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Saturday, March 31, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party: Palm Reading Edition

I don't know about all of you, but I cannot work without decent and varied sustenance nearby. This sample spread is from a 2 year old's birthday party which explains the tater tots and chicken nuggets down there at the end of the counter. Next in the buffet are copious quantities of mozzarella sticks, everything pizza (there is artichoke heart, olive and mushroom pizza in the back) and I think you recognize the vegetable group with of course the obligatory Ranch dressing.

In the theology section I am bringing palms, passion and communion, baking for 60 minutes (+), removing from the oven and hoping all will rise to the occasion of worshiping our Lord and Savior not just on Sunday but every day.

What are you bringing to the table today - both food and otherwise?

ps - Happy birthday Mom!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Five: Holy Week, Batman!

Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title):

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?

2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.

3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.

4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"

5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...

Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share.

Please let us know in comments if you play. Or even better, 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.

Friday Five will take an appropriate break on Good Friday. See you in Eastertide.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Leaving Church" Discussion Continues

You may find it here!

Ask The Matriarch: What is considered appropriate clergy apparel?

Helen, our Lead Matriarch is out with a pinched nerve, and for someone who works with computers for one's paycheck, that is bad place to be. Hope you heal Helen, and get that massage.

Today's question has to do with one we all deal with and that is how to dress as clergy;
What is considered appropriate clergy apparel?

I typically wear black slacks (many different cuts and fabrics) or mom jeans with a turtleneck (usually white) or a shell and a jacket (usually with a mandarin collar).

I was recently at a clergy meeting where one of the other clergywomen caused quite a sensation. She's recently divorced, 50 years old and quite attractive (very nice figure). She attended this meeting in a very low cut pair of jeans, a midriff shirt and platform heels. (mind you, this is a gathering of clergy and the rest of us were in our "Sunday" clothes.) What caused all the twittering was her tat -- what is called by my youth group a "tramp stamp" and the fact that her thong "handles" were hanging out. I really don't think we got much business done that day.

The elder in charge said nothing, in fact, nothing was said until an older gentlemen looked at her said, "And this is the reason that women shouldn't be clergy." After that, as the saying goes, all hell broke out. I thought that people were going to be hurt....

So, I ask, what is appropriate clothing? I know I probably dress too conservatively, but I think I should err on the side of caution. Then again, do we have to look like nuns? I was reprimanded once for dingle-dangle earrings (well, it WAS communion and they WERE grapes!) Where do we draw the line?

And now for the Matriarchs’ answers:

Matriarch 1: Appropriate clergy attire is professional attire. Think about what comparable professionals in your community wear to work and/or when representing their organization at public events. What would you expect a college professor to wear to class? A librarian to wear behind the reference desk? An M.D. to wear when seeing patients? A counselor to wear when meeting with clients? A real estate agent when showing homes? A news reporter interviewing for a major story? Chances are you're not thinking bare midriff and visible thong underwear. On the other hand, you're also probably not thinking jeans and a sweatshirt or a wrinkled jumper thrown over a stained t-shirt. IMHO clergy tend to err on the frumpy side more frequently than on the too sexy side.

Matriarch 2: It depends on several factors, what denomination you are serving, what part of the country you are in, rural or urban, the event, and you can factor in size if you want.

Living in the South, the churches want you to wear robes on Sunday except in the Summer. Most people do not dress up as much as they used to, and so casual slacks and appropriate blouse or turtle neck is fine. Its good to dress up a little more if going to the hospital, other functions, conferences, other churches, funerals. Nice, clean, and non-holey Jeans are fine to wear here too.

Some of the female clergy in my denomination have begun to wear the clergy shirt and collar with slacks or skirts. Earrings and jewelry, should be kept to a minimum as to not draw attention to those items in the pulpit. But its okay to wear them like you want elsewhere.

The situation you described was over the line, way over or under as the case maybe in other words inappropriate.

Now for some recommendations: PeaceBang's Beauty Tips For Ministers is a good read, sometimes helpful, sometimes tongue in cheek, and helpful to learn about not being frumpy as clergy. Closet Smarts is a title of a book and website that PeaceBang's referred to in one of her posts. It's not about clergy women, but it is about dressing well.

Thank you Matriarchs, we know you must be the best dressed Matriarchs around! (said with tongue in cheek.) Now if the rest of you will talk amongst yourselves and put in your thoughts about dressing well as a clergywoman, you too can join the best dressed Matriarchs! (Hey maybe Nightline will do a piece on us too! Nah.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wednestival: Bits & Pieces

In my ( Widening Circles' ) church last Sunday, we had an enthusiastic substitute music minister who burst into a joyous ALLELUIA! before the reading of the Gospel. Our presider led her gently back to words more suitable for the season, but I have to admit that it was nice to have that momentary, if accidental, reminder of home for what lies beyond Lent as we draw nearer to its end.

Lent continues, though. Leah at Desert Spirit's Fire has spent the season facilitating a weekly class on the Theology of the Cross. In Cross Pieces she offers a few sometimes interconnected reflections about the Cross of Calvary, liminal places, times and ways of being, and the Reign of Heaven on earth: "What does the cross mean for each of us as individuals, for this church community, for our nearby neighbors?

Eternal Echoes draws on the analogy of Easter Sunday "Because it was a time of waiting, of deep grief and despair" as she shares thoughts on rural ministry in the UK in Acknowledging grief in times of change. As these small churches struggle with change and moving away from the past, they are finding that "in that laying down the old there has been and is grief, along with the sense that the new has not yet come..."

Gord at FollowingFrodo shares a Palm/Passion Sunday commissioning: "We go out secure in the knowledge of the God of justice goes with us every step of the path." He has also been musing on how to best solve the problem of people living in poverty.

Meanwhile, Kievas Fargo offers a video clip that explores the lighter side of church life at Sharing a Journey.

Natalie is back to blogging, and we have missed her! She is wishing she'd been born an Episcopalian...go see why.

reverend mommy writes about a little girl who set out to prove the existence of God, and concludes that "God keeps us in suspense so that thinking and talking and debating about God stays fresh in our minds and not dusty on a shelf."

Songbird has shared a lovely description of watching her children in performance.

Sue at Inner Dorothy offers a post that started out being a walk down memory lane & ended up as a reflection on ministry as she remembers her gymnastics days in Flipping Back Through the Years.

ScoG Blog has written about the death of a precious child. What's the right reaction? Rage? Grief? Celebrating this child's life is hard to do, except by believing that "death is not the end."

Deb at Another Unfinished Symphony has an ongoing rant on women, fashions, and raising daughters who aren't 3-D boy toy magnets at "So, Like, Where Do You Shop?" Deep into seminary work, Deb is also processing a lot; see here and here.

If I've left you out, or if you meant to nominate something but didn't get around to it, update us in the comments! And remember the Festival is a weekly event: you can nominate a RevGal blog you really liked (including your own!) by sending an email to Please include the link and a short description.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Home Stretch Edition

Friends, it is getting close to Easter, thanks be to God! This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday on our Western Christian calendar. The two sets of readings can be found here and here.

I have used both readings so far each year. (I almost wrote "traditionally", but I'm not sure that three years a tradition makes.) it makes for an action-packed, tricky Sunday, especially when it happens to be communion Sunday, as it is this year. The liturgy will have to be tight, and the transitions nearly seamless, if we are to get out of there under 90 minutes.

I'm curious: for your congregations will it be palms and "Hosannas", mockery and "Crucify!", or both?

Monday, March 26, 2007

RevGalBookPals Book Discussion Group: Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor

Welcome to the first of our monthly book discussions! In the sidebar you will see the books for the next two months identified, along with a link to our Amazon Store, where you can purchase the books and make a small donation to RevGalBlogPals, Inc. at the same time!

Our book for March is Leaving Church, Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor, Harper San Francisco 2006.

The Author

I imagine that many of you seminarian and clergy types are long familiar with this and other of Barbara Brown Taylor's (BBT's) work. She is a priest in the Episcopal Church, the author of eleven books, many articles and recorded sermons and talks, and holds eight honorary doctoral degrees. She is, basically, a giant in the world of preaching. You may read more about her education, work, and upcoming speaking engagements on her website,

However, as a layperson who likes to hang out (virtually and In Real Life) with clergy and seminary types, this was my first exposure to BBT's work.

In a word, I found it explosive. It covers major questions about who we are to be as priests, pastors, and laity in today's church, and explores why, in many cases, the paths we are following are not leading where we want or expect them to go.

I am a dedicated and fairly picky reader. I read very fast and sometimes miss things; therefore I often read a book multiple times over months or years. However, as I read the last words of this book, I instantly, without putting the book down, turned back to the front and began again. I realized that I would need a pencil to mark things, so I stumbled through the house, still reading, until I had one; and I didn't stop reading until I'd finished the second time.

The Book

BBT begins by telling the story of her work on staff in a large suburban Atlanta parish. She was finding herself exhausted and used up, cut off from the nature which (as we see later) is and always has been so critical to her spirituality. "Why did I seal myself off from all this freshness? On what grounds did I fast from the daily bread of birdsong and starlight? (5)"

She and her husband begin driving out of the city to "see if we could imagine living anywhere else (6)" and found themselves drawn to the mountains of North Georgia.

The tiny church with which she falls in love (without even meeting its people) already has a priest, a long-time and well-loved character. His sudden, subsequent death opens the position, and BBT is called to be the new rector. She faces issues of parishioners opposed to women clergy (still fairly new in TEC at that time) and the difficulty of replacing a loved pastor.

She also finds that, despite her love for the parish and its people, she is falling into the same distress she encountered in the larger church: "I had once again become so busy caring for the household of God that I had neglected the one who had called me there. If I still had plenty of energy for the work, that was because feeding others was still my food. As long as I fed them, I did not feel my hunger pains (75)."

Certainly, there are many ways for clergy to refresh themselves, but as BBT says, "The demands of parish ministry routinely cut me off from the resources that enabled me to do parish ministry. I knew where God's fire was burning, but I could not get to it (98)."

In addition to the personal-level issues, there is what BBT calls "the hardening taking place, not only at (my church) but at every church I knew. The presenting issue was human sexuality (105)."

BBT finds that she is troubled by the litigiousness of the church surrounding this and many issues...and the necessity to be "a defense attorney for those who could not square their love of God and neighbor with the terms of the Nicene creed (111)."

Just as she is finding her position more and more untenable, and begins looking for other options to pursue in life, she is offered a position as a professor of religion at a local college. She resigns her church (though remaining a priest) and becomes a full-time academic. From that position, she is able to reinvigorate her love affair with God, especially through nature.

The Questions

It seems to me ironic (or something) that we should be reviewing this book just as the Anglican Communion is embroiled in some of our most divisive polity discussions in recent years.

The questions that this book raises, however, are well applicable to any and all denominations and believers who seek to serve Christ in his church - whether as priest, pastor, bishop, deacon, lay leader, musician, Sunday school teacher, nursery worker, potluck supper cook, person in the pew/folding chair.

BBT says, "All these years later, the way many of us are doing church is broken and we know it, even if we do not know what to do about it...We follow a Lord who challenged the religious and political institutions of his time while we fund and defend our own. We speak and sing of divine transformation while we do everything in our power to maintain our equilibrium (220)."

Many of you who will read this are from churches much less structured and hierarchical than The Episcopal Church. However, I wonder, to what extent do these problems face all churches?

What are you and your churches doing to carry out the Gospel in its true sense?

I am also interested in the wisdom and experience you bring to your reading of this book with regard to self-care and renewal for clergy and laity.

What Do You Think?

The questions above are merely suggestions. I encourage you to write in any direction you please. Your reflections are needed and desired; that's what will make this a DISCUSSION. And the discussion will continue as long as there is interest, so please check back here in the days to come!

You may share in the comments here, or, if you wish to post longer thoughts to your own blogs, please let us know in the comments that you have done so and where to find you.

Instructions on how to link inside the comment box are found at the foot of any Friday Five (I can't get it to reproduce here!) For a complete how-to, click here.
Let the discussion begin!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday Prayer

(This prayer is cross-posted over at my place.

God of Life, Source of Love, we thank you for the power and extravagance of your love for all creation. Such love is almost incomprehensible. You love us, each one of us, just as we are. You have hopes and dreams for us, because in your eyes we are like a precious, priceless gift, ready to be a blessing in the best way possible.

Help us to know that your love is not bought for a price – it simply is. Help us to accept this grace and let it wash over us in waves of acceptance and eternal love.
We thank you God for every blessing we encounter in our lives. We thank you for the care and support of others through life’s challenges and for those who share our joys with us.

We thank you for the meaningful essence of this Lenten walk we have shared together...for its challenges and its discoveries.

God of Compassion, we pray for all we know to have special need of your grace this day. The sick, the dying, the fearful, the hungry, the lonely, the confused, the discerning, the lost, the saddened, the despairing, and all who struggle in body, mind or spirit.

God, be with all who need to feel your presence with them. Grant the comfort and peace that only you can provide. Let your arms enfold your children, that they may find refuge in the warmth of your embrace.

All this we pray in the name of Jesus who leads us onward toward Jerusalem. Prepare our hearts, minds and spirits for what awaits him there, that we might stay with him in these coming weeks, even when the skies turn dark. 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, March 24, 2007

It's the 11th Hour; Where is My Sermon?

I have a confession to make.

I am not preaching this week.

As a solo pastor, I generally preach at least 47 weeks a year, plus sermons for our second service (which I am doing this week, but I'm recycling a sermon they haven't heard), plus special holidays, so I don't feel all that guilty about it, but it does sort of interrupt the rhythm of my week when I'm not working on a sermon. Anyway, this week my church is serving as the neutral pulpit for a church searching for a pastor, so I'm available to give ideas (I always have great ones when I'm not preaching), offer encouragement (definitely better when I'm not the one needing encouragement), and make breakfast. Waffles? French toast? Fried egg, Canadian bacon, and cheddar on homemade bread (that's what I'm having)? Coffee, coffee, and more coffee (also what I'm having, preaching or no)?

I have another confession to make. I haven't even glanced at the lectionary passage for this week. It's a good thing this is a communal effort. on!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Five: Rivers in the Desert

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19, NRSV

As we near the end of the long journey toward Easter, a busy time for pastors and layfolk alike, I ponder the words of Isaiah and the relief and refreshment of a river in the desert.

For this Friday Five, name five practices, activities, people or _____ (feel free to fill in something I may be forgetting) that for you are rivers in the desert.

As always, let us know in comments if you play. If you want to try linking directly to your post, 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, March 22, 2007

Ask the Matriarch — The First Sermon

One sometimes-lurker wrote to us with the following anecdote and query. Unfortunately, our answers came in after her first preaching adventure, but this is something everyone faces the first time they come to the pulpit, preacher or not—and often not just the first time, either!

Last fall I began attending seminary at AMBS, and I just started the class I have been fearing for quite some time: Worship and Preaching!

I don't actually ever plan on being a pastor (but who knows!) as I have been working with and continue to feel called to working with the Kyrgyz people. In spite of all of this, I have my first sermon due this next week and I have never done this before! What would you recommend to someone that will have to preach for three minutes as an introduction to the class? We will be given a random (but not obscure) text with five minutes to prepare.

Most others in the class are already full-time pastors and have some experience in this area, so we are expected to dive right in without any real introduction as to where to start. We will receive feedback and further instruction after this first, very brief sermon, but I have nothing to prep myself with as of right now. Any tips, or things to keep in mind when I jump in, head first, for this impromptu sermon? This might seem like a little thing, but three minutes looks like an eternity from where I sit right now!

Any advice from those more experienced would be greatly appreciated!

Well, first of all, we hope you made it through those first three minutes ok—but we know that was just the first hurdle in your first preaching class. "Congratulations for accomplishing what you were so afraid of doing," writes Abi. "Now that you have done that for the class, you will experience the anxiety again the first time you preach in church. And no, you never know if or when God will call you to preach. While I never had to do what you did in seminary what you had to do, I have had to do just that in the parish or in various unexpected situations. One of my biggest ways to get ready is through prayer, centering myself, and meditation."

Peripatetic Polar Bear also commends you on a job well done—that assignment seems really challenging. But even though those three minutes may seem like forever, she puts it into perspective. "First, the average song on the radio is only 3 minutes long—that's not that long," she writes. "Next—three minutes is only one and half double-spaced pages! I bet you could roll out a 1.5 page essay in a heartbeat." And if you can't, I'm a professional writer and can likely help you learn to organize an essay on the fly.

But being a professional writer rather than a clergywoman, I haven't ever written a sermon. So as Jan explains, start by looking at what your purpose will be. "Three minutes is a peep of a sermon but the basic idea is to convey: what the passage meant when it was written, and what it means now to you and to your people," she says. "How does it make a difference in our lives and why does it matter? In three minutes, you can't cover all this territory, but I'd start by reading the lesson over and over again (a la lectio divina) and see where the Spirit takes you. And be your best real self."

Think of this as an exercise in speaking extemporaneously, which you'll have opportunities to do as well. "Really, you normally get more than 5 minutes to prepare, so don't base whether or not you like it on this exercise!" says PPB.

A preaching primer
Here are a few tips on preparing sermons from our Matriarchs. First, from PPB:

  • Preach to the people gathered, not your judgmental 3rd grade teacher who's still living inside your head.
  • Preach the word you most need to hear. Generally, with longer prep time, you'll expand that reach, but if you're really stuck and short of time, preach the word you need to hear--chances are, it's what others need to hear, too.

And from Abi:
  • Study the scripture/readings and mull it over during the week. Does anything stand out to you? Words? Sentences? Feelings?
  • Things will start to come to you: Jot them down. Movies, art, pictures, books, something from your life, or something another person you know is going through that is relevant.
  • Ask God what God wants to say to the church through this passage.
  • As you start to put your sermon together, you may or may not use the material you've written. Be open to what comes to you!

Abi's Recommended Reading
Ooh, I've missed Abi's book notes! She's back. Yay for Spring!

She writes:
"For those who are working on sermons and preaching, I would like to recommend you read Barabara Brown Taylor's Preaching Life, Also read her sermons, and watch the videos made of her, but don't try to be her, see what you can learn from her.

"Also read The Fully Alive Preacher: Recovering from Homiletical Burnout by Mike Graves, Barbara Brown Taylor. Books by Thomas Long. Preaching by Fred Craddock. There are many others, and I have to say, I really date myself by the not knowing some of the latest grand preacher's books. But I would like to recommend also the Festival of Homiletics in May where you can hear, see, and learn from the greats in preaching"—and meet some other RevGalBlogPals, too.

Don't forget our Tuesday Lectionary Leanings and 11th Hour Preacher Parties, too!

Remember, you're starting out on something amazing, as Jan says. And, PPB adds, "Good luck. Preaching is great fun, great pain, and a great opportunity!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wednestival: Spring Edition

Hooray! The first day of Spring! How's it treating you? I'm fortunate enough to be on Spring Break this week, so I write from home with trees budding like crazy outside my window and misty rain falling.

Lenten Themes
Kathryn is participating in the LLLL program (which, until I read this nomination, I had not heard of...I'm so behind on my blogreading, phooh!). It is "a Lenten experiment titled LOVE LIFE LIVE LENT! Last year hundreds of thousands of British Christians took part in this Lenten experiment, in which they tried to accomplish each of 50 simple actions during the 40 day season." I'm fascinated with this, and with Kathryn's posts on the various daily action items. This particular post regards her desire to get out of town...I can relate!

Women's Ministry
Kathryn reflects on our Jesus-assigned statuses...that loose our chains. Praise God!

What's more a women's ministry than midwifery? Lorna has a wonderful series on her dog Mindy's bearing of puppies - with pictures! here, here and here. And...whoops! one more! Keep watching the site, surely more photos will be forthcoming! They are darling!

Here's a wonderful poem from Sally.

Let there be Peace on Earth
Amy and her husband travelled to Washington, DC for the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. Here are her reflections.

And about that Prodigal Son Parable...
Mother Laura has a sermon with a radical take on the parable. Don't miss it.

Sally shares the story from the mother's perspective.

Buckets of Good News:
Oh MAN! Go read Gallycat's story of...deep breath...her Dear Future Husband's Now-Passed-On-Grandfather's Recent Positive Action Toward Moving Things Forward! (That's DFWNPOGRPATMTF, in case you wanted to know!)

And, in possibly the best news I have heard lately, Rachel is inviting us to play her game and get chocolate in return!

Gord shares a great commissioning he wrote for this Sunday.

Go read about my participation in an awesome charity knitting project! The Mother Bear Project makes knitted teddy bears for children in Africa who have HIV/AIDS.

Quotidian Grace is having a good discussion of what books you would choose for an Evangelism Bag.

Excellent Music! Go see Tripp for some wonderful St. Patrick's MP3's!

Kristen shares her latest preaching effort (her fourth) and boy, it is a good 'un. I want to go to your church Kristen! (and yours, and yours, and yours....)

Mother Laura has a fascinating post on the Feast of St. Joseph: patron of fantastic married sex. (Didn't know that, did you? Go check it out!)

Over at Blanket in the Grove, JWD's 9-year-old son is asking to be baptized this Easter Sunday! Stop by and listen in on his theology in formation: why he wants to be baptized, what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and whether or not Jesus really died for his sins. What a kid.

FrogBlog has a great post on her newest discovery: WikkiStix.

Elastigirl has good news following a scary situation with her son . It caused her to think about parental love in an interesting way.

Bad News
Gord also posts about a very disturbing news story. Dang that Patriot Act!And I, myself, posted about a very disturbing locally based televangelist.

Y'all stand back, because Sue is about to hurl, as she writes about the Purity Ball. (She is not making this up!)

Life and all that
Possible Water is pondering what makes community. Ooh, I want to play Interplay!

Scott gives us A Day in the Life of Ainsley's family. (Okay, it's not all about Ainsley; Daddy got some work done in there, somewhere...)

And here's a Day in the Life of Elastigirl...makes me want to take a nap...

Last Things
Anyone I missed? Please give us a holler in the comments and let us know what you're thinking, reading, writing. Don't forget our inaugural book discussion of the RevGalBookPals group! On Monday of next week (March 26), yours truly will be opening discussion on this site on Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church. I look forward to the discussion and hope that many of you will join us!

Wishing you all a resurgence of hope and joy (even in Lent) on this first day of Spring. God is going to work a miracle in your life today: so be looking for it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Last Day of Winter Edition

Tomorrow is the vernal equinox, the day many of us in the snow belt wait for, hope for, long for.

It's been a long winter, folks. For many of us it has been a very long Lent. This is about the time in the liturgical season when I start getting antsy, ready for a new thing-- the kind of new thing that is talked about in this week's lectionary passages.

This week is also a convergence of a sort for me. I have been preaching a relatively short time (about three years every week, and off and on for three years before that), but this lectionary group has four texts that I have preached before! Too bad I'm still off lectionary, continuing the sermon series instead.

What are you working on this last day of winter? What word will you bring this first Lord's Day of Spring?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Monday Meet n' Greet: Green Snow Edition

Some folks around here attempted to make good use of the palette a fresh St. Patrick's Day snow had to offer... let's just say it was not exactly Chicago's green waterways but it was far better than yellow snow.

But enough about that, let's meet the latest additions to the webring.

Confessions of a Lutheran Husker - Saved by grace through faith, and living in God's country west of Omaha.
He's a husband and a dad and has the following interests: 80's music, Anthony Hopkins, Billy Joel, Calvin and Hobbes, Casablanca, Christianity, classical music, Clue, coffee, college football, CS Lewis, faith, family, Five for Fighting, Good Will Hunting, Harry Connick Jr, Harry Potter, Huskers, indie folk-rock, Indigo Girls, James Taylor, jazz, Jimmy Stewart, Les Miserables, Lutheranism, microbrews, Monty Python, Mystery Science Theater 3000, muppets, piano, Prairie Home Companion, Ray Charles, reading, Red Sox, Scrubs, Simon and Garfunkel, Storyhill, Taylor Hicks, The Daily Show, The Princess Bride, The Wonder Years, U2, Veggietales, writing.
Truth be told I am sure he has more than that, but that's the list from the blog.

This Passage - Not fare well, but fare forward, voyagers. T. S. Eliot.
Susan recently celebrated her first Sunday as an Episcopalian priest and is involved in Youth Ministry. She has this self-explanatory line in her profile, "Moving forward in all things especially the ministry of the Episcopal Church."

EARTHCHICKNITS - Earthchick knits. And talks about knitting. And blogs about knitting. And reads about knitting. And meditates on knitting. And obsesses about knitting. And very occasionally thinks about something else.
In Earthchick's own words: Wife to My Old Man, mama to twin sons Little Buddha and Tiny Dancer, co-pastor (with hubby) of an ABC congregation and campus minister (also with hubby) for the ABC campus ministry at the University of Michigan. Lover of nature, animals, food, music, family, and friends. And I like to make stuff.

If you would like to know more about Earthchick be sure to check out
The Seven Things Project: I want to own less. I want to buy less. I want to need less. And I want to want less.

adventures of elastigirl - how to stretch to get it all done?
ElstiGirl is in her words: an ordinary woman (wife, Mom, Seminarian) with an Extraordinary Sense of Humor and Delusions of Grandeur. She has been a 'lurker' for awhile now - glad to have you formally join us!

Kaikesta huolimatta / No matter what - One should always test one's limits :).
Mamma Mia's blog or Mia's musings from Turku, Finland in English but also in Finnish
Very cool... and testing the limits of my knowledge of Finnish! (Granted that was not a really tough test.)

freshly ground ~ freshly brewed ~ uniquely lutheran - We can handle most things through prayer and coffee... but sometimes we need a little help from our friends!
I gotta tell you I am relieved that the title of the blog is different than the link for the blog. sounds like something out of a Charlton Heston movie. But I digress, Hot Cup Lutheran writes about herself: Hazelnutty that's what I am. Mocha Java Puppy thinks so too until I fork over the biscuits in the morning. Around 3pm each day I begin to dream about visiting a coffee shop but... we only have motor-oil dregs at the establishments on Main Street by the end of the day. Oh... Hazelnutty. Kinda sweet. Kinda different. Kinda hard to pin-down. That's me.

Be sure to go and check out these wonderful additions to the Revgalblogpals!!!

A Prodigal Prayer

(cross posted at InnerDorothy)

Dear God……sorry, that sounds goofy, like I’m dictating a letter. Clearly it’s been a while since I’ve prayed. To be honest, and I guess that’s what this is all about, I haven’t so much as given a thought to you in several years. Am I holding my hands right? This is the way I remember from church school…

I don’t even know what I believe about you anymore. Sorry God, but that’s the truth. Where the hell...sorry...where are you? War, genocide, rape, murder, poverty...I could go on and you know it. Why does all that happen and where are you while good people are being broken and obliterated?

Where were you when my life was falling apart? Where were you when I lost all my money and my friends abandoned me? It’s not like I sat around waiting for you to rescue me or anything, I just did what I had to do to get by. But now... here... I want to know why I felt so alone and afraid. I went to church with my parents and I was confirmed so I know all about that “God is there for you” talk. I don’t get it. It’s like you disappeared when I needed you the most.

It’s okay though, because everything worked out. I went back home. I couldn’t believe it God, it was amazing. My Mom, when she saw me, she just held on to me so tightly I could hardly breathe. She cried and smiled and laughed all at the same time. She didn’t care what I had done or where I had been – she just held on to me and said “Thank you God. Thank you God” over and over again.

I guess I’m thankful too. In a world where there always seems to be a winner and a loser, I’ve generally been the loser. But Mom – she doesn’t see me that way at all. She doesn’t keep score, she just loves me.

God, I still don’t know where you are, or even if you are out there, but I know this much – my Mom loves me no matter what. She loves me the way my church school teachers used to say that Jesus loved me. Hey, wait a that where you are? In Mom’s tight hugs and the way she messes my hair and kisses my cheek?

God! God. Thanks. Oh, and 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, March 17, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party: You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me

It's yet another Saturday Storm here in Vacationland as I sit at the kitchen table and write to you, my faithful fellow travelers on the preaching journey. Something like hail is piling itself on top of something very like a foot of snow.

The good news? I have nothing else to do today but work on a sermon.

The bad news? I need to write two!

What's going on in your corner of the world, Preacher Partiers? And would you prefer coffee or tea this morning?

I'm afraid I won't be able to go out for Tony's Donuts, but I'll be happy to make you some cinnamon toast.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Five: Whatcha doin'?

Well friends, this is one of those weeks when I simply must work today, which is normally my day off. I know, I know. We may tut-tut all we want, but the fact is, some weeks are like that. So, this week's F5 is simple.

Name five things you plan to do today.

Bonus: If today is about "have-to" for you as well, share up to five things you'd like to be doing today.

As always, let us know in comments if you play. For that matter, why not post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment? 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, March 15, 2007

Ask the Matriarch -- Emergency, Part 2

As I mentioned last week, some of our matriarchs didn't get a chance to weigh in on the question of the week--and we got them a little late. So I wanted to share their answers with you as well. You may also get a little insight from my godson, who's happily wrecking tractor trailers on the dining room table as we speak, so we're getting a little superhero practice in on the side.

In case you missed the original post, it's here, and the question was, "How do you handle emergencies when you are on vacation?" Should I stay or should I go? Something like that.

Karen says:
If you have done your due diligence with regard to appointing another pastor to be on call while you are away, and leaving both that number and your own emergency contact numbers with the appropriate people, you can leave for vacation with a clear conscience.

In the situation you described, the delayed response was due to your lay leaders' not taking the appropriate action. The question of what type of emergency merits returning from vacation is trickier. You can very quickly get into "Well, she came back when Mavis's daughter broke her neck, but not when my Harold had his stroke" sorts of comparisons. Distance makes a difference. If you are at the beach 90 miles away, it's reasonable for folks to hope you might come back for an untimely death or other calamity. If you are across the country or overseas, and it involves
expensive changes of plane reservations, very few emergencies would rise to
the "Come back at once!" level.

Even trickier are disasters that strike just as you're leaving town. One of our regular attenders had a fatal accident less that 48 hours before my family and I were due to head out of state for two weeks. I had a retired pastor in our congregation take the funeral. If it had just been me, I might have called it the other way, but my spouse didn't have the flexibility to change the time off he'd requested from his employer, my kids were counting on the trip, etc. I do think it is legitimate to consider how the decision to come back from vacation or to delay or cancel impacts one's family.

Jan says:
This is one of those power situations that makes ministry tricky. For some, you represent God as in "if only you had been here this wouldn't have happened." Jesus had this problem too. (See John 11:21.)

The truth is that there are some people for whom you will want to drop everything and come running when they have a calamity. But the problem comes when we return from vacation for one family (your favorite member) but not for another. People want to believe that they are so important to you/the church/the community that of course you would drop everything and come back from vacation.

In my first church, as a single pastor, I came back early from every single vacation I took . . . until my honeymoon in Europe. I had no cell phone. And I was on my honeymoon, for heaven's sake. The week after I got home 3 people died. (They waited for me to return, it seems.)

The best thing to do is to agree on a policy with your elders/vestry BEFORE the very first vacation. Or in your case, meet with "the leaders" now that this happened and talk about what to do next time it happens.

These days, I leave the name/number of another pastor. If someone dies while I'm away, the family has a choice. They can 1) choose to have the other pastor officiate at a funeral during my time away, or they can 2) choose to schedule a memorial service to take place after I return.

Remind them that even Jesus didn't come running (John 11:21 again) when Lazarus died, and as Christians, as painful as it is when we lose those we love, we believe death's not the end of the story. Death happens when people are near and when they are far away. And the grieving will continue long enough afterwards that you will be able to minister to them even if you can't be reached for a month.

Having said all this, I have to admit that there are certain times when I would come back in a second for certain circumstances. I remember a colleague who was on vacation but hurried back when five members of the same family died in a plane crash, leaving only a young mother and their infant who'd stayed home. He felt like this was clearly a time he needed to be there for the the surviving two family members and for the whole stunned congregation. I knew another pastor who returned when a bus wreck killed 4 children from 4 different families in his congregation. A no brainer.

Depending on the congregation, if you came home for every death you would never get a vacation and sabbath is something even God takes (note the 4th commandment).

People in their grief will 1) blame you, 2) accuse you, 3) taunt you, 4) make you feel guilty. But it's not your fault. Just love them. They could have been out of town too.

I'm sorry for your congregation's loss.

OK, I think I have a healthy lot of questions in the queue for upcoming weeks. Thanks, everyone! But if you have a thorny ministry problem you'd like us to contemplate, just send it to And whew, I made it through the post with the 3-year-old hijacking the keyboard. Off to save some tractor trailers!


We're excited to announce a new feature on the blog: RevGalBookPals!

On the fourth Monday of each month, one of our contributors will host a book discussion. Our first discussion will begin on Monday, March 26th, and the book will be Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church. Many thanks to Mary Beth who will be the facilitator of this first discussion.

You may have noticed a link to the book in our sidebar, which leads you to Amazon. We now have an Amazon Associates Store; if you buy the BookPals books or other books in the store by clicking through from our blog, there will be a modest financial benefit to RevGalBlogPals, Inc. Books mentioned in Ask the Matriarchs will be listed at the store, and perhaps other books as we go along. We are still working on how to manipulate the store features, and we would appreciate feedback!

For those who want to read ahead, April's book will be Christianity for the Rest of Us, by Diana Butler Bass, and in May we will discuss Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis.

Many thanks to Cathy Stevens who suggested we open an Amazon store; the book group idea followed!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wednestival, Mid-March

Dear Readers,

As always, this week's reading recommendations are various and delightful! Enjoy the writing, and don't forget to nominate what you read through the week.

Gallycat has been making relatively regular updates about the status of her home search. They're so excited that this is finally happening. Wish them well!

Check out Gannet Girl's post on Sobering Realities. It highlights links on what's happening in the Sudan from a very compelling gentelman's personal experience. We so need more awareness of this. She has also been exploring cemetery stained glass for the past few days.

Kristen (Walking His Path) has a post about a tough issue in her social process class and where it leaves her with my call to ministry.

Juniper's been depressed for the last couple of weeks but is feeling so much better today, because of... well, go read about it! Chilly Fingers returned from a short vacation which not only her body rested but her soul restored.

Jorge (The Winged Man) continues his Lenten Thoughts: Monday, Third Week of Lent, '07. And PrairiePastor has a bit of a revelation about the nature of Lent, especially her own personal Lent, this year, and shares a Lenten poem.

Kristin (Barefoot and Laughing) is getting ready to go to New Orleans.

Sally (also known as Galadriel!) shares her first sermon in 3 months; she's easing back into work after a 3 month break due to depression. It is Mothering Sunday in the UK and with the lectionary gospel passage being the Prodigal Son…interesting one!

Lutheranchik shares a website for persons seeking memes, and also a neat "Monday meme" based upon Ignatian examen. Also talk about Anfechtungen, those large and small trials of life that can erode our trust in God...and, for the RevGal gourmands out there, she have two good recipes for steamed wontons. Mmmmmm.....

Steph attempts to make up for a rather spotty performance on her blog of late. Oh, yeah — she's also got a bit of a mixed-emotions image for you as well.

Now, for most of signs of spring refer to tree buds and flowers, maybe even Easter! But f
or one among us (maybe more?), it's as easy as this equation: Mayonnaise=Spring.

I've got nothing to top that!

Happy Reading, folks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary leanings: Oops, it's Tuesday! edition


Sorry, the day got away from me. Blame the weather--it is a balmy 61 degrees in the snow belt. That means the temp has gone up about 50 degrees in one week! Yay for Springtime!

I still am not preaching lectionary, since I am finishing up my sermon series for Lent. But you may find the Revised Common Lectionary passages here. I am a little sorry that I am not following this week, since we get a wonderful parable. I can't wait to see what things you all will do with this story!

How are you leaning this week? Is it the "Parable of the Extravagant Father", the "Story of an Envious Elder Son" or the tale of a "Youngest Son Who Blows It all on Wine, Women, and Song"?

Or...maybe something else entirely... do tell!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday Meet n' Greet: Back on Track Edition

Thanks to Songbird and Reverend Mommy who came to my internet rescue last Monday. We had a great group of new ring members so if you didn't get a chance to check out their blogs last week, here is the link.

That gives us some time to meet a couple of folks up close and personal. First, Rev. Abi who has had one heck of a week+ so as you are reading about her, please keep her and family in prayer. If you make it through all of Rev. Abi's blog recommendations then we will meet Free Flying Spirit.

1) Got blog? (where do you blog)
St. John's Rev Abi

2) What are your favorite non-revgalblogpal blogs?
Pastor, Dying Church, ChristDot:: Christ. Period., 42, emergesque,, Jesus Creed, Ben Witherington, Meanderings, Historical Christian,
Emerging Grace, Pomomusings, the church and postmodern culture: conversation, Faith and Theology, Parent Hacks, Life Hacks, 43 Folders, dekomai, johnny’s quest, bloggedyblog, (Darryl’s blog), The Cartoon Blog, Bill’s “Faith Matters” Weblog, Enter the Rainbow, Scattered and Lame, It Takes a Church, Out of Ur, Real Live Preacher, Think Christian, The Trump Blog, Beauty Tips for Ministers, View from the sidewalk, Sum of the Parts, The Church Communicators Blog, Vulgar Homiletics, The Homeless Guy, Fringegirl,
Mommy Tracked, Yellow’s Green, Claw of the Conciliator, Mirathon, Thunderstruck.

(Okay, I read a lot of blogs, some of them some of the time, these are some of my favorites)

3) What gives you joy?
God, family, children, nature, singing

4) What is your favorite sound?
Zoom Zoom Zoom

5) Describe a perfect day in your world.
Able to handle interruptions effortlessly while writing the best sermon ever, and have time to play with my kids, and love my husband, meditate, and have time for me.

6) What do you hope to hear once you reach the pearly gates?
You just had to keep them laughing, didn’t you Abi! Well done! Come on in were having a party!

7) You have up to 15 words: what would you put on your tombstone?
She was one silly mama who loved God, friends, loved her hubby, loved her kids

8) Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
I have no great words for the world since all has already been said, except for; “It was a dark and stormy night.”

9) What color do you prefer your pen?

10) What magazines do you subscribe to?
Parent, Family Fun, Vacation World, Outreach, Net Results, Homiletics, Pulpit Resource.

11) Why are you cool?
Mmm I am not cool, never have been, tried, but it didn’t work. I listen well. I like to have fun. I respect other people.

12) What is one of your favorite memories?
Fishing with my grandpa and him telling jokes and stories. Meeting, dating, and marrying my husband. College, fun times with friends, adopting my children.

13) Got a funny story?
My life. I think I wrote one recently on my blog. I am not good at telling funny stories, have always been told I am too serious. But the truth is I can’t remember the story right or forget the punch line.

Okay I have thought and thought. This is the story I came up with.
I spent three years in CPE in a hospital that was a major trauma hospital, being on call, sleeping in an on call room, being wakened many a night by the phone ringing or the beeper going off. I then went to work as a Chaplain for a hospital in Bham. We shared on call, but no on call room. You went home with the beeper, and took call that way. Well the first night of on-call in the middle of the night or early morning, the beeper went off, waking me from a deep sleep. I just reached for the phone and dialed “O” for operator. Half asleep, the conversation went like this.
Operator may I help you please?
Yes, you beeped me.
No mam I did not.
Yes you did. And I am calling to see where I am needed.
Mam I don’t know who you think I am, but this is the telephone operator.
Oops Uh I thought you were the Hospital operator, and that you were beeping me. Whoops my mistake. (Now I am awake.)

Well dummy me told the other Chaplains what had happened the night before. And of course I was the joke of the day, the week, the month, the year. They never let me live it down.

14) What is something you want to achieve this year? This decade? This lifetime? Raising my children to be independent, responsible, less impulsive, generous, well mannered, thinking, whole, healthy, self reliant, In love with Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit, their own person, loving themselves and others. Respect themselves and others, have fun, enjoy life, I think that covers all three of them.

Nice to meet you, Rev Abi!!! And now for Free Flying Spirit:

1) Got blog? (where do you blog) …
My blog is Spiritual Motion on RevGalBlogPals.

3) What gives you joy?
Children give me joy! Their laughter and energy gives me a boost.

4) What is your favorite sound?
Music, but silence also is a boon to the soul.

5) Describe a perfect day in your world.
A day when all I had to and wished to accomplish actually was done….in a relaxed manner.

6) What do you hope to hear once you reach the pearly gates?
“Well done good and faithful servant! “ Though I might hear, “Ooops! We’re not quite ready for you yet!”

7) You have up to 15 words: what would you put on your tombstone?
“She lived fully, wholly; love given & received; And in living became known as friend.”

9) What color do you prefer your pen?

10) What magazines do you subscribe to?
Our National United Church of Canada Church Magazine: The United Church Observer

11) Why are you cool?
Cool because I like living, reading, faith and theology on the edge. Actually, that can be quite hot too!

12) What is one of your favorite memories?
Sitting around a campfire, singing and wondering what my life might be like in the future …sometime ago now.

I hope you all enjoyed getting to know a couple of our ring members a little bit better. Have a great Monday!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday Prayer

(This prayer is cross-posted over at my place.)

Loving and Nurturing God, as we continue our Lenten journey, we ask your blessing upon us. We thank you for one another, and for the gift of this community of faith and others like it all around the world.

We give thanks for the blessing of friends and families who care and give support in times of need and celebrate with us in times of joy. Truly these are the sources of your love and nurture that keep us bearing the fruits of our faith. We see you reflected in the kindness and compassion of the people around us, and we do give thanks.

God, we pray for all who feel alone in their struggles. May they know the power and peace of your presence, and feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit in and around them.

We pray for all who are grieving the loss of a loved one, for the walk of grief can be a desolate one. We pray for all who are ill or undergoing tests or treatments for illness of body, mind or spirit.

We pray for all who are suffering in poverty and for all who are hungry or thirsty this day. We especially pray for the community of Nipigon in the wake of the mill fire.

We pray for children everywhere, especially during this March break, that they might enjoy this week and stay safe. We pray also for all your creatures upon the earth, especially our domestic pets for all the joy they bring to us. We pray for this planet on which we live. Help us God to be better stewards of this great gift.

God, we pray for peace in our time. We pray, stop the genocide in Darfur, stop the war in Iraq and the continued struggle in the Middle East. Wherever your people are harming one another, we pray, send the peace that only you can provide.

These prayers we join with all the prayers of our hearts as we share together in the prayer that Jesus taught his friends to say whenever they were gathered…



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, March 10, 2007

One Figgy Preacher Party

I dislike figs, even in Newtons, so please forgive the lack of figgy treats at the table today. You're welcome to contribute your own, of course, if you're in a figgish sort of mood. I'll settle for my usual coffee, and I have plenty of that to share. Maybe I'll even make pancakes.

Does anyone else have the figgiest idea where they're going with this text? I've written over half of a sermon, but still can't tell exactly what I'm trying to say. Not a good sign. May the Gardener drop off a huge load of sermon-nourishing manure...

I'm leaving this up before bed for you early risers, but once I'm up, I'll be here most of the day. Grab some coffee or your beverage of choice, pull up a chair or make yourself comfy on the couch, and let's get to work!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Five: Matters of Taste

My mother loved figs.

I only like them in a Newton.

It's all a matter of taste.

Name five things you like a lot that some close relative or significant other did/does not like. This could be food, movies, hobbies, music, sports or whatever springs to mind.

Let us know in the comments when you play.

Want visitors? You're more likely to get them 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, March 08, 2007

Ask the Matriarch — Emergency! Now what?

As chance would have it, most of our matriarchs are away fulfilling other obligations this week. So it was interesting to get this in our in-box yesterday. Fortunately, Peripatetic Polar Bear was on hand.

How do you handle emergencies when you are on vacation? I understand that you would need to have another minister 'on call' in case of a death or something, but I struggle with trying to figure out when and/or if to return home.

Recently, I was out of the country (not just a couple of hours away), and a church member was irritated because I was not immediately available when someone's mother died. I had left my numbers with our Board Chair and Elder Chair, but they forgot, and I was delayed in being notified, whic, in turn, delayed my ability to contact the person whose mother died. I almost feel guilty for having been on vacation.

PPB writes:
I place a clear line between being on vacation and being on study leave. If you're on study leave, you're still working and obviously you're going to contact that person immediately, and decide whether or not you need to return home—often the funeral will wait for you while the person you left on call tends to the immediate fall-out.

But vacation is vacation. And as much as we'd all like to be superwoman and be able to be fully present to all in our circle at all times and in all places, those who do that quickly burn out. I bought some new rechargeable batteries for my camera today. I loved the directions: failure to fully recharge batteries for one full hour will result in inconsistent power. In other words, a half-charged battery could poop out on you at any time. Charge it all the way. Get someone reliable to cover your church, write a lovely letter the second you get back on the job, visit the bereaved, and continue ahead, fully charged.

The church member has displaced her anger on you. Maybe her mama forgot to pick her up at the babysitter's house. Maybe her third husband walked out on her, or her children don't call her on her birthday—whatever it is, her abandonment stuff is not about you. You're just in the way [as in, you just happened to be there]. You've done what you could do.

And now, a note from our sponsor, er, well, from Gallycat anyway
Don't forget, we love hearing your insights and experiences. Have you ever had a situation like this? How did you handle it? Let us know in comments!

And if you are a ring member with 10 or more years of ordained ministry, feel free to drop us a line as we are still seeking new AtM Matriarchs to help out. On the other hand, if you need advice on a particular situation in your parish or ministry, feel free to send us your question, even if you already posted it on your blog. We're here at

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wednesday Festival: Spring Forward!

Spring is starting to spring in North Texas, and my favorite shrub is blooming: the Japanese quince. Also in the interest of spring, remember that this weekend will bring the new and improved (?!) early start of Daylight Savings Time!

Here are some wonderful photos of baptismal waters.

On Sunday, Songbird had several children join her in the Communion invitation. You must read their words if you haven't.

Preacher Mom took a walk in the woods, hoping to avoid work. Instead, she found a sermon and insight. Go read all about it.

The Psalmist is writing about the Psaltery. She is gifted and lyrical in her hymnal research as a sacred music musician and also as a blessed and gifted writer. Have questions on sacred music? She is your go-to gal for it all. Give her a visit and let her blog serenade you sacredly!

Cathy has a fun online quiz to see how quickly you can name all fifty states. Go see how you stack up.

Lorna has a wonderful post on The Armour of Light.

Sally's been on a study weekend looking at the ethics of death and dying, and April is thinking about the Theology of Breastfeeding.

Carmen is Thinking on Thin Places and wonders what you think.

St. Casserole is on Sabbatical, hooray! but shares a sermon with us, anyway.

Remember Abi in your prayers; her grandfather died and she will be doing the funeral in Florida this weekend. And before and after that, she will be travelling all over the place and doing scads of other things.

Anyone out there working on a sermon for this Sunday? Go visit the Lectionary Leanings post and comments, and let us hear what you're working on.

Here's hoping you'll all hear birdsong soon!

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NRSV)

It's the Third Sunday of Lent, The One with the Fig Tree, and it's time to talk about when bad things happen to good people, and how limited our thinking can tend to be when we try to make sense of things and tie them up in a neat package for our own peace of mind.

That's my sermon; what's yours?




Okay, maybe it's not, but that's what's on my mind this early Tuesday morning! Let's discuss what we're thinking toward this coming Sunday. Join in whether you're on lectionary or not!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Monday Meet and Greet: Technical Difficulties Edition

Poor will smama and reverend mommy have been trying all day to make this post, but teh Internets have been against them. But here it is, finally!

Welcome to:

Presbyterian Gal who claims she's a complicated person in a simple way --
Presbyterian Gal: Just trying to find the right path back home.

Prairie Pastor who says, "I'm a forty-something ELCA pastor recently relocated to the northern plains to serve a four-point rural parish." -- Ponderings of a Prairie Pastor

Hedwyg who says, "I'm in my 30s; married; mother of two; caretaker to 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 snake, and 1 hedgehog; cradle Episcopalian; flutist; software engineer; MBA student; lover of Diet Dr Pepper, Chinese food, and the colors pink and purple" -- Practicing Intentional Gratitude

Laura C. at fishing in a pearl river who says, "So I have been thinking that I should enter the blogosphere for quite a while, but am now a little confused. When did I think I would have time? And don't I have enough to write, with sermons, newsletter articles, thank you notes, email responses..."

Shel at In Shel's Corner - Bloggery and Stuff who says, "I was born male bodied but that has been fixed! Now all of me is woman. I have never felt so free! I have never been so me! Oh, did I forget to mention? I am also an Episcopal Priest. Quite a combination, isn't it?"

Finally, mandyc who is "trying to survive until graduation from seminary in May 2007. After that, who knows? Anyone know of a good job in the non-profit or church agency realm that works on social justice issues??" -- Questions and Rants: like the Daily Show, but not as funny, informative, or paying

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Prayer

This is cross-posted over at my place.

God of the Lenten journey, hear our prayers. We gather in thankfulness and praise for the blessing of your Spirit’s presence in our midst. God, bless us and keep us in your care as we walk with you toward the cross. Strengthen our resolve to remain faithful to your call upon our lives, that we might bring your peace, your justice and your love to a world in need of all three.

We pray today, God, for all we know to be in special need of your grace. For those who are ill, or facing the end of their days on this earth. For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a relationship, or a vocation. For all who struggle in situations of oppression, abuse or fear. For all who have been affected by weather-related tragedies, and for those whose loved ones died or were injured in the Atlanta bus accident. We pray also for communities struck by economic crises and the pain of watching neighbours suffer with poverty and need.

God of Peace, we yearn for an end to war, hunger, genocide and all forms of desolation that leave your children feeling lost and abandoned. Bring the peace that only you can provide.

All of this we pray in the name of the one who came to show us the way, Jesus Christ. And now we pray as he taught us…


Sunday Prayer

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for Second Sunday of Lent, Book of Common Prayer

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, March 03, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party: Fox and Hen

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' (Luke 13:31-33, NRSV)

Oh, my. It's *that* gospel text, at least for those of us preaching the Revised Common Lectionary.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'" (Luke 13:34-35, NRSV)

I know some of our pals have hard sermons to preach tomorrow. Others may not be quite sure *what* they're preaching tomorrow. And for some of us (ahem, me), the idea that seemed so clear early in the week may have undergone a change and a decrease in clarity.

But we are here for each other, sisters and brothers! The coffee is on! Hot water for tea! Waffles!! Oatmeal!! Anybody want a soft-boiled egg?

I'll be here working throughout the day, and I invite you to lend a word of encouragement, share a brilliant thought or tell us a joke, because I'm guessing most of us would love to hear some.

Did you hear the one about the fox and the hen?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Five: Artsy Crafty

During Lent here at Suburban Presbyterian Church, we are exploring the creative and liturgical arts, with classes and speakers dealing with storytelling, iconography, dance, visual art, writing, and so on. The theme is "A Beautiful Thing," inspired by the story of the woman anointing Jesus and his declaration that "She has done a beautiful thing for me." (Mark 14, NIV)

We are working on the notion that everything we do can be considered a beautiful thing--a creative offering to God--whether it's gardening or scrapbooking or accounting or sorting clothes at the clothes closet or child-rearing. And so:

1. Would you call yourself "creative"? Why or why not?

2. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you currently do that you'd like to develop further.

3. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you have never done but would like to try.

4. Complete this sentence: "I am in awe of people who can _____________."

5. Share about a person who has encouraged your creativity, who has "called you to your best self." (I'm pretty sure that's from the Gospel of Oprah.

Let us know in comments if you play. And if you link directly to your post, that is truly a beautiful thing. 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, March 01, 2007

Ask the Matriarch — Part time, half-time, shared time, sometime

Hello, dear friends! I have given up caffeine for Lent, and among other things, I'm now going to bed at a sane hour. But I lost several days to headaches and snow, and find the new schedule of waking up (naturally) at 6 and going to bed no later than 10 just bizarre! So I apologize for my completely erratic and topsy-turvy schedule getting in the way of your beloved Thursday feature.

But here it is! We have two questions this week, and the second one didn't fall within our matriarchs' arena of expertise, so we're tossing it out to the wider ring to see if anyone else has experience with it. The first, however, did strike a chord with a couple of the matriarchs.

Hi, I'm considering accepting a "half-time" call at a church nearby. I was wondering if any of the matriarchs had any experience with part-time calls--how to manage one's time, how to keep it part-time, where are the
hidden dangers, anything else I should consider.

Peripatetic Polar Bear has a "half-time" call right now, to a college church, which she is doing on top of a full-time job. In some ways, she notes, it's easier to gate-keep because there are only so many hours in a week. Here are some tips she offers.
  • You are going to work more hours than you are paid for. "That's a given. (Find me a full-time pastor who works 40 hours a week every week!) It's up to you how much over is reasonable, and how much is too much. Hold the line on that one."
  • Remind people of your time limits. "They will quickly forget. I've found a simple, 'Yes, I can fit that in my schedule, but it puts me over 30 hours this week. I could make it up by working only 10 next week, if you think this is important enough to merit it,' works."
  • Let them help you problem-solve time crunches. "If you can't be flexible in the week to week, then you can't and just be honest about it. 'If I lead the deacon's retreat this weekend, I'll have to work overtime at my full time job next week. Bill, can you find someone else to lead Bible study, then?' Your part time status is not your problem to solve, it's the church's."
  • You should be compensated with a proportionate amount of study leave and money. "Don't be afraid to ask. I get half of regular study leave and they pay for half of a class. They didn't offer. I asked."
Karen worked part-time for six and half years at a church where there had been half-time pastors for the previous 10 years, so they had a good understanding of what that meant. "At the time I had very small kids, so it worked pretty well for me and my family. I've had colleagues who served churches that were just making the shift from full- to part-time pastoral leadership, and those situations seemed to me to be much rockier as everyone involved adjusted to that reality."

Her main caution is to "be sure your family is ready to take the financial hit if you've been working full-time up to this point. We made the mistake of not really factoring that in to some other decisions we made at the same time, and we are still recovering from that."

The second question this week has a very specific focus that none of our matriarchs had insight to, and we're hoping that one of our fellow RevGalBlogPals might be able to help us out.

My husband and I are both second career seminarians, and are hoping to co-pastor together somewhere. However, while this seemed to be viable about 10-15 years ago, we don't see many models for it existing nowadays. Know any that are working? Have any wisdom about a couple taking yoked churches?

Okay, and there ya have it! Send your questions our way via email at and send your comments to us below! We always love hearing from you.