Standing at the front of the sanctuary, feeling the Spirit, ready to do the benediction, a shriek rings out from among the congregation. Only I look to see who it is – because I know the voice. It is my daughter, Eden. At all of a year old, hearing my voice causes her to let out a squeal.
I watch for a moment, distracted, as she tries to wiggle out of the nursery worker’s arms. And then I begin, “Now as you go…” But before I can get to any amount of peace, I notice that is crawling down the aisle, trying to reach me. Unsure what to do, the nursery worker wrestles her to the ground. “May you go in peace,” I continue. Finishing the benediction, I begin to process towards my daughter. Forget the acolyte; forget the lay reader.
Just as I get close enough to hold her, a hand reaches out to grab me. “Pastor,” the older, grouchy woman begins, “you know, we would not care if she crawled down the aisle.”
This month we begin our intermittent series of interviews with YCWs who blend art and ministry in ways that are nourishing and inspiring. The Rev. Suzanne Stovall Vinson (suzanne l. vinson through her art) offered such thoughtful responses that we offer her thoughts completely unedited here. Don't miss the photos as well...
Also, do you know fabulous YCWs with a story to tell about pursuing art and the creative life along with ministry? Let us know so we can contact her for a future column!
This year, on Good Friday, when many of my colleagues were having noonday services remembering Jesus’ crucifixion, I was going through a different ordeal. While it wasn’t physical torture, the emotional and spiritual pain of dropping my husband off for a nine-month deployment to Iraq had its own nuances and added a different dimension to what I was casually calling “Lousy Friday.” On that day, I also reflected on Jesus’ seven last words from the cross, but within the context of my current experience.
Editor's note: Is this publication late, or just a reminder? If you're like me, there's often some worship filing on your desk on Monday and Tuesday. If you're really like me, you may just now be getting around to filing Easter materials. And, thus, it is the perfect time to publish these lovely hymn texts by Rebecca Littlejohn, one for Easter and another based on the Acts 10 lectionary reading for the past Sunday. So get out some file folders and mark them up for Easter B and Easter 6B, file your materials, and add these hymn ideas. You'll thank yourself when 2012 rolls around!
In the last month or so, I have written two hymns for the tune "Austrian Hymn". It's a lovely tune, but the words of "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" just never manage to have anything to do with the themes of our worship services. I have not used the Easter hymn text, but this week I just couldn't find anything I liked to go with the story of Peter and Cornelius from Acts 10, so I made my own.
Today, the day of the parish retreat, the new church signs made their appearance. Beautiful block lettering with the name of the parish bold against a white background. Vibrant reds and blues in the Episcopal shield--and, the name of the rector in gorgeous script. I am the associate rector in this place and my name is not on the sign. I try not to read too much into this, but fight the sheer hubris that makes me ache inside, that makes me question the commitment of this place to my place here. I assure myself that it is merely an oversight, but cannot let go of my own desire to be acknowledged and embraced.
This month, the Single Rev's Guide to Life goes to the lighter side with a brief list of survival guidelines the rocky territory of dating in the church. Enjoy - and feel free to add your own tried and true rules in the comments!
1. Never date a parishioner.
2. Don't let the little old ladies in the parish set you up with their niece/nephew/grandchild/any sort of relative. Bad.
3. As an ordained person, breaking up can be disastrous; you're a public figure, and people can be mean and vindictive in break-ups. So, treat others with dignity and respect, and be honest and transparent during the break up process, should it occur. You don't need the drama of a bad break up, and neither does your congregation.
One of the greatest challenge facing Christians today is the call to understand our Christian identity amidst growing religious diversity in our communities, our nation and in the world. More and more Christians are finding themselves in relationships with people from other faiths – in school, work, or the neighborhood. As pastors, many of us understand our ministries to be intimately connected with people from other religious traditions, and have committed in interfaith dialogue and advocacy to address our questions, and those in our congregations.
I’ve been on a bit of a Michael Pollan kick lately. Enthused that his explorations of our food systems have helped make gardening hip (or, at least, have helped get Michelle and Barack to dig in), I keep going back for more. Since first reading Omnivore’s Dilemma, I have delighted that his work has given me conversation partners and a common vocabulary for speaking of ethical eating and real food security.
Stretching back to the backyard garden of my childhood — with ample space for experimentation and bountiful seeds from a relative’s hardware store — gardens have been places of great, hopeful possibility. Something about their demands on my patience, trust and wonder make gardening work worth doing on my days off; the delights of dinner picked from within feet of my door add delicious reward. Compelled by the ideas of gardening as a moral and theological statement, my vision has grown generous enough to see beauty in my front yard attempt at growing vegetables, even when others see disaster.