Saturday, October 05, 2019

THE LESSON OF GARLIC

There are months when I struggle with the newsletter article for the church. Sometimes they just come together easily and others, well, it's like wringing a nearly dry towel to get a few drips.
   Thinking about stewardship and not having been able to put my garden to rest since we had such a warm September reminded me of the Lesson of Garlic.
   In my herb garden, I plant garlic. This is done in the fall when I clean up the garden and put down a layer of Sweet Peat. Then it's time to give back and plant my cloves of garlic. (Be sure to use native garlic that is for your hardiness zone).
   The first year of my garlic harvest, I had a couple of big knobs of garlic and smaller ones. I was thrilled and when it was fall, I took a couple of the smaller knobs and planted the cloves. We used the big ones to cook with and enjoy.
    When summer harvest came, I only had a big knob of garlic and lots of small ones. What a disappointment! I learned that I had to plant the biggest and best knobs of garlic to get a good harvest.
   Reluctantly, selfishly, and resentfully, I gave back and planted that one big knob of garlic for the next year. The little ones proved to be enough for us all winter long to cook with and enjoy.
   That next summer, I had many large knobs of garlic and they were wonderful. It had returned to me tenfold!
   I learned that in order to enjoy a good garlic harvest, I had to give back the biggest and best garlic knobs. I had to give the first and best fruits back to God and to the earth.
   What would that mean for us to give right off the top from all the blessings of time, talent, money we have been given or earned back to God? How often do we give merely what is left-over from all
our financial and time obligations? A kind of, "Here you go, God, here's a little something for
use in your kingdom." It is often an afterthought. Clearly, not our first and best. And certainly, not the first 3 or 5 percent, let alone 10 percent!
    After the initial struggle of selfishness, reluctance and resentment, of offering back my best and biggest knobs of garlic, I found that I was blessed with so much goodness. Now, it is easy to
offer back, to give the first and best and to be rewarded with a bountiful and beautiful harvest of garlic.
   God will use any means to reach us and teach us! Even humble garlic!
   It was a lesson I needed to learn and it has never disappointed me. Giving to God from the first, and offering back to God my best, has blessed me greatly to overflowing. I am grateful, joyful and filled with all goodness. May you be as well, when you offer back to God first, and the best of which you have earned, and been blessed with. You will not be disappointed and it will return to you tenfold and more!
   "You shall not delay to make offerings from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses." (Ex. 22:29)
   

Thursday, August 29, 2019

I JUST DON'T GET IT

why young professional women wear black bras under cream or white blouses that can be even a bit sheer.
   The young M pastor wore exactly that at Staff meeting on Tuesday. She is professional and a joy, but honestly, not only did seeing her dark bra not look nice, it distracted or even made obvious what
most of us clergywoman try to make less obvious, so the focus is on what we bring to the table and not necessarily our sexuality.
   Perhaps, I'm an old fuddy-duddy, but as a professional, I seek to turn attention to other things, and look polished. That includes wearing black bras under black clergy shirts and dark colored clothing, and nude, beige bras under light colored clothing so it doesn't stick out or detract from what I am doing and am about. I simply don't believe that I am the only one out there that believes and practices this.
   It looks a little slutty, in my book. As a professional, you want less attention there and more on what your are sharing and contributing.
   I am also taken aback at some what some news anchors, weather gals, and reporters wear. Some of the dresses are fine for cocktails after work, but not for broadcasting the news. Keyhole openings on women's bodices, or that strip of cloth around the neck and than open over the chest - really? How slutty is that?
Wear that on your own time and look polished and professional.
    Sometimes I think the news women need to have a clothing coach. Not that they should dress frumpy or only dark colors, but you can cover up, make sure the dress is just above the knee and not halfway up your thigh, or look like a dominmatrix with cut outs all over your bodice! Honestly.
    So, I hope we clergy women can set an example of professional in our dress. And ladies, please,
no dark bras under light blouses or shirts that can be noticed by all the world. We all know that we are women, strong, knowledgeable, professional, we don't have to display or draw unnecessary attention to what we are physically, hook that attention on what you bring and offer to the table.

Friday, August 23, 2019

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW...

who you'll run into on your day off!
   So, I got up this morning to a beautiful sunny day with temps about 67 degrees. It's up to about 73 now. I put on my flamingo really deep pink crop pants from Talbots outlet store that fit like a dream with side elastic insets, and a tri pink, orange chevron print crinkle cotton shirt and my Skechers stretchy bands with hot pink, lime green, blue, black and yellow space dyed sandals. Cool enough today to wear the crop pants.
   Then I headed out to run my errands - bank, Dollar Store and W-Mart. It goes without saying that I was one of the best dressed people in W-Mart!
    If there was one thing I learned by watching What Not to Wear, it was not to go out wearing your sweatsuit! Many things I already knew, but often on my day off, I would venture out a bit more in leisurely wear. I still dress casual - jeans and a shirt, etc. But, ditched the fleece or knit pants ages ago.
   Since serving the church here in the town where I live, it's even more important to dress nice casual because you never know who you'll run into at a store. This morning, I ran into a parishioner and flest good about being color coordinated (which I am anyway) and nicely dressed. I've run into parishioners before, sometimes over the lunch hour or right after work when dressed for work. But when it's your day off and you just want to be comfortable, it pays to dress nicely anyway.
   I save my favorite Duluth stretch grey crops for being around the house and working in the garden. I wear my stretchy pants and sloppy shirts at home in the evenings when I just relax and lounge around, or quick run to the recycling bins where I'm not apt to meet anyone.
   I also brought my own bags into W-Mart which hopefully folks notice and remind them to use reusable bags instead of the plastic single-use bags.
   No, I'm not tooting my own horn, but just observing that one can be an example to others and still be professional in a casual way, without wearing flannel or stretchy skin-tight leggings to the store
and embarrass our profession as clergy women. Maybe, black leggings if you are skinny enough!
   So, I felt good today wearing a favorite outfit and knowing that being seen by others would
not be an embarrassment! Because you just never know who you'll  run into.
 

Monday, August 19, 2019

BUSY SERVING...I GUESS

I look over the REVGALS blogging community and see so many inactive blogs. I guess we are so busy serving, raising families, etc. it is hard to find the time to really write. I also fall into that.
   LH has been in the ER twice now with Afib. We are working with the cardiologist and praying his heart will stay in rhythm. Lost a whole night's sleep over a weekend, not fun to be dragging and having both Sat. evening worship and Sun. morning worship. He can't help it really. It just happens out of the blue for no real reason. It comes and goes. The docs have changed medicines.
   The L church is looking to celebrate their 100th anniversary of the church building this Sept. Still thinking about a sermon and newsletter article. I don't want them to be the same!
   The M church has their new pastor. She is young, a mom with two young children and dealing with
discerning where that church is and wants to go and whether they should leave the UMC or not over the UMC decision not to allow LGTB clergy or same sex marriages, etc. It is not for the faint of heart to be a UMC clergy at the moment. The progressives are contemplating leaving the denomination while the conservatives will stay put.
   In the other denominations, it was the other way around. The progressives stayed and the conservatives left.
   It's messy any way. I pray for the day we can learn to live together and honor one another no matter which way we are bent. That it can be a both/and and not merely an either/or.
   Life is too short and time too precious to waste energy, time and money on fighting one another. Let's just get on with our call from Christ - to love and serve one another.
   Must stop now. Call received from cardiologist and LH admitted to CCU once again. Prayers are welcome and appreciated.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

VBS WEEK

YAY! It's VBS week and at L church we are running about 24 kids. M church has 117 kids and I help prepare snacks for them all, run the dishwasher to clean the cups. So I am doubly blessed with VBS this week. Two mornings a week and 5 evenings. I was going to take an evening off (i'm part-time you know - 2 days a week and Sat/Sun worship services, Ha!) However, since L church has one shepherd out tonight and probably one out Thurs. evening, I will step in and shepherd the two different groups. I've taken photos, floated around, put fresh bandages on a girl who really skinned her knees raw earlier at that day at home, I've supplied extra juice, items for snacks and need to pick up Gold Fish crackers today for a sugar sensitive child. Plus Taco Bell gift cards for the youth who
are helping - one a friend of a parishioner who has been very patient with restless child.
I'm also needing to put the bags of take home goodies together for Friday evening as well as teacher/helper thank you's. (Don't know if my on-line order will get here in time!Crap!)
   This year at L church, we decorated better, for the In The Wild theme. We also added an offering to purchase a flock of chicks through Heifer International. I figured Heifer was non-denominational whereas ELCA Good Gifts is Lutheran. We would get a bigger bang for our buck through ELCA than with Heifer. I had someone make a big egg out of poster board, I cut in a crack and photocopied a
chick image on yellow paper and fastened a brass brad on the bottom. As we collect our offering each evening in our little chicken feed pail, the egg cracks open more and more, revealing the chick.
Well surprise! Surprise! We hit our goal of  $20.00 last night (day 2!). I will just say we're making
it to our goal, and crack the egg some more - hard to break the tension after just 2 days! Perhaps,
we'll  buy a flock and a half or it would be simply amazing if we bought 2 flocks!
   I spent all of Monday morning helping the Bible Lesson Teacher with prek, 1 & 2 lessons, by finding a children's story Bible to use, then making the story interactive - 1) Searching for Jesus
(Jesus in temple as boy and lost to parents)
 2) Jesus baptism (blue tablecloth - river, 2 kids lift up
and one crosses underneath, with another kid holding a dove on a stick over their head, that tells
them they are beloved of God - each kid gets  turn)
 3) Jesus calms the storm - blue tarp- kids at
either end lift up & down for stormy sea, 2-3 kids sit on tarp - disciples on boat, pillow for Jesus
to sit on, and aluminum foil pie tins and plastic spoons for kids to make storm noise
 4) Jesus raises Lazarus - toilet paper & kid volunteer, other kids wrap volunteer in TP mummy
     style. I think the teacher will do this with all age groups - 'cause it's fun!
5) Jesus on the Emmaus Road - we made over the nose/eye masks (the Incredibles kind) with
straws to hold them up over one's face - how do we recognize Jesus, how do we recognize
the presence of Christ in each other, the masks are plain and they can decorate their own at home
   I am grateful for the Spirit that lead me and rolled with me through each story, coming up with
something interactive to do. I was so energized and full of joy afterwards. Sometimes, I just
don't have enough time to be creative, but somehow Monday morning it all happened in one full swoop! It would have been nice to have had more time, but maybe the Spirit just flowed with
the time constraint!
   I heard that at least 1 or 2 children went through this curriculum before but hopefully, with the
interactive part, plus I know our crafts were different, they will enjoy it. They certainly haven't
seemed to be bored with it so that's good.
   As long as they have a safe, fun, loving, caring space and time to learn of God's love for them and learn how to live that love - that's all I pray for and ask.
   I am glad for a few new volunteers this year and for the family that helps every year - kitchen and snacks and crafts!
  Thank you, Lord! Day 3 and counting and praying all will be well!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

EVEN NOW

Even now it seems we women clergy still hit the brick wall of churches and church members who aren't open to women pastors. I ran into this during my many years of interim ministry. I know that I have broken the way for some churches to call a female pastor - some probably more ready than others. I had hoped that we would've moved beyond this in this 21st century and with women being pastors for 60 years in the PC(USA),  a few years less in the ELCA, and I'm not sure how long in the Methodist Church.
   I only bring this up since at the M church I serve as visitation pastor, has had their pastor reassigned as Methodists are wont to do and he has left. He was my age and will likely be serving his last pastorate. As always, whenever there is a pastoral transition, some will leave the church and new folks or those who weren't happy with the present pastor will come back with a new pastor. I've experienced that many times as an interim.
   The new pastor coming in is fairly young, in her 30's, with 2 young children. She was most recently at a larger church as assistant pastor, after apparently serving a couple smaller, rural congregations.
The District Bishop must be grooming her for larger and multi-staff positions and so she will serve as Head of Staff here. All of which means, there will be a learning curve for her.
   As with any pastoral transition, there is always some amount of anxiety amongst staff and members as to how things will work, function and be with this new pastor.
   Since this M church is in an affluent suburb with working professional families, a highly regarded
school system and fairly progressive in theology - they are a reconciling congregation (LGBTQ welcoming church), there has been some rumbling about a female minister. Which I have found
surprising! Granted I'm not here on Sundays, since I am serving as an interim at L church, so I'm not always in the loop as perhaps I could be.
   At the farewell picnic for the last pastor this past Sunday, I connected with some folks and made rounds at a few tables. There is one older couple in their early 80's, very active, he helped repair bikes for the bike ministry here, she attended the women's circle and UMW, etc. Now, they had attended a Baptist Church for quite awhile, I believe she was Methodist growing up and early adulthood. They have a granddaughter who serves as a missionary on a Native American Reservation out west, or somewhere in the world. (there is another person's granddaughter who has done missionary work o a reservation out west as well - hoping I'm not mixing them up). So, she came up to me a little teary-eyed and saying they are going back to the Baptist church, because she so loves the Word, meaning Scripture, and studying the word, and bringing her Bible to church where no one here seems to.
I said I was so sorry to see them leave, and that I know what God's Word means to her. She said she heard some folks weren't too keen on a woman pastor, and I replied, that I find it hard to judge someone I haven't meet yet and perhaps folks should give her chance because "she might blow them out of the water!" The whole thing, excuse for leaving M church seemed a bit odd, as they truly enjoyed the fellowship here.
    Today, from the office administrators, I heard that they know this couple is leaving and that they have a problem with women clergy. I'm like, OK, I've been at the Circle meetings and their Bible study, sometimes leading them when the Ed Director is gone, and I helped at one World Communion Service presiding at communion. Her granddaughter is a missionary for heaven's sakes and obviously has a call to share the Word of God and probably lead worship services or at the very least, help with them.
    All of which, strikes me as inconsistent. If she so loves the Word of God and studies it, what does she make of Priscilla and Aquila, Lydia, the women followers of Jesus (oh, it's ok to follow, but never to lead) Phoebe, etc. The women at the tomb who were the first evangelists telling of the good news of Christ's resurrection! What of Paul's words: "There is neither Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free, for all are one in Christ."? Maybe she needs to study some more!
   It still frosts me and blows me away that some folks are still this way.
   So I pray, for the new pastor coming on aboard here at M church. Even I don't know how we will get along. But I trust in the work of God and because I keep a low profile and don't meddle or get in the way, I hope that is helpful for her. I pray God will give her wisdom and guidance in her ministry here and as she ministers in such a liminal time for the M church and their discernment whether to stay with the UMC or to break off with the other progressive UMC churches to form a new denomination. And what all that will mean for me as I serve here.
    Blessed be her time here with a fresh voice and new perspective and I pray that folks here, who have experienced many different pastors, be open, get to know her, and come to love her.
    I guess we, women clergy, will still come up against this for some time to come yet. More's the pity. I had thought we had moved beyond this by now. God help us all.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

ANNUAL MARATHON WEEKEND

   As I stare down at my upcoming marathon weekend, I am now a great-aunt again to two beautiful twin girls - Simone and Maya. Hoping to get to see the this summer and for sure in November over Thanksgiving.
   This weekend I will do my annual marathon - no, I am not running! And certainly not with my foot that is still healing!
   The marathon is the L Synod Assembly. I will be getting up at 6:15 am Fri/Sat.. Then LH & I will drive (20-30 mins) to nearest bigger city to the convention hall. There will be worship and meeting until noon when I will go back to the parking garage, drive home (have to use a different way since the usual on -ramp to the Interstate is under construction. Most of the main roads and Interstates in this city are under construction and have been for 2 two years already. But this year, they closed down the ramp)
feed the dog and let him out, wolf down my box lunch which I pick up before I leave the convention center, lock things back up and drive as fast as I get away with back to the convention center, park the car in the garage and make my way into the center for more meeting, workshop, voting and closing worship. Then drive home, pick up something not so healthy on our way home, feed the dog, let him out, eat dinner, and I know I will be icing my foot! Then early to bed. Up early Sat. morning, drive into city, worship, meeting, workshop, meeting and worship. They go til 1:30 pm with no lunch. Everyone is dying for lunch by noon and yet the schedule goes on. Then the drive home, a throw together lunch of whatever is in the fridge, write new words of invitation for Sat. worship communion, go over my sermon, fill in people's names for prayers, and remember that the silver Hershey kisses and a container come with for Father's Day give-away. Hope to sneak in a quick nap and then leave around 4 pm for church, set up communion, turn on lights, unlock doors, worship at 5 pm, clean up communion, turn off lights, lock all doors, return home. Go over to next-door neighbor who's daughter graduated HS and attend the party. Hope there's still food left at that point to for my dinner. Come back home and ice my foot. Up early Sunday morning for worship - the usual prep for worship, worship, and then turning off lights and locking the doors. I'll be ready for a major snooze when I get home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
   Since serving L churches as an interim - I've been doing this for 8 years now!!! I think the older I get the more tiring it is! And I don't move as fast with my foot.
   I pray God's strength to endure this annual marathon and rest for my weary body and soul!