Thursday, March 30, 2006

Anybody else hate installations??

I don't so much mind going to other peoples' ordinations or installations, but I really wish I could skip the whole thing where I'm the birthday girl, so to speak. I've got a great friend lined up to come preach--I've owed him a phone call for a couple of weeks to talk details. I keep putting it off. Our newsletter person keeps bugging me for a blurb on the upcoming event for the newsletter. I keep putting her off. I need to talk to the choir director, the youth bell choir leader, our Executive Presbyter, our Presbytery Moderator about their "part". I keep figuring out reasons why today is not a good day to work on that stuff.

At small church, no one was really expecting a big do. We got away with doing something really low key and everyone was happy. But the pressure is on to make this more of an EVENT. My parents are flying out.

Can someone explain to me what is the point of an installation??? I mean, ordination yes. I can see making a big deal out of that. But after nearly 17 years in the biz, I feel like one of those awful brides who keeps demanding that everyone make the same fuss for her fifth wedding as they did for her first. Yesterday someone asked what kind of invitations I was sending out. Invi-friging-tations??? Do I have to get love stamps?

Can't we just skip the whole thing??

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Multiple Choice

Another question related to the previous post: What is the proper response to the comment, "Pastor, that was a great sermon."?

a. Thank you (Simple and clear, but seems to accept the false proposition that the goodness of the sermon was the result of the pastor's talent rather than a work of the Holy Spirit.

b. Actually I thought ending with the dwarf joke was a bit lame, but what with old lady Simpson kicking the bucket unexpectedly on Friday afternoon, I didn't have time to come up with a better conclusion. (Probably a bit too honest)

c. I'm glad it helped you hear a word from God. (Theologically correct, but also insufferably pious sounding--especially if said several times in the same morning.)

d. Other???? What do YOU say??

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pulpit Quote Suggestions?

I'm not preaching this Sunday, so I'm working ahead on next week's text with its pithy central "sound bite" of the greeks asking Andrew, "Sir, we would see Jesus."

I've stepped into several pulpits over the years that had this quote strategically placed where the preacher could see it when standing to preach. (Apparently the model for this is the pulpit of some church in Scotland.) The idea, as understand it, is to remind the preacher that his, (Sir? Yeah, they're thinking male preacher--even if it is a scripture quote), sermon is supposed to help folks see Jesus: the congregation are the greeks come seeking, the preacher is the disciple that will show them the way. There seems a subtle danger, though, that the preacher could, over time, come to think that when he is in the pulpit, he is standing in for Jesus. That usually leads to bad things.

At the first church I served after seminary, there was a different quote in the pulpit--from John 1: "He was not himself the light, but he came to bear witness to the light." That's better, I think. Pretty clear that the one in the pulpit is NOT the light, even on his best days. Still, there's the little language problem. A female preacher stepping into that pulpit has to do some mental transposing. I know, if that's your biggest preaching challenge, you should consider yourself really lucky. Still--I'm wondering if we can come up with a good pulpit quote for us RevGals. Something scriptural that doesn't require the mental rewrite. I was thinking from Luke 1, "Blessed is she who believed there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." However I wonder if that has the same subtle ego inflation potential as "Sir we would see Jesus."

Do you have any great ideas???

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cat Travel Diary

If Whistle and Fish can do it, so can I.

Allow me to relate the events of the last month. Everything is mostly okay now, but I have been through a horrible ordeal. One day I went out to patrol and hunt as usual. When I returned, my house was in a disarray. (More than normal, I mean). The rooms were filled with boxes and I couldn't find any of my usual toys. The next day was worse. I was cruelly shut into the bathroom for HOURS. When I was realeased, the house was empty. As I was loudly demanding an explanation, my humans thrust me into my "going to the vet" cage and put me in the car. We drove right past the vets, (thank God), but we kept driving and driving and driving. No one paid the least attention to my vehement protests. (Well, the boy did try to pet me through the holes in the cage).

When it was completely dark out, we stopped. I was released into a strange room. I frantically searched for some means of escape. If I could get outside, I knew I could make it back home, even if it took some days. But my humans were having none of that. When they left the room, I was again shut in the bathroom. (They left food, but I was much too distraught to eat.)

The next day this routine repeated. On the third day, we pulled up to a house. I was released into an empty, echoing place. The humans seemed very happy and excited, but I was terrified and hid in a closet. They set up a food station and a litter box and LEFT ME THERE all by myself. It soon got dark and I was left in that terrifying emptiness all by myself for the whole night. I was still in the closet when they returned the following morning. They tried to pet me and tell me it was going to be okay soon. But I refused to let them touch me.

After another horrible day had passed, I was once again shut into the bathroom. What is up with that??? After several more hours of incarceration, the door opened and I crept out. What to my wondering eyes did appear-----my couch! My rocking chair! The big bed! The futon! I nearly wept with relief. I was so exhausted from all the trauma that I spread out on the big bed and slept for hours and hours.

It's okay now. I miss my old territory. They won't let me go outside at night here. They speak solemnly about coyotes. But this house has lots of good napping spots and a many cabinets to hide in. There are new species of birds to hunt and even lizards. There is a big back yard with a tree with yellow balls hanging on it. The humans are very excited about these yellow balls for some reason. They are always bringing them into the house and making some drinking concoction with them. Mom is gone from the house more, but Dad is here working on his computer on lots of the days, if he isn't travelling. That's good because he is my favorite person.

I'll log off now and go doze in a sunbeam.

Elizabeth, The Cat

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Spring Break Meme

Freshman year I spent my spring break with my grandmother since my family was still living overseas. We both came down with a horrible stomach virus and spent the week barfing and keeping track of how much time was left until we use another of the anti-barfing suppositories her doctor had prescribed for us. FUN!

Jr. year I spent with grandma again--but this time so I could spend the week interviewing some of the nuns that lived at the retirement community for nuns in her town for my jr. independent study thesis. That actually was fun.

Both my college and my seminary required major Senior Theses that were due right after spring break, so I spent two different spring breaks chained to my typewriter, (this was a while back), sharing the misery with various roomates.

Nowdays spring break means wondering what expensive childcare/daycamp option to choose for my kids. Spring break has an annoying tendancy to collide with Holy Week, so taking the week off myself is usually not an option.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Those sizzlin' seniors

Today a member of my new church invited me to have lunch with her at the retirement community where she and many other members of the congregation live. It's quite a nice place, known locally for its fantastic craft bazarre during the holidays and for how active its residents are in the wider community.

The dining room was buzzing with activity. Good friends enjoying a meal together. Certain tables devoted to particular interest groups. The bulletin board covered with announcements of lectures, activities, needs for rides, etc. I said to the folks at my table, "This reminds me of college--only I guess without all the romantic intrigue."

"Oh, we have PLENTY of romantic intrigue!" they assured me, and began gossiping about a couple who are to be married next month.

Well. I'm glad to have something to look forward too.

Monday, March 13, 2006

That was fast

My Oregon-born son has become a Californian. Tonight I announced that dinner would be left-over lasagne from last night. He shook his head and sighed. "Mom--I did like that lasagne you made, but I just don't feel comfortable having it two nights in a row."

What do they put in the kool-aide around here, anyway????

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lent Hymns

Thanks for everyone who posted an un-favorite Lent/Easter hymn. I couldn't help but notice that many folks mentioned, Were You There--some as least favorite, some as a favorite.

My relationship with this hymn has a history.

It was the spring of 1984. I was living on my college campus in an old Victorian house called "The Bread and Justice House". 5 bedrooms, 15 students (women upstairs, men downstairs), doing the usual college things plus running several projects on campus related to world hunger. In the room across the hall from me lived my friends--let's call them Lydia and Dorcas. Dorcas was dating one of the guys from downstairs--let's call him Felix. It was a new romance and it was MAJOR. (They got engaged that summer and were married the next spring.) They were both earnest Midwestern Presbyterians which at that time meant you did your very best to wait for The One, but not necessarily until the wedding night.

Lydia was a good friend and a good sport, but she was growing tired of Dorcas's increasingly frequent requests for time alone in their room with Felix. One night, late in Lent, Lydia came storming into the room I shared with two other women. She'd been booted out again. (Very politely, of course.) She ranted and grumped for several minutes, then fell silent. We went back to our studies. Suddenly, Lydia began to giggle.

"What?" we asked. And she began to sing:

Were you there when he laid her in my room?
Were you there when he laid her in my room?
OOOOOOhhhhhh. Sometimes it makes me want to strangle, strangle, strangle
Were you there when he laid her in my room?

Well, then we all began giggling hysterically and we basically had to give up on studying for that night and break out the ice cream.

So, you can see that it is pretty much impossible for me to have spiritually appropriate thoughts when that hymn is played.

Note: Felix was ordained the same year I was and he and Dorcas now live in a lovey suburban community in Texas where he serves as Pastor of the Presbyterian church. They paid me $500 not to use their real names in this blog. (Kidding, kidding . . . .well at least about the bribery.)

Back in the Ring

Did you think I'd fallen off then end of the earth? That can happen in California, apparently. But we are okay. It just took Verizon quite a while to decide that my family and I were worthy of a DSL connnection here at our new place. I have internet at work too, but I didn't want to start down the slippery slope of blogging at work, so I waited.

We're doing fine. The kids are adjusting to their new schools. Work is kind of overwhelming at this point, but I think it will get better once I get into a rhythm. Right now I'm just kind of running around like a chicken with my head cut off: showing up everywhere and smiling and listening and nodding a lot. I read a book on getting started with a new parish which said not to worry about unpacking your books right away--it's more important to connect with people. That's what I've done, but I must say I'm getting tired of not being able to find my books.

That's all for now. It's good to be back.