Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And the Winners Are . . .

First Hymn-- O Sing to the Lord/Cantad al Senor

Response to Forgiveness--Celtic Alleluia

Second Hymn-- Hashiveinu, taught to us by the Cantor from the Temple

Traditional Doxology Substitute: first verse of Now Thanks We All Our God

Closing Hymn--When A Poor One, (#407 in the Presbyterian Hymnal)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


While I was home grabbing a quick sandwich at lunchtime, my kids' school called. My son was throwing up. Could I please come get him?

Luckily, my sister is visiting. I picked him up and brought him home. He didn't seem too sick. A little shaky. No fever. I tucked him into bed and went back to work, telling my sister to call me if things took a downward turn.

While I was gone, my sister used her crack Aunt detective skills to produce this confession:

"Well . . . my friends and I were having a contest to see who could eat their lunch the fastest . . ."

Would that all problems were that easy to diagnose.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Next week is our annual pulpit exchange with the Temple. The Rabbi preaches here Sunday, I preach there Friday. The choirs combine for both services. I'm working on the liturgy and finding hymn/song selection challenging. Can't be all Jesus-y. No Trinitarian stuff. Trying to avoid hymns that lean heavily toward Zion/Israel/Promised Land imagery as that plays really differently in an interfaith crowd. We've got some Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian Christians who attend our church that get a little queasy about the Temple exchange anyway without adding that layer of potential misunderstanding.

So--what to sing? Also, it has to work musically and be especially singer friendly given all the guests that will be here.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Amie tags Elizabeth

Amie over at Red Heeler Ranch has tagged Elizabeth for a meme. She's happy to oblige. The stated rules were:

Link to the person that tagged you.
- Post the rules on your blog.
- Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
- Tag six people and at the end of your post, link to their blogs.
- Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Hi everyone--Elizabeth here.

Six quirks about me:

I prefer sliced or diced wet food to paste. I only eat the paste so that pest Balrog won't get something I didn't.

I think lizards are delicious.

I have a plan for eventually getting my paws on Peanut the Hampster, but for now I am feigning disinterest.

The Dad of this house, is my favorite person.

If you put Gold Bond lotion on your hands, I will lick them.

I like to loll by the neighbor's pool and pretend I am a lion at my waterin hole on the savannah.

I'm kind of late to this meme, so I'll tag any creature who would like to play.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Worship Planning--Solo or Team Sport?

At the end of my annual week with my lectionary study group, I'm always dashing back home as quickly as possible to the family that has been fending for themselves during my absence. Some of my buds, though, extend their stay at whatever retreat center or seminary we are at that year in order to spend a few days working on worship plans for the coming year. This year one of them said he was hoping to go home with liturgies for the Sundays through Easter fairly fully formed and the rest of the year sketched out as to text, theme and hymn ideas.

I always feel a mixture of admiration and suspicion when I hear from pastors who work this way. Admiration for their dedication, organization and far-sightedness; suspicion of a worship planning process that seems totally pastor-centered.

Two experiences early in my ministry years contributed to this suspicion, I think. The first Senior Pastor I worked with expected that if it was my Sunday to preach, I was also responsible for the rest of the liturgy. That was a one-year gig. At my next church, my first time to preach I handed in all my bulletin info to the secretary on Wednesday morning and she looked confused. "But Pastor has already given me everything but the sermon text and title!" Ooops. I talked to the Senior Pastor right away. He was very clear that planning worship was his job. I was welcome to give him suggestions for responses, prayers, hymns, etc., but ultimately he would plan each week's liturgy. That was hard to get used to.

Another time, I overheard a pastor I already did not have a very high opinion of telling another pastor how productive he had been on his study leave. He had chosen all the scripture texts and written all the liturgies for the next six months. He would now give that info to the rest of his staff so they could carry these themes forward in terms of church music, Christian Ed, etc. When the other pastor asked him if the staff would get a chance to give feedback on those plans, Pastor "I'm the Decider" said, no they prefered and expected him to make those plans and would resent wasting their time trying to plan by committee. Now, I happened to know the Associate Pastor at that church and she couldn't stand his "top-down" worship planning system. So I vowed I would never plan that way.

And yet--I have to admit that, absent me going to the mountaintop and returning with stone worship plans, my colleagues and I do get caught short sometimes and end up flying by the seat of our collaborative, collective pants.

What about you all?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Defining Your Terms

Phew! Back from a week at my annual lectionary-study-hob-nob-with-my-fellow-wizards group. A good week. I thought we all seemed tired this year, though. Not sure what's up with that.

Anyway, spent some time at dinner tonight catching up with the family, who did very well in my absence. My husband was remarking that it has been a deep joy to him in the past year to begin singing with our church choir and take voice lessons. He has never done either one before in his life, so this is a mid-life "new discovery" for him. He is very happy to discover, he said, that he is more than just a mediocre tenor.

"What is mediocre?" my son asked. "Just average," I answered. "Not absolutely awful, not amazingly great. Just kind of 'eh'".

Twenty minutes later our daughter showed me a picture she had drawn and asked, "Do you think this is yolky motor?"


"Yolky Motor. You know, what you and Dad were talking about earlier."

I shook my head. I had NO idea what she was talking about.

"You know. Not that good. Just okay. What was that word? Yolky Motor? Meaty Ogre?"

"You mean mediocre?" I asked.

"Yes! That's it! Mediocre!"

Her picture was better than that, but my sermon won't be unless I get back to work.

Good to be back!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

To whom it may concern

To whom it may concern:

I would like to register an official complaint that having less than a full month between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday is a really, really bad idea.

I have been trying to promote an awareness of this upcoming calendar quirk among the congregation in general and among staff and lay leaders in particular since well before Thanksgiving. However, now that the Christmas dust is settling, there seems to be a general sense of panic as folks gasp, "Lent starts WHEN?????"

I understand about full moons and vernal equinoxes and how all this stuff gets calculated. Still, I must assert that this year's calendar really pushes the limit.

That is all.

Pastor Rebel Without a Pew
Chair, International Caucus of Pastors for Easter in April