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Monday, April 30, 2007

Calling All Younger RevGals!

The Young Clergywomen Project is pleased to present a preaching conference to be held this summer, August 6-10, at The Cathedral College (College of Preachers) in Washington, DC. The conference is entitled Preaching As Testimony: A Conference for Women Preachers
under the Age of Forty. The keynote speaker is Anna Carter Florence. Several RevGals have been involved in the planning of this conference.

The generosity of the Louisville Institute has made itpossible to offer substantial scholarships for women who would not otherwise be able to attend. The scholarships are primarily for those
that are ordained (or serving pastorally in denominations that don't ordain due to gender or sexual orientation) and who are 35 and under, although if funds remain after serving the target group, others may apply.

For more information about the conference, (or to register!) check out the Cathedral College Conference page.

For more information about the scholarships, contact youngclergywomen@gmail.com

We hope to see many younger RevGals there!

Susan Olson

Monday Meet n' Greet: Catch Up Edition!

Girl (and a few boys), you take 1 week off and the whole place goes CRAZY! I think the 5th Monday is supposed to be a Mission Moment but we have got a lot of folks lined up waiting to be introduced so I am going to throw about half of them out there this week and will hit the rest next week. If you get antsy though, here is the link to track down the other 'newbies'.

Have we got some folks for you to meet....

We Do It Too: Stories and Rants of a Single, Lesbian, Dating Clergywoman Flirting with Women and God. Little Mary's latest post about worship with her conservative friend is worth the read especially if you are challenged by how sometimes announcements can take over a worship service.

Barefoot Priest: Musings on Matters of Faith from the perspective of a young Episcopal Priest. I love his profile: I was ordained as an Episcopalian priest in January 2006. My father is a retired Southern Baptist pastor. One of my brothers is a Baptist pastor, and his wife is a Lutheran pastor. But I'll be the only one that people will call father. Weird huh?

Views from the Road: reflections of a "mild-mannered optometrist by day; quasi theologian by night" Barbara B's Sunday post will get all of us pastor types quite jealous. I think I am looking for the same church.

Reverenda Rosa: Blog to record start up of a Hispanic ministry program in Southeast Florida, with all its grace and absurdity. Please read her 4/29 post and then although cheery 'hellos' may not be appropriate, certainly having your presence and prayers known is.

Welcome back Transplanted Buckeye!

My Thesis Journey: Follow along as I attempt to write my thesis in partial completion of my Doctorate in Worship Studies I'm going to let Amy tell you about it in her own words: The purpose of this blog is to provide a sort of accountability journal for the work I will do to complete my thesis project for my Doctorate of Worship Studies. My goal with this blog (and I invite you to hold me accountable to it) is to post regularly about the progress of my thesis project. Perhaps some of my posts will make it into the thesis itself, or into the evaluative process of the thesis. At any rate, it is my prayer that this blog, and any conversations with you will help keep me on track, focused on Christ and my goal, and positive throughout the process.

Welcome one and all!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday Prayer

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

Loving and Wondrous God, in humility and faith we offer the prayers of our hearts and the needs of this day. We give thanks for the blessing of this day and for the gift of knowing that in all our joys and trials, we are not alone.

We thank you for one another, and for the courage of those who act as shepherds of faith, guiding us toward a deeper knowledge of you and your way of love, justice and peace.

We pray for all who have been named in this place today and for all whose needs are known only to you. God, bless and keep your beloved children – grant comfort and peace where it is needed and strength to face each new day with just a bit more faith, just a bit more light.

God, walk with us through whatever valleys we find ourselves navigating. Take us by the hand and lead us toward each new day, with the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray together saying…

*************************************************************************************

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, April 28, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party


Stepping in here to host the Preacher party for the first time ever- and suddenly I'm feeling a little nervous!


But the coffee is on- or tea if you'd rather...... though I need to dash out to the store for some cookies as I am all out of good stuff to eat ( teenagers have all been home!!!)


I've been thinking about sheep a lot this week, as the fields surrounding us are full of spring lambs gamboling about- are they simply stupid creatures or do we underestimate them- mothers and babies distinguish one another's cries easily- what does this tell us about the response of sheep to their shepherd? So are you going with the John 10 reading or perhaps tackling Psalm 23, or Revelation...


Let's get thinking together.... I've just waved goodbye to Lorna- ( we relaxed walking the beach and eating fish and chips last night) now it is time to get some work done!!!


Sally

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Five: What Are You...

1. Wearing

2. Pondering

3. Reading

4. Dreaming

5. Eating


Let us know if you play... you may 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.

P.S. I'm sorry for posting this early--I will be out for most of tomorrow. Don't miss our always stellar Thursday feature, Ask the Matriarch, posted below!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The rest of Ask the Matriarch: problem child(ren)

Hello, I am back and at your service. I had no idea that the event at Zach's preschool was going to take so long. Sorry. But lets get on to the wisdom and knowledge of our Matriarchs as they deal with a question about problem children.
lllllll
Dear Matriarchs,
I head up the children's ministry programs at church. We have been working really hard to get more folks in for Sunday morning programs, as well as others. The increase in kids (happily) means an increased need for volunteers.

Problem: One couple and another lady have stated they do not like to help because of the behavior of other peoples kids. These folks do not wish to volunteer, but they also do not want to bring their kids.There are two kids who are especially trying and oddly enough they show up every week! Fancy that. They are cute, though! :)

Anyhow, I want all my kids there, but I would like volunteers to help. How does one deal with the issue of kids' misbehavior, keeping volunteers and kids' numbers up and most of all, not hurt any one's feelings?

Didn't Jesus say, "Let the children come to me?" Aren't we supposed to be like Jesus?
,,,,,,,
And the answers our Matriarchs gave to this Minister of Children,

It sounds like training for both volunteers and parents would be helpful.

Convey the privilege of sharing faith with children -- the amazing moment when you realize that you are sharing the story of Sarah & Abraham or Noah or David for the first time with a child. Maybe someone (you?) who has experienced amazing moments doing this ministry could speak briefly in worship. It makes a huge difference to share what a difference this ministry makes in your own spiritual life. And then invite members to consider if they might have gifts in this area.

We've also experienced problems when one or two children make it difficult for the others. (We once had a family leave our congregation because a boy was so nasty to their daughter.) If necessary, you and another respected adult should talk with the parents of the exuberant (!) kids to figure out what might be done to help those kids work better with the whole group.

Some parents (we've found especially first-time parents) will never feel like your program is helpful/safe enough/right for their children. That's okay. Prove them wrong by offering an awesome program.

As for behavior, it might help to have some agreed-upon standards (no hitting, no yelling, etc.) of behavior.

-------
It may not be possible to avoid hurting someone.

First, are the expectations of what behavior is expected made clear to the kids? They have to know, black and white, what is okay and what is not. They also need to know what happens if they do not behave. Will they be given a warning? Two warnings? Will they be sent to sit with mom and dad? If the expectations are clear, and the consequences are clear, it is critical that the adults follow through. No tears or saying “I won’t do it again…pleeeeze.” Everyone needs to be in agreement and willing to stand firm.

Secondly, do the parents of the two cute but misbehaving children know that there are issues? If you make expectations clear, and you follow through, and problems continue, I’d recommend a meeting with them where you can, as gently as possible, let them know what is happening and hopefully enlist their aid.

I vividly remember in our first pastorate years ago when the sweet, elderly children’s church leader came to me….in fear and trepidation…to let me know that my darling little boy was the terror of the class. She had let him get away with bratty behavior for weeks. Of course, it escalated. She was afraid to tell me, poor dear. When she finally let me know, I told her I wished she had told me sooner. We had a serious talk with our little guy. Who wants a bratty PK that no one will confront! He was genuinely sorry. He sent her a card, and he apologized, and his behavior changed. But if I’d have known I would have acted sooner. Of course, the parents of these kids may not see it that way.

tttttt
It is unfortunately true that even one consistently out of control kid can have a serious negative impact--not just on your Children's Ministry, but on the whole congregation. At one church I served I am very sure that the behavior of one particular set of siblings was consistently the reason that first time visitors often did not return.
There is usually more going on in these families that just unruly children.Take a team approach and get the pastor(s) and other staff to have a conversation about this issue. What does the other staff know about this family? Sometimes, when you all put in the piece of the puzzle you've got, a solution emerges--or you discover that the problem is bigger and deeper than you imagined and requires a serious, co-operative effort--or a professional intervention of some sort.
And sometimes the problem is systemic to the congregation. In the situation I mentioned in my former church, a big part of the problem was that these kids were part of the large, extended family that was the heart and core of that small congregation. To challenge their behavior would have required me and everyone else to challenge that family's control of all kinds of things that went on there, both good and bad. It wasn't something I could do myself and the rest of the congregation wasn't inclined to. So look beyond the problem family to see if there is a wider issue regarding how ministry decisions get made and how power is distributed.
dddddd
There are many times there are children that come without their parents and can be unruly. There are children who are member's children who misbehave. There are kids who have emotional behavioral problems as well. All this children are God's children, and are welcome in the church. But what do you do with the program then? If these are kids that are coming with no parents, or the parents are new to church, you can remind the church members, council that by them coming you the church can be the place they can learn manners, appropriate behavior, and most of all about God's love for them. What an opportunity. It may be several years before the vision catches on for all involved. If these kids are church members kids, then the other matriarchs have give some thoughtful advise.
It has become harder to get volunteers to work with children, also, no matter if the children are good or bad. I am not sure though we are looking for volunteers in the church; but rather Disciples, people living out their passion and using their gifts and graces. That may also have to do with the question is your church a gift based ministry or volunteer based? Perhaps you, the Pastor and others on staff may need to address this matter. But if you are going to go with volunteers, Group publishing has some good material and conferences on Volunteers in the church called Volunteer Central. Group also has some good material on Children's ministry. PS, my sister who is Christian Education Minister working with children, swears by Group Publishing. God bless you in your ministry with children, their parents and families.
Now don't we have wise Matriarchs.


Ask The Matriarch

Hi all,
I just found the email where I was asked to do today's ATM. I will post it as soon as I get through with an event at Zach's pre-school. I have been dealing with a death in the church and the family. Sorry, it will be posted later.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday Festival

Earth Day!
Many of us celebrated Earth Day on Sunday in our various congregations and communities. Leah Sophia has designed a series of Earth Day postage stamps...go see them! And note the high -er- denomination! At the same link you may enjoy her Earth Day thoughts from the last two years as well.

How about Some Really Good News?
Gannet Girl is OFF TO SEMINARY! Woohoo! Blessings attend you as you prepare to drive your red Corolla down that happy road in the Fall! She has received many wonderful responses to this outstanding news, which you may enjoy by going here.

Sally is preparing for her final round of interviews in preparation for ordained ministry! She has four of them on the 30th April, so please plan to hold her in your prayers on that day! (UK time!) There were several nominations of her good posts, but right now your editor is being oppressed by a Flash error and I can't get any of them to stay open! Trust me, go to her site (here) and maybe you can get there.

Carmen's 8-year-old daughter was baptized! Her beautiful description makes you feel as if you were there, too.

Writing about Tragedy and Heroes
Shawna reflects on the courage and determination of Liviu Lebrescu, a Holocaust survivor and Virginia Tech professor who saved an unknown number of lives by sacrificing himself to the gunman.

Over at Nachfolge, Scott wove in the lectionary and the Virginia Tech murders in a sermon titled, "When Will We Dance Again?"

Daily Things
Scott has begun a running blog and looks forward to hearing from any running Revs or RevPals who might be out there.

Seminary can't ALL be serious, as ReverendMother relates in Buzzword Bingo.

33 Names of Grace has a wonderful post on how she "does it all," Mom, Pastor, and Everything.

Kathryn reflects on how she'd answer this question: "Would you rather have an inherited/traditional church, or an Emergent one?" Ever such a clever response!

Kathryn also tells about how "a little child led them," in explaining death and eternal life to a colleague. Put us out of business, they will!
Songbird writes beautifully about "where did the time go?" , and also about renewal. For fun, have you seen the MC Nuts version of Wordsworth?

Book Report (Warning - Contains Spoilers)
Have you been reading along with Life, Death & Taxes in Coleman, GA? If not, go catch up!
Reverend Mommy says: "I've killed off two people and started tellingtheir back-story. Both Bubba and John Austin are dead. The Cardinal is in ICU. John Austin was killed at Bubba's funeral just after the Cardinal exclaimed during the service that Bubba was murdered. Rev. Fiona Anderson is 8 months pregnant and has been shot. Who did it?T une in and read this tale, chapter by chapter. (And if you recognize anyone, it's mostly unintentional. Mostly.)"

Also, she's added a poll to her site-- Which degree should Reverend Mommy get next? So far, "deodorant" is winning.

Discuss Amongst Yourselves...
Gord comments that in religious debates, people are routinely accused of bad theology. So, what IS bad theology, and how can you tell it when you hear it?

Amy suggests that we consider setting traditional hymn texts to modern music. Who's up for the challenge?

And Lutheran Husker has written a semi-fictional reflection from Peter's point of view of the events recorded in John 21:1-19.

Blessings this day...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: The Good Shepherd Edition

I was just commenting this morning to a local clergy gal pal that I sometimes dread this week of the lectionary, with all of the lamb/sheep/shepherd imagery. I suppose it all goes back to seminary, when I heard not one, but two really horrible sermons about sheep. (Let's just say that I know more about the sex lives of sheep than I ever wanted to know, since I'm not a sheep-breeder.)

I have also been very confused by outside commentary on "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." How to reconcile this idea of docile sheep hearing and obeying the shepherd's voice with the evidence that sheep are actually pretty stupid creatures?

On the other hand, I love singing the hymn "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" by Isaac Watts

This is what I'm wrestling with this week--how about you?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday Book Review: Christianity For The Rest of Us by Diana Butler Bass



Every town has one...at least every town in which I've ever lived. The tall white steeple somewhere near the middle of town--the one that's recognizable for miles away. It signifies the old mainline Protestant church. It may not be the biggest church in town, but I'll bet you know somebody who goes there. Or used to go there.

That's what the cover photo on Diana Butler Bass' book reminds me of--my grandmother's church in small town southern Indiana. But inside the pages, Bass describes a church that is, well... not your grandmother's church, exactly.

Bass could have written this book to read like a research paper, or like a text book. Instead it reads more like a collection of short stories, each one (in Part II) plot-driven by a particular "Signpost of Renewal" which she found in her three-year study of mainline protestant churches that are thriving in spite of (or perhaps because of) the current resurgence in non-denominational/post-denominational Christianity in North America.

Part I of the book gives us back ground on Diana Butler Bass' church "resume", about the journey that led her from her neighborhood United Methodist church in Baltimore, Maryland, to the Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara California she calls her church home today. In this journey,anyone who has made a similar spiritual journey will recognize many of the twists and turns along the way. How we end up in the church we end up in is often complicated by geography, heritage, culture, grace, and timing.

Next the author introduces us to the churches which participated in her study. Varied in geography, denomination, and size, it appears the one characteristic they have in common is a "progressive theology" which the author very openly expresses is a commonality, in her opinion,among mainline churches that will thrive in the future.

Part II is my favorite part. Reading about these signposts of renewal made me excited to be a mainline Protestant, and gave me ideas that I felt I could try to translate to my own ministry setting. I have already been tossing around some of the terms with the ruling board (session) of St. Stoic, to get them used to some of the ideas in this book.

Part III looks to the future. How do those of us in the mainline maintain this momentum (or build it where it does not yet exist?).

This book excited me. I read until far too far into the night for a handful of successive nights. I kept it with me in the doctor's office waiting room, and read from it when I arrived early for one Presbytery meeting. It was and is to me, a book of hope. But it's not perfect. The churches in this book seem by and large, devoid of many of the little nagging day-to-day problems that bog down some churches, and also some of the macro conflicts that are effecting several of the mainline Protestant denominations today. That seems unrealistic to me, that some of that would not be explored. I do understand, however, that the overall thrust of the book is positivity, what churches are doing right. The book is, in my opinion, very successful at describing that.

This is a book, and an author, which will occupy an important place on my study book shelf. What about you?

Edited to add a note from Diana Butler Bass:

Thought those of you who live in the Mid-Atlantic (and others with a
travel budget) might like to know that both Barbara Brown Taylor and I
will be at a conference at the Washington National Cathedral on May
10-12. Since you're reading both our books, it would be great to meet
some of you! Please come!

Other very cool people--like Phyllis Tickle, Marcus Borg and Tony
Jones--will be there, too.

Here's a link FYI:

http://www.cathedralcollege.org/events/0705.shtml

And thanks for choosing to read "Christianity for the Rest of Us".
There's nothing give a writer a greater sense of gratitude than people
who take time considering her words. I hope they are challenging,
meaningful, and hopeful to you.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday Prayer

Gracious and Loving God, when we hear the echo of Jesus’ three-fold question to Peter – “Do you love me?” – our souls respond on a deep and passionate level. You know our love for you and our yearning for relationship with the sacred, so we give thanks that our “yes” is heard and lovingly received.

Bless us God as we go forward in faith, challenged with the discernment of how we will follow the path you have set before us. Help us and send your Spirit to guide our way.

We ask your blessing upon all whom we know to be in need of your grace and healing this week. We pray for the people at Virginia Tech in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, and for the people of Daniel’s Harbour, Newfoundland whose homes have been taken into the sea because of land erosion.

We pray for the lonely, the lost and the grieving and for all who are searching for a deeper meaning in their lives. We pray for our church, our Moderator, and for ourselves. Fill us with your Spirit, O God, and take our hands as we walk in faith, in the name of the One who taught us to pray together saying…

Saturday, April 21, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party

Good morning, preachers and friends!

Last Sunday, we celebrated Easter 2 with a snowstorm and extremely sparse church attendance. The positive part of this is that I got to save my sermon on the walk to Emmaus for this week - and thank God for that, because this week has been full of unexpected additions to my schedule. So, I'm not writing today. However, I've just assembled my new gas grill (Christmas present...slightly delayed), and it's supposed to be a beautiful day, so maybe I'll just volunteer to make today's treats to order? This thing is massive, more like an outdoor kitchen than just a grill, and it has a griddle. Pancakes, anyone? Too bad there's no coffee-maker on this baby.

So, moving from food for the body to food for the soul, what texts and themes are you pondering? What's challenging you? Energizing you? Making you want to rip your hair out one strand at a time? Let the partying begin!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Five: Surprised By Joy

Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No."
He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.
(John 21:5-7)

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
(Psalm 30:5b)

This week I've been watching parents of the young people slain at Virgina Tech trying to make meaning out of the lives of their lost children, and each one seems to begin by focusing on something joyful about that child. It's a gift that most humans have brains wired to respond in that way. For some of us it can be harder to work our way out of dark places, but I believe joy remains the key. It is the spirit of resurrection.

Tell us about five people, places, or things that have brought surprising, healing joy into your life.

Let us know in the comments if you play.

And to greatly encourage others to visit 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.

(Both quotes are from this week's Revised Common Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ask the Matriarch—Changing Spots

Two things: One, Thanks for all your prayers for the families of those affected by Monday's tragedy. I live in Northern Virginia and several families here have children at Tech who thankfully were not targets, but still feel the impact of what happened. It's very sobering; I used to work in higher-ed administration at a school of comparable size and I can't stop thinking about what I would have done if I wore the shoes of those administrators on that day. How horrible.

Second: Thanks for your prayers for my health. I'm still no closer to better, and typing remains a struggle for me although I'm getting better at typing one-handed. I have a orthopedist appointment on monday, and I'll keep you posted on what happens over at the Lounge.

On to the question for this week: You have leopards. They have spots.

What are some ways of introducing an activity or practice into one's "church culture" where it's not been before? For instance: My tiny rural church never had a narthex, so socializing tended to be done right in the sanctuary. We are expanding our building to include a new sanctuary and narthex area, and some members have expressed a desire—with which I tend to agree—to keep the loud socializing outside the sanctuary, and preserve a sense of quiet inside the sanctuary for worshippers who want to pray, meditate or read before the service. Are there creative ways to get people on board with this without offending too many of the loudly gregarious people?

This week, we welcome a new matriarch to this column: Singing Owl! She writes that even with a large entryway—rivaling the size of the sanctuary, she STILL has problems with people lingering, loitering, socializing (she used the word congregating, no pun intended), particularly after church. "I have had some success by enlisting the GENTLE help of the ushers, who are quietly finding ways to sort of funnel people towards the entry," she says. And there's been times she's needed to periodically remind people from the pulpit that the sanctuary needs to be a place where people can pray, meditate, and so on. "I did a bit of teaching on the place of sacred spaces and why it is good to have them," she writes. "In our denomination, prayer at the front is common, sometimes group prayer, and sometimes individuals. So I sometimes remind people at the beginning of the service that people at the conclusion may want to pray, and to please keep the sanctuary a place to meet with God." Keep the message about socializing in the narthex/entry positive and regular, and that can help.

Jan, who recently moved her coffee hour from the narthex to the parlor, notes that trying something out for a certain period—one month, for example—is a good approach to handling lots of situations: trying a new hymn, a new inclusion in the liturgy, a new way of sitting in worship, etc. "Do it for four weeks and then listen for comments," she writes. "While you'll never please everybody, we've found that the majority is often OK with changes. They just need to get used to it and alter their spiritual muscle memory."

Then there's that old joke: How many [insert denomination here]s does it take to change a light bulb?
[Horrified response]: Change??!!!?!?!

How about you? How do you help your parishioners adapt to a new practice?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wednesday Festival: Many Things

God's Glory
I find myself unable to start this post in words, given what has occurred in our world this week. So instead, let me share the contents of Gord's vision of God, seen in an e-mail.


This is a fire rainbow- the rarest of all naturally occuring atmospheric phenomenona. The picture was captured recently on the Idaho/Washington Border. The event lasted about 1 hour. Clouds have to be cirrus, at least 20 000 feet in the air, with just the right amount of ice crystals and the sun has to hit the clouds at precisely 58 degrees.

Praying
All of us continue to pray for the victims of Monday's horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech University, their families, the shooter and his family, and everyone in the Blacksburg community. There is lots of writing about it going around the ring. In addition, yesterday's Preacher Party discusses whether and how to address this issue in this week's service, and that discussion has been linked in the resources section at The Text This Week.

Sr. Steph's community could sure use our prayers, also. Her school has had a terrible spate of tragedies of its own.

Called by Name
Carmen shares a wonderful post about a realization she had: the ONE WORD that changed Mary Magdalene's world - and hers.

Books for Fun
ReverendMommy shares the first and second chapters of a work in progress: Death and Taxes in Carlton, Georgia. It's the story of Reverend Fiona Marie Tolliver Claiborne Anderson. RevM says: "I've written about 20,000 words -- it includes a discourse about Methodist communion practices, a Bio-ethics consult about an end of life issue and a whole bunch of Methodist church politics. I've included the chicken salad sandwich thing, lots about little old ladies, the conflicts between this particular clergy woman and her husband and so on."

As her commenters note, how in the world does she have time to do this...in addition to being a wife and mom, being an Assistant Minister, doing all the other things she does, AND being a seminary student set for graduation (in 25 days!!)? I've got a clue for you...look at the times these things are posted. The truth is out, folks: RevM doesn't sleep, she plugs herself in like Seven of Nine. And writes all night.

Quotidian Grace has done a trenchant review of Thomas Cahill's latest book, Mysteries of the Middle Ages.

Sermons and other Writing
Mother Laura gives us her sermon from this past week, which breaks open the risen Jesus' commission to his disciples on Easter night-- to forgive and to retain sins--through the actions of the Rutgers women's basketball team.

Sally tells about a surprising outcome to her sermon about Doubting Thomas. Also, she has an important interview coming up, and is working on a short thought for the day based on a Charles Wesley hymn. She would appreciate any constructive criticism you would like to share.

Sue shares about her call to ministry. Man, I love to read these stories!

The 100 Things Contest
April's contest over at Salt for the Spirit brought forth some wonderful writing, particularly these two pieces: The winner, by Leah, and another favorite, by Hedwyg.

God's Glory Again
To finish up, thanks to Sally for posting these gorgeous photos of Fenland skies. The Fens are wetlands in Eastern England which, as Sally says, some find ugly and boring. But with skies like this, "who needs mountains?"



Blessings on us all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings:Maybe Springtime Edition

It is beginning to look as if we might actually have some Spring this year after all here in the northern tier of states, even though I know the weather has been harrowing for many of you.

But this week, perhaps many of us don't have weather on our minds, after all.

Some of us will be choosing our words especially carefully, given the tragic events at Virginia Tech University. Perhaps for many of you, deciding what the homiletical focus will be this week is a no-brainer; for me, I yet don't know what I will do.

The lectionary this week offers the conversion story of Saul (Paul) of Tarsus, a praise Psalm, a strange little vision from Revelation, and Jesus' post-resurrection appearance on the beach ("Do you love me? Feed my sheep.")

Thoughts today are that I will still go with the gospel as planned. As the week unfolds, that may change.

How about you? When a tragedy happens in the midst of a preaching week, what do you do? Do you change focus altogether and talk about the tragic event, or do you address it in the prayers and preach what you planned--assuming you have planned ahead of the tragedy?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday Meet n' Greet: Cold & Soggy Edition

Hello friends. Yes, I know there is a considerable northeast bias goin' on in our media and now here, but I think unless you are in the southwest this past week and certainly these past few days then you are either cold, soggy or both.

So grab a hot cup of tea, your favorite afghan and your lappie and take some time to welcome the latest members of the revgalblogpals webring.

WELCOME...

Clever Titles Need Not Apply: Let the blogification begin! Verbally processing life via word processor. Written by 'ellbee' who describes herself as "Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Inquiring Mind, Inquirer, Friend, Writer, Musician, Geek, and Child of God." In five beginner posts she hits a Friday Five, a familiar nerve with some of you lovers of English grammar and laments the final result of March Madness.

Time's Fool: Time's Fool ends up being about the inter-connectedness of all living things in God's creation - and the miracle of grace. It is a collection of the rambling thoughts of an everyday woman who sees holiness in the ordinary stuff of life. Written by Mata H, "I am tall, divorced, usually content. I have an abundant spiritual and intellectual life, and am descended from Polish parents, with gypsies in my mother's background."

Click!: Click. The sound of computer keys, knitting needles, a camera shutter, the cap of a fountain pen. Ideas or people coming together and dropping into place. My old dog's nails on hardwood floors. On a good day, the Gospel and me. Click. Go on over and meet Rev Jen, "I'm 52, never quite got around to getting married. I love my work, which lets me travel all over some of the most beautiful countryside in the land and come into contact with a wonderful variety of people. Love to read, collect fountain pens, connect with friends on- and offline, and root for the Packers (even when they stink)."

deep gladness is written by Kelly, 'senior at the university of richmond, studying sociology and religion. spent the spring of my junior year in melbourne, australia and still miss it sometimes. will attend princeton seminary after i graduate. personality type: INFJ. enneagram type: 9 - "the peacemaker."'

Mystical Midget: Blog of an Associate of the Order of Julian of Norwich, trying to find some contemplative silence despite the presence of one husband, two adult children, and three large dogs. Written by Judith, "I'm in my early 50s, married with two grown kids, and I'm an Associate of the Order of Julian of Norwich (OJN)."

Benefit of the Doubt: Women writers on belief, unbelief, and how the sacred is revealed when you give yourself and others a break now and then. Written by Ecotistical and Jennifer (the former is listed, the latter has posted) I was happy to know there is a fresh meme in our midst. Somehow I missed it, actually it was a contest that a bunch of us missed but we could still do it for fun, right?

Serena in Seattle: random reflections and comments from vantage point of a semi-retired presby pastor. Written by Serena, "Previous Pastor (PC[USA]) Passionate about God's love for ALL creation; personally love cats, theatre, music, the ocean, and good conversation with good friends." Go to on over - she gives us a shout out!

Welcome one and all!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Prayer

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

Gracious God, we thank you for this glorious season of Easter and for the many blessings that we share as a community of faith. We thank you for the prayers and support that we offer one another and for the goodness of knowing that you hear our prayers and guide our journey together.

God, help us to find the still point deep within us, where we can know your presence and find within ourselves the great potential for making a difference in the world. You bless each of us with the capacity for peace-making, justice-bearing, and for loving. Guide us God as we discover the gifts we bear and be with us as we unlock
the doors of our fear and uncertainty to share those gifts with all of creation.
We pray this day for all we have named aloud and for those nestled in the safety of our souls. We pray for the lost and the lonely and those whose needs are known only to you.

God, strengthen us in our faith, equip us to serve you well, and take our hands as we set out upon this adventure of faith that we share in Jesus’ name. Let us pray now as Jesus taught us…

Amen.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party: New Day Edition

I don't know about the rest of you, but I always seem to feel a new year begins at Easter. After weeks, nay, months of good and satisfying work, suddenly there is the sense of a tiny break in the church action. At the same time the lectionary points to the new life we find in the knowledge of the Resurrection. I find the combination exhilarating for my own spiritual life.

On the other hand, it usually means a downturn in attendance, particularly for Easter 2. In my part of the world it's the beginning of April vacation for our students, and that impacts who will be in church, too. I tend to find Easter 2 very cozy. How about you? It seems to me that those who sit in the pews or chairs or banquettes (depending on your worship style) on the Sunday after Easter, really want to hear what the scripture has to say about a new day and a new life and a new world in the light of a risen Savior. So even though a lot of Associates, students, supply preachers and retired folks may find themselves preaching today while Senior Pastors take a Sunday off, I say, "Woohoo! What a great Sunday to be preaching!" (Even if you are tired of Thomas.)

This morning I am posting from "away," about to get in my car and drive home. I'll be back with you mid-day. Meanwhile, I'm afraid the goodies I have to offer are all of the carryout variety. Have you tried that Maple Cheddar sandwich at Dunkin' Donuts? It's surprisingly good!

Faithfully,
Songbird

Sunrise at Acadia

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Five: Dental Edition

Cheesehead and I are both laid up this week with various tooth maladies. This one's in honor of us:

1. Are you a regular patron of dentists' offices? Or, do you go
a) faithfully, as long as you have insurance, or
b) every few years or so, whether you need it or not, or
c) dentist? what is this "dentist" thing you speak of?

2. Whatever became of your wisdom teeth?

3. Favorite thing to eat that's BAAAAAD for your teeth.

4. Ever had oral surgery? Commiserate with me.

5. "I'd rather have a root canal than _________________."

Bonus: Does your dentist recommend Trident?

Let us know in comments if you play. 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.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ask the Matriarch — Please Don't Feed the Trolls

Before we adjourned for the holidays, we got a note from one of our members dealing with something that's very common in the blogosphere. A complete stranger had dropped in with sour comments about a post she had made.

What is the appropriate response to someone who anonymously comments on a blog entry with critical comments? I don't enable comment moderation because I have never had any trouble since I began blogging. Unless this becomes a regular event, I plan to continue to just allow people to comment without having to wait for me to review it.

In this case, I am sure the person does not know me. Clearly, the person is angry and I happened to be a place to share some anger via anonymous venting. What is proper blog etitquite? Do I just ignore it? Delete the comment? Reply in a loving way? Use it as a way to create more conversation? I could reply on the comment section. I could even write a new entry and open dialogue about it, requesting other's opinions. One of my goals for the blog is to foment spiritual conversation and thinking among those who read, especially folks in my community. I am not sure using this as a springboard would be fruitful, but who knows?


This is a little different from our usual Ask the Matriarch questions, but we see it come up time and time again. Blogs are increasingly another form of ministry, as much as they are anything else. So I asked our Webring Matriarch, Songbird, for her guidance as well. She and I share a long history on the Internet, so we remember the time before we had blogthings and webrings and listservs (oh my!): USENET. "A person who makes nasty or disagreeable comments anonymously is, in Netiquette terms, a troll," she writes. "The advice I have been given and have attempted to follow going way back to the days of USENET is, "Do not feed the Troll." In other words, don't answer the person and don't write a post about the comments—unless it's a post explaining why you added comment moderation, for instance."

All too often, trolls are just hanging around waiting to get your blood pressure up. They have the same kind of pathological desire for anonymous attention as the cretins who would yell fire in a crowded, darkened theater. "I know it's tempting to engage," Songbird continues, "But it's not asking too much for commenters to identify themselves in some way. If the would-be troll is a person who really wants to have a dialogue, he or she can come back with a handle or an e-mail address, whatever you wish to set as your bottom line for commenters. It's also possible to simply ban anonymous commenters without adding comment moderation. It's your blog, and it's okay to make the rules."

But what about their privacy?
There's always a fine line between requiring people to identify themselves and still affording them the privacy they desire. The real issue is accountability. When I sign off on something as Gallycat, you know it's me; since I'm fairly open with my identity you also know I'm Helen. But Songbird is Songbird. St. Casserole is St. Casserole. Peripatetic Polar Bear is PPB. But you know who they are from their writing, even though you may not know their real names. They sign their posts. That's different from the fly-by poster who comes on board saying hurtful or divisive or even slanderous things that they would never say if their name could be attached to it. Some blogging platforms also allow you to track IP addresses, and you can plug those into a "reverse DNS" lookup tool (such as this one) which might help you narrow down where your troll is from.

It's your blog
Like Songbird said, you can—and maybe even should—set your own ground rules. In fact, there's a movement afoot, as reported recently in New York Times article, for a kinder, gentler blogosphere. Check around at other blogs you admire and see if they have guidelines in place. And it's true, while we want to be as unfettered as possible when we write publically, you'll want to be mindful of what your putting out there. "I do think we do have to think about how we write what we write, especially if it is about others," says Rev. Abi. "But I don't think we have to be defensive either. We've known some bloggers who have just quit, because they kept getting negative comments or persons who did know them were talking about what they wrote. It's up to you what you want to do about this. But my suggestion is to moderate."

Try it out for a little while and see if it suits you. I did at one point, and then got inundated with 40 comments I didn't know I had gotten because Blogger wasn't telling me they were there. On my Livejournal, I keep all anonymous comments screened so only I can see them. On my Wordpress blogs, I always require an email address and track IP addresses. And now I have a Moveable Type blog again, so I'll see what they have in place to help fight comment abuse there.

It comes with the territory
Unfortunately, it may well happen to all of us at one point or another. "When you write such thougthful pieces, it must really hurt to get some negative comments. However, if you are not going to moderate them, you do leave yourself open to getting them," writes Abi. "I moderate, but that's my choice. I have seen people try to have open dialogue with persons who leave negative comments with little success. To try for open conversation, you could write a new post about that, mention the comment thread the post originated in and ask for the conversation."

But bear in mind that if you're dealing with a bully, the best thing you can do is ignore the comment.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wednestival: Double Edition

Beep, beep, beep...is it working? Sorry for the lateness of this Festival, but my computer has been oppressing me again.

Because we skipped regular postings last week due to Holy Week, I have an extra helping of bloggy goodness for us all!

Holy Week
Almost Reverend Anjel writes a meditation on war and faith from the site of Pickett's charge at the Gettysburg battlefield.

Mother Laura reflected on two joyous Holy Week times here and here, and then, on the somber side, a Holy Thursday reflection about how preaching the cross can help -- or hurt -- victims of sexual violence.

Here are some thoughts from Sally on embracing a holistic view. And Mompriest offers powerful thoughts about transformation!

I moved from Holy Week angst to Easter joy in a most unexpected way.

EASTER!
Christine at Abbey of the Arts has decided to practice resurrection during the Easter season! Go find out what she's planning, and see some amazing flowers, too.

April shares her vision of the Risen Christ!

More Cows shared a wonderful Easter sermon!

Music and Ministry
LutheranHusker wrote a hymn for his congregation's 75th anniversary (on Palm Sunday!) You can find the sheet music AND an audio file here! You are welcome to use, but he'd like to know if you do.

And on a very sad musical note, LadyBurg's organist passed away. She wrote movingly about it here and here, and about his memorial service here. Thank you for sharing this friend with us.

Milton writes a thoughtful piece that grew from a friend asking him to comment on a church dealing with a twice-convicted sex offender who was asking for membership.

Leah shares a Eucharistic Prayer/Great Thanksgiving/Canon she wrote for Maundy Thursday for your enjoyment and use if you wish.

Bethquick gives us a study revealing how ministers spend their time at work, and how much time they spend.

It's all about the Visuals
Kirsten has photos of her recent mission trip to New Orleans. And FrogBlog somehow found a photo of...The Easter Bunny!

Gannet Girl's got a word picture of Holy Week at the beach and real photos of an Easter Snowstorm.

Women
Lorna's been writing about women in ministry in Finland, and so has Miapappi.

Fun Stuff
April is having a contest! Go and play! I predict this one will be very popular, especially as the deadline is April 15 (and we all need a little diversion from those taxes -- right?!)

Prayers, Please
Gallycat has had some bad news about her health: a diagnosis of either spinal arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Please send up prayers for her and for her Dear Future Husband (DFH) as they move through this, and as they prepare to close on their awesome new home April 26!

What's Coming Up?
If any of you out there are interested in helping with RGBP tasks (such as posting the Wednesday Festival, Friday Five, etc.) please send an email to revgalblogpals@gmail.com We would love to have new folks involved, and some people are getting ready for - mmm - a little rest.

The Festival of Homiletics is coming, too, in Nashville at the end of May! I've only read about this via RevGal blogs, but I'd give my eyeteeth to go. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm gonna get to (not being a preacher)! However, if YOU are going, give a holler in the comments, and let's see if a meetup can't get happening. (It may already be...I don't know! If that's the case, let us know that, too.)

Anyone I missed? Forget to nominate yourself or a favorite post? you know what to do: list it in the comments!

Wishing every one of us the joys of Easter this week!

Wednesday Festival is On the Way!


Dear Friends,

I am having some computer issues ... the Wednestival is coming! I hope!


Monday, April 09, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Fast and Loose With The Space-Time Continuum Edition

Okay, friends, a couple of confessions: It is Monday night, I'm not preaching this week, and I am suffering from either the sinus infection of the century or an abscessed tooth. Since tomorrow I am anticipating being hopped up on something stronger than tonight's Tylenol Sinus/whiskey chaser, I am posting this early. (Yeah, I'm on vacation. Whoop-dee-doo!)

This week is the Doubting Thomas Sunday for many, also known as "Associate Pastor Week" or at St Stoic, "Parish Associate Week".

Although I am not preaching this week, I think the lectionary provides many good options, even if you don't go with the Revised Common Lectionary's Thomas story. I myself am partial to Psalm 150. "Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!"

What will your good people hear this second Sunday of Easter?

*Non-Revised Common Lectionary/off-lectionary preachers: what is your Scripture of choice this week?*

Books, Music, and Groceries - oh my!

We have begun an Amazon Associates program just recently and it has been very successful. When you click on a link from the RGBP blog that is linked to Amazon, RGBP, Inc. gets a little piece of the pie. Many of the purchases have come from links which have been from the books we are discussing monthly. However, if you use the Amazon search box on the sidebar and go through there, we also will get a little credit for you using that. Below is featuring April's book, led by Cheesehead:





Christianity For the Rest of Us
by Diana Butler Bass
Book discussion will be posted on the fourth Monday in April, April 23.


On with more info.
Below are the statistics from the purchases which have been made through the links:
April
TOTAL REFERRAL FEES 7 (items shipped)
Revenue $119.51
RGBP earned: $6.90
(April 1 - April 8)


March
TOTAL REFERRAL FEES 20 (items shipped)
Revenue $293.12
RGBP Earned: $17.62

We don't know who ordered what, but we do know what folks ordered - here is the list:

Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith

The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (Cover Image May Vary)

Annie's Homegrown Shells & White Cheddar, 7-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 24)

U.S. Mills Uncle Sam Instant Oatmeal, 9.6-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6)Serenity

Tena Discreet Activewear, Ultra Plus Absorbency, Medium, 18 pair (Pack of 2)

Sto-Fen Gold Colored Omni-Bounce for the Canon

LightFull Smoothie, Peaches & Cream, 11-Ounce Units (Pack of 12)

Wolfgang Puck Chicken & Dumplings Soup, 14.5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)

So..... as you see, it's not just books you can purchase, but you can also purchase items for a camera, groceries, music, movies, well, you name it.

Right now, if you go to the RGBP store, you will see that there are "rooms" where you can purchase groceries, music, books and other resources. Do you have something you order regularly from Amazon? I know I do (and I am not telling you what, but it is in the store now.). If you buy it through here, it helps our one of our favorite organization!

What ideas might you have to place in the store? Would you like to give a book review? Do you have book discussions at your church or a popcorn theology night where you have a movie you are going to show and discuss? We can place that in our Amazon store!

Thank you if you have already ordered through Amazon through our Amazon associates program. Ideas? Email revgalbookpals@gmail.com and let us know! (or leave a comment).

Monday Meet n' Greet: Holy Week Hangover Edition

The tomb is empty and for a lot of us so are our brains. So what better time to cruise around the revgal universe and read the blogs of the newest members of the ring! Don't forget to leave a comment for...


Adventures of Min Lib: A pastor and her librarian husband's adventures in life, love and pet ownership. Some of KristaBeth's most recent adventures include covering for her Head Pastor at a funeral and having her congregation sing the word 'Alleluia' during Lent - the. horror.

Divine Artistic Madness: A BiPolar Adventure - I am a pastor, plus artist-creative-type who was diagnosed around a year ago with Bipolar II and severe depression. This is where I let it all fly. My twisted hope is that artists and people in ministry who suffer from lovely mental struggles can be encouraged by my adventures, rants, fits, and furies. Her latest posts include some thoughts on hope and faith and some really honest reflection on the challenges of being on medication.

... For the Innumerable Benefits: The random musings of an Episcopal seminarian who is thankful for God's innumerable benefits procured unto us. "Almost Reverend" is really close to graduation and ordination. Her most recent post shows the Stations of the Cross (hit the link) that the youth at her church created and were used by her church during Holy Week.

The Carrot Top Studio Blog: Writing about visual art in the Church today. Beautiful pictures of banners and stoles await you at this site.

Soul Nuggets: "Hi, My name is Simon. I'm 22 years old, and I'm a missionary in South Africa for 7 years now. My main goal is to spread the word of God, and my efforts include personal witnessing, Bible classes, and hopefully, seminars. I'm married to a wonderful wife, and I have a lovely daughter of almost 2 years now." His most recent post is a contemplative essay inviting us to tune in to the voice of Jesus.

Welcome back to 32 Flavors: The musings of a Grateful Girl on the Journey! I am a child of God, a woman, a wife, a mother, a pastor, a friend, a daughter, a student, a sojourner. We missed you, good to see you again!

The Desert Pilgrim: A site with ponderings on the prayer life, the call to solitude, the Cross, and the contemplative life. This is a good site to find some peace and quiet, take a deep breathe, read the words and view the pictures.

Welcome everyone and thanks for joining revgalblogpals!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The BIG 11th Hour Preacher Party

One might expect that for THE sermon of the year, I would start writing early. Not so! How about all of you? Well, waiting until the Saturday of Holy Week to write brings a whole new depth of meaning to Easter Vigil. At least that's my excuse.

Today we keep vigil together. Perhaps not with utter somberness (goodness, I hope not...I could use some comic relief), and probably not with fasting (apple bread and coffee here if anyone would like some), but we keep vigil nonetheless. We watch, wait, and pray, for the people who will come into our churches tomorrow, for the physical strength to get some of us through multiple and painfully early services, and for inspiration that will spiritually feed our congregations on the Day of Resurrection.

Pull up a chair and take some sustenance, for both body and soul, and let's get writing!

Friday, April 06, 2007

On Good Friday

V
If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.


O my people.

--T.S. Eliot

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday


Today as revgalblogpals continues to take a sabbatical from its regular postings, we come to Maundy Thursday, the beginning of the Easter Triduum. Once again the mysteries of Jesus' final hours are with us again, his passion, his suffering, and his rising from the dead. We discover the answer to age old questions: "Does God love us?" "Is God merciful?" "Does God care for us?"; from the events remembered these days, so sorrowful and so joyful. We learn deep lessons if we allow ourselves in the rites and words.

The scriptures for this day are; Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 John 13:1-17, 31b-35 Psalm 116:1, 10-17

I did not grow up in a tradition that Holy Thursday was commemorated with the last Supper, Passover, Seder, and/or foot washing. I learned about these events and their meanings much later in life. And they have become very meaningful to me. Perhaps that is true for you as well. Tonight as we once again perform these rites may you experience the answers to those age old questions. Let someone wash your feet, serve you the cup and bread, or the Seder meal.

It is the high point for many of us who serve in churches of the "Holy Week Rush"; a busy time, a pressured time, and a demanding time. There may be no slowing down, no resting time, and no time for meditation, quietness and stillness. So on this day, before the evening's worship, I invite you to continue what Mary Beth offered yesterday in her profound post, "Radical Self Care" perhaps it will set a pattern for the next days and our ministry as well.

The new commandment Jesus gave us in John 13: 34 is "that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

How do we love the Jesus within ourselves and in others this week?

Have you let Jesus wash your feet? If not will you?

Try taking some time away to think of your love of Jesus, Jesus love for you, and your love for others.

Try not to be the sacrificial lamb this season, instead remember who is the sacrificial lamb.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Holy Wednesday: Anointing


The Wednesday Festival is taking a sabbatical for Holy Week. If you nominated posts for this week, please be assured that they will appear in the next week's festival - a double edition! - on April 11.

According to tradition, Wednesday in Holy Week is the day that Jesus was anointed with the contents of an expensive alabaster jar by the woman at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper (Matt 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-19).


While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
(Matt 26:6-13)


How do we anoint the Jesus within ourselves and in others this week? Our walk through Holy Week prepares us for our own burial, in a way; and while some of us choose physical self-mortification (penance, fasting) during the week, I think there is also an argument for some radical self-care.

Try taking some time away to think of your love of Jesus and the mystery that His sacrifice means for each of us.

Know how much you are loved.



Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Easter Edition

Is it just me, or is it becoming increasingly difficult this week to concurrently live into Holy Week and work ahead for Easter?

I made my choice for the Easter gospel this year based on what I chose last year. It went something like this: "Gee, I preached John last year. Luke it is!"

But the more I look at this, the more I am intrigued by it--especially the words, "they remembered his words". This seems to be the turning point for the women. Nothing they saw that day, nothing they heard, made sense until they remembered his words. Then everything was new!

Each year, folks stream into church on Easter morning after months of staying away (since Christmas Eve) or maybe even a year (last Easter). Is there a word we can offer on Christ's behalf that they can remember--a transforming Word that might make every thing new for them?

It's a tall order. Come, Holy Spirit!

What's your transforming Word this Resurrection Sunday?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Monday of Holy Week: The Day After

The walk toward Jerusalem is over. The disciples are in the city with Jesus, taking in the sights, hearing his words, wondering what will happen next. Perhaps they remember the words of Isaiah:

"Take a good look at my servant.
I'm backing him to the hilt.
He's the one I chose,
and I couldn't be more pleased with him.
I've bathed him with my Spirit, my life.
He'll set everything right among the nations.
He won't call attention to what he does
with loud speeches or gaudy parades.
He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt
and he won't disregard the small and insignificant,
but he'll steadily and firmly set things right.
He won't tire out and quit. He won't be stopped
until he's finished his work—to set things right on earth.
Far-flung ocean islands
wait expectantly for his teaching."
God's Message,
the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies,
laid out the earth and all that grows from it,
Who breathes life into earth's people,
makes them alive with his own life:
"I am God. I have called you to live right and well.
I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.
I have set you among my people to bind them to me,
and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations,
To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light:
opening blind eyes,
releasing prisoners from dungeons,
emptying the dark prisons.
I am God. That's my name.
I don't franchise my glory,
don't endorse the no-god idols.
Take note: The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled.
I'm announcing the new salvation work.
Before it bursts on the scene,
I'm telling you all about it."
(Isaiah 42:1-9, The Message)

Look for the Meet and Greet next Monday, and have a blessed Holy Week.

Head of Christ attributed to Rembrandt.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Prayer for Holy Week

Lord Jesus Christ,
in this sacred and solemn week
when we see again
the depth and mystery of your redeeming love,
help us to follow where you go,
to stop where you stumble,
to listen when you cry,
to hurt as you suffer,
to bow our heads in sorrow as you die,
so that, when you are raised to life again,
we may share in your endless joy. Amen.

(from the United Church of Canada worship resource, "Celebrating God's Presence" UCPH, 2000)