Monday, June 30, 2008

Sharp Eyes

This morning my daughter was sitting next to me on the couch as I read an article about the top contenders for the VP slot on the two major party tickets.

"Who are all those people in the pictures?" she asked.

"Those are the people the newspaper thinks Barak Obama and John McCain are most likely to pick to be vice-president if they win."

"Oh." she replied.

Long Pause

"How come only one of them is a woman?"

That's my girl!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sighs and Snorts

As an observer at GA, one sits with folks who are not being as careful and guarded in their responses to what's being discussed as the comissioners who have to work together all week.

As I've sat through committee hearings and now in plenary, I'm discerning a great spiritual difference between sighs and snorts. When someone near me sighs deeply at something that just transpired, the prevailing feeling I get from them is lament or deep frustration--both of which can be prayerful responses to something. A sigh seems like something the Holy Spirit can enter into and shape for God's purposes.

But with a snort the sense that prevades the atmosphere is contempt. "I despise that person who just spoke and everything they stand for". Room for the Spirit? Not so much.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Virtual should we be?

This morning at General Assembly I attended a confab for people who serve on Committees on Ministry in their Presbyteries. One of the topics for discussion was from folks working in very rural areas. When a small, rural church in a remote area is without a Pastor there may not be any pastors available to preside at sacraments or to moderate a congregational or session meeting or to install/ordain officers. A pastor from an urban area pointed out that this can also be true when a non-English speaking congregation is without a pastor. There may not be a pastor nearby who can do what needs to be done in the language of that congregation. What to do? Someone floated the idea that with the advances in technology that make such things as virtual meetings possible, an isolated or non-English speaking church could potentially "beam in" a pastor from somewhere else in the Presbytery who could do some of this stuff remotely. If the set up was completely interactive and the "distance" pastor could hear and speak to the people in the remote location would this be okay?

What do you think? I'm leaning toward thinking it would be okay for things like moderating a session meeting or some other administrative task, but that for the sacraments, you really ought to be physically present.

Monday, June 23, 2008


So I'm here at General Assembly. Last night I went out in search of dinner and ended up running into a guy I went to high school with. He recognized me right away. Which, after 25 years is certainly reassuring.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Apostolic Succession

If my grandmother were still alive, she would be turning 100 this week.

When she was 81, her pastor approached her about becoming an elder. The nominating committee wanted someone who would be a good representative and advocate for the oldest genertion of that congregation. She was surprised, but she agreed. She was ordained an elder about 9 months before I was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.

That meant that at the point in the ordination service when they call all ministers and elders forward for the laying on of hands, my grandmother's hand was there among the others.

Which is all the apostolic succession I need.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spanish Influence

My children are taking a summer Spanish class. It started yesterday. One of their first activities was to choose a Spanish name for themselves. My eight-year-old daughter's choice?


Time to put the blender away, maybe???

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sales Calls

In spite of working with a competent Office Administrator and a team of savvy office volunteers, I occassionaly find myself speaking on the phone to a sales representative of some sort. My husband is in sales, so I feel justified in offering this polite critique to a few of his "colleagues" out there:

1. If you have introduced yourself saying, "Hi this is (your first name). Just calling to check in with (my first name)this moring," you may have successfully duped our office volunteer into thinking you are someone I know well and want to talk to, but I now consider you to be a slick huckster and I don't trust you or like you. Well done. BTW if any of you big insurance,copier or computer companies are actually training your sales force to use this tactic, STOP IT. NOW. It's rude, dishonest and counter-productive.

2.If the next words out of your mouth are: "I've been researching your company's insurance/copier/computer needs and . . ." I immediately know that you have done no research at all or you wouldn't be calling our church a "company". You are reading a script and haven't bothered to nuance your language to fit the kind of organization you are calling.

3. If I tell you I am not knowledgable enough about the intricacies of our employee insurance plan,copier contract or computer system to be the one to evaluate the new product or service you want to sell us, please take my word for it. Trying to fake-compliment me by saying it is important that you deal with "a decision-maker like yourself" just reinforces my idea that you are clueless. There are very few churches in which the pastor can make executive decisions about stuff like this. If I say you need to talk to the chair of our property committee or our finance team, I'm trying to help you, not pass you off to some flunky.

Really. Don't call us, we'll call you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

To Kill A Mockingbird . . .

. . .Would be a service to the wider community, to my way of thinking.

Mr. and Mrs. Mockingbird have a nest in a tree in my backyard. Everytime I set paw outside they squwack and holler and hurl the vilest obscenities at me. They even get the Mockingbirds from neighboring territories into the act. They all dive bomb me at once.

Yesterday I had to hide in the bushes where they couldn't get at me. I didn't know how I was going to get back to the house safely. Luckily, Elizabeth, who usually ignores me or hisses at me, came to my aid. She charged the birds so they scattered just long enough for me to make a dash for the garage.

Thanks friend. You can have my portion of greenies today.

Balrog the Cat

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cats and Dogs

Oy. We have two key leaders in our church who really need to work well together to make some important things happen. Unfortunately, it is like trying to get a Jack Russel terrier and a Siamese cat to form an effective partnership.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ashes to Ashes logistics

So yesterday we dedicated our new Memorial Garden. It's lovely and peaceful and ready to be used. In fact, we have several families who have been hanging on to the ashes of their loved ones until the Garden was complete and they are now calling to schedule dates for interment or scattering. (We have places for both.)

Now here is the thing. There are any number of liturgies for the committal or scattering of ashes, so the WORDS aren't a problem. But none of these liturgies cover the actual hands-on logistics of the thing. Do I place the urn in the pre-dug hole? Do I designate a deacon to do this? Or a member of the deceased's family? Do we put the dirt back over the hole while the family is still present? And if so, who does that? And what about scattering? Do we dump straight from the box? Or scatter by the handful? Or start with a symbolic handful and then dump straight from the box? And who scatters? Up till now, my experiences with ashes were either at a funeral home or cemetary where their staff "took care" of things--or the family was planning to scatter the ashes in a lake or ocean or mountain top somewhere and I wasn't involved in that bit.

What do you all do?