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Saturday, May 31, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: I Got a Rock Edition

Good morning, preaching gals and pals! What's up for you today?

Whether you are preaching about rocks of refuge or shifting sands and firm foundations, or taking on Paul, or examining Deuteronomy--because, yes, there were almost too many choices this week!--there has been a lot of great discussion at Tuesday Lectionary Leanings. Take a look if you're seeking inspiration!

I'm headed to church later to rehearse a dramatic reading with my children, then hoping to find the box that has my basket of little stones, to hand out a rock to each of the kids in church tomorrow. Since my office is still packed, due to construction going on there, this may prove challenging.

What challenges lie ahead of you today? I'm sure we can meet them with encouragement and sustenance here at the Preacher Party.

Coffee is on, a delicious blend sold at one of our local coffee shops and benefiting Maine Women's Fund. There is hot water for tea, and we have some delicious apple muffins, too.

Pull up a chair and let us know what's going on with you today!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Five: Garage Sale!

Welcome to your irregularly scheduled Fifth Friday Five, hosted by will smama and Songbird!
Since will smama is preparing for a joint garage sale with her parents, and Songbird's church had a Yard and Plant Sale last Saturday, we have five enormously important questions we hope you will answer:

1) Are you a garage saler?
2) If so, are you an immediate buyer or a risk taker who comes back later when prices are lower?
3) Seriously, if you're not a garage saler, you are probably not going to want to play this one.
(That wasn't really #3.)
3) This is the real #3: What's the best treasure you've found at a yard or garage sale?
4)If you've done one yourself, at church or at home, was it worth the effort?
5) Can you bring yourself to haggle?
BONUS: For the true aficionado: Please discuss the impact of Ebay, Craig's List, Freecycle, etc... on the church or home yard/garage sale.

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.

We'll check in with all who play, as soon as we finish pricing the only slightly chipped malicious moments figurine of Peter on the upside down cross.... 'cause that's worth putting in statuette form, isn't it?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ask the Matriarch — Coping with, and leading through, change

You know how when you're going on vacation, and you leave, and there's this nagging feeling that you left behind something really important as you're getting on the road two hours later than planned, and it's downright eating at you until you finally just say to heck with it and give it to God?

That would be what happened to Ask the Matriarch last week (she said, very sheepishly), and so, without further ado, here it is for THIS week, with humblest apologies in particular to our question-asker:

I am an associate pastor and just found out recently that my senior pastor is leaving at the beginning of August. I've already asked if there is an expectation that I too will leave, either around the same time or by the time a new installed pastor arrives, and have been told there is not that expectation but that I will hopefully be a calm presence, a little continuity in the transition, and then I can decide when a new pastor is installed (which could be 6 months, a year, or more after this one leaves) whether to stay or go.

I know there will be some congregational panic when this news is announced. The last senior pastor was here 31 years, this one has been here 4. The last interim period involved two interims who were really terrible and allowed a lot of dysfunction to continue--the SP and I have worked really hard with this congregation to bring them to a healthy and positive-energy place.

So I guess my questions are really: What are some good coping tips for me during this transition time? Are there any ways I can deal with the panic that is coming? How do I help the congregation through the grieving process until (or even while) we get an interim? What kinds of things should I be sure to ask for or about as we approach this transition? The SP and I have already talked about encouraging the session to keep my job description the same and to get an interim quickly, rather than thinking I can just take over responsibility for the whole congregation but get paid the same. What else do I need to ask about/be aware of/plan for? And how do I go about planning for my programs for the fall, and how do we go about worship planning (we plan 8 weeks ahead, due to musician issues) when we won't know anything about the pastor/preaching/etc.?

Our matriarchs agree that whether you decide to stay through the transition or go is something that you should get out of the way first, but if you decide to stay, others have been through this before and, as a result, there are resources you can tap to help smooth the process. Getting someone who specializes in interim ministry, laying out a transition plan, and continuing on as close to normal as possible are all key things. Here are some tips and advice from our matriarchs:

From Peripatetic Polar Bear:
The first things that I would suggest are these:

a) I would hope that SP, you and the key congregation leaders (sounds like that's the session for you) and your denominational liaison (again, assuming Presbyterianism, that would be someone from the COM) would sit down shortly to have a "transition planning meeting" where you iron out all the details of the plan. Once these things are ironed out, a letter needs to get out to the congregation outlining this plan. We have a lot of denomination hoppers, and things like pastoral changes make it really evident that denominations handle such things differently.

b) While you hope there will be an interim who steps in the day the pastor leaves, be sure to get an understanding that if you need to be acting solo pastor for 3-6 weeks, there will be extra compensation for that short period--some churches pay extra, some give additional vacation or continuing education money/time. Whatever it is, even if it's "just" 3 weeks, if you're doing two jobs at once, have a plan for some just compensation for that. And seriously consider utilizing pulpit supply for those couple of weeks, if they happen--doing all the pastoral care and program does not leave much time to plan a sermon.

c) Worship planning should go on as usual, with the understanding that the new interim might change things other than music. But you don't want to stop planning ahead and then have to scramble--so stick to business as usual. Same with your programs. Go ahead and plan like normal. It will be important, in a time of transition for you to be trucking along like normal.

d) I would check your vacation schedules carefully. You do not want to be on vacation in the first few weeks of an interim. He or she needs to get acclimated to a 2 pastor church.

e) Carve out time to meet with SP before he or she leaves. Ask about references (if you want to use him/her in the future), get information that you haven't needed to have so far--major pastoral care situations that he or she has dealt with, locations of keys or documents that you haven't needed. Yes, there will be an interim, but you're going to be the institutional memory for a while.

Have fun!

Ann says:

Easy to fall into panic thinking of every thing that has to happen in the next year and feeling like it all has to be done now. First: breathe. Take it one day at a time, one moment at a time - planning is good, and can help stave off panic. Read some good systems theory books. Friedman's Generation to Generation: Family process in church and synagogue, is the original but sort of long. Peter Steinke has written many shorter and more accessible books for the busy pastor.

Most denominations have materials on the work of an interim time for a congregation. The tasks for churches in times of transition are:
1) to connect with their history
2) assess and clarify their current identity (not some imagined one)
3) review leadership needs and raise up new leaders as needed
4) strengthen denominational ties—lots of opportunities if your denominational leaders have resources,
5) commitment to a new future (letting go of that which might have been or will never be - the grief work)

The basic stance for you is to be a non-anxious presence reassuring the congregation that they have the gifts to see them through this time. Even if you feel like the sky is falling, take those feelings to your spiritual director or peer group. Do not get into triangulation situations. When the new Interim Pastor arrives (and pray that she or he has some training in interim ministry), make a plan together and agree on how you will communicate. You stand between the old and the new - the "family" and the "stranger" - be very clear about you responsibilities and model the kind of behavior you want to see in the church.

Abi says:
Do you want to stay where you are? Is God calling you to stay or go? I think that is the first thing you have to decide, and then you can go from there. And if God is calling you to stay, then what is God's vision for your work there through this next transition? I think it is good that you have asked the governing body if there is an expectation for you to leave. And it would be important to continue to work with them about what they expect from you, and to monitor on a regular basis if that is still applicable or not. When your focus is clear, it can help keep your anxiety down, and can help you refocus when you feel like you have gotten off focus. And if you all are working together, and being clear about expectations then that can help keep the anxiety down too. Communication. Communication.

I am not so sure that instead of jumping in and getting an interim, just to get an interim, that the governing body needs to get clear about their role and their expectations of an interim. And that they might want to even work on being healthy as to how they will handle their anxiety and the anxiety of the church members so as not to allow dysfunction to happen again. They can maybe work through Peter Steinke's Healthy Congregations. Or have someone come and work with them on these issues.

Then I would add; lots of time in meditation and prayer. Even a Spiritual Guide can help you to monitor your anxiety, your being in touch with God and self.

Plan around the lectionary the best you can. Plan your programs the best you can. This again can be communicated with the governing body and the different teams.

Do we have anyone specializing in interim ministry who might want to comment? Or have you seen this in your experience? Please feel free to share your own wisdom in the comments. As always, we welcome your questions on ministry at

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday Festival for May 28

Well, folks, it's the last Wednesday Festival of the month and we have some interesting links for you to follow to see what is going on around the Revgalblogpal webring. We start with........

See through Faith's friend went on a walkabout and see what happened.

Wanna party?? Step right over to the Poetry Party, and come 'celebrate the gifts of being' over at the Abbey.

Leah blogged about Sacred Compass, Brent Bill's very recent book about direction and discernment and also some about my own journey; I highly recommend Sacred Compass!

Mary Beth urges us to consider an important cause, one with potential to change the world, in "Join the Movement for Study Abroad."

Last, but not least.....Songbird writes gorgeously about another way the world will be changed in "Portrait of the Artists as Young Men."

Want to know how to recommend a post for Wednesday Festival? It's easy! Email and it will be up for consideration for the next Wednesday Festival. Recommend your favorite RGBP blogger, recommend a newly discovered RGBP blog, or even recommend a BRAND NEW member. You can even share a posting from your blog.

If you have a link to share, post it in the comments. And for even more visits to your blog, you may 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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "We're All Bozos On This Bus" Edition

Lectionary readings for the coming Sunday can be found here .

One of my pastor's favorite observations -- particularly on one of those Sundays where the worship choreography doesn't go quite as planned -- is that "We're all bozos on this bus."

That's also an apt, if inelegant, way to understand the concept of justification by faith: We're all bozos who can't always get it right, who can't save ourselves by the dint of our own acts or knowledge. Jew or Gentile; renowned spiritual athlete, average Jane or Joe in the pew or notorious "sinner over there"; in the end we're all in the clown car together, dependent on God's grace to steer us and keep us on the road leading into God's Reign.

How will we use this week's lessons to communicate the message of grace? Or are you going off the lectionary map? Here's your opportunity to "moodle" and share.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Meet 'N Greet

Today let us meet these new members!

Rev Nancy Fitz of Pastor's Post. Her blog is a place to "comment on the journey of faith and the texts we cherish." She says, "I'm a second career pastor in the Church of the Brethren. I went to seminary after spending 12 years in outdoor ministry. I love spending time with my adult children and enjoy computer technology. Blogging is my interest of the year."

Sunny's Musings on Ministry A female minister (Sunny B. Ridings) in the rural south shares with you: some thoughts on ministry, a collection of sermons, theological musings and of course, random thoughts. She says, "I'm a minister in small town Tennessee. I love my co-pastor and we work well together. I'm loving married life but am brand-new to that. I love my job, I love Jesus, I love my church (this is the mantra I repeat to remind myself when things aren't going well!)"

Lynne Morrow at LMM Sermons: A seminarian's journey through preaching experiences. A seminarian's journey through preaching and ministry experiences. Welcome, Lynne!

Kate at ...and they were afraid Trying to make my voice heard over the noise of the crowd. Thoughts on life, God, religion, education, and anything else I want to mull over. She says, "My newest passion is bookmaking, as is reflected on my blogs and in my photography. I still love Jesus, but sometimes it feels a little wrong to share something like that in such an anonymous forum."

Ringelstruempfe My life is like my socks, full of stripes and color, sometimes with holes - but never boring. She says, "Mein Leben ist wie meine Strümpfe: geringelt, bunt und manchmal ein paar Löcher. Aber niemals langweilig!" (OK, that was the first statement in German. I'm glad she provides translations -- her blogging is delightful!) Welcome!

Sophie's Daughter at Seeking Sophie. One woman's search for wisdom through the guidance of Sts. Sophie Barat and Philippine Duchesne. She says, "I am a 20-something* professional woman, who is searching for the right path in life! I am seriously considering religious life, in the Society of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ). The society was founded in revolutionary France over 200 years ago, by St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. It was brought to North America by St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in 1818. Why them? I am attracted to their love for all creation and humanity, their intense spirituality to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the desire to educate others. *I'm closer to 30, but I will say "20-something" for as long as I can!"

Karaoke Rev at Seeking a Foothold on Holy Ground God's call is what happens while you're busy making other plans. She says, "I am a 30-year-old clergywoman who has decided that calling is a lifelong journey, not a destination. I am discerning my next stop along the way. I am joined on this pilgrimage by my husband, also a pastor, and many other clergy and non-clergy friends and family. I love tv, movies, plays, karaoke, basketball, football, Facebook, writing, reading, traveling, and taking naps on the couch."

The Muser at Musings Musings Musing. A blog about spirituality, theology, motherhood, the recovery from postpartum depression, pop culture, and anything else I'm in the mood to muse about! Welcome!

Elizabeth Ann (but you can call me Beth) at So Many Thoughts - So Little Time Making some noise about faith, gender, culture, and leadership...with an occasional bit of jazz thrown in! She says, "In every woman’s life, there comes a time when she must raise her voice and make a little noise. This blog is my attempt to do just that. And while my major focus is exploring the intersection of faith and gender, topics of leadership, theology, culture, relationships and music are sure to surface. See...just too many dang thoughts."

And a big Welcome Back to Net!
Grace Happens "Grace is a touch of truth that lets you see the world in a new way. Grace is a gift that can only be felt when you are open enough to accept it." - Joan of Arcadia Just rambling through ministry, wondering as I wander. Same beautiful Net, same blog, different address.

And Meet this existing member:
Sally Coleman of Eternal Echoes!

Where do you blog? My main blog is called Eternal Echoes, but I also blog at Emerging Feminist, do the Revgals Friday 5’s and make occasional guest blogger appearances.

What are your favourite non-revgal blog pal blogs? Oh- are there other blogs? No seriously I really like Matt Stone’s Journeys In between , he brings some interesting challenges to traditional thought! I also enjoy Mark Berry’s Way Out West again for the interesting resources and conversation.

What gives you joy? Watching young children respond to the wonders of the gospel story, here in the UK we are privileged to be able to go into state schools to take assemblies and Religious Education lessons. I lead a story-telling team and we act out the stories often involving the children. My own children also give me joy, watching them grow into young adulthood has been amazing, and I stand in awe at the grace of God sown in and through their lives. Finally ( yes I know you didn’t ask for a list…) I love seeing signs of spring, buds on the trees, snowdrops pushing through frosty/ snow covered ground.

What is your favourite sound? Waves on the beach whether they are gentle lapping waves on a calm day or fierce storm driven crashing waves. In fact I love all of the sounds sights and smells of the sea.

What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates? Well done good and faithful servant. Followed by; come and see the place I have prepared for you….

You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone? She ran the race!

What colour do you prefer your pen? Blue ink, when I use a pen it is always an ink cartridge pen!

What is something you want to achieve in this decade? I would love to complete a PhD on aspects of the Divine Feminine, looking at contemporary imagery/ art, and the Goddess movement, finding echoes in the Scriptures and building on a fuller vision of who God is. This does not mean denying my Christian faith, but springs from a recognition that too often we limit God.

Why are you cool? I am a bit of a hippy, I don’t really wear formal suits if I can help it, I have invested in a couple of embroidered silk jackets so that when I need to look smart I can still be me! And because I want to learn kite boarding!

What is one of your favourite memories? Standing on top of Enchanted Rock (Texas) at the end of a hot day; it was 1998 and we were on a family camping trip, it was our last family holiday with all of us together, and so it is a special memory!

Anything else you've always wanted to be asked? Hmmm (tongue in cheek answer here)…. Mum, would you like to put your feet up while we make dinner? Yup that sounds like something I’d like to be asked J !

(Editorial note: Yes, Sally is from the UK, so I have maintained the British spellings.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Music Video

Today's posting is a switch in gears for me today. All yesterday, my daughter and I were picking out wedding music for the upcoming BIG DAY in June. Overdosed a little bit in great organ music - so much from which to choose, but one must narrow down to what is doable and appropriate.

So... this is a medley of two hymn tunes - "How Firm a Foundation" and "Rock of Ages" - with nice scenery and a calm relaxing arrangement.

Were these tunes heard at your worship today? What music did you sing? And how did music touch you today during worship?

Sunday prayer, Memorial Day Weekend

Merciful God,
Have mercy on us in our shortcomings, our failings, our railings against you and our sins.
Have mercy on us when we presume we can use war to fix what's wrong with the world or regions of the world.
Have mercy on us when we send young men and women to do the work of those who stay behind and decide when and where to send them, whose lives are then shed on fields we sent them to protect.
Have mercy on us when we don't honor those who naively put on the uniform to serve, who are too young to understand, and who have hope to make a difference.
Have mercy on us when we don't remember those who did give their lives on foriegn soil in wars numbered, named and un-named.
Have mercy on us when we ourselves cause war in our homes, our families, our friends, our work, our neighbors, our churches and within ourselves.
Have mercy on us, Lord.
Thank you for your loving mercy, Lord.
Remind us that blessed are the peacemakers, for we shall be called children of God.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Birds and Lilies Edition

Good morning, gals and pals! I'm just back from the Festival of Homiletics (for the first time held in my home town), and re-orienting myself to the church office, to the Sunday worship services, and to the scripture lessons. This Sunday will be our first of the summer season: so we will be out on the lawn at 8:00 a.m., weather permitting. (That is, if it doesn't rain.) So, of course, I am thinking of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, as we usually share worship space with them all summer.

This morning I have fair trade coffee brewing (as usual); I have banana bread and muffins, and tea for those who prefer it. I also have a cozy table and an assortment of chairs -- napkins and placemats. I like to make things nice for you. So: please come and visit. Tell us your worship plans, where you sermon is heading ( or isn't heading), what you are anxious about, what nurtures you, what mysteries hold you in thrall, what birds sing a new song with you, and what lilies happen to be blooming where you are.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Five- vacation thoughts....

It is a holiday weekend here in the UK, and the weather forecast for much of the country is not good!!! But we can still dream and so with that in mind I bring you this Friday Five.

1. Getting ready for summer, do you use the gradual tanning moisturisers ( yes gentlemen you too can answer this!!!), or are you happy to show your winter skin to the world?

2.Beach, mountains or chilling by the pool, what/ where is your favourite getaway?

3.Are you a summer lover or does the long break become wearing?

4.Active holidays; hiking swimming sailing, or lazy days?

5.Now to the important subject of food, if you are abroad do you try the local cuisine, or do you prefer to play it safe?

No bonus this week unless you can think one 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.
I am convicted; I suddenly realise how exclusive I have made # 1 and apologise for being a caucasian middle class female with a narrow world view!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Big Event 2.0

RevGalBlogPals Big Event 2.0

April 16-19, 2009
Save the Date!

Planning is just getting underway. We have a program in mind and are beginning to consider locations. And we can still use your help!
If you would like to join the BE 2.0 planning group, please e-mail Songbird!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday Festival: No Muffins (or RevGals) Left Behind!

Graphic from the Main Street Gourmet in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. They offer a great deal on imperfect muffins for clubs, charities, churches, other non-profits...those of you in the general area should check it out!

Many of our writers are away at the Festival of Homiletics this week, but we do have some good choices gleaned from around the ring...

Quaker Pastor is up on her soapbox about some grave injustices. Preach it!

Mitch cracks me up. In his words: "Many times in my blog I've ranted about district events done wrong- assuming the
pastor is a "he", and not taking into account that Pastor's Husbands like me may
not want to go to the pastor's wives hair & makeup booth. This time I'm ranting about an event done right!"

There's been a fantastic book discussion on Take this Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles down the page on Monday. Don't miss the many thoughtful comments and the opportunity to share conversation with the author.

Let's be praying for: Kirstin, who has been walking with cancer and surgery for it; Sally, who is suffering depression, and for her son Chris, who is once again battling his heart ailment and his mama who wants to fix it (we got anyone can witness on that!?), our Songbird, who is looking at a potentially scary diagnosis, and many others whose situations are less public, but who need our loving support.

If that describes you...we'd love to hear from you. And if you have a great post or story to share, ditto.

Anyone at all, please feel free...or perhaps someone would like to give us an update from the Fiesta de Homies? Remember, I think it behooves us mice to play while the homileticians are away! Margaritas? Antonio?

To post a direct link in your comment, use the following formulation:
<a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>
For a complete how-to, click here.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: High Anxiety Edition

Lessons for the coming Sunday are here .

I'll admit it; I'm a "high anxiety," nail-biting, finger-twiddling person whose nerves are set off by everything from left-hand turns to work stress to watching crises du jour on CNN.

Some of us do ministry in anxious congregations -- congregations dealing with change or interpersonal frictions or local stressors.

Sometimes our anxiety springs from forces beyond our control. Sometimes it's the kind of self-induced anxiety borne of our fast-paced, multitasking, distracting, life-devouring lifestyles and mindsets.

What is the word to us anxious folk this coming Sunday? Here's your opportunity to ponder and discuss.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Take This Bread" Book Discussion

"Take This Bread" was written by Sara Miles about her life before becoming a Christian, becoming a Christian and then living out her Christianity. She has probably lived "nine lives" through her experience as a war journalist, and that experience set a background for her understanding of the Eucharist and food. Her upbringing was Atheistic with a fervor, seasoned with her parents bitterness with the church. At the same time in her background lies her grandparents' "activist/missionary" Christianity.
That she wandered into a church, St Gregory's Episcopal church, received communion and found herself transformed was not a happenstance. Her transformation led her to not just serve the Eucharist during the worship time, but to serve the bread, the food, the groceries to the hungry of San Francisco. She did this all the while being scorned for her new found faith by her friends and family, and dealing with opposition within the church. It is powerful that she then writes about these experiences openly in the book; "Take This Bread". This book, her life, her Christianity challenges us in our own lives, churches and neighborhoods on how are we sharing this "Bread of Life" or not sharing it.

I love the title of this book, it reminds me of several other book titles, Peterson's "Eat this Book", and the book we read and discussed a couple of months ago; Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." I love the cover of the book, a picture of a Peanut Butter Jelly sandwich. I lived off of PB & J sandwiches through college and seminary; believe it or not, I still like to eat them. This memoir brings to mind Anne Lamott's writing about her own conversion and life; although they are not similar in the way they write. I am struck by how her faith has been sustained even through what has turned others off or away from Christianity. She gives us hope for what is real and can be real and living about Christianity and the church in the world.

There is much that can be discussed about this book and from this book. I invite you to do so in the comment section of the post. If you don't know where to begin here are some possible discussion ideas or you can use the ones in the reader's guide of the book. As I understand it Sara Miles is at some point going to join us in discussion as well. And some of you may have already written her with questions. The following are from the writer herself. I asked her what one question she had not been asked that she wished she was asked since she has already been interviewed a lot; and this is what she wrote;

"I'm not sure I have just one question I've been burning to be asked. But here are some thoughts about areas I know provoke a lot of debate and discussion.

* One is open communion: specifically, why offer open communion? Often church people seem to think that open communion is sort of about manners-- let's allow everyone to receive some wafers so we can be nice and not make anyone feel uncomfortable. I have a very different take on it, which I'd be glad to answer questions on.

* Similarly with gay marriage: I don't think it's a question of "rights" at all, or of justice. I think the argument for gay marriage is based in a theology and ecclesiology that sets God's kingdom apart from the powers and principalities of the world. Would be glad to talk about this.

* Another specific question I'd love to be asked: what are the two main principles that set your food pantry apart from many church feeding programs?

* Some of the group may want to ask about ordination, etc....why I preach, teach, feed, heal, and pastor a congregation, but haven't pursued ordination."

So the table is ready and open for discussion. I have some virtual PB&J to share as we sit around the table and discuss.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Libera - Te Lucis(Tallis's Canon)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise him above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost...

... and so much more...

What did you sing this Trinity Sunday? What are your favourite songs/ Hymns for Trinity Sunday? Let us know in the comments.

Prayer for Trinity Sunday

Prayer for Trinity Sunday

Gracious God,

Thank you for this new day.

Thank you for the opportunity to worship as your body of Christ.

Thank you for the Holy Spirit who fills us with the truth and wisdom.

Holy one, we pray for those who are suffering in China from Earthquakes, Myanmar from the Cyclone, and those who suffer from starvation.

Lord we pray for your peace with justice throughout your whole world.

And now;

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Amen.

Artwork by He Qui

Cross posted at RevGal Prayer Pals and my blog

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fest of Homiletics Meetup

More than 25 Rev Gals and Pals are planning to be at the meetup this coming Tuesday! It will be great to see you, too.

Here's the info, one more time....

Taxxis Restaurant,
Hyatt Regency,
1300 Nicollet Mall,

May 20th
at 4:00 pm

The dress is....whatever you like...but it sounds from the comments a while back like most us us are keeping it casual.

Feel free to bring guests or friends who are interested in blogging. Just remember that some RevGals blog anonymously, so a measure of discretion is appreciated.

See you soon!

11th Hour Preacher Party: "Which Came First?" Edition

"So, which came first," I asked my husband yesterday, "the chicken or the egg?"

"The egg," he intoned, "but what laid it...was not a chicken."

Will this be the beginning of my sermon on Genesis 1:1-2:4a?

Only those in attendance tomorrow will know for sure.

But meanwhile, pull up a chair, have some coffee, share a muffin or a bowl of cereal, and tell us what you're preaching about, how you're handling the children's message or what you have on for today.

And if even that is too much for you, enjoy a little Sesame Street, first!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Five: Grand Tour

One of our original ring members, jo(e), wrote yesterday about a trip she and her sisters are taking overseas with their parents, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Many other RevGals are headed for the Festival of Homiletics in the coming week (click here for information on a RevGals meetup!!). In honor of these upcoming trips, herewith your Grand Tour Friday Five.

Name five places that fall into the following categories:

1) Favorite Destination -- someplace you've visited once or often and would gladly go again

2) Unfavorite Destination -- someplace you wish you had never been (and why)

3) Fantasy Destination -- someplace to visit if cost and/or time did not matter

4) Fictional Destination -- someplace from a book or movie or other art or media form you would love to visit, although it exists only in imagination

5) Funny Destination -- the funniest place name you've ever visited or want to visit

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, May 15, 2008

Ask the Matriarch — When Things Fall Apart

A couple in my church have been married more than 30 years. This past Christmas the wife discovered that the husband was cheating on her with another married woman. Despite her best efforts and 3 months of therapy, it turns out he is still cheating (even as they are in marriage counseling) and he wants to end their marriage. The wife, obviously, is devastated, in spite of the fact that they haven't really been happy for most of their marriage.

The wife has called on me for extensive pastoral care, which I have gladly provided. Is it possible now for me to be a pastor to the husband? Does that responsibility fall to the (male) senior pastor? How can we care for this family without taking sides? Also, the husband and I are both musicians who have been working on a piece to offer in worship in July--I'm not sure how that can continue to work either without one or both of us feeling extremely awkward, especially because he plans to continue to live in the house, and she refuses to give up her home, until things are fully decided and finalized — so there must be some communication going on about what's happening at church, right? Ack! Help!

From our matriarchs:

“AWKWARD.” “ACK! is right!” “Messy!”
…and, perhaps most importantly, “Pray!”

Each of the matriarchs had a somewhat different (but overlapping) perspective, so I’ll let each of them speak in turn. Overwhelmingly, they say don’t take sides, don’t bite off more than you can chew, don’t take on roles you’re not qualified for.

They also say that there are some factors that can vary wildly but are very important to consider—how much the congregation has become involved (voluntarily or no), whether there are children involved (even grown).

Some said it was imperative to step back and be neutral. Others said that the husband’s behavior made it impossible not to, and regardless of your own ability to be a pastor to both, you don’t want to seem like you approve of what he’s doing.

From Abi:
It doesn't sound like he has asked you up to this point to be a Pastor for him. And he may not. It may be up to you, if at all, to just go ask him, “What do you need from me as your Pastor, how do you want me to be for you as your Pastor?”

You may discuss the matter with your Senior Pastor, so you all can be clear on your Pastoral roles in this situation. It sounds like you have become empathetic with her to the point you have joined with her and don't feel you can Pastor him and perhaps can't even play this musical piece with him. However, that can cause a big triangle of Man the Persecutor, Woman the victim, and you the Rescuer. Then you are no longer the Pastor.

The taking sides thing happens in divorce, and particularly at church. One spouse usually ends up losing the church. I know it’s hard for you, but your job as Pastor is to not take sides. It may be harder yet in that the woman has called on you so much and it sounds like you have begun to identify with her. This man still needs God in his life, even though his behavior says otherwise.

You can offer Pastoral Care with limits for this woman, but it sounds like she is at a point she needs her own therapist and perhaps resources on how to handle the end of a marriage; you may be able to point her toward such resources. Pay attention to your own feelings. Have someone you are debriefing with, and processing with. Keep the Senior informed and in tune with what you have done or doing. Get permission to talk with their Counselor and find out what the counselor thinks is the best way you all can offer Pastoral Care, and that you all can be working with the therapist and visa versa. Both of you Pastors may want to make a Pastoral call to help them with this process as Pastors and church members.

From Ann:
My first concern is about giving extensive pastoral care to one party. In the Episcopal Church, after three sessions you bundle them off to a professional. Talk to the man and find out if this music piece can be worked on and performed in a professional manner. Being a pastor is different from being a pastoral care person who is involved in marriage counseling. Pastoring IMO is setting boundaries on your relationship with each partner and not getting enmeshed with their marriage issues at this point. Offering equal care is important. Letting each know they are still valued members whether married or divorced. Be a welcoming place for them in this time.

As to taking sides, stay out of that morass, keep your thoughts to yourself about what they should do. Another important thing to consider is that if they get back together, they will not be mad at you for having taken sides. Plus, modeling not taking sides is good for the congregation to see.

Singing Owl:
There are always two sides to the story, but it appears that the husband is (at the very least) being unethical. There's quite a list, obviously. Adultery, deceit, continuing the affair even during counseling—which indicates a lack of desire to change. I think it would be difficult, if not impossible, for you to really be a pastor to the husband. Does the senior pastor know what is happening?

I think for the husband to move on in the church as if nothing is amiss is not reasonable nor realistic, and someone needs to have a very frank talk with him. This makes me think of I Corinthians where Paul chastises the church for continuing in fellowship with a man engaging in what is clearly sinful behavior as if nothing is wrong. He gets pretty harsh about it. The church is doing the husband no favor in the long run if he is not confronted with his need to repent for the adultery, if nothing else. He adds insult to injury for the wife by cheating on her repeatedly and then not having enough understanding or compassion to spare her his presence in their house.

Can he just live in his home, continue the affair, play music, come to church and move on? I think not, but that is another reason the senior pastor needs to be involved. This is not, let's face it, Christian behavior. There are a boat load of issues, no doubt, but the first one is his relationship to God.

I hope the "other married woman" and her husband are not also in the congregation! At times we have to be pastor to both and must do so with the the clearest of boundaries and integrity. Regardless of who gives pastoral care to the husband, it is important for you and the senior pastor to communicate about the situation. It is important to avoid any sense of one of the pastors supporting the wife and the other supporting the husband. That, in and of itself, can leave the impression that the two of you (pastors) are taking sides.

Very often divorcing couples are not able to continue worshiping and serving comfortably in the same congregation. It will be interesting to see if they are still doing so by July. I would discuss the music situation openly with the husband.

St. Casserole:
You are not an attorney who takes sides in a case. As pastor you are responsible for all those in your care. You may not like them or feel sympathetic but you are a pastor. You are an advocate for the health of both the wife's and husband's soul.

If your senior pastor wishes to be the primary pastoral care person for the husband, this is fine.

If you let the husband know that you think he is a stinker, then where is the mercy? You can't take away his adulterous history but you may be able to offer a good word about a faithful future. He deserves ministry, too.

Having said all this, when you are surrounded with rotten church people who you love as Christ's own but who make you feel nauseated, try not to fuss at yourself. Not all of Christ's own are appealing people. Go for a brisk walk. Find a tree stump and hit the stump with a hammer. Scrub out your refrigerator. Do something to get the anger out then return to work asking God to show you the blessing.

One person can almost never be pastor to two divorcing parties, especially in the type of situation you are describing. In a team setting like yours, it would be natural for each of them to gravitate toward one of the two of you. You don't have to take sides publicly, but these individuals will be best served if they are not both relying on you for pastoral care.

Nearly every situation like this that I have ever seen has resulted in one or the other (or both) spouse leaving the congregation and finding another place to worship. This is not because I as the pastor suggested it: it simply became uncomfortable for both of them to remain in the same community of faith. It is hard for the rest of the community to know how to care for them.

I don't know about the nature of your faith community, but were this to happen in the one I serve, working with the husband on a joint music piece in July might be construed by some as your tacit approval of his actions. You may not intend to communicate that by your musical collaboration, but I would be surprised if the wife didn't see it that way.

How about you? Have you ever had this happen in your ministry? How did you handle it? Any happy endings?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday Festival - Hump Day


Happy Wednesday, All!

Gord is musing about a proposal that will come to his Conference Annual meeting in a couple of weeks. Fascinating stuff for us bloggers!

Christine at Abbey of the Arts has invited us to her 18th Poetry Party...submit a poem by Friday, and be entered into a drawing to receive a prize!

Sally brings us an alternative look at Psalm 23 and shares Pentecost re-told for children.

What are you writing and thinking about this week? Please share in the comments! If you'll link, we'll try to come visit! Here's how: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Three-In-One Edition

Read Sunday's texts here.

Ahhh...Trinity Sunday...that annual opportunity to explain/review the mystery of the Godhead in 20 minutes or less!

So how are you going to approach this topic? Or are you at all? Will apples, eggs, water in its various permutations and/or the Athanasian Creed be involved?

Seriously: Which of this coming Sunday's texts speak to you, and why, as you plan your sermons, prayers and worship in general? Please share your thoughts, questions and conundrums.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Upcoming book discussion on "Take This Bread"

You are invited to join the author, Sara Miles; as we discuss her book Take This Bread this next Monday, the 19th. Read the book and bring your questions. It looks to be an interesting time. Sara invites your emails and questions to get the conversation going, here is her email address;

Raised as an atheist, Sara Miles lived an enthusiastically secular life as a restaurant cook and writer. Early one morning she ambled into St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church on Potrero Hill, took Communion and her life changed. That day Miles found both God and her life's mission: feeding the hungry.

If you haven't purchased the book already, you can do so by going to the sidebar under the heading "The Featured Book discussion for May" and clicking the icon "buy from" You will be helping revgalblogpals as we receives a small percentage of your purchase price, also.

and check out the website for St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church

and the food pantry

Musical Musings: Fire & Freedom edition

Yesterday the Church celebrated the Day of Pentecost and for this year's festivities I have a roundup of music that expresses the Spirit of resurrection, renewal, restoration and reconciliation; I'm especially excited to hear about your particular Pentecostal Favorites in the comments!

It has been called "the apotheosis of the dance!"--Beethoven, Symphony No. 7; this Leonard Bernstein recording includes another of my Beethoven favorites, Symphony #2. Herbert von Karajan's classic version with the Berlin Philharmonic is complete on YouTube.

In the Acts 2 scriptures for Pentecost we hear Jesus promise, "John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit...and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." In the book of Joel we find another Divine promise, "I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions," remembered so clearly by Peter and quoted in Acts 2. John reveals to the world in Revelation 21, "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God..." Aligned with that same Spirit of newness, Carly Simon sings "Let the River Run--Come, the New Jerusalem" from the 1988 film Working Girl:
We're coming to the edge, running on the water, coming through the fog, your sons and daughters. Let the river run, let all the dreamers wake the nation. Come, the New Jerusalem.
here's the sequence from the film.

Written and originally recorded long ago by The Youngbloods, "Get Together" reminds us "the Dove is on the wing," and Wilson Phillips has a recent version on their CD, California.

I had to include Bob Dylan's literally iconic Blowin' in the Wind, with its recurring response "The answer is blowin' in the wind" to the persistent question, "How many...". His own recording can be found in his album The Best of...

From J.S. Bach's 18 great chorales for organ, a splash of splendor for you organists to play or for anyone to listen to, his fantasy on «Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott» - "Come, Holy Ghost, Lord God," BWV 651; Walter Kraft has made a recording.

Also by The Fifth Evangelist, J.S. Bach, a sparkling bright motet for vocal soloists, chorus and continuo, BWV 226, «Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf» - "The Spirit Also Helps us in our Weakness..." I'm especially partial to this because I played organ continuo for a performance of this piece on a famous organ with a locally well-known chorus. I like this affordable 2-CD set that includes all ten motets performed by Helmuth Rilling with the Stuttgart Bach Collegium.

A hymn that may be less-familiar to those who haven't hung out in Lutheran circles is O Day Full of Grace, "Den signede Dag" written by N.F.S. Grundtvig, 1826, with tune composed in the same year by C.E.F. Weyse. The text includes, "God came to us then at Pentecost, his Spirit new life revealing, that we might no more from him be lost, all darkness for us dispelling. This flame will the mark of sin efface and bring to us all his healing." The hymn is #161 in the Lutheran Book of Worship and #627 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

Revelation Song by Kari Jobe is a Spirit-filled contemporary song in the contemporary praise genre.

Likely almost everyone knows and probably loves Ralph Vaughn Williams' elegant tune Down Ampney, "Come Down, O Love divine"; Bianco of Siena prayed the original...
Come down, O love divine, seek Thou this soul of mine, and visit it with Thine own ardor glowing...O let it freely burn, 'til earthly passions turn to dust and ashes in its heat consuming...
I've enjoyed playing Jan Bender's organ partita, "Four Variations on Down Ampney," published by Augsburg in 1971, but apparently it's currently out of print.

For a concluding taste of fire and freedom, I'll recommend Charles W. Ore's festive prelude on «Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott» - "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord," published by Concordia; Charles Ore has recorded this piece along with more than a dozen others on From My Perspective; on the same site you can listen to an MP3.

May this season of Pentecost be a green and growing one for all of you...

Alleluia! The Spirit of Life fills the World! Alleluia, Alleluia!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Music Videos: Mozart - Veni Sancte Spiritus

My spiritual director complains that Ordinary time returns with a "clunk" the day after Pentecost. Many of our traditions will be coming out of 90 intense days of prayer and celebration beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending today with Pentecost - returning to our "regularly scheduled programming". What will tide us over until the next of the Great Feasts 7 months hence? How long will the music from today ring in our heads?

The Holy Spirit will surely carry us along, and provide music for the journey as well. Pieces of the Golden Sequence, or as it is better known, Veni Sancte Spiritus, which dates to the 13th century, infused every hymn my community sang at the Pentecost vigil last night. This is Mozart's version, but I love Palestrina's. Its gentle, ethereal, yet sustaining melody eases me back into the ordinary days.
The Holy Spirit will surely carry us along, and provide music for the journey as well. Pieces of the Golden Sequence, or as it is better known, Veni Sancte Spiritus, which dates to the 13th century, infused every hymn my community sang at the Pentecost vigil last night. This is Mozart's version, but I love Palestrina's. Its gentle, ethereal, yet sustaining melody eases me back into the ordinary days.

One 16th century theologian approved of the sequences' "wondrous sweetness, clarity of style, pleasant brevity combined with wealth of thought". Perhaps this is why we have so many hymns that draw from it.

What did you sing today? How many of your songs bore traces of the Golden Sequence?

Come, Holy Ghost,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.

Come, father of the poor,
come giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Without your divine will,
there is nothing in man,
nothing is harmless.

Wash that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,
warm that which is chilled,
make right that which is wrong.

Give to your faithful,
who rely on you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Give reward to virtue,
give salvation at our passing on,
give eternal joy.
Amen. Alleluia.

What's a sequence? The term comes from the Latin sequela, "that which follows". These pieces grew out of an elaboration on the last note of the alleluia - sung before the Gospel.

Pentecost/Mother's Sunday's prayer

Gracious God, who did send down your Holy Spirit to birth your church, rain down your Holy Spirit afresh today, Heal the broken hearted, the divisions in our churches, the stuck ones, the proud ones, the desperate ones, the lonely ones, those who have given up and quit trying. Forgive us for where we have closed ourselves to your Holy Spirit, where we have impeded the Holy Spirit, or where we have stood in the way. Come Holy Spirit inspire the hearts of us your faithful, kindle in us your love that we may love you, others, and ourselves. Come Holy Spirit, renew your people, pour into us the power of your creativity; that your light will shine in the dark places of this world.

Holy one, we also today lift up moms everywhere; we who are moms presently, our moms, moms to be, moms who are now gone on from us, moms whose children have died before them, moms all around the world. We pray for those whose moms weren't able to really parent them, who were abusive, or had mental illnesses, or drug or alcohol abuses, other problems that affected their mothering. We pray for those who are childless not by choice; those who may be trying different medical treatments, or going through the adoption processes, or other means, or those who can't afford it at all. We pray for those who are not mothers by choice; whether by timing, situation, or just by choice, we don't want to leave them out as you don't. Lord we pray for moms whose children have made them happy and those whose children have disappointed them. We pray for those moms in countries that have less than we do trying to make sure their kids have the basics. We pray for those moms in countries who have to figure out how to protect their kids from war, the rebels, the terrorists, and the means of war left behind. And we pray for those moms, who have been through the recent natural disasters trying to remake life, provide shelter, and who may also grieve the death of their children.

We pray all this and more through the power of your Holy Spirit who birthed the church, and through the name of Jesus, Amen.

cross posted at my blog st john rev abi and at revgalblog prayer pals

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Festival of Homiletics Meetup

Are you ready to meet up with some other Rev Gals at the Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis?

Join us!

Taxxis Restaurant,
Hyatt Regency,
1300 Nicollet Mall,

May 20th
at 4:00 pm

It will be so great to see you all!

Thanks to Diane, who made a lot of phone calls, and talked the Hyatt into opening their restaurant Taxxis (which is usually closed on Tuesday nights) just for us. Yes, that means we get the whole place to ourselves!

If you havent signed up, but think you might be there, let me know by emailing psalm46betstill - at - gmail - dot - com.

Jennifer (blogging as juniper at possiblewater)

(and keep scrolling down for the Saturday preachers party...)

11th Hour Preacher Party: Embarrassment of Riches Edition

Happy Pentecost Preaching, Gals and Pals! This week we who follow the lectionary have many, many choices: Numbers or Acts, 1 Corinthians or John (7 or 20). And such riches are appropriate for the day that the Holy Spirit descended (and not too delicately) on the apostles as they gathered. Of course, there's also Mother's Day, as well, not to mention (where I live, anyway) the Fishing Opener. And of course, there are many choices for those who are off-lectionary.

I have banana bread (warm from the oven, but I was saving it for mom), Good Earth Tea or Fair Trade coffee, and oatmeal (as always). We are trying fancy oatmeal now: Banana orange Date and Blueberry Crunch and Apple Cinnamon. Anyone?

Pull up a chair, let us know how you're doing, where you're going, where the Spirit is leading, or pushing, or falling. Share a children's message idea, a story, a dream or a fear. It's Pentecost, after all: Season of dreams and visions, from the least to the greatest of us.

Friday, May 09, 2008

FRIDAY FIVE - Gifts of the Spirit

FROM ACTS CHAPTER 2: 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:17 " 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

(My personal favorite in this passage is how Peter insists the men cannot be drunk because it's only 9:00 a.m.)

Anyway, it's Pentecost and my very first Friday Five! Thinking about all the gifts of the spirit and what Peter said of the "last days"......

Have you or anyone you know

1. ...ever experienced a prophesy (vision or dream) that came true?

2. ...dreamed of a stranger, then actually met them later?

3. ...seen a wonder in heaven? (including UFO's)

4. ...seen a "sign" on the earth?

5. ...experienced knowledge of another language without ever having studied it?

Bonus Question: What would a modern day news coverage of the first Pentecost have sounded like?

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, May 08, 2008

Ask the Matriarch - Gluten-Free Communion

Food allergies and dietary intolerance seem more prevalent than ever these days, and, sensitive to the needs of her parishioners, one of our number writes:

In my new church, a mother and child have a problem with intolerance to gluten. The Deacons arranged to have an option of gluten free bread, and because it is a smaller church, they were able to offer it specifically to mother and child. But the mother is concerned that having the two kinds of bread handled by the same people or sliced and cubed in the same preparation area might lead to stray crumbs falling and leading to an allergic reaction.

I wonder if any of the Matriarchs have dealt with this kind of concern, and if so, what approaches have been tried? I hate for this mother and child to be excluded.

We got some great tips from our matriarchs, staring with Peripatetic Polar Bear:
Use different colors to distinguish: The gluten-free bread is put in a pottery bowl of a blue hue. (Grape juice is also in a blue chalice---regular bread and regular wine are in brown chalices/platters). We use a bowl instead of a platter so that we can directly dump the bread into it without the chance that the bread will fall onto the counter. The bowl also prevents the person serving the bread from accidentally touching the bread on the side if he/she had been involved in the wheat bread prep.

Prepare them before the service, separately: I would think that it would be possible to cube the bread at the time of purchase, on a clean cutting tray and then freeze it until use, thus avoiding handling the bread the day of communion, when you're preparing the other bread. Or, if the mother was especially nervous, it could be cubed at HER home, bagged and brought to the church to be frozen. Preparing it this way would also allow you to bag it in small quantities. Just have a clearly marked tray for it, that is never used by the other breads. I'm guessing you might use the silver trays--it's possible to either etch something into them, or use a dot of nail polish in the center to set it off from the others. The silver trays are much harder to clean than pottery, so it would be important to be very consistent about always using the same tray.

Advertise your awareness: I think it's fantabulous that you are providing this ministry. Since you never know who your guests in church might be, I think I'd note it in your bulletin--"Please ask a Deacon for gluten-free bread." It's a nice sign of welcome, as you never know who might walk in your doors with this growingly more prevalent allergy.

Go gluten-free: If your church is really rather small, why not just serve gluten-free bread to everyone? One of our former Parish Associates had celiac disease. Rather than having him break the bread over a bowl instead of a platter, we just all had gluten-free bread that day, and it was fine. I know gluten-free is a little harder to find, and a little more expensive, but for a small church, it's probably far easier to do it this way!

From RevHoney:
Let them choose what to take: We have become increasingly aware of gluten intolerance. Although we were prepared to offer gluten–free communion wafers to the 2-3 persons with this sensitivity, they have chosen to commune only with the wine/grape juice in order to avoid cross-contamination.

From Karen:
We use rice cakes broken up as our gluten-free, wheat free option. Those who requested the option have never voiced any concerns about "stray crumbs".

From Ann:
More on going gluten-free: The best solution IMO is to make gluten free bread for the whole congregation rather than have a separate bread for the mother and child. There are lots of recipes available - a quick internet search will find them. We use a prepackaged, just add water, gluten free product from the local health food/organic store. If you live in a city, you can buy gluten free bread off the shelf. The thing to look for is a bread that is not very crumbly (hate those floaters in the wine!!), that stays intact when broken into pieces. You can also use rice crackers for individual servings like one uses wheat wafers --- many of the liturgical supply houses for wafers also sell gluten free wafers.

Keep 'em separated: If your church decides to continue with whatever bread it is currently using and the mother fears contamination, here is another solution. Our altar guild bought little plastic bags--they are about 2 by 2 inches or so. The person with the allergy fills the bags with one wafer in each bag, and as I distribute the bread, the gluten-free wafer is kept separate from the other bread. The person with the allergies takes the wafer out of the plastic as I hold on to the bag. I never touch her bread. She likes this solution the best; she feels safer and in charge of her own solution.

Stacey says:
Keep others in the loop: I think however it is handled, it is a good thing to educate the congregation about what is happening, and why, so that the example of hospitality is being set, as well as so that any visitors with gluten intolerance will know what is available.

And when they travel...: One of the clergy I contacted also has a son who has gluten intolerance. When she is in a church where they are not prepared to deal with this, she makes sure to carry his box of wafers and a paper napkin with her. She can then place the napkin and wafter on the altar, and later hold it in her hand, which is holding the paten. She then gives him the napkin with the wafer folded in it.

I should note that Abi, St. Casserole and Singing Owl all made similar comments as well: use a plastic bag, make sure it looks totally different or is "packaged" in some way, be sure to educate your other members, including inviting a medical professional to explain why it's so important to pay attention to potential allergens in food we serve at hospitality events, too, as Abi suggested.

How are you dealing with this in your congregation? Anything in particular stand out as a successful way of including people with these or any other allergies/sensitivities that prevent them from participating in communion? Please share them in the comments!

And, as always, if you have a question about ministry that you'd like the matriarchs to answer, please send them to

Belated Wednesday Festival - Pentecost, etc.

Sorry for the lateness of this Wednesday Fest!

Looking forward to Pentecost, much? Leah Sophia provides a glorious illustration of Acts 2:17. Keep her in your prayers, please!

Ellbee posts 100 things she's thought about, in celebration of her 100th post.

Mrs. M. is starting an old-fashioned snail-mail Round Robin! I'm so excited! Go let her know if you'd like to play!

Speaking of robins, I started my morning with some birdwatching (though I didn't see any of THOSE), and shared it here.

What was your yesterday like? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "On Fire" Edition

The Texts This Week

The Festival of Pentecost -- as many of us tell our Sunday School kids, it's the "birthday of the Church." Yet the tame flames of candles on a birthday cake are nothing like the dramatic fire and wind of the Spirit visiting the people of God in powerful and unpredictable ways.

What text(s) will you use as a thematic anchor for your sermon this coming Sunday, and why? Discuss!

And -- bonus points -- let us know if you're planning any special worship elements -- visual, choral, liturgical -- for this important Sunday in the life of the church.

Artwork: "Tipped Flames," Kazuya Akimoto

Monday, May 05, 2008

Meet and Greet

Last week Rev. Mommy introduced a lot of new bloggers to the RevGals community. This week we only have no new members to instead we will have an interview-a-thon with three of the Rev-Guys:

Please Meet:

Rev. Scott
Where do you blog?
I’m at nachfolge.

What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?
Real Live Preacher


Heather Armstrong

The Questing Parson

What gives you joy?
My beautiful, loving wife – my precious little girl, Ainsley – great music like Storyhill, Peter Mayer, Peter Mayer (yes, there’s two of them), The Wailin’ Jennys, Rich Mullins, and too many others to mention – those days when I feel like my being a pastor actually makes a difference for someone’s faith and life.

What is your favorite sound? My daughter’s laughter.

What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
“Scott, you’re here! Someone go tell Rich to grab his dulcimer, and as soon as we hammer out the Lutheran understanding of grace, we’re gonna have ourselves one helluva concert!”

You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
“O sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth.”

Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
“David Monaghan was born November 10, 1975, the same night the Edmund Fitzgerald sank off Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior, taking all hands with her; the story of the great ore ship was, in some ways, the story of his life.”

What color do you prefer your pen? Black UniBall Rollerball.

What magazines do you subscribe to?
Runner’s World, The Christian Century, The Wittenburg Door, Newsweek, dialog, Word & World, Consumer Reports, and Mental Floss. The last makes for great throne reading.

What is something you want to achieve in this decade?
I’d love to get our daughter out of diapers before the decade is out. If we’re thinking “the next ten years,” then my goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Why are you cool?
Wherever I travel, I start to pick up the local accent. Thus, even though I lived in Nebraska for 25 years before living in Minnesota the last eight, it is the Minnesota accent that people notice about me these days.

What is one of your favorite memories?
Enjoying a delicious dunkel bier with my wife at a café teeming with blooming flowers, just down the hill from the Kaiserburg in Nürnberg, Germany:

Anything else you've always wanted to be asked?
“Mr. Johnson, would you like your free Mini Cooper S in black or red?"

Where do you blog?
I blog most at anglobaptist. But I also have a facebook and a myspace page. No, I don't get a whole lot of work done.

What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?
Real Live Preacher Real Live Preacher
AKMA's Random Thoughts AKMA
Janeism janeism

What gives you joy?
This is, happily, a long list. My wife and friends give me joy. Music gives me joy. I started singing in earnest in college and have not stopped since. And somewhere along the way I picked up the guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, and tenor banjo. As my wife is also a joy, I try to keep a balance. I have achieved only varying degrees of success there. Heh.

What is your favorite sound?
I don't know. I like a lot of things. Rain is lovely. The muffled silence of snow is tremendous. A congregation that KNOWS how to sing is incredible.

What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
With great joy: "Damn, son, what the hell was that!?" followed by lots of laughter.

You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
"With an undaunted heart and singing
with a bold, strong voice,
you will cross over. "
It's from a poem I love. I hold on to this at all times.

"Don't die fearfully
While you hold dreams of happiness
tightly in your embrace.

In order to take your fill of life
You will have to sustain
the blows of death."

I know I'm only allowed fifteen, that first stanza will do nicely.

Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
At some point in life it helps to come to terms with your own insanity.

What color do you prefer your pen?

What magazines do you subscribe too?
Fast Company, Christian Century, Domicile, ESPN

What is something you want to achieve in this decade?
It's 2008, so I think I'm good. Some where in the next decade there may be a PhD. But the jury is still out on that one. Kids would be a welcome addition at any time.

Why are you cool?
Who said I was cool?!

Where do you blog?
Following Frodo

What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?
Bene Diction -- I like his reflections on news items

Prairie Preacher -- a colleague in Manitoba who reflects on life, the universe, the brokenness of church and society...

Locusts and Honey -- how can you not like someone who chooses a blog title from a description of John the Baptist? while I certainly have many theological and ideological differences with John, it is important to read people with whom you can disagree, and his blog has lots of fun too

What gives you joy?
walks with the dog, cuddles with the girls

What is your favorite sound?
No contest, the excited DADDY!!!!! from the youngest whenever I walk in the house (even if I have only gone out for 30 seconds). Apparently daddy coming in is a very exciting thing to have happen

What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
Truly I don't believe in the whole pearly gates thing, but if I am wrong: "Welcome! The bar is over there, the dance floor is there, the library is there, if you need anything just picture it and you will remember where to find it"

You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
He loved, he was loved, what higher praise is there?

Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
Heart pounding with excitement, Heath drew his sword and stepped out into the bedchamber.

What color do you prefer your pen?
Many days I'll settle for a pen that works and is handy. But most of the ones I use are boringly black.

What magazines do you subscribe too?
We are supposed to have time to read magazines??? WHEN? Anyway, the United Church Observer is about it. Oh and a couple of journals but I actually read the Observer...

What is something you want to achieve in this decade?
With three daughters currently under 5 I will settle for getting through it with what little sanity I have intact.

Why are you cool?
Unless I am under dressed for the temperature I am decidedly NOT cool. Never have been. I wasn't even cool or good looking enough to be a cute geek... (mind you the Beloved might say I got this answer totally wrong, but I think she is biased)

What is one of your favorite memories?
Well once we get past the three births, and the wedding day (although that included some unfortunate memories too) let's see...
I would have to say walking along Hadrian's Wall and looking out over the countryside (among other travel memories). Well that and the first time I met the Beloved of course--that will always be a great memory (even if she might rather I didn't remember it quite so clearly)

Anything else you've always wanted to be asked?
nothing comes to mind...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Hail Thou, Once Despised Jesus

I am on my way to Austin this morning for meetings tonight and tomorrow, so am missing church at home...but I know my congregation will be singing "Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus." Here's a different take on the piece, with Southwest visuals for you.

What did you and your folks sing today?

Sunday's Prayer: Ascension Sunday

Gracious, loving God,
Here we are Lord, once again finding ourselves looking up for Jesus, looking in so many places for God knows what sometimes. Sometimes God it seems if we are just looking for ourselves. God in the midst of all of this world’s distractions, business, and activities that we can all get lost in to where we can’t really see you; help us in the midst of this moment to see you. Help us in this moment of quiet, stillness, and a slow breath, see ourselves clearly see you. As we go about our day, help us to have eyes to see you.
And God just for a moment let others see Jesus in us. Amen

Saturday, May 03, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Phenomenal Cosmic Power Edition

Let me tell you the truth, preacher gals and pals: as a little Southern Baptist girl, I never heard "boo" about the Ascension.

My first contact with the word came on the school bus, a bus that ran from my suburban Northern Virginia neighborhood, shared by students from St. Agnes and St. Stephen's with the boys from Ascension Academy. They were the ones with the grey uniform jackets, and one of them took the liberty of stabbing me in the cheek with his pen.

Yes, I was a victim of (private) school bus violence. I'm told the story made it to the Washingtonian magazine.

This has nothing to do with my choice to skip over the Ascension texts, however; I am simply wrapping up a sermon series.

What are you up to this Saturday? Reminiscing about the school bus? Quoting Denise Levertov? Choosing Acts or Luke?

Whatever your plan for preaching, I hope you'll check in here and share with those gathered here, have a cup of coffee, share a treat, ask for help or tell us about your brilliant plans for a children's message!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Wait and pray Friday 5

Part of the Ascension Day Scripture from Acts 11 contains this promise from Jesus;

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Then he was taken from their sight into the clouds, two angels appeared and instructed the probably bewildered disciples to go back to Jerusalem, where they began to wait and to pray for the gift Jesus had promised.

Prayer is a joy to some of us, and a chore to others, waiting likewise can be filled with anticipation or anxiety....

So how do you wait and pray?

1. How do you pray best, alone or with others?

2. Do you enjoy the discipline of waiting, is it a time of anticipation or anxiety?

3. Is there a time when you have waited upon God for a specific promise?

4. Do you prefer stillness or action?

5. If ( and this is slightly tongue in cheek) you were promised one gift spiritual or otherwise what would you choose to recieve?

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