July 2008

Unexpected Gifts

From its conception, I have loved the idea of a “Holy Ghost Grab Bag”. There is something incredibly appealing to me about the idea that we have a place to highlight God’s unexpected presence in our lives. However, as I pondered the concept I always imagined that the story of the unexpected presence would be something shared by another individual. As the editor of the column it would be my job to read and be surprised. Thankfully, God is far wiser than I am.

This past June I had the pleasure of attending the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly meeting. It was a fantastic experience. From the moment I arrived in San Jose I felt a sense of deep connection to the people around me. These unknown individuals and I not only share a common faith, we share something more a connection based on the way in which we experience and express that faith. It was wonderful.

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July 2008

When a Single Rev Opts to Adopt

For some young clergy women, the call to motherhood may not come as they expect.  As children they may have dreamed of getting married and having kids, but as they grew older, circumstances did not line up with their original vision, and they never married.  However, the call of motherhood is strong and some of these women have chosen to be foster parents and/or adoptive parents.  Today, we bring you an interview with Joyce Borger, an editor at Faith Alive Christian Resources who made the choice to adopt as single mother.

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July 2008

The View from Your Ministry

Announcing the first (and perhaps only) Christ and Creativity Photo Exhibition! Get those cameras (and camera phones) ready... whether you consider yourself a photographer or not, we want to hear from you.

Andrew Sullivan, a blogger for the Atlantic Monthly, has a feature called "The View from Your Window," in which people send him photographs of, well, the views from their windows. People have sent shots from all over the world, and they are an interesting mix of mundane and exotic---mundane to the person who beholds that view each day, exotic to the viewer who's seeing that landscape for the first time.

And so, inspired by The View from Your Window, C&C is sponsoring "The View from Your Ministry"... with prizes!

Check below the fold more details and an example shot...

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July 2008

Finding Church

“It’s just too hard. I don’t know what to do,” my stepmother confessed.

There was silence on our phone connection, which granted me enough time to put on my pastor hat, even if I was reluctant to adorn this accessory with my family members. It didn’t matter though. I was going to wear the hat anyhow. It went so damn well with my shoes, even if my stepmother couldn’t see this fashion miracle through telecommunication.

“Have you told people at the church?” I asked. Without giving her adequate time to answer I added, “Have you told the minister?”

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July 2008

Book Review: Those Preaching Women: A Multicultural Collection

Those_preaching_women

I don’t normally read sermon collections much, having experienced them as peculiar, self-indulgent, and disjointed. In my mind, sermons are oral events that God brings to life somewhere and somehow in the space between the preacher, Scripture, and the congregation. I had relegated written sermons to be like my incredibly beautiful and yet unequivocally unphotogenic friend--breathtaking in person, not so much in print.

Oddly enough, I found myself enjoying Those Preaching Women: A Multicultural Collection, edited by Ella Pearson Mitchell and Valerie Bridgeman Davis and published by Judson Press.

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July 2008

Looking Over My Shoulder

When I was in seminary, and ordination loomed ahead, we, the young soon-to-be-clergy women, often discussed what to wear underneath our cassocks. I guess we were scared. I guess we saw our whole future ahead of us as very respectable members of society, and we were panicking. In any case, we discussed underwear. Black lace? Our even more daring, something red? After all, ordination to the priesthood has a lot to do with the Spirit...

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July 2008

Counseling and the Single Girl

I still remember the first crisis I faced as a pastor, when I was really just a seminary intern.  I can still feel the terror that swept over me as I thought of all the ways I could fail.  I can still taste the bile of inadequacy that came as I realized that, for all my education in Hebrew, ecclesiology, and other assorted things with long names, I had no idea how to be a pastor under those circumstances.

Thanks be to God, I got through it without causing myself or anyone else any significant emotional damage, and have made it through much worse since.  In my five years of ordination, I have learned to preach a sermon on little sleep and less preparation, hold the hand of someone who is dying, bail someone out of jail, check someone into a rehabilitation or mental treatment facility, whip a liturgy out of nothing in seconds, navigate ritzy fundraising dinners and seamy street corners, soothe panicking grooms and silence overbearing mothers, and receive what seems to be the worst news or the rudest comment on earth with relative calm.  While I do sometimes think, “Wow, my life is a little crazy,” and I rather enjoy dramatizing some of my stories for the entertainment of my friends, the varied tasks of pastoral life don’t faze me the way they once did.  Ministry has calmed me, made me less flappable.  That is, except for one thing which still never fails to shoot me through with anxiety:

Premarital counseling.

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July 2008

Hard to Negotiate

Along with Advent comes salary-negotiating time here in the Merritt house, my least favorite part of the year. Honestly, I hate it. I wish that everyone just got paid from the Local Governing Body (LGB). You know, a socialized system where everyone is given as they have need. I wish that each pastor had a set amount, based on cost of living, housing, experience, and education. A set salary, where certain things don’t matter, things like ethnicity, age, or gender, and certain things do matter, like how much you had to go into debt to get your seminary education.

I’m not even sure that the size of the congregation should matter. I mean at this point there ought to be some systemic realization that women are in small parishes and associate positions, not because they are less wise, intelligent, or capable, but because there’s that thick stained glass ceiling that we’re slowly, surely trying to crack through.Jobsalary

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July 2008

Summer Time in Corinth

The God of the Wilderness calls to me during the summer. She is a beckoning God. She wants me to abandon all responsibility to praise her radiant glory. She is determined to spoil me with a golden glow and abundant warmth. Alas, she can only distract me from my office window. She is still calling – but so is the blinking light of the church phone. 

A message beckons to me from my voicemail, insisting that I ignore the God of the Wilderness that it seems every church member has rushed to worship. As June approached, the members of this small congregation carefully informed me that they would look forward to seeing me in September. They would miss their church, but their [insert summer retreat] awaited them. And so, I wondered, who could have left me a voicemail? If the whole church family has disappeared to worship the Son of Righteousness, who could be calling?

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