Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Spirit Filled Churches

Once upon a time it fell to me to call a particular woman who had been visiting our church for a while to inquire if she was interested in being part of our next new members class. She wasn't.

"I love the sermons, and the people are really nice . . . but I just can't join a church that's not Spirit Filled."

I probed a little. "How is a Spirit Filled church different from ours?"

She was surprised that I didn't know. "You know--music that gets you up on your feet, people raising their hands to the Lord, praying in tongues, laying on hands for healing . . ."

I floated the theory that "good sermons and friendly people" were the manifestations of the Spirit that our church was filled with. But she had been nurtured in the belief that a Spirit Filled church looked one certain way and our way was not it.

My question to her, of course, was the standard Presbyterian line. You don't have to be happy clappy to be Spirit filled. The Spirit can be present in less flamboyant ways. Simplicity and Solemnity are also gifts of the Spirit.

But is that a cop out? Do we really like our reserved way because we like things scripted and safe? Is this a case of "methinks the Mainline doth protest too much?" We're not sure the Spirit is really present among us so we heap scorn on those who say they ARE sure?

What are the marks of a Spirit Filled church? How do you know when you are part of one?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Coolness Meme

Katherine tagged me for a meme on "five reasons I think I'm cool".

1. As a semi-annonymous blogger, I have a sort of secret identity. This is perfectly in line with my history. As a sixteen-year-old American teenager living in Britain, the little boys in our village refered to me as "Wonder Woman". This was because I once chose among them for a game leader by having them sit in a circle while I spun around in the middle with my eyes closed and my finger pointing. Apparently this reminded them of Linda Carter's transformation in the TV show of the same name.

2. In seminary I was the inventor of a helpful stress releaver called "defenestration therapy". This therapy is particularly effective if you have in your possession a watermelon and a window facing Broadway.

3. I can wiggle my ears.

4. My elbows are double-jointed.

5. I can recite How the Grinch Stole Christmas from memory.

I tag Wills Mama, Good in Parts, Chaplain Lydia and Bad Alice.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The hymn thing again

So what is your favorite/least favorite Pentecost-Holy Spirit hymn?

I have to say that Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness is starting to work on my last nerve. The words are okay, but it's just too darn slow. Even with a good organist doing his/her level best, it always ends up sounding like the congregation is dragging itself through a vat of oily peanut butter by about the middle of verse three.

On Pentecost they gathered Quite Early in the Day is so rhymey rhymey that I expect Burma Shave to appear at the end of a stanza before it's all over.

I guess on this holiday I end up a traditionalist: I like Spirit of the Living God, Blessed Quietness, and Come Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Next problem

Well, we chose a new staff person. Not one of our members, though one of them did make the short list. The worst part was telling the one member that we did interview that he was not The One. Hope I don't have to do that again any time real soon.

Now, on to the next alarming developement:

As I was dropping off my six year old daugther at school this morning a cute young classmate of hers called to her across the school yard, "Hi C-------!"

"Hi Sebastian!" she called back grinning shyly.

Then to me in a dramtic whisper with dancing eyes, "He's a trouble maker!"

Uh Oh.

Friday, May 19, 2006

This is where those Big Girl Panties come in

A few weeks ago QG shared a photo of a sign she saw at a craft show in Texas: "Put on your big girl panites and deal with it!" Being very new at this whole head-of-staff thing, I've clung to this almost as a word from the Lord.

Today we are interviewing for a new staff member to replace someone who moved out of state. We have a good pool of applicants, including three members of our church. Regarding one of these members, several folks from the congregation have come to see me to express their warmest support for his candidacy. Meanwhile, several staff have come to see me to say, "Please, anyone but X." He has a decidedly off-beat personality that could be a bit much to take forty hours a week. Another member who has applied is in recovery. There has been much jubilation among the friends of this man and his mother, (also a member), that he is finally confronting his addiction after all these years. Some of them have let me know that having a stable job at our church would do SO MUCH to support his hard work in recovery, (with the hinted at corellary that being rejected by his church just might torpedo this whole project.) The third member has no related job experience, but is the unemployed father of some very cute pre-schoolers.

So the hiring team and I are pretty well guaranteed that whoever we pick, member or not, we will have some unhappy and disappointed people to deal with.

I'll put on the big girl panties--you all pray for us.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Medical Terminology

My daughter has a badly skinned knee--occupational hazzard of six-year-old rollerbladers, apparently. The scab ripped open during a car ride across town leaving her bleeding the backseat since I was driving and didn't have any extra tissues in the car anyway.

"This is a really bad owie!" she whimpered.

And my son helpfully commented, "Once you get out of pre-school, you have to call it an INJURY, not an owie. Only really little kids say "owie".

Which would YOU rather have: an injury or an owie??? If it's an injury can you still use the Sponge Bob bandaids??

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The toe pledge

In response to my pedicure post, my sister sent me this:

It's that time of the year again. Please
> Raise your big toes and repeat after me:
> As a member of the Faux Paux Sisterhood, I pledge to follow The Rules
> when I wear sandals and other open-toe shoes:
> I promise to always wear sandals that fit. My toes will not hang over
> and touch the ground, nor will my heels spill over the backs. And the
> sides and tops of my feet will not pudge out between the straps.
> I will vow to keep my nails polished (clear polish is acceptable) and the polish fresh, intact and
> chip-free. I will not cheat and just touch up my big toe.
> I will sand down any mounds of skin before they turn hard and yellow.
> I will shave the hairs off my big toe.
> I won't wear pantyhose even if my misinformed girlfriend, coworker,
> mother, sister tells me the toe seam really will stay under my toes if
> I tuck it there.
> If a strap breaks, I won't duct-tape, pin, glue or tuck it back in to
> place hoping it will stay put. I will get my shoe fixed or toss it.
> No matter how much it hurts.
> I will not live in corn denial; rather I will lean on my good friend
> Dr. Scholl's if my feet need him.
> I will resist the urge to buy jelly shoes at Payless for the low, low
> price of $4.99 even if my feet are small enough to fit into the kids'
> sizes. This is out of concern for my safety, and the safety of others.
> No one can walk properly when standing in a pool of sweat, and I would
> hate to take someone down with me as I fall and break my ankle.
> I will take my toe ring off toward the end of the day if my toes swell
> and begin to look like Vienna sausages.
> I will be brutally honest with my girlfriend/sister/coworker when she
> asks me if her feet are too ugly to wear sandals. Someone has to tell
> her that her toes look like they've been dragged behind her car on the
> way to work and no sandal in the world is going to make her feet look
> good.
> I will promise if I wear flip flops, that I will ensure they actually
> flip and flop, making the correct noise while walking and I will swear
> NOT to slide or drag my feet while wearing them.
> I will promise to go to my local beauty school at least once per
> season and have a real pedicure (they are about $15 and worth EVERY
> penny). I say spend another $15.00 and get a even better one.
> And finally...
> I will promise to throw away any white/off-white sandals that show
> Signs of wear...nothing is tackier than dirty white sandals...
> For all our sakes, please don't keep this to yourself - pass it on to
> other Sisters.
> May God Bless your Soles as well as your Soul!

Hymnal Problems

So I'm thumbing through the hymnal looking for Ascension hymns, (our bulletin person is going to Hawii next week, so I have to pull everything together ahead of time), and I'm not finding much I can be excited about. The "king" image seems to be just about the only Christ image on offer, for one thing. I could go with one "king" hymn, but three or four? I mean, aren't their any other images that help us get at the meaning of Ascension? It's not so much the maleness of that image that bothers me as its utter foreigness to anything the average 21st century American might find resonating with his/her actual daily life

Then it hits me. Freebird! ( See post below) It would totally work:

If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?
Cause I've got to be movin' on now
There are so many places I've got to see
And if I stayed here with you now
Things just could not be the same
Cause I'm as free as a bird now
And this bird you cannot change . . .

It's all there: the departure, the untamedness of the risen Christ, his need to be present in other places, even an image (bird) that foreshadows the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost! Think I could get away with it???

Of course, the second verse doesn't work as well.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why is it . . .

. . . that I can blow forty bucks taking the family to the Fiesta at the Catholic church, (rides, raffles, food), and will go with my husband to an overpriced weekday lunch to get some kid free time when we could have accomplished the same thing at home with a tuna sandwich, and consider library fines an acceptable line item in the family budget BUT I cannot bring myself to get a pedicure because THAT would be a frivilous waste of money???

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Boomer Memorial

I did a funeral today. It was for a man in his early fifties who died suddenly after many years of severe mental illness and other health problems. His family did not want a big, formal, service: just a gathering of family and close friends--in the chapel instead of the sanctuary. They said they did not want organ music, but would bring a CD player and some music. His sister said she thought Day by Day from Godspel would be appropriate. She did not own the CD, but thought she knew where she could find it. I agreed to this plan.

So this afternoon I broke away from our women's retreat early to return to the church. I got there with just enough time to meet with the family briefly and get my materials together. Imagine my surprise, then, when at the appropriate point in the service I signaled the cousin running the CD player to cue the music--and I heard wafting across the chapel toward me not The Godspel's Day by Day, but Lynrd Skynrd's Freebird.

If I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me?

I successfully supressed the urge to laugh out loud and sat in respectful meditation, watching the congregation. All the men of a certain age were communing with their inner seventeen year olds--some smiling, some with eyes closed --obviously transported to another spring in another place, some actually getting teary and choked up. The seventy and eighty year old contemporaries of the deceased's parents were looking either confused or shocked. What on earth is this song and why am I hearing it in church? The twentysomething nieces and nephews were being polite: this is what was cool when uncle was young, poor thing.

The cousin let the sound fade out once it hit that long instrumental section at the end and I got up to read the Twenty-third Psalm. But somehow, I had not made the complete return trip from that spring dance at the end of seventh grade because I suddenly heard myself saying,
Even thought I rock through the valley of the shadow of death . . .

Baby boomer funerals are different, huh?

Friday, May 12, 2006

My sins

I thought you'd all want to know. .

Your Deadly Sins
Sloth: 60%
Envy: 20%
Gluttony: 20%
Greed: 0%
Lust: 0%
Pride: 0%
Wrath: 0%
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 14%
How Sinful Are You?

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Sunday was a wonderful day--despite my earlier rant about installations. At the time of each of my installations, my Mom has made the same joke about plugging me in like a refridgerator. But hah! I discovered today that the earliest use of the word install is from the 1500s and refered to placing a bishop into ecclesiastical office by the act of him sitting in the bishop's "stall" in the cathedral. The word install is not found to refer to the setting up of machinery until the late 19th century.

I found this wonderful info here. Prepare to waste hours and warn your parishoners to expect some of those "word analysis" sermons over the next few weeks.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Enough of this crap

Okay. I'm really a pretty reasonable person. I'm the type of feminist who does NOT insist that every slight or inconvenience is about my suffering at the hands of the evil patriarchy. HOWEVER, after 17 years of ordained ministry and in a time and place where clergywomen are not all that rare, should I have to put up with being chased by the security guard in the hospital parking lot?

"Excuse me--ma'am? Ma'am? MA'AM?????


"That spot you just parked in is reserved for clergy."

"Yes, I know."

"So why'd you park there?"

"Because I'm clergy."

Eyes narrow, arms cross. "What church"

"________ Presbyterian"

Shrug. "Okay--just checking."

Now I ask you all--would a well dressed, forty-something male have had this same experience?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Disneyland Miracle

My parents are visiting for the installation thingy happening this Sunday. It's their first visit to us here in SoCal, so we made the requisit trip to Disneyland. I'm a bit cynical about the whole notion of "Disney Magic", but I'm not a killjoy. It was not a crowded day at the park by any means, but there were still LOTS of people. I was reflecting that seeing those teeming throngs of humanity milling about makes the notion that there is a loving Creator who knows each one by name seems so unlikely--and the idea that there is a loving Savior who loved each one enough to become one of us and suffer death seem patently absurd.

Later we were searching for a spot to watch the parade. As we pushed our way through the crowd, my little girl tugged at my sweater and whispered, "Mama! There's Sarah!" Sure enough, on the other side of the avenue was her very best friend from her school in Portland, the one she has been missing intensely since we left 10 weeks ago, the one she's found no equal for in her new school. We leaped over the parade barrier and ran to her. The girls squealed with delight and jumped up and down. Her Mom and I shook our heads and said, "What were the chances?" They were on a somewhat impromtu vacation to visit some family in San Bernardino. The girls have exchanged notes since we left, but her Mom and I were not close friends so I'd not communicated with her. We all watched the parade together, the girls hand in hand and wide eyed with wonder.

O Lord, Our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Kind of late on this one but what the heck . . .

Accent: vaguely midwestern. Henry Higgins could probably detect subtle undertones of Southern and New York with the merest hint of British.

Booze: Red wine, hard cider---can't say I really want to repeat that late adolescent experiment with Orange Kool Aid and Everclear . . .

Chore I Hate--picking up stuff and putting it away

Dog or Cat--Cat. I like other people's dogs, though.

Electronic Necessity--cell phone and computer

Favorite Cologne--4711

Gold or Silver--silver. I'm really only just now getting back into wearing jewelry after the "can't wear it cause the baby/toddler/preschooler with grab it/choke on it/yank it and break it" years.

Home Town--Eight major moves between birth and college. Favorite growing up places were North Carolina and England.

Insomnia--yeah, off and on

Job Title--New Pastor at LA academic suburb church.


Living Arrangements: One house, one husband, one cat, two kids

Most Admirable Trait--short sermons

Number of Sexual Partners--Can't answer this one--my mom reads this blog

Overnight Hospital Stays--Tonsilectomy at age 4. Two births. Several all-nighters spent with other people in the hospital or with their families.

Phobias: Making phone calls to people I don't know very well. Thank God for e-mail!!

Quote: "I knew I shouldda taken dat left toin at Albequoiki . . ." Bugs Bunny

Religion: Yes, most days.

Sibs: Two--younger bro and sis

Time I Wake Up: I am the only night person in a family of early risers. This REALLY sucks.

Unusual Talent: Ear wiggling

Vegetable I Hate--Raw Celery

Worst Habit: Losing my keys

Xrays---teeth, chest, do ultrasounds count?? What about mamograms??

Yummy Foods I can cook: shrimp dip, rum cake, sesame noodles

Zodiac Sign: Cancer/Dragon