Editor's note: This article was originally written in January of 2009.
The tiny people and I are going to Minnesota. I cannot describe to you how excited the boys are. Aunty K, a dear pastor friend of mine, and I planned this trip back in … August? 2005? I'm not sure, but it feels like it's been on the books for millennia. And, considering that it's been planned for a high percentage of my two year old’s lifetime, he's about to blow his top he's so eager to leave.
Back in October, he would look at the clock and say, "It's January o'clock! Time to go to Minnesota!" We finally got him to understand that we weren't leaving until after Christmas. This gave him the distraction of Welcoming the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so as not to get too stir crazy in the meantime. A few awesome presents worked well to defer the hourly questions about when we were boarding the airplane for Minneapolis.
This month Elsa Peters shares her beautiful watercoIors with us. She writes this by way of introduction:
I was an art major in college. I thought that this was what God wanted me to do: paint. But something happened; I ended up in ministry. I was called into pastoral ministry where I've never been able to find a place for my art. Instead, it's something that happens when I retreat from my ministry.
Painting is what I do to connect with myself and my God. I carry a travel set of watercolors, find a spot to sit and start painting. I lose track of time. I usually get a sunburn and I remember to see again. I look carefully at creation and breathe deeply, knowing that this is good, even if I'm not happy with the outcome of my work.
These watercolors were created while retreating in Scotland in July of 2008. I traveled with two other YCW to find creativity and strength through the art of friendship.
I’ve noticed something odd. When I’ve talked to older women colleagues, and I’ve said the words, “I had to think about my family” in relation to my career, I often get a little lecture. You know, something along the lines of how my family should not dictate my choices, and how I would never hear a man say something like that.
It has happened so many times that I realized the words “had to think about my family” must have been code for “I will now sacrifice my career and my soul to the gods of patriarchy.”
A sermon on Genesis 9:8-17 and 1 Peter 3:13-4:2, preached at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, Geneva, IL, on March 1, 2009
If there’s any Bible story that is truly a part of “youth culture”, or at least the culture of the youngest of youth, it’s Noah and the Ark. If you do a search on Amazon for “Noah’s Ark toys” you get 303 results. That’s a whole toy-store-full of options!
When the Bible shows up in the toy aisle, I figure that’s a pretty clear sign that we’d better pay closer attention. Because, let’s be honest, Bible stories are often a little twisted. And if you can mass-produce the story in colorful plastic, you’re probably skipping over the difficult parts…
...as anyone who has ever tried to tell the Noah story to a little kid knows. Because, eventually, the kid starts to ask tough questions: like the people and animals who don’t make it onto the ark. The possibility that 40 days and 40 nights in a ship being battered by cataclysmic weather was not so much comfy and cozy as nasty and nauseating. That a grand total of 150 days with all of the animals of the world likely involved some of the most tremendous pooper-scooping efforts in humans history, and all of that doesn’t even begin to account for the bizarre appendix to the story where Noah gets drunk and naked.
Every spring I can’t resist magazines that tout the best ways to get your home fresh and clean. I can’t wait to see what my favorite home care guru Martha (and her staff) puts in her well-organized and labeled cleaning bucket. Her recommendations for getting the winter goo off my windows, and actually getting the layer of dirt off, bring joy to my heart. This year, it’s clear that my apartment isn’t the only thing that took on an extra layer of gunk during the dark winter months.
Whether you call it a manse, a parsonage, a rectory, or a vicarage, a church-owned pastor’s house is a complicated edifice in the lives of both clergy and congregation. The first place I lived after graduating from seminary was a beautiful, early 19th century brick manse owned by the small Kentucky congregation my husband and I served as co-pastors. We loved the wide, oaken floors, the high, wainscoted ceilings, and the way our Christmas tree glowed and twinkled through the leaded-glass windows that looked onto the Main Street of our antebellum town.
I confess that I’m almost always behind the curve on the cultural phenoms of our day—I got on board the Harry Potter train when book four came out. I don’t really like movie theaters and so often don’t see movies until they come out on DVD. I pay some attention, but not a ton, to what’s going on in the world of youth- and young adult-culture, and I tell myself that I need to know these things because the youth I work with live in that world more than they live in my world…but I still tend to be a little bit behind.