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Monday, March 31, 2008

From The Big Event

Meet 'N Greet the Meet 'N Greeters

Since we have no new members to introduce and no interviews in the queue, here are interviews about your Meet 'N Greeters.

Where do you blog? seekingauthenticvoice.

What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs? I don’t read any non Revgal blogs

What gives you joy? Birds chirping on a sunny day…babies in church…a cold glass of iced tea on a hot afternoon

What is your favorite sound? Cello, bubbling water in a creek…

What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates? Oh, gosh, you are here already?

You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone? She always tried to do the right thing…

Write the first sentence of your own great American novel. It was a cold snowy Valentine’s Day night….

What color do you prefer your pen? Oh, I don’t care, blue or black usually….

What magazines do you subscribe too? Christian Century, Weavings… I like to read “People” (shhh)…(but I won’t subscribe to it)…

What is something you want to achieve in this decade? No debt…

Why are you cool? Totally not. Or, if I am it’s cuz I am an Episcopal Priest and I also like to listen to contemporary music like Indigo Girls, Neal Young, and Dixie Chicks

What is one of your favorite memories? When I was little we used to drive from Utah to Idaho. My great grandmother lived in the old family farm house. I would eat fresh picked strawberries for breakfast.

Anything else you’ve always wanted to be asked? How do you balance being a priest, a mom, and a wife? I have a great husband you helps a lot with everything…couldn’t do it otherwise.

Reverend Mommy

Where do you blog? reverend mommy's random thoughts

What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs? I always read the Methoblog aggregator, so that includes all the recent postings of the MethoBlogoSphere. I also read a few of my friend’s blogs…

What gives you joy? A well cooked meal with friends, early morning prayer and coffee, my family -- my husband and children, flying a small plane on a cold clear day.

What is your favorite sound? A cat purring and my kids playing the cello and violin. I’d love to play, if my fingers would cooperate!

What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates? Meow! Meow! Purr, purr, purr, purr.

You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone? Pepperoni, extra cheese, mushrooms and black olives. Wait – a literal tombstone? “For all things are woven together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” Rms 8:28

Write the first sentence of your own great American novel. (Here’s the first chapter!) The Reverend Fiona Marie Tolliver Claiborne Anderson stood at the mirror in her office bunching her hair this way and then that.

What color do you prefer your pen? Usually black. Boring, I know.

What magazines do you subscribe too? National Geographic, Discover, Christian Century, Weavings, Bead and Button, Stitches.

What is something you want to achieve in this decade? Clean the house – every single drawer, every closet and behind every piece of furniture (including the appliances) so that it’s all clean all at the same time. Lose weight, learn to play another musical instrument (I want to play the Theremin). Have my kids graduate HS. Build a little log cabin in the woods. Get my Black Belt.

Why are you cool? Heh. I’m not cool. I suppose ‘cause I’m techno-savvy, I can write good liturgy, I’m a private pilot, I’m an optimist.

What is one of your favorite memories? Going to the Oshkosh air show with two itty bitty kids and pulling them around in the little red wagon. Watching them as they watched the airplanes.

Anything else you've always wanted to be asked? Hmmm… Who would you like to thank? (You know, like at the Oscars.) I’d like to thank God, my Loving Husband, my kids and all our parents – without them none of this would be possible.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: I Know that My Redeemer Lives

I’m not sure Charles Wesley or George Frideric Handel imagined this hymn, inspired by Job 19:25, taking quite this form, but the glories of Easter are surely made present. Charles Wesley (who with his brother John) founded the Methodists, composed over 6000 hymns. Wesley might have been more than a bit annoyed with Eaton’s reworking of his piece. The preface to the 1779 Methodist Hymnal carries a warning from John Wesley:
I beg leave to mention a thought which has been long upon my mind, and which I should long ago have inserted in the public papers, had I not been unwilling to stir up a nest of hornets. Many gentlemen have done my brother and me (though without naming us) the honour to reprint many of our hymns. Now they are perfectly welcome to do so, provided they print them just as they are. But I desire they would not attempt to mend them, for they are really not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse. Therefore, I must beg of them these two favours: either to let them stand just as they are, to take things for better or worse, or to add the true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page, that we may no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men.
We sang yet another setting of Wesley's words to close out the octave of Easter today - what did you community send you forth singing?

Prayer for "Laughter" Sunday

…amid the laughter and celebration of this day, it’s good that we pause and remember that many carry burdens that need not be carried alone. (prayer requests)

God of grace, God of love and laughter, we thank you that we are so wondrously created and that we are made for relationship with you and with one another. We thank you for laughter with friends and loved ones. We thank you for the laughter of children, and the song it creates in our hearts.

By your great unending love, you inspire in us a spirit of imagination and creativity. Help us to use that spirit to play more, to laugh more, and to create beauty in every way possible. Remind us to laugh out loud, for doing so will heal some of the wounds within us. Not all, but some.

God, we pray for those who cannot find their laughter today. For those who are grieving, or suffering illness of body, mind or spirit...for those who are lonely and in need of someone to share their time and friendship... for those who have not yet moved into the season and spirit of Easter and find themselves stuck in the gloom of Good Friday.

May these and the troubles of all your people be soothed, blessed, and comforted by your holy presence. May we each find the laughter within us that sets our spirits free, and in that freedom, may we take your love into every part of our lives. These and all the prayers of our hearts we offer now in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray together singing…

Saturday, March 29, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Doubting Thomas Edition

Okay, I'll confess: I've been crabby about that "doubting Thomas" thing for a few years now. Poor Thomas has been libelled as a "doubter" for eons, when there is so much more to him than that (how about "courageous Thomas"? -- He is the one who says to Jesus in John 11, "Let us go, that we may die with him.")

Anyway, in this 2nd week of resurrection appearances, what are you focussing on? Jesus and his wounds? The breath of the Holy Spirit? The testimony of Peter in Acts 2? Or would it be some aspect of Thomas' story?

As for me, I'm meditating on Jesus' greeting: "Peace be with you", and what it means to share the peace -- really. I'm also drinking coffee, and eating oatmeal with blueberries (and a little brown sugar!) -- working on the cholesterol thing.

How about you? What are you working on? Preaching? Playing? Scratching your head over a children's message? Or recovering? Pull up a chair, show us your wounds, tell us your stories.

So -- we're not on the cruise! There's always next year -- right?

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Million Dollar Friday Five

Lingering effects of a cold have me watching more television than usual. There appears to be a resurgence of the old daytime staple--the quiz show. Except they are on during prime time, and a great many of them offer the chance of winning one million dollars.

I think it started with Regis Philbin and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" but now we have a half dozen or so.

My husband and I started musing (after watching "Deal or No Deal") about what we could do with a million dollars. I thought I'd just bring that discussion into the Friday Five this week. It's simple. What are five things you would want to do with a million dollar deposit in your bank account?

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,

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ask the Matriarch — The D. Min D-Lemma

Our first question of the post-Lent season has to do with finding the right time to continue one's education:
I'm being heavily recruited for a new DMin program that is starting in my area. I've always sort of figured I'd do this one day, but I'm not sure now is the right time. Part of me says wait till the kids are older and more self-sufficient. Another part says both the knowledge and the credential will do me more good if I have it now, rather than ten or fifteen years from now. (I'm in my early 40s) I'd be interested in hearing insights and advice from those who have done the DMin thing. Is it worth it? Does timing matter?

Two of our matriarchs with D.Min.s responded with their own experiences, cautioning that without knowing the ages of your children or other factors in your life they can only share what they know. Jacque started her D.Min at age 36, and completed it four years later. She notes that no matter what time you choose to pursue the degree, there will always be things that come up that make you question your timing:
As it turned out I was writing my thesis when my father was dying with hospice care in our living room. There was a time I thought I could not continue, yet with my advisor's encouragement and support I made it.

Jan worked on her D.Min. in a program that ran over six years--and required two weeks a year "on campus" -- the program was three states away, but the structure of the program allowed her to complete it while raising three children under 10.
Actually, it worked well in that I got a little time each year when I wasn't cutting someone's meat/doing laundry/wiping noses, and I was able to focus 100% on the coursework and get it done before returning home.

One thing that Jan noted and Ann echoed is that the D.Min program provides a structure and an attainable goal for coursework that is, basically, continuing education. They also noted that while it's not necessary for most folks to progress vocationally (and often yields few, if any, financial benefits), some "big churches" seem to really look for "The Rev. Dr." title for their pastors. But pursuing the degree for personal fulfillment is a worthy goal. As Jan notes:
It was a good experience with practical benefits for me personally because I chose a program that addressed my personal interests/passions. Also, it gave me a new community of friends with whom I could share adult conversation at least once a year--and many of us also had kids so we shared some parenting talk too.

Jacque notes that you should be prepared for a very different experience with your D.Min. than you had with your M.Div.
We are almost always serving full-time in our ministries and in full-swing life with our families. As we began, our program, the Dean told us that if we had been accustomed to straight "A's" and very grade conscious in our previous degrees -- we needed to let go of that now. This was about something different. That was extremely freeing for me. My "grades" were excellent, but it wasn't because I was grade-conscious in the D.Min. program; it was because I was fully engaged in life and ministry, and the D.Min. program helped me to integrate all of it.

But not everyone can cut that careful balance you have to have, she notes, describing how several of her colleagues fell hopelessly behind. Some were dismissed altogether; others had to choose to drop out. Staying organized is one of the biggest challenges you'll face.

Good luck with your decision and God bless! Anyone else have feedback they'd like to share? Please do so in comments!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday Festival: Starring YOU!

Dear Friends,

It's Easter Wednesday, and the nominations are a little thin. Can it be that you are...tired? Exhausted, even? from the week we have just passed through?

Well, then!

I invite you to come in, sit down with a cup of PG Tips tea or Café Justo (fair trade) coffee and a warm snickerdoodle, and REST.

I'll dish up the offerings so far, and then I invite you to share with us your thoughts on any or all of the following: the Holy Week and Easter past, what you are doing to be kind to yourself and recuperate, "Low Sunday" ahead, the coming of Spring in our world...

Gord's working on a thought-provoking series responding to the 5 fundamentals in fundamental Christianity. He's got 4 of them done; go get started reading now.

Presybterian Gal played the Presbymeme and wrote a little extra credit question on what Jesus would say if he were to address the General Assembly. I warn you NOT to sip your mocha latte while reading this!

And Sally has a bit of a rant, a few thoughts, and a poem for us.

What's up with YOU?
Post a direct link to your entry in your comment using the following formulation: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to, click here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Peace and Joy Edition

Lessons for this coming Sunday can be found here .

Peace and joy. Joy and peace. Those words, and their connotations, can be found throughout our readings. No matter how bad things have been, or are -- it's not the end of the story. That's Jesus' message to his frightened, uncomprehending friends. It's the message Peter proclaims to his listeners in the reading from Acts. And it's the message of the Epistle lesson as well.

Perhaps I'm in an unseasonably pensive mood this morning, but I experienced a bit of cognitive dissonance visiting the lessons after first skimming through a contentious online Christian forum I frequent where the atmosphere is anything but peaceful and joyful, even in the glorious wake of Easter Sunday.

Why is it so hard for us to live into Christ's peace? Do we even understand what peace means? Why do the "Easter people" often seem to be the least joyful of all?

What would our faith communities look and sound like if we truly let ourselves believe that Christ's resurrection gives us reason to be peaceful and joyful right here, right now?

As always, please post your thoughts and ideas and questions here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

RevGalBookPals Discussion--"Bread and Wine"

Greetings, friends, on this Easter Monday! It is the fourth Monday of the month and time for our RevGalBookPals' discussion of Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter.

When we began considering a book for the day after the most important event in the church year, we wanted to find something that would be appropriate for the season of Lent, but also something we could discuss after Easter. This book of essays and poems seemed like a good possibility, and I hope those of you who read it were able to find some points of connection. It includes a wide array of writers, some of whom are women, although it contains a fairly large number of deceased white males. I found the theology being expressed, on the whole, tended to be orthodox, but your mileage may vary.

There were definitely essays with which I found myself in disagreement, particularly where atonement theology is concerned. I imagine if this were not the day after Easter, we could foment a debate on fine theological points. But given that we try to be as inclusive as possible here, and that we may be feeling limp this Monday, I thought I would mention a few of the pieces that touched me particularly and invite you to do the same in the comments.


"Followers, Not Admirers" -- Soren Kierkegaard

I love Kierkegaard's contrast between those who are admirers of Jesus and those who are actually followers, particularly the idea that really following will irritate the admirers! Do we not see this in church all the time?

"Truth to Tell" -- Barbara Brown Taylor

This essay is full of quotable quotes, the kind that cause you to wince. Here's one:

A cross and nails are not always necessary. There are a thousand ways to kill him, some of them as obvious as choosing where you will stand when the showdown between the weak and the strong comes along, others of them as subtle as keeping your mouth shut when someone asks you if you know him.

"Remember Her" -- Ernesto Cardenal

Cardenal records the reflections of a worship group in Lake Nicaragua on the story of the anointing women. I am pretty sure I've read some of this piece before, perhaps in the book "The Women Around Jesus," but since the book is at the office, and I am at home, I can't confirm this. I love everything about their discussion, including the natural conflating of the various gospel accounts of the woman who anoints Jesus. My perspective (my big exegesis paper in seminary plumbed the depths of the Mark pericope) differs from and is enriched by all the comments from Cardenal's group, whether I like them or not!

"God the Rebel" -- G.K. Chesterton

Jesus as insurgent: it's a politically lively notion in our current climate, isn't it? I think it's hard for nice church-going folk to hold onto that picture of our Savior, and I appreciate Chesterton's exploration of the idea of God in rebellion against God's own self.

"The Cross and the Cellar" -- Morton T. Kelsey

Kelsey explores what resides in our depths and much of what he says resonates with me. Along with several other writers in this collection, he points out that the people who participated in Jesus' trial and execution were ordinary, more like us than not.

He writes:

The cross symbolizes what ordinary people do when they fail to see the monsters dwelling deep within their lives.

I expect to continue pondering this one long after Easter.

"A Cosmic Cross" -- Paul Tillich

Now, you knew your UCC gal would go for Tillich, didn't you? ;-)

I very much relate to Tillich's "ground of all being" view of God. As he explores the idea of the shaking of the ground in the earthquake at the crucifixion, he reminds us that we are not saved for material security but for re-imagining what grounds us: the self-surrendering love of God.

"The Greatest Drama" -- Dorothy Sayers

In the section on the Resurrection, there are a number of essays that assert the bodily resurrection, and belief in it, as an absolute necessity. I was about to get tired of the book when I reached Sayers and read this:

" was not that old, limited, mortal body, though it was recognizably like it."

She loosens the terms just enough for movement and grace rather than insisting on locking down the Christian mind to thinking in one way only. I like that.

"Waiting for Judas" -- Madeleine L'Engle

I won't repeat the Judas story she tells but will simply encourage you to read it. It's one of the most hopeful things I've ever heard.

"The Feast of Freedom" -- Jurgen Moltmann

The final section of the book, "New Life," seemed weak to me, or perhaps restricting. So it's probably not surprising that the one essay I wanted to highlight is about freedom! Moltmann encourages us to revolt against the powers of death, in forms ranging from the obvious (hunger and oppression) to the more subtle, described as "the soundless death of the apathetic soul." He urges us to see that our faith contains two parts, both a protest against death and a freedom from death. We must resist the powers of death as conceived by humankind (again, both collective and personal) while at the same time celebrating that death has no power over us. Isn't it much easier to focus on one at a time? We might devote ourselves to social action, as the former, or we might spend our time worshiping and giving thanks that death has no more sting, but really, we need to embrace both. (That may be over-simplifying, but I hope it gives some idea of Moltmann's point.)


Those are my favorite essays from the book. What touched, provoked, challenged or inspired you? I hope you'll leave a comment and tell us.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Music Video - Easter Sunday

When I began to look for an Easter music video, I thought about finding something different, but I kept on returning to the tried and true. I am wondering who did NOT sing this hymn this morning? Is this the most popular Easter Hymn? There were quite a few choices on Youtube, some quite good and some very homegrown. I found this one which is comes from Songs of Praise, broadcast by the BBC and this one was filmed at Lichfield Cathedral

Share with us your Easter Service. What was the highlight? What are you doing to decompress this week?

Please remember also tomorrow Songbird shares the monthly book discussion Bread And Wine: Readings For Lent And Easter. In addition, we'll be sharing some of the upcoming books for discussion!

Easter Prayer

God of wonder and new life, on this day of joy, we give you thanks and praise. We thank you that the story of our faith is made new for us again with the rising of the sun. We pray that the good news of new life in Jesus has lifted the shadows that rested on so many hearts this past week. Thank you God for the power of your love to prevail over the forces of death and despair.

God, so many people in our world, some far from here and some next to us in the pew, are stuck in the sadness and gloom of Good Friday. For these beloved children of your Creation, Easter has not yet arrived in their souls. Grief, pain, loneliness, addiction, poverty, hunger and oppression are only a few of the burdens that your people bear. Lighten these loads, Holy One, and bring the light of your power and presence to all in need of some Easter joy today. Perhaps in some small way, each of us can be a bearer of that joy to someone looking for hope. May it be so, God, this Easter day and every day, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Live! From the Liminal: It's the 11th Hour Preacher Party!!

A blessed Holy Saturday to you, Preachers!

We're in the middle today. He is still in the tomb, but at churches everywhere, preparations are underway for tomorrow. If you're like me, writing the Easter sermon before Good Friday is nearly impossible. If you're not like me, and yours was written six weeks ago, we salute you! Go dye some eggs and check in with us later when we've got some words on the page!

Where are you headed today? Great Vigil? Supermarket in search of Peeps? Walking with Mary in the garden? Or struggling with Matthew's sparer text? Secretly putting together an Easter basket or waxing nostalgic over the days when someone gave you chocolate, instead?

Have any fabulous suggestions for the Children's Message? I'll bet many of us could use help in that area.

I'm headed out to the bakery and the special Italian grocery store, but I'll be back soon. Meanwhile, there are orange scones and there is good coffee, and since the half-and-half is virtual, don't use the measuring cup. Take what you need!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Five for Good Friday

As a child the designation "good" for today confused me. How could we call such a somber day, good? Holy, yes. Blessed, yes. But, good?

As an adult I understand the meaning of good for this day. It is a solemn day of remembrance but it is also a time for us to stop and recall the great gift of love that we received this day. And that is most certainly good.

Our worship today will differ from place to place. Some services will focus on the great litany of prayers. Others will use the seven last words of Jesus. Some of us will walk the stations of the cross. Others will participate in a Tennebrae service of shadows and light.

I hope that this Friday Five will be a meaningful part of your Good Friday. God's blessings to you on your journey.

  1. Our prayer concerns are as varied as we are this day. For whom would you like us to pray?
  2. Are there things you have done or will do today to help the young ones understand this important day in our lives?
  3. Music plays an important part in sharing the story of this day. Is there a hymn or piece of music that you have found particularly meaningful to your celebrations of Good Friday?
  4. As you hear the passion narrative, is there a character that you particularly resonate with?
  5. Where have you seen the gracious God of love at work lately?

We hope that you'll share your postings with the rest of us. You can add a link in the comments by using this formulation: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

Shalom! RevHRod

Thursday Not Ask the Matriarch: Maundy Thursday Reflections

(Ask the Matriarch will return next week)

This year, we are having a foot-washing for part of our Maundy Thursday service. We are asking the children to come and have their feet washed, as we think they may be the ones who will actually dare to do it. Most adults are too shy to expose their feet. Also, it gives the children some way to participate in the service.

There's something different about Holy Week services, at least in my tradition. Most of the time we are pretty wordy. We are people of the Word, after all. But Holy Week is different, more holistic. During Holy Week there are words, but not just words: there are sights and sounds and smells and movements. There is the sight of the altar being stripped, and the experience of foot washing. There is the loud sound of the tomb closing on Good Friday, and there are the flickering candles as each one is snuffed out. There are pilgrimages, too: as people walk the way of the Cross.

I remember one Friday walking the Stations of the Cross not in a sanctuary, but out on the streets of an inner city neighborhood. We stopped at different places that offered hope to hurting people, and remembered what Jesus bore on his way to the cross. We stopped at a Black Pentecostal church and at a homeless shelter and at a food shelf. We finished out with soup at a Catholic church that ministered to immigrants. We were cold by then, even though it was April.

Here also is a poem I found in Imaging the Word, Vol. 3

The Foot-Washing

I wouldn't take the bread and wine if I didn't wash feet."
Old Regular Baptist

They kneel on the slanting floor
before feet white as roots,
humble as tree stumps.
Men before men
women before women
to soothe the sourness
bound in each other's journeys.
Corns, calluses, bone knobs
all received and rinsed
given back clean
to Sunday shoes and hightops.

This is how to prepare for the Lord's Supper,
singing and carrying a towel
and a basin of water,
praying while kids put soot
in their socks--almost as good
as nailing someone in the outhouse.
Jesus started it: He washed feet
after Magdalen dried His ankles
with her hair. "If I wash thee not,
thou hast no part with me."
All servants, they bathe
flesh warped to its balance....
Lord of the bucket in the well.

-George Ella Lyon

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday Not-Festival

We had a few nominations, so I'll share those with you all, and then close with a thought about Wednesday in Holy Week, and an invitation.

Mitch shares about the littlest usher in his church, or, as he says, a "Protestant altar boy."

1-4 Grace shares a little something to bring a smile...

Lorna's been to see a thought-provoking play and reading and thinking about waiting. Such an appropriate theme for the week...

and Rachel at SwanDive is sharing this week the beautiful and heartbreaking story of how her mom went missing. Lord, we remember and honor Anne Elizabeth White, whose birthday was on Good Friday. May she rest in eternal peace, and let light perpetual shine upon her. The first installment is here.


From In The Agora:

"Holy Week - Wednesday: "Some scholars will dispute the precise days
certain events occurred in the Holy Week, in part due to differences in
calendars. Some believe that Judas agreed to betray Jesus on Wednesday,
rather than Tuesday evening. Some even believe that Jesus was actually
crucified on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the most convincing traditions call
this "Silent Wednesday" because the Bible tells us very little about Jesus'
actions on this day. In the Catholic tradition, this is also called Dark
Wednesday or the Wednesday of Darkness, to underscore the loneliness of

"Luke does say that, "each day Jesus was teaching at the Temple...and
all the people came early in the morning to hear him." Presumably Jesus
stayed in Bethany, where He had been before."

I have been struggling greatly this year with the Stations of the Cross. For some of you, they are as second nature as showing up for church; for some, they are entirely unheard of. I fall in the low middle somewhere...I am a "cradle Episcopalian" but was raised in a very "low church" diocese. The church I belong to now is the first in my denomination where I have ever seen Stations displayed, much less participated in the service.

I find walking the stations to be exceptionally moving and even overwhelming, and it encapsulates Holy Week amazingly. I will be going tonight, and I wish I could take you all with me. Failing that, though...

Even if it is an entirely foreign concept to you, I invite you to visit my church's virtual Stations of the Cross. Take some quiet time and ponder the mystery of Christ's death and passion in this most Holy of all Weeks.

If you wish, share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Pax vobiscum.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Roll Away the Stone" Edition

This Sunday's lessons are here .

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Well...not yet, liturgically speaking; not until Sunday.

How will you preach on this central mystery of the Christian faith in a way that re-engages the mind and spirit of your congregation? And then there's the perennial issue of the twice-a-year worshippers -- what's the "word" for them?

As always, post your ponderings and insights here.

Bonus points for sharing your Holy Week sermon themes here as well.

Artwork: "Women Arriving at the Tomb," He Qi

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Meet and Greet

With this being Holy Week for those of us in the Western church, your week's offerings on this blog will likely be a little different. The goal is to free your blog contributors up for their other duties and give us all a slightly different perspective on an extraordinary liturgical time.

We have quite a few new members to meet today, so here goes!

Hyggelig and Giggly in Oslo - "I'm on seminary internship this year in Oslo, Norway. Home is where my friends and family may be - so many places, mainly the midwestern United States."

On the Other Hand, Who Knows What I'll Do? - Art, Craft, Liturgy, Theology, and Bitching (And cooking! Lots and lots of cooking.)

An Orientation of Heart - Jiff is "a Presbyterian pastor in a midwestern suburb. These are my views as I think about life, ministry, and family, blooming where I'm planted, and experiencing "peace--the other name for home." (Kathleen Norris)

Out of the Ordinary - VirginnyLee is "...a wife, a mother of two cat babies, a student at LTSP, and a bookstore employee. I love to knit, sew, craft, and cook. I have a degree in theatre and therefore can be a bit dramatic at times."

all.things.2.all.people - A married queer clergywoman working it out. "I'm kind of a private person. I guess that's something about me. Really. It is. That, and this: I am the pastor of a medium sized protestant church. Don't let that keep you from reading. Pastors are human. We can be incredibly funny, irreverent, and wry. Oh yeah, and sometimes we try to be all things to all people."

here I stand - A Lutheran husband, father, saint/sinner and soon to be pastor sharing stories of faith, life, love, discipleship and welcoming the strangers in our midst, while living as a child of God in a fallen world.

it doesn't get better than this - life as a minister and a mom.

Go by and welcome these new folks, and if you feel like it, tell us something about YOU in the comments!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Afternoon music video- The Passion/ All in one week

I have searched You-tube for something a little different, and there is quite a lot out there so I have taken the liberty of posting two meditative videos, and hope that you find time to enjoy them. The first is an emerging project entitled The Passion, I like it for its imagery, not too sure about the theology behind the lyrics, but it is challenging nonetheless:

The second Video is entitled All in one week, and is a great meditation for the beginning of Holy Week;

I am guessing that nobody sang these during worship this morning. We opened with All Glory Laud and Honour! How about you, what have you sung today, did the music challenge and stir you? Share your thoughts with us at the beginning of Holy Week.

Palm Sunday Prayer

(Adapted liberally from a prayer written by Annabel Shilson-Thomas, UK)

Jesus, you set your face towards Jerusalem and walked alongside those who suffer. Be our vision that we too may walk the way of compassion and extend a hand to those we meet.
Lord, hear our prayer...
And in your love, answer.

Lord, you stopped to heal the sick and tend to those broken in body, mind or spirit. Be our vision that we too may be a source of healing to all in need of your grace.
Lord, hear our prayer...

Jesus, you said, “The first shall be last and the last first.” Be our vision that we too may work towards your realm – when the marginalized and oppressed will be raised up and know that they are indeed beloved children of the Holy.
Lord, hear our prayer...

Jesus, you took the time to pray and to be silent. Be our vision that through our prayers, meditation and reflection we may draw closer to you and find our way on this journey of faith.
Lord, hear our prayer...

Lord, you entered Jerusalem with peace in your heart. Be our vision that we too can live as people of peace in the face of the world’s many conflicts. May we hold your vision of justice and peace ever before us.
Lord, hear our prayer...

Bless us, O Blessed One, as we enter into the days ahead of us. We will need your power and presence to sustain us as we move through these difficult days together. Spirit of Love and Life, stay close.

These and all the prayers of our hearts we offer in faith, as we pray the way you taught us to pray, singing…

Saturday, March 15, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Ride On King Jesus Edition

Good morning, preachers and non-preachers. Today we are on the cusp of Holy Week, beginning with Palm/Passion Sunday tomorrow. One way or another, there will be some sort of a parade. Tomorrow ours features costumed children and, as always, a live donkey (our church sign even says so!). While in Denver, we started the procession outside in the parking lot; not so here in the colder climates. In another location, the congregation stayed put; only the choirs processed. What will it be like in your location tomorrow? Will there be a sermon? Dramatic readings? Parades? Choirs? Let us know a little of what it will be like, or where you are still stuck.

While you're here, let us know a little about your Holy Week plans as well. Footwashing? Tenebrae? Stations of the Cross? Drama? Music? Questions?

I have coffee and tea brewing as always. I have muffins and oatmeal, with blueberries, for those who need breakfast. And support and encouragement for those who are feeling stress going into this next week. As a blog friend recently reminded me, God brings Easter, not me.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Five: Time for Palms

(Music Video: Reading Phoenix Choir, Ride On, Ride on in Majesty!)

Can you believe Daylight Savings Time is here already? It's hard to get used to the new, earlier onset. My family has been getting up and out a little late and a little sleepy in the mornings.

And can you believe that in two days it will be Palm Sunday for Western Christians? Our Lent is almost over, while our Orthodox sisters and brothers, whose liturgical year follows the older Julian calendar, are just starting theirs. Nicholas did a recent book report on George Washington, and we were surprised to find out that our first President's birthday was originally Feb. 11, since he was born just before the change to the Gregorian calendar. Apparently the change almost caused rioting, as some indignant people were sure that they were being cheated out of eleven days of their lives!

To help you adjust--and enjoy the process--here's a Friday Five about time and transitions....

1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?

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, March 13, 2008

Ask the Matriarch — They Love Me; Now What?

It's interesting how periodically we get questions about the vocational side of vocation, that is, the work aspect of how we fulfill our call. I used to subscribe to's email newsletter with tips on dusting off resumes and negotating salaries, and it occurred to me in my migraine-riddled fog this morning that had a certain uh, not-panache about it.

So without further ado, we follow up last week's question with a query about just how DOES one navigate those delicate waters between successful interviews and the actual offer?

How do I negotiate a contract with a rector & parish? How do you know when the conversations have become more serious? For instance, I have had a preliminary conversation with the rector of a parish. I know that they are looking into options for housing -- specifically apartments -- to include as part of a compensation package. Should I mention any requirements or preferences? (eg, I have a dog.) How do I communicate my needs if I am aware that they are in the process of preparing an offer, but the process hasn't been made explicit?

Ann answers:
First, I would expect a concrete offer of a position and then negotiations to proceed. You should be hired because you have the qualifications not because you do or don't have a dog. Once the offer is made - the other things are negotiated. Compensation packages should include health insurance, pension fund contributions, housing and utilities, car allowance or a mileage agreement (currently $.505/mile). Your judicatory usually has standards that are to be followed as a minimum.

Is it possible to have an allowance for housing that will allow you to find your own place?

She also asked a couple of her peers what they had done in similar situations, and got some additional feedback that shows a lot depends on what position you're tentatively accepting, and we're sorta assuming it's an associate rector/pastor position. If so, writes one:

...she needs to get back to the rector and ask if there are other issues they need to talk about before going any farther, and then give a couple of examples (like my dog and my fear of heights and my need to have a window with a southern exposure).

I guess this all depends on what was covered in the "preliminary" conversation and how she knows that they're preparing an offer. It would be appropriate for the rector to bring up these kind of details but since she hasn't, then the applicant needs to bring them up as a matter of clarification.

Another says that having "preliminary" conversations without some kind of formal offer may be a cause for concern. Are they trying to feel out those "conditions" before making it official? Wait for the offer, but if it includes an apartment and there's a "no dogs" clause, you can negotiate a way to accommodate the dog. What it boils down to, she says:

...If the rector contacts her again for further discussions, she could bring up what she would need to say yes (include working environment, responsibilities so it's not just about money, but do include compensation).

One thing she could do (it can be risky but can be effective when it's true) is to say, I really like this place and want to come, but if we're not going anywhere, I need to move on. That said, be prepared to move on if necessary.

One last point of view from Ann's circle: There's a difference between needs and preferences. Dogs and children fall under needs, and it's okay to be specific about your needs at the outset. But with preferences—such as a dishwasher, or southern exposure—wait til it's on the table. But do not be afraid to negotiate, she continues, making an important point:

There is something in studies that women make $500,000 less over a lifetime than their male counterparts, primarily due to their unwillingness or inability to negotiate their own packages. I had a woman priest in my CREDO (a program for clergy wellness in the Episcopal Church) say that she learned how to do it after being a rector hiring male assistants – she was amazed at their demands, and then realized that this was standard practice! We have to not fear raising the issue thinking people will automatically think less of us – in fact they may think more if we are able to say what we need and negotiate effectively.

Now--for a couple of adminstrative details. One: Our queue is just about empty. Please send along questions! If you sent one in the past that didn't appear here, it may be that our matriarchs didn't have expertise in that area. Feel free to resubmit it, perhaps broadening your query. Or come up with new ones! Each of our matriarchs has more than 10 years in ordained ministry and they come from a wide range of denominations and backgrounds. You can send your questions to

Two: We'll be taking a break next week for Holy Week, so I hope it's a blessed one for everyone!

Okay, have at, gang--feel free to share your own insights in the comments!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday Festival - Randomly Spaced

- Random Phases by Prof. Sir Michael Berry

Sorry for the lateness of the fest (and for the random spacing below!) Seems like all next week's regularly scheduled items have moved to THIS week...

The Mollinator (love it) had an emotional experience at the rodeo and elsewhere. Check it out here! She has also been to the COOLEST EVENT EVER (if you are a kiddo)...can you guess? What a lucky daughter she has!
Here's an invite to Christine's 14th Poetry Party! Come one, come all...
Sally's been telling stories...wonderful stories. She shares one of her own personal stories, too, a perfectly wonderful one, at Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Thanks for this!
Deb shares a poem and a photo from her modular week at seminary.
And over at Prairie Hill, Pastor David posts on the economic stimulus package and stewardship!
And hey...what's going on with YOU ALL?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Sweet Hosannahs" Edition

Lectionary readings here .

The air crackles with tension in this week's Gospel lesson as Jesus enters into Jerusalem in a most ironic way -- with the fanfare of a conquering Roman general, but riding a humble donkey. The joyous onlookers laying their cloaks down in the road may just as well be throwing a gauntlet at the political and religious establishments.

What are your sermon/worship planning thoughts this week? Are you preaching on the lectionary texts or something else? Share your musings here!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Musical Musings: Passion, Death and Resurrection

Long ago one of my theology professors told us that if we were ever stumped on an exam, take a hint, the answer was always the Paschal Mystery. Ultimately our faith all comes down to this – Christ lived, suffered, died and rose for us. As we reach deeply into the celebration of that mystery over the next few weeks, alone and with our communities, music can often find spaces in our souls that our preaching cannot. To accompany you on this journey through Passiontide to the Triduum and into Easter, I offer the following.

Now we are going up to Jersusalem, and the Son of Man is about to be handed over...

Mk. 10:33

1. Allegri’s Miserere. The soaring soprano part on this is thought not to be original to Allegri, but irregardless, for me that embellishment evokes the hope of resurrection even in the face of death. This was traditionally sung in the Sistine Chapel on Good Friday. The composition was forbidden to circulate, under pain of excommunication.

2. Miserere Nobis, Domine. From Margaret Rizza. Contemplative in tone and sustaining with two verses to meditate on.

3. Drop, Drop, Slow Tears. I’ll quote Kathyrn on this one: sheer heaven!

4. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. The male voices which open this recording, with a very sparing and slightly atonal organ accompaniment are conducive to meditation. Though it closes with a series of alleluias, it never loses it’s Lenten tone.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Stay here while I pray.”
Mk. 14:32

5. Christ on the Mount of Olives. While I tend to think of Bach and his Passions of St. John and St. Matthew when I think of “classical” Lenten music, Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives is also beautiful. Try the introduction, which captures both the intensity and the depth of Christ’s prayer in the garden.

6. Stay With Me. A Taize chant. It strikes me as very Benedictine, it tends to run through your head (as a good ostinato refrain should), nudging you to ruminate on the garden in the midst of the rest of your day.

They led him out to crucify him.
Mk 15: 20

7. St. Matthew’s Passion. You can’t have a Lent playlist without this one. This chorale, Ich Will Hier, is for me the iconic piece. There’s a reason they call Bach the Fifth Evangelist.

8. Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ. A arrangement for strings. Try Into your hands...

9. Avro Pärt’s Passio. Pärt is a contemporary Estonian composer. He calls his approach to composition tintinnabulation – it sounds very much like bells ringing. Though clearly modern, Pärt’s deep and longstanding engagement with medieval polyphony and plainchant infuses his music. If you have not heard Pärt before – listen to a snatch. The third and fourth movements are marvelous.

You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen…
Mk. 16: 6

10. Christ Rising Again. William Byrd. A gentle movement into the joy of the resurrection.

11. Cantate Domino. Avro Pärt’s setting of this psalm (95). You can hear the bells ringing in both accompaniment and the voices.

12. Caedmon's Hymn/Christ is Risen. St. Bede had this to say of Caedmon: "there was …a certain brother particularly remarkable for the Grace of God, who was wont to make religious verses, so that whatever was interpreted to him out of scripture, he soon after put the same into poetical expressions of much sweetness and humility in English…” The legend is that Caedmon was a shepherd who learned to compose literally overnight, in a dream.

13. Christ the Lord Hath Risen Today. Trumpets, for sure!

What music might accompany you on the road to Jerusalem and beyond?

I posted a playlist of most of the music here on iTunes.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Passion Chorale (O Sacred Head)

Quick - think of a Lenten hymn that you can lead a small musically unskilled group in singing without accompaniment or rehearsal! Oh, and a bit of variety would be nice. This is the challenge the community I pray with faces every morning: what are we going to sing? Last year I had had surgery at the start of Lent and was on 6 weeks of enforced voice rest as a result. Now we needed to think of a hymn that not only met all of the above criteria, but that could be sung without me leading it to boot! And so for the forty weekdays of Lent, we sang "Lord, who throughout these forty days", alternating between verses 1 and 2 and verses 3 and 4 in a desperate grasp for variety. My confessor had joked that he couldn't think of a worse Lenten penance for me than to give up singing, but as the season wore on it was clear that my penance was being shared out with my community!

Over the last year, several strong voices have take up residence at the Augustinian priory and my voice has returned with all its vigor so we are far less constrained in our selections (though those of us around for last Lent still twitch at the suggestion of "Lord, who throughout..."). Last Thursday the hebdomidarian flipped through the hymns and offered us O Sacred Head, So Wounded from the Passion Chorale featured in the fifth Evangelist's St. Matthew's Passion. Our voices were not quite up to the standard of the first performance of this piece, on Good Friday in 1797 in Leipzig's Thomaskirche, where Luther preached and Bach composed. Instead they evoked a stripped down Lenten sensibility, much like the simple classical guitar arrangement in this video.

While the musical fast in my community last year was unplanned, the 18th century Lutheran churches in Germany fasted from music from the first Sunday of Lent (Quadragesima Sunday) to Good Friday. Imagine this music bursting forth after 40 days of musical "silence". This Passion Chorale appears 5 times in Bach's St. Matthew's Passion, and would have been as well-known a tune to his congregation as it is to us. It had been used repeatedly as a cantus firmus - Thomaskirche's parishioners would have known as many as 20 settings of it. The deepest roots of the piece, however, are not liturgical, but a 16th century love song by Hasler!

Tell us what Lent is like musically in your community...what's your favorite Lenten hymn?

Bach's final manuscript of the piece is thought by some to be among the most beautiful of handwritten musical scores ever. The music is written in two colors, with the chorale pieces in a deep red. See a page here: “St. Matthew Passion”: autograph revision of the St. Matthew Passion

Sunday Prayer

God of Life and Love, God of Miracle and Wonder, in thanks we offer these and all the prayers of our hearts, minds and souls. We thank you for the power of your presence in our midst to inspire and bring about renewal of life. Even in the driest, most empty, seasons of our lives, you are there, breathing life even into the sad hidden corners of our spirits.

Thank you God for all of the times you have breathed your saving breath upon us. In those times that seemed so hopeless, your grace has infused us with life-giving hope. We praise you, O God, for your healing, loving presence with us.

God, help us to be set free from all that binds us and keeps us from living the abundant life that you offer us in Jesus. Help us also to unbind and set free those around us who need our help to find their true freedom and faith.

May those who are bound by fear, or grief, or desperation, or loneliness, be set free by a comforting word offered by a friend. May those who are bound by hunger, homelessness, political oppression, prejudice, or addiction be set free by the work of justice-seeking by your church in the world.

God, we pray that all who are bound by the emptiness within their own souls might set their spirits free and celebrate your presence. Guide us, as a community of faith, in all that we do and all that we are, for the sake of the One who calls us ever forward, Jesus Christ, who taught his friends to pray saying…

Saturday, March 08, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Can These Bones Live Edition?

Good morning, gals and pals! It may be March, but where I am, it's not spring yet! In fact, it has dipped below zero the last two nights. Hard to imagine that desert and the Valley of Dry Bones where I am. But the question still applies, for Ezekiel, for Lazarus, and maybe for us: Can these bones live? Is the spirit blowing through your words as you prepare this Sunday? Are you imagining those bones coming together? Or are you Lazarus, still wrapped in bandages, dazed and confused, but walking out of the tomb? (I must say, one of the weirder images in Scripture.) Or perhaps you are grieving with Mary and Martha and Jesus. Or, perhaps your Lenten journey has been taking you in another direction entirely.

I have (as always) Fair Trade Coffee brewing, Good Earth tea, for those who prefer it, and an assortment of muffins (my favorites are banana chocolate chip, but bran is also available) and bagels. Feel free to share your own treats.

What are you working on today? If not a sermon, are you looking for a children's message? Or have you got one to share?

Or do you just want to pull up a chair and feel the coffee's steam and let us know how the season is treating you?

P.S. daylight saving time begins Sunday, too.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Signs of hope,signs of spring Friday 5

It has been a difficult week here in Dowham Market, and yet in the sadness there have been signs of real hope, young people, often criticised have shown us how caring and amazing they are. It has also been a strange week; it snowed for almost the first time this winter, and yet many of the spring bulbs are blooming, and the trees are blossoming!

I believe that if we look carefully we can see signs of hope all around us.... as for signs of spring... well you tell me....

Bluebells in my garden, before the snow!

What have you seen/ heard this week that was a :

1. Sign of hope?

2. An unexpected word of light in a dark place?

3. A sign of spring?

4. Challenging/ surprising?

5. Share a hope for the coming week/month/year....

Bonus play... a piece of music/ poem guaranteed to cheer you?

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.

Ask the Matriarch — What's fair?

This week, our question centers around fair compensation. I was struck, while reading this question and the answers that came in, by what it means to work for a private employer who makes a serious point about keeping salary information confidential -- and how that's impossible in the church context.

Our congregation had their annual meeting recently to discuss pastoral salaries. Many folks in the congregation feel the senior pastor is making too much money. When questioned during the congregational meeting, the Personnel committee folks said something like, "We've polled similar churches in our area, and our SP is making a salary in line with the other SPs." But the Personnel committee neglected to mention is that the average years since ordination for the SPs at the other churches is around 20-25. Our SP has less than 7 years experience since ordination.

What do I do with this information? I feel the congregation was misinformed during the annual meeting. Is it my responsibility to bring this up with someone? It is hard not to feel a little resentful that the SP is making so much money, especially because the reasoning behind his high salary is not sound.

The matriarchs (six of them, actually) answered resoundingly:
FULL STOP NOW. Ann, within moments of the question going out this week, responded with, "Danger Will Robinson!" But why, you ask?

Point the first: While experience is one factor in determining compensation, others include retention, inflation and cost-of-living. As Peripatetic Polar Bear notes, "Salary is a complex issue. Factors going into it include not only how long someone has been at a particular place, but also 'how much does it cost to get someone to do this particular job in this particular region?' It may well be that to get someone to take on that particular type of job takes a minimum of X. And your pastor gets that. In most regions, the salary bands are rather narrow. The difference between senior pastor A with 10 years and senior pastor B with 30 years is often slight, though pastor A has only received a 10 percent increase in 10 years, but pastor B has received a 60 percent increase in his 30. It's most likely, actually, that senior pastor A is earning what she deserves, and pastor B is underpaid."

Point the second: But even if it is unfair, injecting yourself into the situation leads to a no-win scenario that you could lose big in.
  • PPB: My strong advice to you is to stay out of it. By running interference not only are you discrediting your SP, you're also discrediting the work of a committee of lay volunteers who came up with the budget figures. Neither situation bodes well for a productive, mutually supportive ministry.
  • Earthchick: Even if there is reason to think the congregation wasn't fully informed, or fairly informed, of all variables, I think it is unwise and potentially dangerous for you to step forward to inform them. I think it would be very easy for that to be interpreted as your being jealous or resentful (which, as you've indicated, you are). What purpose is served by bringing this up with someone, other than allowing you to vent your resentment and concern to someone within the congregation? There is no way for you to come out of this in a good way. If you bring it to someone's attention, and the congregation decides you are right, the SP is overpaid, then you have helped deal your SP and his family a very difficult blow. If you bring it to someone's attention, and the congregation decides you are wrong, the SP is rightly paid, then you have potentially cast yourself as a malcontent (and potentially made yourself even less content by raising the issue and having the decision still go another way). Unless a colleague is being grossly mistreated or underpaid, I don't think it's appropriate for staff members to meddle in personnel issues that aren't ordinarily their purview.
  • St. Casserole: I'm not sure who would benefit from your sharing this information. You step right across the boundary if you tell the congregation that the Senior Pastor, as far as you know, makes more money than area pastors who've served longer. If the congregation wishes to pursue lowering or increasing or researching the SP's salary, they will. I'm concerned that if you participate in this discussion you will be seen as either jealous of the SP's salary or conniving. I'm sure you are neither, but it could be difficult to defend yourself from either label.
  • Karen: Chances are high that the Senior Pastor would perceive this as a direct attempt to undermine his/her leadership and the Personnel Committee would perceive this as an "end run" around their work. Neither situation will make your life and work in that congregation a great experience. Plus, you'll want to be careful about throwing too much support (explicit or implicit) to the "we're paying the pastor too much" faction. In my experience, the same folks who get up in the congregational meeting and proclaim, "We are paying our Senior Pastor too much," often go on to ask, "And why do we need a full-time Associate Pastor anyway? Why--back when my children were small we had a volunteer Sunday School Superintendant who did all the same stuff s/he does. It didn't cost us a dime and we had three times as many kids in the Sunday School then as we do now ..." Anyway, proceed with caution.

Now, as for what to do:
Karen says: If you feel that your own compensation is unfair or not in line with your responsibilities and experience, you can certainly take that up with the Personnel Committee directly, or with regional denominational leaders if the Personnel Committee is unresponsive.
Jan says:Can you talk honestly with the personnel chair and share your information? Can you talk with Sr. Pastor about the equity/lack thereof? (less than 7 years out of seminary? Yikes.) Granted, most pastors want to make as much $ as possible, and yet there are some who have a strong sense of fairness a la Ben & Jerry's (where the highest paid ice cream employee never made more than a certain percentage higher than the lowest paid employee.) Does the "Senior Pastor" really have that much more responsibility than other pastors at the church? (Maybe he does.) Does the staff/programming/church truly revolve around the leadership of the SP or is it more like a team in reality? For these answers and more, it sounds like an honest discussion is needed. Your frustration will only add up if you feel unheard/unfairly paid/unappreciated.
Ann says: If you're being approached for information about the relationship between length of service and pay, perhaps you can neutrally suggest that they ask for that information from the judicatory or diocese. And you might want to look into a peer group to talk over what is going on for you. Are you receiving less than comparable salary and benefits? It couldn't hurt to start looking around for something more fulfilling for you, as well.

It's going to be a real challenge to step back from your own emotions on this, but know that we're all pulling and praying for you. After all, that's one of the things our community is best at. And, we're curious as to what other difficult situations we might be able to help our readers with. Send your questions to

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wednesday Festival: And the nominees are...

Welcome one and all to this festive Wednesday festival where we in Alabama are experiencing lovely weather today. (I am not saying that tongue in cheek, it truly is lovely.)

But and I do mean but, my internet connection was down this morning, and so I could not access and post the festival. So now that it is back up and working, here is the festival. I hope you all enjoy.

We have a winner, yes folks, a real winner at that: Rev-to-be-Mibi has won the David H. C. Read Preacher/Scholar Award-- pretty cool huh! go over and give her a hardy congratulations.
Kudos and applause to mibi52!!!

In the middle of our Lenten season, Quantum Theology offers a bowl of soup and Psalmody for our reflection. Very delicious indeed, and a mindful piece of meditation to feed our hungry souls. Come away for a little while...

What more food, see-through-faith invites us on her holiday eating her way through Scotland. Lovely pictures, it makes me want to go back. If you have had longstanding friendships you will enjoy reading about her reuniting with two of her longstanding friendships for what she calls "girl's weekend". MMM I need one of those. And one more thing, Lorna proves she is a winner all the way around by being asked to read and write a review of a book. Go read her thoughts on the book, Samson by David Maine. Very interesting indeed.

Terrapin Station invites us to come read her thoughts about her initial experience of Emergent Church at the recent Everything Must Change Tour, led by Brian McLaren in Dallas last weekend. She is interested in also hearing your thoughts and comments. So go tell her what you think.

Eternal Echoes asks us to come over and pray with her about a recent death. Lord in your mercy hear our prayers for this young man, friends, and family.

Good in Parts canvassing opinion on the possible future for my blog as I move into my new parishes and would welcome a wide range of reactions.... So please go help her with your thoughts and opinions.

Well folks, that's all the news here and around the revgalblogpal world for this Wednesday. You are invited to let us know if you have a post you want us to read for the Wednesday festival. All you have to do is e-mail the link to the post to, with a brief description about the post.

And remember we all are winners.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Bring Out Your Dead" Edition

Revised Standard Lectionary texts for the coming Sunday

We may be in the depths of Lent -- of pain, defeat and death -- but the coming Sunday's lessons give us a glimpse of the life to come. We see dry bones coming to life; we hear the Psalmist praying for new life in the midst of despair; we hear Paul's observations on what a life alive in Christ looks like,as well as the alternative; and, in our Gospel lesson, we see Jesus -- on the eve of his own death -- demonstrating God's saving, transformative power in bringing his friend Lazarus back to life.

How are you -- or are you -- going to approach these texts in your preaching, praying and general worship planning? Discuss!

Artwork: Resurrexit, Gisele Bauche

Monday, March 03, 2008

Monday Meet & Greet

Welcome to a chilly Monday Meet & Greet! I know that lots of folks are experiencing the cold of winter today, including me.

I imagine that our newest member, I Am Chorus, is also finding it rather chilly, up on the Prairies of Canada. She describes herself as a: "married 20-something living on the Prairies (Canada) with the husband of my dreams and two ridiculous cats. University administrator, PK, cross-stitcher, choral singer, baseball fanatic... Life is varied and wonderful."

Go and visit her and leave a message of welcome!

In addition, with no other new folks to meet, why don't we all do a little self-intro in the comments by answering the question, "What is your favorite sound?"

(Sound wave photo from Lenox SoftWorks)

Looking forward to reading you!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Music Videos: Shape Note Amazing Grace

Shape note singing, also known as sacred harp singing, is a traditional American folk art. It's not for the faint of heart, and those classically trained are often horrified by it...but to stand and sing in the middle of the hollow square is a true musical experience and involves your whole body.

You can learn more here.

Any shape note singers out there??? What hymns did you sing at worship today?

Sunday Prayer

God of all seasons, at times, this Lenten path feels as if it will never end. Deep down, we all know that it will, but the winter seems determined to stay past its welcome and signs of spring are but a dream hovering in the distance. Help us to keep putting the hope of Easter before us on the horizon. It will come.

Until then, God, keep us focused and attentive as we remember Jesus and his long trek to Jerusalem. Help us to see his face reflected in the people around us every day. Open our eyes to the needs of a hurting world and guide us as we seek to participate in its healing.

We thank you for worship that brings all of us the encouragement and strength we need to make our way through these final weeks of Lent. Soon we will find ourselves together at the cross. We will need one another more than ever in that harsh, cold place. Bless us as we prepare our hearts and spirits for the days ahead.

Gracious God, thank you for your abiding presence and for the peace you bring to our souls. Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives, and we shall live in your sacred presence forever. Amen.


*Don't forget to nominate your own or another RevGal or Pal's posts for the Wednesday Festival! Just click on the Wednesday Festival address on the right sidebar and submit your post(s) by Monday night.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Second Verse, Same as the First

It seems like just a moment ago I was posting a picture of the snow outside my front door, and friends, this Saturday is no different except that the snow is still falling and likely to continue throughout the day. My plans to get out and buy a bag of potting soil in order to make mud during worship tomorrow begin to appear even more fanciful than they were in the first place.

There is, however, coffee to drink and a message to prepare.

And there are themes to discuss.

And surely there are those among you who can remind me what sunshine looks like. Right?

Pull up a chair to the table. Pour yourself a cup. Tell us what's on your plate or on your calendar or on your mind. Let's get to work! (As soon as I finish shoveling, that is.)