Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sunday Prayer, Epiphany 4A, February 2, 2014

Holy One, 
You who calls us before mountains and hills, asking us to remember, all of what you have done, we shout to you our praise and thanksgiving, so that all of the valleys and foundations of the earth might hear of your deeds. 
And when we forget to remember your presence, your working in our lives, we pray for forgiveness. We pray for your wisdom to move us to open our hearts and minds to you. 
We pray for our world, 
for places that are wrought with war and fear, where refugees are forgotten, where children and elders are hungry because of the foolishness and hardheartedness of too many. We pray for shards of your blessing to break through to those who mourn, who hunger, who are poor in spirit.  May they be comforted and filled and taste a bit of heaven somehow, some way.  Help us to remember those suffer, and to never forget. 
We pray for our leaders, our teachers, our mentors, and more--especially for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for our earth home and for those who are persecuted.  We pray for those who aren’t afraid to speak out, to appear foolish in the eyes of so many others, when they advocate for peace, for fair wages, for decent housing, for social services that work, for laws to protect children and elders; and ways to address climate change. 
We pray for those around us, in our hearts, and next to us in the pews, for your spirit to protect them, challenge them, move them closer to your love. 
Oh Holy One, you who calls us to testify before mountains and hills of your glory,  may we serve this world in which you have given us life, 
by doing your justice, by loving all kindness, and walking humbly with You in all of the moments of our lives. 

Amen. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

a long quiet...

I am feeling all quiet today. 
Not lost, but meandering through 
the interior hollows and curves of my being.

There are those bustling 'round
busy with whatever busy-ness there is, 
and yet, 
I am not.
Busy. 

I am all quiet today. 
No questions on my heart, 
no burdens I bear,
really, to speak of. 

I am all quiet today.
I am thinking of people
whom I know are very ill, 
                                            very stressed, 
               very sad, 
                                       very joyful, 
                    
and 
I hold them in the 
Light of Life and Love.

I am all quiet today, 
my flame flickers gently, 
and 
in my quiet, 
I will wait. 

Amen. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

just a quiet morning...

It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving....Nov. 30, 2013.
We are in Vermont,
and it is all snowy and wintery and sunny and cold
and perfect.

I write (o.k. SURF the inter webs) while my beloved sleeps.

In a while, we will exercise,
pack up,
go to lunch,
drive home.

at this point, I really ought to be further along in my preparations for Sunday, First Sunday in Advent.
But I am not.
I believe I am overthinking my sermon,
wanting to be succinct, and smart, and brilliant, and educated and erudite
in the words
that are waiting to be written, expressed...
I want to be more honed, more clever,
more...probably more of what I think I SHOULD be, rather than who I am.

Help me rest in that thought God...
I do want to be more faithful in my preparation,
more in tune with your Spirit.
Not what I think I should be, or what I think others want,
but rather,
what you want....the Word that best reflects your Message to this particular time and place and people that I am serving on behalf of you these days.

Help me,
let go of my insecurities (yes, I have those, and I need to admit this)
Help me,
be completely enveloped
in your Spirit...
Help me just simply be,
and to trust in You,
and to trust in me,
and to trust this process
of listening and writing and meditating.

Take me over with your Love, dear God.
I am working on being wide open to You.

Amen.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ms. or Mrs.?

This fall,  I had the opportunity to substitute teach.
For six weeks I wandered into middle school science and social studies classrooms,
kindergarten wonderlands,
first grade intensity,
and everything in between.

Always, in each new assignment, I was asked,
are you Ms. Miller, or Mrs. Miller.

At first, I just said, it doesn't matter.

But it does, I know.

When I was teaching in the late 80's and 90's, I was emphatically MS. Miller.
Not Miss Miller.  Not Mrs. Miller.
I didn't feel like I should have to have my marital status be a part of how my students and their parents perceived me.  Men only have one choice--Mr. -------.   I know that most people at that time and place thought that I ought to just give in to the sexist paradigm.  They all knew that Ms.  was just a feminist who was single.

Apparently, here, in another part of the country, and a new millennium, the Miss has been dropped.  And it wasn't clear whether Ms.  was just non-sexist, but I felt like when I was asked, that Ms. meant single and Mrs. mean married.  OR--actually, Mrs. meant you were married, but Ms. was more neutral.

Here is the thing--this fall, I started off as being Ms.   You know, the whole neutral, non-sexist word.

But then, the children, especially the little ones, would call me Mrs., and hey, it wasn't worth correcting a six year old, especially as a temporary teacher for the day.  And--I found I liked being Mrs. Miller!   I  *am* married, for goodness sake.  To a wonderful woman.

So, for a few weeks, I just went with being Mrs. Miller.  The first time in my 50 years of life, and I liked the public addition to my identity.

Here is another thing--I now am at the age I don't mind it if I am called "Miss".  This happens ONLY at Starbucks, so I think it must be a customer service rule--call all the women "Miss" unless obviously she looks older than your mother.  Oh my goodness, I would have been ruffled to pieces if this happened to me when I was 33.

It's funny, though, how the title in front of our names means something.  Or not.  For example, I am proud that I am Rev. Karla, or Pastor Karla.  I worked HARD for that!   Those who have earned a post-graduate degree, whether Ph.D. or D. Min or Ed.D.   have earned that DR. in front of their name.

When I was a college chaplain, my name was always listed formally as The Reverend Karla Miller.   The students started calling me "The Rev."    I must admit, I loved that, because it was a term of endearment.

But in congregational polity, we hold close to the priesthood of all believers, and since I don't call my parishioners Ms. Polly, or Mr. Mark,  why should they call me Pastor Karla?   I know this is common in many Christian traditions.  I know that in the denomination of my cradle, Pastor is like a first name.  You just don't refer to the minister by her first name alone.  Or--you don't very often.

So, on Sunday, during the children's time, my colleague in ministry was introducing me to the children, and asked me what I would like for them to call me.  I sort of flustered in the moment, because I hadn't thought about it--in my last parish I was a mix of Rev, Pastor Karla, and Karla to all ages.    That just evolved.

Without thinking, I said, "Karla is great!"

After musing about this,  it was the perfect thing to say.

I wonder, if part of my thrill of being called Mrs. was in part because it gave me a little sense of identity that fed into my ego.  I was a Teacher!  A Wife!

Part of the landscape of the past few months of sabbatical and time off  involved a stripping off the outer ways in which I identified with the world--and gained a sense of worthiness from those identities.  Not always a good thing to do.

So I am really grateful for having that time in not being a pastor in a congregation (it can be quite heady, you know, at times....).   It gave me pause to consider my calling.  Was I continued to be called to parish ministry?  Should I start a dog walking business?  Get my teaching certificate?

It also gave me space to be myself,  reconnect with my deep self, my knowing self.   This wasn't always easy, mind you--I did a couple of temp jobs where I wanted to SHOUT OUT "do you KNOW what I AM?? A freakin' professional that doesn't give a flip about counting ceiling tiles!!!"  Humbling, at its best.  Its very best.

And I had to remember, over and over, that the most important part of me is that I am Beloved.  And that I am called to be Love, as best I can, in this world.   Whether or not I am Ms., Miss, Pastor, or Mrs.  

Whew.
Thanks be to God.



Saturday, November 9, 2013

ooossshhhhhhh

That's is kind of how I am feeling right now.
oooooesshhhhhhhh.
Like,
oy!

I am trying not very hard to not to be focused,
which in regular words is:
I am not focused.
I am not trying.
I am procrastinating.

why?

maybe it's my mind emptying itself in a weird way.

I have exhausted all the possibilities of clicks to check on facebook,
shoe sites, groupons, twitters, email, facebook, email, ummm...
landing finally to write here to get some words out of my body,
some thoughts, scattered though they may be, pushed out of my mind,
sifting through the raffles of my mind,
neurons spinning, misfiring, jumping....

moving towards the illusive quiet, still space...
a point of tiny light,
a breath,
a prayer,

help me God.
help me  to listen your Spirit,
your heartbeat,
in spite of me,
tune me to your Word, and your Silence in between.

Amen.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Way



it was the Living Bible. illustrated.
it was paperback, and had tons of photos.
a paraphrase,
it was a smooth read.
probably the 70's version of The Message.

mine was tattered, and I underlined and highlighted passages, because I read it A. Lot.
I went to bible studies and luther league, and we would furiously underline the words we were learning about...I would add exclamation points (!!!!!)  and smiley faces, and little prayers like "help me remember this".

this was my favorite passage, from Ephesians 3:

17 And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; 18-19 and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself.

it's still a favorite passage, albeit I now change the language to be gender neutral.

we went to bible camp every summer. and we took our bibles.  this was when I was in 6-7-8 grade. 

high school kids were our counselors, and it was a good time.  lots of laughing, pranking, worship with guitars and guest pastors, stuff like that.  the big thing was the bonfire on the last night, where we would sit around and sing songs like "Pass It On" and a very slow rendition of "Kum Ba Yah". 

the last day, 

we would get people to sign our bibles.  (kind of like signing yearbooks, as I think about it now.)
except we would share bible verses in our notes,
or prayers, 
or write things like "God's light shines through you"
and those blessings
were as holy writ
as the paraphrase of Ephesians 3:17, 
because
those friend blessings
carried me through 
the ups and downs and craziness
of adolescence...

I have carried that bible with me from college to my first job to my second job to seminary to my first parish, second call, third call...fourth call....for 39 years.


this summer, 

I had a fit of downsizing
my library....
and I gave that bible away, in a moment of non-attachment. 
to the object.

but I am still attached by my heart,

to the blessings and prayers,
smiley faces and exclamation points,
markers of the faith of my youth,
tiny seedlings with fragile roots
that grew deep
deep
deep down
into the soil of God's love. 
and I still really don't understand it
and it's true you can't really fully know it, 
but still,
you have moments
of being filled up with God...
rooted firmly,
ready to fly. 






Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Regathering.

for the past six years, except for this one, 
the weekend after labor day
has been incredibly, wackily crazy. 
regathering WEEKEND. 
it would begin with a community ice cream social on friday evening, on the front corner of the lawn of the church. 
sort of a community outreach, welcoming back to school in the community, the pre-school housed in our church, the dance school, our people back from summer time..
just a fun thing 
that was a lot of work, 
but fun. 
after cleaning up late on Friday night, 
I would be back early Saturday morning
for teacher orientation for Sunday School, 
another regathering
of coffee and juice and cheese grits and fruit and laughter and catching up, 
oh, 
yes,
and looking over the curriculum for the year. 
after getting through with that event, 
then home
to think about worship the next day, 
write my sermon if I was preaching, 
making sure everything ready to welcome children to Sunday School, 
write prayers and make lists for announcements,
and the like.
Sunday would be a big day, 
Regathering, 
singing "Gather Us In",
and blessing backpacks and bibles and teachers and students, 
and 
scooping left over ice cream during coffee hour...
by Sunday afternoon, 
I couldn't be more tired, and full, and feeling like we were off to the races for another year. 

this year was different, IS different. 
I am serving a church, just on Sundays, in a very limited capacity. 
not a lot of planning.  I am not the pastor. 
I love this church, and what I am doing. 

but I am just saying this new year, this new school year
is rolling along without my gifts and skills and what I love doing, what I know doing.  I missed getting do the "regathering" weekend, but this was my choice.  

it's o.k.
it's quiet. 
I get to be home more with my family. 

it's just a different kind of new. 
I am fearful and hopeful of what kind of new this whole year will bring.   
(Oh, and I just had a big birthday, which has always been a part of my inner regathering in my heart in the fall--oh, and yes my birthday is also the anniversary day of my ordination.  13 years, thank you!)
Will my vocational path follow a different trail than full-time congregational ministry?
I have applied for some meaningful work that would use a whole lot of what I bring to the table, what I love to do, what I enjoy....

I just don't know. 
And I suppose that is part of a new year, a fresh regathering of any kind--
Any thing can happen. 
Thank goodness my backpack is blessed. 
Amen.