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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Something Strange Edition

Whether you are officially preaching Ascension or not, the lectionary texts will lead you in the direction of considering the disciples last glimpse of the earthly Jesus.

And what was that glimpse? Well, in artists depictions, Jesus feet are often the last things we see. In poking around for my favorite picture of the Ascension (Found it! Can you see the toes dangling up there?), I also stumbled on this helpful sermon, which I am liberally quoting here:
"When we speak of the Ascension, we proclaim not only with Thomas that Jesus is our Lord and our God, ruler of all things on heaven and on earth, but also that Jesus’ earthly ministry eventually had to come to an end. Those feet would eventually take their last step, leaving the disciples, and leaving us, to carry on his ministry, his work, and his love for others. When we speak of the Ascension, we look backward, to Jesus’ earthly ministry, but also forward, to our ministry today. The Ascension serves as the segue between the two."
Thanks Lee! Seems like a pretty good way segue, as he says, between these last few weeks' readings from the Final Discourse, and Pentecost.
On the other hand, the title of this post actually comes from the Epistle, and maybe you are in a place and with a people who need a word on the nature of suffering strange times. Or are you choosing another text altogether? Comments open!
Link to this week's texts found here.
And, an editorial note. Frequent commenter Gord from Following Frodo will be picking up co-facilitation of Lectionary Leanings in June and July and then every other month. Make sure to pop in and say hello on his first week next week!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Big Event 5.0 -- Take the Book Out of the Box

***Registrations are closed for Big Event 5.0. Keep an eye out for BE 6.0 in early 2013.***

We're excited to announce plans for the Big Event 5.0, which will be held January 28 to February 2, 2012, on Carnival Elation out of New Orleans.

Take the Book out of the Box
Jenee Woodward, the author and collector of the study, preaching and worship website, "The Text This Week," will lead a workshop on the gospel texts in the weeks after Pentecost for Year B in the Revised Common Lectionary. We’ll seek worship interpretations of the scriptures that speak to the context of our local communities, just as Mark and John did in their gospels. These might include writing prayers and other liturgy, developing creative or interactive presentations of the stories, and even making videos we could take back with us. Think of the ship as a lab instead of a classroom, and come put the Extra in Ordinary Time!

Elation berthed next to Inspiration at Cozumel.
We're also delighted to let you know that the BE 5.0 cruise will be considerably less expensive than the last one even though it is the same length. The rates are $453 for an oceanview cabin and $413 for an interior cabin (per person, double occupancy). Given the growing interest in the Big Event, which almost doubled in size from 3.0 to 4.0, we've booked 25 cabins at these great rates.

To reserve your berth, please email RevGalBlogPals to request a brochure and registration form, and return the form with your deposit check for $100 by July 1, 2011. If you have already emailed, you don't need to send another one. If you indicated your interest in a blog comment or on Facebook, please send an email, to be sure we know of your interest. Thanks!

Whether you've attended before or not, we think you'll find the RevGalBlogPals Big Event 5.0 a marvelous combination of learning, sharing, community-building and what we like to call "gal-ship." We hope you'll join us!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Prayer: 6A To Love, Be Love, For Love

Oh God
How much more can we take?
Wave after wave of violent storms,
human made,
enough, already. Honestly
do your thing, God
and love as only you can.

Love us back to wholeness.
Love us back to wellness
Love us back to fullness
Love us. Love us. Love.

Your love, O God, is not
like human love. It's not
really about emotions, rather
it's about action. Love as a verb
doing what You do, love is.

Love heals. Love restores. Love
mends. Love reaches out to strangers
love enables one to help another
be, become, more who each is meant
to be. Love God, love others, as self.

Gracious God, there is more
destruction and devestation
around us, more than we could
imagine. Dig your hand into
this muck, this chaos,
the broken lives,
and through love,
with love,
guide us.
Help us to be

Help us to be your love.
Bless our lives that we
may be a blessing, too.

crossposted on A Place for Prayer

Saturday, May 28, 2011

11th Hour Preacher's Party: Too Much Love? Edition

The season of Easter is drawing to a close, just two weeks until Pentecost. For six weeks we have had lesson on love from the Gospel of John. The love message of John intertwined with the mixed messages of the struggles of the early church in Acts, which were often "un-loving" in nature. The love message of John mirrored in the Psalms. And, the love message of John challenged by the thoughts conveyed in 1 Peter. All this preaching on love is leaving some of us preachers yearning for ordinary time and the message of law abiding Matthew. (or, the case may be). Personally, I love the Gospel of John and rarely tire of his message of unrelenting, comprehensive, expansive love. And likewise, I find it a difficult transition to move into Matthew. (But, I digress. For more on this theme check out the comments in Tuesday's Lectionary Leanings...

This week I'm using the Gospel reading and a story from MSNBC on the a herd of goats and sheep who lead and protect a blind horse, all of whom live on a rescue ranch in Wyoming. I'm looking at the idea of not being abandoned, and of love abiding within, and that through the challenges of life our call is to be the love of God in this world.

Or something like that.

What about you? Where are your thoughts and ideas taking you this week? I have a delicious spread of coffee and tea, breads, yogurt, cereal, fruit - to get us started. Pull up a chair and sit awhile. We'll be here all day to help you when you get stuck, to laugh when you need to lighten up, to offer a hug when you need some lovin'. After all, there can really never be too much love, IMHO.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Hello, my name is Mary Beth, and I'm allergic to ligustrum.

Ligustrum is a type of privet hedge and it is very invasive. VERY. It's a spready green bush with leaves of various sizes and tiny white flowers of a head-piercing sweetness.

The house I grew up in had 14-foot ligustrum bushes on three sides. The house I live in now, 250 miles to the north, also has several...they are a different variety but the flowers still get me. Instant sinus attack, that's what these are. And: they are in bloom.

You can remove them, but they grow back. Forever and ever. My husband recently had his helper cut all the blooming branches off of this one, next to where I park my car. What a guy!

So, thinking about allergies:

1. Do you experience any seasonal allergies? Are you allergic to anything else?

2. What kinds of symptoms do you experience during your allergic reactions?

3. How do you manage your allergies? (ie: medication, avoidance, alternative therapies, etc)

4. What is the strangest allergy you've ever heard of?

5. How do you feel about school and social policies that banning peanuts and other allergens?

(with thanks for the idea to Five on Friday)

Pass me the tissues, please...

Oh, and please share your thoughts in the comments. If you write about this on your blog, give us a link using the following formulation: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to click here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ask the Matriarch - Pastor's Best Friend (?) Edition

So...this week's question is brief and to the point:

Do you bring your dog to work?

From Jennifer, who blogs at An Orientation of Heart:

I have an eighteen month old golden retriever, who came to work with me as a puppy, because she was recovering from heart surgery at the age of eleven weeks. I kept her confined to my office.

Lucy makes small appearances now and then, and only outdoors at work. I do not bring her to work because a.)she is not well behaved enough and b.) we have staff and church members who are allergic to dogs.

I think bringing one’s dog to work depends upon the breed of dog, his or her good manners, and the feelings of those with whom I work and serve.

From Muthah+, blogging at Stone of Witness,

Dear Dog lover:
I am NOT a dog lover and those clergy I have met who do bring their dogs to the office often convey a "love me; love my dog" message, IMHO. One sister cleric allowed her dog to pee on the carpet--totally poor form! And it was a point of contention in her parish. I find that there are more women who take their animals to the office than men. If it is for protection, that is another matter--or if you are taking a service dog on visits at the retirement home.

Since I am a cat lover and I know that there are many out there who are allergic to cats, I did not bring my cats to the office--except when my office was in my home in my first parish. But the cat was banished from my office during those times when parishioners were present. And if your dog is providing protection, I would suggest that it be trained to protect outside of your office when doing counseling or administration work with parishioners.

I think that bringing your pet to the office takes away from the clear one-on-one relationship that a parishioner desires with their pastor / priest. It means that all too often your attention is drawn to your pet rather than the single mindedness you want to have when giving pastoral care, or adminstering your parish. It also provides a way to avoid entering fully into the discussion with parishioners. Constantly having to worry about your dog's needs takes your attention from the work at hand.

There is something about boundaries that I have not quite thought through in this question, and it is something that perhaps you need to think on. Beasties tend to be a part of my home life that I really don't feel is a part of my parishioners' privy.

In my experience, it is off-putting to have to deal with another person's animals. And while I am not afraid of dogs, I don't appreciate much of doggy behavior. Some people are afraid of dogs and would not come to visit if they knew your dog was with you. I don't think it is a good idea.

And Sharon, blogging at Tidings of Comfort and Joy, writes that she does not have a dog, and would not bring a dog to work.

Do you have a bone to pick with our matriarchs? Join in the conversation by posting a comment below.

With prayers for all those facing the aftermath of this Spring's vicious storms,

rev honey

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday Festival: Transparency

Today's post comes from Rach, an Anglican ordinand in the United Kingdom, at her blog "Revising Reform" and is titled "Transparency." Click here to go to the blog post.

I hope to have an integrated life and sometimes wonder if I am naive or just optimistic or even just hopefully faithful.

I will soon be involved in public ministry.

I am married to a man in internet security who is savvy when it comes to the net and conscious about issues of privacy and security. We could not be further apart in terms of the worlds we inhabit. He has just joined facebook, anathema to him for a long time.

He wonders how I know the people I know and I have to explain to him that I inhabit multiple realms and no, I am not referring to the Pauline heavenly and earthly but to the earthly and virtual. I can speak more often to my virtual friends than my real friends some days because even though I might be immediately within my physical friends' proximity, sharing table and desk, more often than not, we are listening (to lectures, sermons etc) than speaking. In some ways I do not speak to virtual friends either, I write and so the keyboard has become almost an extension of me. I have just bought my first tablet and conversations can now be typed more easily where ever I go.

I am beginning also to consider some of the boundaries that are necessary and some that are to be thought through. Currently I am attempting to be as faithful as I can to the Continuing Indaba Encounter Social network and Blog Policy. This means that I am recording my internal conversations privately. They will get aired at some point but in a particular way. This blog has always sought to be investigative and to think out loud but I am conscious that words carry weight and responsibility. I knew that already, really.

I also accepted my first friendship request from a future parishioner today on facebook. This is not a problem. I want to demonstrate an integrity of life in all aspects of my existence and the realm of facebook is just another place where I converse. I know that I am caricatured by one other religion and belief blogger but I have become rather used to this and even though I am often scantily clad, I am hoping that people know that this is not a reflection of the way that I actually dress. I do like fashion, however, I am not denying that and have posted frequently on clergy attire, if clergy attire and the word 'fashion' can sit comfortably in the same sentence.

As I think about the photos that I have stored in my camera from New York, with which I have not gone public, I think about how far people in positions of influence are in some ways public property. On the other hand, they are people to be respected in terms of their private lives. The Ryan Giggs* case has highlighted again the blurry edges between the private and the public.

We can not escape comment. We can not escape being misquoted. Even in my writing a two hundred word description about myself for the local newspaper, with the editor returning to me the write-up before printing, I found I was saying things in quotation marks I have never said and I needed to correct simple issues of mistaken geography.

So to whom do we belong?

As ministers, we belong to the people and this will always involve the kind of vulnerability that I have been living out here in cyberspace for a number of years. Safer here probably where I can delete comments and disallow comments from certain posts if I do not want to engage in conversation, as I will be doing when I write personal responses to Indaba**.

Ultimately though, we belong to Christ and I am hoping that shaped by his example, we learn to bear witness to him in all forums virtual and real, this I will continue to do and inevitably I will make mistakes but it is in being prepared to be conformed to his likeness, that I seek the only protection I will ever need in the face of the misquotes, mistakes and my misbehaving caricature.

The blog will stay, the friendship requests will not be denied. The generosity I witnessed, the vulnerability and the openness I saw over the pond will be something I hope conditions my writing and attitude, so far, so good, I have little reason to be cynical.

*More on Ryan Giggs
**More on the Continuing Conversation Indaba Project

RevGals have discussed various ways of appearing in social media. What are your thoughts on this theological angle? If you comment, you can link to your blog by using this formula: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Everything New Edition

Anyone doing a series on Acts? If so, how's it going? If you're not doing a whole series, this might be a good week to dip a toe in. Make sure to read back a few verses to get into context, though.

Seems like Paul is supposed to be sort of hiding out in Athens while he waits for Silas and Timothy to catch up with him. Which he does in a typical Paul-ish way by arguing with everyone he meets in the town square. However abrasive his style, his message: "the God you are looking for, the God you dont even have a name for, the God who is in danger of getting lost in the forest of all the other things you are worshipping - let me tell you about that God..." is one that we could for sure take with us into our town squares (shopping malls? coffee shops?) today.

Or, maybe you are preaching about what Jesus commands us to do? 1 Peter is an option again this week. I, for one, have given 1 Peter the short shrift this time around - anyone want to rectify that oversight?

Those of you just back from Festival of Homiletics, please share your favorite pearl of wisdom with us. And everyone else, let us know what you are up to this Sunday. Comments are open for business.

What's that you say? You haven't seen the Brick Testament yet? Check it out here. Link to this week's texts found here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fourth Monday Book Review: The Long Goodbye

This month’s book review is of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir by Megan O’Rourke. Amazon’s description of the book is here. Information on O’Rourke is here. Yes, this is another book by a person writing about a universal experience from their point-of-view. I find that while experiences are corporate, journeys are individual. In The Long Goodbye, in particular, we meet a young woman (early 30s) who wants to believe that her thinking isn’t magical, that the right combination of intellectual pursuits, physical stretching and emotional openness will bring her mother back to life. It doesn’t. Grab a Kleenex or two and a comforting beverage. O’Rourke’s grief landscape is austere and harsh, with emotion-whipped rocky outcroppings and deep caverns of despair.

I came to this book somewhat reluctantly. I read O’Rourke’s initial forays into discussing her grief on Slate magazine and, doing my own grieving at the time, I found them inaccessible and, seemingly, self-indulgent. I could not connect with her pain and found no anchor in her writing to process my own.

Some of that work was incorporated into the book, but I did not recognize it in the longer form. I also found the book to have a depth and breadth I didn’t remember from the articles. I suspect that, for me, this was a better time to read this work and, perhaps, for O’Rourke a bit of time made the difference as well.

O’Rourke is a poet and her writing is full of metaphor that is heart-wrenching and inspiring in its attempts to describe the realities of watching one’s mother die and living in a world without the vessel that brought you into being. She writes, “I also felt that if I told the story of her death, I could understand it better, make sense of it- perhaps even change it. What had happened still seemed implausible: A person was present your entire life, and then one day she disappeared and never came back. It resisted belief. Even when a death is foreseen, I was surprised to find, it still feels sudden- an instant that could have gone differently.” (p. 139)  

The first half of the book is O’Rourke’s memory of her mother’s diagnosis of colon cancer and her death. The second half is O’Rourke’s grief and attempt to gain a handle on her emotional reaction, which both challenges and baffles her. As she feels the role-reversal as a child caring for a parent’s intimate needs, O’Rourke notes that she needs a mother, her mother, to help her process the fact that her mother is dying. She wants the final weeks and days to be full of meaning and tinged with significance. Instead, she finds herself watching television with her mother, talking about Christmas decorations, feeling frustrated. “Time doesn’t obey our commands. You cannot make it holy just because it is disappearing.” (81)

O’Rourke comes from a family that has little connection to a religious community. Her mother has, in part, turned away from the Roman Catholicism of her youth and so O’Rourke describes in detail the family’s love of reading, their outdoor summers, their love of one another. These are the objects of her devotion, the things that define her faith. The depth of these experiences is vast, but their breadth cannot quite cover the shock of the loss of her mother. O’Rourke notes that her brothers and her father all grieve differently and differently still from her. They all have the same injury, she says, but each manifests different symptoms (104).

In the months after her mother’s death, O’Rourke finds herself skeptical about rituals and yet longing for markers to note her emotions, the truth of her experience and inexplicability of what has happened and what lies beyond. She writes of her envy of her Jewish friends who have the Kaddish, of the words and prayers that give one’s mourning some shape and recognition. She writes, “I longed for rituals not only to indicate I was still in mourning but also to have a nonpsychological way of commemorating and expressing my loss. Without ritual, the only way to share a loss was to talk about it… At times, though, this sharing felt invasive. I did not want to be pitied. In those moments, I wanted a way to show my grief rather than tell it.” (157)

There is truth in what she says about our culture’s inability to deal with death. In our fear of doing the wrong thing, we often do nothing. All but the most religious among us have no desire to think on the inevitability of death. All but those of the strongest faith cling to the life of which we know, still having a tiny amount of uncertainty about the life to come in which we believe. Furthermore, in this day and age, death is as prevalent as ever, but in our Western culture it remains distant for many people until it is actually personal. We can avoid wakes and funerals for a long time until death comes to our nearest and dearest.

I often hear people talk about the fact that they long for a way for people to understand that they are dealing with a death without them having to say so. Mourning clothes, wreathes, pins… all these things served as societal markers to remind us to be gentle with grieving persons. Now, in our rawness, we are expected to yield in traffic, to be pushed in the grocery store, to pay our bills on time, yet all the while wanting to scream, “But my BELOVED DIED. I cannot see them. They are not here. I don’t want to do this. NONE OF THIS MATTERS.”

One of the metaphors that captured O’Rourke’s imagination was from C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed (among the best, if not THE best, books about dealing with personal grief). Lewis writes that a loss, the death of a beloved, is a like an amputation. “If the blood doesn’t stop gushing soon after the operation, you will die. To survive means, by definition, that the blood has stopped. But the amputation is still there.” (279)

One of the things that I frequently encounter is people who are surprised at how long the intensity of grief goes on. If we use the image of amputation, it becomes somewhat easier to comprehend that a grieving person is learning a new way to live. You may remain in the same neighborhood, but your address has changed. You may now reside in the “House of Deceased Spouse” or “My Mother is Dead” or “My Child No Longer Lives”. The new residence resembles your old one, but the layout is different enough to trip you up a little bit for much longer than you expect. The familiar look seems sinister because you can’t comprehend how anything could remain the same or, worse, move forward when you desperately long for markers of the change and for a pause in the world.

I have not even begun to convey the beauty of much of the writing in this book. O’Rourke’s book is worth reading if you’re interested in reading another perspective on dealing with grief. It is beautifully written. It is not the kind of book that you give someone (most people) immediately following a death. They need space and the rawness of this book may not be helpful in the immediate aftermath following a death. I think O’Rourke also stirs up good discussion points for people of faith. What are our mourning markers beyond the funeral or memorial service? How do we help our friends and neighbors at anniversaries and in bleak nights? What kind of words can we use to discuss grief and our fears? What light of truth can we bring to the world about tenderness to the grieving? What can we offer to those who are tangentially connected to faith communities?

Fine print: I purchased a copy of this book for review. All thoughts are my own. I have not been compensated in any way for anything said in this review. All quotations come from:
O’Rourke, Meghan. The Long Goodbye: A Memoir. Riverhead Books, New York, NY. 2011.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Prayer: Easter 5A

Holy God, we give you thanks
for the gift of life,
especially for the gift
Your Son, the Christ,
the Word, the way,
the truth,
who expands our
limited understanding
with outstretched arms
of love.

Holy God, we pray that you
be present with those the suffering
from storms or floods, from
draught, wind, or any of the
tides of creation that seek to
break down your creation
and destroy the work of
your hand.

Holy God, we pray that you
be comfort those afflicted,
the sick, and those who have died.
Embrace them in your hand, hold them
tender, like a mother her child,
like a father his infant, like
a friend cares for

Holy God, we ask that you so fill
our hearts, our minds, our spirits,
with your love and compassion that
we can be your hand, your heart
in the world.

Crossposted on A Place for Prayer.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

11th Hour Preacher Party: Many Mansions Edition

Good morning gals and pals!  It's going to be the 5th Sunday of Easter this weekend (if in fact the world does not end this evening):  do you know where your sermon is?

This weekend we've got as many choices as Jesus has mansions for us:  we can wander down the way, the truth and the life, where the many mansions are prepared, or we can be gathered up as living stones, or the royal priesthood, or we can confess with Stephen.   Or any one of a number of other things.  A great discussion about the texts is located here.

(Aside:  I'll always remember the year we were discussing the story of Stephen in confirmation.  One of the students came late, and as we tried to explain the story to her, her eyes got wide and she said:  "You mean Stephen was STONED?")

All right, back to our regularly scheduled preacher (and possibly end of the world) party.  We're starting with breakfast.  I'm making blueberry pancakes, have some fair trade coffee (toffee caramel) and orange juice.  Hope you can join us, sharing your inspiration, your struggles, your children's message(!).  We're here for you -- today anyway.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Five: Words

Since January our Sunday Spiritual Formation hour (or Sunday School) has been devoted each week to the presenter's description of a word that describes passion/love or something. No one knows who will be presenting or what the topic will be ahead of time! Each session has been invigorating in a different way. Last week's speaker talked about "words" and finished our time by asking each one of us what "word" we wanted to share--a favorite one.

So my suggestion for today's Friday Five is to write about 5 words you really like. Please explain why you have chosen each word, in such ways as:

It is a

  • description or attribute of yourself
  • activity you enjoy
  • word that is spelled or pronounced in an interesting way
  • passion of yours
  • word that brings you hope, peace, or comfort
  • word you like to repeat or sing
As always, let us know in comments if you play. Post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment with the formula I can never print out--click here for the info about it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ask the Matriarch - It's Graduation and Time for Interviews Edition

This week's post is quite timely...our love and prayers go out to all our sisters who find themselves in a similar place this Spring...

I am graduating from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. I am getting ready to start call process conversations in the next few weeks. I have enjoyed the words of wisdom, humor and support from RevGals and wonder what would be the wisdom from the road others might share with me?

Sharon, who blogs at Tidings of Comfort and Joy, offers the following Top Ten List...

Ah, the call process. What fun! Here's my top 10 list:
1. Enjoy! You will love this, especially if you thrive being the center of attention during a friendly grilling. (I loved it!)
2. Be impeccable about being your authentic self. God's best church-pastor matches are honest matches.
3. Be clear about what you require and what's fair, salary and otherwise. Consult denominational guidelines if available, and ask one or two colleagues serving in your denomination.
4. Get the important things in writing. Your covenant or contract should specify vacation time, conferences, salary, to whom you are accountable, etc.
5. What's important to you is, by definition, important. My adult children are scattered. So, my covenant substitutes grandmother leave for maternity leave. That's an extra week of vacation at the birth of each grandchild.
6. Don't count on well-intentioned, heart-felt promises that the church will raise (or add) anything "later when we can afford it" or "later when you've been here awhile." Proceed as if that day will never come.
7. If the committee communicates high expectations for your ministry with them, that's a good sign IF they also can easily identify by name those in the congregation for whom those things are also important enough that they are eager to work with you in that ministry.
8. If they use the words "save" or "savior" -- as in "We are looking for a savior for our Christian Ed program" -- kindly let them know that the job of Savior has already been filled and it's not you. (True story !)
9. Pay attention to your gut. If something seems off, say it out loud. If you get a creepy feeling walking into the sanctuary, don't blow that off. If the committee makes a joke about something, pay special attention. If the committee takes you to dinner and you see them pooling their individual money to pay the bill, instead of there being money for the committee to spend on their business, ask about that. (Again, true stories!)
10. And ... ENJOY! You are fulfilling God's dream for you and for your very fortunate congregation-to-be.

And from Muthah+, who blogs at Stone of Witness...
Congratulations on your graduation! And welcome to the world of the gainfully unemployed! As a Luth-Episck, I do understand the vagaries of the call process in our denominations.

First of all I would like to appeal to you to look at synods beyond your own locale if you can. There are many places in the ELCA that need you. But PA should have many congregations that can't be covered by traditional one congregation/one pastor types of configurations. And if you can wrap your head around that kind of ministry, go for it. It teaches you lots in a short amount of time. But perhaps your own bishop has something in mind for you. I know of a little congregation in Upstate NY....

Secondly, in the calling process, do your homework. When you get an inquiry from a congregation, have some questions in the back of your mind. If you know clergy in the synod, call them and find out what the synod is like, how the bishop relates to the clergy and info about the congregation. Be prepared to earn little. This is not a business that is going to help you pay off your loans easily. You will need to know what kind of mentoring there will be for new clergy in your synod, because no matter how good your seminary was, it did not prepare you to walk into a congregation. The learning curve is huge and you need to be prepared for it.

Thirdly: Love your people. They will hurt you all the time. Be prepared for it and love 'em anyway. Don't try to lead from the front. Lead them from the middle or push from behind. And keep humor as your your best prod.

Fourth: Never fib to your congregation! It is so easy to try to cover yourself when you have made a mistake. Don't do it. Let your integrity speak. Admit your mistakes and move on. If you are bewildered, admit it. The ministry is a shared work and collaborative leadership works much better than other forms if you can get your folks to do it. Don't let them get away with being passive. The Christian life is something we all have to do.

Fifth: Relax and have fun. Christ has come so that we might have life abundantly--the joy of pastoring is immense. Blessings on your willingness to open yourself to the life as a pastor. May your career be as joy-filled as mine has been and even better!

What can you add to these two thoughtful lists? Share your "wisdom from the road" with the "Post a Comment" function of this post.

We have just one question in the queue, so now is a great time to send in your questions. Send them to us at

May you live in God's amazing grace+

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday Festival: Women Who didn't Shut Up and Sit Down

Exciting news: One of our long-time ring members, Shawna R.B. Atteberry, has just published an e-book titled Women Who didn't Shut Up and Sit Down. Read all about it below, and for more information and to order, visit her website.

We've heard their voices all our lives.

  • Around the table.
  • From the pulpit.
  • From the boardroom.
  • They whisper in the wind.

They've spoken so long we think what they say is true. You know those voices:

"How wanton are the women of these heretics! they dare to dispute, to carry out exorcisms, to undertake cures, it may be even to baptize....It is not permissible for a woman to speak in church, nor may she teach, baptize, offer, or claim for herself any function proper to a man, and least of all the office of priest." --Tertullian

"Woman, a weak, gullible creature, should find her natural vocation in a life of domesticity in subordination of her husband." --A. T. Hanson

"The fact that Adam was created before Eve means that men are not to be subjected to the authority of women. Applying this principle to the organization of the church, Paul teaches that it is wrong for a woman to assume or hold a position in which she rules over a man; in such a case, the Creation hierarchy is violated." --James Bordwine

"I believe that the Scriptures ask me to refrain from exercising final spiritual authority in the church. I am to avoid usurping the authoritative roles of men in teaching and in church discipline. Specifically I am to avoid teaching men or judging male leadership." --Rebecca Jones

All of us have grown up with these voices whispering insidiously in our ears. For centuries Western Christian theology has promoted the subjugation of women, and it affects many women who grew up even in secular countries. In the last years I've read rants against the evils of feminism from some of the top Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christian leaders who blame women wanting to go to work, go into ministry, and be equals to their husbands for all the social ills happening in our country. If women would just stay home divorce rates would plummet, no abortions would happen, public schools wouldn't be in trouble, and all the world's ills would come to an end.

There's just one little problem.

Does the Bible really say all of that?


Women Who Didn't Shut Up & Sat Down will introduce you to women in the Bible who:

  • Were religious leaders.
  • Disobeyed their husbands to obey Godde.
  • Had careers.
  • Made their own decisions.

And guess what?

The world did not end. (Yes, I realize that's a bit presumptuous on May 17, 2011 when the world is supposed to end on May 21,2011. But then again I remember 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Happen in 1988, so I will be presumptuous.)

There are over 30,000 verses in the Bible. Eight verses have been used to keep women out of leadership positions in both sacred and secular realms. Eight verses have been used to make women second-class citizens, and at times, virtual slaves to their husbands. The rest of the Bible is full of stories of strong women who led their families, their people, and their countries.

In this E-book you meet women like:

  • Deborah who was a prophet, judge, and military leader.
  • Abigail who disobeyed her husband and saved her household.
  • The Syro-Phoenician woman who wouldn't take "No" from Jesus.
  • Phoebe, a pastor and patron of the early church.

Every year women turn away from their dreams to have a career, be a pastor, or be a priest because they have been told their entire lives that those desires are a sin. Every year many woman believe that they are obeying Godde and turn away from their callings because only men can do those jobs. Every women resign themselves to the reality they will never be the people Godde made them to be because of these lies.

And they are lies.

Lies that have told for 2,000 years.

But lies nonetheless.

It's time to tell the other side of the story. These women's stories. Our story.

For a limited time when you buy the E-book, Women Who Didn't Shut Up & Sit Down, you will receive six free podcasts of responses to the book. The interviews are with a variety of people: Christian and non-Christian, scholars, church members, and those who have an interest in the Bible historically but not religiously. On June 1 these podcasts will go into their own package and will no longer be free. I am still conducting the interviews and editing them; I will E-mail them to you as they become available.

Don't let those voices keep you from doing what you have dreamed of.

Don't let those voices keep you from being the woman Godde created you to be.

Buy Women Who Didn't Shut Up & Sit Down today and find out what it looks like to be a woman made in the image of Godde.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - The Way, the Truth and the Life edition

My ordination interview was overall a relatively good experience. One question that made me sweat, though, was about this passage. A member of the interview committee said something like, "The longer I am a pastor myself, the more I struggle with these words 'no one comes to the Father except through me.' What do YOU do with them?" If you asked me that again today, I would probably dither just as much as I did then before ending (as I think I did during the interview) with "Well, I just can't believe that." Somehow, I want to do more with this week's sermon than those six exasperated words.

The New Interpreter's Bible (you're right, you don't see me pulling THAT out very often) opines "The Fourth Gospel is not concerned with the fate...of Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists, nor with the superiority or inferiority of Judaism and Christianity as they are configured in the modern world. These verses are the confessional celebration of a particular faith community, convinced of the truth and life it has received in the incarnation." If it doesn't exactly PREACH, it is, perhaps, at least a place to start.

If, like me, you're more a memoir reader than a commentary-studier, you might check out It's Really All About God: How Islam, Atheism and Judaism Made Me a Better Christian. I'm 88 pages in, I've dogeared about 70 of them as "worth going back to" including page 9: "If God created all of humanity but gave life-giving knowledge - usually referred to as 'revelation' - to only some of humanity, would God in any meaningful sense be thought of as the One God and not only as a god?"

I guess I'm going to be thinking about that one verse all weekend. What's on your mind this week? Maybe you would rather talk about some of the other lovely language in the John passage instead - you could do a lot with the "way, the truth, and the life" I'd think. Or with how you see God and Christ at work in the world. Or, are you heading down the martyrdom road with Stephen? Or tackling something else entirely? Comments are open.

Links to this week's texts found here. Picture of four faces of Jesus found here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Save the Date -- Big Event 5.0

We're excited to announce plans for the Big Event 5.0, which will be held January 28 to February 2, 2012, on Carnival Elation out of New Orleans.

Take the Book out of the Box
Jenee Woodward, the author and collector of the study, preaching and worship website, "The Text This Week," will lead a workshop on the gospel texts in the weeks after Pentecost for Year B in the Revised Common Lectionary. We’ll seek worship interpretations of the scriptures that speak to the context of our local communities, just as Mark and John did in their gospels. These might include writing prayers and other liturgy, developing creative or interactive presentations of the stories, and even making videos we could take back with us. Think of the ship as a lab instead of a classroom, and come put the Extra in Ordinary Time!

Please send us an email if you are interested in a brochure. We are finalizing a few details and will have them ready by June 1.

Some have asked, "Why continue to have a cruise? Why not a land-based BE again?" A cruise provides superior comfort and service for a relatively modest cost. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free participants have been accommodated graciously and with a variety of options. All meeting space is included for no charge. Being off-shore and in international waters provides a kind of getaway that most pastors don't get anymore, one where you truly cannot receive phone calls or emails. Past attendees, even people who were dubious about going on a cruise, have enjoyed the experience very much. However, to honor the concerns raised by those who cannot or will not do a cruise, we will be exploring alternatives for 2013. If you have suggestions, please do email us.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Prayer; Easter 4A

Holy and Gracious God,
you call us by name,
Beloved One,
and beckon us to follow you.
May we do so through your grace.

In your Name we pray,
Hear our prayer.

Like a shepherd tending the flock
you tend to our needs.
Be present with those who
struggle, suffer, are in pain
or sorrow. Guide those who are
lost, or filled with worry and fear.
Protect those who are in harms way
heal those who are ill,
mend those who are broken,
as only your love can.

God of peace, watch over those who
lead us in our various governments
and churches, fill our leaders with
wisdom, patience, insight, and mercy.
Help them to lead with kindness and strength.

God of love, fill our hearts with
the knowledge of You that we can turn
from the distractions of life and be
more like You. May we be agents of
your compassion offering kindness
to those we meet this day.

God of all blessings, we thank you for
all the gifts of life. For your Son,
our savior, our great Good Shepherd,
the one who stands at the gate of
all life's challenges and joys,
calling out to us in love. Naming
us, Beloved.

For all this, and more we pray.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

11th Hour Preacher Party: Abundant Life Edition

Simple Abundance Lap Quilt
"Simple Abundance" lap quilt
Greetings to all of you preachers, friends of preachers and especially you not-this-week preachers!


Pull up a chair and join us 11th hour preachers as we ponder and process and preach-ify the abundance of good news in this weeks texts.

Are you preaching about the abundant life purpose of Jesus in John 10?

Will you inspire your congregation to emulate the abundance shared by the Acts 2 church?

Or will you enfold your flock with the Shepherd's abundant and abiding presence in Psalm 23?

Interesting coincidence:  Psalm 23 was one of the scriptures for Lent 4, the first week I hosted the preacher party here, and I preached on it then.  On this, my second round as hostess just a few weeks later, we are served up Psalm 23 once again!   For the liturgically curious, Psalm 23 comes around again on October 11, 2011.

Where are your thoughts and prayers leading you this week?

How will you use current events or personal stories?

Any children's sermon ideas?

Please share generously!  Anyone have coffee ready?

Lots of sheep
An abundance of sheep

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Five on Facebook

Due to the Blogger outage, we are playing Friday Five on Facebook. Come see us there!

Regular posting here will resume tomorrow with the 11th Hour Preacher Party, Blogger permitting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ask the Matriarch - Juggling Parish and Parent Care Edition

We who are pastoral caregivers are often also caring for our children or our parents, and some of us are caring for both...hence this week's question.

Hi Matriarchs:

I know that there are lots of RevGals out there who are juggling mothering and ministry, but I'm wondering about those who are at the other end of the life cycle and are juggling caregiving and ministry. My Dad is 86, and has a dementia. My step-mother is the same age and is a very late stage Alzheimer's patient, requiring total care. My step-mom is in a long term care facility that is attached to the (very good) Assisted Living facility, where my Dad lives, so their day to day needs are well looked after. That being said, in my Dad's case, he still gets lonely, he still gets worried, he still gets frustrated and upset and it is me he turns to. It always seems to get particularly bad around Easter and Christmas (which is totally understandable), but, of course, that is the time when my own resources are pretty low.

I try to reframe the situation is the most positive way possible, it's great for my prayer life, it keeps me humble, it gives me awareness of what a great many in my parish are dealing with, etc. etc., But sometimes it gets pretty difficult and the guilt rears its ugly head and bites me pretty hard. I'm wondering about others who are in similar situations, what kind of things they've discovered that can help, and any words of wisdom they might be able to share.

Jennifer, who blogs at An Orientation of Heart, writes

Dear Friend,
I think all of us who feel stretched thin by the demands of ministry so understand the frustrations and challenges of family life, especially at critical stages and critical times in life. Something or someone always seems to suffer and may need more than we have to offer. You haven’t said how near or far away for folks are. Can you plan some visits after Christmas and Easter (and other times, too) so that your dad has something on the calendar to look forward to?

Who do you talk to? Maybe it would be helpful to talk to someone about the guilt you’re feeling. If you’re concerned about not being as available as you’d like, is it possible to set up a regular time to chat on the phone? Again, it might help your dad to have that chat to anticipate and you, so that you could speak with him when you don’t feel quite so crunched. Plans for contacts that you feel good about may help you feel better about your availability to your dad and step-mom. If you feel guilty because you’d like to do more or be there more, do act on that! Regrets are not comfortable things at all…and time is limited.

If you feel guilty because you’re being made to feel so, think about what you are able to do, communicate that, and help your dad widen his network of support so that the burden doesn’t fall completely to you. Stephen ministers, visitation pastors, chaplains in assisted living settings, and friendly visitors are all great sources of support and nurture. Maybe knowing that there are others in your family’s life who are reaching out to them will be a source of comfort to you, too.

Muthah, who blogs at A Stone of Witness, writes

Dear Daughter-sistah,
I went through this time with my mother. She too was in a good facility and my brother lived only 15 mins. away. But the guilt does raise its head. I finally figured out that it was MY problem and not my mother's and that helped.

Check with the social worker where your father is. Also check with you father's pastor so that the real needs of them are adequately covered. See to it that they are called on and visited regularly and then call them to see how they are getting along. You need to be able to salve your own anxiety about your parents' care.

My mother had outlived most of her friends so see if you can find church members who might be willing to visit with them. I knew that I could not care for my mother as well as the people in the retirement facility could and I just kept reminding myself of that. One of the problems with people late in lives is that they remember things that only family members can remember--your childhood, when they were young, etc. Share some of those stories with their caregivers. It will help them and help you.

Remember God has given you a ministry--they are your concern at present. If you are lucky enough to have a parish that is sympathetic to your situation you probably can negotiate time off to visit more often, but your parish is your main concern. You will always feel a bit guilty knowing that your most loved people in the whole world are at a time when they seem to need you most of all. But one thing that I have found is that when a person gets to that time when they are anxious about life/death issues, most likely they cannot talk about them to their children. Nor should I think that children can really help parents go through that. There IS an aspect of dying that is 'a lonesome valley' and we DO have to walk it by ourselves.

It sounds like you have done what you can. Prayer is what unites us at times when there is nothing else that will work. And allow yourself and them to be placed on your parish's prayer list. You will be in my prayers, Sistah. This is not an easy journey for them or for you, but know that we all have to walk this path in some way.

Sharon, at Tidings of Comfort and Joy, writes

Our amazingly strong and loving RevGal sister, please know that you have already done some very difficult and very helpful things: You have made sure that your loved ones are well cared for. You have bumped up against your limitations. You have said out loud that what you do seems inadequate and that you are feeling guilty and overwhelmed. Reframing is a great thing, and so is an enhanced prayer life.

The "Serenity Prayer" comes to mind for your complex concerns. I do not suggest this lightly or tritely. It is my own prayerful way to sort out where I might be over-functioning and where I might be under-functioning when I don't know what to do.

"Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change ..." You are facing so much sadness and pain that you will not be able to change, yours and theirs. I wonder if this where your guilt is coming from. Can you allow yourself to lovingly accept the limitations: your limitations (time, energy, strategies) as well as your parents' limitations (age, ability to understand and accept) and even the limitations of the situation itself (it is messy, not solve-able)?

Then there's " . . . change the things I can . . . " Increase your self care. Whatever self care you think is enough, do more than that. There might be other ways you can increase the support they get (from friends, family, their church?) and the support you get (from all possible sources!) Sometimes just changing anything that you can change, even if it seems insignificant or silly, changes the bigger picture. I usually try to involve ice cream or flowers or music somehow; your strategies may vary.

" . . . and the wisdom to know the difference!" You are wise; it shows. Let that wisdom speak to you and free you from all anxiety and guilt. You love them immensely, that's obvious, so trust that, in all the ways you care for them, you are already loving them with the always-more-than-love of God.

Are you juggling parish and parent care? Do you have some insights to share? Use the "Post a Comment" function to join the conversation.

May you live in God's amazing grace+


Wednesday Festival: Mother's Day & Easter 3A

At left: Anna Reeves Jarvis.

Today's post is from the blog Feminist Theology in an Age of Fear and Hope.

A reflection on the readings for Easter 3A by the Rev. Jacqueline Schmitt

This is where I am starting my thoughts for a sermon for this Sunday, May 8, the Third Sunday of Easter: with the history of Mother's Day and

It was started in 1870 as a day for mothers to pray and work for peace, for the end of war, to decry that their sons and husbands would go to war and, as Julia Ward Howe wrote in her Mother’s Day Declaration, “unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.” Howe was an abolitionist, a worker for peace and woman suffrage – the epitome of the late 19th century progressive, convinced that women truly and naturally embodied all Christian and civic virtues. The carnage of the Civil War so disturbed her that she was moved to commemorate the values of peace and motherhood with this Mother’s Day. It was celebrated in June in her lifetime, and she funded many of the commemorations.

As the battle scars of the Civil War faded, and after Howe’s death, Anna Reeves Jarvis rekindled and readapted Howe’s commemoration – she called it “Mother’s Friendship Day,” with the intention to “re-unite families and neighbors that had been divided between the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War.”

In 1908 Anna M. Jarvis, her daughter, yet again revived the holiday, now a commemoration both of peace and of the dedication of her mother, as a Sunday School teacher and as the founder of Mother’s Day as a day of peace and reconciliation. After a quiet gathering at her home in Philadelphia, Jarvis went public with Mother’s Day at her Methodist Church in West Virginia – and in today’s terms, it went viral. The idea of honoring mothers with flowers (white carnations for the dead, pink or red for the living) and festivities – struck a chord in the human heart, and soon lots of churches and communities were doing it. Anna M. Jarvis became a political activist, to have Mother’s Day, as she conceived it, to be recognized nationally as a holiday. This was backed by the YMCA and, very powerfully, by the World Sunday School Association, and this Progressive Era victory for the virtues of motherhood was signed into law in 1914 by Woodrow Wilson.

Ironically, the declaration coincided with the meteoric rise of commercialism and advertising in the US, and from the 1920s on, the flower and greeting card industries have taken on Mother’s Day for their own. This profit-making Mother’s Day disturbed Anna M. Jarvis greatly, and she loudly and publicly opposed what she deemed a misuse of the holiday – from 1920s until her death in 1948.

It is poignant, indeed, as we contemplate Mother’s Day 2011, thinking about its origins in the protest of the carnage of war. When late 19th and early 20th century women banded together for peace, they believed that their womanly and motherly virtues transcended national borders, and that women around the world would unite to bring an end to war. As Julia Ward Howe wrote in her original declaration:

"We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war.
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

Solemn thoughts to consider during this week that saw one of the declared enemies of America brought to a violent end. I was relieved that President Obama did not rattle swords or preach bellicosity in his address to the nation, but I was made slightly uncomfortable by the campus and community demonstrations on Sunday night and Monday. Has our younger generation taken the rhetoric of patriotic valor into the arena of vengeance and American exceptionalism?

Most news coverage early in the week, however, included more nuanced reflections on the American reactions to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Young people growing up in the shadow of 9/11 have had these events and debates thrust upon them at every turn. From Tuesday’s New York Times, I found this helpful to read:
"In the world of the so-called millennial generation, said Neil Howe, a writer and historian who is often credited with defining that term for the generation, “Evil is evil, good is good. There are no antiheroes, there is no gray area. This is a Harry Potter vignette, and Voldemort is dead.”

“In a Harry Potter world,” he said, “their mission is to save the world for the rest of society. This is their taking pride in what their generation is able to do.”

Reading on, though, it was clear that not everyone cast their lives in Manichean terms. The article quoted one young woman, a Muslim American, who said she began wearing a head scarf after the attacks on the World Trade Center:

“I feel like regardless of your religion after 9/11, it made everyone question what it was like to be an American.”

That same New York Times article, that talked about how vocally patriotic young adults had become, also noted that these same young adults were increasingly likely to want to get to know the world around them, to study abroad, to learn about other societies and religions. That’s good. Even these young people who have seen so much violence and disruption during their whole lives, whose own families and communities may have been harmed by those terrible events of September 11, seem to be continuing the trend we have seen for a generation, of teenagers who enter young adulthood wanting to make a difference, to give back, to get involved, whose hearts burn within them to make the world a better place.

That’s where I’m going with my sermon this week: to connect the experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who described their encounter with the risen Jesus as something that made their hearts burn within them, with people who, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, find the energy and commitment to get up and work to make the world a better place. To me, the connection is discipleship, and how we form our children, and each other, to be the kind of followers of Jesus who recognize the love of God in the unlikeliest of places – to be the kind of people whose hearts are set on fire for that love, and who know that justice and mercy truly walk hand in hand.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. If you have written about any of these issues this on your blog, and want to share, do give us a link using the following formulation: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to click here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Abundant Life Edition

We are city folk now - or suburban at least - although just a generation or two ago, the place where my church stood was surrounded by dairy farms. Even though animal husbandry is within living memory of some in the congregation, I'm betting the shepherd imagery in many of our readings and hymns will seem pretty quaint and far away for most folks who I'll see this week.

And anyway, I'm noticing that most of the modern commentary I read in preparation for Good Shepherd Sunday does seem to emphasize the gentle nurturing of our Savior. I'm betting, though, that shepherding in the first century had a lot more to do with whacking wild animals with big sticks, practicing creative out-in-the-field midwifery, and staying up all night to catch the thieves climbing over the fence than it did with cuddling anything as fluffy, sweet and clean as this.

However, we are talking about preaching here, not quibbling over farming techniques. And a word of comfort, solace and protection may be just what your congregation is hungry for, in which case John 10 and Psalm 23 are ready and waiting for you. On the other hand, you might want to look at the abundant life promised by Christ in community, as you continue your pre-Pentecost series on the post-Pentecost church in Acts. Or, perhaps you are going in a different direction altogether.

Whatever you are thinking or preaching about this week, (or if you are a shepherd willing to share a real life story or two of your life in the pasture) we'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Art from here. Links to this week's texts found here.

Monday, May 09, 2011

RevGalBlogPals Meet-up at Festival of Homiletics

During next week's Festival of Homiletics, RevGalBlogPals will hold a meet-up dinner, and everyone is welcome. You will find the details below and on our Facebook page. Please RSVP via Facebook so we can get a rough headcount. And feel free to leave questions either here or there.

Hope to see you in Minneapolis!

Time:   Tuesday, May 17 -- 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Location: Great American Grill --Hilton Garden Inn Minneapolis Downtown,  1101 4th Avenue South

This schedule should allow time to get to the next event that evening.

Our first ever meet-up was during the Festival of Homiletics in Atlanta in 2006. It's amazing to think it's been five years! This is a great chance to put names and faces together and to meet friends you never knew you had before.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sunday Prayer Easter 3A

Gracious One
be with those who
need you this day

Those who are suffering
from the storms
tornados and tsunami's
or drought
and wild fires
for suffering
in every way.

Gracious One
be with those who
seek you this day

Those who cry
from depths
of heart
soul longing

Gracious One
be with those who
do not know You

The who are lost
or, reject your love
or doubt you
or cannot feel your
ever present spirit.

Gracious One
who love us as

Startle us
beckon, guide
awaken us

Gentle One
gift us
with love
like a mother
the one we had,
the one we wish we had
the one we hope to be
the one we find
like the women
at the foot of the cross
a love that never ends

Gracious One
reveal yourself
to us
be with us
live in us.

crossposted on A Place for Prayer and SeekingAuthenticVoice

Saturday, May 07, 2011

11th Hour Preacher Party: Juggling Plates Edition

I'm old enough to remember watching it in black-and-white. I admit it. I loved the guy spinning plates on the Ed Sullivan Show.

And this Sunday feels like a plate-spinning day. We have my favorite post-Resurrection appearance, on the road to Emmaus. We have Mother's Day. And we have a big news event that happened early enough in the week that people not only know about it, they've had time to ponder it. At my church, add Communion and Blanket Sunday. How about at yours?

Here at the Preacher Party, we will help you keep your plates in the air.

We may even find something good to put on them if they fall. (I'm thinking omelet this morning, you?)

Please join the conversation in the comments. Let us know what you're preaching, how you're handling complexities and whether you have a great idea for the Children's Time. We'll be here until all the plates are put away for next week!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday Five: Word Association

It's been a busy week for me, trying to get back into the routine after a post-Easter vacation. (How did it get to be Easter 3?) So to keep it simple, here's a Word Association Friday Five, with a bonus twist for those feeling creative. First, for each of these five words -- all of which remind me of my *most* excellent vacation -- share the first word that comes to mind when you read it.

1) Airport
2) Baseball
3) Art
4) Chocolate
5) Grill

Bonus: Tell us a story that comes to mind based on one of the word pairs.

And, now that it's Friday morning and I'm fully awake (!), I invite you not only to answer these questions at your blog but to leave a note in the comments here telling us you played. I will be around to visit your blogs today and see your answers. If you leave a link with your comment, you'll probably get more visitors! Here's how!

And if you like to visit with us but don't have a blog, please feel free to leave your Friday Five directly in the comments!!! We want to meet you!