Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Think I should tell them??

Hee Hee. I met with the Big Butts couple. We had to play phone tag a few times to get the meeting set up. Each time I called, a different song played before their voice mail picked up. I think they must have their phone somehow linked to the shuffle function on their ipod.

Get this: they are both cute, young charismatic Christians. The church they are part of meets in a high school gym, which is why they contacted us with our beautiful sanctuary. Their pastor was married here a while back, (maybe before he became charismatic.) They hope this pastor will be involved in the ceremony.

I dutifully made a note of that and then kept a very straight face as I asked the next question on my standard "initial meeting with a couple" question list: Are you planning any special music as part of the ceremony?

Monday, January 29, 2007


Well, I should have spent yesterday rejoicing in the success of our Sunday with guests from the Temple. The combined choirs sang gloriously, the rabbi gave a good sermon, the kids were enthralled by the Torah scroll he brought to show them during the Time with Children. Also WE WON the canned goods competition! Really a lovely morning.

However. Though we had spent lots of time working on just how the service would go, there still ended up being last minute details that had me racing around moments before worship began getting stuff out of various closets and classrooms. Just as church was starting, I realized that I still had my keys clutched in my hand. I don't like to have keys in my pocket when leading worship because I jingle and jangle everytime I move. So I quickly stashed the keys on the little shelf just below the lectern. Problem solved.

Except that when the service was over, I completely forgot that I had done this. I mingled through our expanded coffee hour, visiting with our guests. I introduced people to my parents who are visiting for the week. I closed a few minor church business deals in side conversations with a few key members. After 45 minutes or so, we were finally ready to think about heading home.

It was at this moment that I remembered that my keys, including house and car keys, were on the shelf in the lectern. Did I mention that my husband is away at a trade show in Texas? And since it had taken me so long to recall this little detail, the Spanish speaking congregation with whom we share our building had already begun their service. To retrieve my keys I would either have to barge into the middle of their worship, or wait till they were done.

You also need to know that yesterday was the day our Hispanic brothers and sisters were bidding farewell to the interim pastor who has been with them for three years. They have called a permanent pastor so their interim can finally retire. Given that it was a special day for them, I decided not to interupt their worship to get my keys. I figured, hey it's already 11:45--their church gets out at 12:30. It's not that long a wait. My kids and my parents weren't thrilled with this development, but they accepted my decision.

I decided that, since I was there, I would slip into the back pew and be a quiet part of the service. I got there just as our Executive Presbyter was getting up to preach. I was so impressed that she can preach in fluent Spanish, since I have known some EPs who were hard pressed to preach fluently in one language let alone two. I don't speak Spanish much, so I was mentally patting myself on the back for having figured out what text she was preaching on and the (very) basic gist of her first point when our Associate Pastor appeared at my side and said, "You may want to check on your family."

My parents had decided to go sit in the car and listen to the radio. My kids had hooked up with the son of our Christian Ed coordinator. Her son and my son had stolen my daughter's stuffed animal and were making preparations to string it up on a tree. She was screeching at them in anger and frustration while they tossed Seal back and forth like a football.

Meanwhile, the service was not drawing to a close at it normally would have at that hour. Saying good-bye to the pastor strechted longer and longer and longer. Then when they finished up with that, the women's association had to say good-bye to the pastor's wife. All told, we were stuck for much closer to two hours before I was finally able to rescue my keys from the lectern. My kids were fit to be tied by that time. (Really, I was going for the rope to tie them up.) My parents would have been furious too, except that they know very well where my key-losing genes come from as we locked ourselves out of the house regularly when I was growing up. In fact, I reminded them of the time my Dad went to an academic conference in another state and accidentally took both sets of house/car keys with him. That was especially festive in those days before Fed Ex next day air.

And how was your Sunday?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hold the Phone . . .

Suppose you are going to call a church in your area to inquire about having your wedding there this summer. Suppose the pastor is away when you call and you have to leave a phone number where she can reach you later. Suppose you have options about which phone number to leave: your home, your cell, your work, your fiance's home, cell, work etc. etc.

Wouldn't you take the time to consider that you might NOT want to leave the phone number that plays 15 seconds of "I like Big Butts and I cannot lie . . ." before your voicemail kicks in?

I'm just sayin . . .

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Ugh. Ever since Thanksgiving there have been small and big things about which I have said, "I/We will deal with that AFTER I/we get through Advent and Christmas. Well, Advent and Christmas are over as well as my post-Christmas travels and now all of those things are prowling around me like a bunch of hungry tigers.

One of the more friendy tigers is the upcoming annual pulpit exchange with the Temple in town. Their rabbi will preach at our church the last Sunday of this month and I will preach at the Temple the first Friday of February. In addition, the two congregations have challenge one another to a friendly competition to see which group can collect the most bags of canned goods for the local food bank during the month leading up to the exchange. When I suggested this, our Interfaith Relations Committee agreed, but warned me that the Temple would beat the pants off us as they are larger and better organized. Our folks have been responding well, but I've made sure that each announcement about the challenge includes language on the order of, "It's not really about beating the Temple, it's about providing food for hungry people."

Yesterday as we unloaded the car after a Costco run, my daughter and I were setting aside the canned goods we had purchased to be our contribution to the effort. As she stacked up the cans of soup and tuna, my daughter said, "It's not all about beating the Temple, but we still WANT to."


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Let us raise our glasses high

Late, late, late last night, when there were only a few of us left in the hospitality room drinking red wine and sharing stories, someone suggested that we raise a final toast to those we remember who made great sacrifices so that we could receive our faith and our call. We went around the circle. When it came to be her turn, one of the newest, youngest members of the group said,

I would raise my glass to the woman who was my pastor when I was ten, the first Presbyterian woman minister in That State: St. Casserole.

I didn't blow her cover, of course--but I thought the rest of you would like to know that our beloved St. Cass is known and loved way beyond our circle.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

On the road again

Once again I send hurried greetings from on the road. It's the mid-point of my week with the lectionary study group I meet with every January. I've been part of this group for 13 years and it has manifested God's grace in my life in different ways at different junctures during that time. This year, I'm realizing what a gift it is, after nearly a year with brand new people in a brand new place, to spend a week with folks who have known me a long time. I hadn't realized how starved I was for that. What a blessing to have just eaten lunch with the pastor I worked with when I was 25 years old and newly ordained after 10 months of having to introduce myself to people and tell them all about myself. Or to have another friend say, "I knew what you were thinking when so and so said such and such," because she's been privy to at least some of my thoughts for more than a decade.

God is good.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Hey all,
I'm back from the Prairie. It was fun, mostly. Aftern 13 years, I still don't
"get" some of the dynamics in my husband's family, but I guess that's okay. Once again, my mother-in-law's midwestern cooking has me struggling to button my jeans. We did get our managable snowfall--three inches after almost everyone had gone home. One sister-in-law and kids stayed an extra day so as to avoid the bad driving conditions, much to the delight of my kids. Cousins and snow--what more could a kid want??

Now I have two and a half days to finish two papers for my annual lectionary study group gathering next week. I had hoped to do more work on this during the vacation than I did. It was impossible to find a quiet corner to work in. My husband, his nine siblings, their spouses, their kids=nearly forty people in a not-all-that-big house doesn't add up for that. And then when we were finally the only ones left, my kids moped around whining that now that all the cousins were gone there was nothing to DOOOOOOOOOO, so I ended up playing endless games of mancala and Scrabble instead. Oh well--I used to do the old multiple papers in 48 hours trick all the time back in college/seminary. Let's hope I haven't lost my touch.