[Insert well meaning person here]: “So, where are you all going to church?”
[Me, stammering]: “Well, we haven’t quite figured that out yet.”
As a fairly new school chaplain, I often do not miss waking up at the crack of dawn to preside over the three ring circus that can be Sunday morning congregational life. The chance to worship with my family was one of the big perks of being a school chaplain. I was all set to rejoin the rank and file, to hear sermons instead of give them, to just simply blend in.
However, now that I’m free to go almost anywhere on Sunday morning, I can’t quite figure out where to go. My family and I have visited four or five different Episcopal churches in the five months that we’ve been here but have yet to choose a community to call home. We find ourselves in the similar position as any other family with young children does when looking for a church to call home with one big difference — the mom’s an Episcopal priest.
Before we get to Elizabeth's thought-provoking article and lovely baptismal hymn, I want to say thank you for the privilege of being Christ and Creativity Editor these 2+ years. This month I have decided to move on to other writing adventures, but I am so grateful for the chance to be inspired, challenged and nourished by all of the art, poetry, knitting, photography, etc. that you have shared with me and with the world through this column. Keep on creating! --MaryAnn McKibben Dana
So many times I have been the one asking the questions – “Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love?” or “Do you promise, through prayer and example, to support and encourage this child to be a faithful Christian?” and yet this time, I was the one answering them. Suddenly, I felt a little unsure – would I make a mistake and answer a “Will you?” question with an “I do” answer? I didn’t know where to stand, and I felt underdressed without my robe.
I have been very blessed in my life to have reasonably good health. When things have gone wonky in my body, they have been largely gynecological in nature. (Good times!) As a result of this, quite a few doctors, nurses, and PAs have examined my. . .most inward parts. In fact, I did the math recently and a solid dozen medical professionals have had the pleasure of examining that particular part of my anatomy.
In my life, four medical professionals have stood out from the pack, and have made me feel like an intelligent human being, rather than an anonymous number that was just standing in the way of the next patient. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them.
To the nurse practitioner who actually sat down and talked with me, after I had been going from doctor to doctor for three years because of mysterious pain and was able to diagnose me with vulvar vestibulitis. Thank you for realizing that sometimes a conversation can be a better diagnostic tool than the most complicated procedure.
I still have shepherds on my mind.
No, I’m not in denial that the Christmas season is over. Even though the pine needles linger, the nativities and liturgies are put away for another year.
I still have shepherds on my mind because suddenly I’m seeing shepherds differently. I have the wonderful images from the “St. John’s Bible” to thank for this gift. While viewing pages from the manuscript at a Benedictine Monastery in Erie, my mother-in-law directed my attention to the opening illustration for the Gospel of Luke. The image is a stable scene: donkey, sheep, ox, Mary, the manger. Piercing this humble scene is a broad band of gold light. In the St. John’s Bible Project, gold represents the presence of God. Here, that presence is vividly presented: golden angels fluttering above, golden calligraphy calling forth the text, the gold band of light descending from above to the lowliest of the low and a swath of golden shepherds. But wait, golden shepherds? Why isn’t Mary, the very mother of God, swathed in a golden post-partum glow?
I’m in a leadership class. You might know the type…a group of leaders come together to learn more about leadership in a small group setting. Speakers come in; we read a book on leadership; we complete a project as a group. They have them all over the country in different forms. A few weeks ago my class, all young professionals ages 22-40, was on retreat. We did the requisite Myers-Briggs and a ropes course, and thankfully ended with happy hour. And there was an hour of class time dedicated to “Professional Etiquette.” Now lets just start out with the fact that we are in Montgomery, Alabama…etiquette is almost a subject in elementary school. This is a place where the first rule I learned was “always save face.” No matter what stupid or ridiculous thing someone is doing, make sure you don’t point out that stupid or ridiculous thing and hopefully they can save face. This is also a place where I finally decided 2 years ago that even though I was not married, I was going to pick my silver pattern anyway. Dang it. So there.
Recently, we had a continuing education event at our church on responding to the economic crisis. As we all know, even though the markets are up, and things seem to be stable, the unemployment rate is still high. While the general population is moving on with their shopping, a huge percentage of our country is still unemployed, trying to get a job in an incredibly tight market. So the needs in our congregations, as well as the level of anxiety and depression, can be quite high.
Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear by the Lord…”
My Old Testament professor was the first person who challenged me to approach scripture in a sensory way, to imagine my way into the biblical narrative. I guess that’s why the promise between Abraham and his most trusted servant has, for better or worse, permanently set up camp in my consciousness.