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Sunday, November 30, 2008

We gather together...

Those of us in the US and those around the world who celebrate the US holiday of Thanksgiving have been gathering together since Thursday. Here is a medley of hymns you may have sung this week. We gather together is one I sang in grade school every year and still can put me back in 3rd grade with just a few bars. Blessings and thanksgivings for all the RevGals and friends.

What did you sing this week?

And as today is the beginning of Advent - here are some online Advent Calendars (you have to provide your own chocolate!!!)


Trinity Wall Street, NYC

Advent08 iPod download from iTunes.

Church of England

Episcopal Diocese of Washington (DC)

Link others in the comments. Blessings of waiting and watching.

1st Sunday in Advent Prayer

Dear God,
Thank you for the time spent with families and friends over this holiday.
We begin today this journey of Advent with anticipation and hope.
We anticipate your coming today in our lives.
We anticipate the celebration of your birth.
We anticipate your coming again.
We hope for your presence in our lives today.
We hope for new beginnings.
We hope for healing in our lives.

Lord, our world cries out for hope and yet does not know where to look for that hope.
So Lord we cry out to you for the hopeless of the world.
We cry out to you for those who are in despair.
We cry out to you for those who are desperate.

Our hearts ache with yours Lord, when violence occurs and lives are lost.
We pray for those who mourn the loss of lives in Mumbai India.
We pray for the WalMart worker killed in the stampede of people on Friday.
We pray for those who find themselves in difficult financial circumstances.
And Lord as we observe World’s Aid Day, we pray for those who are still affected by Aids.

Lord we pray for your coming again that it may be soon for you are the hope of this world.
cross posted at rev gal prayer pals blog and Abi's long and winding road blog

Saturday, November 29, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Hoping, Waiting, Keeping Awake Edition

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I ’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me. ~ Emily Dickinson

Oh, preachers. I don't know about you, but I had a lovely, somewhat-recycled-and-lightweight-though-containing-heavier-content sermon all ready to go. And then the news came from India, and got worse and worse, and now it seems the world needs addressing in a more particular way and that means we're really doing some work here, despite our post-Thanksgiving tryptophan hangover.

How's it going with you?

Stop by for coffee, and later turkey sandwiches, and perhaps a slice of leftover pie. Let us know what you're up to both today and for tomorrow.
And despite the texts, let's try and get some sleep tonight, too.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanking God for You Friday Five

Phillipians 1:3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.

I'm musing about giving thanks for people today, partly because Americans celebrated our annual Thanksgiving holiday yesterday (I try not to just make this holiday "turkey day" even though its main feature seems to be eating till one is nearly comatose) and partly because I read the above verse this morning. It started me thinking about individuals in my life for whom I give thanks. For this post-Thanksgiving Day Friday Five, share with us "Five People For Whom You Give Thanks to God" and maybe tell us why they are significant. To link to your post in the comments, use the following formula:

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, November 27, 2008

Ask the Matriarch - Thanksgiving 2008

A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to all our United States residents, and a blessed day to all of you. As I reviewed the questions in the queue, it seemed that the following question is one to which all of us could offer counsel.

I'm in my second year of my (3 yr) MDiv, and God Willing a year away
from ordination to the diaconate. I am realizing that most pastors have
a library of resources which are helpful to them when they don't have
access to university libraries or when they live in rural areas without
either institutions or colleagues nearby. Obviously I will have my texts
from my classes, but I was wondering if the more experienced matriarchs
had suggestions for books that they turn to often. I would particularly
appreciate a heads-up on the more expensive "classics" that it might be
good to look out for in good used book stores.
Dreaming of well-lined bookshelves

What tomes are you grateful to have among your collection? Let's all offer a list of our well-worn favorites, noting Dreaming's specific request for guidance on the more expensive classics...

May you live today and every day in God's amazing grace+

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wacky Wednesday Festival

Maybe you are not feeling wacky today, but I am!
I can only wish I were as prepared for the Thanksgiving holiday that those of us in the US will celebrate tomorrow - as these friendly beasts seem to be!
The Reverend Mom is blogging about Advent and consumerism again, and is joining a conspiracy! I think you will have a good bit of company there, Anjel!
Molly's friend Adam had a challenge: a Twitter of faith. How would you respond? All are welcome to join in!
Lutheran Husker reflects on an American Humanist ad campaign using Santa to question God. Check it out. Also, he brings us in on an announcement and a birthday gift for an old friend and mentor of sorts.
Mitch says: "Our city has its yearly Christmas parade the Friday beforeThanksgiving. The parade route goes right past our church's front door. What do we do? Give out over 500 hot dogs and over 500 cups of hot chocolate!" Sounds yummy!
Back to Thanksgiving food, which looms large in my mind with the folks headed to my house tomorrow: Songbird shares a reflection on her mother and cooking from a favorite cookbook.
and...looking ahead to you'll see in the right sidebar, the RevGals are hosting a Virtual Advent Retreat on Monday, December 1. Many of us are posting this invitation on our own blogs and inviting others (bloggers or not) to join in. I look forward to this time of reflection with you all! I had hoped to take the day off for it, but HA, I have meetings all day. That's the beauty of a virtual retreat - I will participate later in the day and the evening. I encourage you all to come along for the journey in a way that works for you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Thanksgiving and Advent I

For those of you not frolicking on vacation somewhere away from home - there are still sermons to preach!

Yes, sermonS. Thanksgiving Day and Advent I, and you'll find the lectionaries for each linked in this sentence. '

There was a lot of Thanksgiving sermon talk at the Eleventh Hour Preacher Party on Saturday, so maybe you are all done and dusted with that one. If not, you might check it out for inspiration! (or commiseration, as needed).

I love the Gospel for Sunday: Mark 13:24-37. It speaks much to me of the place where I am: working intentionally on practicing a holy Advent. It's difficult to do, now; what with the Christmas Machine everywhere; Black Friday coming; political bickering that will. not. stop. - The last line of the Gospel reminds me to be vigilant against the tide that would take me away from where I need to be:

"And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."
What are you pondering for sermon or sermons this week? Please share in the comments. We look forward to reading you!

Monday, November 24, 2008

RevGalBookPals: The First Christmas by John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg

I’ll tip my hand right now and say, I love this book. I will also say that, without the background that many of you have in the reading you have done (or are doing) for seminary, I come to it as a relative innocent. This might be a good thing! I look forward to reading your comments and discussion.

Borg and Crossan’s “parabolic reading” initially was a bit of a surprise to me, but a welcome one. Remember that I come from the Big Red State at the Bottom, and was raised by Biblical literalists. But it works for me, at this place in my spiritual life. A comment from a reader at said, “Read it only if you are willing to challenge the prevailing images of the birth of Jesus!! You will never look at a nativity scene in the same way.” Conversely, a comment from reviewer Paul Maier in Christianity Today says, “Borg and Crossan are proposing a third way to interpret the Nativity accounts. They do not treat the passages as historical — as conservatives do — or objects of scorn — as critics of Christianity do…” He goes on to say that “the line between ‘parable’ and ‘myth’ is too faint for faith.”

Not for my faith!

This book, to me, is transcendently beautiful and makes so much sense. I was dazzled, truly, as I read it, by the skillful fitting-together of the Moses and Jesus stories. I kept seeing, in my mind’s eye, a huge and sparkling scaffold sort of structure…the overlay of Jesus’ coming on the Moses beginning, the fulfillment of prophecy.

For those of you who may not have read/finished the book, I include a review/summary below.

Many readers have commented that the book is repetitious. Did you find this? If so, did it trouble you?

Did the book challenge your theology? Are you offended? Even if you do not agree with the idea of the birth narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke as “stories” or “parables,” do you appreciate the rest of the scholarship?

Is this book a good read for the beginning of Advent, or not? Does it provide sermon material for any of you? Which parts?

Feel free to make your own comments and take the discussion wherever it leads.

From a review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat at Spirituality and Practice:
“This sprightly volume is a companion to The Last Week in which Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan presented a day-by-day account of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and his execution and resurrection. Here they explore the beginning of Jesus' life. The authors speak of the two books as providing bookends that frame the Gospel stories of his public activity, mission, and message.
We are used to thinking about the Christmas Story in terms of Jesus in the manger surrounded by Mary, the animals, the shepherds, and the three kings. Borg and Crossan offer a "parabolic reading" of the infancy narratives which they see as a valid alternative to viewing them as fact or fable. The accounts of Jesus' birth given in Matthew and Luke are very different yet share a common goal of presenting the Gospel story in miniature.
Borg and Crossan explore the genealogies, the visitation by the angels, and the birth in Bethlehem. What is being emphasized here is the messianic role of Jesus: Matthew sees him as the New Moses and Luke views him as a contrast to Caesar Augustus. The last section of the book is the best with its theological treatment of light, fulfillment, and joy. Borg and Crossan condemn the selfishness and the lust for power that characterized the Roman Empire, which saw itself as a light shining in the darkness. The infancy narratives side with the poor and the powerless, those who yearn for peace and surrender themselves to God. Borg and Crossan want us to ponder the anti-imperialist thrust of the birth stories.”
ps: My dog Josie also loved this book: she ate one corner of it. :P
ps2: I spelt "Jesus'" properly in the title of the post. Because, I know what's right. So there.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Virtual Advent Retreat

On Monday, December 1st, RevGalBlogPals will be hosting a Virtual Advent Retreat.

Over the course of the day (early morning, late morning and mid-afternoon, Eastern Time), three facilitators will post reflection pieces on texts for Advent 2, 3 and 4. You may use the materials for contemplation or as writing prompts. Please feel free to leave comments or to link back to responses you post on your own blogs.

Kathryn Fleming, who blogs at Good in Parts will post first, about Advent 2. Songbird (hey, that's me!), who blogs at Reflectionary, will take on Advent 3. And Juniper, who blogs at Possible Water and had this idea in the first place, will write about Advent 4. It's a way to connect with one another and we hope will create both a "quiet day" and provide some resources and inspiration for the Advent season.

All are welcome to participate!

Sunday Afternoon Video - Crown Him with Many Crowns

For our last Sunday video of the Christian year, I offer this arrangement of Diane Bish's arrangement of Crown Him with many Crowns, accompanying the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church's Chancel Choir.

We sang this hymn as our choir processed at the end of the service. I can promise you our congregation singing of this was not as fancy or embellished, but it came from our heart.
What came from your heart today during worship? What were some of the hymns you sang?

Prayer for Christ the King Sunday

Merciful God, thank you for your son, who came to be our savior and Lord. We celebrate His Kingship; even though for some of us who have no King it is hard to understand what that means. God they nailed on Jesus cross the words calling him the King of the Jews. It was a joke. Lord let it not be a joke to us now. Your son, seems to be a different kind of King, he is the one who came to serve and not be served like so many earthly rulers. He still comes to us in faces, places, situations, and people that we would not recognize. And forgive us Lord because we do miss your son, and we don’t have eyes to see. Forgive us when we discount your children who are the least, the lost, the imprisoned, the sick, the stranger, the unclothed, the hungry, and the thirsty. Forgive us when we don’t serve them just as you serve us.
Lord we take time to remember the firefighters who are fighting the fires in Southern California, and those who have lost homes to the fires. We pray For world leaders who have come together to deal with the global financial crisis. We pray for all who are losing their jobs during this down turn. We pray for wisdom for our country leaders having to find ways to deal with the downturn. We pray for the continued problems in the Congo. We pray for the people of Zimbabwe who are faced with an outbreak of deaths brought on by cholera. We pray for the disease and unrest in the Mideast. We pray for peace. We pray for our President Elect as he prepares himself for taking office, brings on his cabinet and other government workers.

God today as we enter our places of worship to lead your children in worship speak the words through us that your children need to hear, including ourselves. Lord, pour your holy spirit into us that we will be servant of you with love and grace. Lord we worship and adore you. Amen.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Royal Edition

For some of us, tomorrow is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church year. It's also the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and I hear some of us will be preaching a Thanksgiving sermon on this day. I'm also thinking: yikes! We're traveling to Chicago to visit relatives this week, and by this time next Saturday, I will be deeply contemplating the mysteries of Advent: waiting, watching, wondering, worshiping.

Somehow, this week, I can't get the images of a local artist out of my mind. Her name is Kristie Bretzke, and she has painted portraits of homeless men, women, and children, and donated the proceeds earned to charity. I also can't get the words of local poet Julia Dinsmore out of my mind:

My Name is Not "Those People"
My name is not "Those People."
I am a loving woman, a mother in pain, giving birth
to the future, where my babies have the same chance
to thrive as anyone.

I don't know why, but I keep seeing these faces, and I keep hearing these words.

What about you? What are you hearing and seeing today?

I have cinnamon apple muffins, fair trade coffee, and tea. Also, some bagels and cream cheese. What about you?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mix and Stir Friday Five

In a minor domestic crisis, my food processor, or more precisely the part you use for almost everything for which I use a food processor, picked the eve of the festive season of the year to give up the ghost. A crack in the lid expanded such that a batch of squash soup had to be liberated via that column shaped thing that sticks up on top.

Can you tell this is not my area of strength?

Next week, I'm hosting Thanksgiving. I need your help. Please answer the following kitchen-related questions:

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).)

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?

(And isn't that color delightfully retro?)

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most?

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it?

As always, let us know in comments if you play. Post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to, click here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ask the Matriarch - Left Behind

Our question this week is unique to team ministry settings, but the insights shared are helpful for all who serve in parish settings:

I am an Associate Pastor whose Senior Pastor recently left (after only 4 years in the congregation) and whose Interim Senior Pastor just arrived. I am having a hard time figuring out how to work with this Interim. I've been in this situation before (this happened in my church in Atlanta too) but I feel like this time is much harder...perhaps because I was here on my own for several months and now have to adjust to not being in charge? Perhaps because I've been part of the leadership that has worked hard to bring the congregation to a place of healing and stability and I'm concerned that the interim won't respect that work and will instead "shake things up" because that's what is "supposed to happen" during an interim? Any advice on adjusting to a new colleague, being able to express my concerns to a new Head of Staff without the time to really get to know the person first (an interim's only here for a year, so I don't have a ton of time to get comfortable in our relationship before saying what I think), and projecting NONE of my anxiety about this to the congregation??

--the one who stayed

It's important to note that not all judicatories allow ordained staff members to stay when a head of staff resigns. But this case reflects the trend of providing some continuity during an interim period.

Long time rector responds:

If you only have to deal with this person for a year – I would be willing to take some risks in being open and honest. First I would pray if I could support this person and not undermine him/her if we disagree, if the answer is a strong no – I would consider resigning and looking for a new call. If I think I can work creatively with him or her I would have a conversation the first stated categorically that I am open to change and for doing the things needed in the transition process so the congregation can truly be ready for a new senior pastor. Then I would ask if we could talk about some things that I think have been really important for the health and vitality of this congregation (what part of tradition is good and helpful for facing the future). I would risk being honest and letting him/her know my fears about throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. Then I would ask how I might help. That allows the interim to 1. feel supported and 2. have an opportunity to share his/her vision for interim ministry and 3. hopefully give you a clear place and role to connect.

I have been reading the Rule of Benedict commentary by Joan Chittester and am very conscious of how destructive “grumbling” can be to a community – and stand convicted of being a grumbler! This may color my response.

Soprano in New Jersey adds:

Your 'sign off' tips your hand on many, many levels. Whether you know it or not, you know a lot more than you are willing to put into print (and I don't blame you).

You are both the one who stayed and the one who was left behind. I'm sure you are echoing the silent and not-so-silent voices of many in your congregation. I'm curious about "the hard work" you did and why they needed "healing and stability." I'm curious to know why the Senior Pastor left "after only four years" - especially after all that "hard work". I'm also curious to know if this has been a pattern in this congregation.

Not knowing - or wanting - all the details, here's my best shot: Let the interim do "his thing" and you keep your head up and your ass DOWN.

In other words, talk to the interim about what is in your portfolio and what is in his and stay close to your script. Do your very, very best job at what you're supposed to do, but don't do anything of his. (Say to yourself at least once a day, "I am the Associate Pastor, and I'm here to do a good job.")

Keep your communication with the interim and the lay leadership crystal clear. Tell him/them what you are doing. At least weekly. Then, tell him/them what you did. Keep written weekly reports for yourself. Your calendar - with annotations - will suffice.

Ask him if it's his style to "shake things up." If it is, ask him for his expectations of you when he does. Does he expect you to play "good cop/bad cop?" Does he expect you to mop up his messes? If his answers distress you, don't answer in the moment. Work out your response and/or alternate strategy with your therapist, spiritual director, coach or peer support group and then make an appointment to tell him your proposed strategy.

If you get grumblings from the congregants, refer them to the interim. DO NOT GET TRIANGULATED. I'm dead serious on this one. This situation is ripe for this sort of thing and, believe me, when the baptismal water hits the fan, you will no longer be "the one who stayed" but "the one who left" ("Such a shame, she was such a nice girl.") and, to your horror you will discover that, rather than 'help' the situation, you have inadvertently added to the turmoil of the transition. (Say to yourself at least once a day, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions.")

Begin to make a list for yourself about what you learned about yourself - especially your skills and abilities - from the last situation. What was the worst moment in Atlanta? How did you handle it? How would you do it differently/better now? What was the best moment in Atlanta? What made it so special? How did it come about? What, if anything, can you do to make more of those moments in this place? (Say to yourself at least once a day, "I am a child of God and God loves me more than my wildest imaginings")

Where was God in the midst of the worst and best moments in Atlanta? What lessons are you being called to learn in these times of transition that you couldn't learn any other way? Where may God be leading you through all of this in your next call? (Note: You'll probably be completely wrong in that, because God LOVES surprises, but it is a good exercise for your soul.)

Find yourself an "escape hatch" - someplace you can go when the level of grumbling begins to match the height of your anxiety: A local coffee shop which has a table for one way in the back. In your car with all the windows rolled up and your favorite CD in the player cracked up to 11, singing at the top of your lungs. In the gym . . . . . . you get the picture.

If you don't have a peer support group, coach, a spiritual director/soul friend, and/or a therapist, get one. Yesterday. I'm serious. I couldn't have lasted 22 years in ministry without all of these. And, a very, very understanding and forgiving partner and family who know me well and love me still.

Talk to whomever you need to in your judicatory system and start to fill out whatever forms you need in order to get yourself placed in your next congregation. Put this at the top of your 'to do' list. I'm serious. I know you love these people and you've invested a great deal of your heart and soul in them, but you can't stay there forever. God is already calling you to the next work of ministry. In your heart, you already know that.

Parish ministry is an awful lot like being in love and having a lover and/or a spouse. Pay attention: It's not. We'll all be healthier and more effective ministers when we understand that God calls us into a community of faith at a particular time in that congregations life cycle for a specific vocation - not forever. And, ever. Do that thing. Do it to the best of your ability.

Decide for yourself that, while you are there, you are going to have FUN. We create our own reality. I'm absolutely convinced of that. Create a positive climate and work enthusiastically on your relationships with the people in the church, your lay leadership and your interim rector. Stay focused on the positive and it's absolutely amazing how the people around you will be positive in your presence. This may well be a difficult time, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a bad time.

Be the change you seek, yes. And, be your own hero.

Oh, and pray. You know, I rarely listen to St. Paul but every once in awhile he comes out with something brilliant. Like this: Pray without ceasing. Philippians 4:8 is exactly the ticket. Romans 5:3-5 ain't half bad, but Romans 8:26-28 is even better. Write these things down on little slips of paper and tape them on your bathroom mirror, inside the cabinet where you get your morning coffee cup, and by the bedside where you keep your telephone.

Hope this helps. Let us know. God bless you.

OBTW: Yes, I have been there, done that, and got the T-shirt to cover the scars - and the pink slip.

Ann offers the following:

It is hard to change back to not being in charge once you have been in charge, especially if you are seeing some progress under your leadership. Do you know for sure the Interim is planning to shake things up? Hopefully he or she is trained as a true interim there will be some assessment of identity, what is working and not working and support for those who have a vision for the future of the church. Either way - it is best to be clear with this person about what your role and area of responsibility will be --- share what you have been doing and how you see it but acknowledging that you are aware that the Interim has the final word on the plan for your work together. I think you are in a very hard place --- learn whatever lessons turn up (even if they are hard ones) and be your own pastoral self as best you can.

Jan's advice concludes our matriarchs' remarks:

Although he has no uterus - and "Ask the Patriarch" doesn't have such a good ring for many of us, does it? - I've asked my Interim Pastor Husband for his insights from the "new colleague" perspective in hopes it will inform your work somehow. He's been the interim at 6 churches and would be happy to talk with you as a sensitive new age guy if you're interested. (Email me via Church for Starving Artists.)

Do you have a Personnel Committee that respects you, whom you can confide in?

Can you identify what Interim-Head-of-Staff has done (if anything) to shake your confidence in him? Maybe he won't "shake things up." Maybe he will actually turn to you for your take on the congregation and what they need during this shift. Is it your assumption that he's not going to respect you as the installed staff person? Or has he done something to confirm your worst fears?

In any case - YOU - are the installed staffer. Have a conversation with him - being your most confident - conveying what you've achieved, what you've seen that the congregation needs, etc. And if IHOS spends that valuable moment checking his watch or acting anything less than professionally enthralled with what you are saying, give a shout out to someone who also loves your congregation who can help support you -- Personnel team, higher judicatory official, etc.

Many helpful insights have been shared here, but we'd also like to hear from you. What words of counsel would you give to "the one left behind"?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Snowy Wednesday Festival

Greetings once again from the Great Sinkholes Region! It's that time of year when the cold, cold air from Sue's (Inner Dorothy) country hits the 'warm' waters of the Great Sinkholes. The result? Lake Effect Snow!! Some places very near us have gotten two feet of heavy, wet snow this week!

If you live here for any length of time, you learn to put snow tires on your vehicle in late October, get your tocques, mufflers, hats, scarves, boots, mukluks, mitthens, gloves, et al ready to go in late September, pull up your big girl or boy snow pants and get on with it!

And for your own sake and the sake of your fellow human beings - go slow until you get used to driving in the slippery stuff again! Our Small Town Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Service can only answer so many calls!

And speaking of getting on with it ... here's this week's Wednesday Festival offerings:

The Pastor of Prairie Hill is pondering the essentials of ministry.

Over at See Through Faith, Lorna is asking us to join her Advent conspiracy. BTW - "Haloo, hei, moro, moi, terve, Lorna!" (I hope I didn't say anything innapropriate!)

Deb ponders: What IF the church was marketed like Starbucks? Hmmmmm. Good question!

Welcome back JayHawk to the blogging world! We'll hold you up prayer!

And Sally (from across the Big Pond) shares a poem and her own "Advent terrors". We're with you!

And I'm having deja vu all over again.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week! Y'all keep warm and safe! What's that, Weather Forecaster? 1" to 3"? WE laugh at 1" to 3"! (Insert maniacal laughter here!)

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "It's Good to Be King" Edition

Sunday's lectionary readings are here .

"It's good to be king," the saying goes. But in human history it hasn't always been good to be a subject.

What does it mean to be a subject of a good king -- the greatest, best King of all?

Bonus question: Where's the grace in Sunday's Gospel lesson?

As always, share your ponderings with us here, whether you're preaching on the RCL or not. And if you're preaching a Thanksgiving sermon, tell us where you think you'll be going with that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Meet and Greet

(photo from the files of mompriest, fall in the deep Southwest)

Fall is in full swing and much of the country is looking winter right in the face....but despite the chill in the air and the wind blowing all around, let's give our new members a warm welcome!

Pastor Pam describes her blog: I live word by word through the experience of ministry and mothering. My blog reflects most weeks on the lectionary and all the time on my passions of the environment, kids, and sane living within the church.\

socialworker describes her blog:Ramblings and random thoughts of Texas Episcopalian laywoman,retired child welfare worker, and university instructor

Kelly at Lectionary Garden says this about her blog: Thoughts and sermons on lectionary passages.

Singing from the Lectionary describes the blog this way: A weekly listing of Lectionary-based song suggestions from a global set of resources. The suggestions are mostly inclusive and usually singable with some thoughts on how to use them in your congregation. Suggestions are written by an Australian Christian laywoman who likes reading hymnals for fun.

David's Thoughts describes the blog this way: A posting of sermons preached the previous Sunday.

Welcome one and all!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Afternoon music video- Take my life

We sang the traditional version of this Hymn in response to the sermon today, it was very moving. I like this version too though, I enjoy listening to familiar lyrics with a contemporary twist, it makes me listen afresh.

How about you what did you sing in worship today? What moved/ challenged you? Let us know in the comments.

Sunday prayer

Merciful God, in the stillness of this morning, we come on bended knee, bended heart, and bended mind, yielding ourselves to you. We ask for your breath to be breathed on us as we prepare to go into your sanctuary to worship you.
We admit there are ways we sinned this week with word and deed and sometimes inaction, or carelessness. Forgive us we pray so that we can be freed from those chains to lift our hands in praise to you and to receive your grace and mercy.
God, we come before you not just for ourselves but for those of our congregations who are sick, suffering, home bound and in nursing homes. We pray for those carrying grief heavily around their hearts. We pray for those worried about their jobs, their homes, and their diminishing retirement income. We pray for our family members, and our friends.
We pray for our world that is at war, in starvation and in chaos. We pray for people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and others who are displaced by war. We pray for those who children died in the collapse of the schools in Haiti. We pray for all people that are in the midst of pain and struggle that you would be their salvation, their refuge and dwelling place. And we pray for the end to modern day slave trade. We also pray your wisdom for the world leaders who have come together to address the worldwide economic crisis.
Lord, today’s scripture reminds us that we have been given so much by you only to hide it, or squander it. Lord, help us to know how to put to use the resources that you have given us so that it yields greater value not for us, but for you. Help us to know how to lead our churches to not hide the resources you have given them either.
Thank you for Lord for your many gifts and resources you do give us. Thank you for your many blessings and for your tender mercies.
We pray all this and more through your son Jesus.

cross posted at regalpalsprayerblog and revabi's long and winding road.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: "Talents, We've Got Talents" Edition

Hello, all!

It's quite a lectionary week, isn't it? We've got a character from Judges whose name is almost like the President-Elect's (and thankfully a story ending short of tent pegs), and the day of the Lord coming like labor pains--ouch!!-- and a Psalm about masters and servants that reminds me how different our society is from the world of the Bible, and a parable so familiar and yet so inscrutable that people in our church Bible Study said, for the second week in a row, "That doesn't sound like MY Jesus!"

Will we wind up in the outer darkness? Or can we help each other to find the way to the joy of the Master?

Let us know what you have on your plate today; share a good idea for a children's message if you have one, we always like those!

I'm posting this late Friday night, but I'll be back early with virtual coffee and danish for everyone.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friday Five: Remembrance

Earlier this week the U.S. celebrated Veterans' Day, known in many other countries as Remembrance Day. At this time last year I was commuting to a postdoc in Canada, and I was moved by the many red poppies that showed up there on people's lapels in honor of the observance. Unlike a flag lapel pin, which to me has political connotations and implies approval of our current war, the poppies simply honor the sacrifice and dedication of those who have followed their consciences by serving--sometimes dying--in the military.

This week's Friday Five invites reflection on the theme of remembrance, which is also present in the feasts of All Saints, celebrated in many liturgical churches on November 1, and All Souls--known in Latin@ cultures as the Day of the Dead--celebrated in some the following day.

1. Did your church have any special celebrations for All Saints/All Soul's Day?

2. How about Veterans' Day?

3. Did you and your family have a holiday for Veterans' Day/Remembrance Day? If so, how did you take advantage of the break?

4. Is there a veteran in your life, living or dead, whose dedication you remember and celebrate? Or perhaps a loved one presently serving in the armed forces?

5. Do you have any personal rituals which help you remember and connect with loved ones who have passed on?

As always, let us know in comments if you play. Post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to, click here.

Personal note P.S.: I am not a new Friday Five (and Monday Musical Musings) post-er, but the blogger formerly known as Mother Laura of Junia's Daughter, now posting as Sophia at a new blog called Sophia's Call. You're welcome to drop by and if you have me on your blogroll, please update your links!

Ask the Matriarch - Extending the Hand of Friendship

Our question for this week flows from a revgal’s reflection on a very unsettling incident:

This week I attended our monthly local clergy gathering. It was there that I had an experience I can't seem to get out of my mind. I tried to forget about it ~ pass it off as no big deal ~ but it's still there. Since I had been unable to attend last month, this was my first meeting of the new program year. Most of the regulars were there, but there were a couple new people. There were no official introductions (I assume those happened last month), so after a time of chatting I caught the eye of one of the new people, stuck out my hand and said, "I don't think we've met. I'm.... " This is where I was totally shocked. The man took my hand, glanced at me briefly and began a conversation with someone else while I was in the middle of saying, "I serve at....." I felt completely and totally dismissed. As our gathering went on, I noticed that this man's focus was mostly directed at the other men in the room. To him, it seemed to me, the women were invisible. Even after the official gathering concluded, and we were getting ready to leave, he went out of his way to say good-bye to the man I was giving a ride home to.... completely ignoring the fact that I was standing next to him.

While I have certainly experienced sexism, this was my first experience with such, seemingly, blatant sexism from a colleague in ministry. In my mind I tried to make excuses for him ~ perhaps he doesn't realize he is doing this ~ maybe it's not as bad as I think ~ he's new at this gathering and might be uncomfortable ~ maybe he is not used to dealing with women on a professional basis. But even if those things are true, it is not an excuse. And if he dismisses his colleagues like this, I wonder how he treats his female parishioners. So, my question becomes, what do I do at our next gathering? Do I hold my tongue? Do I challenge him? Do I subtly try to draw his attention to the gifts and graces of his female colleagues in the room ~ myself included? Should I speak with the other females in the group to see if they felt similarly? Is it worth it to put myself 'out there' when I could be seen as the one with the problem? Any thoughts?

Our matriarchs were of one mind with the suggestion that this revgal would benefit from checking in with other women who are a part of this group.

Ann responds:
This type of behavior seems common. I was hoping it was fading. It seems to persist especially among older men. They just don't see or hear women. Often in meetings women have the experience of offering an idea and receiving no response. In a few minutes some man will offer the same idea and everyone is "oh great idea, Tom." It makes one feel invisible. I try humor at first - as in "oh yikes - I seem to have fallen into the cone of silence here" when it happens.

The best thing is to talk it over with other women and male allies to confront it in the moment - so you don't seem like the only "bad girl" --- when an idea is put forth by a woman - others acknowledge it immediately -- with "can you tell us more about that, Mary?" When it is this scenario from the program detailed in our ATM question - attention can be called to it - as in "excuse me, I think Susan was speaking to you - maybe you did not hear her or realize it?" Sexism is so internalized - by all sexes - that it is hard to address without allies. The same dynamic occurs with any marginalized group - notice when it happens to people of color, people with disabilities - it is a symptom of a deeper issue.

A Wise layperson adds that since our revgal is new to the group, she has the power of ignorance of the group norms, allowing her to call this guy on his behavior if she chooses. Sometimes a group needs an 'outsider' to point out the elephant in the room.

Karen confirms the risk that exists with confrontation:

I think if you challenge him directly in a public gathering, you will run the risk of appearing to be the problem. I would check in with the other clergywomen at the gathering and see what they noticed--also to find out if he said something at the meeting you missed that might shed some light on how he acted. I'd give him at least one more chance--being very pro-active in engaging him in "safe" topics of conversation. "So how are Christmas plans coming in your congregation?"

Rector in Hawai'I shares some possible reactions she’d contemplate:

My initial snarky reaction to him is, "Excuse me -- were you born rude or is that a skill you had to learn?"

My not-snarky reaction is to basically get in his face in a very polite and gentle way...walking over to him and saying, "Hi, X -- good to see you again. How have you been?" If he turns away to talk to another man, interrupt and say to the other man, "I'm sorry, I didn't realize you and x were talking." Make it a point to say goodbye to him. Kill him with kindness.

On the other hand, if other women experience the same rudeness, it might be time to talk with the bishop about how to approach him. The bishop may or may not be willing to handle this, depending on how conflict-averse he or she is.

Or you could not expend anymore energy other than a polite smile and greeting when you come face-to-face with him. It all depends on whether it's you or women in general, and how much energy you want to expend on him.

Have you ever experienced this kind of behavior? How have you responded? Inquiring minds would like to know, and we would all benefit from the shared wisdom of our readers. Let us know by adding your comments to ours.

Photo courtesy of Twinklemoon

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We all have a dream

Martin Luther King had a dream - and this past week in the USA saw more of that dream become reality. It (and a whole lot of other things including going to the Willowcreek GLS in Helsinki last weekend) has got me daring to dream again - to think outside the box and dream about how church could be. What if we got it? That thought excites me and I'm glad it does!

Today's Wednesday and it's time to welcome you to this week's Wednesday Festival. The RevGal and Pals ring is getting huge. There's honestly not enough time to get to know what everyone's blogging about anymore, so before next week do send in a nomination to to let us know what God is doing in your life /or in the life of those whose blogs you read so we can have a great round up!

Thanks to those of you who did nominate a post of your own (or someone else's). I also skipped around the ring (using the Ringsurf feature) and found some cracking posts. Here are just a few that really caught my eye or my imagination. I just wish I'd had more time to dive further in.

Around the ring ...

Reverend Mommy has made November a month of being grateful. What is God doing in your life right now that you can give thanks for? I was thankful for her beautiful pictures of sunflowers -since the weather here in Finland is frankly awful right now. Go grab some sun!

The caffeinated priest writes of a world that is about to turn

Mike's calling for witnesses

Hip2b's been having another manic Sunday. Hip2b is expecting any day now - please remember to pray for her C-section delivery (scheduled at thanksgiving)

There's optimism and hope over at the swandive

purpletologically speaking (don't you just love that name?) is on the edge of things

while Ivy is having a defining moment

Oh and there's another Poetry Party at the Abbey! What's inscribed on your heart? Come join the fun, come read the beauty over at the Abbey:

I've never seen the Vietnam war memorial in Washington - but the vicar of Hogsmede pumped me up with this post about it. November 11th was rememberance day in the UK. Many around the ring wrote about war heros and memorial services, but Kathryn over at Good in Parts reminds us of what many of us have forgotten: it's 70 years since Krystallnacht and the start of the genocide we now call the Holocaust or Shoah. May God have mercy on us for standing on the sidelines then, and on numerous occasions ever since.

Over at eternal echoes offers us an uncomplicated story of God speaking through prophets. This might be of use at a Christingle service or something. Thanks Sally!

There's another of her posts I want to draw your attention to in the world but not of it it's part of a syncblog on leadership and I found myself reading many of the other (non RevGal) entries. Fascinating!

And for the record I also loved this post over at work-in-progress

Which brings me neatly back to where I started. We've been given a dream, let all of us here in this ring work towards it. Be blessed!

Edited to add this great post from Diane. She's no trouble

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" Edition

Is the only thing we have to fear, fear itself? Sunday's texts lead us into the difficult preaching territory of "fear of the Lord." You're not going to find a huggabunny God in these lessons. And yet in Judges we hear that, even though God's people "do what is evil in the sight of the Lord" (on a serial basis), God delivers them from their enemies. The Psalmist is bold to ask a just and righteous God for mercy. The 1 Thessalonians text reassures us that as God's people we are not destined for wrath And Jesus suggests that, unlike the cowardly steward in his parable, when it comes to managing our resources as representatives of God's Reign, we "feel the fear and do it anyway." Words to live by in these economically and otherwise anxious times? Tell us what you're thinking as you prepare to preach, pray and otherwise live into the lectionary texts this week.

Artwork: Philippe Sommet, Face of Fear

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Musings

I love reading, and I know loads of you Rev Gals and Pals do too.

My most recent church related book was Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples (Rainer and Geiger) which was really inspiring. Some similar teaching was given at the Global Leaders Summit (Willow) which was held in Helsinki this weekend. I'm wondering if it really can be that simple - imagine if each of our churches found the one thing they were to do (instead of trying to do so much and wearing ourselves thin!) and really excelled at doing it. Mmmm. And there were loads of books to tempt me at the conference too ... sigh!

Here at Rev Gals we'll be discussing two books before Christmas. Yes Two. And they both look great (and not too heavy)

The First Christmas (Marcus J Borg and John Dominic Crossan) will be led by Mary Beth two weeks from today

"With meticulous scholarship and accessible language, "The first Christmas"... uncover(s) the genuine meaning of...the Birth of Jesus." -- The Progressive Christian

and Rev Abi will guide us through the second, Run, Shepherd, Run, ( L. William Country), on December 8th.

"The Advent season is filled with rich themes that have fascinated poets. This book presents a poem a day for devotional reading during Advent and the twelve days of Christmas." ... so if you love poetry this book looks like a must for Advent this year.

You can order via the links in the side bar. (small commission then goes to this ring)

Oh and don't forget to send in your nominations (from your blog or another in the ring) for this week's Festival ...we all want to read what's happening in YOUR neck of the woods, and maybe you'll tell us what you've been reading recently.

Cheers and heaps of blessings!

PS someone might sneak in later and add something musical. My apologies for lack of pictures too -blogger was NOT co-operating today!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, early in the morning our song shall rise to thee…

After some weeks with no voice, my song is once again rising in the morning. Going on six weeks without a voice in the midst of a monastic community that sings its prayer has been both vexing and illuminating. Being forced to face the music, as it were, without hope of making any in the near future, is good for a pastoral musician. I can hear the voices of each member of the community, from the nearly breathless whisper of the woman behind me, to the rich baritone of the Augustinian on my left, to the slightly off key, but purposeful alto of the woman next to me. It’s also given me a richer sense of how the singers, the melody and the text entwine and support one another to not just make music, but to pray with affect and effect.

Morning prayer on Friday opened with Holy, Holy, Holy - it’s the first time since the end of September that I’ve been able to sing to the end of the hymn. All thy works shall praise thy name, indeed!

The text is from Reginald Huber, written just prior to his death in 1826 specifically to be used for worship on Trinity Sunday; the tune was composed for this text by John Bacchus Dykes more than 30 years later. Dykes dubbed the tune “Nicaea” for the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) where the doctrine of the Trinity was affirmed - and out of which grew the Nicene creed many of us still proclaim. The tune draws from one of the ancient psalm tones (the 5th tone) - the opening triad of the hymn is identical to the initium (the first notes that lead into each verse) of the tone. Some commentators want to tie the use of this tone with its triad to the Trinity - but I'm dubious since the trifold nature of the opening is not unique to the 5th psalm tone.

This version draws very loosely on the Huber/Dykes hymn, but in some ways digs deeply into the same tradition of antiphonal psalmody that Dykes was exploring. The violin opening drew me in…

For those of you preaching on Remembrance Day, or those of us celebrating the sacred spaces of liturgy on this feast of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, or those hearing about the prudent keepers of the light - what traditions are you recalling and recasting with music in your communities today? Share your riches with us....

Sunday prayer

Dear God, source of wisdom and truth. Grant us your wisdom to always be prepared for you coming today and everyday. We don’t know how or who or when that may be. But Lord, let us be ready, let us not be found unprepared and miss the joy of your presence.
Lord we pray for ou President Elect and vice President elect, give them wisdom as well as they prepare to lead us during this financial crisis we are presently in.
We pray also Lord, for the continued fighting and strife in our world. We pray for the countries that have been affected by this hurricane and those that are in the path. We pray for other parts of our world that are in times of crisis and need.
We pray for wisdom as we gather in our various places of worship to worship you. We pray your spirit guides us who preach this Sunday, those who lead in worship, those who teach and those who greet. We pray that our minds, our hearts, and our souls be focused on you.
And Lord we pray that you would come Lord Jesus, come and that we welcome you with open arms. Amen

cross posted at revgalprayerpals and rev abi's blog

Saturday, November 08, 2008

11th Hour Preacher Party: Impatiently Waiting for the Day Edition

Good Morning, gals and pals! Here in the Midwest, we are experiencing the first snowy weekend of the fall. Huge wet flakes fell yesterday, mostly melting already. Today: freezing rain and winds. This is a reminder to me that the End is Near: soon it will be Thanksgiving, then the cold winter season will completely descend on us. Where are the mittens, the scarves, the ear muffs? And where is the ice scraper? Where is the shovel?

The end is near: that's what many of the week's texts remind us. Are we tempted to sleep? Is it oil that we are needing? Are we impatiently waiting for the King to come, the feast to begin? Or is it repentance instead of oil that we are needing? Where is the Spirit leading you this week?

I'm putting on the fair trade coffee, as always; I'm putting out apple-cinnamon muffins, and orange juice. I've got some Good Earth tea for the non-coffee drinkers too. I've also got some pretty red placemats and napkins. I'm trying to put all the parts of my sermon in order: the promise and the warning, the hope and the fear. Do I have enough oil to go the distance? Come and join me. I'm pretty sure that it is when we join together in community that the Spirit joins us, and the flame will not go out.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Big Event 2.0 Update!

Yesterday I sent in the deposit to the retreat center for the BE 2.0 (April 16-19, 2009 at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, AZ).

We understand that some of you may not be able to send your deposit for next year's event so early, but if you plan to attend, it would be extremely helpful for us to know that as soon as possible. We currently have 12 signed up with 3 more committed, and we need 25 to make our budget. So, tell your RevGal friends!

Want to share a room and don't have a roomie yet? Don't worry: most of the registrants are in that same situation! We will find you one.

If you plan to attend but haven't registered yet, please email and let us know that you plan to come.

Mary Beth
Treasurer, RGBP, Inc.


(comic from Google Images)

After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!

1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child?

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone?

3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you?

4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you?

5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples? 

Bonus question: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print?

As always, 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>

Presbyterian Gal

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Ask the Matriarch - Call Process Edition

Our question this week:

In four (probably very short) weeks I have my first ever interview for a call. In our system one is "settled" (placed, sent, appointed) to their first call following ordination but from that point on it is a application, interview process.

So what should one expect in a job interview for ministry? How should one prepare? What sorts of questions should the candidate ask of the committee?

Preparation for the interview is crucial.

Rector in Hawai'i suggests:

I'd ask for the following at least a few days before the interview: Annual Reports for previous year; 3 most recent monthly newsletters; last three sets of vestry minutes and operating budget reports; membership figures for the past five years; reasons of the last two pastors for leaving.

Earthchick adds:

In terms of preparation, I would want to know as much as I could about the church I was interviewing with as possible, and how I would see my own ministry style and priorities fitting with theirs. In my experience, the interview really is a two-way street - for both you and the congregation to learn about each other. It's kind of like going on a date! So I would read their website thoroughly, and if there is crucial information missing, I would ask for that (either ahead of time or at the interview) - things like church history, a current budget, a church profile, a profile of what they are looking for, a stated mission and/or vision. Look for what might be missing as well - no youth meetings on their calendar? lots of fellowship opportunities but no opportunities for mission and service? These kinds of things might inform any questions you would want to ask.

Jan suggests that a look into the information the call committee makes available may shape the questions you want to ask:

Look for what is not said but is alluded to (e.g. "We are looking for someone with a calm presence." Did they have a former pastor with a temper? "We want a pastor with good organizational skills." Was the last pastor disorganized?)

Sally deo Gloria notes:

I like to think about what I'm hoping for in a position (for me and for the community). I like to think about what's important to me, and what gifts I bring. With clarity on all that, most questions are easy to answer. Prayer is good too.

On the question of what questions to ask, our matriarchs and friends offer the following:

Rector from Hawaii notes:

Questions might include their understanding of the relationship between pastor and leadership and pastor and congregation.

What are the pastor's specific job responsibilities and are there areas or ministries in which the pastor is not involved?

What's the relationship between the congregation and the local judicatory?

How do they feel about the pastor taking continuing ed time and retreat time?

Are there expectations of the pastor that are not written in the job description or letter of agreement?

What has the interim period been like?

Have they done some in-depth self-examination? What have they learned about themselves?

Who makes up the core leadership of the congregation and how long have they been in those positions?

How are new leaders encouraged and integrated?

What are the top two largest challenges for the congregation in the next three years?

If they say they want more young families in the parish, ask them why and who will be attracting those families. (Do they realize that young families do not bring in big bucks?)

And how will an influx of young families change the relationships among members of the congregation?

Would there be a number of members that would make the congregations too big?

Sally deo Gloria suggests that candidates ask questions reflective of what is important to them and whatever might be vitally important to the calling congregation :

Ask the "hard" questions -- whatever they are.

Do I have to live in the parsonage?

Are you willing to change the service times?

Earthchick adds:

What sorts of things is this congregation most likely to get anxious about?

Tell me about a conflict this church has dealt with in the past 10 years - how did the church handle it?

Is the church still dealing with the effects of it in any way?

What do people love about this church?

You might want to ask what the church's priorities for, in terms of what they seek from their pastor. They may want someone who can do all aspects with equal excellence, but since that's not realistic, I would press them on what ranks higher. If they are looking for exceptional preaching, what do they also expect from the minister in terms of pastoral care and visitation, or administration, etc.? They won't give you any kind of ranking (most likely), but you should be able to get a sense of how their priorities mesh with your own gifts and priorities. It might be helpful to find out what they think previous ministers excelled at, and what gaps there were.

Jan offers some questions that can yield valuable insights:

What are the sacred cows of this congregation?

What skeletons are in the closet?

(Asked of each person on the committee individually) What about this church community personally deepens your relationship with Jesus Christ?

The committee should also hear about your own vision for ministry and your commitments:

From Earthchick:

My biggest piece of advice is to be yourself, and to be honest. Just as you want a clear assessment of who they are, you want them to get a realistic idea of who you are.

Jan passes on some advice that served her well:

The best advice I was given - especially as a twenty-something single woman moving to a small town - was to say something like this when they ask if you have any questions for them:

As a single person with no family or friends living in the area, I will have people visiting me in my home from time to time. Sometimes they'll be friends and sometimes they'll be family. Sometimes they'll be women and sometimes they'll be men. I just want you to know up front that it's important for me to keep my connections with people.

This made it possible to have lots of people visit me in the manse without ever hearing gossip - even in a tiny town where everyone watched the pastor's house like a hawk. It made a huge difference.

Finally, a wise layperson writes about the unique nature of the call/hiring process:
One thing that I took away from the process is that when an individual church is responsible for the hiring/calling process all the participants are amateurs and are frequently making things up as they go along.

Another thing to realize, if you haven't been through the process in your home church as a congregant, is that the hiring process itself is frequently the last few steps of a much longer process of congregational discernment. The committee handling the hiring process may have been working together for a year or more and may be somewhere between a well-oiled-machine and people who feel that if they have to attend one more meeting they will scream.

Our matriarchs have offered some excellent advice...what would you add?

May you live in God's amazing grace+

Rev Honey