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Friday, November 30, 2007

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Don't Call It a Comeback Edition

Alright, so I'm dropping by for a brief return stint as contributer. Please, hold down the applause (also please don't forget NOT to cut and paste this part)....

Parishioners pushing for carols before you digested your turkey?

Organist refusing to play Advent hymns because he/she already has them planned for Lessons & Carols?

Find yourself reading Luke and thinking of a variety of ways to tell Linus where to stick it? (Lights please.)

Then this quick and easy Friday Five is for you! And for those of you with a more positive attitude, have no fear. I am sure more sacred and reverent Friday Fives will follow.

Please tell us your least favorite/most annoying seasonal....
1) dessert/cookie/family food
2) beverage (seasonal beer, eggnog w/ way too much egg and not enough nog, etc...)
3) tradition (church, family, other)
4) decoration
5) gift (received or given)
BONUS: SONG/CD that makes you want to tell the elves where to stick it.

I know, I know.... pretty grumpy for November but why not get it out of our systems now so we are free to enjoy the rest of the festivities.

Let us know in comments if you play. And for even more visits to your blog, post a direct link 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.

Peace, friends.

revgalblogpals and revgalblogpals inc. is not responsible for the Friday Five or the content therein. The opinions expressed by will smama are not necessarily the opinions of revgalblogpals or revgalblogpals, inc. Any complaints about a grumpy holiday season related Friday Five should be sent directly to and not to any officer or leader of revgalblogpals or revgalblogpals inc. And oh yeah... Happy Advent - Keep that sense of humor; it's critical!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ask the Matriarch: At This Festive Season

At this festive season of the year, a correspondent wonders, "How do you keep Christmas from taking over Advent?"

It is the eternal question, and since the holidays have brought just two answers from our Matriarchs, I hope others will chime in via the comments.

First, let's hear from Ann Fontaine:

Advent is the greatest of seasons for me - immersing myself in the
whole darkness theme of wrapping oneself in the blanket of night,
under the quilt of stars, and meditating on the cave of my heart,
seeds in the earth, babies awaiting birth from the womb and other
assorted dark places.

It is my little counter cultural season - a great excuse not to think
about Christmas until it is before me - gifts can be given during the
12 days - until Epiphany - Jan 6 and they are on sale then! Cards can
be sent out until Easter - early this year BTW - then you just reply
to the ones you have received. Cuts down on postage and one finds out
who really cares. At church they will all whinge about not getting
to sing carols - but don't give in except for the pageant that has to
be done before the kids take their Christmas break. Everyone is sick
of them anyway by a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving - so maybe
they will thank you for the Advent minor key unsingable ones!

Seriously -- I might let a carol or 2 sneak in as we approach
Christmas - and the children's pageant is good for an all out carol
sing. I also put together a Service of Solace (sometimes called Blue
Christmas) for some time in the week or so before Christmas for those
who are not have a so merry time of it.

I really do like Advent and wish my favorite book Night Visions by
Jan Richardson had not gone out of print so you could love it too.

And now, some thoughts from Jan Edmiston:

What Easum & Bandy would say (if I may be so bold to offer their thoughts secondhand): Most people seeking a spiritual home do it in December and they don't know/want/understand Advent. They want to hear Christmas carols and see little kids dressed like angels and sheep. So, go with Christmas, minimize Advent, and follow up on your December visitors.

What I would say: Like children, we want Christmas now, but even God says, "wait" (hence: Advent). People really truly seem to want to focus on "the real meaning of Christmas" which is best done before maxing out all the cards and tearing your hair out (i.e. during Advent). This is a very difficult time for people. And Jesus was born into a context in which it was a very difficult time for people. Go with that. Explain why Jesus came and what it means to be saved. Who doesn't need someone to save them this season?

And . . . some Christmas carols are quite Advent-friendly.

Thanks to Ann and Jan!

If your church is liturgical, or marginally so, how do you cope with this? Those of you in non-liturgical traditions, do you feel the same pressure to rush to Christmas once the mall is decorated?

And what say you to the question that has been provoking me for the past couple of years. Wherever you stand on the separation of secular and sacred Christmas, there's no question that children are getting only one part of the tradition in the public arena. Given that many families may travel on Christmas Eve, particularly in these past few years when it fell on a weekend or adjacent to one, if we save the whole story for the 24th, are they ever going to hear it? When will they learn to sing the music that older church members (and I include myself in this) heard all over the place when we were young?

I look forward to your thoughts. Gallycat should be back with you next week!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"I'm Late, I'm Late" Wednesday Festival

I'm a West Coast kid, and I've had a busier day than I thought. Because it's already nighttime in the East, here's a quick romp around the ring:

Reverendmother writes a Christmas letter to Clear Channel.

Lorna gives us a reality check.

Lorna does Thanksgiving, in Finland.

Coffeepastor reflects on his schedule, and tells a story of the Worst Thanksgiving Ever.

Christine invites us to a Full Moon Poetry Party!

Kievas asks us to think about where we give, and gives us a quick ‘80s fix with “Money for Nothing.”

Scott has taken a new call in campus ministry! He asks for our prayers.

Sally gives us a beautiful poem, and a reflection.

I'm celebrating, at my place: 5 Things I'm Not Afraid Of Anymore!

Happy Exploring!

Wednesday Festival: It's Coming!

The Wednesday Festival is in process and will be up later this afternoon.

In the meantime, please go visit a friend and leave a little hello. Comments mean more than we think...even if it's just a "thinking of you!"


Reverendmother ( has

Known far and wide as BB!

He was born at 3:35 am today, weighing 9 lb., 1 oz and measuring 20.5 in.

RM & Co. didn't leave for the hospital until 10:15 pm yesterday, so he seems to be an expeditious little fellow!

Mamala is manning the home front and you may leave congrats at the blog.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Happy New Year" Edition

A pastorly friend of mine tells me that one of her favorite bumper stickers proclaims, JESUS IS COMING -- LOOK BUSY!

As the wheel of the liturgical year turns again to Advent, a season of spiritual preparation for the coming of are we "looking busy," being about living God's redeeming, reconciling, transforming love into the world around us? This week's lessons express a yearning for a decisive, dramatic inbreaking of God's Reign into our world...but also remind us that while our eyes may be searching the horizon for the "not yet," our feet are right here in the "now"...and that we need to get to work.

What are your ponderings and inspirations as you study this week's lessons? And how are you inviting your people into the season of Advent in your churches?

RGBP Inc. Board Election Results

Yesterday evening the RevGalBlogPals, Inc. board met to receive the results of the election of new directors.

Songbird, Cathy Stevens (Cathy Knits), St. Casserole, Quotidian Grace (Jody Harrington), and Teri Peterson (Clever Title Here) were elected to two year terms.

Congratulations to the board members and thanks to the members who participated in the election.

Monday, November 26, 2007

RevGalBookPals: Thirst, by Mary Oliver

Dear Revgals and pals:

For many reasons, my palms are sweating as I type this entry, my very first on the "Revgals" blog. We've never done a book discussion of a book of poetry before, although Mompriest and I have led a few spirited discussions of particular poems. I'm not really sure how one goes about discussing a book of poetry, but for Mary Oliver, I'm willing to give it a try.

I first heard Mary Oliver's name a few years ago, when I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College, and heard Barbara Brown Taylor speak. She recommended, to writers and preachers, a little book by Mary Oliver called A Poetry Handbook. I ran right out and purchased a copy. Such was the power of her recommendation. Later, I discovered her famous poem, "The Summer Day", which ends, "Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?/Tell me, what is it that you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?" And this summer I heard that she spoke to a sold-out audience here in Minneapolis. She is poetry's equivalent to a Rock Star.

But the reason we are discussing her today is her latest book of poems, "Thirst," where she honestly deals with such topics such as faith and doubt, grieving and going on, and the vocation of a poet: which I think, in some ways has some things in common with the vocation of a preacher (we both deal with words, for example). With that in mind, here are some questions and other discussion starters for our conversation today:

1. Choose a favorite poem in this collection, or one you think is representative of this book. What is it that speaks to you in this poem? What questions do you have about it?

2. Choose one of the recurring themes in the book, and write about this theme. What is Oliver saying about grief, about faith, about her love for the natural world? How is she saying it?

3. Why do you think she chose the title, "Thirst"? What do you think she is thirsty for? What poems speak about this thirst?

4. As a preacher (for those of us who are), what do you appreciate about her work? Does she preach? If so, how, and when?

5. Finally, I have always been captivated by a passage at the end of her book, A Poetry Handbook. There Oliver writes, "Poetry is a life-cherishing force. And it requires a vision, a faith, to use an old-fashioned term. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes, indeed." (p. 122) Do these words ring true for you? About poetry? About Oliver's poetry? Which poems are "ropes let down to the lost" for you? How do they accomplish this role? And may we who preach the gospel also claim this vocation, that our words are also "as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry"?

Looking forward to the conversation!

Here are links to 2 of the poems in the books:


Making the House Ready for the Lord

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Music Video - Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Hymn: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence Tune: Picardy

And what did you sing in church today?

Sunday Prayer

Loving and Mysterious Christ, today we give thanks for you – for your birth, life, and ministry – and for the ultimate mystery of your death and resurrection. We thank you for the power of Love revealed in your earthly presence in our midst, and for the eternal gift of the Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen and comfort each of us.

We don’t always know how to imagine you, Jesus, nor do we all share the same sense of who you are. We give thanks that your love for us is deep and wide enough to contain our confusion and missteps.

Thank you for loving us as we are and encouraging us to grow in love and faith, just as you encouraged your disciples so long ago. Bless us this day and always, as we continue to follow your way.

Jesus, we have named some people and situations that we know are filled with struggle. You know the ache in the human heart when there is loss, illness or broken relationships. You know all of our struggles, and so we ask your special blessing upon us and all who suffer.

By your grace, grant us peace. By your power and inspiration, help us to be peacemakers, bringing your radical love and justice wherever we go.

And hear us now, as we pray using the words that you taught to your friends…

Do remember that the Wednesday Festival content comes from your nominations - of your own posts or others'. It's easy: Send them by Monday each week to and they shall appear!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party: In Between Edition

Good morning, Preacher Gals and Pals!

Thanksgiving is over, but it's not yet Advent! That's right, it's Reign of Christ/Christ the King Sunday!!!

But what's happening all over? I'll tell you what's happening all over. People who know very well it's a whole month until Christmas are wondering where the decorations are, that's what's happening all over. And as much as I am personally capable of resisting Christmas in favor of Advent, it is a greater challenge to hold back the cultural tide.

I've got a rather wistful sermon planned, using parts of Caroline Noel's "At the Name of Jesus" as a framework (check the volume before you click, it's a midi). To call him King is ironic and utterly true at the same time, or that's sort of where I am headed. We're about to push the "Reset" button and think of him as a mystical infant again. But for one week, for one hour of this one week, we can take the time to explore not just a triumphant kingship but the subtle complexities of our faith, that the anticipated Messiah did not arrive on a horse, brandishing a sword, and no amount of giving him crowns in stained glass windows will change it.

I hope it sounds like I have something there.

Let us know what you have and where you're headed today. Let's help each other through the long day's journey into night that is preaching on the Sunday after Thanksgiving when it's not yet Advent.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Post Thanksgiving Day Friday Five

Ah, the day after Thanksgiving--groan! Fortunately, I love Thanksgiving leftovers.

Thanksgiving is the American holiday when the greatest number of people travel somewhere else to celebrate. I am posting this from my son’s home in Minnesota where we are recovering from the food shopping and the preparations and the meal and the clean up. It is difficult to think of anything requiring much energy today, and I am enjoying my sweet baby granddaughter, so I will keep it simple. For those of you not in the USA, I apologize for the nationalistic tone of this Friday Five!

1. Did you go elsewhere for the day, or did you have visitors at your place instead? How was it?

2. Main course: If it was the turkey, the whole turkey, and nothing but the turkey, was it prepared in an unusual way? Or did you throw tradition to the winds and do something different?

3. Other than the meal, do you have any Thanksgiving customs that you observe every year?

4. The day after Thanksgiving is considered a major Christmas shopping day by most US retailers. Do you go out bargain hunting and shop ‘till you drop, or do you stay indoors with the blinds closed? Or something in between?

5. Let the HOLIDAY SEASON commence! When will your Christmas decorations go up?

Let us know in comments if you play. And for even more visits to your blog, post a direct link 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, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving, a reflection

This post is written with thanks to all revgals ( and guys) , with prayers that wherever you are and whatever you are doing today that you will know God's love surrounding you, filling you and strengthening you.

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. - Estonian proverb

Thanksgiving, or more to the point celebrating thanksgiving as a holiday meant little to me until as recently as 1997. The nearest we get to celebrating Thanksgiving in the UK is Harvest festival, and although there are many similarities it lacks the edge of celebration born out of the raw thankfulness for survival that is still contained within the tradition ( if not the actualities) of Thanksgiving as celebrated in the US, and Canada.

Whilst living in Katy, Texas, we were privileged to be included by kind friends into three very different Thanksgiving celebrations. The one common denominator was the turkey!

Celebration one (1997) was with a large cosmopolitan family, with family members from Australia, Greece and Europe present, we simply became a part of the mix. For a good number of folk present Thanksgiving was not a tradition from childhood, and memories of this day will always be clear not only because of the family fun and games, but also for the generosity shared, and the awareness of the need to be thankful for the many, many blessings we enjoy. It strikes me that being able to celebrate in this way should challenge us to fresh acts of compassion and generosity.

Celebration two (1998) was smaller, we were invited by a family from the Church we attended to share Thanksgiving with them. This time we were included in the preparations, I baked pies, others brought salads. We were the only "strangers" present, but were welcomed and simply joined in the family fun. Once again generosity was evident, this family had a severely handicapped daughter, they could have declared that all the preparation was too much and spent the day quite differently, but instead they chose to share, and I hope they were blessed by it.

Celebration three (1999) was very different, we were involved in a cookout in a City Park, bordering a deprived neighbourhood. I think that around 8 turkeys were cooked ( deep fried) , lots of salads were brought, and baked potatoes appeared from all over it seemed, as did pies and other deserts. Invitations had been sent out to the whole neighbourhood, and while people gathered, other meals were taken to the very elderly and infirm, along with gifts of tinned food and blankets. There was a band playing, I was involved in organising activities for the younger children, while others played basketball with the older ones. It was an exhausting and wonderful day, everyone ate well, the children all had candy and fruit to take home. We had gone to share, and I hope that we managed without being condescending, I still have a picture drawn by one of the girls who came, a bunch of colourful flowers to say thank you. I sense it should be me giving thanks, for her openness, and joy and love touched me that day in a way I will not forget.

So I am thankful for my experiences of Thanksgiving, they do not hold family remembrances, but they do remind me to try to be generous and open, and with God's help I will try.

"O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Amen." (Samuel F Pugh)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday Festival - Almost Thanksgiving!

Gannet Girl shows us the progress of fall at her place. This is her gorgeous photo.

Amy nominates a funny video "that was made for our contemporary service. Bryan
(the minister) preaches at that service and then leaves to come to the traditional service. So, this was a video story of where Pastor Bryan goes when he leaves. Very funny!"

We have a couple of "Worst Thanksgiving Ever!" from Jeff at Philosophy over Coffee, and one (a sermon) from Songbird.

Gord is pondering how congregations can best live up to the vows they make at baptism (instead of complaining about families who don't live up to theirs...) here and here.

Quotidian Grace shares some thoughts about the TSA in preparation for your holiday flying adventures. Or your writing to Congress!

and Mitch wonders why office supplies so often go missing at the church.
Wishing a happy and blessed Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it tomorrow, and a day of peace and thankfulness for those who don't, too! I am thankful for this online community and each one of you!
If you have links to share or nominate, or just want to shout-out what you are thankful for, feel free to add in the comments!

To 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.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Christus Rex" Edition

We often hear that "It's good to be king." We affirm, as Christians, that it's good for Jesus to be our King. But what does that mean, exactly? -- especially in a world where so many "powers and principalities" vie for our allegiance?

What do this coming Sunday's lessons have to say to you and your people about Jesus' reign? (And if this isn't the theme of your Sunday worship, what texts will you be discussing instead?) Here's the place to share ponderings and inspirations!

Meet and Greet: The Thanskgiving Edition


We have four new wonderful blogs to add to our community. Give 'em a big RevGals welcome!


Julie: The profile on her blogs says... Stage in Life: Empty nesting, second careering, and pondering; Vocations and avocations: writer, custom card maker, hiker, reader and lover of all things Benedictine and in nature; Background: Degrees in microbiology from NC State and divinity/christian ed from Duke (I have been asked how both reside in my brain and the same time...proves I am a generalist); formerly a pastor and Christian educator and looking for the next thing to do...after working for God, its a challenge.

As a published author and former pastor, my Confessions of A Backyard Hermit blog is about my journey post- formalized ministry. Blending my love of finding the right quotation for any circumstance, writing food for thought, Benedictine principles, and finding all that nature has to teach me as I ask, "What's next, God?" Find Julie at: Confessions of a Backyard Hermit

Laura: This blog offers thoughts on finding community, parenting and spousing, reading, running, and seeking sacredness. Find Laura at: Fishing in a pearl river

Beth: She describes her blogs as, The ramblings and procrastinations of a female MDiv student in Vancouver, BC. Find Beth at: bethblogever

David: Also known as Pastor David, he describes his blog as, A Lutheran pastor serving a congregation in rural Texas reflects on theology, the ministry, liturgy, and the life of faith. Find Pastor David at: postings from prairie hill

And Greet:


Where do you blog?
I blog on my Mac in my home office, or on my son's Dell downstairs. While I was moving my mom, I had her Apple lap top. Who I named Henry and grew very attached to. But sadly, we've had to part. I don't even get visitation.

What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?
Books, Memes and Musings, Real Live Preacher, Prodigal Aspersions, Don't Eat Alone to name some. They're all on my sidebar list.

What gives you joy?
My son's amazing developing spirit. And writing something really good that I would read myself.

What is your favorite sound?
Laughter and applause.

What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
"This way to the spa, darling."

You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
Now I lay me down to sleep, forever 'cause I'm dead.

Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
But I have so many. Fine. *cracks knuckes* *stretches neck* *extends fingers over keyboard*
......Matilda pulled the cornbread out of the oven and exclaimed, "Lucius, you old dog. You best not be walkin' through them walls again!"

What color do you prefer your pen?
Black. Medium point. Gel ink.

What magazines do you subscribe too?
Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, Consumer Reports.

What is something you want to achieve in this decade?
To find publislhing success with my writing and make it a paying career.

Why are you cool?
Because I'm not.

What is one of your favorite memories?
My grandmother took me and my two cousins, Richard and John, to see the Ice Capades when I was about 7 years old. We had front row seats. I wore my best Christmas winter coat, white gloves and white patent leather shoes. In the middle of the magical Christmas show, a chorus line of beautiful women came out wearing red velvet elf costumes, pushing empty sleds. I looked at those empty sleds as they skated around and just knew they were going to be filled. With people. Probably form the audience. I was a very smart child, you see. And my heart burst forth from my own velvet coat with longing and wishing that I could be one of those people. Sure enough, after a time, the beautiful women stopped all around the edges of the show rink. And, impossibly! right in front of me, was one of those women with an empty sled. Her eyes met mine and connected. My breath stopped short as I wished with all my might. Sure enough, her hand extended to me and I began to tingle and vibrate with joy. I reached my hand to hers and she helped me into the sled. It was rapture. She began to push me around and around. I know there were other sleds. I know there were other children. But my grandma told me later that I was the only one who waved to all the audience, with a beautific smile on my face. When it was over and I was helped back into my front row seat, I was a changed little girl. That moment created in me a knowledge that I was indeed special. And that no one would ever ever be able to take that away from me. No matter what life crap had befallen me before. And no matter what life crap would befall me in the future.

Anything else you’ve always wanted to be asked?
Nothing comes to mind at the moment.

Thanks, PBG!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Two hymns -- one traditional, one contemporary. Give thanks for all our blessings today; friends, fellowship and the spiritual food that comes our way.

Sunday Prayer

Loving God, Holy Mystery, we give thanks this day for all the ways in which we encounter you and experience your presence in our midst. In quiet moments of heartfelt intentional prayer, and in drive-by prayers whispered in the midst of life’s chaos – you are there. Thank you God.

We thank you for our faith and all who share in this journey of spiritual discovery. Bless us all, Holy One, for we are indeed works-in-progress, doing the best we can for this day and seeking each day to learn, grow and live in deeper relationship with you.

Help us to be agents of your love and bearers of your peace in this troubled world. Help us to be a light shining your good news into the shadows, bringing hope, justice, peace and comfort where it is needed most.

Bless, O God, those named in this place today and those whose needs are known only to you. Comfort those who mourn, give strength to those who struggle in body, mind or spirit, and may your Spirit hover close wherever despair and heartache linger.
These, and all the prayers of our hearts, we raise to you in the assurance of our faith. With thankfulness and praise, we share now the prayer that Jesus taught his friends to say when they gathered together…

Do remember that the Wednesday Festival content comes from your nominations - of your own posts or others'. It's easy: Send them by Monday each week to and they shall appear!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Still the Future is Largely Unknown: the 11th Hour Preaching Party


We live in a fractured, fractious, and rapidly changing world. Now, as in ages past, the future is largely unknown. We yearn for this to be otherwise. We want certainty, time tables, and exact details.

Life does not work that way...(sigh)...

Still, we do not need to be victims of our fear. We can deflate the potency of chance and "fate" by looking carefully at our suffering and the suffering of the world. When we examine suffering we will find, in a history of people living though it, courage and creativity. Living through our suffering takes endurance and faith.

As we near the end of the Gospel of Luke we find these "apocalyptic predictions" of Jesus warning the disciples that they will suffer. We are coming once again to the days before the crucifixion. We are near the completion of the liturgical cycle, just a few short weeks before we start again at the beginning. Advent beckons us. But first...

In these revelations Jesus says to the followers, in essence, "they will suffer." In a violent dark night of the soul their way of thinking and acting will die. Then, by the grace of God, a new way will burn through in the morning light. In the meantime the followers are are invited into the transcendent love of God, which holds them. (Influenced by John Shea, "The Relentless Widow: The Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers.")

As you ponder the scripture for this Sunday are you feeling like the future is largely unknown? Are you praying about what to say and how to unpack Luke 21:5-19? Or are you considering Isaiah 65:17-25. Or perhaps Malachi 4:102a? Maybe you hear something in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 that speaks to your congregation? Or perhaps you are going with Psalm 98, "Sing to the Lord a new song?" How are the readings speaking to you about change and hope for new life? About fear and the possibility of something new? About being held in the love of God? About spiritual grounding in turbulent times. What else do you hear in these readings, or the other readings you are preaching on?

We stand ready to pray, think, ponder, cry, scream (if necessary) and laugh together. It's a party! I have fresh, Fair Trade coffee, a pot of water for tea, and all kinds of goodies. Welcome to the preacher party. What may I get you?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Five: Think About These Things Edition

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, NRSV)

Friends, it's nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S. and it's the time of year when we are pressed to name things for which we are thankful. I want to offer a twist on the usual lists and use Paul's letter to the church at Philippi as a model. Name five things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. These could be people, organizations, acts, ideas, works of art, pieces of music--whatever comes to mind for you.

Clearly, Molly the Blogging Dog belongs on such a list. Thanks to jo(e) for the great picture of Molly.

Let us know in comments if you play and we'll pay you a visit.

And to receive even more excellent traffic (!), 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, November 15, 2007

RGBP, Inc. Membership Update and Board Elections

An email has gone out to all current and former RGBP, Inc. members to provide notice of the upcoming Board of Directors election. Many of you who joined us in 2006 have not yet renewed your membership by paying dues (per the October 17 post here). If you have not paid dues for the year (since September 1, 2007), your ballot will not be counted in the upcoming Board of Directors election.

If you are not sure whether your membership is current, or have other questions, please email me at marybeth AT unt DOT edu and I'll get back to you ASAP.

Those wishing to join or renew membership may do so by Wednesday, November 21 at 5:00 p.m. in order to have their ballot counted in the election. Remember that dues are $25 for regular members, $10 for current students, and $0 for members of religious orders with a vow of poverty.

Dues can be paid by Paypal on the sidebar of this RevGals site.

Members who are current with dues by Nov. 21 will receive a proxy ballot, which must be returned by Friday, November 23 at 5:00 p.m. Membership will be verified and qualifying votes will be counted by the Secretary. The current Board will meet online on Monday, November 26 and the election carried out. A report will be released to the membership and the blog thereafter.


Mary Beth Butler
Treasurer, RGBP Inc.

Ask the Matriarch — I'm Saved! Now What?

This question deals with the phenomenon of people leaving the church AFTER they convert or reaffirm, not because of losing their faith but because so much emphasis is placed on "getting saved" that everything after is anticlimactic, or just plain neglected.

The question was posited for charismatic and evangelical churches. One of the things I asked our matriarchs was whether this was something that these churches can learn from mainline folks on? It also reminded me of the common mainline phenomenon of the Christmas and Easter attendee, although we didn't talk about that quite as much, but it still comes down to:

Engagement! Engagement! Engagement!

The original question:

In many evangelical and charismatic churches there is a lot of emphasis on evangelism - getting people saved and into church. Not all stay however. I wonder what experience the matriarchs have about 'those who leave via the back door' - and perhaps my question is "how can we help people to stay in the church once they have got the basics of Christianity under their belt?"

So Singing Owl says: "I wish we could all sit down together, mainline church people and evangelical church people, and share openly about what it means to be the church. (That is why I love the Rev Gals!)"

She continues with some excellent thoughts from her own experience:

In the evangelical culture, I think that in our hurry to get people "saved" we have seriously changed what Jesus said. Jesus said that to remain in his love we must obey what he says. He said, "follow me." He also said to count the cost before becoming his follower. Jesus warns us that while his yoke is easy and his burden light, being his follower will cost us everything. What do we make of statements like "Keep your life for yourself and you will lose it; lose your life and you'll find it." Too often we ignore them.

While it seems in my area there are Catholics and mainline people who know more about form or structure than about God, there are evangelicals who once said “a sinner's prayer” and who attend church and know how to find scripture verses and can sing all the hymns -- who do not know God and check their faith at the door. And there are many others who haven’t been part of a church for a long time, but point to a sinner’s prayer moment and think they are fine. Magic prayer. Tragic!

Evangelicals tend to think that the Catholic church, and some mainline Protestant denominations, may be lacking in an awareness of relationship with God and not just religious ritual. But evangelicals have, to an alarming degree, lost any sense of the holiness of God. I do believe that knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing him. Being baptized is just getting wet if it is not about something that must happen in our spirits. Being "born from above" is radical! But how and when this happens is becoming more and more of a mystery to me.

If we are looking for numbers, we can all take lessons from people like Joel Osteen. But if we are interested in making disciples, we must find ways to be more honest up front. Mainline churches have been discussing falling memberships for some time. Now we evangelicals are discussing the same issues, megachurches notwithstanding. The Assemblies of God leadership recently shared some alarming statistics that made clear that we urge to “get saved” (a phrase I no longer use) but we are not making disciples.

I think the church of the 21st century is going to be about relationships. People who come to church will generally leave if they do not make friendships, and if they are not challenged. Perhaps we need to spend more time helping those who are followers of Jesus learn how to share their faith in a “lifestyle” kind of way and stop competing.

I think we evangelicals can learn from our mainline friends and put something like confirmation classes back in place. We can return to an awareness of spiritual disciplines—a phrase I never even heard till about 10 years ago! We can take time to teach what being a follower of Christ is, and we can stop counting people who have said a prayer as followers of Jesus.

Mainline people can learn from us that there are times when people need a “moment” in time when
they make a conscious to repent—consciously change direction. This may come at confirmation, but perhaps not. It is not about better programs, more exciting music, etc. That may bring bodies into the building, but it will not make Jesus followers.

Ann adds some notes on how to engage folks. "Sounds like people are hungry for more now that they have a taste and the 'high' of feeling saved," she writes. "The being 'saved' is mainly about me -- the next step is to find one's ministry and support to continue the work where my gifts and the world's needs meet."

She suggests small groups of study, prayer, reflection on the intersection life and ministry and where God is calling 'me' to go beyond myself and serve the world. In addition to ongoing study, small groups can also plan activities that include praying together, sharing their closest moments to Christ and plans for the future, creating accountability with one another, and praying for one another during the week.

And whatever you do for the sporadic parishioner, don't do what one of Jan's predecessors did for his/her Christmas and Easter crowd. "Saying during announcements: 'I'm going to turn my back to the congregation and ask those who don't plan to be with us next week to leave.'(True story. And they wonder why the church imploded.) Better: Be real. Be loving. Show the compassion of God. Say/do something that makes a difference."

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wednesday Festival

Dear Readers,

Enjoy the following posts! One of the delights of the Festival is discovering some writing (and blogs!) that I've somehow missed. I hope you feel the same way.

Sally shares a reflection on Mary as well as a few questions about the internet and pastoral care.

As Advent comes closer, Ginger at WalkHumbly who celebrates a new baby and shares a couple of conversations with her older son -- one is a great interaction with a little girl and the other a conversation about baby Jesus.

At Faithstones, Jacque has just written some commentary on the ordination
of two women in the RC WomenPriest movement.

And, Shawna shares ideas that we could all use about Self-Nurture and Sabbath-Keeping and Making Room to Be Women.

Leah Sophia has some very cool images of in process and in-progress graphics from 1 John. Take a look at 1 John 3:1a and 1 John 3:17

Have you ever wondered what's it like to visit your church? Mitch takes a vacation visit to another church that made him look at their church through the eyes of a visitor.

As always, if you forgot to recommend the post that made you laugh out loud or wipe away tears (I know they're out there!), mention it in the comments -- or send it in for next week.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Judgment and Hope

That's what this Sunday lectionary lessons are all about. It's not quite Advent yet, but we're beginning to hear about "the end of days." Malachi talks of God's ultimate condemnation of the wicked and vindication of the righteous. The 2 Thessalonians reading warns about idleness and its attendant ills -- perhaps because members of that community, expecting an imminent Second Coming, were so heavenly minded that they became no earthly good? -- and encourages members of the faith community to perservere in good works and strive for self-sufficiency. In the Gospel lesson Jesus, while cautioning his followers against false Messiahs and premature reports of the end, talks about its coming, and reassures them that they will be able to endure what persecutions lie ahead.

What will you be preaching/praying about this coming week? And how do you tackle the eschatological themes in these lessons in the face of pop Christianity's sometimes excessive fascination with the topic? Feel free to share your ideas and questions!

Musical Musings: For you, O Lord, my soul in stillness waits

My commute is short, 5 or 10 minutes, so I don't spend much time listening to the radio. This time of the year, though, I tend to tune in to NPR instead of my favorite rock station. Somewhere around Thanksgiving, B101 starts playing Christmas music 24/7. Since I view Advent as a season in its own right, and one I particularly cherish, this relentless intrusion of "arrival" into my time of "expectation" truly grates. In hopes of avoiding the unavoidable, I shun the mall, and prevail on my beloved spouse to do the grocery shopping (and even he, unchurched for so many years, is starting to feel the dissonance). The advent of iTunes (pun fully intended) has let me create my own musical space, and starting on that first Sunday in Advent, I will shuffle delightedly through my several hundred song Advent playlist. Join me in reclaiming a bit of that space...

1. Ode to St. Cecilia (Benjamin Britten) and The Trumpet's Loud Clangour (from Handel's An Ode for St. Cecilia's Day): I'll admit, neither of these are truly Advent pieces, but the feast of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, falls on November 22, so they start my playlist. The Britten piece is gently but richly textured, with a soaring soprano line. (Britten was aptly born on the feast of St. Cecilia.)

2. The Messiah: Yes, I know, it's a traditional Christmas war horse, particularly the Hallelujah chorus. For Advent, though, listen to Part I, especially Every Valley, And the Glory of the Lord (the texts are from Isaiah). There are hundreds of version of this but I like this one from St. Martin in the Fields. (For Christmas, try For Unto Us a Child is Born, the Hallelujah Chorus is really for Easter!)

3. Bach's Advent cantatas are not to be missed. I once spent an Advent in Vienna, so this DVD brings back memories of going to Vesper's at St. Stephen's cathedral there and hearing this magnificent music. This is Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting...

4. Some might consider the Magnificat to be the original Advent hymn, though New Testament scholars are more likely to point out its roots in Old Testament canticles. There are thousands of versions, but Handel's Carmelite Vespers is a place to start. In same vein, Cathy and I invite you to listen to Anonymous 4's English Ladymass

5. An Advent playlist would certainly not be complete without O Come, O Come Emmanuel, but try adding Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming, In the Bleak Midwinter and Ralph Vaughn Williams' The Call to the list.

7. The O Antiphons, the short snippets traditionally used before the Magnificat at Vespers on the last days leading up to Christmas, form the basis for O Come, O Come Emmanuel, but I prefer this version by Marty Haugen for my own sung prayer: My Soul in Stillness Waits

May you find in this season of light, a few tranquil moments, perhaps shepherded along the way by some of this music. In case the music is not enough, I offer in closing this prayer:
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light, look favorably upon your people throughout the world. By your mysterious providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; for all time belongs to you, and all Ages. We pray then, in the fullness of your time bring all things to perfection by him, through whom all things were made—your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God of Love, for ever and ever.
(With thanks to Fr. Vincent Pizzuto and the New Skellig Community.)

Uh-oh:'s coming, too! To celebrate musically, try
Copeland's Simple Gifts or the Brigham Young University's choir (on both CD and DVD).

Notes: I have an earlier version of the Britten CD, which is out of print, but Amazon has used copies. The painting is Rubens' robust St. Cecilia.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Music Video - Kyrie Eleison

Last weekend I was awake at 5:30 am, to worship with 9 others in a tiny stone chapel in the Berkshires. There was no accompaniment to support our scratchy morning voices, but we sang nonetheless. As we all stood around the altar in the warmly lit chapel wrapped in that deep stillness that precedes the dawn, the presiding priest chanted the Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy - if you're not up on your Greek), and made the sign of the cross on each of our foreheads with water. The Kyrie echoed off the walls with our response. I felt as if we had somehow bumbled our way to T.S. Eliot's "still point of the turning world. " Now that I'm immersed in the normal chaos of my life (I just demanded that my 13-yr old come down from the roof), I long for that still point. I found it again in these two beautiful a capella Kyries.

The first of the two is from the Missa Pange Lingua of Josquin Des Prez, a major composer of liturgical music from the 15th/16th century. This mass is a cantus firmus - which means its magnificent polyphony sits on top of a base melody (the fixed song or cantus firmus). Originally such compositions were based on ecclesial chants, but later drew from popular secular music. This mass is set, perhaps a bit ironically for this Remembrance Day weekend, on a French Renaissance song "L'homme armé" (the armed man). (My kids read this and wondered what it might be like if you wrote a mass setting to "Row, row, row your boat" or Britney Spears' latest. Food for thought?)

To balance my still offering - what lively things did you sing today?

If you long for more stillness in motion, read Burnt Norton or listen to Eliot read it. You can find the rest of Missa Pange Lingua at Amazon as a CD or downloadable MP3.

Remembrance Sunday Prayer

This is a prayer that was written by Gord for last year's Remembrance Sunday observance. It is profound and thought-provoking, so I thought it would be good to share it again.

God of peace and love, on this 11th day of the 11th month we once again gather to remember. We remember that in Jesus of Nazareth you have called us to be people of peace saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and reminding us that we are to love our neighbour and our enemy as we love ourselves.
But we also acknowledge that there are times when we as a global community fail to live out those words, times when young men and women hear the call to don the uniforms of their country and serve under their flag.
Today we give thanks for all who have chosen to serve their country. We give thanks for their bravery, their commitment, and their love.
But we know that when armies meet on the field there are always some who don’t come home.
And so we pause in the memory of those who went and did not return to mothers and wives and children left behind.

We remember battles at Ypres, and Passchendale, and Vimy Ridge in the war we were told would end all wars, battles where the blood of enemies mingled in the mud and water of France and Belgium.
And we remember those who fell in the war that came a scarce generation later. And again young men died in places like Hong Kong, and Ortona, and Dieppe, and Juno Beach, and in the Netherlands.
We remember all who fell and were buried far from home, or who sank to a watery grave in the cold Atlantic.

Then as the years past the roles changed and we sent our best to help keep the peace in places like Cyprus, and the Golan Heights, and Cambodia. And still some died and were buried.
And now, in these last few months we find that our young have returned to the battlefield, only to have over 50 of them return in a coffin carried solemnly to a waiting aircraft.

God, whose hope for the world is peace, on this day we not only remember the fallen of Canada who lie buried under a military tombstone. We remember also the fallen of Germany, and Japan, and France, and Australia. Or Italians, and native Afghanis, and English. This day we honour all who die as a result of humanity’s common failing to live in the peace you have hoped for all these millennia.

God, we pray too for those who returned from battle forever changed by what they had seen. For those who bore, and still bear, wounds of body and soul. In particular we remember those from within this Legion community who have died since the last time we gathered in this way: (read names from bulletin).

And now, God of love, as we have remembered and honoured, we prepare to go back into our everyday lives. May the remembering we have done here today reawaken and strengthen our commitment to work for peace, true peace. Help us to remember that peace will never truly come from a gun barrel but from the depths of our hearts. Help us remember our calling to be peacemakers at home and abroad, in the big things and in the small. And may we never forget the cost that has already been paid.

God of peace that surpasses all understanding, we pray our remembrances and our hopes in the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who taught his friends to pray by saying together:
Our Father, who art in heaven…


Do remember that the Wednesday Festival content comes from your nominations - of your own posts or others'. It's easy: Send them by Monday each week to and they shall appear!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party: Going Postal Edition

Friends, Preachers, Kibbutzers~
Lend me your ears.
After a tough week of wrestling with the texts, I settled on a somewhat edgy theme, thinking to myself, "Self, the pledges will be collected before the sermon begins. You can push the boundaries in your message about having a passion for the Good News."
With that attitude, I wrote most of a sermon on Thursday.
Now we have learned that our Stewardship mailing was lost by the post office. Pledge letters will be mailed, again, on Tuesday (Monday holiday, naturally). There is still time for one more Stewardship message.
Will I find a way to rally the troops on this Veteran's Day Sunday?
Or will I go back to the drawing board?
Tune in throughout the day and see what this preacher does, and let us know what you are doing, too.
Meanwhile, coffee and tea are on the way. We have bananas and apples, delicious whole grain bread, and I might even rise to making an egg if you ask nicely!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday 5- extravagant unbusyness....

I am writing in my official capacity of grump!!! No seriously, with the shops and stores around us filling with Christmas gifts and decorations, the holiday season moving up on us quickly for many the time from Thanksgiving onwards will be spent in a headlong rush towards Christmas with hardly a time to breathe.... I am looking at the possibility of finding little gaps in the day or the week to spend in extravagant unbusyness ( a wonderful phrase coined by fellow revgal Michelle)...

So given those little gaps, name 5 things you would do to; care for your body

2. to care for your spirit

3. to care for your mind

4. to bring a sparkle to your eye

5. to place a spring in your step

Enjoy the time to indulge and dream.... and then for a bonus which one on the list are you determined to put into action?

Let us know in comments if you play and we'll trek on over.

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, November 08, 2007

Ask the Matriarchs: Expectations during a transition

Greetings, everyone! I confess that this week I'm not able to think critically about how to synthesize these answers, as I have a nasty sinus infection that really wants to be bronchitis when it grows up. So I'll just put these out there and encourage you, as always, to share your stories about transitions you've dealt with in your ministry along this line:

So I have found myself in a situation which I do not think is unique, but has never happened to me. I was hoping for some wisdom.

Last Christmas, our senior pastor left for new and different things. For the last year, we have been without a senior pastor. We have muddled along pretty well this year with supply and interim priests. But our search committee has issued an invitation now for the new rector. And here is where the questions start for me. It was told to me early on that when a new senior pastor came on board, as an associate I was to offer my resignation and let him "bring in his own team." On the other hand a number of parishioners, including some on the search team, have told me that I was not supposed to do that, but stay in place and just keep doing what I have been doing the whole time. My question is, what to do? I don't really want to relocate, but I also don't want to break form, or prevent the church from moving in a new direction. What would yall do? What have you done?

Ann says, having some denomination-related insight to this:
Dioceses have different policies on this situation. Look in your Diocesan Canons and in your letter of agreement (hopefully you had one of these when you began your ministry with this church) before doing anything else. Your bishop may also have something to say about your staying.

Many places do require a resignation of all staff - especially clergy and pastoral staff. If there is no guidance elsewhere, sit down with the new person and discuss your staying or going.

No matter what is decided avoid all temptation to "poison the well" of your current church - not that I think you would do this. Some leaders are threatened by others in leadership positions who have a history before they got there. Others are delighted to have continuity.

Peripatetic Polar Bear says:
A new rector (or senior pastor in any denomination for that matter) is going to bring about lots of fabulousness and lots of stress. Especially for you. There is no one hard and fast rule about staying or going. The only hard and fast rule is that everyone thinks there is a hard and fast rule, but they can't agree on what the hard and fast rule is!

Generally, you need to look at a couple of things: local culture (what do other churches in your region do? ask your bishop), "fit" with new rector/senior pastor, and whether or not he or she expected you to be part of the package deal (question: did he or she meet you in the process? find out anything about your skills/strengths/history?)

My recommendation is an honest conversation with him or her in the first few weeks. Even if he/she wants you to move, unless you REALLY don't get along, generally the pattern is that you within the year you start submitting your documents and interviewing--not that you immediately take off. Remember, this church has just now called its rector--they don't need to be without an associate before they've gotten to know the senior! Hand-in-hand with whether or not he/she wants you to stay is whether or not you feel like the new person is a good match for your style. It may well be that after a year of "muddling," you've developed some new skills and may be ready, actually, to look at different types of calls yourself!

It's an awkward time. It's going to take a couple of months to sort out either way (getting used to a new supervisor,should you stay, takes time, too). Give yourself a few breaks in this liminal period.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wednesday Festival: Invitations, Remembrances, and the Quotidian

Greetings, folks! Fall seems to be well on its way here, with leaves everywhere and chilly evenings.

Scott ran a half-marathon in Sioux, City, Iowa over the weekend! Pics and the full story here!

And in a related story, Mrs. M. offers an invitation. Gee, Mrs. M, I like that idea so much...will have to get back to you! Maybe Scott will be on your team!

Christine is inviting us to yet another type of party: her Poetry Party!

Gord shares a couple of sermons for Remembrance Day (Veterans Day, Armistice Day, what you call it). Follow this link to read them. Songbird has a great All Saints sermon remembering a wonderful man.

QG shares a great movie review with a surprising twist!

The Wingéd Man is thinking about the links between repentance, parenting, and positive discipline over here. And, it's out of the mouths of babes at Amy's place.

In my own backyard, I invite you to tell or show (or both) what is in your kichen window. Also, my dogs have started blogging.

If you have something to nominate or share for this week, it's not too late...just shout out in the comments!

Here's how to insert your link into a 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.

And, for next week and the future, do remember that the festival content comes from your nominations - of your own posts or others'. It's easy: Send them by Monday each week to, and they shall appear!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "From Here to Eternity" Edition

This coming Sunday's lectionary readings speak to us about hope -- the hope that God's saving power reaches into the future as well as into the present. That is the theme of all the Old Testament readings -- the seemingly hopeless nonetheless holding on to the hope of God's saving action. In the 2 Thessalonians reading, Paul -- a Paul whom one assumes is pondering his own mortality as he languishes in prison -- rather poignantly hopes that the Christian community he's nurtured will continue in the truth in his absence. And in our Gospel reading Jesus challenges his challengers to think beyond the cramped parameters of their religious and social traditions and imagine a God much bigger than the letter of their law.

So much to ponder in the lessons this week! Please share your thoughts here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday Meet and Greet: Where Are We Going Today?...

We have no new members to Meet this week, which happens on occasion! But we have someone to Greet, and a place to go on this November morning...diane's place.

diane will host our Revgals book club conversation on Monday, November 26th. We will discuss the poetry of Mary Oliver and her new book, "Thirst." (remember you can buy the book through the RevGals link to Amazon...)diane knows a lot about poetry, so even if you are a novice, or have never understood poetry, you will find the discussion interesting and insightful...and Oliver's poetry is fabulous. So, to get us ready for that, here is an interview with diane...

Where to you blog?

What are you favorite non revgal pal blogs?
1. Wild and precious - lj -- here
I think she should join the revgals. She's great!
2. franiam - here
She has a political and personal blog
3. Pastor David at Postings from Prairie Hill here
He just recently did a series on Alzheimers during "All Saints" week.
4. Rowan the Dog -- he is very perceptive, witty and a great theologian here

What gives you joy?
Baptizing babies, teaching the Bible to children, walking my dog, and going on short trips with my husband.

What is your favorite sound?
I don't know why I thought of it right now, but the sound of the ice cream truck came into my mind. There are lots of others too, but also, the sound of my dog sighing when she is asleep at night.

What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
Come on in, you're home! (This is not original, it's the title of a book about baptism illustrated by children.

You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
"Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning."

Write the best sentence of your own great American novel.
I've given up hope of writing a great American novel. But here is a first sentence of SOMETHING I might write:
Because my mother had grown up on a farm in rural Minnesota, I thought I knew a thing or two about small towns.

What color do you prefer your pen?
Black -- then I can never make a mistake on marriage licenses and other official documents. Although I keep a set of multi-colored pens for fun. I used to change the colors when I kept a journal more faithfully.

What magazines do you subscribe to?
1. Christian Century
2. The Bark (dog magazine) -- it's really good too! in the last issue, they published a poem by Mary Oliver
3. The Week -- synopsis of newspapers and magazine from all over the world
4. Eating Well
5. Leadership. Great cartoons

What is something you want to achieve in this decade?
Get something published. Actually, more than one thing would be good.
Write a memoir.

Why are you cool?
I don't think I'm cool. I've never been cool. My confirmation girls have made me cool. And my dog.

What is one of your favorite memories?
Picking strawberries on my grandparent's farm.

Anything else you wanted to be asked?
Probably tons of things! Hmmm... if you weren't a pastor, what would you be?
Small bookstore owner. Still think it would be a great double ministry -- a church, with a bookstore in it.

Thanks, diane!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Music Video - For All the Saints

Here is a wonderful hymn - For all the Saints - Tune is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

Our hymnal has 8 verses (how come we only sang 4 verses?). What hymns did you sing? Our post communion hymn was one of my favorites "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" - but alas, it has not hit the Youtube scene.... yet....

What did you all sing today?

Sunday Prayer

Ever-present, Loving God, with humble gratitude I offer the prayers of my heart. I have so much for which to be thankful...for every glimpse of your love and grace that touches my life, for shelter and food to sustain me, for the sense of your Spirit hovering close in the ordinary and extraordinary moments of life.

God, I'm thankful tonight for cool autumn evenings and the symphony of barking dogs outside my window (though honestly, they may not sound as good in a few hours). I'm thankful for my faith community and the blessing of serving in their midst.

As we honour the saints who have gone before us, I ask your blessing upon our church family this morning. Enfold us all in your care, and etch upon our hearts the assurance that in life, in death and in life beyond death, we are not alone - you are with us. Bless all who are feeling the cold sting of a recent bereavement, as well as those whose loss is slowly evolving into a bittersweet ache in the soul.

God, I'm also thankful tonight for the support and care of our online faith community, the RevGals. I pray that all who are called to preach the word this morning will be blessed and lifted up on the wings of the Spirit's bold care and inspiration. All this I pray in the name of the One who calls me forward, Jesus Christ, who taught his friends to pray together saying...


(* A reminder: Don't forget to change your clocks if you are in an area affected by Daylight Savings Time.)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party

Zacchaeus climbed up in a tree to see Jesus; sometimes I feel I need to do the same to see Jesus enough to write a decent sermon. I'm not short, but dude (and dudess), that crowd blocking the sight lines can be tall!

I think I'm preaching about Jesus' grace being greater than the grumblings of the crowd, and the need for us to sometimes get out of the way. We'll see how it actually turns out. How about you? What good news are you bringing your congregations this week? Where are you stuck? What do you need from the gathered preaching community? I know I'm bound to need a children's sermon at the very least...

The coffee is set to start brewing early as usual for you overseas folks and early risers. Blessedly, I have absolutely no time commitments tomorrow - for once - so I'll be back with you after a nice long sleep. Halloween cupcakes, anyone? That's all the food I have around here. I could stock the table with a virtual repast, but by now, I've come to trust my preaching pals to provide a much better spread than I could imagine! So, pull up a chair, or curl up in one of our comfy couches, and party on, preaching pals!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday Five: Interviews

Songbird just had an interview for a "vague and interesting" possibility, and More Cows than People is doing campus visits for doctoral programs. There always seem to be a few RevGals applying for new positions, and I just got my first call for this year's preliminary interviews for college teaching jobs at the American Academy of Religion meeting in San Diego coming up in a few weeks. It's for my dream job among this year's offerings, and I am flipflopping between excitement and nervousness. So please keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer for everyone facing such conversations, and share your thoughts on the wonderful world of interviews:

1. What was the most memorable interview you ever had?

2. Have you ever been the interviewer rather than the interviewee? If so, are you a tiger, a creampuff, or somewhere in between?

3. Do phone interviews make you more or less nervous than in-person ones?

4. What was the best advice you ever got to prepare for an interview? How about the worst?

5. Do you have any pre-interview rituals that give you confidence?

As always, let us know in comments if you play. 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, November 01, 2007

Ask the Matriarchs — Interventions Anonymous

Greetings to all on this first day of November (can you believe it?), All Saint's Day and, as chance would have it, the 37th anniversary of my christening. This week, we have a question that pertains to addressing problem drinking behavior faithfully:

In my quasi-well-not-really, unofficial lay ministry work I have had occasion to meet/talk to individuals with drinking issues—big drinking issues: the kind of drinking problems that involve drinking prodigious amounts at gatherings, then sneaking out to drink even more in private; carrying liquor in tote bags and travel mugs; smelling like stale liquor all the time; making preemptive verbal strikes against "controlling people," and even justifying their drinking for health reasons. ("It's good for my heart.")

My head tells me that, in the words of the 12-Steppers, the first thing these folks need to do is admit that they have a problem, and that until they do there's not a lot that I can do for them. My heart tells me that, on some level, these people do experience a diminishment of life because of their alcohol abuse, do know that something is wrong, but are afraid to acknowledge that.

I am struggling with what, apart from prayer, I can do for my friends as an individual Christian, as someone who drinks in moderation at social events and as someone who, in these people's minds, represents "the Church."

Our matriarchs seem to agree that the best course may be terribly frustrating for you because as much as our inclinations are to "save" them from destructive behavior, we may impede our own efforts if we try to push someone into treatment or therapy when the person we genuinely want to help won't or can't acknowledge that there is a problem, and that's all too common, as the first of the 12 Steps does acknowledge. "You can love them as any child of God, but you cannot fix the alcoholism until they want it to be fixed," writes Peripatetic Polar Bear. Jacque agrees: "Whatever you do, you need to let go of any idea that your action is going to stop their drinking. You can only be a witness to a better life, and a possible piece in the process of someone else hitting bottom and making a decision to get help."

But as Jan notes, "One of the things we do not do well in the church is hold each other accountable. We have lost that aspect of Christian community, replacing it with the more Western preference for individualism (you go your way, I'll go mine. But being in community with each other means knowing each other and trusting each other well enough to "admonish one another," very Colossians 3."

So how does one balance these two things in tension? Here are some thoughts from our matriarchs:

  • Attend Al-Anon meetings, or read their materials, says Ann. "They are are great group for those who want to be there for family and friends but don't know what to do. They will help you sort out your issues around alcohol and teach you how to remain engaged but detached." By being familiar, you'll be better prepared when they do start seeking help.
  • Don't drink with them. Unfortunately, trying to demonstrate how to drink responsibly on your part may be seen as a stamp of approval of their drinking. Same goes for tending them when they're unable to take care of their own needs. It's kind of tough love, but it can be ncessary. "You have to stop enabling these people in whatever way you may be enabling—whether it is caring for (rescuing) them when they've been drinking, or drinking 'socially' with them," writes Jacque.
  • Demonstrate gentle concern when the opportunity arises. You can "leave the door open for the conversation," says PPB. "For instance, if a friend says, 'I can't seem to keep a job,' you might reply with, 'Do you think your drinking is playing into that?'
  • Don't be surprised when they pull away. That really is a when. When you take those opportunities to express concern, you're probably not going to get a good response, says PPB, but it's still getting filed away in their brains. It's part of the descent to rock bottom that often is a catalyst for turning things around. "You must be ready for the person to pull away from you," says Jacque. "It is natural that when we do not want to acknowledge a problem, we avoid those who see it." When all the enablers and friends turn away, an intervention has a better chance of succeeding, for as upsetting it is for the people who care.
  • Don't abandon them, though. When they come asking for help, have the resources and information they need, says Ann. Meet with them socially and make sure you have "attractive" alternatives to alcohol available for them at functions you are involved with.
  • Talk to experienced folks. Meet with other recovering alcoholics, for instance. They may have insights that can help you handle this gracefully, says Ann. Another thing you may want to consider is talking to a therapist who can counsel you on how to do an intervention involving the family and friends of the alcoholic/addict. It's not something you should attempt alone. It might be as simple, as Jan writes, as you and another person "saying you've noticed they not only drink a lot but drink secretly (maybe you could say "privately"), and you love them and are worried."
  • Convey love, not judgment. Jan notes that this important little detail can greatly improve the conversation.

Alcoholism affects families, friends and colleagues. How do you handle this in your ministry, when it comes up? Please share with us in the comments, or consider writing a reflection in your own blog on ministering, as we Episcopalians say in our Prayers of the People, to "the sick, the friendless, and the needy"--for alcoholics can be all of these. If you do, post a link in comments below back here using this formula: <a href="your blogpost URL">what you want the link to say</a>

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