Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday morning...

Such full days these days that I haven't been able to write much. Our congregation is at the beginnings of what I hope is a deep shift in culture and spirit, which is drawing us, again, I hope, along on the journey in unknown names.

We have started a reading/prayer group to study "Unbinding the Gospel", a series that leads congregations deeper into prayer and faith sharing in normal, everyday ways. Congregations that have engaged in this process have experienced some pretty startling transformations--like actually being church instead of doing church!

Along with that, several women have asked for me to lead a women's spirituality group. Twice monthly. We had our first meeting, and it was exactly what it needed to be. I loved it.

In addition, I have gained two new members on my membership/outreach committee that will bring to the table some strategizing that this group needs. They take a little wrangling, but I am happy for their presence.

Lastly, we are embarking on a congregational process to truly deal with being financially responsible, rather than drawing down our assets willy-nilly. I am grateful that there will be small group discussions across the the congregation, instead of immediately slashing the budget because of crisis thinking. It could be that they decide to eliminate my position or cut it in half or something--or not--but it will be a considered decision, and NOT something decided by a budget committee. This, I think, is healthy.

And me...I am in a very calm place in my heart. And happy. Indeed, I have questions, and dreams, and wonderings about the future, about my call, but I am very grounded right now--and I feel like I am realistic. I certainly am not hiding with my head in the sand, waiting for something to happen--but my eyes and heart are wide open.

And oh!--back to the surface--we are doing a bathroom remodel. A real one. With a real contractor. With a real plan. No more fly by night cheap-ass big talking one-person shows (I have learned that almost anyone can get a license to be a contractor). Who else gets a bathroom for Christmas???

Am thinking about all of my cyber friends out and peace to you this weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

and I thought we were an inclusive bunch....

The church, I mean.
Welcome everyone?

But what happens when the ways in which we invite, greet, welcome completely leave out an entire population of people that socialize in other ways...
Those hugs, those handshakes, that passing of the peace thing?
It can be torture and misery for some...

read this: incipient turvy



I am dismayed these days by the number of colleagues I know that have been bitten, chewed up, and spit out by a congregation or experience with a church. I can think of at least 10 in my almost ten years of being ordained. It's not just one denomination, or just newly ordained people...but, oh--my--all of them are women.
I'm not saying that in every case sexism is primarily involved...

Ah hell. It has to be part of all of it--at least a little bit. I have been in four really happy situations as ordained clergyperson, and in each community--ranging from liberal to conservative to progressive--the sneaky, seductive side of sexism, as well as obvious, overt and unapologetic expressions of sexism are clear and present. In my experience, and from what I have observed, I think women clergy have to work harder for acceptance, for trust, for respect...than male counterparts.

I love being a pastor. I know I have been extremely fortunate in the calls I have received---none perfect--but not ever miserable (or at least miserable for long).

I'm aware of how much congregations pin on their pastors unconsciously, and statitistics about burn-out, etc.
But right now, I just wonder...
Why do church people have to be so dang mean sometimes?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Lord's Prayers...

I met someone recently who prays the Lord's Prayer every day when that person finishes showering. This thought struck me for two reasons: First, the fact that this person shared this at all, and Second, well, some people just love that Lord's Prayer so much. It's so very meaningful. For some.

Me, not so much. It's not just the language about God, it's also the hierarchical language, the power and dominion stuff--what's that called? Triumphalism?

But still, this morning, I thought I would give it a whirl on my walk with the dogs, which is when I do my best praying, these days, anyway.

It went like this, sort of...
Our...mmm Mother? Mother-Father?
mmm, o.k....
Dearest Creator,
You who abide in my heart and my body, and in this world so dear, but not far away as in 'art in heaven'....
Holy and sacred is your name, are all of your names....
May your kin-dom be real
May your longing, your hopes and dreams for me, for this creation be done.... done...
here, in this day, on this earth...
no matter what is happening in heaven. (I hope there is a heaven, or something like that, but really, it's not my motivation for being a Christian. I don't even mind the fact that maybe heaven is coming back as one of my dogs. Seriously.)
I pray that for this day that I would be nourished with what is necessary to be your person, your light...
And forgive me, dear God...for all the moments I forget I belong to You, that You are with me...and for all of the times I know I will be petty and selfish and do stupid things that I know better....and I pray for a wideness of mercy and grace and forgiveness and love and humility for others that I will meet in this day.
And please, please help me not to fall into temptation (yes, I like this part. I get it). Help me respect this wild and precious life that you have given help me not squander it with all that this world tempts me with, like really wanting a Kindle and knowing if I won five new pairs of shoes from Zappos, I would definitely want to order all five pairs for myself, and even though that might not be evil,
It's still temptation. Help me be generous. And gracious, and oh yes, dear One...I pray for your protection, from that which is seen and unseen. Indeed, keep me...keep me...keep me.
For this is your amazing world,
your amazing creation...your beauty breaks my heart sometimes it is so glorious in those tiny unexpected moments...
glory and beauty and of course, subversive, turning over the tables for the lost and disenfranchised kind of power is yours--and that is very cool, btw.....
may Christ be above me
may Christ be below me
may Christ be beside me
may Christ be within me
Shining. (even if I screw it up sometimes.)
(p.s. I will be back tomorrow with this same prayer, again, God...but I will feel free to check in with You through out the day...and I hope You will too--check in with me. Amen.again. )