Monday, October 31, 2011
I thought we might share ways we have spent Continuing Ed or Study Leave time. If you've found a creative way to use time off with little money, or have been to a conference or program others might like, please share in the comments. Thanks!
As for me, I'm hoping my week doesn't end up looking like the one in the graph. :-)
Sunday, October 30, 2011
The people you have redeemed.
Here we stand, Lord,
giving thanks to you for you are good.
We give thanks that your love lasts forever.
We thank you that you free those who are oppressed.
Here we stand knowing that it is you
We all can cry out to for help in times of trouble.
We know that you will not only deliver us but
That you will lead our way to where we need to go.
Here we stand by the living water
That you set flowing for all.
We drink freely from your waters
That gratifies everyone who is thirsty.
And we thank you that you also
Give plenty to eat for those who are hungry.
Here we stand with those who reformed the church so long ago
And with those who still are reforming the church today.
Here we stand witnesses to your good news for all.
Here we stand your servants, your followers, your children.
cross posted at a place of prayers and rev abi's longand winding road
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Have you seen my fringe?
It is long, and it is pretty.
It is shiny, and it is nicer than yours.
I would love to invite you to sit at the Preacher Party table, but I'm not sure there's room due to the immense gloriosity of all my fringes.
But if you would like to work on your sermon, I think there might be some space at the other end of the banquet table.
Okay, not really. There's room for all of us at the RevGalBlogPals table. But this week's gospel lesson certainly asks us to consider what form our fringe takes today. What are your thoughts? How do you make this lesson one for the children? Or are you headed to another selection in the lectionary? There are great thoughts about Reformation Sunday over at our Lectionary Leanings post. Join the conversation in the comments. Whatever else befalls, we will finish our sermons!
Friday, October 28, 2011
1. A Scripture- it might be a verse or a whole book!
2. A piece of music.
3. A place.
4. A person/ group of people
5. Something you do...
As always, let us know in comments if you play. Even better, get in the habit of posting a direct link to your blog entry in your comment, 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, October 27, 2011
Here's our question for the week...along with no fewer than 5 responses!
I am a "mature" second career minister in a small family sized city parish. I am also the first woman minister. Although I haven't experienced any negative feedback, I have noticed that the men in the parish simply don't seem to know how to relate to me. And to be totally honest, I'm not sure how to relate to them. I took this call after experiencing a very public and humiliating marriage failure. The experience has left me shell shocked and with a rather jaundiced opinion of men which I suspect is likely adding to the awkwardness of relating to the men in the parish. After 20+ years of marriage, I simply don't know how to relate to men in this capacity. When I was married, my partner would always "pave the way" for me, initiating conversations and often guiding them.
As a result of this awkwardness, the ministry to the men in the parish (which, in the past has been quite vital in the past) has ground to a halt. There are a couple of the men that I relate well to, and recently I asked one of them to see if he could work to gather the men together again. He has set up a men's breakfast for a Saturday morning not too far in the future, and although I offered to cook, he told me that part of the fun and fellowship comes about as the men prepare their own breakfast. Which I can understand. When we spoke about the spiritual aspect of the morning, I didn't get a whole lot of direction, although he indicated that it was something they wanted. I didn't offer to come in to do it because I felt (maybe wrongly) that the men would want to hear a male voice (after all they get to hear me every Sunday morning). I offered to invite a male colleague, but that may be difficult, given the time constraints.
What do you all think? do I provide materials? (if so, do you have suggestions), do I find a male colleague do I "drop in".....
The Lady Father
Terri, blogging at SeekingAuthenticVoice, writes:
I am so sorry you have had this sad, public, humiliating experience. Learning to retrust yourself and others (men) is a difficult process. I commend you for your ability to articulate this concern and face into it so openly. It sounds as if you are doing some good work toward healing? If it were me I might find myself a male spiritual director and a male therapist to help me relearn to trust myself, trust male voices and to understand men a little better.
In terms of this event, if you can manage your anxiety well enough, it could be a good relearning process for you and an opening for the men to see you in a more trusting place. I would create a reflection that meets men in areas they can relate too. So for example, I might build a reflection off of the movie, Moneyball. It is filled with a number of concerns: winning, competition, personal integrity, family and love of children. It seems this might give you a way to anchor a spiritual reflection building off of imagery that men can relate too, keeping the subject matter not too personal for you, but also allowing you room to flex your leadership and spiritual muscles a bit. If Moneyball doesn't appeal to you, you could use another movie about sports (A River Runs Through It, about fly-fishing and a Presbyterian minister and his sons).
That said, it is awkward, even in the best of circumstances, for men to become comfortable with women in positions of leadership, particularly when it is their first experience of it. But it is possible for this to be a good process for all of you. Down the road, bringing in outside speakers who can talk about the differences in leadership styles, might be a way for each of you to learn. Or inviting your vestry/leadership to read a couple of books together on leadership styles might be useful. (Alban Institute has many options). Also, finding a consultant such as Jim Gettel of Middle Voice might offer an outside voice to help guide you and the leadership through the early days of this new leadership. Jim helped me through a very challenging leadership dilemma and I highly recommend him.
I do hope that this becomes a source of healing and renewed wholeness for you. It seems as if it could be a wonderful opportunity. And, putting in place some support systems for you, may be a healthy means toward this. Having trusted men, outside the congregation, with whom you can process your anxiety, may help.
I will hold you in prayer during this time.
Muthah+, blogging at Stone of Witness, offers this:
Dear Lady Father,
I can relate to the awkwardness. While I was not in the first wave of ordained women, I have always been 'the first woman' in every parish I served. I am now in a diocese where women have been prohibited until just 2 years ago.
1. I think you need to deal with your own 'stuff' re. the marriage break-up. That may be coloring how you relate to the parish. But go easy on yourself. We all have our baggage in our work. I really don't think that this is a problem of being a woman, however.
2. Remember, in a family-sized parish you are the 'chaplain'. Until you have been there long enough for the parish to center around you (about 10 yrs.) you are an out-sider to them. It is the way that parishes that size work. Getting them to be pastor-centered would cause havoc unless the parish is growing by leaps and bounds. You will never be the pastor or rector--even if your title says so. You will always be the person that comes from outside of this relatively closed system. You can only enter this parish if one of the matriarchs or patriarchs 'adopts' you. Work on that. Once you have the approbation of one of the patriarchs you will be home free.
3. I found letting the Men's group 'cater to you' works. It may not be 'womanist' or how you would have it. But if you can make some connections by letting them treat you as 'their special person at the breakfast' it will break down some of the barriers. They want to serve their priest and you need to allow yourself to be served. You can bet that "Father Mann" would not be cooking them breakfast! And yes, it IS important for the men to carry on their ministries in the parish. Ask them how you can serve them. They WILL tell you if not in so many words. If they need a male pastor to be present to them, they will tell you.
4. If there is a man (especially if he is a patriarch) that you trust (and you also have a good relationship with his wife), he can help you breakdown any barriers. Talk it over with him and with his wife. I always found that the answers to the dynamics of a parish were to be found among the members of the parish. They may not be able to express them in social dynamics language, but they do know each other well enough that they know how to deal with them. Use the people who called you to gain insight into the congregation. ( I know that this is not the 'clean' above-board way that we would like to work in a parish, but parishes are seldom clean and above-board---ESPECIALLY SMALL ONES!
5. Also, there is a very old pamphlet on the size of parishes called Sizing Up the Congregation, by Arlin Routhage that is worth its weight in gold. That little bit of information saved my bacon on many of occasions. I am sure it is out of print, but the material is still quite relevant. Google it.
And enjoy being their 'first.' I was quite interested that President Obama called +Gene Robinson to find out what it meant to the "The First". We all have had to go through this but it is something to rejoice about. I found that there was some great freedom because I could do things that predecessors could not do because I was "the first." But also know that there will be a certain amount of anxiety about having a "first'. Know that you can only bring a certain amount of change into the parish dynamic because you provide a certain amount yourself. I knew I couldn't move the altar because just dealing with having a woman priest was enough. But I prepared them to move the altar and they did that during the interim before the next rector came.
Most of all, love your folks. Be present to them as much as possible. Be visible in their community as much as possible--go to school ball games if that is the way to assure them of your support in the community. Support the various organizations that are the glue to the town. And whatever you do--don't criticize their hometown. (I stubbed my toe once!)
First, prayers for you as you continue to recover from the end of your marriage. I am continuing to recover from that as well - also public and humiliating - and encourage you, if you are not already, to get involved in a therapeutic relationship. I did the whole recovery thing solo for awhile and found that my friends, congregation and I were suffering for it.
I think as you presented it, I would let the men do their thing. They've done it in the past and so someone will be able to lead. Their understanding of how to relate to you will take time, as will your own healing and understanding of how to relate to them. Continue to touch base with the gentleman you asked to be in charge of it so he knows you still support the ministry, but give them time to build back up as a group and you time to gain your footing with the new understanding of who you are, never forgetting, of course, Whose you are. Blessings on your continued journey through sometimes painful and awkward territory.
From Jennifer, blogging at An Orientation of Heart:
You’re a brave soul to name all of the feelings and frustrations that are going on in your mind and heart!
That you’re sensing an awkwardness is a first step. That you can identify some men with whom you can relate well is another good step.
I wonder if you would feel comfortable gathering those guys and be as transparent as you feel able to be. Let them know you’d like to be supportive of a revival of the men’s ministry.
Let them know that men’s ministry doesn’t feel like one of your strengths, but that you understand that it’s been vital in the past and you’d like to encourage it to be once again.
Ask them if they would be willing to take leadership roles. Ask them to tell you about what made it great before and what they’d like to see happen in the future?
A new day is a great time to seek direction from the whole group. They may have ideas to share and are just waiting to be asked!
Then ask them: “What role (if any) would you like me to play?” Keep asking questions. Don’t assume. Be open and invite open conversation.
I know you’re anticipating that the breakfast is coming up soon, but you ask one of the guys you find approachable to lead a brief devotion.
Would they like you to drop by? Ask them. Don’t assume.
Does the leadership have to come from outside the group? Ask them this question and any other questions you have!
As an additional thought, I’m thinking that you’ve had and will continue to have men who have pastoral needs, serve on leadership boards, attend worship, are involved in mission and more in your parish.
Sorting out how you relate to men seems like a real growing edge.
I hope your denomination provides good benefits and that you might have some willingness to seek some counseling for your own health as well as your relationships as a minister/pastor who is and will be engaged in ministry with men and women, too.
Please get some help with this. Your ministry will benefit from some therapy and direction, and your heart will heal, too.
Your situation takes me down a couple of familiar roads. I still remember being so surprised at how utterly lost and awkward I felt at the first wedding I officiated after the end of my 20+ year marriage. To be disoriented after such a major life trauma, especially concerning your interactions with men, is normal. I encourage you to use all the resources you can muster to work through the divorce after-effects, including counseling, spiritual direction, and support from trusted females in your life. It helped me to be around men I did trust -- relatives, friends, neighbors -- to help get back my confidence in relating appropriately to men.
As for the men's breakfast: I was the first female pastor in a congregation that had a monthly Saturday men's breakfast. They didn't want anything of a particularly spiritual nature at their meetings; they had speakers and programs, and the attendees were not all from our church. I got the distinct message that this event was for men only, but they did invite me to be the program one Saturday to introduce myself to the group. It was an interactive time together where I got to know them too. After that, I would often poke my head in while they were cooking, say hi, and leave before it could seem like I was looking for an invite. So, because you are their pastor, I think you could ask to come to one of their meetings for a little while to introduce yourself to them, to welcome them into the life of the church, and to express your ongoing desire to be supportive in any way you can. Then -- my advice: Leave that group to themselves until they ask for you.
Above all, be gentle and patient with yourself as you regain your confidence and comfort levels. This congregation called you, as you are, and is looking forward to your ministry!
Given all of these insights, I can't imagine adding more...but maybe you can! Please use the Post a Comment feature to join the conversation. And please send your questions to us at email@example.com
May you live in God's amazing grace+
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
A few times lately I have made reference to the fact that my mother passed away in September. Actually, I despise that phrase: passed away. Makes it sound so benign and innocent. She was peacefully at rest when she “passed away” but I do not believe for a moment that death itself is sweet, innocent or benign. She had finally been removed from the heinous machine that forced air into her mouth and demanded that she struggle to exhale in some sort of epic battle designed not to torture the patient or family, though it certainly seemed to do that quite well, but to reduce the amount of CO2 in her blood. She had been given anti-anxiety medication to keep her from panicking as her body became increasingly powerless to provide itself with adequate air. She’d also had enough blood thinner to give her hands and arms cruel maroon gloves; marks of the battle. At the end, it was the most peaceful I had seen her in years but I do not believe it is death itself that gave that gift.
My mother was a United Methodist. Even though she’d not attended a UMC church in, oh, decades, she always said she would be a Methodist till the day she died. And she was. Yet, she had been very active in the Presbyterian congregation I grew up attending (I was the only PCUSA in my family as a child and I’m the only Lutheran now, though my family as a whole is an ecumenical movement in its denominational diversity) so when it was time to plan her funeral, it was this Presbyterian congregation that was the only reasonable choice.
I did not envy the pastor’s job for that day. I’ve always thought it would be hard to preach for another pastor’s family member’s funeral, but to complicate matters with the various traditions involved could only have tangled matters further for him. When my aunt and I went to visit his office and plan for the funeral service, I felt a great deal of compassion for him. He was ordained only a few months before I was and he, too, is in his rookie call just like me.
At the meeting, he asked all the right questions about scripture and music and details of her life. He used really good pastor magic tricks of getting people to tell stories of the life of the dead. It is the stories, after all, that breathe life back into memory and image recorded in the brain and provide us with cords tying us to those who have left us behind. He made notes but not obviously so and though I do not want to critique, I cannot help it. It comes with the territory. But then, he asked perhaps the best question ever.
“On the day,” he asked me, “the day of the funeral, what do you need to hear?”
It was the very best question he could have asked me.
“Speak to me of the Resurrection,” I said. That is, after all, what gives me hope. In the Resurrection, my mother will not struggle for breath, she will not worry about having a bad hair day, she will not have such anxiety that every muscle in her body is as tight as a rubber band stretched over a too thick newspaper. In the Resurrection she will not be afraid of identity theft because her identity will be secured forever. In the Resurrection she will not worry about how to get her books from the library or whether or not someone will call during her nap.
In the Resurrection I will not cry and if I do, God will wipe away every tear.
I do not like funerals where we spend all our time hearing about how great the person was or how amazing and unique and strong and honorable they were. My mother was all these things and much more, but I do not need to hear that from a pulpit and I do not need to hear that when I sit, alongside my family and friends, slain from the reality that is pain, loss and death. No amount of fond memories can stand against such realities as this. No amount of happy thoughts or melancholy reminiscences or funny stories can ultimately be anything more than mere wraith before the blast of permanence that is death and is unavoidably, arrogantly staring at us in the shape of a coffin. Do not tell us she “passed peacefully”. This is all too real and those things too fragile, fleeting and foolish. Do not tell us she is “in a better place” or “this was God’s plan.”
Death was, is and never will be God’s plan.
The pastor was a good Presbyterian and the service was probably only about twenty minutes door to door. He spoke about my mother’s fortitude, her love of football and NASCAR, of reading and Sudoku, of me and the rest of her family, of her strong political opinions and, well, opinions on about everything. “I have hope for Jeanne,” he said, “not because of her strength or anything she did but because of the hope of the Resurrection.”
“Loss is real. Pain is real. Death is real. But hope in Resurrection in Jesus Christ is a far greater truth than any of these.”
Now that’s what I needed to hear. It is not a truth that stops tears…yet…but it is a truth that can withstand death.
“On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 25:7-8
Monday, October 24, 2011
True believers had an answer for everything. They excused Jones’s peculiarities with the maxim, the end justifies the means. The beatings, the swats- it was all showmanship, they said. The disciplines didn’t really hurt. Jones’s antics- like stomping on a Bible or [swearing during a sermon] – were all theater. He likes to get a rise out of people to force them to pay attention. Those members who were offended by his increasingly bizarre and cruel behavior kept quiet, and in their silence, seemed to condone it. (p. 88f)
Sunday, October 23, 2011
You are the one we turn to time and time again
No matter what goes on in our lives.
You are our sanctuary when times are rough.
You are our encourager when we feel discouraged.
You are our God who loves us even when we feel unloved.
You are our host who welcomes us when we feel tired and weary.
You are our nurturer when we need to be taught how to live as your children.
And we are your children, who seek to know you more deeply in our lives.
We are your followers who seek to live as you would want us to live.
We are your servants in a world that has so many great needs.
We are who others look at to see how one lives when they say they believe.
And we come back home to you daily seeking that warmth, that love, that encouragement,
Your hospitality and love makes it possible to then live as your children so that all may find their home in you and feast at your heavenly table of plenty.
cross posted at a place for prayer and revgalblogpals
Friday, October 21, 2011
It's that time of year again! We are right in the middle of everything. Over the summer when attendance is down and activities are low, and in the winter (for those of us north or south enough to really experience it) when it's too hard to muster up the energy to come out, we crave Sundays like this, don't we? Those Sundays that come early enough in the year that everyone is still engaged, but far enough along that we have found our groove. The Sundays that are full of Sunday School, Adult Ed, worship, and fellowship. So, if that's the case, why am I so tired? The grass is always greener....
What's giving you energy as you finish your preparations for Sunday? What are you thick in the middle of? Do you have a great idea for the sermon or are you here in search of one? Either way the community stands ready to walk with you. Join us in the comments; ask for what you need. Share what you have. All are welcome today and always.
For today's Friday Five, I am suggesting that we each divide our age into 5 sections. You don't have to say your age or ages for the different parts, unless you want to. In each of the 5 points, please describe a memorable and/or significant event, either good or unpleasant.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Injury and Gratitude
On October 7, a car ran a stop light, turned left, and struck me while I was walking across a crosswalk in my neighborhood. It struck my right side with my left crashing to the pavement. Witnesses corroborated what I thought at the time - that the car was going about 20mph.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 5% of accidents involving a car striking a pedestrian at 20mph are fatal. This number jumps to about 50% if the vehicle is traveling at 30mph. At 40mph, the fatality rate is 95%.
On the evening of October 7, I was walking with someone to dinner. Out of the corner of our eyes, we saw a headlight and the corner of a bumper turning in to us. I was closest to the incoming car and put out a hand as it reached my side. It didn't stop. The driver hit the brakes after striking me.
The significant thing about this event isn't the accident itself. A good person made a bad driving error that sent me to the emergency room in the back of an ambulance. There is nothing unusual or remarkable about this. Accidents happen all the time. What is remarkable is the overwhelming grace that I have experienced since that bumper contacted my side.
The man driving the car apologized at the scene. Bystanders quickly called 911. The police officer who arrived at the scene was kind and calm. The EMS teams was kind, calm, and had a good sense of humor. I happened to be wearing my favorite pair of jeans. As I lay on the asphalt and they pulled out a C-collar, they jokingly asked if I minded if they cut my pants leg to inspect my leg injury. When I paused before answering (they were my favorite pair of jeans, after all), the EMT laughed and simply said, "I have to cut them." They were very gentle putting me on the backboard and they overwhelmed me with their kindness all the way to the hospital.
The hospital staff allowed me to be quite the baby. They played "What's My Line" with me to keep me distracted (no one guessed that I am clergy). The radiology technicians were very careful with me, fully aware that what they had to do was very painful for me. All of the nurses, doctors, and technicians were kind. After I was released from the hospital, my blood pressure went down and the same guys who scraped me off the pavement showed up at my door. We had a lovely reunion.
A friend came to the hospital and stayed the whole time; she even took me to an all night pharmacy after I was released from the hospital. A couple of days later, she made and brought dinner to me.
Another couple of friends helped with crutches. And yet more friends have made me dinner, driven me to doctors' appointments, sent flowers, and taken me to lunch. Even my selfish cats seem to know that something isn't quite right.
A clergy colleague stepped in and led services for me on October 9.
In July I moved to a new church. Here it is in October and I am not very available to them, but they have been remarkably gracious. They encouraged me to take the week off of work. People volunteered to come in to the church and help out as needed. The congregation sent me a card. A couple in the church sent flowers. They have been very flexible with rescheduling meetings. I have experienced the power of our baptismal covenant at work this week.
These have not been an easy twelve days, but they have been holy days. As our country fights partisan wars, as the OWS people stand up to government corruption and corporate greed, and as I see bad news after bad news reported in the media, this past week and a half I have been reminders of the goodness in the world.
If that car had hit me even slightly differently, I very well might not be able to type this post. I am very lucky that, despite my injuries, I am able to be up and about. I even led worship this past Sunday (with the help of another pastor who presided over Holy Communion). I am very aware of the combination of sheer luck and grace at work in my life.
I am being tended by caring and kind medical professionals. I am being loved by wonderful friends, family, and congregation members. I am being supported and prayed for by colleagues. Grace is everywhere.
In response to the grace that I have and am still receiving, I am very grateful. Thank you to all who extended concern and care to me. Thank you for being patient with me - with my forgetfulness, immobility, fatigue, and periodic grumpiness. Thank you for reminding me that community still exists in our world. Thank you for your witness for kindness and simple care.
I feel like I was hit by a car...and I was. But, I also feel like I have been embraced by God...and I was. This, I hope, is not only a lesson for me but for all who read this.
~Rev. Katie M. Ladd
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I'm so glad he asked me that today, because this week's gospel reading was in the front of my mind, and so an answer ("You shall love God will all your mind, heart and soul; and your neighbor as yourself") rolled right off my tongue. Of course, there are many other possibilities, but I would venture to guess that whatever your particular House of Christianity looks like, this is one of the pillars holding it up. How would you answer this question?
Monday, October 17, 2011
|Songbird occupying Portland, briefly.|
Saturday I went with a colleague to the Occupy event in our small New England city. We went to check out what was happening and ended up observing a "teach-in" by an Economics professor from a local university. It struck me that we are out of place at either a progressive or a conservative political event, two women in clergy collars. Lots of conservatives are surprised when women are pastors, and lots of progressives assume all pastors are conservatives.
And although my friend serves a large, more overtly liberal congregation, while I serve a smaller not-so-liberal one, we both know that there is a funny dividing line between talking about justice in church and being perceived as talking politics.
What's your situation? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Long ago the Pharisees and Herodians asked your son to ask is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor or not? One of the major causes for the American revolution was "No taxation without representation". Now, God, we live in a time where the question is how much taxes is enough or too much? God, we pray for wisdom as they decide these questions about taxation, budget, and funding the needs of our country. Help us to remember also, the answer that your son gave was; to give to the Emperor what was the emperor’s and to God what was God’s. Sometimes we seem to forget the part about giving to God what is God’s. Forgive us God and help us to remember to give to you what is yours.. Help us to also remember that you then take what is given back to you and generously use it to spread your good news here and around the world. You make possible what seems to be the impossible. You bring healing and restoration to what seemed like total devastation. You bring peace and justice to where there was once only wars and injustice. You bring salvation and wholeness to the lost and broken hearted. And we thank you for what you have done, what you are doing and what you will do; by giving to you what is yours. And we pray for all people here and everywhere that need you in their lives. And we pray for those here and everywhere who live in poverty, hunger and starvation. And we pray for those here and everywhere who are ill, in pain, and suffering, And we pray for those here and everywhere who are looking for work, trying to maintain their homes and family. We pray for children, youth, and adults here and everywhere. We pray for our churches, church leaders, and church workers here and everywhere. We thank you for hearing our prayers. We thank you for the transformation that you are making in our lives. We thank you for the deliverance of all in this world. Amen.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
In the spirit of Scattered-ness, I offer you a scattery kind of Friday Five:
1. I lose my keys all of the time. Even if they are in my hand, I still am looking for them. Sigh!
What is something you chronically looking for, if anything?
2. What movie are you looking forward to watching sometime in the future? (me, the new Footloose!)
3. What is one of your favorite comfort foods? (me, pizza. hands down).
4. Story time. Tell us a story of one your favorite people that has touched, blessed your life.
5. What do you do to focus or calm or center yourself? (please, I need ideas!!!)
BONUS: Share the first thing (or second thing) that comes to your mind after your read this!
I can't wait to read your plays!
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Thursday, October 13, 2011
I am a lesbian and in a stable (loving & wonderful) relationship, but I have never used the ‘L’ word with any congregation I have served. When I’m being introduced to a church it feels like a BIG thing to identify as a ‘lesbian minister’ when really I just want them to decide under God whether I am the right minister for them. I don’t feel that my identity is totally proscribed by being in a relationship with another woman. BUT then once I have got to know people it feels like pulling the rug from under them to suddenly say ‘Oh yes, and by the way, I’m gay’.
It’s even a bit scary writing all that down – for so long the culture in my denomination has been not to make a fuss & just like people “get it” in their own time.
“Peeping out of the closet”
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
This week's Festival post comes from Elsa Peters, who blogs at (im)possible things with God. You may leave comments for Elsa here or follow the link.
For now, I'm musing over what I read about membership last night. Tonight, we'll host a meeting for potential members. We'll do what Hamilton points out that churches do. We'll give them a little background. We'll try not to make it too scary. We'll try to tell them who we are and then make a really soft lob toward asking them to make a commitment. Of course, Hamilton also makes the well-founded point that we don't ask much. So, he tells us what they do in his church. They ask their members to make the following commitment (which I actually cut and paste from the website):
- To worship regularly.
- To continue to grow in your faith by participating in a small group study.
- To serve God with your hands, by volunteering in service to the congregation and the community and world.
- To give in proportion to your income.
Increasingly, I'm more and more interested in monastic life. I'm interested in the ways that the monks and nuns have chosen to live in the world. I think there is an interesting parallel with those of us that choose to be Christian in today's world. We don't necessarily retreat from the world but we do try to find some way to order our days. We're trying to find some covenant that will hold us accountable. We're trying to understand what it looks like to choose to associate with a particular group of people with a shared set of ideals. That could be an institution. That might work for some but I'm still not grabbed by this list. It doesn't give me a daily orientation of how to live in the world. Instead, I'm more interested in choosing to live by a shared rule as the members of the Iona Community do. When you join the community, you covenant to this five-point rule:
- Daily Prayer and Bible-reading
- Sharing and accounting for the use of our money
- Planning and accounting for the use of our time
- Action for Justice and Peace in society
- Meeting with and accounting to each other.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
So I'm declaring this Occupy RevGalBlogPals Day. This is your space. (No pepper spray to fear.) If you could speak to the world about something you wish would change, what would you say? How about to your own community, or faith community?
Share your thoughts in the comments, or if you write something at your own blog, leave a link.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
We are grateful for your daily presence in our lives.
Lord, we thank you for your love that lasts forever.
Remember us O God when you consider all your people.
Bring us all into your arms of salvation.
Lord, we are all in our own exile away from you.
We have chosen to sin against you and your children.
Forgive us, save us, bring us back to you
Hear o Lord, the prayers we bring to you.
We pray for our church, our church leaders and for churches everywhere.
We pray for good weather, good crops and good harvest all over.
We pray for the well being of each of our own communities and for the citizens who live in it.
We pray for wellness for our families, companions, and all those we love.
We pray for all those in need: the sick and the suffering, prisoners, captives, and their families, the hungry, homeless, and oppressed.
Help us to rejoice in you God even we don’t feel like doing it.
Help us to not be so anxious about things instead help us to talk to your about our needs and requests.
Help us to know that peace that only comes from you when we are feeling worried.
Help us to keep our focus on you in our lives, no matter what.
Help us to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Help us to remember that we can do all things through you who gives us strength.
Thank you for hearing and answering our prayers. Amen.
cross posted at a Place for Prayer and rev abi's long and winding road
Saturday, October 08, 2011
We're in the middle of stewardship season here, and connecting the words of Paul in Philippians with joyful giving (at least, that's what I've heard from the preacher.) I'm in the middle of calling a bunch of people and inviting them to speak, or write, the end of this sentence, "I give because...." But, what about you? Are you struggling with the good and bad news of the gospel, where there is a huge party, but also weeping, and gnashing of teeth? are you working your way through Exodus? are you with Paul as well?
As per usual (until someone gets tired of it), we have blueberry pancakes for breakfast, we have orange juice and fair trade coffee, with a little side of turkey sausage, if you'd like. There will be more feasting throughout the day. Maybe I'll even bring something back from the wedding banquet!
Friday, October 07, 2011
She does these things for love.
And although love looks different depending on how we best express it, there are definitely things we do for love. So for today's Friday Five, please share the following five things:
1) Something you did for love that was a hit
2) Something you did for love that was more of a miss
3) Something someone did for love of you
4) Something you *wish* someone would do for love of you
5) Something you've done for love of God
After you play at your blog, be sure to leave a comment here. If you provide a direct link to your blog, you will encourage more visitors! Here's the formula:
<a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>
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Thursday, October 06, 2011
Sharon at Tidings of Comfort and Joy writes in response:
If there is anything that I have learned over the years that there are different strokes..., not only of how to lead but how to be led. And we need several different styles under our belts. The kind of leadership that we have naturally is not the only kind and clergy need to be proficient in many. I like your natural style. The invitational is the most important in most situations. But there are the cheerleading style, the 'let's do it together' style, and at times there is a place where the "my way-highway" style is necessary when you need to be protective in the face of a bully.
The big problem is that you have a community that is passive. They have somewhere along the line (probably by being a part of today's culture) either experienced the ministry as something that they were supposed to be the recipients of rather than the doers of. First of all you need to find where their passion is. What turns these folks on? What excites them about their faith? Then you need to get out of their way!
I have just started a bible study for a group of seniors in my parish and it is the most lively and 'subversive' group in this large, predominantly 40 something parish. They want to DO stuff after studying Amos. They want to talk to the youth about 'their eras'. They want to feed the hungry. They have found some energy simply because they have heard the word of God.
Start small and tend it well and it will grow. Trust your own relationship with God to be your guide and don't expect results in your tenure as pastor. Maintain your own integrity as a faith filled person. That is the most faith-filled leadership style that you can have.