Sometimes, writing sermons feels like I am on a wild ride on a bucking bronco. I never know what is going to happen....I am holding on to my hat, swinging my lasso of study, preparation, and the horse is the wild Holy Spirit taking me for a ride as I try to wrangle something that is at least articulate. The process is unbridled, breathtaking, and frustrating. I often get thrown off, and have to dust off my chaps and get back on. My sermon for tomorrow? I am inbetween rides right now, but I will have to jump back on that bucking bronco Sophia at least one or two more times tonight! (my butt is sore!)
Over at RevGals, Singing Owl came up with this FF, which is really six. Here is my play! 1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child? By carving pumpkins, planning my Halloween strategy for trick-or-treating with my friends. How much of the town can a nine year old realistically cover in three hours of gathering free candy? Is a plastic bucket or pillow case better to hold it all? Should we plan drop-offs in the night, so as not to be lugging giant loads of snickers and sweet-tarts and risk dropping them all over the sidewalk?
2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do? It seems there aren't as many trick-or-treaters in our new neighborhood, but we will have the porch light on, a bowl of kitkats and m and m's to share with baby ghouls, and of course, maybe a pumpkin beer or two to celebrate the evening..... 2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else? CARAMEL. with nuts. and chocolate.
3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them? I love pumpkin soup and pumpkin ravioli, but I would probably used canned for both.
4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures. Do frozen, dead mums count? Or a fake potted plant of unidentifiable golden blooms I got for 75% off at Michaels? Devil ears on the poodles?
5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality? Yes. and yes. It is fun to dress up and just bring out a part of ourselves that sometimes we don't know is even there. One time I played a fortune teller, and had so much fun telling fortunes, I wished I could do it full time. However, there is that piece of actually knowing how to do it, or being called to that, which...well, I will stick to my present call of pastoring!
Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones. I don't have a recipe, but again, I might say that fresh pumpkin ravioli with marinara sauce is a delicacy one shouldn't miss!
This is my holy sister, Yeong Mee.... When I was doing my MDIV, she was working on her doctorate in hebrew bible with Phyllis Trible at Union. We, Yeong Mee, and I were best of friends. She got me through Hebrew, Greek; and the footnotes of my thesis (God Bless her). We would walk dogs together in Riverside Park and spend our $1 for a bagel and coffee at the stand on the corner and have breakfast together most mornings. We would study all day, and then order in pizza or go out for Indian food. She gave me bim bim bop, and a love for the spicy taste of kimchee. We had LOTS of fun shopping for shoes--at Tops and Harry's and Aerosoles, all on the upper West Side of Manhattan. I had the privilege of participating in her ordination, and she honored me with her words at my ordination. I have lived through her crazy driving--she was the first to baptize my 1995 Honda Wagon with its first dent/rip in the front bumper, accidentally going forward instead of reverse. I love seeing it, because it reminds me of my dear friend, now living in Seoul, and living as a successful academic in a very, very, patriarchal system. Only woman in the department! Yikes. She writes amazing papers and books; she teaches her nephew English; she sends me beautiful fans and paper from Korea. When we talk, it is like we are next door. What a blessing. We encourage one another...always. I am grateful that time and distance have not diminished the strength of our holy sisterhood. I am grateful that we have an amazing friendship that transcends the pragmatic here and now and rests in the sacred here and now. Thank you God, for my holy sister. Bless her today...and infuse her with your grace, your hope, your courage, your love. Amen.
Sometimes, When I sign on to my blog, I get distracted by the counter on how much is spent on the Iraq war. That durn thing goes by the thousands. I just go bonkers. BONKERS.
Speaking of bonkers, I hate it when people send emails where they capitalize multiple phrases to make a point...too much shouting, and most of the time, I don't THINK THAT IS WHAT THEY MEAN TO RELAY. I dunno. I have a headache from a recent email I just read.
so...have a children's time to write, an invocation, a children's worship to plan, for tomorrow. not much, but enough. I have a godly play story to memorize for the children's worship...and it will be fine.
I was struck last week, in collegial meeting, when one person said, I did the associate pastor thing for a few years and hated it, so I started looking to be a solo in a congregation...and am so happy doing this.
whoah. I realize how little credit I give myself sometimes. I always think I need to learn one more thing to be truly prepared to be the solo leader of a flock, but I have to stop and say--wait! I have literally twenty years of experience as a church professional, and seven of those are in sacramental ministry. shoot! I mean dang! What else am I waiting for?
Don't get me wrong. I really, really, really love the work I get to do with children. I loved teaching bible/religion for eight years before seminary, and I loved the four years of youth ministry I did before that. I loved my three years of seminary, focusing on worship and arts and ministry and children's spirituality. my seven years of ministry in three...well, now on my fourth, but two were simultaneous (lest you think I am a short timer) and I really love this work in my new congregation, but I totally know what my colleague meant, too. I think I have been very deliberate in listening to where I have been called...and each place, congregation/campus, chaplaincy, new church start, and now established traditional NE church has been the right place for me. I don't think anyone could be more fortunate than me in the amazing places of ministry I have landed. I have to be honest, though, the part I miss...and have missed in all of them is more involvement in worship, aka preaching, planning the whole of a service. It is funny, ironic, even, the most involved in worship was in my first congregation. In any case, that doesn't mean that can't happen where I am now...I will just need to find my place in all of it.
huh. who knew I was thinking about that this morning? when I sat down to the computer, I was really thinking about the RED SOX and how they pulled it out last night!
Welcome to the Friday Five! RGBP writesThis one is going to be veeeery simple: List at least five things (people, places, graces, miracles...) for which you are thankful. You may elaborate as you wish, or keep it simple.
I am grateful for my beloved, and the amazing life we have together....our home, our love, our many critters that make us laugh....
I am grateful for post-season baseball playoffs, which so far are going grrreeat!!
I am grateful for my morning coffee, which was especially tasty this morning.
I am grateful for my dear friend, Yeong Mee, who is an amazing scholar and pastor in South Korea...and for our enduring sister-friendship across the continents. She is a treasure.
I am grateful for all the sounds I hear outside...the traffic, cars starting, birds singing...I love my neighborhood.
I feel especially full of thankfulness, this morning.
this weekend was amazing. I wrote most of my sermon on Friday, as we had a denominational event all day Saturday. What I wrote wasn't really what I planned on, but I read it to my beloved and she thought it was pretty good, so I kept it. I had not idea, though, where it was going to lead me--the writing, the Spirit, the muse of God!
So, Saturday was so fun because I got to pull out my dusty djembe and drum with a group for the worship service. It was fabulous and delirious. If you have never had the opportunity to learn drumming, and always wanted to, you should. It really sinks into your body and raises your energy....and our leader was terrific. Very gifted in creating community (none of knew each other) and pastorally leading a group of gifted and experienced drummers with those of us that weren't as confident. I just loved it.
Then, I got home around 8, and tried to sit down to write, but my hands and fingers were numb--I sort of overdid it, and it was hard to type. I worked until 10 or so,and I wrote about six sentences...and couldn't go on. I went to bed, quite nervous about not having an end to my sermon, but I was depleted--physically and mentally. So I got up at 4 to finish things up, which it just came together...and I had time to edit it a couple of times, and I felt good.
The passage was Luke 16:19-29--The rich man and Lazarus. Not something easy to preach on--privilege, affluence, the Great Chasm.
So, Sunday was typically busy before worship, greeting people, making coffee for my CE staff, the youth and committed adults were in the large kitchen making 150 lunches for the Common Cathedral (outdoor church for people who are homeless on the Boston Common, my coffee maker broke, things were crazy! I managed ten minutes before service to sling on my robe and stole, but missed the prayers with the choir, OOPS!
The service was great, the music, the liturgy, the announcements..but right before I got up to preach, I got really nervous. I wasn't sure why, the part of preaching I love is the preaching part! But I got up, and started, and realized that the sermon was much more prophetic than pastoral, and it was huge. It was a little scarey! They were with me the whole time, but I really have never felt God's power/spirit as strongly within as I did yesterday. When I finished, I was a little dazed, and after the call to prayer, I was still sort of not ready for the transition, and I couldn't remember how to lead the prayers of the people (someone makes a request, I repeat it in the mike, I say "For this we pray", and the congregation says "Gracious God, receive our prayer"). I was still feeling like either I had hit a home run, or struck out hugely, or just had done a 15 mile hike in New Hampshire White Mountains.
It was sort of funny, because I had to ask my colleague what to do , as I didnt' have my bulletin (Note. To. Self: even if you have done it thousands of times, still have it in your worship folder, printed and BIG)
After the service, I was inundated with people thanking me for the sermon, for prickling their consciousness...it was extraordinary.... retired seminary professors and working moms and pillars of the congregation.....and so I just throw that feedback to the Spirit. Thank you for blessing the words that we wrote together. Thank you for helping me be open. Thank you.
and there is more, because then we went down to the common cathedral, and worshipped there, in the crux of tourists and people who are homeless and people who lived in the neighborhood. We talked about the experience....with the youth...and then back to the church at 4:00 for this great concert of lute, voice and piano--selections from Purcell, Rodrigo, Hayden, and African-American Spirituals.