommend that you try them all at once. Feel free to add your favorite treats throughout the day.

Speaking of adding to the feast, what homiletical gems do you have to offer today? I know I could certainly use some inspiration. Gather round, gals and pals, and let's get to work!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Five: Renewal

In my office the other day, two church members asked about the boat on my table. I told them it was a gift from a seminary classmate, a reminder of the work and teaching of our professor, Kirk Jones, author of Rest in the Storm: Self-Care Strategies for Clergy and other Caregivers. He always reminded us that Jesus went to the back of the boat and took a nap.

Not surprisingly, I could not find an image of Jesus resting. Preaching from the boat, yes. Calming the storm, yes. Walking on water? Oh, my, yes! But no one seems to want to picture Jesus taking his rest.

In this week that looks unlikely to hold a complete day off, I am pondering renewal. List four ways you like to relax or give yourself a break. Then name a fifth, something you've never been able to do, a self-care dream.

Leave a comment below if you play on your blog. You'll probably get more visitors if you post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation:
<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, January 25, 2007

Ask the Matriarch — The Welcome Wagon

Our question this week came in a little light on answers, so we could really use your help. I think we all deal with the person who calls and lets us know that they are a prospective member. What do you do to welcome people into your community and encourage them to find out about your parish?

Here's the question:

Does anyone else get asked questions by people in other cities/states/provinces/countries who are thinking about moving to your locale? This has happened to me several times now. I don't mind answering them, and I usually direct them to the area chamber of commerce and visitor's bureau (which is much more current on information than I am).

But I'm wondering if it's perhaps because these folks are, for the most part, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, and they feel that I am a "safe" contact, being the MCC pastor. Also, if they want to ask about the GLBT community, they know that I will have an idea of what's happening.

I know it happens because I've been one of these people and it has absolutely nothing to do with my own sexuality. At the same time, it's important to me that I find a welcoming church community. As Jan put it, "It's important that people find a faith community that will stretch them spiritually but not attack them/crush them."

She continues: "I actually love these queries from potential new members or simply from people trying to get the lay of the land. I've had visitors make an appointment and then virtually interview me before they come to worship the first time. The issue is almost always: 'How do you feel about gay people in your church?' I am honest about where I stand and where most people in the congregation stand. They either stay or go. And this is just fine.

"We have several mixed race couples in our congregation, and when new mixed race couples visit, I don't have to say a thing," she adds. "They see others who are comfortable/involved and they realize they could be too. Obviously if there are lots of gay couples in worship who are comfortable/involved, and that's a good thing for a visitor, there's less of a need to ask your policy.

"Know that you don't have to be the church for everybody," she concludes. "Since we are in different places in our journeys, we are always ready for every kind of congregation."

I'm still looking for additional questions for February, so please drop us a line at All queries are kept confidential.

RevGalBlogPals, Inc.

"I know why RevGalBlogPals is a webring. But why is there also RevGalBlogPals, Inc?"

Here's the story of the birth of RGBP Inc. A number of RGBP bloggers met up in May, 2006, at the Festival of Homiletics in Atlanta. They discussed the webring and the activities that members of the webring have been engaged in together as well as ideas for the future of the group. After that meeting, Quotidian Grace was asked to incorporate a non-profit corporation in order to provide ownership and oversight of the webring and our publications or joint projects, like the two devotional books the webring published (A Light Blazes in the Darkness and Ordinary Time), and the Cafe Press store. The group that met in Atlanta wanted to provide accountability and a corporate structure for the handling of the profits from these ventures and to be able to apply for grants for future projects, including, we hope, a face-to-face RevGalBlogPals event, from various foundations.

Quotidian Grace kindly agreed to help and in July, 2006, RGBP Inc. was incorporated as a non-profit organization in the state of Texas. Later in the year we received a 501(c)3 designation from the IRS.

RGBP Inc. is a membership organization for bloggers. You do NOT have to be a member of the corporation in order to join the webring, but you must have a blog in the webring to be eligible for corporation membership.

Members elected the first board of directors by email proxy October 27, 2006. Officers and committee chairs were selected by the board at its first meeting on November 20, 2006.

The corporation currently has 58 members. The webring has 269 blogs and continues to grow! Thanks be to God for new forms of community and connection!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wednestival: The Hump

Good morning all!

It's Hump Day,

and time for the Festival!

Several of our number are participating in Project 365 (a post a day - photos, writing, you name it!) Here's one way. Spotted around the ring: Jonah, Songbird, Linda (FM), PreacherMom, Rev.Dr.Mom, PPB....who else is playing? Shout out in the comments!

On Jonah's regular blog, you may read a two part meditation on Iraq and the chance for hope.

Kathryn is remembering her mother: gently, lovingly. Beautifully. It's a gift to read.

Lorna's made it back to Finland from seminary in Estonia and IS IT COLD! keep pulling for snow there! And don't miss this great post on her Mobile Office. God has been good as well in providing her with a new song after a bad, bad day.

Didn't get your nomination in on time? Don't worry, be happy! And, while you are, nominate yourself or someone else in the comments!

If you can, please post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation:<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.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Fanny-Dragging Edition

Hi friends,

My old friend insomnia is back, so I'm operating on just a couple of hours worth of sleep. I'm not too sure how mnay neurons are firing yet on this week's lectionary. With that in mind, here are some preliminary impressions:

I love this passage. I find enormous comfort in knowing that the prophets of old were just as unsure of themselves as this modern-day pastor. The reassurance that God, who knew us before we were formed, is really the one in charge! We have a baptism of a very small infant (6 weeks) so the imagery of God's call on even a child will fit really nicely, I hope.

"71:5 For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
71:6 Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you."

Similar themes here!

1 Corinthians 13:
Ever since I heard this passage preached by Anna Carter Florence at Festival of Homies last year, I smile every time an engaged couple requests it for a wedding homily. But I'm kind of spoiled on this one, having preached it four times in 2006, at four weddings. Pass.

This pericope begins with verse 21--interesting, since that verse was the final verse in last week's lection. Jesus has returned home, has preached, and is about to get tossed out on his ear. Why is it that prophet is least accepted amongst those who know her/him best?

These are the places I am beginning my exegetical work this week. How about you?

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Bright Spot for a Winter's Day -- Monday Meet'n'Greet

The weatherman announced this morning that Dr. Cliff Arnall, a health psychologist at the University of Cardiff in Wales has come up with a formula and discovered that today is the lowest emotional point of the year -- at least for us in the Northern Hemisphere! So here is a bright spot for today --

RevScott at Nachfolge and his wife, Kristin announce that

"It's a Girl!"

Ainsley Joy Suzanne Johnson was born by caesarian section on 21 January 2007 at 8:16 p.m. after 36 hours of labor. Go by and give the proud parents and newborn a shout out!

And I would like to personally welcome one of my favorite bloggers in the entire blogosphere to the RevGalBlogPals -- Guy Kent, better known as the Questing Parson. We have been a part of the same district (for a while!), the same conference (North Georgia), we've gone to the same seminary, we know some of the same people, but haven't been able to meet up for lunch yet! QP writes:

"The parson is Georgia born, and Georgia bred. And when he dies he’ll be Georgia dead. Hopefully, however, even though there’s been plenty of red clay squashed up between my toes, the experiences of life have extended my view well beyond the Georgia borders."

The Parson write beautiful prose -- always thought provoking -- and has just launched his new website so y'all go by and say "hey!"

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sunday Prayer

As always, this prayer is cross-posted over on the InnerDorothy site.

Loving and Gracious God, we thank you for this day and for your presence and power in our midst. One by one, you called to each of us this morning, nudging us toward this gathering for worship and praise. Thank you for this faith community and all that we are together as we seek to be faithful to Jesus’ call upon our lives.

As we enter the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we pray for all of our sisters and brothers in faith, here in our local community and around the globe. May the Spirit guide us toward greater understanding of one another and unity within the body of Christ in the world.

God, bless each of us as we try to live faithfully. Help us to see and embrace the spiritual gifts in ourselves and in one another, and give us the courage we need to incorporate all of these gifts into our life as a faith family.

Compassionate God, you know our needs and our concerns. We pray, bless those we have named aloud in this place today and those who remain in the silent sanctuary of our hearts. Bless each of these, your children, with the knowledge and sense of your presence...with the support and care of others...and with the strength to face whatever this day and the coming days may bring.

We thank you mostly, God, for the gift of Jesus. May we be unified in the love that he brought to us and may we be strengthened in the ministry he continues to invite us to embody in our world.

We pray, as always, in his name...singing together... 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!

11th Hour Preacher Party

After a night of giggles (sleepover for 11-year-old girls at my house), it's time to get down to work this morning. But first, French Toast is on the menu, with real maple syrup. May I fix you a cup of coffee?

I'm going with the 1 Corinthians passage. Sad news about a young woman from this area shifted my direction, reminding me that we don't always have all the time in the world to be disciples, to act on our call to be the Body of Christ.

What are you pondering? And what duties or pleasures will surround or support or distract from your tasks today?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Badda Bing Badda Boom Friday Five

It's been a very full, busy week. Here's the F5, short and sweet.

The questions are simple, the answers unlimited. Go!






Bonus: How

If you're feeling up to it, post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation:
<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, January 18, 2007

Ask the Matriarch — Preaching for Two

I am looking for some advice about maternity leave. I am the associate pastor at a mid-size church and am expecting my first child this year. I have no doubt my congregation will be supportive, but we don't currently have a policy for family leave. What is reasonable to request in terms of paid or unpaid time off, and how much? What is fair to expect from them?

Thanks for any words of wisdom.

Hey! You've discovered Peripatetic Polar Bear's personal pet peeve: churches that do not have a maternity leave policy because they've never had a pregnant pastor. (I really wanted to roll with the alliteration there.) "It's so unfair to make this be personal to you—awkward for all involved," she writes. "I have no words of wisdom, other than this is the same as not having fire insurance because you've never had a fire."

Jan feels similarly: "Attention to all church staff members, lay leaders, officers, etc: get a maternity leave policy before somebody needs it. That way, it's not a personal response to a particular person."

At her first church, where she was a solo pastor, she notes that her child was (conveniently) born during the summer. They hired a seminary intern, home for the summer and living with her parents, and paid her the equivalent of half Jan's salary. Jan got the other half, and it allowed her to take two months off. At her second church, where she co-pastored with her husband, both part-time, she took time off and her husband filled in full time. "No change in pay," she observes. "But we got ripped off, clearly."

In your case, she notes (with hearty congratulations), it will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the church and what they can afford (as opposed to what they think they can afford).

Abi says she doesn't exactly have experience requesting maternity leave, but she did take adoption leave. "Our conference has a policy on that, and the church I was serving abided by that policy, thankfully," she writes.

Go higher up
It was like a chorus: PPB, Karen, Jan and Abi practically said it in one voice. As Karen put it, "Check with your judicatory body—Presbytery, Conference, Diocese, whatever—and see if they have any standards or recommendations. When I was facing maternity leave, it was very helpful to be able to go to my Session and say, 'This is what Presbytery recommends.'"

Abi notes that if that doesn't work or isn't an option for you, to check with other churches in your area to see what policies they have. And you can always pull up the Family Medical Leave Act, which, even though it won't apply to 99.99 percent of pregnant pastors legally can still be a helpful resource in making a case for establishing a policy for expectant mothers AND fathers. (Er, and Mothers and Fathers, so to speak.)

Jan does caution that "your situation is different from the teacher who goes on maternity leave or the banker who goes on maternity leave. Most likely, your congregation will see your child as 'their child' and you need to prepare for that reality as much as you need to rest, recover, take naps with a cute newborn on your chest, etc."

Eek. I hear my biological clock ticking. But yes. Best of luck! Many blessings!

Any other postpartum pastors lurking about with information to share? (There I go with the alliteration again.) Please do so in the comments. AND send your questions to us at!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wednesday Festival

Oh, yeah, it certainly is January around here, an odd time of year, what with all that holiday excitement over and no more big events to worry about for a while. (Whew!) It can’t seem to decide if it’s winter or spring in my part of the country. We were all walking around in T-shirts a week or two ago, but winter seems to be settling in now—it’s not quite 20 degrees out there this morning. (Brrr!)

It’s a good time to hunker down inside for a while and see what old friends are up to. This week’s Wednesday Festival is a bit like our weather, with a little of this, and a little of that.

It’s definitely winter in Tallinn, though. Lorna at see-through faith offers us a glimpse of winter in Tallinn and also shares an example of “ministry before theology,” about what happened when some of the students wanted to pray for two others who were sick. “Sometimes,” Lorna says, “it’s the right thing to do.”

1-4 Grace at Frog Blog is already looking ahead to some future big events. She’s posted some ideas for Lent but is looking for suggestions for more. She also wonders if anyone has any leads on a good VBS curriculum.

Carmen at In the Open Space is hooked on the current "24", which is already six hours underway, and is finding that it raises some familiar issues (“How far should a country go to protect its citizens? How far to protect its freedoms?”) as well as some deeper personal questions (“What do we believe? What are we willing to stay alive for?”)

PamBG’s Blog includes an interesting book meme concerning the most influential works on contemporary theology. (PamBG suggests The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright, Naming the Powers by Walter Wink, and A Community of Character by Stanley Hauerwas.) She also shares some thoughts on Mark: “It's simply a fact from God's perspective that we are all sinners, and we are all broken people. But God calls us into his service as broken people. He doesn't say "I have no use for you until you are whole and sinless"; we will not be whole and sinless until we are citizens of God's Kingdom. God uses us as sinful broken people—despite the fact that we are sinful and broken, if you want to put it that way.”

Sally Coleman says her posts at Eternal Echoes “have been a bit gloomy” lately as she works her way through a recurrence of depression, but she offers her musings here and here hoping they might help someone else.

Jan at A Church for Starving Artists shares a few dreams of her own as we in the U.S. pause to remember Martin Luther King, Jr., starting with the dream "that the church would be real, relevant, life-changing, & world-changing.”

Jorge (The Winged Man) has written the first of a series of posts discussing how he got to where he is now, faith-wise. It’s about growing up Catholic in a Cuban-American home and takes him through senior year, when he began exploring the Baha’i faith.

Last but certainly not least, Preacher Mom has joined the ranks of those aiming to post a picture a day. You can check her Project 365 effort out at Preacher Mom’s 365. Also, in life and times of a preacher mom, she ponders a few of the things that are hard to teach a son if you’re a single mom. (Among others, the need to stop and explain that her boy won’t grow up to be a Mama.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Partly Scattered Edition

Hello Friends!

I am struck this morning by the images we have in the Revised Common Lectionary. Some scattered thoughts for a wintry Tuesday:

The people standing outside listening to Ezra reading to them from the law, worshipping God with their heads pressed to the ground, as found in Nehemiah.
How daunting it is sometimes for me to read to the congregation, and then to preach. What if my words are not the right words?

"The heavens are telling the glory of God"
I have seen some beautiful sunsets/sunrises this winter, even in the midst of the strange weather. They always make me think of this Psalm.

Paul's various discussion of body parts--that wonderful passage that is so descriptive of the work of the church.
I knew someone once who did ministry with the aged crowd at a larger church. She used to tell me about how the members would launch into what she called "the organ recital", complaining about knees, back, kidneys, heart, etc. when she visited them in their homes. I still smile when I think of that.

Jesus reading in the synagogue and declaring himself the fulfillment of the hope expressed in Isaiah.
What was it like for Jesus to read those familiar words, then turn to the crowd and say "Yep, That's me. That hope you're waiting for? Me. Jospeh and Mary's kid."

Those are my scattered thoughts. What are yours?

Monday, January 15, 2007

RGBP Inc. Officers and Committee Chairs for 2007

With apologies for failing to post this sooner, here is a list of the 2007 officers and Committee chairs elected at the November 20, 2006 meeting of the RevGalBlogPals, Inc. board of directors:

President: Songbird (Set Free)
Vice President: Saint Cassarole
Treasurer: Mary Beth Butler ( Terrapin Station)
Secretary: Quotidian Grace

Finance Committee Chair: Mary Beth Butler ( the by-laws provide that the Treasurer is also the Finance Committee Chair)

Nominating Committee Chair: Cheesehead (Cheesehead in Paradise)
Publications Committee Co-Chairs: Theresa Coleman (Reverendmommy's Random Thoughts)
and Reverendmother. This committee oversees both publications and the Cafe Press store.
Webring Administrative Committee Chair: Songbird

If you are a member of RGBP Inc. and would like to serve on one of these committees, please email us (see the link on the sidebar).

And if you haven't joined yet but are interested in joining and serving on one of these committees, please click on that link and let us know. We have 53 members and would love to have more. If you have questions about RGBP Inc. email us or leave a comment.

The board met again this evening in an AIM chatroom and began discussing ideas for future publications or an event for the membership. We'll post details on the blog as they develop--but we'd love to have your input and help to develop them. Our next meeting will be February 19, 2007, so let us hear from you before then!

MLK Monday Mission Moment

In honor of MLK Day--a mission devoted to an often marginalized group. Today's mission project was brought to us by Rainbow Pastor.

An offering for the mission moment—

One of the sister churches in our denomination, MCC-New York, has a special mission to the homeless gay lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth of New York City. Many of the homeless youth in NYC are GLBT, and are at great risk. Here’s a link to statistics:

The church in New York has one of the few (I think there is one other in the city) youth shelters dedicated to GLBT youth, who are often as much at risk in general youth shelters (especially transgendered youth) as they are on the streets. It is the only emergency shelter—no one is turned away that first night. They offer health clinics, activities, and general support.

The link to the church’s shelter (Sylvia’s Place) is here:
To be honest, there is a need for a shelter like this in cities of any size. Too many GLBT youth are thrown out by their families—yes, even here in Canada. We are hoping to open such a shelter here in our city, with some help from the city government.

Rainbow Pastor

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Prayer

If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning. --Martin Luther King Jr., "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

Life-giving God, we give you thanks and praise for your abundant grace. With a mighty hand you parted the waters and provided a band of Israelite slaves with the gift of exodus—a way out. In the same way, O God, grant safe passage to all who need it today—passage through the turmoil of illness, grief, and despair; passage through poverty and oppression; passage, perhaps, through toils and snares of our own devising. Where chaos swirls around us like mighty waters, lead us by your Spirit. Let us find solid ground in our walk with Jesus Christ, our guide and friend. On this weekend of remembrance we give thanks for the life of Martin Luther King Jr., his prophetic witness, his courage, and his faithfulness to the gospel. May we be so prophetic, so courageous, and so faithful.

Powerful God, in the desert you smashed apart dry stones and made waters to spill out, enough for everyone. Forgive the times we do not trust you, when we demand miracles on our own timetable. You provided water in the desert, and manna sufficient for all; forgive us when we hoard and store up your abundant gifts for our own use. Give us the courage and faith to speak out for those in need of liberation and justice. Give us the words also to witness to your life-changing gospel in a thirsty world.

We thank you, resurrected God, that you rolled away the stone of the tomb, and a new creation poured forth. Justice and mercy roll down now and forever; peace and hope reign always. Help us to claim this new reality, in our lives and for this world. We pray in the name of Jesus, the risen Christ. Amen.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party

Jesus may have turned water into wine, but I suspect that we might not want to write our sermons while consuming mass quantities of wine. So, I've brought in what I hope will be a suitable substitute: the virtual barista. My friend spidey will be joining us today to keep those caffeinated beverages flowing (I guess she can probably do decaf too, if you insist). Let's see what she can do with a few big jars of water!

I have a baptism and communion tomorrow, so I'm trying to wrap the sacraments into my sermon, which is also pulling in the Isaiah text, while focusing on John. Sound like a lot to do in one sermon? Yeah...I'm not so sure if all of that will make the cut.

Where are your thoughts headed on this second Sunday of Epiphany?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Five: Countdown Edition

Last night my TV Boyfriend Keith Olbermann made some comments I really appreciated, and it got me thinking about what makes one person admire another. In the spirit of Keith's show on MSNBC, welcome to the Friday Five Countdown Edition.

Please count down five living people you admire and tell us a little something about why they make your list. These could be famous people or people you know personally.


As always, if you can link directly to your post, you're likely to get more visitors!

Use the following formulation:
<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, January 11, 2007

Ask the Matriarch—It’s All About Me! Yikes!

I am working on a sermon for February. (As a student, I get lots of lead time because they know I am a clueless rookie!) The topic is marriage—specifically, “now we have kids” (i.e. how to be a Christ follower, a parent and a spouse). They want me to draw a personal connection in the sermon, as in how my life experience and walking with Christ has been affected by this point.

When you are preaching, how do you use these personal examples without making your children/spouse/parents cringe when they hear you? Do you get their permission? Do you change the names and places to protect the innocent?

~The model seminarian (not)

First of all, we do have another great preacher feature (Sorry! Couldn’t resist!) It’s the 11th Hour Preacher Party and this very topic has come up in it (like here, in particular). And our matriarchs have some other tips for you.

Peripatetic Polar Bear writes:
Well, model seminarian, I have two thoughts.

First: Since “they” (I assume this is your internship church) are telling you to draw a personal connection, it seems like they are asking for a testimony, rather than a sermon. A sermon is scripture-based and/or theology-based, and a testimony is life-experience based. It may seem like nitpicking, but I feel like telling a pastor what to preach is a very, very slippery slope. It's going to affect how you read the scripture, and that makes this Presbyterian very, very nervous.

If you've agreed to this testimony, then you need to talk to your spouse and kids. You have to talk about them. Even if you don't use their names, everyone is going to know what you're talking about. Find out if there are things that are taboo. Respect those things. Try to talk in generalities where possible, and keep the focus on you—your faith, your challenges, your growth. Your family did not sign up to be sermon example A, so you need to be really respectful of that.

Second: In an actual sermon sermon, where they haven't asked for a particular experiential focus, there will be times when stories about your family feel like the perfect way to illustrate a point. If they are just what you need, I'd ask a few questions of yourself:

A) Is this story generalizable, or so unique to my situation that it's not going to help the sermon? Barbara Brown Taylor says (and I'm summarizing here, I don't have the exact quote in front of me—it was in a lecture) that if your personal story is about finding God while walking the dog, use it. If it's about finding God while single-handedly stopping a riot, don't. In other words, even though the congregation will never experience all that you've experienced, it needs to be something that can be understood as being within the realm of possibility for most people. I don't have a dog, but I can imagine walking one.

This is a tricky one, because outside of a really honest preaching class, nobody will tell you when you're doing this. They'll just say "nice sermon, Pastor, I loved hearing the 17th story about your work in Harlem," when they're thinking, "That could never happen to me. I'll never be that good of a Christian." This doesn't mean that all of your stories must be set in the mundane, but they all need to be transferable. Save the really exciting, dramatic stories for parties.

Many family stories do work for sermons because most of us know what it's like to be in a family. And really, most of us will never have the wherewithal to be missionaries or activists or football heroes, but most of us do find our faith in all that is domestic and common and lovely. In the laundry and soccer practice and tuna surprise, there is a rhythm and grace all its own, and as preacher, you get to name it.

B) Does this story embarrass any member of my family? Does anyone look foolish? If so, don't use the story. Or (with their permission and if it won't be too obvious), make it a story not about them, but about someone you know. Do this even if your family says it's okay to use the story. They need to know that you will never use the pulpit to embarrass them, that you're always their mama/spouse. (Ed. note: It’s my experience that just being their parent is enough to embarrass any teenager, so tread carefully when your kids hit that age.)

C) Does my family agree to my sharing this story (if they're in it)? The caveat here is that children that are under about 5 probably don't get a vote. But the other kids do. If a kid is uncomfortable with a story for any reason, don't use it. Really. It doesn't matter if it's cute, or if it sells your point. Don't use it. And if you do, contribute $10,000 each time to the kid's therapy fund.

And, FWIW, I think you are a model seminarian for asking this question.

Jan writes:
When my kids were tiny (younger than 5) I might tell a story about them while they were sitting in the pews, but it would always be a story that put them in a good light. I would never share a story about anybody I know who might be easily identifiable (the neighbors, local hairstylist, much less family members) that might make them feel dumb, awkward, embarrassed, etc.

More often than not, I use stories about my loved ones in situations where they are not present, such as a class on parenting. Again, I would not disclose embarrassing things such as Junior's bed-wetting problem. They deserve privacy too.

You can disguise them by using the old "I have a friend whose daughter..." line, but frankly, if your daughter were sitting there listening, she’d recognize that the story was about her, so she would still need to know ahead of time. Simply talk with family members and ask them permission, or even "How would you feel if I told the hilarious goat story?"

Gallycat here: I speak from experience in saying that when your mom is at the front of a room and happens to be carrying a picture of you in a tutu, nothing will make you sink into your seat faster than watching her bust it out in front of your 7th grade peers. So I’m with PPB on that therapy fund. But I love talking about my faith experience with my son, who’s 14. I have his permission to share how after his first communion, he thumped his chest and gave a shout-out to his homey on high. But my son is an extravert, and one who really wants to be seen as funny. Each person in your family may have a different personality and may have different boundaries in what you can and cannot share with other people. The most important thing you can do is communicate with your family beforehand.

Got questions?
Need advice? Got a situation? We’re now accepting questions to be published in February! Send them to us at Ask the Matriarch. All inquiries (as well as embarrassing 7th grade pictures) are kept confidential.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Greetings, bloggers.

Welcome to the Wednesday Festival, or as I've dubbed it -- Wednestival. Enjoy the posts -- and those around the ring. It's great fun to discover (or re-discover!) a blog that really speaks to you.

On the road, again?

April would like to invite folks over to her place for a discussion on young clergy on the move to new congregations.

Like many others, Preacher Mom is contemplating a call. She would love some input! Also, she's looking for sermon planning systems that might actually work (me, too -- me, too!). Suggestions welcome here.

Gallycat has decided to apply for her dream job and would love your well-wishes (and prayers)!

Reactions and Challenges
Join Kievas in discussing her reactions to two commonly used terms: "saved" and "born-again".

Sally was challenged this weekend to consider the God we worship -- you can find her short reflection here.

Photos and Reflections
Carmen posted some photos of colors rain leaves behind at In the Open Space.

RevEm has talked about Summer coming back and the mysterious arrival of a blue balloon.

Barbara from Groanings and Grace has posted something beautiful.

Contests and Gatherings
Also over the Emerging Women blog has posted information about their upcoming gathering... I'm sensing some blogger meet-up potential!

Sacred Art of Living has a contest going on as she nears her 20,000th visitor! Go find out about it!

Edited to add: There were a good number of folks in Myrtle Beach recently.... Check out some of the posts by these folks: Rev. Abi, ReverendMommy, Gavin, Beth Quick, The Best Dog Ever, and The Phaith of St. Phransus. Many of these folks have links to others who were there as well as multiple postings about the happenings -- be sure to page through!

Sorry to have missed this on the first go 'round.

Happy Reading,
Pink Shoes

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Fish Gotta Swim, Birds Gotta Fly Edition

See there, I already gave you a clue as to what I'm preaching! We have some rich and diverse choices this week.

We have the wedding at Cana, and the passage from 1 Corinthians describing the varieties of spiritual gifts. And don't forget Isaiah's promise of vindication, or the Psalm of steadfast love.

I have preached the 1 Corinthians before, and my sermon title was "Fish Gotta Swim, Birds Gotta Fly". I'll be preaching a different sermon this week, but it is also the week of our annual meeting, when we elect our Elders and Deacons who will serve new three-year terms. I want to talk about the spiritual gifts for ministry, both the ministries of ordained office, and of ministers-at-large (commonly called "just a member").

So I'm going to be a little thematic this week, as opposed to strictly textual. (I sure am glad my Homiletics Professor doesn't read this blog!)

What about you?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Monday Morning Meet n' Greet: El Nino Edition

Unseasonably warm here in a valley in the northeast and supposedly global warming is not the culprit - sorry Al. Rather we have El Nino to blame for everything from the storms in the southeast to the blizzards in Colorado to... LadyBurg deciding she needs another blog. She writes: I'm an associate paster in the 'Burg at Our Big Steeple Downtown Church. I was blogging under Theoontapintheburg but decided to set up my own blog because....well....this blogging thing is addicting! Besides being a pastor and wife, I'm an avid although amateur gardener. My name, LadyBurg, reminds me of both "Lady Bird" Johnson who loved wildflowers and ladybugs that protect garden flowers from pests.

The Phaith of St. Phransus might also be enjoying the weather since he considers himself a LAZY DAY HAMMOCK THEOLOGIAN: I am... a United Methodist Youth pastor... a grad student working on a master's in theology... a candidate for ordained ministry in the umc... a husband to Jen... a dad to Jonas and Abby... a writer... a mystic... a monastic at heart... an artist... a lover of beauty... and advocate for social justice and peace... BUT MOST OF ALL...I AM A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST!

How does A Home for My Words feel about the warm spell? Hard to tell since it is authored by 'Silent'. She is in the midwest and has been blogging since last April. In her first post she wrote: I have come to realize how much I want to write. I have come to realize how much I need to write.

Because spoken words seem to fail me. I spent my childhood years in mostly silence, mostly smiling, being shy and afraid to speak. I’ve “come out of my shell” through the years, but some of that fear is still there. And irony of ironies is that I have been called to a vocation in which one of my primary roles is that of preacher, speaker of the good news of what God has done for us.

And somehow, I can speak of God. And somehow, God speaks through me and allows people to hear of and experience the good news of God. And that is wonderful and amazing.

I know that was a big quote but I really felt like her words echoed a lot of what I have read from so many of you.

These are the revgal's latest and greatest! Please be sure to stop by and give them a hearty WELCOME!!!

In other news, have you checked out Cathy's birthday party yet? As she mentioned in the post below a donation has been made to the Episcopal Relief and Development's Gifts for Life Catalogue in the revgals name because we made over thirty comments at her party. Here is the official notice:
May this Gift for Life bring you joy as it brings hope to children and their families around the world. In Honor of RGBP RevGalBlogPals a gift of Provide clean water and basic sanitation has been made by Cathy Stevens To a wonderful community of folks - in thanksgiving for the many gifts you offer to so many. RevGalBlogPals, thank you! People everywhere need access to life essentials -- healthy food, safe drinking water, basic health care services and protection from deadly preventable diseases such as malaria. We work in partnership with local communities to offer our comprehensive "basics of life" initiatives. These efforts help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

Check it out for yourself at this link.

Happy Birthday, Cathy!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

December's Trivia Challenge Winner!

A new month means we have a new Trivia Challenge winner and again 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). He just can't seemed to be topped, but let's see who is going to be the one. I know it's not me!! Here are the top 10 winners:

1. frodo
2. zorra
3. Satchel Pooch
4. semfem
5. alin
6. circlibmm
7. DawgDays
8. ThePowerOfThePoodle
9. peacepastor
10. chartreuseova
(All in blue are previous winners)

Now let me show you what some of you are missing because here is one of the prizes you can buy with your trivia bucks:

Yes, our dear winner, Frodo has won a "suspicious horse" - you, too, can be a winner of one of these if you play with us. (I'm holding out for the money tree).
Frodo gets to choose a category for the month of January as one of the perks for coming out #1!!!

Now, don't you forget to go to his blog and blow his sitemeter out of the water!

Now for a little shameless self promotion here....

I am blaming all of this on the Friday 5 which was just this past Friday - otherwise I would have never done this......

I am inviting you to my online birthday party. Today is my birthday and I want at least 100 hits on my blog today and some happy birthday comments (over 30) - and if that happens I will make a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development, in thanksgiving to RGBP as a thank you to all of you!


By the way, this is the 700th posting of RevGalBlogPals!

Sunday Prayer

As always, this prayer is cross-posted over at InnerDorothy.

Loving and Wondrous God, the world can be such a confusing place sometimes. I confess, there are times when I wish faith was easier. There are times when a neatly packaged version of faithfulness is strangely alluring. But I know in my heart that you demand more of me than blind, unthinking devotion. You invite me into a deeper relationship - an opportunity to make your best hope for creation something real and tangible, just by living your way.

God, our world is so polarized by those who consider themselves to be the elect, the special ones, the theological "in" club. People in all of the world's faith communities have claimed to be in your inner circle. When are we going to see that you love us all regardless of the divisions we place between one another? When are we going to see that fundamentalism, in all its forms, is dangerous and harmful?

Those words - "You are my beloved" - God, I believe you whisper these words into every ear and you continue to speak these words into every heart...for you are our Creator, and we are your people, and you long to be in relationship with us.

Help us God to stop our warring madness and just be your beloved people. Help us to see the humanity in one another, and fit us well for the challenge of living a faith that digs deeper into our souls. Guide us toward a faith that is true to your Love, for this is what Jesus came to tell us....that Love is the greatest command of all. Bless us God. 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, January 06, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party

It's moving day for me, on the church side of my life, so today's 11th hour sermon composition will begin with packing up the office that has been mine for the past four+ years. I suspect memories will arise in the process. That's why I'm arming myself with helpers!

Sometime in the early afternoon, the house will be quiet, and I will begin writing. What are your plans today?

I'm brewing a pot of Starbucks Christmas Blend (thanks to my Santa husband for that bag in my stocking!) and on my way out to pick up the wonderful and famous Tony's Donuts that have proven such useful sermon fuel in the past. What may I get for you?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday Five: Birthday, Redux

Yours truly had a birthday this week, and while we've done the birthday thing before, I'm going to do my best to come up with new questions...

1. "It's my party and I'll [blank] if I want to..."
Favorite way to celebrate your birthday (dinner with family? party with friends? a day in solitude?)

2. "You say it's your birthday... it's my birthday too, yeah..."
Do you share your birthday with someone famous? (Click here to find out!)

3. "Lordy Lordy look who's forty..."
Milestone birthdays:
a) just like any other birthday--they're just numbers, people.
b) a good opportunity to look back/take stock
c) enjoy the black balloons--I'll be hiding under a pile of coats until the day is over
d) some combination of the above, or something else entirely.

4. "Happy birthday, dear... Customer..."
Have you ever been sung to in a restaurant? Fun or cringe-worthy?

5. "Take my birthday--please"
Tell me one advantage and one disadvantage about your particular birthday (e.g. birthday in the summer--never had to go to school; birthday near Christmas--the dreaded joint presents)
EDITED TO ADD: This could also simply be something you like/dislike about your birthday (e.g. I like sharing a birthday with my best friend, etc.).

If you're feeling up to it, post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation:
<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, January 04, 2007

Ask the Matriarch - Lay Latitude

And on the 11th day of Christmas, we address what to do when parishioners get their own ideas about using the pulpit--as a soapbox.

My lay leader, prior to giving the blessing over the offering on Christmas Eve Sunday, read what appeared to be one of those email rants about Christmas not being allowed to be called Christmas any more (even mentioned Jane Fonda, Al Franken, K Mart, and the like). I live in the conservative South, but I thought that even by those standards, the poem/diatribe pushed the envelope too far.

In previous weeks, I've made statements that we Christians are a little too sensitive, too—and that our job is less to complain about how offended we are with a "Happy Holiday" greeting than to actually take Christ's love to the streets. I do not think he intended it as a way of arguing-with-me-without-arguing-with-me via the pulpit, but his action has made me consider wether I have #1–too open a policy of what can be said and done during worship (incidentally, a liberal-leaning guy did something similar a couple months ago, and #2–whether I ought to speak to him privately about my misgivings. I think he was trying to be "religious" and did it awkwardly. My husband (who heard it) didn't seem to be too upset by it and thinks I should ignore it. I found it inappropriate.

For me, this is a very real dilemma: I don't want to control, but I must maintain the authority of the pulpit. If I'm too laid-back, then worship becomes a venue to vent opinions. I believe firmly in laypeople taking part in worship, but I'm second-guessing my approach. It's a new appointment and I'm following what's been done in the past, but after 6 months now, I'm thinking I need to have a "training" or develop a policy for anyone who assists in leading worship.

What do you think?

Well, some of the matriarchs haven't returned from the holiday yet, but we did hear from Peripatetic Polar Bear and Jan, who agree that your concerns are valid. Interestingly, they had distinctly different reactions—you may find that it depends possibly on your denomination and certainly on your liturgical practices.

PPB says:
These pronouncements are not really appropriate to a worship service that is crafted and planned by pastor and lay-committee on worship.

It sounds, though, like people want to be able to talk and to be heard. Are there other opportunities for that to happen? A sermon talk-back adult ed? A service or time of testimony? I'm actually intrigued by testimony these days. The book Tell It Like It Is might be a place to start. (I admit that I haven't read it but have heard enough of it from the author to say that reading would probably be useful.)

To resolve your problem, I'd take the solution back to the laypeople. Talk to the lay committee on worship. See how they feel. See if there's a way to put some boundaries around what happens in worship, without putting boundaries around laity's speech and testimony—as awkward as it might be.

I understand the authority of the pulpit, but if liturgy is the "work of the people" it seems that the resolution to and authority to resolve this problem need to lay in the hands of the people.

Jan says:
While most worshippers might have reacted like your husband, I think your concern is valid. Do lay leaders receive any training before they assist in worship? They should, if not. (And I'm referring to issues bigger than "Speak into the microphone and slow down.")

In the training, it's helpful to remind them of a couple of deal-breakers:
#1–Worship is about God, never about us. We might be personally moved by a specific cultural issue (be it Darfur or the fur trade), personally devastated by the death of a celebrity (be it Gerald Ford or James Brown), or personally ticked off by a rant-worthy pet peeve (be it "Happy Holidays" or the playing of Christmas carols before Halloween.) Nevertheless, it's never about our own personal issues. It's about God, and in particular . . .

#2–Worship is carefully and prayerfully planned along themes, lectionary-based readings, whatever the professional worship leader has prepared which is her job. For worship to be effective and authentic, it needs to flow.

The lay leader's beef might be valid, theologically sound, and in line with everything the pastor herself personally believes. But if it distracts from the focus of worship (God's Word, etc.) Then it's not helpful. For example, we once had a lay leader from Lebanon who used all her parts in worship (from announcements to the assurance of pardon) to talk about the plight of Christians in Lebanon, which is great—except it was the Sunday School kick-off day and we were focussing on something else.

Just because you are the liturgist (or the preacher) doesn't mean you get to hijack the worship service to sound off about a personal gripe. (And that's my own rant for the day.)

The takeaway
I'm struck with the thought that some people don't know the difference between a rant and a reflection, and what may be offered as food for thought may be received as force-feeding. Help people learn the difference, while acknowledging their need to express and share, and you'll be fine.

In the meantime, all of us who rant and reflect in our various blogs send our support and prayers. If you have something you'd like to share, please do so in comments!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The First Wednesday Festival of 2007

Hi Gang! Happy New Years to you all! A big THANKS to Mary Beth for assuming my Festival duties last week while our family had an unexpected holiday vacation in Terre Haute, Indiana. May I say, "You Hoosiers ROCK?"

On to the First Festival:

Karen, over at kc's kaleidoscope, has declared the winner in her caption contest. Pop on over and see who it is -Caption contest winner. She also wishes to express her 'kudos' to reverikag for creative use of the photo for evangelism and to the reverend mommy for tying her caption into the lectionary lesson of the week! I bet they're all goating, er, gloating!

At In the Open Space (sorry, too many prepositions!), Carmen lists her favorite films of 2006 as well as her favorite books—both fiction and non-fiction and also listed the top 10 television shows of 2006, too! You've been busy in 2006, Carmen!

Mary Beth, blogger of Terrapin Station, shares her thoughts about being a pew sitter, instead of sitting in the choir loft. You can read her reflections here.

Eternal Echoes' Sally shares with us a couple of her reflections. First, on grace, then on hope. Two of my favoritest things! Praying that Chris is recovering, Sally!

From The Same Sky has written a post this week questioning something she heard on the radio Sunday morning. She's not completely sure how theologically sound it is (she's "only" a first year theological student - her words, not mine!) but it raises questions about God and the nature of evil in creation, which are difficult - and which she'd love some feedback on!

Deb, at Another Unfinished Symphony, was led to blog this. As she so aptly puts it, "Holy antagonists, Batman...!". I couldn't have said it better myself, Symphony. She also posts about her dreams.

Nominated for this week's Festival is an offering by Sharing a Journey. He writes about seeing two very different movies and finding the messages weren't really so different after all. You can read about it here.

Juniper has a 2006 Best of the Blogs "Award" post at her place: Possible Water.

Quotidian Grace (who missed her calling as a country-and-western songwriter, IMHO) composed a New Year's Rhyme.

The Rev. Tripp penned a sermon on the execution of Saddam Hussein.

Lorna, at See-Through Faith, is asking What if God were one of us? . (Gosh, I miss Joan of Arcadia!) Also, she shares her DD's excitement at being asked to be a godmother to a 3.5 year old (BTW, it's also her 1000st post - Congrats!)

Finally, I invite you to pop over to my blog, Grace Happens, and see why this was a wonderful Christmas in spite of unexpectedly being called away from home and why I'm thanking God for the RGPBs and Hoosiers! Our family is blessed and Son is doing well - all things considered.

You be blessed, too! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Back Home Edition

Good morning friends! I'm back at it, and thankful for the assistance of my sister Songbird last week with the Tuesday post. Since I turned out to be largely sans computer, 'twas fortuitous indeed that she planned to fill in.

The choice this week seems to be Epiphany or Baptism of the Lord? I will be focusing on the latter liturgical celebration.

I was listening to NPR commentary this morning, while the casket of Gerald Ford was being taken to National Cathedral for his state funeral. There seems to be some discussion of whether or not he was an "accidental President", as apparently someone has said. The other commentator was pointing out that Gerald Ford actually had served his country and the Sate of Michigan for over 25 years before he was tapped to be the Vice President under Nixon after the resignation of Spiro Agnew amidst a scandal. Then, this accidental Vice President, who (as far as anyone knows) had no aspirations to be President of anything, became the most powerful man in America.

As I was standing at my kitchen sink, and hearing someone say that Gerald Ford never dreamed of being in that position, I started thinking about call, and about how if someone had asked me 10 or 12 years ago about my ending up in ordained ministry, I might have laughed at them, albeit nervously. I started thinking about how "some people are born to greatness, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them", as Shakespeare might say.

And then I started thinking about baptism, that moment when we all are called to something greater than ourselves--discipleship.

This is the particular rabbit hole I am going down today in search of sermon wisdom. What about you?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Monday Morning Meet n' Greet: Happy New Year Edition


And a great big and warm welcome to our latest members...

The Edgy ENFP - or as the title of her blog goes: The eclectic, quirky, edgy and prolific ENFP! Blogging under the name Skdo she tells us: I'm a 30-something native Pacific Northwesterner from the great State of Oregon, married 15+ years to a great guy, C. I'm Mommy to two boys (TT is 7 & CH is 10). We are a special needs family - one son has multiple diagnoses and the other lives with the reality of a special needs sibling... I'm about to be a pastor.

The Best Dog Ever: Begun as a creative outlet for The Typist -- who loves having a dog this smart but is still glad I don't have thumbs -- this blog may include forays into religion, United Methodism, spirituality, idealistic thoughts and prayers...basically, stuff that probably wouldn't interest your average dog.

Irreverent Musings: On Faith, Love, Life and Politics - Composed by OFFCENTER, this blog is: A forum for kindred spirits interested in open, curious, and respectful but exuberant conversation about some of the big and small questions. Let's get down and dirty about spirituality, politics, and whether men will ever "get" women or vice versa. Sports is fair game, too.

The Reverend Mother - Composed by Jennifer+ who tells us: a home-based community for spiritual pilgrims interested in learning and exploring matters of faith. Blogger is an Episcopal Priest who is a life-long Christian and who loves to help people ask questions and explore possibilities in a safe, open, thoughtful environment.

Welcome one and all!