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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Palm Sunday Edition

Lectionary texts for the coming Sunday can be found here .

Palm Sunday. At my little church, it means processing into the sanctuary waving our little paper palm fronds -- with liturgy and entrance hymn conveniently printed thereon -- for a few minutes at the beginning of worship. We all know the drill; we all know (or think we know) the story.

How do we bring passion, and depth, to our worship this Sunday? How can the texts help us? As always, your thoughts are most appreciated.

Monday, March 30, 2009

RevGalBookPals Book Discussion: The Last Week

Today we are discussing The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus' Final Days in Jerusalem, by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. It covers, day by day, the week to which we now refer as "Holy Week."
I very much like the preface, titled "The First Passion of Jesus." Borg and Crossan point out that we tend to think of "The Passion" only as what happened on Good Friday...they posit that it might be as, or more, important for us to look at what Christ was passionate about. "The first passion of Jesus was the kingdom of God, namely, to incarnate the justice of God by demanding for all a fair share of a world belonging to and ruled by the covenental God of in this book we focus on 'what Jesus was passionate about' as a way of understanding why his life ended in the passion of Good Friday" (viii)
A major theme of this book is that Jesus was protesting a domination system - that of the Roman political leaders who controlled the country and who, in turn, controlled the local Jewish leaders as part of the entire imperial system.
1) In the discussion guide for the book, it suggests that a group reading this together might share, in separate sessions, what they remember knowing or understanding about Jesus at various early stages of life (first memory, childhood, now). I thought of these things as I re-read it.
-What are your various memories of Jesus, and how has your understanding of "the last week" changed over time?
2) In the chapters on Wednesday and Friday, there is substantial discussion of the theory of Substitutionary Atonement. As this is an issue that has been very alive for me this Lent, I read it with much interest.
Wednesday's chapter has a section on page 101 called "Atonement: Substitution or Participation?" Their argument for participatory vs. substitutionary atonement is the word from Mark that "the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many" (102). According to Borg & Crossan, "the Greek word for ransom is "lutron," which means payment to an owner for a slave's is not used in the Greek of the Hebrew Bible for anything like vicarious satisfaction or vicarious atonement to God for sin" (103).
The Good Friday chapter reveals the extent to which substitutionary atonement is ingrained in Christian understanding. "Thus it is not surprising that many Christians think this is the "real" reason for Jesus' death, the orthodox and "official" understanding" (138). Borg and Crossan point out that the language of the Markan gospel does not support substitutionary atonement theory (p. 155).
-What is your understanding of substitutionary sacrifice? Were you taught this way of understanding Jesus' death? has it caused problems for you?
3) Chapter Eight, Easter Sunday, discusses the different views of Easter as history or as parable.
-How do you react to this? Is it a useful opportunity for you (even though you may believe in strict historical interpretation) to consider a parabolic view?
-What does the chapter say about Easter and Christian life today?
Other discussion and questions are most welcome. Join us!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: I Am the Bread of Life

My daughter Ladybug helped me find this video of a multicultural teen choir singing of one of our favorite songs, Sr. Suzanne Toolan's "I am the Bread of Life." There are quite a few on YouTube, but some unfortunately have the old sexist words, which she changed long ago. We had a great time singing along to various international versions, though, including one in Samoan for the funeral of a Samoan cardinal.

We sang this last week at our church, during which I leaned over to my family and remarked "I want this sung during Communion at my funeral." But many churches which read the story of the raising of Lazarus today will sing it this week. (Liturgy trivia note: It's usually read the fifth Sunday of Lent during Year A, which was last year, but is sometimes used that Sunday in other lectionary years for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults/Catechumenal Process).

What did you sing in worship today?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

prayer for Fifth Sunday of Lent

Merciful God,
Have mercy on our souls,
according to your unwavering love;
according to your abundant mercy
wipe away our sins and the guilt we have carried for so long.

Instead write on our hearts your love
Your boundaries for our lives
Your salvation that sets us free from our sins.
To live the abundant life you have for each of us.

Lord we would see Jesus,
We would love Jesus,
We would follow Jesus
We would serve Jesus.

Create in us clean hearts,
Renew your spirit within us.
Do not turn us away from your presence,
do not take your holy spirit from us.
Restore to us the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in us a willing spirit.
Write on our hearts, your love O God,

cross posted at revgalprayerpals and re abi's long and winding road

11th Hour Preacher Party: Grain of Wheat Edition

"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

We are coming up on the 5th Sunday in Lent: closer and closer to Palm Sunday and Holy Week; closer to the grave and closer to the empty tomb. You can get a glimpse of our discussion on Tuesday here.

Those of us here in the northern hemisphere are also getting closer and closer to spring: cardinals calling, crocuses valiantly through the earth, days getting longer.

In my congregation we're keeping our eyes peeled: we're looking for God in the signs of spring, we're looking for God in ourselves and in each other -- and we're especially looking for God in those who are neglected and turned aside.

How about you? How goes your Lenten journey? What seeds have you buried? What is your preaching task today?

I've got blueberry pancakes for breakfast today. I know, it's not very Lenten, but have some anyway. I've also got the required fair trade coffee. So, pull up a chair, share a story, a children's message, a prayer concern, a sermon idea, a seed.

A family was driving by a local cemetery when suddenly their small son pointed and shouted out the window, "Oh! That's where we planted grandpa!"

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Five: Blogroll Spotlight

On my blog sidebar is a list titled, "Blogs I Read Every Day." After my mother became a blogger, she asked me how I could possibly read that many blogs daily!? I had to confess it then: Okay, I don't read them all every day! I have over 100 on there! But I have favorites, and you do too.
Some of you probably use feed readers to let you know when your favorite bloggers have posted...not me, not yet. I just have folks who are part of my day-to-day.

So for today's Friday Five, give us five blogs you visit regularly, and tell us briefly WHY you like them. These can be RevGal and Pal bloggers and others ... or news sites, knitting sites, etc. Who are you showing the love to on a pretty constant basis?

Hopefully we will all get to know some new bloggy friends this way!

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, March 26, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Time Keeps on Tickin' Edition

It is Spring, and many ministry candidates are looking toward internships and first calls. One of them offers the following question:

I will be moving into a solo pastorate call in the near future...first call. During my internship, my supervisor gave me a quick "formula" for daily planning:

-divide the day into three segments...morning, afternoon, evening

-work only two units each day

-if you have evening meetings etc...then compensate with not coming in till after lunch or take the afternoon off

Are there other tidbits of knowledge on how to navigate the daily tasks so that I do have time for myself?

Your editor can remember when the 3 blocks a day/21 blocks a week was a novel concept…and is feeling old this morning! Here’s what two of our sisters suggest with regard to time/self- management in the parish setting.

rector in hawai'i writes:

The three-unit day has been a mainstay of non-profit orgs for many years. We use it in this parish for our staff. If one works three units in one day, then a unit of comp time is taken at another time. The problem in a parish is that a pastor's work is not always that clean and segmented. We also don't punch a time clock. I would hesitate to make the three-unit format any part of a pastor's contract or even conversation with the parish. It can be too easily read in a literal sense and result in some unfortunate perceptions on the part of the parish (e.g., "her time off is more important than the needs of the parish"). The reality of this is not the issue; the perceptions of parishioners is their reality and that's what must be managed.

I'd suggest a pastor's Sabbath -- a 24 hour period each week that keeps the pastor away from the church. Don't answer the phone (that's why God made answering machines and voice mail), make sure the printed calendar says Pastor's Sabbath, and be otherwise unavailable. By using the word Sabbath instead of 'Day Off", there is a seriousness attached to this 24-hour period that will cause anyone to think twice before interrupting the pastor. Also encourage the office staff and lay leadership to support the pastor's need for this Sabbath. If you can't take the identified day as a Sabbath for some reason (like a funeral), make sure you identify a substitute Sabbath within a few days.

Limit yourself to no more than two evening meetings. This assumes you don't have to be at every meeting that takes place in the parish. Lay leaders are usually quite capable of running meetings with the presence of the clergy. But enable good communications by connecting with the leadership before and after meetings. No one likes surprises and the laity usually feel better if they have the support of the clergy when they're running meetings without the presence of clergy. (That's a bad sentence but I think you'll get the idea.)

Ann adds:

The church will eat you alive if you let it - filling every minute. I like the 3 work periods in a day and a 5 day week as a mental guide. I know many (most?) only take one day off but if you have in your mind that there are 21 work periods of a 7 day week and 15 in a 5 day week (what most people work) -- you can keep track to see if you are over-functioning. One day off should be a sacred day which can't be a Sunday. I like Mondays off as usually that gives me at least a day and a half (if you can count your Sunday nap as a day off). That sacred day should not be used for anything other than rest and renewal (whatever form that takes for you) except for dire emergencies - and must have a substitute day lest you burn up in the fires of your enthusiasm.

I echo "rector" and Ann's suggestions. Be sure that the Sabbath or sacred day you choose is not a day whose evening has meetings you need to attend. Do not settle for less than a 24-hour period each week, and once a month make it a 36-hour period. When a funeral or other crisis must interrupt your Sabbath, find another day very soon for it. And be sure to use your vacation time. Schedule it and use it!

Start these habits from day you begin the call. You will be tempted to say that, after a few months of getting familiar with everyone and everything, you'll set your Sabbath in place. Don't wait that long. You don't need to make a big deal about it or your calendaring of your blocks of time off. Simply label your time off in your calendar, and if someone wants to schedule a meeting or time with you, you can say, "I'm not available then; would this date and time work?"

Readers...please use the comment function to add your own suggestions.

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


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Lagniappe

1-4 Grace shares a post in which she sticks to her principles regarding music in worship. Good on ya! It reminds me how some people are never, ever satisfied.

If you hadn't already gone over to give Cheesehead a big hug, you might want to do so.

Elastigirl is reading a book that is informing her internship in a powerful way. Check it out!
Kathryn has some things to share with those of you raising PK's (Pastor's kids).

A RevGals blogger meetup was achieved by PresbyterianGal and Barb! Garbage Puff was along for the ride.

"This just in from the Department of Houston Religious Oddities, Osteen Watch Bureau:" reporter Quotidian Grace shares the news of Joel & Victoria's latest goodie.

and Jan is blogging about her favorite childhood books! Go join her! (When I saw her illustration I said, out loud, "Oooooooh!" and then had to try to explain to my spouse. You are warned!)

Speaking of books: please excuse the lack of a Monday post in this space...that day's regularly scheduled feature, a RevGalBookPals book discussion of Borg and Crossan's The Last Week,
will take place on Monday, March 30 instead. SO, if you have not finished it (or started it), here's your wake-up call! If you want to buy it, click on the title link and RGBP Inc. will receive a portion of the proceeds.

AND, while you're at Amazon, grab a copy of Daughters of Miriam, by Wil Gafney. It's the book for the RGBP Big Event in April, but even if you are not going to be in Scottsdale, you can play along, because it's also April's BookPals selection. Start reading now and mark your calendars for Monday, April 27th!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Child of the Light" Edition

This Sunday's lessons can be found here .

I want to live as a child of the light
I want to be like Jesus...

That hymn was going through my mind as I read the lessons for this coming Sunday.

What do the texts suggest that being a "child of the light" looks and feels like?

Any other insights into the Scriptures as you weave them into your sermons and worship planning this week? Or are you finding light in other texts? As always, let us know.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Video - Guide Me...

Our closing hymn today was one of my favorites, Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah -- also known as "Cwm Rhondda" in Welsh. Though we did not sing it in the language from Wales, there are those of you who love hearing it in its home language. I found it where it is sung in Welsh and then in English.

No matter what language one sings it, it's still beautiful. Did you sing this? What other hymns were sung this Sunday from around the world? Share with us the one which spoke to you today.

Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Gracious and Compassionate God,
As we journey through our time of Lent
Our time in deserts and low places
Our time on the mountains and high places
We continue to seek you.

We need you more than ever
in our busyness
our loneliness
our sadness
our depression
our anger
our happiness
our joy
our excitement

We need
your presence
your compassion
your grace
your comfort
your renewal
your healing
your peace
your joy
your love
your salvation

Lord we are
reminded that
all this is embodied
in your son Jesus
in his life
his death
and his resurrection

and that all
this was freely given
that we may have
abundant life
eternal life
fullness of life
freed lives
loved lives
loving lives
grace giving lives

Come Lord
pour your mercy and grace and love and salvation over us
And for these gifts from you we are grateful. Amen

cross posted at revgalprayerpals and revabi's long and winding road

Saturday, March 21, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Tapping the Tree Edition

This morning my son and I will visit a farm a bit north of here where the family has been tapping maple trees all week. I read that it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make *1* gallon of maple syrup! It reminded me of the way we prepare our sermons: many hours of study, conversation, contemplation and writing, in varying proportions, distilled into 12-20 minutes (what, you preach longer?!?!!) devoted to sharing the sweetness of the Good News with our congregations.

Where will you be today? What will become part of your proclamation?

Stop by and have some pancakes, with real maple syrup! Coffee, tea, or maybe a glass of milk for me.

Many thanks to Sally for posting this despite the desire of Blogger to label us as Spyware,
Your Hostess,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Five: Signs of Hope

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Song of Solomon 2:10-13

In the late, late winter, as the snow begins to recede here in Maine, we begin to look almost desperately for signs of spring, signs of hope that the weather has turned and a new day is on the horizon. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Easter and Spring twine inextricably, the crocuses and daffodils peeking through the Earth as we await the risen Christ.

Share with us five signs of hope that you can see today or have experienced in the past.

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, March 19, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Out of Bounds Shut-in Edition

Here is this week's question...

Dear Matriarchs,
One of the congregation's homebound members, who recently had a serious health crisis, represents a very difficult visit for me. She is negative, needy, a drama queen - I realize how subjective and judgmental I'm being. That's why I'm writing to ask for tips for keeping my boundaries and having better visits with her. She has what I consider to be bad boundaries, gossips about other parishioners and her children in a way I find distasteful, shares details of surgeries and scars, takes things personally. It's never good enough for her, whatever it is. What really bugs me are her constant comments on my clothes, hair, earrings, weight - things I consider personal and out-of-bounds. I understand someone may say, I like your earrings, but to go on about my jewelry and such is difficult. Clearly, she hits many buttons for me. I do consider visiting an important part of my ministry; how can I stay positive and not be distracted by the desire to fix that which is not going to change?

Thanks so much.

a Lutheran in Michigan

Our matriarchs were all amazed to discover that the same dear woman is a member in all of our congregations!

Jan who blogs at A Church for Starving Artists offers some excellent advice

You are the pastor and you have enormous spiritual power. Use it.

1) Ask God to help you see this (often vile) woman with the eyes of Christ. How does Jesus see her? Maybe as monumentally insecure and needy. But it's not that you are trying to look down on her. You have simply trying to see her with the compassion of Christ.

2) Remind her, with a gentle squeeze of the hand, that you are there to talk about her life and specifically where God is in her life -- not to cover jewelry and clothing news. (With a pastoral laugh: "There must be other thngs you want to talk about besides jewelry and other people.")

3) Turn her comments on their head: I once had a parishioner shred her own daughter's reputation and choices because Daughter (who is white) married Son-in-Law (who is black) who came with 3 fetal alcohol syndrome kids. Son-in-law died in car wreck and Daughter adopted the three sick kids. After several minutes of telling me how "stupid" her daughter was to do this, I - again with a gentle squeeze of the hand - said, "I know you don't really believe that. Actually, it sounds like your daughter saved those kids' lives. You must be so proud of her." Pray you don't go to hell for making Mean Parishioner feel like crap.

4) Pray for 5 minutes in the car before going in to visit this woman. And pray that God would calm you and put the rights words in your mouth. And melt your heart towards this unhappy person.

5) Find out her favorite ice cream and take her some. Everybody likes ice cream (unless she is lactose intolerant, a vegan, etc.) It will be your own special ritual.

Elizabeth of Telling Secrets offers these strategies...

The first thing I did was to put a 20 -30 minute time limit on my visit - the first 10-15 minutes of it are clearly scheduled for prayer and the sacrament of Holy Eucharist. That means that she only has 10-15 minutes worth of 'drama' - which is tolerable.

Then, you have to train yourself to see beyond the kvetching, gossip and drama and into what might cause her to engage in these activities.

I suspect she loves to gossip because it keeps you (and her) away from what she fears most in herself. So, when she starts gossiping about a parishioner, the response is, "You know, I came to talk about you, because I really care about YOU and what's going on with YOU, not so-and-so." and then engage her in some non-threatening memory-sharing or story-telling. "Tell me about the time . . . . " "What was it like to . . . ."

Then, there's also something called 'disarming, reflective conversation'

When she says something critical about your jewelry or weight, respond with:

"You know, I really hear your loneliness." Or: "I'm sorry, but I seem to be making you anxious." Or, "It must get frustrating to not feel like you're in control." Name the underlying dynamic you see.

That often stops 'em dead in their tracks by positively regarding them while getting at the real issue, which they may or may not begin to talk about when you follow up with, "Let's talk / Can we talk about that loneliness / anxiety / feeling out of control . . ."

One other strategy: I have developed a "team" of six Pastoral Visitors. Each of the senior folk who are "homebound" are assigned two Pastoral Visitors who rotate their visits so no one really gets worn out. They are taught to structure their visits in the same way - the first 10-15 minutes in prayer / communion / bible study, the next 10-15 minutes in a 'visit'.

I make a pastoral visit once a month. So, 10 - 15 minutes of drama, once a month, is tolerable to me.

And from Kristen who blogs at Ceramic Episcopalian

This is a situation where finding out more about this person's background may help you put their behavior in context.

Find out if this person has friends in the congregation or relatives who might be willing to chat with you about the situation your homebound congregant is in...If you are able to find out more about this person's history it might give you more context about her life and a deeper understanding of why she is the way she is.

Does she have any mental stimulation? It sound like she is talking about the things that she knows or sees-- her medical issues (which some people love talking about in gruesome detail), her family, other members of the congregation, and you.

I don't know why some people managed to stay cheerful and upbeat through multiple medical crisis. I remember, as a teenager visiting "old friends" in the nursing home who were cheerful and friendly and had interests outside their own selves and I would much rather wind up like them. But I also remember visiting my own grandmother in the nursing home and all she would talk about was her latest medical crisis, if she would talk at all.

A friend of mine had a grandparent who would talk only to her because the grandparent had alienated all of her children (my friends mother and brothers) by playing them off one another for years until they caught on. For some reason she never dragged my friend into that drama, but she was paranoid and difficult.

Recently, she died, and when my friend went to the funeral, all sorts of people came up to her from the nursing home and said what a nice person her grandmother was, how she had taken time to welcome them when they arrived or had spent time with them when they had trouble making friends. It was like the woman had two different personalities and my friend didn't learn of the nicer side her grandmother was showing to other residents until after her death.

People are strange and deal with pain, loneliness, and loss of ability in different ways. Find out more about her-- humanize her to yourself. Bishop Tutu said that it takes other people to make us fully human. If she is alone and isolated, she may be having difficulty holding on to her humanity.

So...does this homebound member belong to your flock as well? Have you discovered any useful methods for dealing with her? Use the Comment function to add your gossip, er...I mean, advice here.

May you live in God's amazing grace+
rev honey

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Short and Sweet

Wednesday Salutations! (or "salivations," as a friend greeted me in an email yesterday)...

Brother Cody is applying for a college scholarship and asks for your input. You may visit him here and share your wisdom.

See-through Faith asks, "Are you being a Paul/Paulina in the lives of others? and how are you allowing other Christians shape you?" She would really like to hear from you!

She's also wondering how a day of prayer and fasting could have led her into such flagrant temptation. Evidence here.

Songbird is celebrating her fifth blogiversary this week! In other blogiversary news, congrats to Quotidian Grace and Elastigirl! Anyone I've missed?

A quiet festival this's a quiet week in my neck of the woods, with the campus mostly empty for Spring Break.

What are you up to? Thinking, reading, posting? Any signs of Spring?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Like Cures Like" Edition

Lessons for the Sunday to come can be found here .

The other evening we watched an episode of The Dog Whisperer focusing on a man who had as a small child been mauled by a vicious dog, who'd grown up absolutely terrified of all dogs. His fear of dogs affected his self-esteem and sense of competency in thw world; it affected ability to do his job as a realtor; it affected the lives of his children, who desperately wanted a pet. He woke up each day facing a perceived gauntlet of dangerous animals poised to injure him again. So Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, worked with this man by forcing him to be near, to touch, to relate to, the very things that made his life a fearful misery: dogs. It was painful to watch this man's real terror as he was placed in a fenced-in area with a dog; as he made himself pet a dog. But this difficult process ultimately freed him of his fear; so much so that his household now includes one of Cesar's rescued dogs.

Our Old Testament and Gospel lessons today reminded me of this process; how God's ongoing transformation of our lives comes to us as we keep before us both the reminder of the "sting" of our brokenness and its destructive effect upon ourselves and others and the radical trust that God has defeated and will defeat that which tries to defeat us. Our Psalm reading thanks God for God's saving acts. And our Epistle lesson reminds us whatit is we are saved for.

At least that's how it reads to me. What are the texts speaking to you? Or are you using an alternate sermon text? As always, please share your thoughts as you prepare for worship and preaching.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Meet and Greet


Although not the kind of holiday that warrented a vacation from school or work I grew up in a family that celebrated St. Patrick's Day "religiously." My mother identified strongly with her Irish roots, which are nominal at best. As a result wearing green and eating corned beef and cabbage on (or around) March 17 are traditions in my life. My husband is thoroughly Polish and German, but he enjoys a good corned beef dinner as much as I enjoy golabki (cabbage rolls). Both these meals are made from meat and cabbage, but are quite different.

Likewise, all of us who wander over here have blogging in common. But in blogging our similiarities also become our differences. And then our differences have a way of leading us right back to things in common.

Check out our newest blog members to learn more about what makes them, and us, similar or different:

Nancy at growing up in faith describes her blog: For purposes of this discussion, I'm a minister/pastor/preacher in the making, a writer, a music lover ... among other things that may be revealed. Grace and peace be with you.

Mainecelt at mainecowgaels describes her blog: Scottish Gaelic singer, Free-range FarmGrrrl, Sea-swimmer, Itinerant Pelagian preacher, Baker of bannocks, and Believer of Kye-in-the-Skye.

Jacqueline at the adventurous parson describes her blog: Theological reflection on starting an Episcopal parish in a neighborhood of poor and working class, people, a mix of old New Englanders and immigrants.

Jaz at a strangers journey describes her blog: As one called to be a pastor, I hope to use this blog to share some of the struggles, thoughts, prayers, joys, sorrows, humor, hurts, adventures and triumphs as I journey into and through ministry with Christ.

Welcome one and all!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Prayer for Third Sunday of lent

Creator God, we listen as the heavens declare your glory,
We seek to likewise sing of you r glory.

And yet sometimes our word s fall short.
Our very actions cause us to fall on our face.

Lord, even if we appear foolish to the world
Let us proclaim Christ crucified.

May we burn with zeal for you,
That we let nothing get in our way of telling others about Jesus

Lord let your presence be in us, around us
breathing new life into us,
so that we may do this work you have called us to

Now let the words of our mouths
and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable to you,
O LORD, our rock and our redeemer.

cross posted at revgalblogpals and abi's long and winding road

Saturday, March 14, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Zealous Jesus Edition

Well, gals and pals, we are about half-way through the season of Lent here in my church; in yours, too? I had thought about calling this Saturday's party "angry Jesus" edition, but then I read the text again and the word "angry" doesn't enter in. I always got the impression that Jesus was angry when he drove the money-changers out of the temple. Maybe it was the whips. What do you think?

Zealous, Angry, Foolish. Unusual adjectives for Lent, but they are the ones I'm thinking about today. As I read texts both on and off lectionary, as I look at the world as it is, I realize that there is a lot to be angry about, and that, in the face of it, the gospel is a kind of foolishness.

As you travel through lent, as you prepare to preach this weekend, what adjectives come to your mind? Zealous, angry, foolish? Earnest, Powerful, Gracious, Intriguing? And what directions are your thoughts taking you? What needs to be driven out, and what needs to be invited in? What are you angry about? What are you intrigued by?

I have fair trade coffee and oatmeal with blueberries here: also English muffins. I have some orange juice too. What about you? Come and eat, come and share ideas, come and travel through Lent with me. I think we do better traveling together, don't you?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Five: Mid-Lent Check-In

The pastor of my grad school parish once gave a fascinating reflection, at about this mid-point in the season, called "How to Survive the Mid-Lent Crisis"! As I recall, his main point was that by halfway through the season we have often found it very challenging to live up to our original plans....But, he suggested--on the analogy of the healing and reframing of our life plans that can happen during a mid-*life* crisis--that that can be even more fruitful.

So here's an invitation to check in on the state of your spirit midway through "this joyful season where we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed" (Roman Missal). Hopefully there's a good deal of grace, and not too much crisis, in your mid-Lenten experience!

1. Did you give up, or take on, anything special for Lent this year?

2. Have you been able to stay with your original plans, or has life gotten in the way?

3. Has God had any surprising blessings for you during this Lent?

4. What is on your inner and/or outer agenda for the remainder of Lent and Holy Week?

5. Where do you most long to see resurrection, in your life and/or in the world, this Easter?

Bonus: Share a favorite scripture, prayer, poem, artwork, or musical selection that speaks Lenten spring to your heart.

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, March 12, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - It's a Family Affair Edition

Dear Matriarchs,

My church is in a small farming town with cold winters. There is a family
in my congregation that has taken in a boy who is a high school junior
after his parents kicked him out. Apparently the parents kicked their
son out one night with just a suitcase, despite the dangerously cold
weather. The parents are not willing to reconcile; the school district has
been no help; and since the boy is 18, he is legally an adult the county
can't do anything for him. (He is an adult with no drivers license, no job, and
a year and a half left of school before he gets his H.S. diploma!) The
family has even been criticized by people in the community for interfering
with a family matter by taking the boy in.

I know that taking this boy in has caused stress in the family although it
is not because the boy is a bad kid. Both the husband and wife have
talked to me and said they can't imagine why his parents would kick him
out; he has been nothing but polite and helpful the whole time he has been
with them. But they also aren't sure they can handle having an extra kid
in the house for the next year and a half, yet they are committed to not
putting him back on the streets. He is 18 yet only a junior, so the
sister of the family that has taken the boy in has recommended they
encourage him to drop out of school, get his GED, and enlist in the

The family from my congregation has keep me informed about the situation
but haven't asked me to do anything. This is my first year in ministry
and they surely did not cover this kind of thing in seminary! I have no
idea what I could or should be doing to help. Plus I have been swamped
with getting through my first Lent by myself and all sorts of other parish
projects yet I feel that I should be doing something to help this sad
situation. I would appreciate any insight or suggestions about this case
plus the more general questions about what our role is in cases like this?

Good Samaritan's Pastor

Dear GSP,
You're right - none of us learned this in seminary either! But most, if not all of us, did learn about identifying and respecting boundaries, and a few of us caution you to be attentive to boundaries in the situation in which you find yourself. And there is more sound advice and even experience to offer to on...

Ann, who blogs at, writes:

Currently support for the family who took in the young man in the form of a listening ear seems to be all they are asking of you. You might want to find about more on resources from the state and county in these sorts of situations. It is easy to with a pastor's heart to go beyond what is being asked of us. Sounds like you are handling this in a good way and letting the young man and the family take the lead. As to those who criticize --- if they speak to you - listen, but let it go. Do not get triangulated in all of this. Be clear what you can and cannot offer.

The young man will have to make the decisions about GED; it is much easier to finish HS than go that route, and the military -- not a particularly good option IMO from what I have seen of the young men around here returning from military service. It might be right for him if it is his choice.

From Kay who blogs at

Well, it sounds like the family is living out their own ministry right now by taking him in. I don't think you necessarily have to do anything unless they need something.

Have you asked what they need? (money for feeding a teenager, furniture, prayers, ?)

As to what they are going to do - the family has to decide whether to let him stay. The young man has to decide if he will drop out and/or join the military. You don't have to decide this for them.

I speak from experience. A few years ago, my son brought home an acquaintance for a meal and shower. Ryan (not his real name, but what we called him) stayed for 14 months. Later they told me Ryan had been living in friends' cars and sleeping on sofas when people would let him.

I did not know I could deal with it - in fact, I was pretty grouchy off and on. But one day at a time we managed, and when he left, it was his own choice.

JLeigh (who blogs here) adds:
Situations like this are so hard precisely because the answers are not always clear (almost never) and everyone in the community has a different opinion. All of this adds to the stress for both the young man's family and the family that has given him a temporary home. I can relate to the situation, not only out of pastoral experience, but because my brother and sister-in-law took in a young man in a similar circumstance. Our mother even helped to pay for the young man to go to school.

First, I would suggest that you remain clear in your boundaries so that you are their pastor and potentially pastor to the young man. You do not need to rescue anybody. You need to care, pray with them, listen, and potentially be with the family as they sort out their role.

Second, you may be in a position to reflect the situation accurately to those in the church/community who are talking about it. Your church family's decision to provide shelter and support for the young man need not be synonymous with interfering or attacking the young man's family. Hopefully they can make it clear that they are simply providing shelter/safe space for the young man to work out his path forward. It may even be that while he is with them, he can work on his relationship with his family. This is, obviously, not always the case.

You may be able to help those who are criticizing to know that they do not need to take sides. Their best role is to care for both the young man and his family -- as the relationships allow.

Hang in there; be steady and present without jeopardizing your pastoral role. Your role is unique. No one else has your role. If the congregation, or members of the congregation choose to offer material support in some way, that is fine. I would just recommend that your care be in the context of pastor of the congregation.

Ceramic Episcopalian invites us to listen to a higher authority:

I don't have any advice. However, maybe Archbishop Desmond Tutu does. He was on Craig Ferguson's show last week and the section of the show where he talks about Nelson Mandela's inability to see a need and not act on it (about 3/4 of the way into the episode) is really amazing.
Here is the link for the interview:

What needs do you see that are unmet and how can you meet them?

Is there anything you would like to add to this conversation? Do you have comments on Craig Ferguson's interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu? Use the comment box below to add your response.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday Festival

I believe that this Sunday has us halfway through Lent - or almost. Could you use a Festival to lighten your heart today? Join in!

Lorna sends us this intriguing post:

What comes first - believing, belonging, behaving?

Quaker Pastor is celebrating a Year of Jubilee, and shares three posts on the subject: The Jubilee Year, the Pre-Celebration Celebration, and OMG! Wishing you an early Happy Birthday this Sunday, QP!

Mitch says, "What do you do when a cell phone rings in a Bible study? Or the middle of the Sunday service? Set your phone to "ringer off" and surf on over to: Mitch Ross, Pastor's Husband, Geek Dad."

And a friend says: "I'd like to nominate Preacher Mom's post on wearing skin from March 6. It really touched a lot of us and needs to be shared." Count me among those touched.

And your editor? Well, I am wondering about the Stations of the Cross - while I know that many of our readers don't participate in that particular liturgical practice, some do or have. It's fairly new to me, though I'm a "cradle Episcopalian." I'm interested in knowing how others do it and how they benefit from it, spiritually. I'd like to hear from you!
Other posts you'd like to share - your own, others in the RG Ring? Please let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Spring Cleaning Edition

Lectionary texts for this coming Sunday can be found here .

Are you suffering from the heartbreak of Schmutz and clutter in your soul? Hard to find God in the middle of all that? Our lessons provide, in their own ways, some "Scrub...rinse...repeat."

Our Old Testament lesson gives us some basic housekeeping rules for maintaining a decent, balanced life -- for loving God and loving our neighbor. So easy -- yet so hard. the Law a good thing or a bad thing? Anyone planning on tackling that topic on Sunday?

Our Psalm extols the virtues of the Law, putting it on par with the rest of the created order. Again -- especially for those of us who grew up with a mostly negatively skewed concept of "uses of the Law" -- what does this say to us?

In our epistle lesson, Paul is doing some housekeeping of his own, scrubbing at human expectations of how God should be operating in the world, and instead pointing to the folly, the ridiculousness, of the Cross as the ultimate wisdom of God.

And of course in our Gospels Jesus sweeps out the Temple, where the originally pious act of moneychanging -- ensuring that the faithful's gifts were ritually clean -- had developed a life of its own, one that created barriers to true worship. Are there any areas of Christian life today that need this kind of extreme makeover because they're messing up our house and making it hard for us to be good hosts and guides for people being led into a new or renewed relationship with God?

The fact that I'm writing this in between scrubbing down my bathroom and carpet-cleaning the "front parlor" may be playing into my own thematic framework for our lessons. Maybe you're going in a whole 'nother direction. Wherever you feel you're headed with the texts, let us know what you're thinking as you prepare for Sunday!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Musical Musings: March of Days, Days of March...

We're now seriously into the season of Lent with its promise of the surprise (still!) of resurrection from the dead at the end of 40 days of wilderness wandering, praying and fasting. For this month's music I've chosen orchestral performances and familiar hymns. I have ready access only to the UCC's New Century Hymnal (NCH), the ELCA's Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) and the PC(USA)'s Presbyterian Hymnal (PH), so I've referenced hymn numbers in those books.

I'll start out with a bow to everyone in the southern hemisphere as they anticipate autumn and winter. Frances Wile wrote "All Beautiful the March of Days" in the year 1912 at the request of William Gannett, who wanted a winter hymn. It's usually set to "Forest Green" that you may know as an alternate to St. Louis for "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Ralph Vaughan Williams made a wonderful arrangement of the traditional English tune and I found it on a recording on Cyberhymnal: All Beautiful...
All beautiful the march of days, as seasons come and go;
The Hand that shaped the rose hath wrought the crystal of the snow;
Hath sent the hoary frost of heav'n, the flowing waters sealed,
And laid a silent loveliness on hill and wood and field.
Joshua Bell VivaldiAnd I just had to do it, in order to include autumn for the southern hemisphere and spring for the northern! Joshua Bell along with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields plays Antonio Vivaldi's suite of Concerti Grossi, The Four Seasons.

Schumann SymphoniesRobert Schumann's Spring Symphony No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 38, is another seasonal romantic era classic; the CD I linked to is a fabulous (no surprise there) performance of all four Schumann symphonies by the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Christoph von Dohnanyi.

Karajan StravinskySome of us very recently sprung forward with our clocks and this is the musical musings for welcoming spring, so how better than with Igor Stravinsky's Sacre du printemps/Rite of Spring that was revolutionary and truly seminal when it debuted? I've opted for this one featuring Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

I've long loved the John D. Edward's lilting tune Rhosymedre for Samuel Crossman's "My Song is Love Unknown," but surprisingly of the 3 current hymnals I'm referencing, only NCH 222 uses that particular tune for those words.
My song is love unknown,
My Savior's love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?
On YouTube I found a fine interpretation of Ralph Vaughn Williams organ setting of Rhosymedre.

"Oh, Love, How Deep" by Thomas à Kempis (ELW 322, NCH 209, PH 83) is often sung to the tune "Agincourt Hymn," also called "Deo Gracias." How incredibly fitting for this liturgical season of Lent is the recurring for us:
For us baptized, for us he bore...For us he prayed, for us he taught...for us he gave his dying breath; For us he rose from earth again...for us he sent his Spirit here...
I love the intense brilliance of the reeds on the Agincourt Hymn played as a solo on the Reuter organ at St. Joseph Cathedral, Baton Rouge, LA.

RVW OrchestralScored for rich, resonant double string orchestra, his Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis is another Vaughn Williams piece related to this season. Amazon listed more than a dozen CDs, and I chose this one because I have a copy and also particularly love The Lark Ascending, the piece in the CD title. The tune is variously called "Third mode melody"" or "Tallis third mode"; as in many past hymnals, ELW 332 uses it for a Lenten perennial, "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say," while NCH 509 features it in "How Deep the Silence of the Soul" (also apropos of Lent) and under the Season of Epiphany heading, Thomas Troeger's "We Have the Strength to Lift and Bear," NCH 178.

American TapestryOften sung as a round, William Billings' "When Jesus Wept" is NCH 192 and PH 312 and American composer William Schuman made "When Jesus Wept" the basis of the second movement of his New England Triptych. A recording of the entire Triptych and some music by Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Alan Hovhaness, Charles Ives and Walter Piston can be found on the CD An American Tapestry.

Wendell Berry strongly advises us to "practice resurrection" in his Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, and how better to do it than by singing a couple of still-current songs from what's now a generation ago!

Steve Winwood's Arc of a Diver is the album; "While You See a Chance" is the song...

Winwood Arc of a Diver
Stand up in a clear blue morning until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning, are you still free? Can you be?
When some cold tomorrow finds you, when some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you...

Stand up in a clear blue morning until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning, are you still free? Can you be?
And that old gray wind is blowing and there's nothing left worth knowing
And it's time you should be going...
Christine McVie wrote "Don't Stop" that inaugurated Bill Clinton's first administration and the upbeat, energetic song made it into Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits

Fleetwood Mac GH
If you wake up and don't want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You'll see things in a different way.

Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you've done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.

Don't you look back,
Don't you look back...
Keep on practicing resurrection, everyone--and God still will surprise us with Easter!!!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

In more recent times, "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" has traditionally been an Advent hymn, but personally I find it hard to tune out the Lenten overtones. The text is ancient (4th century) and while originally composed as a hymn to be used at the presentation of the gifts - by the 8th century it appeared in both Holy Week and Christmas liturgies in various traditions. Clearly I'm not the only one to hear Passion inside of Incarnation!

This haunting 20th century setting of schoolmaster Gerard Moultrie's translation to the traditional French carol Picardy is by Ralph Vaughn Williams followed me home from Lauds one day this week.

What tunes are still haunting your soul from today's Lenten service?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Prayer for Second Sunday in Lent

Oh, God of love, power and faithfulness,
We journey with your son,
ever closer to Jerusalem,
to his cross his true destiny.

We hear his words
“Take up your cross and follow me,”
but we aren’t sure if it’s the crosses of this life,
or the actual cross of death.

We hear his words,
“deny your self,”
and wonder which self it is;
the self we put on for others,
or the self centered self
that wants it all for ourselves?

Whichever it is,
it seems like Jesus
sure is asking a lot of us
and we aren’t sure we can do this.

God we will need your holy spirit
to be able to do this.
God we will need your grace and mercy
to be able to do this.

We remember
that you empowered your disciples,
the early Christians
and others who decided to follow you,
we believe that you will do likewise for us. Amen.

cross posted at rev abi's long and winding road and rev gals prayer blog

11th Hour Preacher Party: The Name Game Edition

Peter, Peter, bo-beter,
Banana-fana fo-feter,
Yes, it's that week in the lectionary, and Abram and Sarai are getting new names, too. As a person who has had quite a few names herself (including this blogging nickname), I am all over these texts. How about you? Do they give you something to talk about?

At my house the coffee is brewing, and the tea water is rumbling in the kettle. I'm thinking of a poached egg with an English Muffin, and I'm sure other encouraging provisions will come our way over the course of the day.

Join our conversation in the comments. What are you up to for the children's word? What events come between you and your writing today? If you are a "lurker," reading along but not commenting, why not introduce yourself today? We hope you will, so we won't have to sing:

Lurker, Lurker, bo-burker,
Banana-fana fo-furker

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday Five: Hasty Pudding Edition

Our regular poster, Sally, having been oppressed by Blogger today, I bring you a hasty Friday Five on the subject of pudding. If you are not a fan of pudding, then you will feel solidarity with Sally, except that you will be oppressed by pudding instead. ;-)

1) First of all, thumbs up? or thumbs down? Do you like pudding?

2) Instant or cooked? (Does anyone make pudding from scratch?)

3) If you had to choose, would you prefer corn pudding or figgy pudding?

4) Have you ever finger painted with pudding?

5) Finally, what is the matter with Mary Jane?

Bonus: Share a favorite recipe that includes pudding!

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, March 05, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Party All the Time Edition

What do you do about receiving invitations from parishioners for dinner or other personal get-togethers? I have recently joined the staff at a congregation twice the size of my first church, and am receiving a lot of invitations for dinner, parties, and other events. This is very kind, and I do appreciate the hospitality. However, I can't help but feel that I am 'at work' whenever I'm at a parishioner's home. (They inevitably say something like, "Don't think of yourself as a pastor tonight! You're just a guest!" and that's a lovely thought, but it doesn't actually work.) I have a fair number of evening meetings, so my husband and I already have limited time together, and accepting too many dinner invitations is hard on both of us. But I don't want to be ungrateful or seem uninterested in getting to know people.

How do you handle those invitations? How do you decline gracefully, and probably often?

Thanks for the help-
Overinvited but Grateful Pastor

Our matriarchs all agree that socializing with parishoners is work (even if it is fun!) and they express a deep respect for family/couple time:

Long Time Rector says:
I accept almost all dinner invitations or social invitations that I can. I do see them as work and take off time for them - honestly maybe not on a 1:1 basis exchange - but I think it is important that you honor this as work, not play. And I have found it worthwhile work - it is the time and place where relationships build and deepen. I take almost any chance to get more connected with the congregation. Being an introvert - it takes a toll, and that's why I take other time off. Could you maybe take time off for nice lunches with your husband? Conversely, I think it is perfectly acceptable to say - Wednesday, Friday and Sunday are family nights for us - or something like that. Boundaries are good to set. But set in a way that is fair for parishioners as well - that way they don't feel like you are capriciously rejecting them.
Earthchick also receives many invitations:
My current congregation is very socially-oriented, and my husband and I get many social invitations. For the first couple of years we were here, we accepted the majority of them, provided we were actually available. This often included engagements on what was otherwise our day off (Friday). I considered it a part of my job - to accept hospitality, as well as to get to know my new congregation. We have been here 8+ years now, and we still get plenty of social invitations, though not nearly to the same degree as in year's past. We decide on a case-by-case basis which ones to accept. Birthday parties and anniversary events, we almost always go to if we are available. I feel like it is an honor to be invited to such an occasion, and I feel like it is part of my job to accept. Accepting the hospitality of other people is part of ministry, in my opinion.

It is very tough, especially if you have children. Parishioners don't always realize that an evening in their home can cost us $50 in babysitting. And many of them don't realize how many nights during a week we are already out because of meetings and other church obligations. If the invitation is not a special occasion kind of event, and we have already been spending a lot in babysitting and/or spending too many evenings away from home, I feel very comfortable declining the invitation.

My advice to you would be that, while you are still new to the congregation, accept as many invitations as you can accept without completely overwhelming your calendar. The invitations will almost certainly slow down after you have been there a little while. Regardless of what congregants think, it is work, and it can be exhausting. When you do accept an invitation, try to find a way to take some "comp time" in return, if you can. Break your calendar into segments - morning, afternoon, evening. If you are out too many evenings with parishioners, find some mornings or afternoons to take off from the office.

Singing Owl weighs in on the need for couple time:

There is nothing wrong with letting people know, gently, that you have limited time with your husband and need to safeguard that. In fact, it might serve as a good example of setting healthy boundaries and priorities. Is there a tactful and appropriate way to let the entire congregation know that you have limited time at home? A tired and resentful and overtaxed parson is no good to anyone. One caution: if you determine how many invitations you can accept, be careful that you do not appear to be playing favorites. I know this is tricky. I mean, we all know that some people will invite you over often and some people will never invite you anywhere.

My husband and I have only two week nights when we are both home. That means that we have an unbreakable rule that one of those two nights must be spent at home, barring dire emergencies or deaths. I have rearranged my schedule to fit somewhat with his, but I don’t know if you are able to do that.

I think that it is almost universally true that parishioners will not understand that there is never a time when a pastor can “forget you are a pastor and just be a guest.” Most people probably mean that kindly but there are those, sadly, who may not. That is one difference between a job and a calling. Being a pastor, IMO, is a 24/7 job. Even people who mean only good by that statement will not understand that being a pastor is not something one can take on and off like a coat. That is why pastors need lots of time to get away. I think that to forget you are a pastor and just be a guest is just about impossible, but also to do so is an unwise thing. I do think that it is possible to be on friendly terms with folks in the church, but the elephant is always in the room. And should be, in my opinion.

You are right, it just does not work. Time with parishioners, even friendly time, is part of the calling and thus part of the job. Accept the invitations when you can and decline when you need to. Otherwise, as you likely already know, you will end up tired and resentful. You won’t seem ungrateful if you decline with genuine appreciation and warmth, and honesty about your need to be home with your husband.

Rector in Hawaii adds: What I've learned to do is respond with "What a nice invitation! I'd love to come but I've already made plans for that night or lunch that day or whatever." And you have. You've already made plans to relax with your husband and have some alone time. Making appointments with ourselves is just as important, if not more so, as spending time with parishioners.

One of our new matriarchs, Ceramic Episcopalian, (who blogs at suggests:
Talk other staff members. Is there a policy in place about how to handle this situation (and if no formal policy, is there an unwritten 'way things are done' that you should be aware of)?

Talk to your spouse and come up with a plan for maintaining your time together-- either by setting aside certain evenings of the week as 'your time' or limiting the total number of events attended.

Use the guidelines from the staff and your family along with the written record to help you decide which events to attend. If you are going to accept invitations, make sure to spread yourself around so that you get to see different sets of people. As for declining gracefully, just say that you are sorry that your are unable to attend. Do not over-explain or give excuses.

Consider such events as work time and plan for their impact accordingly. Keep track of which congregant's events you attend and how open they are (by which I mean are they parties that the congregation as a whole is invited to, or are they events that only the congregant's friends are invited to). I would recommend keeping notes to ensure an objective record.

Do you have some insights that can benefit Overinvited but Grateful Pastor? Share your comments using the comment function. And please keep your questions coming...there are only one or two in the queue right now...surely there is someone or two or three among our readers with a question on her/his mind! Send those questions today to

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wednesday Festival

Sally shares a poem for Lent here.

Kathryn is finding Christ in the fracture clinic, and looking for some help with her Lenten program. Go pay her a's tough being laid up.

Scott is writing a daily reflection for Lent. How about you?

Edited to add: Just read something over at RevDr.Mom's that really made me think. I recommend it.

What are you thinking, writing, reading? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Trust Me" Edition

Lessons for this coming Sunday can be found here

"Trust me." How do you feel when you hear that assurance?

This Sunday's lessons hinge on the concept of trust. God shows up in Abraham's life and promises this elderly man and his childless wife, disappointed by life in many ways, a special covenant; a legacy of countless descendants; a place at the table of the nations. "Trust me." And, it says in Genesis, Abraham did. Paul expands on this trust relationship in our Epistle lesson, expanding that covenantal relationship to all people who trust in God's saving power.

In Psalm 22 the Psalmist clings to trust in God against all odds.

In our Gospel lesson Peter seems to have "rock-solid" faith in Jesus as the Messiah -- but as Peter starts objecting to Jesus' sobering predictions of what will happen to him in Jerusalem, Jesus' rebuke suggests that Peter's faith is grounded in his own expectations of the Messiah, not in Jesus. What are the limits of our trust?

What are your thoughts on the lessons, as you study, pray, plan and write your way into worship this week?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Meet and Greet

This week we have one new member to introduce:
Kristin at Liberation Theology Lutheran. Kristin describes her blog this way: I'm a lifelong Lutheran, and although I'm aware of some of the problems with Liberation Theology, it has spoken to me for much of my adolescent and adult life. All of the thoughts on this blog are mine (or those of commenters), and I don't intend to speak for any other Lutherans or Liberation Theologians.

And she says this about herself: A poet, a scholar, an administrator, a wanna-be mystic--always wrestling with the temptation to run away to join an intentional community--but would it be contemplative? social justice oriented? creative? in the mountains? in the inner city?--may as well stay planted and wrestle with these tensions and contradictions here, at the edge of America.

Welcome Kristin!

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

- in 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. Be sure to call Super Shuttle ahead of time and make your reservation from the Airport to The Casa and back. The cost is $16.00 each way.

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, accommodating 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.

We still have room for a few more!! BUT - final payment is due NOW. To request a brochure with more details, or to request a registration form, please send an e-mail to

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Christ In Me

Pre-posting this as I am on retreat in the country today. My tradition has a hymn called St. Patrick's Breastplate, but this is a different version and I love the text and this video.
What did you sing in worship today?

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of demons,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Prayer for the First Sunday in Lent

As we take this journey
That draws us ever closer to you
Walk with us
Sustain us,
Nurture us.

God, as we go through
The wilderness of lent and of our lives,
Send your manna to us,
give us wisdom to turn from temptation
And your grace to turn to.

God, as we walk through the pot holes of life,
The valleys, the pits of life,
Guide us with your hand
Keep our feet steady,
And our vision on you.

God, whether we choose to give up something for lent
Or do something positive,
Let us not do it out of obligation
Or the tyranny of oughtness,
But out of love for you.

Keep us in your paths of love, mercy and grace.
Lord help us to remember we are not alone
but that we are walking with our fellow/sister travelers . Amen

Cross posted at rev abi's long and winding road and The revgalblogpals prayer blog