Sunday, August 31, 2008
We sang Here I am Lord- a perfect start to a new year of ministry.
How about you, what have you sung today in praise and worship of God, was it a song of recommittment as ours was? How did the music challenge/ encourage you? Let us know in the comments.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
It is supposed to also be a celebration of the working man and woman, the backbone of the American economy, the "salt-of-the-earth neices and nephews of Uncle Sam. With apologies to those in other countries, this is a Friday Five about LABOR. All can play. Put down that hammer, that spoon, that rolling pin, that rake, that pen, that commentary, that lexicon, and let's have some fun.
1. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.
2. Tell us about the best job you ever had.
3. Tell us what you would do if you could do absolutely anything (employment related) with no financial or other restrictions.
4. Did you get a break from labor this summer? If so, what was it and if not, what are you gonna do about it?
5. What will change regarding your work as summer morphs into fall? Are you anticipating or dreading?
Bonus question: For the gals who are mothers, do you have an interesting story about labor and delivery (LOL)? If you are a guy pal, not a mom, or you choose not to answer the above, is there a song, a book, a play, that says "workplace" to you?
Here are the instructions for the magical little link. Copy and paste the following: <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, August 28, 2008
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water...
God's a gonna trouble the water. African American Spiritual
Our question this week is about baptism, and the situation our sister presents, as well as our matriarch's responses point to the multiplicity of meanings that this rite or sacrament holds for followers of Jesus.
I generally like to do baptisms on Sunday with the whole congregation but a family - long time but somewhat estranged from the church asked me if I could do one on Saturday when all the family would be there for a wedding that I was also doing. It is a dilemma - I want to draw the family closer to thinking more kindly towards the church that abused them in the past. But on the other hand - I don't want to totally lose my standards.
What to do?
Karen's response opens with a pertinent question, and an explanation of her denomination's expectations...
You don't say what denomination you are part of. In the Presbyterian church, all baptisms must be approved by the Session, which moves some of the burden off the Pastor's shoulders in terms of discerning whether this is an appropriate pastoral move or "caving" to pressure from a disgruntled family. It's supposed to be a decision by the whole of the church leadership. Though my denomination discourages private baptisms, on the occasions we deem one appropriate, we are supposed to have elders present to represent the congregation. You could agree to do the baptism on Saturday, but insist that there be other members of the congregation present besides the family. You could ask the family who they would like you to invite to take that role.
Singing Owl also invites us to think about how we please God in this situation, but sees the possibility for middle ground...
I am wondering why it is imperative to do the baptism on Sunday. Of course, it is significant to have the church body present —but I am wondering if the "family" are also part of the church, or if a significant number of church folks would be present because of the wedding? If I were talking to this minister in person I would ask, "On what are your standards based?" That is the key, to me. What makes a baptism significant, and are there ways to include that while still being accommodating to the somewhat estranged family. I once did a baptism that I absolutely should not have done, by any standard I could think of. But I did it because I knew that to do so was the right thing to do under the circumstances, and God was very present. It sounds trite, but seriously—"what will most please God?"
Ahhh...the answer to the question of pleasing God is not always crystal clear!
What say you, rev gals and friends? Let's talk about the waters of baptism and how we navigate them and pour them faithfully.
May you live in God's amazing grace+
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Well, we have a mighty diverse lineup of posts which have been submitted this week. I think you will find these interesting, thanks to the contributors who shared their findings!
Blushing tomatoes? Yes you read it right. Find out why See-through Faith is blushing!
Mercenary Presbyter was blessed to encounter the Spirit alive and well at St. Luke's Carey Street in West Baltimore where church is CHURCH.
Want to hear and SEE one of our fellow RGBP preach? Well here is your opportunity to hear Katherine, from Anyday a Beautiful Change.
How many of us know more than a 5th grader? Find out about this 5th grader who delved into hermeneutics and absorbed it.
Matt of Lutheran Husker wants to update folks on the progress of my fundraising efforts for the Alzheimers Association, since there were so many of the RevGals that responded. The Memory Walk is still just under a month away!
Mindy is in love - do they call it puppy love?
Last, but not least.....
Don't forget to submit your recommended posts to firstname.lastname@example.org - please provide a link to the specific post and give a brief summary (a sentence or two is fine!)
Or you may want to submit one for this week in the comments section! Copy and paste the following: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>
Monday, August 25, 2008
Wow. This is a terrible week to preach lectionary. How do you choose between these texts? I know some preachers weave the lessons together, but I’ve found that to be more than I can handle- When I try that, I spend more time connecting than exegeting the texts.
This week, how to choose? These are FABULOUS texts!
In Exodus we have the burning bush account. Holy Ground. I Am who I Am. Moses is called to his very special, very particular task.
There are moments when God calls us to particular and spectacular tasks. We cannot plan for these moments. We are not told when they are coming. But when they arrive we have the opportunity to serve God and be who God created us to be. If we are lucky, we will rise to the challenge of these moments. If we are lucky, these moments will arrive once or twice in our lives.
Moses is worth remembering because when he is called his is Not ready. He is Not willing. God equips him. God supports him. And finally, Moses is willing to go and learn along the way.
How have you responded in the past? Is this a good Sunday to tell a call story? It is the beginning of the school year…
In Romans, we are given a list of things to do. An amazing list. Among it is the instruction to bless those who persecute you. Anyone willing to go here? In the country in which I live I don’t believe we do a good job of this. How do we begin to talk about? Live it?
I think you can also talk about Womanist Theology here and faith’s relationship to suffering. Chosen? Imposed? What’s the difference?
And then the gospel, with Simon Peter being called Satan. These are harsh words for a man who, admittedly, is a bumbling idiot much of the time, but loves Jesus with a devotion that few of us can reach. Are you a Simon Peter fan? Is he really this idiotic in the gospels or is he simply drawn that way? Why is Jesus so harsh with his beloved? Or are we just to soft- am I suggesting that we should follow a "Buddy Jesus?"
What are you thinking? What a lectionary week...
Joan Chittister’s book “The Friendship of Women: The Hidden Tradition of the Bible” focuses a less scholarly eye on the women of the Bible, the scriptures provide a point of departure for a series of reflections on the many facets of friendship. As a Benedictine nun and prioress, she brings a strong formation within a community of women to this book. While she does not explicitly recount her own experiences of living within such a community of faith, I suspect it enables her to see clearly not only the strengths that some aspects of friendship have, but their perils as well.
The book begins by positing that the spiritual and philosophical aspects of the friendship of women have been historically neglected. Taking community to be central to who we are as believers - even hermits base their vocation in the ascetic rejection of the “good” of community - she hopes we can grow spiritually from a clearer understanding of the gifts of friendship.
We’re among friends here - so let’s talk!
The most obvious question is which of the aspects of friendship did you find most appealing? Or revealing? The two reflections on Elizabeth (acceptance) and Ruth (availability) drew me in. The friends who walked with me through the death of my first husband, accepting where I was - were the women who I “[exposed my heart] to in the hope of finding healing hands”. Last week another friend asked me to read a draft of his essay on availability. Ruth gave me another way to read it.
I found I needed to have the scriptures in hand when reading each of the reflections (the back of the book gives the key references), that my memories of each woman were not enough to let me extract everything I could from the book. This may be my Ignatian bent coming into play, I want to start with scriptures, then walk in the door. I will admit that the looseness of the interpretation bothered me from time to time. (Would I really say that after having read this?) If you re-read the scriptures, did this enhance your reading of the book? Did it bother you how much was read into the scriptures?
Do you think there are essential difference between the friendships of women for each other, and male-female or male-male friendships? The author seems to suggest this is the case, but reaching into my own experiences, I found that all of the characteristics applied to the women, also applied to at least one of my male friendships.
What else struck you about the book? Would you recommend it to a friend?! I’ll be checking in from time to time to see where the discussion is going…
Sunday, August 24, 2008
This morning, when I awoke, the rain continued. It was one of those mornings where it would be a great excuse to just stay home and use the weather as an excuse.
We got to church and though it was not raining when we got out of the car, by the time we got to the front door of the church, it had begun to rain... AGAIN.
However, sometime in the middle of the church service, I looked at the stained glass windows on the east side of the church and did I ever want to pull my camera out as the sun decided to come out shine beautifully through the church service. And, our closing hymn was this tune:
Share some of your worship experience today, whether from the pew or in the pulpit. How did God speak to you today? What hymns made worship meaningful to you?
And... before I end this post, please be reminded that tomorrow's book discussion is
The Friendship of Women: The Hidden Tradition of the Bible led my Michelle of Quantum Theology.
Won't you join us?
and this from Theresa of Avila, a poem called,
You are Christ’s Hands
Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.
and then this from Mary Oliver, a poem called,
Who Said This
Something whispered something
that was not even a word.
It was more like a silence
that was understandable.
I was standing
at the edge of the pond.
Nothing living, what we call living,
was in sight.
And yet, the voice entered me,
with so much happiness.
And there was nothing there
but the water, the sky, the grass.
(Red Bird: Beacon Press, 2008)
May we proclaim to know You in the wonder of the world, in the wonder in us, in the things we do, and the things we do not do, all in your name. Amen.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Our readings for Sunday, Proper 16A, take us from midwives creating civil disobedience to Pharaoh's daughter causing another kind of disobedience, and both getting away with it. We have Isaiah reminding the people that God is everywhere - from Abraham and Sarah to the rocks, the coast land, and the heavens. And then the Psalmist who remind us of the awesomeness of God. We have Paul who, in his letter to the Romans, offers phrasing that has become well known in Christian tradition for baptisms and confirmation; of what it means to be Christian. Lastly we have Peter and his sudden awareness of who Jesus is, the Messiah.
With all these options, what's a preacher to do?
I thought I was going to preach on Shiphrah and Puah, that amazing duo who outwitted a Pharaoh and saved the Hebrew babies (at least for awhile). And then I found myself drawn to Romans, and then the Gospel, "Who DO YOU say I am?" And if I had even considered Isaiah I would have completely thrown our Sunday readers who are preparing to read Exodus...
So, now I have pages of notes just waiting for a direction. One thing I am pondering is the way God's footprint shows up in all these readings. In the lives of women who follow their heart rather than be obedient. In Paul's argument to the Romans and his plea for them to see God in Christ. For Peter and the disciples who get it, who figure out who Jesus is, and yet don't fully understand what it means to be the Messiah. In all these, and many other, places God is present.
Where will God show up for us today as we ponder and fret and pray? How will God fill us with words to proclaim?
That's in part what this preacher party is all about - to help us help each other - do you need ideas for children? Are you swamped with other issues to tend too? Is a sermon is the last thing on your mind? Are you actually finished with your sermon and willing to share what you said and where you went with the texts?
What ever the case, pull up a chair, sit awhile. The coffee is on, hot water waiting... I'm posting early for those across the pond and will be back, when morning hits my end of the world, to check on things. In the meantime, help yourself! Let's get this party started...
Friday, August 22, 2008
Here are five things to ponder about dates. I hope you'll play!
1) Datebooks--how do you keep track of your appointments? Electronically? On paper? Month at a glance? Week at a glance?
2) When was the last time you forgot an important date?
3) When was the last time you went OUT on a date?
4) Name one accessory or item of clothing you love even though it is dated.
5) Dates--the fruit--can't live with 'em? Or can't live without 'em?
Leave a comment to let us know you played. If you include a direct link to your blog, you'll likely have more visitors, and here's how to make one. Copy and paste the following: <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, August 21, 2008
I am revhoney, and I blog at somewheresouthofsomewhere.
Our sister Gallycat leaves big shoes to fill. But God is good, and questions keep coming, so...here we go!
We have the following question for this week:
Several of my seminary pals and I have determined that we would be wise to start memorizing a handful of charges and/or benedictions. What are some good sources? What are some favorites – scriptural and not?
Benedictions or blessings offer comfort and the promise of God's presence to worshipers as they leave the sanctuary or worship space. For many of our longtime members, they are some of the most familiar words we speak on Sunday. Our denomination now offers seasonal benedictions tied to lectionary readings. As you might suspect, some love 'em and others...they want the familiar words of the Aaronic blessing (The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord's face shine upon you...)back...now!
Charges (or words of dismissal) can serve to extend the focus of the day's message and impart direction to the faithful as they leave corporate worship and go into their environments to worship God in word and deed. In more liturgical traditions, dismissals are simple (e.g. Go in peace; serve the Lord!) and are often issued by a non-ordained assisting minister.
Many of our matriarchs are vacationing and getting sons and daughters off to school and college, so here are a few of our favorites, inviting our readers to offer theirs...
One of our matriarchs indicated that she usually inserts a ten-word or so summary of her sermon as a prologue to the liturgical benediction she uses.
From Ann -
I like a variety of blessings. Episcopalians use a prayer book so that is a primary source - the Book of Common Prayer. Also some later publications under the name of Enriching our Worship. The Anglican Church of New Zealand has A New Zealand Prayer Book which contains lots of great stuff - a bit more inclusive and expansive language with a more earth based tone - both Maori and Euro-descent New Zealanders composed it. Textweek.com is a great source for weekly ideas. I don't usually memorize but have a couple for when called on unexpectedly.
May Christ be above you to bless you, beneath you to hold you up, before you to guide you, behind you to prod you. May Christ at your left and at your right to be your constant companion on the Way. May Christ be within you and among you that you may know love, joy and peace. May the blessing of God who creates, redeems and sanctifies rest on you and those you love and pray for this day and always. Amen.
The grace of Christ attend you, the love of God surround you, the comfort of the Holy Spirit keep you, that you may live in faith, abound in hope and grow in love, both now and evermore.
One of my favorites sounds much like Ann's first one...composer and singer John Ylvisaker set it to music a number of years ago, so the pronouns are still masculine.
As you go on your way, may God go with you. May he go before you to show you the way. May he go behind you to encourage you, beside you to befriend you, above you to watch over, within you to give you peace. In the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. Amen
The readiness to memorize benedictions and charges is commendable! But beware! I am sure that I am not the only RevGal who has found herself standing before the congregation, prepared to offer the blessing, when the "blue screen of death" voided her random access memory of those words she had been saying week after week for years. I stood for a moment, waiting for words that would not come, and then finished it with something my brain cobbled together. The people may have formed a small congregation - but they had hearts as big as all outdoors...thanks be to God!
How about the rest of you? What benedictions, blessings, charges, and dismissals would you offer our inquiring sister and her seminary pals?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I spent some time this week getting ready to lead a group of students in a closing reflection on their summer experience as counselors in a camp serving disadvantaged children. My daughter, the lovely RunawayBunaway, a service veteran herself, suggested the group exercise called "rose and thorn," in which folks share one good thing and one difficult thing they experienced. Reading through this week's posts felt a bit like going through that exercise, as people shared their joys and sorrows.
Mid-life Rookie shares a Reflection on Life, a beautiful and gripping reminder of how fleeting are our lives and how much we need to remember what's important. This serious post served in its own way as a reminder of the importance of fun in ministry, and that led to an Olympic-inspired idea that came up at church. She'd love folks to drop by and contribute their own suggestions; some have already done so, and they're pretty funny.
At Eternal Echoes, Sally thanks everyone for their prayers now that Chris is home again after a difficult stay in hospital. She also shares two poems, An Geadh-Glas (The Holy Spirit-Wild Goose) and An Geadh-Glas 2.
In a more humorous vein, Mitch Ross has written a post about The Babbler at MitchRoss.com. The Babbler loves the sound of their own voice. A lot. (And if you think he's talking about you, you're probably wrong.)
Lorna at see-through-faith is crying (not laughing) out loud after she watched a youngster toss an empty can into the bushes, which is rare in Finland. It motivated her to think again about protecting the environment, and some of the little ways we can do our part. Lorna the scribe has also provided a picture of the amusing (but appropriate!) gift she received last week in honor of all the writing she had to do to get out of seminary.
If I missed you and you'd still like to suggest a post, either one of your own or something from another RGBP member, please feel free to mention it in the comments. And for next week, don't forget to send your nominations by e-mail to Wednesday Festival.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Simon Peter is going to get there-- in Acts he is a hero-- but we’re not there yet. We’re still at the place where Peter says one thing and does another. Says something really good, but does the easy and safe.
What is the difference between one place and another? Does courage come along with spiritual maturity?
Is courage a spiritual gift?
Are we all called to be Midwives?
What are you thinking about for Sunday?
Monday, August 18, 2008
MitchRoss.com: Pastor's Husband and Geek Dad (and a very entertaining blogger, I might add.)
Where do you blog?
At home mostly. Sometimes I write drafts at work over lunch (I've go an 8-5 desk job), and post them when I get home.
What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?
The Art of Manliness
What gives you joy?
Discovering how something works.
Being at home with my wife & kids.
Solving an ugly technical problem in a simple, elegant way.
Watching my wife lead a Bible Study with newly saved people.
Watching my wife give a killer expository sermon.
What is your favorite sound?
The sound of my 2 boys laughing. (4 & 1 year olds)
What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
"Well done, my good and faithfully servant. The party's inside."
You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
Here lies an old man- quiet, friendly, and a man of God.
Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
I honestly have no idea... maybe there's nothing longer than a blog posting inside me... :)
What color do you prefer your pen?
Black, 1.0mm line, liquid ink.
What magazines do you subscribe too?
None lately. I used to get Wired and Scientific American, but haven't had the time to keep up on them. Sometimes I pilfer my wife's National Review though.
What is something you want to achieve in this decade?
Hiking in Death Valley.
Visiting Kenya again.
Become debt free (everything but the mortgage).
Why are you cool?
Being a Pastor's Husband, people don't have a stereotype for me. I'm free to be
What is one of your favorite memories?
Throwing my keys at my wife's window at 11:45pm. I woke her up and proposed in her apartment's kitchen. (She said "yes", in case you're wondering...)
Anything else you've always wanted to be asked?
Where do you want me to put this pile of money?
Question from Mitch: I'd like to ask- where are all of the pastor's husbands? The 2 other active bloggers I found are now both off-line!
Check out this page from his blog -- lots of good stuff.
Do you wish to be interviewed? Is there anyone you want interviewed? Email Mompriest or Reverend Mommy and let us know!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
They were good memories and set the foundation of my love of the sacred classics. I had a hard time deciding which of the two movements were my favorite. It's a toss up between the 2nd and 3rd movements.
Here is the third movement, whose beginning dissonance melts into a beautiful melody.
Which is your favorite?
Is there a selection of music that was or has been pivotal and shaped your love of sacred music?
What music today is part of your sacred story?
Gracious and loving God,
We come to you having spent ourselves in preparation for leading in worship, preaching and other duties of being a Pastor. We come some of us with heavy hearts, physical ailments, tired minds, weary souls and overworked bodies. We ask for your grace to face these hours, to deliver your message to your people, to stand strong when called to do so, to bring the healing touch to those who need it, to be the calm presence in the midst of the storms of life. We ask for your Holy Spirit to empower us with your love, your grace, and your mercy. We take this time Lord for the nurturing of our souls that we may serve you this day and all the days of our lives. Amen.
Cross posted at my blog and revgalprayerpals.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Here in my neck of the woods, rain is falling...a little uncharacteristic for August, but most welcome! It'll be hot and humid later, but a break in the heat is most welcome.
Also falling (especially into my driveway) are the fruits of the bois d'arc tree (also known as the Osage Orange). We call them "bowdarks" and enjoy bowling them down the driveway to the empty lot across the street. (Yes, I may be a redneck...)
Bois d'arc fruits are used only for: 1) making more trees and 2) eating by squirrels (if you have another use, please let me know!)
The wood of the bois d'arc tree, however, is very hard and very beautiful, and makes gorgeous items like the vase above. Such a lovely thing, from such an odd-looking source!
For this Friday's Five, share with us five transformations that the coming fall will bring your way.
Bonus: Give us your favorite activity that is made possible by the arrival of fall.
Leave a comment to let us know you played. If you include a direct link to your blog, you'll likely have more visitors, and here's how to make one. Copy and paste the following: <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, August 14, 2008
And I just realized how appropriate that first column is. It's titled "Transitional Insanity," and you can read it here. The reason it's appropriate is that I'm stepping down as its editor, and matriarchs Ann and RevHoney are going to take it over. I'm moving on to somewhat bigger and definitely stranger things, which you can read about in this post on my newish, married-name blog.
But we're not here for that news--I just wanted to note it. We're here for the children. At least, I think we are:
We have suddenly had a population explosion of small children and babies. This is great but now what to do with them? Some want the kids in church for the whole service, some want them to just be in the service for a short time, others want them out in Sunday school or their own service during the main service. What do you do? And why?
I've seen just about everything done in the three different churches I've attended regularly as an adult, none of which dovetails with the experience I had as a kid myself (that is, a member of the junior choir from the age of 3--because my mom was the choirmaster).
So: the matriarchs say:
Ann has the most amazing sources. From them, we get:
Well, we have Sunday School from 15 minutes before the service starts until the Peace. We do it that way because those without children are positively, absolutely sure that people won't come if we don't offer Sunday School for children. We've done it for a few years that way, and that equates to "we've ALWAYS done it that way." Of course, we have only a few children who attend now, so I am not sure the logic holds up.
For the last few years I have been telling Godly Play stories during that time, which I love and the kids love. (The adults love them too when I get a chance to use them in the "big" church.)
I think I would like to have the children attend the entire service. We do that monthly, and involve the kids as lectors and worship leader and pray-ers. Our service is fairly casual, and that lends itself to kid participation. THE book that motivated me the most is "Children at Worship, Congregations in Bloom" by Caroline Fairless. I think it's out of print, unfortunately, but you can join their website at http://www.childrenatworship.org/
Now, some families prefer to keep their kids with them when they worship. One of my churches has a cry room that's separate from the sanctuary but has windows through which you can see into it, and audio is piped into the room. Helps a lot with some of the issues Jan notes--and it's something that's included in her suggestions:
Great problem to have, but it creates lots of mini-problems:
- what about screamers?
- what about squirmers?
- what about clueless parents?
- what about cranky non-parents?
Just last Sunday, we had a parent/child wrestling match (on the third row from the front no less) with a four-year-old crawling over the second row and back under to return to family (over and over again) and the 6 year old sibling loudly protesting his presence with us in the first place.
I was (miraculously) able to keep preaching, but I could tell that some of the worshippers around this family were wishing they'd take them out. (As in "out of the sanctuary," not as in some kind of wild west shootout.)
I don't know about you, but I totally laughed out loud when I read that. As in nearly snarfed soda all over the monitor, but I digress. As Jan continues, some parents see their kids so rarely because of long work hours that the last thing they want to do is banish their toddler yet again. Other parents are nervous about respiratory and other bugs that can get passed around in nurseries making targets of still-developing immune systems. "Kids in worship no longer sit erectly in the pews with little bow ties and patent leather shoes with nary a peep from any of them," she says, to which I think, was that what i was supposed to be doing instead of drawing pictures on the visitor feedback cards?
Some suggestions from Jan:
Bottom line: Hospitality is important, and for every tolerant worshipper who doesn't mind the cute toddler waving at him/her throughout the sermon, there will be an intolerant worshipper who is distracted and frustrated. Try to make policies/plans to respect both kinds of people.
- Have awesome, regular nursery workers who are paid well, vetted thoroughly, and have CPR training and sweet spirits.
- Have "worship bags" for pre-schoolers who will be staying in the sanctuary. They can be simple brightly colored cloth bags with handles with Bible stories, coloring books, crayons, children's bulletins, etc. inside. We keep ours in a basket in the lobby for kids to pick up on their way into worship. You'll need a volunteer to clean out the trash and replenish the bags each week.
- Have programs during at least part of the worship time that are age appropriate (like Godly Play)
- Create a "crying room" which is also handy for nursing babies, crawling babies, and squirmers. Be sure it's equipped with a way to hear/see worship and include those parents as much as possible (e.g. be sure they are offered communion, etc.)
- Remind the congregation that "We love babies and children." I know of one congregation that stops everything when a baby cries, not to embarrass the parents but to recognize that that child is speaking out and deserves to be heard.
After all, the spirit does move in mysterious ways. Sometimes it's not just the spirit, as when a three-year-old offers in a semi-outside voice, "Mommy, I have to go number two" and the entire congregation has to hold back a giggle.
As Peripatetic Polar Bear notes:
That's a hard question to answer for someone else. There are several variables.
First of all, what is your theology of childhood? What do you think --on a philosophical and theological level?
Second, what is the custom at this church? I won't be surprised if the two are totally different.
My recommendation is that you do this as a church--talk through the developmental and theological aspects of the decision. It would make a great adult Sunday School. And then come up with a solution that represents what you as a church believe about childhood and children's ability to experience worship. The only piece of caution I'd throw out is this: if you do Sunday School during church, what happens to the children whose parents want them in worship? I get nervous about solutions that make parents choose between worship and education. If you opt for something that happens during worship, you also will want to consider at what age children should be attending worship, and how will that transition take place?
My parent's church, with many, many kids does this:
9 a.m. early service. no child care.
10 a.m. sunday school for all ages.
11 a.m. later service. childcare for 2 and under provided, as well as children's church for kids 2-10.
This way, parents can choose what works for their beliefs. But of course, that's a larger church that has more staff and options than many.
My personal belief is that kids need to experience worship. I think kids that attend worship are more likely to be teens that attend worship. But I think having kids in worship is not as simple as saying "come on in, be quiet, have a crayon." You have to think about how to become child-friendly. How much noise do you tolerate? What is your liturgy like? Are there parts of the worship that repeat every week that someone who can't read can do? What are your sermons like? Are there parts that invite a child's imagination? Do you ever sing hymns or songs with really easy refrains? Can you involve older children in worship leadership? How do you feel about kids sitting separate from their parents? Who will sit with kids whose parents are in the choir? Or are the pastor? How ready is your congregation to welcome, REALLY WELCOME kids? (And of course, this gets longer---how ready are you to welcome the elderly, the single, the disabled....) I think it's a great conversation to have.
But that's just me.
Singing Owl offers the perspective of a church without a lot of small children:
We don't have lots of children, so we don't have Sunday School, but we do want even the small ones and babies to have a positive experience at church. So we have Children's Church for the older kids, but we do have nursery for the babies and toddlers. Many of them love music and come into the service during the music time and then go to their little nursery classroom. Others go to the nursery right away. The little ones get more than babysitting. They hear music (and sing it if possible) and they play, and they learn simple prayers and they have simple stories and crafts, coloring and so on. The nursery area is well-stocked with age-appropriate books and music and toys. It is much more enjoyable for a squirmy toddler to be able to walk around, and it is much more likely that mom and dad will actually get something out of the service if Toddler Timmy and Tina are not climbing over the back of the pew, or crying, etc. Of course, some parents just won't put the little ones in a classroom. I strongly believe that toddlers and even babies are learning about church, and love, and so on. It is very important to make their experience a positive one. Grown-up church is not designed for little ones. That said, we do have children with parents once a month—not till they are four though.
And RevHoney's is a larger church with a lot of kids—and a lot of choices:
We have a bright nursery that is well-staffed and secure for infants through age 2.
We encourage families to sit toward the front of the sanctuary so that the children can see what is going on. When I conduct baptisms, I will often invite the children to sit on the floor in front of the font. I teach them (and the congregation) as I baptize.
We have fabric bags filled with quiet toys and things to occupy children. These things are frequently rotated in and out so kids find something new every few weeks.
We offer children's church for children age 3 through second grade, but only during the lessons and the sermon. They come back into the sanctuary at the time of the offering and are there for communion.
Many parents find our contemporary service in our Christian Life Center most child-friendly, because there is space for the children to play quietly and even to run a bit in the back of the space. Parents can sit at tables with their families there and sometimes the children will come to the front and dance together during the sending song.
Our next step to be more welcoming to our children is to welcome them to communion at the point when their parents think they are ready. We are providing texts for the parents to use at home to talk with their children about the sacrament, sharing the responsibility of readying their children for the table with them.
And if all else fails, stick them in a junior choir and make them sing very loudly every week for a decade or so. They might wind up growing up and editing an advice column for priests for a couple of years. :D
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
It seems like a roller coaster week out there for Rev Gals (I know it is for me!). Some ups and downs, some fun stuff, but some lousy stuff, too.
Sally is having a rough week. She and her family could use some prayers over at Eternal Echos.
Lorna at See-Through Faith writes: There is no picture of me on the torpedo upside down reading a book! Shudder~ But we did have lovely weather for the first half of the day (at the amusement park) with my supercool Godson from Scotland (who is here in Finland for a visit) and I did dip into my book - with both feet on terra ferma I might add! And a review of "I Shall Not Be Broken" by Jerry White. That's it for this week. It's back to school tomorrow in Finland. Summer is officially over :(
I've noticed a lot of bloggers have "Gone Fishin" signs up. Molly over at Waiting for the day is on vacation, and has wonderful ideas of how to enjoy it. Even better, I've noticed that she's been able to check some things off her list already.
Pop into the comments, and let us know whether you're feeling exhilarated, holding on for dear life... or sticking with the tame Merry-Go-Round... or playing Bumper Cars... you know, this analogy could go on forever...
And don't forget to send your nominations for next week to email@example.com!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
But recently, as I was working on a sermon on Sabbath keeping, I came across a quote from Walter Brueggemann in which Joseph isn’t so much a hero as one who is seduced by the pharaonic way of life.
"In Genesis 41:14-36, Pharaoh, the Egyptian god who presided over the resources of the superpower, had a bad dream. In the midst of is limitless abundance that is the gift of the Nile, he had a nightmare about scarcity. You know the dream of thin cows and thin years of grain, several years of famine to come. But do you know the policy that arose from the nightmare of scarcity, as policies are always arising from our nightmares? In Genesis 47, Joseph son of Israel, child of the abundant creator God, signed on for the Pharaonic nightmare of scarcity He went to work for the interests of corporate acquisitiveness, organized an imperial monopoly, and over a three-year-period seized, in the interest of the corporate economy, the money of the peasants, the cattle of the peasants, the land of the peasants, and eventually the life of the peasants who were reduced to slavery. This achievement was all accomplished by a true son of Israel who was seduced, as we often are, into the nightmare of scarcity. You may be sure that this anxiety over the coming famine there was no rest in the surge of confiscation, no time off, no sabbath. the machinery of acquisitiveness worked 24/7 until Pharaoh, by the genius of Joseph, achieved total monopoly. That is how our people, by the book of Exodus, ended up in slavery; one among us believed excessively in the nightmare of scarcity that contradicted the abundance of the creator God. Thus, Genesis 47 stands as a prelude to the exodus narrative and indicates that a mistrust of creations abundance created the crisis of the exodus narrative, Pharaoh's nightmare of scarcity disrupted creation and eventually evoked the plagues that constitute creation performing like chaos, a massive threat to order and abundance."
Brueggemann, Walter. Mandate to Difference: An Invitation to the Contemporary Church. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007. Page 153-154.
There’s also a Psalm about unity, Paul tells us that God made us to be disobedient so that we can receive mercy, and a very memorable passage from Matthew. The dog-crumbs-from-the-table passage.
What is it in this woman that brings her to argue with Jesus?
Why does Jesus argue with the woman?
Does Jesus change his mind?
Why do we argue?
How do we argue?
What are you thinking about this week?
Monday, August 11, 2008
Well, there are some out there that seem to be gems which should be shared with the entire group. No need to have them traveling under the radar screen.
Since June 1, there have been over 50 different books purchased, along with music and other items. So, here are a few to browse.
Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana (Christ the Lord)
Review from Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. In the New Testament, the miracle at the wedding at Cana-where Jesus turned water into wine-marks the commencement of his tumultuous three-year ministry. In Rice's beautifully observed novel, a sequel to 2005's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, however, the wedding miracle is in fact the culmination of an intimate family saga of love, sorrow and misunderstanding. As the novel opens, Yeshua (Jesus) struggles with a sense of restlessness of purpose and a deep love for a comely kinswoman. Waves of isolation sweep over him as he comes to understand that serving the Lord's will takes precedence over the desires of his own heart. Whereas the first novel in this series hewed so closely to Scripture and to the author's meticulous research as to be somewhat arid as fiction, this book, imagining the "lost" young adulthood of Jesus, offers wise and haunting speculation where the Bible is silent. And the final chapters, which pick up the story with the New Testament's accounts of Jesus' baptism, temptation and early miracles, manage to be soulfully insightful even while faithfully tracking the Gospels. Rice undertakes a delicate balance: if it is possible to create a character that is simultaneously fully human and fully divine, as ancient Christian creeds assert, then Rice succeeds. (Mar.)
This one I have seen on several RGBP blogs as a must read:
I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church! by Paul Nixon
There were no official reviews on this, but there WERE reviews by people who had read the book who sure did give it a thumbs up as a must read. Should it be put in the monthly book discussion lineup?
By the way, I did find a review on a blog. (not an RGBP'er, but a review, none the less.)
One of the reviewers on this book, chose to read this book because of the recommendation of Bill Moyers, which was on the back of the book. Looking Around for God: The Oddly Reverent Observations of an Unconventional Christian by James Autry. Here is Amazon's product description:
James Autry, author of Looking Around for God, thinks that the true message of the old spiritual is not just that God has an eye on the sparrow-it's that God is demonstrating that if these details are worth God's attention they are certainly worth ours. It may be that we will more readily find God in the details of this world-and of our own lives- than anywhere else. Looking Around for God, Autry's tenth book, is in many ways his most personal, as he considers his unique life of faith and belief in a God often clouded by church convention. In assembling these personal essays, stories and poems, Autry strives to share how God has been revealed in many different circumstances of his life, while at the same time offering a few ideas for how the Christian church might better serve in making God's love and presence manifest in the world.
There has been music ordered - this seems quite lovely and has excellent reviews:
Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone
Listening to it is convincing enough to want a copy of it. It can also be downloaded MP3 style!
In two weeks, we will be discussing this 112 page book The Friendship of Women: The Hidden Tradition of the Bible by Joan Chittister examines different women in the Bible and their personality traits and reflects on how each of the personalities fit into our lives in regards to friendship. Here you can find an interview with Chittister on this book.
I look forward to hearing what others think of the book. The introduction itself is well worth the investment of this book! You still have time to order this book and read it. Please chime in the comments if you have read the book already and encourage others to join in the discussion.
Ok, the "winner" of the most unusual item ordered since June 1:
Black & Decker 18-Volt Cordless Electric Chain Saw
See, you can find most anything!
So what books are on your bedside table? What CD are you listening to?
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I spent the last two weeks in California where summer and storms rarely meet. I've missed the tempests, the gentleness of the western weather has felt strangely bland -- particularly after the ever changing weather of the Maine sojourn that preceded my trip.
On one hike along the rocky Atlantic shore the rain poured down, soaking us to the skin. We had no shelter, we had to keep moving forward, hoping that the bus would meet us at the other end. I kept looking out to sea, hoping to see rescue coming to me across the water.
Listening to this movement from Beethoven's 6th symphony reminds me of my soggy feet and the joys of a dry seat on the bus...
What music buoyed you up this weekend?
Sometimes it seems like the boat we are in is too small and is being tossed to and fro in the storms of life. Lord calm our storms, calm us. Sometimes our fear is so great that even though we might want to walk on water we sink, reach out your hand to us Lord. Reach out your hand to those who are trying to walk faithfully in the midst of the storms of their lives. Lord help us when we have little faith, Help those around us who have little or no faith. Amen
cross posted at revgalprayerpals
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Seriously. Because I am in the midst of a major RGBP meet-up weekend.
I have Mary Beth sitting on my couch with her laptop, and we spent yesterday with Ruby, and we got to meet Rev. Dr. Mom and The Kid for lunch, and today we're having brunch with God_Guurrlll and tomorrow we're going to Auntie Knickers' birthday party. Everyone got to meet Molly, the blogging dog.
People also met lobster. Pictures later, as soon as Mary Beth's suitcase is delivered and she has the cable for her camera. She is a major good sport. We finally got her a toothbrush, because, really, a person needs one eventually.
We're expecting the bag to be delivered this morning, only 36 hours late. (I am not kidding about what a good sport she is.)
As you might imagine, we really need to visit the yarn store today.
We will also attend the bean supper at church tonight.
There is also the small matter of a garden wedding at 8:30 tomorrow morning.
What stands between you and preaching?
I'm starting with a big cup of coffee; let me pour some for you, too.
Friday, August 08, 2008
It’s August. An oppressively hot and humid month where many of us live.
I remember the Al Pacino movie though not much about the plot. Just that it was very, very hot. And he had giant sweat stains on his shirt.
As I pass through this year’s dog days in my felon ridden neighborhood (OK, just two housefuls. But isn’t that enough?), I am trying to focus on the blessings apparent around me, past and present, that I might not notice, necessarily. In that spirit, this week’s Friday Five goes thusly:
1. What is your sweetest summer memory from childhood? Did it involve watermelon or hand cranked ice cream? Or perhaps a teen summer romance. Which stands out for you?
2. Describe your all time favorite piece of summer clothing. The one thing you could put on in the summer that would seem to insure a cooler, more excellent day.
3. What summer food fills your mouth with delight and whose flavor stays happily with you long after eaten?
4. Tell us about the summer vacation or holiday that holds your dearest memory.
5. Have you had any experience(s) this summer that has drawn you closer to God or perhaps shown you His wonder in a new way?
Bonus question: When it is really hot, humid and uncomfortable, what do you do to refresh and renew body and spirit?
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Thursday, August 07, 2008
I would be interested in knowing what children's literature the Matriarchs consider to be their "must haves" for the pastoral library. I would specifically like to know what books have been used for the so-called Children's Message. I am not looking for Bible stories only, but also contemporary (or not) literature that uses theological themes at a kid-friendly level.
Pastor with an Empty Bookshelf
I have a confession to make, I got the question out to the matriarchs late and as such we didn't hear from several that I know will have something to add.
So, in no particular order, here is what our matriarchs (Ann & her friends and Chrysanne especially) came up with, and their limited commentary. Some are stories, some are not, some are for children and some are about engaging children.
We'd love to get more suggestions and discussion going on in the comments!
The Old Turtle - Douglas Wood
The Runaway Bunny - Margaret Wise Brown
Horton Hears a Who - Dr. Seuss
How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss
Where's Spot? - Eric Hill
Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble - William Steig
The Nativity - Julie Vivas
Dog Heaven (and Cat Heaven) - Cynthia Rylant (with the comment: "I am not sure about heaven for people or dogs but I have given this book as a gift to adults and kids who lose a dog")
God went to beauty school - Also by Cyntha Rylant
Does God have a big toe? by Marc Gellman -- a children's midrash book
Jamie's Way: Stories for worship and family devotion by Susan Harriss
Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (on dealing with disappointment) and The Tenth Good Thing about Barney (grief), both by Judith Viorst
To Dance with God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration by Gertrud Mueller Nelson -- "enhances children's spirituality by going through through the church year with ideas for family Christian formation."
Offering the Gospel to Children by Gretchen Pritchard -- "Presents a wonderful perspective on engaging children with scripture."
For the chapter book crowd, we have Terry Pratchett's "The Bromeliad Trilogy": Truckers, Diggers, and Wings. "About literalism." His Discworld series comes recommended for teens, as well.
And readers of all ages seem to appreciate the Narnia Books of CS Lewis. Ann says her favorite is Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
What books would you recommend for a children's library at church? Share in the comments!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
In need of musical inspiration? The Psalmist is here! She says, "I've been blogging sporadically lately, and kept up with RGBPs only through Bloglines, but I've decided to get more systematic and productive over at my place. I've created a liturgical music planning resource and intend to have at least four future weeks' worth of entries posted at any given time, with the goal of musicians and clergy bouncing ideas and plans off each other in the comments. It's a kind of musical "Lectionary Leanings" meets musical "11th Hour Preacher Party" thing. Anyway, I hope those interested or desperate about such things will drop by and contribute."
KarlaJean brings us a guest blogger and a beautiful and tragic story of a little boy named Billy with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Mitch says, "Sometimes during a church service, we run into problems. This time, it's a good problem."
Finally, SpookyRach has been to the Big D. Not Denver, not Dubuque...those would be way too cool. Go read about how she won friends on the way into town! (Yes, there was a meetup, in an Indian restaurant which was about 60 degrees - go figure.)
Monday, August 04, 2008
This Sunday’s lectionary passages bring, in Genesis, the favored Joseph being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.
Does God play favorites? Do we?
The Psalm recounts some of the amazing things God has done and calls us to tell people about them.
How do we tell people about God?
In the letter to the Romans, Paul exegetes Moses and Isaiah (or tries to exegete), and concludes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
What is beauty?
And then in Matthew, Peter tries to walk on water.
I’ve heard and I’ve preached more than one sermon about the importance of stepping out on faith. But is that really what this text is telling us?
Consider this. Jesus never called for Peter to get out of the boat. Walking on the water was Peter’s own desire, born of his doubt that Jesus was who he said he was.
“Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’”
As their boat is being battered by the waves, Jesus calls to the disciples and tells them not to be afraid. Peter’s response is to 1) to test Jesus. 2) Leave the other disciples and the boat.
Peter’s departure from the boat is not an act of faith, it is a decision which reveals the depth of his own neediness. A decision which did not consider the welfare of his group. The last thing the disciples needed was to have one of their own floundering in the water, forcing them to navigate the stormy waves in order to retrieve a sinking soul.
When Jesus asks, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” maybe he is not chastising Peter for sinking, maybe he is asking Peter why he did not trust God when Peter was commanded to let go of his fear.
When they all gather in the boat, we hear no more from Peter and are only told that “those in the boat worshiped him[Jesus], saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Are Peter’s actions bold or destructive? Was he brave or selfishly trying to be a hero? In the context of community, what do Peter’s actions mean?
Jean Varnier, founder of the L’Arche communities:
“It is quite easy to found a community. There are always plenty of courageous people who want to be heroes…. The problem is not in getting the community started- there’s always enough energy to take-off. The problem comes when we are in orbit and going round and round the same circuit. The problem is in living with brothers and sisters whom we have not chosen but who have been given to us, and in working ever more truthfully towards the goals of the community. A community which is just an explosion of heroism is not a true community. True community implies a way of living and seeing reality; it implies above all fidelity in the daily round. And this is made up of simple things—getting meals, using and washing the dishes and using them again, going to meetings- as well as gifts, joy, and celebration. A community is only being created when its members accept that they are not going to achieve great things, that they are not going to be heroes, but simply live each day with new hope, like children, in wonderment as the sun rises and in thanksgiving as it sets.”
Jean Varnier. Community and Growth. Darton, Longman, & Todd, 1979. Pages 10 – 11.
Found in The Westminster Collection of Christian Meditations, Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, eds.
How often, in community, do we leave when the waters get rough? How often do we stay and trust in the connections given to us by God in Baptism?
When do the rough waters become safer than the boat community?
(A good resource for this reading of the text: Boring, M. Eugene. “Matthew.” New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. VIII. Leander Keck, et al. editors. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995). pages 326-330.)
So. What are you thinking this week?
Amy Maxwell at "Gentle Whisper." She says, "I’m a Chaplain Candidate, Army Wife, mom who spends too much time on the Internet and too little time doing laundry." (eh, me too, Amy!)
Wendy at "i are a writer." She's an "Episcopal priest, sometimes writer, list-maker, dog owner. Collector of stories, snowglobes, and postcards. I enjoy good counter space, eating rain, solid liturgy, shiny things, and driving fast. I like it outside." (I do so enjoy the title of her blog!)
A Young Seeker at "Seeking the Moments." She says that she's a "young, musical, seeking student. My diocese ascribes the fancy term of "postulant" behind my name and while it's probably better than being called a lot of other things, I am still trying to cope with, and accept the fact that God would call a young, only Very recent Anglican to ministry. However, off I go, in search of... well, I'll let you know what I'm looking for when I find it." Welcome and blessings on the journey!
Val at "Into the Wild." She write, "My name is Val and this is my blog. I'm a native Michigander who's been living in Seattle for the past 6 years. I recently accepted a teaching position in Mountain Village, Alaska (pop. almost 1000), in the heart of the Alaskan bush. I hope that this blog serves as a record of what has now been coined the next "Great Val Adventure." So read on and pray for me as I follow God's call into the wilds of Alaska and the wilds of my first year teaching."
Finally, Jayne at "The Clock is Ticking." She tells us "Shh...do you hear that? It's a clock..my clock even. But it's not that clock. Yes, I'm female, 31, and single. But my biological clock isn't ticking, except to remind me to get enough sleep. No, dear readers, the clock you hear around me is called "Life." Live it, love it, or get out of my way while I do."
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Share with us the music that came to you, or share with us what music was meaningful to you during worship today. Alleluia!
Gracious God, Thank you for the gift of life; for the complexity of life, the challenges of life, the beauty of life. Thank you for sending us your incarnate Word, who lived (lives) and walked (walks) as one of us. Thank you for accepting us just as we are: broken, shattered, incomplete, but willing to try to follow. Thank you for being with us as we wrestle with you and struggle through our faith and belief in you. Thank you for remaining with us when we doubt and when we resist and when we can do no more. Thank you for always waiting. Waiting for us to return. Waiting for us to understand that brief glimpse that is YOU in our lives. Thank you. And, as we limp through life, limp through faith, limp toward you, thank you for being there, with open arms and open heart. May we offer others this same generosity, compassion, and love. In your name. Amen.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Bread of heaven, Given for you!
Come and Drink, Come and Drink
Wine eternal and true!
(refrain from a communion song written by my husband)
This morning we are inviting you to "come and eat" in more ways than one! Yes, it's the 11th hour preacher party: and there are lots of hungry and thirsty people out there. There are the hungry crowds in Matthew's gospel, the thirsty Israelites listening to Isaiah's message, and there's Jacob, hungry for a blessing from the stranger at the river. And then there's Paul: ok, I don't really know where to put him. Then there are lovely lovely invitations: Come to the waters, come and eat, come and share your bread with the hungry, come and incline your ear.
And there is an invitation from me today as well: Come and eat! Come and share your words, your wisdom, your worries, your prayers. Come and share your virtual food; we'll have a virtual feast today, and a real one someday, in the kingdom. All are welcome.
I have Good Earth Tea, Fair Trade Coffee, banana chocolate chip muffins and some REALLY GOOD Danish. I'll auto post early for those overseas, and then check in in the morning.
If you are hungry, come and eat!