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Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Meet and Greet and a BE Three Reminder

Happy Monday, all!

We have two new ring members to introduce today, but first a word about the BE Three. If you have requested a brochure and wonder why it has not arrived, do not worry! We're waiting for one little detail from the travel agent about payment arrangements and as soon as we have it will send out a combined brochure and registration form. If you wish to receive one, send us an email!

And now, let's meet Mustard Seed Musings, who describes her blog as:

Theological musings from a young Catholic woman as she lives in DC, works in a peace lobby, gets to know her neighbors and discerns her call to ministry.

And say hello to Rachel at Re vis.e Re form, an Anglican ordinand who says her labels include:

Christian, Anglican, Evangelical, conservative (small C) Charismatic (big C), Open, Post-modern.

Take a few minutes to visit our new bloggers; I remember how excited I was when some of you first left a comment for me!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Prayer: Come Away With Me


(Photo by mompriest)

Holy and Gracious God, we give you thanks for
family, friends, life, love - for
All the blessings (name blessings and thanksgivings)
you have bestowed upon us.

In Your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of our Mothers and Fathers, your desire for
us leads the way, may we have
the ears to hear the cries of this world -
responding with Your hope.

In Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Compassionate One, fill us with your love that we
may see deeply into all the needs
around us, (name the hurts, needs, and hope you are carrying)
help us to care with Your heart.

In Your mercy, hear our prayer.

May Your love, Your grace, Your compassion,
Your mercy, carry us away, this day
and lead us with love
to be Your hands and heart in the world.

Amen.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

11th Hour Preacher's Party



OK. Several months ago I was scheduled to preach tomorrow - but that schedule changed - and now, not only have I not really looked at the readings (uhm, too busy this week, and that's a long story)...but I am not preaching, the Deacon is (her choice, my bad - since now I am leading a Preacher's Party for which I am not really a participant, sigh).



Again...another - "OK" ...I have preached on these texts in the past, at least two other times, so they are NOT unfamiliar texts....therefore let me lead us through some points to ponder....



Perhaps you are pondering this from Song of Songs:



2:10 My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away;

I love that phrase - what might it mean to "come away?"



OR perhaps you are pondering this from Deuteronomy:



4:2 You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God with which I am charging you.4:2 You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God with which I am charging you.



What might it mean to neither take away nor add to anything to that which God commands?



Maybe you are pondering James: 1:19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;1:20 for your anger does not produce God's righteousness.1:21 Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.1:22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.1:23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; (Whoa...there something to ponder!)



Or perhaps the Gospel....(Mark)....7:14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand:7:15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile."



Goodness, Good News?....Here?



Yes, here, the Holy Spirit will have our backs, and we will indeed, have Good News to share.



Now, what might this mean for YOU, this day? How might you break open the word -and/ or offer a word of support to a struggling sister or brother?



Even though I am not preaching, this Sunday, I do have lots to offer as a means of support: Fair Trade coffee? Tea (black, green, herbal)?...cream, honey, sugar? Muffins, toast?? Fruit?? Eggs??? I have it all. Yes, at least I am prepared in that regard!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Five: I Like Myself

Lately I seem to be encountering many people who have a very difficult time finding anything good to say about themselves. They are able to extend grace and forgiveness's to others but find it difficult to extend that same grace to themselves.

With that in mind, let's share some healthy affirmation today! Tell us five things you like about yourself!

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, August 27, 2009

Ask the Matriach - The Privacy Edition


We who confess Christ believe in the power of prayer and care, especially for those who are in distress. But how do we maintain the privacy all deserve and some deeply desire...this is our question for the week:

How much information do you give out to the rest of the congregation about people who are hospitalized? At this church, there is an expectation from both the hospitalized parishioners, and their friends, to provide quite detailed information about their condition, especially if they cannot receive a lot of visitors. On the one hand, I want to let people know enough that they can pray concretely, and also be appraised of their friend's true condition. On the other hand, I am very mindful of confidentiality.



Earthchick at earthchicknits.wordpress.com was the first to respond:

You are right to be concerned about confidentiality - my understanding is that we are legally bound by HIPAA not to share medical details. I understand the congregation's desire to know details, and some parishioners may be perfectly happy for those details to be shared. But I always check with the patient to see how much he or she wants divulged, and I err on the side of caution if I haven't gotten explicit permission to share details. We even ask before we add someone to our prayer list or our public prayers - because they may not even want anyone to know they are sick or in the hospital. It can be difficult not to share what we know, especially if someone is in quite serious condition and we know the congregation would want to reach out to them. I once had a parishioner who was actively dying while the congregation thought she was improving;. it was a sad shock for people when she did die. It is not what I would have chosen - but it was her choice not mine, and I felt bound to honor it.


...followed by Mompriest at http://seekingauthenticvoice.blogspot.com/

This is a good question, and since I deal with it almost daily....first question I ask is: what does the parishioner want? I always ask parishioner, assuming they can speak, what they want. If not the parishioner, I ask family members. "Would you like to be on the private parish prayer list?" " Would you like us to pray for you on Sunday morning?" " Or would you be more comfortable with just the clergy praying for you?" AND, "if you want to be on a parish prayer list, what would you like us to say?"
Then, with the permission of the parishioner, let the parish know who, what, and why. OR, as the case may be, nothing. Some teaching may need to take place regarding HIPPA law and confidentiality.
I realize this can be a challenge for parishes that are used to a tell-all scenerio, like a family...and I tend to error on the side of offering some, but not all info, and then saying that the person does or does not want visitors/calls, depending on their desires.
So, essentially your instincts are right on target.

And we heard from Jennifer who blogs at www/anorientationofheart.blogspot.com

Gentle blogger, what a great question!

First things first: I think it’s hard to create a “one size fits all” approach to the circumstances of folks who are ill or hospitalized, but it’s easy to respect the wishes of the one who is hospitalized (or a family member’s wishes, if the person is unable to communicate his or her own wishes). Our staff and our deacons and other caregivers are trained to ask what information can be shared with the congregation. We ask “Is this information I am permitted to share?” and we ask if a person would like to have his/her name included on the congregation’s prayer list and the church news bulletin board. (We also invite that person to tell us when they’re ready to come off the prayer list, too!) We further communicate to the congregation and to our deacons that there are always individuals who ask to have their privacy respected, which is why they may be aware of a need (as we are) but it is not appearing on any public list or announcement. When folks do give me permission to share information, I keep it pretty general for public announcements and invite people to speak to me following worship if they wish to have more information. I find that’s a lot nicer than talking about prostates and such in the context of worship….

We'd love to hear from you too. Please use the comment function of this feature to add your insights.

Photo courtesy of rainbowliving.co.uk

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday Festival

Gannet Girl would appreciate company and candles at her "other blog" this week and next.

Sophia is rejoicing because a cross country move for an academic opportunity also opened up unexpected and wonderful opportunities for community and ministry!

And Sophia is really excited but also pretty nervous about the specific ministerial invitation that was just presented to her!

Molly writes: "after a summer of not blogging very much, I have returned
this is the story of my new tat(two)"

Mrs. M shares a reflection on the power of admitting we are powerless.

I got a surprising offer from Marilynne Robinson's publisher.

Finally, Hassopheret, who has been waiting out her blogging time to join us officially, writes about the feeling of New Year at the back-to-school season.

Please leave a comment if you would like to point us to something you've written or read and wish to share. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - walk the talk edition


Blessed as I am with colleagues, August has been a very gentle month for me in terms of preaching - and this weekend I'll be on the receiving end once more, at the ever wonderful Greenbelt Festival...All of which is really unhelpful to those of you who are called to preach the word this Sunday.
The readings, here are quite a mixed bag -and I think I might struggle to avoid something of a rant if I launched into the gospel...so it may be a mercy for all concerned that I won't be in a pulpit anywhere this week!

That said, many Church of England parishes are preparing for Back to Church Sunday, an annual event at the end of September when the congregation is encouraged to invite friends and neighbours who might have drifted away from church back for a special welcome...so I guess my approach might be to invite my congregations to consider why their guests might even consider coming, to take a long hard look at themselves and consider whether or not their faith makes a distinctive difference to their daily priorities. Are they hearers or doers?
I might roll out the well worn rhyme
"
You’re writing a gospel, a chapter each day…
By the deeds that you do, by the words that you say…

People read what you write, whether faithless or true
Say, what is the gospel according to you?”

Or Gandhi's "If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today!"

I might invite them to ponder the whole question of living life "inside out" so that the truth of who (and indeed whose) we are is both evident and attractive.

Having preached on the Song of Solomon passage only last Saturday at a wedding, I might also want to engage with invitations - those which we find irresistable and those which it is all too easy to ignore...What might God be inviting us to do if we "arise and come away" in response to God's call?

Not sure if any of that would actually preach - but it's where I am this Tuesday morning. Blessings on those who have to turn thoughts into words...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Forgive Me: A RevGals Book Discussion


Forgive Me By Amanda Eyre Ward
reviewed by Mompriest

Forgive Me is the second book I have read by Amanda Eyre Ward. The first, Sleep Toward Heaven, I picked up on a whim at one of the bookstores during a summer vacation about 3 years ago. Sleep Toward Heaven is a story of how the lives of people, who have never met, can unknowingly intersect and effect one another. It was a startling book of loss, reconciliation, and healing.

It was no surprise then, that last spring I was drawn to a local book festival that included a presentation by Ward and an opportunity to have her sign books. It was at that festival that I picked up, and had Ward sign, Forgive Me. Anticipating a book that would draw me in as Sleep Toward Heaven had, I anxiously awaited an upcoming retreat, knowing I could luxuriate in reading the book cover to cover. I anticipated a good read, and I was not disappointed.

Forgive Me moves quickly through the life of a woman, Nadine Morgan, a journalist always on the hunt for the perfect story. A woman who, it soon becomes apparent, is really trying to find herself. The story weaves back and forth through the broken places in her life, the early death of her mother and the tragic death of her first real love. Emotionally the journalist in her has safely tucked away and glossed over the painful pieces of her life, consumed instead by the adventures of newspaper journalism and the thrill of life-threatening risks.

The story of Nadine’s life covers some of the big news stories of our generation , from the struggles of apartheid in South Africa to the violence of drug trafficking in Mexico and back again to South Africa during the trials of Truth and Reconciliation. Weaving from first person to third person, from love to loss and back to love again, the story takes on several dimensions at the same time. Like Sleep Toward Heaven this story reflects on the ways lives intersect, are broken, and, sometimes healed. It is a story of anger, pain, death, and forgiveness. It’s a story about mothers, children, and ambition. Ultimately it’s a story about Nadine forgiving herself, a process which opens her up to possibilities she never imagined for herself.

I’ve read this book two times, and I never read a book more than once. Of course, I read it the second time to prepare this review….BUT, I was surprised that I still liked it as much as the first time.

Anyway, I’m curious if others enjoyed this book as much as I did?

And, if so why? Or, why not?

There is a converation between Marsha Hamilton (author of Camel Bookmobile) and Amanda Ward at the back of the book, that looks more closely at Wards experience in South Africa.

What do you know or understand about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa?

How does the TRC help us understand the power of forgiveness?

Is it more difficult to forgive another or more difficult to forgive ourselves?

Do you have a story about forgiveness to share?

Let’s discuss it in the comments or for a longer post, link us to your blog.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Prayer

God of joy - we give thanks for a song in our hearts -
Our souls long for You;
Our heart and our flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Happy are those who
live in your house, ever singing your praise.

Hear our prayer; give ear, O God!

Behold our shield, O God;
Guide us in times of trouble, through night of sorrow,
and days when deceit lives in our heart more than love,
and hate for the stranger, more than love.
Speak gently to your anointed ones, that we may hear.

Hear our prayer; give ear, O God!

Help us see the stranger, who comes because Your song
is in his heart and on her tongue, ringing through -
help us to hear, to see, to embrace You -
in him, in her, in you, even, in me -
with outstretched arms and mighty hands.

Hear our prayer; give ear, O God!

God of joy - we give thanks for a song in our hearts!
Amen.

Cross posted at RevGals Prayer Pals

Saturday, August 22, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Armor, Armour or More Bread?

Good Saturday, preachers!

It's early in the morning, and I am up thinking about armor. When this week in the lectionary rolled around last time, I was just back from a visit to the U.K., including a stay with Kathryn, and a trip to the Tower of London to look at the armor. When I returned home, someone pointed me to these lovely pajamas, intended to encourage our young people to become Crusaders, though I believe Paul had rather more Roman armor in mind.

Whether you're serving up more bread or breaking down the armor metaphor or considering the stories of Solomon or Joshua, I hope you'll join our party today. I'm in charge of coffee and tea, and if we want ice in it, we can get it right through the door of the whole refrigerator of Songbird! For inspiration, I commend to you Tuesday's lectionary discussion here.

And if you're new to the party today, please say hello in the comments!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Five: Rules

After a family vacation with our four children and three additional "partners," I am more aware of rules, spoken and unvoiced. Expectations are not always clearly expressed, but are still expected. . . . unbeknown to all unless one is not fulfilled! So how about writing about rules in your families and workplaces? Choose one or more for each category, especially if one seems odd or funny to you now.

1. Formal rules in family of origin

2. Unwritten and unspoken rules in family of origin

3. Formal rules in current family or workplace

4. Unwritten rules in current family or workplace

5. When was a time that you became aware of different rules in different places/families than your own?

Whenever I bring out the Friday Five, I do not seem to give you the proper link info about putting your blog site on the comments, and so I ask you to go here to see how it is done!

And I'm trying again, by copying Sally's words from the above Friday Five:

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: what you want the link to say goes here For a complete how-to,
click here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ask the Matriach - "That'll Preach" Edition


Preaching the good news is at the core of most licensed and ordained calls to ministry. And it is as unique as each person who is called to it. But where do women find women who can serve as mentors or models in the task of preaching? That is our question this week:

Hello...

OK, I would really love input on this question. Where does one find another FEMALE pastor to help a new FEMALE preacher get her sea legs? I ask this because while I got great reviews from my professors in homiletics, I have been getting slammed by my male coworker who tells me to do things that are not possible for a female voice to do - such as - more of a vocal range in pitch (hello - I'm female. I can't do low and gravelly and if I go too high, I sound shrill.) I know things are different in the "real world" of ministry... but I guess I need ideas on where to find a variety of preaching women. Do any RevGals have MP3s up that I can download? Or does their church need a little "donation" to send me CDs? I'm willing to do that.

My former vocal coach (I took speech in college) told me that my diction is excellent and her only critique was my rate of speech gets too fast. So I have worked on varying my rate of speech. I think this is a question of a model - being able to hear how other women preach. (not televangelists... ugh. Besides, I look dreadful in false eyelashes. hee hee)

Truthfully, I will listen to MP3s of anyone. Suggestions? I'll buy/download/beg/borrow/steal. I've read books written by female preachers, but not heard them deliver. And that's what I think I need -- I need some models to listen to... real life preeching women!!

thanks!
I am...
A Preecher Woman


Ruth, who blogs at ‘Sunday’s coming!’ was the first to "ring in"...
Would love to give practical help – but we’re low-tech cassette-tape people in my neck of the woods. BTW I hate hearing my voice recorded - ‘do I really sound like that??’ - but I get good feedback from people that they find my voice reasonably varied and easily audible. I think one of the secrets of vocal range is about being more relaxed – I know my voice gets much ‘flatter’ & restricted the more nervous I am.

It’s interesting that browsing around on the internet I could find hardly any MP3s of women preachers – are we all shy?? Or just buried under tall he ‘women shouldn’t preach’ rhetoric.
But this site has some http://www.stjohnsottawa.ca/

Is it possible to team up with a real live woman preacher to do some vocal work together? - I think we all need positive encouragement – especially about something as personal as your voice.

Our newest matriarch, Jennifer, who blogs at An Orientation of Heart, adds this...

Dear PW: I think you’ve offered some good suggestions—perhaps there are some RevGals out there who would be happy to include you in their media ministry by sending you cds,dvds or mp3s! A good source of homilies videoed can be found on 30 Good Minutes. Click on the sermon archives. You can check out all sorts of women and their styles on that good show. In the meantime, I’d invite you to embrace the great feedback you’ve received from vocal coaches and homiletics professors and continue to do what you’re doing. Perhaps a slightly slower delivery will be all that’s needed. I think it’s terrifically important to preach your own words in your own voice. Blessings to you!


And finally from the Vicar of Hogsmeade...

Your instincts are right on! I'm not sure you have to limit yourself to listening to female preachers. You can probably hear and see some effective women speakers in other areas, like tv news anchors & politicians. As you watch and listen, you can observe ways in which women create emphasis in different ways. I had a terrific speech professor in college who taught me that women can create emphasis by being softer instead of louder or intentionally speaking slower instead of faster. When you speak more softly, you can build back to "normal" and it is heard as if you were getting louder. The same professor talked about body movements and how we "hear" postures differently from men and women. There are all kinds of women who speak in public who can help us figure out ways to use our voices and our mannerisms as an advantage to bring home the message of the gospel and convey who God is in an authentic way with our own voices.

Do you have some suggestions for "Preecher Woman"? Please share them with all our readers by using the Comment function of of this feature. And remember, your questions about ministry are always welcome! Send them to askthematriarch@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Around the Ring



See Through Faith's family has expanded!

In other news, her church is messy, and she is not the only one...and she wonders whether your tank is full or empty.

Sally writes on transitions. Let's be in prayer for her new appointment in the Methodist Church UK.

Cheesehead has a very thought-provoking post, From the Inside Out.

and Spooky Rach is still Friday Cemetery Blogging.

What's yours? Let us know in the comments...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - the whole armour of God

I'm still officially away (and may actually have finished overdue tlc on the good ship Polyphony and be making progress by now) - though I'll be back in the parish to hear the curate preach on Sunday's readings....

I wonder what he will go with.
Ephesians is wonderful, of course - and he won't necessarily have preached it before...He might perhaps challenge the congregation to check over the state of their armoury.
Were I preaching, I might choose to work on the encouragement to pray "in the Spirit at all times", since there are very few congregations (not to mention ministers) who could not afford to take prayer far more seriously...
I might like to explore what it means to pray "in the Spirit"?
It makes me think of the line in George Herbert's wonderful poem Prayer
"God's breath in man, returning to his birth"

Or there's dear dear Peter, confronted with what feels, momentarily, like a one way street - the only route through. Do you remember those evangelistic stickers that were very popular (in England at least) during the 1970s...There was one that showed the arrow that represents a one way street with the words "One Way - Jesus"...
I'm never sure if Peter is speaking with resignation - there is no escape, - the call of this man on his life is non negotiable
"To whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life"
Amid the pick and mix of our world, that might be a fruitful line to take...

Wherever you are guided, enjoy the journey with the texts this week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Big News about BE Three!!!

We are excited to announce plans for RevGalBlogPals' third annual Big Event!

Our BE Three presenter will be Nanette Sawyer, the organizing pastor of Wicker Park Grace, a faith community that meets in an art gallery in Chicago. She represents the Presbyterian Church (USA) on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches and is the author of the book, Hospitality--the Sacred Art: Discovering the Hidden Power of Invitation and Welcome (Skylight Paths, 2008.) Download free samples of the book here.

Nanette recently appeared on BlogTalkRadio's The God Complex, hosted by ring member Carol Howard Merritt and Bruce Reyes-Chow.

BE Three will take place on Norwegian Cruise Line's ship, Norwegian Sky, departing Miami, Florida on Monday, April 19, 2010, with stops at Grand Bahama Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay. We return to Miami early on Friday, April 23rd.

Cost including cruise and program for a shared cabin will be $432 for an inside stateroom or $482 for oceanview. A deposit of $200 will be due by October 25th, with the balance due January 20, 2010. We require a minimum of 15 participants and currently have space for 23 at these rates. We cannot guarantee the prices will remain the same for additional staterooms.

Please email revgalblogpals@gmail.com to receive a brochure, which will include more specifics. We hope you will join us to explore the sacred art of hospitality!

Your BE Three Planning Committee,
Mary Beth, RevHoney, Vicar of Hogsmeade, Zorra and Songbird

(Look for Monday Meet and Greet again on the 31st!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Prayer

Gracious God
Thank you for
Life: mine, yours, others, all.
Bread: real, you, me, all.
Hope: unexpected,
Grace: given, received,
Jesus.

Hear our prayer.

Holy One
Comfort, heal -
Strife: nations, cities, people
Anger: certainty, right, wrong, who?
Pain: in, out, mine, yours, us - what!
with
Grace.

Hear our prayer.

God, Mother
Tend our wounds:
War - mine, yours, not!
Hate: - bitter, fist
Other-ness,
with
Mercy.

Hear our prayer.

God, Father
Enlighten
All
People,
Nations -
with
Kindness.

Hear our prayer.

God, Sister,
Open eyes
minds
hearts
with
Wisdom.

Hear our prayer.

God, Brother,
Open ears
minds
hearts
with
Love.

Hear our prayer.

Holy God,
Gracious
One -
Give
us
Strength.

In your Name
We
pray.
Amen.
Amen.

Cross posted at RevGalsPrayer Pals and Desert Prayer

Saturday, August 15, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Coming down the home stretch...


...of summer;
...of the Bread of Life passages;
...of Vacation Bible School, daycamp, or other special ministries and programs;
...of calls.

It seems like it's the "wrapping things up" time of year and we are starting to make the transition from one season to another. I find it a hard time because my mind is already more focused on what is coming than what is here now. My prayer today is for the Spirit to focus me (focus us) on the Word God has for us to preach this day. I truly pray that will happen (between the workout at the gym, playing with the kids, cooking for a staff-hosted party for some congregation members, hosting/serving at that party...).

Hmmmmm...my schedule seems to be working against my own prayer.

What do you need today as you are preparing to preach the Word, pray with the church, lead the worship of the children, or any and every other kind of ministry? What's wrapping up that needs your attention now? Where will the Spirit focus your attention?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Five: The Wild Animal Edition!

About a month ago my husband and I discovered a family of bobcats living on the roof of the house across the street.


video

video taken by mr. mompriest...(notice the stare momma gives...)

Let me explain.

We live on the foothills of a mountain range, in the desert southwest USA. It is not uncommon to see bobcats, coyotes, even mountain lion. Usually, though all we see are spiders, scorpions, lizards, and birds. Lots of birds.

That is until this bobcat family took to roosting on the roof of the empty house across the street. There is a family of three babies (kits?) and the momma. The papa cat, while around for awhile, seems to have moved on. We see them on the roof in the early morning and early evening hours. We see one parent walking along the side of our house, bringing lunch back to the family... They play, and roam around with ease. The biggest problem for us, with 100+ temperatures is trying to figure out a safe time to walk our dogs....

For this Friday Five, share with us a wild animal story from your life. Or if you've never had such an encounter share with us your five favorite animals, and why. Bonus for videos and photos!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ask the Matriach - Can I Get a Reference Edition

The Pastoral Call Process in many of our denominations will generate questions your first or fifteenth time through it. Today, the question concerns the identification of persons who might serve as references.

Dear Matriarchs,
After four years in my first call, I'm beginning the process of discerning where God is calling me to serve next. As I prepare the documents to begin the search, my question is about how to handle references. Three colleagues are willing to be references. Will a search committee also be expecting to talk with one or two parishioners from the congregation I'm currently serving? If so, how does one handle that given the fact that - at least in my tradition - it is not customary for a pastor to alert her current congregation that she is searching for another call? There are one or two people whom I believe I can trust to be confidential; the difficulty there being that they also serve on the governing board, and I fear that asking them to keep this in confidence would be putting them in an uncomfortable position with the other elders with whom they are serving. There are potentially a couple of other people in the congregation whom I could ask; but knowing how the grapevine works in this small congregation, I'm worried about whether confidentiality will in fact be kept. Is it an option not to provide references from one's current call? A friend of mine served on a search committee, and when they asked the pastor they ended up calling for references from the current call, none were given because the pastor didn't want the current congregation to know about the search. My friend says that looking back, it was a mistake not to talk with anyone from the congregation.
I've thought this through from so many angles it seems as if there isn't a perfect solution. I'm grateful for any guidance and wisdom from the Matriarchs!

Our matriarchs offer you blessings on your search!

Mompriest, who blogs at Seeking Authentic Voice speaks from experience:
Having done this a few times...here is what I did: sent the search committee (or contact person) a cover letter with my resume. I stated that references would be supplied upon request. Only once did a committee want references early on - and for that occasion I did not use a contact from the parish.
Usually committees wanted references when I was a finalist. At that point I would approach one person from the parish who was previously on the vestry/board - but not currently serving on the vestry/board. It seemed to me that this was a good compromise and would eliminate any kind of anxiety on the current board/vestry. I sent the person a link to the church website, and my responses to the written essays asked of me by the search committee - not because I wanted to supply their answer - only to help them think through where the line of questioning might go. I also asked this person to not tell anyone, not even their spouse. In my case the person was capable and comfortable with this request. I do think it is important to have one person, preferrably one who has shared in leadership with you, who is available from the parish to speak about their knowledge of you from the "inside." Choosing someone with whom you have a good working relationship and trust is a given. Choosing someone who is unlikely to get anxious, but rather have a desire to support you, is great, if you have such a person.


Sue, who blogs at Inner Dorothy , comes at this from the perspective of serving on a search committee:
I've been on several search committees in the past several years, and I've never had a candidate offer a referral from a current congregation member, for exactly the reason that you mentioned - the search process is confidential. My experience of search committees is that they want a variety of views of the candidate. That may involve a few referrals from colleagues and one or two from people in the community who are not connected with your church at all.

My best character reference when I was called to my current charge was a friend who is entirely "un-churched" and knew me long before I ever entered ministry. I know that family is off limits, but perhaps you have a friend in town who might offer a referral if asked. If that doesn't work, how about a lay person from another denomination? Honestly, I think if you ask anyone in the congregation, trustworthy or otherwise, it will fly through the church like brush-fire. That sounds negative, I know, but I've been around long enough to believe that it's true!


You don't have to be a "matriarch" to have helpful advice. Please use the Comment function to offer your insights and suggestions to our sister entering the call process.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Free-Form

Image: Freeform knitting from Distance Knitting

Good morning!

No posts nominated today, so I'll invite you to a free-form Wednesday Festival: your comments are the Fest!

To link to your post in the comments, copy and paste using the following formula: <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, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary leanings - picking at the crumbs in search of wisdom.


The RCL texts for the week are here
I'm on my summer holidays for the next fortnight, so am spared the burden of finding yet more to say about bread - which I have to admit is a blessing, even when you are as Eucharistically centred as I am...

So this week I guess I'd move right away from bread, to talk about - umm - wine?!

The wine of debauchery that releases all sorts of things best left enchained, versus that wine that Wisdom offers at her table, the wine that brings not intoxication and wild gibbering (which always seems unaccountably witty at the time) but maturity and insight. I love the imagery of Wisdom's palace (and might play with different interpretations of the seven pillars) her feast, complete with enticing servant girls issuing invitations - not to the wealthy but to the simple.
Perhaps you need to be simple to appreciate what is being offered...

Now where have we met that idea before...?

Or I might (though the Kings option is much longer than my congregation would comfortably endure) explore Solomon's prayer for wisdom - in fact, it seems quite a shame that we can't mix and match and use two Old Testament readings for a change.

I suspect I might struggle rather, - so blessings of wisdom and eloquence on all of you who are preaching this week.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Prayer

Bread of Life
Given
Received
Hands emptied
Hearts filled

God of Love
Poured
Flowing
Hands emptied
Hearts filled

Me, You, Us
Angry
Hurling
Hands filled
Heart empty

Strangers too
Anger
There, that!
Hands - fist
Heart, closed

Stop. Breathe,
Deeply
In, out
In, out
In. out.

God of Love
Poured
Flowing
Hands, heart
Filled, empty

Bread of Life
Given
Received
You, me, us
heart, hands.
Amen.

Cross posted at RevGalPrayerPals and Desert Prayer

Saturday, August 08, 2009

11th Hour Preacher's Party

photo by: digital library

Good Morning! Preachers!!

What a buffet of possibilities (or perhaps impossibilities) await us:
  • from major family issues to angels,
  • from the depths of sorrow to the praise of the Lord,
  • from our ability (or not) to set aside all bitterness and anger and be tenderhearted,
  • from complaining of hunger to being well fed on the bread of life...

Oh my. A buffet indeed...but what to do with it?

From this table we can work together, sharing ideas, thoughts, prayers, worry and even our draft sermons...serving up lots of food for thought! And somehow (thank God) we will all be ready for Sunday morning.

To sustain us through the wilderness of this Saturday I offer fair trade coffee or homemade latte's (soy or milk?), cereal, yogurt, toast, granola bars, bacon and eggs, or perhaps fresh blueberry pancakes...help yourself!

Me? I have to run out to Preside at a funeral, but I'll be back before you know it!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Wind in my sails Friday Five




I am taking a break from packing to move this week and following my family up and down the beautiful North Norfolk Coast as they take part in a dinghy racing competition. Yesterday as a rare treat Tim and I took out a friends Albacore dinghy. With the children soon all leaving home we are considering buying one to replace our smaller Enterprise racing dinghy Wild Goose.


The first picture is of Wildgoose, the second of an Albacore, at first glance there might not seem much difference apart from the sail colours, but there is much more room for my long legs in the Albacore!
So why all of this boaty information? Well because sailing is a family passion, we love the water and the wind, and take delight in the fresh air and quiet, but also in the competition, striving to do our best!
How about you?
1. Is there a sport/ hobby that is more of a passion than a past-time for you?
2. Outdoors or indoors?
3. Where do you find peace and quiet?
4. A competitive spirit; good or bad, discuss...
5. Is there a song a picture or a poem that sums up your passion ?
Bonus for posting a video/ link.


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, August 06, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Let Us Pray Edition


Our question this week seeks assistance with the task of composing intercessory prayer. Our colleague has asked that her question not be published in toto, so you are reading an edited version of her appeal.

Dear Matriarchs,

I'm the lurker who needs advice.

Autumn and the program year is upon us. Most of the planning is done during the summer. I am on the stewardship committee, in the process of designing the fund-raising campaign for the year.

All of our work seems to be coordinating nicely, save the prayer. We need something that can be stuck in the middle of the Prayers of the People, a list of prayers for the church, the nation, the diocese, the world, birthdays and anniversaries, the sick, the pregnant, and the traveling, among others. Short and sweet and to the point, because it will be said at worship every day for at least a month, maybe more.

Can anyone help me out with tips or point me to resources for prayer-writing? I'd especially like to hear from folks within traditions where writing the prayers or liturgies is a common occurrence. My brain does not function when called on to make stuff up!

Thanks for your help.

Sue, who blogs at inner dorothy, makes several excellent suggestions:

I come from a tradition in which there is no common resource. Rather there are several good resources, which I refer to occasionally. We tend to re-create the liturgical wheel each week, so the Prayers of the People are much like the rest of the liturgy for me. I have a few rules, however.

I never include a prayer in which I name a person whose permission I have not received directly from them. A neighbour is not good enough. A friend is not good enough. Until that person tells me that their health issue is public knowledge and I may speak their name aloud in relation to the prayer request, it doesn't come from my pulpit. Period. The Privacy Act would agree with me wholeheartedly on this one - the exception being a person in a coma, in which case I would trust the closest family member's direction.

In any case, when I write the Prayers of the People - that's where I start - with the people. I think about the pastoral needs I have experienced in the congregation that week and generalize the prayers so that individuals cannot be identified, and yet feel held by the gracious presence of God while the congregation joins heart, mind and spirit together in prayer. That could include, for example, prayers for all who are traveling, all who are lonely, or ill, or in despair. This week, it could include all of the commissioners to the United Church's 40th meeting of the General Council in British Columbia....that sort of thing. In other words, the prayers really do come from the pastoral place of the people in the faith community at that particular moment in time.

Method-wise: Go with what feels natural to you. How do you pray at a hospital bedside? Do you use a scripted prayer (sorry, I don't know about these things) or do you pray extemporaneously? If you "pray as you go" at the hospital, you might try doing the same in that middle part of the Prayers of the People, adapting as needs dictate.

That's the best I can suggest. Blessings on you...it's always tricky to navigate new liturgical waters.


And from Mompriest, who blogs at Seeking Authentic Voice

One resource that I draw upon to give me material to ponder, use, or re-write is The New Zealand Prayer Book. For example, on page 416, is a portion of the Prayers of the People that goes like this:
"We remember with gratitude your many gifts to us in creation and the rich heritage of these islands. (I'd change the word island to something else - "this land" or "this earthly home" or something). Help us and people everywhere to share with justce and peace the resources of the earth...." the response is silent.

and on page 413:
Petition: "Awaken in us a sense of wonder for the earth and all that is in it". - Response: "Teach us to care creatively for its resources."

Other prayers: "Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way." (Anonymous Native American Prayer)

"God know my situation. I am but one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something." Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris.

If these particular prayers did not work I would write my own, perhaps using one of these to inspire me. Being an Episopal priest this is what I tend to do, but I am sure other denominations have resources beyond what I use, and I look forward to learning about them.

Thanks Mompriest and Sue! How about you? Do you have resources that can benefit our lurker and other readers of this feature? Let us know about them by using the comment function.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Gratitude and Other Considerations...

Graphic from JustASeeker

See-Through Faith is fasting from the Internet on Fridays. Find out why here. Other recent posts at her place include Way Out There, about man on the Moon, and one on a great (and not great) day at sea.

Deb says, "Now we do our ABCs... of gratitude and blessing. I caught the idea from MomPriest (), who saw it being done at AltarEgo. Perhaps others want to join us! If they start Wednesday (today) then they would go through the end of the month. A nice way to go through a month." A very nice way, Deb!

If you decide to join in this (editor gets in line), please let us know in the comments! Or tell us what you or your favorite RevGal and Pal reads are blogging about on this fine August day.

Grateful for this community; blessings on you all....

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Oh no, not MORE bread...

The Lectionary is nothing if not insistent...

Here, for the 3rd week running, we find ourselves offered a diet of solid carbohydrate, if you've failed to engage with it so far. Or perhaps you'd prefer to work with the uncomfortable contradiction of Jesus's words
"No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father..." - which seem at first glance to gainsay "When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw ALL MEN to myself".
"No one" versus "all". What's going on here?
But then a second look, and of course God's will is to draw all of us to Jesus, so that we can all share in the final resurrection.
I'm inclined to dig about here a bit, I think...to try and explore images of drawing...maybe like a fish being caught? or a broken-down car relying on another for a tow?
I might invite the congregation to consider what drew them to church (recognising that this isn't the same as drawing them to God by any means, but can be a stage on the journey)...and, as we're beginning a period of preparation for Back to Church Sunday, I might ask them to think about the ways in which our lives and our welcome can be attractional, drawing others to explore faith for themselves.
At that point, of course, it would make sense to refer to the template of perfection that Paul offers for the Christian community in Ephesus. If our churches really exuded even the faintest scent of the divine fragrance of Christ, then surely
we would draw others to see for themselves...

Or perhaps, if you're feeling weary and wondering when that lengendary "quieter month" might actually arrive, you'd like to work with Elijah - clearly suffering burn out and wonderfully restored by the God who gives him space to sleep, and refreshment for his ministry...As we contemplate new directions, new terms, new initiatives,that need to pause and be fed seems very real too.


That's where I am today. How about you?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Monday Morning Meet & Greet

Welcome to August, everyone! and welcome to our new ring members also...

The LaJoy Family: Mom Cindy says, I am "Wife and Mommy in the most wonderful family in the whole world. Aspiring licensed lay minister with the United Church of Christ. Read my blog and you'll learn more than you ever wanted to know about me!"

Nik at A Pilgrim's Process paints this word-picture: "When not being blown along the beach at the end of my street, I can be found hunched over dusty church history tomes discussing 16th c. Scottish church discipline... or drinking tea in Rainy Hall at New College, Edinburgh. Currently training for ministry with the Church of Scotland whilst simultaneously juggling post-grad studies, kittens, a box of ravenous weasels and a chainsaw - some of the juggled items just listed may not be necessarily correct. Ginger beer, chocolate and Jesus feature highly in my top 10 of options that enhance my life.... The Bible's a cracking good read. Wandering and wondering pilgrim-like through this randomly odd, amusing and interesting thing which we call 'life'."

Lucky Fresh introduces herself this way: "I am a very happily married, thirty-something pastor of a small-membership church in the Heart of Dixie. (This is not a work blog.) I like words, food, politics, dancing, coloring, and a lot of other things..." The fact that her blog name is Crème Anglaise tends to make me smile!)

and finally, a re-welcome to

Wallowing in Grace, who has been a member for a while but who "fell off" the Ringsurf queue (Ringsurf: it's a challenge!) She is Pastor Robin, and says, "I am a United Methodist pastor, and I love the people I serve and the work I do. I enjoy life--I like Guitar Hero and Wii Fit, baking yummy things, reading, and spending time with awesome people!"

Please go visit these Gals and welcome them to the ring!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Video: The Bread of Life

One of my favorite hymns (Sr. Suzanne Toolan), which was probably heard in a number of churches today. For me, this was a new way to hear it:

A Clip of the communion at Cardinal Pio's funeral at the Catholic Cathedral of Mary Immaculate in Apia, Samoa, with the Hymn "I am the Bread of Life" sung in Samoan in January 2006.



What did you sing today? Let us know in the comments!

Sunday Prayer

God.
Oh my God!
Some days I forget You
pumped up as I am on
Me.

See
how great I
am? lost to me in me -
a glutton, fattened, full,
fed.

Led
astray, I
lost the you in me and
hurt those I love, until -
You.

You
show me. My
flaws are great, change my heart
sorrow deep, repent, me?
Me!


You
God feed me
bread of life the food of
love. You in me, Jesus,
Bread.

Christ
turn my heart
fill my life, pour out love
love that feeds, Body, One
All.

Amen.

Cross posted on RevGals Prayers Pals and Desert Prayer.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: All Bread, All the Time Edition

Good morning, preachers!!

It's Week Two of the Gospel of John Great Bread Marathon, with manna in the wilderness as a back-up.

Or you have "one faith, one Lord, one baptism" in the epistle.

Or if you're ready for an exploration of guilt, check out the way Nathan gets to David!

Or, what the heck, don't be a lectionary preacher at all! Tell us what you'll be talking about, and help us change the subject from Bread, Glorious Bread.

Hold on, I'm making toast. Be right back.

...

...

Okay, here we go. Cinnamon toast, surely what they meant by bread from heaven!

Well-provisioned, let us encourage each other and try not to fall too deeply into a carbohydrate coma along the way. Let us know in the comments what you're up to today!