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Showing posts from June, 2007

RevGals Friday Five

Playing this week's RevGals Friday Five : 1. Personality tests; love them or hate them? Love them if they're just for me, hate them if someone else is using them to find out about me, like, say, the Board of Ordained Ministry. When I took my psychological assessment for the ordination process, my results showed that I had a very high degree of defensiveness toward psychological testing. Of course, I could have told them that without the test - except, I wouldn't, because of my high degree of defensiveness! ;) 2. Would you describe yourself as practical, creative, intellectual or a mixture ? Intellectual primarily, then practical, and occasionally creative. I have some close friends who always amaze me with their creativity - in worship, in visual arts, whatever. I think I can be creative, but I really admire people who just ooze creativity. 3. It is said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame; have you had yours yet? If so what was it, if not dream away what would you

A Month of Sundays

Found via peaceable kin-dom is this interesting article from a Seattle newspaper, The Stranger , where a group of atheist/agnostic writers visit thirty faith communities (mostly churches) in Seattle and give short, funny, irreverent, eye-opening, sometimes thoughtful reflections on their experiences. Most of them don't seem open to finding meaning in the services, which isn't surprising given the nature of the assignment, but some of the reflections show that the experiences were at least thought provoking. What would someone who was an atheist or agnostic write about attending worship at your church? I'm sure they would find some things to be quirky at St. Paul's, but hopefully they'd also find people to be genuine and friendly. The reflections are particularly harsh on 'contemporary Christian music' in worship, which may or may not surprise you, and generally the responses reflect a great fear of being singled out as a visitor - something to think about.

Review: Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

I recently finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder , a collection of essays she put together somewhat as a response to September 11. I've mentioned before that Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors. I've read almost everything by her, and she's just fantastic. She writes non-fiction in such a narrative, story-telling style that I think she could make any topic interesting. I've been working on this book for a while. Since it contains short essays, I've been able to read one and put the book down for a while, then come back and read the next. But given my current less-mobile condition, I've been catching up on my reading time, and flew threw the last few essays. The first essay is "Small Wonder," and Kingsolver tells the (true) story of a toddler that wandered off from his home in a small village in Iran and was found later, safe, in a bear's den, with the bear curled protectively around the child. Apparently, the bear had actu

Extreme Church: Extreme Expectations

When I was elected to General and Jurisdictional Conference , one of the things I received even before I left Annual Conference was a handout on delegate reflection/preparation, which I thought was a nice idea. Apparently, the theme of the 2008 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference is Extreme Church: Extreme Expectations . The scripture focus is Ephesians 3:17-20, from Eugene Peterson's The Message version: " Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. 20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and


I just read this article : "Interns Chase Congressional Pork" on's Anderson Cooper 360° blog - about congressional earmarks and transparency of requests for earmarked funds. The article talks about the difficulty in getting members of Congress to own up to what they are requesting, and includes a link so that you can see if your representatives were willing to share their requests or not. (Mine ( Arcuri , D-NY and McHugh , R-NY) have not responded.) The results so far? 45 have turned over their requests. 68 flat out refused. 6 told us they did not request any earmarks. But the majority, 316, never responded. Has your representative responded? What did they request?

The Cast: Day 5 of 42ish...hopefully...

Things I've learned in the first five days of being in my lovely bright orange cast: - Using crutches is not nearly as easy as I thought it would be. - My cat is scared of my crutches, but only when they are in use by me. - Capri pants are my friend. - I can still hold my nephew and my godson even with my cast, only it is trickier with my godson, since he just turned one, and moves, now, a lot faster than me. - My church's hallways are longer than I thought they were. - I have a whole new perspective on what it means to call something 'handicap accessible'. My church is accessible on each floor, though we have no elevator. But there is access from outside to each level, accessible bathrooms, etc. However, I've borrowed a wheelchair to use for getting around at church, and discovered glitches already - for example, our front doors don't unlock from the outside. You have to unlock the door by the office, and then unlock the main sanctuary doors from the inside.

Celebrating Graduates...

Next Sunday, like many churches will sometime this month, we are celebrating our graduates at St. Paul's. Since I am down and out with my cast , I am suddenly looking for ways to include the graduates more in the service than we might usually - as in include them in more hands-on ways. In my church growing up , we gave out scholarships, and had a special breakfast, and gave graduates a chance to say what their future plans were during worship. The sermon usually was specially-focused as a message to the graduates that applied to the whole congregation too. There, and at St. Paul's, graduates have been included as readers of scripture, or ushers, etc., on the day of celebration. How do you celebrate graduates at your church? How do the graduates participate? Do you have any ideas to include graduates more fully in the service? Any resources I might check out?

RevGals Friday Five

Just for fun today, I'm playing the RevGals Friday Five , this week on books: 1. Fiction what kind, detective novels, historical stuff, thrillers, romance???? I love the classics - Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, plus I love C.S. Lewis' Chronicle of Narnia , Barbara Kingsolver's books, and of course, Harry Potter. 2. When you get a really good book do you read it all in one chunk or savour it slowly? For really really good books, I tend to get through them as fast as I can. But some books, even good, are just too dense. I don't usually intentionally savor them, it just happens sometimes! 3. Is there a book you keep returning to and why? Oh, I have quite a few I regularly reread (which my brother doesn't understand). Louisa May Alcott books - they always inspire me for a simpler way of life, and they remind me of the holidays, so I usually read them around Christmas. I reread Jane Austen novels because of the good romance - who couldn't use a little more Mr. Dar

What I'm Doing on My Summer Vacation...

You might remember me writing a while back about discovering I had broken my ankle months before. Today was the big day - surgery to re-break the bones and get screws in, etc., technically, an osteotomy and something with the word 'drilling' in the description. The surgeon chose a lovely florescent orange cast for me. Why? I don't know. It doesn't really match my stylish red toenail polish, does it? My mother is staying with me for a couple days, pampering me ridiculously. I'm very spoiled! She even made me homemade Mac & Cheese. Anyway, the surgery went really well, and I'm feeling pretty good, although still rather groggy. I'm not looking forward to spending a hot July in the cast, but what can you do? Thankfully, this Sunday is children's Sunday at church, so I have minimal responsibilities.... In the meantime, I'm checking out reviews of this waterproof cast cover . (I'm in denial about not being able to get in the pool all summer.) Anyo

Festival of Homiletics Reflections: Grace Imathiu, Sweet Honey in the Rock

The last preacher at the Festival of Homiletics was Rev. Grace Imathiu, who, in my opinion, was the best preacher with the most moving message of the entire event. She didn't get a standing ovation, like many of the other preachers, and I'm not sure why, except that perhaps she had too many people in tears to be ready to stand up. Or maybe we were more moved by the content of her sermon, as opposed to being moved by the persona of the preacher, which is as it should be, right? Anyway, I can count on my hands the number of times I've been moved to tears by preaching, and this was one of them. (The other that immediately comes to mind is a time in seminary when a woman preached as part a chapel service sponsored by the Drew Hispanic Caucus - I can't remember her name. But I still remember exactly the image she was conveying and when I remember, it still makes me tear up. That is powerful preaching.) Imathiu preached on Ezekiel 37:1-4, the passage about the Valley of th

Can't Be Helped: More Pictures of My Nephew

OK - I can't help it. I have more pictures of my nephew, Sam, that just have to be shared because he's too cute. (His onesie is from the Farm Sanctuary that my brother loves. And, by the way, my brother has an excellent post up with his initial thoughts on fatherhood. Makes me a little teary.)

Festival of Homiletics Reflections: Bishop William Willimon

Next up on the busy Friday morning at the Festival was Bishop William Willimon – dubbing himself (jokingly) “our slice of red velvet cake.” I read in preparation for ordination Willimon's Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry and Pastor: A Reader for Ordained Ministry , and found them to be extremely helpful for clarifying my understanding of ordination. When Willimon opened early with the statement, “The United Nations is one of the most boring organizations in the world," I thought we probably weren't going to get along. But things got better... Here are some fairly unedited notes: You ask God at the opening of worship to descend among us, and every now and then, God answers. Prophetic speech comes with the descent of the Holy Spirit. Preaching can be transformational because God is. That's why we have the chairs bolted down in worship. Sabbath – important during exile, keeping Israel fixed as Israel . By NT, Sabbath is an issue – Jesus is not kee

Festival of Homiletics Reflections: Bishop Vashti McKenzie

OK, back to the Festival reflections. I promise, only three or four more to go. I thought about combining posts, but these preachers were just too good not to get their own post in most cases! So hang in there with me. Bishop Vashti Murphey McKenzie preached on Friday morning. As an aside, let me just mention that I love the name Vashti . To me, naming your child Vashti means that you know she is going to stand up for who she is and what she believes. The Bishop preached on Psalm 51, Hebrews (the 'by faith' text), in particular 11:7 – “By Faith Known.” She talked about the miners that had been trapped in PA. The rescuers were tapping on the pipes to communicate with those trapped. Those trapped were tapping – “Is their any hope?” What is the answer tapped? The answer tapped to us is “What are you willing to believe God for?” “When [some hard situation occurs], what are you willing to believe God for?” “[Name a bible figure] wanted to believe God for [name a promise of God.]”

Annual Conference Reflections

I'm back from Annual Conference . I still have more Festival of Homiletics reflections to write, but I'll pause from those to talk about Annual Conference. Showing my United Methodist-nerdiness, I have to confess that I love Annual Conference. I have ever since I first attended as an equalization member when I was a junior in high school. I love seeing my colleagues in ministry, lay and clergy, and I love our crazy United Methodist ways, at least most of the time. North Central New York is somewhat unique, in my experience, compared to other annual conferences. I think we are relatively a-political. Of course, all church bodies are political to an extent, but when I look at other conferences and the legislation and resolutions they deal with at Annual Conference sessions , I'm struck by how rare such resolutions are in NCNY. Occasionally we have something controversial, but not usually. Occasionally we have a candidate for the episcopacy, like Bishop Devhadar , but not u

Festival of Homiletics Reflections: Brian McLaren

Thursday at the Festival we heard Brian McLaren . I was very excited to hear McLaren, having read some of his books and particularly having led a (pretty successful) book study in my church on The Secret Message of Jesus . I’ve read elsewhere in the blogosphere from at least one who didn’t find McLaren’s worship and lecture very – inspiring? – but I would have to disagree. McLaren isn’t a dynamic preacher in the same way of Barbara Brown Taylor or Fred Craddock – he just doesn’t have the same style, and the same way of presenting himself. But personally, I found the content to be excellent and on target and dynamic in its own right. Worship was first. I missed the opening part of the worship because I was standing in a ridiculously long line in the parking lot waiting to put my money in the “Pay Here” machine. But I did indeed get to see Jonathan, Jay, and Gavin (dressed very like Neo in the Matrix) leading worship for a few minutes before the message. Brian McLaren took Col

Heading to Dallas in '08 ...

A brief hiatus from my Festival of Homiletics blogging to share my good news - today at our Annual Conference , I was elected as a clergy delegate to General Conference 2008 ! I'm very excited. I'm a United Methodist nerd, and although General Conference 2000 was one of the most gut- wrenchingly hard times of my life, it was also strangely one of the best and certainly most - memorable? life-changing? moving? - experiences of my life. So thank you to my clergy colleagues who are sending me to General Conference next year. Lots more to say about the Festival, and then lots more to say about Annual Conference, but that's all I have in me tonight. Oh, and also: being ordained last year was awesome, but not being ordained this year - and instead getting to cheer for friends being ordained without the weight of pending ordination on my shoulders - that's a pretty awesome feeling too.