Here’s the story
Of a lovely lady
Who was working at Yale Divinity School.
She had hair of gold,
But that’s not the point of this song,
Her story won’t go untold.
Here’s the story
Of a bunch of clergy (women)
Who were out in the world,
making it on their own.
They were young and hip,
They were Bible-equipped,
So why did they feel so alone?
With the U.S. presidential election one week away, I have been obsessed with bumper stickers--collecting them, reading them, tallying up the McCain vs. the Obama ones in the swing state in which I live.
Some time ago I saw a bumper sticker taped to a car, and I got to thinking about our ideals and the permanence (or impermanence) with which we hold to them. What messages would you be willing to affix to your life forever? What messages come and go with the times?
The poem, "Bumper Stickers," appears after the jump.
Two weeks ago, I preached. The sermon is posted here, and I'm really proud of it. It's possibly my best sermon yet, but it was hard. The text was Genesis 22 (The Akedah - The Binding of Isaac), and the lectionary dumped this text in my lap during one of my fullest weeks in ministry. I had just done the funeral of a friend, which is never easy. I had also done the wedding of some friends only days before. It was a week where I was sure of my calling, but walking around with fear and trembling at the heaviness of my job in all of its fullness.
After a year or two in ministry you probably know the drill: you attend a conference, hear some really exciting stuff, come back all fired up, use what you learned a time or two, and then get sucked back into the undertow of meetings and budgets and organizing files and bad habits and cleaning your house and all those little everyday things that you got to leave behind while you were away continuing your education. And while many of our conference and seminar experiences are valuable if only because of the time away, the time to reflect, recreate, and recharge, there are some times when practical things stick with us, when we find that our preaching or pastoring or even paper-shuffling is impacted and improved by what we learned.
I would wager that there are more than a few assistant and associate clergy out there who would not be eager to recognize October 16 as National Boss Day. Honestly, I can understand why, given some of the stories I hear: the head pastor who does all the weddings, baptisms, or funerals himself; the rector who agrees to the standard amount of vacation time for the assistant and then does not allow said assistant to take said time; the head of staff who just can’t help but micromanage her very able assistant.
Strangely, these very same ordained leaders are often beloved by their congregations, to the point where I sometimes find myself asking if the desired skills to be the ordained leader in a larger congregation are not compatible with the skills to be a good supervisor for a new pastor. These stories (all true, by the way) are made even more jarring by the commonly accepted fact that one’s first experience in parish ministry has a great impact as to whether or not one actually stays in parish ministry.
I can't claim any of the above as my stories. I happen to have a great supervisor. Meet Bob.
Yet another woman’s life, pretty much down the drain, for a married man. First, the diaper-wearing astronaut driving to Florida to do something illegal to her married lover’s other girlfriend. Now the local news reports that a woman used an on-line web site to solicit a hitman to off her boyfriend’s wife. History is replete with women who do incredibly stupid things under the pretense of love. Juliet killed herself. Call me unromantic, but should healthy love leave you dead from a knife wound over your boyfriend’s equally lifeless body? A few hundred years later, and the romantic tragedy has embraced the plot line of this happy ending: keep yourself alive, but kill your boyfriend’s significant other. You may do twenty to life, but he will finally be wholly and utterly yours. Not an upward step, ladies.
Fellow women, hear this: Jesus is the only man worth imprisonment, and even then, you’d better be getting in trouble with the law for issues firmly grounded in justice, peace, and Godly love.
“I really wouldn’t mention that you’re a pastor.”
This is a common phrase that inserts itself into any number of social circumstances. For example, my online dating account mentions that I am a “graduate fellow,” not a “Minister of Word and Sacrament.” I went back and forth between telling the truth on my dating profile and essentially lying to unsuspecting single men who think they are corresponding with a medical student. But when a friend of mine casually suggested that I had a better chance of contracting polio than finding a decent “match” based on my profile, I thought perhaps disclosing the exact nature of my job might better be done over Irish coffee.
For the most part I understand that it is not always best to begin a conversation with the phrase, “Hi, I’m your friendly clergyperson, Stacy.” There are times and situations and conversations that are necessary before most people can grasp what I do. But one might think that this would only exist outside the church – that a new, freshly-minted pastor might not be forced to lie about her job while inside the walls of her church. And yet, this is precisely what happened when I endeavored to attend a little something called “The Great Banquet.”
Now, make no mistake. If Jesus came now instead of two thousand years ago, I don’t think he’d spend a lot of time watching television. There is too much poverty, injustice, and suffering in our world for him to waste even a moment on even the best entertainment. So, please, take this column with a grain of salt. We know that Jesus doesn’t Tivo—but we do.
Mad Men is an Emmy-winning series on the cable channel AMC, set in an advertising firm in 1960 (Season One) and 1962 (Season Two). Matthew Weiner, the creator of the show, is dedicated to showing, as authentically as he can, what life was like in the early 60s. From the set design, to costumes, to cultural references, every minute detail is planned carefully. Even if the plots and characters were dull, the show would be worth watching just for the gorgeous costumes and detailed office sets.
The Young Clergy Women Project is an organization by, for and about young clergy women.
The Young Clergy Women Project began in November 2006 and in the spring of 2007 we received a grant from The Louisville Institute that supported our preaching conference, board meeting, and our web page. The Holy Spirit has continued to move throughout this project, and we hope to maintain our current ventures and to expand our ministries to meet the needs of more and more young clergy women. One of the avenues we hope will aid us in our expansion is our becoming a non-profit organization.