#Christianity, you keep saying that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means

1. Christianity to me isn’t about finding all the answers, but asking the essential questions (look at the Gospel its people asking Christ ?s and Christ asking people ?s) gathering together and acknowledging that God is bigger and greater than our understanding of things, and we’d rather see thing more God’s way than our own way, because our way is too small

2. Church is a the practice of community and worship so that when moments of extreme trouble come, you have a healthy way to bring them to God and process them. (Like fire drills). Every week isn’t revolutionary but every week is important.

3. Church is about community, there are few places where we commit to practice community with whoever comes thru the door Church is a practicum in faith just as its a place to explore spirituality.

4. Prayer is the ongoing conversation between you and God. As it is an ongoing, unique and individual conversation, my job as pastor is to act as mentor, guide and/or teacher. Where you are with God is based upon who you are, that’s why relationships with God can change a person because the two are so intertwined. This is why mature Christianity is (w)holistic Christianity. The kind where the Bible doesn’t necessarily tell you how to vote, but you have an evolved understanding of learning what God’s purpose is for the world and you apply that purpose wherever you are and as much as possible.

5. Faith is about seeking out relationships with God, people and the world. Loving things into a more real, truthful and essential existence than what they have before that love. Its not about controlling another person, quite the opposite, its freeing them to be who they are.

Many Waters, #love, #lament Psalm 69

Recently the curator of the achurchforstarvingartists spoke at our Presbytery Retreat, to discuss counter-intuitive thinking for ministry.

Last Week the Psalms of Praise lead to thinking about the position of kneeling/servanthood as how we will ultimately be kneeling to Christ in order to be next to him, for that is obviously the position he will be taking in the 2nd coming (as opposed to a more victorious, glory-to-God-fear-inducing or otherwise judgy-type-stance)

So it makes an odd kind of sense, to me at least, that this week’s Psalm of Lament would induce and encourage the opposite position, the one of standing up and shouting.

Psalm 69 and Matthew 7 both encourage bringing our troubles to God. Not skulking or hiding them, not muttering them under our breath, but full out yelling. Standing up and crying out to God, Saying the words Hosanna! Save us! Save me! ” Save me, O God,
   for the waters have come up to my neck.” “I have come into deep waters,
   and the flood sweeps over me.”

Lament is a unique feeling it is somewhere between mourning and anger.

It is the energy of loss.

Lament is important, because when we do not name loss it consumes us. Madeline L’engle describes it in her book The Wrinkle in Time as being Xed. The nothingness, the loss of love and feeling of powerlessness starts to erase personhood. It makes your feelings look like *just nothing.*

Quotation-Madeleine-L-Engle-people-Meetville-Quotes-185385

If you’ve ever had a conversation with a loved one who makes a claim about what is bothering them, and you state that its *nothing* you might have opened a can of worms, because that *nothing* value you assign to the problem might make the person feel like their problem is *nothing* because they are *nothing.* This is a dangerous write off of others’ experiences and feelings, furthering the Xing process.

Lament can be different from just anger or mourning, because it is the energy behind naming and crying out for that which is a part of being human–for love, for laughter, for companionship, for safety and stability and beauty.

“But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
   At an acceptable time, O God,
   in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.”

For the right to make mistakes and to seek forgiveness, for the right to call out the heirachical and bigotted structures that make one feel unsafe, from the fact that women are interupted for speaking during CEO meetings (and men aren’t), to the fact that young African-Americans are seen as more suspicious than young Caucasians, its the facts that Transsexual people cannot feel safe in either men nor women’s bathrooms, its the fact that sexual abuse is insufficiently prevented and addressed, its in the fact that some children go to bed hungry at night, the fact that some people have daily painful realities to deal with in violence or addiction or physical ailments or mental illness. It is the fact that life is not fair, and who has not lamented that one true fact?

God does not want us to paste our smiles on and live our life ignoring its problems. God acknowledges there is real and harmful evil in the world, real difficulties that are a part of everyday life and that fact means that lament is a necessary part of our existence.

Lament is the deep mourning for those things that the soul needs to survive and thrive. It is for that reason that standing up and naming what is going out, and calling on God for it, can be a creative and healing act.

Whenever there is anger in a system, be it a church or a school or the government, that means there is energy, and when named and processed that energy can be used for change. Love

Lament is a just form of prayer, and one which the church too often forgets or glosses over, but God invites you to pray, reminding us that when our children ask for bread, we do not give them snakes. We give them bread (or even sometimes cupcakes) How much more will God Give us.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7


Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.

P.S. Might I recommend Madeline L’engle’s less known books “Many Waters” (about Noah and the twins) and “An Acceptable Time” (about time travel and the role of evil) ….as you guess the names are from scripture 🙂

God, Stooping, Kneeling and Praise Ps 113 Narrative Lectionary

One of the most common themes in the Bible is the proclamation that EVERY knee shall bow to Jesus Christ. I like this because I feel it contains within it the POSSIBILITY for universal salvation. This is a tricky thing, because if Jesus is our only salvation, then its difficult then to go and state that Every knee shall bow to God. However, this is my faith in God’s everlasting love and salvation, and what is great about this proclaimation is that its EVERYWHERE in the bible from Isaiah 45:23 to Romans 14:11 to Phil 2:10-11

5Let the same mind be in you that was* in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8   he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.


9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

During my oral examination for ordination, I got asked about this phrase in my statement of faith, for I stated that I whole heartedly believed that someday every knee shall bow to Christ, every tongue confess him Lord.

I got asked if I was a universalist (that means that everyone will be saved no matter what which makes religion and even the need to do good irrelevant to some people), and I cheekily answered that the Bible says this to be true in both the New and Old Testament. I had no clue as to how God will put this mighty and impossible work into being, but I believed that the Bible was telling the truth, and if you viewed that verse to be universalist than Jesus and the prophets must have been universalists. This got me a laugh.

So, when I was looking at Psalm 113, a Psalm that names God and praises God as the one who stoops, a thought occurred to me….

When if at the end of the world, every knee shall bow, because that is the position Christ will be in? Christ who emptied himself, Christ who humbled (knelt/stooped) to be on earth

What if Christ comes, as always, to serve the world the actual physical position of servanthood, stooping and crouching to serve, and what if we all get on our knees to serve with her?

Maybe that is why it is couched with all the words about NOT judging each other in the New Testament, something that would definitely would have been better understood after Christ’s physical incarnation than before…..

Is it so hard to believe that Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to Christ not because of the mighty thunder and lightening of the end of the world, but because God is serving and listens to what it is we have to say and invites us to assume the same position? We are conquered by God’s graciousness and are finally able to embody it…

Psalm 113


1 Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord;
praise the name of the Lord.


2 Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
4 The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.


5 Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who stoops to look
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust,
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

What is true #christian #forgiveness in an #abuse situation?

These notes are from my Albany area’s Christian Response to Sexual Abuse–all typos are my own… and make sense of what Justice is in a more mature way than demanding forgiveness in (any kind) of power abuse situation. I’ve had a colleague use this material for financial abuse as well.

Also, as one colleague noted, each person experiences abuse differently and heals differently, this is one way to think about the complex process that is healing. But here are some deeper theological thoughts than “we should just forgive the abuser and show grace” in difficult situations

The Elements of Justice-Making
Truth-telling: giving voice to the reality of the abuses (from the victim’s point of view)
Acknowledging the Violation: hear, name and condemn the wrong doing (by the governing body of the victim)
Compassion : Listen and suffer with the victim (Consider having an advocate for the victim)
Protecting the vulnerable: Take steps to prevent further abuse to the victim and others (removal from position, how can they have it at this time?)
Accountability: Confront the abuser of trust, and impose discipline (negative consequences) this step makes repentance possible
Restitution : Make symbolic/real restoration of what was lost; give a tangible means to acknowledge the wrongfulness of the abuse and the harm done and to bring about healing. The restitution must be freely given and of significant value to show repentance wanting to make right.
Vindication: set the victim free from the suffering caused by the abuse when justice has been done.

THERE CAN BE NO HEALING WITHOUT JUSTICE-MAKING
FORGIVENESS, REPENTANCE & RECONCILIATION
If your Sibling wrongs you, reprove him/her, if he/she repents forgive them. Even if one wrongs you seven times and comes back to you seven times saying, “I Am sorry” you are to forgive him/her. Luke 17:1-4
Forgiveness within a relationship is not a matter of forgetting the experience, nor is it a matter of saying that the behavior was acceptable. When a person whom one has trusted takes advantage of his/her position, it is usually a traumatic experience, not one that is easily forgotten. In the bounds of sacred trust, that behavior is unethical.
For the victim, forgiveness is not unconditional we are not God. (We can believe  and try to put into practice God’s universal ability to forgive)
The preconditions for forgiveness are
The Victim(s) must have experienced sufficient justice
The Victim(s) must be empowered through God’s grace
The Victim(s) must have experienced sufficient healing to be able to let go of the anger and pain
Without these conditions, forgiveness will not be authentic—it will be an attempt to or an effort to forgive. The victim must experience sufficient justice, grace & healing to be able t let go of his/her anger at the abuser.

For the abuser: Repentance= not merely confession, apology or intention not to repeat an offense
Repentance means to turn around to change one’s behavior and/or one’s life so that one will never repeat the offense. As the scripture passage makes clear, the victim(s) obligation to forgive is dependent upon the abuser’s repentance.
True Repentance : Signs
The abuser takes steps necessary for justice-making to make amends for the abuse: (see above)
The abuser identifies the beliefs & attitudes that lie behind the abusive behavior and finds ethical ways of rejecting those beliefs & attitudes
The abuser becomes aware of the needs that lie behind the abusive behavior and finds ethical ways of meeting those needs
The abuser identifies the conditions that allowed the abuse to happen, and changes the conditions to prevent future abuse
RECONCILIATION is restoring of the right relationship between the abuser and his/her church. IT involves restoring the trust that was violated and restoring the broken relationship on new terms.

(Note: my instinct is that since our God is a justice-making God, Forgiveness for God is universal, but I have not been able to fully think out this theology yet)

Good NEWS and extroverting

Nextchurch2015

We are listening to the immeasurable Diana Butler Bass who is greatly illustrating her theories on church and culture, when the news breaks on twitter a little before 7:30 (she started at 7).

Its a amazing, its wonderful.

I text the news to my parents.

I can’t believe it.

Twitter is going crazy.

The real question is Can we interrupt Diana Butler Bass?

7:28 pm @miheekimkort suggests “@revJohnRussell at 7:30 lets stand up and scream”

I tweet @bookkats “Feel the pcusa urge to stand up and proclaim the good news even tho its rude to interrupt awesome DBB” at about the same time

I wait for 7:30, sure someone will do it…

THREE agonizing Holy Spirit Bubbling minutes later (7:31) I realize no one has….

Then she talked about the fourth awakening, and its true realization (as in any realization) is when social justice comes into play, so I’m like “Ok, and now she’s talking social justice. Holy Spirit help my extrovert.”

I am totally bursting with the news. This is good news! This is my job to tell good news, and I have REALLY GOOD NEWS, and texting my parents isn’t going to do it!

@jledmiston says Can someone ask Q@dianabutlerbass for a brief space to acknowledg the PCUSA’s big news?

We were awaiting authority, in Nextchurch, which I love to define as the organic and hands on ideas of what is next for the church …irony….

So I’m like, maybe a quiet way is better (I guess I’m getting better at practicing some restraint) I Tweet “Stand up and hold up your phone maybe?”

This is the time, I realize, Diana Butler Bass is talking about the no going back change, the revival at the point ofsocial justice: what a moment to tell the news!

Meanwhile I hear rustle, rustle, rustle, everyone is looking at their phones

@mollyfid nails it on the head “Y’all, I”m about to Burst! UNfreeze yourselves presbys! Surely DBB will pause for a cheer”

Then I realize…I’m in the balcony, I’m in the first row. This is totally not awkward (I mean heck I’d love to do it from the most awkward and silliest position ever)….I’m the extrovert.

Oh my God….its me…I’m the one who is called into this place at this time to do this….its me, and I’m going to LOVE it

I stand up and (rather timidly) raise my hand. “Excuse me Diana….Sorry to interrupt, but we are just bursting here. We just passed 14F, all people can marry”

And I see it……from the balcony, everyone stands up and hugs and cheers in an almost disordered fashion….

It was beautiful, it was holy

my sister is trans…

I burst into tears

Diana Butler Bass asked my name and then said “The Episcopalians welcome you” 🙂

The amazing moment when God uses my no-hold-barred extroverted self who happened to sit in the front of the balcony at that moment…on the day when Brian preached about acceptance in the morning in the evening where the Presbyterian Light people were already planning their reception.

What do you call that but holy?

Holy

And then, we listened as best we can to Diana, hearing all the better her critiques because we were in a better place as church (claim the entire denom has failed, no problem : )

And then, we went and did church! The planned 80 people who went to the Presby Light reception were way…way…more….

Too many Presbyterians, after a long day, did church that night at a bar.

We have become a fuller church, how can we include people next, is Belhar Confession around the corner?

We did church, then and there with loud music and too many Presbyterians and drinks and food…

And we told each other the good news.

Amen. Alleluia

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#churches and #family the Socio-economics of #churchattendance

Warning: this will be rant-ish.

Know how churches don’t like that families and church no longer come first? How it is hard to get the typical family to church more than once a month?

The socio-economics of the situation are tricky, with little national health care and extremely expensive daycare it is difficult to have the time/money to invest in church. Either you are a stay at home mother/father with no extra funds or time or your one of two full time working parents who don’t have enough time to see your children and take them to all the extra-curriculars they “should” be doing.

The socio-economics are crazy, because most people can’t work a regular 9-5 job and are in and out of the house at crazy times working crazy hours.

Plus who knows if you’ll have that job or even be able to live in that city in 1 or 2 or 3 years from now.

Not to mention that most young families can barely afford to have a house or to not put in crazy extra hours or to work multiple jobs including babysitting or whatever other odd jobs they can find.

This is the reality.

So…understand, when churches do not support their staff taking care of their family. Whether it be to go to a family funeral, take care of a personal illness or to take maternity/paternity leave, that we are contributing to the very socio-economic problem we complain about day in and day out. Families who cannot take the time to take care of one another, who have to work instead of putting their family first, will have trouble making it to church.

Pastors are one of such staff…pastors are always on call, do not work 9-5, oft have to make meetings that cause delays of or missing of putting their children to bed. The hours are haphazardly put together depending on the congregation’s needs. Its a flexible job in some ways and very stringent in others.

Some typical (although not absolute) examples: if someone is ill, dying or in extremis you must be there…you may take sick days…as long as they are never when you are scheduled to preach

I know churches can ill-afford pastors, maybe its time to borrow other pastors, pay the choir director a little more or use a lay leader. Maybe its time to do a daily prayer service instead of a formal “traditional” service.

But if we can ill-afford pastors we absolutely CANNOT afford to not take care of those in need in our church…Think about that for a minute…the church claiming they can’t afford to take care of children and ill-ones…..

Thus: We can’t say we want more families to come to church–and then not support our families.  We can’t claim to be choosing God’s path and then not take care of our sick and our little ones.

(feel free to read paragraph above a couple of times)

Do we need an act of Congress to do the right thing?

I think we can do better.

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Naked as the day you were born: Job 1:13-22

For Job becoming Naked as the day he was born means loss. Loss of status, loss of goods, loss of food and security

Loss of family<–that one really gets me

Loss of respect, Loss of manhood (esp. in that culture), loss of legacy, loss of history.

and Job says “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

i.e. naked as the day he was born. An oft heard expression. Here Job acknowledges that those things that he claimed, his wealth, his house, even his family were not actually secure. For security is actually in God.

We have experienced this in the financial crises, when all the “security” in our money went down the drain. We experienced this at 9/11 when we realized that terrorism can strike anyone at any time. We realize this when a family member experiences disease or struggle, such as cancer (or perhaps even more difficult addiction or mental illness). Why? Because none of these things were really secure to begin with. What is actually secure is God, and Job is able to acknowledge this.

The other oft quote passage from this is “the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away” (KJV sounds so much more authoritative doesn’t it)

Here is where I think Job gets it wrong. Because its not God who is taking all these things away….

Its evil. Whether it be Satan or the challenger, evil is what is taking things from Job, NOT God.job07a job08

 

What I find interesting about this interchange is that it is easier for people to believe in evil than good. I have met many people who have all kinds of beliefs, who are far more able to believe in Evil and evil forces than in God or good forces.

But (as my son pointed out this morning) the Devil can’t take God from Job<–from the lips of a child.

So, here is the question. Why is it easier to believe in evil than good? Why is it easier to believe that it is God who is angry or vengeful than to believe in a fully good and loving God who makes good things happen even admidst the bad.

After all, As it is so well stated in Dr. Who…the good things don’t negate the bad, but GOOD things can happen in the midst of bad! The Bad things don’t have to ruin the good ones.

So here is the question, why is it easier to believe in evil than good?
And what does that mean? Where does that put us. I can’t believe that there isn’t good and purpose for humanity. Honestly, my mind can’t even get around it. Good is stronger than evil, and I, ultimately, believe in Good. The Good of our Loving God.

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Job Ch 1: “What a Setup” or Biblical Fairy Tale

The beginning of Job is a total setup.

Once Upon a Time there’s Job: upright and blameless was he. Job was one who had plenty of sons and not too many daughters–sons whose hospitality was great (they really knew how to party people into the kingdom), and they hosted their sisters often.

Job’s hospitality was even greater, making sacrifices and worshipping on his children’s behalf, praying for them, asking for forgiveness if ever they wronged God (because Job admits he may not have been the perfect parent)

God and all the heavenly beings gathered together, and God asks Satan (otherwise known as the accuser/challenger) what he had been up to…

“The usual” Satan answers “Wondering around, looking at earth and earthlings?”

“Oh, did you notice my servant Job?” asks God.”Because he’s pretty much everything I could hope for, upright, honest and true (i.e. he fears God and turns away from evil)

“Why” asks Satan, “You know he only likes you because you take such good care of him, he is well blessed, he has every reason to be good. If you ruined him, all that would change”

“hmmm….” God says, “We shall see…tell you what do what you want to Job’s family, friends and possessions, as long as you leave Job alone, you can do what you want….”

Job is sure set up here. First he is set up to have everything, and then its what’s the phrase? “too good to be true” he is almost “too blessed” and as a result he becomes tested. Here God gives Satan, the tester, rights to do whatever he wants to Job (Excepting touching Job himself) to see just how faithful Job can be….

What a setup!

Don’t we pray for God NOT to lead us into temptation, what is with this? This doesn’t seem fair, how is it that evil can happen to Job and what does it all mean?

Here’s the setup, we are in for a good story, one where evil exists, but not without good, one where suffering is not greater than God, one where temptations and tests are less about who God is and more about who we are……

How will this work?

Plus, this happens in the mythical land of Uz, you know
a-long-time-ago

In fact the “Satan” character could be named “challenger” instead of Satan, because its unclear if the character is evil or just throwing challenges up….

So why does this perfect guy get setup in this way?
Because we’ve all experienced this, the question of why do bad thing happen to good people, theodicy, Why does evil exist, we all have experienced this reality in our lives.

And we all talk about God, its a human thing to talk about God and the role of evil in our lives, It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe in this is a topic of conversation. So here we are, in a Biblical fairy tale (yay fairy tales!)

Asking the good questions, starting with
Once Upon a Time….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMzQCaRR_wk

Anectdotal Woman (or) 24 churches and a feminist

There are lots of stories about women in the Bible. Not all of them have names, but its nice to experience the parable.

So I’m going to tell a parable about an unnamed woman. And then I’m going to tell a lot of anecdotes that are by no means scientific but start to bear out what a woman may feel in ministry…they certainly confirmed my own experience

An unnamed woman I know got referenced for a local solo pastor position (yay!). This was very cool for many, many reasons, the first and foremost reason being that this woman is currently serving as an interim and needs a new position. This church was liberal, and Southern (thereby making it even more liberal) so looking at a young woman pastor was a pretty cool move.

She got turned down for the job, and the person who got hired was…..a man.

I have nothing against men, I think they are awesome. However, women have outnumbered men in seminary for many years now, as of 2012 only 1/3rd of pastors were women. Yep, that’s right, the PW reported to General Assembly that fully a third of pastors were women.

I am a liberal person, the PIF process is a long one. Once upon a time (a while ago) I applied to 24 “really liberal” churches. They were the “cool” ones that were Presbyterian Light, Rainbow-Friendly and environmentally sound. They were changing the style of worship, being creative in mission and had worship committees who were involved in writing liturgy.And Open, they were really, really, really, really, really, really open to ALL types of everyone/thing peoples….

24 self-proclaimed really liberal churches.

Basically none of them even called me back for a phone interview (I think I’m not hipster/cool/lesbian enough for the cool churches…I more dynamic extroverted female pastor who still does traditional worship in normal clothing, so most churches are uncertain what to do with me)

So anyway, I was deciding when/if I should follow up with my self-referrals, and it was too cumbersome to do phone calls. Since these were the hip churches they all had fully functional websites (something that drew me to these places in the first place). So I simply looked at their newsletters<–which always proclaim when new pastors come.

I noticed a pattern. I didn’t mean to notice it. I didn’t want to notice it. But after the 4th and 5th church had it, there was no stopping it.

23 of the (self-proclaimed super liberal and open) churches had hired men……only 1 hired a woman. That’s the broad perspective

On a more personal level–I am convinced that I would be in a totally different place were I male….or a different kind of female….
Lets just say that when I do the intervieiwng thing, I bowl people over (and that’s not always a good thing)

They weren’t expecting…..me….

I think the word that is the problem is Pastor…..

“You saying its hard to picture me as a Pastor…pastor, pastor…..

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I don’t fit the word “pastor

into what I have found to be the three traditional roles for women ministers. Please note, I am naming these stereotypes as I see them perpetuated in culture. As I do not fit these, I also know many women for whom this stereotype falls short even if they fit it on the surface.

1. Those introverted, superfocused and reflective awesome chaplain types who can do pastoral care like no one else! Associate for pastoral care, go!

2. Those extroverted women who are loud & bombastic and obviously need to put their energy to use with the youth (preferably the younger children, leave the teens to an extroverted “very cool” male who has not yet realized his call to be the head pastor of a multi-staff church but will probably realize said call and be parachuted into said congregation once he catches up<–I’m trying not to be bitter about this pattern). Youth Associate Go!

3. The really creative and out there single mother/lesbian/crazy single lady who has short spiky hair (usually of some outlandish color), many piercings and tattoos. Amazing Solo Pastor who probably overworks for a half or three quarter time ministry, Go!

I guess I break the Mold

I am, in fact, a woman who unashamedly pursued a full time solo pastorate

and when people meet me….you know people who are looking for “the pastor”….
they don’t know what to do with me

Because I am a woman

an extroverted woman who is a great preacher, a good people person and who works really really hard at the ministry of listening and the ministry of presence….but otherwise is not shy, retiring and is not afraid to speak my opinion and to (kindly) tell the truth. In fact I rarely participate in the politicking that is usually associated with my gender.

Anecdote: I have been called many things, once I was called edgy for quoting the Book of Order, Another I was called unusual when I talked about serving the neighborhood. Some of this is part and parcel with the job, but I do think that I say things that people would expect um…..a man to say…..Specifically: I laugh a LOT in the pulpit. Every want ad for pastor I’ve ever seen wants a pastor “with a sense of humor,” but usually at some point I’m told that I laugh to much in the pulpit, because when a woman laughs, when I practice what I consider to be a spiritual practice of Good News, people assume I’m irresponsible. Laughter and Joy in a woman is assumed to be a point of flightiness (I am type A…..so I’m really wayyyyy on the other end of taking my responsibilities TOO seriously). I also have been called “young lady” whenever I tell a hard truth and speak to my authority, by multiple people.

I am a woman

A mother, who is not interested in being a children’s associate. I studied Christian Education to support the entire church’s learning and (fingers-crossed-maybe-someday) hopefully would be able to partner with those who are already doing the Christian Education in my church. I am not planning on only being a youth minister, despite the fact that I do indeed have three children…

Anecdote: I have a space marked “pastor’s spot” at the parking lot, which isn’t really my thing (special honors, no thank you), but it actually saves a lot of time. I don’t look like a typical pastor, esp. when I have a couple of kids in tow. Sometimes I have to convince people I’m a pastor, usually I have to repeat it more than once, and I’ve even had to argue with people about it (usually I just turn it into a joke). The parking spot saves me a lot of explaining, you can tell they’ve had that internal argument so by the time they arrive they are able to say “So YOUR the pastor”

I am a woman

a girl-next-door-looking-woman (brown hair and glasses to-boot, oh and I look a LOT YOUNGER than I am) who is super creative about how I build partnerships and relationships, full of energy and life I am ready to spark the excitement within the church and yet somehow does not have a million tatoos and piercings.

Anecdote: When I was in seminary I got hired on to do ministry at a Korean American church, to this day I am convinced I got hired because Koreans are used to people holding their Asian/youthful look against them and instead looked at my VERY impressive resume which states that I (always have and probably always will) have experience beyond my years! Yay for Bethany Pres!

I am a woman, and the church hasn’t found a stereotype for me……..

I have a VERY successful ministry where I am, the church is doing great, I am proud of all I have accomplished, and I’m still me, but some days its hard to have to consistently explain that not only am I actually a Presbyterian Pastor…..but I’m actually the only Pastor that I know how to be….

I think I’ll just start handing out cards that say
“atypical pastor” do you think people would then get the message not to expect whatever it was they were expecting?

And, how can we train churches (and the outside world, who seems to be just as surprised) to expect those types of people we aren’t expecting….

Prayer Ideas #prayer

I have worked on two different forms of prayer that I keep coming back to.

 

The first is the”Lord’s Prayer Chorus”.

The way it works is you hand out copies of the Lord’s Prayer to even the most experienced of the group.

Instructions: Each person contributes to the prayer one line at a time, and you don’t move on to the next line until someone is ready to.

I’ve done it both where people chime in wherever and whenever they feel moved to or the more orderly version where we go around in a circle…until everyone who has said AMEN has done so….

the Prayer might looks something like this

Person 1: Our Father who art in heaven

Person 2: Our Father who art in heaven,

Person 3 Our Father who art in heaven

Person 4 Our Father who art in heavn

Person 5 Hallowed be thy name

Person 6 Hallowed be thy name

Person 7 Thy Kingdom Come

Person 8 Thy Will Be Done

etc.
Note: How you divide the lines will effect how the prayer is spoken,

also someone suggested allowing people to backtrack in the prayer, I have yet to allow that freedom, but go for it.

 

The Other way to prayer is (sort of) a variance on the breath Prayer.

I call it “Simple Prayer”

Its where you take a line of scripture and pray it down to a single word. My favorite is “Be Still and Know that I am God”

Be Still and Know that I am God

Be Still and Know that I am

Be Still and Know that I

Be Still and Know That

Be Still and Know

Be Still and

Be Still
Be

#easter #smallchurch #emptytomb #emptychurch #nextchurch

Church-Mostly-Empty-Pews

And then all the Christians looked at the church, the pitifully empty pews, and asked each other. Where have all the people gone?

But the real question they were asking was where is Jesus? Akin to finding the empty tomb, we can see the emptiness, the absence……and we say to one another “‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” and weep.

And then Jesus meets us on the road, in the “real world” and instructs us not to dwell by the emptiness but to go and tell people that he has arisen.

Empty Church, pshaw, it is but the beginning of the resurrection story–Go on, go out it the world and tell them, wherever they are

“I have seen the lord” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

John 20

 

20Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look* into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,* ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

#nextchurch Farmer’s Market: building local ministry

Sadly I recently looked thru my posts and found that my original farmer’s market post has disappeared (oh no!) So I will have to rewrite it with a broader perspective.

The church was called to local mission: most of the 40-odd faithful adults had volunteered regularly at homeless centers, hospitals and to knit/sew for the needy. The question was, how to do it? As an elder said “I don’t even think people know we are here” so we brainstormed…..

The church did a lot of events. A lot of, traditional events. Things like a Strawberry Festival and Choir Concerts. Things like Clothing Exchanges and Playgroups. None of them seemed to really take off…people came to these events, but not as many as the church hoped. See, the church had discerned that their call was for local mission, but we were having trouble connecting to the neighborhood. Our best moniker was “the church with all those AAs” our worst was “the one with the chain up” So the church tried all these events, and immediately named them to be failures.

The church was wrong though, these events weren’t failures, they were successes–if you looked at them the right way.

The Ice Cream Social  didn’t get a lot of people coming, but we served ice cream, showed the Nursery School’s artwork, plus got a couple of homeless people off the street for a few hours.

The Praise Inc Revival Concert was difficult I had to go to some kind of meeting (I forget what) and arrived late, when I walked in I was told “no one came” <–people did come, about 45, and what was really cool was that about 1/3rd were from the church, 1/3rd were from another worshipping community within our church and 1/3rd were from the community.

The clothing exchange was a lot of work, but it was cool because it was a ministry for everyone (not just the “needy”). Those who sorted the clothing found a lot of things for themselves and others (haha) and plus we started to get some regular ladies who dropped by to check out what we had.

The free playgroup didn’t have a lot of steady people but hey 1. it was drop in 2. a lot of people came until they found a job, and it was a great way to get to know the neighborhood if you were new in town.

The real issue, of course, was that we weren’t getting new members, which I (constantly) reminded our members, was not our goal.

Our goal was to get to know the community, to provide space for them to gather and to use our eminently well placed church that happened to have an awesome parking lot. (Of course we were doing other technical things too).

Then a couple from the church and said, What about a farmer’s market? We have a good parking lot.

Session agreed, and within session we outlined our goals which were to

1) Get to know the neighborhood

2) Help local farmers

3) Not have ulterior motives (or at least try not to)…this was not for money or members, it was for the community….In fact session maturely agreed that we would charge Farmers money to hold them accountable, but all the money would go back into the market.

We researched the other church farmer’s market, we went to big and small farmer’s markets, we looked up rules and regulations, we sent out letters and then we called & called & called & called the farmers until finally someone agreed to do it and all the other farmers (small world eh?) jumped in as soon as 1 person committed.

We plotted out the parking lot, we advertised and made signs and got ready for our grand opening.

We had well over 200 people! 200 people!

And afterwards we worshiped together and took apart all the things that helped to our success! We literally put each thing that we thought contributed upon a building block and then we took all the blocks and “built up” into what was now the farmer’s market!

And sure enough the congregation finally saw what I had discerned, those past events weren’t failures they were warmups!

During these events we learned about

1)How to work together; After throwing so many small events we had a pretty good idea who we were and what our skills are (hospitality, organizer, motivator, builder, community contact, etc. )

2) timing :how long things should be, when people got out of work

3) media: how do we publicize things online? What kind of signs get noticed? How can we tell our friends?

4) Events; small events lead to big ones, since we started to have events, people had been starting to notice us as being active and involved

5) People: We saw people from everywhere! People from the choir concerts, people from the praise inc. revival, people from the clothing exchange and the playgroup, heck we even saw people from our nursery school (which has been running for 40yrs, but like most church schools is viewed as separate from the church)

What a success, and we realized, all of those events were successful, and they built off of the farmer’s market.

So we kept building. We created a program called “Won’t You Be Our Neighbor?” in which all the events under those headings were purely to bolster and minister to the neighborhood so we could get to know them better.

Under this heading–We did a Trunk or Treat at the end of the Farmer’s Market for Halloween and we added a Chicken BBQ as a fundraiser (which isn’t really with no ulterior motives, but we were transparent about that we wanted your money for a sound system and since you drove thru our parking lot customers weren’t afraid we are trying to steal their souls), we did Charlie Brown Christmas in December and hosted over 100 nonchurch parents and children who watched it. Last summer we included Charity Yoga where the proceeds went to the Presbyterian Disaster Fund. We built a success!

We are still building. This has become a foundational ministry, it has honed our mission statement to one line “Won’t You Be Our Neighbor?” Its become a joyful duty for the 12 some volunteers to work EVERY week for 4-5hrs for 4 months, it has become an identifier for our church “the one with the farmer’s market.” Enrollment for nursery school is up, the community comes together, and we truly are starting to get to know our neighborhood, from the farmers to the crafters to the performing artists to the customers. This will be our 3rd year doing the farmer’s market, we are the most successful one in the city limits, our vendors love us, and we have expanded even moreso. its a beautiful day for a neighbor!

And that is how our true local ministry was born!

(for more info about what I learned as a minister for my context click here)

Narrative Lectionary: John 13:1-17

John 13:1-17

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.

Jesus washes feet. If you have ever washed a baby or an older person–you are aware there is a kind of beautiful intimacy to those washings. There is a trust and a love that makes something that should be gross.

Of course, its embarrassing, so Peter says no, and Jesus says “well if you want to be a part of what I do, you have to let me wash your feet”

So then Peter says “Wash everything then!”

And Jesus says “Nah! feet are enough”

And then Jesus goes on to say that he knows that they aren’t clean ie he knows that Peter is going to deny him, he knows that Judas is going to betray him, he knows they are only human and they will get dirty again. They will all get dirty again.

Its like when you wash a child, and know they are going to get dirty again. Or (even worse) when my husband got out of the shower only to be thrown up upon. Ugh!

But it is still beautiful and intimate to take care of those we love. And Jesus promises to take care of us, even are grossest parts, even knowing that we are broken and that we will get dirty again. Jesus demonstrates that the way to

We like to concentrate on Jesus miracles, but really Jesus superpowers are love and forgiveness….remember before Jesus ONLY God could forgive you (you had to still apologize to the human participate, but ultimately only Jesus forgives). So Jesus, empowers us! Telling us to do to one another what he does. He encourages us to love eachother, to forgive each other and to wash each others’ feet. This is why we confess our sins together and then assure eachother of pardon. We are the body of Christ, we are the ones who are going to be the intimate group, who washes each other feet. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

 

 

Millennial Pastorin’

During a clergy luncheon a pastor related a story where her confirmation mentor was part of a women’s fellowship, so she spent much of her adolescent spiritual life with a group of post-menopausal women……the clergy women laughed and then reflected on how this was probably the perfect experience a young pastor needs to lead a church.

Besides the inevitable “How are you at leading people of differing generations?” transl. “Can you motivate and be respectful of and as yet still relate to people who are 10, 20 and mostly 30 years or more older than you?”There is, of course, a real generational gap…..

I love worship, I ENJOY God, and I think that church can be/should be and is (in its essence) a joyful and open place for people to do “Real Things” To change the world

I also understand that 90% of the congregation won’t ever see much less understand basic things like “what’s our online presence” are we “really actually, accessible to families (daycare? changing rooms? non-judgmental worship? meeting times convenient to non-retirees?)” and that the world understanding of a generation who is underemployed and over-indebted is probably Really, really hard for those who are comfortably off to understand (ex: I was once explaining how my generation feels both unfulfilled by our work and worthless due to our debts, and a fellow pastor noted that her daughter was in the same state of working a random job that didn’t actually help with college debt, but she “didn’t understand what I was getting at” when I explained the predominance and importance of these feelings–talk about a generation gap)

Here’s the hard part of millennial pastoring

1. I am a different generation from those I lead, and I want to honor and understand those experiences

2. Other generations may have trouble understanding the millennial perspective, and (I’d go far to say in some cases) not even understand why these differences are even important

3. Something like only %7 of Mainline Protestants are under 40

4. It is hard to value a “young person” for who they are, oft. times being “young” is the most important quality–one that I’m well aware I and other millennials will lose, and the actual “person” part of the young person is lost

5. This is why some churches can’t do “real” things, because they can’t understand the “real” issues facing these “young people” (note how labels begin to play a large role here.

6. I can’t just walk up to a millennial and have a conversation with them about the “Real Things” Church, Ministry, My Profession, My Struggles and Successes in my Profession, because church is not (yet) important to them, and they don’t see it as a “vehicle to do real things that are important and good” and so the cycle begins again. Plus I’m socially bereft when it comes to who I am and what it is I do….

 

Here’s the thing, church is the only place I know where many different people from all different walks of life can get together and do almost any kind of “good” that they want. Heck they don’t even have to be members of the congregation, if you have a great idea for a neighborhood, the church is a good vehicle to get it done. All you have to be is respectful and nice, and willing to work and play well with others and the possibilities are endless…I think that’s what God wants us to do…(church should function more like TEDtalks and less like exclusive clubs)

So the question is, why do churches have so much trouble doing it? I’m ready…who is with me!

 

Children! Yay!

It is a gift to love children.

I know this, because as a child, I never wanted to forget what it was to have an adult who talked to you like real human being…there were these grown-ups who “got it” and I read books by authors who seemed to still get it. L. Frank Baum, C. S. Lewis, J. M. Barrie, Raold Dahl, Maurice Sendek, Dr. Suess and a million others.

My husband tells me that I treat everyone like children.

I prefer to think of it as “I treat everyone the same” (including myself…I think that means I still consider myself a child)–Besides we are all children of God, right 😉

I have been gifted with continuous exposure to children, my youngest sibling is 10yrs younger than me, and I have two more! Let’s just say I’ve gone to Disney movies most of my life (either by acculturation or pure survival I still love them!). This means she was only 11 when I graduated college (yep. I was so totally in the know about Blue Clues, Pokemon and what KIDS actually thought about Harry Potter). During College, I worked at Headstart, reading to children. Why? do you ask? Because these children are usually a. not read to at home b. don’t have role models who went to college c. need adults who are around just to talk/listen to them without extra demands. Also, Headstart is underfunded and can always use an extra pair of hands. So, I was around preschoolers 2-3 times a week!
I also dabbled in summer jobs that included a Montessori School, fulltime babysitting and being the children’s director (read: all the Munchkins) of Wizard of Oz

Then I worked at Bethany Presbyterian while I was in seminary where I was the Christan Ed. Director for over 50 kids, with an amazing full out PTA and volunteer staff of Sunday School Teachers.

Then, I also had 2 children at seminary (because, hey, I hate being bored) and babysat part time.

Literally, I have NEVER had a TIME WITHOUT CHILDREN in my life.

So, yes I don’t remember EVERYTHING of being a child, but I didn’t forget everything either 🙂

You know what I’ve learned? You forget! There are lots of adults my age–I’m only 30–who don’t have a clue as to what to do with kids–either they have never been around them, or they’ve completely forgotten.

And, some people are able to rediscover it with parenting or by connecting with a child in their lives 🙂

To love children, to stay engaged with them, to truly value who they are (not just who they have potential to be) is a gift. I’m so lucky to have that gift.

This is why I think that families should be included (w)holistically in church, that real space and time should be given to children to be a part of everything that is going on, and their contributions should be valued…This is why I didn’t become a Christian Educator, because I think Children Should be INCLUDED in church, not just a special category of ministry (altho they are that too) I want to be in the “main church” fighting for and with them!

after all, their contributions have always been a meaningful part of MY life!!!

Ch 6: Waking up

How long did I sleep? I look out the window, no light shines in. I wonder about that. The forest outside was so entrenched that not a droplet of light shone through. I wonder how it is I can see…some light is coming through, but it looks like nothing more than a misty glow.

The candle has guttered, I look at the wick and feel sorry for it.

I should get dressed, but I instead go to the hall, the back of my neck prickles

“Hello? Are you there? Its me, Pri….”

Was that a sigh? Cautiously I look around…nothing.I start to walk down the hallway…trying to keep my elaborate robe tied on, but the silk seems to slip. What is the use of clothing if it can’t stay on I wonder? Frustrated I see the rope for the curtains. Determinedly I grab it and tie it on.

Amazing how small victories can give you confidence. Feeling better, I slip down the rooms seeing what seems to be a study, a ballroom, a music room with many instruments.

Nothing is as well lit as I would like, and nothing feels inviting, so I continue on. Counting the curtains, exclaiming to myself over the decorations. Trying to keep my spirits up.

Oh look, a kitchen!

Narrative Lectionary: Thoughts on John 4:46-54

Restoration: from the Latin seriously it actually is 😉

restore – Online Etymology Dictionary

Restoration c.1300, “to give back,” also, “to build up again, repair,” from Old French restorer, from Latin restaurare “repair, rebuild, renew,

Katy’s Definition to simultaneously destroy and resurrect something at the same time

Image

God Restores us, healing our hearts AND binding our wounds: Forget Ps 140, I’m using Ps. 147:3
Image

kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken pottery by filling the cracks with amalgam mixed with powdered gold, I was awestruck. Kintsugi is translated as “golden joinery,”  The new, reformed whole contains both the remembrance of that which was before and also what is now – something that had been broken into pieces and is now reformed, containing the additional joining amalgam that is noticeable and traceable.

Viewing kintsugi pottery brought to mind how quickly Western culture discards the broken – broken objects, broken people, and broken relationships. We fail to see what the broken might look like if we put the resources into mending the broken.

Katy’s Synonyms Kintsugi, Restoration, (w)holistic Christianity, Shalom, Fullness, Overflowing, Give me your tired/poor/hungry, Brokenhearts, wholeness, complete,  Image

What a great Valentine’s Day text (love it when it works out that way!)

There is a Balm in Gilead folks!

Empowerment

 

Ok, Oberlin got me with this poster
There were a million other reasons why I went, but this was the primary one.
Its also why I go to church. (as opposed to sitting at home and being spiritual)
When I was 10 I was confirmed as an adult
I was assisting with Sunday School at age 12
At age 14 I told an emergency Children’s Sermon
By age 15 I ran a Vacation Bible Fair (just one night)
 
I was empowered, as such I am excited to see what I will do from now on!
Through church I find partners, through partners to be empowered to make a difference in the world.
 
Hopefully churches give healthy empowerment and partnership to those who want to love.
 
That’s how i look at it……

Partnerships

One thing that frustrates me about church is when people grudgingly take on tasks.

I don’t know, for me its more fun to be involved and DO things, don’t you want to be a part of whatever is happening?

This week I got the chance to talk to a wonderful lady. Together we planned an arts project in 2 parts: 1 a Family Friendly Art Show 2. A Kids Theater Program (that is very accessible monetarily and hopefully schedulewise).

It was a good hour.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be prep involved, but mostly it just took a spark, an idea.

There will be setup and hosting and taking down.

There will be more planning for part 2

But the way I look at it; it will be LOADS of fun, as most ministry is.

So I’m confused…..do we really begrudge the time & energy that is spent in ministry….or are we just afraid that we are going to have to do it alone!

And for me it took a partnership. So often people don’t want to lead in the church, because they feel like they have to do it alone.

Good News! We don’t have to. God is with us, we are never alone, and God sent us partners! From the gecko, God realized that we work better in Tandem.

Young Families in Church…continued…..

A lot of young people don’t go to church (I know your shocked, your really, really shocked).

Here is my vast knowledge about church

1. Its a good community…its a good way to have intergenerational interaction, its a good way to ask hard questions (at the good churches anyway)

2. Church Shopping is tough: churches are desperate (which isn’t that attractive) and its hard to church shop when you feel unsettled, and lets face it, with the way the economy is, most people are fairly unsettled, especially the young people. I have been at the same job for 4ish years…that is VERY unusual for a person my age. If you don’t have a steady job or don’t know if your going to have to move (again) within the same year, its hard to make time to church shop.

In theories churches should be helping with this process (how about get to know your town guides? New to the neighborhood events that aren’t creepy? My church does a playgroup that allows a little bit with this)

3. Churches need to advertise themselves as a pace of transition (ie we are a stable place to come while your transitioning)…too much to Churches self-advertise or give the impression that this is where to go when you start to sort out your beliefs or your all set on where you are in life. This is OPPOSITE of what church should be, church should be a place to be crazy, screwed up and confused, a place to support people who are figuring it out…….Maybe churches should be more like college and less like a government.

4. Young Families Basic Needs: tend to include activities at a time of day they can actually manage, Sunday School that is enjoyable, Family friendly events, Adequate Rooms for children, Babysitting for events that are not suitable for children, changing tables, cribs, and preferably a space in the Worship area for kids to worship during church (try getting that one done, its almost impossible)…want to welcome families? Go out of your way to give them a real space to be….

5. Try to focus more on the Sabbath piece of church. Every single person I know is stressed and overwhelmed, if church could be a place of sanctuary, rest and sabbath we might actually communicate our message better.

6. That whole forgiveness of debts thing: do that. We preach forgiveness of debts, practically everyone I know is WAY in debt, yet we do nothing to practice what we preach….um….yeah….

7. Engage, engage, engage, find as many opportunities as possible to serve the community, to experience the community and to get to know the community (this is that piece of advice every single leader of churches gives)

8. Do NOT talk about young people as the “future”; first off, they are already people, not just future people (get my drift?), secondly this gross genera9lizing of who the young are is not appreciated

9. Try not to be judgmental: To be human is to be judgmental, its how we separate the “us” from the “them” its a defense mechanism, its natural, and its sad….we don’t need to judge other people, that’s God’s job. Plus! loving is our goal, good news is our job, and judging people adds to their problems. I used to have someone call me up at night and tell me what I needed to worry about…guess what…that is the opposite of helping…

10. Have Faith: Preach Good News, practice joy, dwell in the spirit, worry not about today or tomorrow, consider the birds, consider the lilies of the fields, they toil not, but God takes care of them…

The Token Young Family

“It’s exhausting being the young family in a church” This sentiment was shared to me by one of our “young families” about what another “young family” told them.

Its exhausting. Of course, I speak from the “young family” and “pastor’s family” congruently, but I know what they mean.

1) Getting the schedule

I’m not sure if it was just very different for families back in the day when our older members were young, or if they’ve forgotten just how crazy it is, but there is some kind of generational divide between what people think young families’ schedules are like and, well, reality. Events that seem easy are actually not. Babysitting is not considered (nor the lead time needed to get a babysitter) and the whole, I have to work for a living is similarly forgotten (which is ironic since I work for the church so hanging out is part of my work but sermons and paperwork need to get done too..I can only imagine how this increases for regular families)

2) Responsibilities

Most things these days require some level of participation that is beyond us: school, clubs, jobs, job-related socialization. Church responsibilities are the same, churches try to toe the line between keeping families involved and yet not being overdemanding, but honestly, most events are more fun if there are children there, except for the ones that children need to stay home for. The truth is, juggling kids at events is tricky, I’d prefer if every event was welcoming and helpful for kids to be present at.

3) Regular attendance

For most families attending once or twice a month is the very best they can do…they are just too busy, and making them feel guilty is not helpful.

Of course the easy solution to this is to no longer be the only “Young Family” at a church, but its hard to figure it out….I toy with ideas of starting a TEDtalks Bible study or doing more Family Oriented programming (Kids Clubs, Parents Night Out, Exploratory Music Classes), but timing is tricky. And I want church to be FUN. In the meantime, the hope is that there are advantages of being the “young family too” such as a. the kids getting more attention b. the church can listen better to your needs c. the church starts to be a better and better place for young families to hang out at…..

4) Welcoming

Being desperate is not the same as being welcoming. Church’s “need” young people to keep going, so they look at young families as their literal salvation (oops) and get very needy very quickly. Prime examples: Expecting young families to have their teenager to help with technology, expecting young parents to teach the Sunday School, Expecting young families believe the exact same things that the church grandparents believe are a few examples.

i.e. The Church should be more than a vampire looking for Fresh Blood!

Being welcoming is accepting the natural gifts of the family and asking them where they want to help out. Being welcoming is allowing for give and take….ask what the family needs from the church, not just vice versa…

What would help you to feel more relaxed and less stressed about families and church?

The Mystery of Ministry

“Why would you want to work only 1 day a week, and that’s a half day” –my mother…obviously before she was a pastor, trying to understand why my father was considering the ministry….

Similarly, my friend’s boss once said she wish she could have an easy job, like me…my friend laughed and said that I do all that a CEO does, but with volunteers instead of employees (and morals, although she didn’t tell her boss that)…..

I sometimes think being a pastor is more mysterious than Astrology in Harry Potter

unfog unfogging_the_future__2__by_i_never_stop-d5diz7i

These weeks have been very busy for me, between budget meetings, an emergency with a very troubled family involving the welfare of their children and a funeral…I’ve had to hit the ground running.

The truth about ministry is that it seems very mysterious because not many people know what you do in a week. We are like glaciers. For glaciers usually only 10% of them are visible…and I think only about %10 (that would mean 4 to 5 hrs) of the work of ministry is visible

For one, there is sermon writing…how do you do it? I personally consider it an art, which means that everyone approaches it differently (warning: results are not guaranteed) That alone can take 5-15hrs…Personally I tend to build up from the bulletin. Writing prayers, picking hymns in the context of the scripture help to lead me to the right space (usually)

There’s the office stuff: Paperwork for Presbytery, Newsletters, checking with the secretary (what  a blessing that I have one) to see when things will be printed, coordinating sending out things from sympathy cards and flowers to whatever other mailings are necessary (Stewardship materials anyone?)

Then there’s event planning: figuring out the timeline, alerting the appropriate leaders and medias, making sure the time is well advertised and convenient for most

There’s Pastoral Counseling, which often happens spur of the moment, and is so necessary for people’s care

Praying, as often as you can, and trying to include all relevant people in your prayers

Then there is the ministry of presence: which is the time you spend in the office or hanging out not looking busy so people can approach you…

Keeping in contact with those who have dropped out of the loop for whatever reason, and trying to remember to keep the church’s end of the relationship up either personally or (better yet) thru the deacons or hospitality people

Visiting those who are homebound or need home visits as often as possible and trying to build up lay leaders so they can do the same.

Keeping Connectiveness through the congregation by building in real fellowship moments that allow the congregation to draw together and experience God

Running the governmental board, maintaining Christ’s peace and addressing problems as quickly and directly as possible…looking beyond the people in the room towards God’s purpose for whatever is taking place…and then leading other people to that same vision…

Overseeing and checking in with the staff, trying to maintain harmony, set good boundaries and maintain open communication to nip problems in the bud

Advertising, Information and Communicating in as many levels as you can verbally, thru publishing (bulletin, newsletter, etc), thru the internet, to the church, to the community, to those who come, to those who don’t come, to the elderly, to the busy, to the families, to the staff.

Creating/Maintaining or Overseeing Christian Education for the littlest thru the adults

Being available for those Pastoral Care moments of sickness, deaths, births, marriages, major celebrations, moments of personal crises.

Attend big moments for church members (graduations, weddings, funerals, etc), even if they are not directed by the pastor, attending such events is important (and mostly fun) and a part of the job that is often not understood to be work, but are because you go as the “church’s” representative.

Maintaining your own Spiritual practice so you don’t dry up from lack of spiritual nourishment

Building Clergy Connections thru lunches, spiritual friendships, governmental meetings and other proscribed activities (mentoring, peer groups, continuing ed. etc)

Don’t forget the preaching–which is mostly what everyone sees

In addition to this there is overseeing and working on a viable mission (hopefully every church has one)..you know the thing  your church does that is really unique and therefore special, so you work really really hard not only to maintain this but to grow it.

To push the church, the staff, the governmental board, the neighborhood to be more Open: Open to new ideas, Open to new (and different) people and cultures, Open to experimenting, Open to failure, Open to unexpected successes, Open to honest assessments, Open to the movements of the Holy Spirit.

Mostly, pastors are there to facilitate, coordinate and teach about our relationships with God and eachother. Sometimes that means stimulating though about this….oftentimes it means spurring people into action. Its not an exact science, but it is an important task…

This is a fairly generalized list of what my job is, it is by no means a job description, but maybe it helps to clarify who pastors are and some of what they do.

Comic from “The Naked Pastor”

Book Review: Sassy Steampunk–A Study in Silks, A Study in Darkness, A Study in Ashes

Baskerville Affair by Emma Jane Holloway

Evie Cooper is a not quite fashionable young girl living in London in the midst of the Steam Barons Rule.

Part Steampunk, Part Revolution, Part Mystery this book follows the adventures of Evie Cooper and her closest friends during a tumulteous Time.

“You have to decide that for yourself” Variations of this line are put forward by characters of all stripes indicating, strongly, that who you are depends highly on who  you decide to be and no one can really tell you how that is going to work out for you….this could be the theme song of the entire book–making me a very happy Katy.

Things I liked about this book

1. Character development (everyone develops, everyone)

2. Fleshed out characters (good and evil more often turn to gray, and love is highly valued)

3. Love Triangles…but they are relevant to the plot

4. London: Victorian Age

5. Steam Punk

6. If you’ve read Holmes (YAY) you get Lotsa extra plot points!

7. Class Revolution: This book takes on income differences and revolution in an interesting way (causing some fun 99% thoughts), down with the Steam Barons….

Things to note: The main character is a little annoying at times (she is definitely a teenager when compared to characters such as Mary Russell) and the plot is not strong on the mystery and be warned there is a love triangle, however the strong characters of which there are many who we get to know and see develop and the play with family dynamics are awesome. And the fact that no one is condemned to be evil if they choose not to be is great (I’m a sucker for redemption) Of course I always love Victorian era women, because if they are awesome by today’s standards they are even more awesome for stepping out in a restrictive age…I love me a rebellious woman

And I hope there is another trilogy exploring this underworld with WAY more Holmes in it….

Study in Silks

Friendship and Pastoring: What they have in common

My mom’s best friend had an abortion, this was back in those days when abortions were even more frowned upon.

She admitted it, later, because she didn’t feel like my mom would approve, due to her Christian beliefs (my mom is now a Presbyterian Pastor)

420 × 294 – rottenecards.com

At that moment, my mom realized that she couldn’t be there as a friend, because she was perceived as being too judgmental….And this woman really needed a friend right then. When a girl from an abusive family gets pregnant an abortion might be the safest option…(or not)

But the point is, that my mom, was not perceived as a friend. It was at this moment my mom realized, she never wanted people to think they couldn’t talk to her, because she was going to be judging them. After all, what kind of friend does that?

She then went on to realize that pastoring has a similar action.
I never preach my political views from the pulpit, instead I preach the Bible and open my door to any who want to struggle to interpret how it works (which is why its dicey to have church facebook friends, because I do some of my political stuff there….but I don’t really mind as long as people realize its my freedom of speech space)….

If I preach all for or all against abortion and you are on the opposite side of the aisle, you probably will feel like you can’t talk to me when you have problems in that area…just like you want friends who will talk to you, you also want a congregation that can talk to you (in fact if anyone has a problem with me, I ask them to tell a session member or *more preferably* me directly about it, so I can address it..what’s the point of a pastor you can’t talk to?)

I will admit, I do have some boundaries, human rights are definitely something I feel comfortable ascribing as a part of Christianity, preaching hate as the Gospel is DEFINITELY off limits, but other than that I (try) to be someone you can talk to…..

After all, I really DO like to talk 🙂

Food Tripping: Church & Food

If you have any question about what kind of person Jesus is, remember this, his ministry began and ended with food! It started with the wedding at Cana and Ended with the Last Supper

John 2

New International Version

2 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b]

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Food is good, it is one of the few things we do that is both necessary for our very existence, and pleasurable at the same time. Whenever I worry about who God is, I remember that God invented chocolate….what kind of God creates so many different foods with so many varieties in the world? I’m afraid to say if humans created food we would have created one substance that is of some nutritional value, and bland. Our God is more creative than that.

In my family we have something called food tripping, where you describe a food you love so much you space out from remembering it….

In fact, just one food can elevate an entire meal. Its likely your favorite restaurant isn’t really your favorite because everything tastes good there, but rather because they serve your favorite food. (I’m actually a sucker for either awesome bread or desserts) For example when I make pizza if I can have fresh basil or fresh mozerella the pizza tastes better–all it takes is one good ingredient to elevate the entire pizza 🙂

Recently there has been a growing fascination to where food comes from, whether it is local or organic, how it is processed, and lets not forget the Food Network. The source of our Food is compelling.

The reason why we are so fascinated with food, is that the more we know the food’s story, the better it tastes! We take pleasure in things that are creative acts. Things that are unique. This is why my grandmother’s bisqick coffee cake and my father’s bread taste different than any other versions of this food (even though, both recipes are available to everyone). Knowing that your food came from the local farm via the local farmer’s market, learning about food makes it taste better.

Now imagine that you are at a wedding and you get Jesus wine. A wine that serves to both elevate the entire meal but also just tastes better because its from JESUS! The source is good, therefore the food is good. Isn’t the spirit of the meal half of how a meal tastes anyway?

What if we thought about churches more as meals than programs. What if we tried to serve up our favorite pieces of worship–1 or 2 things, with Jesus as the source. What if instead of trying to offer a buffet of everything (or even the most modern whatevers) we served a nourishing meal with the hospitality that is in Christ’s spirit, one that we can offer in JOY!

After all, this is a meal we are celebrating, its abundance, its being drunk on the Holy Spirit, its understanding that the invitation is from Christ, and no other can make it better.

I think if we talked more about the source of our nourishment, and if we served the love with which it was made, church will be transformed from a boring form of sustenance that simply gives us the basic nourishment we need, to one where JESUS gives us the SPIRITs and we are invited to CELEBRATE THE LOVE TOGETHER.

How wonderful that would be!

PS Check out this Ted Talk There is some interesting claims about the creative act of humanity and how the creative act is what makes art valuable (ie why we like originals more than copies). i.e. Creativity and Relationship is what makes things pleasurable for us. We all know God is THE creator, making each of us a unique work of art, and we are invited to be co-creators with him. What kind of creative food can we serve up in church these days!!!!

By giving us a …

By giving us a window into the folk wisdom of an earlier age and revealing the wishes, hopes, fears, disappoinmtents, and frustrations of that time, these stories help us to understand just what is at stake in our own cultural stories. The tales we tell each other and our children not only reflect our own lived experience and our psychic realities, they also shape our lives, enabling us to construct our desires, to cope with our anxieties, and to separate fantasy from reality.” Maria Tartar Cambridge, 1997

Grimm’s Grimmest p. 15 copyright 1997 Chronicle Books, San Francisco

We tell stories to find truth. Tolkien called this the eternal truth in his Mythpoeia essay/poem.

Myths, Lewis told Tolkien, were “lies and therefore worthless, even though breathed through silver.”

“No,” Tolkien replied. “They are not lies.” Far from being lies they were the best way — sometimes the only way — of conveying truths that would otherwise remain inexpressible. We have come from God, Tolkien argued, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God.

Katy’s thoughts Stories help us to understand the human condition in light of the eternal truth, God….our charge is to tell the Gospel wherever and whenever possible, and since Christ’s story is our story, and our story is Christ’s story….the t

wo help us to find where God is…

What we are doing now, our job, is to speak our knowledge/prophecy/stories of God in love. Because that is our window to truth!

And ultimately Fairy Tales are stories about love! 1st Corinthians 8-12 “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” In essence the next verse is the Mythopoeia thesis “12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

All right,” sai…

All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying

humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

 

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

“So we can believe the big ones?”

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

“They’re not the same at all!”

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

MY POINT EXACTLY.”

Susan and Death, The Hogfather by terry pratchett

Stories are an essential part of being human.

Fantasy helps us to work towards the world in God’s image, dreaming and imagining is a part of that

“I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”  (NIV, Joel 2:28)

YAY! Talking, Communication, Virtua Media and Such….. #holyspirit #communication #virtualmedia #comments

Communication is difficult.

I once heard some professor say (don’t ask me who I don’t remember, it might have been Prof. Kay) that communication is a gift.

Humans have a lot of trouble understanding each other. It takes the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit in order for REAL communication to take place.

Why? Because it takes listening, empathy, sympathy and a willingness to enact the words that are being spoken.

The longer I live, the more I believe this…

Ever have a conversation where you are trying to listen carefully and you repeat back what has been said, and they repeat back too..but later it turns out you actually didn’t really have the same understanding of the conversation? Those feel like the most.

This happens to my husband and me all the time!

This problem gets slightly more complicated with virtual media….where there is no intonation (This is problematic for people like me…who primarily joke in sarcasm and ironies….a good footnote for my life is that if I’m saying something mean about you, to you, I’m joking…..really, I am)

hence e-motions 🙂 which help but aren’t the same.

Then there’s the fact that rarely do we pay REALLY close attention to what we are reading on the internets….we are usually watching tv (I have Avatar on currently) or quick peeking while we’re waiting for something, or whatever.

Then there is comments, many bloggers disable comments because so often they devolve…and most of the criticism is ridiculous…comments are about something totally unrelated or it turns into a rant. The anonymity triggers some of this, as does the distraction, but some of it is just human nature.

Communication is tough.

But when it happens, its amazing.

Its like when married people have an entire conversation without using words (as Tamora Pierce points out in Trickster’s Choice)

Or when friends REALLY get each other in a moment, its like two souls shaking hands (as Sean Stewart says in Nobody’s Son)*

Its a spiritual moment…and I believe it CAN happen online…..but just like in regular conversations, when it happens, its a gift from God–thru the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit

*These are lines inscribed on my heart, I do not have the books with me, so I do not have the page numbers….Trickster’s Choice its between the father and step-mother of the girls Aly takes care of very early on. In Nobody’s Son its between the heroine and her best friend, when the hero first meets the best friend

This year I will……

This year I will talk to dragons, I will spend the time I need to with fairies and fight off the bad guys with a sword.

I will flirt outrageously

I will laugh more than ever

I will be sure to build as many towers as I knock down, and remember that journeying to the castle is just as important as defeating the bad guy

I will improve my tea drinking ritual–because its more fun the more you do it

I will remember to sing loudly in the car, try new upsidedown and balancing thingies in yoga and throw more snowballs

I will wiggle more in my seat, draw more doodles and as a result become wiser than ever

I will pick the flowers

I will get my hopes too high on a regular basis, expect all  people I know to be brave & wise & good no matter what I might (or might not already) know about them and catch up on Dr. Who

I will exclaim over every baby that they are each the most beautiful baby in the universe—because every single one is, and spoil my cats while contemplating with my husband the fact that we’ve acquired a creature (baby or kitten) every year that we have been married.

I will make it my mission to make my job be more and more about people (and less about paperwork)

I will declare random vacations to go out and play in the sun

I will do silly things I’m not good at, I will play strategy games, draw, play music, etc. because those are the things I love

I will do something meaningful to support trans*/bi community

I will watch as many Disney movies as possible and get my haircut when I feel like it

I will remember never to eat the food in fairyland

I will let my kids be messy, allow them to have fun, and teach them to love people

I will play more practical jokes on my husband

I will enjoy God’s sense of humor!

I will get lost and have fun while I’m doing it

I will read many, many library books

I will chase rainbows…and sunsets….

I will go on as many adventures as I can cram in…

I will walk to nowhere

I will tell the stories that give my life meaning, and repeat them over and over again until they are true

I will be Katy 🙂

Ch 5: Looking

Hopefully she slept, I peeked in at her and it seems like she was asleep…but the light startled me, so I only caught a glimpse.

I hope she was asleep.

Otherwise why would her eyes be closed?

I did see that she had brownish/blackish hair, it looked a lot neater than mine. Could I even brush myself if I wanted to? It might feel good to use a brush.

If her hair is dark then her eyes would be….I realize I’m growling

The candle had burned down to the nub…I should have replaced it, but it was too scary.

I couldn’t go into her room.

Focus, focus.

Name, I need a name, maybe if I have a name I can start to define thing.

Maybe then I can look at her again.

Maybe then I won’t be afraid to change the candle.

Christmas Carols Annotated!

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I like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & Winter Wonderland.

But…..I prefer Christmas Carols, possibly because they are so seldom played that they are not on the radio and retail venues everywhere…

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: This is not in my Presbyterian hymnal–it is also seriously undersung (ie its considered a carol but never included Christmas Eve  and is only occasionally on the pop albums). Although the sexist words (ugh) the TAKE HEART lyrics make me super, super happy….

Away in the Manger: The other lullaby (you know not Silent Night), the second verse is my favorite…where I tend to change lowing to Mooing and “no crying” to lotsa crying (because that’s what makes sense, Jesus was fully human after all).

Hark the Herald Angels Sing: reconciliation and healing in his wings…..maybe my favorite carol…….maybe

Angels We Have Heard On High: GLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

The First Noel: I love, love, love the melody of this

What Child Is This?: um…a carol that asks a million questions—feels genuine to me!

Good King Wenceslas: I don’t actually know all the words to this, yet when people are caroling in movies this is what they sing (perhaps because it feels all medieval)

Ding Dong Merrily On High: played somewhat on the radio (must not be too Christian), it sounds like bells. I’m kind of Meh about it….the tune is fun, but I guess it isn’t ingrained in my bones the way other carols are.

O Come All Ye Faithful: Love the invitational message of this song (always sing it during Advent, notice that this can also totally be an advent song?)

O Little Town of Bethlehem: A great tune sung by pop artists because of its beauty…..not so singable for congregations although well known enough we can fake it 🙂

Carol of the Bells: Perhaps the replacement for Ding, Dong Merrily on High?, the words are mood are similar. I definitely like the tune of this better….

Good Christian Men Rejoice: Very similar to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, a little sexist, but deep lyrics “need not fear the grave” and lots of rejoicing.

Wassail: Simple, repetitive, yet really full of Christmas caroling spirit

O Come, O Come Emmanuel: Yay! Advent mysteriousness!

O Holy Night: BEAUTIFUL, wish we didn’t confine this to soloists….everyone has a right to belt this out, off key and all!

Silent Night: Candlelight, love the 2nd verse…I always raise my candle for the “love’s true light” verse…there’s a mysterious, random fourth verse that no one sings (and I actually do feel its useless)

Joy to the World: YAY! The other alternative for ending the Christmas Eve Service….not that we ever do…but it totally could and of course….its not necessarily just a Christmas song

Christmastime is Here: Wish we adopted this as a carol we sing in church…the message is sound, and maybe if church’s sang newer beautiful songs, then….well we wouldn’t have saved the church, but our Christmas Eve will be richer for it (yes Charlie Brown)

Welcome Christmas: Ditto, “Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores” words so carol sounding, people tried to translate it……….(yes its Grinch)

I Need a Silent Night: The very new Amy Grant Song……self-references carols, def. worth checking it out.

Being Christmassed! Xmas Links that get me in that holiday spirit!

Usually I’m Christmassed way before Thanksgiving. The love and joy and hope of Christmas descends upon me (usually unexpectedly)

However this year there were technical difficulties regarding a Santa Hat (how can I wear this if my children keep stealing it) Christmas Music (I still don’t know where my CDs are) A Church Production of Charlie Brown (Cancelled: sad day) and family (no one is able to visit us this year)…plus it just felt a little too fast.

This week I transitioned, somehow in reading Mary’s Joy–it became mine,

Luke 1 46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 56And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

And THEN (magically) I found things on the internet that made me feel like Christmas

Things like an amazing version of Angels We Have Heard on High (4 guys, 1 piano)

Things like this retelling of Jesus “Brilliant, no one will be expecting that!”

Then there’s this little girl sharing the Christmas Spirit with her parents, through singing/signing ;P

And an old favorite hallelujah! which is how being suddenly Christmassed feels to me!

Many pastors believe in delayed gratification, that singing Christmas hymns during advent is akin to a sin.

I don’t. I do think in giving Thanksgiving its due, and try to wait until them to do Christmassy things (altho what happens in the privacy of your own car is your business)

But, I love Christmas, there is something truly infectious about it…even as it is commercialized, the feeling itself is magical.

and important

and a good

and I’ll try not to be TOO annoyingly happy about it

🙂

I think I’m going to go watch Charlie Brown Christmas now!

Ch 4: Time

I begin to get oriented. The big whatchamacallit left, and as he passed a candle was lit.

Did I black out before that? I remember all the feelings I had, but I don’t know how much time passed, or if I really, actually saw anything.

The candle is flickering…..

Can something that shape even light a candle? I don’t even know if there are hands or claws or…

my mind went blank at “claws,” probably not a good direction for my thoughts to go. Maybe that’s how I blacked out to begin with.

The flickering candle is comforting…it marks the passage of time better than the dark does–it makes me think of morning….maybe I should go to bed. Its hard to tell without any windows.

I stand up–I’m surprised that I’m not shaky, maybe its because I’ve spent all my energy on the..confrontation. Ok, good to know for the future, when I go through an emotional rollercoaster, at some point, my body calms itself down.

I peer out to the hall, of course no one is there. There would be no sneaking in this place.

Determined, I pick up the candle and walk. Its only a hallway, I tell myself. Its not as if its a dungeon or the forest. My eyes follow a gold line trim on the wall, the gleam of it comforts me. Dancing in the light.

The first room I open, thankfully has a bed, I lie down. I carefully place the candle on the winged table nearby

I watch the shadows dance on the ceiling until I fall asleep.

My Santa Hat

My Santa Hat is older than my children.

I got it the first year of college at Oberlin.

At that time, I realized three things

1. I missed my family and church (the churches were CRAZY as a result of 9/11 and I couldn’t find a good one)

2. I wouldn’t be able to do much preparing for Christmas

3. People hated to be wished “Merry Christmas” something about the White Christian hegemony in a very liberal arts school.

Plus I had my first round of finals coming up (yikes!)

so I went to CVS and bought this really nice $5 Santa hat, it is a dark red with a clothlike white trim

I have worn it since that Dec 2001, ….and (amazingly) I haven’t lost it…

I wear it to celebrate Christmas

I wear it to celebrate Advent, to bring Christmas into conversations is a “safe space”

Every Thanksgiving I get it out, and start to celebrate.

Sometimes I think that God works less like a thunderous mountain of justice…and way more like my Santa hat.

 

Robin McKinely is contemplating Christmas’ approach too

Christmas Books: Classics, Children’s, Adult’s, Books you didn’t know were about Christmas

Every year I look for a great Christmas book to read during Advent. Here are some that I enjoy over and over again!

 

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: Ever actually read the book? Its a good read out loud Tale.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis: There’s nothing quite reading about a land where its “Almost winter and never Christmas” when Christmas is on its way…

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories* by Connie Willis: A great collection of fiction stories that is about the true meaning of Christmas by the amazing author of “To Say Nothing of the Dog.” This is more fiction than sci-fi, but is SO amazing!

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham: Similar to the movie (Christmas with the Kranks), this very quick read talks about the ridiculousness and wonder of the Christmas hoopla

 

 

 

Mrs. Miracle by Debbie MacComber: Total popcorn, the first and best in this series. I do love a good Mary Poppins

type story is awesome, and the angels are awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

The Worst/Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson: A story of transformation from the worst things of Christmas…to the best…in fact I might say Skipping Christmas is an adult version of this same story.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess: My advice: do the voices

The Gift of the Magi by O Henry: a tearjerker

The Little Matchgirl by Hans Christian Anderson: ditto

The Night Before Christmas preferably right after you hang stockings and right before bed. Get 8 different copies and let everyone choose one to looks at, that’s the Hedges-Goettl way 🙂

The Nutcracker: If you can’t go to the ballet, read it. Or buy the advent calendar and read a little of the story all the way til Christmas

Velveteen Rabbit by Margary Williams: Starts at Christmas, ends with resurrection, best translation of the Gospel ever!

Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburgh: Beautiful, poignant, perhaps not a kids story (that’s all I’m sayin)

 

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: Starts at Christmas, ends at Christmas, life happens in-between Christmas…

 

 

 

 

 

*top recommendation

Church Event Guide/What I’ve learned in the last 4 years: Don’t do anything for free

Recently there was an article concerning the …..lets say staidness of overly churched culture….

How do you get a church to event plan beyond the church culture? Here are some guidelines to consider

Rule number One: Don’t do anything for free….it creates a debt mentality that is unhealthy for the congregation and the attendee

Church: Let’s throw this free event, then people will love us and come to church….

Potential Attendee: Free? Really, I bet that church just wants my soul, no way I’m going to that…

Church: We had a free event…why didn’t anyone come (or) People came to our free event, why aren’t they coming to church

Rule Number Two: If you throw an event, have a reason behind it (other than attracting people to the church…ideally have at least TWO solid reasons

ex: Let’s have a farmer’s market 1. it will support our local community and help reaquaint with the neighborhood 2. It will help our local economy–these are our reasons, we are sharing them with the farmers and the customers

ex 2: Let’s put on a play of Charlie Brown Christmas as a food drive because 1) that’s what Christmas is all about 2) we don’t want it to be free 3) because its for children, and if someone cries they can be taken out without money lost

I have found if you have 2 solid reasons, more and more reasons to have the event start to build…..eventually we realized a. there is no farmer’s market in our corner of the city b.people are meeting each other at our farmer’s market and becoming more communal c. its easier to come to the parking lot than the sanctuary (see the ps for more info) d. Won’t you be our Neighbor? we found a motto that described that we wanted everyone in the neighborhood to come to the farmer’s market, and that this reason should drive everything we do

Charlie Brown Christmas 1) its accessible to children of all ages (yay for a mental center coming to see it) 2) one of our actor’s father with alzheimer’s could wander around and enjoy the show 3) people don’t feel bad when their kids make noise because we welcomed the children and they didn’t have to pay “good money” for it. 4) People love to donate food, we got wayyyyy more than the number of people who attended 5) It’s multigenerational, children are seeing what their parents and grandparents grew up with so everyone enjoys it 6) It tells the good news but is not too preachy–many people who are spiritual-but-not-religious felt comfortable with coming to see Charlie Brown

Rule Number Three: No ulterior motives….Try, try, try not to have ulterior motives for putting on Events, because when you do, You hamper God!

You box the event into being successful based on a bunch of random info that you think is important, instead of running the event and then discovering what was important afterwards.

Discuss What Worked Rule Number 4: This is the one piece of advice that I MUST stress, talk about the BEST part of the events, discuss what worked, look on the brightest side, ok not many people came, did you get ANYONE new (?) that’s progress, did you learn anything about advertising (?) that’s progress, did the group do a lot to work together and enjoy certain parts of the process (?) that’s progress. Progress is incremental, you do not build a success story out of one event, but many

Rule number 5 You do not build a success story out of one event but many (see above).
Rule number 6 Try to do repeatable events. I find it take 12 meetings (rule of thumb) to know if something has failed. I repeat, an even CANNOT have failed until you’ve tried it multiple times: whether that be a Bible study or a playgroup or a concert series. That means if you meet once a week it takes 3months, if you meet once a month it will be a year. If you have an event every season then its 3years before you can write it off as a failure. (recommendation: if you have monthly events that are not really connected but seem to be a “thing” that are happening, start measuring those as a grouping, because you are advertising regularly.
(Rule number I’ve lost track, because it doesn’t matter how many rules there are) If you must count (altho I try not to) include your workers as attendees! They are there, they are making time and effort because they think this event is important, and you value your current members/community as much as your potential community (well that is the theory you should be practicing right?), include them
Another Rule Reinvest from the event: For our farmer’s market all our farmer’s fees went into advertising the market, we didn’t make a penny. For our Charlie Brown Play we turned it into a food drive to further teach the message of the play. Don’t do it for the church, do the event for the MISSION of the church
Final Rule: advertise, advertise, advertise: Get people to hand our pamphlets, send out invites, be sure to do that internet thing pick ONE UNIFIED IMAGE for the event and post it everywhere. It takes 3 times of seeing something to register. Put up NEW SIGNS for every event, it makes you look active, it shows your paying attention, it shows your reaching out and you care.
PS try to have events outside the church building (I know, I know that monstrousity costs a lot of money to maintain), but its a lot easier for a stranger to go to neutral ground then to come to your turf where you make the rules ex: its easier to come to the parking lot than the sanctuary, the fellowship hall feels less forboding than the chapel area and the NURSERY is a very friendly place if you make it feel welcoming. Also TRY To make things clear (where to enter, where to park, etc) you don’t want to make your people feel stupid before they even arrive<—my church is still struggling with this, but it makes a clear in-crowd, out-crowd thing…you don’t want that!

Reverse Black Friday Experience

Thursday morning at 6am I went to help with Equinox, which is a Thanksgiving meal program that serves about 10,000 in the Albany area….

I was really pleased to do this for the following reasons

1. My family is not the greatest financially, so I’m more able to give time

2. I have a 5& 1/2, 3 & 1/2, and a just 2 year old at home, so the theory of giving time is good, but not always possible, however my mother in law was in town, so I was able to feel like my husband had back up (he does the kid thing all the time, but he’s also our chef so……)

3. We are in the area….I usually don’t work over Thanksgiving, which means this is when we usually go to family (family comes to us for Christmas)…but this year we did a LOT of traveling…so my eldest asked his grandparents to come up and they obliged…

4. I got around to actually volunteering! They gave me the early shift, which I appreciated because it meant I really had the whole day to spend Thanksgiving with my family.

Immediately this made me feel better about the entire holiday…you know feeling worthwhile and all that…

I worked for two hrs…after which they practically kicked you out, so the next volunteers can get in…

I sorted bread, putting 2 bread products in a bag (trying to pair English muffins with the gigantic loaves so its more even) to be ready to pick up by the drivers who start their runs at 8am….

But my favorite part was the line….I had flashback to Black Friday…there they were over a hundred people sitting in their camp out spots (some since 3am I heard) waiting to be “drivers” to deliver the food…families and friends all sitting with boxes awaiting their food….

If we all did this…lined up one day a year to help people (instead of shopping) what a difference it would be….

Maybe it isn’t all year long…but I like to think how small starts…like volunteering for 2hrs…can make a huge difference

(The food is gathered in city hall since its the only place big enough to hold it all….a formal dinner is served to 500 people and 9,500 people get it delivered)

 

Also! Check out this for more Survival Strategies

Hunger Games: Female leads, Love Triangles and a tiny movie review

Katniss Everdeen is not a typical girl! (this article was written after my blog)

1. When I first read the first chapter I wasn’t sure if Katniss was a girl or Gale was a girl…..

2. She can’t lie: Notice how she’s always the last to know about the real plot (wait Peeta is actually in love with me, I thought we were just pretending is the first book, and a whole host of things in the second one I can’t name). Stereotypically

3. Katniss is not in a typical Love Triangle…I feel like the girl is usually caught in a direct competition where the ENTIRE plot rides the triangulation….Katniss says she’s too busy to worry about being in love…and I think she’s right.

4. Love Triangles don’t exist for boys in books, usual for Men there are two equally viable possibilities and sorting it out is more about what kind of life the hero wants to live (i.e. quiet and nerdy or fast and exciting). For girls its about who is the “RIGHT” boy…I think Hunger Games is more about the possibilities of living with Peeta vs. Gale as opposed to one being “right”

5. Katniss is a dunce about others but she is very self-aware…I like it

6. She grows (always important to me)

7. Every time you think you get how deep the plot is, it gets thicker

8. Its a study on PTSD

Tiny Review of Catching Fire (spoilers ahead)

Catching Fire is intense, people who are not familiar with the book tend to be surprised.

There is a lot more kissing than in the book (as I remember Katniss kisses Gale and Peeta once (for real) each…)….still I found myself taking it into stride

The “feel” is right: This is important because the pacing and details have to change some (the books are mostly introspection, which doesn’t translate to the screen”) however, I think the changes they did were (mostly) sensible for onscreen, and I have no doubt this is because Suzanne Collins has experience writing for TV as well as books

Finally! ending was interesting: I won’t give it away, but they uncover something that is a major mystery in the third book…wondering how they will handle this in the next movie….

Missing Link: I wish they did more with the minor characters, part of what is engaging for Katniss (for her audience and for us) is how she connects with the other characters, they missed that some with nuts & volts as well as the morphlings (who were barely onscreen)….also Peeta connects more to them and is particularly good with the morphlings which we completely miss…a regretable loss….

PS Cinna is my favorite character, I wish they gave him a couple more minutes of screen time about him “putting all his emotion in his work”

Overall: A great adaptation of the book…however ALWAYS read the book

Funny thing abo…

Funny thing about pastoring, a way to make your job easier is to be emotionally calibrated to the season…i.e if you are “feelin” Thanksgivingy around Thanksgiving, you will be a better pastor, ditto with Easter, Christmas, etc…..I love my job. I am in essence paid to “do the holiday thing”!!!!

YAY

Fools

“Christianity is, by its core nature, more akin to folly than it is to the Pope’s massive corporation. The central dictate of Christian doctrine is humility, in imitation of Christ’s ultimate self-humbling. Christians are mocked, persecuted and small: the powerful so-called Christian empires are the real perversion of the Gospel, not the Holy Fool.” p. 127 to Play the Fool by Laurie R. King

Josiah’s Reform 2 Kings 22:1-10 [11-20], 23:1-3, Luke 24:30-32, Psalm 105, Micah 4-5, Magnificat

More Narrative Lectionary Resources here

Josiah’s Reform  2 Kings 22:1-10 [11-20], 23:1-3, Luke 24:30-32Psalm 105

Consider including the Magnificat for Josiah’s Reform or Advent 1 Luke 1:46-55

Note: Micah 4-5can also be used throughout Advent

Call to Worship (Micah 4)

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.

Many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’

Come Let us worship the Lord

Come Let us Worship the Lord. 

Call to worship: (Luke 1:46-55)

Come let us magnify the Lord

I have heard you, says God

For the Mighty One has done great things for me.

My spirit rejoices in the Lord.

Call to Worship (2 Kings 22)

God calls us to his house

Let the repair work begin!

We are called to turn around so that we might rejoice in God

Come let us hear the word of the Lord 

Call to Worship

Lord open our eyes that we mights see

Grant us visions of truth 

Open our Hearts so we might know your scripture

Open us to the Holy Spirit!

Prayer of Confession: Lord, too often we are like the kings and people of Israel. We forget your covenant. We don’t keep your commandments within our hearts and within our souls. We fall out of step. Help us to follow you we pray.

Prayer of Confession: Lord I confess, that I have no always magnified you. I have not worked with you to lift up the downtrodden, to feed the hungry good things, and I have forgotten you’re mercy. Help me to fully embrace who you are so we might not live as a people living on scraps of your grace, but instead by a people woven together by your blessings, we pray.

Assurance of Pardon: God’s mercy is to all who fear him from generation to generation, let us tell the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Assurance of Pardon: When God judges–God shall hammer swords into the ploughshares, every time. Hear the Good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of Dedication/the Day: Lord we are thankful whenever we can see your grace dripping down to earth. We are grateful when we can right the wrongs, turn to another path, and encourage one another. Help us to recognize your fire as it burns in our hearts today and everyday we pray.

Eucharist Prayer: Lord grant us the hearts we need to give thanks with a grateful heart. Remind us that your judgement looks less like a sword and more like a tool of planting. As we await the harvest, let us enjoy the fruits of your labor–this covenantal meal. Remind us of your bounty and grace and seal our hearts, once again, with the fire of your Holy Spirit. For whenever we gather from East and West into your House, you promise we will each sit under our own vine, and we will make war no more. Let us practice that peace in communion today, we pray. Amen.

With Children: Cut Out a Puzzle: Put it back together talk about it as a power of forgiveness. Glowsticks/Electric candles: The glow/power of the Holy Spirit. Study the Ten Commandments, Have a Feast: Explain how one can always go home to dinner at God’s house and/or tell the prodigal son story and explain that Josiah is another version of that story.

 

 

image

 

Isaiah’s Vineyard: Prophecies & Power, the Shoot of Jesse (extended Advent?) see

Isaiah’s Vineyard Song: Prophecy & Power of the Shoot of Jesse (Extended Advent?) Isaiah 5:1-7, 11:1-5, Mark 12:1-3, Psalm 107: 28-43

More Narrative Lectionary Resources here

Harvest and the Promise of Resurrection/Jesus

Call to Worship

God is coming, this I promise a shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.

The spirit of wisdom and understanding. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord

Let us worship our God who is coming

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Let us go forth praising the Lord for God’s wonderful works for humankind. God satisfies the thirsty and the hungry he fills with good things. Let us offer a thanksgiving and tell of God’s deeds wherever we go, we pray. Amen. 

Prayer of Confession:

God we do not always see you. So we forget to forgive debts, heal the sick and free the prisoner. We spend so little time working to make your kingdom come. Forgive us for our lack of vision, give us eyes to see and ears to hear your word we pray. (Silent Prayer).

Prayer of Confession: Lord, we forget to tend the vineyard, and so often hurt the messenger when they call our our neglect to foster love and understanding. We flinch when we hear the words racism or bigotry or sexual misconduct, and verbally thrash any who might dare to point out injustice, because we are afraid to admit complicity or ignorance. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear injustice so we might weed it out and successfully tend the vineyard, we pray. 

Assurance of Pardon: God is the vine and we are branches, whenever we abide in God we flourish in grace. Let us renew our relationship knowing that truth:: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of Eucharist: Lord, you give us the vine and invite us to drink deeply in your love. You provide us meal after meal until we are filled to the brim, and you have us celebrate your covenant with a meal. Let us celebrate you today, so that we might make a sacrifice of praise to you today, we pray.

 

With Children: Eat Grape & Discuss vine and branches. Play throw a ball of string to make a web of interdependence, Plant seeds/pluck harvest and talk about the abundance of God, Have a thanksgiving celebration meal

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The couple in the face masks at a California vineyard wedding represent the love song that went amiss in the Song of the Vineyard in Isaiah 5

Narrative Lectionary: Isaiah 5:1-7; 11:1-5 (November 17, 2019?) Peaceable kingdom is 11;6-9; some resource below focus more on these additional verses. For another take on God as the vintner, see Psalm 80.

https://thebibleproject.com/videos/isaiah-1-39/

Overview of Isaiah focusing on judgement and hope; doesn’t deal directly with Isaiah 5 but applicable nonetheless; does deal with Isaiah 11’s burned stump’s new branch.

 

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=4217 The triangle of the poet, the vintner and the vineyard; what one expects vs. what one gets; word plays and metaphors.

 

http://download.luthersem.edu/media/working_preacher/narrative/197WPNarrative.mp3   Podcast on the two passages.

 

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2948

Isaiah 5:1-7 suggests that the establishment of a just society in which people do right by those in need was the single desired outcome of God’s relationship with Israel and Judah. By failing to achieve this, they have both angered and grieved God.

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=646

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3437

Crying out in the face of injustice; for me these two raise the question of how the relationship between God and government/country should be understood in light of the judgment of Isaiah 5–not an easy question in these polarized days.

 

Proper 15C

Maybe one way to deal with the God/government question is to take up the passage’s cry to help the underdog and then talk about who that might be. (I’m thinking of starting with a Phils/Cubs illustration!) This exegetical take on the passage is from the Lutheran Seminary folks but from the RCL context. It deals with word play, justice for the underdogs, and God singing the blues.(The peaceable kingdom from Isaiah 11:6-9 caouldhelp with this two—who are unlikely companions/friends? How can we make these friendships happen?)

 

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=832 Answering the fear of Assyria with the fear of God.

 

RCL context on Isaiah 5 https://episcopalchurch.org/library/sermon/when-we-read-contemporary-proper-15-c-2004 The call to do justice is rooted in God’s love and Christians’ mission to the world.

 

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2567  Peaceable Kingdom 11: 6-9  God as gardener and what the Isaiah 11 prophecy means in relationship to Jesus

 

https://biologos.org/articles/o-radix Peaceable Kingdom 11: 6-9 Reflection on Isaiah 11’s root of Jesse/stump image in light of (upcoming) Advent

 

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3117 Peaceable Kingdom 11: 6-9

 

Leading and living with lions (Isaiah 11 incl. 6-9 from NL folks but from RCL context)

https://day1.org/weekly-broadcast/5d9b820ef71918cdf2002b98/not_much_but_enough_for_me  Sermon proclaiming the word of Isaiah: Even though the world has become a living nightmare and even though there is no sign anywhere that peace will ever come, the promise of God is more powerful than the destructiveness of humanity.

 

http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm/ref/collection/uni_sermons/id/620 Sermon (c. 1993) on Isaiah 11:1-10 addressing what it can mean to “set things right.” Lots of illustrations.

 

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3 The Peaceable Kingdom

 

https://day1.org/articles/5d9b820ef71918cdf20037bf/lillian_daniel_a_savior_in_work_boots Repentance (Isaiah 11) in Advent

 

https://www.americamagazine.org/content/the-word/gods-vineyard Vineyard texts in the Bible

 

LITURGICAL RESOURCES

 

Call to Worship from Isaiah 11 (from The Message translation)

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting

 

God send your life-giving Spirit over us–

the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding.

God send your life-giving Spirit over us–

the Spirit that gives direction and builds strength.

God send your life-giving Spirit over us–

The Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.

God send your life-giving Spirit over us—

this day and throughout our lives.

 

 

 

Call to Worship: Advent 2A

Here’s a responsive call to worship inspired by the suggested scripture readings for the second Sunday of Advent, Year A (Isaiah 11: 1-10, Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19 and Matthew 3: 1-12).  It comes from the Ministry Matters website.

 

Call to Worship for Advent 2 A

(inspired by Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72, Matthew 3:1-12)

 

In this season of prophecy, promise, and preparation,

we come to be renewed and refreshed.
We come to be inspired by stories of a messiah
who will change the world—and change us.
We come to listen for words of hope and joy,
promise and challenge.
We come with open ears, open minds, and open hearts.

We come to receive the blessings God has in store for us
in this season of waiting.
Come! Let us worship our God—
the One who brings all things to fulfillment.

 

~ posted on the Ministry Matters website. http://www.ministrymatters.com/worship/article/entry/4431/worship-elements-december-8-2013 reposted on https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/11/call-to-worship-advent-2a.html

 

Rite of Confession

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.

*Call to Confession***                                                                                  Reader
Faith rooted deeply in God reflect God’s justice and righteousness—but we know that this is not always how we live. Let us ask for God’s forgiveness and renewal.

*Prayer of Confession-unison***                                                                  Reader

 

O God, sometimes we are led more by what we hear and see than by your ways.                     We get caught up in how someone looks, or what we have heard.                                      We forget that appearances can be deceiving and that some voices are silenced.                   Help us to look deep within your word and deep within ourselves.                                 Reveal to us the places where our judgments are faulty and our hands are dirty,                       so that we may repent and be made clean. [Silent Confession]
Assurance of Forgiveness While all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, God continues to re-make us. God brings new life out of the death. Thanks be to God for God’s continual righteousness and faithfulness: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

 

Confession: Advent 2A

Here’s a prayer of confession inspired by the suggested scripture readings for the second Sunday of Advent, Year A.  It was written by Jane Stranz.

 

Prayer of Confession

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10, Psalm 72, Matthew 3:1-12)
When our faith is rooted deeply in you, O God,

our lives reflect your kingdom values of justice and righteousness,

but sometimes our lives become so entangled with the values of the world,

that your values take second place.

Forgive us, O God,
and reconnect us to the Holy Spirit,

source of power and life.

Merciful God, strip our hearts and minds

of all that prevents our lives being firmly rooted in you.
May our lives bear fruit worthy of our faith in you,

as we watch and wait for your breaking into our world once more,

in the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
Amen

Assurance of Forgiveness

Blessed be the Lord our God, who does wondrous things. (Psalm 72: 8)
The most wondrous of all being God’s entry into our world in Jesus Christ,
“not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
“Those who believe in him are not condemned.” (John 3:17,18)
Thanks be to God!

 

Isaiah 11 prayer (Advent context)

https://day1.org/weekly-broadcast/5d9b820ef71918cdf2002b98/not_much_but_enough_for_me  Lord, you know all too well that to be human–to be able to feel joy and delight–is also to be able to feel pain and sadness.  So come to us all this Advent, O God, bringing glad tidings and good cheer, comfort and hope, for we celebrate that marvelous mystery we call incarnation–when you became one of us, born a baby, who grew up and lived and breathed, seated and cried, ate and drank, lived and died.

Through him, bring us hope, bring us joy, bring us healing and wholeness, bring us a sure refuge in the darkness as we await for something new to be born in us, something small and bright, a tiny flame that will carry us into the future.  In the name of that light which sure came to save us, even Jesus the Christ, Amen.

 

Isaiah 11 offering prayer

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/offertory-prayers-and-invitation-for-december-2016 Gracious God, we lift our voices to glorify you! You sent your Son Jesus to lead us in wisdom and mercy. His kindness to the poor and meek reveals the harmony of your heavenly kingdom. Help our church’s ministries to demonstrate your love for the world. We dedicate our tithes and offerings to bless people in our community who are searching for Christ’s abiding peace. We pray in his name. Amen. From Discipleship Ministries, an agency of The United Methodist Church

Opening Litany: Return of the King

 

Here’s an opening litany for Advent from the Wellsprings website.  It is inspired by verses from Psalm 72 and Isaiah 11.

 

https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/11/opening-litany-return-of-king.htmlOpening Litany: The Return of the King

(inspired by Psalm 72 and Isaiah 11)

 

In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails

In his days, justice shall flourish

and the voice of those who are oppressed will be heard.

The poor will receive enough on which to live

and the rich will share gladly

the abundance they have received at the hand of God.

 

In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.

The wolf lies down with the lamb:

the fierce gives way to the tame,

the weak protect the strong,

the powerless contain the power of the mighty.

 

In his day justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fades.

God will give judgment to the King,

to the One who comes in the name of the Lord,

to establish peace and justice

with integrity and with mercy.

 

~ from the Wellsprings website. http://wellsprings.org.uk/

 

Call to Worship Based on Isaiah 11:1-10

We come to worship the coming King. The One who was and is and is to come!
Robed in Justice, carrying equity in his heart,
Righteousness is a belt around his waist, faithfulness in the clasps of his sandals.

We have prepared ourselves for worship.
We intend to do no harm; to love our neighbors and to stay in love with God!

We look forward to the Reign of the coming King!
The wolves will walk with the lambs; the leopards skip with the kids;
and the calves will be friends with the lion cubs.
Peace will come through the root of Jesse, and we will abide with the King!

The Rev. Nathan Decker is the pastor of the South Sussex Charge of the Petersburg District of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Nathan has great love for the diversity and inspiration of God’s creative nature in worship. https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/call-to-worship-based-on-isaiah-111-10

Prayer of Intercession: Advent 2A

Here’s a prayer of petition and intercession inspired by Isaiah 11:2 and Matthew 3: 1-12, two of the suggested scripture readings for Advent 2, Year A.  It was written by Terri.

 

Prayer of Intercession

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10, Matthew 3: 1-12)

 

Let us pray for the Spirit of Wisdom to rest upon us

A spirit of understanding and knowledge

Grant us to live in harmony

God’s mercy prevail

 

Let us pray for God’s steadfastness to gird our spirit

May peace prevail like lamb and wolf

Grant us to live in harmony

God’s mercy prevail

 

Let us pray, for voices crying out in the wilderness

Women living in fear, children hiding

Grant all a place of harmony

God’s mercy prevail

 

Let us pray, repent of harm done to the innocent

Clear the chaff of abuse and hurt

Bear the Spirit of harmony

God’s mercy prevail

 

Let us pray for the God of hope, joy and peace to fill

All hearts, one voice glorify

God, prepare the way

God’s mercy prevail

 

~ written by Terri, and posted on RevGalPrayerPals. http://revgalblogpals.org/2010/12/05/sunday-prayer-advent-2a-sixteen-days-of-prayer-advocating-for-the-end-of-domestic-violence/  Reposted at

https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/11/prayer-of-intercession-advent-2a.html

 

Gathering Words for Advent

Here’s a gathering rite or opening litany inspired by Isaiah 11:1-10: “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot….”  It was written by Roddy Hamilton, and posted on Mucky Paws.

 

Gathering Words

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10)

 

From the bulb there comes a flower
from the desert rock a flow of water
from the rainbow there come the hope of life
from the bible there comes the word of truth
from the cross there comes the love of God
from the tomb there comes the resurrection
from the prophet comes the vision of new earth

 

but from the stump
from this dried out log
from a family tree that has lost all integrity…

 

…there comes the shoot of David
the lifeline of salvation
the promise of justice
the longing for transformation
the word of life
the expectation of Messiah

 

from the stump of Jesse
comes a covenant
reborn

 

~ written by Roddy Hamilton, copyright © Mucky Paws. http://www.nkchurch.org.uk/index.php/mucky-paw Reposted at https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2015/11/gathering-words-for-advent.html

 

https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/11/isaiah-11-creed.html

Isaiah 11: A Creed

Here’s an affirmation of faith inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10, the suggested scripture reading for the second Sunday of Advent, Year A.

 

We Believe

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10)

 

In that day, the wolf and lamb will live together….  Isaiah 11:6

 

Jesus has taught us to speak of hope as the coming of God’s Kingdom.

We believe that God is at work in our world

turning hopeless and evil situations into good.

We believe that goodness and justice and love will triumph in the end,

and that tyranny and oppression cannot fast forever.

One day ‘all tears will be wiped away’

and ‘the lamb will lie down with the lion.’

True peace and true reconciliation are not only desirable,

they are assured and guaranteed.

This is our faith, and our hope.

 

~ from Third World Solidarity Day, from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, 1987.  Posted in Liturgy, Justice and the Reign of God Integrating Vision and Practice http://www.jfrankhenderson.com/pdf/LJRG.pdf

Prayer: Isaiah 11: 1-10

Here’s a prayer inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10. It comes from the Vanderbilt Divinity Library website.

Clear a Holy Space

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10)

Laboring God,

with axe and winnowing fork

you clear a holy space

where hurt and destruction have no place,

and a little child holds sway.

Clear our lives of hatred and despair,

sow seeds of joy and peace,

that shoots of hope may spring forth

and we may live in harmony

with one another. Amen.

 

~ from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress.  Posted on Thematic, Intercessory and Scripture Prayers for the RCL, Vanderbilt Divinity Library. http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/

 

 

HYMNS

Isaiah 5.1-7

6.2 Jesus Comes with Clouds Descending

7 Lord Christ, When First You Came to Earth

76.2-4 My Song Is Love Unknown

158 The One Is Blest

161.2 As Morning Dawns

400.2 When We Are Living

409 Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice

418.2 God, Bless Your Church with Strength!frankh

538.2 Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing

551.3 Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Isaiah 5.7

405 What Does the Lord Require

421 The Church of Christ in Every Age

Isaiah 11:1-10

1 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

2 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

9.3 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

13 Prepare the Way

40 Joy to the World!

204 Psalm 72

205 All Hail to God’s Anointed

230 This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made

332 Live Into Hope

337 Isaiah the Prophet Has Written of Old *

386 O for a World

423 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

431 O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John

452 O Day of God, Draw Nigh

453 O Holy City, Seen of John

601 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)

602 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)

Isaiah 11.1,10

Isaiah 11:1-10

1 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

2 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

9.3 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

13 Prepare the Way

40 Joy to the World!

204 Psalm 72

205 All Hail to God’s Anointed

230 This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made

332 Live Into Hope

337 Isaiah the Prophet Has Written of Old *

386 O for a World

423 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

431 O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John

452 O Day of God, Draw Nigh

453 O Holy City, Seen of John

601 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)

602 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)

Isaiah 11.1,10

48 Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming *

58 While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

59 While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

69 O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright

95.2 He Never Said a Mumbalin’ Word

99 Throned Upon the Awful Tree

102.2 Were You There?

104.1 Christ is Risen! Shout Hosanna!

Isaiah 11.2-3a

70 Christ, When for Us You Were Baptized

Isaiah 11.3b-5

3 Comfort, Comfort You My People

5 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

10 On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry

14 Savior of the Nations, Come

161.2 As Morning Dawns

194 Peoples, Clap Your Hands!

202 Psalm 67

217.6 O Sing a New Song

219.6 To God Compose a Song of Joy

222.6 Psalm 103

225.3 Praise the Lord!

254 Psalm 146

409 Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice

413 All Who Love and Serve Your City

442.3+4 The Church’s One Foundation

449 My Lord! What a Morning

483.2 Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above

551 Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Isaiah 11.4b

159.4 Why Are Nations Raging

260.3 A Mighty Fortress is Our God

 

“O God Among Us, Come” is on pp. 64-65 of Advent Ethics. A version with the melody only is available online at http://www.ChristianEthics.ws.

 

ORACLES
music and lyric by Steve Bell
lyrics adapted from the four advent oracles of Isaiah:
2:1-5, 7:10-16, 11:1-10, 35:1-10

 

Isaiah 11 verse: And it will surely come to pass
Justice will reign on earth at last
The wolf will lie down with the lamb
No beast destroy, no serpant strike the child’s hand

 

The Vineyard of the Lord, two versions of the same contemporary setting of Psalm 80

 

Another setting of Psalm 80

 

O come, green shoot of Jesse, free

your people from despair and apathy;

Forge justice for the poor and the meek,

Grant safety for the young ones and the weak.

 

Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,

God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.

 

A verse for/from O Come, O Come Emmauel

Barbara Lundblad https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1940

More Narrative Lectionary Resources here

Seeds: Elijah at Mount Carmel: Power& Prophecy of Presences 1 Kings 18:17-19; 18:20-39, Mark 9:2-4, Psalm 68

Elijah at Mount Carmel: Power& Prophecy of Presences 1 Kings 18:17-19; 18:20-39Mark 9:2-4, Psalm 68

More Seeds Series Resources here

Call to Worship

Let God rise up

Let, the enemies of God be scattered, but let the righteous be joyful.

As smoke is driven away, wickedness perishes before God. God who created us and called us good.

Let us exult before God, let us be jubilant with Joy.

Call to Worship

Let God rise up. Can you hear the voice of God?

It is in the still, small voice of a prophet, the quiet crackle of the fire, the joyous shrieks of children.

When the world mutters and murmurs, calling on other things for help, let us call on you.

Because you alone are God, Let us worship you today.

Call to Worship

Do not limp with different opinions

If the Lord is your God, then call on God!

Remember the God who answers by fire is indeed God.

Light us up with the fire of the Holy Spirit we pray. 

Call to Confession: When we are out of fuel and drowned in sorrow, this is the time to share the burden with Christ, so that he can remind us of who we serve and give us the energy to do it.

Prayer of Confession:

God who whispers in our heart of hearts, I confess that I cannot hear your voice over the mutters and cries of help. The world is full of the noise of injustice, and I have forgotten to seek your still, small voice. Speak to the embers of justice in my heart, and light me on fire to be a troublemaker for you I pray

Prayer of Confession: Lord, we confess that we are divided, we don’t want to upset anyone so we don’t express our opinions. We find  we limp with two different opinions instead of seeking justice. We are too quiet in the face of injustice. Give us the spark within so that we can be inflamed with justice and goodness. Help us to act for justice for one another we pray. 

Prayer of Dedication/the Day: Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.

Assurance of Pardon: The fire of the Holy Spirit never goes out. It is always inspiring us, energizing us and refueling us through the power of grace. The Holy Spirit tells the truth to our hearts: in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen.

 

Hymns:

Breathe on Me Breath of God

This Little Light of Mine

For All the Saints

Spirit

Eternal God Who’s Power Upholds

Lo a Rose Ever Blooming (yes more advent-ish)

Elijah

Art found https://biblewalks.com/info/Elijah.html

 

With Kids: This Little Light of Mine, Light candles and talk about fuel and the Holy Spirit (bonus if your are near all Hallow’s Eve/Halloween), Build a pretend Campfire. Play Whisper down the Lane: Talk about how hard communication is and how hard it is to listen for God, Practice Noise vs. Celebration: Talk about how we humans confuse the two, Invisible vs. Visible Church: Discuss the power of a cloud of witnesses vs a noisy here and now crowd, Practice Prayer: Discuss how Prayer is not a magic spell but feeding the fire/connection with God

More Seeds Series Resources here

Narrative Lectionary: 1 Kings 12:1-7, 25-29 (October 27, 2019)

More Narrative Lectionary Seeds Resources can be found here.

Kingdom Divided: Power & Prophecy of Service 1 Kings 12:1-17; 1:25-29Mark 10:42-45Psalm 146

A Question/Crisis of Servanthood: 1 Kings 12:1-17; 25-29; (Mark 10:42-44)

CROSS REFERENCES

The labor protested by the people is depicted in 1 Kings 5

Two golden calves cf Exodus 32

Comparison of Aaron (Ex. 32) and Jeroboam https://www.jstor.org/stable/3263268?read-now=1&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

God’s response to Israel’s request for a king 1 Samuel 8:11-17

The king as the helper of the needy Psalm 72:12-14

Bethel (where Jeroboam puts a golden calf): Genesis 12:8; 28:10-19 and 35:9-15.

 

POTENTIAL THEME:

Servant leadership means that the leaders serve the people rather than vice versa

This means that Christians are called to serve the world, and also to let others help/serve them. (While some help too little, others do not accept help enough.)

 

Of course there is a whole field in and outside of Christian circles dealing with servant leadership For a general overview, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership.

 

For a Christian overview, see https://faithandleadership.com/programs/spe/articles/200706/servant.html

 

Patheos has numerous articles on Christian servant leadership; see https://www.google.com/search?q=patheos+servant+leadership&oq=patheos+servant+leadership&aqs=chrome..69i57j33.10598j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

Theology of Work has a five day devotional on servant leadership

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/2931

Other articles by Theology of Work at https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ACYBGNSX4mrWVe7FGx5_8ficOXGl_wsj4Q:1571017107630&q=theology+of+work+servant+leadership&spell=1&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQmIvlzprlAhXhlOAKHcUVBV4QBQguKAA&biw=1821&bih=876

 

Institute of Faith, Work and Economics offers this take

https://tifwe.org/a-biblical-mandate-for-servant-leadership/

 

ILLUSTRATIONS

The servants (and lords!) at Downton Abbey, who see service as honorable and rewarding

 

Public servants today: Marie Yovanovitch (could be contrasted with others!)

 

IMAGES

Engravings https://preachingandworship.org/search/1%20kings%2012

Children’s illustration http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/rehoboam-jeroboam/

Servant leadership images https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ACYBGNTZfGKwA5ChwdT7BtQobd5aj4lYhg:1571016590950&q=images+servant+leadership&tbm=isch&source=univ&sxsrf=ACYBGNTZfGKwA5ChwdT7BtQobd5aj4lYhg:1571016590950&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj60tvuzJrlAhWCY98KHdu7DKAQsAR6BAgKEAE&biw=1821&bih=876#imgrc=E4oR051DF6aJvM

 

PRAYERS

PRAYER OF THE DAY

Mighty God, your servant Rehoboam divided your kingdom with his tyranny, yet you remained faithful to both kingdoms, even in the midst of conflict. Show us your presence in conflict, and help us to resolve our differences, uniting this world in your name. Amen. https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2564

HYMNS

Built on a rock   ELW 652
God of tempest, God of whirlwind ELW 400

CITY (Presbyterian Hymnal)

348 Christian Women, Christian Men

408 Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life

413 All Who Love and Serve Your City

424 O Jesus Christ, May Grateful Hymns Be Rising

431 O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John

437 Our Cities Cry to You, O God

 

Also PH 477 Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim

COMMITMENT: PLEDGE OF

100.2 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

101.2 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

157 Our King and Our Sovereign, Lord Jesus

183.4 In You, Lord, I Have Put My Trust

227.3 Not Unto Us, O Lord of Heaven

252.1 O Lord, You Are My God and King

339 Be Thou My Vision

342.4 By Gracious Powers

343 Called as Partners in Christ’s Service

350 Fill My Cup

364 I Sing a Song of the Saints of God

365 Jesus, Priceless Treasure

369 I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me

370.4 Just as I Am, Without One Plea

372 Lord, I Want to Be a Christian

375 Lord of All Good

384 O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

388 O Jesus, I Have Promised

389 O Jesus, I Have Promised

391 Take My Life

392 Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord

398 There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit

410 When I Had Not Yet Learned of Jesus

354 Index of Topics and Categories

414 As Those of Old Their Firstfruits Brought

427 Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service

447 Lead On, O King Eternal

448 Lead On, O King Eternal

461.4 God is Here!

516 Lord, We Have Come at Your Own Invitation

522 Lord, When I Came Into This Life

525 Here I Am, Lord

 

COMMITMENT: PRAYER FOR

132.1 Come, Great God of All the Ages

316.3 Breathe on Me, Breath of God

321 Holy Spirit, Truth Divine

339 Be Thou My Vision

351 Give to Me, Lord, a Thankful Heart

357 O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee

360 Hope of the World

366 Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me

378 Make Me a Captive, Lord

387 Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

396 O for a Closer Walk with God

397 O for a Closer Walk with God

425 Lord of Light, Your Name Outshining

456 Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun

461.4 God is Here!

516 Lord, We Have Come at Your Own Invitation

522 Lord, When I Came Into This Life

535 Go with Us, Lord

COMMITMENT: URGED

333.1 Seek Ye First

398.2 There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit

490.4 With Glad, Exuberant Carolings

 

EXEGESIS

Brueggemann on the results of oppressive leadership (last 3 paragraphs deal with this passage): http://www.jmm.org.au/articles/2620.htm

 

Working Preacher’s commentaries and podcasts:

https://www.workingpreacher.org/search/Default.aspx?cx=001947499050786061073:fplx-aun2rq&q=1%20kings%2012:1-17,%2025-29&cof=FORID:10&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&search_domain=WWW

 

Working Preacher podcast addressing servant leadership, faithfulness of God, Reformation Sunday setting, and Jeroboam’s actions https://www.workingpreacher.org/narrative_podcast.aspx?podcast_id=1186

Another entry on leadership

http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=4214

 

Working Preacher podcast addressing bully leadership and how to understand power & God’s power  https://www.workingpreacher.org/narrative_podcast.aspx?podcast_id=677

 

Working Preacher: The yoke amid the rivalry https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2564

 

America, Trump and the Two Golden Calves. Written right after Trump’s election, this Israel-based evangelical/conservative author proposes the two golden calves, placed by Jeroboam in two very different geographic/socio-political settings could represent the Democrats and Republicans (neither one actually being God!)

https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/78807/america-trump-two-golden-calves-opinion/

 

Blogging the Bible: Two golden calves. Actually. So, why doesn’t God get angrier about them?  Asks lots of questions about God’s actions in this time period; addresses broader context of chapters 12-16. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2006/11/two-golden-calves-actually-so-why-doesn-t-god-get-angrier-about-them.html

 

PRAYERS, ETC.

Except the Sarasota Statement, these are all by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.

 

Opening Prayer (Psalm 72:12-14 The Message)

God, our Parent and Creator, you are worthy to rule over us. You rescue the poor and the destitute. You open a place in your heart for the down-and-out. You restore the wretched of the earth. You free them from tyranny and torture. You bleed with those who bleed. You die with those who die. Teach us, your people, to be more like you. In the name of Jesus, our best example, and in the power of the Spirit, we pray. Amen.

 

 

Call to Worship

One: O God, you have served us from eternity. Many You made us. You provide for us. You watch over us. You rescue us. You stay with us. You save us. You have compassion on us. You love us. And so, O Lord, this day and forevermore we love and serve you.

.

*Opening Hymn  O Worship the King, O Glorious Above               Blue Hymnal, 476

*Call to Confession                                                                                             Reader

We are called to serve one another and to serve the Lord. This call is not easy, and we do not do it consistently or well. Let us ask for—and receive–God’s forgiveness.

*Prayer of Confession (unison)

Reader God, sometimes we are all too human.                                                                         We hedge our bets by not giving you our all. We like to be needed, serving others to feel important. We like to be in charge, refusing the help offered by others. 

(Silent confession) Forgive us and cleanse our motives. Empower us to serve you fully. Enable us to treat those we help as the important ones. Humble us so that we accept the help of others.

*Assurance of Pardon (Matthew 20:28) The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Thanks be to God for the Good News: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Offering Hymn Lord of Light, Your Name Outshining                             Blue Hymnal, 425

* Prayer of Dedication (unison)                                                                           Pastor Barb

O God, make us servants of your grace. Use our talents in your service. Commission us to fulfill your purpose. Invest these gifts with your love. Amen.                                         

Prayer for Illumination (sung )                                                         Blue Hymnal, #129 v. 3

Come, O spirit, dwell among us; Give us words of fire and flame.

Help our feeble lips to praise You, Glorify Your Holy name.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Three in one: what mystery!

We would sing our loud hosannas Now and through eternity.

 

Hebrew Scripture Reading: I Kings 12:1-19                                                               Reader

Message Are You Being Served?                                                                   Pastor Barb

*Confession of Faith (Preamble to the Sarasota Statement**)

    We are people of hope who confess Jesus Christ is Lord over a Kingdom               

in which no one is hungry, violence is no more, and all suffering is gone.

All sit together around a shared table, wolves and lambs enjoy each other’s company, and every tear is wiped away from every eye.

    Our hope is not simply that we will experience this Kingdom in the future,         but that, as Christ’s prayer demands, this Kingdom comes “to earth as it is in heaven.” So, we lament any and all instances of its absence. When we witness hunger, injustice, discrimination, violence, or suffering, we grieve deeply and repent of our sins that have enabled such brokenness to persist – knowing that these things should not be.

     Furthermore, we are incited to act and to be vehicles of change through which God’s Kingdom breaks into the world and our earthly lives. Our commitment is to acts that feed, clothe, instruct, reconcile, admonish, heal, and comfort – reflecting the power of God’s hope and an eagerness to see  the Kingdom made manifest.

     We believe God’s Kingdom comes not because we are confident in our own capacities, but because we trust in God, who can do more than we can ask or imagine. We are humbled and amazed that, in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God includes us in the work of redeeming all creation and reconciling the whole world. And so we thank and praise God. Amen.

 

*Closing Hymn  Lord, You Give the Great Commission                   Blue Hymnal, 429

More Narrative Lectionary Seeds Resources can be found here.

Seeds David Anointed King: Power & Prophecies Narrative Lectionary

More Narrative Lectionary Seeds Resources can be found here.

David Anointed King: Power & Prophecies  2 Samuel 5:1-5; 6:1-5Mark 11:8-10, Psalm 150

Call to Worship 1

Lord, you anointed David as the human King

But then you anointed Jesus as the King of Heaven

We celebrated David’s power with cymbals and tambourines

Let us celebrate you with good works

 

Call to Worship 2

Back of the bread is the flour

Back of the flour is the mill

Back of the mill is the wind and the rain, and the Father’s Will

Come let us worship the source of all power, God Almighty.

 

Call to Worship 3

God often we think power comes from kings and wealth

Yet you remind us of the power of presence and prayer

Kings and rulers are anointed everyday, governments reign in the human world

Yet often truth is more powerful than any human being or structure

Remind us of your power, God, gift us with prophecies of hope

All glory, laud and honor to God.

Call to Worship 4

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary;
 Praise him for his mighty deeds  praise him according to his surpassing greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;  praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

Invitation to Confess: Let all who struggle with power and empowerment come and lay that struggle at the feet of Christ.

Prayer of Confession: Lord God we all give things power over our lives. We fail to take responsibility. We fear things that are not you. We blame as much as the day is long. We forget that you have the power, we forget that we have nothing to fear but you. Take our confession and transform our hearts so that we no longer give sin or objects or other people what is due to you we pray.

Prayer of Confession: Lord, we are always looking for easy fixes. Like the people of the Bible, we would love to find a King David to celebrate when things go right, and to blame when things go wrong. We forget that only Christ can save us. We forget that Christ does not give us the easy out, but instead requires responsibility and hope. Remind us of who Christ is so that the scales may drop from our eyes and we can see our Savior at work we pray. 

Affirmation of Forgiveness: Nothing separates us from the love of Christ: all our imperfections and wrong turns and roadblocks are nothing in the face of God’s love, so declare and know the truth today and everyday In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Eucharist Prayer: Lord when you came in to the world as a tiny baby, you experienced human life. You felt the wonder of watching dandelion seeds, the love of a warm snuggle and the joy of spending time with family and friends. You experienced the world viscerally, in tactile and concrete ways. You know that we humans have trouble with abstract experiences, so you came to us a flesh and blood human who could skin his knees and hunger in the desert. Then you consecrated the simple, necessary act of eating together, putting your very flesh and blood into this simple meal, reminding us that we only have to call out and you will be particularly present to us in this communion word-act. Come Holy Spirit, fill this bread and cup with your wholeness and wholesomeness, that when we go into the world, we can ignore kings and power and instead pay sharp attention to prophets of good news, the presence of friends and family, and the joy of eating together. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Prayer of the Day: Parent God, sometimes our eye gets caught by the flashy things in our lives. Sometimes we forget to celebrate the simple pleasures of green grass, warm homes, and good food. Remind us of who is the source of goodness, and let us celebrate all that is good and wholesome in our lives, we pray.

With Children: Write down all kinds of praise words for God, Hold a parade for God, Do follow the leader/Simon Says discuss power and kingship,Write Letters to someone in power to change something: discuss how power can be changed with truth telling, Tell the Emperor’s Clothes Story.

Hymns

Praise to the Lord, The Almighty, the King of Creation

Thine is the Glory

To God Be the Glory, Great Things He Hath Done

All Glory, Laud and Honor

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Painting here by The Sanctuaries, a community of artists whose mission is to ignite the sacred power of the arts for social change

More Narrative Lectionary Seeds Resources can be found here.

 

Seeds Narrative Lectionary Ruth 1:1-17

More Narrative Lectionary Seeds Resources can be found here.
Ruth: God of the Moabs/Found Family/Outsider Ruth 1:1-17, Mark 3:33-35,Psalm 126

Ruth was present with Naomi; see Pooh parable below about presence. Here’s a blow-up from part of picture at https://weheartit.com/entry/331438744 as an illustration to go with the presence of Pooh with Eeyore. Need to change “Piglet” in the story to “Tigger” if using the picture. (Couldn’t find one of Pooh, Piglet & Eeyore, which actually illustrates how this is a Pooh parable rather than originally being from the AA Milne Pooh stories.)

It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.

“Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.

“Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet,” said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice.

“We just thought we’d check in on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.”

Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?” he asked, eventually. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.”

Pooh looked and Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.

Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”

“We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.”

“Oh,” said Eeyore. “Oh.” And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.

Because Pooh and Piglet were There. No more; no less. https://www.facebook.com/themaddieproject/photos/a.698470016946959/1794783897315560/?type=3&theater

ART/IMAGES

Ruth: http://www.textweek.com/art/ruth.htm

World Communion Sundayhttps://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ACYBGNTPFo4ZKfSRGq0EijuChdMiVfKPJA:1569283351663&q=images+world+communion+sunday&tbm=isch&source=univ&sxsrf=ACYBGNTPFo4ZKfSRGq0EijuChdMiVfKPJA:1569283351663&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiN4uiFlOjkAhVlneAKHcMFDj0QsAR6BAgHEAE&biw=1821&bih=876#imgrc=ZZw9lbZojHRjFM:

RETELLING

Storyteller gives the whole story of Ruth. Recommends CEV. http://www.storydivine.com/?p=343\

EXEGESIS/THEMES

Podcast: Ruth is from Moab but Boaz is from Bethlehem—is Ruth a humble servant approaching Boaz? Or a feisty woman taking action? https://5minutebible.com/ruth-is-from-moab-but-boaz-is-from-bethlehem-2/

Ruth and Star Wars—is Naomi deserted by God? Or is Ruth evidence otherwise? Naomi’s complaints are not rhetorical flourish. They are the author’s explicit means of establishing the book’s central crisis: Is Naomi right? Has Yahweh forsaken her and shamed her household? If Naomi’s plight were indeed the thrust of the story, then one would expect the rest of the book to resolve this crisis, particularly at the end. This is precisely what happens.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/walkandword/2019/09/ruth-star-wars/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Living+the+Christian+Life&utm_content=870

Who is the main character in Ruth (follow-on to Star Wars article above) https://www.patheos.com/blogs/walkandword/2019/09/interpreting-ruth-part-1/

More academic take on hesed in Ruth (follow on to main character question) https://www.cbeinternational.org/resources/article/priscilla-papers/book-ruth-exemplar-faith-communities

Working Preacher commentaries on Ruth 1:1-17

http://www.workingpreacher.org/search/Default.aspx?cx=001947499050786061073:fplx-aun2rq&q=Ruth%201&cof=FORID:10&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&search_domain=WWW

Ruth refuses to be left out/leave the focus on Naomi. Ruth emerges as an acting agent in verse 14: she clings to Naomi, a term used in contexts of profound love, inalienable possession, unshakable commitment (see, e.g., Genesis 2:24; Numbers 36:7, 9; Deuteronomy 4:4; 10:20; 11:22). As Naomi remains convinced that her bitterness is solitary, she makes another appeal, urging Ruth to follow Orpah.

(Word study on “cling” https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/rth/1/1/t_conc_233014)

At that moment, Ruth adds speech to her action. Indeed, she utters what might be a speech-act, in which she actually does something in and by saying something (cf. “I do” in weddings or “I believe” in the Creed). What she says-does is powerful and it is poetic, lining out in nicely parallel lines like the best of Hebrew poetry. https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=413

Four-part sermon series on Ruth https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2123

The book of Judges, which comes right before Ruth, ends with inter-tribal conflict and these ominous words: “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25)…In this context, we get the book of Ruth, which is a tale about belonging, about blessing, about faithful love (in Hebrew, hesed), God’s faithfulness, incarnated in human beings.

Ruth, a woman, and a foreigner at that, chooses to join her story to the story we’ve been hearing the last several weeks; she chooses to enter into Israel’s covenant with God. She chooses thereby the life of being a stranger in a foreign land. She chooses to leave all that she has known and to go to a place she’s never been, with no assurance of security. A childless widow in ancient Israel had to rely on the kindness of those around her. In this story, Naomi relies on Ruth, and Ruth herself has to rely on the kindness of strangers.

One of the beautiful themes in the book is that hesed meets hesed; that is, faithfulness engenders faithfulness, kindness meets kindness. Ruth goes above and beyond the minimum requirements of the Law out of love for Naomi. And when Boaz learns of Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law, he blesses her:

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1108

Whatever Ruth’s circumstances may be, her clinging to her mother-in-law is a gift of grace that Naomi cannot at first see.  Naomi says God has turned against her (verse 13), and later she tells the women of Bethlehem, “The Almighty has dealt bitterly with me … brought me back empty … dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me” (verses 20-21).  This is Naomi’s theology, and at first it is all she can see.

But the narrator sees things differently, attributing none of Naomi’s tragedies to God, not even the famine.  Rather it is God who has given the people food (verse 6).  This point is underscored at the end of the chapter: “They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest” (verse 22).  Near the end of the book, the Bethlehemite women will articulate to Naomi what has been evident all along, that Ruth’s love is worth more than seven sons.  Grace is walking right beside Naomi, unseen, yet refusing to leave her.

Ruth holds a thoroughly action-oriented, thoroughly pragmatic theology.  She does not argue with Naomi’s perception of events, nor does she assert her own.  She simply communicates presence.  She refuses to leave.  It’s not about God’s actions or intents, but her own.  Ruth will worship the God that Naomi believes abandoned her.  And she swears to do what four other people — Elimelech, Mahlon, Chilion, and Orpah — couldn’t do: to stay.  Not even death, the chief resident of their household, will get in her way.

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1335

Ruth and immigration from Bruce Epperly https://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/2018/10/the-adventurous-lectionary-twenty-fourth-sunday-after-pentecost-november-4-2018/

Ruth.  She comes closer to God and God’s ways through her deep love for her mother-in-law.  She leaves behind her own family and her own religion and traditions not for complex theological reasons, but out of the affection for someone who loved her first. http://www.sacraconversazione.org/?p=294

PRAYERS and other bulletin pieces

Prelude: Faithful Friend                                                                                Twila Paris

Call to Worship

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting;                     (slightly adapted from prayer for Genesis 2 on companionship)

One: O God, we come one by one.

Many: O God, we come with each other.

We come because it is not good to be alone.

We come because we want to be companions on the journey.

We seek communion with you.

We seek communion with one another.

Make us companions to one another,

that we may walk faithfully and joyfully in your way.

ALL: IN JESUS’ NAME, AMEN.

Rite of Confession

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting;

*Call to Confession  (from Colossians 3:12-14, The Messsage)

Chosen by God for the new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God has picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, and quick to forgive. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

*Prayer of Confession (unison)

O God, at times we fail to act in love. Wrapped in our own concerns, we may not hear the cries of others. We can be slow to listen, but quick to give advice. Promising prayer, we may not add the power of being present with others. Uncomfortable with the pain and needs of others, we may want them to just get over it. Empower us with your love, that we may meet and hear others where they are.

*Assurance of Pardon (from Colossians 3:15-17 The Message)                                                 The peace of Christ keeps us in tune with each other. The power of the Spirit keeps us in step with one another. The grace of the Father grants forgiveness, making us grateful. Thanks be to God for the Good News: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

* Prayer of Dedication (unison)

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting;   Maker of all things, you bless us with many gifts: our lives, our possessions, and our time and our talents. Use this food and money—and our very lives—to show the world your presence and your love. Amen.

Eucharist Prayer/Prayer of Great Thanksgiving

One: The Lord be with you.

Many: And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

O God, you create the vast universe and call it good. You make us in your image

and call us very good. Declaring that it is not good for us to be alone,

you make us companions on our journey.

And so we thank you, O God.

Throughout human history, you declare your presence with your people.

You speak to us through the law and the prophets, demonstrating your love and care.

You speak to us through your Son, Christ Jesus.

You speak to us through the Holy Spirit.

And so we thank you, O God.

Your Son proclaimed your reign and presence:                                                                           preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives,
teaching by word and deed, blessing the children,
healing the sick, binding up the brokenhearted,
eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners,

and demonstrating and proclaiming your love for all people.
And so we thank you, O God.
When your Son was crucified, giving his life for the sins of the world.
you raised him from the dead, breaking the power of sin and evil,

demonstrating your triumph and presence.

And so we thank you, O God.

Today we gather in your presence.

You are here in the support and love we offer each other.

You are here in our praying and singing, in our words and our silences.

You are here in your Supper.

And so we thank you, O God.

HYMNS I used

Not so much out there on human companioning. I used

Prelude: Faithful Friend                                                                                Twila Paris

*Opening Hymn I Come with Joy                               Presbyterian  Blue Hymnal,507

Offering Hymn  God is Here!  Blue Hymnal,461

Prayer for Illumination (sung )                                                   Blue Hymnal, #430 verse 3

This day God’s people meeting, The Holy Scripture hear                                                          Christ’s living presence greeting, Through bread and wine made near.                                    We journey on, believing, Renewed with heav’nly might,                                                             From grace more grace receiving, On this blest day of light.

Closing Hymn  Called as Partners                                                  Blue Hymnal, 343

Postlude He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother                                                The Hollies

Prayer for Illumination (sung )                                                   Blue Hymnal, #430 verse 3

This day God’s people meeting, The Holy Scripture hear

Christ’s living presence greeting, Through bread and wine made near.

We journey on, believing, Renewed with heav’nly might,

From grace more grace receiving, On this blest day of light.

 

Hebrew Scripture Reading: Ruth 1:1-17                                                                                           Reader

Message The Present of Presence                                                                Pastor Barb

 

*Confession of Faith: The Nicene Creed (Ecumenical version)      Blue Hymnal, p. 15

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (see insert)

 

*Closing Hymn  Called as Partners                                                  Blue Hymnal, 343

*Charge and Benediction                                                             Pastors Barb and Len  Postlude He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother                                                      The Hollies

 

More Narrative Lectionary Seeds Resources can be found here.

Seeds Week 5 Hear O Israel: Teacher God/God of Students Deuteronomy 5:1-21; 6:4-9

 

Hear O Israel: Teacher God/God of Students Deuteronomy 5:1-21; 6:4-9, Mark 12:28-31Psalm 19

5a85ad7b2902d_command

Image from http://evangelicalfocus.com/magazine/3272/Do_Christians_Have_to_Obey_the_Ten_Commandments

More Narrative Lectionary Resources here

Call to Worship

Hear O Israel

The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 

Come let us love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and might

Come Let us Worship the Lord our God. 

Call to Worship

The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul

Hail Jesus, purveyor of Love and Grace 

The Precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart

Come let us proclaim the truth of God’s Love together today.

Call to Worship

May the meditations

May these and all meditation we make

whether they be with our mouths or our hands or our mind or our hearts

May these and all meditations be acceptable in your sight today

Call to Confession: Lord the heavens tell of your glory, day pours forth speech and the night declares knowledge, and yet we often hide afraid to participate in what is going on because of our failings. Remind us that your words are finer than gold and sweeter than honey.

Confession: Lord we confess that we would rather use the ten commandments to judge one another rather than to teach and love one another. Remind us that you are present in the black and white of justice and injustice, and all the gray spaces in-between. Remind us that there is always more to learn about you and your love, and continue to teach us to love your law we pray.

Confession: Lord, we confess that even though the very heavens proclaim your handiwork, that we do not teach your ways to one another. We have not bound your love to our hearts and our heads and our doorways. We have forgotten to take you home with us when we leave the church building. We forget how it is you would like us to act in our workplaces. Because we struggle with following the commandments, we forget that they are there as a teaching tool. Show us how to live out your law in grace and love we pray.

Assurance of Pardon: Lord you hear all, even the day and night who has no words, we know all that we confess has been hear and accepted, and In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Eurcharist Prayer: Lord, God you sent your law to us, but not until after you made your covenant with Abraham and Sarah. And when we were ready to use the Ten Commandments to condemn one another into eternity, you gave us a course correction in the form of our Teacher Jesus Christ. Jesus who called us out when we were wrong, but more importantly taught us how to re-evaluate our priorities, and taught us how to pray together. Jesus taught us grace comes before the law, and so we are all invited to participate in this meal of grace today. Fill this bread and cup to the brim with your grace, so we might eat and drink of it together, and so it may sustain us on our way, we pray.

Prayer of Dedication/the Day: Lord you are a teacher, help us to look at your life and your words so we might see and hear what we need to move deeper into our faith we pray. Amen.

Hymns:

O God, What You Ordain is Right

Eternal Light, Shine in My Heart

Be Thou My Vision

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

With Children: Write Rules & Rip them up reminding each other that love is more important than rules. Discuss important rule breakers in history: Civil Rights fighters, those who stood up for Jews in WWII, Standing Rock, Talk about Environmental & Gun Violence Heroes of Today. Create a Heart to Love God/Neighbor and make it into a bracelet/necklace. Let the kids “Tatoo” love on their skin with markers (yes check with parents first)

More Narrative Lectionary Resources here

Seeds Week 4 Moses and God’s Name Exodus 1:8-14; 1:14-2:10; 3:1-15

Moses and God’s Name: God of enslaved/hidden/aunties  Exodus 1:8-14; 1:14-2:10; 3:1-15, Mark 12:26-27, Psalm 135

More Narrative Lectionary Resources here

Image result for moses story art

Art found at https://www.icollector.com/Marc-Chagall-The-Story-of-the-Exodus-Pharaoh-s-Daughter-and-Moses_i12151433

Call to Worship:

Living God, light a fire in our hearts today 

Teach us to see how you burn within us, without consuming us

You are still the God of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, the God of Isaac and Rebecca.

Remind us of your presence today and everyday

Call to Worship

God you call so many to you; pharoh’s sons and daughters, slaves, even suffering children

Grant us strength that we can recognize your call

You are the God of the whole adoptive family, the kids we grow up with, the friends that are the closest to us, the aunties and uncles who mentor us.

Continue to be our God, today and everyday

Call to Worship

O house of Israel, bless the Lord!

O house of Aaron, bless the Lord!

O house of Levi, bless the Lord!

You that fear the Lord, bless the Lord!

Blessed be the Lord from Zion, he who resides in Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord, for we are in the House of God!

Call to Confession: When we come into the presence of God, we want to do so with an open heart. To do so, we confess and lay before God all that we have been carrying, so we might see the face of God upon our journey.

Prayer of Confession: Lord we confess that too often we recognize holy ground too late to take off our shoes. We look back on ordinary times of comfort and companionship. We expect burning bushes, and forget that God is present when we hold the hand of a loved one or take care of a baby in need. Help us to recognize that you are the I am, the God of presence, and to find those moments of holiness together.

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that we too often pay attention to the pharaohs in power instead of the babies in turmoil. We confess that we have trouble seeing the midwives who are at work to save the world. Yet the Bible names Shiphrah and Puah, and not the Pharaoh, so we know whose deeds are important. Help us to name ourselves int eh service of God we pray.

Assurance of Pardon: Remember, our God lives, and is always breathing grace upon us, so we can proclaim the truth.  In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Eucharist Prayer: God you are the Great I am, present in the bread and the cup, in the hands of all those who bring forth life. You called Shiphrah and Puah and Miriam and the Pharaoh’s daughter to foster Moses. You lit the fire in their hearts, and when the time was ready, you let Moses in on the holiness. Extend that holy, fiery presence of the Spirit here on these elements, we pray. That we might remember that your true goal is love and freedom for all your people, and that you desire us all to be nourished together. We pray this is your most Holy Lord Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Lord, help us to recognize ourselves in the story of Moses, as the people of God. Send us forth to do the nurturing and freeing work you proscribe. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Hymns:

Go Down Moses

Here I Am Lord

Lord I Wanna Be a Christian in My Heart

Live Into Hope

God of Our Life

With Children: Take Off Shoes and Pray together, Talk about the meanings of Yhwh and Kids names, Prince of Egypt is always fun, Bless People By Name, Who Am I (to be called by God) have the children name each other’s gifts, Talk about Harriet Tubman and Moses as freedom fighters

More Narrative Lectionary Resources here

Seeds: 9-22 Narrative Lectionary Genesis 32: 22-30 Week 3

Genesis 32[9-13] 22-30Mark 14:32-36Psalm 24

More Info: https://katyandtheword.wordpress.com/2019/08/27/seeds-resource-page/

More Resources for this Week.

Bulletin

Concepts: 

After wrestling with God, Jacob won’t let him go; he clings to him, seeking God’s blessing (see image at https://suzannewoodsfisher.com/faith/jacobs-wrestling-match-genesis-3226/ and https://pastorross1.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/wrestling41.jpg

You cannot walk away from encountering God without being changed (our friend Rev. Elizabeth Vandegrift); after Jacob’s confession of who he is (heel-grabber), he has no more reported conflicts with others (husband Len Hedges-Goettl’s take). See *** below under exegesis.

Night is a vulnerable time/space https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/lectionary-calendar/eighth-sunday-after-pentecost4 Also Brueggemann below* under exegesis

What it means to wrestle with God See**Children’s sermon link below 

Wrestling is a sign of intimacy; you can’t wrestle with someone you are far away from (Image of this saying at https://i.pinimg.com/736x/cb/b6/2c/cbb62c35b45738be1c8235302b1072d9–perfect-guy-wrestling.jpg

Images

https://www.creationswap.com/media/12018/wrestling-with-god

Sculptures by Nathan Rapoport at

https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ACYBGNQeGXiGSA-3pv_RZtVDudQrQtFB8w:1568163897181&q=Jacob+Wrestling+with+the+Angel,%22+Nathan+Rapoport&tbm=isch&source=univ&sxsrf=ACYBGNQeGXiGSA-3pv_RZtVDudQrQtFB8w:1568163897181&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjO1KngycfkAhUEtlkKHS14Cp0QsAR6BAgJEAE&biw=1821&bih=810#imgrc=haSJyS7LRSBmhM: This sculptor has done many versions of Jacob and the angel/God; would be interesting to look into why; see links from Wikipedia for more about him

Gaugin https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/4940/vision-sermon-jacob-wrestling-angel

Children’s sermon**

 http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2016/09/year-c-proper-24-29th-sunday-in.html

Liturgical resources

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/lectionary-calendar/eighth-sunday-after-pentecost4

Opening Prayer       

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.

O God, you continue to reveal yourself to us.

You continue to make and keep promises to us.

You continue to graciously give to us, even when we deserve nothing.

Draw us to yourself. Touch and change us. Amen

Call to Worship

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting. 

One: God, like Jacob, we wrestle. 

Many: Like Jacob, we confess who we are.

Like Jacob, we do not let you go.

Like Jacob, we seek your blessing. 

ALL: Hear and answer us, O Lord, we pray. Amen. 

RITE of CONFESSION

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.

*Call to Confession                                                                                                        Sometimes we think that no one would love us if they knew all about us.                                       But God knows all about us and continues to love us.                                                                                 Let us confess our continuing need for God’ 

*Prayer of Confession 

O God, we have things we would like to keep private—if not secret.                                              We have done—and not done–things that keep us awake at night.                                                    We don’t always treat others as your children.                                                                                    We don’t always honor ourselves as made in your image.                                                      We don’t always trust your grace and love. Forgive us.                                                                             Remake us in your image.                                 (Silent Confession)

*Assurance of Pardon (Romans 8:28-29, New Living Bible) Pastor Len

Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Thanks be to God for the Good News:  In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Hymns

BOW – The United Methodist Book of Worship
CLUW – Come, Let Us Worship (Korean)
MVPC – Mil Voces Para Celebrar (Spanish)
SOZ – Songs of Zion
TFWS – The Faith We Sing
UMH – The United Methodist Hymnal
URW – Upper Room Worshipbook
WSM  – Worship & Song, Music Edition
WSW  – Worship & Song, Worship Resources Edition
SoG  – Songs of Grace

 

Genesis 32:22–31 UMH MVPC CLUW TFWS SOZ URW WSM WSW SoG
Be Thou My Vision 451 240 180
Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown 386 148
Faith Is Patience in the Night 2211
God Be with You till We Meet Again (God Be With You) 672 347 37
God Be with You till We Meet Again (Randolph) 673
God of Many Names 105
How Can We Name a Love 111
I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath 60 123
O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go 480 255 322
Oh, I Know the Lord’s Laid His Hands on Me 2139
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God 405 201 136
Source and Sovereign, Rock and Cloud 113
Sweet Hour of Prayer 496 248 330
The God of Abraham Praise 116 28
There Are Some Things I May Not Know 2147

Lutheran:

Blessed be the God of Israel   ELW 250
Onward, Christian soldiers   H82 562, UMH 575

Also

Fight the Good Fight (PCUSA blue #307)

Exegetical resources

***NL on Jacob having to name himself in a move that is both confession and a death leading to new life; http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=1597

How Jacob was changed http://www.verityfellowship.org/blogarchive/2017/6/12/the-dependent-prayer-of-jacob-jacob-part-1

NL on the whole Jacob cycle (I don’t agree that the passage is about persistence; that’s as though it’s a version of let’s make a deal—see alternatives above) https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2555

Another resource covering the whole Jacob cycle. Contains images, references to other books/resources, discussion/further questions, etc. https://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20071015JJ.shtml

Buechner: https://www.frederickbuechner.com/blog/2016/10/10/weekly-sermon-illustration-jacobs-w

More compete Buechner on whole Jacob cycle http://day1.org/6297-the_magnificent_defeat

Interview of Brueggemann by Bill Moyer-video of part of interview; more in writing *https://billmoyers.com/content/god-wrestling/

Further resources: https://preachingandworship.org/search/Genesis%2032%3A22-30