Visit our new site at revgalblogpals.org.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday in Holy Week: Spy Wednesday


Spy Wednesday is an old and uncommon name for the Wednesday of Holy Week, which commemorates Judas’ agreement to betray Jesus (see Matthew 26:3-5, 14-16).

Songbird gives a Holy Week reflection on darkness and light.

Liz has posted reflections for Monday through Thursday of this week.


Sophia is looking for help and information for a project on art showing Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus. Preached or written prayers on this theme? Blogged on it? Interested in it? Please visit and shout out....Thanks!

How is Holy Week / Easter preparation going for you? Please share in the comments and link to posts if you have them. Here's how: <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, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Resurrection Edition

"Christ is alive," I said to myself. "Alive!" and then I paused: "Alive!" and then I paused again "Alive!" Can that really be true? Living as really as I myself am? I got up and walked about repeating, "Christ is living! Christ is living!" At first it seemed strange and hardly true, but at last it came upon me as a burst of sudden glory; "Yes, Christ is alive." It was a new discovery. I thought that all along I had believed it; but not until that moment did I feel sure about it.
-Jan G. Linn How to Be an Open-minded Christian Without Losing Your Faith
The divine nature of Jesus has been much on my mind lately. I usually tend, as a preacher, to lean toward the humanity of Jesus, perhaps because, as Dorothy Sayers says in her book Letters to a Diminished Church, the alternative is so "disquieting." She goes on to say,
"And on the third day he rose again." What are we to make of this? One thing is certain: if he were God and nothing else, his immortality means nothing to us; if he were man and no more, his death is no more important than yours or mine. But if he really was both God and man, then when the man Jesus died, God died too; and when the God Jesus rose from the dead, man rose too, because they were one and the same person.
Jesus is God, come to us as both wholly human and holy divine. How will we share this incredible, this awesome, this just plain good news?

In your preaching, you might be looking for a fresh perspective. In that case, you might be interested in this poem, from the perspective of Jesus himself at the moment of resurrection (by William B Jones from the book Before the Amen: Creative Resources for Worship).
wondering what next after this
he woke to cave's pierced-darkness
edged by light stone sought to block,
but could not this bright morning

loosing the wrappings death held close,
falling to floor he reaches his hand
un-bent, un-bleeding, into cool air
and, risking life, begins breathing
Or, maybe you choose to focus more on the reactions of the other characters
in the story - the women, the disciples, the guards - and whatever translation you use,
there is certainly some juicy stuff there.

What direction will your proclaiming go this week? Stop by the Monday Musings to share favorite Holy Week moments, and/or let us know in the comments how your looking ahead to Sunday is going.

Texts for this week are here. Painting of Eugene Bernard's "Peter and John Running to the Tomb" found here. Painting of Jesus appearing to Mary after his resurrection (artist unknown) found here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Monday Musings

One of the beauties of our ecumenical webring is learning from the different ways we observe our holy days and the practices and traditions that may appear in varied forms or not at all depending on our denominations or local habits and preferences.


On Holy Monday, looking ahead to the rest of the week, what do you anticipate particularly? Is there some practice you love or perhaps something you miss from an earlier time in your life? Anything in your current church that has surprised you or added to your experience of Holy Week?


Please share your thoughts in the comments. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Music Video - O Sacred Head Now Wounded

We begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday as Christ enters into Jerusalem triumphantly, and we know the story that follows during the week with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and for some, more services, before we celebrate the most important day for Christians, Easter. But before we get there, it is not without some of the most beautiful music composed. Some of the music this week cries of anguish and sorrow. "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" is one many will sing this Sunday. This one, sung by Fernando Ortega, is accompanied scenes of the Suffering of Christ, the ones that the tough ones to see and realize of the sacrifice he gave for all of our sins.



Share with us your Sunday worship in terms of the music. Did it prepare you for the upcoming week? What hymns speak to you on this Palm Sunday?

Palm/Passion Sunday Prayer

God of all hopefulness, God of my life
On this holy day of Palms and Passions
and through this
the holiest of weeks,
when our Lenten journey
finds its completion
through pain
sorrow
despair
illness
losses of all kinds,
through fear
anger
hatred
vitriol
and finger pointing.

Through a self-examination of
all the ways we work against you -
against your hopes and dreams
for creation
against your love poured out
in flesh and blood -
we hang our heads and bow our hearts
seeking your forgiveness
yearning for your guidance
desiring your compassion.

Fill us we pray, with the ability to
turn to you, kneeling before your grace
open our spirit that we may take you in
let you in
receive you in
taking You in..

Into our hearts and minds and souls
Let you in
that we might turn to you,
return to you,
be transformed in you,
through you, by you,
for you.

Transformed
once more,
this day, this week,
into a new self,
me, you.

May we become a new people,
a gentle people,
a people of
love and compassion,
born anew from our
deepest sorrow
through the breadth of your
forgiveness
and love.

And then, may we do likewise.
Forgive.
And, love.
Amen.

Crossposted on RevGal Prayer Pals and SeekingAuthenticVoice

Saturday, March 27, 2010

11th Hour Preacher Party: So Many Options, So Little Time

Holy Week is upon us, and the festivities(?) kick-off tomorrow with Palm Sunday. Or Passion Sunday. Or Palm/Passion Sunday. What to do? What to do?

On the one hand we have the traditions of kids (and as I've learned from others here, whole congregations) parading with palms and singing hymns of glory and honor. Who wants to shorten one of these kinds of glorious, celebratory Sundays?

On the other hand for many of our Sunday-only worshipers, if we go from palms straight to resurrection then they miss some really important stuff.

On another hand (How many hands does a preacher have? Never enough), if we do palm and passion both in the same Sunday and still offer Triduum services (some or all) are we giving people an excuse to skip those?

Oh my! So many options, so little time.

What are you thinking? Are you preaching? The palms? The passion? Are you doing a passion reading? (A WONDERFUL option I learned by hanging around here a few Easter cycles and the direction I'm going as I'm just back from vacation a couple of days.) I'll go ahead and invite folks to also share and search for advice from others on any other services that are coming in the next week. This could be your big chance to get a lot of worship leaders all thinking on the same thing!!!

Whatever you're doing tomorrow, wherever the Spirit leads you, join us in the comments. This promises to be one heck of a party!!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Five: Redo, Refresh, Restore

We're in the thick of it in church life as we approach the end of Lent. Palm Sunday and Holy Week await. In the midst of this busy-ness, I undertook a little redecorating here at RevGalBlogPals and found a new template for us.

It's the sort of task I like in the middle of chaos, a chance to redo something, to refresh the way I feel, to restore some sense of order.

Please share with us five ways you redo or refresh or restore your body, your space, your blog, anything in your life that needs perking up this week.

After you play, please leave a comment here, and if you can, link directly to your post, like so: <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 25, 2010

Ask the Matriarch - Guides Along the Way Edition

Our question this week is from a candidate for ministry who is looking ahead, anticipating the types of experiences and guides along the way who can aid in preparation for parish ministry:

I am finally at that point in my seminary program when I need to start thinking about Supervised Practice Ministry work. I am require to complete a credit of Clinical Pastoral Education, which feels pretty intimidating. But it’s the setting that I’m wondering about. I am hoping to find a good parish ministry mentor to work with for part of those hours. However, I am not sure that Iwant to limit myself to those experiences, given that I am just as likely to find myself in a “non-traditional” call (tent making, yoked churches, middle judicatory + parish, etc).
  • What are some opportunities or learning situations that you wish you’d been exposed to during this “trying it on for size”season?
  • What are some non-traditional (non-parish) settings that I might want to explore?
  • What are some key things to look for in finding a good place to intern?
  • What are some key things to look for when trying to identify a good mentor?
From Ruth, who blogs at ‘Sunday’s coming’

I’m a bit reluctant to comment after last week’s flurry of comments picking up on something I’d said (even Matriarchs have feelings!), but here goes...

I’d better make it clear that I’ve now been in the position of being a supervising minister a few times, so maybe I’m commenting as a ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’.

I really wanted to comment on what makes a good place to be/ a good mentor to have. I think the key here is that the place and the minister need to be focused on this as a learning experience for the student. An intern is NOT a low-paid assistant – so when putting together a programme (for the year/ the month/the week) the question should be not ‘what does the church need you to do?’ but ‘what experiences do you need at this stage of your learning?’. You need a mentor/minister who is clear about this and will remind the church if they need reminding.

I think it also helps to have a mentor who will prioritise theological reflection on the experiences, so that you’re not just picking up ‘hints and tips’ about how to do ministry, but learning deeply what it means for you.

When I was an internship student I really valued the fact that my mentor was happy to give time to explain why he did things certain ways, without getting defensive: and he reflected back how I had done things without once saying ‘If I were you I would have done it this way...’ As a supervising minister I have always tried to model this way of being.

May you find deep joy in your placement.

And from Jennifer, who blogs at An Orientation of Heart

This is a great set of questions. I’ll admit that I feel kind of ignorant, as I thought CPE was usually not parish based, but rather in a hospital or institutional setting with a trained CPE supervisor. In my mind, field education or field studies can be parish on other than parish based, but CPE is nearly always non-parish based. Often seminaries and higher governing bodies offer guidance regarding CPE settings. You’ll surely be checking in with them for tips and advice…

I think the answers to your questions largely depends upon where you’re located and if you’re willing to travel, should your local setting not offer CPE. The majority of CPE settings I’m aware of are hospital based. However, I’ve heard of a CPE program in Chicago that places folks in schools and other institutional settings other than hospitals. However, field education/studies’ settings that are not parish based include nursing homes, prison ministry, college chaplaincy, justice agencies, not-for-profits.

Wherever you go, I’d look for a supervisor who is accessible and available for questions and reflection—real supervision—and I’d be cautious about settings that seem to be looking for someone to pick up the slack, or do work that others don’t want to. A good mentor would be excited about ministry, available to you, and genuinely interested in your growth and development in ministry.

Do you have advice and/or experience to offer? Use the "Post a Comment" function to join the conversation.

And thanks to all of you who have submitted questions...the queue is full! We look forward to addressing them in the weeks ahead.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Festival: Girding Our Loins

Image: http://www.imageandlikeness.com/

As we prepare for Palm Sunday and Holy Week, along with all the quotidian things that come along with them, I wonder what you are thinking and writing and praying about?

Deb says, "I decided to go with a little "self care" after reading a recent RevGal's post on that topic. So here's my first pedicure in a long time."

My first official day of Spring was actually wintery. Mibi is planning, preparing, and making lists for many things.
Sally shares a power point created for a reflective service on the Monday of Holy Week, and St. Casserole is grateful for hospitality...given in crisis and extended over time.
Sue gives a book review at her own blog, and led the RevGalBookPals discussion on Monday. Check out both!
Muthah+ is pondering the TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?"...the effect that knowing our past has on us....and the effect for future generations of knowing about our real todays.

Let us know in the comments how it's going for you.
Here's how: <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, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Palms or Passion?

Lessons for this Sunday can be found here .
Are you gearing up for the Holy Week/Easter worship marathon?

At our place we are observing Palm Sunday -- the order's gone in to the florist for our greenery, and our children have been prepped on their role in the coming Sunday's processional.

Are you also going that route -- exploring the dramatic tension and bitter irony of that entry into Jerusalem? Or are you bypassing the Palm Sunday text to emphasize the greater drama and mystery of Jesus' final "pouring out" of his life that truly holy week?

And how do we put either of the Sunday's themes into a context that's graspable and meaningful by people (particularly children) surrounded by Peeps, Easter egg trees and inflatable front-yard bunnies?

As always, your ponderings and insights are welcome here as we plan, pray and preach our way through the week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book Discussion Monday: "The Gargoyle"




"The Gargoyle" is the first novel of a Canadian author named Andrew Davidson, born (by Canadian standards) not far from me in the small town of Pinawa, Manitoba. This book captured my imagination from page one. As I tried to compile a few cogent thoughts and questions for today, I found it almost impossible to pick just a few.

The book has themes of sin and redemption, transformation, mysticism, the timeless nature of both human and divine love, mental health, mental illness, just to name a few. The richness of Davidson's storytelling reaches back into time and history. I found myself wishing I had a copy of Dante's "Inferno" lying around, but alas, that's one of those "must read once I'm retired" books. Or at least it has been until now!

Here is a brief quote by the author Andrew Davidson about the book itself:

"I wrote the book because I had to write it." He has said the book "is the story of a severe burn survivor who, while recovering, meets a schizophrenic woman who claims that they were lovers in 14th-century Germany, when she was a nun and he was a mercenary." His Toronto publisher, Anne Collins of Random House, calls it a "book of incredible erudition subsumed by a love story that crosses centuries."


There is so much depth to this novel. I love the mystical references especially. This quote from the character of Marianne in chapter five is one of my favourites from the book: "God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere"

The story is very involved and covers several times and places, but essentially, a handsome male "adult" movie star is terribly burned in a car accident, and while his body is healing, a woman comes into his life whose presence begins a lengthy process of healing his soul. The two meet in the hospital ward, but when she is at home, the woman Marianne is actually a sculptress. She carves gargoyles. She has been "assigned" to carve twenty five of them before she dies. Here (in part) is what she says about her creative process:

"I absorb the dreams of the stone, and the gargoyles inside [the stone] tell me what I need to do to free them. They reveal their faces and show me what I must take away to make them whole."


Question: Have you ever felt that way about "carving out" during a creative process, be it your own future, a work of art, or perhaps even a sermon? Have you ever felt as if a text was like the stone, waiting for you to free the meaning held within it?

At its heart, "The Gargoyle" is a love story. The book begins with a quote by German mystic Meister Eckhart in a sermon entitled "Eternal Birth":

"Love is as strong as death, as hard as Hell. Death separates the soul from the body, but love separates all things from the soul."


Question: How do you interpret Eckhart's words? In what way would you say that love separates all things from the soul? I personally still find myself spiritually 'chewing' on that one....

The main character in the book, the man who is so terribly burned and disfigured, had issues with showing, accepting and giving love long before his accident. For me, the greatest achievement of the book is the redemption of this character and the way that Marianne was able to 'carve away' whatever stone was enclosing his heart's ability to love.

He says, speaking to Marianne, "Being burned was the best thing that ever happened to me because it brought you.....You have said that it takes so much for me to believe anything, but I do believe. I believe in your love for me. I believe in my love for you. I believe that every remaining beat of my heart belongs to you, and I believe that when I finally leave this world, my last breath will carry your name. I believe that my final word - Marianne - will be all I need to know that my life was good and full and worthy, and I believe that our love will last forever."

As she walks away from him toward the sea, Marianne responds: "See? You do have God."

Question: Has there been a time in your own life when another person has incarnated the divine and pure love of God? Did it help you at a time of doubt and questioning? Or did it affirm what you already knew about God's abiding presence?

I know.

It's Lent. Everyone's busy. Please feel free to comment or ask questions about the book and I'll do my best to respond. If you haven't read the book yet, I do highly recommend it. And I'll totally understand if you can't get to it until after Easter!

Sue

Sunday afternoon music video- Sigh no more

I have an unusual offering for you this week, I was asked to play Sigh no more at the conclusion of a funeral this week and it has stuck with me ever since. Theses are the lyrics:

Serve God love me and men
This is not the end
Lived unbruised we are friends
And I'm sorry
I'm sorry

Sigh no more, no more
One foot in sea, one on shore
My heart was never pure
And you know me
And you know me

And man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing

Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
At my heart you see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be (x4)

The references to men could be rendered people, but it just doesn't work. I hope you enjoy it anyway...




How about today, what did you sing this morning? As always let us know in the comments :-)

Just in case you can't see the video, here is a link to youtube

Sunday Prayer, 5th Sunday of Lent


(photo from flickrphotos)

God of all new things, God of
Spring, and fragrant flowers, and
unexpected snow. God of hope
and new life,
Bless us, we pray,
this day.

God of all things passing away, God
of old and yesterday, the One who is
with us in our despair and fear.
God who sighs and weeps, God
who wipes away
our tears.

Hear us when we pray. Incline
your ear to our words, silent
shouting cries, mournful whispers.
Be gentle with our hard
hearts. Be gentle. Be
gentle.

Anoint us with your touch
the softness of your love
breaks into our hardness
and opens us anew. A
new thing. A new life.
New sight.

Anoint us, Holy One and fill
us with you loving touch.
Fill us that we can touch
in your love and fill
others. Fill us gently.
Fill us.

In your name we pray. Amen.

Crossposted on RevGal Prayer Pals and SeekingAuthenticVoice.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

11th Hour Preacher Party: Wasteful Edition

We are rounding the bend on Lent this weekend. Next week is Palm Sunday, and then it will be Easter! (No pressure, though.) But as for today, it is the 5th Sunday in Lent, and Mary, Martha and the newly-resurrected Lazarus are hosting Jesus at a dinner in their home.

God is doing a new thing, indeed.

So as we continue in Lent this weekend, are you making a way through the wilderness? Or wasting a whole jar of perfume on Jesus' feet? Are you with Paul, counting everything as loss for the sake of Christ? Or is your Lent taking a whole different turn this year? Please take a moment to check out the texts and the discussion here.

I have blueberry pancakes for breakfast this morning, and fair trade coffee (French Vanilla or plain) and tea. I have orange juice too, and lots of chairs for sitting in and lots of curiosity for those who need fellowship, ideas, an ear of support. Tell us how it's going for you: on this weekend in Lent, and as you travel toward Easter.

oh, and is it spring yet where you are? How can you tell? (I hear the birds, and caught a glimpse of crocus.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Five: Movies

Whenever daughter MJ comes home on breaks from college, I get to go to movies, which has me thinking about motion pictures. Plus, it is fun to watch rented dvd's at home, which my husband prefers.

Share your preferences, opinions, and recommendations about movies! Choose 5 types of movies to discuss:
  • action
  • thriller
  • mystery
  • drama
  • comedy
  • foreign
  • animated
  • children's
  • science fiction
  • western/cowboy
  • ?
Bonus: Tell about the first movie you ever saw and/or the last one!

Let us know in the comments if you play! You may recall that I am the FF person who never can write out the linking formula, so for a complete how-to, click here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ask the Matriarch - Life in the First Call Edition

Our question this week is predicated by a situation which sheds some light into the nature of this first-call congregation. The question your editor has bolded is one that is asked again and again in nearly every context. Perhaps that is what so many of our matriarchs have a prodigious amount of insight and support to offer.

So it is less than a month since we had our annual meeting where the congregation approved a budget which included paying me Synod Guidelines (minimums) and apparently a few people have approached the president with the desire to call a special congregational meeting to rescind my raise. Luckily my president told them that wasn't an option. But I doubt the issue is settled. I told my president and council that if a meeting is called to rescind my raise I will take that as a sign the congregation wants me to leave and begin filling out my paperwork. There is a handful of people who are chronically crabby about everything under the sun, I am a first call pastor with a lot to learn but I don't think there is a pastor alive who could make these people happy because their unspoken expectations are ridiculously high. So I have recently decided not to even try to placate them anymore and to turn my energy to the things that are life giving and growing in this congregation. There are a lot of people very excited about what I am doing and the possibilities it is creating. I think one of the reasons this group is so agitated right now is that they have lost influence in the congregation and are lashing out all the more.

How do you balance being the pastor to a handful of chronically crabby people without letting them always bully the congregation into short sighted and self serving decisions? I should note the patriarch of the congregation is annoyed with this group and for the most part excited about my ministry.


Earthchick, who blogs at earthchicknits.wordpress.com, offers the first of our many responses:

Wow - that is some heavy stuff, especially for a first call. But I just have to say that I think everyone of your instincts about this is RIGHT ON. It sounds like these folks are feeling displaced and unhappy that they no longer hold the power they once did. If that's the case, then I think you are right to put your energies into what is giving life and growth to this congregation, rather than spending it on worrying about pleasing people who, frankly, seem unpleasable.

How to pastor the chronically crabby people while protecting the larger congregation? That will take ongoing discernment, courage, strength, and a sense of what your calling really is. I think you have a good start on it - you are clear about what the realities are and you are refusing to bow to the dysfunctions. It sounds to me like the rest of the congregation really needs you to be their leader and their advocate, and it sounds like you are ready to be that. Keep choosing that. Love the crabby people, pastor them as they allow you to, but don't be threatened by them. It's wonderful the your president and the church patriarch both seem to be on your side. You might want to consider having some honest conversations with one or both of them about the simmering resentments.

Best wishes to you. It is not easy, but it sounds like you are well-grounded and well-equipped to deal with this.


From Ruth, blogging at Sunday’s Coming: http://www.thinkingaboutpreaching.blogspot.com/)

I thought the most important word here is bully.

Bullies work by making people feel isolated, catching them when they’re vulnerable, by always being ready to push for what they want at meetings. As one potential target of this bullying, you need to know you’re not alone, get the arguments out in the open, make sure you have the support you need.

It might also help to talk to the known bullies one at a time: if they have unspoken expectations, is there a way of getting them – one-by-one (with the president or ‘patriarch’, too) to a meeting with you to talk through their unhappiness/expectations/crabby thoughts? Perhaps you could say something like ‘X, I feel you aren’t completely happy with my ministry here and I’d like to know what you’re thinking and feeling – can you & I, plus (your supportive person) meet to talk and pray together?’. They might of course refuse – but (God willing) you might just find there are some of their crabby thoughts you can do something about.

Example: I once had a church member who said ‘I hate it when you wander around during the sermon’ (my reaction: I prefer to be close to people when I talk with them and I dislike the symbolism of using the pulpit as a place to talk down to people) - but when we talked it was because she was getting quite deaf and found it easier to be able to see my face all the time – which she could when I was in the pulpit – so I decided to compromise & use the pulpit.

Of course there may be some issues on which you don’t want to compromise but you might just get the chance to explain your side of that issue to them.

Hope this helps a little – and prayer, too: get people you trust to pray for you & for them (chronic crabbyness is a nasty spiritual condition!).



Jennifer, who blogs at www.anorientationofheart.blogspot.com, adds:


A great book on the subject of conflict in congregations is Antagonists in the Church by Kenneth Haugk. I’ve found it to be a very helpful book and have suggested to lay leaders in the church as well. If you have a personnel committee or a parish-pastor relations committee, it would be good to make them aware of this situation, if they’re not yet already aware. If the appropriate people in your higher governing body are not yet aware of this situation (or even if they are) it would be good to be in contact with them. You’re doing well to focus your energies on that which is life-giving, but it’s also important to keep appropriate people aware of your struggle and work on a plan together to address it. I’m not sure what the real issue is, but if “ridiculously high expectations” are a part of the problem, then it’s appropriate to make sure that you, the leadership of the church, and the congregation as a whole are all apprised of what the healthy, agreed-upon expectations are. Get help in communicating those realistic expectations across the board and then be as non-anxious as you possibly can in meeting them and attending to your call. I’d also suggest that you and at least one supportive leader talk two-on-one to the crabby. Sometimes giving people the chance to be heard is a help—but do so with a “witness” and advocate who can help provide balance and perspective.


And finally, from a matriarch who may wish to post this anonymously...(if I am mistaken in that, please accept my apology)

You may feel that your colleagues got better ministry opportunities than you did. Your Church of the Chronically Crabby is a wonderful first call learning arena for you. I think the best of us get several of these churches during our careers. We learn, first hand, how to motivate and lovethe Chronically Crabby which allows us a level of ability other pastors do not achieve.

First, you are doing a great job if you realize that the C.C.'s are self-serving and short-sighted bullies. Bullies love church because so many pastors will do ANYTHING to avoid conflict or confrontation.We pastors don't come with thick skins at first, the C.C.'s teach us how to hear beyond the crabbiness, ignore the petty and find the disciple underneath all the muck. Our thick skins develop, over time, as we put aside our self-doubt and defensiveness, and begin to move forward discerning God's direction, despite the people around us.

I suggest you develop a plan to take care of yourself. If you want to fill out your paperwork to move, do this. Once you've done this, put the paperwork aside. Then, begin getting help with your anger at these crabby people by talking with a trusted colleague regularly. In addition, add these things to your weekly self-care list: make yourself listen deeply to the C.C.'s. You may know their complaints as well as you know the Gospel of John but this time, listen as if you are interviewing them for a NYTimes article.

Next, each week do something for yourself. Get a pedicure* or manicure, go have a massage, take a long walk without your cell phone, make something complicated in the kitchen or do a craft. The point is to develop places where you do something apart from ministry. You may be raising a child or running a household now but I'm suggesting you add to your to-do list things just for you. If you think you do not have time, you are mistaken.Self-care allows you to do all you do better.If you are not spending time reading the Bible devotionally, praying and finding quiet places to just stare, do these things. Now is the time to develop the Well of rich refreshment you need now and 20 years from now. Generations of Christians in tough times lean on God and the people of God for help.

*In the early days of RevGals, when we met each other in person, we took pictures of our feet to post in our blogs. The feet pics allowed us privacy from posting pictures of ourselves on the 'net.Even more important, feet pics showed off our pedicures. Some of us got our first pedicures after joining RevGals because pedicures became a symbol of our self-care. Then we got silly with the names of the OPI brand nail polish and laughed about "Waitress Red" and "Cajun Shrimp", both bright colors we loved. We spent our hard-earned money on frivolous pedicures and felt better (happy feet were our response to "blessed are the feet of those who preach the Gospel")

An embarrassment of riches here indeed...but I am sure that our readers have perspectives and suggestions that will encourage and bless our sister. Please use the Post a Comment to join the conversation.

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Festival: Hard Things and Joys

MPeriodPress says, "I am suggesting this, not because it is the best thing I have written, but I guess I just wanted to share the experience of being in Chile and what it has been like to be here for the earthquake... and now having to leave for reasons that have nothing to do with the earthquake. It is a wild time and the adventure isn´t done yet..."

Sophia is rejoicing in the experience of preaching for the first time at her new-since-Advent parish on Sunday.

Liane at On the Road says, "I am wondering this week whether Glenn Beck might have a point, which is difficult to concede for someone as social justice minded as myself..."

and in that same vein, DogBlogger shares this thought about disagreeing politically.

Sally shares her thoughts on planning an Alt Worship event for Holy Saturday.

What are you thinking and writing about this week? Share it in the comments! If you provide a link, you'll get more visitors! Here's how: <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, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Sweet Smell of Devotion" Edition

Sunday's texts can be found here .

This morning at our house we were having a conversation about the "spiritual versus religious" discussion going on in society these days, and that we RevGals discussed here and on our own blogs last week. And for some reason that phrase stuck in my mind thinking about Sunday's Gospel lesson, where Mary engages in a dramatic act of love and devotion toward Jesus...and immediately gets lectured by Judas about what she didn't get right.

Maybe there's a lesson there.

Or maybe it's somewhere else; in another aspect of this text; or in Paul's less dramatic but equally heartfelt affirmation of God's transformative grace in his life...or in our Old Testament lesson's promise that God is going to "make a way" through whatever it is in this world that hinders God's will being done.

What way are you being led as you ponder the Scriptures this week? As always, share your questions and insights here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Meet 'n Greet

We have two new blogs to welcome today, one a newcomer to our ring and the other a familiar friend with a new blog she hopes you will read.

Let's start with Robin, previously known as Gannet Girl. Robin is now blogging at Metanoia, and shares this about herself:

Married and mom of three. PC(USA) elder and seminary student ~ one quarter to go! Spiritual Director in the Ignatian tradition. Writer, photographer, canoer, hiker, voracious reader ~ and someone who knows the beach is the best.


We're glad to have Robin in the ring by any name!


And now let's welcome revjmk, who blogs at The Someday Book.


She describes herself this way:


I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a preschooler (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.


Please stop by and see both our new members and leave them a comment!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Rejoice Greatly


The first word of the opening prayer used on this Sunday in the Roman Catholic tradition, Laetare often lends its name to the Sunday as well: Laetare Sunday. Mothering Sunday, Refreshment Sunday or simply the 4th Sunday of Lent often feels to me like a whiff of Easter, like the breeze on a late winter's day that smell of spring -- and hope.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, thy King cometh unto thee; He is the righteous Saviour,
and He shall speak peace unto the heathen.
Zecharaiah 9 : 9-10



And which of us, which part of this world could not use some peace now?

Sunday Prayer for the Fourth Sunday in Lent


(Photo from the files of Mompriest, Grand Canyon tree)

Creator God from whom
all life springs forth
We give You thanks
Come, one and all,
Celebrate and rejoice!

Celebrate and rejoice -
The old has passed away
Everything has become new!

Forgiving God with whom
We seek to reconcile
our brokenness and
the ways we break
into a new creation!

Celebrate and rejoice -
The old has passed away
Everything has become new!

Lving God, father, son,
mother, daughter
Family, friend, one, all
With, through, and by
Your Prodigal love
Reconciled.

Celebrate and rejoice -
The old has passed away
Everything has become new!


Crossposted on RevGalBlogPals and Seeking Authentic Voice

Saturday, March 13, 2010

11th Hour Preacher's Party: Say WHAT???? or, the Whose son are you anyway? edition...

Photo of mmopriests dog Ruby wondering why her "brother" thinks he's so special just because he can balance a ball on his nose...


This parable in Luke is perhaps one of the best known or all texts. It is also controversial and confusing. Why would the father welcome back THAT son? And, for all intents and purposes IGNORE the other son, the one who has been good all these years?

It's a story all too familiar with anyone who has siblings...the, "Mom/Dad always loved you best" paradigm. Which was particularly hurtful if you were not the one best loved.

On the other hand....we want to think of God as One who does not have "favorites" in the same way our human parents/family/friends do. We want a God who loves all equally. And we can almost believe this...until we come to scripture readings like this. And then. Well. And then we have to wrestle with the text. Or let the text wrestle with us. Until we understand it at a deeper level...

What? you mean it may not really be about MY brother? It may be about the church that has gone astray from God's desire? A church that is more invested in its own money, resources, building, spending....than it is concerned about doing God's mission in the world?

Well. I am not preaching on Sunday. But I have preached on this text many times over the years. And I love find the layers of subtext within the text. Like all of Jesus' parables, this one is rich in depth.

So, where are you going with the reading? Are you focusing on the Gospel or are you drawn to Paul's second letter to the Corinthians? Or to the reading in Joshua? Or maybe the Psalm? What ever text is calling to you, share your thoughts here. Struggling? Share your concerns here. Post a draft and we'll read it and offer comments, if you like. We're here to help, support, and party on toward Sunday. Pull up a chair, would you like coffee or tea?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Five: Spiritual or Religious?

Yesterday I attended a led conference by Diana Butler Bass. She is presenting new ideas on the state of the church and why there is hope for Christianity. One of her premises is a Newsweek/Washington Post poll from 2005 that states that 55% of the people in this country describe themselves as religious AND spiritual.

Without going into detail about her understandings of religious and spiritual (you may want to attend one of her conferences, if you can) share with us five thoughts ideas or practices that you consider to be "religious." Then share with us five thoughts, ideas, or practices that you consider to be "spiritual."

For example one thought about religion might be that it is "salvation" Or an idea about religion might be that it it is an "institution" and a religious practice might be "going to church." An example of spiritual thought might be a phrase from a poem, a spiritual idea might be the inspiration for a piece of art and a spiritual practice might be meditation.

So, five thoughts, ideas, or practices that are religious....and then five thoughts, ideas or practices that are spiritual. OR are they the same thing to you?

Leave a link in the comments to your blog. I'll be back later, after a second day of her presentation, to read what your thoughts...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ask the Matriarch - So Long, Fare Well Edition

Last week we explored the question of seeking a pastoral call; this week our question pertains to how we leave a call. In many of our denominations an exit interview is employed in the process of a pastor's departure from a ministry setting.

I'm currently in my first call, but hoping to be moving to a new call soon and so I'm doing some looking ahead. I'm currently an associate pastor, but I imagine this topic is relevant for others also. Exit interviews. What about them? I guess I'm full of questions. Who should be a part of them? What kinds of questions should be asked--on both sides? What is the benefit of exit interviews? How long should they last? What am I not even thinking to ask?

Signed ~ Hopefully needing one soon


One of our matriarchs, Jennifer, who blogs at An Orientation of Heart responds with the following:

Dear Hopefully,

What an exciting time! A new call brings with a flurry of activity, and you’re wise to be thinking about good closure at your current call.

An exit interview can be a really valuable part of a pastor and congregation’s good work together.

As an associate, it’s appropriate to check in with the pastor (if one is in place) or your higher governing body (if you have one) to ask these very questions. There may be a process in place, either through your congregation’s personnel or ministerial relations committee, or more likely, through a parish/pastor relations committee or Committee on Ministry (Presbyterian terminology). I’m most familiar with a two meeting process, with an exit interview with you and supervisory folks from your current call to make sure that loose ends are tied up and folks on the scene are familiar with what needs to be done for a good transition, and a separate meeting with your COM rep (or insert appropriate higher gov. body committee name here) to talk about big-picture issues. That committee should have a set of questions in place that asks about your experience, highs and lows, special stuff they ought to know, and to lay good expectations about future contact between you and the congregation from which you are departing. Usually, that meeting is with you alone and with a rep. or two from the higher gov. body committee. You should feel free to ask any questions or offer any information you feel you need to in order to leave well and begin well in a new setting. I think the length of the meeting would be determined by how happy or how frustrated you’ve been in your present call.

Hope all of your journeying goes well!


There were no other responses posted to this week's question, but it doesn't have to stay that way. I am sure that many of our readers have had the experience of leaving a pastoral call. Please share your insights using the Comment function of this post.


May you live in God's Amazing Grace+

revhoney


Wednesday Festival: Balance



Deb wonders if others might be feeling restless in mid-Lent. She says, "I'm reading Leonard Sweet's book "So Beautiful" which delves into the difference between Missional/Relational/Incarnational Church and Churchianity. (That is making a very thoughtful book very simplistic... but it is wonderful stuff!)

Lucky Fresh says, "I wrote this piece the other day about my CPE experience from almost 9 years ago. Not sure what brought it up now, other than the reminder I mention at the beginning."

This piece of Songbird's brings tears to my eyes.

Mompriest is seeking balance.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Prodigal" Edition

Texts for Sunday can be found here .

How do you take a widely recognized, beloved (and sentimentalized) Bible story and make it "pop" in a way that makes the folks in the pew sit up and take notice?

That's the challenge of Sunday's Gospel lesson, as we revisit Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, his gracious and forgiving father and his bitter, resentful brother. (And, of course, the hapless fatted calf.) How do we approach this story in ways that will meaningfully connect with our people?

But wait -- there's more! We also, this Sunday, have an Epistle lesson that'll preach. It's another text that will be familiar to many hearers; that can become a kind of comforting Christian-y aural wallpaper; but what does it really mean to be a new creation in Christ? What does it mean to be an ambassador of God's reconciliation? How's that working for all of us, on any given day?

So much potential for sermons and general service-planning here...so please, as always, share your ideas and inspirations with us!

Monday, March 08, 2010

2nd Monday Discussion: And the Winner Is...

After staying up a bit too late to see the Oscars last night, I found myself thinking this morning about the use of film in church life, whether as an educational opportunity or to illustrate themes in worship or simply for a fun community gathering.

I remember when Sally wrote about using a clip of Elastigirl for Mothering Sunday a few years ago. What an amazingly apt image, fruitful for discussion!  I have a keen memory of watching "Star Wars" (the real first movie) with a youth group and discussing courage after a loss, remembering that the Force of God's Spirit will always be with you. Then one of the girls in the group lost her father unexpectedly two days later.

In the comments, I invite you to share a time you used (or experienced) a movie used effectively, recommendations for film series, or even times you used a movie and it *didn't* work out so well. Feel free to link to a post on your blog, as I did above.

And if you'd rather discuss Oscar fashion, that's okay, too.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Video

Sunday Prayer

Gracious God, we give you thanks for all the blessings of this life -
for family, friends,
for home and food, and work
for the coming Spring,
for warmer days ahead
for the gift of your son
who leads us in this life.

Loving God, we offer up these prayers of concern this day -
for those struggling to rebuild lives
from natural disasters
from human disasters
from failed economies
from illness
from_______________
may the power of your Holy Spirit
bring new life, new hope.

Creator God, fill us with nourishment
the kind that only you can offer.
Fill us with hope
fill us with kindness
fill us with gentleness
fill us with your love.
May we be your living love.

Amen.

crossposted on the Revgalprayer pal blog and seeking authentic voice.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

11th Hour Preacher Party: The One With The Fig Tree

It's one of those hard weeks in the lectionary.

It takes a lot of explaining to get through this very short passage. Jesus' storytelling made a lot of sense in his context -- well, we assume it did -- but for our hearers, it's a bigger leap.

Where are you headed for tomorrow?

Could you use some coffee and a Fig Newton for the journey?

Check in via the comments and let us know. If you have thoughts or a draft, feel free to link to them.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Spiritual Spring cleaning... Friday Five


I have been thinking about spring, although it is still ver cold here the snow has almost gone and the sun is shining. Here and there spring bulbs are bravely pushing their way through the earth and Tim and I are thinking about planting the first of the years veggies in the garden!

Then I read:

The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you. (2 Corninthians 5: 17-20 The Message)

All this got me thinking that if we traditionally think of spring as a time for new life, then maybe a spiritual spring clean might not be a bad thing to clear the way for the new thing that God wants to do in us!

So with all of that in mind I offer you this Friday Five:

1. Is there a part of your spiritual life that is dry and dusty at the moment, something that could do with a good spring clean?

2. Spiritual disciplines- life-giving/ terrifying: discuss

3. Share a practice that keeps you spiritually alive that you think others might benefit from...

4.Alone or together, how do you pray best?

5.If your spiritual life were to burgeon and bloom into a spring flower what would it be and why?

Bonus, a piece of music a picture or a prayer that speaks to you of new life....


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 04, 2010

Ask the Matriarch - Get a Call Edition

As our nation continues to experience double-digit unemployment, those who seek work are discovering that they need to be intentional about building relationships and developing contacts in the hopes that those efforts will result in a job.

How does this intentional, assertive behavior translate into the context of the church, where the means by which persons are called into ministry differ from one denomination to another? And how does one participate in the process with intentionality and faith when the systems that have historically worked to guide people into calls have themselves changed or even disappeared?

This is the position in which today's inquirer finds herself:

Hi,
I am in the search and call process for the first time, and in fact need a call so that I can be ordained. I've done all the other steps...

Unfortunately in my denomination and region and I suspect we're not alone, the placement process has really broken down as regional staff people have been let go, and alternative volunteer and quasi-volunteer arrangements are being tried out. So, while I'm trying to keep my name in front of the person who is sending profiles out to churches, it's clear that I don't have an advocate speaking on my behalf.

My question is how assertive, aggressive, self-advocating can I be in this situation? In former days in the denomination it would have been a no-no to contact churches directly or any way except through the regional minister. Because I am not yet ordained, I don't want to shoot myself in the denominational foot. What can I do besides call the placement coordinator every six weeks? I've thought of sending my profile to people who know me and asking them to pass it on to churches that might be searching when they are in regional meetings.

Any ideas? In any other career job search you would not rely on calling one recruiter every six weeks.

Thanks.

Jennifer, who blogs at www.anorientationofheart.blogspot.com responds:

Sounds like you’re working hard to be sensitive to the practices within your denomination. I wonder if you’ve asked those you know within your denomination, perhaps even the placement coordinator, what would be acceptable as you seek your first call. I think it’s appropriate to let others know that you’re searching and they’ll be able to tell you what feels right in your denomination’s scaled back climate. Others speaking on your behalf seems always to be acceptable, too.

And from Earthchick, who blogs at http://www.earthchicknits.wordpress.com :

Wow, you are in a really tough spot! I am sorry that the placement process has broken down to such a degree, and that your search is suffering because of it.

In my denomination, it did used to be somewhat frowned-upon to directly contact the congregation or submit our materials on our own. That seems to have changed somewhat, though perhaps not in your denomination. I think it depends some on how the church is getting the word out about the position. If it is generally advertised, and if the advertising includes information about submitting materials, I think it should be okay to directly send your information. For instance, most of the congregations who advertise in Christian Century seem generally open to hearing directly from applicants.

Regardless, it can't hurt to have your friends, colleagues, and mentors also advocating for you. Make sure they all have copies of your profile, your resume, and any other materials that might be helpful. Let them know exactly what kinds of positions you are open to. If you hear of a church with an opening, ask one of your contacts to submit your name.

Keep contacting the placement coordinator as well, and maybe more than every six weeks.

Best wishes in your search!

I know we all wish our sister well in her search, but perhaps you have more to offer her - from your own experience or that of others you know. Please add your comments to those of our matriarchs by using the Post a Comment function at the close of this post.


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