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Saturday, February 28, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Blank Slate Edition

Yes, a blank slate. That's what your hostess has today, preachers: a Word document blank but for a title. And since the title is "In the Wilderness," perhaps it's appropriate that I still need to find my way through it.

How goes it with you?

I have clementines to share and oatmeal, and I'll keep the coffee going.

Join us in the comments and let us know what's keeping you busy today, what's serving as a distraction and what must be done, a.s.a.p!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five: The Fork in the Road

I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?

As always, leave a comment if you play, and to encourage visitors to your blog,use the following formula to create a link.:

<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.

For your listening pleasure, here is some blues guitar. The song is called "Fork in the Road" (what else?).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ask The Matriarch: Facebook "friends and frenemies"

Dear Matriarchs,

I am in my first year of full-time parish ministry after graduating from seminary last May. I am a relative youngin', and I have used Facebook for years to connect with friends from college and, more recently, seminary. I am friends also with a lot of clergy. I did some work with college chaplaincies and became Facebook friends with students my age from that ministry.

In the last few weeks, parishioners at my current church have begun to "friend" me on Facebook. I didn't want to be rude, so I confirmed the friend requests (but set some limits on what they could see on my profile). One person in particular began to leave snarky comments on my status updates -- when I posted about working hard on a sermon, for example, he "teased" me about how I only have to present one thing a week, and he has to do several sales presentations.

I've played around some more with the privacy settings, but I am wondering -- How do we negotiate boundaries and relationships with new forms of technology? People know I only answer urgent phone calls or emails on my time off, but what about social networks that bridge different communities and relationships? Is it better to not be friends on FB with people that I have a current pastoral relationship?

Thanks, Matriarchs!

ordinary girl

Jan responds:
This is one of those my-life-is-not-my-own-anymore questions. And with Facebook, our lives all belong to or are exposed to anyone we allow into our digital social network.

The up side: people want to connect with you. They want to know you and see what you do with your life.

The down side: they also want to spy on you. Or at least some do. There are definitely a couple church friends who obviously read my posts with an eye towards criticism. They ask "What do you mean by ___?" or "Why were you with ___?" The merciful part of me would like to believe such people have my best interest in mind or the best interest of the church in mind. My less merciful side is not so merciful.

I believe you have to let church people "friend" you. But be careful. Don't put Michael Phelpsian pictures of yourself smoking from a pipe on your profile page. Don't drop the F-bomb in your casual comments.

And if your BS (before seminary) friends - or your seminary friends for that matter - choose to include photos and comments that are scandalous, remind your people that Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors. Hand them a Bible.

Blessings, Jan Edmiston

Stacey speaks about her experiences with Facebook and Twitter:
This is SUCH a tricky issue. I decided to be public on Facebook and have allowed any and all church members who are on there to friend me. But I am careful about what I post there (on my own wall or anyone else's). On the one hand, I feel free to share things I would never share from the pulpit, like my political affiliation and opinions. On the other hand, I feel like I have to be careful about status updates. If I update too often, it may look like I'm not getting any work done, for instance! The comment you got from your parishioner would have bothered me, but I probably would have either not responded or made some light flip response.

A few months ago, I joined Twitter, which is sort of like Facebook status updates, but at a much quicker pace. At first I linked my Twitter and Facebook accounts, so that my Twitter updates were automatically pushed to Facebook. But within 24 hours, I unlinked them and locked all my Twitter updates (so that only people I approve can see them). It was just too much. I decided that Facebook can be my very public place, where I don't mind what parishioners or high school friends read. But I needed a more private place, too, totally free of church members. It's tricky, but if a church member tries to friend me in that forum, I will simply let them know that my profile is locked and why.

It is hard to find any middle ground. If you're going to have an online presence at all, you have to be prepared to be as careful online as you are in public about what you say. If you need a space that's just for you and your friends, then you may need to draw some firm lines that you do not breach for any church members at all.

NJ Soprano comments on the risks:
I have a Youth Minister at my church who is 30-something and into all of the technology - iPhone, iPod, Bluetooth, TIVO, you name it, he's got it. He was under a fair amount of pressure to be on Facebook. He refused. His concern is that he might say something, or someone would respond to him that would be misunderstood and place his relationship with the kids in jeopardy. As his rector, I stood firmly behind him.

I think there is an enormous risk to any 'social networking' or any Blog. Even if you limited your 'friends' on FB, someone somewhere will find you and even an innocent statement about sermon prep can be misconstrued. You have to understand that if you are going to go 'public' with your thoughts.

You can't put the toothpaste back into the tube, so, going forward, you just may want to carefully consider what it is you post on FB. In fact, that may take all the fun out of things like FB and Twitter, but it's a reality of life in the 'fast lane' of parish ministry.

Godly Play Gramma also votes for "friending:"
My gut reaction is that you should be friends with people in the congregation - social networking is one of the ways people of all ages connect these days. There is something about saying, even on Facebook, "I won't be your friend," that hurts.

I am a public employee with a fairly sensitive position. I like Facebook, but I am very careful about what I share there. I seldom mention work, and when I do, it's pretty generic stuff like "woohoo - long weekend". I try to avoid posting status updates during work hours. I post links about issues that concern me, but I don't wax eloquent about my opinion. I don't post pictures of my grandkids even - and I don't talk about them by name.

So maybe you use Facebook to post personal updates, and opinion updates, but not to talk about your sermon. You can just not respond to snarky comments - the way things move on Facebook, the snarky comment will be buried sooner or later.

Or could socialize with church on a Ning ( and leave FB for friends. Ning would be good for collaborative work - each team could maintain their own part. However, I still can't see saying I have 420 FB friends and I won't be your friend because you attend my church.

Rector in Hawai’i offers some more ideas:
Boy. This is a tough one. It's hard to not accept invitations from parish "friends." It's one of the reason I don't have a general blog -- I don't want them to see everything I think and write.

This is what I'd suggest: start a new Facebook page under a different name.... Like your name with your middle initial, or your name without your middle initial, or any other variation of using your name. Then go back to your initial friends list and send all non-parishioners an invite. Don't advertise it in the parish or make a public announcement about the 'new' site. If someone discovers it, just say that it's only for family and close friends; your public list is the one they've been accessing and they can continue to do that.

You can still check and use your current FB for parishioners and anyone else who asks. But you can also control who sees what by having that second FB site. You absolutely do not need to take the snarky crap for the parishioner who seems to think it's okay to rudely and disrespectfully comment on your status updates.

A second site is a bit of a hassle but you do need to set some boundaries and the first site has given you reason to do so.

FWIW - I have a land line that is unlisted and blocked because there were a few parishioners for whom every little incident was an 'urgency.' That number is given to someone only with my permission; there might be 5 parishioners who have it because I know they will absolutely not share it.

Wise layperson advises fair policies whatever you choose to do or not do:
I am not a priest, but here are my two cents:

I suggest that you restrict your Facebook/LiveJournal/ Personal blog use to your trusted friends and family and that you use fairly strong privacy settings for personal content.

I think that having a place set apart, either in real or virtual life, where you can be yourself and not have to be 'the priest/pastor' is important.

One reason not to friend congregants on Facebook is that not everyone has the same access to computers and so not everyone can reach you that way.

The other, as you have noticed, is that really congregants are not your friends-- if anything they are more like your employer. If you worked in a business setting would you want your boss to read what you had for breakfast and make decisions about you based on the personal information you reveal about yourself on Facebook?

What ever you decide to do, be consistent and fair. If you let some congregants in but exclude others it will create the impression of a clique or in-group and that can lead to trouble.

Also, be conservative in you posts, even to your more private blogs. Think before you post. Do not post when very tired, impaired, or upset/angry. Once something is on the internet is can spread far beyond its intended audience very easily.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday Festival

Good morning, Rev Gals and Pals,

It looks like many of us are ready for Lent to begin this year.

Christine invites you over to the Abbey for a Lenten-themed Poetry Party.

Diane has an exceptionally wise discipline for Lent-- I'd like to add it to the one I've planned.

In the midst of all this, Sophia is very proud of her son....find out why here. She's also celebrating a recommitment to her own priestly call.

Post any others you like in the comments-- and please share your own Lenten disciplines with us, too! And don't forget to sent submissions for next week to

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lectionary Leanings Lent 1B - a personal take.

RCL Texts here

I had been pondering a suitable Lenten discipline for a few days when, woomph, Sunday happened and I find myself saddled with one that will test not only patience, but my ability to let go and allow others to do the ministering...
So if I were preaching (or as I preach to myself) I guess my focus would be on the need to give up the need to be in control, the need to be relentlessly busy.

As I waited in A&E, I was completely helpless (trying to move was quite painful enough to put off the idea conclusively) & around me were so many others with no power to help themselves in any way.
I had become the object of verbs and not the subject, relying on the care and gentleness of others.

When I baptise, I love to share the Marcan account of the baptism of Christ that we are set for Sunday. I point out always that when Jesus appears on stage here, he has done nothing to earn God's love. The teaching, the healing, the utter obedience unto death all lie in the future
- but still God looks down and speaks the unconditional love that is always being poured on each of his children.
For relentless activists like me, learning to sit and allow God to love me through family, friends & congregation will be discipline enough as I travel, confined for my own safety, like Noah and his passengers through the six long weeks of Lent. That's where I am today (and probably for some time to come). And you?

Monday, February 23, 2009

RevGalBookPals: Tribal Church

I’m in Black Mountain, NC right now because my godchildren were baptized yesterday. It’s breathtaking to see the mountains, and to be out of the city for a bit. We’ll be traveling back to D.C. today, but Songbird gave me this wonderful opportunity to talk about Tribal Church with you, so I’m going to check in as much as I can.

My day job is working as a pastor at Western Presbyterian Church. And, like most of you, I also write and blog in my spare time. I wrote Tribal Church because I was tired of hearing about how the only way to reach out to a new generation of young adults (adults under the age of forty) was to get out the praise choruses, ditch the pews, and ignite a worship war in your congregation. It seemed like the only way that it was possible to minister to them was to throw out all of our traditions, and plant a booming, Gen-X church, with lots of imagery flashing on a powerpoint screen.

But that was not what was happening in the congregations that I served for the last ten years. When I talked to young parents, they said they liked being at the church because it gave their kids a chance to be around old people. And people told me over and over again that they appreciated the traditions and the liturgy. They enjoyed being a part of a community that was not about a charismatic pastor, but it was more like they were stepping into a stream, a deep current of faith and doubt that had been flowing before them, and would be flowing after them. They longed for sacred traditions like contemplative prayer.

Their words echoed my own experience. As a woman, growing up in the midst of various churches—conservative Southern Baptist congregations and mega-churches—I longed for the beauty, art, liturgy, and social justice traditions that mainline congregations had to offer.

I use the metaphor “tribe” because tribes are intergenerational communities that care for one another. And when we are at our best, we do the same thing—when we walk alongside each other, encouraging each other on our spiritual journeys.

Of course, it wasn’t always easy in the mainline church. Strangely, I often sensed a fear of outsiders, rather than a welcoming. People had a difficult time understanding why I would leave my conservative upbringing and join the mainline, and the switch was viewed with suspicion (especially during my ordination process).

The church’s healthy love of education could grow into a pernicious classism that made people check my resume at coffee hour. As they would ask, “And where do you work?” they were never thrilled about me working at the mall. And when they asked, “Where did you go to school?” they were not asking for a reference to the local high school.

So, I also wrote the book to try to sort out some of the roadblocks that we have to reaching out to men and women under forty. For instance, many of our congregations do not understand some of the economic realities of young adults, and they have a tendency of thinking of them as simply irresponsible with their money. They don’t always understand that many of them are not able to make long-term financial commitments to their congregations.

Congregations have difficulty realizing that a new generation of women is not able to keep up with the time-consuming customs that older generations have constructed. If certain practices are dying, we may need to rethink them, instead of berating young adults for not being involved. That means that some of our most sacred customs—the women’s clubs, the yard sales, the quilting circles, and church cookbooks—will need some serious thought.

And we have difficulty allowing young leadership to flourish. We tend to expect people to take a lot of time, working their way up our church systems, instead of our congregations being actively recruiting young, innovative leadership.

So, I wonder, what are the major barriers that your church has while reaching out to young adults?

Are there customs that are clearly not making the shift to a new generation?

Are there traditions inherent in the customs that your congregation needs to maintain and nurture?

What sort of things are your young adults passionate about?

And, of course, if there’s anything that you would like to ask me about the book, I’d be happy to answer. As usual, you can buy the book through the Amazon link on the right, and the portion of the proceeds will go to RevGals.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Video - Alleluia one last time

For many of us, this Sunday is the last time we will hear "Alleluia" during the church service. In our local congregation, we will use the service from the Book of Common Prayer which uses thee and thou and uses a language many of us are familiar with from childhood. As Lent approaches, we enter the most penitential of seasons.

To end our service, we sang "Alleluia Sing to Jesus" as a way of closing off the seasons we have been journeying through since Advent. The "A" word (as we refer to it in Lent) will not return until the Easter Vigil. We have "buried" Alleluia to join us again after the Lenten season.

Does your church "shut down" Alleluia for Lent? If so, did you have an Alleluia Festival of hymns today? How did you worship through music today?

Sunday Prayer

Holy and Gracious God
We give you thanks for the gift of life
for the gift of your Son
for the gift of the Holy Spirit

Lead us through the trials
the suffering and sorrow
the challenges and struggles
the tired times and dark places

Be with those who weep
or cannot sleep
who have no peace
who seek release

Lead us
with grace
with love
with peace

Fill us
with hope
with patience
with stamina

Transform us
in your image
in your Son
in your Name

Transform us
to grow
to understand
to see

Transform us
that we
can be
made whole

And in wholeness
may we
the hands and heart of Christ.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Shining Edition

Rise and shine, gals and pals! We are coming up on the Last Sunday Before Lent, in some circles known as Transfiguration Sunday. There's a lot going on in my neck of the woods, as Sunday is our congregation's annual Mardi Gras Brunch and Basket Auction. We also have a cake walk, face painting and other fun things: and it's all to support our community organizing activities.

Other than that, I'm preaching. To begin with, there's a wonderful conversation here. I've been fascinated this past week by the Elijah/Elisha story. I love the tenacity of Elisha, who won't give up or go away, but continues to follow his master. But I love the 2nd lesson too: "the same God who said, 'Let there be light', also shines in our hearts". And there's always the mountain-top experience. What to do, what to do? What are you preaching on? And what other special things do you do for Transfiguration/Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday? Does your church have any special traditions?

I'm here with a good, hearty breakfast this morning, and hope you will join me. Pre-Lent, I'm going to feast on scrambled eggs with ham, orange juice and English muffins. Please feel free to add your items. We have to use them up before Wednesday, you know. The fair trade coffee is ready for you as well.

p.s. what are you giving up for Lent? Or do you not want to think about that... yet?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Five: Taking a Break

Where we live, it's February School Vacation Week!

Yes, that's an odd thing, a vacation extending President's Day. But it's part of our lives here. Some people go South or go skiing, but we always stay home and find more humble amusements.

In that spirit, I offer this Taking a Break Friday Five. Tell us how you would spend:

1. a 15 minute break
2. an afternoon off
3. an unexpected free day
4. a week's vacation
5. a sabbatical

(It's possible the coffee is a hint at my interests...)

As always, leave a comment if you play, and to encourage visitors to your blog, add a direct link to your post, using the following formulation:
<a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

For a complete how-to, click here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ask The Matriarch: preaching dilemma edition

I had an experience during my sermon the other day, and I'm wondering if I handled it correctly? sensitively? carefully? enough.

In the middle of the sermon, a woman in the congregation bent down to pick up a baby bottle and hand it to the grandmother behind her. But, she got stuck between the pews and couldn't get back up. She had heart bypass surgery about six months ago, so of course everyone thought she was having a heart attack. People got up and went across the room to assist her.

And I? I just kept on preaching. No one was listening, of course. So what to do? Stop and inquire from the pulpit if she is ok? Keep going and appear insensitive to her plight? Trust that someone else can take care of it?

I routinely preach through all kinds of disturbances (babies, kids, coughing fits, cell phones) and have experience leading worship at a mental institution (a whole different level of distractions). So, I CAN keep going, but SHOULD I?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Distracted preacher

Jan responds that preaching in the 21st century is a whole new world:
These are difficult situations that probably result in every kind of "should have/shouldn't have" scenario. I think, though, that 21st C. preaching needs to be - more than ever - all about context (i.e. use biker language if you are preaching to bikers). And this is also true in terms of other things that happen in the course of the preaching. I have been known to stop in the middle of whatever if sirens outside are so loud that it's clear everybody's wondering what's going on with the sirens and not listening to the sermon. I might even pause mid-sentence and say something as plain as, "Let's just stop for a moment. Somebody somewhere is in trouble and we need to pray for whomever is getting that ambulance or fire truck." To me this is the most basic example of connecting what we are preaching about to what's going on the world.

If there is a disruption within the walls of the sanctuary, again, it seems best to stop whether it's for an adult having a heart attack or a baby (really, really) crying or someone who stands up and responds verbally to the sermon. This is sort of Postmodern Preaching 101. I've known preachers to stop everything in the middle of leading worship to ask everyone to listen to the baby wail - not to embarrass the parents at all, but to point out that babies need to be heard too. And often the baby calms down and the sermon continues.

Preaching in the 21st C. is less about holding forth and more about being in conversation, IMHO. Too often we preach about things while the building around us in on fire (the whole elephant in the room thing) and it's really okay to say, "Let's stop here. Can someone help ____?" And relax. Be real. Everyone in the room - unless the room is filled with insensitive people chalking up points against you - is hoping that the person stuck in the pew will be okay. It was a tough one because you didn't want to embarrass her. But it sounds like you did the best you could. (Give her a call and be sure she's okay.)

And repeat after me: I did what I thought was right.

Jacque encourages a case by case response
This is one of those dilemmas that I believe has a case-by-case response. Indeed, I've had some people with mental/emotional challenges who spoke out in a disruptive way in worship. In most of these cases, I find it best to keep on preaching. On the other hand, one day, I gentleman in the congregation who was mentally challenged came bursting in the sanctuary late for worship because he had missed the bus. He was so upset that it frightened some in the congregation. I simply stepped down to meet him in the aisle, laid my hand on his arm, assured him that everything was alright and he could sit down and be a part of worship. It helped to calm him and it allowed the congregation a moment to process was what was going on.

I was in a congregation when someone became sick during worship and there was so much concern that it was clear that we could not just "go on as normal." So I stopped, invited the congregation into silent prayer, and went down to check on the situation. Then as it was handled, I returned to continue the service.

Sometimes you can see that it is a kind of mishap that would be even more embarrassing for the individual involved if you were to stop the service and draw attention to it.

All to say, that I cannot imagine a "one response fits all" policy. We go with our gut, look to other leaders, and in all cases attempt to respond with sensitivity.

RevAbi looks to St. Francis and Jesus for what to do:
What a great question, because we all experience a variety of distractions.
I think you have to first be comfortable with yourself and clear what you will do. You seem comfortable enough to keep going. But what if she was having a heart attack, stroke, etc?

Perhaps this is a good question to discuss with your worship team, worship leader, hospitality people and/or ushers. Include it in your training of them. Sometimes stopping is called for in order to deal with the situation, and then you can go on.
I had to stop in my sermon the other day to say something to my own kids about their acting out in church. It fit smoothly into my sermon and we were able to pick up and go on.

I think there needs to be something said about cell phones in the beginning, in the bulletin, on screen. You go to a movie and there are several reminders to turn them off. People forget easily to do this. Loud crying babies happen. I don't let it bother me, but we do have notices about the cry room and the availability of the nursery on screen and in the bulletin. The hospitality team and ushers are good about mentioning it to people. We are struggling with how to handle "out of control kids" in the contemporary service that are distracting to others. They aren't a distraction to me, but we have heard enough from others that we are working on it.

I am reminded that Jesus did stop to deal with people while teaching; such as in Mark 1:21-28 . It became ministry moments for them and those present. So sometimes it calls for stopping, checking and then calling attention back to the sermon or the ministry moment that happened. Sometimes those become those sermons without words like St. Francis talked about.

RevHoney has a plan in place for events like these:
I lead worship in a setting that is large enough that I do not always immediately see when something like this happens. We have an amazing crew of ushers, who seem to have eyes in the backs and sides of their heads. They are at someone’s side before I know what is going on. We require that at least one person on each team is certified in CPR – not unusual here anymore.

Also, we have 1-2 physicians and nurses who are regular worshippers. If they see something that doesn’t look quite right, they will quietly move over beside an individual and do some assessment.

That being said, when I have become aware of such a situation in worship, I have chosen to stop and invite the congregation into prayer for the distressed person. Then I go to them to be with them until they leave the sanctuary with ushers, doctor, or the emt’s. We pray again, draw worship to a close, and I make whatever arrangements need to be made with associate pastor and/lay leadership so that I or associate can join them at the hospital, if that seems necessary.

Above all, I have learned to remain calm…by the grace of God…for the sake of the stricken individual, his or her family, and the whole congregation.

Rector in Hawai’i responds to “SHOULD I” (keep going)
Absolutely not. Just stop and say we need to take care of whatever is happening first. In this case, a woman's life might have been the issue -- you had no way of knowing.

I've stopped for so many faintings in church just because it does indeed interrupt the service and needs to be attended to. Parishioners are good about waiting until the emergency is dealt with, including the entrance of EMTs and firefighters. Suggest that folks pray for the person who went down even as the rescue workers are attending to the problem. But do not continue the service until the emergency is taken care of. Ask for a doctor or nurse, and get out of the pulpit and into the pew where this is happening so you know what's going on and can reassure the rest of the congregation. Do not continue the service until everything has calmed down. You might even forget about finishing the sermon and just go into the creed. Adrenalin levels are probably too high for the congregation to calm down and listen. The creed will calm them down instead and will help return to a worshipful tone of the liturgy.

When it comes to cell phones, especially loud ones, I'll stop the sermon immediately. After a few seconds, I'll ask whomever it is to take the call on the lanai and then return to us. And then I'll remind others to make sure their phones are on vibrate or turned off. I do this with a slight sense of humor and the parish knows how to read me that way. But as a result it really doesn't happen much anymore.

If the kids are in the front row making noise, I'll lean over the pulpit and softly call the child's name and say, "Brian, it's Rev Liz's turn to talk. Will you wait for your turn?" Mothers take crying babies out of the congregation and return once the kids are calmed down.

I've also talked through kids' noises before. But that's a situational decision....

New Jersey Soprano suggests going with the truth of the moment, stopping to respond and to assure people that she is not having a heart attack since that is what they are thinking about not your words. She also suggests the model of St. Francis that our actions speak louder than our words. "You - your life - might be the only Gospel anyone ever hears."

Postulant pastor (on the ordination path) sees the gears of the mind turning as the event unfolds:
Hmmm - I don't know. On the one hand, if she was really having a heart attack, it would probably seem like a bad thing to keep on preaching. On the other hand, she wasn't having a heart attack, and it was probably embarrassing to the woman who was stuck. It would have really been mortifying to have the preacher stop to point it out to everyone. I suppose a really creative preacher could probably include a reference to it in the sermon, making a critical point that would explain the gospel AND make the stuck woman feel better, but I can't come up with an idea of how that would be done.

And if you took a vote, probably half of the congregation is furious and the other half is happy at the way it was handled.

So I think best handled on case-by-case basis - No answer for all situations.

Looks like all of us have had times like that of Distracted Preacher. Personally, I know that being in the pulpit is often like being a ring master in a 3 ring circus. Trying to preach a meaningful message, trying to assess where the congregation is in hearing the message, thinking about what has gone on before and what is coming up in the service. In the pulpit you often have more information about where everyone is in his or her life journey. You may know that this person would prefer the "pay no attention" treatment from you. Balancing all this requires snap decisions - you probably know what you would do next time - but this one happened and there is no going back. Chalk it up to the many lessons you will learn through the years. We have all been there. ~~Ann

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Ash Wednesday Cometh

Good Wednesday morning, RevGals & Pals!

See-through-faith has been going through a sense of personal renewal with God in recent weeks and shares her experiences here. She also has some photos of God's goodness for us.

Sally has struggled with upheavals and depression in recent weeks, but found joy in a chance meeting and in music.

Sadly, another RevGalPetPal has gone over the Rainbow Bridge: Law & Gospel's Buddy Beagle. Love and prayers to his family.

In calendar news, as you may know, Ash Wednesday is upon us! A week from today, it is. Do you know where your ashes will be coming from? If not, read Knittin Preacher's story of trying to procure hers, and perhaps you will get started now!

And on the general Lenten front (starting with Ash Wednesday), I am wondering at my place what you may have planned for this liturgical season? Do tell!

Forget to nominate? No worries! Just share what you are up to in the comments. You can add favorite posts, whether yours or another ring member's, by following this easy formulation: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to, click here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - (hasty) Shine a Light edition

Elijah and Elisha by Michael D. O’Brien

RCL Readings for the week are here

In my tradition, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration on 6th August so I'm always slightly perplexed when the lectionary offers us these luninous readings just before Lent begins.
This Lent in my parishes we are going back to basics, with a sermon series and study groups considering just what it means for us to be "Church" in these communities, so if I were preaching I'd want to say something about the moment when we each of us catch the vision, when we definitively recognise God as God in our own lives...I'd maybe talk about reflected glory transforming our lives...about gifts given and received....

But this morning I'm off to sing at a funeral, for a member of the chamber choir I joined last year to ensure that my own life wasn't completely confined within parish boundaries. So perhaps there's something to be said too about separation - the grief that this brings and also about those who've handed on their faith to us, those who generous spirit has inspired us.

Got to run now, this is a manic day - but will pop in later if I can to see where your discussions take you

Monday, February 16, 2009

Meet and Greet

Seems we are finally getting hints of Spring...a wonderful relief in the areas of the world that have been under siege of snow, wind, ice, and bitter, as we begin to thaw and warm up, let's be sure to extend a warm welcome to our newest bloggers:

Reverend Potatoe Head at under the steeple describes his blog this way: Standing beneath the steeple, playing in the cornfields, and my first year as a pastor of a small, country church....

Leanng at Waking Up Somewhere Else: she describers her blog thusly: Born & raised in the South, my husband and I recently made the move west, all the way to California! This journey has been a roller coaster ride of events for us thus far. We miss our family & friends but love the new adventure. I am learning new things about my self, my partner and this part of our world. I’m an ordained Baptist minister by vocation. Part of my new adventure is learning how to be a chaplain too. This blog is dedicated to the things that I wake up to in life, what the journey is like, and new discoveries along the way.

Joelle at Skating in the Garden in High Heels describes her blog: One Lutheran Lady Pastor's outlook on the church, figure skating, gardening, and life.

Maryann at the Sabbath Project describes her blog:The Sabbath Project began in the fall of 2007 at Burke Presbyterian Church in Northern Virginia. Associate Pastor MaryAnn McKibben Dana envisioned the project as a simple way to encourage members of the church to experiment with the practice of sabbath-keeping. Rather than create a new program of the church, with all of the administration that goes with it, we wanted to create something that was simple to implement, with maximum flexibility, and enough support and accountability to keep people excited and motivated about this life-transforming practice of sabbath. We believe we've found the right mix, but come and see for yourself.

This site contains general ideas and inspiration for sabbath-keeping, resources specifically geared for families, and worksheets and resources for educators and pastors to plan their own Sabbath Project.

Welcome one and all to our warm and friendly blogging community -

and now: be sure to check out our upcoming Big Event 2.0 - we are leaving the cold climes and coming to The Casa.

Scottsdale, Arizona April 16-19 for a continuing education event with Wil Gafney! and a side trip to the Grand Canyon (if you want to stay in AZ until the 21st of April)...see the side bar link for more info - and yes, you can still join us.

The tentative itinerary for the BE 2.0:

Thursday, April 16:

Arrive at Sky Harbor Airport in time to catch the Super Shuttle to the Casa. Mary Beth is collecting arrival times in order to see if we can coordinate groups of us to take the shuttle at teh same. Each shuttle holds 7 people, and the ride can take up to an hour depending on the number of stops, less if it can go directly to The Casa.

6:00pm dinner at The Casa

7:00pm Gather as a group, intros and some time with Wil

8:30 Evening worship

9:00 Social time


8:00am breakfast

9:00am morning worship followed by session with Wil

Noon lunch

1:00 afternoon session (this session may include some time to break out, rest, etc)

6:00 dinner

7:00 evening session with Wil

8:30 evening worship

9:00 social time


8:00 am breakfast

9:00 Morning Session, this session may include group work or free time

Noon lunch

1:00 Afternoon Session, this session may include group work or free time

6:00 Dinner

7:00 Evening session

8:30 Evening worship

9:00 bonfire and social time


8:00 Breakfast

9:00 Closing Eucharist

10:30 am departure

11:30 departure for those going to the Grand Canyon. We have reserved 4 rooms at the Maswik Lodge, accomodating 8 people, at about $95.00 per person, plus what ever meals we eat, and a share of the cost of gas for the drive up. (7 have said they want to go, one is tentative). More reservations can be made, but a request must be placed with Mary Beth asap.

We will return from the Grand Canyon on Monday, late afternoon. Those leaving on Tuesday will need to make reservations to stay at The Casa or a hotel near the airport for Monday night. It will take us about 4 hours to drive to and from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.

Final payment due March 1, 2009. To request a brochure with more details, or to request a registration form, please send an e-mail to

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Afternoon music video- How can I keep from Singing?

I am offering you two versions of this amazing song this week, first a reflective version from Enya, and second the more up beat version from Chris Tomlin. It has been a stressful week over here in the Coleman household in the UK.... BUT... when I go to worship I know that God will draw me in, and I will sing...

How about you, are you in a reflective mood or are you in the mood to sing and dance and clap? What did you sing at Church this morning? As always let us know in the comments.

Sunday Prayer

Gracious God
We come to you
to be made whole.

On this night/day
we pray for those
who weep,
who have died
who are struggling.

Compassionate God
We come to you
for peace and harmony.

Loving God
We offer our
for solace and comfort.

Holy God
Take our fears
and heal us.

In our darkness
be with us
hold us
and sustain us.

Gentle God
anoint us
with your
and love.


Cross-posted on the Revgals Prayer blog.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party:Valentine's Day Edition

Hello, preachers~

Happy Valentine's Day!!

What are you up to this week? Some of us have done, oh, not much, perhaps with good reason, and have a full day's work ahead of us. Some of you (note this does not include me) may have it all together. Most will probably be somewhere in between. But wherever you are in your sermon preparation, you are welcome here.

Chime in via the comments and let us know what you're up to or up against today, what you're doing for your children's message tomorrow, and whether you get to take the day off on Monday!

I'll keep the hot coffee and the chilled Diet Cokes coming, and who knows what else may turn up on the dining room table? My daughter and I are planning a trip to our favorite coffee shop to try the red velvet cupcakes. (And, yes, that is my most definite bit of planning for today.)

Yours unreadily,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five: Pets

My son's tiny beloved lizard, Elf, is looking and acting strange this week. His skin/scales are quite dark, and he is lethargic. We are adding vitamin drops to his lettuce and spinach and hoping and praying that he is just getting ready to shed his skin--but it's too soon to tell. Others in the ring have also been worried about beloved pets this week. And, in the saddest news of all, Songbird has had to bid farewell to her precious Molly, the amazing dog who is well known to readers of her blog as a constant sacrament of God's unconditional love.

So in memory of Molly, and in honor of all the beloved animal companions who bless our lives: tell us about the five most memorable pets you have known.

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 in the comment box: <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, February 12, 2009

Ask The Matriarch: chaos at coffee hour edition

Our question for the Matriarchs is from a pastor who finds her growing church is making Sunday a time of chaos instead of worship for her:
[In the past] While preparing for [worship], there [were] a relatively small number of people at Coffee Hour. I would have multiple requests for things, but usually they were not so overwhelming that I could not remember them. I joyously find myself serving a larger congregation than I had thought, but Coffee Hour has become a challenge because of the number of people bringing different things to me during this time. I can no longer remember them all, and find myself exhausted and stressed at the end of the time. How do I gracefully handle this (pleasant) challenge? (I don't want to discourage people from approaching me, just from thinking I have the memory of an elephant.)

Perplexed and caring pastor

Matriarch Jan offers the idea of setting Sunday aside for worship and avoiding the business of church on that day:
Because you are not an elephant, nor their "ecclesiastical honey do-er" let them know - first via your leadership boards and then via the newsletter or announcements to all others - that it would be helpful for them to write down any messages they wish you to have following or before worship. If they don't write it down then you can't ensure they'll be addressed.

Some congregations have a deacon or other assistant stand beside the pastor after worship with a pad and pencil to write down what people say. This hasn't worked in our congregation because it felt strange and frankly made me feel like I was trying to be all that.

I simply say, "I really want to remember what you're telling me, so please write it down or email me on Monday." It is a wonderful problem to have so many people around with things to say.

Another issue to address involves a more serious shift in your congregation's culture. Sunday is set apart for worship. Yes, the pastor and other leaders are standing there and it's incredibly tempting to do ask the pastor if she's free for lunch Tuesday or to ask the deacon if he could order more communion cups. But it's the leaders' worship time too. We have tried to set a rule that there is "no church business" before, during, or after worship if at all possible. Using Sunday mornings (if that's when you worship) to touch base with the Building & Grounds coordinator to talk about new lighting ideas or to schedule things with the pastor distracts from everybody's worship. (We sometimes have to have official meetings before worship but it's not easy. Last Sunday I was finished with that meeting exactly 3 minutes before worship started. Not exactly the way you want to prepare to lead prayer, etc.)

It sounds like your congregation is growing - which is good. But growth means things also have to change - which is also good, but not everyone will see it that way.

St. Casserole writes:
Carry a small notebook with you to write down information. I use this method to remember the variety of things I'm told "in passing" by my congregation.

As you greet people after worship, you may find it useful to have a member stand behind you with paper and pen to record any information you wish to remember. You'll be careful with private information and so choose a trustworthy person for this job.

Jacque comments;
I certainly know that challenge of being told or asked things that I cannot always remember. A number of years ago, I concluded that I could let people know how important their concerns are to me by making sure I receive them in a workable form. Two primary practices come to mind:

First, I let people know that I want and need to be able to visit with a wide number of people on Sunday mornings -- before worship, after worship, and in the Community time ('coffee hour'). To that end, if someone begins a conversation that clearly deserves and/or requires more time and focus than I can give it and still move on to talk with others, then I suggest that this person set a time for a visit with me. The person will not feel brushed off, if I say something like "I really want to talk more with you; let's set a time to get together."

Second (more directly to your point) -- I simply say to people, "Oh, I want to be able to check on that, would you please write that down so that I won't forget it." They can hand it to me and I put it in my pocket -- and then empty my pocket of notes onto my desk after the coffee hour. Or when, as of happens, someone wants to give me something during that time that they want me to read, comment on, etc., I just say, "Oh, thank you, I don't want to lose track of that - Would you please put that on the desk in the office for me?!"

I find that if people know that I am asking them to help with communication in this way because what they are telling me is important to me then they are happy to do so.

Rector in Hawai’i suggests that if notes end up in the wash instead of her desk:
I've finally learned to ask them to email me the next day because I can't remember everything in the controlled chaos of a Sunday morning. Or I ask them to write down whatever it is and slip it under the office door. (I tried putting those slips in a pocket but they ended up going through the wash.)

It's also a good idea to put short notices in the newsletter and Sunday leaflet asking for their 'help' in helping you to remember their needs. This way they all know that it's really difficult to remember everything and you're not picking on one or two in particular. I've found parishioners are more than willing to 'help' me remember. Just don't forget to acknowledge their need first.

Wise layperson offers the member's point of view:
Be up-front with folks about your desire to remember their requests. I would suggest any of the following (depending on your comfort level):

-- Let folks know that coffee hour is not the best time to come to you with requests (especially if it is between services). Ask them to contact you during office hours or by email with details of their concerns/ ideas

-- Carry a small notebook or PDA with you and make a note as the request is being made.

-- Ask people who make requests of you to follow up with you by a certain day if they haven't heard from you (even if you write it down it might drop to the bottom of the pile during the week).

-- Find ways to remind people (without whining) that, they are many and you are one and it may take you a while to get round to everything and that if you forget or are slow to respond it is not that you are intentionally ignoring them.

Since you say your are finding Coffee Hour exhausting as a result of all of the requests I would suggest that you go with the first option on my list. Tell people that coffee hour is just not the best time to give you one more thing to remember.

Other things you can do:

-- Delegate: if your congregation supports a staff, point the person with the need at the correct staff person to handle the issue.

-- Breathe: be intentional about how you approach coffee hour. Think about what you want to get out of that time and stick to your guns.

-- Don't let anyone corner you for more than 3 minutes and don't hang out with the same few people each time. If Coffee Hour is your chance to move among the congregation in an informal way then don't let it turn into a business meeting. Let folks know that you really want to preserve this time as a chance to 'be with them' and not 'work with them'.

Long time rector encourages people to call her during the week:
I ask people to call me on Monday morning to follow up and have a longer time to chat than we can at coffee. I am not embarrassed to tell people "I think I can remember everything, but really I can't - so help me on this and give me a call to remind me during the week"

Great ideas for controlling the chaos and I would add that I tell people to call me or the secretary Monday, email me or write me a note and leave it on my desk. I also refer them to the staff or ministry leader who covers that area if possible. I find this sorts out the priority of the requests for people and starts them on the road to solving their own problems. The person can then take responsibility for whatever the issue is and work with me. if needed, for further resources. It tells them that I think it is important enough to set aside time for them and puts the ball in their court. It discourages dependency and spreads out the responsibilities.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Late Wednesday Festival!

Sorry for the tardy post, folks. It's been a little hairy here.

Sally has shared two posts with us: One on the Lord's Supper, and a short homily on the same.

Something that has been occupying my mind lately is the health of dogs, mine and those of my friends. My dog Boudreaux has come out fine, but Songbird's sweet and beautiful Molly went to the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. Please go give her hair-pats at this loss of her companion in life AND in ministry.

And Cheesehead's Tanner is very ill, also. Please go drop her a howdy, too. Send virtual head scratches for the little boy dog.

And if you have animals who gladden your life, love them and thank them extra much this evening.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - It's your choice - 2nd Sunday before Lent

You'll find the readings here

There's a chorus that was very popular at our after-school club when my children were at primary school. You might know it. With assorted enthusiastic gestures it invites hearers to

“Take my hand and follow me, to see the sea walker, the blind man healer, the leper-cleansing man from Galilee”.

Great – except that for most western children, “leper cleansing” means precisely nothing – so that one child was heard determinedly singing about “the double glazing man from Galilee”. Given the bad press which those who sell secondary glazing seem to enjoy, this wasn't perhaps the most helpful image...but it's fair to say that the emphasis on leprosy in the Biblical healings can seem to emphasise that these are stories of long ago and far away, stories that don't have much to do with us - which is a bit of a problem, given the theme of two of this week's readings, two lepers separated by centuries. King Namaan, remembered by name even today, is certain that he knows how he will be healed...But he is disappointed, even affronted, by the simplicity of the act he's actually asked to perform. There's a moment when his pride threatens to prevent his healing...when he almost cuts off his nose to spite his face and goes home, refusing to believe that anything but a huge and dramatic gesture will really work. He sets the stage with his elaborate gifts for his brother monarch, and expects to remain in the theatre of grand designs...but, just as he used an obscure slave girl, a prisoner of war, to bring Namaan to Israel, God wants to bring about healing through the small, uncomplicated every day task of bathing in the river. It demands both faith and humility for Namaan to strip off the layers of royal dignity and get on with doing what he is told...and I'm wondering how often, in holding out for the huge miracle, we overlook the simple, straightforward daily acts of obedience, the tiny changes in ourselves that add up to something huge.

Equally, how often do we feel too small to make any difference ourselves – so we sit on our bottoms and do nothing – because that way we can't fail!

We have a choice...

And in the gospel it's Jesus who makes the choice. The leper approaches him, overstepping the boundaries of the law...and presents Jesus with two options. He can ignore him, and concentrate on preaching God's love in the towns and cities – or he can touch the leper, render himself unclean, and stay out in the countryside – placed on the wrong side of the tracks by his compassion. It's a choice...and one that we are often wary of making. Jesus touches the leper, and so joins him in his place of exclusion and uncleanness – just another presentation of the truth of the Incarnation, of God becoming one of us...but we, on the whole, seem still to prefer to remain in our clean Christian ghettoes – we encourage people to join us there, but we expect them to come on our terms, and to turn into people “just like us”...(oh dear, can you tell that I'm just a little concerned about mission at the moment I wonder?)

Jesus heals the leper...and then gives him back his community by sending him “through the proper channels” to have his healing confirmed by the priest. The pariah is to be welcomed home..

That's where I'm heading this Tuesday...and you?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Monday Musical Musings

It's the sweetheart edition of Musical Musings today, as we are in the week where Valentine's Day is upon us. Though we may not officially observe it in the church, many do with their loved ones. So....

Do you have a favorite song that you listen to with your sweetheart or loved ones? Which one comes to mind?
Here's one that is a favorite here at our house:

Do you remember a song your parents loved??

Share with us your songs in the comments -- bet we can come up with an Itunes list here!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Out of the depths

I wait with longing for the LORD, my soul waits for his word.
My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. (Psalm 130)

I'm back from making the Long Retreat - 30 days in silence on the edge of the Atlantic. The silence was profound, the experience extraordinary. I waited upon the Lord, often in the night watches, and this psalm, ran through my mind often around 4 am. May it bring you gently into the depths of God's love.

That said, music at our liturgy this morning was riotously joyous. Were you contemplative, all joy or somewhere in between today? Share the music of the day with us...

Sunday Prayer


Here is one of my favorite healing prayers, used with anointing:

In the name of God
our healer
we pray.

Receive Christ’s healing touch
to make you whole
in body,
and spirit.

May the power of God
strengthen you,
the love of God dwell in you
and give you peace.

(From the Ministry for Healing, The New Zealand Prayer Book)

God of life
God of hope
God of all

Lift us
on your love
like eagle's wings

Sustain us
Guide us
Heal us

Then send us
forth into
the world

That we
may love
as you love.

(from my heart)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

RGPB, Inc. Board Meeting Report

(We interrupt this Preacher Party for a public service announcement...)
The Board of Directors of RevGalBlogPals, Inc. met at 12 noon (Central time) on Saturday, February 7.
Results of the Director election were as follows:
Mary Beth Butler, Cathy Stevens, and LJ Show were elected Directors.
Congratulations and thanks to them, and thanks to RevAbi for her service in the past term.
Thanks to all who participated!

11th Hour Preacher Party: Waiting on the Lord Edition

I thought of many ways to title the post for today: "healing and serving edition", "eagle's wings edition", "Jesus lifted me" edition -- but on this preacher party date, "waiting on the Lord" seemed about right to me. I've been thinking about the texts all week: there's a great conversation here. But I have been waiting on the Lord instead of writing the sermon. And now, here we are. It's Saturday, I'm preaching at 5:00. (sigh)
What about you? Have you been waiting on the Lord this week? And if so, what are you waiting for? (a children's message?) Where are you headed in your preaching? Are you sick in bed with Peter's mother-in-law? Or hunting for him with the disciples? Are you renewing your strength? Or striving to be all things to all people? Or are you headed in a different direction entirely? And, if those are not enough questions, how is your Lenten planning going? (We just had our pre-Lent hymn-pick on Friday).

For the cholesterol conscious, I have oatmeal with blueberries this morning. Also, I have fair trade coffee (toffee caramel this week) and Good Earth tea. I have a whole bunch of clementines, too. Would you like one?

Come and have a seat! Share whatever you have! As they say in the small-town papers, "Diane served."

Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday Five: My Favorite Things

In a week of wondering how various things in our family life will unfold, I found myself thinking of the way Maria comforted the Von Trapp children in one of my favorite movies. Frightened by a thunder storm, the children descend upon her, and she sings to them about her favorite things, taking their minds off the storm.

So, let's encourage ourselves. Share with us five of your favorite things. Use words or pictures, whatever expresses it best.

As always, leave a comment if you play, and to maximize visitors, add a direct link to your post, using the following formulation:
<a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

For a complete how-to, click here.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Ask the Matriarch: putting toothpaste back in tube edition

Not toothpaste but email and the "innertubes" -- how to recover from blurting out a private note to a whole listserve and the person (also known as a "blat") about whom you were writing.

Help -- I sent out a snarky email and thought I was only sending it to a friend. Unfortunately it went to everyone on the list and the bishop. It was not to flattering to the bishop - although true.

Lost in cyberspace

Matriarch Jacque replies:
Whew! All I can say is that this is a reminder of how VERY careful we have to be with the use of e-mail in ministry. The issue extends to confidentiality concerns regarding parishioners, etc. There are many things that I simply do not put into print in emails.

Jan agrees and sends some ways to regroup and points out that there are healthier ways to communicate difficulties:
All you can do is say:
1) "It's been a rough week. You lost your mind and you are sorry."
2) "Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa."
3) "This was a good lesson in sharing the truth in love in a healthy way, like directly to those with whom we are frustrated. And, I'm so sorry Bishop." Then take him/her out to lunch.

We've all done something sort of like this. You have probably spared many of us comparable humiliation in that we will be more careful ourselves. Thank you (and I'm so sorry.)

From revhoney:
Ouch! But you are not the first, nor will you be the last to have been
brutally honest in the wrong context.

I would first call the bishop, apologize in that call, and make an appointment to sit down with him/her to ask forgiveness face-to-face and to speak with her/him about the comments you made. You clearly have some thoughts/feelings about some aspect of this person or his/her ministry.

Perhaps a frank discussion will pave the way to a deeper understanding, or reconciliation, or at least an agreement to disagree. Were I a person referenced in such a way in an e-mail, my respect in the writer would be restored and deepened by this kind of conversation.

Second, after the appointment with your bishop has been set, I would e-mail all those who received the first e-mail and apologize for it, and indicate that you will be sitting down with your bishop to address the comments you made.

Wise layperson offers advice for the future and some resources from the Gothic Charm School:
My advice:

Send a private apology to the bishop.

Go read the following columns on internet manners (good tips for those of us who like to snark) here, here, and here.

The main point being that email is perhaps not the best place to snark or gossip-- anything written down, and particularly anything sent over the internet can be widely copied and spread around. This can happen by accident (as the correspondent has experienced) or on purpose by someone who does not have your best interests at heart.

So next time, think twice about sending that snarky email. Getting together in person or over the phone is a better, in my opinion. A conversation generally leaves no record and when you are speaking directly to a person you have a better chance to ensure that they are understanding what you are saying.

My rule is-- if you don't want everyone to see it don't put it on the internet (via email, blog, forum, what-have-you). The internet is much more like writing graffiti on a wall than writing a note and putting it in the postal mail.

Rector in Hawai’i agrees about writing a note or speaking privately to the bishop:
Apologize for the error (it happens to all of us) and send another apology to the bishop alone. Ask him/her if you can come in and talk about your not-too-flattering comments. It'll be hard but at least you don't have to wait for the bishop to call you in and you won't have to be incredibly uncomfortable the next time you're in the bishop's presence.

Personally I am of the mind to look at how serious the offense is and then decide whether to let it go or to go to the bishop. If you have an on-going relationship and it is not a big embarrassing remark or betrayal of a confidence then I would let it go. Sometimes bringing it up just embeds it in the other's consciousness. Next time you see her or him - you might say something about being sorry. But then maybe you are not really sorry as it was something you needed to say but as Jan says did not use a healthy means of communication.

PS from ATM: Keep those questions coming - there are only a couple left in the queue.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Open House!

Quaker Pastor shares a wonderful post on the inauguration, which she attended as a chaperone to her son's group. Great insights!

Deb asks, "Help! Do you speak Welsh?" She says, "Our older daughter, aka “The Harpist” is doing a high school research project. It is SUPER important that she actually talks to someone in her area of research as part of the project. She needs to talk to or email someone who speaks Welsh, or is aware of how Welsh has regained usage and fluency in recent years (as opposed to Gaelic, which is declining)." Good luck, Deb & Harpist!

Christine invites us to the Poetry Party, on the theme of "Stirring in the Belly."

Finally, I invite you to visit Songbird and read "The Three-Legged Stool," a truly gorgeous piece of writing. Heartbreaking, as well.

Oh, the theme? Open House? My department has recently (January 5) moved to a new building on campus, and all day today is our Open House! We are all decorated and tidy (well, I do have a couple of stash & dash piles in a cabinet!) and we have a flower arrangement, and bagels and Hershey's miniatures, and passport covers to give away. We are all dressed in our best bibs and tuckers, too. Our president will speak later this afternoon.

And so far...only one person has come in specifically for the Open House. :) Ah, there'll be more. But it feels good to have done this preparation, even if no one else ever shows up!

It is reminding me of the importance of being ready all the time. On the lookout for new people, ready to welcome them, concerned about how our appearance reflects our intentions. I want to remember this lesson as I move ahead in my church and community work.

What are you thinking about today? Share in the comments, or link to a post of yours.

Quick Blog Roll Update

In our blogroll migration project, I have now gotten through the letter S! Blogs that had not been active in the past three months have not been carried over, nor have blogs that no longer exist. While the latter may seem obvious, the former may seem a more subtle distinction. Blog activity in the previous three months is part of our standard of membership. If you haven't been blogging and see your blog missing from the new blog roll, put up a post and send me an email, and I'll add you again, gladly.

I hope to finish the rest of the blog roll this evening.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Eagles wings edition : 3rd Sunday before Lent

This week's readings are here
I've had two weeks off preaching at the main services, but this week it's back to the job with a vengeance as both my ministerial colleagues are elsewhere. Over the past fortnight I've been busy busy – and in the run-up to Lent things don't look a lot calmer, so I wondered if there'd be any space for the readings to speak to me this morning..and what did I find but one of my favourite bits of Isaiah...those wonderful eagles' wings.

I've never seen an eagle in flight, but I'll never forget reading someone else's account of watching one from above, while standing on a high cliff top. The eagle rose effortlessly, not seeming to move its wings at all, riding the thermals that bore it aloft.I'm told that without at least some level of wind or air current they can barely fly at all – certainly, they're not designed to flap and flutter. So in waiting on the Lord, we are carried ourselves...lifted in a way that our own frantic flapping can never achieve (speaking entirely personally here, I'm sure...nobody else runs around chasing their own tail quite as manically as I do, surely?). Instead of wearying ourselves and those around us, Isaiah's words encourage us to look at the evidence of God's care in creation and know that our own struggles are noted by the one who counts each star and checks that they are all in the proper place. That's not down to us...Isn't that wonderful? Creation can get along just fine without our running ourselves into the ground to take care of it!

In the Gospel, we have Jesus engaged in frantic activity...Look at all those “ands” in verses 33/'s like a child coming in from an exciting day out“and then we did this...and then...and then...” It's exhausting. And then it all stops. That busyness ceases just as surely as life in the UK ground to a halt in yesterdays snow storms. It stopped not because Jesus was dis-abled, but because he was enabling his own ministry.

Jesus gets up early to pray...

It is his turn to wait upon his Father and renew his own strength.

I'm struck too by the fact that Peter's m-i-l actually lives out the Isaiah passage in reverse. She regains her strength and rises from her bed to wait upon Jesus...I'm wondering if that's what our healing should be all about – we are healed and strengthened to serve. That's what happens to Paul as well...Healed by his encounter, he dedicates himself to serving God through preaching the gospel. As the hymn puts it

“Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands That holy things have taken”

And what could be more healing than an encounter with the Living God in the bread and wine of Eucharist?We wait upon the Lord as we gather for worship.We meet him and our strength is renewed.

That's where the eagles wings are carrying me this morning. What about you?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Blog Roll Technical Difficulties

Dear Ring Members,
As any of our bloggers who use Blogrolling know, there has been a major meltdown in their service since last fall. After waiting for those issues to resolve and giving up, now I am gradually migrating our list of member blogs to Blogger's new "BlogList" gadget. Please be patient as this involves well over 300 blogs and will also involve removing moribund blogs. If you have changed your title or URL and wondered why we didn't remove your old information, this would be the reason. It's been possible to add, but not edit or subtract, for many months now. I hope this new arrangement will suit us all better.
Your faithful IT support,
(Be sure to read the Meet and Greet below, we have eight new members!!)

Meet and Greet: The Midwinter Edition

For some of us winter is dragging on and on...for others winter looks different (as in dull, monotone, and desert-warm, sigh)...but regardless of what winter is like for any one of us, there is new life on the horizon, spring will soon the meantime - we have new members to welcome! YAY!!! welcome, welcome!!

JJ: I'm a Lutheran seminarian, working toward my Master of Divinity degree. I strive to live by Jesus' example of loving God and loving others. I care about creation and the impact we have on it. My interests include music, reading, sports, being outdoors, traveling, scrapbooking, and coffee. I love my family, friends, and dog.

in a new key: Married 27 years, Dear Husband is a chaplain, Dear Son is 20 in 2008, Dear Cat thinks I'm staff. Full-time pastor, part-time knitter and spinner. On staff in 'unique' large church situation with friend MP (ministry partner)and many others. Trying with God's help to keep it all together.

this journey: Welcome to the new (and hopefully permanent) home of This Journey. It's good to have people walking along, especially during the bumpy parts.

Sunday's Child: Daily Lectionary and reflections on Scripture and the World.

The Painted Prayerbook:Jan offers weekly reflections on the Sunday Lectionary combined with her artwork, ergo the Painted Prayerbook. Her reflections and art are wonderful (in my humble opinion - I've been drawn to her writing and art for years).

A Little Bit of Soul: Pastor Kathy offers reflections on life lessons...

gifts in the rubble:I'm a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and adult rape, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, infertility, fibromyalgia--and a few other things! Yet I've finally lived long enough to discover that there are, indeed, many gifts to be found in the rubble of our brokenness and vulnerability. Sometimes, the light of God's grace glows most brightly even in the midst of our darkness, just as we, paradoxically, often become strongest at the broken places.

On the horizon: Hopeful Spirit blogs about spirituality, faith, truth, social justice, and her life outside the confines of the patriarchal church.

Welcome one and all to our warm and friendly blogging community - and be sure to check out our upcoming Big Event 2.0 - we are leaving the cold climes and coming to The Casa Scottsdale, Arizona April 16-19 for a continuing education event with Wil Gafney! and a side trip to the Grand Canyon (if you want to stay in AZ until the 21st of April)...see the side bar link for more info - and yes, you can still join us, even though we are past the Feb. 1 date for reservations...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Video: For the Beauty of the Earth

Folks, I thought I had this posted early to show up yesterday afternoon - apparently not! So here it comes a little late.

My choir is working on this piece by John Rutter for later in the spring. I've heard it many times but never sung it. Some people really love it, and some don't! Anyway, I have it running through my head these days, especially as I watch the weather and seasons surrounding us and notice differences from day to day. No leaves on the trees - means I can see birds and squirrels better! My crazy Japanese quince - is flowering! It was covered in ice last week, but it's a first sign of change. Spring will come!!! Really, it will.

Sunday Prayer: Epiphany 4

Holy and gracious God,
we give thanks
all the blessings
of this life.

Help us
to hear when you call,
see where you lead;
May we respond
to your prophets
when they appear.

Loving God,
fill those
who suffer
or struggle
or live in fear
with your peace.

those who weep
the broken
the shattered
the lost
with your hope.

God of our desire,
bless us, that we
be a blessing
to all we meet.