One of the questions for the past few days was about hymns. I was thinking about our hymns yesterday, because our music staff picks hymns WAY in advance, yet it was perfect for yesterday. We talked some about the events in Paris and how our hearts hurt, again.
I worked in Littleton, Colorado, after the Columbine shootings, and we sang this hymn at services where we needed to hear these words. Yesterday, we sang them again, and they’re still a good prayer to pray, I think.
“Cure your children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to your control
Shame our wanton selfish gladness
Rich in things, but poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.
This is as applicable to right this minute as it was to Columbine, as it was in the 1930s when Harry Fosdick wrote it. I’m grateful for these old words that have always, always rung true to me and so many others.
I took a couple days off of blogging (to rest! and paint my kitchen a lovely shade of greige!), and was going to return. The blogging prompts are very nice, but nothing can compared to the amazing piece of writing that I finally sat down and read this morning from the Reverend Tiffany Chaney.
I had the honor to meet Pastor Chaney when she was going through candidacy. She is and was a wonderful minister and the committee agreed that she would be up to great things.
PLEASE read her words, all of them.
I have not spoken much on the racism conversation that is happening, because I have wanted to listen carefully as a white person with layers of privilege. And honestly, I didn’t know what I wanted to say.
Nanoblomo Day 5: what’s something you’ve done that isn’t exactly in your job description?
SO MANY THINGS. I think this is common to any of us in the helping professions; something needs doing, you just kind of do it.
A few moments stick out, though.
When I was seven months pregnant with my second baby, I found myself crawling under a table in my tiny mission congregation, trying to figure out why the plug didn’t work for the coffee maker. I figured it out (light switch on the wall!), crawled out, lugged my huge self to my feet, and made coffee for 30 before preaching the good news.
Just about a year ago, the 65-year-old senior pastor I work with came into my office. He sat down and said, “you know I never pull that senior pastor thing, but I need you to do something for me.” I braced myself, because this is true. He never does pull the senior pastor thing, and when he has, it’s a big deal. A funeral? A wedding? A visit an hour away? I was ready. Instead, he just said, “can you put us on the Uber?” He and his wife had recently taken the car sharing service for the first time with a friend, thought it was pretty cool, and needed help getting the app set up.
NaBloPoMo Day 4: Photo post time!! Take a picture of something you see all the time- the simpler, the better. Write a little about what the thing means, symbolizes, reminds you of… Give us a little glimpse into your world.
This is the view from our sunroom. Not much sun these days, but in this little room that the former owners added on instead of a screened porch, you can see so many trees. I write sermons here, pray here, and watch my animals try their best to defend us against attack squirrels.
As someone recently said when they came over, “why would you ever want to be anywhere else?” Indeed.
NaBloPoMo Day 3: What’s your random obsession? The Tudors, tie-dye, the perfect sauerbraten recipe… Tell us a little something about your secret or not-so-secret love.
My random obsession is shared by a lot of people these days…it’s the soundtrack from the new musical, Hamilton.
It started slowly like some obsessions do…I saw friends tweeting about it, my podcasts freaked out about it, and it was, most importantly, free on Amazon Prime. I listened to part of a song and thought, Meh.
But then the other day I was painting my kitchen on my day off, and I thought I’d give it a good listen. Oh. My. Hamilton is SOOO good. Before I knew it, I was singing it all the time, googling the real story, and buying several revolutionary war biographies on my kindle. I’m more and more of a history nerd in my old age, because it’s such an awesome predictor of the future, and I’ve always loved a musical. So this is a totally delightful combination of history and musical nerd-dom that can make all of our nerdy heads explode with joy.
I love the idea that, as the creator Lin-Manuel Miranda says, present day Americans (many of them people of color) can tell the story of early Americans, and while the language is a little different, the spirit of the story is so present. The songs are fresh, totally singable, and you have totally never heard a rap battle about foreign policy until you’ve heard the one on the Hamilton soundtrack. It will also, spoiler alert, make you cry and break your heart when you hear them sing about events that happened nearly 250 years ago.
I have to put another coat of paint on my kitchen walls tomorrow. Guess what I’ll be listening to?
The other pastor who I work with has been on sabbatical for five weeks, so I am even more grateful than usual to get to this month! And it’s also NANOBLONOMO month! I always get that title wrong because it looks weird to me, but what it means is that it’s National Blog writing month, and we’re all encouraged to write on our blogs this month with writing prompts, if we want. Join me if you want to!
Question for November 2: Write about what you wear at church (your best clothes, your comfy clothes, robe, stole, etc.). What does the phrase “church clothes” look like in your world?
I wear a clergy collar, otherwise known as a “dog collar” or “that weird priest outfit” on Sundays, for funerals, for weddings, and for other special occasions. The first time I put on a collar it felt double weird for me…I hadn’t seen too many women wear collars and it felt like Halloween, like playing dress up.
It took me years before I put on the collar and felt like myself. But now it gives me strength when I put it on before a difficult funeral, or sermon, or anything. It reminds me that when I wear it, I’m not just myself, but I’m actually putting on pastor CLOTHES. There’s something powerful and dignified about it. I feel that way about my robe, too. When I put it on, I’m somehow MORE than I am, which is why it’s a good symbol for this strange calling. It’s also a political statement when a woman puts a collar on, and I have gotten where I LOVE it. Yeah, look at me funny. Go right ahead. I’m still the Reverend.
I LOVE clothes, and so I couldn’t be in a world where I wore clergy collars every day; when would I wear my weirdo t-shirts and Chucks? Thankfully, in these weird post-post-modern times, I wear my collar to church on Sunday morning and wear my Wonder Woman Converse to meetings on Sunday night. Both seem to be equally celebrated, although the Wonder Woman shoes get a little more attention now (deservedly so). And totally representative of this strange, wonderful life I get to lead.
See y’all later in November! Let me know if you’re writing, too!
Just the title of the conference/gathering/happening I attended last weekend still gives me chills. Why Christian? It cuts to the chase, and is a question that I’ve struggled with MUCH more than I’ve admitted over the years.
But what happened there was much more than an answer to a question.
The presenters all…for the first time…all looked like me. Well, me and my tattooed or dreaded or trans sisters, and not all white women, thanks be to God, Nadia, and Rachel. They were all women in their 20s, 30s, and a few wise 40s. Mostly reverends, some professors and writers. One Catholic, some Lutherans, even a few Vineyard pastors, along with Baptists and Episcopalians.
To see women who were my people speaking SO eloquently and brilliantly about their struggles with pastoral ministry, with believing in God in the midst of a chaotic world, with an incarnational God who seems powerless while at the same time lifting up…I think it, as someone said, re-converted me.
A few quotes from the weekend with links to their excellent writing:
Christianity is the story I want to wrestle with.
There’s no self-improvement plan; just death and resurrection every single day.
—Rachel Held Evans
I feel like my brain has been rearranged by these women’s words. I feel like I can keep going. I feel like there is hope for us yet. Their words made me fall in love with Jesus and my church again, because I was encouraged by their struggles and doubts.
My answer, at least today, to the question, “Why Christian?” is because this event exists.