Thursday, December 22, 2005

And we're off

We leave today for a rare opportunity to travel over Christmas--to my in-laws in their little town on the prairie. I may not have much internet access for the next 10 days, so I'll see you when I see you.

Meanwhile, post your best wisdom on what to do and what not to do when arriving in a congregation as their new pastor. This wisdom can be based on your experience of this situation as a pastor, a layperson, or someone on a church staff.

See you in 2006! Blessings everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Angel Gabriel from heaven came . . .

I am so saving this picture to show his girlfriends ten years from now . . .

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Word is Out

Yesterday in worship the Pastor Nominating Committee of a certain Presbyterian church in a certain state south of Oregon announced that a certain blogger known here as PCIT/RWOP was their choice for Pastor.

Thanks to all of you who have provided advice, counsel and prayer during this process. You'll be hearing more about this in the coming weeks . . .

This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Drama of the Incarnation

I took my kids to Christmas pageant rehearsal this morning, then sat back and watched. How amazing to attend a pageant rehearsal and not be responsible for it in any way whatsoever.

The real drama of the day was not the play itself. It never is. The real drama began when a nine year old girl arrived for rehearsal fifteen minutes late. This child attends Sunday school sporadically. She had not been there the last two Sundays and so was not present when most of the information regarding the pageant had been distributed, nor was she there when the important casting decisions were made.

She wanted to be an angel. However, by the time she arrived all the available angel outfits had been taken by children who had been officially cast as angels and had arrived on time. The girl's lower lip began to get trembly and her voice switched into definite whine mode.

The Children's ministry coordinator was simultaneously trying to get twenty kids into their costumes, distribute scripts, hand out props and keep the kids away from the Krispee Kreme donuts that were the treat for AFTER rehearsal. Her ability to deal with this crisis was limited. She looked the girl in the eye and basically said, "You need to get over yourself and choose one of the costumes still available." Not the most sensitive response, to be sure, but understandable given the chaos of the moment.

Now the girl's mother had her own quiet tantrum. She followed the Children's Ministry director around for the remainder of the morning, chiding her for her callous dismissal of her child's needs. After some tense negotiations, they agreed that the girl could be an angel if she could produce her own costume by curtain time tomorrow morning.

Ah, but when this treaty was presented to the girl, she refused to ratify it. She wanted an angel outfit like the other girls were wearing or no deal. Now the power struggle shifted to mother vs. daughter. At this point my kids grabbed their donuts and we left. We'll see tomorrow who prevailed in the end.

So how is YOUR pageant going??

Friday, December 16, 2005

To dreidle or not to dreidle

My kids want to celebrate Hannukah. They've played dreidle as part of "multicultural December" at school, we've read books about it. Now they want to do it up right here at home. Part of me says, "Hey, I'm half Jewish. My kids need a connection to their heritage. This would be okay." But most of me says it's not fair to "dabble" in the fun parts of a religious tradition if you have no intention of taking on the obligations that go along with that tradition. So--no Mennorah if you're not planning to fast on Yom Kippur and give up shrimp curry as your favorite take out dish. No Latkes if you're not willing to identify publicly as Jewish and take the heat when the skinheads come to town.

How do you all feel about this? Where is the line between appropriately exploring another faith tradition and shamelessly exploiting it for your own enjoyment? (See, I'm not so sure the extra presents factor isn't at least part of my kids' Hannukah campaign . . . .)

Friday Christmas Party Meme

1. Have you ever had a really good kiss under the mistletoe.
No. Though I used to hopefully hang some up in likely places during my young years.

2. Have you ever had real eggnog.
Yes. My dad used to make it in the blender. I didn't really like it. I once had some really good homemade eggnog at a party. It seemed to involve amazing amounts of work--blending in a certain way so that frothy cream rose to the top while milk and booze settled to the bottom. Also it involved massive amounts of raw egg--so we are lucky we were not poisoned. But may whiskey kills salmonella?

3. Favorite Christmas Album.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for A Very Merry Christmas with Captain Kangaroo.

4. Church staff Christmas parties are pleasant but pretty buttoned down. I've gone to Holiday parties sponsored by my husband's employer. One year when the company was doing particularly well they treated us all to a dinner cruise on the Willamette river. Nice, but my most vivid memory of this event is one of my husband's colleagues bent nearly double over the boat's railing, hurling his dinner and all he had drunk into the dark waters below. This year they treated employees only to a catered lunch on the work premises and I was not disappointed.

5. A shrimp dip or Christmas Cookies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

True comparison?

In the Sunday Oregonian there was a quote in the humor sidebar of the Living section that said: Blogging is the CB radio of this decade.

True? Or not so much? I was in middle school when the CB craze hit. My parents were not into it and it was beyond my personal purchasing power, so I pretty much missed it--aside from occassionally riding with friends who had one. (Though I did buy myself a nice mood ring.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Advent 3--how many cats do we light?

A cautionary tale for cat lovers: It was dinner on the third Sunday of Advent. We had the lighted advent wreath at the center of our kitchen table. We were mostly done eating, polishing off some cupcakes leftover from my daughter's birthday yesterday, when the kitty jumped onto the table to check for any bits of chicken that might have fallen off our plates when the dishes were cleared. We're remarkably indulgent of the kitty, so I didn't think much of this until I noticed that the kitty's fur was beginning to smoke. I yelped, the kitty jumped off the table, the air was filled with the scent of scortched fur. The cat was annoyed, but otherwise unscathed. So--keep in mind that coddled kitties and lighted advent wreaths are not a good combo. Yikes!

Funny church visiting story #2

Well this was a first for us. We've been mostly hanging out at the Lutheran church where my son's best friend's parents are co-pastors. This congregation has a Swedish heritage, so today they were crowning the Lucia bride at the closing of worship.

All the kids processed into the sanctuary. The little kids marched in first, (my own included). They were dressed in conical hats with stars on them and were carrying wooden sticks with additional stars glued to the ends. Behind the younger kids were the teenaged girls wearing white gowns with gold braid on them.

The procession was very cute. But wait! There's more! Once they all reached the chancel, a reluctant teenage boy began reading the story of St. Lucia: her birth in Italy, her martyrdom at the hands of evil pagans, the miracles attributed to her in Swedish legend. After that, the teenage girls sang several verses of Santa Lucia in barely audible Swedish.

Could we just say that discipline in the ranks broke down during this portion of the festivities? During the hagiography and the song the star kids wiggled, whispered, fidgited and explored the use of their star wands as swords and/or cattle prods.

Finally, the Lucia queen was crowned, by order of the fire marshall, with a plastic wreath lit by candles with tiny, flame shaped lightbulbs. (I checked it out afterwards: it was made in Sweden, so I guess it's Lucia-kosher.)

On the way home my six year old daughter remarked, "I don't get why we did that." I guess some cultural divides you just can't bridge.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday Five Snow Meme

1. Love it or Hate it?
I love snow in December, January and February. I will tolerate a small amount of snow in late Novemeber or very early March. Snow that falls at Veteran's Day and does not go away until April Fools' Day is not okay with me. Fate has placed me, for most of my life, in places where it snows rarely. It's looking like that trend may continue.

2. First snow memory
Being pulled around the block on my little sled the winter I was three.

3. Best snow day ever
We had gone to Ohio to visit my grandparents right after Christmas. On the day we were supposed to leave, another snowstorm hit. My best friend in Grandma's town and I spent the day building a giant snow hill, then digging a tunnel through it. Weeks later, I received a note from my grandparents that the snow tunnel was just as I had left it.

4. Best us of snow in a song, book or movie.
In the Bleak Midwinter Now stay with me here. Lot's of folks ridicule this song because it's so patently obvious that there would not have been "snow on snow" in Bethlehem. But I don't think geographic accuracy is the point here. It's true incarnational theology. Christ is Emmanuel, God with Us. To those of us who experience Bleak Midwinters in either the climactic or spiritual sense, Christ is born there. That's the point of this song.

5. What will you do today, snow or no snow.
No snow. Typical for Portland, when it is cold enough for snow, it is clear. Moisture comes with warm fronts which heat things up to the point that all we get is rain, rain, rain. Today is clear and cold so I think I will take a walk in the park before the next warm front rolls in.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Just in case you haven't found this on your own yet, you must check out this amazing holiday compilation of awful Angel kitch. While you're there, also check out last year's compilation of bad nativities.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Home again, home again

Thanks everyone, for keeping me in your prayers while I was away on my interview weekend. It went well, though no final decisions have yet been made. I won't blog a whole lot about it right now because I am REALLY tired and also playing catch-up on errands, chores, mail, etc.

I will share one particularly memorable moment: I'm sitting up front at the neutral pulpit church where I am preaching. (Neutral pulpit= church that's not your church or the one for which you are a candidate that lets you preach at their service so the Paston Nominating Committee can see you in action--that's how we Presbys do this.) Anyway, I'm listening to their lector read the gospel text while I stare somewhat vacantly out into the congregation. It dawns on me that the older gentleman about ten rows back looks familiar. Do I know him from somewhere? Is he a transplanted Portlander? A member of one of my old churches? Suddenly my brain clicks into gear and I realize that in about 20 seconds I will be preaching in front of A RECENT FORMER MODERATOR OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, USA. Holy. Shit. I'm just glad I didn't I didn't notice him earlier and have the time to really work myself into a lather of anxiety . . .

Thursday, December 01, 2005

All the Leaves are Brown . . .

Today I fly out for an interview at the church that has appeared in these blogs intermittently over the last couple of months--the one that wanted at least six signatures in blood from Presbyterians in good standing swearing they thought I could lead a church of more than 50 members. (Okay I'm exagerating). Keep me and all concerned in your prayers--for travelling mercies and clear discernment.

And leave a comment telling a story of the clearest "sign" you ever got one way or another about taking or not taking a particular job/call/opportunity.